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Dealing With F’N DNF

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If you race long enough, you will certainly meet up with the dreaded DNF. (Did Not Finish) It’s the 800 pound elephant in the room, that no one wants to talk about. DNFing can cause a range of emotions from embarrassment to being just plain pissed off. I just put in X amount of time training, and $$$ amount of money to race, and this is my result. Argghh.

At the very least you will be frustrated, and rightly so. Reasons for DNF can be anything, an injury, adverse conditions, or just a really crappy day. Whatever the reason may be, as an athlete you need to deal with that race, and move on. For most of us one bad race will not define you, or your athletic career. Learning to deal with the disappointment from a DNF is a skill that requires mental toughness.

Here’s some suggestions for dealing with DNF:

Limit the pity party

Your friends, families, and training partners won’t think less of you for a DNF. Most of us over inflate the importance of our athletic goals in our mind. Take a couple of days to process your thoughts, and then just move on. You only get so many days on this planet, do you want to spend them pouting about some race? Be proud of the work you put in to make to the start line. Plus no one else wants to come to your pity party.

The best way to learn is to fail

When you were a toddler learning to to walk, did you parents let you fall down once, and then decide to not let you keep trying to learn to walk? Of course not, That’s crazy. You learned to walk by continually falling down and getting back up, until you figured it out.

The same is true for racing. You may not have hit your goal, but what did you learn along the way. Did you gain some course knowledge? Did you identify your weaknesses? Did you get a sense of the work you need to put in to reach your goal?

Don’t let the DNF be a total waste of time and energy. Figure out what you can do better, and crush your next race.

Winners don’t make excuses

There will be valid reasons why you had to DNF. Figure out how you can overcome those challenges, and succeed in your next race. Rationalizing your bad race with a bunch of excuses won’t help the situation, and is harmful to your mental toughness. Focus on the parts of the race that went well, and the things you can improve.

“Failure is just a lesson, until you make an excuse” – Jordan

Get back on the horse

If you’re not injured, then find another race to jump in. Don’t waste all of your fitness on that DNF. Find a race that looks like fun, and focus on that. Shift that frustration to motivation for your next race.

I’m sure you won’t have a DNF, but if you do, I hope these tips help out.

 

 

 

 

Know Your Limits, Then Crush Them

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” A goal is a dream with a deadline” – Napoleon Hill

This post is not meant to be some self help guru speak about goal setting and changing your life. It is meant to be a practical look at setting big goals, and the power and momentum that comes with them.

Big goals motivate and inspire us and the people around us. Think of a time when you set a goal that you had no idea that you could reach. The bar is set different for everyone. Your goal could be to run across the country, or finish a 10K. Whatever that goal is it needs to stretch the limits of your perceived abilities. (aka step out of your comfort zone. That term is completely over used.)

Here’s my best advice for planning and achieving big goals.

Start with why.

When you pick your big goal, ask yourself. “Why am I doing this?”

Are you testing your limits?

Do you think it would be cool?

No matter the reason, be sure it is a reason that means something to you personally. This is intrinsic motivation, and the most powerful form of motivation. Outside motivation is short lived and weak.  Thrill of posting your accomplishment to social media will last a day or so. The feeling from accomplishing something personally important to you will last forever.

Know your limits, then crush them

Achieving big goals takes time, and normally more time than you think. When setting a big goal, assess where you are currently. Then determine how much progress you need to make, and the time it will take to get there. Be self aware, and realistic with your time frame. It’s a balancing act of picking a goal that challenges you, but doesn’t set you up to burn out. The best goals are ones that are slightly out of reach.

If you want a shortcut to your goal. Talk with people that have already achieved your goal. Get their feedback about your time frame, and current fitness. Find out what worked for them and what did not. You can use their experience to accelerate your own progress. Everyone progresses at different paces, but the quickest way to meet your goals is hard work and smart training.

Celebrate along the way

Your big goal make take months or years to accomplish. Set up milestones along the way to measure progress and celebrate. These smaller goals will keep you more focused, and motivated along the way.

Many people training for their first marathon have never run more than a half marathon before. As the plan progresses they will be running their longest run ever each week. Every time they hit a new long distance they should celebrate, and know they hit a new milestone toward their goal.

Enjoy the process

Life is short and time is precious. Spend your time pursuing something you enjoy. The goal is just the finish line, and a small part of the process.

Let’s take the marathon example again. Your goal is to finish a marathon. Where’s the start line? The start line is when you make it your goal and start training. The race is 26.2 miles, but your will train many more miles than that. You better enjoy running, or this will be a long miserable process.

It’s only a failure when you give up

“A failure is only a lesson, until you make an excuse.” – M. Jordan

If you are truly pushing your limits, you will encounter bumps in the road. There are two paths you can take accept defeat or learn from it. Your goal is always in reach if you believe it. History is full of examples, Lincoln, Edison, and Col. Sanders. If you have a moment, look up their stories. They had unbelievable persistence in the face of failure.

When we fail our minds will start to pay tricks with our motivation. That crack in the armor will let doubts creep in. We then rationalize these doubts, and start to talk ourselves out of our goal. These rationalizations are excuses, and excuses are weak. Excuses will sabotage all of the progress you made already.

My best strategy to combat failure and excuses is to decide I will meet me goal at the start of the process. Once you make up your mind, doubts won’t derail you. You are already know the outcome, you just need to put in the work.  Your results may not come on your original time frame, but with persistence they will come.

 

 

 

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.

 

FTT Coaching Athlete Spotlight – Nikki

 

Nikki Detroit HM

This is Nikki. She reached out to me a couple of months ago for coaching to complete her first Half Ironman in the spring. Nikki’s first challenge in her Half Ironman quest was to better her HM time. I created an 8 week training plan for her that included base cycling and swimming with an emphasis on running. Nikki will tell you the hardest efforts were the Wednesday dreadmill work. Nikki put in tremendous effort and energy into her training, and showed steady progress.

Nikki‘s HM was last weekend at the Detroit Marathon, and she ran a PR of 3:02. She used a 2:1 run to walk ratio, and was able to pick up the pace at the end. She is very supportive of other runners in her group, and will often wait for others. I made her promise she would race her own race this time.

Nikki’s race report:

Here’s how the day went….

Woke up at 4:30am to music blasting from outside my hotel (we were 3 blocks from starting line & across the street from the post-race party). Tried to get back to sleep because my alarm wasn’t set to go off for another hour, but was pretty restless.

Arose, showered and started to mentally plan my race strategy. Ate a UCAN bar for breakfast and had coffee. Finally, left at 6:45am to get to my start corral. Sidewalk was so congested with spectators that racers couldn’t gain access to corrals. I immediately thought, “this would never happen in Chicago.” I had scouted out the corral I would join the previous day, so turned around and headed back through a side street to enter the corral. This was a great decision as I had to problems.

As I was waiting for the race to start, I began to shiver & questioned my wardrobe choice. Was thankful that I packed hand warmers too! Started my gospel playlist & began to quietly pray.

Race waves started every 2 mins and I began inching closer to the start line. Had to climb over mounds of clothes and thought again, “This ain’t Chicago! At least we place them along the fence for collection.”

Finally, my wave is beginning–yay!!! I turn to Anna, give her a fist bump and say, “see you in less than 3!” She smiles & we’re off!

First few miles were chilly and legs felt good. I change music after the first 5K and “turned up” the legs. By mile 4, I’m feeling myself. Music is pumping & I’m flying. Take a GU and keep it moving. Race scenery is amazing! By mile 6, I’m like hot damn I’m doing it & can keep going all day (based on how I feel). Mile 8 we enter the underwater tunnel & I’m flying. Felt winded so I slow down, looked over & I see Natali!! We take a couple of selfies & I’m off again. Now it’s time to exit the tunnel and here comes another “incline”. I think, I appreciate flat Chicago streets. Come out of the tunnel headed to mile 9 & Samantha taps my shoulder. We hug & I get an excruciating cramp in my right calf out of nowhere. I limp to side to stretch. Anna sees me & ask if I need her to massage, I decline and keep moving. The cramp comes & goes so I stretch and try to walk it out; however, it persists. I adjust intervals as I notice I can run at least 1 minute before cramping returns. I run up another “incline” aka an exit ramp at mile 11 & calf is sucker is hurting. I’m becoming concerned about time, but pressing forward. I’m walking more than running & mentally tanking. I tell myself to keep moving & don’t focus on clock, only focus on moving forward. I see flag for mile 13 ahead and think if my watch says 2:45 I can still make it. I pass gosh & see 2:45:35 and start pushing it. The more I pushed, the angrier that cramp became. I’m truly walking more than running, but trying to keep the walk less than 17 minutes/mile. I begin running again and it seems that I can only push for 30 seconds before the angry cramp attacks again.

I can see the crowd & hear the finish line cheers. I look at watch & keep pressing. I start envisioning that this was an Ironman event & they would snatch my soul from the course if I didn’t make it. I turn the corner and that freaking finish line is several blocks ahead. Hell, this angry ass cramp won’t let me make the cutoff, but I’m still gonna PR!

Overall, I think the cramping was due to lack of electrolytes. I didn’t consume a lot of Gatorade & have trained with salt/electrolyte tabs so I didn’t bring any with me. I was so proud of myself for adjusting when things didn’t go well. In the past, I’ve crumbled, cried, and gave up. Finally, I still PR’d and was able to shave 15 minutes off my time within the past year. I truly couldn’t have done this without your guidance.

I needed this race to go well today. This race. along with your coaching, has allowed me to believe that I can complete a HIM within the allotted time.

Thank you for tapping into my potential and helping me believe in ME! Now, what’s next?

Congrats Nikki! Nikki is very positive and a joy to coach. Spread some love and leave a quick congrats in the comments.

Now get ready for that big block of bike training coming your way.

If you have a big goal like Nikki, and need some coaching or guidance, send me an email at firsttimetri+coaching@gmail.com

Workout Wednesday – Rockin’ Fartlek

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)

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This week’s workout: Rocking Fartlek Run

Fartlek, or “speed play” in Swedish is a fancy word for running with sporadic burst of speeds. It’s also, a very fun word to say. Say it three times, and try not to crack a smile. Fartlek workouts teach the body to handle the variations in speed during a race. Also, you learn how to recover your heart rate and breathing while running. There are hundreds of different types of Fartlek workouts, because structure isn’t that important.

One of my favorite workouts is the Rockin’ Fartlek. This workout provides plenty of good effort, and is the cure for your daily five mile run. For this workout, you’ll need a course and some music. Pick the track or a course with low traffic to avoid stops, and the danger of be crushed by a distracted driver. Be sure to pump for favorite jams for extra enjoyment.

Rockin’ Fartlek Run

  • Warm up – 10 minutes easy pace
  • Main set 20-30 minutes – Jog the verses, and Pick up the speed on the chorus.
  • Cool down – At least 5 Minutes

How you structure this work out is up to you. You can work hard every other song. Be sure you are recovering between each Pick up. How hard you run the Pick ups is up to you. If you have a race coming up soon, push the pace. If you are in a build phase hold it back a bit. The purpose of this workout is to vary your speed, and have a good time.

Get out there and fartlek it up! Leave a comment of the best song that came on during your workout.

Motivation Monday – Inspiration is Cheap

Merry 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.

Girl running

I’m a sucker for motivational quotes. There’s something great about summing up a big idea in a short message. A simple quote can sometimes change the way you see things permanently. Contrast that with the barrage of photos with pithy quotes we are assaulted with everyday. These memes are meant to fire us up, but most are hackneyed, and trite. The phrase,” that’s so inspiring” is thrown about as much have a nice day. Many people want to change something in their lives but, they are waiting to be inspired.

For me at least, inspiration doesn’t last very long. I see something that excites me to do something new or better, then I get obsessed with whatever that is for a few days or weeks, and eventually the excitement wanes. Its just human nature to crave the novel and exciting.

To make real lasting change requires motivation. Not motivation from a speaker, or book, but motivation from within. The true reward for whatever you are seeking lies within yourself. This intrinsic motivation allows you to do great things. It provides the will to get up and do the work to progress toward your goals. Opposed to inspiration, which comes on quickly. Motivation is a slow burn that continues to drive you forward.

I’m not saying inspiration isn’t important. I love to feel inspired. It just doesn’t provide the energy to pursue big, long term goals. To reach those goals motivation and the why needs to come from within.

Fantastic Finish Foto Friday – First Time Triathlete Michelle

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 Michelle Carroll, (Bolton, Lancashire)

 

Michelle Caroll FTT

Michelle:

Despite the elements being against me, on Sunday, I competed in my very first triathlon! With the rain and wind at their best, I tackled the hills of Rossendale to successfully complete a 400m swim, a 14 mile bike ride and a 5km run! Despite all my worries, I enjoyed almost every minute of it and now I have definitely got the triathlon ‘bug’. If anyone ever thinks they would like to compete in something like this but feels they couldn’t – go for it!! Honestly, I felt exactly the same, but it’s amazing what you can do if you put your mind to it. I don’t really swim and I had to borrow a bike as the nearest I’ve ever got to bike riding is doing a spin class at the gym, but it was all worth it!!

Great work Michelle! Way to preserve through the conditions and finish. You didn’t let not having a bike hold you back and you borrowed one. That is a great idea for first timers. Don’t throw down a bunch of cash on a bike. Borrow a bike and see how you like the sport.

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 firsttimetri@gmail.com.

 

Monday Motivation – Showing up for yourself

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.

“Show up for your own life, if you don’t no one else will” – Henriquez

I came across this quote and it really made me think. To me, it means be an active participant in your own life. Make your own decisions, and set your own course. No one else is going to do it for you. Societal pressures may try and steer you one way, but the your path is decided by you. It is sometimes easier to go with the flow, and let others make decisions for you, but will that make you happy. Take an active role in who you want to be, and what you want to do.

Why yes it is my first time…

This report sums up what triathlon is all about. Overcoming what you though was impossible. When you cross the finish line, you transform into a new person, who believes all things are possible.

Take a couple of minutes to read this great report, you will be inspired!

Happiness and smiles are free

(Warning: beware of typos 😜)

WOW! On Sunday 4/12/2015 I accomplished something, something that to others may have been a small accomplishment but to be was a life changing experience. I completed my first open triathlon, what is an open you might ask… well it is 100m swim 3mi. bike and 1mi. run, and although that may not seem like much to a person compeeting a a full triathlon(2.4 mil swim, 112 mi bike, 26.2 mi swim) for me it was huge, you see even a year ago i had trouble even walking more than 20 min, i would be out of breath, tired, my hip would become dislocated, my body was tired and as much as i would have wanted to even try my body was not prepared. but on April 12, 2015 my body and mind proved it self capable of thing that when I weighed 345 impossible.

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Motivation Monday – Start with Why

Merry 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.

There are two great days in a person’s life, The day they are born, and the day they discover why.  – William Barclay

We are coming up on the beginning of February, aka the time when resolutions die. If you want to defy the statistics and follow through on your goal start with why. Having a powerful purpose, a why, will give you the will to overcome the challenges on the way to your goal. The why needs to be compelling enough to overcome fear and resistance. When you find your why, the other details will fall into place.