Category Archives: running

My 5 top insights from coaching new Triathletes

Purpose Road Sign

 

For the past year or so, I’ve had the honor to coach new and beginner triathletes. Some of my athletes made great progress and accomplished fantastic goals. Many of those goals, at the beginning, they thought were not possible. Along the process they have thought me many lessons as well.

Here’s the five most important insights I gleaned from coaching new triathletes. Hopefully, they will speed your progress as a new triathlete.

 

You are more capable than you think you are. 

When I first consult with a new athletes many times they are not confident they can achieve their goal. Putting yourself out there, and trying something new is daunting. Instead of telling yourself, you can’t do something, say “I can’t do it right now”. Many athletes before you have finished the race, PR’d or whatever the goal may be. Why can’t you? Decide you will meet your goal at the beginning of the process, then get to work on achieving it.

Don’t view themselves as athletes.

If you are training and participating in races, guess what? You are an athlete. For you to increase your fitness and reach your potential, you need to view yourself as an athlete. You might say, “great I called myself an athlete, now what?” Viewing yourself as an athlete is a shift in mindset. You will view your overall lifestyle differently, and make better decisions. For example, a normal person just eats, and athletes fuels their body. A normal person goes to the gym to workout, an athlete goes to the gym to train. When you view yourself as an athlete your decisions are made with a purpose. That purpose is to achieve your athletic goals.

Need more focused training.

If you want to try a new restaurant across town and you are unsure how to get there, you open up your map app. The map is going to give the quickest route from A to B. A well planned training plan is a road map to your athletic goal. It needs to start with a clear destination, and give direction along the way. You can start your journey with no map, but it will most likely be a longer and more time consuming route. (metaphor off)

This is the most important point for new athletes. Having a training plan can save you tons of time, energy and injury. The plan can come from a coach, or you can find one on the web. Find a plan that leads you to your goal, and fits your schedule. When each workout has a purpose, you will greatly accelerate your athletic progress.

Consider the long term view.

Aside for a very genetically gifted few, most endurance athletes will need years to reach their potential. It takes years of training and patience to build endurance in the body. Take Mark Allen, 6X Ironman World Champ for example. It took him 6 tries to win his first Kona, and the first attempt he didn’t even finish. Over those first six years he kept working, and the speed and endurance came.

It’s easy to only look week to week during training to measure progress. When a workout or a week of training doesn’t go well, we get discouraged. Sometimes, it’s best to pull back and look at your progress from a longer time line. You may have been progressing for the past six weeks, and you on just on a plateau before your next breakthrough.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Don’t be shy. As a new triathlete there is a ton on information to learn. There are three sports, training, recovery, equipment, etc. Heck, this is the reason I started this blog. Find an athlete who has been racing for a while, and pick their brain. Most people are excited to help out. You can learn from their mistakes and experience, and speed up your progress.

 

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My First Tri with Travis Macy, Author of The Ultra Mindset

Final Cover- The Ultra Mindset

I heard an interview with Travis Macy on Ultra Runner Podcast (one of my favorite long run podcasts) about two months ago. He was speaking about the crazy endurance races he has competed in all over the world. He has competed on everything from snowshoe racing up mountains to multi-day adventure racing trough the desert.

The story that struck me most was about Travis’ Dad, an accomplished endurance athlete himself, first attempt at the Leadman 100. His dad went into the race under trained, without proper gear or nutrition, and willed himself to the finish. He may have finished a hobbled version of himself, but he finished what he started. As a father this had a tremendous affect on me as I’m sure it did to young Travis. We can tell our kids how to live, but showing them by leading by example speaks much louder.

Overall, I enjoyed the book tremendously. If you are an endurance athlete you will take something away from this book. The principles set forth in the book can be applied to racing or everyday life. When you apply the principles  contrast them against the stress and intensity of of Travis’ adventures it gives you a whole new perspective. The stories of the extreme races Travis has completed have given me a new perspective on what’s possible. This book will make you want to seek out new adventures and challenges

Continue reading My First Tri with Travis Macy, Author of The Ultra Mindset

Workout Wednesday – Hardest Workout Ever – Rest Day

Welcome to Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I  post a new Triathlon specific workout. (for free, What a Country!) If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

Rest

 

Sorry for the misleading title, but when you think about it, rest is the hardest workout. It instills fear in us that  if we take a day off, we will become fat and slow overnight. In reality is takes up to two weeks of inactivity before you start to lose your fitness.

Two years ago I had a heavy training year for me. When I looked back at my training log at the end of the year. I took three full rest days the entire year. What? That’s not right. I also become over trained twice that year, and was sick more than normal.

Rest is an important part of the training program. Rest days should be treated just like workouts, and performed with the same focus. The benefits of rest and recovery are:

  • Avoiding Overuse Injuries
  • Restoring Glycogen to your muscles
  • Avoiding mental burnout
  • Actually spending time with your friends and family

Here’s the nasty things that come with NO rest or recovery:

  • Over training
  • Inadequate Sleep
  • Colds
  • Slow recovery
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Moodiness

(I’ve experienced all of these, but not all at the same time.)

Unless you are a full time athlete with no other obligations or stressors in your life you will need 1-2 rest days a week.  Ideally one of those days should be complete rest, and the other one can be active recovery.

Active recovery workouts:

  • 30 min jog @ 50% HR
  • Walk with your significant other
  • Bike ride with your kids
  • Light cross training

Inactive workouts:

  • Netflix binge watching marathon
  • Sit on the beach with cool beverage
  • Sleeping in past 5:30am

I can hear the little mental objects swirling in your head. ” But I’m a triathlete and I need to get in all of these workouts.” If you want to improve consistently, and not burnout or have a higher risk of injury, rest has to be a priority as well. Schedule  your training weeks to include the rest days.  If you miss a workout because of a overly busy day, don’t worry about making it up, use it as a rest day. Also, if you are are plateauing in your progress, step back and see if more recovery will help, before piling on more work and intensity.

One last thing. The more outside stress you have in your life the more important the rest and recovery. During times of high stress, listen to your body and try not to just push through. These times are the highest risk for burnout and over training.

 

Workout Wednesday – 30 Seconds to Improve Your Aerobic Capacity

Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

Exhausted runner

Have you ever started a easy run and were completely out of breath in the first half mile? I know I have. You are not an out of shape slob, your body is just not ready to breath that deeply. If you spend your days crunched up at a desk in front of the computer all day, you are most likely breathing shallow. When you go to exercise your body has to open up those lungs to get ready to use that extra lung capacity.

Breathing and blinking are the only two systems in the body that are both involuntary and voluntary. Breathing, of course,  is the more powerful one. Your breathing regulates your heart rate, stress and your mood. By doing some simple breathing exercises you can increase your lung capacity, and feel great in the process.

Here’s the workout:

  • Breathe in for a count of 4
  • Hold it for a count of 2
  • Breathe out for a count of 4
  • Repeat 5 times

During in the inhale breathe deeply and fully from your diaphragm. During the exhale forcefully breathe out as much as possible. imagine filling up a balloon completely, and then letting out all of the air. This exercise takes about 30 seconds, and you can do it anywhere. For best results try this exercise 5-6 times through out your day. Its really great to do before a workout to get you lungs ready to work.

Too Fat to Tri?

Me at said 5k This is a personal post. I want to share my thoughts and experiences, as others may relate or benefit from them.

At a 5k a couple of weeks ago, I had a good race and came in 11th overall. After catching my breath, and staving off the dry heaving, I found my family. My wife said to me, “It looks like you had a good race, you were the fastest bigger guy out there.” My heart sunk, and I was not happy with my performance anymore. She said it to be encouraging, and I wasn’t upset with her, but it struck a nerve. I am a bigger endurance athlete, and I struggle with that. Don’t get me wrong as I am big for an endurance athlete, but otherwise very active and healthy.

I train really hard, keep my diet mostly clean, but I can’t achieve the body type of an elite endurance athlete. My issue is most likely a combo of appetite and genetics. Everyone on my father’s side of the family is large framed, and quick to put on weight. I can have a perfectly clean diet for a month and lose three pounds. If I slip and have a bad week I will gain four pounds back. It’s frankly frustrating and pisses me off. It is completely frustrating to watch every calorie, train your ass off, and not see any result.

I should probably choose a different sport that better suits my body type, but I love endurance sports. I train everyday, not out of a sense of obligation, but because I love it. My workouts are my favorite parts of my day. I don’t feel well physically or mentally, if I go too many days without working out. My accomplishments in running and triathlon are some of my proudest moments. I am most alive when I am pushing myself to the limit, and pushing past what I thought was possible.

My size isn’t going to keep me from competing, because racing is what I really enjoy. There is always this nagging voice in my head telling my size is holding me back. I guess it’s insecurity, but when I am racing and all of the other athletes around me are 40-50 pounds lighter, I feel like a cargo ship in a pack of speed boats. I’ve shown up to group workouts, and been the biggest person there by 30 pounds. At that point I feel like, I’m fat Albert, and the rest are the gang. Am I just an impostor in a world of ectomorphs?

My results have steadily improved over the past few years, even though I have stayed the same size. This is a result of consistency and experience, of which I am very proud. Every so often my frustration with my weight and progress makes me want to quit. Or least go and train in solitude, where I am my only frame of reference. These thoughts of quitting only last a couple of days. I’ll find a race I want to do, sign up, and be motivated again.

I’m sharing my thoughts, not just to have a pity party, but because I’m sure others feel the same way. Society already has a bias against larger people. That pressure is even more magnified in the endurance community filled with super fit competitive people. In endurance sports your standing is determined by speed. When light = fast, this can be a losing battle.

I will continue to race and train for triathlon, because I love it. I want to help and encourage others who want to start in triathlon, no matter his/her size. I’m just as inspired to see the elite athletes fly through the course, as I am the person who had to make a major lifestyle change to finish. These athletes may not race at the same speed, but they both had to put in the same dedication and effort.

Will I ever find a diet/training plan that will yield the results I want? Will my body type keep me from reaching my true potential? I’m not sure, but I continue to train hard and work with the cards I am dealt.

Have you had a similar experience? If so, please share your story in the comments.

Workout Wednesday – Progressive Brick

Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

Brick Workout

Today’s Workout – Progressive Brick

A quick intro: A BRICK is a bike to run workout. The purpose of these workouts is to work on your transitions from the bike to run. It’s a good idea to fit in a few of these sessions to your triathlon training cycle. Don’t get carried away, and think you have to do these workouts all of the time. It is better to work on biking and running individually, and sprinkle in some bricks.

BRICK workouts are also a great chance to practice your transitions. Set up a mini transition area in your driveway, and treat the workout like a race simulation.

Here’s the workout:

Bike – 30 mins

  • 5 min warm up
  • 3 X 5 min race effort (80%)/ 2 min easy spin.
  • 4 min moderate effort (60%) – Work on quick pedal strokes

Then immediately after transition to run.

Run – 10 mins

  • 2 min 70% of race effort – Work on quick turnover/ Control your effort.
  • 4 min 80% of race effort
  • 4 min full race effort.

Some points of emphasis for this workout:

  1. This workout should be moderately difficult. Don’t kill yourself with effort. The idea is to control your effort and heart rate.
  2. Work on quick pedal strokes ~80-90 RPM on the last set before the transition. This will get your legs primed to run.
  3. Resist the urge to go out too fast on the start of the run. When you start running after the bike, you will feel slow, but it is just your brain tricking you.
  4. Many athletes start the run too fast and blow up. The run portion of this workout builds in intensity to race effort. Focus on controlling your effort. On race day you will have better control of your effort for a more even and faster run.

Monday Motivation – Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

Have a Marvelous Monday! Let’s do this! We all could use a bit of motivation to get rolling on Monday. On Mondays, I like to share a Mantra or short inspirational message. If the message resonates with you, use to motivate yourself in training or life. Do you have your own awesome Mantra? Please share it below in the comments.

Exhausted runner

“From great struggle comes great reward”

When was the last time to said to yourself, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done”? How did you feel as you were saying it? Did you have a smile on your face? Most of those super hard things we encounter are not that difficult, it just seemed impossible before you began. It was so difficult because your inner voice was convincing you, it was beyond your capabilities. Keep pushing the limit of what is your “hardest thing”, and you will grow as a person immensely.

Keep the measure of your hardest thing relative your your own capabilities and progress. Don’t get wrapped up in comparing yourself with the achievement of others. We all have to set the bar for ourselves. Each person is just in a different place on the path.  Keep making forward progress on your own path, and keep reaching for that next hardest thing.

What is your next hardest thing?

Race your first Triathlon :)?

Run a PR 5k?

Give a speech?

Whatever it is, put in your full effort, and know you are making a break through.

Motivation Monday – Hardest part of a workout

Have a Marvelous Monday! Let’s do this! We all could use a bit of motivation to get rolling on Monday. On Mondays, I like to share a Mantra or short inspirational message. If the message resonates with you, use to motivate yourself in training or life. Do you have your own awesome Mantra? Please share it below in the comments.

Opened door

Last Sunday I had my last long run before the marathon. The schedule called for a 20 mile run with the last 10 miles at race pace. It’s a long workout, and I wanted to get done early, so I set my alarm for 5:00. I get up and dressed no problem. Then, as I am getting ready to leave my mind starts making excuses not to do the workout. I’m thinking, its too cold 22F, maybe I should only do 16, I could go later. After 15 minutes of whining and stalling, I finally get out the door. Once I am running I feel great. It was one of my best runs in this training cycle.

I know it sounds cliche, but getting out the door or showing up is the hardest part of working out. It’s a constant battle with your inner laziness to get moving. When you win the battle you feel great. The more times you don’t give in to the voice telling you to stay home, the more power you have to make progress.

Here a couple of tips to making showing up easier:

1. If you doing an early morning workout, lay out your clothes the night before.

2. Find a workout friend. You are way less likely to skip the workout, if someone else is counting on you to show up.

3. If you don’t feel like running, just go and run one mile. After a mile, if you still feel like stopping, quit. If not, finish out your workout.

4. Have a plan B. If you plan to run in the morning, but you wake up  to a monsoon. Have an alternate plan to run on a treadmill, or do some cross training.

Do you have any tips that make getting out the door easier? Please share in the comments.

The Definitive 10 Tips For New Triathletes

Are you ready to take on a triathlon? Fantastic, let’s get you started. Below are top ten tips to have a great first race. Check out the links embedded in the tips to dig deeper into each topic. Happy training, and I hope you have great first triathlon.

1. To get started, Sign up for a race

Close up of sign up form

Signing up to the race sounds kind of obvious, but  is very important. First, signing up tells your brain it’s go time.With that race day looming in the near future you will be more committed to train. . Second, choose a race that gives you the proper amount of time to train, but not lose your motivation. A training cycle of 8-12 weeks works well for new triathletes. Lastly, after you sign up, tell your family and friends. They will know you are serious about your new goal, and be your support system.

7 Tips for Selecting Your First Triathlon

Continue reading The Definitive 10 Tips For New Triathletes

Fantastic Finish Foto Friday – Fat Girl to IM

Welcome to Fantastic Finish Photo Friday. We want to bask in the awesomeness of your finish photos. A finish photo captures a moment in time, where you overcame the challenges of the race and training, and reached your goal. The feeling of elation as you cross the line is what keeps us pushing our own limits. Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish.

This week’s photo is from Tamsyn Smith:

diary photo MK marathon

Tamsyn:

Here’s a photo from the end of my first ever marathon in April 2012. It was cold, wet and windy and the course was flooded and rerouted, so I had to run an extra half mile, but I did it 🙂 Since then I’ve run another 4 marathons and have started doing triathlons.

I blog about my experience at http://fatgirltoironman.co.uk
What a great smile on what looks like a tough day. Way to persevere toward your goal. Check out Tamsyn’s blog, she is very entertaining, and gives great info from her point of view.

Like Tamsyns photo, here’s some more: Fantastic Finish Foto

Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish. It doesn’t have to be from a triathlon, just any race that has special meaning to you. If you are interested in sharing, please send a message to firstimetri@gmail.com.