Friday, November 28, 2014

Interview Sessions: Jenn

Let's meet my friend Jenn today! She is one of my favorite training partners, not only because she is fast, but she is also a lot of fun to be around.  I was so excited when she joined our training group this summer after she moved to Ottawa from Oregon.  This sport is awesome that way... you can move to a brand new city and potentially find a new group of friends fairly quickly if you join a training group.  It's an automatic group of like-minded individuals, out to have a good time!

Jenn and I at the Montreal Esprit
Let's meet Jenn...

My name is Sister Christmas. Well, technically I was born Jennifer Bushell (Jenn), but, 'tis the season! :)

I grew up playing whatever sport I could get my hand on. I fell in love with running. I battled through some pretty brutal stress reactions in my tibias (shins) for most of my high school and university running career. I was always a strong swimmer and lifeguard. Thus I ended up in North Carolina doing Ocean Rescue for a couple years which combined my love of water, running, adventure and healing. I am a Certified Athletic Therapist as a profession, in which I specialize in preventing injury as well as returning athletes to competition and maximizing their performance potential as fast as possible after injury (as well as every day active people). We are best known as the persons who provide immediate on-field emergency care of professional and elite athlete.

Some unknown force inside me thought it was wise to buy a road bike when I moved to Oregon. thinking I would use it to commute to work aaaand if I had one of those I may as well start doing triathlons (I moved to take on a full time job and masters in my profession). I never looked back. Two years later, I have qualified for Age Group Worlds in the Olympic distance and have the most interesting and best friends across North America.

What advice would you give to a new triathlete or someone considering signing up for their first triathlon?

To the new ones about to make the leap or having strange thoughts about becoming a triathlete. Make the leap.  It is not often you regret anything when you abandon fear and take a leap into the unknown. especially one with a support group built in. You will find your kin here. Much of what keeps me going are my triathlon friends.

What has been your greatest / proudest moment as a triathlete?

I think my proudest moment is also my most embarrassing. Due to work travel for 3 months, I found myself wholly out of shape, but dumb enough to race collegiate nationals in the US, where I was living. I felt a sense of obligation to the team and thought I can at least add points for us for competing. Well, I won that race. Overall. It was the worst race I have ever had, ( I told a 12 year old water boy I may be dying and when does this end?!?), but boy was it crazy fun. I was so proud - but not of myself.  I was proud to be able to put our team on the podium. Personally I felt undeserved and selfish. I saw the other racers who had poured their hearts into training and deserved to be on that podium more than I did. This has added a lot of training incentive for future races. If you are going to do it, at least earn it... but no matter what have fun!

What has been the biggest challenge for you in the sport?

Combining my demanding career with my demanding sport is my biggest challenge. When your job requires you to be on the road every other week, often without warning or predestination and no time for yourself, it is hard to train. but working with amazing athletes everyday is a lot of motivation for when I find my own time to go get at it.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of the sport?

Honestly, the most rewarding part of this sport is the people. The camaraderie that comes from sharing a similar brand of crazy. We are individuals who are part of a greater team. I never thought I would find such altruistic people in life. Also, the beer at the end of a race or hard training session is an excellent reward!
How does life as a triathlete translate to other areas of your life?

I now have blubbered on a lot. There is so much to say about how and why a person found and stayed in this sport. I feel like that is what translates to other areas of my life. I am more disciplined, time managed, motivated, kinder and happier!!
What is your dream race?

Taking up a sport comes with dreams. Qualifying for worlds was a hope and desire. That race is now my current and looming reality. My dream race is to race with family and friends watching. I never had family present at any of my university or national level races in my various sports. I have had some friends present, fellow athletes who were not competing in that race. I am hoping I have people come support me at worlds. (Big training incentive too!). A dream is a destination triathlon. My dad and step mom live in Cancun, Mexico (oddly enough neighbours to another incredible triathlete). I would love to go there and race, the beach is in my soul (remember my ocean rescue background), the weather is great, the scenery is unreal. Most importantly my dad and step mom are the most understanding and motivational people, just because of their unconditional love and humour. (They are also going to be the best post race celebrators with me haha).  Kelsey is joining me in this destination race - right Kels!?! [Editor's note: YES OF COURSE!!]

What is your favorite pre-race meal? Any other pre-race rituals?
I read motivational quotes before races. I did that once for a university track meet and ran a PR, so it seems to have stuck. Plus then I race feeling happy. I also listen to Disney motivational songs (the bike is long, and if you are going to have a song stuck in your head it may as well be happy, catchy and inspiring!). Oatmeal is always my pre race breakfast - I know it keeps my tummy happy (or as happy as a tummy can be pre race!) plus isn't it legend to "stick to your ribs" so I know the energy lasts haha.

Swim, bike, or run?

I favour the run. It is my strongest background, so its super fun to start passing people, there is more of a chance to shout encouraging words and have them be heard! it is also the last segment - power through this and you really are done! the beer is so close!

Favorite motivational quote?

It depends on the time in season as to which quote gets me the best but right now it is, "a 22 min mile is just as far as a 6 min mile" and the song lyrics from the Disney movie "Brave". I began racing triathlons in Oregon. Mostly cold, wet, hazy early mornings (hence oatmeal as the pre race meal) Why must races happen at ungodly early hours?!? The song is super upbeat and very motivational. I recommend you turn it on as you read these words:

When the cold winds are a-calling
And the sky is clear and bright,
Misty mountains sing and beckon,
Lead me out into the light...
I will ride, I will fly,
Chase the wind and touch the sky,
I will fly,
Chase the wind and touch the sky...
Where dark woods hide secrets,
And mountains are fierce and bold,
Deep waters hold reflections,
Of times lost long ago..
I will hear their every story,
Take hold of my own dream,
Be as strong as the seas are stormy,
And proud as an eagle's wing
I will ride, I will fly,
Chase the wind and touch the sky,
I will fly,
Chase the wind and touch the sky...
And touch the sky,
Chase the wind, Chase the wind
Touch the sky...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide for Triathletes

If one thing is for certain, there is always something a triathlete may "need" for their sport, from big ticket items like a bike to the little things, like gels to keep them fueled.  Last year, as my first year as a triathlete, my entire wish list for the holidays was triathlon related... and well it is pretty much all triathlon related this year as well.  My mom even said I needed something "fun / non-triathlon related" on the list, and I had to say "triathlon is fun!" in response because I couldn't think of anything else that I might want.  Here are a few ideas based on some of my favorite things and what I have asked for this year or in the past.

1) Trigger Point Foam Roller - I love/hate my foam roller.  It is such an important tool for recovery and I always feel amazing after a rolling session.

2) Race Belt - A race belt is a necessity in my opinion. It makes the T-Zone a much easier place, especially for races that require you to wear your race bib on both the bike and run portion of the race.

3) Coeur Sports triathlon apparel - Coeur makes stylish and comfortable gear for running, cycling, and triathlon.  The Fleet Foxes print is my favorite.  All of the clothing is made in L.A. and the company is run by some amazing women.

4) Smart Wool Socks - Smart Wool socks are my favorite running socks.  They keep my feet dry and comfortable.

5) Zoot Ultra Tri Bag - I love my transition bag from Zoot that I got for my birthday last year.  It fits all of my gear, including my bike helmet, and has a special wet bag for my wetsuit. There is even a list on the inside to help you stay organized!

6) Believe Journal - After seeing this journal on Lauren Fleshman's Instagram and on a few other blogs, I quickly added it to my list.  I love writing my goals and my training plan out on paper and from what I've seen, this journal is perfect in every way. It also includes special chapters on topics like goal setting, nutrition, race preparation, with space to write race reports.

7) Podium Chill Water Bottle Quick Grip - I like carrying water with me when I run (and even when I race).  This bottle keeps the water nice and cold and the carrying strap has a zippered pouch for gels or your ID.

8) Road ID - Safety is always important, especially for triathletes who train on their own

9) Gels and other nutrition - A great stocking stuffer!  I love the Honey Stinger gels and fruit chews (although I eat them like they are candy).  They are made with natural ingredients and taste delicious!

10) Garmin Forerunner 920XT - This is a Cadillac of a multisport watch.  I have the 310XT and I dream about this version (especially since it matches my bike).  If you are a data freak and love to analyze your training and races, this is the watch for you.

Experiences and Feel Good Gifts

Race Entry Fees - Every triathlete loves to express their fitness, but racing gets expensive pretty quickly.  I put race fees on my list, and I will compete being so grateful for the person who gifted me the race.

Challenged Athletes Foundation Donation - The Challenged Athletes Foundation provides support  for the athletic endeavors of physically challenged athletes

Reflective Iron Ons to Support Imerman Angels - A great stocking stuffers for their favourite triathlete or outdoor winter enthusiast. Be safe, be seen and wear some high visibility ION reflective Iron Ons.  Use code BRENT2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of November 17

There are 42 weeks until Worlds!  Yes, I counted yesterday.  My goal this week is to really figure out my plan for the season to make sure that I am well prepared for Worlds.  I did a little analysis of where I was in Chicago vs. where I want to finish at Worlds, so I now have a few very specific goals to work toward.  Now, I just need to figure out a plan on how to get there.

Last week's training was pretty good.  It was one of the busiest weeks so far during my "off-season" (though technically I'm now in my "base phase.")  The workouts felt great and I'm super excited especially about running right now. Over the weekend I also finally got a tire so I can set up my trainer and "pain cave"!  (I need to figure out how to take more pictures this week!)

I like to write my goals and post them where I can see them!

Monday:  Spin class at OTC.  Stage 14 and 15 of the Tour de France meant a huge climb!  Glutes were burning by the end of class.

Tuesday:  Early morning swim practice for 3800m.  Main set was 6x500m descending 1-3 with 40 seconds rest.  Followed the swim with a strength and stability session. 

Wednesday:  Rest Day

Thursday: A 5k run in the evening with Jenn and a Yin/Yang yoga class.

Friday: Strength and stability session in the morning and a barre class in the evening.  Now that I'm teaching barre, I often forget just how hard it can be!

Saturday: Track practice with Mike Woods and crew  at the Louis Riel Dome.  We did an awesome warm-up.  I've decided that I have to keep going back because I need to learn how to do hurdles and not feel like I'm flailing around like a fish out of water.  Main set for Jenn and me was 4x5 minutes at 10k pace (working on staying just at / under aerobic threshold), with one minute rest in between. We kept a pretty consistent pace throughout.  Overall it was a great workout and I'm excited to go back again this week!

Sunday:  A nice, easy 10k with friends followed by delicious coffee and great conversation.  The weather was so nice compared to the frigid temps that we have had and it was great to connect with some of my favorite training buddies.  In the afternoon, I had my hardest / sweatiest yoga class yet.  My legs were so tired and could barely hold me up through the class.  It was awesome!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Interview Sessions: Brent

Since discovering my love of triathlon in August 2013, I've had the pleasure of meeting a lot of incredibly inspiring people. In my experience, triathletes tend to be fun, encouraging, hard working, persistent, willing to take on new challenges, and always willing to lend a helping hand. So, I asked a few of my triathlete buddies to share their stories with all of you.  These people truly inspire me, and I think you will be inspired as well!

First up is my friend Brent.  I met Brent through the Ottawa Triathlon Club at the ITU Chicago race this summer.  Since then, Brent has become part of my triathlon family!  We even took a super fun road trip together to the Newburyport Half Marathon a few weeks ago!  His story is inspiring, but the work that he does fundraising on behalf of Imerman Angels has also inspired me.  This incredible organization provides angel mentors to cancer fighters, survivors and care-givers to help them through their battles with cancer.  (If you are interested in learning more or supporting Brent's fundraising efforts... let me know!)

A big thank you to Brent for being my first interviewee!

Showing the Imerman Angel wings!

Let's get to know Brent...

A bit about me, that’s a tough one…how do you boil it down to a couple of sentences that are relevant and interesting….father, husband, fundraiser, athlete, mostly in that order. Born and raised in Ottawa, I love my big little city! Since triathlon is a relatively new journey for me, I don’t have a typical distance, by my goal is to complete an Ironman the year I turn 50 (2017).  My background in athletics, as a child, the only organized sport I played was Hockey (house league) and not until I was 13, didn’t learn to skate until I was 10, so that should give you a pretty good idea of my ability, but it was fun and I loved the camaraderie of the team. As an adult, volleyball became a regular, albeit still non-competitive staple, and I finally stumbled into running in 2008, as part of a weight loss challenge with my wife. The year before I couldn’t finish a 2k with my (then 11 year old) son, 300m to the finish line I told him to go on ahead without me, I was completely winded and unable to continue. Since then, I’ve completed 6 marathons, over a dozen half-marathons and a smattering of 10k and 5k races for time, fun or to pace my daughter or friends.

1) How did you get into the sport of triathlon?

Quite by accident. I started as a duathlete (2009) as I had a fear of the water, but had heard great things about multi-sport and after trying one I was hooked.  It would be 3 years before I entered my first triathlon (the Early bird try a tri) and I honestly cannot remember exactly when I decided to do it, but I remember watching a recording of Ironman World Championship broadcast during one of my indoor trainer rides, Rick and Dick Hoyt were competing and I thought to myself…well, there go all your excuses for not doing this!

2) What advice would you give to a new triathlete or someone considering signing up for their first triathlon?

Join the Ottawa Triathlon Club (OTC), or at the very least, sign-up for the swim school clinic and triathlon school seminar, they were my first introductions to the sport and so incredibly informative. I credit the OTC swim coaches and members with helping me to be able to overcome my fear and learn to love this sport and many of them have become close friends and training partners. They are an incredibly supportive community and I am so grateful to be a part of something so positive.

[Editor's note: If you are in the Ottawa area, the OTC signature training program - the TTP - has just opened for registration to the public! It's a great way to jumpstart your training and meet lots of awesome people!]

3) What has been your greatest / proudest moment as a triathlete?

The swim at the Chicago ITU Olympic distance triathlon, it was the first time I have felt comfortable during a swim (triathlon or otherwise) and I LOVED it.  I came out of the water with a huge smile on my face and feeling like I had finally conquered my fear.

Post-Bring on the Bay 3k Swim!

4) What has been the biggest challenge for you in the sport?

Swimming, I almost drowned twice as a child and once as an adult and as a result have had a fear of the water for a long time. When I first joined the OTC, I had trouble completing 25m without being out of breath, I would swim as hard as I could from wall to wall as I was so afraid of sinking and drowning. The OTC swim programs have taken me from fear to comfort, to loving the swim.

5) What has been the most rewarding aspect of the sport?

The amazing people I have met, both within the OTC and around the sport in general. I’ve met so many positive, supportive people, who are generous not only with their advice and sharing of experiences, but also with their time and willingness to help someone who is new to the sport figure things out. Their willingness to explain even the simplest, most mundane things that they may take for granted, in whatever detail is needed to make a newcomer feel comfortable is nothing short of amazing, and this goes for all calibre of triathletes, the completers, competers and the elites.  There is this spirit of wanting everyone to share our passion for the sport that I have not witnessed in any other sport I have been a part of.

6) How does life as a triathlete translate to other areas of your life?

In a word resilience, in triathlon as in life, there are good days and there are bad days.  There is something to learn from each and accepting them for what they are helps keep things in perspective and balanced. This sport has also taught me to continually set new and more challenging goals and to accept that even if you fall short of your goal at first, you can choose to reset or reattempt and your family and friends (especially your OTC friends) will be there to help you dust yourself off and get back on track every time.

7) What is your dream race?

KONA, it is highly unlikely that I would ever qualify, so it would have to be a lottery spot, but I’ve watched over 15 Ironman World Championship broadcasts since that first one I saw with the Hoyts and it has a very special place in my heart.  The stories of the average age grouper triathletes who have overcome incredible odds to qualify or compete continue to inspire me and to get an opportunity to compete on that course, would be incredible! That said, I would give up that dream in a heartbeat to do any Ironman with my son or step-daughter. I’ve raced a few half marathons with my daughter and my son did my first try a tri with me and there is simply nothing in the world that can compare to being out on the course with them, knowing that we are sharing the experience and more often than not that I am taking care of them out there. It makes me feel needed and very fatherly and I almost always cry when I cross the finish line with them (and yes, they know this).

8) What is your favorite pre-race meal? Any other pre-race rituals?

Pizza or pasta, but I’ve learned there is a fine line between carb loading and carb bloating. Pre-race rituals, I check and re-check my race day list a dozen or more times, get to bed early, breakfast is always instant oatmeal, a banana and for longer races a multi-grain bagel with peanut butter. I also like to get to the race site REALLY early, typically 1.5 to 2 hours before.  I like to get setup and know that I have lots of time to get setup in transition, do my walk throughs, and I just love the energy of race day and being there as it builds, I feed off of it.  Oh and if I have internet connectivity, watching the YouTube video of Ironman footage to the tune of Eminem’s “’Till I collapse.” 

9) Swim, bike, or run?

If you had asked me last year I would have said bike, but this year after Chicago, Bring on the Bay and Timberman races, I’m going with swim.

10) Favorite motivational quote?

It’s a toss up between "Happiness is pushing your limits and watching them back down" -New Balance Ad and “Have fun and git’r done!”

Timberman 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of November 10

Another week has flown by and while I did step my training up a notch, I really need to start cracking down and focusing. With the snow arriving this past weekend, I am glad that I got out and enjoyed one last ride in the park last week.

Monday: Spinning class with the OTC. It was stage 12 and 13 of the Tour de France.  My bike fitness has certainly taken a hit over the past 2 months of my "break" from training. Time to dial it back in so that I am ready for January.

Tuesday: We had the day off of work for Remembrance Day.  I took full advantage and did my own sort of moving mediation on why I am so thankful for our servicemen and women.  The day started with a 6 am swim (2700m) followed by a short strength and stability workout.  Then I went to a hot, sweaty and peaceful yoga class. In the afternoon I enjoyed a final 20k ride up to Champlain Lookout in Gatineau Park with my OTC buddies.

First attempt at a photo while biking! Not bad!

Wednesday: Rest Day

Thursday: A nice 5k run after I taught the 6 am barre class.  I was quite happy to see that I averaged 7:19 pace.  I'm thinking of doing a 5k when I go to Phoenix for the holidays, so I'm going to keep working on my run.  I hosted book club in the evening and made this really delicious pumpkin hummus - 1 cup pumpkin purée, 1 - 15 ounce can of chickpeas (drained), 2 tablespoons Justin's maple almond butter, generous drizzle of olive oil (add more to taste), pinch of sea salt, dash of cinnamon, dash of nutmeg. Blend until smooth.

Friday:  Rest Day.

Saturday: Noon yoga class, followed by a delicious green juice of kale, apple, grapefruit, ginger, parsley, and lemon. Yum! I also went to see Gone Girl with my roommate. If you've read the book or not, and still haven't seen it, go see it! They did a really good job with the movie.  It will leave you very unsettled, that is for sure.

Sunday: Rest Day.  Too much fun at my girls' night on Saturday night, oops!

Too many rest days, but I did survive waking up 3 times at 5 am last week.  Now I just need to do that again this week!  And I am going to set my bike trainer up this week as well so that I have no excuses but to work on my bike fitness!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Winter Running

Living in Ottawa as an endurance athlete means embracing winter.  As I type, the snow is coming down and this is only the beginning.  We get pretty wickedly cold temperatures and last year we had lots of snow too.  Apparently, we are expecting even worse weather this winter!  Well, I hate running on the treadmill, but I have to get my training done, so I really embrace winter and continue to run outside.  There are some exceptions of course.  I won't do -30 degrees and sometimes the snow is too fresh and deep that I would have to break out some snowshoes, but for the most part, I continue to lace up and head outside all winter long.


Dress for the weather -

Invest in some good, warm clothing and accessories for running.  Wool socks, gloves (with the special finger tips so you can still use your electronics), warm hat, lined running tights, a balaclava, a light weight but warm jacket.  Some of my favorites are Sugoi Subzero tights, this Nike running jacket (though mine is neon yellow), my North Face gloves, and Smart Wool socks. I'm very excited for my new winter running shoes from New Balance too. They will keep my feet warm and dry! Yaktrax are great too.

Shine Bright -

With low visibility as the days get shorter, make sure you can be seen by cars and other runners. Look for clothing with reflective strips and find lights that work for you.  I have a head lamp and a light-up arm band to make sure that I can see and be seen.

Focus on mechanics and good form -

Winter running can help us focus on not overstriding, since it is often safer to take smaller strides.  Don't forget to focus on body posture and cadence.

Focus on Time and Effort vs. Speed and Distance -

When the conditions are tough, rather then setting yourself training goals based on paces or distances, focus on the time you will spend running and the level of effort you wish to achieve.


Work on your lower leg strength and stability (and core strength too!) -

With slippery conditions, it is important to continue to build your lower leg and ankle strength and stability.  Try lunges that finish with lifting your knee to chest, plyometrics, one-legged squats.  Core strength is super important for stability.  Planks are probably your best option!

Don't forget to stretch and use your foam roller for recovery -

I found that my muscles were tighter and more sore after a winter run, since I was using so many muscles for not only forward propulsion, but also stabilization.


Run with a buddy -

Safety is a big thing for winter running.  And so is accountability.  A running buddy will help motivate you to get out on your run! It sure helped me last winter.  And in case you slip and fall, you'll have someone with you to call for help. If you can't find someone brave enough to run with you, always carry your cellphone, ID, and credit card with you in case of emergency.


When it is colder, we often forget to hydrate properly.  Continue to drink plenty of water (and electrolyte enhanced drinks) pre- and post-run.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Magic of Triathlon

I've said it before, but one of the biggest reasons that I love triathlon, is the people that I meet through the sport.  After spending a weekend at a triathlon coaching clinic, I've added quite a few more people to my list of inspiring, all around awesome people that I have met on my tri journey.

Our special guest for the weekend was Scott Tinley - legendary Ironman.  Scott is down to earth, warm, and generous of spirit.  Spending time with him really highlighted the true spirit of the sport.  

Scott shared a colorful portrait of the origins and early history of triathlon with us during our chats throughout the clinic weekend, and through that depiction of history, he highlighted what the sport is really about.  He was there in the early days in San Diego and was a member of the Big 4 that dominated Ironman through the 80s. In recent years, Scott has worked to gather stories and photos to document the history of the sport on  I highly recommend taking a look at the site.  I've always had an avid interest in history in general, so learning more about triathlon and it's early days as a sport for adventurers and risk takers was so inspiring to me.  This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first documented triathlon in San Diego, and it is amazing how much and how little the sport has changed since then.  The best part to me is that triathlon is still pretty magical.  It's still about pushing the limits of your comfort zone, building relationships that become like family, and having fun doing what you love.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Weekly Training and Life Recap: Week of November 3

Well, I had a plan for last week, but my body and mind just were not ready to execute it. And that is okay!  Rest and recovery are so important for both our physical and mental health, and apparently I needed another week of rest.  Mentally, I lacked motivation last week.  BUT after an amazing weekend at the OTC Triathlon Coaching Clinic with triathlon LEGEND Scott Tinley, I can definitely say my motivation level is off the charts today. I will share a bit more later on the weekend and some of the things that I learned, but for now, I will just say it was awesome.

Monday:  After postponing my book club meeting, I was happy to make it to a barre class and a yin yoga class.  We introduced a new toy for the barre classes, and oh man, does it ever help you feel that burn and shake!

Tuesday: Despite my best intentions, I missed swimming yet again.  Taught two barre classes in the evening, so it became a rest day for me.

Wednesday:  Attempted my first run post half-marathon.  My psoas was not cooperating, so I turned home and only ended up running about 3/4 of a mile. I did a Tone It Up routine when I got home.

Thursday:  Taught a barre class in the morning.  (Rest day)

Friday: Yoga with Ichih.  It was a really lovely class and a great way to end the work week.

Saturday: We spent about an hour in the pool doing drills and learning about coaching new swimmers as part of the triathlon coaching clinic.  Happy to report that my psoas didn't bother me at all in the pool, so no excuses for this week's swim practices!

Sunday:  Trail running!! OMG, trail running is my new favorite thing.  It is terrifying and magical.  We had a great intro to the technique of trail running and a gorgeous day to play out in the woods on the Canadian National Championships Mountain Biking course.  I got to try out my New Balance winter trail running shoes, and they were amazing.  Later in the day we had a spin session led by professional cyclist Mike Woods.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lessons from my Triathlon Season

The decision I made last September to really become a triathlete has completely changed my life.  There have been ups and downs, and I have learned so much about myself and the sport over the last year, and particularly during the summer race season.  Now that I have had some time and distance to reflect on what I learned, I thought I would share my lessons from the tri season.  I will hopefully carry these with me into my next season and beyond!

Smiling makes you run faster

This is my favorite lesson.  The more fun that I had during my races... the bigger my smile... the more gratitude I expressed to the volunteers... the better my races seemed to go. Your attitude plays a HUGE part in how your race day goes. Don't let the little stuff bother you, keep a positive attitude, and smile through whatever the race throws your way.


Always look for the positives

There is always something good in every race and every training session. Make sure to focus on the good stuff.  If you have to think about what went wrong, think about it briefly, fix it and move on from it.  Take everything as a learning experience and an opportunity to grow as an athlete.  Take time to remind yourself what you've done well.  Triathlon is supposed to be fun after all!

Do the things that scare you most or that you are the "worst" at

It's easy to stick with the easy stuff, to schedule the easy workouts or the ones that we know will make us feel the best.  It is easy to shy away from challenges.  It is easy to quit when things get hard. But what I learned is that in order to grow, we have to do the hard stuff.  We have to head out on the bike even after we've had a crash.  We have to push through those super hard workouts.

Always check your brakes before heading out on the bike

Oh man, I learned this one the hard way.  After a very difficult and mediocre performance at the K-Town Tri, I was so discouraged about my cycling.  The bike was so hard, I couldn't get my speed up at all, and then the run was a slog after all the effort that I expended on the bike.  Turns out that my brakes had shifted, so were rubbing the whole race.  Always check your equipment before a race - bike mechanics, battery life on your watch, goggle straps, etc. Attention to detail will make sure that nothing is left to chance.

Bee-lieve in yourself and trust your training

My friend Gillian shared the story of the bee and the racehorse with me toward the beginning of the season.  The excerpt comes from the "The Triathlete's Training Bible" and it is a great one.  For the sake of space, I will paraphrase.  There is nothing about a bumblebee which should suggest that it should be able to fly.  In fact, NASA scientists determined that bumblebees shouldn't be able to fly.  But the bumblebee BELIEVES it can fly and doesn't listen to those nay-saying scientists.  As athletes, we have to believe in ourselves.  The second part of the story is that racehorses are trained in a very similar way to human athletes.  The difference is that on race day, horses go into the race and do what they have trained to do without worrying about whether it was enough or whether they had trained properly for the race.  The horse trusts its training, and so should we.  There is no room for self-doubt!

Rest is important

It is so easy to push through our training, through our season, and get caught up in signing up for races.  We have to listen to our bodies though and make sure that we are getting enough rest whether that is enough sleep or enough time to recover from our races. There were a few points during the summer where I ignored the "rest week" on my training plan and pushed through since I had workouts with my teammates.  Well, our bodies need time to absorb our training and to realize those gains, so rest is important. Similarly, I did 3 races within a month and I actually got too much rest during that month since I never had time to ramp my training back up. So the RIGHT amount of rest is also important.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Weekly Training and Life Recap: Week of October 27

Alternate title: Why Rest and Recovery are Important!

I took last week off from training in order to recover from my half marathon and give myself a mental break after a long season.  I know that I had alluded to it before on the blog, but I was definitely burnt out after triathlon season ended.  The only reason that I kept up my running was because of the half marathon, and I'm quite happy that it was a successful race even with my purposely minimal training. So last week was my real break.  It is so important to rest, recover, and give yourself a break now and then, because we ask so much of ourselves, body and mind for most of the year during training and racing season.  I will likely take another full week off in December before we get underway with our training program.  For now, I'll focus on bringing back my workouts in all three disciplines to build a base, weight training to build strength, and yoga to help with recovery and my mental training.

Monday: Yin Yoga. I have said it before, but I will say it again. I love yin. It really forces me to turn inward, relax and be patient.

Tuesday: Rest day.  I taught two barre classes.

Wednesday: Rest day

Thursday: Taught barre in the morning.  Took a Flow Yoga class in the evening.

Friday: Rest Day. RedBlacks game for Halloween!

Saturday: Taught two barre classes. Then I scooted off to another Flow Yoga class before finishing the prep for my Halloween party! I dressed up as one of my favorites - Dolly Parton - and also as a gumball machine, since I had originally planned to go out on Halloween, but then didn't when we went to the football game.

Sunday:  Another rest day.  I did a lot of reading to try to finish my book for the book club meeting that I was hosting (which I actually postponed).  We read "Divisadero" by Michael Ondaatje and I highly recommend it.

How do you recover from your big races or from your season? Do you take time off from your training?