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Blog posts tagged with 'triathlete'

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

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

 

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

 

The Dreaded ‘I’ Word – Injury

In retrospect, it would have been best to have done something two years ago when my hamstring began to hurt. However, triathletes, on a whole, usually try to fight through the pain in order to compete in the sport they love; I am no exception. Hindsight is 20/20, as the saying goes, and treating a pain flare up right away is a prudent course of action. However, if you tried to treat every niggle, you would never compete. There is a grey area or blurred lines between pushing through the pain and stopping training all together to receive treatment. As an athlete, you usually flip the coin as to whether you continue and sometimes these flips do not go in your favor. I had been flipping this imaginary coin for a couple of years before my luck ran out in May of this year.

A lot of what I write about is so others do not necessarily emulate but maybe learn from my trials and tribulations. This is why we are releasing our first manual, Life of a Triathlete: Race Preparationwww.lifeoftriathlete.com, and why I enjoy writing for partners like Recovery Pump. If I can help individuals by relaying my experiences then it makes the process worthwhile. The reason I am prefacing this is because everyone is different, especially in regard to their bodies and injuries. Showing the process that I went down and the rabbit hole that it became should be an eye opener for others in a similar predicament.

 

My right high hamstring/glute had been bothering me for the better part of two years yet it got to a point where racing became a chore after Ironman New Zealand 2016. My right leg was just a passenger on the bike and run as my left side carried it around. Obviously this is not a good recipe for speed and a tremendous recipe for further injury. Your mind drifts to a point where, at one time you could fight through the pain, all thoughts are on just finishing the workout or race. This isn’t something you can mentally block out; once that niggle gravitates towards injury, training and racing does not become fun or rewarding. After Ironman St. George 70.3, I performed multitudes of therapy; everything but complete rest. You always have a glimmer of hope that something will miraculously heal. However, after Ironman Mt. Tremblant 70.3, I knew for sure it was time to batten down the hatches and take care of the injury.

I was able to get in with a well respected doctor in the Bay Area after Ironman Mt. Tremblant 70.3. He examined my MRI and some of his words seemed alarming yet they made so much sense. He stated there is no such thing as a perfect MRI for an athlete, especially a professional. For example, all Major League Baseball pitchers have micro tears and damage; the question is when that damaged area will become a problem for the athlete where it affects their performance. He said that both of my hamstrings and gluteal muscles had tears. However, my problematic area, for one reason or another, was creating unbearable pain to the point where it is impossible to run at top speed. Easy tasks like bending over to tie your shoe were now tedious and painful. My good leg, for one reason or another, had little pain even though there was the same damage on both of them. My doctor said you can’t explain these types of things, so you try to treat it and rehab accordingly. It could be a case where the damaged area was swelling into some nerves or certain fibers had been severed that created an unusually high pain point. Whatever the reason, it needed to be fixed to be able to compete at the ever increasing level of professional female triathletes in this day and age. 

The old adage goes it takes courage and discipline to recover. Treating an injury is a battle of patience. To stop what you have been doing all your life, working out and training, is no easy task as athletes can attest to. However, if you do not do it right, you are destined to repeat the same mistakes and it becomes an endless hole that is tough to crawl out of. The day is still filled with many activities; there are always things to do with your business, sponsors, giving back to the triathlon community, rehab, yoga, the exercises that you CAN do, physical therapy, maintenance, family, friends, life etc…However, the enormous chunk of the day that training takes up has been altered. The best advice is to keep your mind occupied, improve other areas of your life that may have been neglected (the spring cleaning that has been on hold for four years has finally happened!), and rest.

 

As my rehab enters its third week, I have been concentrating on heat, ice, compression and repeat. My Recovery Boots have been working overtime as I work diligently to heal and massage the tender hamstring. I am thankful to be able to swim, bumped up strength sessions and have incorporated stretching, Bikram Yoga and continued physical therapy into my routine to keep from scar tissue building up and to make the affected area stronger. Hopefully, as the saying goes, we will take one step backwards to take two steps forward and the body will eventually thank me for it!

 

My last thought is to always forge ahead. It can be easy to sit back, rely on others, or think "why did this happen to me." Triathlon racing is a roller coaster ride and all you can do is weather the storm and keep your eyes on the prize for that elusive perfect race. As with anything in life, there is no knight in shining armor or magic formula that is going to swoop in and miraculously save the day. If you are smart, prudent, and calculated with your actions following an injury, you can be back better than ever before you know it. Patience is a virtue!

 

- Meredith Kessler

www.meredithkessler.com 

www.lifeoftriathlete.com

Life as a Road Map

I’ve coached athletes for about 10 years. Many of whom I coach are busy individuals balancing full time jobs with family life, and often times training for their own events; running, triathlon, or even Ironman races. It is a lot for them to balance, yet I respect (and can relate to) the desire to have personal goals outside of their daily lives. I’m often amazed at the parallels that I see between my own life, which entails being able to devote most hours of my day to training, recovery, and competing; with those of the athletes that I coach. Meaning...I am not juggling a full time job outside of racing, nor am I balancing spending time with kids and their activities. The similarities I see is that both those I coach (often professional businessmen but amateur athletes), and myself, along with other professional athletes; we all deal with various life setbacks that require some re-routing along the way.

One of the first steps I take as a coach when speaking with an athlete is their ‘long term plan’. We discuss where their fitness currently is, what they have been doing recently, and what their goals are. In short, “Where are we right now, and where do we want to be?” We will sketch out a route that will take into account daily commitments, work travels, and family vacations; aiming to plan out the best approach and set them up to accomplish their goals. 

Yet as we all know, life rarely goes according to plan. And the ability to stay focused on goals often lies in one’s ability to evaluate, adapt, and adjust.

As I too navigate some unplanned road blocks this season, I relate this to a giant road map. I know the best way to get from January to December for my season. The perfect plan for me will entail some winter running races, a few early season half ironman races, which build often to an early season Ironman as well as a race later season to peak for as well. We toss in a mid-season break or rest, and bam. The prefect equation for success! Alas, the 2016 season has looked more like ‘remove, adjust, replace.’ I coach a few people who have had similar scenarios. What I find ironic is, when I speak to them, I’m calm, relaxed and confident in the plan we have in place. I can hear the worry and fear in their voices that they won’t be ready come November, or the stress that things haven’t gone according to plan so far; but I truly feel confident that we have the time to still have them adequately prepared. Yet when I think of my own scenario, I find myself going back and forth between feeling relaxed and confident yet also concerned I’m losing time, fitness and opportunity. It’s funny how sometimes we need to listen to our own advice; step away a bit, and see things from the outside looking in.

So when you find a niggle becomes a dreaded ‘injury’, or that family vacation falls at an awful time for your ‘A’ race, take a step back and remember, there is still a way to get to the end goal. Who doesn’t like a good road trip? Just readjust your plan, stay positive, and re-route your approach. 

-Kelly J. Williamson

Twitter: @khwilliamson

Instagram: kmhwilliamson

Give me 5 Minutes

My job is to exercise. Which is pretty cool. But if I were to say I’m always excited to exercise, I would be lying. Some days, you just want to be lazy. Sleep in, drink coffee, read a book, walk the dog. And some days, this is precisely what the body needs. But in general, I find I’m always my ‘best self’ when I’m active. And often times, all it takes is 5 minutes to realize this.

 

I was going out for a run a few weeks back, in just the same mindset as I stated above; feeling sluggish and lacking motivation to get out the door. But I did, because I knew I needed to go for a run. The sun was out, it was a beautiful Colorado day, and I just started putting one foot in front of the other. I hadn’t been out more than a few minutes when I realized I was happy, relaxed and enjoying “movement.” I’d almost forgotten already how rotten I felt a few minutes prior.  In just a few minutes, everything had changed. It’s incredible what exercise can do for mood state, attitude and outlook. We may feel strong or not so strong, but I’ve learned that despite often needing to track pace, power, effort and times, there is a lot to be gained in simply enjoying the process for what it is…the ability to move your body. While the repetitive nature of triathlon may get ‘boring’ at times, it can also be incredibly therapeutic and powerful. You begin a workout perhaps feeling annoyed by something in your life; maybe frustrated at how your body feels. But often times after a few minutes (or those of us crazy enough to do Ironman, a few hours) I find my mind has shifted. I sometimes train with music, so I may let myself enjoy the songs running through my head. I’ll often train solo, which allows me to contemplate things; or rather, shut my mind off and just see what wanders in and out.

 

Despite growing up a swimmer, the toughest activity to initiate can often be swimming. You’ve got to get yourself to the pool (not as easy as lacing up your running shoes), then the hardest part, jump into often cold water. But after a few lengths, you begin to find a rhythm, counting your laps; the body warms up, and away you go. As much as I love swimming and it is probably the one activity I always want to do more than others, I find there are days I have to drag myself to the pool. 

But the one common theme about all the ‘movement based’ activities I do…swimming, cycling, running, strength in the gym…is I can honestly say, I don’t ever regret doing them when I’m finished. There are few things that feel better than a fatigued body from hard work. And of course, it’s no secret that my own personal favorite reward is that evening IPA while I’m making dinner; the day is done, the hard work has happened; maybe we nailed the session, maybe we were ‘off’…but what matters is we did it, and what is important is to appreciate your effort and move forward.

So when you find you’re struggling for motivation to get out the door, remember you're not alone. We all go through this at times. But just give yourself 5 minutes of exercise…and I’m willing to bet you won’t regret it an hour later when you’re cooling down.  

- Kelly Williamson,

@kmhwilliamson

kellyhwilliamson.com

12 Races + 8 1st Place wins in 2015 = Quite the Year

 

Training is easy; recovery takes discipline. I always have to tell myself this as the year comes to a close, the races add up, and the body is not as fresh. This is also true as you get older and you don’t have twenty year old legs anymore. For this piece for Recovery Pump, I wanted to diagram the lead in to Ironman Taupo 70.3, our 12th race of 2015 on December 12th. This race was a bit of a challenge because of the extensive event schedule throughout the year, travel to multiple destinations through multiple time zones, and Ironman Arizona being a few weeks prior on November 15th. The competition and the course were not the focus yet getting the body into racing shape was the priority in effort to try to compete at a high level.

Before Ironman Arizona, my body was feeling the effects of the beginning stages of pneumonia. After the event in the rain and cold, that all came to fruition. This required much Vector 450, http://vector450.com/, leading into the event to aid in being able to compete and to help afterwards. This also required using the Recovery Pump boots for an hour plus a day to help get the legs back into training shape. After the race-filled year, the fitness was there so the ability to maintain was key and not to overdue it. It was important to keep up on the workouts yet scale back the intensity. Complicating the matters was the sickness which, in a way, helped keep the vigorous workouts in check. This was not a time to gain fitness yet instead, a vital time to recover hence reminding myself of the phrase ‘recovery takes discipline’ over and over again.

Travel is always difficult for all endurance athletes, especially a twelve hour flight to Auckland and three and a half hour drive to Taupo. The ability to minimize damage on these legs of the journey is something my husband, Aaron, and I have worked on and tweaked for years. Compression clothing is worn on the plane, if possible Recovery Boots are carried on and used, fruit plates are requested for meals and packing proper food is a must (regular meals are usually too unpredictable and sodium packed), and a natural sleeping aid, such as melatonin, is used to help with the proper rest in an uncomfortable position. Aaron enjoys driving multiple hours (which is so appreciated) and Recovery Pump Boots are used in the car. Once we arrived in Taupo, a relaxing swim is a must to flush out the body and loosen up after the long travel.

Through the week, I kept telling myself I just needed to maintain and not reach for more fitness. At this point, only bad things can happen with too much conditioning so you want to keep the engine purring, not humming. Hydration and healthy nutrition is the focus along with proper supplements to aid in repairing and moderating the body. Paying attention to your tiredness level and keeping up with any time zone changes also is a priority to start the race as close to 100% as possible. The body is resilient, even after a jam-packed season, so if you concentrate on repair and recovery, your body will hopefully thank and reward you.

The competition was strong, the race course spectacular, and the body held up one more time in 2015! As another year comes and goes, recovery becomes more and more important. Life and recovery habits that I had ten years ago would not fly today. The time and effort spent on resting and recovery has been multiplied by three and will continue to sky rocket in order to be able to compete at a level that will help to try to reach athletic goals. If you don’t adapt and continue to try to improve in this capacity, it is easy to get left behind!  

Happy Holiday season to you and yours!  Think about snagging a pair of Recovery Pump boots for your family - it will make a world of difference in sport and in life!

-Meredith B Kessler 

@mbkessler - 

Use code: KESSLER when ordering @ www.recoverypump.com

Maintaining Balance through the Holidays

 

Another season has come and gone, which means the holidays are just around the corner. Some of you may be putting the final touches on your race season with one last event, others may be well into the “off season” and enjoying less routine and more flexibility with your days. But no matter where you are in terms of your race year, most all of us will be enjoying holiday festivities, a few more social events, and travel to see family and friends the next few weeks. That may instill fear in some; fear of losing fitness, gaining a few pounds, or a bit of both. While both of these things are not necessarily a bad thing at this time of year, if you’re seeking to maintain both fitness and a social schedule, it is possible with a little bit of planning ahead. I wanted to offer up a few tips for enjoying the season without worrying about ‘guilt’ while indulging a bit.

1-      Plan a few short fun races. Anyone who knows me well knows, I love my off-season 5k races! There is rarely a shortage of finding these with Turkey Trots and Jingle Bell 5k events, no matter what city you may be visiting. Put a few of these on your schedule as a fun way to keep you motivated to stay fit but also have a fun time out being active with family and friends. Maybe you can coerce a family member or friend who doesn’t run regularly to join in; even for a 5k walk. I know my niece and nephews have recently gotten into running; find siblings or kids to come along. The beauty of these events is they’re short, quick, and only consume a few hours on a weekend morning. They let you get out and move but spend the rest of your day being social, which is how this time of year should be.

2-      Maintain some routine with your eating. They key word here is “some”. For me this is just a few small things, such as enjoying lemon water in the morning, and dark greens most days, in some capacity. So I can plan to travel with a few lemons, and offer to throw together a salad at dinner one night. Don’t let this consume you, but if there are a few small things you do regularly that make you “feel good” try to maintain these. You don’t have to cause a scene or make meal requests, rather think ahead and choose to keep them incorporated into your holiday and travels. I find usually your body thanks you for doing this.

3-      Plan ahead for holiday visits. If you are heading to the in-laws house for a week, and you know you want to get in a few swims, look up to see if are any YMCA’s nearby; check the hours (I often call to double check) and see if you can squeeze in a few quick swims in the early mornings to avoid conflicting with daytime events. Check the weather forecast where you’re going and if you hope to run or walk a few times, be sure you plan ahead if it looks to be very cold (or hot). It’s pretty easy to get in some exercise if you think about it ahead of time, do your research on what is available in the area.

 

4-      Something is better than nothing. You may have wanted to do a 1 hr run but you sleep in (or stay up too late) and it becomes 20-30 minutes. That is ok. I am guessing most of us don’t have a goal event right after the New Year; and even if you do, missing a little bit here or there probably won’t make or break you. Enjoy this time of year when routine and structure are a little less strict. 

5-      Improvise & Enjoy It! My parents live in a very hilly area. After I run down their driveway, I come upon a very large hill. I love doing hill intervals at their place and the beauty is, the entire run can be 30-40 min but with 4-6 x hard hill intervals. If you are heading to the mountains, take advantage of it and get out to play in the snow! Cross country skiing or snowshoeing is phenomenal exercise. The key is if you want to get in some activity, try to do it in the early morning or perhaps afternoon when there is a lull in social activity. But if your ‘intended’ becomes a bit less, roll with it and enjoy what you can get in.

 

6-      Everything in moderation – even moderation itself. One of my favorites! Life is short. While I am a creature of habit and I like my routine, the times we get to visit with family and enjoy holiday festivities are a gift and something we should fully enjoy. If one glass of wine becomes a few, or an evening night campfire goes late into the night, roll with it. It is OK to have a bit more dessert or an extra beer. Most of us maintain structure and regimen the majority of the year. Let yourself relax and go with the flow over the holidays. Soon enough, January will be here and we’ll be ‘back on the grind’. Savor the celebrations and take the time to let your hair down a bit. There is a reason I enjoy a beer most evenings regularly; because that is all I really usually want and I don’t like how I’ll feel the next day if I have more! However if and when I go beyond that during a family visit or a holiday get together, just make sure the story is well worth the headache.

- Kelly Williamson, Ironman Champion

@khwilliamson