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.
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!
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.
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.
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!!!
Spring has sprung and we have some athletes already doing some great work.
Client Tony demonstrates just what to do when a race isn’t going your way.
“Halfway through the (half marathon) race I saw the 1:30 pacer pass me and thought ok Tony just settle and enjoy. Consider it a training run. Then I saw all the other runners running towards the halfway point I had already passed and I decided to root them on as we met. It was pretty cool. I found a 10 yr old boy running the 10k and ran with him for about .25 miles and gave him a fist bump, keep it up. Great job. I wasn’t going to make my time so I thought I’d try to rally the other runners to do their best. This was a really great run. I didn’t expect to get first and to date I don’t even know my time. I didn’t look for it. I just ran and it was awesome.”
For the record Tony ended up placing first in his age group. Sometimes reminding yourself that it is a privilege to be out running a race can help turn a tougher event into a positive experience. Way to go Tony! And we are pleased to hear that this past weekend, Tony finished 1st overall today at the 10K Train run. WOW! Congrats Tony!
Client John completed his first marathon this past weekend at the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon. If you don’t know about this marathon, it is a very challenging marathon course meant to honor a special group of WWII veterans. With his first marathon, he rose to the challenges of altitude, sand (!) and the unknown distance to finish strongly.
“It went well. It was a tough course. Big climbs, deep sand, and rolling hills. Great atmosphere, scenery and history with this race. Miles 1-20 were great. My legs started feeling it at mile 21. I pushed the last 5 miles, they were not fun, but made it. My chip time was 4:04. I think unofficial it was 6th for the old guy group (aka 40-49) and 21st overall. Very happy with that for first 26.2 mile race. Thanks for everything. Couldn’t have done it with out you.”
Congratulations John! that is a huge accomplishment for a very first marathon. We can’t wait to see what you do next.
Huge Congratulations to CL Athlete Tara! Tara set over an hour PR in the IM distance this past weekend at IM New Zealand. As Tara normally resides in the Seattle area, she had some great tips on how to handle preparing for a goal race when that race is a destination race.
Many IronMan events can be considered a destination race as most people don’t have an IM distance race or big city marathon in their back yard. Tara took it to the next level with planning and executing a fantastic race and vacation to an international destination.
Tara reports that IM NZ is a great race with a very supportive local population who cheer for every athlete by name. In fact, the whole town is out partying as you run. yes, it’s far away but one of the benefits of doing a destination race of this type is that you can just focus on the race without the multiple distractions from everyday life.
How did you plan travel to give yourself the best chance to go to race day rested?
“For this race I decided to take the longest vacation I’ve ever taken in my life. However, all I really needed was 1 week for getting race ready. I lost a day in there just flying but we went most of the way and spent about 48 hours doing full-on tourist stuff with lots of walking – this helped me unwind from all the work and home stresses. Once I hit Tuesday though it was all comfort and down time from there.”
Tara also made sure to get her bike up and ready to go and got both an easy ride and swim in to check out the course. She kept relaxation as a priority in the couple of days before the race and kept the kept the bulk of the touristy fun until after the race.
For many athletes, this can be the biggest challenge of destination races. It is very easy to get caught up in seeing the sites and be on your feet too much. Tara made sure she stayed off her feet in the two to three days prior to the event as recommended. And she got in and out of the Expo quickly as well.
How did your goals for the IM change based on such a far flung destination?
“My race goals didn’t seem to change but I had other priorities because of the traveling. I have had the worst luck with bicycles and races. I really wanted to make sure my bike got there in one piece and race ready. I also made the goal to go into the race without any jet leg on board. With this particular race, training was more difficult because it was done over the winter and so I knew I would need to acclimate quickly.”
Everyone handles jet leg differently. Giving yourself time to adjust to the time zone and recover from travel can help assure a successful race.
How did you manage food and drinks for pre-race meal and during the event?
“For race day and even the evening before race day I brought food from home. I had no idea what the grocery stores held, with the exception of Apricot WheetBix cereal that we had fallen in love with during our time in Fiji many years ago. I had everything measured and separated in baggies for race day before leaving home and then just hauled it with me in my tri bag.”
Especially if you are traveling internationally, you cannot count on the same foods at the grocery store. Plan ahead if you know you have a sensitive stomach for pre-race meals. Of course, we know you’ve worked out your nutrition needs on those Nutrition Training sessions.
When traveling for destination events, it’s expected that you will have family to share in both the race and the vacation. It can be challenging to balance this and it can help to make expectations clear before, during and after the event. How best can your family help you before and during the event? What fun things can you plan for after your race when you’ll be free to focus on vacation? Both you and your family have invested significant time and money into race fees, training, travel and vacation and acknowledging the difficulties balancing all these issues will lead to a smoother experience for all.
“On race day (my husband) did great with pictures, videos and seeing me. He was pushing me hard on that last lap hoping I could get in under 14. He got me loaded in the car and got me home, which ended up being such a big help. I still had to get him to the airport the next day to send him off but am very happy with his help when I needed it the most.”
Congrats again Tara and enjoy that vacation recovery!
Congrats to Travis for his finish at the recent Ironman Arizona! Travis really worked hard on the mental side of training and was very thoughtful in his approach to the race choosing a well thought out race plan. That equaled great success in his first Ironman adventure. He shares his thoughts about his first Ironman.
Was it what you expected?
It was easier because of the weather, cloud cover and rain. The heat and sun would have been rough on me personally. However, the key is that it felt JUST LIKE TRAINING which is exactly what it should have felt like. I felt good with my pace, knew my limits and where I should push it, and what might happen (e.g. cramps) if I didn’t fuel, etc.
How did your training prepare you mentally and physically?
The IM was exactly like training with the exception that the run was tougher just because it came after the full distance of the other sports but that was expected. Knowing my pace and what I needed to do (pace, fuel) to finish was crucial. Knowing how my body responded to fueling was important as well because of my issues with solid food and sweets. Your tips on fueling probably saved me.
What was most helpful?
Having the pacing figured out ahead and burned into my mind. If I didn’t have a clear idea of what bike pace I needed to hit, I could see myself getting behind there. However I forced myself to keep my pace up on the 3rd lap which was hard mentally but important to ensuring I finished with time to spare. There was a time on my 3rd lap, in the pouring rain with sustained headwind, where I started thinking about sitting on my couch and showering and getting warm. But knowing the paces that I had to hit, I forced myself to pedal faster to keep the 2:30ish per lap. I’ll admit that was probably the toughest part mentally – heading back around mile 80 or so, when I was thinking about my living room, I almost mentally broke down but did manage to keep it together. At that point I wasn’t sure how the rest of the day would go, but after that it got much better. Coming out of the bike with 30ish minutes to spare, plus the 30ish minutes I carried over from the swim told me that I had an hour or so to spare heading into the run – and that gave me the confidence that I would finish and allowed me to take an extra minute or two in T2. Coming out of the bike I knew I would finish barring a major injury or cramp, and pretty much told myself I needed to fuel, not do something stupid, and keep myself moving forward at the right pacing.
What would you have done differently in training? On race day?
Considering everything, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. If I had another 10 months to train starting over, I might put more energy into improving my cycling pace b/c that was a weaker area, but overall I’m happy with finishing which was my simple goal.
Also, after the Seattle marathon I couldn’t walk for 2 days. I was stiff right after the race, and then for 48-ish hours afterwards.
After the IM, I was definitely stiff that evening and had a tough time walking around, but the next morning I was totally fine. Mildly sore and stiff but could easily walk around. And I have no doubt that is due to the training.
Recover well Travis and we cannot wait to see what you do for your next adventure!
Back in July I DNFed Ironman Canada. There. I wrote it (even writing about it still makes my heart hurt). There is no way to sugar-coat it: it sucks.
Still now, my self-esteem is kind of bruised. I don’t even want to wear anything that says Ironman which seriously limits my training gear choices because most all my crap has some Ironman stuff on it. I am not quite sure what to do with the cool backpack with “Ironman Canada 2015” in big letters they give you when you check in. I feel so sorry for myself that I forget that I’ve completed four Ironmans as well as trained for and started two more – an accomplishment on its own.
When I think back at the two times I’ve withdrawn from an Ironman race (the second one being Ironman Wisconsin 2012) I always ask myself: What if I had pushed through? Couldn’t have I put myself together? Should have I taken more carbs? Did I give up to those negative thoughts too easily? The second-guessing just never ends.
What’s hard about the decision to withdraw from a race is that it is far from obvious. And at the same time it is irreversible (the moment you tell the volunteers you want to quit, they unceremoniously take your timing chip and send you your not-so-merry way). Making things worse, you feel physically awful; cold, sick, and in pain. Your thinking is impaired by exhaustion. Even the most basic math (to calculate things like how many miles you have left, or whether or not you are going to make the cut off time, or if you have been taking enough grams of carbs per hour) feels like you are doing orbital dynamics calculations in your head. Your Garmin doesn’t track your losses. And the thought of a nice warm bath and an inviting bed is just soooo tempting. Under those conditions, it is just too darn hard to distinguish whether you are going thru a bad moment that you can Zen away with some positive thinking voodoo, or that it is indeed the end of the line for you. Making things worse, you look around and think you see that everyone else is cruising happily through it. Even that little older lady you passed two hours ago is cranking along (“in your face!”, you imagine her saying while sticking out her middle finger).
But there is not much use in trying to figure out what went wrong or second-guessing my decision. I don’t think I will ever know whether it was the right decision or not, but I do know that it is pointless to dwell on it. I will never finish those two races – that’s irreversible – but I can certainly learn from them and sign up for others (thankfully, I am healthy enough and have a supportive family and coach to do so). I can reflect on my training, my nutrition, my hydration, my mental attitude before and during the race, and my reasons for doing this crazy thing in the first place.
The way I see it, if you do enough Ironmans (or any type of race that is challenging to you, for that matter) it is just a matter of time before you don’t finish one. An Ironman is a grueling thing, and one day your body or your mind will say “nope, not today”.
There will be inevitably a moment (or ten) during a race when you will seriously consider quitting. When you will tell yourself “I cannot do this”. The wisdom lies in distinguishing – in that precise moment and place – when the crappy feeling is temporary and will pass with a little pushing and self-talk and positive attitude stuff, or when continuing would actually be dangerous to your health and not worth the risk.
We triathletes are an over-achieving and obsessive-compulsive bunch, and as such we don’t do failure very well. The evening of the failed race I was already thinking about ways to “make it up”. Was there a race in the next couple of months I could still register for? (To prove myself that this was a fluke and that I can do this stuff). I don’t want to wait until next year to try again! No, hold on, next year I am going to do two Ironmans! You get quite irrational and impulsive. After a few deep breadths and counting to ten a couple of times I decided to wait until I was a little less emotional. I talked to my family and my coach and planned for my next adventures on a cooler head. So I will be attempting Ironman Coeur d’Alene next year (I say attempting and not “doing” an Ironman because I’ve come to learn to respect the race), and I know that this setback will only motivate me to train harder and smarter and become a better athlete. Wish me luck.
Note from the coach: Diego, first and foremost I am very very proud of you.
Thank you for your brutally honest account of DNF-ing a goal race where you’ve invested your time, money and soul for months.
It is inevitable that at some point as an athlete it will not be your day and you will drop out of a race for the big DNF. The key is moving on and treating the DNF as an opportunity to learn and grow as an athlete.
You may never know if stopping was the right decision and nobody can ever make that call for you but, as a coach I look to see what the thought process was behind the DNF. I try to teach you to emotionally and physically be strong but also I try to teach you that being the best athlete you can be sometimes is about being the smartest athlete you can be. Sometimes that means overriding the emotion and doing what you physically need to do to stay safe and healthy for that race day.
First it helps to look at why you DNF’d IF you can pinpoint a reason. Sometimes you cannot. Maybe you had a hint of an injury which flared during the race, maybe you had too much stress going into the race which took too much of a toll or maybe it was something out of your control like weather or mechanical issues. Ultimately it does not matter. The next race, you’ll have rehabbed the injury, understood the role stress can play, practiced fueling or hydration issues. You’ll be ready for that next race.
When should that next race be? Don’t jump immediately onto a race calendar trying to bring redemption to a tough situation. Take the recovery needed after a training cycle and the stress of race day. Maybe it does make sense to aim for another race but maybe it makes more sense to move on from that DNF.
Dream on and aim for those big goals. Sometimes you’ll have that DNF but without taking a chance, you’ll never achieve those finishes. Whatever happens on one race day does not define who you are. Letting go of the disappointment is part of process and looking forward to the next challenges makes us better athletes. We can’t wait to see where you’ll go next Diego.