Bad races -- all of us have them. With three disciplines, the odds for something to go wrong is pretty high. But what do you do with a bad race? Do you use it as an excuse for why you did not meet the goals you set for yourself or do you take what you learn and apply it to the next race? A bad race can serve a purpose but you need to look at it the right way.
I have two bad race experiences that I will never forget. They molded me as an athlete and helped me make a decision to become the athlete I wanted to be.
I’ve been coaching athletes and tracking my health markers since 2000. It’s fashionable to think we are unique but I suspect you can group athletes into three categories:
There is an old expression: "Confidence lost, everything lost."
As athletes, we put ourselves out there in a black and white situation where we are judged based on goals we've set and seeing if we can meet our goals by stepping on the start line. It takes a lot of guts to do that. Setting a goal and seeing it through can be a lesson in self growth far beyond what we imagined.
In our house, the “expect” word is comparable to saying “never” or “always” -- anytime those words come flying, it’s generally negative and usually prefaced by “You.” When, “You never... “ or “You always… “ comes flying, it’s predominantly in a negative sense and in the midst of less than desirable conversation (read: arguing!).
“Expect” follows close behind. Expectations can be dangerous and usually prompt disappointment. If I expect my son to sit still in his chair through the entire course of dinner, I’m setting myself up for disappointment, because 10 times out of 10, he won’t.
Many athletes have health-related questions, but they aren't sure where to go for answers or -- all perhaps more commonly -- they forget to ask at their annual physicals. Endurance Corner's Larry Creswell, M.D., a cardiac surgeon and Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, the author of The Athlete's Heart blog and a co-author of the recent USA Triathlon Fatality Incidents Study is here to help.
Have a question about a recent health issue that impacts your training or racing? Have a personal experience that you think will benefit others but you're not sure how to translate it into a larger message for the triathlon community? Contact Larry via e-mail at email@example.com to share.
From the start of my racing career, I was able to perform above my training and beat athletes who appeared fitter than me. The mental side of life has been an area where I’ve done well over the years.
Small woman triathletes have unique physiologies and should approach the sport differently than their larger male peers. I believe you qualify as a small unit if you are 66 inches (5’6”) or less in height and under 135 lbs. Chances are you have a reputation as being a poor to okay swimmer, fine on the bike and a really good runner!
A skillful surf entry can save you minutes at the start of your race, or save the life of another. I am going to share some ideas that I picked up surfing, over four years as a junior lifeguard and seven years as a professional guarding beaches in California.
The triathlon season is starting to get underway here in North America and the weekends are filling up with events. If you live somewhere with a warm climate, you might be well on your way to peak fitness, while others are just starting to get their feet wet with competition. Assuming you did have a break in winter and you are only a few months into the new season, your approach to racing might be different than it will be later in the year.
Rib injuries pop-up fairly frequently in our team.
I crashed hard in October 2011. Despite having to cope with some dark days, I got a lot right with my recovery from that injury.
Race season has started. As you head into your race it's key to have a clear view of your plan. Things can happen on race day out of your control and you just have to roll with that, adjust and adapt. For the things you can influence, it's important to take control and set yourself up for the best day possible.
Now that we are well into April and some of the early races have begun, I wanted to share some experiences and approaches for early season racing I have used with success. Most recently I had a large group racing at Oceanside 70.3 and although everyone was 100% motivated and fitness looked good across the group, I always have apprehensions about how “race” fit athletes actually are. Then again, sometimes early season racing opens a window to what needs attention for the remainder of the year.
Last summer, in an effort to improve my cycling, I stopped running. This proved to be a serious screw up that required months of rehab.
I’m a past champion of Ultraman Hawaii and the concept of doing less, doing the minimum, getting by... none of these are appealing to me. I’m all about more and I lose interest when winning isn’t an option.
However, the concept of only needing 12 weeks to ramp myself up (and kick booty) is highly appealing to me. How can we put ourselves in a position so we always have the ability to scale up for a race?
When I started the sport of triathlon you could barely find a race earlier than Wildflower which was, and still is, the first weekend in May. I was living in San Luis Obispo at the time so of course the famous Wildflower Festival was the marker that triathlon season had officially started. It wasn’t until I started racing as a professional a few years later that earlier races even entered my mind.
Am I really okay with this?
Or another question is, am I okay with letting go of a result? My last two articles focused on giving myself permission to let it go and re-evaluating the actual importance of all of it. Am I okay being slower than I used to be? Am I okay with not winning or at some point perhaps being in the middle of the pack?
There are three main reasons that I attend training camps:
This week’s article is about the first point above and covers lessons from our most recent camp in Tucson.
Our next camp is June in Boulder -- we cater to all ability levels and distances, including road cyclists and mountain bikers. The camp is priced excluding accommodation so you can scale up or down depending on your budget. Contact us with any questions.
I’ll be there and I hope you can join me.
I am close to launching my new company. Before the official launch, I need to start beta testing our program. Beta testing is where I ask people to poke holes into our program. Does it work? Where are the bottlenecks? What are we missing?
The last few years I have started beta testing my triathlon season.
Looking back at over 10 years of training and racing, I must admit I have done some pretty “crazy” things in training. Epic Camps, back to back races and challenge workouts in extreme conditions are all notable entries in my training diary. However, my most memorable block of training was in October of 2011 when I spent a month living and training on Mount Lemmon.
People who know me know I get up to all sorts of crazy training. It is very rare that the weather stops me from riding. This week I set off on a bike ride in the pouring rain. Within minutes the rain had turned to hail, but I carried on as normal and ended up riding into a 20 mph block headwind through a hail storm which lasted 25 minutes.
With this is mind, I'd like to share the greatest hits version of my crazy training, which may raise an eyebrow or two.
This past year, I have embarked on a new project involving a small business startup. It has been 16 years since my last “I know nothing about this industry” start up.
In all those years, I completely forgot the emotional energy required to manage a start up. I am continuing my no drama management approach despite having moments that fluctuate from the flash terror of “this is going to be a colossal failure” to “what happens if it takes off?”
Again I have learned that if I had known everything involved in a startup in a new industry, I would have never taken on this project. The best part about being overwhelmed in the information dump from a new industry is that the learning curve is steep, fast and perpetual.
I love every moment of it.
In a previous article, I outlined the importance of understanding where your relative strengths lie in order to maximize your relative performance as a triathlete. I applied this on two levels:
I want to explore the second of these concepts in a little more depth.
At our Tucson Camp, I shared thoughts on drug use in sport.
A key selling point on staying clean is my experience that “getting fast” won’t change your life. If you compromise your ethics in the hope of benefiting from cheating then you’re going to be disappointed.
While getting fast didn’t change my life, the transformation from fat to fit to fast completely changed my life.
Via complete devotion towards my goals, I went far beyond what I thought feasible, then discovered that the goals didn’t provide meaning.
Over the years, I have found that the most effective teachers and coaches avoid making too many changes with their students/athletes at once. They value the execution of one simple change at a time as opposed to changing everything in one quick go. One of the best examples of this is watching a swim coach make one suggestion about an athlete’s stroke instead of pointing out every flaw. If the coach can get the athlete to habituate one change, they can move on to the next. If they think about too many things at once, nothing changes.
When it comes to racing, almost everyone is constantly looking for the perfect workout to help have that epic performance. What I think many people do not realize is that while the physical workouts are important, the mind is the source of true epic performances. The question is, how can you train yourself to have that epic performance?
In 2008, our team doc contacted the Agency for Cycling Ethics in Los Angeles and spoke with Paul Scott. We were curious what it would cost to “prove” we were clean. We were quoted $10,000-12,000 per athlete. This figure was totally out of reach for us. It likewise proved financially not viable for the company, as it folded later that year. Much of this cost is the result of the weekly labs required by its protocol to reduce the chance of someone skirting around a positive test
Can a diet with more fat really be healthier for your heart? Well, it may be true! Let’s talk about a recently published scientific report on the Mediterranean diet and heart health. The findings are remarkable and have implications for athletes and non-athletes, alike.
After two running injuries last fall, I asked our team doc, Jeff Shilt, for a running rehab program. He shared his elite athlete rehab protocol, it was an excellent program:
Considering the time commitment required for Jeff's program, I knew there was zero chance that I'd be able to execute it. Rather than fail, I searched for an alternative plan.
The gym can be icing on the cake or it can be a critical part of your program. Either way, gym conditioning has a positive impact on endurance sports performance, especially in triathlon where strength endurance is such a huge factor for the event.
Some people have concerns such as time limitations or building too much mass. That's why it's important that you choose a strength program that fits you. Even two sessions per week throughout the year right up to the last 12 weeks of your A race can have a material benefit.
Quite often I’ll emphasize to athletes about consistency of training and patience for large parts of the year and within a long term planning structure. In the end it is still the backbone of improvement as a triathlete, but every once in a while we need something to try and speed the process up.
My last article was focused on letting go of the requirements to what we perceive as important. This piece revolves around asking how important is it? This slogan helps me focus again on what I feel I need to do, not only in triathlon, but in life in general. If I focus on determining how important is something, than I can decide what I need to do to accomplish my goal.