Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Columnists

Plan It Then Forget It

When I talk to others about big goals I’m often surprised that people don’t necessarily know what they are up against. What does it take to qualify? Where are you relative to that qualification standard? What do you need to do to get to the standard it takes? These are all important questions you should ask yourself early on when you are formulating your plan for how to reach that coveted goal.

Ultras and Health

I recently finished up Scott Jurek’s autobiography. It brought back memories of many a big day. By way of background, I asked Scott to coach me when I was trying to get myself out of a funk due to overtraining. Probably a good thing that it didn’t work out between us. At that stage of my life, I needed rest more than I needed to run a 100 miles!

Values and Big Goals

My first trip to Kona was in 2006. I considered myself lucky to get there. I didn't really know what I was doing and hadn’t put in what I consider to be appropriate training for an athlete looking to qualify for the World Championships. However, I happily accepted my roll-down slot, went to Kona that year and then quickly realized that if I ever wanted to get back, I was going to need to make some changes.

Seinfeld Knows Sport

When I see reruns from most 1990s sitcoms I wonder how I ever enjoyed watching any of them. Of course, there are exceptions, most notably: Seinfeld. I always loved how Seinfeld managed to pull multiple story lines together in the final scenes of a show, no matter how seemingly unrelated they all appeared to be. My assumption, whether right or wrong, was that the writers of this show must have written their scripts by starting with the conclusion. Putting the entire show together began by knowing where they wanted to end.

Establishing major goals in triathlon is not much different in my eyes. In this case, the final scene lies in the key race. Knowing where you want to be on that day should determine how you build your training as you work backwards to present day.

Planning for Next Season Begins Now

Most everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is closing out their race seasons (or already has). Now is the time to consider an off season. The definition of "off season" may vary from athlete to athlete, but the basic gist for almost everyone is that the next "season" is many months away and your current motivation is changing.

Adding the Squat to Your Strength Routine

To strength athletes, squats are known as the king of all exercises. And, despite being endurance athletes, most ironman competitors can gain a lot from adding squats to their routine.

Squats are more effective than dedicated abdominal work at developing core strength, which is necessary for maintaining good form during the ironman marathon. The movement of squatting resembles the pedaling action, so work done here resembles huge strength gains on the bike. Remember if you want to push 300 watts aerobically, you need kilos of aerobic quad muscle, so get it in the gym!

Give It Time

Most athletes, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, are winding down their triathlon racing seasons. While many athletes may put their triathlon gear and thoughts away for awhile, the goal driven, performance driven athletes are planning. They are planning the next year or the maybe even the next three years. Although you have some down time from training, do yourself a favor and begin thinking out how you might want to plan next season (more than just the races you sign up for) and potentially the years beyond.

Motivational Balance

Most of us are corporeal beings, so our lot in life is to be constrained by time and space. There are only so many seconds in our lives and hence, we need to be constantly minding our fractions. There will be many articles coming through the last few weeks on methods to achieve the balance required to have success in life and triathlon. However, I will propose that something’s ‘gotta give.

How do we determine what we will focus on and what will we let slide? In other words, what factors determine our choices? Maybe I wanted to really know, why do any of us choose the lifestyle of triathlon, when so many other important things clamor for our attention?

Fit Pregnancy Round Up

Seeing as this is going to be the last one for our family, I thought I’d do a round up article for you.

Here’s how the first pregnancy went and an article on Monica’s experience with our son’s pregnancy. Also, we recorded a webinar that included Monica talking about the entire process.

The two most important things we learned this time were:

  1. When you use an epidural, make sure you “press the button” when you start to “feel” things
  2. Get yourself induced before the baby gets close to 10 pounds!

Those made a huge difference with Monica’s comfort for this third round.

Focus Your Efforts

Prior to working with a coach, I really had no clue as to how to train. Back then, I did whatever, whenever and however.

But despite being clueless, I knew deep down that I would need to hire a coach to move beyond the bottom of the pack.

Shortly after hiring a coach, I became familiar with the fundamentals of triathlon training and the positive results were almost immediate.

10 Credible Online Health Resources

The Internet has revolutionized the way we get information -- whether it’s the news, the weather report or information about our health. But in some sense, there is just too much information. A quick Google search about an athlete’s medical problem typically yields far too many leads to track down. As I see it, the bigger -- and more relevant -- problem is that there is actually too little quality information. Here are my picks for 10 useful online and social media resources for athletes looking for information about heart disease.

The 40 Boring Weeks

Some of us are coming up on our big goals for the 2012 season. For others it may be time to shut it down or ramp it up -- all depending on your goals for the year or years to come.

As I was out riding the other day I got to thinking about some of my athletes and their years as well as myself and my plans. I started thinking about training and some of the questions I get asked.

Does Crime Pay?

When my wife asked if I was going to read Tyler Hamilton's book, I wasn’t sure. I had a hunch that I’d get seriously pissed off and I like to avoid unnecessary stress.

I read a few reviews and they were generally positive. So I got myself a copy. It wasn’t what I expected.

Balancing Life, Not Triathlon

Does your life function inside the bubble of the triathlon world or does triathlon fit inside the bubble of your life?

Stripping away everything-triathlon from my world, I’m a husband, father, full-time IT professional, coach, friend, son and brother. If I tried to squeeze and balance those components of my life inside a world dictated by triathlon, I’d lose and my bubble would pop. Triathlon only fits when there’s balance amongst those things that weigh heavier in importance.

When All Else Fails, Go to Anger... But Don't Go There Often

I was in the middle of a ride about a month ago in my big build before my second Ultraman UK when I had an experience with a lot of anger. Training was good and I was very well fueled, but it still seems like every time I'm close to my limits I get angry without anything in particular setting me off. Luckily I was riding solo!

Juggling Family and Triathlon

I took a course in Motor Learning as part of my undergrad. On the first day of class, the professor gave us a proposal. We could skip the first test if we were able to juggle two tennis balls with one hand for 20 consecutive catches. I sat in the back of the class with a sly smile. I knew how to juggle. Out of 60-something students only about five of us attempted this feat. I was the only person who skipped the first test.

If you are married with kids and racing long distance triathlon, you need to learn how to juggle at least two objects with one hand.

Crushing Cramping

Most athletes’ cramping strategy consists of “hope in a jar.” Sodium, magnesium, potassium, pickle juice... all have been reported to bring relief from cramps.

While placebos are effective for half the people I coach, I’ve taken a different approach with my own athletics. Today I will offer you practical tips you can take to improve your durability.

A Sense of Urgency

I was fortunate to recently spend some time with one of the members of our management team. She was training some new staff and mentioned the need to teach our new co-workers the ability to work with “a sense of urgency.”

I am now a few short weeks from my first Ironman World Championship. Achieving this goal has required three years of dedication, consistency, focus and luck. I came to our sport at age 40 and I am starting to feel the weight of change in my life. My nest is now empty, menopause looms, my body is aging and I often wonder if my willingness to suffer will eventually wane.

Getting Over the Addiction

I know this guy. About 10 years back he realized that he wasn't in the best of shape. In fact, looking in the mirror he could see a gradual decline into poor health and larger trouser sizes. At that point, fortunately, he had a moment’s revelation and just enough motivation to carry out a plan that changed his life: diet and exercise gave him the health and the waist measurement he desired. It wasn't enough. Fitness became an addiction and triathlon is a place where fitness addicts end up. It's a vicious circle that starts with a sprint tri and ends with an ironman, except it doesn't end; once the ironman is done, the question -- obsession -- becomes Kona. This guy gave up a good job, left friends and family behind, and traveled halfway around the world in pursuit of that obsession.

"How Do They Get It Done?" - Trying to Balance Triathlon Training with Life Outside of It

Many of us have busy lives that we choose to make even more complicated by not only adding a sport like triathlon to it, but also wanting to continuously improve and even excel. Over 22 years of coaching -- 15 of those helping triathletes -- I’ve seen my share of unbalance in an athlete’s life but in the majority of cases I have learned and gained so much appreciation for those who do it “right” and not only make themselves happy but make those around them happy as well.

Sport and Life

We bring sport into our lives and it has an impact on everything we are. The entire package: asking our work, our families and our friends to be a part of our new found love. It effects our outlook, our decision making and our way of life.

I think it's important to first acknowledge that this lifestyle most likely isn't going to "go away." It is likely not a "phase" you are going through. It is a lifestyle of habits, choices, friends and how you as a person have chosen to live your life. It impacts everything.

Building Athletic Confidence

Recently, a friend shared: "One thing about your writing is that you seem sure of yourself in the moment. Do you ever feel uncertain in your pursuit of excellence and sense of control?"

I suspect that many former elites miss the simplicity that comes from a single-minded focus on a goal of athletic excellence. I consider myself very fortunate to have had a few years to completely devote myself to sport.

Elite athletics taught me that finishing times are the least important results I received from athletics. What truly mattered was clarity, physical power, a sense of freedom and self-confidence. At some stage, I’ll need to let go of those. For now, I’m hangin’ on!

Twenty-Four Hours of Eating

"I bet you can eat whatever you want!"

I've heard that more than a few times and the truth is I would love nothing more than to eat a bacon cheeseburger with curly fries but I often end up with a bowl of salad.

What can I say? My meals are boring.

Embrace the Off

I started doing triathlons after my freshman year in college and over the next three years I began to train more and more. Nevertheless, I always kept one off day which was also called “game day”. Attending a school with a large football program tends to make Saturdays a bit more of a holiday/party atmosphere than you might find in some other towns across the nation. With these kind of distractions each fall, it was easy to take a day away from studying and training.

Dealing with Adversity

Whether you are a seasoned racer or someone taking on a first race there is one sure thing that is going to happen in your athletic endeavors: you are going to have to deal with adversity.

Adversity can be used to describe many different things, can come in many forms, and is obviously different for each individual person. It also usually goes hand in hand with both success and failure on many levels.

Triathlon-Related Deaths - The Facts and What You Should Know

Last August I volunteered to help with a USA Triathlon (USAT) review of race-related fatalities in recent years. Since this issue has been in the news these past couple weeks with athlete deaths at the inaugural Ironman New York triathlon and again at the USAT National Championships in Burlington, Vermont, I thought I’d share my experience with the review, some data you might find interesting, and some thoughts about a path toward better race safety.

Go Into Race Week Like a Fighter

Ironman is a tough sport, but for the many-time ironman finisher the race in itself doesn’t provide motivation. Motivation has to come from within. What is more, the experienced ironman knows it’s just a race, it’s not life and death, and a terrible race isn’t dangerous. And this is what sometimes makes preparation hard, especially compared to other sports… Muay Thai for example.