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Blog posts of '2015' 'June'

WHY?

What's your "why"? Why do you do what you do? What drives you? When it's time to grind, time to suffer, what is your reason for digging deep?

I think mental preparation is the most overlooked aspect of getting an athlete to the starting line of an Ironman ready to do his or her best. So many athletes and coaches focus on all of the tangible aspects of training and racing, that one of the most important but critical and somewhat intangible components. It's very important to have your watts, heart rate, pace, calories, fluid intake, electrolytes dialed in for race day. You also need to get to the start line with fresh legs. But none of those things matter a lick if an athlete cracks mentally when the going gets tough. You can be the fittest and fastest person on the start line, but if you walk because you're mentally tired or weak, you'll never reach your potential as an athlete.

As a coach, one of the first things I ask my athletes to do is to think about and write down their "why". Why are they doing this? If you don't know your reason for being there, you will never be able to grind. It hurts too bad to be able to go on in hard training or in a race. That "why" is what will keep you going when it hurts really badly. 

I rarely come up with ideas on my own. Back in my engineering previous life, we used to say "NIH", Not Invented Here. Don't try to create something that's already been thought of by someone else. The same goes with your "why"; I didn't come up with it myself. I love the motivational speaker Eric Thomas. He talks a lot about knowing your "why" and that it needs to be deeper than you. I think this is very powerful. If your reasons for racing Ironman are surface deep like "I want to go faster or get a PR time" when the going gets tough, it may not be enough to overcome the demons that creep in your head.

If your reasons for doing this are deeper than surface level, if you truly believe them, they're internalized, and if you can call on them on race day or in training when it's extremely painful, then I think you are more likely to keep going than to quit. It's too easy to start walking deep in the marathon. If you are doing this for your spouse or your children, If you can focus on the sacrifices they've made for you, a little pain isn't too much to overcome. You need a reason to get out of the "poor me" mentality during the hardest parts of the race. Our brains will try to get us to stop, but you need something deeper to get out of your head. I find something in your soul will trump your head. Some people can do this naturally. They have an innate competitiveness to be able to keep digging when it's hard. Others don't, but I think it's something that can be learned by anyone if they focus on it. This all starts by asking that question of "why". From there, start digging deeper into your own psyche and heart. You will find the answers that are specific to you. If you can find those, then focus on them every day, you will find that next place you can dig to on race day. 

There are so many talented athletes out there who never realize their potentials because they overlook all of this. Watch an Ironman sometime… Stand around mile 16 of the run and you will see the people who have found that will within and those who are mentally defeated. Sure many people have to slow down because of physiological reasons like cramping, over-biking, under training, or nutritional mistakes. But you will see those who have just given up digging deep. You will also see those who are continuing to dig. They know their whys and are using when to drive them forward.

 

-Pat Evoe 

101 on Nutrition

Daily & Training Nutrition

 

These days it seems everyone has a different approach to nutrition. If not currently on some sort of ‘restrictive diet’, it seems commonplace that most have at the least gone through a phase of being on one for a period of time (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc). Somehow in my many years of ‘being an athlete’ (if we include swimming as a kiddo, I guess we could say it’s been about 27 years now), I’ve managed to keep it simple, include all foods, and have avoided any types of elimination diets. While everyone is different, I wanted to run through a typical ‘day in the life’ of what I’ll eat when it comes to daily nutrition and training nutrition. When people hear what I do for a living, I almost always get the question “What do you eat, like 7000 calories a day?” The answer is, I have no clue! I am not one to calorie count; but I do know I eat consciously, I don’t skip meals, and I enjoy all things in some facet. I often eat what my body craves; I try to listen to it as much as possible. I figure in a balanced diet and an active lifestyle, there can be a place for everything in some ways; even your “indulgences”.

Breakfast: I often try to drink a glass of warm water with fresh lemon juice in the morning, if possible; I’ve heard numerous times this is good for digestion but it also is a great way to get hydrated first thing, and the Vitamin C is an added bonus. This is followed up by a cup of good strong coffee with half & half.  Breakfast has lately either been a) a Central Market muffin and a few eggs scrambled or fried, or b) a bowl of cereal consisting of granola and Raisin Bran mixed, vanilla soymilk along with a banana and peanut butter, or oatmeal and peanut butter. If going to an early swim or run (ie: before 7am), I usually just drink coffee. Otherwise, I’ll have breakfast pre-workout. I am definitely not a meal-skipper and even when I don’t feel hungry, I rarely ever skip meals. I know it’s not the ‘norm’ but I prefer 3 solid meals a day and less snacking; I think it was how I was raised and I’ve often stuck to this. For me personally, I find if I skip a meal and graze more, I never feel fully satisfied; with eating regular meals, it seems to keep my hunger steady throughout the day yet I also avoid getting famished too often. 

Lunch: I almost always prefer to solid training session mid-morning, so lunch is often usually just following a workout (hence, I don’t really ever do ‘recovery smoothies’ as I often eat soon after training). My lunch usually entails fruit (peach, apple, grapefruit; it varies), a sandwich or a wrap (often some variation of turkey, avocado, cheese, spinach, hummus, at times quinoa, and/or tomato when in season), and potato chips (great after hot workouts!). Pretty basic but often whole wheat bread or a good quality wrap is what I put everything on. I always finish lunch with something sweet, a chocolate chip cookie or a couple of squares of dark chocolate; and often a cup of coffee. I love to have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning and just after lunch.

Dinner: I usually enjoy a good beer (often an IPA) while preparing dinner. One of our staples is a very large salad (spinach or kale based) with red onion, blueberries, raspberries, goat cheese or fresh mozzarella, avocado, and nuts; usually almonds, pecans or walnuts. I love putting fruits in salads! I use dressing as well, of course; and my favorite is to mix a vinegar-based with something creamier (lately I’ve been addicted to Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette with Delmonico’s Restaurant Peppermill Ranch). We will round this out with usually a meat and a ‘starch’. Salmon is another staple for our main dish, and we love quinoa, rice or sweet potatoes on the side. Another simple staple for us is a good ‘quality’ frozen pizza (there are some great local Austin brands) but again rounded out with a massive salad. We probably do steak and/or burgers once a week. I try to stay cognizant of iron consumption, especially when training loads are high. I never skip dessert; but I am usually happy with a small cup of ice cream, a cookie or some chocolate.

Training Nutrition: Swimming- I subside on water. Maybe it is having grown up a swimmer but I never get hungry during a swim, and a water bottle usually does the trick! Running- I run best on an empty stomach, but before a long run (1.5 hrs or longer) I’ll usually have toast with peanut butter and maybe a banana. For runs over about 1.5 hrs, I will take a gel (starting at 60-80 minutes) every 30 minutes or so. (Oddly, this is less a bit than what I do when racing but I seem to tolerate nutrition very well when racing half and full Ironman). Cycling- I usually subside on water or energy drink for rides less than 2 hours. I may take a gel in a ride of 2-2.5 hrs (but realize that I often start these rides after a meal, on a fairly full stomach). When riding long (3-6 hrs), I usually take a mixture of gels, bars, and what I can get at a gas station stop (usually coke, peanut butter crackers, chips, sometimes pop tarts…whatever sounds good!). I aim to get in between 200-300 calories per hour on longer rides, often starting the calories about 1.5 hrs into the ride. For a run off the bike (usually 3-5 miles), I will take a gel before the run which is great practice for race day.

Snacks: There are times of course when pre or post workout, a meal is not immediate; or times when I just get hungry. Some of my go-to’s include anything peanut butter and jelly related (sandwich, wrap, banana with peanut butter), fruit (apples, peaches, usually whatever is in season), Greek yogurt (especially after a long or tough session for the added protein), carrots and hummus, salted pecans or almonds. I also love to sip on Kombucha throughout the day and another staple of mine is fresh lemon in water! And while I don’t do smoothies, I do love to keep Naked juices on hand as it’s a quick way to rehydrate but also get in some calories after a session. And as cliché as it sounds, I do love chocolate milk, especially after a very long or demanding session; it tastes good and is a great way get protein and carbs down quickly.

So in a nutshell, I love to eat! I try not to restrict anything; I eat what my body craves but at the same time, my husband and I try to eat pretty nutrient-dense foods for the most part. One of my definite cravings about every week or so is a good burger or a good filet wrapped in bacon. I figure when you’re an active individual who asks a lot of your body, you need to fuel it appropriately but also enjoy food as it is meant to be enjoyed! 

kellyhwilliamson.com
@khwilliamson

One on One with US Track Sprint Cyclist Missy Erickson

 

"My name is Missy Erickson and I am a track cyclist with US National Team and Momentum coaching group. I’ve been riding for just under 3 years. The best moment I have to say so far was winning the Bronze medal at the World Cup in Cali Columbia this past year. It was only my 2nd World Cup ever and it was the first US sprint female medal in 6 years so that was a pretty big moment for me. The other ones are pretty much winning the National Titles.  My first one was in 2013 when I won the woman’s 500. That was definitely one of the highlights that I will always remember and the other was getting the first title all the way."      

What is a typical day like for Missy Erickson?

"A typical day while I’m training is gym in the morning usually then I’ll go straight to the track. So I’ll get up, eat, go the gym and then eat again and then go to the track, eat again and come home.  Recovery is definitely incredibly important because you want to be 100% every single day to get the most out of your training so whether its using RecoveryBoots or a protein shake or putting compression on or something else, every little bit of difference helps. When I don’t do it, I can definitely tell the difference.  A day at the track usually consists of anywhere from 4 to 6 efforts a day which takes over the course of 4 hours. It’s very short and very intense and a lot of recovery and rest between every single effort. So my longest races is only 8 laps around the Velodrome and 6 of these are controlled pace. So I’m only going 100 percent for maybe 2 laps, ever. So you know very, very short training replicates exactly what we do in the racing."

Prior to you using RecoveryPump how did you recover?

"Most of my recovery before having the boots was just having the normal protein shakes after training and then you know resting, laying on the couch and keeping my legs up and staying off my feet. It’s not until the next morning do you actually feel refreshed or ready to go for the next day. Now that I have the boots it’s definitely easier.  I don’t have to wait until the morning after to actually feel recovered. It’s a lot easier especially when you have 3 dogs and we have a house with a lot of yard work to do and stuff. Having the boots definitely lets me recover better so I can take the dogs to the dog park or I can work outside of the house and even after I do all that I sometimes even like to use the boots just from normal every day activities. So the boots definitely have aided and helped me recover faster."       

What is your protocol for using RecoveryPump?

"Usually I’ll use the boots for about 20-30 minutes. Not super high pressure but I like to be in the 70 range with that. It’s enough pressure that I can feel it but I know if I use too much pressure sometimes I feel a little lethargic and what not. So it’s definitely 20 to 30 minutes."    

What results have you experienced using with RecoveryPump?    

"The short time I have had it like I said before, it makes recovery easier and a lot faster especially with this whole past year I’ve had a back injury I’ve been dealing with. Every little bit in recovery for me makes a really big difference. Even with something as simple as putting the RecoveryPump into my recovery routine. I might not have had it for very long but can still tell the difference. Every little thing you add is a difference."

How would you compare other recovery methods to RecoveryPump?    

"The thing I really like about the RecoveryPump is that it flushes your legs out in one continuous direction. So it puts all the pressure on and then releases all at once. You can actually feel the pressure move up your leg and then release. As the system goes on throughout the time you can definitely tell that it’s working and that you’re flushing the blood out of your legs. Whereas other systems like to compress and when they release each section there is still pressure on your quads. There’s still pressure on different parts of your legs so it doesn’t feel as great as the flushing movement. When you get out of the boots you’re still a little unsure but as soon as you get out of the RecoveryPump you can definitely feel the difference."

Will you travel with your RecoveryPump?

"Since I’ll be traveling nonstop pretty much until the next World Championship…Yes if the system can come with me it’s going to be packed in the bag."

Would you recommend RecoveryPump to other athletes?

"I would definitely recommend it. It’s super handy. It’s a really compact small system so it’s really simple you know to bring along with you anywhere whether you’re training or your traveling to a race. It draws a lot of attention to you. A lot of people really like these systems and they haven’t been able to use it and when you get to share that with other people they appreciate it. It works! There’s a reason why I’m using it. There’s a reason so many other athletes are using it. It’s a great compact system and Yeah, It works!!"