Get the most out of your coach!

Check out this article from TrainingPeaks blog- i could not agree more!

http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/getting-the-most-out-of-using-a-coach?feed=70c86158-aad7-4b07-8cc3-7c383b9bd61b&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+trainingpeaks%2FXAlX+%28TrainingPeaks+Blog%29

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WOW! Watch this video for mad bike handling skills!

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For all of those who use Tylenol instead of ibuprofen- a little scary.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/505/use-only-as-directed

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Exercise as potent medicine

 

We know that, but it’s always good to see it in print!

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Recovery swim!

Check out this article by Matt Fitzgerald on a recovery technique that may trump those fancy compression socks.

Written by: Matt Fitzgerald

Triathletes do all kinds of things to accelerate muscle recovery after hard runs. They stretch, take ice baths, wear compression socks, get massages, strap on Normatec boots, drink recovery shakes, and so forth. But a recent study suggests that something many triathletes do already for purposes other than recovery may do more than any of these measures to accelerate their recovery: swim.

The study, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine and conducted by researchers at the University of Western Australia, involved nine well-trained triathletes. The subjects performed an interval run consisting of 8 x 3 minutes @ 85-90 percent VO2 peak velocity on two separate occasions. Ten hours after the run, the triathletes either swam 2,000 meters or lay down for an equal amount of time. Fourteen hours after that, the subjects performed a high-intensity run to fatigue to assess how well their running performance had recovered from the previous day’s interval sessions.

Interestingly, the subjects were able to run for 13 minutes, 50 seconds after swimming for recovery compared to only 12 minutes, 8 seconds after lying still for recovery. That’s a 14 percent difference. The researchers also found that swimming for recovery was associated with much lower levels of c-reactive protein, a biomarker of inflammation, 24 hours after the interval run. This finding suggested that swimming for recovery enhanced performance in a subsequent run by attenuating muscle tissue inflammation resulting from the first run.

Many triathletes routinely schedule swims as their next workout following runs because it feels good to the legs. Now we know that it not only feels good but does good. If you’re not engaging in this practice already, start!

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October’s blog

Hello All,

I have been thrilled with all  your races thus far in the season, and all your hard work is paying off!

You have been training hard at varying levels of intensity, but with quality time spent actually at race intensity, which helps you to be able to hit race efforts on the day, when it counts the most. One of the biggest mistakes an athlete can make is to train at intensities that don’t prepare you for the rigors of race day physically or mentally- often training above or below race specific intensities. Of course, the flip side of this is that the athlete trains at what they believe will be race day intensity, but then on the day of the race gets overexcited, overconfident, and falls prey to the greatest race day sin: racing way harder than s/he trained!  No matter how hard and long you trained for your event, if you race harder than your goal pace/ intensity then you are actually UNTRAINED for your race. The rigors of training prepare you mentally and physically for what you will encounter on race day, from how to eat and drink during the event, to how to mentally handle the tough parts, and of course, how to pace yourself for the duration. Each one of these elements is very specific, and if you change the intensity on race day then you seriously risk a DNF (did not finish) as your body and mind are not actually prepared for the event. So, whether you are currently working with a coach or not, be sure that you have spent time at specific race intensities and then follow the plan on race day!

And just a reminder that while racing always involves at least a little bit of discomfort and suffering (the more you care, the harder you try, the more pain is involved), this “unpleasantness” is simply your body letting you know you are achieving your goals. Your training taught you to handle it, to embrace it and to love it, and your racing will teach you it was worth it all.

Train smart, race hard, and have fun my friends.

Dara

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For those of you getting ready for the New York City Marathon, one of my clients found this great race pacing link- thank you, Cicily and good luck at the race!

http://runnersconnect.net/running-training-articles/new-york-city-marathon-race-strategy/

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Heel or mid-foot strike- is there a right and wrong? An interesting article in the New York Times about whether we should try to change our foot-strike if we are heel strikers. This study at least says, “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” In other words, if you are running strong and pain free, then there is no need to change to a mid-foot strike. I can run with that.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/16/pounding-pavement-by-heel-or-toe/?emc=eta1&_r=0

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Injury prevention checklist from USA Triathlon.

Some good ideas from Tri-Hard.com. However, the power workout in season, without ample training to prepare your body for that is not such a good idea as I feel it may set you up for injury and will be counter-productive for other, tri specific, workout that follow.  Power workouts in the off-season are a great idea, but not in season or near races.

http://www.usatriathlon.org/about-multisport/multisport-zone/multisport-lab/articles/injury-prevention-checklist.aspx

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For those trail-runners among us: http://www.buzzfeed.com/melaniepoloff/38-things-that-make-you-a-trailrunner-dhod

For those ultra runners amongst us: http://whatisultra.tumblr.com/

Are you mentally set up for success? a short piece from USA Cycling: http://www.usacycling.org/are-you-mentally-set-up-for-success.htm

Are you nutritionally set up for a yummy snack?

Homemade Vegan Energy Bar Recipe

The “dry” Ingredients: 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 2/3 cup oats 1 cup Grape Nuts cereal 3/4 cup raisins (I used golden) 1 cup shredded coconut (I could only find sweetened) 1/3 cup unsalted almonds, chopped 1/3 cup unsalted cashews, chopped 1 cinnamon stick, ground (or 2 tsp ground, but I totally recommend the taste of freshly ground!)

The “wet” ingredients: 2 tbs flax seed 1/4 cup warm water 1 1/2 cups cooked Great Northern Beans (or 1 15 oz can) 15 dates, seeds removed and chopped (about 1 cup or 1/2 a lb) 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 tbs honey 1 tbs canola oil 1/2 cup applesauce (I made mine on the stove by cooking two peeled and diced apples for about 30 minutes with 1/4 cup of water, 2 tbs pomegranate molasses, and 1 tbs maple syrup)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

If starting with dry beans, soak a half pound over night, then simmer for about one hour or until soft.  If starting with canned, rinse well to remove saltiness.  Chop the beans roughly either by hand or in a food processor.  They don’t need to be processed into a puree, just tiny pieces.

Grind the flax seed and mix it with the water, set aside to thicken.

Combine the dry ingredients together first and mix well.  Add the wet ingredients and mix until uniformly incorporated.  Press into a greased 9×13 pan or casserole dish.  Bake for a total of 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan half way through.  (Mine were finished at about 23 minutes).  Cool completely, then cut into 24 bars.   I cut a line down the middle of the pan lengthwise then 12 cuts across.  Leave unwrapped for harder bars; put in airtight container for softer bars.  Toast cut bars in the toaster oven for a crispy outside.  If keeping longer than one week, wrap and freeze.

Nutrition facts for whole pan / one bar

calories from fat: 919 / 38.3 calories: 3779.3 / 157 fat: 105 / 4.4 sat fat: 30 / 1.25 protein: 109.2 / 4.6 sodium: 1584.3 / 66 total carbs: 713 / 29.7 sugar: 333 / 13.9 fiber: 178.2 / 7.4

- See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemade-energy-bars/#sthash.65eaqMSN.dpuf

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I know, I know, I may have already have shared this one with you: a little Ironman humor….http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=triathlon+cartoon&qs=n&form=QBVR&pq=triathlon+cartoon&sc=0-0&sp=-1&sk=#view=detail&mid=467DFBB05B9A2653926B467DFBB05B9A2653926B

Breathing rhythm and your stride rate.

I often ask my athletes to try to find the rhythm between their breathing and their cadence as there are many benefits to doing this. I recently came across an article that talks about this very thing. Written by Coach Jeff Gaudette on runnersconnect.net

For both beginners and advanced runners alike, improving   running form and technique is one of the most asked questions I get as a   coach.Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most complex and variable components of   training, both to adequately explain and for the runner to implement. Foot   strike, turnover, paw back, knee lift, these are just a few of the terms used   to describe the multitude of muscle movements, both conscious and   subconscious, that go into every step you take. Isolating and improving these   processes is difficult and can often distract a runner from the ultimate goal   – running faster, running longer and staying injury-free.

Consider a recent   study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina . When   researchers interviewed 35 runners who wore minimalist shoes and asked them   whether they were heel or forefoot strikers, all 35 responded that they were   forefoot strikers. However, after analyzing footstrike patterns with a   slow-motion camera, 33% of the runners were actually heel strikers.

First, this   study is a good demonstration of how difficult it can be to identify your   specific running form issues when your foot strikes the ground so quickly.   More importantly, it’s a good example of the risks associated with thinking   you’re doing something right, when you’re actually doing it wrong.

The   accepted theory is that running in minimalist footwear decreases the impact   forces on your legs because the lack of cushioning encourages you land on   your forefoot. This is definitely true, but if you wear minimalist shoes and   you don’t land on your forefoot when you think you are, vertical loading   rates can be up to 37% higher than heel striking in traditional shoes and 50%   higher than forefoot striking in minimalist shoes. It doesn’t take a PhD to   realize that increasing your ground impact with each step by 50% can lead to   some serious injuries.

So, how can   you determine if you’re running with the correct form during the middle of a   run when no one is around? I recommend counting your stride rate. Research   has shown that stride   rate helps runners land with their foot properly beneath them, which   promotes forefoot striking and reduces loading rates.

Luckily, to get started on improving your running form,   you can implement one simple trick that will help you develop a foundation   for optimal running form and provide a building block for future improvements.   So, what’s this “secret” building block? Improving your stride   rate.

What is   stride rate

Your stride   rate is the number of steps you take per minute. Stride rate could also be   called your running cadence or turnover. Calculating your stride rate is   easy, simply count how many times your right foot hits the ground while   running, and then multiply by two. This number is your stride rate.

Why is   stride rate important

Improves   your form

As   previously mentioned, your stride rate is a fundamental building-block to   establishing good form. By implementing the proper turnover rate, you   increase your chances of striking the ground at the correct angle and moving   through the proper range of motion when your leg moves back, up and forward.

Improves   your running economy

Running   economy is a measure of how efficiently you use energy when running. It’s   exactly like the way a car measures miles per gallon. The more efficient you   run, the longer you can go before getting tired, and the less effort you will   use to run fast. Running with the optimal stride length maximizes your force   on toe off (when your foot pushes you off the ground to move forward) and   minimizes the time you spend in the air by controlling your stride length.   These elements contribute to improving your efficiency.

Reduces   your chance of injury

One of the   main causes of running injuries is shock absorption, or lack thereof. If your   stride rate is too low, you will spend more time moving up in the air, moving   up and down as opposed to forward, and consequently land on the ground with   more force. With the proper stride rate, you take lighter, quicker steps and   reduce your chance of injury.

So what   is the optimal stride rate?

As the   subject of stride rate has become more main-stream, so too has the emergence   of the “magic” optimum stride-rate of 180spm. The reason for this   is as follows: at the 1984 Olympics, famous running coach Jack Daniels   counted the stride rates among elite distance runners. Of the 46 he studied,   only one took less than 180spm (176spm). Daniels also noted that in his 20   years of coaching college students, he never had a beginner runner with a   stride rate of over 180spm.

Unfortunately,   Daniels’ studies have been misquoted and as a result lead to all too frequent   claims that everybody should be running at 180spm. These claims ignore the   fact that Daniels noted stride rates of at least 180spm, not exactly   180spm. History clearly shows Haile Gebrselassie running 197spm en route to   his world record time of 2:03:59 at the 2008 Berlin Marathon, and Abebe   Bikila used a 217spm to become the first man to run a 2:12 marathon (2:12:13,   Tokyo 1964).

Differences   in our biological make-up means what works for one runner will not   necessarily work for all. If you do one day become an elite distance runner   (and we sincerely hope you do!) it is highly likely your race cadence will be   over 180spm. However, and this is the important part, your journey to 180spm   and beyond needs to be gradual.

The average   recreational runner has a cadence closer to 150-170 spm. How quickly you   progress and in what direction your running form develops will be affected by   factors unique to you – your height, hip mobility, level of general fitness,   to name a few.

The safest   and most appropriate way to increase your cadence is to try and improve by 5%   to 10% at a time.

How do I   increase my cadence gradually?

  1.   Using the counting your steps   method described above, determine your current cadence for a speed you would   use for a 5km+ race. Let’s imagine it is 160spm. Adding the 5% increase (10%   could well be too much of a jump), your new target is 168spm.
  2.   Start by adding short distances   into your runs in which you try to maintain your new target. This can be done   through use of a metronome (available from Amazon or downloadable as an app   for your phone). Be careful as many of these gadgets still regard 180spm as   the “magic” number and will only provide beats of 180spm+. Sites   like JogTunes   can be used to find music with beats per minute (bpm) to match your   desired spm. Otherwise, you can always just monitor your progress with a   30-second one foot count (then multiply it by 4).
  3.   Practicing your new stride rate on   a treadmill can sometimes be handy as you can set the speed to stay the same.
  4.   Once you have can comfortably run   your a 5km+ pace at your new spm (without thinking about it – remember we are   seeking unconscious competence), add another 5% and repeat the   process.

How to   improve your stride rate

If you want   to improve your stride rate, focus on developing a 180 steps per minute   turnover during your easy runs. On easy days, you have less to think about   than tempo workouts or speed days.

Visualize

Imagine   you’re running on a road made of eggshells and you don’t want to break them.   Picture yourself floating over the ground quickly, with light, purposeful   steps. Focus on running over the ground, not into it.

Metronome

If you run   with music or a smartphone, consider installing a metronome   app that you can set to a 180 bpm range. Focus on taking one step for   every click of the metronome. You’ll quickly fall into a natural 180 stride   per minute rhythm and can turn off the metronome.

Likewise,   music can throw off your stride rate. Many runners tend to naturally move to   the beat of the music. If you want to improve your form, consider running   sans music or with a metronome app instead.

Counting

If you’re   like me and do most of your runs technology free, you can simply count the   number of steps you take with your right foot. Count for a minute and see how   close to 90 steps per minute you get. Speed up or slow down your stride rate   accordingly and you’ll soon find yourself running in a natural rhythm.

Of course,   you don’t need to be exactly 180. A slight deviation like 175 or 185 is ok   too, as long as it feels comfortable for you. Stay close to the 180 range and   you’ll be on your way to improved running form before you know it.

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Step Up and Tri – July 2013

Welcome to July’s Blog.

We just had a super-moon (did you SEE it? WOW!); the summer is here in full force and you guys are training your hearts out in the heat and wind of south Florida. For my athletes up north, I think the summer has finally arrived for you too. When I looked at the super-moon I was awed and when I look at all the training and racing that you are doing, I feel the same; totally awed by your dedication and hard work. WOW!

I was honored this year to be asked to write a chapter on Sport Psychological Concepts and Applications for USA Triathlon and their Level II Endurance Manual which will be provided as curriculum to the coaches seeking Level II certification. And, as usual when preparing lectures or materials for this sort of thing I learnt a lot and it made me think about whether I was doing a good enough job of helping my athletes with their mental skills training.

One of the things that I harp on and on about with all my athletes is that they should use nothing new on race day. Most of us think that that means gear options, like “don’t wear a new pair of socks or bra or a new fuel belt or jock on race day” without having tested it in training first, as I guarantee something will go wrong or at the very least we will end up with some nasty chafing that might be hard to explain.  But even more important than having tested our gear is that we have tested ourselves and trained at race intensity so that we know we can do it on race day and so that we know what to expect mentally on race day at those intensities (not to mention whether or not our nutrition and hydration strategies work at those intensities also).

Leading up to race week I will have given my athletes many workouts that ask them to dial in race day efforts,  whether that be by rating of perceived exertion- RPE, heart rate –HR, power or pace. It is vital to do this so that you train your body for the rigors of race day, but even more so for the mental challenges of race day. Pushing yourself HURTS, and athletes must train their minds as much as their bodies for this kind of discomfort. During the toughest parts of the race, your mind might try to get you to slow down (as a protective mechanism) but in fact you know (because of the training you have done) that you CAN continue; the juice is worth the squeeze and if you have practiced and trained at race day intensities you can access that when you need to- actually on race day.  Many newbie athletes will train one way and race another, at much higher intensities, blaming excitement and competition, which generally leads to spectacular meltdowns, as 1) they are simply not physiologically prepared for working that hard, 2) their nutrition and hydration plans are not tweaked for that intensity, and 3) they are mentally unprepared for the surprising negativity and defeatist attitude that their brains can take when pushed to the limit, or beyond.

Endurance can be defined as a resistance to fatigue and there is an excellent and noted exercise physiologist, Tim Noakes, who has posited a theory concerning this. His “central governor” theory of fatigue which states that the brain (the Central Governor) anticipates pain/heat/fatigue and gets the body to slow down before any of this actually shows up in the system. Studies have shown that the mere anticipation of getting hot has slowed down athletes even before core temperatures rises. Other studies have shown that cyclists can produce much higher test results when compared to prior personal bests when they are tricked into thinking they are competing against other athletes.  All this points to what athletes must be prepared for on race day: lying to the central governor! When the brain says, “ooohwwee, this is soooo uncomfortable and I think you/I ought to slow down”, or “I suck in the heat, so why don’t we ease off”, or “I don’t think I can do this anymore”, athletes can combat that with statements about all the training they have done at exactly these intensities and keep on pushing through. The athlete learns where the limits really lie- beyond the over protective tendencies of the central governor- and can talk themselves into pushing hard through to the finish.

If you want to be fast, if you want to give your very best efforts on race day, then you have to do so in training. It will be unpleasant for portions of the race, and there will be times when you hurt, but if you want to achieve your goals then you have to come face to face with this discomfort and decide whether you have what it takes to keep on pushing. Training will teach you that you do!

If it were easy, there might be no point to getting off the sofa. Right?

We must connect training to racing- both physiologically and psychologically so that we are prepared for what we encounter on race day. We must strive to be prepared for anything that might arise on race day, from the physical stressors to the emotional and mental ones and we do that by making training as much like racing as possible.

So, back to my super athletes and the super moon. Day in and day out I see you all putting in huge efforts and toughing it out through very difficult workouts and races, and I see you learning that your limits are much further than you had ever thought, and that it feels damn good to keep pushing yourself, and that in fact you are capable of incredible feats and your goals are attainable. Amazing and awe-inspiring.

A good read:
http://blog.trainingpeaks.com/posts/2013/6/12/the-power-of-perseverance.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+trainingpeaks%2FXAlX+%28TrainingPeaks+Blog%29

Heart health:
http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/new-study-links-l-carnitine-in-red-meat-to-heart-disease-201304176083

Nutrition corner with Erica Goldstein
Glutamine and Endurance Exercise – Evidence for Immune Support?

In Exercise Science, methodology is most often cited as a reason for inconsistent results among studies. This makes perfect sense as mode, duration, and intensity affect not only the way the body responds (or does not respond) to supplementation but these same variables also influence the way the body adapts to training.  Another important set of variables is age and current level of fitness. As an example, it appears from the literature that moderate-intensity exercise supports the immune system. In comparison to a sedentary person, a recreational athlete may experience less illness over a given period. However, as the intensity and duration of exercise increases to that of an endurance athlete that participates in repetitive, long, and continuous hard efforts, the immune system may become suppressed. In this scenario, the athlete may experience increased bouts of illness, in particular upper respiratory infections. An athlete that has to spend time recuperating from an infection (i.e., cold, sinus infection, etc.) is consequently not able to achieve daily or weekly training goals, which could negatively affect overall performance.

Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid, which means the body can synthesize this amino acid instead of having to take it in through food, and is mostly produced, stored and released by skeletal muscle. Glutamine is released from skeletal muscle cells and is then taken up by immune cells, which is why it has been widely studied for its ability to prevent infection in athletes. Different types of white blood cells exist to protect you from harmful pathogens that can make you sick. One type of white blood cell is a neutrophil and is commonly referred to as a bacterial slayer. This is because neutrophils have the ability to engulf and destroy bacteria, which supports the immune system and prevents infection. A lymphocyte is a second category of white blood cells and serves to recognize antigens (microbes such as bacteria or virus) and mount an immune response, which is your body’s way of stopping the virus from reproducing and spreading throughout your system. Lymphocytes destroy pathogens, which prevents you from developing an illness. Glutamine acts an energy source for these components of the immune system to promote replication of these good cells in the body.

It has been hypothesized that repeated high intensity exercise of long duration results in a decrease in glutamine concentration post-exercise. This reduction in glutamine may hinder the body’s ability to produce and replicate white blood cells, which may impede the immune system and subsequent ability to fight infection.

It therefore seems logical that supplementing athletes with glutamine would prevent a decrease in blood levels of the amino acid and prevent subsequent immune suppression. However, as suspected, the literature is not conclusive and overall does not support the use of glutamine supplementation as a means to prevent infection in endurance athletes. This is not to say that glutamine is not effective in supporting the immune system in different types of athletes, who exercise at a different intensity and duration (i.e., high intensity, short duration). However, a direct link has not been confirmed between a decrease in the level of glutamine following a moderate-to-high intensity long duration effort (e.g., marathon running) and changes to the immune system that would increase risk for infection. Unfortunately, it is just not that simple.

Other roles for glutamine in terms of recovery do exist: glycogen and protein synthesis. However, in terms of the overall health of an athlete focusing on any one single nutrient as a means to increase performance or immunity is not advised. The best method is to consume carbohydrate, fat, and protein in adequate amounts that will both parallel and support specific blocks of training and recovery. Glutamine is present in the amount of 4-5 grams in most whey protein powders and is also consumed in meat sources such as beef and dairy. However, glutamine content is actually much higher (double that of whey) in soy protein isolate. Glutamine is most effective however in persons suffering from a period of malnutrition due to severe illness and/or trauma (e.g., glutamine levels are near deficient) and the majority of endurance athletes are not at risk for this type of protein deficiency.

In conclusion, directly supplementing with glutamine in an attempt to stave off training related illness may be misguided. However, consuming glutamine as part of a routine dietary strategy (i.e., consuming adequate amounts of protein, whey or soy in smoothies, etc.) may help to support the overall health of the athlete and their performance.

Hammer Burger
2 tbsp olive oil
½ small onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup diced sweet potato
½ small yellow squash
½ small zucchini
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 ½ cup rolled oats
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup shredded mozzarella
½ can black beans

Directions:
1. Drain and cook black beans on low-medium heat for approximately 10 min.
2. Heat Olive oil in skillet over low heat; cook the onion and garlic for approximately 5
3. Mix in the sweet potato, squash, and zucchini; continue to cook and stir for
4. Transfer all ingredients (vegetables and black beans) to the food processor. Combine
5. Remove from food processor and add in soy sauce, rolled oats, bread crumbs,
6. Form 4 patties; refrigerate for 1 hour.
7. Add oil to the skillet, grill patties for 5 min, or until heated through.

(Nutrient facts follow)
glutamine

Athlete Race Update:

Kristy B: 1st place AG in last weekend’s Motivation Man!  Roth coming up on the 14th.
Sue (birthday girl!): 2:27 at Motivation Man! (with the shortened swim). And she just go 1st AG in the Duathlon at Tradewinds!!!
Cicily: PR at Eagleman Half Iron in Maryland in 6:07 (swim was 2 mins faster, bike was 26 mins faster and the run was 13 mins faster!!!)
Colin: 5:15 at Motivation Man Half Iron- fassst!
Nadia: great 10k in NYC women’s race around Central Park. Doing the relay: swim and run for the NYC triathlon.
Adam: superb showing at  the S. Carolina state 40k TT !
Kim: did the Father’s day tri in Moss Park, but it got turned into a duathlon instead — fantastic finish time of 2:13.
Mark: second AG at the WPB 15k TT last weekend! And a whopping 12% improvement in FTP simultaneously.
Bernie: first race at Motivation Man Oly and 2:15 finish (with an abbreviated swim due to CRAZY currents!).
Julia: just returned from biking in Italy and Slovenia and was stronger than ever.
Jason: qualified for Nationals (again!) at Motivation Man with a 13th place finish overall!
Franny: On a relay team with Angela and Jodi — took 1st place at Motivation Man AND trade winds.

Way to go everyone! Super impressive all around!

Did you know about this?
http://espn.go.com/espnw/athletes-life/article/9429558/zoe-romano-running-tour-de-france-route-hoping-finish-day-cyclists-paris

Featured Athlete -
This month, we’re putting a unique spin on the Featured Athlete section. “Married to a newbie triathlete,” a Q&A with Rachel Tibor (wife of Sean Tibor)

Q. When Sean said he wanted to not only get into triathlon but train for a half ironman, what did you think?
A. I was all for it!  When we moved to Florida 2.5 years ago we swore we would be more active and avoid the ritual hibernation we often went into up north.  This was a perfect way to take advantage of where we live.  I’m also a believer in setting stretch goals vs. easily achievable ones – it means that the possibility of attaining those goals are there, you just have to work harder, but the result is greater.

Q. How different was it than you anticipated once training got going?
A. Initially there was little structure to training which I personally believe made it harder for him and for me in terms of setting expectations.  Once he started picking up momentum and building a strict training schedule, it was much easier to manage our time.

Q. How do you think it affected Sean?
A. This is an interesting question.  When training first started I was worried about him.  His mood changed and he would sleep for 3-4 hours after a workout – basically killing our weekends and time together after work.  Now this is not a plug for you and how fabulous you are Dara, but… Once he started training with you, I got my husband back in a week’s time.  Putting him on a strict schedule to build momentum, stay hydrated and maintain proper nutrition made all the difference for his mood and ability to function happily and normally after an intense workout.

Q. How did it affect your relationship? (If this is too personal, I apologize and please skip it).
A. I’m not sure it did – mainly because after being married for 8 years we understand each other and how to communicate.  Setting expectations on both sides up front was key.  Talking through everything on his end from time commitment, to the cost of “playing” the game, to what it might mean in terms of contribution to work around the house is critical.  On my end, had to do the same – communicating what I was and wasn’t ok with.  Then comes the fun part…you have to compromise where there are conflicts :)

Q. For many spouses it is hard to adjust to all the training time- early mornings, late workouts, long weekend workouts, the total tunnel vision about training and racing. How did you manage this?
A. Truer words have never been spoken.  I swear mistresses aren’t as demanding as competitive distance triathlon training.  Having my own major projects came in handy.  While he was training, I was working full time, gutting and renovating our entire house, as well as in my first – third trimesters of pregnancy.  That said, he also made sure to be there for me when I needed him and make time for whatever needed to be done, even if it was just doing errands on a Saturday.

Q. What did you do while he was out training on the weekends?
A. I was working with contractors, visiting stone distribution centers, negotiating with the kitchen guy, picking out paint colors, etc.  You have to have a hobby – and it has to be just as all consuming.  Knitting is great, but unless you’re launching your own knitting business, it’s not enough.

Q. How do you like all those protein shakes? Haha.
A. All I have to say to this is I never knew a person could consume so much food.  The man ate 2 breakfasts before heading to work.  That can’t be normal.

Q. What has been the hardest thing to get used to?
A. The limited topic of conversation.  You’re so proud of them for the daily accomplishments and all the hard work they’re putting in, yet, at times it’s the equivalent of your friends going on an amazing vacation and showing you their reel of 1,000,000 pictures….for hours.  For you triathletes out there, please recognize we love we with all our hearts, but sometimes, just maybe, we have to talk about something else.

Q. What advice would you give to other spouses and partners of newbie triathletes?
A. 1. Let them know that you support them, you love them, and are proud of them.  Not many people can do what they are doing, and we need to celebrate that.

A2. Get a hobby that is just as all consuming.  It can get lonely and boring fast if you have nothing to do.  It can also be super fun to throw yourself in head first into something you would normally not have the time to do.

A3. Make sure you state your needs up front: You get at least 2-3 “I need you cards” that you can cash in, and it either means they skip a workout or do it at another time, without any complaints :)

A4. My caveat to number 3: Recognize that if they drop everything any time you need them, they will not be training properly and could get injured before, during, or after the race.  Use your cards wisely and try not to do it on a 22 mile training run.  It’s a lot better for them physically and mentally to miss a 3 mile short run, bike or swim, than a milestone workout.

A5. Triathalon training can be all consuming like a child.  Set date night once a week.  You’ll be thankful for it.

A6. This goes for both parties: Do not sugar coat when you communicate the commitment it takes or what you will have to sacrifice to accomplish your goals and get your needs met. Also recognize that if you are deviating from the original plan, you need to re-communicate your goals and the changes you are expecting or experiencing and make sure you both are aligned.

A7. Use this as a time to get in shape too!  Try a kickboxing class, yoga class, or get a trainer. If you can manage it, why not?

A8. Have fun with this whole process.  Learn to be an expert spectator.  Find the best spot on the route to cheer them on and know no one will judge you if you have a beer in your hand while you do it.

Like I said, they’re doing something amazing.  When Sean finished his first Olympic distance race I was so happy and proud I was in tears.  But that could also be because I was hormonal and found out I was pregnant the next day.  Who knows? :)

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