Shipping delivery dates NOT guaranteed until after Christmas due to Curriers Holiday schedules. Please expect delays

 
RSS

Blog posts tagged with 'triathlon'

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

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

 

Top 5 Defining Characteristics of our Kona Team

2016 has been a record-setting year for the athletes that we coach at TeamHPB. As of my writing this, we have ten age group athletes qualified for the Hawaii Ironman, with a couple more who have a chance to do so next weekend. I was thinking about how I could disseminate some of what I've observed in them in a way that might help others with this or other big triathlon goals in mind.

I came up with the top five defining characteristics of our Kona Team:

They are self-motivated. My job with these athletes is not to convince them of the value of getting out the door to get the work done but instead , on occasion, to hold them back from over-doing.

They hold themselves accountable. These are not people who make excuses. If and when they fail or fall down, these athletes look inward and assess what they will do to succeed the next time--and then they implement these changes rather than just talking about them.

They are time-management experts. Our Kona crew includes CEOs, business owners, parents, grandparents, people who work two jobs, and people whose jobs on occasion have them sleeping under their desks at the office. Yet the level of training that gets one qualified for Kona happens, thanks to a whole lot of planning and prioritizing.

They are comfortable being uncomfortable. While they may experience no less trepidation in the face of what they know will be an extremely uncomfortable training or racing assignment, these athletes recognize and thrive on such instances as the ones that define their athletic success.

They have long-term vision and perspective. My "Kona kids" are almost always the ones who come to me with long-term plans and goals in the range of a few years. These are not the athletes coming to me looking for a magic bullet or for me to work a miracle in a matter of months. They recognize that big accomplishments in our sport are years in the making and they embrace the process.

- Hillary Biscay
www.hillarybiscay.com
www.smashfestqueen.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

How Can an Athlete race so much?

A popular question asked a lot by age grouper long distance triathletes is ‘How do you race so much?’ First of all, like most, racing is a passion and I love to do it – this is why we all train so hard; to be able to compete and see if the hard work has paid off. It is also the measuring stick of your triathlon journey. It is important to view racing as a small continuous blip in your overall path to reach your athletic goals yet it is absolutely the most enjoyable part! 

Now, back to the question of how an individual can race so much? In 2015, I was fortunate enough to toe the line twelve times in a combination of half and full Ironman distance races. Like every racer, the body understandably wasn’t 100% for a lot of those races yet everyone is facing their own battle leading up to and on race day. It is really imperative personally to try to follow these simple rules for getting from one race to the next: Rest, Hydration, Nutrition, Balance and REPEAT. As we all know, this is easier said than done with life throwing constant curve balls your way yet there is no shortcut to getting your body back to race shape. However, there are indeed aids to recovery like Recovery Pump that are integral staples in helping to toe the line again and again.

 

Let’s dig deeper into traveling and racing a full Ironman race and then my personal four pockets of recovery. Having raced Ironman New Zealand five times, we have a solid routine down to hopefully getting to the start line in good shape and a in a positive frame of mind. As I get older, I hopefully get wiser and my 37 year old body has definitely accumulated many miles through the years. I am starting to realize that less is often more, especially coming into race week – you aren’t going to get faster per say BUT you can derail your race if you panic train. I still remember Ironman World Champion, Craig Alexander, stating when he was forty that although it took him awhile, he learned to race smarter, at his age, and not harder. SO TRUE.

Leading into the race, it is key for me to keep the engine going with relaxing swims at Taupo baths and shorter (with a sprinkle of intervals) rides around the New Zealand countryside to make sure the bike is dialed in completely. We were on our new Ventum bike this race so I was excited to experience all that it has to offer. Afternoons and nights are spent off the feet as much as we can and in the Recovery Pump boots watching some shows with my husband to relax the mind. We eat at our favorite places like Taupo Thai and pay close attention to maintaining proper hydration levels – the use of pee sticks to test hydration levels is necessary to make sure you are on point with your drinking.

After the race, feel free to indulge in that post event lush meal because your body is of course craving salt and maybe some grease/fat! We had our usual burger at Burger Fuel and fries to curb these hunger pains and desires! At this point, the four pockets of recovery begin to kick in as you learn from the mistakes and accomplishments of the day and the eye moves forward to the next big race. A sleeping aid such as melatonin usually helps to sleep because your body is still amped up on adrenaline and stretching its limits – it is confused as to what just happened! I try to use the Recovery Pump boots every day after a race to keep inflammation down and aid in keeping the blood flowing to stressed muscles. I do not fret about getting too much sleep; this is a necessity so naps (also with Recovery Pump boots on!) are imperative as well as regularly scheduled rest.

As the Rest pocket is taken care of, I also focus intently on getting proper hydration and nutrition. The body is craving nutrients to help repair itself and liquids are the best way to absorb these necessary vitamins and minerals. Delaying this process will prolong your recovery to get up and training again. As I stated before, there is no substitute for these paramount pockets of recovery and it’s not complicated or time consuming to make these things happen in your routine. Take care of the body and it will be resilient and get back on track.

The last and most important pocket of recovery is Balance. I have seen far too often where athletes get so one track minded with their training and racing that they forget about what is important in life. You can enjoy your hobbies and passions yet you also have to enjoy your life with friends and family; relationships. New Zealand is our 2nd home; we love the people, scenery, food, culture and relaxing in this special place is a treat. We always try to schedule time after the race to have quality time with our friends in Taupo, experience the outdoors, and take a load off from the ‘real world’ – this is the balance we all need in this hectic world to recharge the batteries.

We then head to one of our favorite lodges, the Poronui Lodge, 45 minutes outside of Taupo, http://www.poronui.com/ - @PoronuiLodge -  This is just my husband and I enjoying our time with the friendly staff, who have become friends, and the other like minded guests wanting to get away. A typical day is getting up whenever for a wonderful breakfast, enjoying coffee in my Recovery Boots on our deck overlooking the property while my husband goes fly fishing, getting the blood moving by walking to the stables and playing pool, reading, etc…This is the perfect antidote to the fast pace, high technology world we all live in. After Poronui we go to Napier for a few days in New Zealand wine country.

I know that life gets in the way and there might not always be time after a race for a mini vacation yet even relaxing on your couch watching TV with loved ones can be a magnificent cure for the post race blues. Reset those competitive juices, recover to the fullest, and be ready to tackle the next round of athletic challenges! Nothing beats focusing on your rest, hydration, and nutrition as you decompress from a tough race. Hopefully you can catch up on those relationships that mean so much before heading off on the continuation of your triathlon journey!

- Meredith B Kessler, Ironman Champion

@mbkessler

Winter Training

After suffering through 3 winters in Boston, I moved to Austin and I swore I would never live in a cold climate again. But after only 2 and half years there I somehow found myself living back in a cold winter climate in Boulder.

I learned a lot about how to train through the winter when I was in Boston and this time around I came up with a couple more tricks to try and make winter triathlon training a little more tolerable.

One of the main ways I get through winter is to find people to train with. Training with a small group helps in many ways. When you're having a bad day, there is always someone in the group who will be motivated and you can feed off of this until your motivation comes back. When I was in Boston there were very few people to train with. On occasion I would meet up with Dede Griesbauer for a ride, but she always smacked me around on the bike, so that wasn't much fun. 

During winter I find that running a lot works best for me. Running high mileage during winter will pay off later in the year, and when the weather starts to get better, you can drop the run back to pick up the bike mileage.  I think running is also the quickest way to get fit. Keeping a high run volume during the winter helps keep your weight under control. I often hear a lot of the pros talk about putting on weight over the winter so they have something to burn off when they get fit again. I think this is really bad and unprofessional. Whenever I have gained weight over the winter, it has taken me twice as long to get my run fitness back. The first 4 to 6 weeks feel like hell and I don't enjoy it at all. So, I recommend keeping the running up.

One of the most important things for getting through the winter is consistency. Sometimes that doesn't even mean doing a lot.  Just getting in the training, day in and day out, will make the winter fly past. Having goals helps a lot too. I like to set distance goals for the week. For example, this January I tried to keep my running at over 100km for the week, and luckily, Boulder had a very mild winter so far and I have been able to achieve my monthly goal of 2000km on the bike. This hasn't been easy, but if you take day by day, it's possible.

When the weather is good, take advantage. Whenever it warms up, I get out on the bike and try to fit in some good long rides. You never know when you'll get to do your next long ride outside. Also, heavy duty ski gloves and hand/foot warmers work great on cold days. And speaking of cold days, running mittens might look stupid but they are awesome.

If you can find a race to do mid-winter, whether it's a triathlon or even just a running race, this will help keep you focused on your training. Races help split the winter in half so you just need to get through the race and then set a new goal for the second half of winter.

One last tip: don't go skiing. As much fun as it is, something always happens. I went for a day trip with Chris Legh in December. I had a little tumble and and tweaked my shoulder. It's been sore ever since, even with all the work I have had on it. 

And remember, only the hard, tough triathletes stay up north in the winter.


- Richie Cunningham

www.richie-cunningham.com

Instigate Change, Maintain Passion

Just as the branches of a tree extend in different directions and its leaves change appearance from year to year, 

so must we spread our wings and embrace opportunity as life presents itself.

Change is uncomfortable. It can be exciting, but it is often scary. We’ve all heard the saying, “we fear what we don’t know.” I consider myself fairly open to new experiences and one whom can appreciate opportunity, but I’ll be the first to admit, I enjoy my routine. The familiar feel of consistency, gauging improvement, and knowing (at least to some extent) what to expect around the next corner. I can be sentimental towards past experiences, memories and people who are important in my life. I try to acknowledge when I am hanging on a bit too much to something and try to ask myself ‘why’ I am doing so, because I know that change is essential for growth.

My husband Derick and I recently made a huge life change. We picked up and moved from our home of 10 years in Austin, Texas and headed back to the mountains. We didn’t completely step into the unknown, as we were both living here when we met back in 2003. But Austin had been so good to us. Derick got a graduate degree at University of Texas and started a successful coaching business. My racing flourished in an incredible city that seemed to nurture both of our dreams. He came into his own as a great coach and I found the competitive form I’d been long seeking in triathlon. But as each year came and went, we knew deep down we were missing living in a place where we could look out our windows and see mountains. We missed drastic weather changes; storms rolling in, dark ominous snowy skies; four seasons in a year. Every summer we would venture out to Colorado to spend a few weeks, get our fill, and then head back to Texas, to our home. But we hit a point last summer when we admitted, “We need to make a change. We need to move back and be where we know our hearts are content. We need to be open and honest with ourselves, even if it means it will be tough to leave where we are comfortable and life is good.”

Personally, I realized last summer that I felt a bit ‘bored’. It was a feeling that I had to accept, digest and figure out where it was coming from. I’ve competed in this sport now for 16 years, 14 as a professional. Suffice to say, triathlon has been a massive part of my life. Was I burned out of competing, of training? Was I tired of racing? I didn’t feel that was it, because I still loved what I was doing; but I knew I was seeking change in some capacity. When Derick and I make our trek out to Colorado Springs to look at houses in late November, we tackled change. It happened quickly. We made an offer on a house, went back to Austin and got our house prepped to sell. I was excited in December when this was all happening, but also a bit sad. Changes were swirling all around me. A new year of racing was about to start. We were going back to what we wanted, so why did I feel trepidatious? 

The holidays came and went, we visited our families, and January rolled around. It was crunch time. I found myself starting the new year with more excitement and less ‘fear’. Before we knew it we had loaded up our car and a U-Haul and off we went. We had made the 13 hour drive out to Colorado so many times the past 10 years; but this time, this one was for good. We were driving right into a new phase.

We quickly settled. And I do mean quickly…our car and U-Haul were unloaded within a few hours, our POD arrived the next day, and by Day 3 it was gone. Our house was filled with boxes. My ‘training’ was unloading one box at a time and finding a home for all of our random, eclectic items. It was fun. I told myself “Don’t worry about training/exercise this entire week, give yourself 7 days to settle in and maybe not even train at all.” But you know what? I was anxious to run in the cold, fresh mountain air. I wanted to get on my bike and explore this new (yet old) playground that was out our doorstep. I wanted to get in the pool to see how I handled the altitude. By the weekend, we had settled enough to disappear for 2 days to the mountains, hang with friends, and ski around in the backcountry. Our pup Amico loved the snow. Derick was excited. I swallowed my pride as some good friends took us on a trek skinning up to 12,000 ft making it look easy, while I had to stop a few extra times to try and do that important thing called breathing. But it was new, it was beautiful and it was invigorating. I got worked enough in those two days of skiing that on the drive home (in a snowstorm) I told myself “take an easy day tomorrow, you’re tired.” But I got back the next day and banged out a 2 hour session on the trainer, in the basement, looking out a window covered by snow. I felt motivated and inspired.

My point to this story? The passion had returned. I just needed to instigate a change to spark it.  

Don’t be afraid to step into the unknown. Listen closely to your intuition. Seek out things in life that make your heart happy, that make your soul sing. There often isn’t one single path for this. I was happier than I ever imagined I would be in Austin, but after many years, the call back to the mountains was too strong to ignore. Life is short. Do what fulfills you; even if it is a bit scary. Change keeps us on our toes, makes us feel alive, and allows us to always keep growing

- Kelly Williamson, Ironman Champion & #RPInspiration

@kmhwilliamson