A question I have heard asked a lot lately really bothers me… “what is ‘American Exceptionalism’?”
Without turning this into a political blog, one of many definitions and one of the few that I truly believe is entrepreneurial spirit… the desire to create something out of nothing, because we can and we want it make it or do it be better than what exists or has been done.
It’s incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don’t create anything in your life, if you don’t strive to be better than average, then nobody can attack the thing you created or done.
It’s so much easier to just sit back and criticize other people’s creations or results. How many of these have you heard?
“This movie is stupid.”
“That couple’s kids are brats.”
“That other couple’s relationship is a mess.”
“That rich guy is shallow.”
“This restaurant sucks.”
“This Internet writer is an a%$hole. I’d better leave a mean comment demanding that the website fire him.”
And then the person says “See, I created something (with my comments above).” Don’t be that guy. Be a CREATOR, not a destroyer!
Oh, wait, did I forget to mention that part? Yeah, whatever you try to build or create — be it a job, or a new skill, or a new relationship — you will find yourself immediately surrounded by non-creators who trash it. Maybe not to your face, but they’ll do it. Your drunk friends do not want you to get sober. Your fat friends do not want you to start a fitness regimen. Your jobless friends do not want to see you embark on a career. Your friends who work for someone else do not want you to start your own business. Your friends who do not participate in endurance sports don’t want you to sign up for a race or finally sign up for an IRONMAN. Don’t be that guy. Be a CREATOR, not a destroyer!
Just remember, they’re only expressing their own fear, since trashing other people’s work is another excuse to do nothing. “Why should I create anything when the things other people create suck? I would totally have ____(insert something to do or accomplish)____ by now, but I’m going to wait for something good, I don’t want to ____(insert “be” or “make” verb)____ the next ____(insert creation or accomplishment here)____!”
As long as they never produce anything, their work will forever be perfect and beyond reproach. Or if they do produce something, they’ll make sure they do it with detached irony. They’ll make it intentionally bad to make it clear to everyone else that this isn’t their real effort. Their real effort would have been amazing. Not like what you made or accomplished. Don’t let people like this get in your way. Don’t let people like this drag you down. Don’t be that guy. Be a CREATOR, not a destroyer!
Read just about any online article comments — when they get nasty, it’s always from the same angle:
“This site needs to fire this columnist.”
“This a$&hole needs to stop writing.”
“Don’t make any more videos.”
It always boils down to this: “Stop creating. This is different from what I would have made, and the attention you’re getting is making me feel bad about myself.”
Don’t be that person. If you are that person, don’t be that person any more. This is what’s making people hate you. This is what’s making you hate yourself. Be a CREATOR, not a destroyer!
So how about this: by the end of 2014, that’s our deadline (or a year from whenever you read this). While other people are telling you “Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to lose 15 pounds this year!” I’m going to say let’s pledge to do something — add any skill, any improvement to your human tool set, and get good enough at it to impress people. Don’t ask me what — hell, pick something at random if you don’t know. Take a class in karate, or ballroom dancing, or pottery. Learn to bake. Build a birdhouse. Learn massage. Learn a programming language. Start a YouTube vlog.
But the key is, I don’t want you to focus on something great that you’re going to make happen to you (“I’m going to find a girlfriend, I’m going to make lots of money …”). I want you to purely focus on giving yourself a skill that would make you ever so slightly more interesting and valuable to other people. “I don’t have the money to take a cooking class.” Then Google “how to cook.” Darn it, you have to kill those excuses. Or they will kill you. Be a CREATOR, not a destroyer!
This blog is a modified version of an article found here: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person_p2/. It’s a good read, head over and check it out. It has been edited to match my style and opinion, as well as to match the happenings of my life and the people in it.
I wrote this article for Training Peaks and IRONMAN.com before the race!
IRONMAN Arizona is known for being a fast course with a stacked professional and age-group field. The late November race is the fourth IRONMAN of the new qualifying year for the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona. The times here are fast, with specific pacing demands on the bike and the run. Below are tried-and-true tips for the intermediate to advanced athlete looking to set a PR, or even qualify for Kona.
The swim is a single 2.4-mile loop in Tempe Town Lake with water temperatures usually in the low 60’s (Fahrenheit). On race day the air temperature can dip into the 50’s, a cold start to the day. Arrive at the swim start early. There is only one entry point into the lake, so it can get backed up. Once you’re in the water, find your spot and be prepared to either tread water for a few minutes, or find a kayak or paddle board that you can hold on to. The field will spread out nicely as the course opens up a couple hundred meters into the swim.
IRONMAN Arizona has a unique exit from the water: a set of stairs on which you will either be helped or pulled up out of the water by volunteers. Make sure you get your hand up so they can grab you, and watch your feet and shins as you get pulled up onto the stairs. Once you’re up on the stairs, you’ll finish the last few steps on your own where you’ll find the wetsuit strippers. From there, it’s a short run to the changing tents, then onto the bike and out onto Rio Salado. You might want some arm warmers to start the ride, depending on the ambient temperature.
Flat, windy and busy are the best words to describe the three-loop bike course. Pacing on the bike is the absolute key to racing well at IRONMAN Arizona; use a power meter or heart rate monitor to pace yourself appropriately. To determine your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) or Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR), follow these guidelines set forth by Joe Friel (author of The Triathlete’s Training Bible) here. Once you have determined your FTP and/or LTHR, use this article by Friel to determine your best pace.
In 2012, age grouper Ian Hersey (M50-54) hammered out a Kona-qualifying 10:04 time with the second fastest bike split in his age group (5:04). Looking at his cycling metrics for the day demonstrates how age group athletes should pace this course. You can see his power output in the table below.
The last metric to look at is the Training Stress Score (TSS) for the full ride. If your heart rate or power zones are set correctly on your Garmin, you can select TSS to be displayed during your ride (here’s how). In order to pace yourself correctly, TSS is a great way to account for all of the key variables. Keeping your total TSS between 260-285 on the bike is ideal to set you up for a good run. For the IRONMAN Arizona course, we need to divide that total number by three to account for the three loops, giving us an approximate TSS of 85-95 per lap.
Heading into T2, riders need to make sure they take an opportunity to stand on the pedals and stretch out their legs to prepare for the run. With the flat nature of the course, a great deal of time will be spent in the tucked position. Make sure to stretch out the hip flexors, calves and hamstrings heading into T2.
The IRONMAN Arizona run course has changed this year from a three-loop run to a two-loop run. The first mile of the run will have some moderately challenging rollers to contend with from the Mill Avenue bridge until just short of the Scottsdale Road bridge. From there it’s relatively flat until the backside of the run course. Once the runners make the left hand turn onto Curry, they have a decent climb that lasts around a half mile. From there, it’s about a half-mile downhill back to the lakefront and the flat run course.
With the new run course, we do not have any real race data to examine in TrainingPeaks. The best piece of advice I can give you for the new run course is to be patient and tick off the miles on the relatively flat course. One way to remain patient is to mentally “chunk” the course into manageable portions.
For athletes looking to set a new PR or qualify for Kona, we’ve “chunked” the course into quarters based on terrain on the map below. The quarters approach takes terrain changes into account first, then location on the course. In the first segment, be prepared for the rolling terrain from T2 to Scottsdale Rd, then a rather desolate portion of the course out to McClintock and back to T2. Segment #2 is mostly flat and will have a fair number of spectators present, as well as being within eyesight of transition—try to keep your pacing steady despite the excitement of the crowds. Segment #3 is where most athletes will struggle mentally. That last out-and-back finger will not have as many spectators, which rolls immediately into the toughest terrain challenge on the course—running up the hill on Curry. Stay strong here! The last segment is flat with some slight downhill portions that will aid the runners as they come to the end of loop #1 and again into the finish.
The key to a good race at IRONMAN Arizona is pacing through the entire race. If you stay patient and execute a well thought out race plan on the bike and the run, you’ll get stellar results.
I’ve written about the advantages of a power meter before, but this time, I have a relatively quick video that breaks it all down for you, complete with a special offer at the end!
The offer for a FREE power meter not only includes the Powertap line, but can also include the brand-new Garmin Vector! To get your FREE power meter… fill out the form below and we’ll get started!
Mental toughness is both an innate trait and a developed set of habits. We can cultivate mental toughness through a tough life, through tough choices, through tough experiences like preparing for and completing an IRONMAN. These are the typical means by which mental toughness is forged; through the crucible of “pain is weakness leaving your body.” This crucible develops confidence, a deep-seated knowledge that you are capable of persevering. These situations cultivate humility and presence, which are attributes of a mentally tough triathlete.
However, here at Break Through Multisport, we have found that mental toughness can also be cultivated in a subtler manner, through the practice of certain skills.
Awareness of our breath, and control of it, is ultimately the best tool to get and maintain present moment awareness. It is in present moment awareness that we are most powerful, alert and, yes, mentally tough. We are not in a fearful state about an unknown future, or in negative state-of-mind about a past mistake. We are just here, now, and able to train or race, while tapping into the energy of the moment.
What mental monster are you feeding, right now? Once we have control of our breath, and hence our minds and bodies, then we must ensure that we are filling our heads with the right information. Positivity covers more than self-talk, but that is the place to start. Check routinely that you are feeding the courage monster (positive), rather than the fear monster (negative). A cue to remind yourself is useful in the early stages of guarding your mind against negativity. Something as simple as a rubber band on your wrist…every time you notice it ask yourself “what monster am I feeding now?”
Your goals are connected to the major defining purpose in your life. Proper goal setting goes a lot deeper than the typical 1-month, 3-month and annual process to set goals for your training and racing. It starts with a deep introspection into what I call the “Three P’s”:
- What is your Passion?
- What is your Purpose?
- What are your Principles?
Once you have answered these questions satisfactorily, then your goals will spring from them effortlessly. Now when the going gets tough and quitting sounds like a nice option, we can persevere easily because our goals are subordinate to our major driving purpose in training and racing. What could be more important than accomplishing goals that are aligned with our purpose?
Though there are more, the final mental toughness skill that we will discuss here is envisioning. Envisioning is creating and becoming, in your mind, that which you desire, before you enter the arena. You must win in your mind before you step foot on the battlefields of life. How do we do that? All of the skills discussed here are involved, but the granddaddy skill is envisioning. Envisioning involves developing keen powers of imagination and then the ability to play the imagined event in our mind with amazing clarity. We add color, emotion, and sound and then perform it in our mind until it gains an uncanny realness quality. You will know you are there when you feel like the event you are envisioning (reaching your next IRONMAN goal, setting a new PR, etc…) has already happened.
Here are some basic operating instructions for beginning an envisioning practice.
1. Have a clear idea in your mind of exactly what you want to imagine before you start. Certainly this is going to be something momentous if you are investing this energy into it. The imagined event can be winning or completing an event or as basic as modifying your swim stroke.
2. Begin to conjure the image in your mind’s eye – slightly forward and about 20 degrees above your eyes. Begin to see, hear, and feel yourself performing perfectly the desired situation.
3. Conjure the image once or twice a day until you can run through the event from start to finish. You will want to see yourself doing it with perfect form, with a win or you achieving your goal. It may take a while to be able to complete an event in your mind.
4. Practice the imagery daily until you “feel” that it has already happened. Recording your experience in your training log is powerful way to anchor this process. Write down what you see and feel and how the imagery morphs over time.
Good luck with putting these techniques to good use!
*adapted from an article by Mark Divine.
I was contacted by IRONMAN.COM yesterday for a couple quotes on an upcoming article that will address an age-grouper and the main lifestyle issues they should take into consideration when interviewing a coach and the benefits of hiring a coach.
Here’s a brief recap of my comments:
A couple lifestyle issues that should be considered when looking for a coach would be the time that you need to spend working, with your family and with the rest of your life. A good coach should be able to write a program that fits into your life instead of telling you to stuff your life into their schedule. A good coach should also be able to provide schedule updates and adjustments when things pop up in the middle of the week, ensuring your schedule continues to flow without any real bumps.
If you’re looking for a coach or will be looking soon, please keep these considerations in mind!
There was a huge announcement last week as reported by TriTrackers.com about the NCAA and triathlon titled “NCAA Triathlon Proposal Reaches Milestone, Teams Possible by 2015”.
TriTrackers reported the following:
“On April 29th, a group of individuals that represent the sport and the NCAA proposal will travel to the NCAA’s headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind., to meet with the Committee on Women’s Athletics (CWA) to answer final questions about the proposal to name triathlon an “emerging sport for women.
This route to NCAA recognition was established in 1994 as a means of correcting widespread gender-equity issues that plagued varsity sports and placed many schools in violation of federal Title XI regulations. The multistep process requires 1) 10 written letters of support from NCAA schools, signed by the university president and athletic director 2) adoption by the CWA and 3) a vote of approval from NCAA membership at its annual January meeting.
If approved by one or more of the NCAA’s three divisions in January, we could see varsity teams with scholarship athletes as soon as August 2015.”
I am very happy to announce that late last week, the CWA voted “YES” to support triathlon as an emerging sport for women!
The next step is moving the proposal to the DI, II and III Governance groups, which then has to decide if they will pass it on to their members, which usually happens once the CWA supports a proposal!
This is a very exciting time for triathlon, especially for youth and junior triathletes that will have the possibility of being rewarded with a scholarship as of August 2015!
The first place that colleges will go for recruiting is the USA Triathlon Youth and Junior High Performance Teams, which have been identifying and developing young triathletes at an elite and nationally recognized level!
If you are in the Phoenix area, you are in luck, there is a USA Triathlon Youth and Junior High Performance Team in your area! Please visit http://breakthroughmultisport.com/high-performance-teams/ for more information!
If you know anyone who is 12-19 years old, lives in the Phoenix, AZ area and is interested in learning more about triathlon, please check out the link below to register for our FREE youth and junior triathlon camp from May 24-26!
Youth triathlon coaches have a very serious responsibility when it comes to teaching young athletes to swim. An organized and systematic approach to teaching the young triathletes to swim is the best bet.
We have created a sticker “skills” book for each of our Youth Development Program athletes. In this book, we have a complete list of skills and drills that each youth athlete is expected to master prior to trying out for our Y/J USA Triathlon High Performance Team. After the successful completion of a skill or drill, the athlete earns a sticker for their book!
1. Bubble Blowing
A swimmers ability to exhale while their face is submerged is a basic swimming skill and the starting point for our youth athletes. They have to swim two lengths of the pool, blowing bubbles while their face is submerged and breathing in air when their heads come up out of the water.
2. Treading Water
While this seems easy, for some youth athletes, it is not. The thought of getting into water that is deeper than they are tall is very intimidating. Our goal is to make them comfortable with treading water, which makes them comfortable in deep water. To earn their sticker, the youth athlete has to be able to tread water for 5 minutes unassisted.
3. Float on Back
This is straight forward, but must be done while remaining still (no kick). To earn their sticker, they must float on their back, absolutely still, for 3 minutes.
4. Kicking on Their Back
This is a great way to teach a young swimmer to relax in the water. Our focus now turns to body position and tautness. We are looking for a tight streamline position with the kick being generated from the glutes and the upper leg muscles. To earn their sticker, the athletes must kick on their back, in a taut, streamline position, kicking from their glutes and upper legs for one length of the pool.
Once our youth athletes have mastered these skills, passed the testing and earned their sticker, we then teach them a basic set of technique drills with the main focus on body position, body tautness and the catch/pull.
For our older and/or more advanced youth swimmers, we focus in on more advanced skills that will be required as they progress as athletes.
1. Counting Strokes
Each athlete is taught to count the number of swim strokes they take for a 50 yard or meter effort.
2. Kicking Pattern
We expect each athlete to know the difference between a 2-beat, 4-beat and 6-beat kick and to generate each upon request for a 25 yard effort.
3. Dolphin Kicking
This is a key ability to improve a swimmers speed while swimming the freestyle stroke, teaching the athlete to kick while engaging their core.
4. Flip Turns
This one is self-explanatory. Each athlete is expected to swim a 100 yard effort, conducting a flip turn each time they reach the wall to turn.
5. Butterfly, Back Stroke and Breast Stroke
We take the time to teach each athlete all four competitive swimming strokes, which is a great method for balancing out the athletes musculature and increasing their “feel” for the water! Each swimmer needs to be able to swim a 100 yard effort in “Individual Medley” (IM) order (butterfly, back stroke, breast stroke then freestyle).
6. Reading a Pace Clock
Each of our youth triathletes is taught how to read a pace clock and to understand the terminology such as “at the top” or “at the bottom.” To earn their sticker, they will be tested on the terminology and their ability to read a pace clock while in the middle of a swim workout, to include their ability to do basic addition and subtraction.
If you have any questions, please contact us or feel free to give us a call at (888) 963-9530.
With race season upon us, this time of year it’s very exciting. Break Through athletes are getting into the swing of racing and have already posted very good results along with a growing set of new PR’s!
At this point, the U25/Elite team has already competed in two draft legal traffic wants, both with a lot of success. The first draft legal triathlon was at the end of February in San Diego, with the race Supporting the UCSD triathlon team and the second race in Clermont, FL which was a USA Triathlon “Elite Development Race (EDR) this past weekend.
Two of the most impressive performances in San Diego came from Tim Gentry and Kristi Johnson (coming off a hamstring injury), whom each ran the 5k off the bike within 15-20 seconds of their open 5k PR’s they each set in January!
We took two U25 athletes down to Clermont for their first USA Triathlon Elite Development Race (EDR), which was a great learning experience and a ton of fun. Tim Gentry and Oscar Solache both raced well while continuing the learning process that everybody goes through when getting into draft legal racing.
Oscar finished 29th and Tim finished 39th. There is provided us with a ton of information, but that identifying both strengths and weaknesses for both athletes. We have a lot of work to do, but with the never quit attitude of both athletes, we’ll be faster in June!
Let’s not forget about Heidi down in Australia who finished 3rd in the AG triathlon at the Mooloolaba World Cup event this past weekend.
The next race is coming out that the entire team will be at will be the Marquee triathlon on April 14. The team will Actually be competing in three different races on the same day: the Lead man triathlon, the Marquee sprint distance triathlon and the Marquee Olympic distance triathlon.
It will be very exciting to see the results at the end of the day with three of our top athletes each a different races. Peter Ney will be racing for long course Leadman event, Oscar will be racing the sprint and Tim is racing the Olympic distance event, all three with a chance to win.
Two critical questions that we get from parents on a regular basis are “how many races should my child do?” and “what distance should they race?”
While creating a schedule for youth and junior athletes is similar to creating a Yearly Training Plan (YTP) for adult athletes, there are additional considerations that must be considered.
- Interest Level
- Developmental Age
- Readiness for Competition
- School Sports Commitments
- Family Commitments
- Appropriate Recovery Between Events
Youth and junior coaches also need to be aware of the age-appropriate distances of races, the total volume of training and the mix of intensity that allows success at a given distance.
6-10 Year Olds
Fun and safety need to be the top 2 priorities. This is an introduction period for young athletes, while they are introduced to other sports at the same time. The recommended number of triathlon competitions per month is 1-2, lasting no more than 25-30 minutes on average.
11-15 Year Olds
This is a very important phase in their physical and psychological development. Age appropriate race selection is very important at this point in a young athletes development, and can make all the difference if they athlete sticks with the sport or leaves.
The recommended distance for athletes in the age range is a super-sprint (375 meter swim, 10 kilometer bike [6.2 miles], 2.5 kilometer run [1.55 miles]). There are three main reasons:
1. The emphasis should be placed on skill development, not endurance training at this age.
2. Shorter races such as the super-sprint promote speed ahead of endurance, which will pay off much more in the long run.
3. This reduces the need to specialize in triathlon at an early age at the expense of other sports and overall development.
This is just scratching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the intricacies of coaching youth and junior athletes. It is NOT the same as coaching adults and simply scaling it back that is a recipe for injuring a child and/or burning them out in the sport of triathlon.
I came across an interesting article about how much a person sits throughout the day, whether it be for working or watching TV. I had come across some other interesting articles about the same topic and how it relates to metabolism, which was more than enough to get me to stand up and work on the computer instead of sitting down. For around $30, I purchased a bunch of PVC pipe and a thin wooden board and 20 minutes later, I had a makeshift desk that allows me to stand and work on the computer!
Most of the research was from Dr. Henson, published in the Journal of Diabetologica. Here are some interesting points of the article with my thoughts.
Studies suggest the average person sits for 9-10 hours every day
There is evidence that suggests being seated for long periods of time can increase your risk for type II diabetes.
“The longer the time you spend sitting, the higher the amount of sugars and fats that accumulate in your bloodstream regardless of the time you spend exercising,” Dr Henson said.
Scientists have found that a person’s metabolic rate crashes to a minimum when sitting and that standing up for an extra three hours a day, even without exercising, would on average burn off about 3.6kg of fat a year.
When a person is standing still they are using their muscles more than when they are sitting still. The muscles that keep someone standing up seem to produce more of the enzymes that break down sugar and fats in the bloodstream, Dr Henson said.