Archive for December, 2011

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Reconnection

December 31, 2011

Last evening I reconnected with some friends I haven’t seen in 13 years. It dawned on me that we are the last generation of people who will be apart. Through the magic of FaceBook kids graduating high school and college won’t know what it is like to not see someone for years. They might not physically see them, but they’ll be in touch.

One of the greatest feelings is that moment right before you hug them for the first time in a decade. You see them, you have a flash flood of memories of all you’ve been through together and that period of your life….. and then you realize….. you can just pick up where you left off.

It keeps happening. This will sound silly but this whole FaceBook thing has allowed me to reconnect with people I never thought I would see again. The memories are good memories and I am beyond fortunate to be able to experience these friends all over again. I feel a new sense of connection. I want to know where they have been what are they doing.

One of my friends had been stricken with cancer yet already defeated it and moved on. When she told me I was floored yet at the same time I was not surprised at her conquering of it. That’s kind of what she does. I was fascinated by her story. I am fascinated by a lot of stories. I write a lot about people in our sport, and this year I would life to find an outlet to share stories outside of our sport. Heck, maybe I can do that right here.

I have always loved meeting new people… and that sounds so cliché…. but I do. Every person has something to tell, and we are here to share in one another and our experiences and connections with one another.

2011 was an exceptionally good year, but so much of what we experience is what we bring to the table. Sure we are diagnosed with illnesses and physical ailments but what do we do with it? Our attitude is the leader. Our situations are what we make of them.

I see so many advertisements for “How to make the most out of your day.” Books, lectures, etc. I think they are awesome, I think it’s great. I am never drawn to them because in all honesty….. and if you know me you know it’s true……. I believe I make the most out of every single day. Thank my parents for that. Those little lectures my father would give me while driving to swim practice….. he called it his philosophy store. I’d roll my eyes at the lectures….. but as an adult I realize what he gave me was pure gold. Solid freaking gold. He would never have made a billion dollars if he did open that philosophy store but if he knew how much his words and teaching affect me now….. well he must know. He must feel like the richest man on earth.

Often times people interpret my writings as me stating I am perfect. Remember this……  people will always form their own conclusions and judgements and will always read between the lines. They will always seek what isn’t there. When I owned my coaching company others would often try to read between the lines…. what is she really saying……. nothing I would respond. It amazed me how folks would try to decipher something that wasn’t there.  I stopped trying to write to avoid that years and years ago. But hell I am not perfect. Perfection is an unforgiving place if you think about it.  Makes me shudder to think about it. Who would want to be perfect?

I am just like any other human being on this earth. I stumble and fall and I get back up. Simple. I am pretty simple.

We all have a structure in our lives that we “live” by. Here is what I try to live by every single day,

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do you best

Those are the four agreements. Plain, simple and straightforward. I read them every single morning, just like I listed them and I do my best to live them. Sometimes I nail it, sometimes I don’t, either way I don’t strive for the perfectly lived day, I strive for the best day I can possibly have. I move on from them both.

It’s a good way to live for me.

So as we head into 2012 think about what your life is guided by. What steers the ship of you? What keeps you on the good foot so to speak? What dreams and aspirations do you have and how will you go about achieving them?

I will tell you right here the biggest secret to success in life: passion. If you have passion for what you do…… everything else becomes doable. If you have a passion for competition then the management of your life will fall into place. If you have a passion for what you do the motivation will be there. If you have a passion … then your focus will become sharp and clear.

So take 2012 by the balls and go after it. It’s your life and you only get one shot. We might miss but I’d rather miss than quit.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Riding through the winter

December 30, 2011

Indoor training is a necessity here in Upstate New York. It doesn’t have to be, I know plenty of cyclists who train outdoors 365 around here. It’s not the weather, it’s the gear. I will take out my mountain bike and hit the roads when they are clear and some of the most fun riding I have done is through downtown Buffalo when the streets were all closed due to snow.

Indoor training doesn’t have to be boring, much like treadmill running it’s all about how you approach your cycling session.

Around here there are plenty of Spinning Classes at plenty of clubs to hop into. I don’t think it’s a problem at all to train in a different position. The more rounded athlete you are the better you will perform. (Peter Reid -3 time Kona champ- trained on upwards of four different bikes through his season). Versatility is always a good thing.

I am a stickler on how a Spinning class is taught, click here for my thoughts from last season on how to get the most out of your class.

Here in Rochester there is a new indoor cycling studio called Cycledelic that I am hoping to visit soon, and when I do I will give you my thoughts.

Indoor cycling has loads of benefits. Often we can get work done inside that we can’t necessarily do outside. additionally there are no cars or street signs or lights.

Here are a few workout ideas for the base phase that may help to keep you occupied during those miles indoors:

1. Ride to music: Create a playlist with a certain flow of music….. for example warm up with some house, segway into some slower beats for big gear work…. match your cadence to the music. During the 30 sec between songs try a super spin= light gear high cadence.

2. Climb to your favorite TV show: Piggybacking on the above strategy consider working in a big gear during commercial breaks while watching Modern Family or your favorite show. (Big gear work helps increase cycling strength).

3. Do as Lindsey Corbin does: Famous for the 5-6 hour rides she puts in on the trainer (lives in Montana) Corbin suggests breaking the ride into 15 minute segments and giving each segment a purpose. For example segment on might focus on building through gears, increasing the gears every 60-120 seconds. The next segment might involve one-legged drills. Giving yourself 15 minutes at a time to focus on can be a brain saver.

4. Interval work: It’s definitely okay to invest in some interval work during the base phase. One of my favorite sets is a weekly progression of a tempo effort. Here is an example of a common main set:

  • Week one: 5 X 5 min tempo / 3 min recovery
  • Week two: 2 X 10 min tempo / 5 min recovery
  • Week three: 2 X 15 min tempo / 5 min recovery
  • week four 2 X 20 min tempo / 5 min recovery.

5. Big gear work: As I said before big gear work is a terrific way to build strength on the bike. Work at cadences most comfortable for you, I would suggest in the 70-80 range. Pay good attention to form and use the opportunity to develop a good pedal stroke.

With a little bit of planning indoor cycling season can be something to look forward to, instead of endless hours on the trainer without a plan and without a purpose for what you are doing. Once the roads clear and it’s time to hit them again….. you will hit them running. Or should I say riding!

Speaking of riding……

I just picked up the neatest little messenger bag from Berts Bikes.

These bags are made locally by a company called “Even Odd Creative” . They are made from recycled products. Mine is made from bike tire tubes and a TREK banner. I *think* you can bring in your vinyl and tubes to Berts and the company can make you your own custom bag! I LOVE MINE!

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A look ahead

December 29, 2011

Don’t forget, we are riding tonight at Bert’s Bikes in Henrietta! 6:30 is the time! Bring a heart rate monitor if you have one, I will bring the tubing and the TRX and we will do some circuit training tonight! Need a trainer? Give them a call! Click here for the details! Don’t forget, it’s free! And stay tuned as we are about to list our triathlon clinic dates!

Ahhhhhhh, 2012 is on the horizon.

I am excited for 2012. Even if the world does end, it’s been one hell of a ride. 2011 was an incredible year for me on many levels. If you had told me a year ago I would have left my own coaching business and joined this elite group of coaches at QT2, I would never have believed you. Truthfully I was too distracted because of the business aspect of everything to even notice.

Through the past month a few things dawned on me about this move. While we were at the QT2 coaching meeting two weeks ago the feeling in that room was amazing. I am part of an incredible team. During the week I am in constant contact with the other coaches (especially Wheeler, poor kid) and Jesse. I’ve never known what it’s like to be part of something like this, as I have always been a one woman show.When we were together in December I felt like the new kid on the block in a very amazing family. I truly feel like my own coaching is a team effort. I feel like I am really able to bring my energies into coaching and my athletes.

The second thing that dawned on me about this move…. is the focus it has brought to my own training. I coach in the same system I train in, my thoughts while training are on training…. not about taxes and insurance and the nuances of small business ownership. I have always known that distraction has pulled from my abilities as an athlete, now I am seeing it start to really come together. 2012 is looking to be a good year for me on the athlete side.

In just 5 weeks we will descend on sunny Florida (hear that weather…… I said sunny) to spend four days swimming, biking and running with our athletes. If you are interested in joining us by the way click right here. You don’t have to be an athlete of ours to join us, you will be treated like you are one of us. I attended this camp as an athlete last year and it was a very worthwhile investment. Now I get to go as a coach and torture Jennie from the deck. Of the coaches get our own training in……  but what we will give to our athletes during this will be incredible. Come with us and you will not be sorry!

About 5 weeks after that we will descend on Galveston Texas as a team as we take on Texas 70.3. We’ve got some good performances up our sleeves from our athletes, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

It’s busy, that’s for sure. I work hard to maintain the work life balance and often times find it to be more of an integration than a balance. None of what I do would even be possible without my husband Curt. I know I don’t write about him a lot…. part of that is because if he wanted his life detailed on a blog he would have one. I try to respect his privacy. The other part of that is that I don’t want to share him.

Living in a mutlsiport family has challenges but they are good challenges. When I hear that one spouse if off on their group ride while the other is home steaming about it, it’s hard for me to comprehend. We respect one another and our passions and I think that’s been the key to our longevity thus far. I far from the perfect wife but I can say this about him…… he’s a damn good man. He reminds me when I load my plate too full, which is one of my worst habits. He supports me through the major changes in life…… when I asked him if I should leave my company and join QT2 his reaction was immediate. “You’d be a fool not to.”

He’s patient with my endless traveling, he listens to my dreams, my defeats and everything in between. I always hope I am 1/8th of the spouse to him that he is to me,

Ahhhhh… I have shared too much.

2012 looks to be a good year, and that’s an understatement. I am not one to make resolutions, but I am one to celebrate the wiping of the slate clean, a new start for those who need one and continued success found through hard work for others.

Fasten your seat belts. Here we go.

 

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Staying sane on the treadmill

December 28, 2011

With winter well on it’s way….. they promised us snow this morning but so far grass is green…… there are times when outdoor running just isn’t safe or practical and we are delegated to the treadmill. About a year ago we invested in a treadmill and I have to say… it’s one of the best purchases we have ever made. There are mornings around here when time is of the essence and sliding on the snowshoes or the skiis isn’t practical. While we live in an area where we bike from the doorstep there are great big plows at early o’clock and that can be dangerous.

So there are times….. when to the treadmill it is!

Nothing is a run killer more than setting the treadmill at XX speed for YY minutes even with the best playlist on earth. Here are a few treadmill tips to keep things interesting and fun while covering miles and not moving an inch!

Playlists: Except for on the treadmill and the computrainer I don’t run or bike with music. Inside I do as it serves me with inspiration. There is nothing like a good beat to match cadence and some good lyrics to inspire. Here is one of my latest running mixes:

Make it interesting:  Here are a few workouts from Runner’s World that are sure to challenge:

  • The Speed Demon.

 Run easily for 10 minutes, then set the treadmill at a speed about 20 seconds per mile faster than your best recent 5-K pace. Run three 3-minute repeats at this speed, alternating with 3 minutes of very slow jogging. After completing a set of three repeats and recovery jogs, rest for 5 minutes by jogging. Then run a second set of three repeats and recovery jogs. When finished, run easily for 5 minutes to cool down.

  •  The Progression.

Begin with a 10-minute warmup, and then set your treadmill at a speed about 15 seconds per mile faster than your best recent 5-K pace (this new pace becomes your 5-K goal pace). For your first treadmill workout at this pace, run continuously for 5 minutes. Finish the workout with 10 to 20 minutes of easy cool-down running. For each of the next 10 weeks, run the same workout but increase the time you spend at your goal pace by 1 minute per week. At the end of 10 weeks, you should be able to run a 5-K race at your goal pace.

  •  Indoor Hills.

Warm up for 10 minutes, then set the treadmill at your approximate marathon pace. (If you’ve never run a marathon, estimate your marathon time by multiplying your typical 10-K time by 4.65.) With the treadmill elevated 1 degree, run for 2 minutes at marathon pace, then elevate the incline to 2 degrees and run for 2 minutes. Next return to 1 degree for 2 minutes, but then climb to 3 degrees for 2 minutes.
Continue in this manner, raising the grade on every other 2-minute repeat until you’ve reached 7 degrees (the inclination pattern is 1-2-1-3-1-4-1-5-1-6-1-7). If you feel exhausted before you reach 7 degrees, stop, and don’t let it worry you. Try the workout several more times and you’ll develop the ability to handle the hills. Finish the workout by running an easy 8- to 10-minute cooldown.

  •  The Broderick Crawford.

This workout gets its name from its “10-4” pattern, a familiar phrase to fans of the old Highway Patrol TV series. Begin by warming up for 10 minutes, then run for 10 minutes at your current 10-K race pace. Jog very easily for 4 minutes to recover, then surge again for 10 minutes at your 10-K tempo. Recover for 4 minutes, and complete the workout with 10 minutes of easy cool-down running.

Because I am personally in my base phase and not hitting speedwork quite yet I will modify these sets to allow me to stick to my heart rate zones. So my pace for The Speed Demon isn’t exactly what the set says, but these sets provide a good outline and structure to work within. When I have 90 minutes on the treadmill I will do all four of these in combination.

Always use a bit of caution: Treadmill running is a bit different from road running in that on the mill the ground pulls from under you, on land you work to propel yourself over it. Try not to run on the mill 7 days a week if possible to avoid that muscle imbalance, and work with your coach or mentor for ways to adjust for it. Another tip I have always followed was to set the mill at a 1:5 incline to try to adjust for the lack of wind resistance. On the mill we also lose the changing ground…. there is no camber, slopes, that kind of thing. I believe these outdoor situations make us better runners because they challenge us on different planes and angles and help our feet stay healthy. So just be aware of that!

I am the first person to admit that running on the mill is not my favorite hobby. I am an outdoor girl. I love the seasons, I love the dark the sunlight, I love the fresh air. But there are times when it’s just what has to happen. I am glad we made the investment. It’s paid off, that’s for sure!

 

 

 

 

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Only as strong as our weakest link

December 26, 2011

Back in 2006 I attended a conference on functional strength training at the National Training Center led by Chuck Wolf. In my opinion Mr. Wolf is one of the pioneers in the arena of functional strength. I brought his teaching home and introduced my athletes to it, with a 50/50 success rate. Some of them embraced it, and some of them just plain skipped it. It feels stupid. It’s not important. (I don’t think I have ever has an athlete do something that was unimportant. Time is too valuable.) I personally embraced it and saw results instantly. In fact I own one of the very first TRX’s ever made. It’s been a staple of my training program for several years now.

The athletes who didn’t believe in the functional strength stuff…… I wouldn’t say they didn’t benefit, but there was…. hands down a marked difference for the ones who did it. When the going got rough in races they were able to maintain biomechanics and form. During the tough workouts, they just seemed to have better resilience. No they weren’t faster, they just has a bit more to them.  They were less injured as well.

I have always believed functional strength is important. Weight training will slow you down, there is no doubt about that. But the benefits from a personalized and periodized strength program, one that evolves from weight room through to functional strength is the best insurance policy you can buy.

We are only as strong as our weakest link, and why would you allow that to happen?

Just in time for this writing, this excellent article was published over on Xtri... which explains the benefits of functional strength training better than I ever could. I am really excited that FST has made its way into “the mainstream” because it only helps all of us.

The tricky thing about FST is what to do and when to do it? I like movements that challenge us on several different movement planes and help us strengthen the smaller muscle groups that often get fatigued and stressed during the repetitive motions of swim, bike and run. Many FST movements can also address and help correct biomechanical deficiencies in each sport that we do.

Here are five moves that I love.

1. Correcting “the crossover” in swimming. When I assess swimming mechanics one of the biggest issues I see is crossover, when the hand crosses over the midline of the body. While correcting this involves some cognition and connecting the hips and shoulders, a weak shoulder girdle could also contribute to this. The “Y” Deltoid Fly on the TRX as shown below is a great move to strengthen the lats and the rear deltoid which will also help widen the stroke.

2. TRX Atomic Pushup. What I like about this is that it challenges the body on several different planes and works multiple muscle groups in one shot. Not only is if effective for strengthening the chest and back, but the core and hip flexors too. Moving into the advanced versions develops balance, strength and flexibility simultaneously.

3. Anything on a stability ball. While I am absolutely obsessed with the TRX, don’t think FST can’t be done without one. One of the easiest items to invest in is a stability ball (mine was $12.99 at Target). The ball challenges the body on several planes of movement, and allows you to really get in there and work that core.

4. Plyometrics To me, FST is the new name for plyometrics. By using our own body weight there are lots of exercises we can perform that again strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, and quads while enhancing range of motion.

5. Yoga for Athletes. Most think yoga doesn’t have a place in a triathlete’s training program, but that’s typically because yoga is so widely misunderstood. I developed a 25 minute yoga routine that is designed to enhance flexibility and range of motion that program can be found here.

Additionally, a woman named Kim Fowler is a yoga and spinning teacher out in California who has developed one of the best Yoga For Athletes in the country. She is an ex professional triathlete and understands our physiologic needs. Her yoga can be found here.

If you are looking for a great full body ten minute sequence, I highly recommend the below:

Functional strength training has come a long way since 2006 and that conference with Chuck Wolf. But the importance is now much better understood and accepted. It’s worth a few minutes a few times a week to keep your muscles strong and functional. Remember, we are only as strong as our weakest link.

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“Mary” Christmas

December 24, 2011

Gosh I love Christmas.

Not because of presents because honestly…. we have everything we need.

The rest of my family is already at family HQ, we will be the last to arrive, although we are the only ones who live within 2,000 miles. My Mom makes us all matching pajamas, and there will be a load of wine and games of pool. (No wine for me, that was last weekend).

I appreciate that while my bike and computrainer travel with me….. there is no surprise from my family. We grew up athletes and we’ve stayed athletes. Christmas Day training doesn’t get thought of twice. I am incredibly grateful for that. I can’t imagine having to justify what I do. It’s just accepted…… and that’s what I admire most about my parents I think. Well one of the things at least. I have never been expected to be anyone but me, and the same for my siblings.

I am always glad to have a good chunk of training on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. While it’s done in the wee hours…. it keeps me on “the good foot” as we say. Last weekend was for shenanigans.

Here are my tips to make it a “Mary” Christmas (get it? MARY? HA!)

1. Bring the gear: I bring my bike and my computrainer and set it up in a basement. It bothers no one, is heard by no one, and I get to spend some quality time with my saddle, while I keep myself sane.My run gear of course goes with me, as well as my TRX. It all fits into one more duffel bag, no big deal. I can set this stuff up anywhere.

2. Eat healthy: I am a fan of Christmas goodies, absolutely. But I am also a fan of feeling good. I am one of the few who just doesn’t feel good after a day of eating cookies….. so I don’t. For 14 days I couldn’t keep anything in me, after a week of being able to I don’t want to trash myself with sugar. So I aim for four fruits, four veggies, lots of water and more green on my plate tonight than anything.

3. Stay hydrated: a few glasses of wine? Since I met my annual quota last weekend…. I will decline. But if you do…… stay hydrated. I am told it helps the next day.

4. Enjoy: I don’t get to see these people but once every 2 years. I am lucky to be able to have everyone under one roof (thank goodness it’s my parents and not mine), and who all get along well.

From my family to yours……. we wish you the Merriest Christmas EVER!

 

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Ignite

December 21, 2011

I have never had anything handed to me. Most of us haven’t.

I can tell you one simple thing however…… your life is a canvas and it is up to you to paint it. I learned that from my 11 year old son, who they keep telling me is mentally handicapped.

I think he just sees the world as one should see it.

You see…. I am very black and white. I am in or I am out. I am on time, or not coming. I am 100% or not at all. You’d best believe that when I am 100%….. I am 100%. I have never been one to look at someone else and think….. must be nice. I have always been the kind of girl who dreams a little dream, and then picks herself up by her bootstraps and goes after it. You can sit around and feel sorry for yourself and what you don’t have. Or you can take life by the balls and go after what it is you want.

I am not one to sit around with a woe is me attitude. My father taught me this at a young age: Life is hard… then it gets worse. So get up or die trying.

We could all sit around the campfire and share stories about how life isn’t fair. Maybe we made bad life choices, maybe we have been the victim of circumstance, maybe we’ve been the bridesmaid. What creates success? Failing. Understand what it is like to fail, understand what it is like to barf on the rocks a few times and that will fuel your fire even deeper. We can sit around in a collective pity party or we can get the hell up. If I had a dime for every time I have fallen, failed or come up a day late and a dollar short I would own an island by now.

Nothing in this world ever came from wishing, comparing, criticizing.

Everything in this world came from understanding yourself, having a dream, and then running after it with everything you have. Your heart and soul, blood sweat and tears.

Understand this: there is nothing in this world that can’t be accomplished without hard work. Nothing.

There is nothing in this world we can’t accomplish by believing in ourselves.

I don’t have a ten step program. I have a three step program.

1. Dream

2. Believe

3. Chase

Within me I have this deep burning desire and passion to chase after my dreams. My family dreams, my life dreams, my career dreams, my athletic dreams. That desire is so deep it burns. People ask me all the time what gets me out of bed at 4am……. it’s a very deep burning desire to be alive. It’s a deep burning desire to achieve the goals I have set in my life.

When that alarm goes off my heart begins to race. I honestly see each and every single day as an oppertunity to chase those dreams. I never have the desire to roll over and hit snooze. I have one life, one chance. I have just one shot. I might not get it right, I might fail and fall…… but I will take my shot at it every single day.

There was a time when I could not get out of bed. When my future was not certain, when there was even a timeline on it. Nothing fans my fire by someone who tells me it can’t be done. I will prove you wrong. I will prove that passion can trump logic.

Tell me no and I will either show you yes or die trying.

I never said I was perfect. I haven’t started Christmas shopping yet and most of my gifts will be from the heart. I am terrible at laundry, grocery shopping and gardening. I am far from mother of the year and wife of the year in fact. I can’t cook, I always forget to empty the dishwasher, and I tend to not lick the spoon completely clean after I have that scoop of peanut butter.

And I stick it in the dishwasher that I forgot to empty. Almost every time.

I make mistakes. I make big ones. I don’t allow them to define me I allow them to teach me.

I love with my whole heart and my whole soul. Plain and simple. I love hard, I fall hard, I hurt hard too.

As we approach a new year, a new season, a new winter and a new spring……. I challenge you to find what ignites the passion and drive inside of you. What sustains you from the inside out…. or are you content to stand on the sidelines and complain about how much speed you don’t have, how much money you don’t make, insert your woe here __________.

You live in the United States of freaking America. Make it happen. You don’t need money for that. You don’t need a certain 5K time to chase a dream. You need one thing:

Desire.

Life is a canvas. Paint it.