Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Focus on the work, not on how you feel

My 2018 mantra has been "Focus on the work, not on how you feel".

For where I am, I can't think of a better mantra,

Because Liz is killing me.

As you know, I don't say that lightly. 

I am training for a 70.3 at the beginning of April.

When I was putting together my plan for 2018, I told Liz that I could do a 70.3 in X time. I broke it down.

Silly me.

I told her: 

I can swim in X time (with transitions with or without a wetsuit).

BBS says I can ride in X. (BBS accurately predicts my times within seconds).

I can run a half marathon in X. I haven't done it yet (off the bike), but I KNOW I CAN.

And well, Liz apparently took me seriously. 

Here I am, 13 weeks out from my 70.3. I am doing more work right now than I have in my peak weeks in the past.

I asked her, "Hey. What's the end game here"?

She told me that she doesn't think of training as a weekly volume. 

Basically, she thinks in terms of what the athlete needs.

This year is our 5th year together. Last year, I showed that I could recover from hard work and an intense schedule. 

I believe that's a big factor in setting up my schedule.

Coming from a short course background, it would seem like I should be intimidated by all this.  But, I'm not. For the first time ever, I'm not intimidated. I believe in myself to do the work

I'm excited to see what I can do. 

What I have found is that everything I am doing is all mental. She has me doing sprint intervals at the end of long runs. 

Can you hold the pace, Tea? Can you?

Focus on the work. Not on how you feel.

At masters, I had two back to back days of tough workouts. 

60x50's one day.
30 x 50's and 40 x 25's the next day. I knew it would be hard to hold my paces during the 25's, but I didn't give up. I gave everything I could; even though it wasn't very much.

Focus on the work. Not on how you feel.

I am constantly asking myself, "What do I have to do to make this happen"?  Sometimes, that means taking a longer rest to gather myself. Sometimes that means failing an interval or a workout.

Workouts aren't meant to be perfect. Workouts are meant to test you. We need to use our workouts to learn. We are meant to figure out how to overcome challenges; how to overcome negativity; how to overcome when we are tired.....

Do you know how many years it has taken me to get to this point? 

Yesterday, I had a long run that didn't go super well. I wrote up my notes. I told Liz what I did, what went wrong. I most certainly didn't beat myself up. Liz and I went back and forth for a bit, and she said, "You know what you have to do".

Yes. Yes. I do.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The growth game

You might remember that in Oct I mentioned I will be going in a completely different direction in 2018.

I figured that since I haven't written in a month, that maybe it's time for an update.

My off season was Oct.

In November, Team Multisport Mastery did a swim challenge. It was open to everyone, and it was a lot of fun.....for as much as I could participate. I was under strict instructions from Liz about not pushing my swim distances, not doing too much, etc. etc. etc. Not that I'm complaining. Nov is a really busy month for me with work. Getting to the pool can be very tough in Nov.

Since I'm heading into THE GREAT UNKNOWN.....if she tells me to do something, I just do it. Liz and I have been working together for 4 years now. She is an amazing Coach. I have a huge level of trust with her.

November became a transition month as my training volume started increasing, and I started putting more and more time into the bike. (Of course, I also had those incredible run breakthroughs happening).

More bike volume? Yes, please and thank you.

(I do realize that so far, this post is very scattered).

Throughout the month, I was thinking about my upcoming year. Once again, I sat down and started thinking through how I was going to accomplish my goals for the year.

I sort of drew up a skeleton plan and sent it off to Liz. I was hoping she could fill in the blanks for me.

In the second half of my 2017 season, Liz told me to stop thinking about my swimming and start putting my energy into the bike/run. Now, if you're a triathlete you might be able to understand this. Her advice was about perspective.

I had seen myself as a strong swimmer/cyclist for a long time. She was telling me it was time to change my perspective into being a cyclist/runner.

Does it really matter if you are first out of the water if you fade throughout the race?

Of course, I went kicking and screaming into this new approach. But then, over the next few races, I realized that my run speeds starting improving. All of a sudden, I was getting run PRs at races.

Back to my skeleton plan. My first race of 2018 is not far off. I mean, it's right at the beginning of Spring.

We talked through the areas that I see as a concern. We talked about how I can approach my race. These are things that I need to know, so I can start addressing them.

Continue working on being a cyclist/runner.

She told me that in her experience the most successful age group running happens when the athlete has a 3.5% w/kg on the bike. (Specifically for my A race distance next year). GOLD. PURE GOLD. At least there's ONE thing I don't have to think about.

We talked about what that (being strong on the bike) meant for my running. How I pace it.....the importance of fueling and the importance of bike pacing....and really everything that goes into running well off the bike.

So, in November, I rode a lot. In Dec, I'll be riding more. I swam a bit. I ran a bit.

And I planned a lot. I'm finding mental "cues" to help me when I am tired. I'm finding new untapped levels of strength as Liz is really pushing me on the bike with some back to back days of big watt bike workouts.

I dropped out of society, figuratively. A long time ago (early in 2017), I stopped posting my workouts on Strava.

Why? I get tired of people's opinions of my workouts. Good or bad. I've never been a fan of empty compliments. I've found that social media is just a mechanism for people to stroke ego's. I'm not that person. I have a healthy dose of confidence, and I'm not interested in the opinions of those I don't even know.

I know they are just trying to be nice.

I don't want nice.

I want people in my life who are willing to support my efforts, push me & give me the feedback that I need to hear.

I was reminded of this....

There is a strong appeal to putting in the work without anyone knowing what I'm doing.

In November, I worked hard in silence.....

In 2018, Liz and I will be working on a goal, that I came up with years ago....a goal so big that I couldn't reach it until I grew into the person who could.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


The first time I do something I've never done before, it's a fluke. One off.

The second time I do the same thing

The third time I do something

When I repeat the same behavior, under fatigue....

Back in May or June, Liz and I were talking about run cadence. To put this in perspective, I was a plodder. My cadence would average about 160. The goal cadence is 180.

I knew how important it was. I was frustrated beyond belief. I didn't want to talk about it anymore. There were NO drills that could help me.

One day, Liz asked me exactly what the issue was.

I told her, "I'm unable to do it. I don't mean I have a mental block. I mean, I am physically unable to hold a fast cadence for more than a few seconds."

I thought she was going to tell me that I just wasn't working hard enough.

Instead, she said to me, "I think you have weakened muscles. That's why you can't do it. You've done nothing wrong. It's the result of having babies. Once those muscles are stretched out, they don't go back on their own. Other muscles become overactive to make up for the loss. We have to work on those muscles to get them to engage again. Most women don't".

She gave my a list of exercises to do 3-4 times a week.

I knew she was on to something when I couldn't even do several of the exercises.

During this same time, I had been working with my massage therapist. He had been working with me on running posture & working out some ridiculously tight areas. He gave me a list of stretches to do...with instructions to do them every day....just do what you can for 15 minutes a day.

For months, I've done the work.

I went back to my massage therapist. "We're making progress. That's good. Don't get frustrated. This can take a long time to fix".

I religiously did my Liz exercises. I continued stretching.

Then, one day when I was running, I noticed that I no longer had soreness in my butt when I ran.

It seemed like it just happened out of nowhere.

We continued with cadence drills. Nothing was changing.

BUT, exercises that I couldn't do at the start, I was now able to do.

Exercises that I was doing before with a band, I was now doing with a stronger band.

My cadence wasn't changing but I noticed significantly less fatigue when I ran.

Then, this week happened.

Out of nowhere, I ran and held 180+ cadence, without fatigue, without even thinking about it. The previous week, I was at 160-165.

Ok. I don't know where that came from.

It happened a second time.

Then, a third time.

The true test was today. My legs are crazy sore (very fatigued). I didn't set any expectations. I didn't label myself as good or bad. I went out there and ran.

Sore and tired, and I ran with a cadence of 180+.

SIX MONTHS after first starting to really address the issue. SIX MONTHS without seeing a direct change.

Throughout the whole process, I stayed focused. There were times when I thought I'd never make any progress.

Getting good at one sport takes a really long time. It can take years to become a top 10 age group swimmer. It can take years to go from a 1.86  w/kg on the bike to 3.4%.

When you're putting 3 sports together PLUS transitions PLUS nutrition? Well, getting good at triathlon take a really long time, a really long time.

Good things come to those who work for it.

One day, you'll wake up, and you won't even recognize yourself anymore.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Gettin' cut, gettin' butt

I took the month of October off. Lemme splain what that means and what it doesn't mean.

Taking the month off from training means Coach Liz and I said our emotional good-byes (not really). For the month, I did whatever I wanted to without being analyzed; without having to hit any zones; without hitting any paces.

Liz gave me guidelines "take AT LEAST X days off from running".

You don't have to tell me twice.

And, "Don't do any exercise longer than X"


And, "HAVE FUN".


It doesn't mean sitting on my ass doing nothing. 

The first week of Oct got a little crazy. I was on vacation. Since my race was 9/30, immediately after Mr. Tea and I went into FULL ON CRAZY MODE.

We ate dessert at every meal and sometimes FOR a meal. I knew we sunk to a new low, when I was under the covers, in bed, eating ice cream.

THAT'S how you do time off.

When we returned from vacation, I'd had about as much sugar as I could handle. I couldn't even think about having anymore junk.

I got right back into my normal eating habits.

Then, the end of the month rolled around.

It was my birthday.

And the peoples rejoiced.

My birthday weekend started on Friday. By Sunday night, I was exhausted. I couldn't laugh any more. I couldn't eat any more food. I was done.

I was ready to start training again. I was ready to start eating right again. 

That's how I know I've gotten enough rest (physical and mental).....when I'm excited about training again.

Liz and I started up again on Nov 1st.

WELCOME TO the "GETTIN' CUT, GETTIN' BUTT" portion of my training.

Liz and I walked through the next few months of training.

I believe I'm heading into a breakthrough year in 2018.

I sat down to jot down a few goals. Then, I wrote down my plan to get there.

I decided to lean down a bit. Lose some fat. During Oct, I started hitting the weights hard. I made a couple of other changes as well. I went back to my notes from when I worked with Dina. I decided that I could switch some things up and have a big impact on my body fat.

These changes had an immediate impact on my body composition. So much so that Mr. Tea even commented on it. I noticed my clothes were fitting looser and my ROKA swimsuits (which run ridiculously small) were no longer allowing butt chub to hang out.

I hopped on the bike and did an FTP test. My test blew away all other tests and was even stronger than back in 2015 when I lost over 26lbs.

I'm heading into a really great year, I tell you.

Given that we have a looooong race early in 2018, Liz thought it was best that we don't do a single sport focus. I have goals for this race. I shared them with Liz, and she said, "very doable".

I know that just because a goal is "doable" doesn't mean it will be easy. I told her what I felt my challenges would be with the race and where I would excel. She told me a few things that I'll need to be aware of for this particular race.

We have a plan. I wrote down what paces I need to train to in order to reach my goals. There are going to be times when I know that I'm going to doubt myself, like when fatigue sets in.

Here we go again. I'll be stepping on the emotional roller coaster in about a month. Are you ready for the ride?

Because, you about to see something you ain't NEVER seen before!

My Spirit Animal

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sometimes, "giving up" IS the right answer

We live in a world where "giving up" is bad. We're supposed to be FIGHTERS and blast through any challenge/issue/problem that comes our way.

Guess what?

That's bullshit.  Sometimes, "giving up" is exactly what we need to do.

About a year ago, I read a blog. The post was supposed to be about how strong the athlete was because he fought through the urge to give up.

He has been doing triathlon for a long time, but he continues to have goals that are unrealistic for himself (today) at the age he is.

He had put so much pressure on himself to compete at the level he was back in the day, that he completely shut down his ability to hit ANY goals.

He was getting ready to give up triathlon, when he decided to do one last sprint.

He won the race.

Why? NOT because he didn't give up, but because that's precisely he did. He emotionally let go of who he used to be. He let go of those unrealistic goals. He raced in the moment for the sheer joy of racing. Without that pressure, he raced to the best of his ability for where he was right now. 

Everyone was congratulating him on his ability to fight through it. I was thinking the exact opposite. I believed that his success happened because he did in fact "give up". He gave up an unrealistic expectation of himself. People don't want to see themselves as quitters. "NEVER GIVING UP" means he's a winner, a champion. "Giving up" means he's a failure in our society.

I'm here to tell you that it's ok to give up. Sometimes, it can be the healthiest choice. It's not easy to do, and it requires a healthy dose of self-awareness.

Of course, we need to know when it is appropriate to give up.

It's ok to give up when:
1.) A goal is no longer personally important
2.) When a goal is unattainable

I'm not a psychologist. So, I went on the hunt to find out if there was any such thing as "giving up"  being a healthy option.

Lo and behold. The psychological term for this is goal disengagement.

We live in a world where we are supposed to continue working for a goal until it is achieved. But this is locking us up emotionally. We are stuck of this mode of having to reach a goal before moving on to the next.

This is creating a cycle of unhappiness-->I'm not acheiving this goal-->I'm a failure-->I'm unhappy because I'm not achieving this goal-->I'm a fighter-->I should be able to fight through this-->what's wrong with me.

There's nothing wrong with you other than the fact that the goal might no longer be important to you. It's time to let it go.

Bearing down on this goal means we are missing out on other goals or interests that we might want more. We are stuck, thinking we can't move on until we finish the initial goal.

Many times over the years, I have written that it is ok to change your goals. Changing a goal doesn't mean you are a failure. It means your life has changed or your desires have changed. A new goal is NOT a lesser goal. It is simply a different goal. In some circumstances, you need to accept that your goal is unattainable. This is probably the hardest one to get over. If you run 5ks at a 10:00 pace, you have to accept that your goal of running a sub 20 5k, is probably not attainable.

Setting goals is a different topic.There have been many articles written about the topic, by people much smarter than me.

For those of you who are new to my blog, last year, my husband Mr. Tea had a major health issue. The day he was rushed to the hospital, he was 321lbs.  Over the course of the year, he's lost 131lbs. He had a goal weight that he wanted to reach. He was never able to get there. His weight would bounce up and down over the same 10lbs.

One day, he said to me, "I'm not going to shoot for that goal anymore. I'm healthier now. I feel good at the weight I'm at. I'm just going to eat right right. Whatever my weight is, it is".

Guess what? Once he did that, he lost more weight, and his weight stabilized at a healthy point. No more up and down the same 10lbs.

Goal disengagement.

Give up to move on.

It wouldn't be right if I write this entire post if I didn't talk about what this means to me.

Sad to say, I fell into this trap. I was writing about "changing your goals is ok". Blah blah blah. I was the epitome of "do as I say not as I do".

I was in the trap but didn't even realize it.

I have been racing short course for a number of years now. I set two goals a few years back.

I wouldn't even consider Ironman until:
1.) My sons had moved out.
2.) I hit X time at the 70.3
3.) I hit X time at the oly distance.

The times that I set were not unrealistic at all. However, I had clamped down on them. I absolutely would not attempt an Ironman until I met those goals.

YET, those goals were completely arbitrary.

I made up those goals.

Time goals are the worst goals to have in triathlon. TRAIN to time goals, but the weather, the course, so many external factors come into play on race day.

There is no law or rule saying that we have to accomplish X before we move on to Y.

If I made them up, that means I can change them. I can change my mind. I can do something different.

And most importantly, I can return to those goals at a later date.

A goal deferred is not a goal defeated.

Once I realized and acknowledged that, I felt free. I was no longer under the weight of attempting and failing to meet a particular, completely arbitrary, random goal.

I wrote this post on purpose. I have decided to move in a new, exciting direction.

It's time for me to work on a new, completely different goal.

Twelve years after doing my first triathlon, I'm going to do an Ironman. 


See? It's not just me....

For the past 4 years, I have RAVED about Coach Liz. 

I do this because of what she has done for me as an athlete and person.  I don't get anything in return for it.  

I do it because I want other athletes to see what it's like to have a great coach, and (obviously) I want her business to continue to thrive.

Here are some comments from other athletes. Remember you can join the MSM FB page without being an MSM athlete. Read our stories. Get the latest in research. See our successes. Find out what it is that we all love about MSM.

If you can't be bothered, that's ok, too. Here are some comments. (More were posted after I copied the page).

Here is the post that started it all today.

Here is what followed:

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Recovery for masters athletes

This week, I turn 50.

I'm very fortunate to be one of those people who feel better at 50 than I did in my 20's and 30's. Of course, I was a baby making machine in my 20's. So, there's that.

There are two things that I have lived by:

1.) Be nice to yourself. You're the only person you'll know your entire life. Make the relationship a good one.
2.) Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live.

In one way or another, I've been an athlete and or very active (Richard Simmon's anyone?) since the early 80's.

This means I can look back and see different phases I've gone through.

Post baby body. Work travel body. Strength training body. Endurance athlete body. Speed body. Binge drinking college body.

There are probably a gazillion other things that I've forgotten.

Now, I'm at the masters athlete body stage.

Technically, we're considered masters athletes at 40. Honestly, I didn't really start feeling things until about 2 years ago. Those issues were/are directly related to peri-menopause symptoms. I've written about my symptoms many times over the years.

Even though, I'm still struggling. Those symptoms forced me to pay closer attention to my body and recovery. Because of that, I've been able to push harder.

I have a great Coach who has been wonderful at working with me through the really tough spots. I have an amazing RD to help me with my nutrition.

I, also, spend a lot of time doing my own research. And no, I don't get my "research" from popular magazines. I go digging for information.

I want to go over the things that really help me recover:

1.) SLEEP. On my list of recovery methods, this is the only one that is free. This is my priority. I will prioritize sleep over any workout. It doesn't happen very often. But there are times that I have told Liz, "I can't do this today". Because it doesn't happen often, she knows that I'm being completely honest. If you can't get through workouts because you are tired all the time, you might want to reassess your goals. Your body needs sleep to repair. Without sleep, you risk injury.

Training is hard.

2.) Nutrition/supplements: I have gone over the importance of nutrition ad naseum. I won't do it here. Instead, I will mention supplements that I take that help with recovery. One thing I would highly recommend is that you get a blood panel done to find out if you have any nutrient deficiencies.

Iron: I'm anemic. I have to take a very high does iron tablet every day. The particular supplement I'm on works for me and keeps me in the ranges I need to be.
You are likely anemic or have iron deficiency if:
1.) You are a woman.
2.) You are a peri-menopausal woman
3.) You follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
4.) You train/live at altitude.
5.) You are an endurance athlete.

Please note: You don't have to answer YES to all of those. Simply answering yes to ONE of those can mean you have iron deficiency.

Although, iron isn't part of my recovery process. It can hinder your training. (Do I even need to mention that iron deficiency is really bad for you?) I felt it was very important to mention.

L-glutamine and amino acids: My RD recommended that I take 3-5mg of L-glutamine post workout on long or intense days. I don't take L-glutamine every day unless I'm in the peak of my season because of the distances that I do. However, most people who read my blog are marathon runners, half ironman/ironman triathletes, ultra marathon runners, marathon swimmers, etc. People who do MUCH longer distances. If you are in that group consider adding L-glutamine to your post-workout regime.

Amino acids/Protein: I have a bottle of BiPro protein water first thing upon waking up. (You don't have to use BiPro. I use it because it's easy.) The body is ready to absorb nutrients at this time. Amino acids are necessary to repair and build muscles. 

We all want to be strong, right?

3.) Massage: Getting regular massages is so important. You cannot perform at your best if you have a bunch of tight soft tissue. In my off season or lighter training loads, I go once a month. In heavy training and build periods, I go twice a month.

A massage appointment will go like this. You meet with your therapist. You talk through any issues you are having. Your therapist might ask you to do certain poses or walk, etc. They will then give you an assessment of what they see right off the bat. At that point, they can give you an idea of what you'll need.

I have been going to my massage therapist for a little while. When I visit, I'll tell him where I'm hurting or have tightness or soreness, and he'll do a focused session on certain areas. If I'm not having any problems areas, we'll do a total body session with less focus.

If you have never gone to a massage session, you might not realize this. These people know their shit. After your massage, they will give you exercises and stretches to do at home to continue your work at home.

In the evenings when we are watching tv, I get out my bands and balls and start rolling and stretching. Since I do it when I would otherwise just be sitting, it's not something I feel has to be scheduled in my already busy day.

Range of motion and mobility are absolutely critical as we age. Pain is not a normal part of life. A massage therapist can work through those issues. In some cases, you might be experiencing pain that requires the help of a physical therapist. Mr. Tea is currently going to a PT in order to fix issues that were the result of accumulated neglect of his body.

4.) Equipment Besides balls, bands and rollers, there is a variety of equipment that help muscles recover.

Normatec Boots: These boots will help speed recovery by enhancing blood flow. They are not cheap. You can buy them online. You can buy them at Ironman races (and a variety of big marathons). I've found that when you buy them at a race venue, they tend to be a little cheaper. However, if you follow any pro-triathletes, like Miranda Carfrae, they will give out a coupon for a couple of hundred bucks off the system.

Put them on and chill out.

Muscle stimulation units like Compex.
A muscle stimulator sends electronic pulses to your nerve fibers in order to create involuntary muscle contractions.Muscle stimulators can help with building muscles, recovering, increasing blood flow, etc. There are a number of different programs depending on your goals. There are many different modes covering: strength building, endurance, recovery, and warm up. 

One quick note about muscle stimulation, this can cause you to be quite sore, but it's very effective.

The compex unit starts at $136 (Right now, it's on sale).

5.) For women: As you go through peri-menopause and get closer to menopause, things are going to get much much harder. Be nice to yourself. There will be days where it is hard to just get out of bed. I'm not talking about being tired. It's called adrenal fatigue and is the result of a severe hormonal drop....unlike any you will have when you are younger. There will be days when hot flashes might be absolutely debilitating. There will be nights when your sheets are soaked as if you just got out of the pool.Your period can and will be out of control. Your fueling will change as your hormones change. It's very important to have a fueling plan AND a back up plan. For no reason, out of nowhere, your body will reject something you've been using for months. Then, the next day, it will be ok.

Unfortunately even with all the tracking apps, there's no real way to predict it. I've had adrenal fatigue hit on two races this year. When it happens in training, no big deal.....cut the workout short. When it happens during a race, just go with it. Do the best you can and know that there are always other races. I've had people make critical comments about race times when I gave everything I had.

Ignore them.
We might all have different symptoms, but we are all going through it. I really believe that's why the women in the 45-49 and 50-54 age groups are some of the nicest athletes out there.

All of this sounds expensive, doesn't it? Much of what I said depends on where you are in your athletic pursuits. If you are striving for a podium, or a spot on Team USA or a qualification to a world championship, know that the age groupers that compete at that level are already doing this.

Something else to point out, recovery doesn't mean anything if you don't do the training. You won't magically qualify for Nationals by buying a ton of expensive equipment AND skipping out on those Bike/Run/Bike/Run/Bike/Run/Bike/Run workouts.

Likewise, you will not easily improve on your times without proper recovery.