Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Off and Running

Saturday marked the beginning of spring and the outdoor running season. The sun was bright, the sky was blue, the air crisp, and the runners anxious to get off the treadmill and feel the rush of passing trees, friends, and mile markers.

With Idaho quickly joining the ranks of bellweather racing friendly states like California, Florida, and Utah, it was no surprise to see participation in the event at an all time high. Participants included some of the area's fastest runners as well as those who took great joy in crossing the finish line in their first race. More than 30 individuals felt the excitement of running under the finish line arch and into the crowd of cheering and applauding family and friends.

"I'm hooked!" commented Julia Olsen, a 28 year old mother of two from American Falls. "I was never an athlete in high school so running in a race made me real nervous. But when the volunteers reminded me that this run was to help me reach my goal of staying healthy and fit I relaxed and had a great time. It was exciting to cross the finish line."

Often people think that a personal best performance demands fast times and furious efforts. However, at the heart of Personal Best Performance we know that choosing a goal, overcoming challenges, and reaching a new level of personal success is really what's all about.

Way to go everyone!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

TRAINING - Quality vs Quantity

If you want to be a better triathlete, swim faster, bike faster, and run faster, but you already stretch every time commitment in your life to fit in as much training as possible, then you are not alone. The lack of time to train is one of the biggest challenges that a triathlete faces. How often have you said to yourself, "if I just add 500 more yards," or "one extra bike interval this week," or "can I fit in an additional run this week."? You convince yourself that if you just can be a bit more physically prepared, you will certainly race faster.

In truth, science and experience prove that you will race faster if you maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your physical training. Your mental discipline will make each training session a success and prove to be the real reason for "breakthrough" workouts. Time spent learning to focus on training goals, overcoming training challenges, and enjoying being a triathlete will allow you perfect your training.

When someone has a poor race, they often say, "I just need to train more." If you catch yourself saying words like this, take a moment to reflect on your physical performance. Was it truly a result of your lack of training, or were you slow in the swim and tired in the transition because you believe that "practice makes perfect" rather than "practicing perfectly makes perfect"? Were you slow or fatigued on the bike because you did not train enough, or did you neglect hill or interval training in order to get "more time on the bike"? And just maybe your slow run time was a result of burnout and not too little training.

To succeed on race day you must train successfully. Each workout must have a time and a focus (endurance, speed, force), and as an athlete you must mentally discipline yourself to physically train with purpose. Remember: quality versus quantity.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

For the First Time Triathlete

As I sit to write this blog I can clearly remember my first triathlon; the decision, registering, training, doubt, trepidation, mistakes, race day, enthusiasm, camaraderie, fatigue, exhilaration, medal, sense of accomplishment . . . addiction. That was decades and more than 100 events ago. Today as a coach and race director I find my greatest enjoyment is in seeing others finish their "first" triathlon. At the finish line I have witnessed smiles and cheers, silence and tears, and even cartwheels. Amidst all the emotions I have observed I have never seen disappointment. No one who finishes a triathlon, who swims, bikes, and runs the entire distance under their own power, is ever disappointed.

For those who see 2010 as the year they will do their first triathlon we would like to offer you a few tips:

Begin Short

Triathlon events come is four standard lengths, Sprint, International/Olympic, Half/70.3, and Ironman. There have been some who have chosen a "long" race as their first simply because the name of the shortest race in our sport is titled a "Sprint". Keep this in mind, the average finishing time for the first time sprint triathlon participant is in excess of two hours. Triathlon is an endurance sport and the goal of anyone in their first season should be to finish their chosen event and enjoy, no . . . relish, the experience.

Choosing to do a shorter event will allow you the greatest flexibility in training and allow the greatest opportunity for success. This of course will only serve to build your confidence and give you a solid foundation for future success.

Register Early

With the unparalleled growth in the sport of triathlon we have seen the addition of quality races in our region explode. Several of these races have courses that allow first time triathletes to experience the full breadth of the sport, swimming, cycling, running, and transitions, while offering them the best chance at success. These races all have limits as to the number of participants they allow so we recommend you register early. This has several benefits. First, you will know what race you are training for and you can make your training specific to the course you will be racing on. Second, your goal will be in front of you so on the days when doubt or fear creep in you will be motivated to keep with it. Finally, a few races offer early registration discounts and saving a few dollars is always great.

Make Your Training Specific

You should establish a solid foundation in all three disciplines (sports). To do this you will need to focus on endurance, force (power), and speed. For your first triathlon your endurance base in all three sports is the most important with force playing a part and speed a bonus. Focus on your sport mechanics as experienced racers will tell you that a well-practiced triathlete tends to perform more calmly and efficiently on race day.

Prepare for Your Race
With many races including course information on their websites, with a few including course profiles and GPS data, you should obtain as much information as possible about the course you will be racing on. From there you can find water, roads, and/or trails to train in/on that are similar to the course conditions. Also, if the weather will play a part on race day, i.e., cold, heat, wind, then you can plan to include similar conditions on days that you swim, bike, or run.

You will also want to prepare for your race by using the gear and nutrition in training that you will use on race day. Remember: "If you have not used it prior to race day, DON'T use it on race day!"

Always check the weather report in the days leading up to your race day.

Plan Race Week

Each day of race week is important.

The days before your race you want to be sure to allow your body to properly recover from your training so you are ready to go at the starter's horn. You will want to be careful with what you eat so your digestive system and metabolism are in perfect working order. You will want to have clear directions to the race locations and know the timing for your travel to and/or from locations. As a first timer you will want to attend all the pre-race meetings. Check and recheck all your gear, nutrition, and paperwork.

During the days leading up to your race mentally take yourself through race day.

  • What will be your routine when you wake up?
  • What will you eat?
  • How much stretching will you do?
  • When will you arrive at the transition area?
  • How will you set-up your transition area?
  • What will be your warm-up routine?
  • What will calm you if you begin to be nervous?
  • How will you start the swim?
  • What will help you remember how to swim steady and strong, and to breathe?
  • How does your wetsuit come off?
  • What will you do in T1?
  • What will you do as you start the bike?
  • How do you transition off the bike?
  • What will you do if your legs feel like lead at the beginning of the run?
  • What will you say to yourself when it gets tough or you want to quit?
  • How will you feel crossing the finish line?

There may seem like a lot to think about and there is. So to be successful, mentally run through and think about them before race day so when they happen you already know what to do.

On race day you will want to have a schedule and a list. The schedule is remind you where and when to be places. The list is to remind you what to do, and or bring. Remember, if you are two minutes late for the start or have forgotten your bike helmet YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO RACE! You will want to be early to warm-up and calm yourself.

Following the race you will want to allow for recovery. What you eat and drink, and how much rest you get, in the hours following the time you cross the finish line will make are real difference in how you feel in the next few days.


Yes, there may be a lot to think about as you approach your first triathlon but nothing is more important to remember than this:

You can do this!

We believe in you. . . Believe in yourself

Friday, January 29, 2010

Want To Improve Your Training and Performance?

By this time in the new year most serious triathletes are completing their off-season strength training regimen (which started last October or November) and are beginning to work on the base phase of discipline training. This group will include those who seem to swim like a fish, ride like the wind, and run like they are being chased. In most cases they will be top overall or age-group finishers.

However, if you would like to improve your triathlon training for the coming season there are still some important things that will make a difference. Below are five tips to assist you as you strive for better results this year.

  • A key factor in training is to plan for your training. With today's busy lifestyle you must select the days, and time of day, for each training session. Each session must have a specific focus, i.e., endurance, force, speed, or strength, and you must discipline yourself to "stick to the plan." If you do not plan your week you are most likely to fall short of your goals. Remember: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

  • The greatest secret to triathlon training is proper recovery. Too little recovery between workouts and your body will fail to meet your training load. You run the risk of fatigue and injury. Too much recovery between training sessions and your body will fail to adapt and improve. Recovery includes: easy training sessions, massage, stretching, sufficient sleep.

  • Do not train every day. If you are willing to plan your training so you work on each discipline, i.e., swim, bike, run, transition, and focus on each element i.e., endurance, force, and speed, with progressive and recovery periods, you are sure to improve.

  • Train with the gear and nutrition you will be using on race day. One of the most common mistakes made by new and novice triathletes is the use of new gear or nutrition on race day. More improper fitting gear and untested nutrition (bars, drinks, gels, food combinations) have been the cause of a DNF (did not finish) or worse an agonizing finish on race day.

  • Prepare mentally. "Think you can, or can't. You're right!" "What the mind can conceive, and believe, it can achieve!" "As a man thinketh, so is he." Preparing physically has its limitations. Preparing mentally will take you beyond those limitations. What will be your mantra?

Years of experiences that include success and failure is where these tips were formed. Want to improve your performance this year and pursue a personal best, here is a place to start.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Months Ahead

The great Breakthrough in your life comes when you realize it that you can learn anything you need to learn to accomplish any goal that you set for yourself. This means there are no limits on what you can be, have, or do.

Albert Einstein

“Now what?”
Recently a newbie asked me, “Now what?” I could not help but grin as I remembered the end of my first season and wondered how long I would have to wait until I could compete again.

For most triathletes this season is just ending. Many of you were out in early spring running a local 5K race, perhaps even racing the Menan Butte Trail Challenge. May offered the first triathlons of the season and from there the racing season was in full swing. For some your season ended successfully at Blacktail or the Rush while others went on to challenge the Grand Columbian Half or the Florida Ironman. You deserve a pat on the back and congratulations for sustaining a long season.

Now you deserve a break. Welcome to the off season! Every triathlete, regardless of their level of competition, requires an off season. The off season is a time of the year when an athlete becomes more flexible when it comes to training, nutrition and diet, rest, racing and recovery. The focus includes more cross-training, indulging in holiday fair, and enjoying the company of family and friends. It is a time to mentally and physically recover and recharge from the discipline of a long season. The off season is as important to training as the recovery weeks scheduled into a training plan. A successful off season will assure timely motivation and the potential for peak performance during the racing season.

Many of you have you seen or perhaps even been, the athlete that has trained very hard through the fall and winter months only to find yourself flat, injured, and/or disinterested in the spring and summer. It happens all the time. Such an athlete lacks the understanding of rest and recovery as a key element to performance. Don’t make the same mistake.

Might I suggest spending two to four weeks doing as little physical “training” as possible. Don’t swim, bike, run, strength train, take a Pilates, Spinning, or Yoga class. Allow yourself to be a couch potato for this period of time, guilt free.

Following a good rest you are bound to be bouncing off the walls driving yourself and your family crazy. You can take this as a hint that it is time for you to return to some physical activity. For the next one to four weeks restrict that activity to anything but swimming, cycling, running. Nothing sport discipline-related. Cross train. Play basketball or ski. Take long walks, hikes, or snowshoe but mentally and physically stay away from triathlon.

With these weeks behind you, you will find a new enthusiasm for the Prep and Base periods of training. You will wake up refreshed muscles, renew acquaintances with old friends and/or competitors, and you will entertain new thoughts regarding breakthrough training. You will begin looking forward to next season with a sense of purpose and ambition. The chance of burnout, apathy, and injury has been greatly reduced. You will be ready for 2010.

Enjoy the off-season and you will a stronger competitor!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

To Greater Tomorrows

Live out of your imagination, not your history
Stephen R. Covey

This post is written for those who choose to become the creators of thier own destinies. To those who believe that whatever the mind can conceive, and believe, they will be able to achieve. They choose to make key decisions. . .in advance. They understand that if they make the vision real enough it will inevitably lead them to develop behaviors that will produce the desired results. They sense that there is immense power in developing a vision of who they want to be and what they want to achieve.

To Begin. . . Write Your Journal or Training Plan in Advance
Each day, give yourself permission to think, to imagine, and to envision what can be. As wondrous and impossible thoughts enter your mind, allow them to wander. Let these thoughts become your goals, your ambitions, your dreams. As you do so, you will begin to discover the power of the unquestionable ability of man. Think long enough, imagine real enough, and envision big enough and what seemed impossible will begin to take on the realm of possibility. Within time you will begin to believe.

Then. . . Discover the Unquestionable Ability of Man
There is no more encouraging fact than that of the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious effort. Learn to make key decisions that are consistent with your personal vision. With those decisions made, begin to employ the elements of personal management and personal leadership. As you do so, you will see your environment as an opportunity to fully and precisely achieve at the highest personal and professional levels.

Now. . . Pursue Excellence
Strive to “Not to be Good. . .to be Best.” Your vison will require you to pursue greater levels of achievement. In this pursuit you will need to move beyond being “good” and rise to new levels of excellence. Seek distinction in character wherever you go and in whatever you do.

Remember. . . With Every Challenge There Comes A Promise
Each day presents us with a variety of challenging situations. The difference between those who will find success in this life and those who will remain mired in a life of mediocrity is how they meet those challenges. Those with vision will see that every challenge comes with a promise. The key is to realize that each specific promise is directly linked to its corresponding challenge.
Your personal achievement will be a direct result of the challenges you are willing to accept. It has been said that an individual’s courage is not found in what they have overcome, but in the challenges they are now willing to face.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Perhaps you run with the grace of an antelope or the power of an elk. Maybe you lumber more like a moose. In either case these visual images allow you to sense and feel the perfect mix of body, mind and spirit that is trail running. No other running event offers divinely unique presence of forest, lake, meadow, or mountain. Each trail has its own magic and reaches into your soul as you glide along a single-track trail, dance across a babbling brook, or light through a field of breathtaking flowers.

Trails welcome those of varying abilities and make equal demand of all. Breathing it all in is a greater task than catching one’s breath, and nature allows each participant to bask in the fountain of their future as they move through the beauty of nature. Others may be running the same trail, but this moment is truly your personal experience.

When is running not merely a physical exercise? When it lifts your heart, enlightens your mind, and expands your soul. Trail running is the “more” that every runner is looking for.