“Be Glad You Didn’t Race” and Other Reflections at the Beginning of Another Year of Triathlon Training

Monday Recap

My coach texted me on his way back from IRONMAN Arizona (where he had a bunch of athletes racing) to joke with me – “Be glad you didn’t race” because the water was freezing and there was rain in the days preceding the race and, charmingly, the rain causes the cacti to eject their needles. Onto the road. Where the bikes go.

Apparently, there were so many flat tires that the Support and Gear folks were actually running low on tubes (again, triathlon is a sport that puts you in the elements in very real ways.) Of course I’m not really glad that I didn’t race (though that sounds like a big bag of no fun at all) though I’ve made peace with my decision to move forward with my own Iron-distance event with the hope that the sixth year of what was originally a two-year plan will be the final year! 

My neck rehab is becoming increasingly more frustrating because the problem is now quite intermittent. It feels fine and I start to think that everything is ok, and then I lean on a table wrong and half my arm gets tingly, or I cough and pain shoots down my arm. My doctor and PT both say that this is normal (and it could be much worse) and I just need to be a little bit more patient, but I’m ready to be all the way better!

As I’m doing what I’m allowed to do – easy walking, weight lifting, etc. I’m struggling mentally. I know that I’m losing my fitness and that when I can get started with training again it’s going to be like starting over, all over again. That’s something that has happened several times over this process as injuries and family stuff have created big breaks in my training, and each time I find it more difficult to get psyched up to do it again. I also struggle to do the limited workouts that I can do because there’s a feeling of “what’s the point.” I know better, of course, but that doesn’t make it easier. 

That said, the fact that (once I’m training again) I get to schedule and plan for my event (instead of slogging out another entire year) makes me feel excited. One of the things that I’m promising myself in the new year is to have more fun with my activism and fitness. Whether that’s revamping songs to be body positive anthems, or finding ways to enjoy my triathlon journey (even if it means enjoying all the stuff around it like making playlists, designing my tattoo, planning the event etc. and just getting through the actual training.)

I’m also excited about this blog because I’ve made the decision to broaden the scope. I’ve gone through a bunch of iterations and ideas around what to do with this blog, I have trouble just writing about my training day in and day out because, even when I’m not on exercise restriction, it’s generally pretty boring. 

I also have a lot of things that I want to write about fitness, but I tend not to post about it on my original blog because, while it started to talk about my experiences as a fat dancer, it pretty quickly evolved to be more about fat social justice and weight stigma in general, and a lot of my regular readers now are, completely validly, not into fitness stuff – not to mention that, because of the fatphobia in the fitness world and the number of my readers who come from eating disorder community, some can be very triggered by it.

So I’m going to turn this into a blog that talks about my personal fitness journey and training, but also talks about the intersections between fitness, fatness, weight stigma, health etc. Right now I write about these things for publications like espnW and with my series for US News & World Report, and I’m grateful for the work (and the audience!) but I also kind of long for the additional flexibility that a blog provides. 

If there is something you’d like me to blog about, please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot or and I’ll see what I can do!

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the poem that my dog Bu and I came up with to celebrate the New Year:

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About Ragen Chastain

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be Iron-distance triathlete, Activist, Fat Person.
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8 Responses to “Be Glad You Didn’t Race” and Other Reflections at the Beginning of Another Year of Triathlon Training

  1. Faith Kremler says:

    I am excited to see/hear about what this next year brings in your training. And really excited to read more intersectional content on this blog! As a fat person who enjoys physical activities, I am in!


  2. anjulka says:

    I really dig this new idea for your blog!

    I must admit that I also enjoy your honesty around how frustrating it is to not be able to work out the way you want to and how you feel like it’s pointless, etc. I actually really enjoy various forms of physical activities, but my body freaks out if I push past whatever its invisible tolerance line was that day. Many people talk about feeling that good hurt for 1-2 days. If I overdid it, it’s more like my whole body hurts for 1-2 weeks. So, while I wish you weren’t going through this, it’s also refreshing to read the honesty around all these issues.


    • I’m sorry that you are dealing with that and, I hear from a number of people in similar situations and I think that often gets ignored and erased in a really harmful way by our “rah rah just do it!” fitness culture. Thanks for being here and for the support for talking about my journey!


  3. Angela says:

    Can you run in a pool? I had that recommended when I was rehabbing a leg issue. Much to my surprise, not only did it help me maintain, but it also improved my fitness.
    Just don’t make the mistake I did, make sure you have a good pair of pool shoes before you start.


    • That’s a great idea, and I have definitely done pool running with other rehab in the past (including literally running in the shallow water as well as deep water running suspended by a belt) unfortunately, for some reason it aggravates my neck to be in the water 😦


  4. lsstrout says:

    Bummer about your neck, and I really hope it heals, not just for fitness but for ordinary life stuff. I like the idea of expanding this blog. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it going away when you completed your event. *HUGS*


  5. LornaTri’s says:

    Really enjoyed reading your blog. I’m also into fitness and triathlon and just started writing a blog this week. I’m horribly inexperienced with the technicalities of it but enjoying having a go. It’s good to read others blogs to learn. Yours is so honest, real and fun it’s what it should all be about.


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