Mark on Monday: Face Your Fears

By Mark Cathcart

A discussion about dealing with events, challenges, unexpected problems, and most importantly, those challenges life throws at you during the race season.

When I first agreed the schedule of articles with Dana for my 303 Column, Face your fears seemed like a good end of season challenge, little did I know what challenges would lay ahead of me.

In terms of fears, no matter what you are afraid of, someone else is probably more afraid but will get over it. That’s what makes a champion, looking fear in the “eyes” and fbeating it. That’s your challenge, take something triathlon or sport related that is really different, something you didn’t think you could do, something you were afraid of and do it!

For me this year it will be very different, after 18-years of triathlon, I’m planning to make the start line at the Without Limits Oktoberfest Triathlon. Last time I was at the Union Reservoir for the Outdoor Divas triathlon, to support my partner Kate in her race, I had a full-blown heart attack and was taken away post-race in an Ambulance (3).

I’ve seen people take on and achieve much bigger challenges. A club colleague of mine in the UK, was training for Team GB, when she was hit and paralyzed from the waist down. Just a year later, Paula Craig was the first Team GB Para-triathlete at the ITU Worlds in Cancun in 2002. You don’t have to look far to see incredible stories. I was amazed to see the progress that BBSC Endurance Sports Craig Towler had already made after losing both his legs after being hit by a driver while out training. (1).

I’ve stood at the start line for many races, both open water, with high waves, and frenetic pool based triathlons and heard people expressing grave concerns about their ability to start, much less finish.

To this day I can remember a race in the UK in 2006, pool swim, all the competitors lined up down the side of the pool waiting for the start. The pool was crazy, arms thrashing everywhere, there were as many as 6-people per lane, the noise was crazy, there were almost waves as the water crashed against the sides.

The guy next to me was, like me, 6ft tall, and he was having serious doubts about the swim. I told him it would be fine. He wasn’t convinced. I pointed out that while racking my bike I’d spotted a prosthetic arm in transition. He looked puzzled. We scanned the line of swimmers and couldn’t see the “owner”. It turned out to be the first ever triathlon for Claire Cunningham (nee Bishop). Claire is a medal winning and Champion paratriathlete for Team GB now and just 5’6” tall.

How must Claire have felt that day?

There is nothing special about these athletes. They don’t have a superpower, they take the challenges and setbacks and find a way of getting past them.

Most of us don’t face triathlon with anything like those challenges. Whatever you decide to do over the next few months, tackle something that challenges you, something that proves you are still alive. No matter if that is taking on a greater distance than you thought possible; going faster and placing higher than you think you can; getting out and becoming the hill climber; the cyclocross athlete and more.

Each of these “fears” can be broken down and divided into constituent parts; each of those parts you can find a way to address. As Claire says on her website “Nothing is impossible, you can find a way”. (*2) Create goals for each part, after you’ve achieved those goals, start combining the parts and setting new goals.

Look for help from coaches, books and videos. With not much of a racing season left, why not pick a fear and set about facing it before next season?

Me, I’ll be working the mount/dismount line for the upcoming 5430 Harvest Moon race, and then I’ll be doing everything I can to start, and finish the Oktoberfest triathlon in a few weeks.

  1. https://www.rhone.com/blogs/collective/my-story-by-craig-towler
  2. http://clare-cunningham.co.uk/about-me/
  3. I can’t thank Gaby and the EMT’s at Rapid Response Paramedic Services, the Mountain View Fire emergency crew, especially Carlos who, coincidentally volunteered with me at Ironman Bouler 2016; Dr Paik and everyone at Longmont Unit Hospital enough. Really!
Mark Cathcart took up triathlon in the late 90’s to get fit for adventure racing, which to this day he has never done, and has since taken part in 170+ events. His pragmatic approach to training, racing, and life have lead in from being the Chairman of one of the bigger UK Triathlon clubs 15-years ago; British Triathlon volunteer of the year; a sometime race organizer; The organizer and ride leader for Austin Texas award winning Jack and Adams triathlon shop; doing sometime Sports Management for development and professional triathletes; he has attended all the Triathlon Business International, and Triathlon America conferences, where he usually asks the questions others won’t; moved to Colorado in 2016 and is a co-owner of Boulder Bodyworker

WTF Is My Hand Doing? And Other Thoughts From Swim Physio Testing

By Alison Freeman

As many of us triathletes approach the off-season, we tend to think about how we can improve for next year. The off-season is an awesome time to focus on one sport at the expense of the other two and make some big gains in that sport. And if you come away from your tri season post-mortem realizing that it’s time to step up your swim, I highly recommend booking time at the CU Sports Medicine & Performance Center (CUSMPC) for a round of physiological testing in the swim flume.

I did physio testing on the bike at CUSMPC last spring and found that to be incredibly useful. I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical about whether the swim physio testing was going to have the same impact. I love it when I’m proven wrong!

WHAT IS IT?
Similar to bike or run physio tests, the swim physio test measures your heart rate and blood lactate levels across a range of swim paces, with the goal of scientifically determining your individualized training paces. Beyond that, you also get the benefit of a swim stroke analysis, complete with before and after video of your technique.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
In swimming, there is a distinct intertwining of effort and technique: if your technique is flawed (and really, whose isn’t?), then you’re less efficient and it’s going to take more effort to swim – at any pace. The swim physio testing begins by identifying your swim training zones, which are cool to know but aren’t game changing. The stroke analysis is where the magic happens.

Jared Berg, CUSMPC’s testing specialist who’s also a certified strength and conditioning specialist as well as a former pro triathlete, focuses on stroke improvements that will reduce your effort level and/or improve your pace within your training zones. In other words, (cue lights and “aha” music) Jared looks for ways to help you swim faster while expending less effort – IMMEDIATELY. Not after four months of hitting the pool three to five times a week, but within just a few workouts.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Swim physio testing takes place in a swim flume, essentially a treadmill for swimming … which I translated to: bo-ring. I was so wrong. I hopped in, started warming up, noticed the mirrors on the bottom and sides of the flume, and was immediately fixated on WTF was my right hand doing and now I understand why my masters swim coach keeps telling me to straighten my wrist. Seeing yourself swim is about as eye opening as it gets.

Flume Video

The testing itself takes approximately 30-45 minutes and goes like this: after your warm up, Jared takes you through a series of four minute swim intervals at increasingly challenging paces. The first few are endurance to tempo pace, as in: no big deal. But by the third I was sucking wind and by the fourth I was desperately trying to just keep my feet off the back wall. The only reason I survived the testing is because in between each interval Jared has you pause swimming to check your heart rate and lactate levels. I used that time to gasp for air and beg for a countdown during the final interval so I knew how much longer I’d have to suffer.

After you complete the testing portion you move on to stroke analysis. Jared sets up two incredibly high end, super cool underwater video cameras in front and side view positions. You’ll swim for a minute to capture your baseline stroke, then Jared reviews the video with you and provides an overview of what looks good and what needs improvement. Next he’ll pick one element for you to concentrate on, have you swim a minute focusing on this particular improvement, and show you side-by-side before-and-after videos to see how you did. After that he’ll move onto a second point of focus and repeat the process. All in all you’ll walk away with three or four discrete form points that you will have practiced in the flume and can continue to work on after your session. More importantly, these form points are specifically selected to provide near-term results – as in, you’ll swim with less effort and/or faster almost immediately.

How did this shake out for me? Well, it turns out the alternate-side breathing that I thought made me super cool was in fact my undoing. Jared noticed during my physio testing that my lactate levels were unusually high during the initial rounds of testing. He had me change to a single-side breathing, galloping style stroke (a la Katie Ledecky – even cooler!) to improve my oxygen levels and reduce lactate levels, and then gave me some specific form points to concentrate on to maximize my stroke efficiency for this new style.

Think it all sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo? We put it to the test. I came back exactly two weeks later – after only three swim workouts – and re-did the physio testing. My lactate levels started lower and stayed lower during the initial testing intervals, and my heart rate stayed lower as well. My stroke rate was lower across all the intervals, and I was able to add a fifth, faster interval that had been impossible two weeks prior.

I still have work to do to get faster and refine my stroke, but now I know what to work on. And with Jared’s help I will come out of the water at my next tri feeling less tired, and therefore having more energy for the bike and run. #ForTheWin!

HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Just pop on over to the CUSMPC website’s page on performance testing and select “Physiology.” Scroll down to “(SWIM) Lactate Profile,” click to pop up the scheduling tool, pick a time and you’re good to go.

While you’re at CUSMPC for your swim physio testing, be sure to check out their state-of-the-art facility. They offer everything from physio and metabolic testing to physical therapy to an alter-G (anti-gravity) treadmill. It’s all open to the public, and it’s right in our own back yard.

303Radio Talks with Tim Hola before Ironman 70.3 World Championships

303Triathlon recently caught up with Tim Hola before he headed to Chattanooga Tennessee for this past weekend’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

Tim lives in Highlands Ranch with his wife Nicole and two children, Connor and Spencer. Triathlon has been in the Hola family since his dad, Ken Hola, introduced Tim to it at age 20. Tim has always been competitive and he believes the height of one’s achievement is a product of the height of one’s goals. Tim talked about his goals for this season and the results that led to a USAT National Championship and qualifying for both the 70.3 and Ironman World Championships.

Tim cranked out a 4:38:23 finish at 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga this weekend and will now set his sights on Kona in mid-October. This will be Tim’s 16th Ironman on the big island of Hawaii, showing he has the formula for training and competing at the highest level, while balancing work and family.

Tim competes at near-pro level, yet he is a working age-grouper facing the responsibilities and prioritization challenges of those who do triathlon for the passion and not for the paycheck. He gives us insights into how balancing his passion for triathlon with other priorities of a working age grouper and father. When it comes to balance, Tim describes the importance of “knowing your priorities, meeting your partner’s needs and communicating”.

Check out the complete interview.

Pacing the Cage: Making the Most of Your Taper Week

By Will Murray

Originally published by USA Triathlon – reprinted with permission

It’s the week before your race and you feel like a caged tiger. While you still have workouts that are short and crisp to stay sharp, your training volume is vastly reduced. All of a sudden you have a lot more time on your hands. How do you make the most of this extra time during your taper period to have your best race day experience?

Training makes you fit; practice makes you fast.
When was the last time you practiced your transitions? Everybody talks about the free speed you can obtain with clean transitions, but that speed only comes with practice. For T2, bike-to-run transition, try this:

  1. Set up a bike trainer and your T2 transition area.
  2. Hop on your bike, yes with your helmet and sunglasses and cycling shoes, ride for two minutes.
  3. Do your transition — changing helmet for ball cap, changing shoes and putting on race belt. Then run 400 meters.
  4. Capture your time for the transition, from the instant you stop pedaling to your first step.
  5. Repeat six to eight transitions until you get your transition time down to less than 10 seconds.

For T1, your swim-to-bike transition:

  1. When you do open water swims, practice running out of the water for 100 meters, then jog back to the water.
  2. Practice your exit of the water five or six times to get the feel of snapping from a horizontal position to vertical and trying to run.
  3. If you can run out of the pool without incurring the (unwanted) attention of the lifeguard, give this a try.
  4. Practice your bike mounts and dismounts at least six or eight times.

“Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.” – Yogi Berra
Your taper week is a great time to practice your mental skills.

  1. Write out your race plan. On paper (or electrons). Include your pacing plan and your fueling and hydration schedule.
  2. Include mental elements in your race plan. Study the course map and course profile to identify specific locations where you will need extra motivation. For example, at two-thirds of the way through the run course, many athletes lose focus and start dwelling on how tired they feel. You might think of two or three people who you know have your best interest at heart. Think of what they would say to motivate you that would really help lift you. Place them along the course map in your mind’s eye and hear what they would say as you see yourself hitting that point.
  3. Rehearse the race in your mind. For specific instructions on how to do this, read “Two Minutes to a Better Workout.”
  4. Prepare for the worst. Ask yourself, “What could go wrong?” Mentally travel through the race, from setting up your transition area to the finish line, and test for things that might go astray. What if I drop a bottle? Make a plan. What if I start to chafe? Make a plan. Being prepared is the best way to put worry away.

Test your gear.
I recently heard an athlete lament that the electronic shifter battery on his bike died during the race, turning his bike into a single-speed. He had not charged the battery in two months. Don’t be him. Go over your bike carefully or take it to the shop. Especially check your tires and shifters. Lube your chain. Clean up your bike.

Do a dress rehearsal, literally. If you haven’t done a swim in your wetsuit in a while, take it to the pool or open water and swim a little. Do a short bike-run brick in your race kit. Practice placing your anti-chafing remedy. Test the drink that the aid stations will be handing out to get used to the taste.

Plan to sleep.
Make plans to get a good night’s sleep the night before the night before the race. Many athletes have trouble sleeping the night before the race, so if you do find yourself staring at the ceiling, use that time well. During your waking period, rehearse again the race you want to have tomorrow. Make a movie, full color, with sound and scents and sensations, of the race going as well as it can. See yourself having a great race, start to finish. If this doesn’t put you back to sleep, then you will put your mind in the right frame for the next morning.

Taper week gives you a lot more time to focus on those things that will help you have a great day for your race. In addition to pacing like a caged tiger, you can also practice those skills that will make your race day smooth, efficient and fulfilling.

Will Murray is a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach and the mental skills coach for d3multisport.com. He is co-author of “The Four Pillars of Triathlon: Vital Mental Conditioning for Endurance Athletes.”

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.

Butterfield’s Orderly Results: Tyler Scores Another Step Up At Ironman 70.3 Worlds

September 12, 2017 – Professional triathlete Tyler Butterfield logged another world-class performance to score seventh place at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on Sunday in Chattanooga, Tennessee, his best 70.3 World Championship finish to date. The result marked Butterfield’s steady progression through the top ten at the championship event, having finished ninth in 2013,, eighth in 2015, and now seventh in 2017, and bodes well for his fitness in the final five-week lead into the Ironman World Championship on October 14th in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. His corresponding Kona finishes in those years were his best to date—seventh in 2013 and fifth in 2015—showing a pattern of success when tackling the 70.3 Championship prior to the Ironman World Championship, his primary focus for several years now.

Butterfield clocked 25:20 in the 1.2-mile swim, emerging with the main group of men containing all the key contenders outside of swim leaders Ben Kanute, the eventual second- place finisher, and Javier Gomez, prolific triathlon champion and silver medalist at the Olympic Games, who went on to win.

Ten men—including Butterfield and Ironman world record holder Tim Don—rode in the chase pack, with hard-charging Sebastian Kienle, a two-time victor at the race, coming from behind. Entering T2, Butterfield was in third; within 30 seconds a flurry of six other top rivals flew in and out of transition and quickly sorted themselves out on the road ahead, with Butterfield now running in sixth. Gomez, known for his spectacular run speed, made quick work from further back in the field to knock off every forward challenger and claim the world title. Butterfield held steady and strong, and ultimately crossed the line in seventh with a 1:17:32 half marathon and 3:56:22 finish time.

“I wasn’t able to put in my usual attacks on the bike. It was hard enough just being there! Racing at this level gets more and more competitive every year. I looked around and everyone in the group was a world title holder, world record holder, or at least someone who has won a lot of races. You can’t just get away from these guys whenever you like,” said Butterfield.

“I also wanted to wait and test my run,” he continued. “I wanted to really get a feel for my run fitness in advance of Kona—something you can’t fully gauge outside of a race environment. I haven’t had the opportunity to get in the run training I’d like for a number of years—partly because of injury, but now, looking back, also because of where we lived.”

For more information please visit Butterfieldracing.com

Since the family’s move from their mountain home to a farm in rural Boulder County, Butterfield has been able to run straight out the door, rather than spend time driving to and from town. Living at a lower altitude (5,600 feet, as opposed to 7,400 feet) has also allowed him to cope with a higher workload. Additionally, he has found that the convenience of being able to go home between sessions has helped his recovery.

“I was a little disappointed with my run, considering the training I’ve had. It was solid, but nothing special. Really, I should be running only a little slower than that for an entire marathon if I want to be in the mix in Kona,” said Butterfield, who averaged 5:55 minute miles in Sunday’s race. “I’m not sure if I was still a little tired from the training. I certainly gave this race the respect it deserves and came in tapered, but I think I may have carried in a bit too much long-term fatigue. I’m hoping I can get in the remaining training I need in the next five weeks, as well as shake some of the residual tiredness from my Kona overload. It’s kind of hard to do both at once—get fitter and fresher—but I’ll try.”

Butterfield indeed appears to be on track for another impressive race on the Big Island, as evidenced by a steady pattern of improving results. His 2017 regular season performances started with fourth at Ironman 70.3 Dubai, then third at the Ironman North American Championship, followed by second at Ironman 70.3 Monterrey, and finally a win at Ironman 70.3 Raleigh. This pattern of improvement also shows in his Ironman 70.3 World Championship progression—ninth in 2013, eighth in 2015, and seventh in 2017—and in his Kona performances, where he finished seventh in 2013 and fifth in 2015.

“I guess I like to keep my results orderly,” joked Butterfield. “In all seriousness, I do like the steady progress upward. It’s rewarding to see the results of all the hard work, as my entire family sacrifices year-round to help me be the best I can be. Hopefully with the focused training I’ve had so far and the time remaining, I can continue to improve all the way into Kona.”

Butterfield now heads back home to Colorado for his final Kona training block, with five short weeks remaining until the Ironman World Championship.

Lance Panigutti on Why Triathletes Should Try Cyclocross

By Bill Plock

Rich Soares with 303Radio interviews Lance Panigutti, owner of Without Limits Productions, who is known for triathlon events across the Front Range. Once triathlon season is over, Lance and his team remain busy with a host of cyclocross events throughout the Front Range beginning this weekend.

Photo from fascatcoaching.com

“Cyclocross bikes are really the result of a road bike and a mountain bike having a baby”, according to Lance. But, in this podcast Lance goes on to assure listeners wanting to try cyclocross that using a mountain bike is perfectly fine, buying an inexpensive cyclocross bike is adequate because the atmosphere is a welcoming one that makes it ok to feel like a beginner.

Racing on dirt, in grass, negotiating obstacles like steps and low hurdles, sometimes in mud, snow or inclement weather makes it just that much more fun. The races are short, easy to spectate and generally they circle a spectator area that is the perfect place to hang out and have a beer and get to know everyone.

According to marketing manager of Feedback Sports and the biggest advocate on the planet of cyclocross, Katie Macarelli, “it is arguably the most user-friendly discipline of racing to get into. If you are a roadie, you bring an engine and pack skills. If you are an MTB’er your technical skills are solid and you’ll excel on short punch climbs and short bursts of effort. If you are a commuter you race an urban version all the time with lights, cars and curbs. Anyone can jump in! It’s just 40 minutes long. Minimal training time and time away from real life and family. Plus the community is like no other. Friendly. With beer!”

Lance adds that triathletes, which make up about 20% of the field usually, come in very fit from the season and cyclocross is a way to keep competing and having fun and trying some new things on a bike.

It seems this is the venue to try for something fun and different, safe and unintimidating. There are numerous clinics and many races to choose from! In fact, there’s a free Intro to Cyclocross Party for women at the Feedback Sports headquarters in Golden tonight (September 7th). Click here for more details.

Clinics:
Inspired Training Center Cyclocross Workshop Series
Boulder Cycle Sport Weekly Thursday Cyclocross Clinics
FasCat Coaching CX Camp

Check out the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado website for CX races. Here is a list of a few races you should check out:
Without Limits – September through December
Back 2 Basics CX – August 23rd – September 27th (Wednesday evenings)
SchoolYard Cross – October 21st

Listen to the podcast interview here

TOP TRIATHLETES FROM AROUND THE WORLD HEAD TO THE SCENIC CITY TO COMPETE IN 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

90 countries, regions and territories represented in Chattanooga, Tennessee for 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, taking place on Sept. 9 and 10.

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 1, 2017) — Approximately 4,500 of the world’s top athletes will head to the “Scenic City” on September 9 and 10 to compete in the 2017 IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship. The event returns to U.S. soil for the first time in four years, and also marks the first time that the event will take place over two days. IRONMAN, a Wanda Sports Holding company, has produced this world-class event since 2006, with global rotation beginning in 2014.

“With its dramatic backdrop, striking riverfront and fast swim course through the Tennessee River, Chattanooga is well-equipped to play host to the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship this September,” said Andrew Messick, Chief Executive Officer for IRONMAN. “This is a historic year for this event with the largest athlete field ever for any IRONMAN 70.3 event, while also creating a first with a two-day IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship allowing for focus of the female race on Saturday and male race on Sunday. We look forward to providing our athletes with an exceptional race experience in this great host location.”

With athletes hailing from 90 countries, regions and territories, North America leads the way with 52 percent of the athletes registered to race in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. Following North America, Europe accounts for 25 percent, while Asia-Pacific accounts for 12 percent of the field.

The United States of America is the most represented nation with 1,853 registered competitors, followed by Canada (264), Australia (232) and the United Kingdom (213). Other athletes from countries as far as Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Serbia are traveling around the globe for their shot at the title.

This year, returning age group champions from the 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship on the women’s side include Janine Willis (CAN), Katrine Amtkjaer Nielsen (DNK), Lesley Tuggle (USA) and Raeleigh Harris (AUS). On the men’s side, returning age group champions include Brian Boyle (NZL), Harry Barnes (CAN), Rodolphe Von Berg (BEL) and Ryan Giuliano (USA).

With breathtaking scenery, Chattanooga is a supreme location for a fall sporting event. The 2017 field of athletes will tackle a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) ocean swim in the Tennessee River, followed by a 56-mile (90 km) bicycle ride through Lookout Mountain and into downtown Chattanooga, capped with a 13.1-mile (21 km) run through Downtown Chattanooga along the Tennessee Riverwalk and Riverfront Parkway, finishing at Ross’s landing – all of which must be completed before an eight-and-a-half-hour cutoff time.

In order to qualify for the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, more than 185,000 age-group athletes competed to earn slots at over 100 IRONMAN 70.3 events held worldwide.

Friday Fun: The Ten Different Types of Open Water Swimmers

By Patricia Dixon

The Ten Different Types of Open Water Swimmers

1. Flamingos – The athletes just trying to get ready for their swim, whether wearing a wetsuit or not, they are the ones you see standing out in the water, hands clasped in front of them, bending over while having one leg lifted and standing on the other

2. Turtles – Those of us who do not have a mission, we have one speed – slow and steady. Our only mission is to swim as far as we can within the allotted time.

3. Seal pups – Beginner Open Water swimmers, they like to hang out near the shore line, go back and forth up and down the shoreline. You will also see the seal pups get out of the water a lot and jump on shore and then jump back in.

4. Jelly Fish – These types of swimmers will swim to the buoys and then float around them, sometimes just hang out by them for long period of time until you go to swim past the buoy and they jump out right at you. Like trying to sting you, then they will continue on to the next buoy.

5. The Seals – these types of swimmers are normally wearing a wetsuit, they may or may not see you, but they will swim right up on top of you as if you were a rock or iceberg.

6. The Sharks – Yep, they are out there. They are aggressive swimmers, they don’t care who is out there, if you are in their way, they will ram right into you.

7. Otters – This group of swimmers, they are cute to watch, they love to just have fun, they hang out with their friends, and they are very supportive of each other and will wait for each other to hit their meeting spot. They will laugh and giggle together and enjoy the morning swim.

8. Minnows – Otherwise known as the toe ticklers. These swimmers will swim up to you, and then tickle your toes non-stop until you move out of their path.

9. School of Fish – These swimmers will swim in a group, much like a school of fish. The one problem with this group, they all rely on the front swimmer to lead them, so if the front swimmer takes a wrong turn, they all follow.

10. Dolphin (Want to be) – Yep, I said want to be… These groups of swimmers are built of amazing athletes (Pros and Elites.) They are fast and they are strong. Watching them swim is just amazing; it’s like watching a pod of Dolphins. The one thing they are missing that Dolphins do well is being agile. The group of swimmers does not know how to change directions quickly to miss obstacles in their path, but instead, they just freight train whoever/whatever is in their path. You really don’t know what hit you until the Pod has completely swam over you and you are able to catch your breath and get your vision back.

Triathlon: DON’T DOUBT THAT YOU BELONG

WRITTEN BY: WILL MURRAY

Shared with permission from D3 Multisport

You look around and see all these superior athletes surrounding you. At the pool, you notice ripped swimmers as they saunter across the deck, slip into the water and motor back and forth at speeds such that you can’t imagine how they are doing that. On the bike, you are tooling along at a crisp pace, and some other cyclist eases by, seemingly without effort, gives you a little nod, and turns into a steadily decreasing shape until becoming a tiny dot disappearing over the horizon. During your run, same thing: you get passed by a couple of young women who are having an in-depth conversation about their physics exam or some term paper coming up.

But the conversation you are having with yourself is not about what they are talking about. You are asking yourself one question that, at that moment, seems like the most important thing of all: “Do I even belong here?” The conversation with yourself continues: “Everybody around here is fast, and they look so fit and they have really nice kits and fancy bikes and the latest swim equipment. I’m just a normal person. I don’t fit in. I don’t belong here.”

And maybe you are right, but it doesn’t matter and here’s why. You are not here for them. You are here for you. Here are three steps for transforming this doubt that you belong, into something useful and powerful and even motivating.

Step 1. Revisit and write down (yes on paper with a pencil or your favorite pen) your reasons for doing your sport. Your reasons and drives for training and racing may be about maintaining your fitness and health, or your body shape. It may be to relieve the tensions of normal life. It may be to knock off a life goal, check off a bucket list item or just see whether you can actually do this. Or it may be to win your age group, to grab a personal record or qualify for some championship race. Whatever the reasons, as many as they are, as big or tiny as they might seem, write them down (all of them) and take a look at them. This isn’t about all those other people, those swimmers and cyclists and runners. This is for you, and they don’t really figure into all this.

Step 2. Pay attention to the actual actions of those around you. When you pay close attention to all these seal-sleek swimmers and speedy cyclists and fluid runners, how do they treat you? You might be tempted to evaluate what you think they think of you, rather than what they are actually doing. When you look for it, you may notice that they are actually behaving toward you in a very supportive way. Notice the little looks of approval, the “nice-work” statements, the little acknowledgements that you are out there training and racing. That you are one of them, that they acknowledge you.

Step 3. Acknowledge other athletes. You could wait around hoping someone will give you a thumbs-up, or a knowing nod or a “good job.” Or… you could initiate those things. See another athlete on a run or a ride or at the pool? Give a little nod of approval. Encounter another triathlete at the gym (yes, you can tell who they are)? Tell them, “Nice work.” Be genuine, be brief. But instigate the continuing culture or letting everyone know that everyone belongs.

There will be strange responses, no doubt. Some athletes are shy. Some are absorbed in their training session and don’t even see you. No problem. You belong, and so do all the other athletes. Help create the culture of belonging. Because you do. We all do.

Mental Skills Expert Will Murray often hears triathletes saying that the sport is at least 50% mental and 50% physical, but I’ve come to notice that they spend very little (if any) time doing mental training. Fortunately, it’s easy and fast to train-up your mind to help you achieve your triathlon goals. I’ve been lucky enough to bring these mental conditioning techniques to first-time athletes and Olympians, kids and seniors, triathletes who want to finish the race and those who are gunning to win.

Desert’s Edge Triathlon Festival

Your Next Triathlon Road Trip – The Desert’s Edge Triathlon Festival

There is a great triathlon opportunity still on the horizon, not on the front-range, but instead in Grand Junction. Itching to try some roads and trails. Maybe a little road trip?

Gather up your family or a group of friends and head west for the Desert’s Edge Triathlon Festival located at Highline State Park near Fruita, CO on September 8-10, 2017.

This unique festival offers XTERRA, Sprint and Olympic options for your choosing plus lakeside camping for the whole gang. Once you’ve raced, let the adventure continue with world-class mountain biking, road riding, hiking, climbing, SUP, rafting or wine tasting.

Just feel like relaxing after your race? Take a drive over the Colorado National Monument with the family then grab pizza at the infamous Hot Tomato or hit downtown Grand Junction for brews and other great dining options. You’ll even have the chance to get the last of the mouth-watering Palisade peaches, a refreshing reward for all that activity.

For a complete guide on all the activities available in the Grand Valley, visit http://www.visitgrandjunction.com/.

Triathletes may choose between an XTERRA Tri on Saturday or your choice of Sprint or Olympic distance road tri’s on Sunday. Camping is available on-site at Highline State Park for $30 per night. Sites are just 100 yards from the transition and the start/finish areas. If camping isn’t your thing, there are a number of hotels in the Fruita area, just a 15 minute drive from the race site.

About the Races

The XTERRA Fruita Triathlon starts off with a 600 meter swim, a 50 meter run on the beach and another 600 meter swim in the waters of Highline Lake. Then you’re off on a 13 mile ride on a course that mixes single and double track. And finally, you’ll finish off with a scenic and interesting 4.5 mile run. The XTERRA Sprint is also available, offering a 600m swim, 7.5 mile ride and 2.8 mile run.

This is the 6th year for the Sprint & Olympic triathlons, taking place on Sunday. Both races feature some of the best road courses you will find in Colorado.
For course maps, race schedules and registration info, visit https://www.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=8482