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Seeing is believing

Representation Matters                 These are pictures from 2021 Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga. These pictures were taken on the same day, of the same body.  I share these pictures side by side as it's a reminder how the media and advertising has brainwashed athletes to believe that there is an ideal body type for sport. And without good self-esteem, body love and confidence, it becomes normal to be ashamed, embarrassed and disgusted by the body on the left. As a result, your body becomes something that you need to "fix" often through overexercising and undereating.  I came across this IG post from  Katie Moon   and it got me thinking about representation.  How many times have you been proud of your athletic performance or workout but ashamed of how your body looked? As a result, you didn't share the picture of yourself performing. Or, perhaps you blamed a poor athletic performance or workout on your body? Or, your awesome athletic performance was dismissed because you

Intuitive Eating for Athletes

  Many diet plans follow a restrictive eating model with specific 'good' vs. 'bad' foods. This type of restrained eating demands rigid control. Food is an essential requirement for survival. When you diet and feel hunger, this isn't a lack of willpower, it's a biological drive to protect you. Interestingly, there is no drive for eating too much but rather, if the body senses extreme weight loss, it will kick in physiological mechanisms to slow down your metabolism (and energy) or the brain will send signals to get you to eat as soon as possible. Stomach growing, irritability, inability to focus, lightheadedness, headache, fatigue, and sugar cravings are all signs that your body is asking for food.  Although stress, trauma history, certain medications, extreme exercise (especially in the heat) and life chaos can supress your appetite, dieting makes it difficult to understand your hunger cues. Diets require that you ignore your hunger cues as most diets require yo

Cannondale Bike Specs - Paris-Roubaix

  When Karel was selecting what type of  Cannondale bike he would be renting from the EF Coaching Team, he wanted his bike to be as close to the professional riders as possible. In other words, Karel wanted to experience the Roubaix cobble sectors with a true race bike to get a better appreciation of what the professional riders experience at Paris Roubaix.  Karel is riding:  Cannondale Super Six Evo Lab71 EF Pro team bike (it's Rigoberto Urán "spare" bike) Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace 12sp Cranks FSA SL-K Vision wheels and cokpit Gearing 54/50 front and 11-34 rear Prologo saddle and tape  Vitoria Corsa pro control tires 30mm mounted on 50mm deep carbon vision rims. Mounted with tubes.  Pressure: 45 psi rear, 42 psi front.  Karel really likes the feel of the bike. Today he rode 30 miles and although it was another cold and wet day, he felt much more confident on the cobbles.  As part of the camp, the team mechanics wash and service the bikes every day. This is a true treat f

Paris-Roubaix Trouée d'Arenberg

Day 2 of the EF Coaching Paris-Roubaix camp started early, around 9am. Sadly, the weather was not ideal and the ride was cut short due to cold and rainy conditions. Karel said he was so cold from the wet conditions. The group rode ~27 miles to the Arenberg Forest and got shuttled back to the hotel in the team vans.  According to Cycling News, "The Trouée d'Arenberg is infamous for being the first five-star cobbled sector in Paris-Roubaix . The path is technically called the Drève des Boules d'Hérin, and the 2,300 metres (1.4 miles) of rough cobblestones are some of the worst in all of professional cycling. The road was laid down in the late 18th century and subsided since then due to mine workings beneath the forest. Jean Stablinski is credited with suggesting the inclusion of the sector in Paris-Roubaix and the Trouée d'Arenberg was first used in the 1968 edition. Since then, it has become a fixture of the race and prime viewing for spectators, with tall trees lining

Karel is at Paris-Roubaix!

  A year ago, our good friend Joe emailed us about the Paris Roubaix EF Pro Race Camp from April 4-7th, 2024. Immediately, as soon as I read the words Paris Roubaix, I knew this was something that Karel had to do.  Since a very young age, Karel has loved the sport of professional cycling. He got this love from his dad. Karel watches all the grand tours and classics and knows a lot about the sport and the riders. He also loves anything bike related so he regularly stays up on bike tech by reading various websites. Having grown up as a cyclist, he also knows a lot about the 'early days' of cycling.  Check out these pics of teenager Karel.  Behind the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix is one of the most recognizable events in cycling. Known as the Queen of the Classics and the Hell of the North, this event dates back to 1896 and has taken place 120 times since then. Paris-Roubaix is arguably the hardest one-day cycling race in the world. At almost 260km (161 miles), the unpredictable

Endurance sports - why are GI issues so common?

  Every endurance (and ultra distance) athlete wants to show up to an event/race feeling physically prepared. But what about being nutritionally prepared?  A long distance event places a lot of stress on the human body. Extreme environmental conditions further exacerbate the physiological (and mental) demands during physical activity. While physical preparation can improve the chance of completing the event or setting a personal best time, gastrointestinal issues are likely to cause the body to underperform. Or even worse, you may not be able to complete the event due to a nutritional complication.  Research states that around 30-70% of endurance and ultra endurance athletes experiences GI issues on race day. In other words, at an Ironman triathlon of 1500 athletes, around 1050 athletes will experience some type of GI issue. This is a very alarming statistic considering how money, time and effort go into preparing for an endurance event.  I've worked with many athletes who have com

How to stop negative thinking

I consider myself a happy and positive person. I can usually find the bright side in almost any situation. I love riding my bike outside.  However, during our bike ride two weekends ago, I was filled with negativity. It was windy. And I can't seem to quiet my mind when I bike in the wind.  While I could rationalize that the strong headwind was incredibly challenging to ride through, my mind found it incredibly easy to tell me how horrible of a cyclist I was, how slow I was riding, how much my legs were hurting and so on and so on. The negative thoughts wouldn't stop until we turned around. It was at this point that my mind had no trouble staying quiet while soft pedaling at speeds over 25 mph in the tailwind. I feel like I need a sign that reads "I'm sorry for what I said when I was riding my bike in the wind." This situation had me thinking about how our thoughts are often so closely linked to how we feel and act. Riding in the wind had me thinking that I was not

Maximize performance without overemphasizing weight

Whether you are an athlete or coach, you know there are constant conversations in sport discussing weight and performance. The constant narrative says that you must lose weight in order to improve as an athlete.  It's as if the only way to be a successful athlete is to be a smaller version of yourself. Although there are truths in the weight and performance discussion, there are also many false beliefs and misunderstandings. While there are healthy ways to optimize body composition and to improve health, the influence and pressures of diet culture, social media, old school coaching methods and beliefs and sport body sterotypes make it difficult for many athletes to maintain a healthy relationship with food, the body and exercise.  Self imposed beliefs about being "too heavy" for sport are reinforced by the media, coaches, influencers, "experts" and commentators who often highlight an athlete's body shape, size or weight over skill, performance or effort. The

No more Gatorade Endurance at NA Ironman Events?

  I recently heard/read some rumors that at the upcoming Ironman Texas event, Gatorade Endurance will be replaced with Mortal hydration at the bike and run aid stations. The Gatorade Endurance Formula has been on all Ironman and 70.3 U.S. race courses since 2015. The exclusive multi-year partnership took effect on January 1, 2015. I have never been a big fan of Gatorade Endurance as I feel there are better, well-formulated products on the market. I've only used Gatorade once on race day. It was 2017 Ironman Chattanooga and two of my three bottles bounced out of the cages as I rode of the railroad tracks. Although I didn't enjoy deviating from my nutrition plan, I knew I needed a replacement for the fluids, carbohydrates and sodium that I lost in my bottles. I was thankful I had three more bottles of my own nutrition at Special Needs. Thankfully it all worked out ok as I finished as the overall female amateur of the day. I am a big fan of being self-sufficient at races and the m