Resolution Ready: The Slacker’s Guide to Creating New Habits (Like Running) and Breaking Sh*tty Ones

Longmont Uber runner Beth Risdon – author of the famous “Shut Up And Run” blog has this advice for starting – and cementing – new healthy habits. Remember, KISS.

My son, Sam, was home from college for the weekend. He likes to come home because he misses me so much. Or, maybe it’s because I feed him and provide him with a bed that has clean sheets (I think he told me has not yet changed his sheets on his college bed – I mean, it has only been three months since he got there so it’s not like they’re dirty or anything. It’s not like there’s B.O. and pieces of skin and drool all over them or anything).

Anyhow, I asked him if he was working out anymore. He used to go to the gym pretty regularly. He said, “No. It’s just so hard to get over the hump mentally to get started again.” And, I completely know what he means. The thing is, that’s precisely why I never take a significant break from running or exercise. Because I’m afraid if I’m gone too long and I get out of the habit, it will be that much harder to start up again.

What I’ve learned is that there are two things in life that are really tough (well, there are many more, but these are just two of them): breaking bad habits and starting new, healthier habits.

Take drinking wine, for example. I am very much in the habit of nightly wine drinking, for better or for worse. I know it’s become a habit – a way I reward myself. A glass while I cook dinner. A glass to accompany me when I watch “This Is Us” (although I probably get even more emotionally manipulated by that show when I’m drinking). I know I could stop my nightly drinking (but why would I want to?), but it’s the breaking of the habit that is so hard.

If you’re old enough, you remember that we didn’t used to wear seat belts. Like, not ever. Then it became the law and the norm that you had to wear a seat belt. Buzz kill. There go all of the cross country road trips where we would lay down in the back of the station wagon on the old plaid blanket from the garage. Anyway, at first putting on a seat belt was such a pain in the ass. You had to make a conscious effort to do and you felt so restricted. But, now that it has become a habit? I do it so automatically I don’t even know I do it. Bingo! That’s the point of this post!

Running has become that way for me. Just part of my life and my routine. Kind of like drinking wine and brushing my teeth (not at the same time). I don’t run everyday, but I do run about five days a week and don’t feel like myself if I don’t do it.

So, how do you create a new habit or break a bad one? (I’m going to use the example of someone who wants to start drinking more water every day because their pee should be the color of Crystal Light Lemonade and it looks like Guinness, but you could apply this to running more, drinking less wine, cutting back on coffee or not eating sweets). I call this the “The Slacker’s Guide” because it doesn’t require a ton of imagination or creativity. Even your college kid can do it….

Click here  to read the five key steps to making a new habit stick.

Resolution Ready: Surviving the Holidays: 5 Quick Tips for Healthy Eating

From TrainingPeaks

It’s that time of the year when friends and families get together in love and fellowship to enjoy the holiday season and to usher in the New Year. It’s a wonderful time that, unfortunately, can wreak havoc on our eating habits. But don’t despair! Here are five quick and simple tips for navigating the nutritional minefields we inevitably encounter around the holidays:

1. Don’t change your normal diet, especially if you already have good eating habits.

For example, don’t skip a meal in anticipation of a big holiday spread. This is a very common mistake. Eat your normal meals at their normal times and you will find that you eat less at the “event” meals (e.g., Thanksgiving dinner).

2. Eat prior to arriving at a family or social gathering.

With the large amounts of food available at most holiday gatherings, it is very easy to overeat. One way to minimize this is to eat a small meal prior to arriving at the event. Because if you are not hungry, you will be far less likely to overeat…

Read the full article

How to Avoid Getting Sick While in Training

From TrainingPeaks

Winter is nearly upon us and as the air temperature drops, you can bet your bottom dollar that an increased number of us will be missing training sessions with coughs, colds, sore throats and the flu.

Understanding what you can do to minimize the chances of getting sick is a good idea so that you can avoid interruptions to your TrainingPeaks training plan over the off-season (or when your heavy training begins again).

But, just how susceptible are athletes to getting sick?

There’s a long standing and widely held (though not fully proven) belief that exercising has a “J” shaped effect on the immune system and, by extension, on your susceptibility to picking up infections and illnesses.

The graph below (taken from a 1994 paper on the subject) illustrates this idea nicely:

Read the full article

Blood Flow Restriction device during training key to rapid injury recovery, anti-aging?

From LAVA

Another value is for older triathletes wanting to buffer age-related loss of lean muscle mass, in particular fast-twitch fibers that key to explosive power and speed. BFR has been described by its founder as a form of anti-aging medicine, and the research is backing the claim.

Just 40 days before the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, Todd Lodwick, an Olympic silver medalist in 2010 and one of the USA’s top Nordic skiers, suffered a crash, breaking several ribs and trashing a rotator cuff. First impressions were that his season was over. Yet when the U.S. team marched in the opening ceremonies, Lodwick was the flag bearer, even using his injured side to carry the flag. He raced in Sochi and finished his 6th Olympic Games.

The miraculous recovery was credited to the use of two-times-day blood flow restriction training overseen by Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen, MD, a pioneer in BFR as well as high-low altitude training. The crash happened on a Friday and to prevent the wave of atrophy that injury immobilization traditional produces, Stray-Gundersen had Lodwick performing two BFR workouts a day. They monitored Lodwick’s progress through x-rays and watched the shoulder heal.

The origins of BFR suggest that Lodwick’s recovery shouldn’t have been a surprise. Developed in Japan about 50 years ago by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato, a Japanese sports scientist, BFR came about after Sato paid attention to the muscle fatigue he felt after sitting during a long funeral. He later reverse-engineered his observation and after he broke an ankle and injured a knee skiing, he experimented with bike tubes and judo belts to restrict blood flow to the muscles while he wore a cast. When he went in to have the cast changed—a ritual procedure because casts shrink the encased muscle via atrophy—Sato’s doctors were shocked to see a ready-to-go set of leg muscles at full size. . .

Read the full article

Why Cyclocross is excellent off season training for Triathletes

From Training Peaks “Four Sports you should do in the off season

Cyclocross

According to the website Cyclova, it is believed that cyclocross originated in the autumn, in the French countryside. Racers riding from one town to another would take shortcuts through farmer’s fields, jumping over fences with an eye on the church steeple marking the next town. During this time, the sport was called “steeple chasing.”

WHY DO IT?
Long accepted as a way for road racers to stay fit in the off-season, cyclocross isn’t much of a cross training stretch for road racers. More recently, mountain bikers and triathletes can be found toeing the start line at a “cross” race.

The sport offers the challenge of riding a bike in mud, sand and grass. Combine that with obstacles and steep uphill sections that require bike carrying, this multi-lap sport is fun for racers and spectators alike.

Most races are some 30 to 60 minutes long, with the leg-searing intensity many racers savor. Fun, variety, challenge and bad weather conditions draw endurance junkies who don’t want to give up intensity in the off-season.

HOW TO FIT IT INTO YOUR TRAINING PLAN?
When participating in cross, it is best to leave any heavy weight training until after the season is over. Cut down the long rides that you’ve been doing all season and include these short, fast races instead.

Read the full story

Iron Deficiency, Anemia and Endurance Athletes

From Training Peaks

Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia are hot topics in many endurance athlete’s circles. Iron, specifically low levels of it, is often linked to feelings of exhaustion and poor recovery.

Iron is a critical nutritional component for all individuals, but is particularly important for athletes, due to the important role it plays in oxygen transportation to working muscles.

Let’s take a closer look at what Iron deficiency and anemia are and how endurance athletes can take charge of their iron consumption to ensure healthy levels during training.

What are Iron and Anemia?

Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, the protein that carries both oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. It also plays a key role in the transfer of oxygen in muscle cells. ATP, the body’s primary energy source, is also produced with the help of iron.

It’s an essential mineral, as our bodies don’t produce it naturally, so we have to get it from diet or supplementation to ensure we meet our nutritional needs. It’s clear to see how critical iron is for the endurance athlete, but what does it mean to have an iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency is the world’s most common nutritional disorder in both athletes and non-athletes1. Anemia is very simply a lack of iron in the blood. Furthermore, it means that hemoglobin levels are low…

Read the full article

How to increase your triathlon endurance

 

How to Increase Your Triathlon Endurance

Contributed by Vanessa Davis

If you’ve never been much of a sports’ aficionado, then just the word triathlon can make you sweat. To people who haven’t spent much time in these waters, cycling 40km, followed by 1500m of swimming and finally running 10 km sounds almost impossible, not to mention painful. However, for those who have taken this discipline into their lives, triathlon is a lifestyle, they live and breathe by it and constantly strive to be better. The mentality that is needed for completing a triathlon is the one of discipline, perseverance, and strength, all working in perfect sync. If you skimp on one, your body, as well as your results will suffer. If you’re training for your first triathlon experience, and you’re constantly on the lookout for useful tips, here are some general rules on how to increase your triathlon endurance.

Know Your Body

If you want to be a successful triathlon athlete, one of the very first things to do is to know what you can expect from your body. You can listen to advice, opinions and little cheats that your senior colleagues will share with you, but knowing how you react to exhaustion, injury and how well you manage under pressure is something that no one can tell you so you have to find out on your own. How do your joints react to longer runs? Is there an old injury that could present a problem as preparations move forward? Do you know enough to get you started on your preparations in the first place? There are all very general questions, but it is important to ask them because triathlon is a serious exertion for both the body and the mind, and you have to know what you’re getting yourself into. If you’ve never run a half-marathon and you want to dive headfirst into triathlon workouts, you might be in over your head. This doesn’t mean that you should give up, just slow down and let your body get accustomed to a rigorous regime you’ve got in store by going into it gradually.

You Need the Right Equipment

Getting ready for a triathlon won’t be the cheapest endeavor equipment-wise, but you can bet that it will be worth it in on the track and in the water. It all trickles down to one and the same – if you want to achieve maximum endurance, be explosive or steady whenever you need it and not think about whether your equipment will survive the day, you will need to spend a bit more. Let’s start with the running shoes. Here’s the deal – most running shoes worth their salt will be comfortable, but if you’re training for a triathlon, you’ll need far more than that – you will need a shoe that fits just right. To find a perfect shoe fit might be a bit of a hassle, depending on your body type and your running style but the difference you’ll see in your endurance and cadence will not be negligible. When it comes to swimming, same rules apply – you will need a good-quality wetsuit that will give you lightness of movement, buoyancy and won’t restrict you in any way. You’ll want the wetsuit to fit you tightly so that there isn’t any loose material that could slow you down. The material should also be elastic, flexible and soft and it will help you feel like a fish in the water, allowing you to swim to your best ability without any hindrance.

Recovery Is Vital

Triathlon workouts are tough, that is no secret, and once you get hooked up on chasing your goal time, it’s difficult to give yourself a break. Maybe you’ve never been too enthused about exercising but once you feel the adrenaline of the need to be better every day, the struggle to let your body recover is real. If you’re training hard for five days a week, then you better have enough sleep throughout the week, so that your body has the time to restore and replenish. It’s important to do your best to get good shuteye, and that means getting rid of any nuisances that could disrupt your sleep, which in most cases is snoring, as well as not being able to sleep due to surrounding sounds. Invest in solid earplugs, and if you have a problem with snoring or sleep apnea, then get a good snoring aid that will help you eradicate all the breathing problems you might be facing. Even if you’re not familiar with what could help you, read trustworthy reviews like Theravent review to find your best fit. Allowing your body to replenish through good sleep is absolutely vital in your triathlon preparations, so take your sleeping routine seriously and constantly work on improving it.

Have a day or two of active recovery, during which you can do yoga or stretching to keep your muscles flexible and in optimal shape. Of course you’re trying to do your best, but it will not be achieved by overworking yourself and you can be sure that the endurance on the track and in the water will suffer, as well as your entire body. It’s true that our minds sometimes stop us from getting to our full physical potential and you should certainly push your limits, but it’s also true that you should know when to stop.

Facing the Shortcomings

Among the three disciplines you’ll be competing in, there is always one that will give you more grief than others, one that will require more work that you don’t really want to do. Though it might not be a joy to commit your entire workout to swimming when you’d much rather cycle, it is essential to face the shortcomings you’re facing in your performance and find ways to overcome them. You’ll never be able to compensate the poor swimming time with your running skills, so hone and work on your weaknesses, the payout will be manifold.

Being a triathlete will be one of the most demanding physical challenges you will face and once you pull it off, you will feel like Atlas. Constantly expanding your boundaries and pushing yourself to be better will prove beneficial in every aspect of your life and if you have any doubt, just give triathlon a chance.

Vanessa Davis is a 32-year-old fitness enthusiast, mother of two and content writer at www.diet.st. She’s originally from Long Island, New York, and when she isn’t cooking up some new health and fitness article, she enjoys doing yoga and figuring out new, delicious organic recipes for herself and her kids.

Women’s Wednesday: Injured Triathlete- Fat, Drunk, and Out of Shape is No Way to Go Through Life

By Alison Freeman

Fat, Drunk, and Out of Shape is No Way to Go Through Life

That’s the line that’s been going through my head almost daily for the past four weeks, ever since my off-season got extended well beyond what I’d intended. (And yes, it’s an Animal House reference.)

I’ll back up by saying that I am a strong believer in the importance of an off-season, on having some time when your focus isn’t on training: When fitting in your workout isn’t the driving force behind how you organize every day. When you have the option to go for a hike or take a yoga class instead of a swim/bike/run workout. When you ease back on the miles and give your muscles and your joints some time to recover.

And that’s why I extended my off-season from the originally planned four weeks to a solid, plenty-of-time-to-get-antsy, eight weeks. I was really enjoying the hiking and the yoga and totally blowing off masters swim and drinking margaritas at lunch. Part of the reason I enjoyed it so much, I think, is because I knew (or rather believed, incorrectly) that it was pretty finite. And then on September 9th I developed a stress reaction in my foot. (How I managed to do that on reduced mileage is a story of total idiocy that I won’t include here. Just chalk it up to my being a moron.)

Suddenly my off-season was extended to … twelve weeks? sixteen? I thought I handled the news pretty well, but looking back on it I was hilariously, quietly, unknowingly, losing my marbles. I figured I was really taking things in stride because I wasn’t making a big deal of the stress reaction. Sure, I couldn’t run for 4-6 weeks, but I could swim and bike and I wasn’t training for anything so really it wasn’t a big deal. People would ask me what was new, and I wouldn’t even tell them about the stress reaction. I mean, when a triathlete doesn’t talk about an injury you know that shit has gotten weird.

So, I can’t run. I am just working out aimlessly, with no goals and no plan and no purpose. Fall is crazy, crazy quiet when you’re a triathlon coach because most of your athletes are in their off-season, so I don’t have much work to do. And since I don’t have a lot of work, and don’t have to be feeling good to tackle some tough workout the next day, I am consuming a glass (or two or three) of wine every night. But if I average out the whole year including my big training weeks where I didn’t drink at all, it’s really totally fine.

Fat, Drunk, and Out of Shape is No Way to Go Through Life.

Clearly it’s time to pull it together: I find a plan on TrainerRoad and start burying myself in some sweet spot bike workouts. I hatch plans for multiple projects: I’m going to write a blog! (Evidence of this effort is obvious.) I’m going to finally organize all my coaching systems and notes into a Filemaker database! (That’s what happens when you were once a management consultant.) I’m at least keeping myself occupied … but something’s still off.

It took me another week to put my finger on it, but then it hit me: I am filling my weeks with coffees and lunches and have absolutely nothing to say during any of them. I don’t even know who I am when I’m not training for something.

Does that statement make me sound totally unhinged? Or at least massively addicted to training? Sure, I’ll own that. But batshit crazy or not, this is where I am. So my off-season now has an official expiration date of Oct 31st. It’s time to pick an Ironman for 2018 and start setting some goals for next year. And then maybe I’ll start to feel normal again.

Dave Scott’s Perfect IRONMAN World Championship Taper

From TrainingPeaks

By Dave Scott

Over the years I’ve seen many athletes not achieve their full potential in races because they failed to execute a proper IRONMAN taper.

I’ve witnessed triathletes who have not backed off enough and were tired and flat at the event; I’ve also seen those who have dialed back their training far too much, and dulled the fitness that they had taken months to hone.

Follow my prescription as we countdown to race day in Kona, and you’ll arrive at the starting line with that perfect mix of expansive aerobic capability and sharp, high-intensity output that will propel you to an optimal performance.

While this is written with the IRONMAN World Championship in mind, it will work for any IRONMAN you may be racing. Tapering is an art form, so above all else, listen to your own body.

22 Days to 10 Days Before The Race

1. Maintain your schedule. Maintain the same number of training days per week and follow your typical schedule. If you normally run on Tuesdays, then continue to do it! Don’t alter things.

2. Long training days. Your training is nearly complete, and so you should resist “cramming in” your final long workouts too close to the event. If you’re planning a long run, schedule your last one 18 to 22 days before the race. Your last long bike should take place 14 to 21 days from race day. Your long swim: Nine to 10 days prior.

3. Maintain “race-like intensity,” but reduce the segment length of repeats. There is a great physiological return on reducing your sub-threshold and threshold training to between 90 second to 3.5 minutes per repeat.

These shorter segments—even with complete recovery—will not leave you whipped after the workout. By resisting the temptation to lengthen the repeats, you’ll maintain the adaptive stress of the session and enhance your day-to-day recovery.

An example set is: 3 x 3.5 min + 3 x 90 sec + 3 x 2.5 min + 3 x 90 sec. The rest interval between repeats should be long enough to maintain the desired intensity throughout the workout.

4. Notice improved performance. One characteristic of a proper taper is that you’ll begin to feel a bit fresher during and after the workouts, while experiencing a 2 percent to 5 percent increase in performance (either by comparing tangible measurements or Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)).

For example, all of your training sessions might feel easier with a concurrent increase in speed, watts or simultaneous reduction in heart rate.

Simply, you should begin to feel like you’re flowing at less effort. This sensation is a positive affirmation that your training has been effective and you’re on track for a good race.

Additionally, niggling stiffness or sore spots should subside. Acute soreness means you need to rest more or consider a combination of modalities to expedite the recovery (see #8 below).

5. Reduce overall training time. A reduction in total training time should start during this taper block. Looking at weekly training volumes, my suggestion is not to reduce the volumes by a fixed percentage.

The problem with this math is that the athletes who train 11 to 14 hours per week (i.e. most age-group athletes with full-time jobs and families) cannot compare themselves with those training 30-35 hours weekly (i.e. professional athletes and elite age group athletes).

The following are my percentage reductions based on your hours per week:

  • For those logging 11 to 14 hours per week, reduce your volume by about 15 percent.
  • If you’re typically training 15 to 22 hours, bring the volume down by 20 percent.
  • If you’re at 23 to 30 hours, then reduce that by 25 percent.
  • If you’re training more than 30 hours, then reduce that by 30 percent.

These percentage reductions should be reflected in all disciplines, and particularly in your run workouts. The eccentric load of the run slows the recovery process. Also be sure to look at your personal strengths and weaknesses and reduce accordingly.

6. Maintain your mobility, stretching and strength training. Eliminate the heavy lifts or explosive plyometrics, and reduce the weight and number of reps, but maintain your typical routine.

Take the exercises to fatigue but never to failure. If you’re on a minimal strength program, continue at least twice per week emphasizing core, gluteal, rotator and back strength, plus maintain joint mobility with foam rolling and stretching.

7. Watch your weight. Your goal is to neither gain weight nor hit your optimum race weight during this time block.

Eat nutrient-dense foods with healthy fats and protein at all meals. Cut back on simple carbohydrates.

Don’t alter your macronutrient balance. This is not the time to adjust your diet strategy! If you’re madly driven to lose weight during the final 10 days, then keep this weight loss to no more 0.5 percent of your body weight.

8. Continue your bodywork. Maintain treatments with your physical therapist, massage therapist, acupuncturist or yoga routines. These are all good, but don’t try something new during this period!

Nine Days and Counting to Race Day….

Click here to read the rest of the article, including final taper and race day nerves strategy

IRONMAN Boulder – Up Your Game Train-cation camps great option for out-of-towners

From Boulder, CO Visitors Bureau

Swim, Bike, Run…Eat, Shop, Fun!

Follow the footsteps of the legends to the doorstep of the Rockies.

Pack your bags and head to Boulder and find out why the top endurance sport pros and aspiring (and inspiring) age groupers make this their home turf for year-round run, bike and triathlon training. Are your ready to Up Your Game? Select your 1 to 3-day world-class training and lodging package, starting at $793, and get ready to dig deep!

Now it’s your turn to be a local, as you immerse yourself in the one-of-a-kind Boulder active lifestyle for a memorable training vacation. Treat yourself to world-class training and education facilities, mystical trails, endless road climbs, the foodiest dining, and an amazing selection of shops featuring the very latest lust-worthy gear…all in one magical place known affectionately as the Mecca for endurance sport athletes.

Commit to achieving your very best at your next big race, and come make Boulder your pre-season training destination. Treat yourself to an incredible selection of indoor/outdoor training and educational opportunities over the surprisingly sunny winter and spring months. Planning to race this season in Boulder? Whether your goal is IRONMAN Boulder, Boulder Peak or BolderBOULDER, come to town a few months early to dial in your training and altitude acclimatization, while scoring a sweet dress-rehearsal opportunity on course. Either way, you’ll head home full of fitness and confidence…ready for a bunch of PR’s and the break-through season you deserve.

Be sure to check out 303Triathlon’s Ironman Boulder Resource Page