IM Arizona PRs!

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Congrats to Chris K and Stephenie F. Both worked hard to fit the training in with their life and they both had amazing PRs at IronMan Arizona 2016 recently. We are almost into December and itt’s wet, cold and windy. Here’s some great inspiration to keep you motivated through the winter months! 

Chris was eager to learn and as a single dad, he had a very busy schedule. He realized that he could not fit all the training in and was smart about making the most of what he could accomplish. His love is soccer and he kept his regular soccer games in until the last month of training when the need to do some longer rides. He did his homework which is definitely required for an IronMan distance but managed to not get obsessed.

Chris executed a great race day and then went off to celebrate at Disneyland!

Chris writes:

I can’t believe it! It was a great day to say the least. Super pleased with everything except missing the negative split on the run. I went out too fast and had a hard time slowing down until my body didn’t give me a choice. Thanks again for everything! To say your coaching paid off would be an understatement!

Stephenie had great support from her family. She got creative and would ride around the campground while camping with family, she would run around soccer fields or between houses and meetings to get her workouts in. She struggled a bit with learning when to push more and when to back off as she hovered on the edge of over training. Mentally she wanted to push through some of the longer workouts near the end of the build but ultimately she understood that physically her body needed rest. She played and practiced with nutrition and gear. She asked great questions and worked very hard.
Race day, she didn’t let the murky swim or wind on the bike get to her and she just kept going to finally hear Mike Riley tell her she was an IronMan! (She has finished two before but neither time did her name get called.)

Stephenie writes:

I’m excited to be done! The swim made me nervous. It took me about 10 minutes before I could breathe without panicking.  

I made sure I was concentrating on going slow that first bike lap. It was pretty windy. It looked like that rain storm was trying to push in. So for the first lap, the wind was against you up the beeline, and then with you back down, so that helped make up for it. On the 2nd and 3rd lap, the wind changed directions and was against you on the way down. I couldn’t make up the time on the way down.

The volunteers were amazing and so was crowd support. First time at the turn around, because of crowd support I honestly got really emotional and had to fight back tears.  I loved this: they gave you a bracelet to give to someone (volunteer) to say thank you. I gave mine to a women helping me with my water bottle which I couldn’t get open, and help me with my CarboPro.  Great idea!  I wished I had 10 more of them!!!  

I was so excited to go through that chute, and have Mike Riley say my name!  And I’m really excited about my time.  It wasn’t my ultimate goal, but I PR’ed by over 50 minutes!  

No upset stomach after and no IV fluids like my last one. I had 3 slices of pizza, and then waited for my cousin to come in. I had my aunts and uncles there to cheer me on and my amazing husband.  It was a very successful day.  I wish I could sleep but woke up still too excited!

Thank you so much for being an amazing coach.  There is no way I could have done this without you! 

Down the Slippery Slope

dangerIt happens to everyone at some point or another. Sometimes family, work and life conspire to derail us from our workout goals. Workout goals? It’s enough if you can feed yourself somewhat healthily, get the bills paid on time, continue to be effective in your career and have the occasional conversation with a loved one.

I know everyone can relate to this. What do you do when you’ve signed up for a big event and still want to race as well as you can?

As you may have noticed, this blog has been on a hiatus for a few months. That’s right. Life conspired and this blog had to be dropped. I’ve realized that over the years, life, work, training all take mental energy. I find that at my busiest, it is hard for me to invest some creative energy towards any extras. It’s galling to realize that no, I can’t do it all. I have to pick and choose and make sure I’m investing my time effectively when there is so much pressure in our time sucking world.

It’s a slippery slope however. Sure you may still be able to get in your workouts with extra strength training and maybe a fun (sanity-inducing) exercise class. Maybe you’ve had to cut back on strength training or not. Stress and lack of sleep however can conspire to hamper recovery from these workouts. Sometimes, it may be best to go into a maintenance mode as not allowing for recovery can lead to burnout and injury.

There are a couple ways to handle this once you have recognized the following warning signs:
Not sleeping well over consecutive days or weeks
Dreading going out for your workout and not feeling better once you have warmed up especially if this happens over consecutive days
Extra aches or pains
Unable to hit training paces or the usual training paces feel extra hard

Take a break! Give yourself permission to take a few days of complete rest and focus on trying to eat and sleep well. Hopefully the extra time in your schedule plus a more focused mindset can help you catch up in life and/or work. If working out is part of what makes you feel sane, then it’s fine to go out for a workout but take it down a notch. Skip a scheduled workout and run or bike easily with no pace goals. Keep it short and lower the intensity to give yourself a chance to recovery. No, you are not being lazy! And no, beating yourself up because you do need a break is also not productive.

It can happen to anyone and at anytime. After crazy hours at work and a fun but hard race, I found that I was just not able to run at a typical pace for me. Each run was slower and slower. Instead of forcing it, I took three days completely off and tried to sleep in AND take a short nap. I got caught up as much as possible with work and home responsibilities. I also ate well even though i was not burning all those extra calories. My body needed the extra fuel. I started sleeping better and overall was more focused and effective when I needed to be. I started back to workouts cautiously and was pleased I felt much better.

It is a slippery slope and you can choose to step away from the edge!

NYC Triathlon

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Congratulations to Pierre for a smart and focused race at the NYC International Distance Triathlon. Pierre got a new job at the beginning of May and has had to be focused about training. It’s been quite the learning curve in how to fit it all in but he has managed well. And race day was hot (above mid-80s/above 30 degrees Celsius) but Pierre maintained his cool even with some race day challenges and when the run course was shortened as a result of rising temperatures!

What a day it was last Sunday for the NYC triathlon! I enjoyed every minute of it from my early move to the start line (2 hours before my actual start) to my finish in Central Park.
I had a good feeling throughout the course despite hot temperatures.

1500 Meter Swim: The temperature was 76.4 F so I wore my wet suit. On the positive, I had a good start and a good first half. The Hudson River was not clean and after my goggles got foggy, it was hard to keep my line. The race website notes: “The Hudson River is the cleanest it has been in 30 years and is considered bathing and recreation quality.”

40 K Bike: I felt good at start and I had power in legs. The downside was that I lost my second water bottle + my handlebars got slowly shifted from my front wheel. My mistake and I should have tightened my handlebars more. I am happy with my bike leg overall.

Run: After a quick T2, I had no side stitch and good legs from the start. The temperature was approaching 95 F and the run had to be shortened to 8km because of the heat. With such a crowd in Central Park, it felt amazing. I pushed hard to stay close to 4mn/km but only manage 4mn30s/km. I am happy with my performance with further improvements expected on the run especially. I attach a picture from the race so you can feel how hot it was.

Recover well Pierre!

A Dynamic Warm-up

It’s race season! And if you aren’t racing, you are probably also aiming to get in key workouts.

A proper warm-up is key to a good workout or event. It prepares the muscles and joints in a more sport specific manner. A good warm-up enhances coordination and motor ability as well as revving up the nervous system. Finally, and possibly most importantly, it prepares the mind for the work ahead. Proper mental preparation for any sport is vital and the dynamic warm-up forces athletes to focus and concentrate on the task at hand.

Your starting point should be an easy general cardiovascular warm-up lasting 10 – 15 minutes (or until you have broken a light sweat). This raises the body’s core temperature enough to enhance the elasticity of muscles, tendons, ligaments and overall joint structures and prepare you for the workout ahead. It is a time to focus and concentrate, leaving all outside distractions and stressors behind. It is time to put the phone down!

Dynamic Warm-up

Pendulum: Warms up and stretches the hip flexors, hip extensors, hip adductors, and hip abductors.

Holding onto a stable object, swing leg forward and back. Then swing the leg from side to side.

Hurdles: Warms up and stretches the hip flexors, hip extensors, hip adductors, and hip abductors.

Lift leg as if going over a high object, forward and then backwards.

Hacky sack touches: Warms up and and enhances mobility of all the muscles of hips and adductors.

Lift right leg, sticking the knee out while you bring foot up to touch the left hand. Switch legs. Next, bring right leg up, sticking knee towards the center of your body and touch your right foot with your right hand.

Step back and forward lunge: This exercise demands core stability, hip extension and glute recruitment.

Step back with one leg so you are in a lunge position. Make sure your forward knee is properly aligned over the foot and your hips are squared. Step back your leg (do not push off with back foot, use your glutes to complete this motion) and then step forward for a lunge again. Again, make sure your knee is properly aligned over your foot and your hips are square. Only lunge as far as is comfortable for you. It does not need to be a deep lunge.

Lateral Lunge: Activates the glutes and adductor muscles.

Stand with your feet parallel, hip-width apart. Step to the right, then shift your weight toward the right foot, bending your right knee and pushing your hips back. Your left leg should be as straight as possible. Reach for your right foot with your left hand. Push off with your right foot to return to starting position.

Zombie walk: Enhances hamstring mobility.

Swing your straight leg up to waist height while reaching for your toes with your opposite arm.

Grapevine: This drill loosens hip flexors and glutes and increases hip and leg and gluteal mobility while also using lateral strength required to run with good form.

As you move sideways, cross one leg over the other in front and then behind. Hold your arms out to the side to begin; as you start to get the hang of the drill, use your arms as you would while running.

These are just some of the many warm-up exercises you can do. As Coach has often said, don’t leave your workout in the warm-up! Warm your body up easily and prepare for what is ahead.

 

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Hill Running Tips

Lucky Seattlites! Wherever you run, there is likely to be a hill. However, we know quite a few athletes who tend to limit their running routes to avoid hills. Proper hill running (both up and down) has some great benefits including building strength and teaching pacing. And we hate to break it to you but the secret to hill running is no secret. To be a better hill runner, you need to run hills. Then when you come to a hill in a race and everyone around you groans in horror, you will be ready!

When running up a hill, you are working harder to overcome gravity. Your body is forced to recruit more muscles in your legs to carry you up the slope. That slope also alters your foot strike and biomechanics. It forces you to transition to a mid-foot strike, stretches your calves as your heel goes below your mid-foot and increases the forces in your calves and ankles. That additional force in your calves and ankles can add extra power and elasticity that can lead to an increased ability to use the force to power you uphill. If you have issues in these areas, you should be careful and very mindful of the increased load.

Form Tips for Uphill Running

Many runners tend to lean into the hill when they start running up a hill. Some forward lean is necessary but many people lean far too much and hunch over. Leaning too far forward limits the ability to bring your knee up, limits the ability to push off with your foot and keeps those glute muscles we’ve worked so hard to develop from properly working. You should think of standing tall as you glide up the hill and remind yourself to keep your gaze up.

Stay relaxed and use your arms. As you swing your arms, your legs will follow. Your cadence should be slightly quicker. Mentally, instead of cursing and grumbling about that dang hill, stay focused on quickly and efficiently getting past the top of the hill.

Once you are hitting the crest of the hill, continue the momentum as you coast and start to recover. Many athletes lose focus once to the top of the hill. Instead continue to drive past the crest and let gravity assist you as you start to go back down the hill.

Form tips for Downhill Running

What goes up must go down. Downhill running can be stressful to your body. It’s important to minimize the impact. The tendency is to lean back which acts to slow your speed. Leaning back also forces a heel strike which can put excessive stress on your legs, hips and back.

Lean forward slightly and keep your cadence quick. Running downhill, your stride will cover more ground but still focus on quick, light feet making sure your hips stay over your feet.

Pacing

Running hills well during training and during races can be challenging. Hill running is a great way to develop a better sense of pacing. The biggest mistake we see in running hills is people charging up the hill. Instead of charging up a hill trying to hit a particular time, work to understand what a pace feels like when running on a flat course. Maintain that same effort as you go uphill. You will slow. You’ll make up some of that time (but not all) as you go downhill.

If a hill is particularly steep or for longer ultra distances, it may even be better to walk on the uphill. Reframe walking and realize that you are power hiking! If you find that you are starting to work too hard for pace, you risk blowing up and jeopardizing the rest of your race. Everyone is different with regard to what feels right with effort. If you walk, remember to maintain the same focus and drive and mentally stay focused on moving forward.

Some final notes

Instead of using the same muscles at the same pace, hill running forces you to use different muscles. Use this to stretch and give yourself a form check. As you get tired even when the course is flat, the clues to stand tall, use your arms, relax, pick your cadence up are all valuable form reminders. We also like to pretend that we’ve hooked onto a tow cable going up a ski mountain and visualize the boost.

Uphill Cues IMG_5303.jpgDo this! Coach Lesley has her gaze up, she is standing tall.

IMG_5304Do This! Here you can see Coach Lesley’s arms moving to assist propelling up the hill. She also has good right leg extension which engages the glutes.

IMG_5305Don’t do this! Here Coach Lesley demonstrates a common flaw when running uphill. She is leaning far forward from the hips and has her gaze down.

Downhill Cues

IMG_5308Do This! Coach Lesley has a slight forward lean that brings her hips over her knees and feet.IMG_5306Don’t do this! Coach Lesley demonstrates a common error with hill running. To slow her speed, she leans back. This puts much more stress on the knees, hips and back. And if the ground is very slippery, your leading foot can slip out from under you!

Maratonista!

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Congrats to Rodrigo who completed his first marathon this past weekend in El Salvador.

When I started working with Rodrigo the first thing he told me was that he wanted to become a better runner and do a half marathon (maybe a marathon some day) but most of all he wanted to know if I could help do this while maintaining balance with time for his family, work and life. He did not want a coach if we could not really take into account the time to be a dad. This hit a chord with me considering Balance is one of the words in the CoachLesley.com tag line and this is exactly what I meant when putting it in.

For many athletes it is easy to get so focused on training and the goal that other things in life suffer. The  road to the marathon was not easy but as anyone knows, it never is. Rodrigo did a fantastic job though of asking questions and listening to the answers. He learned about fueling for long runs, rolling on a foam roller, teraderm and body glide for chaffing and a host of other things. He also had some foot pain come on later in the training that made us back off and miss some of his long runs but, this is what allowed him to make it to the start line and run his race. Sure, those long runs might have made the end feel a bit better but if we had not figured out what was causing foot pain, maybe he would not have been at the start.

Rodrigo, I am so proud of you! I am glad you had fun and I can’t wait to see what our next adventure will be. Celebrate your success and recover well.

Coach Lesley

He writes:

Thanks for your support, your tips, training plan, coaching, nutrition assistance and support. Now I’m a “maratonista” although not a fast one (yet!) but I’m one without any doubt!! Even though  I have not met you in person I appreciate your support and commitment to make me a better athlete while also being a better person by helping me to balance training and make it fit in my personal life and work. We are in this together so we did it together!!!

 

 

The Mind Game

We often have the idea that with ideal training and the perfect race that it’ll all come together and be easy during a race.  It can all come together but race pace is always a challenge. Dealing with and managing your brain is a much bigger part of race management than any newbie ever expects. Practicing positive mental cues and mantras during training is a great way to prime yourself to deal with the inevitable mental difficulties that arise during a race.

Here is one athlete’s take on a recent half marathon race. Thanks Lora B!

Wow, 8 am. An hour in, really? Too fast. Hit the half way mark. Six miles. Ugh. Only half way?? I’m tired. Run your race. A few pass me. She’s older than I am. Doesn’t matter. Who cares. Run your race…

I want a shirt that says, “Yes I’m 55, and I’m in front of you.” No I don’t, it’s not about that. Run your race. Everyone is tired, it’s all about being here not who I beat.

Why am I so tired? Because you have run 9 miles already!?

Okay, inventory – what hurts? Feet. Duh, run lighter, tempo, pick up your knees, better.

What else hurts? Knee? I’ll stop and stretch when I get to that sign. Much better, get back up to pace.

What else? My calf – tight but not too bad, I can stretch at next water station.

Good sign- “What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you.” I can’t believe I am doing this again. Change – see myself as an athlete again, find joy in hard work. Yes this is hard but I am doing this!

Down hill stretch – I want to break 2 hours, I see that pace bunny (2:00 hour) ahead, I can get up there. No you don’t, that’s insane. Just finish. Stop looking at the time. I swear I will take off this damn watch. I am looking at my distance, not time, no I’m not. Yes I am.

OMG. This hill is too long…. Have to walk, that’s OKAY, you’re doing it. Keep moving. Shade now, thank Gawd… still incline but let’s hit it, use your butt muscles, push your tempo, and power up those arms!

Stop checking time – watch the mile marker signs instead –count down the clicks. 8k (clicks) to go. Inventory – what hurts? Nothing else, nothing new, very tired, water coming up. Downhill now, find the recovery, hold tempo, this is better… in the shade now.

5 clicks to go, okay, that’s 3 miles, that’s once around Green Lake. Another frigging hill? Seriously. Okay, watch the crowd, hi-five the kids, good signs people. Thank you people for smiling and cowbells, not just standing there watching us idiots run by.

Okay, just 2 clicks, Gawd it’s hot… 2K, that’s just over a mile. Okay, now I’m heading back from an easy run to Sunset park, I do this all the time. Shade please, shade please, don’t stop. 2 clicks. Seriously just 2 clicks left! Why are these people stopping to walk?! Not my problem. Just run my race. I can do this, just run your race, don’t care about time. We are going to run across that damn finish line, no matter how slowly!

Okay, shade on the left, all the way to the finish line – see it, a football field away, no problem. Pick up your feet, tempo, you did it… Clock says 2:14 but is that from first start or our wave? Geez, did I run 2:10? Holy smokes, I think so.  F##k. Done. Give me water. Thank you Lord…