5 Real life signs of overtraining or a need for a rest day

By Carrie Lester, Pro Triathlete and Coach

I am not a doctor, an exercise scientist, or any other scholar when it comes to identifying signs of overtraining or when we as athletes are simply in need of a few easy days. I am, however a coach and an athlete, and have years of experience racing as a professional athlete in my body and mind. It has taken a long time to recognize the clear signs that I am on the edge, and I see similar signs in athletes I coach as they are Age Group athletes managing work, kids, training, social commitments and basic life chores. These are my top 5 signs:

1. Mood.

This one for me is the screaming sign I am in need of some easier days.

Feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability, lack of motivation, low self esteem, low everything…it starts to become consuming. Why? Without getting into the science = HORMONES.  What we do places an awful amount of stress on our body and mind and eventually our hormones start flipping out. They control everything. When I find myself in tears for no apparent reason, its time for a rest.

2. Food choices.

Where’s the sugar?? I want it ALL the time. Hormones are out of whack, mood is down, what is going to make me feel better…SUGAR! Most of the time I eat a balanced, healthy diet. But when I am at a low point, I make bad choices. Then feel worse because I made the bad choice. And turns out it didn’t make me feel better.

3. Strength & Power.

I have none. Just deep fatigue. In any discipline I am fighting myself in whatever I do. My legs, arms, everything is heavy, and no matter how much time I give myself to “clear the pipes” in sessions it just doesn’t happen and usually ends in tears (a little over exaggerated but known to happen). 80% efforts are capped at 60% if I am lucky because I can’t go any faster, my heart won’t let me. Hills become mountains and I scramble up them.  The list goes on.

4. Sleep.

It’s restless. And not enough to recover and feel rejuvenated. I always wake feeling I want more and am usually in a pretty deep brain fog. Don’t talk to me until I have had a cold shower and coffee (which at these times you should try and avoid!)

5. The scientific signs.

As I said, I’m no scientist, but it doesn’t take one to know that what we do creates inflammation within us. At times, this will create inflammatory conditions that will show as red flags should you have blood tests or ASI tests done. THIS DOESN’T MEAN A DOCTOR PUTS YOU ON MEDICATION. I REPEAT, YOU DO NOT NEED MEDICATION. Most of these conditions WILL stabilize with the correct diet, rest and lifestyle. If they don’t, then you should seek professional help and consider other options.

If you start noticing any or all of these signs communicate with your coach (if you have one) and plan a few easy days until your signs start to turn around.  Note, I said easier days. NOT days OFF.  Sometimes taking full days off is not what we type A people need, but in extreme cases may be ok with doing so. Consider it a time of adaptation to come back stronger.

It’s important to recognize the signs and not take it out on others or ourselves. Don’t beat yourself up, but instead treat your body and mind to a few days of R&R. Eat well, sleep as much as you can, back the training off, take a mini break, go out with friends and have a good laugh. Your body & mind will thank you!

Top 8 Marathons for your Bucket List

With 2018 in full swing, there’s never been a better time to dip into your marathon bucket list and pull out a winner or two. Marathons are growing in participation and popularity all around the country, but there are a handful of races that stand out for good reason.  From running through a magical kingdom to running to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain, our “Eight Great Marathons” need to be on any new or seasoned runner’s list of “must-runs!” Pick one of our bucket list marathons, grab your XRCEL, and start training for what will only be an epic marathoning experience!

Big Sur International Marathon

Imagine yourself running in the most beautiful painting of nature you have ever seen. Now, sign up for the Big Sur International Marathon and you can actually run in the marathon that boasts the most gorgeous views your running shoes have ever encountered. This is an unforgettable point-to-point course run along California Highway 1 from Big Sur to Carmel. With canopies of redwood trees, the rushing of ocean waves, and the magnificent coastal mountains, your body might forget you are running 26.2 miles. At the halfway point, you will run across the iconic Bixby Bridge where you will be greeted by a tuxedo-wearing musician playing a Yamaha Baby Grand Piano. You will also be treated to some refreshing strawberries from local farmers around mile 23 as you head towards the finish line. The sights along this race course are unlike anything you’ll ever see!

Boston Marathon

With its 122nd birthday coming up this April, the Boston Marathon is one of the oldest and most memorable marathons around. With qualifying times set by the Boston Athletic Association, runners have to push their running limits to earn a spot on the starting line, which is what makes Boston extremely special. This point-to-point course starts in the quaint town of Hopkinton and ends on the busy downtown Boston street, Boylston Street. For 26.2 miles, you are never alone thanks to the Patriot’s Day celebration in Boston where  the whole city is off of work and ready to cheer for all of the runners. Hear the roaring students from Boston University as you crest the top of the treacherous Heartbreak Hill around mile 20. You will feel the rush of energy from the emcee and spectators as you finish strong through the downtown streets and make your final turn to the gigantic finish line, painted in bright blue and yellow. You have to be fast to race Boston, but we know you can do it!

Disney Marathon

It’s the most magical marathon of them all! Not only is Disney World an amazing place to make memories with your family, but it’s also become a delightful place to test your marathon legs. With your favorite Disney characters hosting this weekend-long event, runners get to experience an enchanting run through the wonderful world of Disney for all 26.2 miles. This is a marathon that welcomes all skill levels and is known as a relatively flat and easy course. Time will fly by as runners are fully-entertained on the course by music, loud cheers, and appearances by the world’s most famous mouse! Runners also receive a one-of-a-kind finisher medal for their time in the Magic Kingdom. If you really want to challenge your marathon legs, you can sign up for the other races taking place that weekend including a 5k, 10k, and half marathon. There are special medals if you choose to take on more than just the marathon and some fun kids races, making it a weekend the whole family can enjoy!

Honolulu Marathon

Get into the holiday and aloha spirit in early December when you run the scenic Honolulu Marathon. With no time limits on race day, runners can fully enjoy and take in all of the sights and sounds on the festive course. Even better, the race does not set a cap on participants, making it a great race for all of your family and friends to enjoy together.  The runners will get the full Honolulu experience as they run through the downtown streets, which are drenched in holiday lights and decor before heading through the famous Waikiki Village and scenic climbs around Diamond Head, where the ocean can be seen and heard for miles. You will feel like a rock star at the boisterous finish line as you can see yourself finish, thanks to a 20-minute delay, on the big screen in the finisher village. Let the Hawaiian spirit engulf you as you enjoy a marathon lined with palm trees and an ocean breeze as you run 26.2 miles in paradise.

Marine Corps Marathon

Known as the “People’s Marathon,” the Marine Corps Marathon is the largest marathon in the world that doesn’t offer prize money and, instead, celebrates the honor, courage, and commitment of all the finishers. This October race was created in 2004 to raise money for wounded service members and has taken on an extraordinary life of its own.The race strives to promote physical fitness, generate community, and showcase the skill of the United States Marine Corps, many who are participating in full gear. Runners from all 50 states and more than 60 countries take their marathon journey through both Arlington, Virginia and Washington, D.C., with the streets lined with members of the military and citizens cheering for miles. The flat and fast course is designed for everyone who aspires to conquer a marathon and will leave you with a true feeling of pride when you hit the finish line.

Miami Marathon

What better way to ring in the new year than with the marathon that never sleeps? The Miami Marathon is the party-of-parties when it comes to 26.2 miles because the people of Miami know how to cheer and celebrate a race like no other! Get ready for the course to be lined with excited crowds, mile after mile as you put your marathon legs to the test. The course is a great course for novices and experts alike as it is a flat and forgiving course. Whether you want to compete for fun or qualify for the Boston Marathon, this course is for you! Don’t be surprised if you recognize many of the spots on course from a movie or T.V. show and you may even see a famous face or two. Although the speedy course is definitely the “star of the show,” this January gem is sure to keep you entertained and inspired through every mile.

New York City Marathon

It’s not only one of the most popular marathons, but it’s also the world’s biggest marathon! With over 50,000 finishers, the New York City Marathon is a true bucket list race for anyone wanting to accomplish 26.2 miles. Even with the often-cold November weather upon the race, it doesn’t stop the millions of spectators from lining the streets to cheer on all of the racers every step of the way. You’ll feel the warmth and love of this patriotic race as it is regarded as a symbol of hope and unity since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Runners get a true tour of the city as they run through the five boroughs of New York City before the epic finish line that awaits in the iconic Central Park. The New York Marathon is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime marathon experience!

Pikes Peak Marathon

There is no actual way to measure or describe the difficulty of the Pikes Peak Marathon. Held in Manitou Springs, Colorado, runners start up a mountain trail with over 7,815 feet of climbing for the first 13.1 miles, hitting the halfway mark at the top of a 14,115  foot peak. However, what goes up, must come down and runners are then left with another 13.1 miles, carefully descending down the mountain to the finish line. Qualifying times are put in place to both challenge runners and to keep them safe. Despite being a tough race, it is also one of beauty and nature. Runners will get to experience running through the soft trails and mountainous terrain, overlooking the majestic surrounding mountains. For runners who want an even tougher challenge than the marathon, you race the Pikes Peak Ascent, straight up the mountain, the day before the marathon. The Ascent also has qualifying times, but we’ll never say no to a challenge!

Stay out of trouble, Turn up the Base: the Importance of Base Training for Marathon Runners.

By Patrick Evoe

     “I’m just working on my base for a while”

     “I’m just doing base miles right now”

We hear athletes saying these phrases like a broken record during the off season. I think sometimes athletes are saying it because they know it’s what they are supposed to say this time of year. The question is, when it comes to putting in the base miles, do they know why they are doing it, and are they doing it in the right way to gain the most benefit for their marathon racing. All phases and types of workouts have a specific purpose in your training cycle. I think sometimes base training is marginalized or over simplified because athletes don’t know its importance or how to incorporate it into their training cycles.

Base training usually coincides with your initial training period as you start your build towards your peak fitness. Athletes can spend 2-4 months during this phase working on their foundational fitness. What you do in training and how you do it during this phase directly impacts your peak fitness potential as you approach your key race. The base training is the time when you build your aerobic engine and efficiency. There are several physiological reasons why base training increases your aerobic capacity. It increases the number and density of cellular mitochondria, which produce energy. It also improves your capillary systems, or the tiny blood vessels delivering blood to your tissues and organs. Think of this as improving your cardiovascular system’s plumbing by increasing the number of pipes. When it’s time to do the more intense work, the increased volume of your pipes will allow more blood flow so you can go harder.

The second aspect of base training that many athletes lose sight of during this phase is functional strength. Not only do you want to increase your aerobic engine, you want to increase your functional running strength through both “on road” strength work as well as work in the gym. Putting both of these together will help your muscular endurance as you move into future training phases.

The more you work on your aerobic engine now, the greater capacity you’ll have to do harder sessions as you start working your other systems. The stronger you are as you start adding more intensity the more power or force you can produce. It’s a pretty straight forward concept. I’ve always liked the analogy of thinking of your fitness as a pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid is your base aerobic fitness. The next layer up is your strength and muscular endurance. As you move up the pyramid, you have your tempo work, threshold, and anaerobic systems. The larger base you have on your pyramid, the higher you can build it. The reason it’s called base training is because it truly is the foundation of your fitness.

During your foundation period, it’s also an excellent time to work on your training and racing nutrition. Because XRCEL is a newer product to the world of marathoning, you may not have had the opportunity to try it in your training and racing. Many athletes struggle with gastrointestinal (GI) issues during races from using gels and/or sports drinks. XRCEL’s patented micro-gel technology ensures that the glucose-loaded packets of calories are delivered in the right concentration, to the right place in your GI, and remains there longer to increase your body’s caloric absorption without upsetting your GI. In other words, during your base miles, its a great time to start experimenting with XRCEL as part of your exercise nutrition plan. Find the best formula for how many bottles of XRCEL per hour you like. Try drinking XRCEL before your sessions for increased energy during those workouts. You want your nutrition to be dialed in and spot-on come race day. The only way you’ll get to that point is to start working now and finding how incorporating XRCEL into your sessions works best for you.

Now that you understand what base training is and how it’s beneficial to your marathon training, let’s discuss how to incorporate it into your training to be the most effective. The aerobic component is best done by slowly increasing your mileage (both through frequency and duration) throughout your base phase, but doing most of that training at a low heart rate. This is best accomplished by establishing a heart rate ceiling. That’s your speed limit, keep your heart rate under that number. You’ll need to find your own aerobic threshold. There are a lot of articles and on-line references describing self-tests to establish your threshold heart rate. From your aerobic threshold, you can establish your training heart rate zones. Your base miles are best done in zone 2 which is your aerobic pace. During your base phase, the majority of your miles should be here. You should slowly and carefully increase your running frequency (runs per week) and total mileage in this zone. The more time you spend here, the stronger aerobic engine you’re building.

While most of your time should be done in this zone, that’s not to say you shouldn’t do any faster work. It’s good to do some work to maintain foot speed. The trick is to incorporate some faster efforts periodically without turning your run into a tempo run. You want to stay south of heart rate zone 3. Your goal is to avoid that “gray zone” or junk miles which is the feeling that you’re running pretty hard, but not too painful. The best way to maintain leg speed during your base period without training in the gray zone is to incorporate short fartlek efforts into your zone 2 runs. Try spacing out one minute hard efforts into your run, but allow enough time between each effort for your heart rate to come down and you still get time in zone 2. This will help when it’s time to start picking up the pace in your next training phase, your legs will still have some snap.

Now let’s talk about strength, but more specifically functional strength. This is not about how much can you squat or dead lift, but rather building total body strength that’s directly applicable to your running. During your base phase, I think it’s the perfect time to work on your functional strength. Too many runners think the base phase is all about slow long miles. You want to come out of this period strong and with a great aerobic engine so your body can take the intensity as you start adding those sessions later in the year.

 You can always work on your functional strength in the gym. One to three gym sessions per week, depending on the athlete and how much time you have will build a great foundation. You want to work on your core, plyometrics, major muscle groups, but also work on mobility and activation exercises. There are a lot of resources where you can learn specific exercises or routines to get the specificity for the most benefit. Don’t worry, I can tell you that you won’t get “too big” by doing gym work. That’s an antiquated fear that circulates around old school endurance athletes and especially runners. I can tell you for certain that all of the top professional and Olympic distance runners spend a lot of time in the gym working on their strength. Take some time to talk to your coach, trainers at your gym, or research for yourself to find an effective gym routine to work on your base strength this winter.

In addition to the gym, working on your functional strength while running out on the road or trails is one of the best ways to prepare for the coming marathon season and also to take your gym work and apply it directly to running. Remember that during this base period, you’re still working on your aerobic engine, so when you do any strength work in the field, the focus is on the muscle resistance and not on stressing your cardiovascular system. Try finding long hills that are not too steep and incorporate them into your runs. As you run up the hills, don’t focus on sprinting, but rather try to pick up your knees and really drive down and engage your glutes. I’ve found it especially effective on steeper sections to bound up, almost like you’re doing a jump from one stride to the next. Think of it as an over exaggeration of your normal running stride. To do this you’ll need to really slow down your pace and think of using your leg drive to propel you up as much as forward. You’ll feel the muscle fatigue building in your quads and glutes as you bound up the hill, but you’ll be able to keep your heart rate more aerobic than if you sprint up the hill like most impatient runners.

Another great way to incorporate functional strength into your base phase is to put in sets of plyometrics directly after a run. As soon as you stop your run back at your car or home, try going right into sets of squat jumps, single leg hops, double leg hops, bounding, walking lunges, and you can even throw in sets of jump rope. You’ll already be fatigued from your run, so you’ll need to really focus to keep your form and push to get the most out of this strength work. If you can incorporate uphill bounding and post-run plyometrics into your normal running to supplement your base work this winter, I think you will notice significant strength gain come springtime.

There is one more, little talked about, benefit to having a base phase as part of you your marathon build. I’m referring to the mental rewards. First, if you’re working on your base running as I’ve described here, you’re giving yourself a mental break from the intensity of tempo runs, track sessions, and other similar hard work. Even though strength work is challenging in its own right, it’s very different than that “I want to cry, this run is so hard” type intensity. Think of this time as important to recharge your mental and emotional batteries. You’ll need that mental energy as you start the big build to your key event. Execute your base phase correctly and you will be mentally fresh when you need to dig deep. The second mental benefit is that if you have a proper base training phase, you will have the confidence that you are stronger and have a better aerobic engine that ever before. You will know that because of this, your body will be able to handle a bigger work load for the rest of the year, setting yourself up for your biggest peak just in time for your “A” race this season.

One Bad Habit at a Time

By Scott Turner

In endurance sports, there is no shortage of amazing stories. At every turn, we are surrounded by stories of people overcoming incredible challenges through the discipline of endurance sports. Be it mental health, addiction, physical limitations or personal tragedy, many people have turned to endurance sports for help. I love hearing these stories as they remind me that all this splashing, pedaling, and running around I do can be so much more than simple exercise. It makes me feel as though the sport I love so much is part of something larger.

However, I have occasionally felt that a certain effect is lost when viewing these stories from a distance. The inspirational feeling that results from hearing someone tell their amazing story can fade quickly after reading or viewing their presentation. Often, we don’t know these people personally, so while their story is immediately impactful, those feelings aren’t reinforced beyond the initial telling.

This is where I have had an incredible privilege over the last three years or so. I have been part of an inspirational story happening right under my own roof. My Mom, Dorald “Dee” Turner, has undergone a life altering transformation that truly must be seen to be believed, and I am so proud to have even had a small role to play in this story.  I sat down recently to interview her to get her thoughts on where she’s come from and where she’s going. This story begs to be told, and while it may seem similar to so many others you have read, it has some very subtle, yet important, lessons to teach about the power of personal effort.

The roots of this story lie, perhaps unexpectedly, not in endurance sports. In the early part of 2015, my Mom’s weight sits about four hundred and twenty pounds. She cannot run due to extensive damage to her knees, her body prevents her from getting onto a bike, and her lack of self-confidence bars her from getting into a pool. That number, four hundred and twenty pounds, bears remembering, because it’s going to become important very shortly.

My Mom began this journey with very little supports in place to guide her. She simply decided that enough was enough, and this was something she was going to take on. She wanted to live a healthier life and take on the weight problem that had plagued her since early adulthood.  She stressed to me that she knew that change wasn’t going to happen overnight, and she had to be realistic about her goals. Her only driving force behind this undertaking was, “focus on one bad habit at a time.”

Fast forward to a date that she marks very specifically, October 18, 2015. She explains to me that this was the date of her first information session. Having already made drastic diet and lifestyle changes, she decided that her next steps were inside a selective weight loss program through Holy Cross Hospital. At this meeting, she learns all the requirements she will have to meet to qualify for her ultimate goal, a gastric bypass surgery. This surgery would decrease the size of her stomach allowing her to attain the drastic weight reduction that was needed to safeguard her health. In addition to further weight loss as a requirement of this program, she would be required to attend two ninety-minute weight loss courses, two three-hour infoormation sessions, several mental health screenings, numerous nutritionist appointments, and submit detailed food journals for her six to nine month attendance in the program. At the end of which, her case would be presented to a panel of doctors to ultimately decide whether to approve her for the surgery.

The ferocity with which my Mom took on this challenge was astounding. She underwent what she described as a, “total lifestyle change both physically and mentally.” She attended her first official meeting in November of 2015, and she was off to the races. She passed all her initial screenings with flying colors, and she managed to lose eighty more pounds during her time in the program even before the surgery.

At the end of the program, she was given some amazing news; she was approved for her surgery, and the date was set. She remarks, with a big smile, that they gave her July 5th, 2016, “my Independence Day.”

After recovery, she made quick use of her independence; she continued and even built on the lifestyle changes made within the program, completed three five-kilometer races, and became a spokesperson for her program. She has been invited to numerous meetings to speak to potential members and offer her story as a beacon of hope. She’s quietly made herself a resource to the other alumni of the program and helps to keep wavering members from losing their way when the post-surgery life gets more complicated.

All this progress still rings through today. At the time of writing, my Mom sits at one hundred and thirty-eight pounds. A total weight loss of about two hundred and eighty pounds. As we sit together in her kitchen in Western Maryland for the interview, she informs me proudly that she has logged two years straight in her food journal app as of that date. She tells me with an unmistakable glimmer in her eye about her plans for the future. She has already registered for several more five-kilometer races, an all women eight-kilometer race, and she will make her outdoor triathlon debut this June as her and I race together at the Escape the Cape Triathlon Series in Cape May, New Jersey.

I asked her what made her story different from all the other inspirational stories that we are told about in endurance sports. She thinks for a moment, and she tells me that her story stands out because it’s a victory on two fronts. She explains that she overcame her physical limitations in the weight loss, but the harder fought battle was the mental one. She had to overcome all the feelings of self-hatred and self-doubt, and she had to “know, really know, that I could do whatever I wanted as long as I stuck my mind to it.”

For my final question of our evening interview, I asked my Mom which steps of a race did she think were the most important, the first ones or the last ones. True to form, she picked the last ones. She remarked that the last ones are where you learn the most. I would contend that they are also where you have the greatest opportunity to teach. This, I believe, is the true power of my Mom’s story. There have been so many finish lines for this journey of hers, many opportunities for her to be “done,” and yet she continues to use her journey to teach and inspire. She has recognized that while a journey may end at some destination, the echoes of that final footfall ripple into something so much larger than can be seen. I think that her story teaches that the true power of endurance sports, or any undertaking for that matter, come from mindful participation, deliberate effort, and an awareness of the effect we can have on others.

READY, SET, GOALS 2018!

Why is it important to set and achieve goals?

For each person the answer will be different. Maybe you’ve come to an unexpected point in your personal life or career that you’ve realized that things need to change and take a new direction. Maybe you’ve gotten where you have without much conscious goal setting, but 
now you need a fresh perspective and new direction. Maybe you need to raise your awareness and take charge, because where you’ve come in this journey hasn’t completely satisfied you. You’re not unhappy per se but you don’t necessarily wake up each day filled with joy, excitement, passion or anticipation of what the day will bring. You feel at loose ends. You have a ho-hum feeling. You’re not fully engaged in your life, family, career or friendships. Maybe you’re bored and feel stuck. You don’t know how to take it to the next level. You don’t know how to put yourself on a path toward something you want to do or have always dreamed of doing and never accomplished.

Goal setting is one of the most important things a person can do to live a fully realized life. The mere act of setting a goal has been shown to increase performance by more than 25 percent. So if you intend to accomplish anything, you will increase your chances of success through the mere act of setting a goal.

SET DEADLINES FOR YOUR DREAM GOALS

Setting deadlines is one of the most important “actions” you’ll do in your initial goal-setting activities. In a real sense, a goal has a concrete and doable endpoint. You can also look at it like this: a dream is a goal with a deadline. Always remember, 
a dream goal is something attainable and something that can be put into action by doing two important things: lining up consistent smaller actions/goals with dates, deadlines or endpoints. Whether your dream goal is big (to become financially independent) or small (to travel to Europe), the key to success will involve your ability to consistently take action and don’t leave an open-ended deadline, which is critical. Why? Because you can procrastinate, allow distractions, and keep saying “someday” until someday never comes.

Goal Success Formula

Discipline + Hard Work + Time Management = Goal Achievement

While many of you may innately apply the goals formula, why have you not always achieved every goal you set out to realize? The answer is because you did not consciously resolve to apply this formula. How so? If so many of us innately achieve rites of passage without applying the formula.

WRITE SERIOUS GOALS

The two acronyms that we use with our Chief Goals Officer (chiefgoalsofficer.com/workshops) students are RACE and TRAIN. These acronyms stand for the following:FullSizeRender (2)

R – Realistic
 A – Aggressive C – Calendar E – Everyday

T – Timeline R – Review A – Adjust I–“I will” N – Now

So let’s specifically break down each word and how it applies:

RACE

Realistic – Your goals need to be realistic – and that’s so important. How many people have you met who have lofty goals that are beyond their capabilities or circumstances? For example, it’s probably not realistic for an individual who is a marathon runner (long distance) to become a 100-meter world record holder. It doesn’t fit or make sense. So choose “realistic” goals that make sense for you and that you can realistically achieve. If you make unrealistic goals chances of success greatly diminish along with an increase in disappointment, which is demoralizing and can cause you to quit.

Aggressive – You want to make sure that you challenge yourself and set goals that will “stretch” you in whatever aspect the goal is in your life. Don’t set goals that are too easy to complete within a short timeframe. Embrace the challenge! Go for your “realistic” big goals.

Consider adding one “Failure Risk” goal – This is a big stretch goal with a significant chance of failure.  

Calendar – Convert your “dreams” to actual goals by putting a specific date on the goal when you write it down. For example: I will complete a public speaking course for self-improvement by Oct. 15, 2018. The calendar builds a timeline on all the specific goals.

Everyday – Follow the important rules of goal setting,

  1. Writing them
  2. Reading them
  3. Speaking them out-loud every day
  4. Evening quick review to reinforce your goals in your subconscious.

Don’t give up and keep it up. You might accidentally miss a day (life is life), but over time if you consistently apply these techniques, it will come naturally to you, and when you miss a day, you will actually feel uncomfortable about it.

TRAIN

Timeline – Without a timeline of the action items necessary to complete the goal, accomplishment and implementation will not occur. Again, don’t micromanage 
it, but when writing the goals every day, consider building in a few specific steps into short timelines that need to be accomplished to get to your main goal achievement.

Review – Every month, it’s important to go back through your journal and see how your goals have changed slightly and to see what other items you have accomplished. It’s a snapshot review to make tweaks and changes if necessary to keep you focused on the mission of goal achievement.

Adjust – Goals will need to be adjusted and you need to be flexible. Many times goal setting will open up new opportunities that you will target and come back
to some of your longer-term goals over time. If you start to have more goals move toward one category for example – career goals are now encompassing too much time and reducing the opportunity for another important area in your life, such as building lasting relationships with people, then it’s time to adjust.

 

I will – Write, speak and review your goals with the mindset of stating it in terms of “I will achieve” or in past tense such as “I have achieved” (even before achieving the goal), as it builds a positive reinforcing statement in your mind. Go into the goal with a vision that you have already achieved it (of course, taking all five senses into account will make it a vivid picture).

Now – Always think in terms of starting NOW. Don’t wait and put off till another date. We all are busy, and if you want to transform your life you need to start every day for 30 days to build it into your daily routine. Turn off the TV or stop any other distracting habits and schedule 10 minutes to do your goal-setting activities then add these tasks to your calendar every day.

Accountability and Journaling – Simple Action StepsFullSizeRender (9)

  1. Set your goal
  2. Announce your goal to your inner circle of support
 and make it public
  3. Ask them to hold you accountable
  4. Establish a simple system to track it
  5. Set your mindset toward the phrase “failure is not an option”

Realize the power of writing things down. When we write things down our brains create images and memories. The act of writing also reinforces your goals and keeps your focus. In my opinion, and for these reasons, goal journaling is probably the most important item in this process.

I recommend you use a good, old-fashioned journal consisting of paper (not digital) and write down (not type) every day your top goals. The physical act of writing will help you clarify your goals and enable you to remember them better as you continually move toward goal achievement. Studies have shown positive effects of writing that help people learn easier, which can reinforce your goals and help you achieve them. Handwriting is good for your brain. Idea comprehension increases when you write down goals.

Goal Life Categories to Consider in Your Journal:

  • Education and Personal Development – reading goal
  • Charity
  • Spiritual
  • Health, Nutrition and Fitness
  • Career Advancement
  • Business
  • Family
  • Travel and Personal Hobbies • Relationship Building
  • Financial
  • Time Management and Organization
  • Legacy Plan (What You Leave Behind)

35 Books to Consider Adding to Your Reading List – Fiction and Non-Fiction

How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

The Richest Man in Babylon, George S. Clason

Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill

Seasons of Life, James Rohn

Crush It! Gary Vaynerchuk

Walden, Henry David Thoreau (anything by Thoreau)

The Bible

John Adams, David McCullough

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, Walter Isaacson

George Washington’s Leadership Lessons James C. Rees and Stephen Spignesi

Rework, Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell

Little Red Book of Selling, Jeffrey Gitomer

Leaving Microsoft To Change The World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey, John Wood

Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale

Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki

Linchpin, Seth Godin

The Dragonfly Effect, Jennifer Aaker, Andy Smith, Carlye Adler, Chip Heath, Dan Ariely

Small Giants: Companies That Chose to Be Great Instead of Big, Bo Burlingham

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl

As a Man Thinketh, James Allen

How To Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey
Tribes,

We Need You To Lead Us, Seth Godin

Thinkertoys, Michael Michalko

Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, Harvey Mackay

Churchill “A Life”, Martin Gilbert

Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen

Let My People Go Surfing, Yvon Chouinard

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo

Life Is Good, Bert and John Jacobs

Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

Reach For The Skies, Richard Branson

ALWAYS BE THINKING WITH GOALS

You have 86,400 seconds in your day. How much of the day do you think about your life goals and do something within 30 minutes every day? Attitude and habits are crucial for achieving some great goals. Another key item is to focus on the present, do what you can today, and don’t worry about tomorrow.

You’ve heard the cliché, “It’s the little things that sometimes make you happy.” In the goal-setting world, always be open to celebrate all goals achieved both big and small. Whether your goal happened flawlessly or you worked hard to make it happen, stop and smell those proverbial “successes”. Take it in and recognize your accomplishment. Enjoy and savor your success. When we fail to recognize our accomplishments, it’s like pouring water into wine – it dilutes its importance, value and power over our lives.

Wishing you great success with your 2018 Goals!

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” – Edmund Hillary

 

Who is WayneWKPic

 

Wayne is a man of great passion who has spent a lifetime devoted to pursuing and achieving every goal he has set out to accomplish.   Plenty of failures of course, but Wayne always pushes forward through a disciplined approach to the next opportunity with a mindset of intentionally adding value to people.

 

Growing up, he learned from his parents something very important: set big goals and work your butt off to achieve them! His parents always said, Wayne beats to his own drum and will always come up with something off the wall.”

 

They were right. As an “adventure entrepreneur”, author, speaker and athlete, that’s his personality and he always believes in the virtue of trying something new and with “fearless exploration”.

 

“If your friends and family don’t say the words ‘No Way, You’re Crazy’ about your goals then you have not made them big enough”. Wayne Kurtz

wayne@chiefgoalsofficer.com

Wayne P. Kurtz

Chief Goals Officer

wayne@chiefgoalsofficer.com

www.chiefgoalsofficer.com

www.wayne-kurtz.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/waynepkurtz

412-427-4828

Additional Reading Books by Wayne Kurtz: http://www.amazon.com/Wayne-Kurtz/e/B004LNUJTE

TOMORROW’S PERFECT DAY – WAKE UP PRODUCTIVE

As we all begin the start of month number three in 2018, ask yourself the question  “How productive am I”?    Time management techniques have been rehashed again and again, but productivity starts with planning your perfect day in advance.

Productivity starts as soon as we wake up.   Do you have a specific routine (written out as a reference) that you follow every single day?   If not, consider creating a simple plan prior to the start of your day.    

There are numerous studies outlining the benefits of Ben Franklin’s famous quote:  “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise.”   It’s not that you have to get up at 4 AM, (there are amazing things that have occurred in history at 4AM and highly recommend you Google “4AM”), but clearly getting the day started earlier will help your productivity.

Like anything else in life, building routines take a bit of time (30 days seems to be best – establishing habits and making significant life changes).   Everyone defines a successful day in their own terms, but consider establishing a new routine for the month of March and see what might happen to your productivity levels (work, family, exercise, volunteering, etc.)

Write out your Perfect Day.    Grab a journal or sheet of paper and write down the details of a productive day and use it as a guide to build your routine.    If you stick with it for 30 days – you will change.

My Morning  – Example

4:00AM – Wake up – immediately drink 25 oz. of ice water (helps with clearing the head and rehydration).   Absolutely no checking of emails, social media and IPhone!

Deep breathing exercise (belly breathing, hold breath and then exhale)

4:15 AM – Eat a balance of protein and clean carbohydrates to get the day going (typical is a small chicken breast and bean or lentil salad – not the typical breakfast, but who ever said we can’t eat the common dinner or lunch food items for breakfast).  Always have 1 cup of coffee and take Omega 3 and daily vitamins

4:30AM – 5:00AM – Write in my journal (write my yearly goals) and review the 3 Major items that must be completed for goals.   Review my Personal Life Principals (on my laminated card)

5:15AM -5:45AM – Mindfulness session (check out www.headspace.com – great app and track your progress with

5:45AM – 6:30AM – Read current book (fiction and non-fiction)

6:30AM-8:00AM – Workout and post recovery drink and small meal – slow carb.

The full workday begins at 8AM and the key focus is planning on accomplishing my “Big 3” tasks for the day.   Meetings, lunch, a few 10 minute breaks, use of walking every 30 minutes if I have been sitting, focus on being present many times during the day, etc.

5:30PM-6:00PM – Recap the day and if no client meetings then follow up short workout, dinner with my wife.

Evening hours before bed routine:

  1. 1. Review my goal list and speak them out loud along with my Personal Principal statements.
  2. 2. Write normally 500-1,000 words
  3. 3. Light reading
  4. 4. Visualize briefly

Building a consistent routine and no matter what distractions occur with family, traveling, work stress, etc. will help productivity levels over time.   Like anything else sticking to a routine is where it becomes difficult but if you build the discipline into your life – it will CHANGE your life.

Who is Wayne:

Wayne is a man of great passion who has spent a lifetime devoted to pursuing and achieving every goal he has set out to accomplish.   Plenty of failures of course, but Wayne always pushes forward through a disciplined approach to the next opportunity with a mindset of intentionally adding value to people.

Growing up, he learned from his parents something very important:  set big goals and work your butt off to achieve them!  His parents always said, Wayne beats to his own drum and will always come up with something off the wall.”   

They were right.  As an “adventure entrepreneur”, author, speaker and athlete, that’s his personality and he always believes in the virtue of trying something new and with “fearless exploration”.   

WKPic“If your friends and family don’t say the words ‘No Way, You’re Crazy’ about your goals then you have not made them big enough”. Wayne Kurtz

wayne@chiefgoalsofficer.com

Incremental Gains to Make Big Leaps

by Patrick Evoe, Professional Triathlete

Now that winter is upon us and your racing season has wound down, you’re probably looking forward to next year’s racing. No matter if you’re a swimmer, cyclist, runner or a triathlete, now is the best time to start planning how you intend to improve your performances next year. We all want to get faster, but that doesn’t happen on its own. Even if you have a coach, it’s your responsibility to take charge of your performance. We’re all looking for that breakthrough race or season. Have you thought through how you will make that happen?

Making a big leap forward isn’t always about training more or training harder. It certainly can help, but rather than shooting for the grand slam, to use a baseball analogy, why not instead look to “Moneyball” your performance. If you’re not familiar with the book or movie based on that book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis, I’ll summarize what you need to know and how it’s applicable to endurance sports. In the true story, the General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team takes one of the worst teams in MLB to being one of the best teams, not by acquiring the best and most expensive players, instead they identified the cheaper players who got them the small gains, the base hits. By building up all of the base hitters, rather than players who swing for the fences, the team became a force with which to be reckoned. Now to your sport, if you focus on making small incremental gains in many different areas, they can add up to make a massive improvement in your overall performance. Hitting a ton of singles can add up to a lot more points than a couple home runs.

To do this, you need to take a step back, break down your sport into its fundamental elements, and look there for smaller areas where you can make changes where each results in incremental improvements. You will need to do your homework, but hopefully, here, I can give you some ideas that will start you on your way. I’m giving you ten ways to make small gains to make next year your big leap forward!

Equipment – One of the quickest and easiest ways you can shave off your race times is through equipment improvement.

through  equipment improvements, especially in cycling. Luckily for us, the industry and enthusiasts are always researching and developing new ways to get faster. Even better for us, they continue to offer new equipment or publish how to modify our existing equipment for “free speed.” Your only barriers to making gains for next year in this area are your budget, taking the time to do the research, and your willingness to make equipment changes. First, you need to decide how much money you want to spend to get faster, then you need to research where you can get the “biggest bang for your buck” when it comes to purchasing or upgrading equipment. Most upgrades relate to making yourself and equipment more aerodynamic, lighter, or reducing the friction of your bicycle’s drive train. You can invest in race wheels, aero-helmets, bike frames, aero water bottles, ceramic bearings, low friction race bike chains, an aero sleeved race suit, just to name a few.

Not all equipment changes cost the big bucks, something as simple as changing the positioning and set-up of the water bottles on your bike can make you more aerodynamic and thus save you time over your race. One industry website I’ve found helpful for researching equipment is www.aeroweenies.com. Spend some time on the website reading their reviews, data, and explore their links to other useful resources.

One of the lower-cost improvements to shave time off is through faster racing tires for your bike. Every tire and tube combination has a certain level of rolling resistance that you have to overcome to move your bike forward. There are faster and slower tires, each costing a certain number of watts. The slower tires are eating more power away from the watts you produce from your pedaling. Check out www.bicyclerollingresistance.com. This site tests, reports, and ranks a large number of tires. A couple years ago, after some research, I found that just by changing my race tires, I could save up to 8 watts. To put that in perspective, I may train for a whole year to hold 8 watts higher in a race, but I can make myself that much faster instantly with the cost of two new tires. If you’re willing to make some changes, chances are, with some research and investment, you can engineer time off of your next race just through your equipment.

Nutrition –  The next most important area is nutrition. In the sport of triathlon, athletes often refer to race nutrition as the “fourth discipline” after swimming, biking, and running. To be honest, I’ve seen poor race nutrition result in more bad races than lack of fitness.  Having an optimal nutrition plan is critical to successful performance. Don’t limit yourself only to race nutrition. Think also about your fueling during training and recovery. If you can train harder and recover faster because of what you’re putting in your body, then you’ll get faster, it’s that simple. In a race situation, if you can take in more calories, or absorb more of the calories you’re taking in then you’ll have more energy during the race. That’s where a superior nutrition product like XRCEL Athlete Fuel can help. Because you’ll absorb more of the right fuel and calories when using XRCEL, versus conventional sports drinks or gels, you’ll have more energy to spend on the course. Now is the best time of year to make changes to your training and racing nutrition so by the time you’re in big training mode and race season, you’ve dialed in your improved nutrition plan.

If you look at the combination of equipment and nutrition this way you’ll get a good idea of what I’m talking about – You can have a super car, like a Ferrari, but if you put low octane gas in it, it won’t perform optimally. Think of yourself as the owner and driver of that super car. The combination of great equipment and great fuel is the under-pinning of great performance and helps to get the most out of all of those long training sessions.

Technique – Each endurance sport has its own unique movements. The timing and manner by which your body engages muscles, coupled with the positioning and angles of your limbs greatly impacts the power your body produces. There are always technique improvements you can make in each sport. Unless you’re a world record holder, you can make improvements. You don’t necessarily need to completely break down and rebuild your running form or swim stroke to create a benefit. Try focusing on one small improvement in each discipline. Stay focused on that one item until it’s ingrained in your technique.

Bike Position – The way you sit on your bike can hurt or improve both your power output and your wind resistance. Small changes to your bike position can lead to gains on the race course. During my off season is the time I play around with my bike position to see if I can make small gains. You can work with a professional fitter, or if you have a decent awareness of your own body you can try to make changes yourself. I once had a professional bike fitter raise my saddle to make it “perfect” by the numbers. Over time, I found I just couldn’t push the same power in that position, so I lowered my saddle a little. By doing this, I found I could engage my glutes more in my pedal stroke and produce more power.

On the aerodynamic side of your bike position, most athletes try to lower the front end (think handlebars) so they’re more aerodynamic. This can help, but it’s not the only place that can lower your drag in the wind. Look at your elbows, shoulders, and head. Think about the shape that your body presents to the wind. Yes, being lower helps, but if you can be narrow, that’s just as important. If you can bring your elbow pads closer together, you’ll improve your profile. Focus on shrugging your shoulders and tucking your head down (while still looking ahead). Instantly, you’re more aerodynamic. It’s not comfortable at first, but the more you practice and train doing these things, you’ve found more “free speed.”

Discipline – Let’s face it, what we do is hard. We all have a tendency to gravitate towards certain habits while training and racing that don’t help our performance because they represent the path of least resistance. If you make the effort to have the discipline to fix or improve some of these habits, performance gains will naturally follow. In running, I found if I don’t focus, I tend to tense and shrug my shoulders. If I concentrate on relaxing my shoulders, that loosens up my body and thus I expend less energy. In cycling, the most obvious example is staying in the aero-position. When you are not tucked into your aerobars, you are sacrificing a lot of aerodynamic drag. This translates into lost speed. The more time you spend in your aerobars, the faster and more efficient you will be. I see countless athletes sitting up in races, just wasting their energy and speed because they’re not in their aerobars. This is nothing but being lazy. Maybe they’re bored or perhaps their backs get stiff from being in the bars too long? Well, that means they’ve been lazy in training and haven’t spent enough time training in the aero-position. Or they’ve been lazy and haven’t worked on their bike positions to be comfortable in the aero-position. You need to have the discipline to spend hours and hours in that position in training if you expect to be able to do it on race day.

Mobility – You will become a better swimmer, biker, and runner if you can improve your body’s ability to create more power through mobility and muscular engagement. By working these areas, top level athletes have discovered and implemented these techniques into their training with great success. A friend of mine who is also a subject matter expert in this area has posted a number of how-to videos on his YouTube channel so you can learn how to do this. Lawrence van Lingen has created movements/exercises to work on your mobility. Take some time to watch his videos and incorporate his exercises into your training, gym, or stretching routines. I can tell you that every athlete I know who’s done this has seen improvements in one way or another. You can find his YouTube channel by searching his name or his user name: lorenzomojo1.

Strength – You’ll hear athletes every winter talk about spending time in the gym to work on their strength for next season. There can be massive benefits to your swimming, biking, and running speed by working in the gym. But is what you’re doing in the gym going to translate into performance improvements? Take time to do some homework to make sure you’re doing the right exercises, weights (heavy/light), sets, and repetitions to benefit your racing. There are a lot of great resources on-line if you spend some time to research. You could spend the same amount of time in the gym this year versus last, but see bigger improvements just by making sure what you’re doing translates directly to your sport.

Focus – Are you focused on getting the most out of each training session? Do you utilize your workout time to the maximum benefit? The best athletes I know are focused when the stop watch is going to get the most out of their training time. Show up on time, be the first one in the pool, and be serious about your session. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or joke around, you can do both. You can be relaxed and enjoy what you’re doing, but be focused at the same time. Concentrate on getting the most you can out of every session. Think about the purpose of that workout, then zero in on it and execute. This is a matter of mind set. If you have two athletes doing the exact same training plan and workouts, yet one is more focused than the other, the focused athlete will get more out of each training session and will see bigger performance improvements over time. Don’t just go through the motions of the workout. Make the commitment to yourself that you’ll be more focused in each session. You’re already spending the time, get the most out of it.

Transitions – Have you been racing as a professional in the fast and furious ITU Olympic-distance draft-legal racing for the last decade? I’m guessing none of us have. If that’s the case, I can pretty much guarantee that you don’t have the perfect swim-to-bike and bike-to-run transitions in a triathlon. There is free time savings waiting for you if you can streamline how you move from one sport to the other. Remember, the race clock doesn’t stop between each sport. You may train all year to take a minute or two off of your swim time, but you could take that much time off of your transition with a couple hours of work.  (Transition is an optimal time to quickly grab an XRCEL to top off … and GO.  In fact, back to my car analogy, the Pit Crew of the PENSKE auto racing understands the urgency of optimal efficiency, having less than 11 seconds to turn over a car.  That’s why they choose XRCEL to have a steady on-demand source of energy when they need it most. When there is no room for error they go with the best fuel for the pit crew just like they use the best fuel in their cars.)

Have you mastered the flying mount or flying dismount? That means getting on or off your bike without stopping running. Watch some

YouTube videos or talk to friends who know these techniques. Then go to a safe place and teach/practice yourself. Can you take your wetsuit off in a couple seconds? Practice sliding it off. You can cut a few inches off of the bottom of the wetsuit on each leg so that the hole is a little bigger and will slide off your leg and over your foot easier. Do you run with socks? I found that I can run up to and including a half-marathon without socks in a race if I slather the insides of my shoes with Vaseline before each race. No need to take the time to put on socks! For my second transition, I’ve learned to just take off my bike helmet, slide on my shoes and run. Everything else, putting on hat/visor, putting on sunglasses, putting electrolyte pills in my pocket, putting on my race number, etc, I do while I’m running on the course. Doing all of that while moving forward on the course instead of standing still in transition is free time. A little time thinking through how you can improve your transitions translates directly into real time savings in the race.

Weight – Most athletes know that they should lose a few (or many) pounds. If this is you, then do it this year. Stop talking about it and make it happen. Every pound you lose improves your power-to-weight ratio for both cycling and running. The more weight you lose without losing power is free speed. I’ve always heard that every pound lost is 1-2 seconds per mile improvement in your running speed. Would you like to run 10-20 seconds per mile faster without training harder? It’s “free speed” if you’re willing to lose those 10 pounds.

I’ve covered a lot of ground here, and in all honesty, I’ve only scratched the surface in each of these subject areas. You can see that if you just made a small improvement in each of these subjects over this winter, when race time comes and you add up all of those gains, you are setting yourself up for a big performance leap forward.

Fitness Tips for Holiday Travel

by Patrick Evoe, Professional Triathlete

The holiday season is nearly upon us and with that comes the inevitability of family, food, and fiestas. Whether you’re in full-blown off season or coming into or out of your sports’ seasons, maintaining some form of fitness is important. If you’re a triathlete, cyclist, or runner, you may be in your off season, so you may not feel pressure to be hammering sessions. I’ve never subscribed to the “off-season” attitude, rather I look at that time of the year as next season’s preparation. The holidays themselves present enough challenges for staying in your training routine, but if you need to travel to visit family, you’re faced with difficult odds to keep your body moving.

Of course, there is the issue of food choices, or lack there of, when it comes to the holidays and parties. Countless articles are published every year about making good food choices this time of year, so I won’t touch on that topic. Also, I’ve always subscribed to the idea that during the winter months, I should loosen up on eating. As long as you’re still active and exercising, enjoy some fun foods over the holidays. Here I want to share some tips from my experience to resist the urge to hibernate or the excuse that it’s too hard to train while traveling during this time.

It’s up to you – First and foremost, if you’re traveling, the deck is stacked against you to train. Family, food, parties, old friends will all take up your time and energy. Unless you make an effort, no one will make it easy for you to train. You need to think of it as a challenge to fight against those odds. It’s a mental attitude you need to embrace. Additionally, I’ve found that I can relax more and enjoy the holiday fun if I know I’ve done a good session that day.

Set an early goal – A couple years ago my coach asked all of her Boulder-based athletes to register for a local 10km running race in Denver on January 2nd. Even though it was just a fun local race, when I was back in Detroit visiting my family for Christmas, I had more motivation to do some good running training because I didn’t want that upcoming 10km to be a complete disaster. Having some sort of accountability or checkpoint soon after the holidays may be just enough to keep you moving.

Get creative – Learn to adapt to your family’s schedule and get creative about squeezing in training. For instance, one year, while visiting my parents, we were planning on going over to my sister’s for Christmas morning brunch and the normal family party. My sister lived 10 miles from my parents. I put a change of clothes in my parents’ car, put on my running gear, and told them that I’d meet them at my sister’s house, and then got running. When I arrived at her house, I jumped in the shower, and a few minutes later, I had 10 miles under my belt, was showered, and ready for family time. Just try to think outside of your normal workout routine.

Running is your friend – Swimming and cycling have their own logistical training challenges when you’re traveling. Running, however, can be done anywhere. Throw a pair of running shoes in your bag and some clothing options for variable weather and you can train anywhere. I’ve always found the winter to be a great time to work on my running. Look at the weather as a challenge as you travel. Dumping snow? No problem, get out there and enjoy the serenity of the sound of your breathing and the crunch as your foot falls in the snow. Work on your foundation or base miles. Find a hill and run a handful of repeats up and down. Go explore different neighborhoods or trails. Make up a fartlek workout: 10 min easy warm up and then 15 times through 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy. Running’s flexibility, time efficiency, and simplicity makes it your best ally when you’re traveling and short on time.

Swimming ideas – Maintaining swimming fitness while traveling is always a challenge. When I was an amateur triathlete and working a corporate job involving some travel, this was always difficult. The first and most obvious tip is to get on Google and try to find local community pools where you can drop in and get in some laps. Even a couple 30 minute swims will help you keep the feel and muscle memory when you’re away from your home pool. In the event that you can’t get to a pool while you travel, stretch cords are an excellent tool to help you keep your swimming fitness. You can purchase swimming specific stretch cords from a local swimming or triathlon shop, or they’re also easy to order on-line. They take up almost no room or weight in a suitcase and you can find many places to anchor them to do quick swimming specific workouts in your hotel or bedroom. You only need to spend 10 minutes or a little more to keep your swimming muscles strong and engaged. A friend of mine coached a triathlete in the US Army who was deployed to Iraq. He didn’t have access to a swimming pool for the entire deployment. My friend had the soldier do a stretch cord workout nearly every day. Upon returning home from Iraq, his first time in the water in 9 months, after a warm-up he swam 100 meters for time and was only a few seconds slower than his all time fastest 100 meters. Ever since my friend told me that story, I’ve been a firm believer in stretch cords’ ability to maintain swimming strength and fitness.

Body Weight – You don’t need a gym to be able to get in a good workout. You can do body weight exercises anywhere in the world. Squats, calf raises, a triceps dip off a table or bed, step ups on a chair or staircase, push-ups, back bridges, mountain climbers, etc. There are a whole host of body weight specific exercises you can incorporate while traveling. A few minutes of web searching and I bet you can find an entire body weight exercise routine. One particular session I’ve found effective in my training that can be performed on the road is to incorporate plyometric exercises at the end of a run workout. For example: go out for a 30 – 60 minute run. When you’re finished, before you go inside, do 3 sets of 10 squat jumps, 3 sets of 16 walking lunges, 3 sets of 10 bounds, 3 sets of 10 single leg hops on each leg, 3 sets of 10 double leg hops. If you pack a jump rope, you can then throw in a few sets of jump rope. If you do some form of a plyometric routine at the end of a run when your legs are already fatigued, you will get in a short but great strength session.

Staying in your workout routine while traveling for the holidays is always a challenge, but you need to remember that you have the tools you need to be able to maintain your fitness. Don’t let  yourself give excuses for going into hibernation. It’s not easy, but you can prevent yourself from taking a step backwards as you prepare for your next racing season.

Carrie Lester Continues to Climb the Kona Ranks

Most professional triathletes know how difficult it is to improve once they are training and competing at the elite level. Our XRCEL ambassador, Carrie Lester, didn’t let that notion stop her as she went from finishing 10th at the Ironman World Championships in 2016 and followed up 2017 with a huge jump, finishing seventh in the world! We caught up with Carrie to find out what it takes to continue to make great strides against the best in the world, how she properly fuels to take on 140.6 miles, and where her triathlon journey will take her next.

XRCEL: After a successful finish last year at the Ironman World Championships, what were your racing goals for 2017, knowing you had solid points heading towards Kona?

CL: This year’s Kona was “more” of a goal than last year, but again I don’t like to put all my eggs in one basket when it comes to Kona. I had an average day last year and I really just wanted to improve on that. I knew going into the race this time, I was in top five form, maybe even top 3 if I could really deliver, but getting into the top 10 again was a great result.  I was very relaxed on race day, maybe even too much! I was definitely more confident with the race itself after last year’s experience.

XRCEL: What was your race day strategy knowing Kona is known for being a hot and humid day accompanied by intense winds?

CL: The biggest thing that can either make or break someone’s day in Kona is hydration and nutrition. If you race out of your limit it’s hard to keep up with both, which often leads to failed race day nutrition.  My plan was just to stay cool, both physically and mentally. Hawaii is known to have crazy wind conditions, so you never know what it’s going to be like out on that portion of the bike course. That’s why it’s so important to get the right nutrition in before you get there because there may be time where you can’t eat or drink due to the heavy wind.

XRCEL: What does your nutrition plan look like on race day?

CL: On race day,  I use a mix of electrolytes, bars, and  XRCEL Athlete Fuel. I usually have one bottle of XRCEL before the swim and then as soon as I get on the bike. While on the bike, I usually take four or five bottles of XRCEL along with water and bars to help me stay fully-fueled and hydrated. Whether I am able to get all of my planned nutrition in during a race, at least I do not have to worry about having GI issues thanks to XRCEL’s ability to release fuel as my body needs it. When I start the run, I take two bottles of XRCEL with me  and then have two more available in my special needs bag.

XRCEL: How do you feel XRCEL helps you stay fueled during an Ironman race?

CL: For me, it’s simply the ability to stomach about 10 bottles of XRCEL over the course of nine hours, without  vomiting on the side of the run course! I don’t get sick of the taste and they don’t upset my stomach. I am always winning with XRCEL as my fuel!

XRCEL: You had an incredible finish in Kona. Did your race go smoothly all day or were there parts of your race where you struggled?

My race didn’t actually start off well for me at all, starting with  the swim, which then carried over on the early part of the bike. I wasn’t in the group that I knew I should have been in, so I had to reassess my race strategy early on. I got stronger on the bike as the race continued, but I still felt a bit off, which was similar to last year. The run was a mental struggle as I  just felt off and tried to put the frustration of not feeling like myself out of my head. I have done enough races where I have felt like this to know that I can still pull off a good result, which is what kept me going.

XRCEL: At what point in the race did you realize you were in 7th place and how did that affect your race strategy?

CL: When running through the Energy Lab you get a pretty good idea of where you might finish. At that point I was eighth place, but I  was pretty sure I could pass one more female pro  for seventh.  The sixth place female pro  was a little too far out of reach for me, but not impossible, knowing how an Ironman race can end up.  Because I knew seventh place was attainable, I just kept eating, drinking XRCEL and taking ice cold sponges to stay cool. I am happy that I climbed up a spot at that point instead of dropping off and losing placements.

XRCEL: What are your race plans for the rest of 2017?

CL: We aren’t finished for the year as I am planning on racing Ironman 70.3 Los Cabos and, most likely, Ironman Western Australia. Hopefully, that will put me in a good position towards qualifying for Kona in 2018!

XRCEL: How did you recover from a tough race like the World Championships?

CL: I do like to swim a little the week post-race, but other than that I have been just relaxing with friends. I’ll save all of the big festivities for December, after I race Ironman Western Australia.

Laurel Wassner: Finding a way to Win on and off the Ironman Course

Many professional triathletes spend their entire career chasing the ultimate prize, an Ironman win. Yet many fall short of the sport’s ultimate prize, but not for a lack of trying, as it is one of the toughest events both physically and mentally. Thanks to hard work, perseverance, and endless preparation, XRCEL ambassador Laurel Wassner is a pro triathlete who will one day walk away from triathlon having stood on the top of the podium after her win at Ironman Taiwan. After battling and surviving cancer earlier in her career, Laurel is not only an Ironman Champion, but the first cancer survivor to win an Ironman event. We caught up with Wassner to find out why she decided to race halfway across the globe, how her race day unfolded, and how she’s recovering from one of the toughest Ironmans on the race calendar.

XRCEL: What made you decide to race Ironman Taiwan, knowing it’s a very difficult race as far as the conditions and terrain? 

Laurel Wassner: I decided to race Ironman Taiwan for a few reasons.  First of all, it fit into my schedule and gave me the entire summer to prepare for the race.  My season got a late start after I raced Israman, a full-distance triathlon, in January and then I took my off-season break.  I knew that I wouldn’t be in peak Ironman form until later in the year, so I decided to target a race in October.  I chose Ironman Taiwan knowing that it is a very hot place and that the conditions would dictate the day, but I know that I tend to race better in hotter climates. Finally, I wanted to have the experience of racing in Asia.

XRCEL: You raced and won Israman, which boasts one of the toughest bike courses in the world, as well as other races with tough bike courses, like Ironman Mont-Tremblant and Wildflower. What has drawn you to races with immensely difficult bike courses?

LW: As a smaller rider, standing at 5’3″ and weighing 110 pounds, I need to choose races that have some hills in order to maximize my strengths and power to weight ratio.  I am a natural climber, but in the past two years I have worked very hard on my time trialing and ability to hold my power steady while in the aero position for hours.

XRCEL: When training for Ironman Taiwan, how did you prepare knowing the challenging course and conditions you would be up against?

LW: Knowing that Ironman Taiwan was more of a battle with the conditions rather than a “fast” Ironman, I focused on getting strong and resilient instead of superfast.  I still did speed work and raced several Olympic Distance races, but the focus was more on making sure I was a strong runner, meaning I could keep pushing throughout the race. I added in a lot of uphill runs, even pushing a 30-pound nephew in a stroller, almost every day for a month.

XRCEL: What is your typical nutrition plan during a full-distance triathlon race?

LW: My nutrition plan consists of 1 bottle of XRCEL before the start of the race to make sure I am fully-fueled and ready to go. Once on the bike, I take 1 XRCEL every 45-50 minutes on the bike, as well as a bottle of sports drink every hour.  On the run, I start with 1 bottle of XRCEL at the beginning and take two more bottles throughout the race.  I also added salt tablets due to the intense heat and humidity.

XRCEL: During Ironman Taiwan, what adjustments did you have to make in your nutrition due to race day issues out of your control?

LW: I pre-hydrated in the days leading up to the race with extra electrolytes as well as extra salt tablets. On the run, I had to take in a lot more fluids that I ever have because of the intense heat and humidity. 

XRCEL: You came out of the water 4 seconds ahead of 2nd place and then put the hammer down on the bike. What was your actual race strategy once you got on the bike?

LW: My strategy for this race was just to race my own race and not worry about anyone else. I knew my biggest challenge was going to be getting through it in such extreme conditions.  I rode the first hour a bit hard, but I didn’t feel out of control, so I kept my pace and power going.  I rode with Charlotte Morel of France for an hour, and put in an effort to get across a windy bridge and get a gap on her.  After the bridge, I was by myself, just sticking to my plan and trying to cool off with water at the aid stations.  XRCEL definitely kept me going strong throughout the heat and the very hilly bike course. I got hot and uncomfortable, but I never felt low on energy.  It was one of those days I never really got tired.

XRCEL: At what point did you realize you had created a 10-minute lead as you started the run and how did that affect your race strategy?

LW: I was still in earshot of the announcer and I heard him announcing 2nd place coming into T2 and saw that I had 10 minutes on her. At that point, I was entering the toughest part of the run and it was a struggle to keep going.  I actually thought I’d have to drop out as it was that unbearably hot.  However, after running four miles, I got some ice and that helped me out. It was at that point I realized that I could keep going, as long as I stayed cool.

XRCEL: Even though you won by a 46-minute margin, were there parts of the day where the race got tough to manage?

LW: I may have won by 46 minutes, but it was a very, very tough run. It was the kind of run where, even with a 30-minute lead, I didn’t know if I could keep going.  I eventually had to stop looking at my pace because it was so slow. I actually ran well at different points of the race, but I walked and stopped at every single aid station.

XRCEL: After battling and beating cancer, what did it feel like to win an Ironman race?

LW: It was overwhelming emotionally because it was my first win at an official Ironman branded race and in extremely tough conditions.  It actually fits really well with my life story.  As I was running down the finisher’s chute, I was pretending that I was high-fiving my family.

XRCEL: What did it feel like to win by such an epic margin at the pro level?

LW: During the race, I still felt like I was going to get caught!  When I saw the results, it was then that I realized I finished sixth overall, men included. I also saw that I had the fourth fastest marathon time overall and one of the few to go sub four hours. It was then that I realized I had done something pretty special out there. It means a lot to me to show my family and supporters that I was able to execute, not only the proper training leading up to the race, but also on race day.

XRCEL What surprised you the most about your race in Taiwan?

LW: I surprised myself by being able to turn around a poor performance in Malaysia the week prior and put in such a dominating performance in Taiwan. I learned that adjusting to that kind of heat, humidity, and time change is very important, but most importantly, I learned not to give up on myself.  I had people telling me I was so fit and such an amazing athlete and I could win, but I think I was the last person to believe it all!  This race taught me to believe in myself.

XRCEL: After racing a grueling Ironman Taiwan, what role did XRCEL play in your recovery?

LW: I had an XRCEL right after the race to help speed along my recovery. I think that XRCEL helps me feel better since it helps replenish my glycogen stores. It’s also easy to get down after an Ironman, when eating is not always easy. I even put one bottle in the fridge in my hotel so it was nice and cold when I got back.

XRCEL: What is the next race on your calendar?

LW: I’m going back to Asia to race the Bohol 5150 in the Philippines.

XRCEL: After the Philippines will you take a break and what will you do in the off season?

LW: My training will be less structured and I will have more time to dedicate to photography work where I will shoot things such as food, lifestyle, and, for the holiday season, I am focusing on portraits of families for holiday cards.  If you’re in the NY/NJ area, send me an email (wassnertwins@gmail.com).  I’m also going to start coaching triathletes and runners and will be announcing details soon. I am really excited for the opportunity to help others achieve their goals.