Are You Ready for An (other) Ironman? - with Coach Samantha

Today the WTC announced the new Ironman race for North America in 2020 - Ironman Tulsa-  and many Evolve athletes will be in attendance as it is one of our two Team events for next year (Augusta 70.3 being the other). There will surely be a good amount of social media buzz, peer pressure and even some FOMO that will drive people to hit the register button and start their journey to the finish line.

But should you?

Here are some considerations that we chat with our athletes about before signing up for their first or 40th 140.6.


Ironman takes time

Logically, you will spend a lot of time training, with the greatest amount of time being spent on your bike. This is something that we all need to consider when we register for an Ironman. Do you have enough time to get in your long bike rides and runs? Our coaches are wonderful about working with their athletes to create a schedule that works with their life - but there are some general time requirements that are necessary to ensure that the athlete gets across the line in a safe manner. While an over trained athlete is never good, a seriously under trained one is also problematic. You need to remember that a solid training plan builds gradually, so while you might only have one weekend where you put in a 6.5 hour ride, all of the weekends leading up to that will also take time.


Ironman takes support

If you want to get to the finish line with the least amount of stress possible, it is important to make sure that you have a strong support team. I would never recommend the surprise Ironman sign-up if you have a partner or family. Instead, sit down with your family and figure out what race makes the most sense for all. I personally have never brought my daughter to a race longer than a sprint. But if you would like your family to attend, do a little course recon to make sure that the course is easy to navigate and that there are some activities for them to attend while you are in race prep mode.


There is never a perfect time

I kinda feel the same way about Ironman as I do about having a kid. Sure, there are times when it is more ideal than others; but any way you slice it, it will upset your life in some way or other - so carpe diem. All you really need to consider is whether or not you are willing to put in the work and do what it takes to get it done. I did my last full Ironman a few weeks after my daughter turned two. It meant a lot of early mornings and taking a lot of naps when she was napping. I put everything in my life in place to be able to get it done even with a toddler. At that point in my life I was really willing to go to the lengths needed to get it all in. The only question you must ask yourself before you sign up is - how bad do I want this? Once you answer that, then get to work on putting in place all the things that will make crossing the finish line a reality.

Training can be lonely - or not

Ask yourself if you are a person who likes to go solo or who needs others to motivate you to train with. For my last full Ironman, I trained exclusively with one other athlete. This worked because we were very close on the bike and had an understanding that we would not wait or hold one another back in our workouts. We worked really well together and it was wonderful to know that I had an accountability partner. While we did not do all of our workouts together, we did have another person to lean on and motivate us when it got hard to get up for one more workout. If you are not wanting to go at it all solo, then it makes the most sense to find your tribe and sign up for a race that they are also doing.

Ironman is hard. If it wasn’t, why would we want to do it? But let’s face it - once you cross an Ironman finish line, all your blood, sweat and tears will be forgotten!

So! Ironman 2020 - who’s in?



A Calm Approach to Your First 70.3 - with Coach Tori

Now that you have registered for your 70.3 and logged all the training hours, it's time to get ready for race day.  Having a plan for race day is essential to keep you calm and get you to the finish line as fast as possible given what the day brings. At Evolve all of our coaches send our athletes a fueling plan and race plan that is specific to them and includes a few backup plans just in case. Whether you are coached or not, it is best to write down your A, B and C plan to assure that you are ready to arrive at the race with confidence. 

Pre-Race:

But before we even make it to race week - let’s get some essentials covered. Make an appointment with your local bike shop to have your bike checked out within 2 weeks prior to the race.  The week before you leave, start getting your stuff ready.  Begin by making a list of all the things that you must have on race day, from gear to nutrition.  Next, make a list of the items that you plan on taking in addition to race day.  If you are flying, sometimes it is easier to buy some personal items when you arrive.  If you are driving, then load up your car knowing that can still buy what you forget or might need when you arrive.

 Once you have your travel bags and triathlon bag set out, review your list and start laying out everything you will need on race day.  USAT has a checklist of items for race day.  Start with your swim gear, then your bike gear, and finish with the run.  This will include your race day kit and nutrition.  You will still need some of these items for training, but when you start to pack you have a visual of what all you need along with your checklist.  You can start to pack up your non-race day items on your checklist.  For those of you with special dietary restrictions, make sure your grocery shopping is completed, or you know where you can find food once you arrive at the race site. Many of our athletes will pre-cook and travel with food if possible.

 Race Week:

You have gone over your checklist 100 times, packed, and arrived at your destination - race day is almost here! Whatever you plan to do -add in additional time. For some odd reason, everything on the days leading up to a race seems to take longer than usual. Allow for extra time to drive the bike course.  If you spent many hours driving, the last thing you want to do is drive more to preview the bike course.  Depending on when you arrive, wait until the next day to drive the course.  If you like to shop at the expo, allow extra time for this. Don't try to check-in, shop, drop off your bike, and drive the bike course all in the same day.  It adds additional stress that is not necessary.  There are sometimes circumstances where you can’t arrive as early as you’d like due to work/family, but try to give yourself two days before the race.  Remember that you will still have short workouts to do and we always stress that if the race allows that you will also want to get in an open water swim in - as you can see - the tasks quickly add up.  

The day before the race, plan for the day.  Know if you are going to be at the race site for the athlete briefing. Try to get in a swim. Complete a quick bike ride to go through your gears. Drop off your bike. Make sure to bring your water bottle to sip on all day.  If it is hot and sunny out, add electrolytes (i.e., Nuun).  Pack a cooler with your sandwich/lunch, snacks, and extra water. Stay out of the sun and off your feet as much as possible - we suggest you get in and get out - so rather than heading to swim at 10 am and drop the bike at 3pm - schedule it to make it one trip.  Once you have all of the business done, head back to where you are staying and set aside time to work on visualization and re-visit your race plan. Many of our athletes also love to do a pre-race chat or text with their coach. Do what makes you calm and happy, avoid all stressors.

 The morning of the race, make sure to follow your planned morning routine.  This will help alleviate any potential issues that may arise during the race.  Arrive at the race site early.  Walk through transition and know where swim in, bike in/out, and run out are located.  Some transition areas are set up where you can only go through one direction; you need to know this - do not rely on the volunteers.  Walk through transition to know how it will go and know where your bike rack is located.  Find a landmark or count the racks.  I like to have a bright towel that may stand out because by the time I'm out of the water, I do not remember how many racks I have to count.  Know that your bike is racked by your saddle showing your race number. If the bike next to you is racked wrong, DO NOT MOVE IT.  Get an official if the bike’s athlete is not around, as they will move the bikes.  Make sure you have applied plenty of sunscreen.  Lay out your transition items by your front wheel.  The fewer items you have in your transition area, the better.  Don't put stuff that you might want, only what you will need.  The aid stations have water, ice, nutrition, and food.  Allow enough time to get to transition and be calm during your set-up. There are a lot of steps here and also usually a million trips to the bathroom!

When you have gone over your transition one last time, head to get in a swim warm-up or a light jog if there is no swim allowed. This is crucial! We never want an athlete starting a race without raising the heart rate before the gun goes off.

Then it is time to make your way to the beach- this can also be a good time to check the swim course one last time and know the buoy count. It is also a time to do what makes you calm and focused. This could be joking with the people around you, a quick moment or two to yourself or listening to music. Whatever it is, make sure that it what works for you!

And just like that - you will be at the start waiting for the countdown to get the day going.

Finally, no matter what happens on race day,  remember that for the majority of us, this is a hobby. Regardless of how competitive you are, we want to have fun.  The better prepared you are going into the race, the less you have to think about, and your body will do what it has been training to do for many months.  Swim. Bike. Run and maybe even crack a smile or two!

 

5 Takeaways from My First Oly - with Evolve Athlete Chris

We love to hear from our Evolve Athletes, especially when they don’t mind sharing insights with the rest of the Team. Chris A is kicking a$$ this season, so read on for his summary of learning experiences from his first Olympic triathlon.


This last weekend was full of firsts for me: my first open water race, my first wetsuit race, the first race on my first road bike, my first season with a coach, but most notably it was my first Olympic distance triathlon.  I signed up for the St. Louis Triathlon the day registration opened, and I knew that I wanted to be able to do the Olympic distance in preparation for my ultimate goal of completing my first Ironman 70.3 later this year.  I honestly didn’t really think about the challenge of that distance until about 2 weeks out when I started reading my race day strategy and fueling plan.  At that time it started to set in that this is actually a pretty good haul for a first year triathlete.  After setting out all of my gear the night before, and reading over my plan for the 300th time, I was confident that I was as prepared as I could be. I went to bed around 8pm and finally fell asleep around 12:30am.  It was a 4:00am wakeup call to be there when transition opened to get set up, so I dragged myself out of bed and started fueling and packing up to go.  When the race was over, I was confident that I had left it all on the course, and I was very happy with the result.  As with anything in life, there should be lessons learned in order to improve upon your successes and failures.  The following are some of my takeaways from my first Olympic Distance Triathlon.

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1 - Conditions Will NOT Be Ideal

For several days leading up to the event, I was checking the weather every 5 minutes.  I kept telling myself it wouldn’t rain and it wouldn’t be hot.  The night before the race a friend texted me something along the lines of, “I was just kayaking on Creve Coeur lake, and I was fighting the wind and white caps, I hope it dies down for you tomorrow morning.”  So here I am standing in my wetsuit at the swim out ramp trying to see the turnaround buoy FAR in the distance, and trying to figure out how I am going to swim into a 20ish MPH headwind and deal with whitecaps and waves.  I was used to swimming in a pool, where it’s 100% visibility, and no turbulent water what-so-ever.  After fighting through the asses and elbows of the first 300m, and finally settling into my stroke, it wasn’t so bad (other than slow going).  I chugged my way through the swim and got through transition relatively fast, only to turn the corner south on my bike and hit THE SAME 20MPH headwinds.  Great, now I have to do two laps of this basically in slow motion.  I just remember thinking, “I’m not the only one dealing with this suck right now,” and powering through the wind.  Again through T2, I set out on the run.  It was much more humid than I was ready for (and I had forgotten my salt tabs, see takeaway 2).  I now know that practicing in less than ideal conditions is key, and assuming the water will be flat, the bike will be smooth, and the run will be cool will make for disappointment on race morning.

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2 - You WILL forget something

I had just gotten a brand new carry bottle for the run, and was looking forward to giving it a try (I know, don’t try anything new on race day).  I had it all packed up in my duffel ready to go with Gatorade Endurance.  When I came around off of the bike at T2, I got ready for the run in exactly the order I had practiced.  Helmet off, gloves off in helmet.  Hang the helmet on the handlebars.  Slip out of my bike shoes and grab my race belt.  Slip into my running shoes and grab my…water bottle that isn’t there…crap.  I’m supposed to drink 20oz of Gatorade during my run, now what do I do?  I remembered something that Coach Samantha said during our transition clinic the night before.  Part of a triathlon is troubleshooting on the fly.  Either you get a flat tire, your goggles fly off during the swim, or whatever else could possibly go wrong.  Part of the challenge is figuring out how to deal with the issues on the fly.  So, I grabbed what was left of one of my bike bottles and took off on the run.

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3 - You Probably Aren’t Going to Win, so Manage Your Expectations

I set out several goals for myself, ranging from totally doable down to really difficult.  The ones I completed were things like:  finish the race, don’t drown, don’t crash, don’t trip.  The ones I didn’t complete were things like:  place in your age group, beat 30 minutes in the swim, beat an hour on the bike.  There were a couple of goals that I was pleasantly surprised to have completed.  I PRed the run distance, and technically I PRed the swim and bike also (first oly, I’ll take it).  I didn’t even look at my swim time when I got out of the water I was so focused on takeaway 4.

4 - Practice Everything

The most important thing I did was practice.  I practiced my fueling plan, I practiced getting in and out of transitions, everything.  I knew that I would get too hung up on progress during the race, so I even had my Garmin set to displace only HR, since that is how I have trained for months.  I didn’t care what my speed was, what my pace was or how far I had gone.  I knew that if I trusted in my heart rate training, and followed the plan, I would have a successful race.  I ended up finding out about my run PR after the fact when checking the unofficial results!

5 - Take Mental Notes

During your race, make sure to take mental notes of things that you have learned, or things that you can improve on in the future.  For instance, I know I need to do some small things in transition to make it easier.  When I got off the bike, I tried to slip out of my lace up bike shoes by putting my toe on the heel and pulling my foot out.  Big mistake, instant cramp in my calf.  Now I know that is probably a good idea to loosen them up prior to trying to get out of them.  Having a mental inventory of everything that went wrong, and things you can change prior to future races, will only serve to improve your experience and times in the future. 

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Expect Mistakes at Your Triathlon - with Coach Scott

At my first 70.3 race this year, I made a major blunder and it became a wakeup call. I was racing Florida 70.3 and was 27 miles into the bike, riding at a good clip. Beside me all of the sudden was a Honda Goldwing and an official. As I looked over, I realized I was getting my first penalty in my triathlon career. It was really windy that day, and about that same time, my front tire caught the edge of the road and I went sliding down the pavement at 21 mph. Upon reflection, I realized I was caught in a pack and was about 4 bike lengths back. But this really messed up my day. Blood, bruises and some scraped up bike parts…

Post crash helmet - time for an upgrade!

Post crash helmet - time for an upgrade!

It would have been easy to quit that day. I could have made a million excuses why I quit. But I realized I could make a choice: the mistake could define me, or I could move on. I decided that finishing and struggling through a painful run would mean more to me than getting hung up on a slow-for-me 70.3, my second slowest to date.

While this mistake was major, there will be some degree of a mistake in every race. These are the things that define us, good or bad, and mentally can become our mantra or nemesis. The key is moving on not dwelling on it.

The perfectly executed race in long-course triathlon is primarily a myth, but if you do execute perfection that is great. Some athletes can let a little thing ruin their day, but the greatest races are those where you recover from something that didn’t go your way. It is much like Daniela Ryf’s experience at Kona last year. She was stung by a jellyfish, and many predicted that was the end of her race. But through mental toughness, she just kept charging and pushed a bike that may have been on the edge for her, but she had a plan and it worked that day. This all comes from experience, support and mental toughness. She also knew that she had nothing to lose.

At Evolve we prepare our athletes to perform at their best ability, but we also help them get past the things that inevitably can go wrong at your race. At the end of the day, many of the situations are out of our control. All we can do is prepare to minimize the problems, and when they do happen we move on. We don’t want the issue to define our race. Otherwise the energy those legs will need on the run are lost on unnecessary stress that drains your glycogen levels. 

We could write a book on all of the things that could go wrong at a long-course triathlon. The thing we can’t stress enough is that whatever is happening in that moment can often be overcome. In triathlon, your body and mind can go from defeat to triumph in as quickly as 10 minutes. Visualization is a critical practice that can get you out of a defeated mindset. This is a simple technique where you envision a positive outcome and then start breaking the courses into pieces. For the swim it can be each buoy, which is essentially 4 laps in the typical pool. On the bike it could be breaking it into 5-mile increments. On the run it can be ignoring your data for a while and just eyeing landmarks ahead. If I am having a tough training run, I have found this is a great way to get another few miles knocked out. I will tune out my data for a while and suddenly I am back on track.

While we discuss the mental aspect, you also need to be ready for the equipment failures. Goggles break and get kicked off, so tuck an extra pair in your wetsuit or around your leg. Flats and thrown chains are always a possibility at a race. Make sure you have the equipment to fix a flat and practice changing your tire if that is new to you. We have witnessed some crafty engineering by Evolve athletes at Ironman races, and the athletes have preserved a great race with a quick fix. On the run, shoe laces and zippers can break. Just think through how you might address this. It can be dealt with. An extra minute in transition beats walking halfway through your run due to an issue.

Invariably, the best thing you can do is smile, get mentally tough, and be prepared for things to pop up. At Evolve, we are always impressed with the way athletes bounce back from adversity. Often times when athletes think it is over, they realize the race has just begun. Block it from your mind and share the story at the finish.

As much as I think I have mastered triathlon and visualizing the day, things will still go wrong. But aside from your first long-course race or your PR race, the most memorable race is the one where you keep charging forward after a mishap or hardship. Because as I have learned, when things are easy, everyone can be successful. The real challenge is to grind it out when things get hard. Florida 70.3 was a tough day for me and I wouldn’t change a thing- well, other than the scars…

 

Six Race Day Tips for Your First Sprint Triathlon - with Coach Katie

Signing up for a race can be a lot of things: exciting, motivating, expensive, overwhelming, terrifying, etc. But just like having a training plan to follow each day, having a race plan is key to executing your best race and in many cases this means a plan A and B or even C, and the plan starts with knowing what you need to get the job done. At Evolve, one of our core values is to differentiate between factors you can’t control and those you can and then, intelligently plan to control the controllables, such as what you need for the race from your gear to your attitude. Doing so will alleviate a lot of the mental stress that comes along with a first race.

Make a Checklist

Trust me on this one. Mentally go through the day of your race, starting with waking up. This is especially important if you’re traveling, because there are lots of little things you won’t want to forget (like your extra pair of goggles.) On the checklist, include your pre-race foods like your breakfast, gear needed pre-race (like a jacket and hat if it’s cool), swim gear, transition items, bike gear, run gear, and fuel. A strategy that helps me a ton is to draw an aerial view of my transition area and how I want to set it up.

Plan your fuel

Plan what you’ll eat for breakfast on race day and have it ready the night before. If you’ve been training with a certain product and it won’t be available on the course plan to carry it with you. For a sprint distance triathlon, you only need a couple of gels and maybe 1 to 2 bottles of your sports drink (think one bottle per hour on the bike). Do NOT try anything new on race day. It’s worth the tiny bit of extra bulk and planning to have your familiar products on hand. Many people will go carb overload crazy. You will not need to do this for a sprint. You should taper off any foods that can cause GI distress in the day prior, but we would not recommend you stuffing your face with oodles of pasta the night before a sprint race.

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Prepare for the swim
-        Lube up. Underarms, thighs, neck, any point on your body where friction may occur. More is more with lube. If you’re wearing a wetsuit, don’t forget wrists and ankles.

You will need:

-        Your swimwear of choice - make sure that you practice swimming in it prior to race day.

-        Swim cap - most races will provide you one.

-       Goggles. Tinted or clear depending on the sun and conditions.

-       Ear/nose plugs if you wear these.

-      Timing chip - provided by the race.

Set up for T1, the swim-to-bike transition area

-        Towel to quickly dry yourself off after the swim if you want, or to wipe your feet off on.

-        Sunscreen to avoid horrific tan lines and UV damage (for a sprint you should be able to do this prior to the swim)

-        Your bike. Make sure tires are aired up how you like them, it’s in an easy gear so you don’t get stuck grinding out of transition, and it’s been recently tuned up and safety checked.

-        Helmet because you won’t be allowed to leave T1 without it. Hang the helmet on your handlebars for quick access. Or place it ready with the strap unbuckled if it cannot go on bars due to aero bottle.

-        Sunglasses open and inside helmet so you can quickly put them on. These provide protection from the sun and road grit, so don’t leave home without them.

-        Cycling shoes loosened and ready to be put on. Talc powder or similar sprinkled inside shoes if you’re going sans socks.

-        Socks unrolled and ready to be put on if you’re wearing them.

-        Fuel. A bottle should be on your bike already. Stash a gel or two in a pocket or if your bike has a bento box, put it in there on race morning.

-        Bike gloves if you wear them, but these are far from necessary on a shorter race.

-      Spare tube, CO2, tire tools (in case of a flat). Oh, and know how to change a flat.

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Set up for T2, the bike-to-run transition area

-        Hat or visor.

-        Keep your sunglasses on.

-        Socks if you’re wearing them.

-        Running shoes loosened and ready to be put on. I HIGHLY recommend you have elastic laces on your running shoes so that you don’t have to fumble with the laces. Make sure you have run in the them prior to get the correct tension. Again, if going sockless, some powder sprinkled inside makes this a better experience.

-        Race number on race belt.

-        Fuel if you’re carrying. A bottle and a gel should be plenty.

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Adopt a TAKE NO PRISONERS attitude

You’ve trained hard, visualized your race, and actually made it to the start line. You have nothing to lose by embracing the day ahead! Even if you have to fake it ‘til you make it, be CONFIDENT. This is YOUR DAY. You’re out here to get sh!t done. You don’t have time for second-guessing, self-pity, doubt, or fear. Because of the distance of a sprint triathlon, you are free to fire on all cylinders from the second the gun goes off until you collapse after the finish line. Pay no attention to anyone else’s performance – this is about you and the course. LEAVE NOTHING BEHIND. If you feel like your muscles are screaming, lungs are burning, heart is jackhammering, mind is protesting – great job, you’re almost working hard enough. Now do it for real.

Remember that there will always be some things you can’t control - the weather, course profile, technical issues, other people - but that’s part of the fun of racing! The only thing that you can do is control yourself! A race is nothing more than a chance to test our limits and learn a ton on a supported course. Go out there, have fun, test yourself, learn a ton, and smile for the camera when you cross that finish line.




Ironman Florida 70.3 Race Report - with Coach Samantha

When I first started this endurance sport business, long before tracker and weather apps, I would fret and freak out about each race. Back then my freakouts were centered mostly around the burning desire to have every one of my races be a PR. At some point, my freakouts gave way to checking weather apps, course profiles, starting lists, times for the course - these were added to my desire to get my fastest time EVERY TIME I raced. While I did race my first Ironman at Lake Placid and have raced a ton in what I have come to realize are hard courses due to growing up in the Northeast, I would worry about terrain as well. A hilly course would have me up at night thinking I was going to be walking my bike or crawling on a run. So basically racing was a total freakout from the time I hit the button to pay for the race until I got in the water, all due to a very intense focus on my times.

And then somewhere along the way, perhaps due to becoming a mom or a coach, or most likely a combo of the two, my perspective on racing shifted. I let go of times, of places, of weather, of terrain fears and now have switched to just doing the best I can with the course that I am on. I actually now welcome the hills, and the heat, and see any challenge as a new way to test my mental fortitude. i still get nervous AF, but now that is more about being mentally weak when I am tested on the course. And in that spirit, two weeks before Ironman Florida 70.3, I decided to test myself and sign up.

Here are some important things to note - it has been a cold and awful winter for most of the country, which meant that I had ridden outside exactly twice before the race since September of last year. I had swam open water once, and up until the race I was running in the cold with a ton of layers.

If you have never raced in Haines City, it is not the flat and fast course you might think of when you picture Florida. The swim is in a tiny lake which requires many turns, the bike has some rolling hills (for me there was no need to ever get out of my big chain ring - so nothing terrible), and the run is a three loop hilly course - which was a little different this year as they decided to add a few more little hills before you got to the real hills. To be honest, I cannot think of a hillier half marathon that I have done to date - perhaps Vegas back when that existed, but those were steady climbs and Haines City is either up or down.

Oh and the weather - it turned out to be 91 and full blown Florida humidity! And I guess I should also mention it was very windy  - I think winds were steady in the teens with gusts a little higher.

So I was certainly in for a test!

Pre-race I stuck to my usual routine. I like to lay very, very low and minimize any human contact in the days leading up to a race. One of the best parts of this race is that you are not required to drop your bikes off the day prior, so I was able to hang out at the condo and read and wait for the hours to tick by after finishing my workouts.

Race morning, as it always seems to, came quickly and I made my way down to the race start. We had about a 15 minute drive and were able to park very close to the race venue. The transition was super packed and after a less than friendly human and I had some words about how she had her stuff sprawled all over the place and that was somehow okay, I decided to get the f out of there and head to get a warm-up swim in. The cool thing is that there is a pool right by the lake and you can hop in and swim for a few. I think this is one of the most important things you can and should do as an athlete, it allows you to raise the HR, and lower the nerves. At the pool I ran into coach Scott and we both hopped in and swam in the dark. I still had my transition bag with me and didn't really want to trudge back to the car, so I ditched it behind a row of shrubs and made my way to the lake. The sun was coming up and there was that wonderful feeling of all these humans ready to get the day started.

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This year the race had returned to an Age Group Wave start and I think I was in the 7th or so wave to go off. Which meant that we had a ton of work to do to get around the slower swimmers in front of us. This is a notoriously slow swim, and it proved to be so as I had to make my way through the previous waves and navigate the many turns on the course. Here’s a strategy that I use and most of our athletes do as well - I count. It starts in the swim - before I get in the water I count the buoys - my swim is simply about getting from one buoy to the next and working to the best of my ability as I navigate from one to the next. I never got clean water but I swam the back half a little harder. When I finally could see the swim exit arch, I swam until I hit the ground - walking through water is way slower than swimming, so I always try to swim as far as I possibly can. Which when you are 5’ 3” is pretty close to shore. When I exited the water I felt like the swim had been slow. If I had time on my watch I would have known that it was indeed slow in comparison to my usual non-wetsuit legal swims. 36:4x was my time. Why no time on my watch? Well I have found that my reaction to times can set me up for a long day. The swim felt slow, technically for me was slow, and if I was in my old mindset of chasing a clock then I would have already been in a deficit and a negative head space. The truth is that the swim was slow for all, and my time was good enough for 3rd in AG which I would not know until after the race. Something I don’t think I ever thought was capable when I first started this sport.

Off into T1 - nothing eventful there other than the fact that my rack was super far and I had a very long run with my bike.

I mounted my bike and off I went. Again, on the bike I ride only with HR, power (no power at this race as my meter never paired with my watch) and RPE. I know how my lungs and legs should feel and I got to work. The course was really crowded and I spent most of my time navigating past other cyclists. It was cloudy and I knew that staying on my fueling plan would be key - The number one rule of a cloudy bike is that it will surely be full sun on the run. Many athletes underfuel in these conditions and pay for it on the run. The roads on the front half of the bike are windy and at times pretty tight and unlike my last few races which were not Ironman branded I was surrounded by cyclists. Which meant that I was often playing leapfrog with a few men who I could out climb and then they would pass me again on the flats. This went on and I did my best to ride legal, and I remember being worried about being too close to others, but also feeling like I was trapped on the narrow roads with so many people who were riding at times side by side and then on one of the windier roads where we were all bunched up, I was given a blue card. I remember thanking the ref as if I had just been given a gift and was kinda in a fog. I was not the only one who was too close, but I was the lucky one that day. Plus, I like to have refs on a course and to know that people are being monitored. I want a fair ride - so I had mixed feelings about the penalty. And after about a minute, I felt all of the energy drain out of me and thought that I should just call it a day after the bike. Then I decided that I would run, but not really focus on the race. Then I decided that I was being dumb and I better get back to being focused and get to the penalty tent and stop the self sabotaging. I think somewhere around mile 25 you come to a town where there is a steady incline, and it was there that I passed one of our athletes who I told that I had gotten a penalty and he would see me real soon!

I was the first of a huge bunch (but none from my pack) to arrive at the tent and yelled out my number and the timer started. Five min seems like a lifetime, but I made sure to use the time well. I decided it would be best to turn my back to the road so that I wasn’t aware of all of the people passing me and instead I filled my aero bottle, stood in the shade of the tent and made sure to not be tempted by looking at the time on my watch. The reality is that if I over-biked the back half of the course I was going to be in for a very long run.

The time ticked by very slowly, but I did get to make friends with a sweet older gentleman who told me that he hadn’t gotten a penalty in 37 years of racing and I told him that this was my first in 20, and so we commiserated  in our mutual penalty sorrow. And then like that I was released from prison, but not before Eric rode by and yelled to me with a big grin - hope you’re enjoying your time out.

The back half of the course flew by until about mile 52 when I hit a very exposed and open windy section and it was pretty desolate. I knew it was close, so I just tucked in and stayed strong until I was back to town. Which after the fact I was reminded by coach Nick’s mom who was there spectating that I was nearly hit by a car when the car failed to stop for a police officer - I don’t even really remember this, so I guess I was in the zone.

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Back to transition and I suited up for the run -  put my shoes on, stepped through my naked belt, pulled it up and grabbed my cooling towel, hat, and fuel and off I went. The first few steps felt awful. My legs felt heavy and I felt like I had never run off the bike before. This feeling is pretty natural for the first 70.3 of the season, so I shrugged it off and off I went. The course was a little different from years past, as we went around the pool area, hit two little hills, and then hit the infamous hills on the front stretch. I had made myself a promise - I would not walk outside of aid stations. I have walked two hills in two 70.3s in my life and they still haunt me to this day. The hard part is that I knew that most would be walking - the bike was hot and windy, and the run was going to be hot and hilly. This tends to lend itself to walking on the run for many, which can be tempting to join in on. The first big hill hurt, but there just happened to be some really awesome penis graffiti on the middle of the hill, so I just said to myself - listen you stupid dick of a hill, I will not give in - I am strong and I can handle this. At the top of the hill, I was a little surprised to see that they were having us go into the little neighborhood that was part of the Full race in November - this added another little bitch of a hill, before we headed back up the second part of the hills on the front of the course. The good part was that after I realized this I also realized that one of my Tri friends Tom was standing there and as I approached him, I threw my watch to him. He told me I looked strong, which probably was a lie, but lifted the spirits. It is never good when you pass people you know and their cheers contain things like - okay, okay, you can do this. Or - are you okay?

Why take off my watch? I knew at this point that this was going to be a slow run. My legs felt horrible and the heat and humidity were coming on strong. I also knew that if I got bogged down by metrics, I would set myself up for an even longer run. I run with HR and cadence on my watch, but I know that if my cadence is low than I am going slow. Over the years, I have found that nothing good comes from negative self talk and it was best for me to just let go of data and move as fast as I could.

Out of the neighborhood, we hung a right and hit the second of the big hills. When I crested the hill, I was flooded with memories of standing on that corner when the rains came during the Full in November. I was able to use the strength of the athletes who ran in that awful rain to power me through the next neighborhood part of the course and then to the final 1.5 miles of the first lap.

My goal for the first lap was to run steady, the middle lap was to  stay strong, and the last lap - do what I could with what I had.

Back by transition I got the much needed boost that comes from the crowds. One of my awesome athletes had made the drive from Tampa to cheer and I was boosted by seeing him. And then seeing a few other friendly faces on the course. My family always jokes that seeing me for 15 seconds is the worst thing ever after waiting all day, but I cannot tell you how much energy it gives me to see people I know.

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Onto loop two, up the dick hill, back through the neighborhood  - at this point, I made a deal that I would walk the aid stations on the last loop and drink all the coke. My legs felt like mile 24 Ironman legs and I knew that my whole meditation had to just deal with picking my legs up and putting them down. My run at this point was still faster than the power walkers and I was passing a few men who had passed me on the bike or run so I knew that I just had to power through the pain.

At the start of lap three I saw Tom and Nick’s mom again which gave me a boost, and then I spotted coach Scott. I hit the first aid station and grabbed a coke and ice and hit the hills again. If I could go back and do this again, I would remind myself to stand tall. I know that my form had gone to hell at this point and I was slouching - not good for race photos or for running well. One last time for Mont Dick - I think this time I actually said aloud - see you never DICK. A little after this point, just after leaving the neighborhood, I caught up to Scott and we exchanged a few words. He had also gotten a penalty and had crashed his bike. Scott and I hit the second aid station together - grabbed some more coke and ice, and then I think I said to him, I can’t talk  - so you do you! The remainder of the run was pure quad pain - I assume from all the downhills on the run. There were two more aid stations - at the next one I grabbed more ice and went on and I ran through the last one. Remember when my plan was to do all that I could on the last loop. Well in my visualization, that involved some speed, but in reality, that just involved moving faster than a walk.

And as always, just like that I hit the final stretch of the run and hit the turn into the chute as the skies opened and started it started to pour.

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So if I lay out the times - it was one of my slowest races. And in fact my slowest 13.1 ever - that seems to be a theme lately.

Swim: 36:43

Bike (with 5 min penalty): 2:47:44

Run: 2:09:09

Total time: 5:40:47

But if I look at my placing then it wasn’t awful.

Swim: 3rd AG

Bike: 7th AG

Run: 11th AG

Final Placing: 7th

So my point is - the times and paces tell one story. But the end result left me feeling like I had done what I set out to do - test myself, learn, and live to eat some vegan ice cream.

There are of course some things that I wish I had done better -

  1. Not get a penalty

  2. Concentrate more on form on the run - STAND UP TALL!

  3. Run harder - I say this because I was able to pick up my pace in the last half mile stretch - which means that I was physically capable of more speed, but was limited by my mind.

My wish for myself and for my athletes this season and beyond is that we can focus less on times and pacing and more on working hard every second of the race. This type of focus is actually really hard, and I am far from perfecting it - but I love that I am able to keep plugging away each year at learning to suffer more and embrace the feeling of pushing myself and finding new limits.

Oh, and if you are still reading this - my tri bag was safe and sound tucked behind the hedges when I went to retrieve it :)

Thanks to all of my athletes and colleagues who inspire me to be a better version of myself each day - you are constantly on my mind when I race and for that I am beyond grateful.

Exercise in Pregnancy - with Evolve Athlete and OBGYN Dr. Anita Schnapp

One of the coolest things about Evolve is the variety of humans who make up the fabric of the team. At Evolve we have coached many athletes during and post pregnancy and we are lucky to also have an amazing OB as an athlete. If you have ever wondered about what do when you go from training for one to training with a baby on board, Dr. Schnapp has the answers.


Every day, I am grateful for the internet.  As soon as my patients have a positive pregnancy test, they consult every mom group they can find.  By their first visit, they know they shouldn’t get a manicure (false), the gender of the baby based on any of 17 different methods (50/50), and that they should not raise their heart rate over 140 bpm during the pregnancy (absolutely false). 

 Historically, pregnant women have been treated differently in various cultures.  In Victorian England, pregnant women didn’t do anything physical for fear of “the vapors.”  I am not sure what “the vapors” are other than an excuse to lounge around for nine months.  I can’t imagine that a pioneer woman was too concerned about the vapors when survival depended on getting crops planted.  And of course, everyone has heard stories of women squatting in the rice paddy to deliver and going right back to work.

As with most things, the reality of exercise in pregnancy lies in the middle.  There are tremendous benefits to exercise in pregnancy.  Exercise increases blood flow to the placenta, which leads to good fetal growth.  Women who exercise are less likely to develop diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy, both of which can lead to early delivery and complications for mom and baby.  Exercise helps with sleep in pregnancy, which can be a challenge.  Women who exercise are more likely to have a vaginal delivery and a better recovery.  Perhaps the most important benefit is that exercise just makes you feel good.

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 The flip side of exercise in pregnancy is that you can overdo it. Women can continue any activity for which they are trained.  But the changes of pregnancy will affect how you feel and your endurance.  First trimester, the hormonal changes can make you exhausted.  Nausea can be a limiting factor as well.  Changes in sugar metabolism partially drive nausea of pregnancy, making it critical that you have some kind of nutrition on longer workouts.  In second and third trimester, you need to be cautious with exercises that have you flat on your back.  There isn’t a specific cut-off or limit, you just have to watch for feeling light-headed or dizzy.  Breathing can become more challenging as your lungs are squashed.  Resting pulse increases in pregnancy as well, so if you train by heart rate, you will need to adjust.  Dehydration and overheating are real concerns due to the increased fluid demands in pregnancy and the personal furnace that you are carrying around.  As you hydrate, remember that your bladder is getting smashed by the baby so peeing on yourself is a definite possibility, but not at all worrisome. 

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There are special considerations for triathletes.  Swimming is a wonderful exercise for pregnant women.  It almost makes you feel not pregnant to float in water.  Breathing can be the challenge.  Running is fine, but again, listening to your body and cutting runs short or decreasing pace as your body demands are important.  Cycling is the discipline most affected.  Your center of gravity is off, and your balance may suffer.  Spills during pregnancy can be more serious if you hit your belly.  Finally, getting comfortable on the saddle as you start to have more lower body swelling might be impossible.  In third trimester, your body makes a hormone called relaxin.  It allows the pelvis to open a little during delivery to give baby more room to get out.  It also makes it easier to overextend your joints while stretching or doing yoga. 

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Of course, there are some women for whom exercise in pregnancy may be an issue.  If there are any complications like placenta previa, twin pregnancy, high blood pressure or multiple other considerations, your physician may give you other instructions or restrictions.  If you are in doubt about something, you can always consult the internet.  I’m sure you will find reliable answers there!

Love Potion 140.6 - Triathlon's Secret Discipline with Coach Scott

“Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation, and conversation must have a common basis, and between two people of widely different culture the only common basis possible is the lowest level.” - Oscar Wilde

Pre-Chattanooga 70.3!

Pre-Chattanooga 70.3!



As the intensity of your triathlon season builds, and training hours ramp up, the most important ingredient for success is having a strong support system. Without strong relationships and clear communication with those whom you love, you can really derail your triathlon season. Let’s face it, triathlon can sometimes seem cult like,  and unless you are one of the rare triathlon power couples, then you have to really work on your relationships. But even the power couples face challenges. So, no matter how long you have been in this sport and if your partner is a triathlete - the reality is that communication is essential to get the most out of your training and not leave anyone feeling like they are not part of the process.

Triathlon is something that really raises your endorphins and self-confidence, but at times can zap your energy so the people around you are wondering what you are so excited about. This is what we see to be the biggest relationship stressor - as the season and your training builds so does your excitement. And sometimes that excitement can spill into every aspect of your life. Triathlon brings a ton of positive change from physical to how you handle stress, and in general you might find yourself feeling slightly obsessed with the sport. The positive changes are great, but imagine being the spouse on the other side of that equation. Where suddenly you are coming back from your workout discussing FTP, cadence, power numbers, sweat tests, drills, swim tests, Strava KOMs… You get the point… Consider sharing your excitement, but try not to discuss your watts and FTP for the next 6 hours. Balance the conversation with their day and give them a chance to talk about what made their day. We would suggest capping tri talk at 15 minutes - that allows you to get your excitement off your chest, but gives room for your partner to feel that your day is not the only thing that matters.

What are some things you can do to keep your relationship strong and support EACH other?  Below are 10 things that we see athletes at Evolve do really well in regards to relationships:

 

  1. Take time to have  conversations with your partner and not speak in triathlon geek speak 24-7.

  2. Agree on a triathlon budget.

  3. After your 4 hour workout, do a surprise thing that your spouse will appreciate. It can be a simple thing around the house. Hint, hint .... laundry is the secret to all relationship success.

  4. Share with them WHY you are on this triathlon journey.

  5. Explain the role of your coach.Your coach is there to help you be the best version of yourself in triathlon. Share the conversations with your partner that you and your coach have. Chances are it will mean more than your new FTP to them; your partner will appreciate that you are improving.

  6. When you get back from that long workout (maybe take a shower first), give your partner a hug and thank them for the support and acknowledge it is not always easy, but it means the world to you.

  7. Include your spouse in your workouts when possible - ride the trainer so you can be in the same room, have him or her ride a bike next to you while you run.

  8. Surprise them with a gift and no it is not an Ironman spouse t-shirt…

  9. Understand your partner's love language and try and support it.

  10. Schedule a regular date night and let your coach know when it is, the last thing you need is to have a long bike ride during date time. Your coach wants you to succeed and knows that this is part of the process.

Okay - and maybe just one more tip - when you get back from a workout, let’s be honest, we all want to look at our garmin data, and watch Training Peaks turn green, but take the time to put away all devices and just have a few minutes of real human connection! It really is that simple.



In the end sharing the experience can actually have a positive impact on your relationship, just remember your partner’s interest are just as important as yours. Having separate interests can be a great chance to connect as a couple, all that is needed is the time and communication that can be so hard to have these days!




How to Get to the Top of a Mountain by Training for a Half-Ironman - Athlete Spotlight with Amanda Phraner


“Wow, Kilimanjaro. How are you training for that?” That was pretty much the question I heard from everyone leading up to what was a trip of a lifetime. See I live in Chicago which is not exactly known for its mountains, altitude or well any sort of non-flat terrain. Of course my answer was simple – “Easy, I’m training for Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells which is a few weeks before.” It seemed to appease most people, though a few did point out that maybe some altitude training would be good. And I’m sure it would have been if I had figured out how to add more time in the day and days in the week. But in the end, the training for the race actually prepared me more than any climb could have.

Packing

There is nothing more critical for a race than packing – to the race and for the race. The art of it is making sure you have exactly what you need and nothing more or nothing less. I’ve become a master of using gallon size Ziplock bags to make sure everything is together, organized and water proof (nothing worse than soggy socks because your transition bag sat overnight).

As I tried to figure out exactly what I would need for a 6 day climb, 3 day safari and 6 days at the beach I used all of those race day skills. Lay everything out. Organize it by event. Go through and make sure you have what you need but don’t take anything more than that. I should probably note here that I was also attempting to take everything I needed in my backpack and carry-on, because with 4 different flights there I wasn’t willing to have lost luggage.

Looking back I must say this was maybe the best idea I had. First, if you take all the air out the bags double as compression sacks. Second, when you go through security over and over and over again it is much easier to repack a few Ziplocks into a backpack than every piece of clothing. Third, I knew where everything was over the hike and could quick grab that extra layer.

Nutrition

There is always that line in coach Sam’s race plan – if you can’t eat at least keep taking in fluids. While I packed all the bars, gels, electrolytes and salt tabs a girl could want, when the altitude hit I couldn’t stomach any of it. On summit day I managed half a bar before calling it quits and focusing on how many Pepto tabs I could chew. But I never stopped drinking water/electrolytes because I knew if I couldn’t eat I at the very least needed to drink. So somehow I managed to hike for 11 ½ hours on a half a bar and 4 liters of water. Which brings me to…..

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Moving on Tired Legs

I’m pretty sure learning to move on tired legs is the epitome of triathlon training. Spin for 4 hours and then go run for 30 minutes. Two –a-days, brick work, speed then distance – all of it teaching us how to move on tired legs. This was the second most important application of training for the hike (I’ll get to the first next).

Since we were on the 6-day hike, it meant that within the 48 hours of the summit we ended up hiking for about 24 hours. I’m completely disregarding the 3 days of hiking to even get to this point, but those 48-hours were brutal. It started with a 3 ½ hour hike up (more like a rock climb) over a wall to lunch, then a 3 hour hike to base camp. We had a few hours to “sleep” before dinner, eat dinner and then a few hours to “sleep” before waking up at 11 pm to start the summit climb at midnight. Needless to say sleeping didn’t happen.

From midnight to dawn you pretty much question your sanity a few hundred times. It’s dark, cold, windy and you are moving at a snail’s pace (at least I was). You’re tired. Your legs are tired. But you keep moving until you reach that peak. I can’t begin to describe how amazing that point was – the mental, physical and emotional challenge to get there overwhelms you. The views and the beauty cannot be captured in a photo. Of course once you take this all in, the realization that you have to get down the mountain sets in.

Down to base camp was almost as hard as up to the summit. By now the sun has been up and the ground is no longer frozen so you end up skiing down sand. As you’ve spent the better part of 8 hours climbing up, you become unsure of your legs going down. Hitting a gravel spot every so often doesn’t help with confidence. But this was my sweet spot. I was tired but I knew this place. You just need to keep focused and keep moving.

I’d like to say that was the end of moving on tired legs, but after an hour to rest we had to keep going to lower camp. This meant 6 more hours of hiking. But I was prepared for this. It was like a two-a-day or a long weekend brick. I had just gotten off the bike and it was time to run. Though in this case the runs was more of a slow 6 hour walk.

Mindset

This was the most important aspect of triathlon training that came into play when climbing. Determination and focus was just as important for the climb as it is in every race - part of getting to the top was wanting to get there. Of course there was also the ability to come out of a dark place and reset to keep going. I was well-versed here after Indian Wells – a freezing swim, three issues with my rear tire, and a small crash will teach you how to feel the pain and then put it aside to keep moving forward. There were many dark places along the hike, not just on the summit day. I can’t count the times that I had to let myself feel weak, tired, and sick and then push those aside, re-frame to a positive mindset and move forward. Luckily the friend I hiked with and I took turns falling apart, as it always helps to have someone else pull you back to reality.

Bonus Training: Run Your Own Race

Okay so one more bonus aspect of training for a triathlon that really helped – run your own race. It can be so easy to get caught up in how fast (or slow) you’re moving compared to everyone else. Early on the summit day you see people coming down the mountain – those who couldn’t reach the top for any number of reasons – and people passing you by as if you were standing still. It becomes hard to stay focused on your climb, your pace and what is best for you when you are faced with the question of “can I make it?” as others seem to be doing it easily and some clearly had their day called early.

Pole pole (Swahili for slow) was our plan – and you always follow the plan. It was hard at times to know that if we moved a tiny bit faster we would get there sooner because even though on the way up I didn’t quite know how long the day would be, I still knew it would be a long day. But keeping to the plan would get us to the top, so at all costs I had to block out what everyone else was doing and just focus on the my race (errr climb) plan.

Looking back, would I have trained the same way if I could do it all over again? Probably. Maybe I would have found time to visit the high altitude training room I learned about only after returning. Maybe I would have taken the difficulty of the climb more seriously. Maybe I would have signed up for a 7 day trek. But the truth is, that every bit of the Ironman 70.3 training that got me to the finish on race day, got me to the top of Kilimanjaro and I couldn’t have asked for better training than that.




Welcome Back to Reality - with Coach Nick

New Year, New Me?

It is that time of the year - yes, when our stomachs are full of holiday treats, sugar levels are at an all-time high, and if you are like me motivation, as much as I am telling myself it’s a New Year, is still pretty damn low. You have come down from your post race high from your 2018 ‘A’ race and lost some fitness (which is the sole purpose of an off season). I feel recovered and ready to roll - at least I think I am the latter.

The first few weeks back to your “on-season” are always a struggle and offer a swift kick to the face by the reality of early AM workouts and far more conscious eating. While I am a coach, I am also an athlete and one who succumbs to the same tendencies that others do.  I know that many of us struggle with the same issues, even if we do not always like to admit it.

There are 3 issues I typically face at this point in my early season training, and here is how I have learned to combat them.


  1. Lack of focus on eating (ie overeating, not eating consciously for fueling)

This is one that I REALLY struggle with around the holidays. In a time where you are spending time with friends, family, and co-workers it is tough to not get sucked into the holiday libations, baked goods (mmmmm cookies), and other yummy stuff. For months I was able to indulge far more often (within reason) due to a pretty high volume training.

Yes - you will gain weight this time of year. That is fine, and quite honestly a great sign that you took your off-season seriously. This is the time of year we rebuild our foundation and ensure there are not any cracks in said foundation. One way to ensure that we are ready to built the house anew is through fueling the body and gaining some healthy weight

“Gain weight” says coach - I say, game on. But then I hit a point of “what the hell happened?” It gets to a point with me where I am struggling all day with my eating and the emotions that can be attached to eating and hunger. I catch myself overeating because I am so “hungry” and my mind/body is craving that sugar buzz we get from those aforementioned holiday treats and baked goods (mmmm cookies).

I have tried a few different techniques over my years of racing, but one has really seemed to work for me and helped me to kick off my healthy eating/fueling efforts - food tracking. With the advent of smartphones and apps for seemingly every task possible, there are countless options. The one that I go to is MyFitnessPal (and also perhaps the one that most of you are familiar with). Yes - it is time consuming to find the calories, log it properly (ie weigh the food like the neurotic person I am), and not get so fed up and just eat a pre-packaged meal when you can scan the info and it is loaded into the app. The key aspect of food tracking for me personally, and from what I’ve seen with my peers is that it provide two aspects to you as an athlete and person in general. First off, it holds you accountable for what you are putting in your body. When you have that mind - body connection to the food you are consuming, and seeing the nutrient makeup of say something like a COOKIE, you tend to make the better choice. Being a type-A and goal driven athlete, I love to ensure that I am staying within my caloric goals, and also meeting marco nutrient requirements. Suddenly I am not too focused on how hungry I am, I’m eating less crap (for instance, cookies), the timing of my meals if far more consistent, and the weight starts to come off at a healthy rate. The second reason and simply put, I feel empowered to eat nutrient dense, healthy foods and know that I am treating my body as a tool for performance and my vehicle to become the best version of myself of an athlete - and even beyond that as a person who wants to be physically healthy.


2) Lack of motivation to wake up/getting back into the routine.

Don’t get me wrong - I love to workout. But we all know there are days that no matter how much we enjoy it, motivation can wane. This is amplified by such factors as weather (read: cold, rain, windy, etc), and daylight savings time making us want to just go to sleep at 6 pm and sleep until 8 am.


The first week back is what I refer to as boot camp - it is a swift kick in the pants to bring you back to your structured athletic endeavors. Fact: I am not a morning person, and have to set 5 alarms to get my ass out of bed on time for an am workout. I wish I was kidding, but what can I say, I love my bed (and my mama). You know you are singing that song in your head now...

The way I personally work around this is by setting a goal of waking up to make JUST one workout. Once I get one or two early AM workouts out of the way I am reminded of the mental boost I get throughout the day, albeit if it comes with an additional cup or two of coffee on those first few days. My motivation for the next workout starts to build and gain momentum, and before I know it I am almost excited for my next training opportunity.

Another way to approach this is to reward yourself the first few days, this can be in the form of a smoothie (or healthy-ish ;) snack of choice) on the way home from your workout or on the way to work. Or maybe after you make two weeks in a row of getting up, you buy yourself some new gear. Celebrate the wins regardless of how big or small they are.

3) Not being able to find time to workout

Even outside of the holiday season, it is tough to balance everything on our plates between work, family, and still trying to have a social life that may require you stay out past 6 pm. This gets amplified to new levels of difficulty when the workout load starts to pick up. So how do you combat this other than adding 2 more hours to the day.

First, be open with your coach about what your obligations are. The new year at work can also be stressful, or getting your kids back into a routine. Consistency  is key, so setting up realistic weekly training volumes where you are not running yourself ragged is a key focal point for success. We often want to go head first back into training in the New Year - but that does not always work and can set us back - a slow ramp up is usually the way to go. One great session a week or month does not make an athlete great, but multiple quality, well executed sessions make an athlete.

Second, like previously talked about  - set incremental goals. The downfall I face is switching my workouts around within the week. As a coach it is frustrating to see an athlete do this as I take a good deal of time to schedule all of the various sessions to ensure maximum benefits. The first week back my main goal is no missed workouts. Second week back, no missed workouts AND no moved workouts. After those two weeks have lapsed I am in a decent groove in both a mental and physical space averting any lack of motivation or the attempt of ‘catching up’ on workouts after moving your week around on your own accord.


So what does all this mean?

We are all human, and not robots. The ebb and flow of motivation is natural and normal.

I offer these as what works for me, but if these do not work for you, ask your friends and training partners how they get through it. Do not be afraid that you are showing weakness by expressing your lack of motivation or discipline at the moment. It happens to most everyone. Dare I say all of us - just some are more willing to be open about it.

Make a plan, set a goal, and celebrate any and all victories that come your way!

Here’s to crushing 2019.

Be sure to follow Coach Nick @ncgregory8878 on the gram.