breaking away....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inner Strength the Key to Success in Life and Racing

Inner Strength can be the defining moment between you deciding greatness or giving up and settling.  I have to say I have been put in positions in my life where people say you were so strong, I said where was my choice.  I guess that is it, you have those moments in  life where you feel you are just going to have to keep going regardless as there isn't another option.  "If your walking through hell....keep walking."  Winston Churchill.  However, there are those moments where the couch may look more inviting than that cold pool on a late winter night.  The difference it makes is your ability to have the integrity to follow through and know that each decision leads you to your goals.   You need the inner strength to keep your focus. 

Where does this inner strength come from, it comes from making a decision that you will live up to the definition you hold of yourself.  If you expect more, you will do more to get it.  If you are prepared to be status quo, you can't make a change.  You will keep repeating yourself and your results won't change.  You must put your goals on paper and you must live up to your goals if you are going to make a change. 

Physically you can go through the motions and become fitter and that will carry you through.  At some point that will plateau, unless you make a change in how you prepare there is no way for you to make that change to get better.  Identify your limiter, this is hard because most people do not want to acknowledge their own weaknesses, they hate swim because they aren't any good, they aren't gifted runners as they are always injured.  These are excuses.  When you can identify that you are always getting injured running, stop doing the same thing over and over, look for alternative things that may cause an issue with your running, look for solutions instead of excuses.

Inner strength comes from acknowledging a weakness and putting your focus on removing it from your definition of who you are.  Some people it is simply a fear of commitment, a fear of never completing anything that is written so clearly on their identity that they fail to commit to make the change.  They want to settle for where they are, because to acknowledge they could improve means they would have to expect more from themselves. 

We all know Inner Strength as Will Power.  You need will power to make change, you need focus to make change, you need determination to make change.  When you start to look at these qualities we need, we all have them.  Courage to make a change and accept that you could accomplish anything you put your mind to.  This is something that is life changing, we expect more from ourselves and we stand up and do more. 

Where does this spark to make change come from....inspiration, motivation, these are things that may be exterior to ourselves.  We may see someone we admire and want to do something they have done.  We may get inspired by a group of people that we wish to be like and to fit in we begin to take on some of their qualities, even if it goes against our natural tendencies.  Whatever your motivation or inspiration, look for ways to keep the inspiration and motivation feeding your will power.  Keep looking for ways to stay strong in your focus to achieve that goal you have set.

For some it is enrolling in a run class because they don't like to run on our own.  Others it may be the gym by work, it is easier to go there at lunch for a quick workout than to try to do something at home on our own. Take the time to evaluate what would contribute to your success and make it a priority to make those things happen. 

There is no feeling better than to create a dream or goal, to put your energy and focus on that goal and to achieve that goal.  That goal for some is to swim a length without stopping, for some it is a Try a Tri, because to be able to achieve that means that I have learned to swim, I have asked myself to do something outside my comfort zone, I have conquered a fear.  Whatever you do to rewrite your own personal definition to make it a list of achievement instead of a list of limitations, the power of positive thinking will be contagious. 

Every morning begin your day for being thankful you have goals, you have your health, you have this day, there may never be another one.  If you could choose to do anything on this one day let it be a day of adverture finding out what else you can do, what other accomplishments are out there you can claim as your own.  Treat every day as an opportunity, life will change, you will be eager to try new things to ask more of yourself, dare to live each day to its fullest, make your life one of adventure and achievment.  Take this attitue into your job, your relationship and your sport and you will live a fuller life.  Inner Strength is the foundation we build our physical strength on.  With a strong foundation, we will be prepared for anything.

Now go out and conquer your day!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Ketogenic Diet cured my daughter's seizures

My first child was born healthy and very happy, we had everything we had hoped for, after her second set of immunizations Amanda developed infantile spasms, a type of seizure that is linked to  West Syndrome.  She was misdiagnosed with West Syndrome which is where one hemisphere of the brain develops slower than the other.  Most likely her problem was a vaccine reaction.  Amanda was born in 1996 and developed seizures when she was 5 months old.  She would have a set of 12 to 15 every 4 hours to begin with.  They looked like a full body crunch with an eye roll, brief, but the repetition made them very difficult for Amanda.

She was initially treated with massive doses of prednisone, which removed the happy go lucky girl we knew and loved.  She gained a lot of weight and at first we saw a decline in seizures, then it turned around, she started having sets of 200 spasms which took over 1 hour to happen, life was becoming unbearable.

Once the prednisone failed the next drug suggested was Depekane.  I was not interested.  I was caught in a tough spot, her life had gotten more difficult by introducing the last drug.  I looked into possible side effects and saw liver failure.  Amanda was more of a Murphy's law kid, if it could go wrong it usually would go wrong.  I tried one dose of the drug she threw up immediately and I threw it out.

I had been checking on-line at the time for drugs and solutions to what Amanda had and how to possibly fix it.  My dad mentioned the movie "First do no Harm".  Someone told him about it.  I just kept searching and didn't give much weight to my Dad's suggestion.  I still found my way back to that suggestions, my own way, the longer way.  I found a website that discussed West Syndrome and everyone was really depressed.  I found a website that discussed drug therapy and from the parent's perspective what the good, bad of each treatment was.  That website was eye opening, many drugs per kid over many years and no solutions.

I then found the website on the Ketogenic Diet, people were optomistic and chatty, happy, struggling but with purpose.  I found the group I wanted to belong to, the happy ones.  I ordered the video and the book and did my reading.  I was thinking we would have to travel to the United States to John's Hopkins to get the diet done, I was prepared to do anything.  I was discussing my choice with an early intervention worker.  She mentioned an upcoming Epilepsy seminar that had a local Doctor in Edmonton and a Ketogenic Diet Coaches that were local.  They were going to be there and it was the upcoming weekend.  I couldn't believe how luck could be so close to us.  I went to the seminar and met with the Doctor and Team.  I needed a referral, and it was suggested I get a referral to the Glenrose as well for her assessment.

I was happy to be leaving my other Doctor, he was prescribing Prednisone, going on holidays and doing absolutely no testing of her blood to make sure she wasn't suffering from the treatment.  I met a family who had nearly lost their daughter to Prednisone at the Epilepsy Seminar.  I was starting to feel like every opportunity of treatment that involved drugs had a shady side the doctor's weren't willing to discuss or acknowledge, they kept placing the blame and the focus on what they were treating instead of possible side effects of the treatment.

I made it, Amanda began the diet close to the University Hospital, it couldn't be done in the hospital as they didn't approve of the treatment, but we needed to be close in case she had issues during the fasting process.  Amanda had no problems fasting, she quit eating period.  I had been breast feeding and she had never wanted to take a bottle, now she wouldn't eat or drink.  She was allergic to cow's milk a big portion of the diet is usually milk.  I was hunting for alternatives, it was becoming difficult.  Finally I found a formula just for this, it had protein and fat, it was soy based and I could order it in locally. 

After dropping 10 pounds in a very short time, Amanda was put on a Nose tube.  She then quit swallowing.  You see the Murphy's law yes, if it could go wrong it did.  After being on the nose tube and no longer swallowing she was headed for a g-tube.  Once the g-tube was in I thought my problems were over, not.  She now had reflux, what when in, came right back out and with a child that doesn't swallow, the other option is to choke constantly.  We started her on zantac and prepulsid (this drug is no longer on the market due to heart problems it caused).  Once the food stayed in, the seizures slowly went away.

We were nervous to do a count, we recorded seizures every day in a book, we were recording less and less, then it was no longer daily, then we crossed our fingers and hoped we wouldn't have to open the book again.  The only time Amanda had seizures was if she got sick and threw up her meal.  For the next 3 years Amanda was on the diet.  I researched more and more and discovered her other issues were Autistic in nature, they could also be linked to prednisone as a possible cause.  She didn't talk anymore, she had irrational fears and couldn't walk independently.  She had issues with balance, she could only walk with her fisher price walker, she screamed in any other room than the room we were in for most of the day, to lay her in the bath was torture. It was all proprioceptive.  We began substituting some of her oil for yeast free oil and added Nystatin to her regime.  I was pregnant with my second child and Amanda still needed to be carried everywhere at 4 years old.  I couldn't possibly carry two kids.

Within days Amanda let go of her fisher price walker and stood in the middle of the living room, something she had never done before.  Although this is what I had researched should be the outcome, my Murphy's law little girl hid behind this glowing girl free standing in my living room.  Within weeks she started taking a few steps, then walking along the wall.  She lost her fear of the other rooms, the upstairs and soon I began to understand some of her fears.  She would duck down when she came into my bedroom where there was a ceiling fan going.  She had no idea how far away it was, it scared her.   Two weeks before the birth of my son and 4 months after beginning the Nystatin, Amanda walked down the middle of the hallway without holding onto the walls.  My life was starting to get some sunshine back in it, the happy girl was returning, life was something we were beginning to live again.

One of the things that prevent people from taking drastic steps towards holistic treatment is usually it is not the advice of their treating Doctor.  I do not think people should just choose to do this treatment unless they have researched it and understand that your life becomes the diet, the diet is first and foremost the only thing that matters.  We had a 13 hour schedule, she was on a g-tube from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. with short breaks.  I purchased a Pet pump to allow us the freedom to go into town and buy groceries or go for a meal.  This was after being on the g-tube for 2 years already before hand.  I was anal and had complete control of everything in her life, this is a very stressful position to be in.  If there was a mistake, a seizure it was my fault, I took very few risks without researching them.  Any change to her diet could bring on  a seizure, so adding Nystatin was a risk that had to be worth while.

I believed in the diet and the exactness of it.  I experimented with why there were problems, you couldn't put the oil into the meal or it stuck to her bag and tube leaving behind important grams of oil that would drastically change the ratio of the diet.  I used a syringe for the oil, I also understood that she could throw up during a meal, which again would change the ratio, so I would divide the oil, first 1/2 before her first 1/2 of the meal the other 1/2 before the second half of her meal.  I used Ross Carbohydrate formula for her main ingredient, I added baby food that had protein and veggies in it, usually a chicken and broccoli from heinz, or a carrots and beef from heinz, either way the GI index of the vegetable plays a big roll, not all carbs should be used as the higher the GI the more likely of seizure activity.  I added the oil at the end to the tenth of a gram I used safflower oil once we went on Nystatin.

My daughter is 15, she hasn't had a seizure since she was 2 or 3 years old.  She speaks, she walks, runs a bit.  She still suffers developmental delays and although she looks normal she has typical autistic behaviours except, she is sociable, loves to be hugged, kissed, she likes eye contact, but has a very short attention span and still has a lot of sensitivities to sound.  She loves music, she is a growing teenager with a sweet tooth.  I let her eat whatever she wants.  I control the sugar as it gives her most of her behaviours.  Do I believe that keeping her on a controlled diet would help, yes, it may help her cope a lot better.  Right now we are trying to live with less control and enjoy the time we have.  We are living every day to its fullest and in time I may find ways to improve her situation further, but for now I am so very thankful for her health, her ability to be who she is and to always be positive and happy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Balance in the water

Every once in a while things click, you may have worked on them for months or years and finally it is just clear.  I had a moment in Minneapolis where the whole issue of head position just clicked.  I have been studying posture and been focusing a lot on its impact of other things we do especially as it applies to Triathlon.  During a backstroke session with Terry he kept telling me to pull my chin in.  This kept my body in a straight plane and not the bent stick I was becoming on my back. 

The Why's
Why on my front when I relax my head and let the water take it does it not translate into backstroke?
Why am I physically activating my neck extensors to fix my body line on my back?
If it isn't working for me in the back stroke can I assume it isn't working in Freestyle?

My posture assessment shows a forward head position, to be in a horizonal line in the water I would have to pull my head back to line it up, this is not the same as weightless head.  It falls into laser lead and lengthen your vessel, neither of which give you a relaxed head position, so is relaxing the head for me a mistake as my shortened neck extensors and lengthened neck flexors leave me with a forward head position.  This is something that was revealed in my physical assessment.

I took my questions to the pool and did up a workout, to my amazement, my head position is now pulled back, it allows me easy air on both sides without actually tricking myself to go for air early on the opposite side I naturally breath on.  I need to engage the muscles in my neck to get my head in line.

How should it feel, if you stand against a wall and pretend you are being measured you lengthen your neck by pushing up and back through the top of your had, the back is where your chin is going, if you were to stand at attention, same thing, the chin would come in.

How it works.  Get on your back in skate position with one arm at the side hugging your inner thigh and the other out in skate position in  a 45 degree angle float, just off your back and allow your lead hand to reach, but fingers come to just below the surface of the water.  Keep kicking on your back adjusting your chin position.  Do not allow the chin to tuck so that your head tilts, you want a straight line from top of the head to your toes. 

Once you establish your balance on your back, go back to skate on your front and try and get the same head position.  Yes it is different, when you do an interrupted breath, you should return to balance on your back, if you are again out of balance you head has changed postion, keep practicing skate 45 degrees on your front, going to an interrupted breath at 45 degrees on your back until you feel you are holding your head in the same position for both.  You should be able to roll without moving up and down in the water, make sure it comes from the hips.

Once you have your head in control go to swim.  Try to keep the focus on your head position, you are now going to bilateral breath.  Before each breath recheck your head position and correct if you have lost it, roll for air, it is right there, no matter which side you go to the air is always there, your head is in the position it needs to be to reach air.  There is no change in the body line in the water, the rotation is around your axis with no distortions. 

In summary, if you are suffering posture problems and practicing swim, you must use posture correction even in the water to avoid your posture becoming responsible for your next injury.  If your posture is in balance, you are in balance in the water, any deviation of your posture will be magnified in the water.  If you have kyphosis, or a large upper back curve, this is something you will have to work on all the time trying to get your head back, that large curve sets your head down at one and and your legs down at the other end,  some people reach too far forward with their arms which puts a huge stress on the lower back, make sure you are reaching in front to a slightly lower target, this will allow you to get your legs up higher.  It will relieve a lot of the lower back issues you may be getting from swimming. 

Work on the posture and see all of your sports improve.  The body is a beautiful thing, work wonders with yours and see what it can achieve.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Total Immersion Summit Minneapolis

Day 1 - Let the learning begin, I signed up for the other stroke clinic where we cover the butterfly, the breast and the back, the three b's.  I love Triathlon, so doing things in 3's is the right amount of variety to keep me moving and learning.  I was very happy with the clinic, it was for the coaches only.  I was able to get into the pool with 12 - 14 other coaches.  The butterfly had a gentle introduction and I have to say that the ease of which we moved into it made me realize that struggling was not going to happen today.  The quiet progress was as successful as I predicted.  I am not a multi stroked swimmer and have only attempted butterfly during masters swims a few times usually with fins and a lot of energy.  I was enjoying the relaxed feel and the ease of executing to be sure. 

Breast stroke was a function of streamline and timing to get the finesse, the back stroke to be continued tomorrow of course offered the sinus full of water I was expecting and some gravity shifting I would expect for a bi-lateral stroke.  Doing the butterfly and breast offered the challenge of changing the focus to something completely different, where the backstroke brought you back to the shift of weight.  I enjoyed being in the pool learning again rather than just teaching.

Maria showed up and was showing me her group on the ipad doing their first open water swim after 5 lessons.  She is busy as we all are, and as excited about the progress of her athletes as she was in March, very nice to see her again.  I got to put some faces to some names on the ticoach list and noticed we had a number of people ranging in experience from months to years, a great mix for a summit.

When we got into the summit it was all business, a little bit of an uphill grind trying to take it all in, but thankfully Shinji is very organized and has made this something we can look up and reflect on later.  I was pleased to see that my career path to master coach was laid out, I no longer had to wonder how to get there, Shinji created a map.  There is an enormous amount of new information to cover regarding the business side, I hope it is spaced out over the entire weekend.

Sitting in the summit with the coaches around the table made for an interesting introduction time.  It makes you curious about everyones experiences, everyones philosophies and how they integrate Total Immersion into their jobs and futures.

This is an optomistic time for Total Immersion in a year where things are so difficult for so many, where success is not guaranteed to those who are willing to work hard at their jobs, learning that going with the flow may actually be the answer to many peoples problems with swimming, one only hopes they find that easy efficient transition into employment and financial security, it begins with balancing the budget, streamlining spending and moving forward.  Let's hope this is something we can all learn.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Postural Assessment and the Triathlete

Postural Assessment is to see how imperfections in your posture reveal muscle length imbalances.  These imbalances can play a roll in injury during training.  Most of these imbalances come from having bad postural habits, while sitting and standing while at work, driving and doing our every day activities.  Many hours of bad posture can not be reversed by small exercises, they take a conscious effort to correct, you must focus on correct posture while sitting, driving, and doing our every day activities.

Your head should be centered over the shoulders, you have a cervical curve in your spine, a thoracic curve, and a lumbar curve.  If any part of those curves is exaggerated or reduced there is a risk of injury.  Sitting at our desk with shoulders rolled forward and head reaching forward is enhancing or exaggerating our thoracic (upper back) curve, it lengthens the muscles in the back, shortens the muscles in the back of the neck, lengthens the muscles in the front of the neck and shortens the  chest muscles, just by having a forward reaching posture during your work day, you can create a pattern of movement which can lead to shoulder problems.

Keep your head over your shoulders, your shoulders back and down, a small lumbar curve with slight forward tilt of the pelvis and you are sitting correctly, at attention.  This will take time to become less work as you have to actively pull your shoulders back if the back muscles have lengthened, now you need to strengthen them.  If the pectoral muscles have shortened they need to be stretched, working the back will stretch the chest.

How does this affect the triathlete.  Look at your posture during swimming.  Freestyle swim is an internal rotation of the shoulder, this shortens the pecs or chest, as it is actively using those muscles.  Basically swimming will accentuate bad posture by strengthening the short muscles and lengthening the long muscles.  How do you correct this, add external shoulder rotation to your dryland training, add shoulder retraction, work through the middle and lower traps.  If you add some back stroke to your workout you will also work at lengthening the muscles that you are shortening, it is a balancing act, it is something you need to focus on all the time, work the muscles in balance, the minute you work one and ignore the other you will see changes in joint mobility and movement patterns.

Rounded lower backs, as we slouch at our desk or hang over the steering wheel we are allowing our lumbar curve to round,  constant sitting shortens our hip flexors and lengthens our glutes.  The hip is the one area of the body that once it is no longer in balance can cause lower back, hip, knee and foot problems.  By shortening one side of the supporting muscles of the hip socket you are creating a new movement pattern for the hip in the socket.  When the hip is weak the body will compensate, it will try to use the lower back to do the work.   Ever notice on a long ride that if you have one leg that feels powerless that the spinal errectors on that side are tight and get tighter as the ride gets longer.  This is a sign you need to work those hips, you need them to do their job.

I have included a PDF of my abbreviated static assessment, it is just for information purposes, to help you see what some of the problems look like in a photo.  It is another way to look at things and you may decide it is time to do something about it.  Race Season is months away, what better time to make the change than now.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 1 Training for Ironman 2012 - Break the process into steps.

Inspiration is one thing you can say happens when you think of Ironman as an accomplishment. I had an email from a truly great mentor and the words rang so true, I have to use them a few times here. Let go of doubts, let go of perception, let go of personal definitions, just be all you can be, be an Ironman.

This Years Goals - injury proof, fastest swim, bike and run next year through focus and fine tuning. Goal on swim 1:47/100 m T1 5 min, Bike 31 km/hr av, T2 4 min, Run 4 hours 15 minutes, race weight 138, nutrition plan is to avoid sugar until end of the bike. Plan for more neutral food, rice and egg wraps, hammer bars, maybe try heed, have been using coconut milk, but finding this hasn't been easy, or cheap.

Step 1 - physical assessment, discover muscular imbalance and work the corrections into my regular workouts. Follow up every 3 months on progress.

Step 2 - Muscular Imbalance Correction - follow a more tailored approach to strength training to gain better function, and injury prevention.

Step 3- Swim/bike/run assessment - using video analysis to reveal any form problems early to have time to focus on correction.

Step 4 - Plan workouts around the corrections, be specific and test regularly to reveal if the plan is working.

Step 5 - Begin race weight plan and nutrition plan to provide the nutrition needed to train at a higher level and recover fully.

Step 6 - Implement plan - each phase of training has its own focus. These focuses are what you will be testing at the end of each phase. If you were to improve technique, has it worked. If so you are moving on to Base training focusing on maintaining your focus while building endurance. The same is true through each phase to maintain your focus under intensity in build and again during racing.

Step 7 - Test, test and test again. Re-assess your physical state, has the corrective work helped, are you moving on to more strength training or are you still working on balancing the muscles. Test your technique, have you been able to make the changes to your technique. Test your speed, are you getting the speed changes you were planning for. Test your nutrition,look over your nutritional diary and see if you are following a proper diet with appropriate recovery meals to allow adequate recovery.

Step 8 - Increase the intensity of everything as you get close to your target. Focused technique with speed sets and endurance sets, bricks of two together. Longer workouts to practice pacing and nutrition.

Step 9 - Write the race strategy you have been building, it includes your focus on technique, your nutrition plan, your pacing plan, your minute by minute focus for the entire race, so you are racing your plan every minute. Plan for adversity, put in what you will do if that happens, leave nothing to chance, if you are mentally rehearsed it will not be a mental blindside on your race, it will be a trained response to adversity. "Fail to plan, plan to fail".

Step 10 - Race your plan.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ironman in one Year

Ironman is the biggest draw, the biggest dream and the biggest undertaking in Triathlon. I am surprised how quickly people jump onto the Ironman wagon once they have a try of their first Triathlon. I get to meet them, I know people who try an Ironman without ever having done a Triathlon, I guess when you don't know what you are in for, that could be the charm.

This year I have had many athletes training for 1/2 Ironmans as their goal for their first year of Triathlon and a few who chose both the 1/2 and Ironman for their first year. How do you even begin.

First - how fit are you?
In order to do the repetitious training of swim, bike and run without getting an injury, I am usually pushing these athletes to build their core, hips and shoulders. This is essentially the off season training we begin with, getting in some bootcamp style biking with weights and core all focusing on the sports they will be training in. We spend a few months here. The aerobic is not the focus, but it is present throughout the training, you never want to lose your run fitness, so we keep the distances shorter.

For the swim, I focus on Technique. This year the focus will be more specific on technique until Base Training. If I am completely intent on getting the stroke perfected then as we move closer to race day, the stress of the swim increases and the shift of focus becomes endurance and speed. These both work against hanging onto new technique changes. Why, just because the focus on the individual is no longer on what they are doing in the water, but how far and how fast, these are never good focuses when technique is the need.

Run training, over the last year the run intensity was brought up during base, I do hills and we did a few intervals. I may put this one off a little longer to avoid the injuries that come with it, and an early peak (pre-race). Athletes are insistent on training harder all the time, as a coach you are there to keep them on track. Peaking too soon is a problem of increasing intensity too soon. This year I see hill climbing as part of the program again. Other years I have done this, it is a great learning experience for form and using gravity to your advantage, it builds strength and foot and ankle strength. This workout also keeps training interesting when we get outside, it isn't road running, it isn't treadmill running.

Bike Training, this last year the workouts were not easy, we kept to the classroom and the midweek workouts were done on trainers. It is really hard to assess a bike fit and form when you are on a spin bike. I may need to run a few individual classes where we bring in the bikes and trainers and do a workout that way. Heart rate testing on the bike sounds like the ticket, we may be able to pull this one off.

Base Training - this is where we begin to build in the volume, there is a long bike, long run and a long swim. We progress slowly, so the longer away from you event you begin your base the slower you can afford to build, this allows for the best peak on race day. You need a really great base in order to sustain the build and peak. I keep the core, shoulder stability and hip mobility involved all the way through the base phase.

The midweek training is starting to look like triathlon training with strength. We are doing longer bootcamps to try to build the endurance in and keep the intensity high. The nutrition side of training is important, so this particular long highly intense day makes people learn what will work on race day and what won't. Lately I think we need to keep this day in all the way to race day. We are losing our hardness heading into the races that happen further away from Bootcamp. I have tried to write it in, but I think the intensity of a class based training is higher than individual training. This year I will be changing this. I will keep the Friday Class running through the summer when I can.

I may need to shorten some rides to encourage higher intensity practice on the bike, but this only works for people in their second or third year of Ironman training. That first year is spent mostly in volume and endurance building so that on race day it is no question they can finish and they have a set pace they can dial into.

Swim Training becomes more about holding good technique over longer sets. We are starting to do some base line timings to see where we are at in relationship to our goals. Technique is the focus, but we are having to hold it longer each time.

Build - this is where we are starting to reach maximum volumes, we are increasing the intensity of our midweek workouts and getting our continuous open water swims in. We practice tactics in the water and nutrition strategies on the bike, to see what will work for race day. The shorter runs are becoming threshold intervals held longer and longer,the long run is reaching peak volume, 2 times before race day. Build is usually done once we are outside for our training. So their is a shift that happens here where the whole biking changes, the will to do intervals is gone as people don't like to fight headwinds and hills. It becomes less inviting to do your hard bike in the rain, I think indoor training may help this coming year, or less rain.

Peak - when we are peaking we have achieved all of our maximum distances, all of our hardest workouts and we are beginning the recovery and sharpening phase. You will reduce your volume and start to hit your race pace as everything shortens up. You are making sure any injuries are fully tended to before race day. THis is your time to gather your energy for the race. Focus, Focus, Focus, write a race strategy, do not leave the race to chance, have checklists be prepared, you trained all year for this make sure you plan the day and have ways of dealing with adversity on the fly during your race.

Race Day - Ironman is for the first timer a trial to see if you have what it takes, it is realizing your potential, you will ask yourself many times during this event, "What was I thinking?" "I can't do this". That is negative thoughts, they can rule your day, so practice the rebuttal and understand that you have what it takes, any thought in your brain should be focused on executing your race.
During the swim, your focus is on technique, pace, sighting, stay focused and you will have your best swim, do not think about what others are doing, you can only control what you are doing, it is your race.

Transition, be brief and prepared, know what you are getting, get it and go. You can easily take 3 minutes off transition by being clear about why you are there, rehearsing how you will get dressed so that you get your jersey on before your helmet.

Biking, focus on pace and nutrition. The aid stations are a set time apart, this allows you to use each aid station as a reminder to take electrolytes, drink a bottle of water in between every 2 aid stations if they are an hour apart, remember to eat so many calories every 2 aid stations. Focus on cadence and perceived effort, remember you have to do a Marathon when you get off the bike.

The Marathon, you will meet so many people who want to talk to you on the run, this makes it enjoyable, you should focus on one mile at a time and walk while you drink at the aid station. If speed is your goal and you are new to this, this strategy works, your legs get a break and a stretch and you will actually catch up to anyone who didn't take the small walk break. Your legs will last longer and prevent cramping when you take those short walk breaks, plus you get to drink your fluid without tossing it into you lungs instead.

When you get to the finish chute, it was only 1 year ago you signed up, you asked yourself all year, can I do this? If you can do the training you can do the race. Raise your arms up with whatever little energy you have left and smile as big as you can, look for the camera keep the arms up keep smiling until you see the flash, at that point you have also heard those words "You are an Ironman!" Enjoy this moment and let it all sink in, let them take off your timing chip, if you bend down now, you might black out. Take time to walk it down until you feel okay and have a bite to eat. If you aren't feeling well, haven't peed in forever, get to the medic tent let them check you out. If they do IV here it is less trouble than heading into a hospital waiting room the following day.

If you are a repeating Ironman, never take those words for granted "You are an Ironman". You earn this every year, it is something you will understand that circumstances change and one day this may not be something you can accomplish, you will look back on every one you did as a great memory. We all get focused on always getting better, but honestly that we do it, is what is important. That you can do it, is what you need to cherish. Life is about the journey, this journey to Ironman is the road less travelled for sure. What you will know when you are done, is that when you put your mind to something and follow it through with hard work and planning, you can do it. If you can do Ironman, what else can you do, it becomes an instant feeling of freedom, we have gotten rid of our limits, we can achieve anything we put our minds to.

Post Race - now is the time to finally mow the lawn, visit the friends you haven't seen in the last year, eat the food you denied yourself and look at the finishers photos. It feels like so long ago already. Time to sign up again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Running Injuries and Triathlon Racing

Triathlon training is the best form of training even if you are only doing running events. Most runners come to triathlon after injury to benefit from the crosstraining. In triathlon training, the biggest risk still comes from run training. I have suffered from plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinosis, partial tear of the achilles, stress fracture of the 5th metatarsal,muscle tears and tendon ruptures.

Some of the solutions to these problems are not as expensive as you think. For Plantar Fasciitis I began with the most expensive which was a $400.00 orthotics, that ended miserably. I ran a race in what was told to me to be a sports orthotic and ended up with an immense red bruise on the arch of my foot. I surrendered these to the back of my closet and purchased Sole's Heat Moldables for approximately 40 dollars. These helped me get over my issue and allowed me to continue running.

I looked back on my running history as I was a distance runner in high school. I remember every 3 years having to take a year off because of my feet being too sore to walk, I guess I have been battling this for my entire running life. I figured if I have always had to stop I must be doing something wrong. I purchased Chi Running and read that tried it and realized the writing was not to the degree where you could self teach, so I purchased Pose Running. This is a book you can learn from. I began to switch my running style, but did this slowly, the brain takes a lot of time to reprogram. I also introduced hip strength work into my regular running schedule. This is essential to allow your hips to be free and stable while running. I was starting to have success.

I decided to purchase Newton shoes and loved them, they were a little tricky as they had a negative angle from forefoot to heel, a slightly elevated forefoot is opposite to every shoe on the market, so you have to expect your body to not be totally happy with this. I enjoyed midfoot running and started to feel like I could train running again. I began training for longer ultra's, the Canadian Death Race was the goal.

I used mizunos runners for most of my training as it was trail and not road running, so the Newtons would have to wait. My first attempt to solo the Death Race had me coming down the back side of Leg 2 during the rain and on a slippery clay slope. I fell numerous times and landed on my feet with by body, crushing them many times. I made it out to leg 4 and pulled the plug. I had feet so swollen I couldn't walk without shoes due to the bruised bones. I still managed to do Ironman Canada 4 weeks later in my Newton's taking is really easy. I began teaching aerobics shortly after and ended up going for x-rays as stepping sideways was too painful. I had a stress fracture of the 5th Metatarsal.

I tried to keep teaching while injured and tore a tendon in my ankle from compensating and always rolling my weight inwards away from my little toe where the pain was. This is unfortunately how we all go downhill, we refuse to listen to our bodies and stop before we make things worse.

The Newton's hit the bin shortly after my next 1/2 Ironman. While running in a shoe that has lugs under the metatarsal you will always have something pushing up on your broken metatarsal, any other shoe, doesn't specifically put individual pressure evenly across your metatarsals, you can compensate to a degree. During that run, I suffered a lot more tendonitis issues than I care to say. I spent 21 km trying to avoid landing on my foot.

Due to fighting issues all the time I research a lot of solutions, after the fact. Blisters, I recommend Injinji socks, they are toe socks, they separate your toes so that the blisters from overlap do not occur, this was a fantastic discovery and I still put them on for 1/2 Ironman and full Ironman events, shorter events I go sockless.

Bigger shoes, so many of us try to find something that our toes reach the end of, this isn't smart is you want to save your toenails. You also blister and get foot pain from a shoe that binds the toes and keeps them from spreading out. I have found that my zoot zoonies with the carbon arch are like slippers, I do not feel them on my feet, they are light racer /trainers and have only the arch, no other stability in them. I have purchased Vibram toe shoes, but due to my inability to start over after a run break, I will put those into the plan for this year.

Proper treatment, I discovered graston technique from my Chiropractor. THis is a treatment where the scar tissue is broken up with a metal tool, he usually follows the treatment up with ultrasound. After the treatment I would train to restore range of motion to the area again. This has helped more than other treatments I have tried. I also use Magnesium Gluconate or Magnesium Citrate to help with reabsorbing the calcium from the scar tissue.

Essentially fatigue is one of the leading causes of injury along with footwear. We wear a shoe that determines how our foot will work. Essentially most shoes prevent your foot from working at all. So the muscles and bones and tendons are not being built up to sustain the impact as they are always cushioned. If you remove the shoes, build up the feet by building in foot exercises, barefoot walking in toe shoes, trail hiking is great for building ankle and foot strength. Build up slowly to allow your body to adapt and not get stressed to injury.

This is hard to do for people who are always doing long events, my suggestion is to do it now and pass on the long events for a year, build up your feet and legs, your mobility in your hips to allow your knees to be stable, build up your medial glutes to allow your leg to support the body with perfect alignment. Build up your core so that you can keep your posture while you do your events.

Fatigue is a sign that you have passed the point where you can hold your posture correctly to allow your body to function in the normal range. When your posture starts to go, the injuries start to mount, the tracking of the legs gets sloppy, the ability to stabilize your joints on impact becomes more difficult.

I give hip strength work to the athletes I train, it happens right after a run. I thought this was the answer. I now watch and realize if they are not in proper posture they are working the wrong muscles. To do a side leg raise to work on your medial glutes is a good idea, but it you point your toe up, you are moving into the hip flexor, you need to lead with the heal to ensure you are using the medial glute. There are so many small adjustments we make that we do not know, this is where we need help.

I am now writing more specific hip mobility work, it works like dynamic stretching with strength. I am putting people through many exercises that force them to always engage proper posture for each move. Mostly we do not use weight, but the results are looking up. It is an incredibly tough workout to execute properly, so I think this year I will be doing classes specifically on posture and mobility for strength work.

How does this translate into how this article began, the solution to preventing running injuries is to properly assess your current muscular balance, your mobility, and your posture. By correcting the posture problems we can then execute the exercises in the correct range that our body was built. By addressing our limited mobility we can begin to correct the chain reaction for injury. If your hip is meant to be mobile and you are stabilizing it (protecting it), then the mobility or movement will come from your lower back and your knee. Your lower back is not meant to be that flexible, so lower back issues become a problem. Your knees are meant to be stable, not mobile, so if you have no mobility in the hip it will force your knee to become more mobile. This is a recipe for knee issues, ankle and foot issues, the chain moves up and down the body.

If you can balance your body, correct the flaws, improve your daily posture to where you are running with perfect posture and form, there are fewer issues that can come up. If you read the research, injuries come from the footwear, try to build your body up to handle the stress of training, that includes your feet. Try to get rid of the cushioning shoes and allow your body to work the way it was meant to. Get up from your sitting position many times a day and do glute and posture activation exercises so that the fatigue of sitting doesn't cause a permanent posture problem. These are all things we can do to ensure we stay healthy.

Run training is enjoyable when it doesn't hurt. When it does hurt, you want to understand why, do not ignore it. Treat your body like your temple or hot sports car, treat it with TLC.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Success - better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all

Triathlon for the newbie is about a big adventure into something foreign and completely overwhelming with experiences. Mostly people are afraid to do the first things, they worry about not being successful. Eventually they build their courage and commit to do a race. No matter how that race turns out, it is a success when they cross the finish line, they are hooked. Their fears were overwhelming at first, they had adrenaline pumping through their veins and the euphoria that met them at the finish line was something they wanted more of.

Triathlon is a great sport, it has a ladder of race distances, this is great for success, if you have finished one distance you can now challenge yourself to go further next time. What a great idea to keep putting bigger options, allow them to start small and build.

Long time racers look at success as a personal best. There is a point in a persons racing where getting a personal best is pretty tough. This is probably the time they leave the sport as they no longer feel successful.

I want to reflect on the success I see as a coach. I took a group for a swim bike run this weekend. They were there before me, helping the race director clean up the course. I was so proud of them to see them enjoying each others company in the frigid cold wind and temperatures, trying to help a great guy with a great race. That was success, they came together and enjoyed a really cold time towards a greater good.

Next we went into the water, already some of us frozen from standing in the cold on the beach. We did a warm up swim and then set out for a couple laps to swim the 2 kms. I had a swimmer doing his first time in a wetsuit and had a pretty normal experience of tight chest, hard time breathing, hard to relax. He slowed himself, he calmed himself down, he kept up even though his goggles were solid fog, we made it around the buoys and on the last leg in he calmed into a regular swim rhythm. Completely overwhelmed, he didn't see the success. I am amazed that he got a wetsuit on, got into a dark cold body of water with not pleasant surroundings and expected himself to adapt so quickly. He did an amazing job and just looked at the others thinking he was not like them. Only the week before one of those swimmers took her first dip and had a similar unsettling experience. She swim the 2 kms on her second open water swim with no issues. They both had success, it is all small steps. Soon we get to the point where the challenge is gone and we get bored. Do we need more challenged, more adversity to keep us going?

Next we headed out on the bike, I gave them some suggestions on what to do with cadence and gearing into the headwind and back with the tailwind. It was one persons first time in an aero helmet. It was a hard headwind and success for some was being able to stay aero at times, for some it was trying to hold the suggested cadence because everything in their mind said do something else. One person found her success by not being last and was very proud of her achievement and worked hard for it.

During our ride we had reports coming through the cell phones of people racing that day, their successes.

Onto the brick run, we went out easy and came back at a race pace (1/2 Ironman race pace). For some it was okay, for some it was an experience where they finally felt like this race is theirs, they are going to be okay, they could do it. They achieved success by simply coming out and facing their fears.

As a coach you should set up situations where there are condiitons that need to be met, controlling cadence or output, some learning experience where when they finish they have learned something about themselves as a racer, they have had a successful training day, they didn't do junk miles.

My reminder to those searching for success, do not leave the sport to look for new challenges. Look for things that improve your own experience. Sometimes you may find in other peoples success you will find your own. You learn so much from all your years of training, when you share that with the new people who join in the group, you will see them take that knowledge and build on it. I am seeing some of the group rise up to some high levels right now. There is always something we can work on to make ourselves, better in the sport, more knowledgable about ourselves as racers, and a better mentor to those coming in.

I see success in everyone I coach, but the universal truth is that for those of us who set the bar high, whenever we get close enough to meet our definition of success, we quickly raise the bar up higher. I have people write goals down when they begin. The first year you get things like survive, finish, try a race. The second year, the expectation of success becomes a burden. They worry about whether they can match their new definition of success. If their goal was to be a better swimmer, biker, runner, injury free and healthy, that goal would be easy to attain, they would be improving every year and looking after their health as they did so. This is how I view them, always improving, always taking on new challenges, hopefully finding balance.

Not all goals allow for success. Try to see the success in all you do, be happy we have the freedom to do a sport. Support the races you love to do so that they will be their in the future. Be gracious to the volunteers who make the races possible so that we can go challenge ourselves on our annual goals. Look for the success in all you have achieved so far, and allow future goals to inspire you to reach further.

Keep up the swimming, biking and running.

Breathing Issues and Training

Breathing is the one thing never to be taken for granted, not everyone gets that feeling of a full breath of air, and as oxygen is required to create the intended speed of our race, some of us go in to every race handi-capped due to breathing issues. Allergies, asthma, colds and flu's affect a large number of us on race day.

Allergies and sports asthma can go undetected, but an athlete who eats something and goes to train and finds themselves coughing or phleming up, should write that food down on a list of do not eat before training or racing. The main culprits for me were wheat and dairy. I started teaching spin class and realized if I was going to be able to talk without clearing my throat and still teach a spin class these were foods I would have to eliminate. It became more imparitive when I swam to avoid these foods. They were 2 on a list of things I don't eat if I can avoid it, and something I may treat myself with after a race season and avoid all the way through.

Other things that were difficult to tolerate were sports drinks, considering these were made for the sport I was disappointed to say the least. The sugar created mucous which then gave me a coughing issue and reduced airflow during a race, I now use coconut water, natural sugar and electrolyte. I still use electrolyte tablets with it.

Swimming in cold water, biking into a cold wind also cause breathing issues for me. I usually take my puffer before a cold swim and slowly get in and warm up, I need to swim slower in cold water as everything tenses and the lungs go on high alert. One race day I had perfect water temperature and I tried something new, I took electrolyte tablets before the race. I had a bad swim, the worst case of asthma in the water yet, I quickly looked up why, salt can trigger an asthma attack, again more race nutrition to save for after the swim.

I have had to try to go as natural as possible while racing. I try not to do gels on the bike, I save those for the run, I try to do natural food, no gluten or dairy, there was a great recipe on the tour de france that had sushi rice, eggs, bacon, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with a little brown sugar or maple syrup. This wrapped in a rice wrap or seaweed wrap made a great snack bar on the bike, portable easy to eat and neutral on the stomach, it didn't create acid unless you overdo the soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.

I take water of the course and keep coconut milk in my bottles, I mix the coconut milk in with the water for a little carbs, mostly the flavor and the bit of electrolytes, I still take my electrolyte tablets, but that is after the swim is done. I usually only need my puffer before the swim unless I get asthma in the swim.

The more I coach the more I realize that swimming in Chlorinated pools is not great for people with respiratory issues, yet that is where we train, I have skipped the pool for a year and minimized my exposure and just waited for outdoor swim. I had fewer sinus issues and better bike and run training throughout the winter doing this. I am not saying give up swim, but choose a salt water pool, less chlorine gas issues and easier on the lungs.

Where there is a will there is a way. Never stop what you are doing because of issues, try to establish what the issue is relating to and change the conditions. I have become healthier through training for triathlon. I learned the foods I was choosing were not good for me, before that I thought I just had breathing problems and would have to live with it. I manage it very well now. It isn't gone, but it is more manageable. My overall health is better.

My first suggestion to most people who start training is to get rid of Wheat, Dairy and sugar for 28 days or longer while training. It is a basic suggestion. The outcome is amazing. Most people are no longer bloated or uncomfortable after eating, most people also lose a quick 5 pounds without dieting. The longer they do it the better they feel, I had a few people who did it and got control of their breathing issues. They weren't the first to notice, but a family member commented on the "death rattle" being gone.

I am here to just put suggestions out, make note of things that have helped me or my athletes. I am not suggesting this is for everyone, it is just a simple to follow suggestion that can help, or won't hurt to try. Everyone worries about eliminating dairy, but if you are eating your healthy greens you will be getting calcium. By eliminating these 3 foods your ability to digest all of your foods will improve, so your absorption of your nutrients will also improve. If you are still concerned, take a balanced mineral supplement that has calcium citrate, magnesium citrate, and vitamin D. Consult your doctor before trying any diet suggestions that may affect a condition you have.

Keep on training.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Training for Triathlon is not just swim bike run

My program is set up to address the whole athlete, not just the parts that swim, bike and run. Most people strike out in this sport swimming, biking and running 2 to 3 times each per week and there you have it a training program. Add some variety, some hills for strength, some intervals for speed and some long slow for endurance, it all sounds wonderful, so why isn't that enough.

If we approach swim, as swim long, swim fast and swim with resistance that should make us a great swimmer, but as an athlete what does it do. We are working muscles that do one repetitive movement, we are lifting the arm up over the water reaching above our head, catching water and pulling it down along our bodies, that is internal rotation of the shoulder. We are dominant in the front, we are constantly working in front of our bodies at a desk and at home with regular chores of carrying and doing tasks with our hands where we can see them. As we continue to add more more swim we will start to shorten through the front through our pecs, into the pec minor. This tightness is going to pull our shoulder forward more. To have a proper functioning shoulder, you need a balance in your rotator cuff. If there is an imbalance in the muscles you will start to see tracking problems and impingement.

Knowing this is an eventual process, it is usually 3 years into the sport that people start talking about their IT issue, their arch or achilles problem, their running knee or their swimmers shoulder. Why is it so common, because in our busy day we do what we enjoy that gives us an immediate fix, we love to swim, bike and run.

In my program plan I drag individuals away from the sport they love to train and get them to do rotator strengthening exercises for the hips, and shoulders. We work on core and hips for proper posture. The weights with core and hips becomes as important as the training they want to do, this is the training that keeps their body healthy.

So before you start a training program in Triathlon look at the muscles you are using and look at their antagonist (opposite) muscle. If you shorten one, you lengthen the other. If one muscle is short and one is long, then work the long one and stretch the short one to try to get some balance in all of the muscles. Look at your form, is your posture perfect when you execute your exercises, are your shoulders back, chest out and core engaged? Can you remember to hold this posture when you do your daily chores as well?

Once you have decided what you plan to do for working out try to balance it with the same amount of work for the antagonist muscles. They may not be the ones doing the sport you choose, but they will be involved in supporting the joint doing the sport.

I love weights they give you so much control over your physique, it is important to use them wisely and for Triathlon it is important to include this in your daily workouts.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Hardest Things in Life are Usually the Ones Worth Doing!

Okay to say this winter has been hard is an understatement, if I look around people look burned out and don't just mean in my group of athletes, everywhere you go you hear people fighting with overloaded schedules, not enough time and too many commitments. How does a person prioritize when just having a life takes all of your time up. To add a race stress to that might tip the balance and you may lose quality of life in other areas. I think a healthy approach to always trying to balance your responsibilities and priorities comes in to play. Some things are wants and some are needs. Deal with the needs, prioritize the wants and then schedule time for each. You may settle for postponing certain jobs that can wait. When you do this don't carry the guilt with you write the job down on a calendar to be dealt with in a better time.

Time is the one thing that is precious, we have only so much time every day. Our jobs, the commute, the running around gives us very little time left over to fit in family, odd jobs and training. As with all deadlines there is an overwhelming feeling that comes with every event. The bigger the commitment the more overwhelmed we feel. What do we do when we get overwhelmed, procrastinate! We want to bury our heads in the sand and make that pressure go away. Why is there such pressure on an event, because we put it there, we have expectations of how we will do. It is easy to set those far away from the event, but as that event looms closer and closer our fight or flight response rears its wrath on our resolve.

At times like these you need to not think about whether you can do that time, that place, that race, you need to look back on your path to get there. If you have commited yourself to train consistently for months, why now are you stopping, why now do you ask yourself why? The only person we fear letting down is really ourselves. We have trained asking ourselves, is it possible to really get that time, that speed, that goal, now as we are about to find out we are looking for excuses on why we won't.

I went to University, postpone the studying and go to the movies, then pull an all nighter, that way if you fail it isn't because you weren't smart enough to pass, it was because you didn't do the correct prep. Theory holds true in this, however, you have done the training up until now, you have done the prep, now as the competition gets closer your doubts grow bigger, and as you taper, your nervous energy works to psyche you out. This is standard event practice, you need to channel your energy into positive things, as you have more time off in taper do those odd jobs that were stressing you out, connect with family and friends you have left out until now and get your world into some order before you get to your event. This taper will make you stronger, it will heal all the small injuries you have gathered on your journey so far.

Why quit because you are afraid, that fight or flight is your race pace on race day, choose to start and you will be rewarded with the knowledge you gave it your all. As you spend a few years at the sport you may decide if you can't get better why continue. This race we choose to do gets us out of the house, off the couch and into some situations that require us to reach further, it is the road less traveled. You will be healthier, you will spend time in line ups to the porta potties, not the walk in clinics. You will be a mentor to those around you that you can choose to do something with your time that rewards your life with positive, instead of staying current with what is on television.

I worried that my kids would resent me for taking the time to do this, that they might resent being at a race for an entire day waiting. This year my son told me he wants to be a coach. My daughter is awaiting her turn to go cheer on the team at the next race, she is practicing her "Go Ironwill" at my son's swim meets. I realize with all the time and energy we have put into training and racing and getting out there to support people our children were already following in our footsteps, they weren't bored, they were involved in something that they now look forward to. Sometimes parents guilt works against you, show your kids how to live, be a mentor to them that if you want something bad enough you can work for it and you will be stronger for that. They learn by watching how you work in the world, being goal oriented outside of a job will show kids that there are rewards out there that are not monetary, that sometimes doing something well, something you love will give back to you in ways a 9 - 5 can't.

Always remember that time...Today is non-refundable... make it unforgettable..don't forget how great life is, you are stressed because you are trying to have it all, live life, every moment.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Race Strategy

With races coming up soon, it is surprising how many people wing it in every race. They just throw themselves into the race without a plan and hope for the best. My favorite saying is fail to plan, plan to fail. I myself have had wardrobe malfunctions, trying to get a spandex bra top onto a wet body after the swim, not a good idea, when you are stuck in transition with both arms twisted and trapped in a top that has turned into a rope torniquet around your upper arms and head, it is funny to watch, but not so funny when it happens to you. A one piece tri suit when you need a bathroom stop and their are none on the bike course and no trees.....

Putting food on the bike you are happy to have because you are going to burn it off only to find out you can't digest it again, not tried, tested and true. I am in the middle of getting my athletes to ponder their race, many weeks out. This allows them to write a strategy, and test it over and over before their race. They can write their race report on the same page later as a reflection on whether it worked or whether it didn't. In this way they learn about themselves as a racer. All experiments need controls in order to test them.

We have heart rate tests to establish heart rate zones, this is helpful for setting a pace and using a heart rate during training and racing. It is a great control to use as it measures where you are at the time. Pace is less reliable as people try to hold the pace they want to average, this is hard as their is wind and terrain to consider, it is less likely to be successful as they may push too hard early on to hold their planned average pace, they should instead use perceived effort and plan to start easy and finish hard at the end, this allows them to reach that average speed without starting at it and trying to hold it all the way through.

I am going to write my race report for the upcoming Great White North 1/2 Triathlon, this is specific to myself as I have certain things that come up in my race others may not.

2 days out from the race, I will be attending the pre-carb meal and enjoying the surroundings and the people, I will limit my food to those I consider good pre-race choices, I don't do dairy and wheat, not a good time to start.

Make sure I get good night sleep on the Friday as chances of getting good sleep the day before the race is tough, so try to sleep more the couple days out, so leave the pre-carb early.

Day before the race, make sure I stay well hydrated and take in more liquid carbs, not as much fibre, it is not your friend on race day. Try to eat a normal meal I would the night before, no surprises. No alcohol.

Go do the swim bike run rehearsal day before race to test my T1 and T2 bags to make sure all my gear is there and everything I need is in them for the race. Put my bike into transition in its easiest gear, we start by going up a steep hill out of T1 so I don't want to fall over or bind my chain at the beginning of the race.

Try to get some sleep the night before, wake up for 4:00 a.m. eat 2 eggs, 1 tomatoe and 2 rice cakes with peanut butter and honey. Plan for 100 calories of easy to digest snacks every half hour before the race. Get to Stoney Plain early to get on shuttle.

I use a checklist to make sure I get everything I need I put my own stuff on their as well, for me I need my puffer so that I can treat asthma on the bike and before the swim. Those things should be in red so you don't forget them. Also your race chip, no chip, no time, no sense racing.

After I get to my bike on race day, load my water bottles, I will have a front load in front, my tool kit on the back with two water bottles. My gels will be taped to my top tube, I am packing 200 - 250 calories per hour on the bike, I will have 2 electrolyte tabs per hour for the race which is plenty as I am not a big sweater, but it allows me to offer some up on the course. My shoes for my bike will have no socks in them, I will have my number belt, sunglasses and helmet on top of my aerobars. My towel will be colorful to tip me off to my bike. Shoes with heels facing me to be easy to get on, I will have a waterbottle at the towel to spray my feet and drink as much as I can before mounting the bike.

My T2 will have runners and socks (injinji toe socks - no between the toe blisters, filled with foot powder to help dry my feet and get on easier), spare gels and electrolyte tabs in a pouch I will carry.

My outfit is my bike shorts (I am a suck and like the padding, my tri top with back pouch, I will have my wetsuit on, latex hat and goggles, probably have the strap under my swim hat to prevent losing them in the water. Googles will be recently washed with shampoo to prevent fogging during the swim, rinse well so no irritation to the eyes during the swim. I will put body glide on my neck to avoid chaffing and around ankles to help the wet suit pop off so I don't get a massive calf cramp from the tugging.

Time to race start 30 minutes drink some fluid, go for the warm up swim, come back and have a gel and take my inhaler. Head to the swim start and seed myself in the middle just 3 - 4 deep from the front. Plan to wait for open water to enter, and get into my stroke, focus on my form and making sure I draft off the hip and not the feet. PLan to cross the hips to get to open water if needed. Warm up is to the first bouy so keep it slower until this point, after that allow myself to get into a rhythm. I will try to keep slower to avoid asthma although it hasn't helped before, I will be going slow.

On the last turn towards the finish of the swim flex the feet a few times to avoid cramping, mentally go through the steps to the T1, unzip wetsuit, remove swim cap and goggles, get to the landmarks to locate bike, stuff goggles and hat in wetsuit sleeve, push into T1 bag get shoes on first, number belt, sunglasses, helmet, clip it and go to mount line.

Keep bike easy out to the hiway, there is no place to race at this point, so take in some nutrition at this point and get ready to settle in on the highway.

Once on the bike I will keep an easier pace out to the East West Road, if there is a tail wind to start I will go easier than I normally would as the headwind on the way back will take some work, so save it for then. I will always be changing gears to get optimal cadence, for me 82 - 85. Keep nutrition on every 20 minute intervals and water every 10 minutes. One bottle of water per hour and 2 salt tabs per hour.

At turn around on bike you have a fair idea where everyone is, now is the time to stay steady and get ready for the fast east west road. If there is a headwind, keep cadence high and steady, if there is a tailwind, get into the big ring and enjoy the ride. On the bike into town I will spin it up to a higher gear to get my legs rested, standing now and then to get circulation into the legs. Once into T2, rack bike, change shoes and head for the toilet, get something to drink as soon as I leave the washroom and head out at an easy trot waiting for the legs to adapt, once I am comfortable, I will find a zone 2 pace to hold to the turn around on the run, at that point if the IT, the feet, the stomach are all okay I will be letting out some more energy to pick up the pace, at 7 km pick up again, at 5 km pick up again and last 2 is an all out fight to the end. My nutrition on the run will be gels which usually make me sick, so I may substitute this year, but will need to test for a replacement.

I will make sure if it is hot that I keep an easier pace to avoid heat stress. When I am done, walk it down to make sure I am fully cooled down before I stretch and go to the finish line to cheer.

My specifics are food choice, I do not do sugared electrolyte drinks I prefer to separate these so that water is water, electrolytes are independent of sugar and the sugar is an entity on its own. I can still drink and do electrolytes even is my stomach is unhappy, so I have done this enough to know it works for me. I have tried a rice, potatoe and tuna mix on the bike at Ironman which was really great for me, I may use this on Great White North.

If it is a cold race, I will wear my fully fingered winter running gloves, this allows me to shift gears and keep my fingers working in case of a flat tire. In a 19 degree day cloudy windy rainy day you can get numb fingers which would really set you back on your race if you got a flat.

Pace. I go by perceived effort, I am not great with breathing so need to stay more in a somewhat hard zone, not a hard zone or my shoulders go up to my ears as I fight to draw air into my little closing hole to my lungs. If I keep an easier pace I can run longer and more comfortably, I do not need to slow down either, so this has been what helps me race.

Hills are hard due to air as well, so holding a harder gear up hill may work better so I am not breathing as hard, it is harder on the muscles and knees though, so somewhere in between.

Below is a checklist for Triathlon if you haven't got one you can copy and customize this one.

Checklist for Triathlon

Bike Maintenance
0 chain, if more than 2500 km you could use a new chain
0 Tires if more than 3500 km or visible splits, weaknesses, you should get new tires
0 Inspection and tune up at bike shop
0 Does your computer need new batteries?
0 Do you want a front load profile design water bottle
0 Do you have a bento box, a small carrier for the top tube of your bike for nutrition
0 Do you have a toolkit for tire change?
0 Head lamp for early morning bike set up (LED lights are not expensive.)

Pre-Race Checklist
0 Swimsuit or tri-suit this can be your bike shorts and race top
0 Wetsuit – check it for damage that may need to be fixed
0 Goggles 2 pair, if one breaks race morning you won’t need paxil
0 Paxil an anti anxiety medication, only if you don’t have 2 pair of goggles
0 Body Glide

0 Bike
0 Bike Shoes
0 Tire pump for before race
0 Helmet
0 Sunglasses
0 Bike Shorts and Jersey or tri-suit
0 Body Glide for your ……
0 Water bottles
0 Nutrition
0 Electrolyte Tabs
0 Spare tubes and air cartridges
0 Sun Screen
0 Towel to dry off after swim
0 Socks for the bike shoes
0 Number belt for the run with number on

0 Running shoes, make sure you have run in them a lot
0 For the runner who blisters have you thought of Injinji toe socks?
0 Hat
0 Run shorts and top if different from bike outfit
0 Sun Screen
0 Nutrition
0 Electrolyte tabs
0 Ibuprofen for the run, only if you have tried it before and know you need it

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Swim Update from our first 8 students

8 X 8, in my program plan that usually means a really hard training session, but actually this time is means 8 people for 8 lessons over 4 weeks. I have to say I was very happy to see the final video results. Everyone had made changes that improved their overall swim, considering that we did it doing very little swimming and a whole lot of thinking and body awareness means it is something anyone can do, it just takes some focus.

The approach we are using is Total Immersion, for those of you Masters swimmers out there, it really is just a teachable method of swim, not an evil take over. The more I learn about swim as I coach, the more you realize that people fear what they don't understand. Total Immersion is sensory training. If you didn't learn to swim efficiently when you were young, it takes a lot more concentration to learn as you get older. That is good news, because it means you can continue to improve, it works your brain and your body. Attention to details is where the main focus is.

How do you swim? How do you catch? How do you Kick? How do you breath? These are really good questions, and I rarely got really good answers, I wanted to understand what to do in order to do it right.

Enter Total Immersion and now I know what my hand is supposed to do, I know what my breathing should be like, I know what my kick should be like, I know my timing, I know how to be propulsive and how to pace myself. I am continuing to improve my swim every time I go because I have a new focus each time that will improve my efficiency in the water.

Terry always has great statistics to explain why we should swim this way. Take a sprinter, they have a set cadence (stride rate) as they speed up they increase their stride length, this propels them further. In swim we think faster means faster movement of our limbs, increase stroke rate usually results in a decrease of stroke length, so the outcome is a high heart rate with very little pay off. If we rationalized to add more focus to streamlining and body position and increase our propulsiveness we will get more speed, make each stroke longer the way a sprinter does. It makes sense, but in nature we tend to rationalize I am racing if my heart is racing, however that doesn't always translate into speed.

In our class we didn't do speed sets, or aerobic training, but in 4 weeks and 8 lessons, everyone is more efficient which translates into faster swimming.

I am posting the youtube videos here so you can have a look at the final results. We are going to continue for 4 more weeks of one lesson per week which means they will be swimming more in between, it is usually harder to break bad habits when you put in volume training, so I will keep their mid week swims specific to the lessons.

I will post the follow up when we are complete.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Antibiotics and Tendon Ruptures in Athletes

As a coach it is important to know when someone is sick. They should be reducing their volume and going easy only. They should increase their rest time and respect the bodies need for recovery. It they have been to the doctor and perscribed an antibiotic, they have now crossed over into an area where "Shit is going to happen!"

Firstly the doctor perscribing the medicine when asked by the athlete if they should do anything different while on the drug should be informed of its potential to devestate the body, this is usually not discussed. Then the pharmacy should cover the issues as well. The athlete should speak up and say they are "an athlete". This is usually a problem as most people who train for an event like Triathlon think athletes are people who win triathlons, not so, you are an athlete, you train for an event, it is your right to be called an athlete and it also allows your doctor and pharmacist to correctly handle your needs, chances are they will miss this as well.

So now you are handed a sheet of paper which you look at and fold up for in case your throat closes later you can look up the side effects. This is a bad approach, most people who have taken drugs before figure no problem it is the same stuff. Take time to look after your health, you need to be proactive, your life is in your hands, your Doctor, your Pharmacist, your Coach are there to assist you to make choices, ultimately you make the choice in the end that you have to live with, so take the time to inform yourself.

I looked up Cipro on line to see what it has and under side effects, it doesn't mention tendonitis or tendon rupture, you would think it would be there. They have a different page called warning, if you need to provide a warning the information should also be under side effects, it is caused by the drug it should be there as well. The warning is meant to be the highest priority, but some people go straight to side effects and miss the important warning.

WARNING: This medication may rarely cause tendon damage (e.g., tendonitis, tendon rupture) during or after treatment. Your risk for tendon problems is greater if you are over 60 years of age, if you are taking corticosteroids (such as prednisone), or if you have a kidney, heart or lung transplant. Stop exercising, rest, and seek immediate medical attention if you develop joint/muscle/tendon pain or swelling.

This warning was just copy and pasted off of if you want more information on the drug, please refer to this site. There are as always in the US class action suits going on for damages, there are a few regarding this issue, and I am afraid their claim of over 60 year of age is incorrect, it can happen to you.

The drug softens the tissue of people who take it. Add athletics to that and someone who is training regularly, this is a recipe for disaster. The idea of tendon rupture means surgery. Tendonitis and tears happen as well. This is one of the things that can happen, but it is specific to athletes, so it bears mentioning, do not race on antibiotics, do not do hard training, or maybe give up the training and resume light duties for 10 days after the drug is no longer being taken, you may take many weeks for your body to restore from the drugs effects.

Here are some links on the warnings.

If you aren't on antibiotics, keep up the swimming, biking and running!

My First official Total Immersion lesson is complete!

I wanted to get this lesson done as quickly after finishing the clinic as I could. I wanted to be able to be fresh with the ideas presented and still have the perspective from all the coaches I learned from clear in my mind. Keeping things clear is difficult when you are trying to describe swimming, as you demonstrate in positions they aren't swimming in, they do not translate as well once in the water. Having ideas people relate to may be helpful, but I think it is like testing someones armour, fire the directions at them over and over and one day it gets through.

I capped the class at 8 people, I rented 3 lanes, shallow and moderately cool pool at the beginning, absolutely frigid pool about 45 minutes in, just like Total Immersion Coaches clinic.

Covering superman, hmmmmm. Body awareness may be the lesson here. When you stand in front of someone and have them mirror what they see. They still don't realize that the minor differences between what you model and what they model, make all the difference, except they can't see the difference. So in lesson one, you pretty much have to keep repeating it and remodeling it to allow the person to pick up each small difference as they get closer to the goal. Superman is also a core move and can be described as such, for those who sink to the back with their heads down, I have started seeing a sway back. Their idea of relax is to relax the core, not the muscles, you need active streamlining, this requires the body to be held in superman posistion, the core exercise is a great way to impress this, but with no real gravity in the water, the backs scoop again.

Repeat, practice, repeat, practice. Lesson one we got the initial video, we covered superman and I had all of the people get involved in this. When you have 8 people they each have a partner. I decided to make them responsible for each others feedback. I had them watch the corrections and understand what to look for, I had them help each other, if they saw the person do it wrong, correct and verbally explain. I thought I would test this theory out. In the follow up I had one of the fellows say, he was overwhelmed being asked to look and help when he didn't know what he was supposed to do. But it helped him learn quicker what to look for and do. So my guess was right, mental training is as effective as physical training, as a teacher you must say what you see and then explain what they were supposed to do. If a student is doing this the drills sink in quicker as they have more responsibility to understanding them, than just pushing off in the moment.

We covered skate, I have to say that the people who come to Total Immersion probably learned from a book like myself, Terry's first book, the amazing yellow one. Skate was not there so much as the side balance at 90. The biggest challenge of skate is to have a person understand when enough is enough and any further is going to cause balance problems. Keeping the body in line during this is a good learning lesson, alot of people would over roll the shoulders and under roll the hips, once that was corrected you could see them relax. This was covered in lesson 2.

Lesson 3, we reviewed superman, skate. We added a little travel into it, a small amount of kick for propulsion and just stand up instead of trying to breath.

Lesson 4, we covered interrupted breathing, trying to trust your balance to keep your body in laser lead so that you could rotate to air and come back down to complete the drill. We added swing.

Lesson 5, we covered swing switch and how to elbow lead. This was a little trying as the people who hadn't perfected superman had heads up and bodies out of balance. We did a video update here to show people where we needed to focus.

Lesson 6, we started reviewing the drills adding some whole stroke, working on swing switch bringing it up slowly to whole stroke.

Lesson 7, we reviewed it all again and covered breathing. This was a request which I agreed with, everyone was getting their stroke fine, but hadn't addressed the breathing issues they brough with them. We all got to work at relaxing the head into the breathing and the heads came down.

Lesson 8, final lesson, quickly through the drills, then tempo trainer and some swim focus to try to get the strokes longer and the body in streamline, try to get timing into the stroke. Final video time.

Review of the lessons. I had suggestions that practice cards would be a great help to give at the end of each lesson and what to practice in between lessons. The paired concept was a hit. The video was where everyone seemed to place a lot of value. The class size was just bigger! Individual time with each person was still limited in a class this big. Demonstrations could be done at the beginning of the class while the students are still on deck. If the lesson is for breathing, demonstrate breathing in swim, explain what is going on in the breath and what issues people have.

After the mid point video it is important to give feedback, I used a voice over description of their swim. Not everyone watched it, so I think a written evaluation may have been helpful as well. I will include the individual finish video's of those people who agree. The changes made were really great, ingrained old habits are the hardest thing to break, so keeping up with drills and focused swimming is the best way to keep swimming after the lessons are complete. I think the format I used was successful and could use some polishing of course, but 8 lessons seems to be a long enough lesson to cover most of the bases.

You will keep trying to improve your swim for the rest of your life, this is help along the way. Tuning in to what your body is doing is the quickest way to changing the outcome.

Keep swimming, I will post videos of swimmers soon.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nutrition during racing and training

Okay so here we are heading outside and most of us are still trying to get to race weight and thinking this is going to be a great strategy burn it off doing long workouts. You should instead be thinking of practicing your nutrition strategy for racing during your training. You need to practice many times to test to see if it works, because everyone knows, you can swim, bike and run really well, right up until you are throwing up, cramping or bonking, this is the part that most people forget to train, we are speaking nutrition.

Nutrition for Training:
Using foods you may want to race with during your training, will provide ample training runs with these foods to test them at racing heart rate. You would be surprised at how quickly it all changes when the heart rate goes up, the stomach goes on pause.

Using the basic premise of eating 5 - 6 meals per day, you will notice that workouts fit neatly in between snacks and meals. The snack or meal could actually be the recovery meal if eaten within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.

Why 30 minutes? Your body replenishes its glycogen stores quite rapidly once exercise is ceased, after that 30 minutes window, the food you eat takes longer to replenish you glycogen stores and you will begin to feel less recovered for your next workout, until you have had a longer break. Because we do multiple workouts per day and some are morning, some are evening, you must always provide a recovery snack after you workout within 30 minutes so that you are ready for your next workout, and your body is fully charged.

Make sure your recovery snack has protein and carbs, protein goes towards rebuilding the muscles you break down during the workout, and carbs replenish the dwindling glycogen stores.

Back to back workouts, or longer workouts. After a swim, heading onto your next workout, you may want a fruit or snack, even a gel, as you are depleting your glycogen you need to keep adding fuel to multiple workout blocks, to be able to maintain the intensity of the workouts and prevent bonking.

I built the Saturday Bootcamp around the idea, you must fuel to preform. Most people do not realize that working out for 2.5 hours in a row is not just endurance, but nutrition. Getting this routine built in early provides us with an outline on how to complete our 5 hour bikes, or 3 hour runs and our longer brick workouts.

You must always fuel your training, this allows your body to have the energy to complete the work required, by withholding fuel during training, to say lose a pound, is a bad idea. You can hit higher intensities with fuel than you can depleted. Higher intensity will burn more calories than you actually supplement for the exercise. Taking in the right amount of calories during your training session will also prevent over eating afterwards due to your body going into a deficit. By eating less later, you will be able to focus on race weight. Once you get hungry, your body will be scavenging for a couple days trying to replace those calories you robbed it of during training.

So how many calories do you require for training, if you think it is race intensity training, use race intensity fueling which is found below. If you are completing long slow, or lower intensity workouts, try to think 100 calories every 30 - 45 minutes, remember these calories are not the same calories you are about to consume as a recovery meal after the work is done, they are consumed during the workout.

In a 2.5 hour bootcamp, you should be eating before bootcamp, at least 1 .5 hours before class if it takes a lot to digest. Once you begin class, you can think of a starting your nutrition plan at the beginning of class and every 30 - 45 minutes through the class to keep the pace high, or begin your nutrition 30 - 45 minutes into the class to allow you to just finish the class without a low energy output at the end.

For the Run/ Bootcamp begin your nutrition at home with a meal before you come, at least one gel during the run and a recovery snack that will digest quickly before we begin the bike, then proceed with gels every 30 - 45 minutes to maintain. AS we increase our intensity throughout the session you will need to increase the frequency of the nutrition as you will get closer to race nutrition requirements.

Nutrition During Taper:

During Taper there is a carb depletion and carb load that can be used for super loading.

6 days out from your event do training with 200 calories less carbs per day, this can be restraining on gels during training, do this for 3 days in a row. Make sure all workouts mimic race pace.

3 days out from your event add back those 200 calories on top of your original calorie load, this means you will get 400 calories from Carbs more than the 3 previous days. Make sure your workouts mimic race pace. This makes the body super load those calories as it was in deficit. This is a more accurate carb load and will not result in huge weight gain prior to race day. Do not eat strange meals at carb load dinners they can negatively impact race day.

24 hours before your race.

Make sure the day before the race you stay hydrated take on a few electrolyte tablets with extra water to make sure you start race day hydrated.

Race Day: Choose a breakfast you are used to, consider taking a sport drink 30 minutes before the event and a gel 10 minutes before the start of the event. Try to consume 200 calories per hour from the hour you wake, to the beginning of your race, this pays off for the run.
During the race, make sure you take a drink every 10 minutes,
1 to 2 electrolyte tablet every ½ hour
1 gel every 20 - 30 minutes.

If you choose something other than water for on your bike make sure you are not getting sick as a result of the dilution being to strong. IF you start to feel sick grab water at your next stop and switch to water, gel and electrolyte tabs.

Your body burns, more calories, loses more fluid and electrolytes than it can absorb in 1 hour. Supplementation should be done at a rate the body can absorb, not the rate it is actually losing it.

Your basic recipe for success in nutrition is to make sure you:

1. Supplement Carbs for energy requirements

Weight in kg _______ X 4 = ________Cal/hr

Do not exceed 300 calories per hour.
5 hours of racing can require 1000 to 1500 cals

2. Supplement electrolytes for absorption of fluid

Suggested dose of Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes
3 - 6 / hour with 4 being the most commonly used dose.
300 – 600 mg sodium chloride

3. Supplement fluid for proper bodily functioning.

500 – 830 mls of fluid/ hour

4. Supplement branched chain amino acids (protein) to assist brain function during long bouts of exercise.

Ration of carbs to protein is 4:1
So if your carbs = 300, your protein to add to this is 75 cals per hour.

Accel gels have 100 calories = 80 carbs + 20 protein
To time this to get your overall calories you would take
1 accel gel every 16 minutes.

You can reduce the amount you take, but never take more than this amount.

If you supplement with sport drinks you must factor in the calories from carbs that they provide, this is where racers go wrong, they forget that and do their gels on top of the Gatorade and wonder why they have GI issues.

Orange Gatorade
Serving Size: 20 oz bottle; Calories: 122, Total Fat: 0.3, Carbs: 30.3, Protein: 0.1

Gatorade completes your fluid needs for 1 hour and gives you 40 percent of your carbs. You need to add 2 accel gels to complete your needs for carbs, but you won’t reach your protein goals, which may not be of any consequence.

My Plan for Race nutrition:

1 gel every ____ minutes.

How much sport drink per hour? ________________

1 salt tab every ____ minutes. Or 2 salt tabs every ___ minutes.

How much water per hour? _____________________

Solids? _______________________________________

Don’t forget to take a recovery drink at the end of the race, I think chocolate milk is a favourite, it should be consumed within ½ hour of finishing the race, this will help with recovery.

If you take the time to figure this out you have started to plan the strategy you will practice during training. Each time you train keep notes on what you ate before and how you performed, how the nutrition made you feel. Sometimes in a hard fast ride you may find that you aren`t tolerating something and you now know to substitute it.

One of my favorite memories was deciding to eat a powerbar during my first 1/2 Ironman, I was pushing hard and having a hard time breathing and rather than slow down I just started to eat, well the first thing that happened was I started to drool down both cheeks because it was so dry, now I am trying to wipe my face, chew and oh right, you need to breath if you are still sprinting, I was nearly hypoxic when I finished clearing my mouth, because although I was drooling the powerbar was dry enough I needed to drink too, which took up more valuable breathing time, my pace slowed on its own as the lightheadedness took over. I learned a lot about racing and nutrition over the years, but that time, I learned, practice it before you race, if you know how you plan to race it, plan to train it at times to test and make sure everything works.

Keep up the training.