For this Fitness Friday, I reached out to Rachel Robbins, a local Eufaulian, and my personal good friend and fitness partner, to discuss her very first triathlon. If you don’t know Rachel, she is an absolute go-getter by nature: She leads the Youth Choir at First Baptist Church, has a degree in Music with a focus in Vocal Performance at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, AND is working towards earning her second degree (yes, that is right; SECOND degree) in Nursing. Although she is a very accomplished person at only 25, Rachel remains a very humble, down-to-earth girl from Eufaula at heart, and I think that reading her fitness advice will inspire many Eufaulians to continue to strive for an active lifestyle every day.
Katie Walden (Community Educator of MainStreet Eufaula): “We’re talking today about your triathlon, and all the aspects that go along with that, like how you trained for it, what were the challenges you faced, etc. Is that cool? Are you ready?”
Rachel Robbins: Laughs, “Yes. I am ready.”
Katie: “Okay great. I’m going to go question by question. Okay, first, how much training did you do to prepare for your triathlon?”
Rachel: “Ooo, a lot. I don’t know what you could compare it to, but I trained from January on, so I was basically swimming 2 to 3 days a week and running probably 3 or 4 days a week and biking probably 3 or 4 [days a week], and then I also added in weight training, and then was also doing Pilates videos. So, I don’t even know how to, like, conceptualize it into one statement about how much training I did. It was like, as much as I could. As much as I could fit in.”
Katie: “That is amazing! I’m definitely taking note of that because that is insane; that’s awesome.”
Katie: “So what part of the triathlon was the most challenging to you?”
Rachel: “The swim, because I’m not a swimmer-well, I mean, I am now-but I haven’t been swimming for forever, or anything like that, so I think I did the most training on the swim because I think I was just the most worried about it. But yeah, just the whole concept of not being able to breathe any time I wanted to I think is what challenged me the most; just getting enough oxygen to make my brain function… Laughs. I kept repeating this in my head during the race: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me…” Psalms 28:7″
Katie: “I love this so much! I think that is definitely helpful to keep thinking when doing something so challenging for the first time. So why did you want to do a triathlon?”
Rachel: “I am just the kind of person that likes to try anything and everything that they can get their hands on and so, I first started running years and years ago, and I honestly didn’t ever set out thinking, ‘I want to be a runner’, I just thought more like ‘that seems like a good thing to do’. Laughs. So I just started running, and then I did a 5k, then did a 10k, and… I really liked riding my bike, too, and I had a friend that was a cyclist, and so he kind of got us into riding. We did night rides, and fun stuff, so eventually I though, ‘You know what? I bet I could do one of those triathlons’. I didn’t think I could do a marathon, (side note: she has already completed her first marathon in Orlando, the Walt Disney World Marathon, and is referring to doing another marathon so soon); Yeah, it was just kind of random…it was just a new goal.”
Katie: “I love it! I love it. Having a goal is what drives life, so I totally get that. So, what was your final time for your triathlon?”
Rachel: ” 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 33 seconds.”
Katie: “Wow, that’s really good, that’s…”
Rachel: “The guy that won was like, under an hour and 15 minutes.”
Katie: “Whooooa! He is just a beast.” Laughs
Rachel: “Yeah, his transition times were under one minute. Mine were like, two minutes.” Laughs.
Katie: “That’s good, though; that isn’t too far off!”
Rachel: Laughs “Yeah!”
Katie: “So any advice for people who want to try a triathlon?”
Rachel: “Do it! Just do it. Like, I think sometimes the intimidation is what stops us from doing things, all kinds of things in life, and once you really get in there, in any field, you realize that everybody had to start there and everybody has their own struggle to overcome with it. For me, I’m not the best athlete, but at this point in my life, I’ve had a lot more time than most people to train so I use that to my advantage. So, I think always just go for it; even if you finish last, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch, and you still achieved your goal. So, I think, yeah, if somebody wants to do it they should just do it; just start. There are a lot of training plans and stuff, but know your limitations, know what you are not good at, and start there. Also, you should give yourself grace and treat yourself along the way because it’s hard.” Laughs.
Katie: “Definitely, definitely! And that is some good advice. I think that will be very helpful for people because so many people just get in their own heads and then they don’t do something that they really, actually, wanted to do!”
Rachel: “Yeah! And then to go your whole life and not do it because your head isn’t right? That’s crazy!” Laughs
Katie: “Yes, it is! Laughs. Now kind of going away a little bit from the topic of the triathlon and talking about just healthy habits in general: How do you stay fit and active on a daily basis for your lifestyle?”
Rachel: “For me, I avoid gluten, and I try to make sure that when I am eating, I try to pick foods that are going to fuel my body rather than just eating things that are fun. That is really hard for me, too, because my mom was the kind that if you were sad, or if you were celebrating something, or whatever the occasion-food was primary on the list of what we were doing. She was always making brownies or cookies- stuff like that for us- so I kind of grew up in the habit of eating that a lot, which she just did it because she loved us, and I think that is great, but I have to learn moderation. And I still kind of use food as a treat, like after the triathlon; I didn’t eat ice cream or cake when I was training, but I had ice cream afterwards. I haven’t had cake yet, but I want to.” Laughs.
Katie: “Yes, yes; I think you need a balance.”
Rachel: “Yes, and I think it is all about discipline; Lots of times we blame it on ‘oh, I had a party’ or ‘oh, I had a wedding’, but you can still make the choice at those events. Like, ‘oh, I’ll just have this small piece [of cake] or have a goal, like ‘I’m waiting until this [event] to have that [food]’. So, yeah, I think a lot of it is just self-discipline. And I know we were just talking about food, but it applies to fitness, too.”
Katie: “Yes, that makes sense, and I think that is really, really good advice. I think it will really resonate with people when you say eat to fuel your body and not just for fun, that is catchy way to encourage self discipline. That’s awesome! Now, what is your biggest challenge to stay fit and active?”
Rachel: “Sometimes it’s time; laughs Sometimes the biggest challenge to exercise that day or to eat right is time because healthy foods take more time to prepare, usually, and then obviously you have to have more time to have to work out, and sometimes it’s just not feasible that day. Most of our lives are a race against the clock, and just maximizing our time the most. And another thing for me that is just a hindrance to me is just like what we talked about earlier, being stuck in my own head, like, ‘oh, I’m never going to look like that’, or ‘I’m never going to be able to do that’, so it’s just overcoming that and just saying to yourself ‘if another person beside me can do it; I can do it, too.’ ”
Katie: “Definitely, and I think that is very true for everyone. Overcoming what you think you should be and look like and what you think is challenging. It’s not always as cut and dry as your mind makes it appear. Okay, so last question; I know you’re a busy girl and you’ve got a million things going on. Do you have any advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle that you can give to someone that might read this?”
Rachel: “Consistency. Self-discipline and consistency are the main things. A lot of diets are based on “if you do right for 21 days”, or “if you do right for a month”, or “if you do this program until you lose this much weight”, but it’s not about that; It’s about your whole life! You’re never done getting fit; you’re never done exercising; you’re never done eating right; It doesn’t end; it keeps going every single day, so it’s just being consistent and trusting that. It’s not going to be all better in 21 days.” Laughs.
Katie: “You’re right, and that is a harsh reality that I think people really need to face, and coming from someone who does live a healthy lifestyle, because you really do, I think people will be interested in reading your perspective, and that is why I want to share that with MainStreet people. Well, that is all the questions that I have for you today, but is there anything that you want the people who read this to know about you?”
Rachel: “Yeah! I would just say that my comments aren’t coming from a person who is just naturally the fasted runner or the skinniest girl out there; I’m totally average-average height; average weight, so… I feel like I listen to podcasts a lot of Olympians, and like, they’re not average people. So yeah, I hope that people won’t overlook what I have to say because they think they could never do that; I’m hear to say, ‘yes you can’, because I’m just an average person; I’m not an Olympian and I don’t have a perfect time or anything like that, so…”
Katie: “Yes, that is a good thing to relay to them because it makes people see that fitness is attainable. Like, you are just a girl from Eufaula, you go to First Baptist down the road, and you’ve accomplished all this. And yes, you are average, but you are mighty in your own way, and people need to know that they can be, too.”