In just 50 minutes you’ll learn techniques for specific skills:
++Get Your Mind Right—planning for a great swim
++Breathe easy—key insights from physiology for comfort in the water
++The Warm up—how to have a great start and finish
++Wee (and not so wee) Besties—what is in that water anyway, and how to regard the marine life
++Feet and Elbows—overcoming getting touched by other swimmers
Don’t just endure the swim—learn to love it.
Presenter Will Murray is our Team’s mental skills coach, a USA Triathlon certified coach, and co-author of The Four Pillars of Triathlon: Vital Mental Skills for Endurance Athletes.
Written by Colorado triathlon coaches Will Murray and Craig Howie, The Four Pillars of Triathlon features 26 specific, step-by-step techniques for mental conditioning to enhance your triathlon performance and enjoyment.
The Four Pillars include Imagination, Motivation, Discipline, and Recovery. All important facets to create optimal emotional states on demand, end limiting behaviors, and enhance your ability to recover from workouts and setbacks. Basically training the one thing that is a neglected weapon in every athlete’s arsenal – their minds.
According to Murray and Howie, “Succeeding at and enjoying triathlon takes four things: the imagination to picture your desires. The motivation to pursue them. The discipline to stick to it. And recovery, to make the most of your training efforts.”
Now is a great time to start the New Year and new racing season with another valuable tool in your shed – The Four Pillars of Triathlon!
Not sure what to get your favorite triathlete for the holidays? The staff and ambassadors at 303 have picked out their favorites, and hopefully these goodies will make it under the tree or the stocking of a lucky recipient!
Make sure you check out 303Triathlon.com in the days to come for product reviews on these amazing items!
Stryd Power Meter
If you are looking to stir up some excitement for your tech-lover- athlete this holiday season, Stryd is more powerful than mistletoe.
Footbeat: A New Way to Recover
Meet Footbeat: a pair of moccasins that house an insole that houses a little engine-driven bubble, which compresses your arch which then increases circulation and therefore removes metabolic waste – including lactate, which is also known as: the reason your legs feel like crap. Tiny little engine, big freakin’ deal..
End all your bike commuting woes with the OTTOLock. Their patent-pending multi-layered steel and Kevlar® band design will keep your ride secured and safe from potential bike thieves.
The Modular Gym Bag
Coined as “The Last Gym Bag You’ll Ever Buy”, The Modular Gym & Tri Bagfeatures 2 zippered storage bags that Velcro to the inside of the bag for easy organization. From using super tough ballistic-grade nylon as the bag material, the clever use of removable storage bags for easy organization, to having the shoe compartment convert into a changing mat, they really have made this the last gym bag you’ll need purchase.
The LumaGlo Crossbelt is the next generation of wearable safety gear. Its multi-colored, moving patterns hold the ultimate attention-grabbing power in even the heaviest traffic and most inclement weather conditions.
The Four Pillars of Triathlon
Written by Colorado Triathlon Coaches Will Murray and Craig Howie, The Four Pillars of Triathlon is a new book that features 26 specific, step-by-step techniques for mental conditioning to enhance your triathlon performance and enjoyment.
Ravemen CR900 Front Light and TR20 Rear Light
One light – every possible scenario covered. Need a daytime running light for really, really long rides on country roads? Check. Need a super bright flood light for nighttime bike commuting? Check. Need to change the brightness of your light on the fly as the sun rises? CHECK!
Triathletes invest in their sport time, effort, emotion, and funds. You invest in running and cycling shoes, a bike, swim goggles and a wetsuit for starters. Then you may shell out for a Garmin device, a lactic threshold test and a blood test to check for micronutrients and balanced physiology.
Some athletes believe that their absolutely most important investment is in a smart, competent, experienced and supportive coach, who writes your training plan, provides race advice, works through your emerging issues, keeps you injury-free and has your back.
Sometimes, as an athlete, you might have doubts whether if it’s worth all this investment. Or, more truly, have doubts that you are worth the investment. This doubt can be temporary. You have one disappointing track session, but the next day your tempo run goes fine, and the doubt shrinks in the rearview mirror. But sometimes these doubts are more deep and stubborn.
Masters swimming: “Oh, I don’t swim well enough to take up lane space from the real swimmers.” Group runs: “Oh, they don’t want somebody like me slowing things down.” Group rides: “What if I get dropped?” A coach: “A coach, for me? I’m nobody. I’m not the kind of person who deserves a coach. I’m not good enough.”
If any of these prickly little phrases sounds familiar, don’t fret. There are answers.
The technique below requires work. You actually must do the steps, as though you were with your coach and she is expecting you to carry out the instructions. When you are doing a swim workout, you actually must swim and not just read about swimming—you follow the coach’s direction. To get ready to do the next steps, round up a pencil and paper (not optional). Take your time. I’ll wait until you are ready. Now? Okay, let’s go.
Step 1. Articulate your goals and reasons for doing triathlon.
You may be striving for a healthy lifestyle and general fitness. If you have aspirations beyond this, such as finishing a longer distance race, achieving a personal record or qualifying for a championship race, having a clear, written goal statement is indispensable. You already know the trick—write your goal statement (e.g. qualify for USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals) on a piece of paper and stick it to your refrigerator or your bathroom mirror.
Step 2. Ask yourself, in the privacy of your own mind, “Am I worthy enough to pursue that goal?”
Notice carefully any response you get. If no response, wait a few moments, then ask, quietly, the question again.
Step 3. Notice whose voice is answering the question.
Carefully listen, not so much to the answer, but to the voice providing the response. Is it your voice? Or someone else’s voice? Or a blend, a small chorus of different voices? Notice carefully who does this sound like? When you have a clear sense of who is answering your question go to the next step.
Step 4a. If the voice is someone else’s ask, “What is your positive intention for me?”
Wait for a response. If the response makes sense to you, great. If not, ask, “What is important about that?” Wait for an answer. Keep asking this same question, “What is important about that?” until you get an answer that makes sense to you. Thank the voice each time you get a response. Go to Step 6.
Step 4b. If the responding voice is your voice ask “What is your positive intention for me?”
Wait for a response. If the response makes sense to you, great. If not, ask, “What is important about that?” Wait for an answer. Keep asking this same question, “What is important about that?” until you get an answer that makes sense to you. Thank the voice each time you get a response.
Step 5. Ask the responding voice, “How old are you?” and notice the response.
If the responding voice is younger than your present chronological age, ask this (exactly as stated here): “Without giving anything up, and while keeping everything you have, would you like to gain all the experience and wisdom available to you to advance to [your current age] or beyond?” If the response is positive, allow the part to grow up to your current age and ask it to tell you when it is done.
Step 6. Imagine your next big event.
This could be a key workout session, a race, or even that masters swim that you have been putting off. See yourself, over there, performing exactly as you wish you would. Start a color movie at the beginning and run it to the end of this event. Make this image run perfectly, as you are the director and you can have the image run exactly to your desires.
If the image runs well, run it again in fast motion so that it takes five or ten seconds total.
Step 7. Return to the responding voice in Step 4 and ask, “Do you have any objection to having the image run that way?”
If there are no objections, your work is finished. If you receive objections, repeat Step 4.
The way you make progress toward your goals is to stretch and pursue improvements. The way you pursue is to recognize the worth in the pursuit, and the worth in you. The way you do that is to act as if you are worth it, that you truly do deserve it, and then go do what a deserving person would do.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Who am I not?’” Marianne Williamson
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:
Set up a bike trainer and your T2 transition area.
Hop on your bike, yes with your helmet and sunglasses and cycling shoes, ride for two minutes.
Do your transition — changing helmet for ball cap, changing shoes and putting on race belt. Then run 400 meters.
Capture your time for the transition, from the instant you stop pedaling to your first step.
Repeat six to eight transitions until you get your transition time down to less than 10 seconds.
For T1, your swim-to-bike transition:
When you do open water swims, practice running out of the water for 100 meters, then jog back to the water.
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.
If you can run out of the pool without incurring the (unwanted) attention of the lifeguard, give this a try.
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.
Write out your race plan. On paper (or electrons). Include your pacing plan and your fueling and hydration schedule.
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.
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.
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.
Held at the University of Colorado and co-sponsored by USA Cycling and USA Triathlon, this 3-day event focused on the business and science of coaching endurance athletes. Keynote speakers included six-time Ironman champion Dave Scott, USAT running coach Bobby McGee and Dirk Friel from TrainingPeaks.
Participants had the opportunity to listen to talks in sports physiology and coaching business. In this year’s format (2016 was the inaugural summit) there were 20-minute business roundtables, where coaches could break into small groups to hear quick presentations on business law, running a multi-coach business, enhancing your social media presence and using TrainingPeaks’ coach referral program.
Networking opportunities were built into the design throughout. Roka hosted a swim workout and Dave Scott a run workout, both on Friday morning before sessions began. Retul hosted a pre-conference networking session at their new facility on Airport Road in Boulder.
Coach Raeleigh Harris said, “The summit showcased the best coaching methodology, technology and leadership available to us today, all in one location. Total immersion into this setting was invaluable moving forward in development of Coaching services and supporting platforms.”
Emceed by Barry Siff, President of USA Triathlon, this even earned coaches 12 CEUs. Training Peaks plans to bring this event back to Boulder in 2018.
Fear of swimming in open water? Nope. Fear of falling off your bike? Not that either. Fear of serious injury? Not even. Let’s face it. Most of us are more afraid of embarrassing ourselves, of looking stupid or clueless, than anything else. Never fear. There are ways to avoid all that in your first triathlon.
There are some tricks to having a fun and fulfilling, and yes, smooth and even elegant first triathlon. How do I set up my transition area? What’s this bodymarking all about? What time should I get there? Where do I exit the transition area with my bike and where do I bring it back in before the run leg starts?
If you are a runner or cyclist or swimmer and have never done a race with all this other stuff in it, how do you figure out the flow of the day, what to bring, where to put it and how to manage all this? Fortunately, there are ways to learn how before your first race.
Volunteer at a couple of races before you race your first one. You can learn a lot by volunteering. Volunteer for bodymarking to see how athletes arrive and get set up. Volunteer also for the transition area. Study how athletes lay out their gear. Walk through transition to experience how the athletes come into transition from the swim, how they exit with the bike, return with the bike, and leave transition on their run. Notice how athletes find their location in the transition area when they come in from the swim and bike. This is a key skill. If you’re in the transition area during a race, you will see a few athletes lost and bewildered as they scan the area for their gear. Learn how not to be one of them. Notice also how much camaraderie there is in the race. Everybody is cheering for everybody. Spectators and volunteers are cheering the athletes. Athletes are cheering the volunteers. Athletes are cheering each other. Triathlon might be the most positive, encouraging and friendly sport on the planet.
Attend a local triathlon club meeting. Many triathlon clubs have occasional evening events, group rides and runs and swim workouts. Try one. Show up, introduce yourself, explain that you are thinking about or signed up for your first triathlon, and then receive the love. Lots of folks will get you connected by introducing you around, inviting you to join them for workouts and open right up to get you what you need. Everybody remembers when they were first starting out and has empathy and advice. USA Triathlon has a club listing that will help you find your tribe.
Practice your newfound skills. A few weeks before your first race, do some transition practice. Set up your bike on a trainer and practice riding, jumping off, removing your helmet (yes, wear your helmet and sunglasses on the stationary bike), getting out of your bike shoes and into your running shoes and running a quarter mile. Do five or six repetitions until you can get off the bike and into your run in less than 15 seconds. Also, set up a situation where you can exit the water (pool or open water) and get on to your bike, and do five or more repeats to get smooth and quick. This will help you get used to the feeling of running out of the water, as the sudden shift from wet and prone to upright and running is not something you experience in everyday life. Triathletes talk about brick workouts, when you go straight from the swim to the bike, or straight from the bike to the run, simulating race day. Do some. Imagine now trying to figure out all this for the first time in your life on race day. Give yourself a break and come to the race prepared to transition.
You have a lot to do in your first triathlon. Fortunately, you can gain valuable experience by finding some other local triathletes who can help and encourage you, by practicing transition skills and by volunteering for a couple of races. You will get a good feel for the sport, meet some wonderful and helpful people, have a good sense of what to do on race day, and get ready for one of the most wonderful events in your life.