Tag Archives: running

“Oh Man This Hurts”, Keys to Racing Mental Toughness

 

Tough as nails
TOUGH AS NAILS

Mental toughness is the ability to withstand discomfort with a focus on your goal.  All of the situations and struggles in life develop your mental strength. You are defined by how you react to different situations. In racing, the battles lies between your body and thoughts. When a race gets tough, the mind will always give in before the body. The challenge is to control your thoughts, and get your mind and body to work together to achieve your goals.

Preparation

The key to mental toughness is preparation. Training for your race will increase mental toughness. When you show up the the start line, you should be confident in your abilities. You confidence comes from adequate training, and preparation. That confidence kicks in when the race gets hard and you want to stop. If in training you have already had these feelings, you know you can push through.

 

  • Know your body – Be sure to notice the difference between this is uncomfortable, and this is injuring me.
  • Have a race day plan and execute – eliminate unnecessary decisions.
  • Simulate race intensity in training – not everyday
  • Have confidence. Accept that the race will be difficult, you are trained, and prepare to suffer a bit for your goal.

 

Be Present

When a race or workout gets hard, the brain wants you to stop. Your mind will play every trick it has to get you to stop or slow down. That little voice in your head will say “go ahead, just walk for awhile” or “Today is just not your day, slow down a bit”. Everyone has these thoughts, even elite athletes. When you can push through and not give into these thoughts, that is when breakthroughs happen.

To combat this voice, you need to be present and focus on the now. The mind may trick you into thinking you can’t run another mile, but it’s hard to convince you can’t run two more lamp posts. Focus on what you can do right at this moment to push you toward your goal. Accept the situation, adapt, and overcome. 

  • Focus on breathing and relaxing into the effort
  • Break the race up into small pieces – Run to the next lamp pole, Swim another 20 strokes.
  • Have a mantra – My mantra is “Relentless Forward Progress”
  • Be optimistic that things can get better. Example: You stomach may become upset during a long race. Know that it may hurt now, but with some additional nutrition and time, it can come back around.

Find Your Happy Place 

To pull yourself out a funk during your race, go to your happy place. I know this sounds a bit new age, but it works. When all of your focus is on the hurting, you need to shift your focus. Turning those negative thoughts, into a positive feeling is powerful. Those positive thoughts can get you into a rhythm and carry you through the difficult times in a race.

Try this: Force yourself to smile for the next two minutes. After the feeling silly for the first 30 secs, your mood will actually start to improve. You actions can impact your mood and attitude.

Here are some ways to find your happy place during a race:

  • Smile – It is also easier to breath while smiling
  • Encourage others – Your positive attitude will spread to others, and you will feel more positive in the process. Win-Win
  • Remove the word I can’t – Turn your mindset to thinking of what you can do , and not what you can’t
  • Think of the reasons why you are racing the event. Maybe you are racing in memory of a loved one, or to set an example for your kids. These powerful thoughts can push you through.
  • Absorb the energy of the race. Feel the energy from the crowd and other athletes. They are cheering for you because you are being awesome. They respect the training and effort your are putting forth. Soak it up.

I hope these suggestions help next time you are in the pain cave during a race. If you have any strategies that work for you, please share in the comments.

 
photo credit: bitzcelt via photopin cc

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Racing Through Resistance – Finding a way to flow through

 

Moving your body through a triathlon is a practice of pushing through resistance. Friction, wind, and will are forcing you to expend energy. You have two choices, fight against the resistance or find a way to flow through. Finding your flow through the resistance is mostly a matter of mindset. How you react and adapt to the resistance determines your success.

 

Swim Resistance

The average human swimmer is 12% efficient when swimming. Your average dolphin is 80% efficient. The dolphin has evolved to flow through the water. To move effectively through water, you must concentrate on good form that minimizes drag. If you fight against the water the water will win.

Tips for flowing through water:

  • relax
  • Keep the body in a streamlined position
  • focus on gliding through the water
  • reduce any inefficient movement

Bike Resistance –

On the bike the wind is the major force of resistance. Pushing through the wind gets exponentially more difficult the faster you go. Flowing through the wind means reducing drag, and flowing through the air flow.

Tips for flowing through the wind:

  • use a set of aero wheels, energy savings of 5-8%
  • wear an aero helmet, energy savings 5%
  • a properly set up TT bike with aero bars can save 10-15% energy
  • Keep your knees tight to the top tube
  • in a stiff headwind maintain effort, don’t increase effort and burn yourself out

Wind can also play into mental resistance. A persistent headwind will wear you down. At times you are putting out a ton of effort, but making slow progress. In these times, you have to accept the headwind and flow through. If it is a race the wind is effecting everyone. Make yourself as small as possible, conserve your effort.

Run Resistance –

Running is essentially falling forward. You lean forward move your legs and you propel forward. Gravity is providing the greatest amount resistance, but also it is also moving you forward. Your job is find the flow, where you are using gravity to your avantage.

Tips for flowing though gravity on the run:

  • lean forward from the ankles
  • maintain good body position
  • take quick steps, to minimize contact with the ground
  • minimize up and down movement, concentrate on moving forward
  • breathe, relax, and don’t fight against your body

 

Life  –

Good things happen, Bad things happen. There is constant resistance trying to keep you from achieving your goals. The trick is to find a way to flow through the resistance. You can either fight against the resistance, or accept it and find a way to flow through. Be flexible, and adapt to the changes and situations. Things good and bad will happen, it how you react is what matters. If you are focused on your goals, you will find a way to flow through.

The Runners – Long Run Meditation

I came across this video on Youtube that interviewed random runners during their workout. Most of the people were pretty open in their discussions. During my runs alone, I tend to get into my own thoughts. Sometimes this leads to deep thoughts about the meaning of life, or I think through my current issues with new perspectives. I tell my family that this is my church, and where I feel most spiritual.

What do you think about on your long runs?

 

My First Triathlon with Bart Yasso

 

bart-yasso

Bart Yasso is an icon in the running and endurance world. Yasso is the Chief Running Officer for Runner’s World, and has an awesome passion for adventure. Yasso has completed races on all seven continents, completed the Badwater 146 through Death Valley, completed Ironman five times, and rode across the USA twice unsupported.

Yasso is fantastic writer as well, I highly recommend his book, My Life on the run.

Below Bart generously shares experiences from his first triathlon. He has gone on to race and win many more triathlons, but just like everyone else, you start with your first race.

 

What was your first race? Location, Name, Year, Distance

My first tri was the Emmaus Triathlon, Eastern Pennsylvania in 1984, 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. One of the first half marathon distance races in the country.

What motivated you to try your first Triathlon?

The triathlon craze was taking off and I wanted to be part of it.

What was your athletic background?

I was a runner for many years so I just needed to add a few swims per week and some weekend bike rides to my training.

What was your biggest concern when starting out? How did you overcome it?

My only concern was my right shoulder during the swim. My right shoulder pops out of joint on occasion. It would not be fun if it happened during the swim. I was careful in the swim I stayed away from the mass start.

Were there any difficult/funny moments in that first race?

No I had a great race I finished 4th, When I see photos I laugh because most of us did all 3 disciplines in a Speedo.

What bike did you use? 

1984 Team Fuji
1984 Team Fuji

Team Fuji

Were you hooked after that first race?

Yes I was hooked right away.

What piece of advice you wish you had when you were starting out?

We didn’t have energy bars or gels back in 1984. I remember wishing I had some food on the bike. I was pretty darn hungry on that 13.1 mile run.

What was your feeling as you crossed the finish line?

I remember thinking I can win some of these races if I take this seriously. I won a bunch triathlons/biathlons back in the 80s. Overall and loved every minute of the race.

I’ve Signed Up For My First Triathlon, Now What?

Race Start

You’re awesome. You took the plunge, plopped down your money, and signed up for that first triathlon. Now what? Don’t stress. Here a quick guide for next steps to get started on your triathlon journey.

Step One – Tell Your Family/Friends – This may seem obvious, but don’t forget to fill everyone in. You’ll need a support system to help you through training.  People are general supportive of others going after new goals. really keep your significant other in the loop. You may need to trade some training time for household chores.

Step Two – Inventory Your Equipment –Training and racing Triathlons definitely requires some equipment. Before you go and drop whole paycheck on a new tri kit, check and see what you can make work from what you already have.

Here’s a quick guide for first race essentials. First Race Essentials.

Step Three – Choose a Training Plan – A great training plan is the key to ensure you show up for the race ready. The plan should layout your workouts week by week leading up to the race. This is the most important step when you start your training.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a plan:

  • How many weeks? Most plans for a sprint race will be between 8-12 weeks long. Be sure there is enough time to complete the plan before your event.
  • How much time each week?  There are only so many hours in a week, be sure you have enough hours to fit in your training. Your plan could be as few a fours hours a week. Four Hour Post Here.
  • What are your current abilities? 
  • Is the plan doable? Start with a plan your feel comfortable completing. If you start a plan that is over your head, you may get frustrated, and quit.

 Beginnertriathlete.com has some great plans to get you started.

Step Four – Schedule your workouts Now that you chose your plan, it is time to schedule your workouts. Sit down with your calendar and fill in the times. This is an important step, as it takes choice out of the equation. I like to do this weekly, as I have a good idea of what my week will look like. Be sure to consider open pool times in your schedule.

Step Five – Find a training buddy – A training partner provides encouragement and accountability. You are less likely to hit that snooze button seven times when that alarm goes off at 5:30 am on Saturday, if you know you have to meet your training partner at 6:30 for your long run.

Congrats again on taking the plunge into Triathlon. Training will be easy some days, and extremely difficult on other days. There will be days that you dread going out for another run. On those days, lace up those shoes and just start the workout. Most of the time just starting will get you through that workout, and you will feel much better after.

Secret Sauce to Massive Improvement

Consistency

 

Consistency is the secret sauce of massive improvement. The accomplishment of large and rewarding goals are completed by steady work over time. If there is one strategy, that will continue to reap benefits, when all else fails,  it’s consistency. If you want to lose weight be consistent in your nutrition. If you want to go from an inactive person to an Ironman, you need to show up and workout consistently.

Consistency is not sexy. Your enthusiasm will ebb and flow. Putting on your running shoes and getting out the door, when all you want to do is marathon through “House of Cards”, is where the improvements are made. This is the power of showing up everyday, and doing what you do.

Here are some ideas to add more consistency, without becoming a hard-ass disciplinarian:

Have a plan – Choose your goal, and create a plan to get you there. Or even better have someone else with a little more knowledge create your plan. The plan needs to be clear, and written out. Start with a plan, that you are confident will get you to your goal.

Schedule your plan – Take out your calendar and schedule your workouts.  These workouts are now just like any other appointment in your calendar. If something pressing comes up, reschedule your appointment. The idea here is to take choice out of the equation. No need to decide what time to workout today, it is already decided. All you have to do is show up. 

Execute your workouts – This sounds like something the Terminator does. Again, the goal is to have less choices. Check your workout plan for the day, and get in done like a half man, half robot assassin. If it is an easy day, enjoy the scenery. If it is interval day, push until your gums hurt.

Don’t let perfect, be the enemy of great – I know you have heard this cliche before, but its so true. If you miss a workout, because circumstances out of your control (a child projectile vomiting, your boss’s unrealistic time lines, forgot your workout clothes), reschedule or let it go. Don’t let a missed or terrible workout here or there crush your dreams. Using this rule more than 15% of the time is an excuse, and not productive.

Achieving big, meaningful goals doesn’t happen over night. Keeping chipping away bit by bit, day by day.

How can you add more consistency to your workouts? What tricks do you use to keep yourself regressing?

 

Sexy in Lycra & Other Added Benefits of Triathlon

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Triathlon is not just about getting exercise and and some fresh air. It goes much deeper than that. Sure training and racing will get you fit, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a list of the awesome side benefits of triathlon, you may not have realized.

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Awesome Tan – All of those training rides and runs basking in the sun will turn you into a bronze god. That is where you are not covered by your tri gear. Your tri shorts will provide cover for a distinct tan line between your pasty upper thighs, and then rest of your tan legs. Try varying your tri short length for the rainbow effect.

Comfortable in Lycra – You may be apprehensive, when first sporting your lycra training gear. You might try covering up with gym shorts, or bring extra clothes to a ride. This is short lived. Soon you will be rocking your lycra like your favorite pair of jeans. Lycra to the grocery store? Sure. After ride coffee shop? No problem. Church? Why not. Soon, you will wonder why everyone else doesn’t realize the comfort and awesomeness this magical textile.

Sexiness – All of this training and racing will have you tan and fit. You’ll be tight like a tiger, and ready to pounce. Well, you’ll be ready to pounce if it is before 8 pm, because you need to be in bed by 9 pm for a 5 am 4 hour ride in the morning. Maybe you want to wait until after the next big race,  so you don’t interfere with your recovery.

rocky-and-apollo-running-in-beach1

New Set of Friends – Triathlon is a great community. During your journey of training and racing you will make some great friends, who share a similar passion for life. They will be slightly more type A than you, and be happy to train with you if it fits in their highly regimented plan. There’s nothing better than chatting on a long ride or run with a friend. At some point during that workout your friend with pick up the pace, ruining your LSD pace, and hammering you into a shell of yourself. Thanks friend.

 

Healthy Lifestyle – Racing tris will lead you to a healthier lifestyle. You will be getting regular exercise, and watching your diet. This will last until you decide who want to go faster. Then, you will up your training volume way too quickly, and eventually get injured. You may find yourself in the doctor’s office on a Monday with a searing pain in your foot. Here’s how the conversation will go:

Doc: “How did you even walk in here? Your foot is in bad shape”

You: “It only hurts when I run”

Doc: “Well the only cure for this is rest”

You: “That’s cool. I don’t have another hard run planned  for two days. Is that enough rest?”

Doc: Speechless -gives you a look of bewilderment and disappointment.

 

Triathlon Badge – You are taking on new challenges and setting big goals. You want to share your goals and achievements with others. Soon everyone will know you are a triathlete, because that is all you talk about.

IM Los Cabos http://www.ironmanloscabos.com/
IM Los Cabos
<www.ironmanloscabos.com>

Family Vacations – Triathlons are held all over the world, and in some pretty sweet locales. You want to bring the family along to support and cheer you on. They are excited because they get a free trip out of the deal. Then you wake them up at 4:30 am on race morning, and they have to deal with your anxious, cranky pre-race mood. The rest of the race they get to stand in the (heat/wind/freezing temps/bugs) on the side of the road, so they can cheer you on for :45 secs of a two hour race.

Invest in Yourself –  In life, the best investment you can make is in yourself. This is what you will tell yourself, when shelling out a two months salary on a new Tri bike. Now,you will just need to explain this logic to your significant other.

marathon-car1

Car Rear Bumper Hall of Fame – As you progress through longer distance races, you can add the distance stickers to your rear bumper. You might start with a 13.1, then a 26.2, maybe a 70.3, and a 140.6. Soon enough your rear bumper can be a hall of fame to your triathlon career. The soccer mom in the SUV behind you will be so impressed.

photo credit: dullhunk via photopin cc

photo credit: speedophotos via photopin cc

Dive In! 7 tips for selecting your first TRIATHLON

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Congrats! You’ve decided to dive in and and become a triathlete. Now it’s time to sign up for you first race. We want you to have a great experience at you first race. You have put in the commitment and training, and now its time to show your greatness.

Here’s some tips to help you decide which race is best for you:

1. Race Distance – Sprint distance triathlons are usually best for first time triathletes. Typical distances for a sprint triathlon are ~500M Swim, 12 mile bike, and 5k run. The majority of people will finish this race around 90 minutes. Sprints are short enough to let it rip, if you are feeling great. If it’s not your day, you can cruise through the finish.

2. Race Location – Consider you logistics when choosing a race. Sometimes the effort to get to the race, can be as nerve racking as the event itself. Some things to consider here:

  • How far do I have to travel?  If you have a private helicopter, this is not an issue.
  • Do I need to stay in a hotel? If the race has an early start, and you have a significant commute to get there, staying close to the race start will decrease race morning anxiety greatly.
  • Is the race spectator friendly? Your friends and family have supported you through all of your training, and want to cheer you on during the race. Races that are held in parks or in downtown areas work well for families.

Tips to decrease race more anxiety.

3. Swim (open water vs. pool) –  If you are not yet comfortable swimming in open water, you may want to start with a pool swim. This is usually the largest concern for new triathletes, and justifiably so. In open water, most times you can’t see the bottom, there are many other swimmers around you, and swimming in a straight line isn’t easy.  A pool swim will be staggered, so you are not in a a big crowd, and there is a black line at the bottom to follow.

If you are considering entering your first open water triathlon, here are some tips:

Enter the Washing Machine – Tips for your first open water swim

4. Bike/Run Course – Check the course info page for the race, and pay attention to the course profile. A short event can be made very difficult by elevation. Be sure you are comfortable with the climbs and descents, if the course is hilly. Bike handling skills take time to develop. If you are still working on your handling skills, save those technical sections, and screaming descents for later.

Run courses can vary in their terrain.  Courses can be on pavement, trails, sand, the surface of the moon, you never know. Most of the time this is not a deal breaker on the decision to sign up for a race, but be prepared. I once didn’t check out a course in advance and it had 8 large sets of  steps on it. I was not prepared, and that course crushed me.

5. Local Weather – I know we can’t control the weather, and it is unpredictable. This is one area where you can play to your strengths. If you can run all day like a camel in the heat, then sign up for a summer race. If you melt like a snowman above 80 Deg, then pick a fall race.

6. Race Organization –  The quality of the race promoter will have a huge impact on the overall event. Race promoters vary in there experience and commitment to quality. Be sure to check into the race promoter before signing up for an event. Ask other athletes about the promoter’s events, they will be happy to share their experience, good or bad.

7. Post Race Party – This may sound like a silly thing to consider, but some races have great post race parties. If you are racing with friends,  you want to celebrate after the race. A beer never tastes so good, as after a hard race.  There are a few races I do every year, just because the party is so much fun.

What are you waiting for? Get on www.active.com and get signed up.

If you know of a great beginner friendly race, please leave the info in the comments.

You Control the Effort, Not the Result

I was a reading the “War of Art” by Steven Pressfiled, and a phrase really stuck out to me. It was, “You only have a right to the work, not the results or benefits.” I think this nicely relates to training and racing as well. To me, this means you control the effort and process, and not the results. So, enjoy and take satisfaction in the process, as that is where the joy should come from. You never know when the race day conditions will suck, or you get sick two days before your A race. If you are doing what you are meant to do, the results will come.

Let me give a recent example from my life. Last week, I raced a marathon. My training for the race was the best quality training, I have done for a marathon. I will confident in a PR. At mile 16 of the race, my legs had a different plan, and I finished 10 minutes slower than expected. It was not my day.

When I crossed the finish line, I was disappointed. How could I have training so well, and fallen short of my goal? Then, I thought back to the quote above. Training and racing endurance sports is my passion. I would not take back all of the training run with friends, or long runs that leave me feeling invincible. I put full effort into my plan, and i just came up short on race day. This is my purpose, and is not defined by the result.

I am not saying not to set goals. Goals are very important. The best way to succeed is to set a big goal, and work a plan backward to achieve it. Along the process of achieving that goal, find enjoyment in the work. If you succeed or fall short on race day, know you put in a full effort.

This is not an excuse either. If you didn’t put in a full effort you will know. That’s OK. Find out what resistance kept you from putting in your full effort, and overcome it next time. Rationalizing a bad performance with excuses is not acceptable.

What are your thoughts on this topic? How are you living your purpose, and enjoying the process?

Your First Triathlon in Four Hours A Week

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Have you seen people in a triathlon, and thought I would like to try that, but I don’t have the time? It seems everyone is increasingly busy, and time is a precious resource. An event that involves three different sports sounds like huge time commitment. What if you could complete your first triathlon, and change your lifestyle in two months using only four hours a week?

Most people can carve out four hours a week to do something they really want to do. The current Neilsen ratings say the average person watches four hours of TV a day, or 28 hours a week. Would you be willing give up one day of TV for a healthier lifestyle?

Now we got the excuses out of the way, lets get down to business. How can I be ready to race a Tri in the two months in only four hours, a week?

I suggest your first race be a sprint distance tri. Typical distances for a sprint are 500M swim (15 mins), 12 mile bike (35 mins), and a 5k (30 mins) run. Each leg of the race should take 30 minutes or less. We will use that 30 min time domain to structure the majority of your training. If you are already proficient in one of these sports, you can concentrate on the other two.

A typical week will look something like this:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Off

Run/30min

Bike/30 min

Run/30min

Off

Bike/

1 hour

Run/30 mins

Swim/ 30min

Swim/30 mins

As you can see there are seven workouts broken up over five days. The two rest days are important to let your body rest, and feel like you have a life outside exercise. The double workout on Wednesday and Sunday could be done back to back inside to maximize your time. You can do your 30 mins in the pool, then hop on a spin bike or the treadmill to finish up. The swim days are flexible throughout the week. The only restriction is to not run and bike on the same day. Save your legs!

Does this sound like something you can do? Don’t be intimidated by the amount of workouts. Each workout is short enough to fit in your daily schedule, and leave you feeling energized. Also, there is flexibility in the schedule. If you can’t get to the pool on Wednesday, just move it to Thursday.

In future posts, I will layout the structure of each work during the week. In the mean time, let’s get moving!

If you have specific questions, please leave them in the comments. I will be happy to help.