Julyl 2017 – Door County 70.3We aren’t in this sport or in life to sit on the sidelines – and every time we get out there, we put ourselves on the line not knowing what the result will be. Some days are tough and Door County 70.3 gave us waves fit for a storm in that swim – but every single one of our athletes standing at that start line looked out over that water and did an absolutely amazing job of keeping it together. There was no complaining – we knew it would be tough – we knew we had no way of practicing in Kansas for the conditions we faced – and there were lots of butterflies & swallowing of nerves – but the waves & the nerves were no match for the hugs, support, and encouraging words you all gave to each other.Racing is a risk. And it’s especially a risk on a day like Sunday. But triathlon isn’t about the shiny bits. It’s not about the gear or the days that go as planned or the Facebook pictures that give the (false) impression of triathlon perfection. Triathlon is about what we saw on Sunday – it’s raw and risky and gritty – it’s the moments that are hard and often lonely – where you are digging for every step – and it’s nothing like the shiny bits promised in the pictures. These moments are what test and build character – I have never been more proud than I was on Sunday seeing every single one of our athletes put one foot in front of the other and take the risk. Put yourself out there when there was nothing easy about it….and in the absence of the shiny bits, we were left with the medal underneath every. single. one. of you shined even brighter than before. You all are amazing humans and you inspire the rest of us to take risks, to stay strong, and to keep going. HUGE congratulations
As Casey and I were stretching out after our run last weekend, we were discussing how unfortunate it is that, still, after many years in triathlon and many (many) reminders on the importance of stretching neither of us can touch our knees, I mean (or do I) toes.
In our discussion on the merits of stretching somehow we got onto the Sit & Reach….in case you’ve forgotten (or blocked it out):
We took a little trip down memory lane discussing Elementary School Fitness Tests … eeeeiiikkkkk….by the end of the conversation I was wondering how any of us escaped with any self esteem in tact??
(ps There are some bad words at the end of this blog. You’ve been warned; abort if needed)
I’m not sure which one of these Fitness Tests to credit as my favorite. They were all so pleasant.
Fat pinch plier test (I think the politically correct term for that was the ‘skin fold’ test but let’s just call it what it is). I can still feel my self esteem rising just thinking about Nurse Ratchet applying the big squeeze.
The mile run (‘run’). It’s hard to imagine why it took me 20 years after elementary school to want run again.
High jump or the bar jump or whatever it was. Eh, hem ooookay kids, this is our annual jump really high day. To show our support, we’re going to put a metal pole out that’s right about the height of yer head. We’ll all be staring at you. Good luck.
Really, though, I think some of my best moments had to be on the pull up & the rope climb. THAT wasn’t embarrassing at all. (I still can’t do an unassisted pull up despite swimming through college).
I must have had a hunch this was a racket b/c I usually got caught hiding on testing days. In 5th grade, after trying to avoid the jump high test, I was given a special chance to show the whole class it’s not a good idea to skip “skills lessons”. Boy, did I prove to them it’s not a good idea to make Liz run really fast toward a mental pole (to this day, my vertical is still 3 inches on a good day. I was never going to make it over that bar.)
As Casey and I discussed these ‘fitness tests’ I got remnants of the same pit in my stomach I used to get back in Elementary school. eeeiikkkk how I dreaded test days….
Given that Casey (who is a natural and bada** athlete) also had the same reaction, it made me think there must be a fair number people who weren’t inspired to athletic greatness by the Sit & Reach. And it, in fact, made me suspect that some might greatly underestimate what they can do today based on experiences like running into a metal pole in front of their class mates or the pinch of Mrs. Ratchet’s fat pliers.
It might be part of why athletes who don’t view themselves as “fast enough” or as “looking like an athlete” suggest to me that they “aren’t really athletes”. I’m willing to bet the voice of The Ratchet still lurks in the subconscious of a lot of athletes – as a coach, I call these brain trolls and they erode self esteem and confidence – and for some even the willingness to try (no pun intended) b/c they don’t feel like they have a place in sports.
For those that struggle to define yourselves as ‘athletes’ despite all the training you do, let’s just go ahead and take a minute to call that what it is:
Nurse Ratchet and her pliers have no place here. There’s no ‘legitimate athlete’ patrol. Carry on with yer goals and yer struggles and yer victories and with being yer badarse selves. Anyone who says otherwise is full of bull.
WATCH OUT BAD WORD BELOW!
For those of you that are runners and have done speed work, you probably can’t imagine going to the track without a watch. How would you know your speed or rest interval? Your speed/effort and rest are what define your workout.
REST: There’s a big difference between doing, say, 15 x 400s at a 5K pace with 1 minute rest vs doing 15 x 400s at 5K pace with 5 minutes rest….that extra rest drastically changes the feel (and impact) of that workout.
In addition to paying attention to your rest – you also probably know your time for each of your 400s. If your first 400 was 90 seconds (or 2 minutes or 3 minutes – whatever your pace is), you will notice if by the 8th 400, you are holding 95 seconds….
This same concept applies to swimming. How fast you are swimming and how much rest you take defines your workout – and, to know your pace and your rest in swimming (just like in running) you must use a pace clock.
Time clock often seen on swimming pool decks. Garmin devices now make this much easier for many athletes.
(SIDE NOTE: The time clock is most helpful for athletes who are ready to ‘swim hard’ – if you are still learning your stroke, the time clock probably isn’t your priority yet.)
How do you use the Time Clock?
You use a time clock to measure your pace and rest just like running.
First, you have to just get used to watching the clock – after a while it becomes second nature – but at first it’s a pain (especially if you’re gasping for air). You have watch when you start and when you finish – it doesn’t matter if you’re swimming a 50 or a 300 – you need to be able to figure out your time.
Step 1 – get used to watching the clock.
Step 2 – Learn your 50 time. Figure out how fast you swim a 50. Your 50 time will probably be different if your rested vs tired. Maybe rested you swim 1 minute for a 50. But when you get tired, maybe you’re at 1:05 or 1:10. Start with noticing that – you’ll start to see that, just like in a track workout, those seconds make a difference. If you’re tired there, is a BIG difference between swimming a 50 in 1 minute vs 1:05.
It is in those seconds where your improvement in swimming lies – if you normally swim a 50 in 1:05 when you are tired – push yourself to get under 1:05 – b/c to get better you have to challenge your body.
Step 2 – Learn your 100 time….and then 200….etc.
Step 3 – Notice the impact rest has on your 50 and 100 time and do something about it. Use the time clock to challenge yourself….more on that on step 5.
Step 4 – Make a habit of holding yourself accountable to the clock. No mindless swimming.
Step 5 – Intervals. Intervals can be done in 2 ways – on a certain amount of rest or on a certain time interval. Example:
10 x 100 on 15 seconds rest. With this sort of ‘interval’, no matter how long your 100 takes you to swim, you get 15 seconds rest. This is ok for learning to use the pace clock – but it’s not for long term improvement….read on.
10 x 100 on 2:15. This means from the time you leave the wall, you have 2:15 to swim your 100 and leave again. So, if your 100 takes you 2 minutes, you have 15 seconds to rest. If your 100 takes you 2:10 you get 5 seconds rest. This is much more difficult than simply getting 15 seconds of rest no matter how long your 100 took. This is the kind of hard swimming that’s necessary to get better.
Last point – there are 2 ways to get better – either improve your speed or extend the amount of time you can maintain a speed. So, say you swim a ‘hard’ 100 in 2 minutes. You could either work to improve your 100 time – say try to get it down to 1:55. Or, you could work to extend the amount of time you can hold your 2 minute pace – eventually could you swim a 200 in 4 minutes? Both are great ways to get stronger in the water.
Getting faster at swimming requires consistent hard work – you can swim consistently but if you don’t really know how hard you’re working, then it’s hard to know if you’re training effectively. Learning to use the pace clock is a necessary first step towards really dialing in your swim training.
Here it is – my race recap that I sent to my coach – getting this out unpolished otherwise it won’t ever get done. Some bad words are used and punctuation and spell check not included. Read at your own risk 🙂
Writing a blog for Garmin – thought I’d share it here too 🙂
Title: What I wish I’d known when I started triathlon
Well I’ve been participating and coaching triathlon for 15 years and there is STILL lots I’m learning – but I tell you one of the best things I’ve learned is to keep your sense of humor. Triathlon will throw all kinds of things at you – but each time you navigate a curve ball, you’re a little better for it (and you collect great war stories to hash over with other athletes which is half the fun of this sport!) My husband’s first race he wore his helmet backwards – and not just on the bike #run #helmet. That’s still one of my favorite stories.
Getting started in triathlon can be intimidating sometimes – and, of course, I wanted to know the nitty gritty how-tos of doing my first triathlon (next blog!), but there are some things I wish I’d known that would have helped me feel more at home trying to figure it all out.
You have every right to be there – and if you need help, ask. Most triathletes are super nice.
Although sometimes it feels like it, not everyone around you has ‘mastered’ the sport of triathlon – far from it! Even those big tough athletes with popeye arms and calves the circumference of your thigh don’t have magic knowledge of triathlon (trust me, I coach some of ‘em. yikes!)….if they growl at you, just pat them on the head 🙂
Set small achievable goals – learning comes in stages so allow for this. Set yourself up for success (it’s more fun and typically more productive).
Consistency, not perfection, with training – perfection is the enemy. It’s easy to get into all or nothing thinking: If I don’t have time to do my whole workout, I’m not going to do any of it. Or, I’ve missed 2 workouts this week so I’ll just blow the rest of this week off and start next week. Consistency, not perfection, is a much more productive (and practical) way to approach training – you’d be surprised at how much progress you can make with consistent training.
Be a student of the sport – Fitness is developed over years. The cool thing is this means we can all keep getting better (if you don’t think so, I coach a studette (lady stud) who is in her 60s and has set PRs in every race she’s done in 2016!). The frustrating part for some is this requires a long term approach to developing your best athletic self…..so head down, bum up! Your most studly years await!!
Last, remember you’re inspiring others. You never know when you might be someone’s “if s/he can do it, so can I”…keep that smile on and encourage someone else. It will make you both feel better!
Stay tuned next time for more specifics on the swim/bike/run.
A very raw report of the race – a few bad words (you’ve been warned) and not poetically written – just my brain on paper after 123 miles 🙂
To set the stage for this race – IM didn’t have a bike course until ~a few weeks before the race…and that course got flooded out by rain in Houston. IM miraculously still managed to put together yet another course but it was only 94 miles (rather than 112). THEN the lake we were to swim in failed to meet quality standards (raise yer hand if yer thinking what I’m thinking about ‘Texas quality standards’…) – so they had to alter the swim course (we still swam in the same lake….see run report for details on how that worked out #poopyerpants). The altered swim course meant we added another mile back to the bike – so now at 95 miles! All was well and good – until the hail storm on the run which forced them to (kind of) temporarily shut down the course….some of us kept running (there’s nothing temporary about stopping w/ 4 miles left in an IM #permanent #wheresthebeer).
ok – before i forget – thoughts in most basic form (punctuation not included):
leading up to the race i was actually pretty relaxed – i started to get nervous going to bed the night before and the morning of ….and then as we lined up for the swim i was about to come unhinged 🙂
what a freaking day!