OWS: Tips for Beating the Anxiety

This past weekend I had an open water swim on training peaks, and honestly I spent the entire week worrying about it.  The open water portion of a triathlon does not bother me at all, well besides the mass start at Kona but that is a different story, but when I have to get out there by myself to train it brings me a lot of anxiety. here is something about the vastness and the unknown of the water that brings anxiety to head.  For me in a race it is a whole different ball game; first I am focused on the race and second there are anywhere from 1500 to 2000 other humans all thrashing around in the water so I figure if someone is going to get attacked by those fresh water lake sharks or the Grindylows from Harry Potter (yes I a huge HP nerd) that I just know live among the seaweed are more likely to grab the ankles of some other swimmer rather than myself.

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The swim portion of the race is more often than not the reason that people don’t try triathlon.  We spend most of our time within the safety of the pool, staring at that little black line, so when we get into the open water with all that emptiness and darkness it can be really terrifying.

There are a dozen tips to help you calm the your anxiety when it comes to open water swimming, and everyone probably has something else that works well for them.  However, here are a few tips that have helped me get through both the anxiety of training on my own in the open water and stay calm in a race.

Find one thing to focus on.
If you can take away the vastness, or the overwhelming concept of being in the open water it makes it a lot easier.  I do that by finding one thing to focus on, even something as simple as my hand entering the water.  Each time my hand enters the water I put all of my focus on that little piece.

Get out there and practice
If you are someone who struggles in the open water in a race than it is really important for you to step outside your comfort zone and get used to the water.  It is no different than anything the more you practice the easier and better at it you will become.  The more you can get into the open water the more you will you be able to adapt to the differences that each open water situation presents.  It also helps you to learn to sight appropriately, because even though you can learn to sight in the pool it is very different when you are trying to use trees, buoys, homes, etc to sight.

Even if you don’t have much time to spend on actual swimming if you can go out in the water in your wet suit and bob around, getting wet, feeling the water, and realizing that it is not that scary.  It helps to build your confidence in the water.

Bring a Friend

This is very important.  No matter how comfortable you may eventually get in the open water you really should never go alone.  Always go with someone as there is safety in numbers and you really never know what will happen in the open water.  Plus knowing that someone else is there with you helps to make you feel less small in the huge open water.  I usually have my husband kayak with me that way he can keep me on track, scare away the fish, and move anything that may potentially be in the water.

Breath Slow

When we panic we start to hyperventilate and try to take in oxygen, our heart rate raises and our temperature increases. When you start to feel yourself panic rather than start breathing super hard slow your breathing in and out.  Not only does this give you something to focus on besides your panic but the slow deliberate breaths can be therapeutic, they bring more oxygen to the brain and slowly allow you to relax.

Keep Your Form and Remember Your Practice 

It is easy to let your form get a little more sloppy in the open water, or to forget to focus on it during a race because there are a bunch of people around you and you are more focused on the race.  Remember to keep your head down to maintain good body posture, elbows high so that your whole arm comes out of the water, and keep kicking.

Secondly, remember that more than likely you have put in more than enough training to be able to complete the distance and most likely you have already put in more mileage than the actual race.  So you know that you can do it as you have already done it.

Most importantly be patient with yourself when it comes to open water swimming.  Finding comfort in it takes time, patience, and willingness to keep at it. 

I hope these help you to find peace with open water swimming and maybe, just maybe, help you to take the jump into triathlon.

CHEERS!!!!!

Kayla 

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Breaking Through The Running Plateau

Ever feel stuck with your running? You had made a bunch of improvements, maybe had a massive couple of Personal Bests yet all of the sudden you’ve hit a plateau and aren’t getting any faster?  Plateaus can be very frustrating because we as a society always want to improve.  We want results and we want them now.  We are a very instant gratification species and while that means we are often successful it also means we often give up when the going gets tough, or we aren’t seeing the results we envision in our minds.

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Plateaus are not necessarily a bad thing, and in all honesty they are pretty much unavoidable.  We cannot continue to grow on a linear pattern but rather training and life in general is full of peaks and valleys and of course flat lines.  There are many reasons that you could be hitting a plateau in your training and before you can move forward breaking through that plateau you need to think about what type of barrier it is that you are facing with this plateau.  Are you over trained and risking burnout? Are you overwhelmed with things that you have going on in life? Maybe you are overly fixated on your goal? Do you need to make a change in your training?  Before you can move forward you do need to figure out exactly what it is that is causing the plateau.

But this little article is not all about the barriers of training that may be affecting your running, that is a whole different set of tips.  Today I wanted to share with you some tips to run a little bit faster and break through that feeling of you’ve hit a wall with your training.

Run with purpose
The whole idea of quality vs. quantity.  Now depending on your goals then you may want quantity as well but the idea behind the quantity is also to ensure that they are quality miles. Run with purpose.   Most runners spend a lot of time somewhere in between recovery miles and pushing themselves, that endurance mileage pace, which is great when you are first starting out but will get you stuck quickly.  Cut out the junk miles where you are just running and create a schedule with purpose, include interval workouts with your running. Workouts that push you outside your comfort zone a bit.

Pay Attention to Your Form
If you have made the change to your training to include more interval, speed, hill, and etc work you are also at a risk of injury if you are not running properly.  May not think that your form can really give you that much of a boost when it comes to running but if you are wasting a lot of energy with your running you are wasting time.  Running is a forward movement and many of us have running dynamics that cause you to rotate, send movement sideways, and all over the place.  To run efficiently you want all your power and energy to move forwards.

Here are some quick running form tips to help you improve your form and focus your energy forwards:

1. Run tall, slouching or leaning from the waist is very common with new runners and comes often from runners trying to perfect the idea of the forward lean.  The forward lean comes from the ankles rather your waist and will come fairly naturally if you have good posture.  So rather than focusing on leaning forward focus on maintaining good, tall posture.  This will also help you engage your core.
2. Look straight ahead at the horizon, not down at your feet.  When you stare down at your feet you will project your energy down into the ground rather than forward where you are headed.
3. Elbows at about 90 degrees or less and think about driving them forward in a straight line verses across your body.  You drive your arms forward the rest of your body will follow you.
4. Making contact with the ground through your feet underneath your body rather than reaching or stretching your leg out in front of your body.

Strength Training
The thought process behind strength training for endurance athletes is changing, even from when I was in college where we rarely did any strength training besides some core work.  Running is all about power and power comes from your muscles and you build up your muscles with strength training (that is my laymans thought process behind the purpose of strength training).  On top of that you can improve mobility, functional strength, fix imbalances, and help prevent injury.

You don’t have to be crazy with your strength training for it to be effective, in fact the more simple you keep it the easier it will be for you to get it done.  You also don’t need to strength train for hours and hours every day a week, just two to three days a week for 30 to 40 minutes can be very beneficial.

Lastly, remember to give yourself a break. Do not beat yourself up with a continued stall, as in life they happen.  Keep your head up and never forget to have fun with running.  The more fun you have the easier and more smoothly running will be.

CHEERS!!!
Kayla

PS. Still feeling stuck? Not sure how to implement the above topics? Lets chat!!! Where Your Feet Take You offers run specific coaching and I’d love to help!! Email me at whereyourfeettakeyou@gmail.com.

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Couer d’Alene 70.3 Race Report

It is amazing how quickly race day comes around, seems like such a long time but in reality it comes very quickly.  I mean hell it was just a few weeks ago it seemed that we were toeing the line at Ironman Arizona back at the end of April.  Now here we are, the end of June with 15 weeks until the Ironman World Championships at Kona and ticking off the next box on the way with CdA 70.3.  I love this race; the course is tough, its in my hometown, it is full of the most amazing volunteers, spectators, and participants.   While this race was technically a B race for myself in the road to Kona it still had a lot of importance for me, and one that I wanted to do really well at.

Being in my hometown there were plenty of people coming out to watch, my parents were in town for it, and I desperately wanted to put myself on the top spot of the podium.  It would be my third year racing at CdA 70.3 and so far I had danced on the podium but never in the top spot, and I wanted it badly.   This was something I had to remind myself a couple of times during the bike portion when I was getting frustrated at myself for having made a stupid mistake.  But all and all it was a wonderful day out on the 70.3 Couer d’Alene Race Course and I wanted to share a little of it with you, so check out the race report video below:

I hope you enjoyed the video, I know that I normally do this written but thought that I would try something a little different!! 🙂

Here are my Overall splits for the day.
Swim: 32:55
T1: ~3:00
Bike: 2:40
T2: ~2:00
Run: 1:25.28
Total Time: 4:44

Next up is Boulder 70.3 in about five weeks and then Ironman Kona World Championships in 15 weeks, so we are turning our sites for the long game! No stopping now!!

I mentioned it in the video but also wanted to do so here: a Huge Thank You to everyone who has supported me and continues to support me throughout this journey.

My family – parents, husband, and in-laws your support is unbelievable.  I could not do any of this without you.

Coach Heather – for always pushing me to be better, stronger, and faster.

Sponsors
Irwin Cycling for the awesome race wheels
Infinite Nutrition for always keeping me fueled for greatness
Rudy Project North America for the highest quality helmets and sunglasses
Roka Sports for making sure I swim to the best of my ability

And everyone else that continues to support, cheer, love, and motivate me to never stop pushing the limit!!!

Tips to Training / Time Management Part 2

Last week I shared with you some tips from some amazing women in triathlon about how they chase their dreams while managing work, mom life, training, and life in general.  If you missed it make sure you check it out HERE as it was really awesome to hear from these women.  While it was geared towards training in triathlon in reality you could interchange the word triathlon for anything as it isn’t just the dream of triathlon that we easily push to the side because we feel we are too busy.

I wanted to follow up last weeks answers to the questions posed with my own answers and tips.  I hope you find them useful 🙂

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Time Savings Tips 

Get up Early
This is something a lot of the other women mentioned last week as well, but this is something I employ as well.  Get up and get it done before your brain knows what you are doing. 🙂 But really getting up early and getting either your workout done or work or chores done allows you to be more flexible during the day, for when things come up it is easy to get wrapped up in it so if you are already done with what needs to happen you don’t have to let it stress you out.

Planning ahead
I try hard every morning to sit down with my planner and look at what I need to do for the day.  I take a look at what Training Peaks says I need to do for the day, then compare it to what I need to do from a work standpoint and other appointments going on and write out what needs to happen for the day.  By scheduling it all out and writing it down I can see where it all fits, like a puzzle piece.

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Batching
Similar to planning ahead whenever I have the time to sit down for a solid amount of time I do what my business coach calls Mega Batching in which I get a bunch of stuff done for a long period of time.  May get a couple of blog posts done, or extra work done for my athletes, or whatever it is that may give me some more time in the future for down time.

How to stay motivated 

Remember Your Why
For me this is the biggest motivator and the main reason I keep coming back.  This goal is something I focus on every minute of every workout.  The more that I visualize the feeling of strength when I hit my goal brings me back when I start to struggle.  My husband also uses it to motivate me when I am complaining about needing to go to the pool for the 5th time in the week, usually all he has to say to me is Kona or sub 10 or whatever goal it is that I am searching for and it gets me back on track.

Having a Coach
Having a coach manage my workouts makes a huge difference for me; I know that someone else is watching my workouts and keeping an eye on me.  It is also that person that I can speak to when I am frustrated or unmotivated in which she gets me back on track.

Don’t beat myself up
There are times when things have to move around, it is just the way it is.  Maybe its life related, work related, or emotionally how you are feeling whatever the reason is it has to happen sometimes.  When this does happen not only do I make sure to tell my coach so that they are aware but I also don’t beat myself up for it.  Just try to hit the next workout hard the next day.

How do I help my family (ie: the husband) feel included with my sport
Plan vacations around the races
We don’t always get to do this but when we do it is really fun.  One of the great things about triathlon is that the races are in such beautiful places, and it is fun to explore them.

Chat about the goals
While my husband would disagree that I chat with him about much of anything (I’m not much for talking) but chatting with him about the goals I have for the races, training, my business, etc makes it all a lot more real.

Get him involved with the athletes I train
One of my favorite things is that whenever my athletes have a race Brandon puts them all on the tracker and watches each of them.  He asks about their goals and yells at his phone when they need to go faster.  While it is my business having him involved from this standpoint makes it feel more like something we do together.

Include him in the workouts 
He bought a road bike so that he could ride his bike with me during my long runs.  I love this because not only does it not mean that I don’t have to carry my nutrition but it is something that we can do together.

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What would be the one thing you would tell someone who comes to you and said that they would love to do triathlon, but they don’t have the time?

If you really want to do something then you will make the time. Triathlon is all about want, if you want it then you will get it done.

One of the beautiful things about life is it is a chance for you to step outside your comfort zone, so do it, step outside your comfort zone.  Do something that scares you just a little bit, for the growth you will get out of it is amazing.

 

CHEERS!!!!

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Training for Triathlon as a Mom and/or Working Woman

Part of my goal as an athlete, coach, business owner, and all-around person is to inspire others to step outside their comfort zone and do something that they have always wanted to do.  However, it seems that often I get the same response from everyone when talking about triathlon and their dream and/or desire to do a triathlon no matter the distance; “I wish I had time for that” or “I have two kids I could never do the same things you do”, or “it would be different if you had kids”.

brickI have said it many times but my response is always the same, it all comes down to a desire and a want for if you really want it then you will make it happen.  For me it has always been about commitment.  I chose this life, I made the decision to chase this dream so no matter what I am going to get the work done.  Now I am very blessed to have a job that makes that balance a lot easier because I have the ability to train at all hours without working around a specific nine to five-time frame.  However, that does not mean sometimes I have make accommodations in order to get things done.  There have been plenty of times that I have been on the bike at 4:30 am because I have to be some where in the morning, or family things to take care of, or headed to the gym late at night because of life that got in the way throughout the day.

However, today I do not want to share my journey but rather I wanted to share with you some amazing women that have agreed to share their story of how they manage triathlon with a work/mom life balance.  Each of these women work, spend time with their families, raise their children, and chase their dream.

Before I go into much detail let me introduce the amazing women who have decided to share their story with me:

Amanda Wowk (AW): fulltime student, exercise instructor and full time project management internship training for Victoria 70.3, Calgary 70.3, Ironman Mont Tremblant, and Victoria Marathon.  Amanda got into triathlon because it was something she wanted to check off her bucket list, a one time thing, after training for my first race and then crossing that finish line she was completely hooked and hasn’t looked back.  Now triathlon isn’t only a big part of what she does but it is who she is.

Carlyn Miller (CM): full time Middle School Science teacher, wife, and mom to 2 fur babies training for Eagleman 70.3, Ironman Lake Placid, Marine Corps Marathon.  Carlyn got into triathlon because she needed to make a change in her life, so she picked the biggest and scariest goal she could think of, an Ironman.

Kimiya Memarzadeh (KM): full time graduate student getting PhD in Neuroscience and Cancer Biology training for Houston Half marathon, Oilman 70.3, and Ironman Texas.   Kimiya started triathlon as a way to gain her competitive spirit back and remembers finishing USAT National Championships with a smile plastered on my face the entire race.

Brook Rushing (BR): Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at NBCU training for Hawaii 70.3 Santa Rosa 70.3 and Indian Wells 70.3.  Brook got into triathlon as a way to distract her from battling with body image issues, anxiety, and a lack of confidence.  Triathlon became her therapy and helped her to become more confident and learn to focus on how her body performs rather than how it looks.

Diana McDonald (DM): Stay at home mom of four children currently recovering from a stress fracture in her hip with the goal of being able to race at Santa Cruz 70.3 and La Quinta 70.3.  She got into triathlon as a way to prove to herself that she was capable mentally and physically while being a mom to four kids.

Hilary Fenton (HF): Transport Scheduling Analyst for Marathon Petroleum, wife, and mom to three children 6 years and younger training for 70.3 and 140.6 along with a marathon in late fall or early spring.  Hilary got into triathlon after having had to spend some time swimming and biking while rehabbing multiple injuries.

Alexandra Tipping (AT): Paediatric nurse with three children ages 7, 6, and 3.5.  Alexandra started triathlon after watching her husband train for his first 140.6 as well as previous 70.3 distances and she loved the atmosphere at the race and how supportive and friendly everyone was.

Sometimes one of the hardest things is feeling as though you are alone in the journey, triathlon is very solitary despite the fact that the community is so amazing, but what you should always know is that you are never alone and we all often go through moments where it is hard to stay motivated.  Here are what some of your fellow triathletes say is the hardest part of staying motivated:

(CM) weather and lack of sleep/personal time.

(BR) I find it hard to stay motivated when I travel as I don’t have the same gear and nutrition.

(AM) Stress and overwhelming nature of having so many things on the go, it can cause a negative snowball effect.

(KM) Feeling exhausted, after a twelve-hour day on my feet the idea of getting on the bike is the last thing in the world I want to do.

(HF) After my second or third day of work in a row and being up at 3:30 am that all I want to do is cuddle with my husband and the babies on the couch.

(DM) the early morning workout; 3:30 am

(AT) Trying to stay focus when I just want to sleep.

I sent each of these women some questions and had them send me back their answers so that I could provide you with their tips to managing a busy life with training.

Top Tricks to Employ to Balance Work/Mom Life and Training Life

Planning: This is the one thing that everyone I interviewed touched on.
(KM) Every Sunday night I look at my training plan for the week that calls for “X” amount of swims, bikes, runs, etc and then I compare it to my work schedule and physically plan out where the pieces fit, like a puzzle.

(AW) Plan each day the night before, pack your nutrition, clothing, etc that you need for the next day to make for easy transitions between work and training life.

(CM) I meal prep on Sundays so that I don’t have to think about meals throughout the week.  I pack my training gear, work clothes, and lunch bag every night before the next day so that I can just get out of bed and begin the day.

(AT) I make a schedule and stick to it, otherwise I find that I can’t fit it in.

Get up Early (this had a lot of votes from all parties interviewed).
(AW) There are so many benefits to this.

Train Indoors
(HF) I do about 90% of my training indoors so I don’t have to leave my home or kids to get my workouts done.

Eliminate Garbage
(AW) Eliminate additional garbage (extra) from your life.  Training and work are important, but going for lunches, after work drinks, company events, etc can be eliminated or at least boundaries can be set.  This is obviously very dependent but at the same time you have to set those boundaries.

(HF) Make sleep a priority, you will benefit more from the sleep not only in your workouts but in having energy to spend time with your family.

Top Tricks to Staying Motivated When the Training Has to be Manipulated
(KM) I always tell myself that anything is better than nothing and I try to not beat myself up when I don’t have the hours or energy to complete a training session.

(KM) may sound intuitive but I find that when I focus on those goals it makes me more excited to finish the long term goal.

(DM) I want my children to know nothing comes easy and you have to work for what you want.

(HF) If I have to shorten or scrap a workout because of a family matter, I do it.  If you just get 20 minutes to get your HR up, then do it. Its better than nothing.

(CM) rather than beating myself up about having had to move it or skip it think about how maybe you could have avoided the situation or how you can plan better the next time around to prevent it from happening.  Moving things around does not mean that you are failing or giving up.  In fact, in a lot of ways it may be your body and your life telling you to focus inward.

(AT) I think about why I started to get fit in the first place.  I’ve lost both of my parents to cancer in the last 3 years and I started to compete after my mother died..  It gave me focus and helped me deal with the loss.

How Do You Help Your Family to Feel Included

(DM) My kids are my cheerleaders at home while on the training, and when I am away at races it is time with my husband that they get to spend 1 and 1 time with their dad.

(HF) Since I do most of my training at home they get to participate in most of my training sessions through interactions, sometimes they join me for little strength sessions, and my oldest sometimes rides her bike while I run.

(AW) I try to choose races that are located in places that I think they may be interested in going to, and we make mini vacations out of it.

(KM) I bought my fiancé a bike and on weekends he will bike next to me while I run.  I find that teaching them about the sport, the history of Ironman and the differences between the different distances helps them understand the sport more and what it takes to do that.

(AT) I run with the buggy on my easy days so that I can bring them with me.  My youngest son is my running motivator. He shouts at me on the buggy that I’m not going fast enough and we need to hurry up.

What would be the one thing you would tell someone who comes to you and said that they would love to do triathlon, but they don’t have the time?

(BR) You always make time for the things that are important to you.  It’s a little silly but no matter how full your day is, you make time to shower and brush your teeth.

(DM) You do have the time.  How bad do you really want it, and if you want it bad enough they will make the time.

(KM) I find it helpful to ask myself am I doing everything I can in this moment to put myself one step closer to the person I want to be? If the answer is no, then I am making time for the wrong things.  If you don’t have time for something, it is because you are actively choosing not to make the time for it.

(HF) If you are seriously invested in it, you can make the time to train.  I would also recommend that they try a very easy training plan to start with.

(AT) Start small and plan.  I started with a sprint distance as I wanted to test out if I enjoyed triathlon and if I could fit the three disciplines into my schedule.

I hope you all found each of these helpful, insightful, and made you feel a little less like you are alone in how are you feeling.  One of the things I love most about triathlon is the community behind it and the support that can be found from each and every person who is out there.  I am so thankful to be able to share with you the knowledge I have learned throughout my own journey and those of others.

CHEERS!!!!

Kayla 

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Taking The Plunge: 3 Tips to Starting Your Ironman Triathlon Journey

You just finished your first triathlon ever, maybe it was a sprint or an Olympic distance but no matter what you are hooked!! That feeling of accomplishment and empowerment has you ready to take on more.  There are a couple other sprint and Olympic’s you can sign up for, or maybe you already have, but you’ve got your eye on a bigger prize; the 70.3 and 140.6 distances.  You wanna want to strut your stuff down that red carpet and here the words “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!”.roka

It is amazing how in triathlon you can go from questioning how you will be able to finish a sprint distance to chasing that 140.6 mile dream.  To me that is what makes triathlon so beautiful, the ever changing goals that it allows us to have.  The ability to constantly reach for the stars.

Unsure on what you need to do in order to get started? Here are my three tips to getting started on the 70.3 and 140.6 Journey.

 

 

Be willing to make the commitment

While you can kind of fake your way through an Olympic or a sprint (though I don’t recommend it) you cannot with a 70.3 or a 140.6.  You have to be willing to be 100% committed and you have to do the work.  70.3 and 140.6 is a lot of miles and it is anywhere from 5 to 17 hours of exercise depending on the distance, that is a lot you and you have to be prepared for it.  That does not mean you have to be “pro status” or put in 20 hours a week even 15 hours a week but it does mean you have to put the work in.  You cannot continue to push workouts or skip workouts because of other things.

You have to be willing to accept that your bedtime may be closer to 8:30 pm rather than 10:30 pm because you have to get up early or saying no to drinks after work because you have a 5+ hour training day the next day.

Not only do you have to be committed to the workouts but everything involved with training from managing your nutrition, recovery, mobility, and getting proper rest.  It all plays a part in getting you to the finish line and it is all important.

Lastly, you have to be willing to make the commitment from a financial standpoint.  Do you have to have the most expensive gear? No. But you do have to have the gear, the entry fee, nutrition, wetsuit, running shoes, swim gear, etc.

Go For It

If you have sat down and decided that you are willing to make the commitment then this is something I strongly believe in.  To many people tell me that they wish they could do what I do (ie: long distance triathlon) and when I say that they can they immediately say; oh I could never do that I have children, or I am too busy, I don’t have time, I couldn’t go that far, etc. etc. Tons and tons of excuses fall from their lips probably without even thinking about.  I am here to tell you that anyone can do a 70.3 or 140.6 you just have to want to and if your first thing is excuses well than you probably don’t want to.  So if it is something you want to do well than DO IT! Go for it! Take the plunge, bite the bullet, pee into the wind and a whole bunch of other colloquialisms that stand for doing something outside your comfort zone.

So if you want to do it then do it you will find a way.

Hire a Coach

Once you have decided to go for it then the next step would be to hire a coach.  Yes, this can be expensive and it is not the most important piece nor completely necessary but I promise it is one of the best things you will spend your money on besides probably your bike.  Training for a 70.3 or a 140.6 is stressful and exhausting enough but when you are trying to muddle your way through it for the first time by yourself it doubles that stress.

Humans by nature are extremely tough on themselves and have a tendency to compare ourselves to others.  Coaches can help with that, while we care deeply about you as a our client we also have the ability to be objective.  We see the bigger picture because we created that picture, and we see the data behind that picture which helps us to be able to put it in perspective for you.

Now that you have some building blocks you can start planning which race you want to tackle.  For if you are willing to take the plunge I promise the journey will be one of the more rewarding things you will do and those words “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” will keep you coming back for more and more!

CHEERS!!!!

Kayla 

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PS. Wanting to get started and don’t have a coach but want one? Let’s chat!! Email me at whereyourfeettakeyou@gmail.com

 

 

Recovering From An Ironman Triathlon

It has been about three weeks since Ironman Texas, just shy of four weeks from Couer d’Alene 70.3, ten weeks from 70.3 Boulder, and twenty weeks from Ironman Kona. Yes, that is a list but don’t tell me every single one of you have lists just like that.  That is a fairly standard list that we can see on our training peaks and it is one that haunts us all.  It is the list that gets you off your butt and makes you send your coach that lovely little note that you were ready to get after it.  After three weeks, including one full week off one low key week and four days in Vegas, it was time to get back in the saddle literally.

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Switching gears, from 140.6 to 70.3, and getting back into training after something big like crossing the finish line after Ironman is tough.  During an Ironman your body goes through an extreme beating with your core temperature rising, burning 6,000+ calories, depleating your glycogen stores, blood volume shrinkage due to prolong and excessive sweating, mitochondrial and protein breakdown in the muscle, the list goes on and on.  Now we spend 6-12 months training to help increase our bodies capacity to handle these physiological damages but that does not prevent them from happening.  Recovering from these damages is 1) important to prevent injury and burnout and 2) a slow process, about three to four weeks.

If you have spent the time recovering properly after your big day you’ll find that it is easier than you think to get back on the horse and ready to start training again for your next adventure. In my blog post 6 Tips for Beating the Post Ironman Blues I talk about how to avoid those post race blues in order to help make that switch from recovery to training again a little bit easier.

Today I am going to focus more on specific recovery practices for after an Ironman to help make the transition easier so that you are ready to get yourself back to training hard and prepping for that next race.

Take a vacation and spend time with family and friends
Most of these races are in somewhere beautiful and because you have to spend time traveling anyways you might as well extend your stay and use that time to recover from your race in somewhere beautiful and fun.  It is also a great chance to prevent you from wanting to get back on that bike or go for that run that you are so used to doing.

Use the down time to explore, spend time with family and friends that you didn’t get to spend time with while you were training.  They will appreciate it as well.

Give into the sleep that you need
The first week after you may find yourself on a bit of a high and may not feel like you need sleep, but sleep is one of the most important pieces of recovery.  Sleep helps produce natural hormones such as natural Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and cortisol which play a major role in muscle repair.

During an Ironman your immune system goes into overdrive working to help mitigate all the tissue damage ad inflammation occurring from the muscle damage from the race, resulting in your immune system being highly compromised and your body very susceptible to viral and bacterial infections.  Sleeping helps to replenish this system and get your body back to fighting foreign invaders and keeping you healthy.

Plus lets face it we spent the last six months complaining about how tired we were and not having enough time to take a nap, well now we do so might as well take advantage of it.

Eat

You just expended thousands of calories of energy, this will take upwards of four days to replenish.  So enjoy the bit of reprieve in order to restock those glycogen stores.  It is also a time to let yourself have that burger, fries, and maybe nachos that you have been craving for so long yet denied.

Despite the ability to maybe indulge a little bit only allow yourself to do so for a short time frame.  With the body not being used to the extra alcohol and/or increase in carbs it can prevent you from recovering as well as cause excessive weight gain that not only wil reduce energy but can really throw your mental state into a spiral. So after spending a couple of days indulging return to your normal clean eating schedule and increase the proteins and the healthy fats to help aid in the recovery process.

Get a Massage
Similar to getting yourself moving a massage will help to flush the lymphatic system, blood system, and flush toxins out of the muscles and the body.  Plus it feels really good.

Keep Moving 
After a race it is important to keep moving with something light as it helps to massage the lymphatic system as well as decrease the symptoms of delayed onset muscle syndrome (DOMS).  Keep it light such as taking the dog for a walk, aqua jogging, or a stretch swim.

Be Easy on Yourself
It takes about three to four weeks to fully recover from an Ironman but most likely you will be starting to get back into it a little before that, especially if you have a race coming up.  When doing so remember that you are still recovering and you will have days that you feel like you can fly and other days were you can’t even come close to the paces that you were previously nailing no problem.  The speed will come back you just have to give it time.

Compression

Similar to a light massage compression helps to repair the lymphatic system.  The pulsing mechanism of compression boots mimics the pulse of a muscle keeping this fluid moving and flowing to repair those muscles.  You can also use compression socks to maintain pressure on your muscles helping to maintain blood flow.

Spend the time after your race to recover like a pro so that you can turn around and race like a pro!

CHEERS!!!!

Kayla 

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6 Tips for Beating the Post Ironman Blues

You’ve taken your steps down the red carpet.  You’ve heard the voice of  Ironman yell out your name and those beloved words “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”.  The multi-day post race high has diminished and you can finally stand up off the toilet without groaning or yelling for your mate to come lift you off.

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Your training peaks is empty or at a minimum it telling you to just walk the dog with all this extra time and increased recovery so you’d think that you would have all this extra energy. Yet you find yourself barely getting through the day, falling asleep at 7:30 pm, brain super foggy, and struggling your way through your work day.

You just spent the majority of the past year in a constant state of swim, bike, run, eat, sleep, and repeat with all of your waking moments focused on that “Your are an Ironman” moment.  Now it is either all over or it is time to turn your focus to another race and start the process over.  This can be exhausting or even overwhelming and lead yourself deep into the post ironman blues.  The Post Ironman Blues or even Post Ironman race day depression is a real thing and it can be very debilitating, and even derailing for getting back on track with life in general or trying to motivate to move on to your next race.

Seems like a myth.  The messy feeling of post Ironman, I mean you just accomplished something amazing how could you be feeling blue?  Well even as I sit here, having just started back with my own training for my road to Kona, I struggle to put words on paper not necessarily because I don’t have the energy but it is as though my brain won’t totally function.

 

The week after Ironman Texas looked exactly like that for me, and while it was not the worst case of the blues I’ve ever experienced it definitely hit me like a ton of bricks.  I spent the days after Texas staring at my computer screen during work and not seeing much, my fingers which normally fly across the keyboard barely moved, the checklists that I normally tick off quickly just grew longer. I found myself just wanting to sit on the couch, despite it being beautiful outside, staring at the TV and barely made it to 8:00 pm every night.  I had less energy with all the recovery I was doing than the days I put in 7-8 hours of training in.

Being female I am unsure as to whether men go through something similar, as I do not have first hand experience, but the week after Ironman my hormones go all kinds of wacko.  Things that I normally could just let slide get stuck in my brain like a parasite and things that normally would not make me cry sure as hell did.  I am happy to say that those crazy feelings didn’t last too long, but sadly the teenage level breakouts sure did.

As I know that I am not the only one who goes through these emotions and feelings after a race I wanted to share some tips breaking through and beating the post Ironman Blues. Here are my Six Tips to breaking through the Post Ironman Blues:

Keep the “rockstar” feeling alive
I do not know about the majority of you but whenever I complete a full or half Ironman I feel like such a rockstar, and selfishly it is one of the reasons I continue to return to Ironman time and time again.  It isn’t every day that we get a chance to feel that way, no matter how confident we are, and it is very addicting.  Part of the Ironman Blues are that once this feeling diminishes we are left with an uncertainty about ourselves and combating that comes from keeping that feeling alive.

If you journal, blog, or vlog write about the day. Share it with your friends.  Spend time writing down something about each of the disciplines from what you ate that morning, the swim, T1, the bike, T2, and the run.  Not only does this keep it alive for you but it is helpful for the next race to learn what to do and what not to do.  Writing is very cathartic and one of the best ways to keep those feelings at the surface.  If you need an example of a race recap check out my Ironman Kona recap here or my Ironman Texas recap here.

On top of spending the time to write or journal about the day do not hesitate to share how you are feeling post race.  Again, writing is very cathartic and sharing how you are feeling can help you untangle the emotional webs.  You will be surprised how many others are feeling the same as you.

Accept it and let the body recover

It is easy to try to fit the feelings you are having.  To ignore them and try to push them to the side.  As part of the recovery time you have to give into it a little bit.  There is a reason you are sluggish, slow, and tired you just put your body through something nutty.  Rather than fight through these take extra measures to counteract them such as getting extra sleep, staying in your pajamas a little longer than normal, and keeping yourself out of situations that may make you edgy or set you off emotionally.

By accepting it you are acknowledging that your body, mind, and soul needs proper rest and recovery from you just put it through.  Physiologically your body just went through hell and back from emptying your body of glycogen, increasing your core temperature as a way to combat the stress you are putting on your body, oxidative and mitochondrial stress, as well as a whole mess of other “stresses” your body goes through and while it will bounce back (that is the beauty of the human body) it needs time to do so.  Allow yourself the time to recover and remember that it is different for everyone.  Some people can physically, emotionally, and mentally jump back in after one or two weeks while others it may take closer to four to six weeks.

Indulge A Little

You just spent the last six months treating your body like a high performance car.  Feeding it the best foods to fuel yourself for strength and confidence so you have to be careful when it comes to indulging as your body is not going to be used to it.  Despite that it is good to give yourself a break even on a food and alcohol level.  So indulge a little, eat that ice cream you’ve been craving and have those drinks you withheld from.  This relaxation from the standard gives your mind and body a small break, plus its a lot of fun!!

However, this is a bit of a slippery slope as too much indulgence can have a negative affect on the Ironman Blues.  Too much can result in weight gain, increased sluggishness, decreased muscle repair, and through those a decrease self confidence and ease of getting back into it. You have to remember as stated above you just spent the last six plus months treating yourself like a high performance car and no different than when you put regular fuel into a car that requires premium you can ruin the engine.  So give yourself a break for a few days but then get yourself back on your regular eating routine.

Turn the Race into a Vacation (race-cation) 

One of my favorite aspects of triathlon is that the races are often in unique and/or beautiful places and it forces us to travel to new areas – yes even Houston.  While we did not turn Houston into a race-cation this is something that my husband and I often do.  We spent the week in Arizona with my family after Ironman Arizona and you can’t go to Kona, Hawaii without spending extra time there.

This allows you to spend some much needed one on one time with your loved ones as well as forces you to slow it down, not work, and not stress as much about not being on a standard plan.

Sign up for another race, even just a “fun” one

You crossed the finish line and maybe you said no way in hell I’m doing another one of those next year or maybe you couldn’t wait to sign up for another one but no matter what after a week or so you will start to feel the itch.  If you don’t have another race on the schedule start doing some planning.  Find one that sparks your interest and gets you excited again then go for it, sign up for it.  Not only does this give you something to look forward to but it puts a goal back on your radar, even if it is twelve months away.

Planning for another race doesn’t mean you have to immediately sign up for another Ironman (or 70.3) in fact you have to remember that you did just do one and signing up for another at the end of the year can make for a really long season.  Rather sign up for something fun, do a 5k or a 10k with your family.  Sign up for a mountain bike race that you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have the time.   Getting yourself to the starting line of something low key can spark the competitive juices and remind you why you love triathlon.

Take time off of each discipline

Not only does this let your body recover but it gives you a mental break from the constant swim, bike, and run.  Do something different or do things that you just didn’t have the time to do during training.  Taking time off of each discipline doesn’t mean don’t do them, for example maybe you love to mountain bike or honestly even ride your road bike but you didn’t have the time because you were always on your TT.  Spend some time with those beauties just going out for joy rides.  Introduce yoga, or strength training back into your routine.  Or even just spend the time reading that stack of books you were too tired to read.

Taking the time off of the discipline gives you a chance to recover from them but also gives you a chance to miss it.  One of the number one signs you are ready to get started again is when you stare at your bathing suit longing for a swim (that never happens for me 😉).

Lastly, don’t let yourself feel isolated.  You are not alone in your feelings as even the best of triathlon go through these emotions.  I promise you are not going crazy even if it feels that way. Some people handle them better than others but that does not mean that they aren’t there.  Reach out to others, the triathlon community, for the most part, is extremely uplifting and you can bet there is probably someone out there who will help you through whatever it is you are going through.

How have you worked through the post race blues? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

CHEERS!!!

Kayla

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Ironman Texas Race Recap

Approximately five to six months ago after the dust had settled from Kona World Championships I realized I wasn’t done.  Kona had not gone as planned due to getting pretty sick the few days leading up to the race and while I crossed the finish line extremely proud of myself I still felt like I had more in me.  So I turned to my husband and said I wanted to do Ironman Texas, thankfully he loves me dearly and accepts my crazy and went with it.  Next up I shot a quick text to my coach saying, “oh by the way I’m gonna do Ironman Texas”, luckily she also was super on board with it.

Fast forward five months and many many hours and miles of swim, bike, and running it was finally time to see what I was made of.

travel

Brandon and I flew into Texas on Wednesday so that I would have time to check in, relax, and do all things pre-Ironman.  Luckily all flights were very easy and even the slightly longer layover in Denver was a blessing because it gave both of us time to catch up on work.

I won’t bore you too much with the pre race stuff as for the most part it was fairly standard.  Arrive in Texas, head to the hotel, put bike together (try to only swear a few times), get checked in, check out the village, and stay off your feet as much as possible.

One of the highlights of my trip was getting a chance to hang out and meet my girl Valerie.  We became friends over social media and I was so excited to meet her.  She is just as awesome in person as I thought, and turns out she would be a huge motivator for me out on that run course.

valgal

For the most part I tried to just stay off my feet beside ensuring that my bike was working properly and getting in the water.  I was glad for a chance to put my wetsuit on and get into the water on Friday as I hadn’t worn a wetsuit since Whistler 70.3 and hadn’t been in the open water since Kona.

swimming

Despite being very murky, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, the water was really lovely.  Great temperature for a race and it was nice being able to wear a sleeveless wet suit.

As I prepped myself for the next day Brandon did the same by going to Walmart and purchasing a bike so that he could ride out onto the bike course and all over the run course. For those of you that don’t know my husband straight up deserves the sherpa / support team of the year award.  He is unbelievable and I am so grateful to him for everything that he does.  Secondly, he ended up going downstairs to the front desk after the race before we checked out and asked if any of the maids had children who would like the bike and ended up donating to a women who worked two jobs and had six children.

huffy cruiser

Race day

Alright, lets chat race day!!  What an amazing day! Honestly, I’m a little unsure how i will put the words down for you guys in an intelligent manner.  Despite the early alarm, the hotel only having Decaf coffee when I first woke up, and then spilling one of my nutrition bottles all over myself and the floor it was a great morning.  Everything went very smoothly and I am pretty sure it was the easiest drop off of my nutrition I’ve experienced at a race.  We had about a 20 minute walk from T1 to the swim start that prior to the day I thought I would dislike but turns out I liked having the time to walk rather than just sit there and stew in my own thoughts.

Swim

The gun went off right at 6:45 am I believe, just as the sun was coming up.  Gosh it was just a beautiful morning.  The water temperature was perfect and due to the rolling start I was able to find some clean water to just swim in.  I know they always say to find feet but because I am not a strong swimmer I always end up feeling like I’m getting hit in the face or just all over the place so I prefer to have my own open water.

I had lined up somewhere pretty close to the 1:10 mark as while I was unsure if I could do it that was my goal.  I had been stuck at the 1:15 mark for two years and I was praying that all the hard work I had put in was going to pay off and get me that 1:10 I was searching for.

For the first time in my life I felt strong in the water, and for the first time I was actually passing people!! Me! Passing people, I couldn’t believe it.  Normally in these swims I feel as though I’m being overtaken more than doing the overtaking.  When I came out of the water and glanced down at my watch seeing those magical 1:11 numbers I was floored!!!

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T1

In standard Ironman fashion the volunteers were amazing! I ran passed my gear bag and they instantly starting shouting to someone to get it to me ASAP.  Other than that transition went very smoothly and it was time head out on the bike.

Bike

Honestly, I was very excited about the bike. It was similar to Ironman Arizona in which I had a stellar bike and I had spent the last year doing bike courses with such gnarly elevation gain (CdA 70.3, Whistler 70.3, and then Kona) that I was excited to see what I could do on a flat course.  On top of that Coach Heather and I had worked really hard on the bike during my 5 month build to Texas with me gaining significant amounts of power output even since my race in Kona so I was excited to put it to the test!

biking tx

I had a riot on the bike course, and it was made all the better by seeing Brandon on the overpass around mile 60 or so.  My mantra on the course was “this is your day”, my cousin had commented earlier on a post I had done on instagram that she said she just knew it was going to be my day.  So I took her advice and made it my day.  My mom asked me what I thought about during this bike and that

Despite the fun I was having on the bike course I kept willing myself to the run for a couple of reasons 1) running had been going so well I couldn’t wait to run and 2) well no matter how much fun you are having on the bike that seat gets really old as you get passed 100 miles.

T2

Similar in fashion to T1 T2 was pretty simple.

Run

I stuck my hat on my head, grabbed my GUs, stuck my feet in my shoes, and went off on the run.  Legs felt like I could fly; I thank all the miles and minutes spent at 70.3 and 10k pace that brought this about.  Looking down at my watch I noticed that I was running about 6:40 – 6:45 min/miles and for one second I thought oh boy I should slow down.  Then instantly changed my thought process, said eff it lets see long you can hang on and go for it.  So go for it I did!!

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I didn’t really know where I was place wise until I came across Brandon around mile 5ish, at that point I am not sure if I was in 5th or if I had moved into 3rd at that point by then all I knew is I was feeling strong and just needed to hang in there.

The run course was so much fun.  People everywhere, spectators making a racket, music blasting, and the most amazing volunteers!  Their spirit raised all of ours out there on the run.  From what I’ve heard some people thought it got pretty hot out there on the run course but I didn’t think it was unbearable, maybe it is because my body was just so happy to be warm and in the sunshine it was like “bring it on baby”!!  Now mind you it was still warm out and if you missed an aid station drinking water you were screaming for the next one.  I kept up my nutrition, drank at every aid station, and in learning from Kona I did everything I could keep myself cool so I think that helped a lot.

As I started the third loop I came across Brandon again who confirmed a couple of things 1) that there were two Kona slots 2) I was in third and 3) I was gaining fast on the girl in second.  Basically as long as I hung in there with the pace I was running, about 7:20 min/mile, I should manage it.  That was all I needed, there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to get that slot.  Pretty sure at mile 23 I ran passed Jen Rulon and as she tried to cheer I cut her off saying “I’m like 0.25 away from 2nd place I have to go for it!!!”.

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By mile 25 all I could do is pray that I had moved into second place because I was thinking holy hell there is nothing left in my legs right now to go much faster.  Thankfully someone confirmed it for me and I knew I just had to keep my legs moving and keep it up for about another mile.

As I rounded the corner towards the red carpet and as a smile splayed across my face I looked up to see my girl Valerie screaming at me!!

finish line

It was so awesome to see her there to bring me towards the finish line.  I’ve mentioned it before but there is something very special about that red carpet, and no matter what people say about Ironman, the race, complications, or try to bring it down that feeling is something you cannot away from anyone. In fact it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it, and because of that I pray that no matter what you never let anyone take it away from you.

On that note, I sit here celebrating the fact that I worked really really hard for the success of the day, hour and hour and hours of sweat, pain, and going for it, and I am beyond excited for the next bit of training to come.  Kona, I’ve got big goals for you so you better watch out!!!

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Before I sign off I want to give thanks to all the people that made this day possible:

My amazing Husband: you’ve all heard me brag about him over and over but seriously I could not do this without him.

My family: who sat on the couch for 10 hours the day of the race watching the tracker and sending Brandon splits and distances that I needed to run, and for their excitement in me going to Kona. My sister literally stayed up until 4 am as she is Vietnam right now to watch the tracker.

My Coach Heather: who puts up with my crazy, gives hard workouts, never stops believing in me, and pushes me on constant basis.

My In-laws: for their love and support.

The Where Your Feet Take You Sponsors Second Skin Gear, Infinite Nutrition, Roka, and Rudy Project for supplying me with the best gear and nutrition.

To all the volunteers out there all day on race day you are the real heros!

Cheers Everyone and thanks for continuing to follow along this crazy fun filled Journey.

Kayla

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Packing For An Ironman

You’ve made it through the 6+ months of training and it is now race week. Race week is a ton of fun however it also means that you probably will be doing some traveling, unless you’re lucky enough to have your race in your hometown.   Traveling for an Ironman is a lot of fun and a great way to explore but it can also be stressful and exhausting; especially when you save packing to the last minute, which I do not recommend. 😁

Packing is by far my least favorite part of any travel, and I notoriously am that person who is packing at 10 pm at night when I have a 5 am flight the next morning.  This has resulted in me forgetting very important things such as glasses or even my contacts a couple of times… and when you are legally blind this is a problem.  However, packing does not have to be stressful, in fact it can be relatively stress free.

Here are a few, albeit fairly obvious, tips for making packing less stressful:

Make a list

Yes this seems very obvious and after a few trips it may seem as though you can forget this step but it really is very important.  There are so many little intricacies involved with triathlon from the big one of getting your bike in a bag to not forgetting to check the batteries on  your power meter or grabbing your body glide.  Making a list seems simple but it allows you to think about all that you need, keep it simple, and decrease the stress of running around at 1:00 am before your 5:00 am flight trying to remember if you packed your bike shoes.

making a list

Also, don’t take after me and start your list the Monday before your trip.  This gives you time to adjust your list.

Start Packing Before Your Packing Deadline

This is a two fold tip; a) set a packing deadline and b) start packing before that deadline. Most of us triathletes are crazy, masochistic, over achieving, type A nuts where when we give ourselves a deadline we are going to do whatever it takes to hit that deadline.  Tackle packing as you would your peak long run.  You have a deadline, or date, in which this long run needs to be compelted but you don’t prep for this deadline on the day of the deadline.  Rather you take hours, days, and weeks to prep for it.  While you don’t need weeks and maybe you don’t even need days but do start ahead of time so that when that deadline comes around you aren’t running around with your head cut off.

Secondly, set the deadline for a date earlier than your drop dead date ie: the night before you have to catch the plane.

packing

Keep It Simple

It’s easy when making your list to get wrapped up in all the things that you may need.  I often find that I’ve got things like “one nice outfit”, “pillow”, and multiple pairs of shoes that I know in the end I will never wear.  Take those things out.  Unless you are going for an extended vacation more than likely you are going to spend 95% of your time in some sort of athletic wear and/or your triathlon gear.  You don’t need all the excess.  On top of that there is already so much other stuff that comes with triathlon you don’t need to add to the already teetering too heavy bag you’ve stuffed everything into.

Pack Your Own Food

This can be annoying especially when flying because of all the rules in place nowadays for flying but in the long run it is one of the most important pieces you can do, especially for those around you as it prevents you from getting hangry.

You just spent the last 6 months being putting the best fuel you can into your body to get yourself through your workouts, and on top of that you also probably spent the last six months eating every 2 huors because you are hungry all the time.  Then all of the sudden you spend a day eating junk riddled with sodium at an airport and on top of that your eating schedule is all thrown out of wack due to travel, all a few days before your big day.  This can completely throw you out of wack.  Take the time to pack healthy and normal snacks and meals that your body is used to for travel.  Not only will your body thank you but it will save you money in the long run.

food

I wish I had some great tips for packing your bike, but also packing my bike is something that I do not have any joy for doing.   The only thing I can advise to travel on either Alaska or Southwest as they have the best prices for taking a bike with you, especially if you have one of their credit cards.  My advise for packing your bike is merely to try to be patient, something I fail at completely during this process, and if you haven’t cut out alcohol for your race make sure to have a drink handy.

To share the joy that I feel when packing my bike here is a little time lapse of the time, and while you cannot hear the swear words that escape my mouth during this process I am sure you can feel the joy.

 

Happy Packing Everyone!!!  If you have any other tips that work well for you comment to this post and let me know!!

CHEERS!!!!

Kayla

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