Race to the Finish: fall in love with a sport

Race to the finish: fall in love with a sport, www.marianamcdougall.com

I’m working on a lifestyle overhaul to achieve the best health of my life. I’m starting with exercise because it’s important, fun, and something I have full control over.

As I said in my last post, life threw a curve-ball at me for the last couple of weeks with the whole family coming down with some sort of nasty virus, and I got a bit backtracked on my timeline (but never on my priorities).

Now that everyone’s on the mend, I can concentrate a bit more intensely on getting ready to take my fitness to the next level. I recently wrote an article about the No 1 way to stay motivated to work out. It explains that for me (and many others), just saying “I want to lose weight” or “I want to look better” doesn’t cut it for actually embracing and maintaining an active lifestyle. For me, falling in love with a sport is what does it.



I was able to lose 50 lbs fairly quickly after having my first daughter by falling in love with sprint triathlons. I trained hard and had a blast, and I didn’t even think about weight loss—it happened by extension.

By the end of my training, I was in even better shape than before I had gotten pregnant, and I didn’t need to try any mind tricks for getting the weight off. I knew I was training for a triathlon and everything I put in my mouth needed to fuel my training, so I ate more healthily without putting too much thought into my diet, and I exercised frequently because that’s what you have to do if you hope to finish a triathlon.



As I mention in the article about your #1 motivation to exercise, signing up for a sporting event helps you to stay active for 2 reasons:

  • Deadline motivation: you have to be ready by a certain date, so you’re more likely to keep up with the training.


  • Financial motivation: you paid for an event, so you might as well be ready for it, so you don’t waste your money.

Since I know I’m more motivated by a deadline to be ready for an event, and that I’m really motivated by the prospect of not wasting money, I went ahead and registered for the Sydenham Sprint Triathlon. This race appeals to me for three reasons:

  • It’s close to home—no travelling time other than about a half hour drive.
  • It’s new to me—even when I was doing triathlons about 4 years ago, I never did this particular race because it conflicted with one that I ran in Ottawa.
  • I hear the course is beautiful, and the water in Sydenham Lake is supposed to be much warmer than Lake Ontario. Yay!

Now that I’ve paid for the triathlon (with money I earned from de-cluttering my home – double yay!) I’m fully committed, and it’s time to start training (well, almost). A 10 or 11-week plan is more than enough to train for a sprint triathlon, and that’s great, because it means I don’t have to “officially” start my full-on training until May 2nd. This means I can take this time to get my body back up to speed with my running and cycling (the swimming portion is the least of my worries – only 500M when I’m used to swimming over a kilometer anytime I hit the pool).


So this is what my training schedule looks like until May 2nd (this schedule will start next week; this week I’m still recovering from whatever virus went through the household, so I’m going a bit more gentle – though still keeping up with the C25K):

  • C25K program 3 times per week for 9 weeks (I’m currently on week 2) – Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
  • Cycling 2 times per week (Tuesdays, Thursdays) – I’m going to be doing CycleFit at the Y  – this class is included in my membership and is the only class that happens early enough for me to be able to partake)
  • Bodyweight Strength Training 3 times per week (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, right after running) – this will morph into including some barbell and free weight work later on
  • Swimming Friday evenings (because swimming is my best sport, I’m not too concerned about including it in high volume in my off-season training. I do love swimming, though, so I’ll include a short swim workout each Friday evening – while my kiddos are taking their swimming lessons. This gives me a half hour to do some laps, and then I can join them for open swim right after. Perfect!)
  • Animal Flow just for fun on Saturdays.
  • Sunday is my rest day.

Race to the finish: fall in love with a sport and stay fit, www.marianamcdougall.com

As I said in my last post, having a flexible plan is important. I have 3 kids. Sick children, a sick mama, or general disruptions in the schedule are a given. When this happens, I don’t fret. I simply pick up from where I left off the next time I have the opportunity. The most important thing is to not completely give up on your exercise program because you missed a couple of days (or even a whole week). Keep your eyes on the finish line for whatever sport you’ve chosen, and work hard at being ready for your big day.

What sport are you training for?


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