Small Steps Joanna Nadeau, Director of Community Programs, talks about working toward a daunting goal
’d say I am the least athletic member of my family. Maybe I owe that to my mom, who has lots of energy and many talents, but never identified as an athlete. It became obvious after college, because without a team to call practices, I stopped getting regular exercise. There were just too many other interesting things to do. And running—what my friends did to work out—was miserable. I knew I’d eventually have to incorporate exercise into my life, but I just kept putting it off. It’s kind of like planning for sustainability. Even if you’re not doing it now, you know you will have to do it eventually for the health of your community. But you put it off because it seems like a lot of work. Then I met my husband, Chris. We connected over our love of the outdoors; the difference was that he did extreme outdoor sports, and I was more of a hang-outoutside person. Always up for trying new things, I found that my agility and fast responses worked well for mountain biking, surfing, and rock climbing.
Joanna and her husband getting ready to kayak in Mexico.
regular workouts as I gradually increased the difficulty and distance. I discovered that I could cover some distance on my bike, especially in a race situation. Except for the elite few, most people do a race like that to test their limits, so the energy on race day is excitement and friendly encouragement, which can help you go further than you have before. Discovering that I had the ability to work up to that gave me confidence. I decided to tackle my nemesis: running. On a whim, I ran a 5k with no preparation in the June Arizona heat. I won’t lie, it was pretty miserable. I had to alternate walking and running in order to finish, helped along with lots of water breaks. But I did it! And that was all the evidence I needed to sign up for a sprint triathlon.
Having a concrete goal (and having invested money to sign up!) motivated me to be diligent about working out so that I could enjoy the race. I didn’t want to overdo it and go back to my old, sedentary ways. I’d heard that triathlons are a great form of exercise, because Joanna rides her bike in the Holualoa Tinfoilman of the mix of low and high impact Triathlon in Tucson, Arizona in November 2010. The big shift in my approach events. I laid out a training plan to to exercise happened when I was exposed to get from being barely able to run two miles without endurance sports. Cycling is Chris’s main passion, and stopping to swimming a half mile, biking 12 miles, and so a few years into our relationship I started tagging then running three. Over several months, working along on easier rides. At the beginning, 10 miles was a out three or four times a week, I slowly increased the tough day of riding for me. When all our friends signed distance I could run, bike, and swim without tiring. up for a major bike race, I picked the shortest route At my first sprint triathlon I kept reminding myself possible—a 33 mile bike ride. With no small amount to take it easy, knowing the adrenaline and air of of trepidation, I started training with the group. My competition would naturally bump up my pace. I progress followed what I now know to be a common smiled at my fellow competitors. I waved to my friends. path: slow, gradual improvements came from diligent, I almost dawdled in the transition area. But I finished,