Founder Series | Ep #45 | Mara Hafezi | Triathlon Preparation – Conversations on Strength Training



the content discussed in this episode is for educational or informative purposes only and should not be replaced by individualized professional conductations or professional

medical advice welcome to the founders series of doctor of the podcast this year i’m signing up for a triathlon happening in summer and to prepare myself in this founders series i’m going to be having one-on-one conversations with experts in the field and hopefully it will keep myself accountable and nurture my community on a day to day so without further ado hope you enjoyed this episode hi everyone so today is the founder series uh episode 3 and i’m very excited to speak to mara so mara has a multiple hyphen career she works in the corporate sphere is the sports co-lead at the south asian heritage month she works with sports brand and organizations to improve their inclusion and is a mindset coach and personal trainer working with women of color and the ethos behind this founder series is basically that to speak to women of color who are in the space of physical training and basically try to aspire women to become more active so welcome to data the podcast mara yeah thanks for having me i’m really really excited when i was listening to a few of the other podcasts i was like oh i love this podcast i just i just wouldn’t listen to more and more of it so thank you for having me and inviting me on well it’s a pleasure so in my journey of triathlon training has just begun in january so we spoke with a nutritionist and then we spoke with elle about understanding what a triathlon is and knowing kind of your background and i know you you’re into crossfit and i was thinking it’s a good opportunity for us to speak about strength training what is it space in your triathlon training these three discipline which is running swimming and cycling do you really need to exercise with weights no that’s such a great question so going back to the interview you did with elle she mentioned how practicing the transitions is the fourth discipline so then i would then argue that strength training is the fifth discipline for the disciplines just keep adding an odd adding and yeah strength training is so so important it has so many benefits to you um you know it prevents injury it helps increase bone density and maintaining muscle mass and then also protecting vulnerable joints from injury but you know that’s all the sort of the medical side to it which doesn’t seem as interesting you know it will help to increase that power you know you will feel um your your form will build um and improve your imbalances in your body and you know a stronger core at the end of the day will help you when you’re swimming and when you’re on that bike for a long time also a stronger legs will give you driving power on the bike and also if you’re weak on the bike you might find it harder to run so the strength training will help you i think a lot of people don’t include it because they think swim bike run right but you only need to do it once a week it doesn’t have to be an hour it doesn’t have to be crossfit i mean crossfit might actually be a bit too much for some people because that is so high-tensity uh people so it’s also about finding ways in which you might want to fit it in to your day like you know when you’re on the way to work uh whilst you’re waiting at the bus stop or at the train you maybe could do some car phrases whilst you’re just waiting you can subtly add them into your day or you could do them uh in the morning you know once you’ve woken up or another thing you could do is when you’re brushing your teeth you could stand on one leg um so that’s a good way of practicing like you know balancing because you know running is a single leg sport so to speak you know your feet aren’t both on the ground at the same time so that helps you and what do you think in terms of weight like the the amount do i need to have like heavy weights do i have light weights what do you recommend what are what is something that you’re doing for example so um for me because crossfit is really really specific in terms of strength training i am trying to increase the weights that i’m lifting lifting very very heavy weights uh you know for the ordinary uh triathlete who isn’t so keen on crossfit which is me you know you could use it with uh resistance bands if you wanted or with dumbbells you know you want a light to medium weight you want a weight that’s challenging you um you know one that is at that level where it’s not so light but it’s not so heavy that you’re struggling with your form yeah makes sense and you mentioned once a week yeah yeah okay so that would be enough yeah once a week is plenty uh you know you’ve also got to think about how you can fit it in okay in a week i’m able to do five to six days of training so it’s i’m happy about that but i’m thinking okay now i need to include weights yeah so it’s just something you you know you’re adding to your your routine and it’s it’s a good it’s a good thing to say that you know you need to be able to fit it in your routine because we all have like date you know other things to do or we have like full-time jobs families or just you know life to to navigate and so fitting in all these different type of trainings for something that it might be a bit much right so you’re saying once a week is great okay all right and how long so i think you know you can um it can be anything from 15 minutes to 40 minutes 45 minutes you know it doesn’t have to be really really long it can be just a really really simple uh workout uh 30 minutes is also fine um like i said you know it’s also about fitting it into your week we’re not full-time athletes exactly you know like you said you’ve got families we’ve got work and you know to add on strength training on top of that it’s it’s a lot it’s a lot so it’s also about you know that’s why i’m also saying you know maybe how can you fit in strength training into your life like for example you know whilst you’re brushing your teeth or in the morning once you’ve woken up can you do some car phrases uh so it’s about finding the little ways in which you can incorporate it into your daily life as well what would be areas i would focus on like for example the core legs what about arms yeah so um you know with uh strength training you can do full body workouts um you can do typical exercises that you could do include squats deadlifts and then lunges and then shoulder presses bent over rows or dead bugs dead bugs are a great one for the core in particular they seem really really easy when you do when you look at people doing them but they require so many so much coordination and you if you do it really slowly you’ll really notice the difference so if because i don’t know what that means is because i think dead bugs so the best thing i’d say is google it because i don’t know if you’re gonna be describing it at that great but you’re lying on your back and you’ve got your arms up in right and then your legs up in a tabletop position yeah that’s basically move one arm back and the opposite leg straight oh okay it’s it’s one that requires coordination coordination and i don’t know if i’ve ever said it right but i went to google that’s fine but you’re on the floor you have your legs up and your hands like up as well and you you you need to do yeah yeah you need to switch and be in like the movements are inversed right yeah okay yeah okay that i mean that is a tough one that is a tough you have these different disciplines and you want to be strong in as well but i always wonder if it’s better to focus on your strengths or your weaknesses because if you’re able to do your the most easiest for you faster then anyways you’re going to struggle with your weaknesses right yeah so is it better to focus on your strengths or your weaknesses yes so great question uh i would say it’s better to focus on your weaknesses uh and you know if you don’t care about the tiny details you’ll produce bad work because the good work culminates in hundreds of tiny tiny details and also the details that you don’t really like or are your weaknesses and successful people will sweat that tiny stuff as much as it is really really it might be boring for you to do certain things like the transition practice that will help you in the long term it’ll help you to become faster and more confident as well but also just making sure that you are doing this the things that you do enjoy what part of the triathlon training do you really enjoy at the moment okay i have to be honest i have not trained the transitions are you in my training like do you know that i’m not practicing this are you trying to tell me something but anyways what i enjoy seeing more in my training is that for example i’ve noticed that i start being anxious now when i’m training like swimming which is something i usually never had something that i used to enjoy starts becoming fearful yeah and so i thought okay i need to work through that it’s actually for me it’s more of a mindset work than a physical effort and so what i’ve noticed that is that i’m slowly gaining confidence by training actually so by saying that i’m texting and i’m i’m addressing the issue it it’s comforting in certain way can you relate to that or i don’t know maybe it’s just me yeah no no i love that and i think uh you know it’s about leveraging that as well and using that so that when you do have days when it feels harder or you may not have the motivation going back to that and thinking about that will really really help you as well and we can’t always rely on motivation and this is why you know discipline and routine will really help especially with the parts that are your weaknesses in your training because when you’re in those areas you probably don’t feel as motivated to do the training it’s been like it later on but if you if you focus on the discipline and the routine okay you’ll do it um you may not feel like motivated to do it but you’ll do it and you know gradually you’ll you know see those results right in that area over time and i think that will also add in and build in that confidence right as well what do you enjoy the most in the triathlon training in general yeah so i haven’t really i haven’t really done triathlon training in the past year or so but um i think for me it’s being able to see the the progress uh you know when things start to click and you’re like oh my god yes especially after you’ve gone through a period where you felt like oh i haven’t really achieved anything or everything’s just going down the pan and then suddenly it’s just like wow like everything’s starting to click i’m getting better at it and this wow this is amazing another thing for me as well is the confidence booster so when i first started uh training for a triathlon i had a phobia of deep water and now when i do go open water swimming or when i go into the pool i’m like oh my god just thinking about how far i have come to overcome that phobia is just like blows my mind it shows how capable we are if we put our minds to it right and something that i’ve also noticed is that i was like oh i never thought this is something that i could be doing or i never thought that this would be me or i mean this goes to go so through representation as well like for example in those sports it’s not like you can see a lot of black asian or ethnic minorities there i feel a sense of pride that to say like i’m holding the space as well yeah i never thought that this is something that i would be doing there’s no one in my family or surrounding that is into one of these sports oh no and yeah definitely and this is why we’re even having this conversation but i’d like to know your thoughts with regards to the lack of representation and with your background and the the type of work you do what are your thoughts on on that and how how poorly represented we are in in these in these sports i mean first of all the figures that are out there on the lack of physical activity among south asian women in particular it really doesn’t surprise me and i think it’s a mixture of intercultural issues and barriers and patriarchal society if you want to call it that um as well as um external um barriers as well so um you know i think in the uk um the recommended amount of physical activity is 150 minutes per week but south asian women um most a lot a large amount of south asian women don’t achieve anywhere near that amount and there’s so many reasons for that you know it’s things like clothing tops might be too short or there isn’t a lot of modest clothing available for south asian women and for any muslim south asian women as well as well there’s very few brands that recognize that and then another thing to add is that there aren’t many places where women feel comfortable in terms of the physical and fitness spaces a lot of places might have male instructors so you know one thing that i found actually there was a pre pandemic i really wanted to set up this it was a bollywood version of a hit workout and i thought this might be a really cool way to get loads of south asian women like more active but and when i put it to loads of gyms they kept telling me oh you you want a woman only a class that’s that’s no good like you need to make it what’s it called unisex and so i kept getting loads of pushback but actually you know a lot of south asian women find it more comfortable being in women-only spaces feeling safe these sports that requires you to be either on the road or in parks and i have even noticed that i picked my place according to the surroundings can i run here do i feel that i i feel safe running here which is maybe some a question that a man would never think about maybe not never but he wouldn’t necessarily have to think do i feel safe enough to run it has been one of the criterias when i was looking at these different spaces do i feel comfortable to want to cycle as well yeah um because i’ve noticed that in some parts of london cycling i don’t feel i don’t feel safe with the the bike and because you know you hear so many horror stories about people being stolen there that bike while they were on it or yeah very like scary ones like that and so as when you tell to family members that you’re you’re cycling they’re like are you sure do is it you know is it a good idea it’s unsafe so the safety bit is truly something that everyone say but i think that you can manage it if you think through where you’re yeah where you’re gonna be running do you do you have those same like thought process when you go for run off for right yeah no definitely um and i think politics does a play a part into it um you know i think particularly when brexit was really taking momentum you know i noticed that when i would cycle into the countryside there were certain areas where i really really really didn’t feel safe um or felt like i didn’t belong and you could see it just from the faces on and the expressions people were making when they saw you and it would just be like i need to ride on as quickly as possible because i clearly don’t feel welcomed here but safe to say you know i think that isn’t the majority um of the the uk at least obviously it’s just like small pockets it’s just unfortunate when you have to the fact that we have to think about that um planning and then in terms of running yeah definitely i mean one of the things that i do is you know i put my strava on private um and i have lots and lots of running routes on there i think my strava has like over 300 saved roots on there because i don’t want to run the same route regularly um you know this is just maybe me being um over the top in terms of my uh being precaution but um yeah i try and avoid taking the same routes regularly and you know thinking about timing but at the same time it’s i think part of it is is just ingrained in me and maybe actually it is safer than i’m you know expecting it’s just it’s just ingrained okay when i go out make sure i do this this and this right yeah yeah yeah and then another option is to go with someone and that’s why having groups is yeah is a is a great thing because yeah if something does happen you know that that’s somebody who is who is there to kind of back you up or who is that to support you um it’s a pity that it’s something that you have to keep in mind when you when you are training yeah and then um what what are the things that you think that are preventing women to actually be more active yeah so i think um you know perceptions of husbands and in-laws when it comes to a women doing exercise and also um at the same time you know if they’re not looking after their children it’s like because unfortunately with the majority of south asian households the house burden is predominantly lying with women and so if the woman isn’t looking after their children because she might want to go out and do swimming running cycling strength training whatever it is um you know there is a bit of people uh that aspect of people looking down upon her oh why aren’t you with the children and there’s that aspect and um oh uh you know should you really be lifting weights you might get bulky oh my i think that sometimes some of the pushback or things that people would mention is like oh you know you’re a woman you shouldn’t be you know working out um you don’t need to or to stay home don’t stay safe and of course then the safety bit becomes the excuse but then after you know we’re not empowering women to not be a victim of of that it empowers women to be a victim of feel unsafe but it’s more about how do we empower them to still go through um to go around it right or find solutions for these and then i was wondering with regards to diet in the south asian communities is so diverse right so you could have like vegetarians etc and i’m thinking also um when i spoke to the dietitian we spoke about you know being vegetarian and how it you have to think about the way you approach your training and just adjust accordingly and now i’m thinking ramadan is coming do you think that there’s any adjustments to be made when you’re training and and you’re fasting yeah that’s a really really good question so um with ramadan you definitely need to consider the timing of when you do your workouts and then the other thing that you need to consider is the type of workout that you do um so for example um the best time would be um to do your work i would be at soho because that’s um pre-dawn meal but i mean uh in the uk that is you know 4 59 yeah really 82 a.m so i don’t really see a lot of people doing workouts then so if that’s really not that realistic um but if you were to do it you know in a hypothetical situation someone who has the energy in the ability it could be a low to medium intensity uh we’re not looking at anything strenuous um the next option which probably would be a little bit more realistic for people is one hour before iftar and given the thing to consider is that given that you fasted over the past nine hours or so you’re also going to be dehydrated because you have drunk water um so you also need to ensure that the workout that you do is at a lower intensity you don’t want to be pushing yourself you you know crossfit pre uh if probably would be not the greatest thing to do for example um or lifting heavy weights or you know for you when you’re cycling you know not doing a really intense um cycling um session on zwift or whatever you use instead what you could do is an easy run or an easy bike ride and you could also use that time to also maybe practice transitions um the next option uh would be after iftar so after iftar you’ve obviously eaten you obviously as a result more energized um so you could do um a medium intensity session at this point um as well and then the final i’d uh idea the final point where you could potentially fit in a workout is after tarawi because at this point this is when you could probably fit in a medium to higher intensity workout because you’ve had these eaten and then also you’ve got that room that window um for cere as well so which is basically when you can continue eating basically right yeah recap is working out just before uh starting your fast yeah so you have that the morning breakfast or just before breaking your fast yeah and after breaking your fast yeah right in that sense i i hear you so reduce the intensities what are the impact say you push yourself what are potential risks bearing in mind you’ve fasted all day for a very long time and you also haven’t drunk water you will likely be more in the dehydrated side of things so in that respect you’re probably prone to injury and if you are going out too much um at a really high intensity you could faint for example which are things you don’t want happening uh you know if you’re on your bike or out running um so it’s about taking things easy and the other thing i would say is it’s also about listening to your body because as much as those are suggestions um i do know people who go out for a run or go out for a ride midday and for them it’s okay and it’s also something that they’ve been doing for a long time so they’re all so used to it so listening to your body and knowing what works for you is also key and knowing how much you can push yourself and you know finding that right balance if you are doing it during the day is also important you just need to adjust and listen to your body during ramadan it’s also been being more conscious and being more in the present and then taking it slow you know during ramadan it’s not about making gains getting stronger or getting faster you’re less likely to do so in a fasted state because especially over the month the fast will get longer and so you’ll get tired um by the end of the month so rather than focusing on gains it’s more focusing on maintenance and maintaining that fitness and just taking over your legs yeah i agree and i think for me it’s also another outlet for a bit being in a meditative exactly yeah yeah yeah so last year i fasted and this year i’m going to be fasting as well and i realized that i’m so much more present in my workout than i used to be when i don’t and so i find it very empowering actually actually looking forward but um we’ll see how it goes uh i’ll thank you i loved youtube uh well thank you so much for the chat today mars it was really good to be able to touch in so many different facets about you know training and this training is is part of lifestyle medicine it’s physical exercise is medicine for for life for me but as we talked you could see how it like kind of touch upon like social and societal issues or sometimes around food around family and interactions and how to balance everything so it was really great uh speaking to you but before we close off we always like to uh ask these uh rapid fire questions and so one the first one is what is the first sign that you recognize when you’re out of balance i think for me so as someone who loves to do lists the moment where i’ve stopped doing them and everything is just going crazy in my brain and i can’t think and i can’t concentrate that is when i realized wow i’m out of balance um i need to sit down and just write it all down write everything out whatever it is and just transfer it to a piece of paper that’s when i realize yeah and another thing is when i go to the gym and lift weights and i just feel that transfer from whatever’s happening in my brain to the weights just disappear that’s when i notice that okay and what do you do to what is your coping mechanism to like methods of coping when you’re out of balance yeah so yeah just touch on that so yeah lifting weights i for me it’s just if i’m having a really uh stressful week or a busy period then i will i love lifting weights i think that really really helps me in terms of um coping with um any imbalances also using a support network i you know something that i really um recommend both to my clients and i like doing with myself is you know finding a group of people whoever it is your family your friends and just talking with them and just sharing how you’re feeling and they don’t have to say anything it’s just someone who is a sounding board right sometimes you just need to be able to not vent but being able to share and express what has been like kind of sitting on your chest so it’s um that’s a great um advice and what is one book that impacted your approach to wellness or well-being mine is raw by dr stacy sim okay that book is all about matching your food um and your fitness to women’s body okay i love that book i love dr stacy sims she really recognizes the difference that women’s bodies are compared to men’s you know there aren’t a lot of studies on women in sports um sector and she really approaches that um and tackles issues you know like how do we um you know what do we do with our menstruation cycle and how do we approach workouts and fitness to that and and yeah i definitely get it i highly recommend that book so it’s called raw uh by dr stacy sims right well thank you so much mara it was really a pleasure yeah thank you for having me if you enjoyed this episode go ahead and select that follow a subscribe button for now stay safe and we’ll see you next week you

Founder Series | Ep #45 | Mara Hafezi | Triathlon Preparation – Conversations on Strength Training

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