Tuesday, November 17, 2015

OTC Coaching Clinic

For the second year in a row, I attended the Ottawa Triathlon Club's coaching clinic.  And for the second year in a row, it blew my socks off with how awesome it was. This year our special guest was Canadian rockstar triathlete, Magali Tisseyre.  Magali has won 21 half iron distance events (most recently at Los Cabos 70.3) and placed 4th at this years 70.3 World Championship.  Magali is so down to earth, fun, charming, and it is easy to tell how much she loves triathlon.  She has also gone through lots of ups and downs, and this has certainly given her good perspective on the importance of balance and finding happiness through the sport.  We were extra lucky because she brought along her boyfriend, Eric Lagerstrom, a speedy ITU triathlete and the 2015 winner of Escape from Alcatraz.  (Eric makes super cool videos of his races and has a web series called Viking Life.) Both Magali and Eric shared tons of useful insights on their experiences in the sport.

The weekend started out a the pool with some warm-up exercises, drills, and sighting practice.  Then a big group of us went out for breakfast before reconvening at OTC headquarters to continue to discuss swimming. Kim and I gave a presentation on "life in the fast lane." We described some of the differences between our former lives as competitive swimmers and the swimming lives of triathletes.  We talked about some tips for improving technique and improving the race day experience. I can do a bit of a recap in a later blog post, but here is another post on swim tips.

Magali gave us a great presentation on overcoming adversity.  She focused on the idea of finding balance and enjoying the process, rather than focusing so much on the end results. The results will come if you are doing your best at every moment, not only of the race, but in training as well.  If you are doing your best, you will have the confidence that you need to succeed. She also talked about having a specific plan with specific tasks to complete on race day.  If you can execute those tasks, then you do not have to worry about what will happen in the end.  Having balance, by making sure you're having fun and not always trying to go hard all the time, brings perspective that helps you to overcome obstacles.  It was great to hear her perspectives on this topic, especially after being injured all summer.

After lunch, we talked about different coaching styles and how athletes respond.  I'm very excited that I will be co-coaching the High Performance Squad with Coach Dave this upcoming season. We have an amazing group of athletes and I'm excited to be working with Dave to inspire and motivate them on Wednesday nights.

For the final session of the day, we went outside to practice running drills and learn a dynamic run warmup.  It was freezing, but a lot of fun! Saturday evening, Magali gave an interview at the OTC Anniversary Party. It had been a long day, and I'm still recovering from some sort of virus, so I skipped the party and went home to rest.

On day two, we started out with a discussion of using heart rate in our training, then hopped on the spin bikes for a threshold test.  Since I wasn't feeling great, I decided to forgo the test (plus I have a power test on Wednesday morning!).  The group totally crushed the test though!

After the test, Geordie gave a presentation on creating a training plan.  He went over different theories of periodization and emphasized that a one-sized fits all approach doesn't necessarily translate to the best gains for athletes.  After lunch, Dave and Steve gave a very comprehensive, informative talk on the 70.3 distance.  Magali provided lots of insight on her vast experience and successes as a half iron distance specialist.  And Eric gave some insight into the similarities and differences in the training he does for the Olympic distance.  The talk had me very excited about the possibility of doing a half next season!

We finished the day learning some strength and mobility moves from Magali and Eric! Then took some group photos before we said our goodbyes.  It was a fantastic weekend, full of learning and friendship.  I left inspired and excited for the 2016 season!

Photo credits to Erik and Derek!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Reflections on the 2015 Season

I am almost two months removed from my race at Chicago and I'm slowly, but surely returning to activity after thoroughly enjoying my off season. Just recently I hopped back on my bike a few times and I experienced the pure joy that biking brings me now (crazy, because I used to kind of hate my bike!).  

I've touched on some of the lessons learned from my injury here and here, but I'll expand a bit on some of the other things I've learned over the season as well.

Racing isn't everything

The journey was the most important part of my summer.  The races are the icing on the cake, and well, this summer, I didn't really have a cake to ice.  Being injured forced me to really think about why I do triathlon, and while I do love to race, I realized that there are about a hundred reasons beyond racing that I swim, bike, and run.  The injury forced me to think day in and day out about my WHY.  Some days, that why was a dim and distant speck on the horizon, a flickering light that was close to burning out.  Other days, I dug deep and found within me a passion for challenging myself, going outside my comfort zone, and continuing to improve my weaknesses. Triathlon is a lifestyle choice, it's about trying new things, enjoying nature, building friendships over a shared love for the outdoors and sport, and nurturing my soul.

Fun with friends IS everything

I had so much fun watching my friends improve this summer. I didn't quite get to train with them as much as I have in the past, but we had a ton of fun going to races together.  The friends that I have made through triathlon continue to inspire me and motivate me every single day.

Pay attention to the little things

The details matter a lot in triathlon, from training to race day.  Whether it's fitting in my muscle activation drills before heading out the door for a run or placing my bib in my helmet so I don't forget it during transition, I gained a newfound appreciation for doing the little things right. It can take only a few seconds to do some things, but a lot longer to fix the mistake of skipping them.

Be patient

Patience has never been my strong point, but I had to really fine tune my skills in waiting and even learning to enjoy slowing down this summer.  Recovering from injury is not a process to be rushed.  Being kind and gentle to myself was really important throughout the journey.  Patience has helped not only in recovering, but in remembering that results will come with time and that we can't really expect to see the fruits of our labour overnight.

It was a good summer, full of lessons and full of fun.  Now that I'm quite removed from the season, I think I have a better perspective on what I experienced and I'm finally ready to get back to training and looking forward to the next season!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Training and Life Update: Week of 10/26

Oh, hello there. It's been a while, eh?

Well, I've been enjoying my off-season and extending it well beyond what I had originally planned.  But, last week, I got some training done!  I was also sick most of the week, but then I got my butt in gear and enjoyed some unseasonably warm weather this weekend. It was gorgeous and I had the company of some of my favourite people, so I thought I would share a bit and say hello to all of you!

A note on off-season - I've found it hard to motivate myself and I think that was a sign that I needed a break.  There is still no plan at all for next season, so that has also contributed to the lack of motivation, I'm sure.  But, I am working on getting back into it and finding my desire to train again.

Okay, last week looked like this...

Monday:  I hit the spin bikes at the newly opened Iron North Studio.  The folks there are super nice and welcoming.  It was a shock to the system and a reminder that I've let myself get very far out of shape, but it was still a fun class.

Tuesday - Thursday:  I picked up some sort of bug while traveling and letting my body get run down, so I rested a lot mid-week.  I did play tennis on Tuesday night. My body certainly isn't used to moving in a non-linear fashion! It was a lot of fun though and a gorgeous night.

Friday: It was a gorgeous morning, so I forced myself out the door for a very short, slow run. 

Saturday:  Gilly and I got out for a trail run in Gatineau Park.  It is incredible how nice the weather has been, and Saturday morning was a dream.  After I split off from Gilly, who had a longer run planned, I started to feel overly confident and was brought back to earth, quite literally, when I tripped on a branch and found myself sliding on my hands and knees across the forest floor. My knees were pretty bloody, but luckily I didn't rip my tights!  To help the healing process, I stopped at a cafĂ© in Old Chelsea before heading home.

Sunday:  Jenn, Dave, and I hit the park again for an easy loop.  It was pretty chilly and a bit wet (we had about 2 minutes of torrential downpour near the start), but the fall light and the forest covered with leaves was just magical. I feel very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place and to have great friends to enjoy it with!