Tag Archives: fitness

Is Life Too Easy? Let’s Get Uncomfortable.

Daily life for most, including myself, has gotten too easy. We spend the majority of our time in climate controlled houses, offices, and cars. Even worse most of that time is spend staring at some type of screen. I’m writing this at a stand up desk, so I’m way healthier. (Not so much). I can order pizza from my phone in 20 seconds. I can buy anything I desire, without leaving my home. I can binge watch hours of programs, and I don’t have to go to the movie store. Food is prepackaged, pre-cut, and ready in one easy step. Don’t get me wrong most of these conveniences are awesome. My monkey brain is always seeking to find pleasure and avoid discomfort.

Have these conveniences of modern life made life too easy? Are all getting soft mentally and physically? I would argue yes, but who cares what I think. Look at your own life, and think, “I am too comfortable, too often?” If the answer is yes, find a way to break away from the comforts of daily life, and find a challenge to overcome.

Let’s tie this into triathlon or any other challenge. Find a new challenge that will push you out of the comfort zone, and accomplish something meaningful to you. From great struggle comes great reward. This is the main reason I participate in the endurance events. When I know I am pushing my limits in training or a race, I feel most alive. I am using all of my will to overcome a challenge, and I come out stronger on the other side.

Participation in triathlon, running races, and obstacle races has increased dramatically in the past 5 years. I think people are craving that sense of accomplishment and adventure that comes from struggle. They spend most of their week sitting at a desk, under mental stress. On the weekend they want to get outside and release the negative energy through some strenuous physical activity. As humans we are meant to move under our own power, and grow through resistance and recovery.

Shared struggle is also a great way to bond people together. Have you ever done a hard group workout, and when its over everyone has something in common. We can empathize with their struggle, and relate to that person more closely. If you meet anyone who does the same type of events as you, you will instantly bond over the experience.

A small helpings of discomfort can add up to a more robust life. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to work or the grocery store. Race your kids in the street. (My favorite). Grow some of your own food. Lift something heavy. Sign up for an event.

If triathlon is a challenge you would like to incorporate in your new uncomfortable life,. check out the start page

Motivation Monday – Excuses the Enemy of Excellence

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.

Excuses

This sounds like one of those hard core quotes you see with some huge dude flexing in the background. If you stop and think about how we use excuses, the quote rings true. We will not accomplish anything meaningful or difficult by using excuses. Excuses are how we trick ourselves into doing the easy thing, instead of taking the necessary steps toward our goal. A life of progress and propose is not filled with excuses.

I’m certainly not immune to making excuses. After I make an excuse, I rarely feel good about it, but I do it anyway. I see excuses like an ice cream sundae to someone on a diet. If they have that sundae, it will make them feel pleasure now, but it is in direct conflict with the goal of losing weight. I only mention this because I love ice cream, and have faced this dilemma myself. The mind is always going to seek pleasure, and avoid pain. If we want to make meaningful progress toward your goal, we need to put more pleasure in seeking your ultimate goal, that in the easy path offered now.

Excuses slow the learning process of excellence. We will all fail at something along our path. Failure is a lesson, until you make an excuse. The excuse will get you off the hook in the short term, but if the problem isn’t corrected, the same mistake will be made again.

Excuses lead to procrastination. We make excuses instead of doing what we really want in life. I’ll take on that big goal, after I have more time, money, experience. The problem is that time, money, experience, may never come. The enemy of excuse is action. Instead of making an excuse, take the next step toward your goal. It doesn’t matter how small the step, just make progress. When we put together enough of these small steps, excellence will be on the horizon.

What excuses can you overcome, and take that next step forward?

Do it today, and see how it feels to move toward excellence.

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.

FTT 8 Week Sprint Training Plan is Here!

FTT Sprint Training Plan face book banner

FTT Sprint Training Plan

Are you ready take on a new life changing challenge, and race your first sprint triathlon? Or, have you signed up for a sprint triathlon and you are looking for the perfect plan? Check out the FTT 8 Week Sprint Training plan. In 8 weeks with about 5 hours a week you will arrive to the start line of your first sprint triathlon ready to go. Continue reading FTT 8 Week Sprint Training Plan is Here!

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.

Kick in the Butt Monday – Easy Days

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.

Easy Day

 

The workouts that seem hard now, will soon be easy, if you keep training.  Maybe you can’t run a mile without stopping, or swim a 100M without be winded. Don’t give up, keep training, and soon your will be amazed by your progress.

I’m currently training for my fifth marathon. When I look back to the training for my first, it’s a night and day difference. My first 18 mile run ended in disaster. I had never run that far, and at mile 14 both of my calves seized, and my wife had to come pick me up.  That was a hard day for me. In my current training plan I have three 20 milers. I can complete them with little struggle. I still bring my phone, in case of disaster.

What workouts used to be difficult for you, that you can now complete with ease?

The Pros & Cons of Spin Class for Triathletes

Spinning class at the gym

Loud music blaring, an instructor yelling through a headset, and sweat flying everywhere. Ah Spin Class! Spin class is essentially riding a bike, but not actually going anywhere. Spin class as an effective tool in your triathlon training plan. As with all training activity, there are some pro and cons. Below, I will discuss the advantages and concerns of spin class when used in an effective training plan.

Let’s start with the positives:

  • Save Time – Just jump in a class and go. No need to get on a bunch of gear to ride outside or drive to a safe area to ride.
  • No Cars – I have personally never heard of anyone being hit by a car on a spin bike.
  • Constant Effort – There aren’t any stop lights, cars, dogs, or anything else to make you stop. This is the biggest “bang for your buck” with spin. If you are on the bike for 45 minutes, you get 45 minutes of work. This is especially effective for interval work. You can maintian your effort for your interval without uninterrupted.
  • Weather, What Weather – Unless the AC breaks, there’s no need to worry about conditions. No hot, cold, rain, sleet. This also means you can’t use the weather as an excuse not to train.
  • Motivation – The energy from a room full of others working hard can give you the motivation to push. A good instructor will also keep the energy level high.
  • Pre-planned Workout – No need to plan or think, just show up and do the instructor’s workout. The energy spent planning a workout is sometimes harder than just doing it.

Here are some areas where spin classes lack effectiveness for triathlon training:

  • Too much intensity – Most spin classes are designed to get a good sweat going, and make the clients feel like they have put in a hard effort. This is great if your goal for that workout was high intensity, if be mindful of your intensity. A good training plan will have a mix of high and lower intensity work. Too much high intensity work leads to injury and burnout. You can still do class on an easier planned day, just dial back the resistance and intensity.
  • Bike Handling – All of these spin classes are going to give you some new found speed. Before your race be sure to work on some bike handling skills. Bike handling skills include turning, leaning, stopping, climbing, and descending. The only way to gain these skills is to go on the road and ride at your race speed. The more comfortable you are with these skills the faster you can go.
  • Speed Perception – You can put massive power to the spin bike pedals, but you don’t move. It’s important to get out on the road, and know what speed you produce for your effort. In a race proper pacing is balancing the effort vs speed. Know what effort produces what speed, sop you can properly pace during your race.

Over all spin classes are great for bike and overall fitness. I personally attend at least one class a week. I go to class with my wife, as it is a workout we can do together, and both get benefit. They are not a complete substitute for time on the road. Be sure to do some miles on the road, so on race day you are comfortable on the bike.

Do you use spin classes in your training?

Are You Bored doing Same Run Workouts? Try these Group Run Games.

Is running that same five mile loop with your friend getting a bit boring? Do your interval workouts become unfocused because there’s no one there to hold you accountable? Is your training just becoming straight up boring?

Do I have the solution for you. Group run games. (Infomercial voice off). Group run workouts offer some healthy competition, while making sure everyone sticks to their training goals. NO more slacking off, because your buddy will take great pleasure in pointing out your lack of effort. If your partner runs like a gazelle, and you run more like elk, don’t worry. These workouts are structured so runners of varying abilities can do them together.

Pipped

Now grab your friend or friends (look at you Mr./Mrs. popular) and try out these workouts.

1. You run, I rest / I run, You rest.

From the title you probably get the idea. Go to the track, or pick a loop course. This works best with distances of 200-800M. Your partner runs a lap while you rest, and while you run your partner rests. You get a varied rest interval based on your partner’s lap. If you are not feeling great, you might give your partner a hard time, hoping they will slow down. If you are feeling frisky, you can speed up and take some of their rest. Overall the goal here to is to keep both runners engaged, get some good work in, all while having fun.

2. Stalk your prey.

This workout is a run (race) handicapped by your predicted finish times. Start with a predetermined course. (3 – 5k is a good distance). Each runner picks their finish times based on past performances. The slow runners starts first, and gets a head start based upon the difference of the finish times.

Example: If I say I will run 25 min, and Frank says he is going to running 21 minutes, I get a 4 minute head start. His goal is to try and chase me down. My goal is to hold him off. To make this work, all runners need to be honest with their times. NO SANDBAGGING. The only prize on the line here is pride. There’s no pride in cheating.

3. Run Golf

The goal in golf is to get a low score. It’s the same in run golf. Pick a one mile course, and place a watch or have a time keeper at the finish. Have each runner  predict their mile finish time. The idea is to come as close to possible to that time without using a watch. How many seconds you are off of that time (fast or slow) is your score for that lap. If I say I will run a 7:28, and I run 7:39 my score is 11. Repeat the laps three times, and the runner with the lowest score wins. Like in golf having a side bet will make this more interesting. (Maybe a round of post workout beers?)

This workout is great to work on pacing. Having to keep pace without the watch, forces you to use perceived effort to keep pace. If you run with a GPS watch most of the time, this workout might be a challenge.

If you give one of these workouts a try, leave a comment to tell us how it went.

Tired of the Sticky Mess? – 5 Tasty Alternatives to Energy Gels

Energy gels are great. They provide quick energy in a easily digestible form, all in a nice little package. If you do endurance training they are your best friend at first. Then they kind of turn into that cousin that you really don’t like, but you have to see at family functions. Consuming too many gels will make you tire of the flavor, leave you a sticky mess, and make your stomach do back flips.

Below are five tasty alternatives to energy gels for long workouts.:

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1. Black Strap Molasses – Molasses is the OG energy gel. For one serving, it has 80 calories, 21g of Carbohyrates, 10mg of sodium, and more potassium than five bananas. That’s a perfect mix of calories, carbs, and electrolytes, and it also tastes fantastic. Molasses can be kind of a mess to eat on the fly. It’s best to eat pre-workout, or bring it along in a flask. If you’re from the south you have probably sopped some molasses with a biscuit. That method is probably not practical or healthy during exercise.

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2. Sweet Potato – I have to admit, I am a sweet potato addict. Sweet potatoes are delicious, and full of simple and complex carbs to fuel for workout. They’re also cheap and easy to prepare. Throw a couple in the oven the night before, cut into quarters length wise, lightly salt, and wrap in foil. Their messiness factor is low, and they are relatively easy to eat on the go.

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3. Almond butter – If you like peanut, then you’ll love almond butter. Almond butter has all of that great nutty taste without the the bad omega 6s. It has 80 cals per serving and is lower in carbs and sugars than gels. If you are watching your carb intake this is a great choice. Look for small packets, like these from Justin’s. They are mess free, and super convenient.

raisins

4. Raisins (Dried Fruit) – I know this is an obvious one, but it has to be on the list. Raisins are easy to carry, keep for a long time, and full of unprocessed carbs. Raisins have saved me from a bonk in the middle of nowhere multiple times. If you are working on dropping some weight be careful with raisins and dried fruit. They are pretty much fruit candy, and it is easy to over indulge.

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5. Rice Balls – Dr. Allen Lim made these popular by serving them to the Radio Shack riders during the Tour a few years ago. They are essentially sushi rice with other ingredients throw in. My favorite are the the Blueberry Chocolate variety. To prepare the rice balls you need to channel our inner baker and get in the kitchen. The extra effort is worth it. The rice balls are tasty, easy to carry and will keep for a few days refrigerated. If you want to be the most liked rider at you local ride, whip up  a batch, and hand them out before the ride. The others riders will be so thankful, you won’t even have to pull through.

Recipe for Blueberry Chocolate Rice Cakes

Workout Wednesday – Work Horse of Bike Fitness – Tempo

Happy Wednesday! 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. (HAHA)

This week’s workout – Bike Tempo

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In the past few weeks, we have covered cycling leg strengthpedaling mechanics, and cycling intervals. Now it’s time to pull together that strength and efficiency with tempo efforts. Tempo efforts are just long intervals. The key is to perform them at the correct intensity. Tempo intervals should be done at 80% effort, your breath and heart rate will be slightly elevated. At this work rate you are working just below your lactate threshold. Be careful not to exceed that 80% effort, as you will be entering the red zone, and working a different energy system.

Tempo workouts are in that sweet spot of training where you are working endurance and speed at the same time. These sessions simulate race effort, but at shorter intervals, so you don’t wreck your legs. Remember, effective training sessions should be done hard enough to get benefits, but leave you able to do the next session. (Check your self, before you wreck yourself.)

Tempo work can be done indoors or outdoors. If riding outside, be sure to have enough road to complete your interval without stopping. Once you get your self in the correct zone, it is much easier to maintain than restart.

On to the workout. This workout is programmed for an athlete how has been riding for at least six months. Feel free to add or remove intervals to meet your goals.

Bike Tempo Work I

  • Warm up I – 10 min Easy
  • Warm up II – 3 X 1 min on/30 secs off
  • Tempo Effort I – 2 X 5 min @ 80% / 90 sec res
  • Easy Spin – 2 min
  • Tempo Effort II – 2 X 10 min @ 80% / 2 min rest
  • Easy Spin 2 min
  • Tempo Effort III – 5 min @ 80%
  • Cool down

Give it a go! If you use this interval in your training, please leave a comment, and let us know how it went.

Happy Training!

 
photo credit: Tom Gill. via photopin cc