RSS

Blog

#TeamNater Races Across America

 

As a track sprinter on the velodrome, I am used to going 100% and doing everything I can to turn myself inside out. My typical efforts in training are between 20 and 40 seconds long and by the time I am done I often have a headache and a sudden urge to throw up. Pushing this hard did not come natural. To be able to push to this extent, it takes years of training and experience, and as the saying goes, "The stronger you get the more it hurts." So needless to say, I am a glutton for punishment… Maybe that's why I jumped on the opportunity to be a part of Race Across America 2017!

 

In the beginning of 2017, my brother James approached me to see if I'd be interested in joining the Oceanside Police Department team for Race Across America. Of course there was some slight hesitation, being a sprinter on the velodrome, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I knew I needed to jump on. Since my training is typically done for races that are less than two minutes long, I needed to understand the strategy and how I would tweak my training to fit. Fortunately for me, I would be riding on an eight man team that is separated into two teams of four riders and put on a rotation. Only one rider rides at a time with the teams of four being on eight hour shift's. During your eight hour shift the four riders rotate who is on the bike every 15 minutes. Although compared to my typical racing, 15 minutes is a very long period, I knew that if done right I would be able to do what is needed to be successful. 

 

The total race distance is just over 3000 miles and the first team to the finish line wins. This means there is a rider on the road 24 hours a day until we reach the finish line. Being on an eight hour shift is nice because you get some rest, but really when all is said and done it only equals about 3 to 4 hours of sleep a day... Sometimes you may start your shift at 2 AM and then finish at 10 AM. That means you have to try to find some sleep in the middle of the day while being transported to the next starting location. Basically it is a sleep and logistical nightmare!

 

On June 17th, we rolled out of Oceanside California in pursuit of Annapolis Maryland. My team of four was on second rotation so we did the initial parade ride for the first few miles and then hopped in the van for a few hours to our starting point. I knew going into this that the riding would be difficult, but the most difficult portions would be the sleep and keeping my legs as fresh as possible. Fortunately for me, I had my new RP Lite system!

 

I had the opportunity to ride in almost every condition imaginable. The first few days through the deserts we did climbing at temperatures above 115° and had tailwinds at night that pushed me to 60 mph. During the rotational period of riding, it is a very strange rhythm. On the bike at 100% effort for 15 minutes until you exchange with the next rider and then get back into the van for 45 minutes. Sometimes in the van it is daytime and everybody is up and talking, and other times it is in the middle of the night and as soon as you get back into the van you fall straight to sleep for the next 45 minutes until it is your turn to race again.

 

It took me a few days to find my rhythm. While driving ahead to our next starting destinations I made sure to have my Recovery Pump boots on for at least an hour to freshen up my legs. Having a whole row to myself in the SUV made this a very comfortable experience. I think at one point I fell asleep with them on for over two hours! Come day four everything starts to go numb. The way you would be able to hurt your legs the first few days became more of a doll ache.

 

Once we got over the Rockies it was Time for some flat fast speeds! We ripped through the farmlands of America passing silos and tractors by the dozens. At this point I had figured out somewhat of a sleeping routine and could feel my energy and power on the bike climbing. Fortunately the temperatures had subsided a bit and the weather was nice. Although majority of the winds were at our back, there were a few instances that proved different. At one point, I was going all out as hard as I could in my aero position, and for my 15 minute interval my average speed was 16 mph… I've never experienced a head wind that literally felt like somebody was pushing me backwards. At times like these it was nice to be able to rely on teammates. When you get on the bike knowing that you're only there for 15 minutes it is easy to turn yourself inside out time after time. I can't even imagine the mindset that the solo riders have to complete this on their own.

 

As we came towards the end of the race, I became that much more reliant on getting in my Recovery Pump boots after each rotation. It always was amazing how the first few squeeze cycles almost felt painful because of how tight and fatigued my legs were. Then five minutes through I wish I was able to get even more pressure because it felt so good. Nothing like having the feeling of an hour massage while sitting in an SUV driving up the road. Along with my Recovery Pump boots I made sure to bring my foam roller. I have noticed that being able to incorporate back flexion is a huge advantage since I am constantly in a back extension position. 

 

Like with any good road trip, the closer you get to your destination the longer time seems to take. Going into our last day seemed like eternity. Starting off at 4am in pouring rain was an experience like I have never had. It was our last rotation and I was sure to turn myself inside out to make it my very best. Although we were not in the mountains, the terrain was extremely undulating. Quick steep short climbs with fun aggressive down hills. Nothing like passing a semi truck going 60 mph in a tucked position through a torrential down pour! Winding through the rural farmlands of Pennsylvania we got closer and closer to Annapolis. It was crazy to think how many experiences and emotions I had felt in those six days. It felt like an eternity, but overnight at the same time.

 

As my last few efforts came to an end I tried to be mindful about the experience I had just undergone. The emotional highs and lows on the bike battling with my own mindset to push as hard as possible. The disagreements with teammates and crew that turned into laughing and a deeper sense of comradery. It is amazing how much can be packed into six days and three hours of racing. 

 

We arrived in Annapolis and secured our third place position. With several what if's throughout the way and scenarios that could've definitely ended our race, we were happy to have finished as well as we did. It was an incredible experience that not only tested my physical strings on the bike, but my mental and emotional capacity is as an athlete as well.

 

Will I do it again? Never say never...

 

- Nate Koch, Professional Cyclists 

@teamnater 

 

THE BEST Compression Recovery Boots!

"I'm still in denial of the power of RP! This weekend I had my first 50k trail race. It was the worst mountain to pick as a first because it was 6k feet of elevation, crazy amounts of rocks and a heatwave of 109. By the 30k mark my legs felt thrashed, I was in sooooo much pain. I finished the race and was in even more pain. I didnt want to move. I hopped in the legs for 1.5hrs (watched a movie) and I literally felt new again. I went straight to a music festival afterwards. Unbelievable! Again, I'm still soo happy I made this purchase!

I ended up staying at a runner friends place and had her try them also after her race and she was in shock and is considering buying her own! Fingers crossed that she does. She didnt believe me at first :)

Anyways, I thought i'd share my story with you. I am such a happy customer with these legs so thank you. I'd still be in pain without them."

 

- Robert Herrera

@RobertHerrera3
---
2015 Official Hosting Reel
www.iamrobertherrera.com

Offseason Improvements - Triathlon Training

The North America triathlon offseason starts with the last Ironman of the year, Ironman Arizona, and ends with the kickoff of Oceanside 70.3 at the beginning of April. Of course, there are races you can go to around the world such as in Australia and New Zealand yet most athletes in North America are trying to recover after a long racing season. There are some athletes who take this offseason and relish in the time away from training. Others keep the motor running to come into the season without losing too much fitness; each method is up to the individual as far as how they want to spend their time and how their body reacts to inactivity versus continuous motion. One thing that we should all agree upon is if you want to keep improving on your Ironman journey to reach your goals, the offseason should be used to improve on inefficiencies in your training and racing.

At the end of the racing season, you need to evaluate your performance, coaches, consultants, nutrition, hydration, gear, technology, organizational skills, balance and determine where you could improve to shave precious time off your racing. This is what any athlete in any sport does when they have a little time off so that they can get themselves into a better position the next year. Lionel Messi does not sit on his couch when the soccer season is over; the free time that he has is spent improving on his already dominant game. In order to keep improving, you cannot rest on your laurels, even if you are one of the best in the world. Serena Williams, as she gets older, knows she has to train and compete smarter, not harder, so her offseason is spent working on new ways to get better which usually involves boosting her weaknesses.

In my ‘offseason’, I do like to keep the motor running. Exercise and training have always been a part of my life and it rolls on after Ironman Arizona is complete. Yes, it does not make sense to go for long tedious rides a week or two after the last race of the season yet I do continue to move the blood and swim, bike, run and strength train when the season comes to a close. It also is a habit to use my recovery tools like my Recovery Pump boots; when I go home to Ohio for the holidays, I always pack them and use at night when hanging with the family. I go to the local pool and run on the treadmill to keep the blood pumping.

For the offseason of 2016-2017, my goal was to keep strengthening my hamstring, which was a nagging problem in the 2016 racing year, and improve my running off the bike. As women racers continue to improve, you have to be that much stronger in all three disciplines. If the race directors will continue to launch the women so close to the pro and age group men, you have to become that much better to overcome all of these obstacles that these types of situations organically create; the reality is, this practice doesn’t look like it is changing anytime soon so you just can’t worry about interference from these conditions and you have to rise above it.

My offseason consisted of more rehab by utilizing muscle activation technique (MAT) to keep strengthening the hamstring region as well as a more intense running program, compliments of Sean Jefferson, to reaching for that elusive three hour marathon in a full Ironman race. It was important to work with Sean in effort to help me design training programs to focus my attention on this deficiency. I have never focused this much on the running aspect of the triathlon and my comfort was growing in this capacity; preparation and training breeds just that, comfort!  

My first race of the year was Ironman New Zealand in early March and I was ready to see if my offseason preparation could translate into race success. As everyone who has raced triathlon knows, nothing ever goes according to plan. My legs were ready and the muscle memory of the run preparation was there but my body just couldn’t deliver that fast run that I was prepared to do. For some reason, I didn’t have that 2nd gear yet these are the highs and lows of racing; not every time out you will have that magical race. The good thing is that the offseason work will not go away; it has been banked and I look forward to using this knowledge and training in future events. Until that time, all you can do is keep working hard, recovering, repeating and ride the waves!

 

- Meredith Brooks Kessler, @mbkessler

Maverick Multisport Team: An interview about Coaching and Ironman Training Tools

 

Bevin: On today's hot property interview, we're very happy to be able to welcome Chris Hutchens from Maverick Multisport Team to the show. Welcome to the show, Chris.

Chris Hutchens: Thanks Bevin. Appreciate it.

Bevin: We just spoke before the interview and we were talking about how our podcast of light has just been focusing a little bit on the professional ranks and how professionals make money. This being the upsurge in professional Troy teams. We've been talking about BMC recently in Bahrain. You're not quite on those guys' budget levels just yet, but you've been around for a while now. Where did the concept of Maverick Multisports stand?

Chris: Oh gosh. You want the 60-second version or the long version? Which do you want?

Bevin: The long version.

Chris: Long version. Okay. Well, a little backstory on me. I was actually an airline pilot for about five years. When my wife and I had our third child, I ended up leaving Delta to be a stay-at-home dad. After about a year, I got a little stir-crazy. As a former collegiate swimmer and active triathlete, I started in the fall of I guess 2012. Helping out some pros in the sport that were really struggling with getting sponsorships lined up. That's what I went to university for.

I have some experience after college in that market. I stepped in and said, "Hey you're doing this all wrong. [laughs] Let me help. Please let me help you. I don't want to see you banging your head against the wall any longer." I hopped in and I helped three pros that year. It was one of those things where I said, "Hey, I'm not too bad at this. I'm actually having some success at it." That was in 2013, was the first full year that I did that.

From that I jumped in. 2014 is when it really took off. That year I had five pros. I had Matt Hanson on the team. His first year as a professional triathlete, he won Ironman Chattanooga that year and obviously, he's gone on to win Ironman Texas. I think everybody for the most part probably knows who Matt is. I had Amber Ferreira on the team that year. She won Ironman Lake Placid and went to Kona.

That second year, it just went like a rocket ship, and all of a sudden, everybody knew at least who we were as an organization. It just took off. Then last year, well I guess in 2015, we had six pros and we spun off an age group component to give us some additional bandwidth. Last year, it continued to grow with seven pros and 20 age groupers and now here we are.

In 2017, we've signed five pros for 2017 and we've got 48 age group athletes, now that raise for us. It's grown quite a bit from five years ago when I just had three pros and now we've got 53 athletes under the Maverick banner I guess you can say. It's been a fun ride. It's one of those things you can look back and say it like, "Wow. I can't believe where we are." It's just one foot in front of the other.

Bevin: Interesting. Really, really interesting. Would you say that you started off as more of an agent and working with them as individuals? Did it actually get to a point where you started to attract brands to these individuals and thought, "If I can retain all these brands, we may as well create a banner and then bring individual pros under that banner." How did it go from three or four athletes into what is your own brand?

Chris: Actually the name Maverick came from -- I started coaching youth and junior draft legal athletes. Here in the area where I live, I live in Louisville, Kentucky which is home to the Kentucky Derby. I was looking for something that would reflect the area. So horses and maverick and that's where the name Maverick Multisport came around. I started working with these three pros under that same banner and the pro thing really took off. The coach that I was running the junior team with, she moved to Colorado.

At that point I made a decision to say, "Okay. As much as I love coaching the youth and juniors, I'm putting all my chips in with the pros." It was one of those things where I really see a huge advantage being able to go to a company and saying, "I'm bringing to the table five, six, seven professional athletes that are going to have a very uniform look to them. Everybody is on the same bikes, the same wheelsets, the same power meters, wetsuits, everything like that." It gives a very clean look. Obviously if you're a company and obviously you use Polar as an example because Wayne sets this up.

Bevin: Great friend of the show.

Chris: If Polar comes to me, they're obviously a lot -- it's a lot easier for them to activate a relationship with me as one person as opposed to saying, "Okay, Chris. We would much prefer to go out and just find five or six or seven pros on our own." Well that takes a lot more legwork on their end where they can just come to me and say like, "Boom." It's a one-stop shop.

All the sudden, they don't have to worry about the contracts. They don't have to worry about anything else that goes on behind the scenes. It's just basically like, "Chris, we want to work with you guys." You activate the relationship and supply all the content and manage everything on the backside. If I was a company, I think it will be a dream relationship.

Bevin: Did it start like that though? Did you look when you had your first couple of pros and you were looking at them as individuals? Did you immediately into the market with that concept already fully formed?

Chris: No. I just went into the market with I'm going to package everybody under one umbrella as opposed to try and say, "Okay I've got this athlete. What can you do for this athlete, this athlete, this athlete?" I said, "I have a collection of athletes. This is what I wanted to do with them. Can you support these athletes as a single unit?" Fortunately, we had a couple companies that signed on that very first year which allowed it to start that snowball effect.

If that wouldn't have happened then, obviously we probably wouldn't be sitting here. Things worked out that first year and we got some traction. I think once you get a couple big companies signed on board, then the chips just started to fall into place like, "Oh okay. Well, you're working with XYZ company already." That's a pretty reputable brand. You must be doing something right if you already have a relationship with them. It just seemed to work out.

Bevin: Now that you've been doing this for a little bit, what is the sponsorships based like for triathlon? It seems that the budgets are getting a little bit tighter. We've got provisional triathletes that I coach. We talk to professional triathletes who are up and coming in and entering this market. You've just signed a couple of professional triathletes. One who's just entering the 70.3 space coming out of ITU, Dan Wilson who we had on the show a few weeks ago. Do you think that these teams are where most of triathlon is going to end up if you are actually trying to enter in as one of those newer pros?

Chris: If you are new or still relatively -- you're trying to establish yourself in the market, I think that getting onto a team is really and truly the way to go because again not just from a corporate standpoint but from an athlete standpoint if you go to a team, you immediately walk into relationships with bike companies, wheel companies, nutrition companies. You instantly even as an athlete have just a spider webbing reach where -- and then it takes a lot of the pressure of having to develop all these relationships.

I think that's something that certainly you have to do down the road, but if you are like you said Dan Wilson 10 years' racing ITU, coming into 70.3 this year, I think it's a great way for him to segway into non-draft racing. He may be on the team for a year. He may be on the team for five years, who knows, but I think it's a great way for him to get his name out there and step into a situation where he's got a ton of bandwidth behind him; because with 48 age group athletes on the team, all those athletes are obviously going to be following Dan and Clayton and Leslie and John and Rhuidean, all the pros that are on the squad- -and helping to like and re-tweet and follow and just do all the things that go on to help build a brand for them online.

Bevin: When did you decide to deviate into the age group side of things? And I noted from your website that initially you're only looking for a dozen age group for the team, but it's obviously moved out since then because it's successful?

Chris: Yes. I think at the end of the day, this is a business. As a business, you have to look at "Okay, how are we positioning ourselves to make money?" If you go to an Ironman race, a challenge race, 98% of the people on the starting line are age group athletes. How do we tap into that market? How do we leverage that relationship? Best by engaging with the age group athletes as a brand. We started that two seasons ago with six. Last year we had 20 and now we're up to 48.

It allows us to -- as a brand also go to the companies that we've worked with and say -- "The buck doesn't just stop with the five pros that we've worked with. You're also able to tap into and have a trickle down effect with these age group athletes. It's a good relationship. I think it's a win-win-win for everybody. It's a win for the age group athletes. It's a win for the company. It's a win for Maverick as a brand. It's just like a circle. You've got to keep everything going around and you don't want to break the chain. As long as we continue to do that, then I think it continues to work.

Bevin: Okay. Triathletes are trying to make money out there.

Chris: Right.

Bevin: Maverick's is trying to make money. How does it all work in terms of a business model because you're not doing it -- most of us in triathlon are doing it for the love [laughs] including a lot of the pros, but how does the business model actually work, so it serves both the pros and makes a sustainable living for you as a director of the team?

Chris: It's definitely tough. I wouldn't say that anybody is really getting rich off of it. I think we're able to provide a solid level of support for athletes. I think that there's probably 25 or so men and 25 or so women something like that. Really like globally that are able to I would say like this is --

Bevin: Yes. Paying the bills.

Chris: I've been around long enough to know what most people want, what most people are making. Like you said Bevin, I think most people are doing it for the love of the sport. There certainly are people that are making good money doing it. I know that for a fact. I think that we're able obviously to provide a lot of things that would be difficult to go out on your own and get. I don't want to go into it too much because I don't want to get on it all completely. We support the athletes to a degree where they're able to be successful.

Bevin: Also to a point where you see yourself in the market because as I say some of those other brands obviously -- there's no prints giving you --

Chris: On our back pocket of course.

Bevin: And no property you magnate in Europe.

Chris: We're basically in a stage, maybe you'll lose, get a President elect and put him in a pocket or something like that.

Bevin: Get one who's fond of triathlon.

Chris: That's perfect.

Bevin: What's the long-term goal for the team then? Obviously, it's really well established now. It's been running for a longest period of time. It's in that sickened tier of teams but it's successful and you've got some great brands aligned with you. Your job would be to obviously continue to try to expand.

Chris: Yes. Just like any brand, I come to look at it just like you would at any product. How do we make this watch better? How do we make this bike better? How do we make Maverick multi-sport as a brand better. We did that by continuing to recruit better pro-athletes. We try to do that by creating better relationships with the companies we work with. We try to step up to what we're doing from just a content creation standpoint. Because at the end of the day, as maybe shallow as this may sound, all these athletes is just an extension of the marketing departments for these companies. That's what an athlete really has to recognize that.

You're not part of their production. You're not part of their -- maybe sometimes they're indeed, but you're not part of their shipping department, you're not part of their executive department, you are part of their marketing department. We have to find the best and the most creative ways to help these companies market the products that we represent, so that we can provide the best ROI for them. So that when we come back around to the next year to look at contracts, they'll say "Yes. Dollar for dollar you guys gave us the best bang for our buck of anybody that we work with." That's what I've pretty consistently heard across the board.

The only complaint I've ever had from anyone is like "Chris, you gave us too much stuff," [laughs] which is a good thing. I guess our goal is to continue just to grow. Obviously just like any sport, whether if you're playing American football, you want to go to the Super Bowl. If you're playing in the NBA, you want to go win an NBA championship. Or you want to win a World Series in baseball. I think for us as a brand, obviously we want to try to continue to chase championships. 70.3 World's get somebody top 10 in Kona. Obviously podium at Kona maybe in the next two or three years. It's one of those things, it takes some time and it takes proper athlete. It takes at the end of the day money. But I think it's possible. I think we're on our way.

Bevin: One of the things that we've just talked about is actually last week on the podcast is that -- And I've been privy to a couple of contract offers for some of the athletes, my professional athlete that I coaches who sign for a team. There seems to be some push back from some of the brands at the moment as to where the athletes rise. Do you find that the market is Ironman scene trick from a sponsorship perspective? From the brands that you're dealing with? It is about 70.3 Worlds or do you find that it's a little bit more broader than that and the events like in the past we've had Rev3 and we've obviously got challenged and Toughman Tri's trying to establish itself. Or do you feel some pressure from the industry that it has to be 70.3 and Ironman focused?

Chris: I think that obviously Ironman and Ironman 70.3 is -- that's top dog. It probably will continue to be that way for the foreseeable future. I think challenge is second there. Some of the other brands you mentioned Toughman and Rev3, they're great brands. We've got athletes to do those races, but I think that they still need to establish themselves a little bit more. They need to develop those brands. They need to get the following behind them. It's hard to compete with the brand where you got athletes; as soon as they finished the race, the next day are going to tattoo parlors to stamp.

Though you've got people that are so over-obsessed with Ironman, it's hard to get people to get that focus away. I think from an athlete's standpoint though, as far as companies that we work with, I think they prefer Ironman. I haven't really heard anybody say like "You have to do all Ironman races." I think at the end of the day, it's about how you -- if you go and win Challenge Rugby or whatever it may be, I think that at the end of the day, it's how you relay that information and how you take those results and repackage them and then obviously distribute it, and then just really activate that.

I would rather have somebody go and get third place at a race and we really blow the marketing out of the water and really create some buzz around that- -as opposed to go and have an athlete win a race. And then it's just crickets where nobody hears about it. That does nobody any good. I think it's [sic] really falls on the athlete's shoulders how you put a spin on the race result.

Bevin: This year you've got a few new athletes on the team. It's an exciting year for you because there's always going to be athletes who come and go. Say in Dan Wilson's case, his entry to 70.3 race has been actually pretty spectacular today. You've actually maybe signed up someone who could be quite a heavy hitter at 70.3 before the end of the season. Does that excite you with the people that you're working with this year?

Chris: Absolutely. Yes. Like you mentioned Dan, he transitioned after 10 years of ITU racing to 70.3 and goes and wins Noosa, and then -- the world's largest Olympic distance race. And then he follows it up with a win at the Challenge Shepp and Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney. He's into 2016 on fire. I'm excited to see what his -- how 2017 starts. I think as long as he stays healthy and just continues to do what he's been doing, I think he's going to be just fine.

And then, obviously, we brought on Clayton Fettell, another Aussie and he's had a great career over the past few years. Obviously, he's been to Kona and he's got his sight set on Kona this year. He just got married and had a little boy last year. So I think last year was probably pretty busy for him. From a personal standpoint, I think this year, the focus is going to be pretty lasered and dialed in. I expect great things from him this year as well.

Bevin: Well, it looks like -- You never know, Dan sneaks a 70.3 world title, all of a sudden Maverick Multisport is going to be spoken about in the same breath as BMC in Bahrain.

Chris: You never know. You never know. I wouldn't put it past him.

Bevin: No, I wouldn't put it past him either. Anyway, Chris -- Well. Thank you so much for taking some time out this afternoon to have a chat to us about Maverick Multisport. We'll definitely put the links up to your website and Facebook on our show notes. It's exciting to see the team expand and evolve, and we wish you the best of luck for the 2017 season.

Chris: Well, thank you, Bevin. I really appreciate the time. Thanks for having me on today.

- Interview brought to you by Fitter Radio (http://www.fitter.co.nz)  & Chris Hutchens, Maverick Multisport

Check out Maverick Multisports recovery tools: (http://www.rpsports.com/recoverypump-products)

 

Off-Season Tips

I get a lot of questions from people about what an off-season should look like. Off-seasoning is something I have seen done well and not so well by a big range of athletes over the years, and here are a few of my top dos and don'ts.

 

DO

  • Take a couple weeks at minimum away from a structured training plan.
  • Take at least a few days completely off of your legs if not off of any kind of training.
  • Give yourself some mental downtime--we do need some time in the year to not be hyper-focused on our power or paces on the garmin.
  • Use this time for fun training adventures and races of a different sort. Long point-to-point bike rides and trail ultra-marathons are some of my  kids' favorite off-season activities :)

DON'T

  • Completely disconnect from your coach.
  • Gain a stack of weight that you will spend the first chunk of your season trying to take off.
  • Take your completely-off days immediately following your big end-of-season race. Active recovery before your break is key.

-- 

 

Hillary Biscay

The Off-Season: Be A Spontaneous Exerciser

 

My husband Derick was talking a good friend in Texas recently. Our friend Lance asked if I was taking some time off from training right now (having finished my season in Arizona on November 20). I’m admittedly rather terrible at doing “no” exercise at all, as it makes me cranky, moody and antsy. I always prefer to be doing something active even when no races are around the corner. I guess you could say I just enjoy it! That said, I don’t always enjoy it feeling like ‘grind’ and ‘having’ to do such specifics most the year. Derick responded to Lance that I was indeed chilling out, not doing a lot but that I was being a “spontaneous exerciser”. And this phrase just stuck with me. It got me thinking, when it comes to advising athletes about “how much should I be doing right now”, I think this is the time of year to make it a goal to be a Spontaneous Exerciser.

Now what does this exactly mean? If indeed you’re one of those who train consistently most of the year and compete with goals in mind, it’s very healthy to loosen the reins a bit and take a different approach for a few weeks of the year. This time often coincides well with the holidays, as many of us are fitting social engagements and travel into our regular schedule. I rarely recommend doing nothing, unless you feel your body and mind really need this; then go for it. But you may find it’s even more refreshing for you to seek out new and different challenges and ways to stay active during the month of December (give or take; late November, early January). Now I’d be contradicting my Spontaneous Exerciser recommendation if I gave you too many guidelines, but I can at least explain a bit more what I mean by this.

Do what sounds fun on the given day. Try not to plan too much and too far ahead. Aim to stay away from ‘scheduling’ your exercise sessions weeks in advance. This can be tough for us Type A personalities who thrive on schedule and planning. I recently got hit with a nasty flu that left me in bed most of one day, and resigned to walking our dog the next few days as my only “activity”. When the weekend rolled around, I had the urge to go and do The Incline. This is an infamous hiking trail in town which is made up of an old railroad cog, starting at 6500 feet, rising less than 1 mile and topping out at 8590 feet. It sustains an average of 45% grade. Suffice to say, even doing The Incline easy is a lot of work. It was probably a bit lofty given what my body had been through the days prior, but the sun was shining, I was craving moving and being back in the mountains, and it just sounded like fun. So, Saturday morning I did The Incline. It was challenging and I was a little tired that evening, but then I got up again Sunday I did The Incline again. My legs paid for it the next week but it just sounded fun to do it two days in a row! So, I did. Then two days later, Derick and I took off to the mountains for 3 days of cross-country skiing. By the time my legs were un-sore from The Incline, I was waking up new muscles (glutes, triceps!) from the skiing. It was awesome! It is amazing what a lack of structure and variety in exercise modalities can do for your motivation; and simply opening your mind to new things.   

Spontaneous exercising can also prove to be therapeutic; and depending upon what you’re doing, meditative. Let yourself get lost in an activity just for the sake of moving; not the sake of tracking and recording. I often find when the weather turns colder, my body craves yoga classes. Another advantage of spontaneously finding new things to do is you realize muscles you may not regularly use! Being sore in different ways from other challenges is a nice change. You may also discover things you enjoy that you never realized. Perhaps you take a hike with friends, or someone invites you out on a mountain bike ride. I guess my advice for your “off-season” is, say yes to more options. Try things you’ve never done. See what sounds appealing on the day. And by no means does it have to be ‘epic’. One of my favorite go to’s is a simple easy 2-3k swim. Swimming is what I grew up doing and it is always the one thing that, no matter what, makes me feel better. Just do what moves you each day; with less planning, less pace-checking, more spontaneity. I’m willing to bet you’ll discover something new; something fun you never knew you enjoyed. I guarantee your head, your heart and your body will thank you for the change of routine. 

- Kelly H Williamson

 

I am a Rock Star… 6 days at a time!

- Between 7,000 and 12,000 screaming fans.

- Enough production lighting for an AC/DC concert.

- Top European DJ placed in the middle.

- Enough beer to fill a swimming pool.

- 45 degree banked wooden track.

- 40 of the top track cyclists in the world

- THIS IS SIX DAY CYCLING!!!

 

 

Unfortunately, most Americans have never had the privilege of witnessing a 6 day race live. Although there is little knowledge of this spectacle now, it used to be the largest spectating sport in America prior to World War 2. The top Six Day racers were making more money than Babe Ruth and other top athletes in America.  The Madison Square Garden was at maximum occupancy for all six nights as it filled to the brim with the smoke from spectator’s cigarettes. It truly was an amazing spectacle!

 

Much has changed in six day racing over the years, but the excitement and party remain. For the past 3 years I have been privileged to be the only US sprinter invited to compete in such Six Day races as Berlin, London, and Amsterdam.  Although I am not a World or Olympic champion like many of the riders I race against, I bring a certain “entertainment value” to the show that many say has been missing for a while now.

The thousands of spectators that come to watch a Six Day race come to be entertained. Fast aggressive racing at close to 50mph certainly helps with this, but there is more to it. A Six Day race offers the spectators interaction with the racers. Us sprinter only come onto the track three times a night so we have to make the very most of it. Unlike our typical racing, at a Six Day we are encouraged to come off of our handle bars to get the crowd going! Waving, point, blowing kisses is all a part of the show. Many times as well, whenever we have the opportunity we stop at the rail before or after races to take some selfies or sign some autographs for the fans. There is nothing better than a large section of the rail lined up with kids placing their hands over the edge for a high five as we rip by in our time trial wind up at 30mph!  

Most recently in London I have been dubbed, “The Showman” by the televised Euro Sport announcers. I may not be the fastest of the sprinters, But I find my worth elsewhere. When looking through the visors of my “look alike” fighter pilot helmet, I feel like I am in a Point of View game. I put on the biggest smile I can as I wave my hands and pump my fists to the music. It is an amazing feeling. I give out as much energy as I can and then without fail I get x10 back from the crowed. It is the most exhilarating and powerful connection I have ever felt. Usually there is a month or 2 in between my races and I don’t always look forward to the pain and exhaustion of my training. Then I think of the thousands of fans awaiting my arrival half way across the world and it is like I am given a shot of adrenaline because the last thing I want is to not be able to give them the show they deserve!

Nate “The Showman” Koch

Team Nater

 

(All photos by Drew Kaplan)

Winter Approaches for Training

   

     We're quickly approaching winter and many of you are either about to finish off your triathlon seasons or are already finished. Some of you may not have a problem with staying motivated and on track during the winter because you have other sports or activities. Many other athletes struggle their way through the cold months just waiting for the spring. I want to share with you some ideas from my experience to help you to keep your motivation up this winter.

     The first item to discuss is what I think is the number one issue people have with the winter: mindset. I hate the term "off-season". It brings with it connotations of inactivity. I do take downtime for a couple weeks after my last triathlon of the year. For me, that's my "off-season", I do pretty much nothing, eat and drink what I want, and really let loose. I need that time mentally. But after those couple weeks, in my head, off-season is over and now it's preparation for next season. It's a mindset that everyday I have a purpose which is to work on whatever I can to come back better the next year. 

     I've had the privilege to live in a few great places. I grew up and spent the first 22 years of my life in Michigan so I experienced the long drawn out cold and damp winters. I lived 13 years in Austin, Texas so I trained through very mild winters. Finally the last several years, I've lived in Boulder, Colorado so I've experienced some tougher but trainable winters here with a mix of snow, cold, and sunny trainable days.

    You need to learn to focus on what you can do, not what you can't do because of the winter weather. If the weather is nice enough to get outside and ride your bike, then get out and ride your bike! Simple! If it's too cold or snowing, then just get on the trainer and learn to embrace the bike trainer. Focus on your mindset and attitude. When I've thought about the trainer as a tool to get better, it's been mentally easier than if I sit there dreading it and thinking about not liking the trainer. Any time I hear an athlete talking about how much they hate the trainer, I just don't engage in the conversation. Too bad for them, I'm going to embrace it so that I can come out of the winter fit and strong! 

    I will also work in some different activities to keep training interesting. I did a little mountain biking last winter here in Boulder. I didn't do a ton because I didn't want to risk an injury from a bike wreck. I did enjoy it and used it as a way to work on my bike handling skills. One day we had over a foot of snow, so my friend and I biked in the fresh snow on dirt roads. We were sliding all around and fishtailing everywhere. I really became comfortable controlling the bike in a skid. Experiences like this really helped my road bike handling skills this year. I was much more comfortable holding more speed through turns and trusted my ability to control the bike. 

    I've also become a fan of Nordic skiing here in Boulder. I grew up as an ice hockey player so I've found particularly that skate skiing is a great activity. The motion and cardio load is very complimentary to cycling. My old coach was a huge believer in skate skiing. He was Danish and took all of his European pro triathletes on skate skiing camps in the Italian Alps every year to start their fitness build for the year. The motion can be a challenge to learn, but it's a fun activity and can help you build cardio fitness as well as upper and lower body strength.

     I've found it fun to sometimes do a training block focused on a single sport. I tend not to do a huge running block. I like to keep my running steady. I've seen friends try a huge running block in the winter only to get injured from the increased volume and intensity from running. I have done a huge swimming block before and found it helpful. One winter, I took my downtime in November and then did a 4 week swim block before Christmas. Week 1 I swam 30,000 yards, week 2 was 38,000 yards, week 3 was 45,000 yards, and in the final week I made it to 50,000 yards. It was very hard, but I found my swimming on a whole different level that next year. I was doing double swims many days. But it was a way I could try something new and improved myself for the next year.

     As you move into this winter, try first focusing on your mindset. Then try to incorporate some new activities or emphasis in your training to compliment your normal exercise. Remember that this isn't the off season, it's the time for you to prepare yourself for next season!

Train hard!

Patrick

Multitasking 101…with Recovery Boots

Time is our most precious commodity. In this day and age of technology that was supposed to free up more time to enjoy the things in life that matter, it has somehow reduced this commodity. In the ‘old’ days, you weren’t connected at all times to the internet so you were able to decompress without the overstimulation of the internet, TV, social media, etc…You weren’t at your job at all hours of the day, connected every minute in the lives of your friends/acquaintances and more, and getting pounded in every aspect of your life by electronic stimulation. Today, in order to accomplish everything during the course of the day, you need to multitask intelligently. 

Age group and professional athletes need to work even harder at figuring out ways to make their lives more efficient to effectively navigate through all of the different everyday events that are pulling you in multiple directions. As I have stated before, recovery takes discipline and this, unfortunately, becomes one of the most important activities that is squeezed out of an athlete’s day in order to accomplish these other tasks that continually pop up. Life balance, I feel, is very important to happiness and getting through the day. If you can multitask while recovering, you can kill two birds with one stone, hopefully squeezing in more crucial endeavors in a shorter period of time.

Sometimes, what I discuss may seem like common sense, but reiterating it may awaken readers to take a bird’s eye view of their life and make sure they are actually following through on maximizing their time. What I am discussing here is not rocket science; to organize your life, plan efficiently, and reduce pain points is something everyone should be striving for. However, how often do you find yourself lacking the time to do everything that you want to do and having some aspects of your life fall by the wayside? As I stated before, recovery is often the first thing that goes when in fact, it should be one of the most important facets of your day if you want to reach your athletic goals. 

With that being said, be smart about your time and plan your recovery accordingly. Using the Recovery Pump system is one of my main recuperation tools. The rest of this article will focus on how I plan a lot of activities around my time in my Recovery Boots; once again, this exercise is to challenge everyone to look at their lives and figure out where they become more resourceful in their routine to strive for more balance so there is more of that precious time available for what is truly important to you.

We have two areas in our house where I can take my laptop computer and Recovery Boots to accommodate some compression activities at the same time as getting work done for our business. Like most professional triathletes, I am on email and social media applications a lot in the day returning triathlon and training questions, keeping up with friends and family, accomplishing sponsor and business functions, and keeping up on current events. If you can work while you compress and compress while you work, it is a win win situation! I bought a padded stand that I rest on my lap/stomach to balance the computer. Using your mind to reduce business work while recovering your body after a long training session is one of the great advantages of using the Recovery Boots. This follows the trend of employees in work spaces using standup work stations or sitting balls – it’s all about multitasking to improve the body and mind!

Travel is a necessary evil. It is rarely enjoyable, it is always time consuming, and it can hurt your body in ways that can’t be initially felt or seen. If I am traveling with my husband, I use my Recovery Boots at every chance I get in order to help negate the effects of long distance movement and to multitask. Whether we are driving from Auckland to Taupo after a 13 hour flight from San Francisco or driving an hour up to Healdsburg for a bike ride and wine tasting in wine country, I always take my boots for compression. I am able to take them on flights if we have a little more room than your standard Southwest flight. Once landed, if there is a car ride like Las Vegas to St. George, it is the first thing I put on once we have rented a car. Traveling to races or functions is pure dead time so you try to be as productive as you can to help the body or at least cut down on the wear and tear of sitting in one place for multiple hours. 

Another way to keep your life balance is to communicate with your friends and family via phone. Maintaining these relationships takes necessary time so I do plan my weekly phone calls around this recovering luxury and this includes spending time in my Recovery Boots. The time required for healing your body is the perfect occasion to keep solidifying these relationships and catching up on your close ones life events. You can also use these instances of recovery to make those phone calls that you know will take time; where you are put on hold for multiple minutes. These include bill requests, insurance, taxes, etc…Once again, being able to work on your body while lessening these annoying phone calls frees up time! Who is to say you can’t also sit down with popcorn and a movie with your partner or friends in your Recovery Boots; it always is a nice conversation piece!

I know what you are thinking – this is a big infomercial for Recovery Boots. I will tell you, yes, I believe in them that much. It doesn’t have to be a chore to recover; it is a necessity in order for you to be able to train or race again so why not do it diligently and make it a positive situation with multitasking rather than a time drag. You see it on social media on the time that is very cool for people to discuss how much they are training. However, you rarely hear about when people are recovering. The bottom line, in order to keep your chi and happiness in training, you HAVE to recover properly or those posts about training will not be as frequent. Remember, train smarter, not harder and recover harder and then repeat!

- Meredith Kessler, Ironman Champion

www.meredithkessler.com 

www.lifeoftriathlete.com

@mbkessler

What to do When You Don't Want to:

If you’re reading this blog, there is a good chance you’re an athlete. You don’t have to be a professional, nor do you even need to be “fast”. But if you enjoy the challenge of exercise, you set goals and you work to achieve them, you’re an athlete. We all know how good exercise is for us. It keeps us healthy, works as a stress reliever, and often times keeps us on task; it holds us accountable. While I’ve been a lifelong (fairly serious) athlete, I can also acknowledge that the day ‘exercise’ is no longer part of my job, I’ll still be doing regardless. I just enjoy movement, and I get cranky when I don’t do it. All this aside, there are most definitely days when we just don’t FEEL LIKE IT. The thought of dragging yourself to the pool or lacing up your running shoes just sounds awful. You are not alone...this happens to us all at times. Especially those of you who may be training hard for a big goal event late in the season. November is a long time after January... so if you've been at it for many months, or you just find you're struggling to "go", here are a few tips that may help get you over that little 'hump' of finding the motivation to exercise.

1)      Take a day off. Yes, my first suggestion is to simply listen to your inner instinct and chill out. Often times it is just what your body and your mind need. If you find the motivation is lacking and you have other things you need to get done, scrap it…tomorrow will be here before you know it, and I’m willing to bet you’ll be a bit more anxious to exercise the next day. Now I’ve never (EVER) been one for ‘streaks’ (ie: getting caught up in things such as “100 days straight of running!”) or obsessing about overall numbers for the week, month, or year. If you’re one of these people, this one will be tough for you. But I highly encourage you to be able to step away and take rest days; not only for your own sanity (and relationships) but moreso for your longevity of exercise. And the key here? Don't feel guilty about it! Embrace it and enjoy the rest day. 

 

2)      Adjust what is on the schedule. If you see a workout that makes you feel overwhelmed just looking at it, and you understand why this may be (fatigue, life stress, etc) make it a goal to get out and move but don’t force the specific workout. Clearly if you have goals, you don’t want to do this all the time! However, I’ve coached athletes for 10+ years and one of the best things about a 'seasoned athlete' is that they can often take the initiative to adjust as and when needed. Not everything has to be ‘cleared’ by someone…sometimes it’s best to just be cleared by you, because nobody knows you as well as well… you. I often say ‘something is better than nothing’ (barring #1) and if you can get out, exercise, and feel better for it, you just may need to keep your workout easy and with no goal other than to clear the mind and refresh the body. Some days you just have to do what will make you feel good.

3)      Rally a friend. This is especially important when you know what is coming up for the week, month, etc. Workouts often go by much quicker when you have good company! And while sure it’s great to have solitude when we workout, sometimes it's fun to make exercise social too. I’ve learned over the years that some people click better than others when it comes to training partners. This doesn’t make some people bad people; but I’ve become a little picky when it comes to training with others. You want someone who you can pace well with, or on some days, someone who is stronger (or less strong) than you…depending upon what you’re aiming to do on the day. Be honest with one another. And be sure to check your ego at the start. Nobody enjoys getting half-wheeled or half-stepped for hours on end! It's not a race, just an exercise session. :) Try to find positive training partners, and likewise try to be a positive training partner for others.

4)      Dig in and try. Yes, again contrary to #2… if you’re struggling to motivate on a day you have a challenging workout, ask yourself "why". If you’re truly wiped out that is one thing, but I know personally I’ll have days I can’t wait to get to it and others I’m dreading it. If I'm honest with myself, I may dread it for fear of not hitting the goal. And this is a terrible reason! I have to call myself out.  We can’t succeed without taking risk and when we take risk, we may fail; but we may also pass with flying colors. There have also been *many* times I’ll warmup, think that it may not be there, then bam.. I get into the set and I’m nailing it. So, some days, you just have to kick yourself in the butt a little bit, get moving, and give it a shot. We never know until we try.

5)      Step back and see the larger picture. By this I mean, have you had a trend of lacking motivation? Has this become a more regular than occasional feeling? If so, you may just need a good old extended break. Time away from the ‘discipline’ you’re focusing on. I know Ironman specifically can really wear people down. This is fine…as with anything else in life, be honest with yourself when you assess this. All exercise is essentially ‘good’ for us….so maybe you just need a change of pace for a little while. There are so many forms of exercise we can choose from! I’ve found joy in long walks when that is what I’ve been resigned to given circumstances! Realize that everyone needs to hit ‘reset’ at times. But you just may be the one who needs to make this decision for yourself.  

And in the much larger picture...we're all fortunate to be able to do it. I remind myself of this regularly. When I don't want to "go" on some days, I think of how amazing it is that my body allows me to do this. I think of times I've had setbacks, and I've wanted so badly to go out and run hard! I find myself drawing motivation from those whom I know, if given the opportunity, would love to be training for events; but perhaps they can't for various reasons. This is a gift, and we NEVER 'have' to do it, we get to do it. 

Kelly H. Williamson

Twitter: @khwilliamson

Instagram: kmhwilliamson