Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Ironman Wisconsin from a different perspective...


The infamous 2010 sprint finish with Ironman Champion and friend, Max Longree. 


The pic from above was from 2010, when Max Longree and I sprinted it out for 5th place at Ironman Wisconsin. For the record, the only reason I beat max on this day was because he started the swim late due to a wetsuit malfunction.

Outside of my first, the moment above was probably my most memorable from Ironman Wisconsin. It was my first "successful" race across the Ironman distance. I finally broke the 9hr barrier on this course and finished 5th in 8:55. It was my 9th attempt here in Madison and somewhere around my 20th Ironman.

A lot of folks ask me how I feel now that there isn't a Professional Men's race here in Madison for the time being. The race was taken away by the owners of Ironman (World Triathlon Corporation - WTC) in an attempt to consolidate the fields and bring up the level of competition at fewer races. Whether or not it is/has been successful is/has yet to be seen. Either way, I hope I get to race some day again soon.

My personal feelings are a mixed bag and it's definitely bitter sweet as I see the expo starting up. I started triathlon in 2001 and when the Inaugural Ironman Wisconsin was announced in 2002, it was the reason that I got serious about my training. I felt a sense of pride and almost ownership that a race like this was going to take place in my home town. I told myself that I would not only finish the race, but that some day I would win it. 

I have spent the better part of the last 15 years trying to do that. This race has been the unwavering motivation that has gotten me through some pretty low spots, ones where I nearly quit the sport several times. I have finished as high as 5th, twice, 6th once and have run one of the fastest marathon's on the course. Last year I felt I was ready to contend, but came down with bronchitis on race week. Needless to say, I have unfinished business that I need to come back to some day if given the chance. 

Now, on the other hand, this weekend is filled with just as much excitement and anticipation for the 27 BBMC athletes who will be racing this coming Sunday. I will be able to support all of them, all day, without a race of my own to share my focus.

In addition, seeing the race from a different perspective that I have yet to experience will improve my ability to coach effectively for this race/course and give me a front row seat for the epic races that are going to unfold. We have several first timers, some looking to win and other's just looking for a day filled with fun and their best effort. So though I would love to be out there racing, that's for another day and this weekend is about those who are!

#BOOYAH

Eric, Chris, Caroline, Tom, Jackie, Jennifer, Laurie, Jason, Chad, Ben, Ami, Colin, Dustin, Nick, Cassie, Suzanne, Wynn, Zach, Julia, Brandon, Becky, Steven, Mike, Juliet, Jenny, Chris and Craig.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Why Do Athlete's Psych Themselves Out During Taper?

An observation from the last 12 years of coaching is that many athletes fall off a cliff when it comes to taper. Here is my take on it and some advice to help.



TRAINING:

Usually, during training, the athlete's mind focuses working hard, being tough and getting it done. The athlete is not being afraid of things feeling a little hard from time to time and views training as fitness in the bank and suffering is sometimes a part of process.

TAPER

When the athlete gets to taper, sometimes it's like a switch flips inside the athlete's head and the focus then revolves around "am I feeling tired" or "is this feeling too hard" or "I'm not going to have a good race because..."

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What you will notice is that mentality described in paragraph one during training is process oriented. You will then notice that the second paragraph during taper is largely driven by fear, anxiety and is not at all process oriented. This is where the unraveling and loss of confidence begins....

You can clearly see how the mind leads and how it can be easy to psych yourself out even before you get to the starting line.

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MY ADVICE

Just because you are tapering, it doesn't mean all of a sudden things are going to feel or be easy. Sometimes things feel effortless, yes, but that's not the rule or what most athletes experience the majority of the time.

Taper means you are training less and resting more. Period. As long as you are doing those two things, you have done the training and you are healthy, you WILL get stronger for race day. Period.

During your taper, keep the same focus and intensity you have in training, don't let fear or the "what if's" be what you are focusing on and remember to hold back a touch during every interval and every training session. Visualize the race you want to have and know that on race day, your process oriented way of thinking and your "mental tool box" will get you where you want to be. Period.

Lastly, have fun. A deep rooted sense of enjoyment and acknowledge that there will be more chances to race should things not go your way. This can take a lot of weight off your shoulders.

Race hard, race smart, have fun. - Keep it simple!