An Ignition Fitness Rookie: My First Blog
It was December 1, 2013, and I stared at the training program for my first month as an Ignition Fitness athlete. Being your typical age-group duathlete, I had seen plenty of training advice and regimes online and in books and magazines. But this one was different: it was mine.


I thought it a good omen that the coach assigned to me, Roger Hospedaleswas not only a 20-time Ironman finisher (wow!), but also the news editor of Triathlon Canada Magazine and a writer for As a former journalist, I admire someone who can race for 140 miles as well as craft a charming turn of phrase. I was pumped about being a part of the Ignition team, knowing Roger’s strength and having seen other coached athletes in action.


So I looked at my program and thought, "Wow, that's a lot of training!" Roger had lined up six days per week of workouts which was, admittedly, a higher volume than I had done in, well, most any week in 2013. (Roger, did I ever tell you that?) His plan involved three days of running and three of cycling, including a brick workout each week but not including weight-lifting at the gym. I did want assertive goals and I did want to improve in cycling, my weaker discipline, and here was a plan that would do both.


December and January are traditionally busy months for me and this was no different. Pressures at work continued, when a number of high-profile deliverables came due just as I was recruiting two new staff members, and in my volunteer life, I was helping lead the integration of two community services agencies. Typical type A duathlete: I want to do it all and do it well. Given these new workouts in my calendar, I saw the experience as a lesson in both time management and pushing one's body.


What have I learned? First, that an athlete must consistently and carefully fuel themselves, not only with macronutrients and water, but also with rest. As my colleagues and partner can attest, I already eat throughout the day, even when I’m inactive. So in order to further stoke my engine for workouts, I’ve started making more healthy snacks and homemade energy barsI also experimented by cutting back a little on my sleep to make room for my workouts, which didn’t mix well with the sudden increase in training load. Another time, I’ll blog about what I’ve learned about recovery and rest!


Second, I must carefully prioritize. I'm often quick to say "yes" to opportunities and projects because I genuinely love to get involved in new things with different people. But we all have a finite quantity of time in a day and I'm now making conscious choices about my schedule. For example, if I know I won’t be able to make my workout one evening, I’ll go to bed early the night before – still getting the sleep I need – in order to get up and work out in the morning.


Under Roger’s watchful eye, I’m making progress. He’s a bit like a cross between an alchemist and a guidance counsellor. Roger has concocted a secret recipe and piled on the cycling base training, with the dual goal of building my strength in that discipline and reducing the chance of injury from too much running. And he patiently responds to my various concerns about aches and pains and pacing!


Three full months into my program, I can see my strength and endurance growing. Roger's plan has worked wonders. He said he wants me to “feel like a racehorse being held back for that gate to open for game time.” Love that visual!


In goal setting of any type, we need to celebrate milestones and quantify our results. In early February, Roger had me run a 5 km test. I clocked in at 21:33, which is just a minute shy of the personal best I ran three summers ago. I haven’t been doing speed training and this test occurred in the dead of winter, trekking over snow and ice, and dodging traffic and pedestrians. I was thrilled about the result!


It's now March and spring is mere weeks away. I've registered for some early runs and I'm eagerly awaiting the thaw that signals the start of outdoor cycling. In the meantime, I am now comfortably (and happily!) managing those six workouts each week and planning my duathlon season, anticipating summer heat and races to come.