Step Up and Tri – April 2012

Hello Everyone!

Wow- April has been a huge month for you lot- John finished his first ultra marathon (50 miles!), Franny raced her first Boston marathon in record heat, the Breslaws had great races at the Nautica and Clermont Intimidator Half Iron, Nathan went to the Himalaya, and Sue had a super race at Nautica. You all inspire me on a daily basis and that helps me to train hard too. I can’t wimp out if you guys are working so damn hard and racing great!

My race, Ironman St. George, is just over a week away and I am feeling strong and ready cos I have to be able to keep up with all my clients! I had a little something obnoxious going on with my knee so I missed my training race at Clermont and it has meant that my taper started a little early. We all get a little nuts at this point and worry that the taper means we will lose fitness, but as one of my professors said- “at this stage the hay is in the barn,” so just make sure you get to race day healthy. I am staying calm and trusting the training that I have done and taking inspiration from the best group of athletes a coach has ever had the honor of working with. Thank you all for your support and for leading by example. I will be thinking of you in Utah and you will all carry me over that finish line.

The final installment in the series on Mental Skills Training
This month we’re going to focus on the element of mental skills training that the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) has found to be important for consistent, optimal performance:

Confidence enhancement
How athletes think and talk to themselves can either enhance or hurt their performances (Bandura, 1997; Feltz & Lirgg, 2001; Short & Sullivan, 2003; Weinberg, Grove, & Jackson, 1992; Voight, 2002). As this research has shown, those athletes who are more aware of their thoughts and self-talk, and who develop plans for dealing with inappropriate and damaging thoughts and negative self talk, perform better and more consistently in pressure situations. The following fundamental strategies may be used to enhance confidence:

  • Acknowledge your own good performances.
  • Combine critical feedback with appropriate encouragement (e.g., “I’ve been feeling stronger on my long runs, but I still need to work on my pacing.”)
  • Use vivid visualization: make a mental movie of all your best training and racing experiences. The movie should be in the first person, utilize all your senses (smell the ocean, taste the sweat, hear the announcer, feel your feet hitting the pavement, see the road ahead), and you should have control of the movie (if something goes wrong in the clip, stop the movie and figure out how best to deal with the issue and then restart the movie with you handling the situation effectively and without panic. Watch this movie daily- for 2 to 5 minutes.
  • Mental training with this type of visualization and imagery of successful training and racing is a consistent source of confidence. It helps you to BELIEVE what you can do.
  • Stress to yourself the importance of putting in quality practice sessions throughout the week.
  • Focus on the fact that you have done the training and all the race specific sets and you can deal with anything.
  • Have a ready-made replacement sentence for when negative self talk arises. Something short that rings true. You can’t talk yourself out of negative self talk, so simply replace the negative thoughts with the replacement statement.
  • Use a race plan to help you stay focused and stop your mind from wandering.
  • Stay focused on yourself, not other racers.

It is vitally important that you are aware of and in control of your inner dialogue. Positive self talk can go a long way toward improving your ability to be a consistent performer. Your internal dialogue will direct your attention and can help you to feel confident and capable.

Negative self talk can also direct your attention, but not in a positive way. If you are focused on not making a mistake, you are not focused on the right thing! We need to stay focused on being present and swimming, biking and running in the best way we can.

Negative self talk will undermine all your training: “I am a choker”, “I can’t do this”, “I don’t perform well in the heat”, “I hate this wind.” Statements like this will increase anxiety levels (which leads to tight muscles and poor form) and adversely affect confidence levels.

There are common negative self-talk and thoughts that athletes who lack appropriate confidence use, and these are listed below (Bunker, & Williams, 1998). Being aware of the use of thoughts and dialogue such as these is the first step in becoming mentally tougher and more consistent.

Common thinking distortions (or the language of crazy-making)

Style Description Example
Filtering You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively ‘I didn’t run well, I was too slow getting my drinks at the aid stations”
All or nothing thinking Things are black or white, no grey areas. If your performance is less than perfect, you see yourself as a total failure ‘I’m useless because I don’t climb hills well.”
Over-generalization You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat ‘I always swim off course”
Jumping to conclusions Mind-reading: Without asking them, you know how people are thinking and what their motives areFortune-telling: you feel that things will turn out badly and feel convinced that your prediction is an established fact Mind-reading: ‘The coach looks grumpy, I know she’s mad at me’ .Fortune-telling: ‘I always struggle in the heat.’
Magnification and minimization Exaggerating the importance of things (such as your error or other’s achievements) or minimizing things to appear insignificant (such as your achievements or other’s errors) ‘I missed that workout, I’m never going to get my PR,” or ‘it does not matter that I got a PR in every race this year, I am a lousy runner.’
Personalizing Everything people do or say is a reaction to you, always comparing yourself to others, assuming you are the cause of a negative event that is out of your control ‘I’ll never be as good as her’
Control fallacies Internal control: I am the cause of the success/failureExternal control: it’s out of my hand, it’s fate Internal: ‘I am totally responsible for my success or failure, and there is nothing else that affects it (like weather or illness).External: ‘the wind is too strong today, there is no way I can ride well.’
Disqualifying the positive You reject positive experiences by insisting they don’t count for some reason or other. ‘Who cares if I swim well, I don’t ride as well as so and so.’
Should statements Trying to motivate yourself with should and shouldn’t as if you need to be whipped and punished to do anything (= guilt) or direct should statements to others (= anger, frustration) ‘I should be able to run better’

Confidence refers to the inner belief that a task can get accomplished. Top performers from all types of settings, from sport to business to the performing arts, have been found to be very confident about their performances. They do not doubt their abilities, but rather believe that every time out on the course (or in whatever setting), they can and will perform well. Confident athletes also do not let their performance dictate their level of confidence. Some athletes who are performing well will feel good about themselves, yet if they start to struggle, they will begin to question themselves and their abilities. Truly confident athletes let their consistently high level of confidence dictate their performance, so when they are temporarily off, they stay positive and productive, and will eventually return to form.

Athletes can improve their awareness of their thoughts and self-talk, and how these may interact with their performances, by first listing the most common negative thoughts and self-statements that enter their head before or during games, and then listing positive, productive thoughts and self-statements that can replace the negative ones. The purpose of this exercise is to become aware of the negative thought or statement and then replace it with a more positive or productive thought or statement. The more the athlete practices this exercise, the better he or she will get at staying more productive “inside,” which should translate into a more confident, consistent performance “outside.”

There are four steps in dealing with the internal dialogue: Recognize, asses, replace and habituate.

  1. Recognize your self talk.
  2. Assess when it is negative.
  3. Replace it with a positive/productive statement.
  4. Habituate that behavior and eventually the negative self talk will fall away.

Five Fast and Healthy Ways to Start Your Day By Monique Ryan.
I used to skip breakfast all the time, but since I have added it consistently to my training regimen I am stronger, have more energy at the end of long morning workouts, and recover faster. When Monique (below) suggests milk or yogurt, remember you can use soy, almond, coconut or rice alternatives. Timing of your pre-workout meal is important too: either eat 90 minutes or longer before your workout or eat within the 15 minutes before you head out the door. (This is so that the insulin response does not negatively impact your blood glucose levels. 90 minutes gives your system long enough to process the insulin and 15 minutes before the workout means that the insulin response won’t have occurred before you begin the workout and your glucose levels will be optimal.)~Dara

You can tweak your training plan, invest in the best gear, and push yourself harder than ever this year in triathlon, bike racing and running. But if you’re not eating the right breakfast, you’re not getting the most out of your morning workouts, or the rest of the day. Breakfast provides morning training fuel, post-workout recovery fuel, and sets up the day for proper fueling before an evening workout. Research also indicates that regular breakfast eaters do a better job of maintaining their weight, and manage hunger better throughout the day- especially when that fiber filled breakfast contains some protein as well.

Here are five menus to get you out the door fast and fueled.

1. The No-Brainer Breakfast
Works for non-workout mornings. Start a rest day right with a meal that includes whole-grain, low-sugar cereal (no more than eight grams of sugar per cup), an antioxidant-rich fruit like berries or cantaloupe, and enough protein to keep you satisfied until lunchtime.

3/4 cup granola
6 oz plain lowfat Greek-style yogurt (or soy yoghurt)
1 cup strawberries
12 almonds

530 calories, 20 g protein, 85 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat, 9 g fiber

2. Quick-Energy Breakfast
Best before an easy workout — with a bit of digestion time. Save the big meal for after your workout. But a light meal before training can provide the energy you need to sustain blood glucose levels and have a better quality workout. The key is to have easily digested foods and liquids of mainly carbs and some protein. If you have a very sensitive stomach, or the timing is just too close, opt for just the liquid smoothie.

2 slices of whole-grain toast with1 tbsp peanut butter (all natural, no salt or sugar added- this is not your Mother’s Jiffy!).
12 oz skim or soy milk blended with 1 cup frozen blueberries

460 calories, 23 g protein, 70 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat, 9.5 g fiber

3. Recovery Breakfast
Perfect for after a cardio workout. This one is also built around fresh fruits and whole grains — but it’s higher in quick-burning high glycemic carbs, for faster recovery.  The protein also aids in the recovery process.

1 hardboiled egg or 1 oz string cheese
1 cup bran cereal with 1 tbsp raisins and 8 oz skim/soy or almond milk
1 banana

560 calories, 24 g protein, 97 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 12 g fiber

4. Power Breakfast
Perfect for before and after resistance workouts. To maximize muscle building, down 15 to 25 grams of high-quality protein 30 to 60 minutes before you begin resistance training. Repeat this breakfast after particularly intense resistance workouts — it aids in recovery, too.

4 egg whites, scrambled
1 cup cooked oatmeal
1 peach, sliced
8 oz lowfat chocolate milk/soymilk
4 Tbsp protein powder

525 calories, 41 g protein, 77 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 9 g fiber

5. Portable Breakfast
Perfect for hurried mornings. Eat this portable breakfast in the car, on the train, or once you get to your desk. It will leave you feeling better than that Danish from the coffee cart.

One large whole-wheat tortilla containing:
1 egg or 3 egg whites, scrambled
1–2 oz low-fat cheese
1 sweet red or green pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced

400 calories, 31 g protein, 52 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 8 g fiber

Training Tidbit
Nutrition and Athletic Performance
Regarding the above PDF: This is the position stand of the ACSM, and it covers just about everything you need to know about the amounts of macro-nutrients you should eat daily and for recovery post workout. It is not exactly thrilling reading, but it IS vital reading for us endurance athletes. It explains energy requirements and metabolism, body composition, our vitamin and mineral needs, what we need in the way of hydration and electrolytes, and special considerations for extreme environmental challenges.

Athlete Race Update: Fantastic performances all around!
John finished the Croom Fools Run 50 mile trail race in 10:34!
Franny finished her first Boston marathon with a heat index of 95!!
Kristy took second in her AG at Clermont HIM, and raced really strong at Nautica.
Ralph had a great race at both Clermont and Nautica.
Cat took 3rd in her AG at Clermont.
Sue had a super race at Nautica too.

Upcoming Races:
Sue, Sandy and Liz are doing a 5k this month
John will be doing the Keys 100 in May
Jim is going out to California to do the Swami ride
Ruben will do the Sprint tri on Key Biscayne
Tracey is doing St. Anthonys
And I will be doing IMSTG.

Featured Athlete – John Planz
John recently completed his first 50 mile, ultra distance run at the Croom Fool’s Run on the trails in the Withlacoochee forest. It was a lot more technical than either of us had anticipated, but he made it (which is more than we can say for his big toe nail). John made the race look easy and finished in 10:30- AMAZING man!

He is training for the Keys 100 in May of this year. John never does anything by half. J

What do you feel helped you the most in your preparation for the Croom Fool’s run?
I didn’t have much experience as Trail Runner so it was important for me to find some local trails and spend some time getting acclimated to the challenges of uneven terrain, ducking under branches and watching out for tree roots.
Past history of sports participation:

I played a lot of the typical American sports growing up baseball, football and wrestling. Baseball got me a scholarship to college so I normally say I was a baseball player.
What was your first running race?

I can’t really remember what year it was maybe like 1987, I ran a Jingle Bell 10K run in Syracuse, NY in a snow storm.
First Marathon?

My first Marathon was the Inaugural Disney Marathon I think that was 1993.
How many marathons have you done? 
Counting the 26.2 miles I do during and Ironman–I think about 47.
What was your first triathlon & what made you do it?

I did the Loggerhead Triathlon in Jupiter, FL. I wanted to do it only to add some biking as cross training for my running.
How many Irondistance races have you done? 
I have done 17 Iron distance triathlons so far.
What was your first Iron distance race and when was it?
I did the Great Floridian in Clermont in 1994.
Any tips for newbie Irondistance athletes in training?
Break your event into smaller manageable pieces.  Think things like, this is only three things a swim a bike and a run.  Break those three things down even further. For instance I never feel like I am on a 112 mile bike ride I am always thinking 10 minutes then I drink, then 20 minutes more and I eat or 10 more miles until I turn north it becomes really manageable that way and before you know it 3 or 4 hours have already passed.
What do you love about training and racing?
There is really nothing about it that I don’t love.  But of all the things I love probably the fact that it is personal and spiritual, it is just me against me many times in the silence of the dark when it is completely peaceful.
Favorite training or racing experiences:
My absolute most favorite race experience was when my wife, Anna, and I both did the White Lake ½ Ironman.  It was her first and watching her cross the finish line was the coolest experience I ever had in a race.
Races/events completed last season:
Last season I did not do any events, I got in a bike wreck 3 weeks before IM Louisville which ended my season.
Favorite race/s (all-time):
I was lucky enough to live in Italy for a couple of years.  I did IM Switzerland in 2005, it was an amazing event. There are some bike climbs that you are bumping shoulders with crazy fans cheering you on, ringing cow bells the whole works.  
Athletic achievement/s you are most proud of:

Not sure if proud is the right word but I do smile when I think back to 2005 when I did IM Switzerland and 2 weeks later I did IM UK.
Goals for the 2012 season:
I have only one this year, finish my first 100 Mile Ultra event the Keys 100.
Favorite running route: 
I had a Sunday run loop in Italy that I can only say I was blessed to have experienced.  I ran down Via Dei Fori Imperiali staring at history and I knew not many people are as lucky as I am.  Here is South Florida I love my runs along the intra-coastal on Flagler in West Palm Beach.
Favorite racing and/or training tip (what would you tell a newbie, and not necessarily something Dara told you!):
Every year I find something new, in vogue or really cool but I always come back to one thing that I call my favorite.  I say or think to myself “find a way”…….Training or racing over long distance in usually hot conditions is always more mental than physical.  The physical stuff is kind of easy to control with hydration, nutrition and training.  When it comes to the mental part prepare yourself with the knowledge it will be a long day with many ups and downs.  Make yourself KNOW hard spots will pass, KNOW you will get through it.  I always know by one simple thing, I look at the start of a race I see the many physically challenged athletes some who will pedal with their hands, then do the same with their wheelchairs…there will always be someone who has it harder than you do and they find a way, so you do the same, find a way.
A favorite “Dara-ism”:
What is your mantra this year…..?

Monthly Recipe:
Tempe and Broccolini Stir-Fry
Hands-on time: 30 minute
Total time: 30 minutes
Streamline your stir-frying process by prepping all ingredients before you start cooking. For a whole grain base, use brown rice.

  • ½ pound broccolini
  • 6 tablespoons chopped green onions, divided
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 5 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 (8 oz package) of organic Tempeh cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 cup diagonally-cut snow peas
  • 2 2/3 cup hot cooked long-grain white rice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  1. Cook broccolini in boiling water for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and plunge broccolini into ice water; drain. Squeeze dry. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Combine 3 tablespoons green onions and the next 5 ingredients (through red pepper) into a bowl.
  3. Heat a large, heavy skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add tempeh; stir-fry for 5 minutes or until golden brown on all sides. Remove tempeh from pan; keep warm. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add broccolini and snow peas; stir-fry 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tempeh and vinegar mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons green onions and peanuts.
    Serves 4.

Always time for a quick laugh:



About TriCoachDara

I have been a multi-sport coach since 2001 and during that time I have trained hundreds of athletes for whom triathlon, running, biking, fitness and health must fit into very busy lives. My clientele includes lawyers, doctors, full time mothers, office workers, school teachers, nurses, and entrepreneurs – and every one of them has a jam packed schedule. My goal is to help each athlete strike a balance between training to their maximum potential and balancing the various other aspects of their lives, as well as to provide all the information they need to perform at their best and stay healthy and injury free.
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