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

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Meeting the Iron Cowboy

Last night I had the honor of running with the Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence on his #25 IM in as many days in Williamsburg, VA. If you haven’t heard for James’ crazy challenge, he is doing 50 Ironmans, in 50 states, and 50 days. Pull your jaw off the floor, that is some crazy shit. That’s 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run everyday, and then driving to the next state to start again. It’s like a painful version of Groundhog Day played out in a different place every day.

Here’s a quick video explaining James’ mission:

My threshold for crazy endurance feats is pretty high, but this is on the edge of what I think is possible. I first heard about James’ story on the Rich Roll podcast. My brain was swimming thinking about the difficulty of the challenge.  I immediately started following him on social media, and fired off an email. If James makes it to Virginia I’m coming to run with him. This is a once in a life time opportunity to see someone doing something unheard of.

After following James’ journey for the past few weeks, the day had finally come to go and run with the Iron Cowboy. At each of his events, they have a 5k portion of the day where people can meet up with James to run. We met at Jamestowne High School at 7pm to shove off for the 5k. There were about 50 people there to run. I brought my family so they could check it out. I’m not sure if my girls understand the significance of what was going on, but I want them to be around this type of positive and healthy energy.

The Iron Cowboy showed up about 10 mins before 7pm having already completed the swim, bike, and 4 miles of the run. He gave a quick speech about his challenge, and partnership with a charity fighting childhood obesity. He introduced his family of five kids, for whom this whole journey is dedicated. Not only is he taking on this massive challenge, but this is a huge family vacation. While dad is out pounding the pavement, the kids are hanging out and going to see the local sites. This is the most awesome and difficult family vacation, I have ever heard of.

Everyone gathered for a group photo, and we were off for the 5k run. It was a very leisurely run, so people could chat with James and get some selfies. When we first started, I mentioned to the guy next to me this feels like the scene in Forest Gump. The scene where he just keeps running, and people start following. Thankfully he didn’t just stop like in the movie.

After the 5k, I went and ran some more miles with James and a small group. I got to chat with him for a while, and I kept my questions short. His answers were short, as I am sure he is exhausted from the effort and sleep deprivation. I was taken by his focus. We weren’t moving quickly, but he was steady, and concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. In all I ran about 10 miles, and my family was ready to go. I wish I could have stayed until the end. I was filled with so much positive energy, I could have run all night.

It was a great experience, and one I will remember for a long time. I met some wonderful people during the run. Everyone was super positive and supportive. The most interesting guy I met was a Russian Physicist from Richmond.  He was a competitive swimmer, and now he is getting into running and triathlons. Many people drove 2-3 hours just to come and run with James. That is the power of a really big goal.

I have to say I am truly inspired by James’ challenge. I hope he stays healthy and finishes. I have some ideas for challenges of my own, and its time to get them rolling. The bar has been set very high now for what is possible. Just like James’, I’m trying to stay active and make my kids proud.

If the Iron Cowboy is coming to your state, go and run with him. He will appreciate the support, and you will have a chance to witness greatness.

Motivation Monday – Get good at having fun

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.

“Never, ever underestimate the power of having fun” – Randy Pausch

This quote is from Randy Pausch’s last lecture. This lecture is details how his childhood dreams would shape his life. If you haven’t seen it before carve out an hour and check it out. It will change your perspective.

If you want to really improve your training and race times, get good at having fun. As an endurance athlete, progress comes from dedicated practice over a long time. Dedication is way easier to maintain when you are having a great time. Being able to train and race is a gift, not punishment for your body. Motivation will wax and wane, but you should always enjoy your activity.

It’s easy to start treating your training as a second or third job. Workouts are scheduled for weeks out, and certain paces must be maintained. This mundane day to day training can become a grind and suck out all of the fun.

Here’s a few suggestions for adding some fun into your training:

  • Find a soft grass field, and do some barefoot sprints.
  • Get a group ride together and try a brand new route.
  • Race you friends for fast 50m in the pool.
  • Sign up for a short race, and let it rip.

The saying is “Love your work, and you will never work a day in your life”. Try to apply that same principle to your training, and see massive improvement.

Fantastic Finish Foto Friday – Capt Jason – From weight loss surgery to Triathlete

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 Foto is from Jason Demars:

First Time Triathlete Jason

Continue reading Fantastic Finish Foto Friday – Capt Jason – From weight loss surgery to Triathlete

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.

 

Motivation Monday – The key to long term results

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.

“Long term consistency trumps short term intensity” – Bruce Lee

I’ve been dealing with some sub par results lately. I was starting to question why I race and train so hard, and don’t always get the results I want. Paging Shawn, pity party table for one. Then I took a step back and looked over a longer time frame. I have been consistently improving year to year. By training purposefully and consistently, I have continued to improve. There have been peaks and valleys, but over all my times have improved. For me the key to improvement is to train consistently, and eventually I will reach my goal. When I start to have doubts because of recent results, I need to step back and look at the long term trend.

Below is a video from six time IM world champ Mark Allen. Mark dnf’d his first IM Kona, and one second place finish sent him to the hospital. In all, it took time seven attempts to win his first IM world championship. Mark is a true example of consistent training and improvement.

Do you have along term goal right now, that is not going as planned? Do you want to quit? Or do you keep taking step forward with consistency until you get where you want to go?

Fantastic Finish Foto Friday – First time triathlete Dan

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 Foto is from Dan Engström:

© & Foto- Fredrik Aremyr - finish_-211
Pic by Fredrik Aremyr

Dan:

My first triathlon finish
 
Last weekend saw the Gothenburg Triathlon event on the west coast of Sweden. I was five weeks away from the IronMan UK race and I still hadn’t done a triathlon. But I was prepared. I had learnt how to front crawl and revisited the marathon (in Stockholm, the week before than the tri event). I bike commute and am perfeclty ready for the 300 km bike race Vätternrundan next weekend. I’d done my brick training. I was so ready for the Gotheburg Triathlon, Olympic distance. So  away to Rådasjön lake. Fourteen degrees water temperature so they shortened the swim leg. This’ll be great, a shorter swim leg and me being used to the cold after a number of open water swims. Though I usually did the breaststroke earlier, but how difficult can the front crawl be in open water? In open, murky water. In open, murky water with  waves. In open, murky water with waves and a side current. In a tight wetsuit. Together with a couple of hundred other people. Right. Stiff upper lip time. Embrace the difficulties. Overcome. Rain during the whole bike leg. Legs like logs during the run, I was only a week out after the marathon after all. Adopt, adapt. I was hard, harder than I thought it would be. But I enjoyed every minute, every step. Give me a week or two in some murky lake around here on my own with my front crawl. Then bring on the IronMan.
 
Dan Engström
Gothenburg, Sweden
Congrats on gutting out that  cold, murky swim. You are an ambitious dude attempting to front crawl for the first time five weeks out from an IM. Best of luck to you on your IM, but for now enjoy that first finish.
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.

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.

Workout Wednesday – Be a Torpedo

Welcome to 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)

Torpedo

The most important factor for swimming fast and efficient is body position. For maximum speed and efficiency your body should be straight and level, like a torpedo flowing through the water. Sounds easy right? Not really. Anyone new to swimming will tell you, their legs are constantly sinking, and their heads are popping up. Maintaining good body position requires core strength, and body awareness. The problem is good body position doesn’t come naturally, and takes some effort and practice.

Body position training is time well spent. You will see instant improvements in your speed and efficiency. Your position can always be improved, so this work is suited for swimmers of all levels.

To maintain good body position keep slight pressure on your chest, a neutral head position, and hips elevated. Think of your body as a seesaw in the water. As your head rises your feet sink, and conversely as you press down with your chest your feet will rise. Core activation is key to keeping a level body. To activate your core muscles, imagine pulling your belly button up toward the top of the water. You ever notice great swimmers have awesome abs?

Check out this video from Triathlete.com explaining good body position.

On to the workout,

Body position training:

Warm up 200 meter Freestyle (FS)

5 min – Torpedo drills

50 meters – Superman glide

100 meters – Smooth Freestyle – Focus on good body position

50 meters – Superman glide

100 meters – Smooth Freestyle – ”

50 Meters – Superman Flutter – Arms extended forward using a light kick to move forward

100 meters – Smooth Freestyle – ”

50 meters – Torpedo Flutter 

4 X 100 meters Freestyle – Focus on using best body position possible for each 100 meter repeat.

Did the 100 meter repeats at the end seem faster and easier? I do at least a few of these drills as a warm up for every swim session. It reminds my body of the correct position, and it is great core work as well. As you get fatigued it gets more difficult to hold the position, so keep your focus.

Thanks for reading. I hope this workout helps your swimming. For more swimming tips check out:

Intro to swimming Part I

Intro to swimming Part II

Photo Credit

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