[caption id="attachment_9038" align="alignright" width="247"]holidays - triathlon - training - offseason You Can Celebrate Christmas And Still Keep An Eye On Your Training[/caption] Triathlon Holidays are here and gone. The Kona Ironman World Championships came and went yesterday and unless you are racing IMAZ or IMFL your triathlon season is over and you are ready to focus on what to do in the new year.  Since races fill up very fast these days there is a good chance that you have already laid out your 2014 race calendar.  You are looking for the long rides and runs to help support those ambitions.  Maybe there is a century ride that you are looking to do or a 15k race that fits in nicely with your planned training.  The scenario is most likely the same for a lot of you reading this but let us not neglect the fitness gains you have made over the last year and allow them to slip away because your training goes down and your holiday treat consumption goes up. Before we get into some ideas for how to maintain a solid base while the holidays are going on let us quickly discuss the triathlon Christmas holiday known as Ironman Kona.  Yesterday, I had the great fortune to broadcast the coverage live onto my TV as opposed to trying to squint at my laptop or iPad and go blind.  While watching the coverage I watched with a different eye than I have in year's past.  In the past I was just watching the athletes and this year I was studying the athletes.  Trying to pick up anything I could so that I could apply it to my training and racing. From watching VanLierde and Carfrae race to Potts and Rapp pulling out early I learned a lot.  VanLierde chased down McKenzie on the run and when he caught him he did not slow down.  This meant a lot to me because I know when I am running I put a bullseye on a target and will chase them but as soon as I catch up to them I feel as if my work is done and will slow down, even if for a moment, instead of passing with authority and leaving no question that I am prepared to suffer and go fast.  Mirinda Carfrae proved the same theory.  8 minutes down to Rachel Joyce coming out of T2 I had the feeling that she was going to win and I texted Adena as such.  It is one thing to have the ability to do something but it is completely different to actually put that ability to use.  Carfrae did just that and when she passed Joyce she did it with authority as well.  She carried that powerful leg turnover all the way to her second Ironman World Championship victory. Jordan Rapp and Andy Potts proved something else to me and it is a lesson that I am putting into good use already.  Andy Potts pulled out with an injury before the race even started.  Jordan Rapp dropped out of the race midway through the run.  That is a DNS and a DNF from two of the best American triathletes, and truly best triathletes in the world.  Think about that for a moment.  These two world-class athletes make their money as professionals through racing and sponsorships yet when it was time to make a decision on a DNS or DNF they made it.  We, as age groupers, think that DNS/DNF are the curse words to the endurance athlete's lifestyle but the reality is that they are not.  This off-season I have had both Redman 70.3 and Oilman 70.3 on my radar to race and have decided to forgo them.  In year's past I would have put my head down and done the races despite not having the motivation to do them because, well, that is what I do.  Learning from Rockwall last year and understanding the bigger picture and I have put those two races into the 'no need to do them pile.' Lastly, what I have also learned from the IM Kona World Championships is that it is possible to run hard and fast off the bike after a strong and hard bike leg.  As age groupers the saying goes: 'a good run is after a well paced bike' and that is true.  The problem for me is that the well paced ride has been one in which I can go much faster but worry about blowing up on the run.  With that in mind I have made the months of September and October extremely bike heavy. In September I chose a goal of 650 miles and eclipsed that with 747 miles including a 102 miles at Hotter N Hell as well as a 124 mile training ride with some buddies.  Seeing how close I was to 800 I chose a goal of 800 for #OchoInOctober.  As of the writing/publishing of this post (October 13th) I have ridden 396 miles and am well on pace for 800 this month.  Through all these miles I have seen my recovery runs get better even with ridiculously tired legs. As the rest of the country and world prepares themselves for turkey, stuffing and dessert as well as Christmas cookies the triathlete holiday is going be filled with running and cycling as they prepare for the next year's races.  That is not to say that we will not be dabbling in all the foods but it does mean that we will be keeping an eye on where we want to go, what we have learned and how we are going to get to our desired goals.
Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_9033" align="alignright" width="277"]swot - analysis - triathlon It starts with SWOT Analysis but then that analysis has to be executed.
Source: Intelligent Triathlon Training[/caption] SWOT.  Do you remember this from your business classes in college?  It seemed that every class I took during my undergrad and graduate programs discussed SWOT at some point.  We had to identify a company and then do a SWOT analysis on them.  It seemed so routine and mundane and you just sort of glossed over it.  Amazing what can come back around and play a vital role in your life. Today while working with companies on their recruitment marketing strategy I am performing SWOT analysis so that my calls are educated and simultaneously opening the eyes of those that I am working with as to what they are, should and could be doing in terms of marketing to attract top talent as well as retain the talent they already have. While doing this I thought about how I could put this SWOT analysis to a practical use for my triathlon ‘career’.  What parts of the sport of triathlon were my strengths and weaknesses?  Where did I have an opportunity to improve and at the same time what were the threats to this improvement?  This ‘off-season’ I have pushed off races that I thought I wanted to do for a number of different reasons from burnt-out after 3 Ironman and 3 Half-Ironman races in a 15 months period to timing of the events.  Regardless of the reason I wanted to put my off-season training to good use and so leveraging my education and SWOT analysis I realized different areas for improvement.  Here is my SWOT analysis on myself for triathlon.

SWOT ANALYIS – TRIATHLON

STRENGTHS:
  • Running.  My running has been a strength of mine since I started this sport and it was evident by the marathon time I put up at Ironman Texas this past May.  The 15th fastest run out of 400+ M40-44 made me happy and showed that I can run well of a properly ridden bike leg.
  • Head strong.  I have an ability to shut out the heat, the pain, and the negative talk that will surface during a triathlon regardless of distance.  I realized earlier this year that I run well when I run angry so I focus on things that make me rage during runs and I am able to focus on that only and get the legs moving.
WEAKNESSES:
  • Swimming, but not from the standpoint of moving my arms and legs but more of the mental side to swimming, specifically treading water.  This weakness causes major anxiety and thus an elevated heart rate that pulls energy from me during the swim and forces me to slow down.
  • Losing focus.  Not on triathlon but on other aspects of life.  Making sure that I get in that 3 hour ride despite the fact that I may be cutting it close to an appointment that I have to attend or a number of other examples that are the same.
OPPORTUNITES:
  • I have chosen to focus a lot of time on the bike this off-season and taking advantage of the faster athletes in Dallas.   Chasing them around the area despite getting my HR into Z3 for an entire 100 mile ride.  Pushing the envelope with them so that I can get faster and more efficient on the bike which will lead to a stronger and more efficient Ironman bike leg.
  • Swimming in the open water as much as I can. I have a lake right by my house and a number of triathlete friends willing to jump in at a moment’s notice.  Using them to develop the skill of drafting while working on my anxiety as much as I possibly can including 1 hour swims on Saturday and Sunday before long bike rides.
THREATS:
  • Time.  With new responsibilities at work there is less of an opportunity to workout during the day.  This means that those afternoon lunch rides and runs will need to be replaced with afternoon strength sessions and swims in the pool which may not be long but have to be effective.
  • Swimming pool. As the weather gets colder jumping in the lake is going to be more difficult and the location of my new office provides me with a gym just one block away. The problem is that the pool is 18 meters long.  Really?  Who thought this was a good idea?  Three strokes and I am flipping back.  I will certainly be dizzy from any long swim.
By doing a SWOT analysis of my triathlon life I should be able to create a better off-season strategy to address my weaknesses and turn them into strengths while riding myself of the threats and taking advantage of my opportunities.

Do You Remember SWOT Analysis?  Have You Done A SWOT Analysis on your triathlon career?

Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_8992" align="alignright" width="225"]cycling - triathlon - training - miles 100 Mile Bike Rides Are Now The Norm
Source: Cafe Press[/caption] #CycleSeptember was a personal challenge to myself to ride 650 miles in the month and they all had to be outdoors.  The reasoning behind #CycleSeptember was two-fold:
  1. My buddy Jeff rode 150 miles in one day and I thought to myself. What can you do?
  2. I want to have a big base of bike miles build into my legs so that when Ironman Chattanooga training begins I am not starting from scratch so to speak.
At the time I figured that 650 miles over 30 days would require me to average 22 miles per day or just over one hour.  Obviously, I could not ride everyday and still wanted to get in running and as much open water swimming as I could get.  The open water swims were going to start to dwindle with the change in seasons bringing in colder weather and the later the sun rose the harder it would be because of having to get to work. As I started my cycling and the miles began to pile up I realized that I could easily surpass 650 miles by just doing a bit here or there and then loading up on the weekend.  I was starting to find routes that would get me 25-28 miles which could be done in 1.5 hours and not have me struggling to get in other workouts.  The rides on the weekends consisted of one of two options:
  1. Weekends when we had the little guy I would get in 28 miles after Karen ran and the next day would be 60+ miles for as close to 100 in the weekend as possible.
  2. Weekends when we didn't have my step-son would consist of two long rides of 60+ for 120-150 miles.
The plan worked out so well that I wound up with 747 miles of cycling and of course throughout the process began to consider if I could do 800 miles in October and thus #OchoInOctober.  Of course, if I accomplish this then we are looking at #NueveInNovember.  Before we get to November let us figure out how I am going to get to 800 miles in October since they will not be all outdoors and would require time on the trainer. Using the math that 1.5 hours would net me 27.5 miles I figured I could do 1 hour before work and then 30 minutes after work.  The hour in the morning would be using videos from The Sufferfest and the evening ride would be a simple recovery ride that I could maintain a Zone 2 effort.  Using this theory I would need to do this 3 times during the week for a total of 82.5 miles.  On the weekend another 117.5 miles whether they are 60/60 or 100/20 and I would average 200 miles per week and hit that 800 mile marker in October. [caption id="attachment_8991" align="alignright" width="300"]cycling - triathlon - training - miles This Is What 4 Idiots Look Like At The End Of 124 Miles Of Cycling[/caption] Because the miles in October will be primarily on the trainer my goal is to learn to push the efforts during the early rides and work my threshold level so that I could go harder at a lower heart rate than I am currently.  With September I was able to work on my bike handling, learning cadence turnover on climbing and getting comfortable with riding in aero while climbing and turning.  All of these attributes will help me during races. With these types of numbers and time on the trainer I am looking for partners.  Which of you is willing to join me in the #OchoInOctober challenge?

What Is The Most Amount Of Miles You Have Put In Cycling In One Ride? One Week? One Month?

Published in Train
Monday, 23 September 2013 10:05

Drafting. You Can And Should Do It. Legally.

Drafting in triathlons gets a lot of coverage for the negative aspects and typically only during the bike portion.  Unfortunately, there are two issues that triathletes do not do well.  One is draft on the bike in a legal manner and the other is to draft during the swim, and yes during the run.  Obviously, during the bike portion of the race there are rules and no matter what race you are in, including 140.6 mile races, there will be athletes in a pack breaking the rules.  This year while racing 70.3 San Juan I heard what sounded like a million bees coming at me.  Within a few seconds of first hearing it a pack of riders went by and try as I might to not get caught up in the draft I was pulled in.  As quickly as I could I got out of it and raced my race using my own engine and not the effects of the pack.  Clearly, this was breaking the rules but there is a way to draft on the bike without breaking the rules and I'll get into that in a moment. [caption id="attachment_8967" align="alignright" width="146"]drafting - swimming - triathlon - ironman Drafting In The Water Has To Be Developed
Source: Triathlete.com[/caption]

Drafting: Swimming

You can type in triathlon swimming drafting into Google and you will get lots of articles explaining how and why you should do it but how many of us actually practice this skill?  How many of us just hope to jump on feet in the race and hang on?  Go ahead and shake your head yes because I know that is what I have done and it has never worked.  As I am swimming and holding onto feet the following thoughts/questions go through my head:
  • Am I swimming too hard?  Am I swimming too easy?
  • Gosh I hate these bubbles going up my nose.
  • Man, I hope I don't slap this person in the feet more than once.
  • Is this person swimming straight?
When you draft in the swim you can end up swimming longer, slower, or faster than what you are capable of and a lot of this is because you have not practiced drafting in your training leading up to the race.  In order to practice drafting you obviously have to have another person with you but this isn't as hard as it sounds.  Every Friday morning a group of 5-8 friends jump into the lake and we do a 1.1-1.2 mile swim.  I typically let them go out in front of me and then I swim to catch up and draft off of their feet.  I deal with the bubbles.  I deal with slapping them on the feet.  I figure out if I am going to hard or too slow. I try to position myself in one of two areas.  Either directly behind their feet or with my head at their hip.  If I feel them passing me I will slow down so that I fall into that spot.  If I feel as if I am going to be swimming faster than them I will do just that and then push my paces to make it a tempo swim. When it comes to getting into the pool I will ask to share a lane.  I will also let them know that I am going to be swimming right off their hip as I practice my drafting.  As long as they know what I am doing there is typically not an issue.  Since I go to the same pool all the time I have learned who swims at what paces and can work that into my training. [caption id="attachment_8965" align="alignright" width="275"]drafting - illegal - triathlon - bike Illegal Drafting Lands You In The Penalty Box
Source: Triathlete.com[/caption]

Drafting: Cycling

As I wrote earlier we all know about the illegal drafting on the bike.  The packs go by and people are barely pedaling at the back of the pack and yet they are passing you.  This is beyond frustrating to see, but that doesn't mean that you cannot draft in the legal sense and use the rules to your advantage. Typically there is either a 15 or 20 second passing rule once you enter the draft zone.  Use this time to your advantage to help save your legs during the bike and prepare them for the run.  When you enter the draft zone you can get on the back wheel of the athlete in front of you and ride for a few seconds before passing them.  In that few seconds that you have you can save some energy and because of the draft you will/should be able to pass without exerting too much extra energy.  Do this throughout the race, especially a 140.6, and you can really save your legs for the run to come. One area I do not suggest leveraging the rules to your advantage is on a climb.  Trying to pass somebody using a drafting slingshot will take a lot out of your legs as you are climbing and thus may do more damage to your energy reservoir than you might save.  Throw in the fact that if you cannot pass on the climb and the referees pass by you could be hit with a 4:00 penalty thus completely negating the time savings from trying to draft. [caption id="attachment_8968" align="alignright" width="275"]drafting - triathlon - ironman - run You Can Draft On The Run As Well.
Source: Slowtwitch.com[/caption]

Drafting: Running

I am sure there are a lot of people out there that are laughing at this headline and questioning how in the world you draft while out on the run.  The same process that you use for swimming can apply to running as well.  If you are in a race with lots of wind getting on the hip of an athlete that can hold a pace that you are comfortable with can be a blessing.  They will act as a shield against the wind while also being that carrot for you to hold onto.  You will not gain speed from running off their hip but you will not deal with the annoyance of the wind hitting you in the face.  Same thing can be said for rain. Now, let's say that it is a perfectly fall day with little to no wind.  What do you do now?  You do the same thing but this time you aren't gaining an advantage of having the wind blocked for you instead you are gaining a psychological advantage of not worrying about anything but sticking to the hip of the athlete you are with.  For example, at Ironman Texas this year where it was as hot as the sun I wound up on the hip of Chelsea Tiner who is an elite age grouper here in Dallas.  By saying to myself that I had to stick with Chelsea as long as I could I developed a one note mentality.  Staying with her stride for stride as long as I was not cooking myself.  I would check my heart rate every now and again but we were running at a crisp pace that was not above a 5 or 6 on my RPE scale.  This was ideal because I knew that Chelsea could run and I did not have to worry about my pace and just had to stay with her stride for stride. Bike drafting is quite often abused in triathlon but if you stay within the rules you can still draft to your advantage.  In addition to that learning and executing a drafting strategy during the swim and on the run can be terrific performance enhancers as well.
Published in Race
Random thoughts make its second showing here in the second week of September and some of these are just thoughts that make me say:  what were you thinking?  So we are a few days past the mid-way mark of the month and as you know I am trying to ride 650 miles during #CycleSeptember.  Things are looking very good for me at this point and I have shot at surpassing 650 miles by Sunday of this week.  That would give me a week to taper and recover before heading into an October that will be filled with bigger goals and was one of the random thoughts I had while pedaling for nearly 200 miles this past week. Remember that these are some of the random thoughts that pop into my head as I am out there swimming, biking and running.  In case you missed last week's random thoughts post you can click here.

Random Thoughts From The First Two Weeks Of September

  1. [caption id="attachment_8947" align="alignright" width="225"]randome thoughts - superfood Superfood is nothing more than just food. The need to describe it as super is redundant.
    Source: Trainer Tony Martinez[/caption] Can we stop using the phrase superfoods.  If it is a natural food it is a superfood because it will contain healthy fats, or complex carbs or lean proteins.  It will also have micronutrients, vitamins and minerals thus making it a superfood or what I like to call food.  Now if you are downing Oreos (even if they are vegan) on a regular basis then when you have that cup of blueberries you may feel like Superman but otherwise these items are just food and should be referred to as such.
  2. While we are going to stop using the phrase super to describe our food let's continue that pattern and stop using hyperbole to describe EVERYTHING.  I see and hear phrases such as:  That was the best run ever.  That was the greatest steak ever.  That was by far and away the absolute greatest race in the history of races and that includes that dude that ran the first 'marathon' in Greece.  Really?  Is everything you do just the best ever?  C'mon now.  It was probably just good but because you want to post it to Facebook that 3 miles run just became the most epic 3 mile run ever.  Right.
  3. Instagram.  I love this piece of social media but sometimes it is even too much for me.  The shout out for shout out nonsense has to stop.  Please do not tell me to visit the page of the greatest chef in all the land and when I get there that chef is telling me to visit the greatest ballerina in all the land and it is you.  That stuff just has to stop.  Nobody cares about the number of followers or likes that you have.  Just create great content for your page and leave it at that.  People will find it if they are truly interested.
  4. Drivers please respect cyclists on the road.  There is no reason for you to do 100 mph to pass me just so you can get off the next exit which happens to be 5 feet away.  Just slow down and get behind me and before you blow your stack you will be pulling off the exit anyway.
  5. PR companies.  Please, please, please read a few posts of my blog and my About Me before sending me an email asking if I want to review your women's running shoe or your deliver to your house steaks.  Seriously it doesn't take long to read a paragraph or two to understand what I am about and how I live my life.  Sh*t just Google my name and practically my life's story pops up and you can, in a moment, know if I am writing to your target audience or not.
  6. Protein.  I have had it up to my neck with this word.  Protein pancakes. Protein muffins. Protein water. Protein eggs. Protein air.  People......outside of water and air I cannot think of a single thing that doesn't have protein in it.  As a matter of fact, most Americans get more protein than they need and do you know what happens to that extra protein?  No, it does not grow your biceps into a quadceps.  It turns to fat, just like too much carbohydrate.  Stop with the protein non-sense already.  Please.
  7. Breaking news.  This comes on the heels of the Bo Pellini rant about the Nebraska fans FROM TWO YEARS AGO that surfaced today.  Somebody recorded the head coach of Nebraska having a discussion in which he is rather calm but cursing up a storm from lots of frustration.  He thought he was having a private moment but it turns out somebody was recording it.  Based on the fact that Nebraska what whitewashed by UCLA this past weekend this person released the tape to Deadspin and now there is a good chance this will get Pellini fired.  Is anything sacred anymore?  Can we no longer have a discussion with family/friends, colleagues, neighbors without wondering if it is being recorded for a gotcha moment?
  8. [caption id="attachment_8946" align="alignright" width="265"]random thoughts - keep calm By Raging I Find A Way To Remain Calm.....Most Of The Time.
    Source: KeepCalm-O-Matic[/caption] These Keep Calm signs.  Keeping calm is what causes people to eventually erupt.  Sometimes you have to vent. Sometimes you have to be an asshole.  Sometimes keeping calm is the wrong thing to do.
  9. After watching 60 Minutes on Sunday I thought about how odd it is to have federal laws that make marijuana illegal but Colorado state law that allows its use in a recreational setting to be legal and the Federal Government turning a blind eye to it yet that law causing these local businesses to have a difficult time running a legitimate business in Colorado.  Something has to give here right?  It is either legal or illegal but it cannot be both.
  10. Also after watching that 60 Minutes episode I tuned into Al Jazeera TV and watched about 30 minutes of it in bits and pieces.  The parts that I saw were coverage of the new Miss America who is Indian and how within seconds there were Tweets from the public stating how ridiculous it was for an Indian woman to be crowned Miss America.  I immediately thought that these tweets were jokes but sure enough they were real.
  11. The episode on E:60 yesterday with AJ Green, the high school football coach and the boy who was sexually assaulted was easily the best episode ESPN's E:60 has ever produced.   You can see them all by clicking this link.
  12. It is time to get another tattoo.  I cannot wait until after Ironman Chattanooga.

So What Random Thoughts Did You Have While Training?

Published in Race
Monday, 16 September 2013 08:56

Challenge? I Welcome Them Especially This One

[caption id="attachment_8931" align="alignright" width="300"]challenge - triathlon - united states Challenge Family Comes To The US In June 2014
Source: Challenge Roth[/caption] Challenge is a word that may strike fear in some and in others bring out the best that they have to offer.  For me the word Challenge represents another triathlon company, with a tremendous following and reputation for putting on outstanding events, coming into the United States.  You know about World Triathlon Corporation and Ironman but you may not know who Challenge Family is and that is about to change. Challenge Family puts on the world's largest triathlon in Roth, Germany every year.  You read that right......the world's largest triathlon.  On July 12 there were approximately 3,500 individual starters and 650 relay teams from over 60 nations.  The size of the field isn't the only BIG part of the Challenge Roth race.  According to their website more than 200,000 spectators were along the course.  That is just a tremendous amount of people cheering you on and throw in the fact that Challenge Roth is fast and you have the makings for an incredible event. Let us compare the size of 3,500 individuals at Challenge Roth to Ironman and other 140.6 races in the United States:
  • Ironman Texas 2013: 2055 finishers with a 17% DNF rate which would bring the total to 2,475 at the start line
  • Rev3 Cedar Point: 288 athletes in the 140.6 event
  • HITS Championship 2012: 58 finishers in the 140.6 event
[caption id="attachment_8935" align="alignright" width="276"]challenge - triathlon - united states - roth Challenge Roth. Imagine riding through a crowd like that.
Source: Challenge Roth[/caption] As you can see the 3,500 individual racers at Challenge Roth dwarfs all others including Ironman.  The reason that I am bringing up Challenge and their races is that they are here in North America and have been building the excitement for an announcement regarding their first United States race.  This race is to take place in 2014 in June in the Mid-Atlantic region. To date the following areas have been eliminated:
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Virginia Beach, VA
  • Baltimore, MD
  • New York City, NY
  • Hilton Head, SC
  • Behoboth Beach, MD
Not too much left when it comes to cities big enough to host the event but I am staking my claim to OBX in North Carolina.  There have been guesses that Ocean City, Maryland is another place to have it but in June I am not sure how the tourist faction would play there.  The same can be said for OBX but I am sticking to my guns. One of the main reasons that I am excited about this race coming to the United States in 2014 and hopefully beyond is that the Mid-Atlantic region in June is going to be hot and depending on where the race is held it will be flat as well.  If I could design a race course that fits my abilities those two ingredients would certainly be in the recipe. If you are wondering when the announcement will be made you will not have to wait much longer.  The race location will be announced on September 18.  I am not sure if there will be a rush to register like there is for Ironman branded triathlons but the cost could make it a race where people turn to, especially after missing out on Ironman Chattanooga.  The cost will be $575 for individuals and $625 for relays. With my commitment to Ironman Chattanooga I will not be able to race the inaugural event being held by Challenge Family but there is a 70.3 that is being raced in North America in July that might fit the race schedule.  Challenge has announced that they will be hosting their first half distance triathlon in North America to be held on July 6, 2014 in New Brunswick, Canada.  After speaking with Mandy of Caratunk Girl I have done a little research and it seems like the perfect location to host a race. [caption id="attachment_8932" align="alignright" width="300"]challenge - triathlon - united states - canada Challenge St. Andrews In July 2014
Source: Challenge Roth[/caption] The landscape of triathlon, especially long course, is changing and the penetration of Challenge Family into the United States is expediting that change.  I, for one, am excited to see Challenge enter the US market and provide long course triathletes with another option where the look and feel will be similar to that of Ironman with the number of expected participants and the pomp and circumstance that accompanies both race series.

Is Challenge USA A Race You Would Enter Considering Time And Location?

Published in Race
Wednesday, 11 September 2013 13:44

The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Ignore

[caption id="attachment_8914" align="alignright" width="300"]mind - training - triathlon - ironman Training Your Mind Is Not Just About Pushing It
Source: Triple Threat Triathlon[/caption] As endurance athletes we are extremely in tune with our bodies.  We know when we have the slightest hitch in our step.  We know the moment that our hunger strikes.  We can tell you what our pace and our heart rate is while out on a ride or run without looking at our watch.  What we fail to do a lot of times is connected to our mind.  Our brain has a way of getting pushed to the side so we can go one more mile, one more lap, one more step or lift one more weight. During a training session and especially in a race we tell our mind to shut up.  We ignore it because that is what we are trained to do but there are instances when ignoring your mind can be detrimental to your progression in your chosen sport.  When you are tired because you were up all night watching football or Sons Of Anarchy and the alarm goes off at 4am, do you jump out of bed or hit the snooze and then finally get out of bed to go run 5 miles?  Would that time be better spent getting more rest so that when you do go for that 5 mile run you feel good as opposed to just getting it in? That scenario happened to me and instead of getting out of bed at 4am to put on running shorts and put in 5 miles I slept another hour.  After waking up I made coffee and enjoyed the time before I took my step-son to school.  After dropping him off I went for my 5 mile run and it was during the run that I thought to myself: such a better idea to have waited than to have gone out there half-asleep and not enjoyed the run.  I know that there are days that we have to get that run in at that time because it is a packed day and there is no other time to do it.  Those things happen but they probably happen less often than you think.  Not everyday is packed to the gills with things to do.  You can shuffle training sessions around and still be prepared for your next race.  There is no reason to put yourself in a box and not allow yourself a chance to get out. Our mind can be our own worst enemy during training because we are going to push ourselves but there are moments when we need to pull back on the reins.  Today I know for sure that I do not want to jump into any structured training and so I am pushing off Oilman (as of today.)  The reason is that my mind is not ready to be wrapped around a set training schedule.  Last night as I was planning out the rest of this week to make sure I got in somewhere between 125 and 150 miles of cycling I almost stopped short and pulled the plans out of training peaks because they suddenly felt like a huge albatross around my neck.  I am not specifically training for anything and if I fall short of 650 miles who really cares?  This is my point about how the mind can be one of our worst enemies.  I set out a goal and now I am trying to figure out everything I can to get myself there, but for what reason? During Ironman training there are certain workouts that cannot be missed, but if you treat every workout that way by the time you hit those essential sessions you could be burnt out and your mind could prevent you from executing the plan the way it was designed.  By understanding what the end goal is and what it takes to get there you can set yourself up for success without burning out.  Talk to your coach, or other triathletes if you are self-coached, about how you feel on a daily basis.  You don't have to call them, but put it into your log.  Track how you felt before, during and after each workout.  If you start noticing trends with workouts then make adjustments or your coach will make them for you. Last week I spoke to Maria about the upcoming season and what is left of 2014 and I came to the realization that I was tired mentally toward the end of IMTX training.  I had been pushing and pushing and pushing and didn't allow my mind a moment to sit back and relax.  I enjoyed my training because I feel free when I am out there but my body was telling my mind something and my mind was ignoring it instead of synching them together.  My passion has been getting reignited with registration of Ironman Chattanooga and I know when I am ready to enter into structured training it will be with a relaxed mind and body.  I also know that I will allow myself the opportunity to not be strangled by the training plan.  If Maria wants 3 hours on the bike and I get in 2:51 and my loop is done then I am going to be done as well.  There will be no reason to continue to ride for 9 minutes as I will not be building any fitness in those 9 minutes. Experience is going to play a large part in this next go round with training.  I know what my body is capable of and hopefully my past experiences will teach my mind what it is also capable of.  This experience coupled with the time off should lead to a successful training cycle and one in which I will be able to join club members on rides and runs and piece together sessions that maximize my time while allowing my body and mind to recover properly.

Do Not Underestimate The Power That Rest Has On Your Mind.

Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_8907" align="alignright" width="300"]tri club - ironman - triathlon Source: Ironman[/caption] Tri clubs seems to be sprouting up all over the place and that is to be somewhat expected.  The popularity of the sport of triathlon continues to grow.  In the past couple of weeks the following has taken place:
  • World Triathlon Corporation announces Ironman Chattanooga as next race and it sells out in 3 minutes.
  • Challenge Family has announced that they will be hosting a race in the mid-atlantic region in 2014.
With the popularity of triathlon at an all time high the questions about joining a tri club are being asked.  I am a member of the FW Tri Club and have been a 'member' of the Friday Swim Club for the past couple of years.  I became involved with both of these clubs for various reasons.  Last year as I was training for Ironman Arizona I wanted to get more open water swim training in I discovered that Michele was swimming with a group of friends every Friday morning at the lake.  I decided to join them and sure enough those swims led to bike rides and runs and about a year later I have competed in IMAZ with Michele as well as IMTX with two other guys from the group.  This year another member of the loosely formed Friday Swim Club is racing IMAZ himself.  Having this connection has been great because we can post to the Facebook page and link up with each other for swims, bike and runs.  There is always somebody available for whatever workout you are doing. Joining the FW Tri Club was more formal.  I paid my club dues and started reading the Facebook page and attended the member meeting.  I thought about what has been done for me since I entered the sport and had the sense that it was time to give back.  I wanted to share my experiences with those that are either just getting into the sport, doing their first Ironman, or doing IMAZ or IMTX for the first time and lend them my experiences.  The club is far more formal with about 15x the member that the loose group of friends on Friday is.  The similarity, though, is striking.  There are posts on the Facebook page for group workouts as well as individuals looking to get a workout in and post Friday afternoon about a late Friday evening run.  As usual there is always somebody who is ready to do the same thing. The sport of triathlon can be lonely at times.  With runs at 4:30-5:00am when the sun is still hitting the snooze bar to long rides that are going to be done by yourself because you need to find that mental space for race day.  Swimming, while you can go out with a group, is an individual sport because you are not conversing while actually swimming and so you spend that time in your own head.  Despite all the time that you can spend on your own, this is a sport with teammates as well.  As a member of a tri club you have immediate teammates but even if you are not you will have those that know what you are going through and can shed some light on your experience thanks to social media. Whenever I speak with Jeff or Kevin they will bring up their local tri club in conversation and how they trained with a group of people for this race or that race.  There is a camaraderie that is developed amongst the athletes because we are all going through the same things.  How we deal with those things are going to be driven by personalities but that doesn't mean that we cannot learn from our teammates.  There is no substitute for experience and when you surround yourself with tri club teammates, whether they be 10 or 150, you will find somebody that has or is going through what you are currently experiencing. Also, if you tri club is big enough there is the added benefit of discounts from companies.  The sport of triathlon is very expensive and having access to discounts can ultimately help pay off your membership fee because of the savings.  I caution you though to not just join a tri club for the discounts.  Get involved and find out how great the sport can be when experiences are shared with friends.

Are You A Member Of A Tri Club? What Has Been Your Experience?

News from Ironman.com about the Tri Club Program: Ironman Tri Club Program Championships Decided At Last Moment
Published in Train
Thursday, 05 September 2013 09:11

Ironman Chattanooga Sells Out In Three Minutes

Ironman Chattanooga sold out in three minutes yesterday.  I don't know if that is a record or not as I know that Ironman Melbourne sold out in 5 minutes but for a race, especially an inaugural event to sell out in three minutes is flat-out amazing.  I was one of the fortunate ones to be able to register for the race during a pre general entry registration that I received from the Tri Club that I belong to here in Dallas.  I was sweating as I know a handful of bloggers were trying to get in and fortunately they did so there is going to be a rather large party at the finish line on September 28, 2014. Having a race sell out in 3 minutes and having the euphoria pulsing through my body should have been a good time but my happiness soon turned to frustration as I read post after post after post about people being pissed off about not getting in and blaming all sorts of reasons for it not happening.  I remember when I made an attempt to get into Ironman Arizona back in November 2011.  I sat by my computer and had all my answers for the required questions ready to be punched into the computer.  When I hit register and was successfully in all the adrenaline left my body and I quickly went home to take a nap.  It was an amazing experience to just get in and so I understand how happy those that got in were.  What I don't understand is the vitriol toward all things from those that did not get in.  There are other races on the Ironman calendar for 2014 not to mention that there are other series that run full iron-distance triathlons. [caption id="attachment_8892" align="alignright" width="149"]ironman chattanooga - triathlon - race Will Be Ordering This Jersey To Train In For The Next Year.[/caption]

Ironman Chattanooga Vitriol

The complaints were astounding but some were just amazing to me.  I read that it was the pre-registration of the Tri Clubs that caused this event to sell out in 3 minutes.  Really?  This is what caused the sell out?  Let's think about this for a moment and then take a step back and reflect on this theory: Let's assume tri-clubs were allotted 500 out of a total of 2,500 spots.  20% seems like a good guess.  Now let's look at races like IMAZ and IMFL that also sell out in minutes.  Those races have people who volunteer so that they can register for the race before it opens to the general public.  Those races also have athletes that raced that year that get first dibs on entry slots.  How many do you think get in from those two groups?  Would you be agreeable that it is 20% or 500 out of 2500 people as well?  If so, then why place the blame squarely on the Tri club for the sell out?  It makes no sense to make that argument. Then there is the problem with Active.com and their servers going down or people getting kicked out or whatever technological problem that arises.  As a person who works in digital marketing I know that technology is not fool-proof.  This stuff breaks down.....ALL THE TIME.  You can put items into a test server and hammer away at it to make sure that nothing goes wrong but unfortunately our world is not utopia filled with unicorns and rainbows.  We live in the real world that even when you move files from the test server to the live server even the slightest misplacement of a comma can cause major issues.

Ironman Chattanooga Registration Proved One Thing To Me

The Ironman Chattanooga registration process proved one thing to me and that is the idea that the sport needs celebrity endorsements from the likes of Hines Ward is not necessary.  An inaugural race sells out in three minutes on the same day that Challenge Family announces a new race coming to the Mid-Atlantic region in 2014 shows that the sport is thriving.  It indicates that giving away Kona slots to celebrities so that NBC has a figure to cover during their coverage is borderline absurd these days. Those that race triathlon, and those considering it, did not get into the sport because Rocco DiSpirito was on his bike at the 70.3 World Championships in Clermont a few years ago. Tony Kannan races Kona again.....who cares?  Now, in this year's version we are being given an inside look into the training of Hines Ward and how he prepares for Kona.  Really?  Hines Ward celebrity stopped a few years ago when he went from Super Bowl MVP to Dancing With The Stars.  There is no need to promote him and his training so that the sport gains popularity. If you read the statistics from the USAT about the huge boom in people becoming members and those purchasing one-day passes for races you will know that having these, and I use the word lightly, celebrities racing is not what people are looking for.  We do not associate with the Hines Wards of the world but rather with the athlete next to us at the starting line.  The person we wave to during cycling and running sessions.  The person we strike up a conversation with while at the pool.  These are the people whose stories I want to know more about.  I don't care about Hines Ward because he is not living the type of life I am living which involves having to work full-time while balancing family and training for an Ironman. When I get asked about the sport, specifically the 140.6 distance, the questions don't start with: I saw Gordon Ramsay is racing an Ironman and I think I would like to do it as well.  They typically start with: I want to challenge myself and I think an Ironman is what I want to do.  What do you think?  Nothing in there screams celebrity sighting.  Let's leave the celebrities to the E! Network and promote those age-groupers that are working their tails off to be the best triathletes they can be and celebrate their accomplishments rather than those of B list celebrity.

Did The Ironman Chattanooga Sell Out Prove Anything To You?

Published in Race
September is going to be the month of multiple challenges for me.  This past week I have travelled from Dallas to Charlotte to Wichita Falls to Tulsa and am back home for a while and during that time I had an opportunity to see my eating habits from the outside.  While it was fairly healthy there was also a very fair share of added sugar.  I also spoke with my buddy Jeff quite a bit as he embarked on what many will consider a crazy weekend.  From the moment that we raced Hotter 'N Hell Hundred Jeff set off on a 400+ mile cycling WEEK, which included 150 miles in one day.  Yes, I was inspired and so I am going to embark on three challenges this month that should jump-start me on my way to Ironman Number 4, whichever race that may be. [caption id="attachment_8882" align="alignright" width="300"]september challenge - sugar - detox Source: Healthy Pair[/caption]

September Challenge #1

Sugar Detox.  Back in June I went through a month-long sugar detox thanks to Amy and Sarah.  Their 21 Day Sugar detox was a tremendous lift for me after Ironman Texas was finished and I knew that I wasn't going to be putting in multiple daily training sessions or working as hard so I wanted to keep my diet under control. With all the traveling and eating out there was a less restrictive diet than normal and my weight and body fat percentage went in the wrong direction and now is the time to take control of that.  Going  on the sugar detox will not be difficult but when I couple it with the September Challenge #2 and #3. The sugar detox challenge is no added sugar of any kind which means reading labels.  I am also going to ban honey (my oh my!), syrup, molasses and agave.  Getting the sugar and the dependency on sugar out of my system is going to help me in terms of my fitness and allow me to also sleep like baby. [caption id="attachment_8881" align="alignright" width="180"]september challenge - eating - five ingredients - cooking Source: The Wicked Noodle[/caption]

September Challenge #2

The second September challenge I am putting together for myself is 5 Ingredient meals.  I have been toying with this idea for a while, but with the sugar detox happening I thought now would be a good time to implement this challenge as well.  The premise is simple and it is that I can only use 5 ingredients to make a meal.   Ingredients will not include water, spices, or herbs.  They will include hot sauce or sriracha so if I want a bowl of Asian inspired soup then I had better make it with 4 ingredients and pour in the sriracha or make Habanero peppers one of the ingredients. This will be a fun challenge as I will get to see how well I can combine flavors and textures while also exploring various cuisines.  I do not want to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day so really digging into my culinary imagination is going to be a key to this challenge. [caption id="attachment_8880" align="alignright" width="300"]september challenge - cycling - riding - triathlon - training Source: Nesta[/caption]

September Challenge #3

The third of the September challenge trio is going to be riding my bike 650 miles or more this month.  Based on what Jeff did in a week this should be somewhat easy to accomplish and as I am nearing 650 miles and have any time left I will change the mileage.  I chose 650 miles because it averages out to about 21-22 miles per day over 30 days or about an hour of riding per day.  What is going to make this a bit challenging is that no trainer rides can be counted for the mileage.  I have to accomplish all the miles in the great outdoors. I currently have 47.3 miles on the bike as of today (September 3rd) with 40 miles planned for Friday, 80 on Saturday and another 80 on Sunday giving me nearly 250 miles in less than a week.  Maybe I should change that number to 1000? These are the trio of September Challenges and I know that I have Amy and Sarah for motivation for the sugar detox. Maria will be monitoring the cycling through Training Peaks logs and I will be my own policeman for the 5 ingredient challenge. That begs the question:

Which September Challenge Are You Joining Me On And How Can I Help You?

Published in Race
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