6/21/17

Embrace sport scariness


Sports are awesome because they resemble life. 

In both life and in sport, there are rules, ethic codes, regulations and laws.
In both life and sport, the things that come easy are often most enjoyable and fun but when there's a struggle, it's easy to lose motivation and to lose confidence.
In both life and sport, we need to work hard, stay committed and remain focused. We also need a bit of luck.
And in both life and in sport, we need a "team" to help us succeed.

And in life and sport, both can be extremely awesome and a little bit scary.

Despite how scary sport can be, people from around the world, of all different fitness levels and backgrounds embrace the scariness of sport because it resembles life. Many people recognize that life is extremely hard so why not do something fun with your body that scares you?

I've always believed that one of the best things about sport is having countless opportunities to embrace scary situations and then work to overcome them. Kinda like stretching a comfort zone. But with sport scariness, it's all about placing yourself into a situation that gives you a little fear and doing what was once very uncomfortable. Through this process, an athlete can gain strength, confidence and courage by each experience that is scary.  

This is why I love a group training camp. Later today, we will have 16 athletes from all over the US joining us for an amazing 4.5 day camp experience that will require each of them to work through scary but fun situations in swim/bike/run. For some athletes, this may not sound like fun but for our campers, they signed up for this camp in order to improve. Every camper will learn that he/she is capable of handling discomfort in the face of a scary situation. Once the camper learns that he/she has the ability to handle the scary situation, it will no longer be something that is feared but instead, the athlete will gain confidence that he/she can conquer it the next time.

If you find that you are constantly pushing away the things that scare you, this strategy may provide you with temporary comfort but it's only short term. The long term result will be more fear anytime you are asked to do something that scares you. 

We look forward to helping our campers face their fears, stretch their comfort zone and show each athlete that they have strengths that they never knew existed.

6/20/17

Making hard decisions when dealing with an injury


Imagine if you could train and race without a single risk for injury? 

If it seems to good to be true, well, that's because it is.

Injuries are part of sport. If you call yourself an athlete, accept that you are always at risk for an injury.

When you train for an athletic event, you are placing a tremendous amount of stress on the body to improve your skills, fitness and preparation. And for any athlete who wants to get more out of his/her body, there are risks to be taken to push a little harder and go a little longer. Certainly, every coach has his/her intentions to design a smart training plan/training environment to reduce the risk for injury but sometimes things are just out of your control. While many injuries (niggles) are managed conservatively with little break in structured training or activities of daily living, other injuries are very disruptive to life, often causing physical and mental stress due to a complete stop in physical activity. 


For any athlete who has been injured, it's normal to be pissed off, frustrated, sad, mad, angry, disengaged and irritated. This may cause isolation and lack of motivation and may lead into more serious issues such as depression, anxiety, disordered eating and substance abuse. 

Realizing that some injuries come randomly (without a known trigger or warning) and some injuries are accidents (crash, rolling an ankle, slipping on a wet floor), it's important to note that athletes are not injury proof. Whether an injury happens randomly or because you are always pushing your limits and ignoring pain, injuries happen in sport and each athlete will have his/her own mental and physical response. 

Certainly, for any outsider (friend, family member, training partner, coach, teammate), it's easy to give advice like "hang in there" or "stay positive" or "don't give up". But athletes don't just deal with the physical pain of a torn muscle, strained tendon or broken bone but also the mental pain associated with the temporary or permanent loss of sport (which also brings purpose and self-identity)

As an athlete, although there is no good time to be injured, one of the most difficult times to be diagnosed with an injury is right before an important event. While athletes will often get injured due to a ramp in training volume/intensity, athletes can often be a bit too dedicated (stubborn) to training in the 4-6 weeks out from a race and will often feel the need do go a little harder or do a little more to validate race day readiness - thus the risk for injury increases.

I get it.

It's very tough to make that decision "to race or not to race."

With your athlete brain, you are often only capable of thinking in the current moment. It's nearly impossible to think beyond your next race. 


For example, in 2015, Karel tore his plantar fascia in early June while training for Ironman Lake Placid. This was his first real injury and he didn't want to accept it. When he finally received the MRI results that it was a tear (as we were driving to Lake Placid a few days before the race), Karel still wanted to race. He thought he could just tough it up and race and then he could recover from the tear. His thinking was - well it's already torn, what worse could happen?

He was obviously thinking in the present moment and could not see beyond Lake Placid. He could not think about his health or anything beyond this injury. I don't blame him. This is normal and he was not doing anything wrong. He could not see that in 3 months, he would have the opportunity to participate in his first Ironman World Championship (with me) IF he didn't run in Lake Placid. It seems like logical thinking (don't race Lake Placid and heal up for IMKona) but as an athlete, it's extremely difficult to think logically, let along see beyond your next finish line. 


As athletes, we often struggle to recognize and accept long-term consequences of our immediate actions. 

There are many common reasons why athletes feel they need to complete a race, even though they are faced with an injury. For example.....


But I told everyone I was doing it and all my training buddies are doing the race.

I don't want to be left out. 


But I trained so hard for this race. 

But I spent so much money on this race and trip.

I don't want to gain weight.

But I invested so much time for this race and I don't want to let my family down. 

I'll just take it easy on race day. 

I want the finisher medal.

I just really want to do it.

I remember telling Karel over and over that his reasons for "racing" with a torn plantar were not smart. Come Kona, he would be sitting on the sidelines, regretting the decision of hobbling his way through IM Lake Placid - that is, if he could even finish the marathon. He would just be suffering and surviving until he could not tolerate the pain any longer. It was very difficult for him to see long-term but I kept reminding him that if he only competes in the swim and the bike, he will still have the opportunity to compete in Kona as he can kick-start the rehab as soon as he returns home from Placid.

Although we had many discussions during the 72 hours before the race (and Karel desperately hoping a miracle would heal his foot before the race), he finally made the right decision to DNF after the bike......after he packed his running shoes in his T2 bag and finally recognized that running was not a smart option.

Karel learned a lot from not racing with an injury. Karel is much better at thinking long-term and now he has the experience of a serious injury (with a positive ending) to help him make good future decisions with his body. I always believe that injuries teach us lessons - in sport and in life.

Well, here we are again....but with NO INJURY.

Instead, here we are, just a few weeks away from traveling back up to Ironman Lake Placid for Karel to race on the same race course as his first Ironman in 2013 (our first IM together) and on the same course that he did not finish on due to an injury back in 2015.

As an athlete, remember that the entire goal of training is to compete at your best. If you can not race at your best due to an injury, then your immediate goal is to heal yourself so that you can return to sport with a healthy and strong body.

It's always a tough call but be sure to think long-term. No race is "worth it."



And in case you were wondering, yes, Karel did end up racing in his first Ironman World Championship and he finished the race with no pain and a great marathon with minimal run training. He was diligent with his rehab therapy and was very patient in the process of letting his foot "heal" from July - October. After his torn plantar finally healed (it took about 11 months until it fully healed), he went on to have a phenomenal 2016 racing season by completing 3 Ironman's (and qualifying and racing Kona again), while running his fastest ever marathon off the bike (3:06 at IM Mont Tremblant - fastest male amateur run split).

An injury is a great teacher. Pay attention because it can teach you a lot if you listen! 


6/19/17

Athlete spotlight: Christine McKnight - Stretching goals and training hard at 69 years of age



Name: Christine McKnight

Age: 69

City/State: Saratoga Springs, New York

Primary sport: Triathlon 

How many years in the sport: 20 years

What Trimarni services have you used: Nutrition consult, Sweat Testing

                                                       -------------------------------------

Describe your athletic background and how you discovered your current sport?


I graduated from a smalltown high school in western  Michigan in 1965.  There were no sports for girls back then and  no female athlete role models for young women either.  I  was sedentary until my late 30s, when I then took up running. I quickly discovered that I had a competitive mentality.  I was  xclusively a runner for 12 years, and I raced a lot.  But, as the running injuries mounted, I embraced cross training and  discovered triathlon as a 50 ­year­ old.  Since then, I have completed more than 110 triathlons, from sprints to the Ironman distance.

What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?
 

I embrace triathlon as a lifestyle, rather than just a hobby.  Triathlon has given me health and fitness and a wonderful circle of friends, an active lifestyle and a positive outlook on life, that anything is possible.  Among my triathlon friends, I am known to frequently say: "How lucky are we?!?"

What do you do for work?
I am retired from a 35­-year career in wire service  journalism, public relations work, and magazine  publishing.

How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?

Being retired is a huge advantage.  But I'm actually pretty  busy!  I am careful about my volunteer commitments and how I use my time.  As an older athlete, I try to carefully pace myself through my training week, and I pay a lot of  attention to recovery and rest.  I also work two afternoons a week in my local bicycle shop, Blue Sky Bicycles, and I write (freelance) about triathlon for a local publication called  Adirondack Sports and Fitness.
Any tips/tricks as to how to balance work and training?


Keep your life and commitments as simple as possible.  Be  clear about your priorities. Don't be afraid to say "no" to requests if they don't fit into those priorities.


Do you have kids?
My husband Jim and I have two adult children, a son and a daughter, and four granddaughters, ages 7 years to 15  months.



How does having kids affect your training? How do you balance a family and training? 

One of the values my coaching group, T3 Coaching, embraces is "family first." I really buy into that.  Sure, we want to train with dedication, but never at the expense of our families and relationships.


What tips and tricks do you have for other athletes who struggle to balance training with family? 

My son and daughter were in grade school when I took up triathlon. Sometimes I took them with me on a training outing,  sometimes I negotiated a deal with my husband, and sometimes I got a babysitter.  (Here's to babysitters!) As  they got older, they began to participate in runs and triathlons themselves.  But family commitments have always trumped training. 

How do you balance your training with your partner? Any tips or tricks for keeping your partner happy while you train to reach your personal goals?

I am so lucky!  My dear, sweet husband Jim is very proud to be married to a triathlete ­­- he often humorously introduces himself as "Christine McKnight's husband."  But major race decisions and annual goals always involve his input.  We are careful to set aside special times with each other, even if it is only a few minutes every day.  We play golf together often (my other passion), and we enjoy going out for a quiet dinner.  Be sure to make your partner feel special each and every day, and thank that special person for being your Sherpa. 

Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson
learned that you'd like to share?

It's important to have stretch goals.  Also, never doubt  yourself ­­and trust your training. That's how I got to the  Ironman World Championships in 2013. At my qualifying race, Eagleman 70.3, I was in last place of eight women in  my age group coming out of the water. Not good!  After the  bike, I was in fifth place, and my run moved me up to third place. Miraculously, I got a roll­down. Good things happen  if you give it a go, compete hard, stay in the moment and don't give up.



What are your top tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?

1.  Be good to your body.  Place a priority on how you recover, and give yourself plenty of rest.
2.  Keep your life balanced and avoid over commitments.   Pace yourself through the day, the week and the season.
3.  Cultivate your relationships.  Surround yourself with  positive, caring individuals who can help you create an environment in which you can succeed.

How would you define athletic success as it relates to your personal journey? 

For me, it's about just being able to stay healthy and showing up at the starting line, ready to compete. That's a  huge victory even before the race starts.


What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?
I really love a smoothie, almost any kind.

What key races do you have planned in 2017?

  • Eagleman 70.3 (June 11) - qualified for 70.3 World Championship 
  • Ironman Lake Placid (July 23) 
  • 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga (Sept. 9) 
  • Stretch goal: Ironman World Championships in Kona,  October (dependent on Lake Placid)



What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?

To continue competing at the highest level possible, at least through the age of 75. Hopefully, blaze some new trails for older female athletes and set some AG records.





6/16/17

Boost your pre-race mental game - YOU ARE READY!


When was the last time that you had that one workout when everything clicked and you wish race day was tomorrow? Don't you love it when that happens!
But then comes race week - Ahhh!!!
Where did that race-ready, everything clicked, workout go? All of a sudden, it's race week and now you have a mix of emotions - many of which make you feel so unprepared. 

It’s human nature to doubt yourself to feel like you should have done more. In our always-connected world, it’s very hard to keep things in perspective, especially when it appears as if everyone else is so much more ready than you are. 

Regardless of how your training did or didn’t go, it’s important that you adjust your mindset so that you go into your race confident and believing in yourself. 
Before every race, you need to believe yourself when you say “I am ready.”

For many now successful athletes, they started something before they felt ready. If something is important to you, you will never really feel ready. A side effect of doing something challenging is feeling excited and also very worried and unprepared.

As it relates to race day, you need to feel like you prepared "enough." To perform at your best, regardless of how ready you really are to compete, your mental game is extremely important so that you can feel ready "enough."

Here are some ways to boost your mental preparation before your next race. 

1. You control your own thoughts – Feelings come from thoughts. All conflicting and negative thoughts start internally in the mind. The next time your mind starts racing and you notice self-doubt or fear, let go of all those negative thoughts. Instead, choose positive, quality thoughts that will help you excel on race day. And never let another athlete or person get inside your head. 

2. Feelings are not actions – A niggle, low energy, heavy legs or nerves is a feeling. Just because you feel nervous, you feel a bit off or you feel a bit of a niggle in your shoulder, this doesn't meant that you will have a bad race.  If you find yourself doubting your abilities because of how you feel, you are putting blame or excuses on a scenario that is inside your head.  Never let your thoughts be confused with actions. You can still feel tired and perform amazingly well. 

3. You are ready – When something is important to you, you will find the time and you will put in the work to get what you want. It takes a lot of hard work to be prepared for an event but the truth is that nobody ever feels 100% ready for something that is meaningful. Reflect on your previous training, which helped you stretch your comfort zone and gain the necessary skills to feel prepared at this point in your journey. Even though race day may be tough, struggling does not mean that you are not prepared. Trust that you have done the work and remember that every great success requires some kind of struggle in the journey.

4. Try your best - Your greatest fear should not be fear of failure. Not trying is failing. Great things will come to those who work hard and give it a go - no matter what. Always race with your current level of fitness and remember that you are a developing athlete, getting to where you want to be, one day at a time. Remember, a person who makes no mistakes is the person who is not willing to fail in order to win. It’s better to have a season of small mistakes to learn from, than a season of playing it safe, with regrets of never really trying.

5. Be thankful – Don’t worry about anyone else. Everyone person fights his/her own battle or has to overcome some type of obstacle before a race. What incredible battles have you overcome lately or this season? What are you thankful for?

The next time you find yourself with self-defeating thoughts, stop and get those thoughts out of your head. To enhance your performance, start with your mental game. Talk to yourself in a way that will boost your confidence. Quiet those negative thoughts in your head so that you can make room for the positive thoughts - You are strong, You can succeed. You are brave. You are dedicated. You are resilient. You are ready. You can do it! 

6/15/17

Seeking bike savvy triathletes



It's hard to believe that in just one week, we will be holding our third Trimarni camp of the year! Ever since we moved to Greenville, SC in May 2014, we have been amazed by our bike-friendly roads and beautiful mountain and farm scenery. Once we started to notice the significant improvements in our overall resilience and endurance thanks to our challenging terrain, we knew that this was the perfect playground for a triathlon camp.....and why have just one camp when we can have three Greenville camps!

Our upcoming Greenville camp will span over 4.5 days (Wed-Sunday), with no shortage of swim/bike/run endurance-focused workouts, We have some amazing sponsors providing swag for our campers and we have planned some challenging workouts to help our campers stretch their comfort zones. Like with all of our camps, there will be no shortage of laughs, smiles and a few grumpy moments, with plenty of time to build memories and friendships. The only responsibilities of our campers are to 1) Eat 2) Train 3) Sleep.

Camp is an extremely special opportunity for most age-group triathletes as there are very few times when an athlete can check out of life to train in a group format, with coaches "watching over" to give helpful advice and to train like a professional athlete. Karel and I love camp just as much as our campers as it is a rewarding experience to see our campers in action.

Then, in late August, we will have our last Trimarni camp of the year, which will be our Advanced Greenville Trimarni camp from August 23-27th. We are seeking bike savvy triathletes for this camp! 

We have a few spots remaining for our upcoming Advanced camp, which is timed perfectly with the Ironman 70.3 World Championship (2 weeks out), Ironman Chattanooga (4 weeks out), Ironman Wisconsin (6 weeks out) and Ironman Kona/Ironman Kentucky (11 weeks out).

If you consider yourself a bike savvy triathlete, with great skills and endurance on two wheels, this is the perfect camp for you.

This camp will be very bike-focused with lots of time in the saddle as we will plan the routes, provide SAG support and be your guides as you navigate our challenging terrain. We will take you on some of our favorite cycling routes which will make you want to move to Greenville! Of course, we will not forget the swimming and running training. We look forward to providing you with one of the most amazing training camp experiences that you will ever experience and we have Greenville to thank for that!

If you (or someone that you know) are interested in our Advanced Triathlon Training Camp from August 23rd-27th, you can learn more and sign up HERE. 


What are you waiting for?
Our bike-friendly roads are ready for you!!

6/14/17

Is your salad a balanced meal? Tips for constructing the perfect salad.


Almost every day of the week (minus my long workout days), I have a big beautiful salad for a meal. Typically, my salad meal occurs at lunchtime as it is far out between my morning and evening workout, which allows for adequate digestion time due to all of the roughage in the meal.

A salad is a super, convenient, easy and affordable way to work in a few servings of vegetables into your daily diet. I won't mention all of the health benefits that come from a plant strong diet but for athletes, vegetables act as a low calorie method to pack in fiber, antioxidants and an abundance of vitamins and minerals into your daily diet, to support proper immune system functioning while optimizing metabolic and hormonal health.

When constructing the perfect salad, we must differentiate between eating a salad as part of a meal versus eating a salad as the main component of the meal. As I mentioned above, most days during the week, a salad is my lunch meal but on my longer workout days, when energy expenditure is quiet high and I need to focus on consuming more energy dense, nutritious foods, a salad complements my my main meal (which is typically rich in carbohydrates and plant protein).

From a nutrition perspective, as it relates to creating a salad that acts as the main component of your meal, here are a few tips to ensure that you are meeting your individual nutrient requirements.

Keep in mind that a balanced diet is one that meets your individual needs in a cultural, enjoyable and financial way. There is no one-size-fit all "balanced diet" as a healthy eating plan is a sustainable style of eating that allows your body to function optimally on a day-to-day basis. 

Constructing the perfect salad 
  1. A perfect salad starts with a bed of greens. Don't limit yourself just to the popular options like spinach, kale and romaine as there are so many different greens that can add a nice texture and taste to your salad. Check out this list of greens, featured in a previous Trimarni Newsletter. As mentioned in the newsletter article, combine together 3-4 different greens. A mild lettuce like red or green leaf will compliment a crisp choice like romaine. A peppery or bitter green like arugula or radicchio will add a little kick. Take advantage of pre-washed greens when you are in a hurry, as they are convenient and easy when it comes to meal prep.
  2. Is your diet lacking color? Phytochemicals give plants their distinctive colors and may act as antioxidants, which have many disease-preventing properties. Phytochemicals and vitamins and minerals work together, so a varied diet, rich in color, will help optimize health. Make sure your salad is bursting in color - red, purple, orange, yellow, green, white - so that you can eat the rainbow! This step in your salad making process is where you can add a variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices.
  3. If your meal is lacking a crunch, it's likely that you will be searching to fulfill your crunchy craving soon after you eat your salad meal. Crunchy foods, like nuts and seeds, provide a nice texture to a salad meal. Plus, when added to a salad, you can easily control the portion (unlike snacking on nuts and seeds). These crunchy foods also offer a healthy amount of calories and fat to help you absorb fat soluble vitamins. Add a small handful of crunch to your salad - your taste buds will thank you with every bite.
  4. Speaking of fat, avocado, oil and cheese can help promote satiety. It's common to feel incredibly full after eating a nutrient-dense salad but if it's lacking fat, you will likely feel hungry soon after the contents in your gut begin to digest.
  5. Don't forget the protein! Beans, legumes, edamame, tempeh, tofu, eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, chicken, turkey, red meat, fish - there are so many options! Opt for around 20-30g of protein in your salad meal. To make sure that protein gets on your plate, I suggest to prep your protein ahead of time and to always have a few go-to options (ex. cottage cheese, hardboiled eggs, frozen edamame) when you are in a hurry.
  6. Last comes the dressing. Since many commercial salad dressings are high in calories, fat and salad, opt to make your own dressing or keep it simple with olive oil, balsamic or salsa. To help evenly coat your greens, make your salad in a container (with a lid) so that you can pour on the dressing before eating and then give it a big shake. Another tip is to drizzle your dressing on your salad and then use a pizza cutter to "cut" the dressing into the salad. If all else fails, have a large zip-lock bag to give your salad a shake with your dressing (probably not the best strategy if eating out at a restaurant - instead, I would go with the dip the fork into the dressing and then pick up your greens).
If you search most websites on constructing the perfect salad, almost every source will feature greens, color, fat, protein, something crunchy and a dressing.

But where are the carbs????

As it relates to athletes, who have different energy needs compare to their sedentary counterparts, we must remember that every meal should provide our body with a healthy carbohydrate option. A meal lacking in carbohydrates will only lead to sugar cravings, not to mention low energy in your upcoming workout. Plus, every individual, athlete or not, deserves to eat carbohydrates.

As it relates to carbohydrates in the athletes diet, I find that many athletes will opt for the most convenient carb out there......bread. While there is nothing wrong with bread (fresh local bread is a daily staple in our house), I find that our society (America) has an unhealthy relationship with bread. 

Whereas in many cultures, bread means family, love, tradition and togetherness, in America, bread is a big no-no. It's often made in machines, stored on grocery store shelves for weeks at a time (without spoiling) and often serves as a way to hold meat and condiments together when you need to eat with your hands, on the go. It's a great delivery system for butter, cream cheese and nut butter but it's also a cheap option to fill you up or to keep you distracted as your restaurant meal is being prepared.
Sadly, in America, we just don't have a good relationship with bread and a lot of this is because of the function of bread in the Western diet. Bread isn't seen as something sacred and special like in other countries. Meetings, rushed schedules, emails, working too much, sleeping too little.....why spend hours mixing, kneading, waiting, watching and making bread when the accessibility of buying bread from the grocery store will save you so much time?

For many cultures, bread is not suppose to be low-calorie, gluten free or filled with chemicals that inhibit mold growth, not to mention sliced and stored in a plastic bag. Perhaps I have a different appreciation of bread because of my European husband, who grew up on fresh, local bread that was purchased every day by walking to the nearby grocery/bakery and his mother wouldn't never buy something if it could be made at home, with love. 


Thanks to the convenience of factory-made bread and the ease of using bread as a delivery method for other food stuff, American's have relied too much on bread as their main carb. And now, when many athletes are choosing to avoid bread because they are told it is unhealthy, athletes struggle to eat enough carbohydrates in the diet to meet daily energy needs. 
So what's an athlete to do? To eat bread or not to eat bread...that's the question!?!?

Let it be known that I am not anti-bread. I love bread and it will never be removed from our diet. However, I find that many athletes rely too much on bread and forget that there are so many other amazingly healthy, nutrient rich and delicious sources of carbs. And one group in particular is Whole Grains! 

7. So, for the final topping on your beautiful, satisfying and balanced meal salad, don't forget to include a serving (1-1.5 cups) of whole grains.  Because whole grains require time to cook, make sure you change your lifestyle to allow for the steps needed to get cooked whole grains on your salad plate/bowl. 

Since I am all about small lifestyle changes when working with athletes on nutrition, start off your (new or improved) nutrition journey by getting a little help from the grocery store by purchasing pre-made whole grain options. For example, check out the Path of Life product options in the frozen food section (by the vegetables) at your local grocery store. I just came across these 3 options (pic below) and tried them out over the weekend. A great salad topper! 

  

Taste-tested by me, these options are full of flavor and can be prepared in the microwave in only 4 minutes! Once you recognize the game-changer of incorporating either store-bought whole grains or home-prepared whole grains into your daily diet, you will find yourself feeling more satisfied, with less "sugar" cravings and more energy throughout the day. Not to mention the fact that your daily salad is now a perfect balanced meal, rich in health promoting nutrients, thanks to a healthy dose of carbs.
(Botanically speaking, quinoa, the "grain" featured in the Path of Life products, is a relative of spinach, beets and chard and it's technically a seed. But, it's still a great addition to your daily diet, along with whole grains.).

Happy salad eating!

6/13/17

Is your body image limiting your athletic potential?



As an athlete, your closest relationship in life will always be to your body. Your body lets you do so much on a daily basis but you can never take for granted the complexity of the human body and how much it does for you during exercise. 

Having said this, your body is going to give you mixed signals - very often. Some days you will feel amazingly strong and other days you will feel blah.

Although it is normal to feel a certain way about your body through the highs and lows of training, it's not normal to feel dissatisfied with your body image, appearance and weight, leading you to conclude that losing weight will enhance performance and will make you feel better about yourself and your body. If you are one of the many athletes who experience great anxiety and pressure to change your body to be "more lean" or "more muscular", read on. 

Due to excessive media exposure that glorifies lean and toned athletic bodies (often with the aid of weight loss pills, extreme restrictive diets, overexercising and sometimes disordered eating habits), you may find yourself constantly criticizing your appearance, assuming that if you weighed less, you would be able to do more with your body (and perhaps "look" more like an athlete). 

If you have recently found yourself engaging in restrictive eating, avoiding foods/food groups and over exercising in an effort to feel better in your skin, this can lead to patterns of disordered eating and weight obsession and may develop into anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, compulsive overeating or binge eating disorder.

Your perception of your body plays an important role in your self esteem and confidence. If you are too critical of your body, you are likely to feel inadequate. No matter how hard you train, there will always be a limiter in your performance due to the energy that you spend on your body image. 

Reach out to a dietitian professional, specializing in body image/disordered eating/eating disorders, if you are currently struggling with your body image. Getting treatment for distorted is a necessary step to recovery so that you can start living your life to the fullest.


Here are 20 ways to love your body

Compiled By: Margo Maine, PhD
  • Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams.  Honor it.  Respect it.  Fuel it.
  • Create a list of all the things your body lets you do.  Read it and add to it often.
  • Become aware of what your body can do each day.  Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.
  • Create a list of people you admire:  people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world.  Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments. 
  • Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
  • Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.
  • Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
  • Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance.  Try one!
  • Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy. 
  • Consider this:  your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months.  Your body is extraordinary—begin to respect and appreciate it.
  • Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
  • Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.
  • Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don’t exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good.  Exercise for the Three F’s: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.
  • Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body.  Loving your body means you get to feel like that again, even in this body, at this age.
  • Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself—without mentioning your appearance.  Add to it daily!
  • Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”
  • Search for the beauty in the world and in yourself.
  • Consider that, “Life is too short to waste my time hating my body this way.”
  • Eat when you are hungry.  Rest when you are tired.  Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.

6/12/17

Avoid junk miles. Train smarter to go harder with quality workouts.



Every athlete is likely to suffer from "junk miles" training as some point in his/her athletic developmental journey.

The term "junk miles" can have many definitions. Athletes and coaches often think of the word as something that describes adding extra miles to a workout (or weekly training) solely to reach a mileage target. For example, a workout may read "Ride 100 miles" or "Run 20 miles" or "Swim 4200 yards" - an arbitrary number that should be reached no matter how the athlete accomplishes the distance.

Many athletes see every type of workout as beneficial, even the "just complete the miles" workouts as they build confidence. Instead, a better way to describe "junk miles" is an excessive amount of miles that are completed in excess of what is needed to optimize fitness for race day. With this definition, every workout, even the intense, recovery, tempo, steady and long workouts, can fit into the definition of "junk miles" if it is not optimizing fitness for race day.

As it relates to helping athletes improve fitness, we like to focus on the following to ensure that every workout counts:


  1. The training volume should fit into an athlete's life. We do not focus on the hours/miles that need to be accomplished for an athlete to prepare for a race but instead, we go by time based workouts. 
  2. Every workout should have a focus and it should be clearly written before the workout description so that the athlete understands the purpose of the workout for proper execution.
  3. Perceived effort should guide every workout with metrics (speed, HR, power) as a byproduct to simply check-in with and to review after the workout has completed. 
  4. Easy sessions must be kept easy so that the body is not mentally and physically depleted for hard sessions. 
  5. Hard sessions should be hard. 
  6. Great sleep, mobility and nutrition have an immediate effect on workout quality. 
  7. Every athlete is different. Finding the balance between higher volume workouts and intense sessions is key. You can not compare your training to another athlete or your current training to past training. 
  8. You must trust the process and remain patient. Avoid fear-based training to "prove" to yourself that you can do a certain distance/pace/power. 
  9. Training should always be periodized throughout the season. Our approach is to get athletes stronger, before trying to get faster, before going longer. 
  10. Understand the requirements of your sport and preferred racing distance. Although endurance is needed for long distance racing, resilience, strength and skill development will also help an athlete delay fatigue and will allow for better race execution. 
Although we do find that longer workouts have their place in training (for all distance events), the important take away is to not assume that longer workouts are the only way to prepare for a long distance race. Additionally, if you want to get faster, don't assume that only doing hard/intense workouts will help you go faster on race day. 

To learn more about this smart(er) approach to training, Triathlete Magazine recently interviewed me on the topic. I also provided three "quality" training sessions (Swim-Bike-Run) to help you bring more specificity to every workout.