A Line in the Sand

It’s early in my training season and I have been thinking about a question someone asked me a few years ago as it has come up in conversation recently. In my “real job”, an average workweek is well over 40 hours, and includes traveling 2-3 days each week. I have a family, a full career, plus I coach part time. Some days, I feel like I do not have a moment to spare. During my training for Ironman Canada back in 2015, a colleague asked me “How do you do it? How do you fit it all in?” Without any hesitation, I said… “I draw a line in the sand.”

Truth is, getting it all in is hard for me. And as a coach, I see my own athletes sometimes struggle to fit in their workouts, on top of an already busy day with their jobs and families. There are days when your mind plays games with you and tries to get you to give less than your best effort during a workout, cut it short, or to put the workout off altogether. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes life gets in the way. But I am talking about those early mornings or afternoons after a long day, when it seems impossible to wrestle your mind to the ground and do what we know we need to do to support our race goals. So what do you do? Well, here are a few things that help me on those mornings when I just want to hit the snooze!

The Promise

When I am struggling to get out the door, to the pool, or in the saddle, I am reminded of the promise I made to myself around my goals. Because after all, they are my goals. I have to own them. When I sign up for an Ironman or other big race, I make myself a promise that I will do my best to prepare for the event, and I will hold myself accountable.

The Example

In the scheme of things, I am really unimportant in the world of endurance sports. A mere mortal. But I do want to set a good example for my kids and for the athletes I coach. Reminding myself of this from time to time makes it easier for me to push through the tough spots in my training cycle. For my children (who are now adults), I want to show them you can set and achieve big goals if you are willing to put in the work – there’s never a free lunch. Whether in sport, or in life, there are no limits to what might be possible. For my athletes, I want them to know that I am out there working hard, just like I ask them to do. So when they are out there on their long run, or cycling for 5-7 hours in the heat, they know I am out there, too!

Nowhere to hide

In a separate blog entitled “Run On”, I talk about the fact that what we do, or fail to do, in our training will reveal itself on race day. So when I hesitate to get in that tough swim workout, or I don’t feel like running in the rain, I remind myself of this reality.  In this blog, I go on to say:

“We can’t hide from it.  So if we do the work in training, that investment will pay off in a positive way out on the race-course. If we give less than our very best during the training year, if we cut corners, fail to do what we know to do, then that will likely express itself in a negative way on race day.  Training is hard.  It is.  It hurts, it’s time consuming, and it takes away from those we love. But endurance doesn’t come cheap, and it will not be rushed.”

Sometimes it’s the little things that work

Finally, the little things I do can really help me stay motivated to get in that workout. It should be enough that my coach has given thought to my training schedule, and it’s clearly on my calendar to do, right? Well… not always. If I have a tough workout to get in, I first have to re-commit to it the night before (or in the morning for an afternoon workout). That sounds silly, but it works. And then I make sure to set out my workout clothes, fill my water bottles, or pack my swim bag ahead beforehand. Again, I am making a commitment by preparing for the workout ahead of time.

If all else fails, just put your feet on the floor

Sometimes it just takes putting your feet on the bedroom floor to get things started… step 1. Then put on your run shirt and shorts… step 2. Then downstairs… step 3. That gets me one step closer to the backdoor, right? And maybe I can just jog one mile and see how I feel? Before I know it, my long run has started and it really doesn’t feel that bad. Point being, on the most difficult days, just take it one small step at a time.

One thing we can all agree on is that once we get the workout finished, we never regret it. And it will often set the tone for the remainder of you day.

It’s your goal, so fight for it!

Jeff

drivemultisport.com

 

 

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How Being an Endurance Athlete Just Might Make You A Stronger Leader

I was inspired to write about this topic after reading an article in Forbes Magazine titled Why Ironmen and Ironwomen Make Great CEOs. The article really got me thinking about my own athletic life, and how it has had a positive impact on my leadership skills at work. It is said that leadership is about “moving the hearts and minds of people” to be at their best to support their company or agency mission. We are often judged as leaders not on how well we plan, but how well we deliver. Endurance sports also involve the heart, mind, and executing on the plan. There are many characteristics found in great leaders. But what does being a runner or triathlete have to do with leadership? I would say a great deal.

Without Limits

Over time the endurance athlete begins to realize there are no limits to what our bodies can accomplish and what is possible in the sport. We see this both at the amateur and professional level. As more and more sports records are broken, no speed and distance seems impossible.

The best leaders always explore what might be possible, and understand that we often set artificial limits on ourselves. Leadership is about the future, and helping others see a light in themselves that they can’t yet see.

Discovery

Discovery is the process of learning, and is different for everyone. It is necessary for positive development as an athlete. This is something I have learned from my own coach. As a coach myself, I have grown to realize that all of my athletes discover and learn at their own pace, and bring their own lens to the sport. It is my job to figure out how my athletes best learn the various concepts of the sport so they might reach peak performance.

Strong leaders develop patience with those who allow them to lead. They understand that a learning organization leads to better outcomes and professional growth of the team. In business, the “discovery” process is critical as it creates the best environment for staff to “buy-in” to the organization’s overall mission.

Planning

Runners and triathletes are master planners. Especially those competing in ultras or long course triathlon. Endurance athletes have to do a great deal of planning throughout the week, as well as looking down the road at their training and racing year. And this is often done around a full career and family life. No easy task!

Strong leaders are able to articulate a plan for the direction of the organization, and understand that “a poorly followed plan never survives its collision with reality”.

Performance Data Matters

Let’s face it, running and triathlon is a world of numbers – it is all around us. The savvy athlete knows how to sort through all of this data and decide what is needed to enhance his or her own training and race performance. The key is to only use data that adds value to reaching their athletic goals.

Great leaders know when and how to use performance data to execute on the organization’s overall objectives. Data should help us tell a story, and lead to good questions. As the saying goes, “what’s measured gets done”. But overuse, or using data in the wrong way, can lead to poor morale and only short-term goal achievement.

Managing Scarce Resources

Economy is king for the endurance athlete. When we look at Ultra Running, or Ironman especially, it’s all about the management of scarce resources. From the time you begin your first swim stroke of a 140.6, or take your first step in a 50K trail race, you have to think about conserving energy over a long period of time.

The most effective leaders see the big picture – especially during lean times. They understand that even in business, it is a marathon, not a sprint. The strongest leaders are skilled at meeting the organization’s mission by seeking out opportunities for efficiency.

Resiliency

If there is one thing the sport builds in the endurance athlete, it is resiliency. Endurance athletes frequently face obstacles both during training and on race day. “The capacity to recovery quickly from difficulties” is our motto! Since endurance athletes have greater clarity around resiliency, this can translate well in the workplace.

Smart leaders know it is easy to lead when things are going well in the organization. It’s in the difficult times when we see a separation of the strongest leaders from the rest of the pack. But just like in endurance sports, resiliency can only come through experience and having a few setbacks along your leadership path.

I have had the privilege of working with many incredible leaders during my career who were not endurance athletes. And as the article referenced in the first paragraph points out, there are many endurance athletes who fall short as leaders. But more often than not, the skills and attributes necessary to find success in running, cycling, and triathlon, can also help you be the best leader you can be. And adding that “quirky” runner or triathlete to your leadership team might just bring strength to your organization!

Fight for it,

Jeff

drivemultisport.com

Why Coaches Need a Coach…

The longer I coach runners and triathletes, the more I have come to believe in the value of having a coach. Like a lot of coaches, I have been asked the question “if you are a triathlon coach, why do you need a coach?” That is often a hard question to answer for some coaches, and I suppose not all coaches actually need a coach.  But some of the world’s top CEOs have executive or leadership coaches, right?  So why not apply this to athletic coaching in endurance sports?  Many coaches race as well, so having a coach to take care of both your athletic and coaching needs can be a great benefit.

Let’s face it, as a coach and athlete, it’s often difficult to remain objective, whether about one’s own training, or even when working with one of our athletes.  Seeking out guidance from a successful and veteran coach can be a valuable resource to you as you excel as an athlete, and grow your coaching business.

So what are some other reasons a coach might need a coach?

Mentoring and Consultation

I am a big believer in mentoring at all levels.  As the saying goes, “if we stop learning, then we stop growing”.  This applies to us as both coaches and athletes.  Having someone serve as a mentor can give you an extra edge as you refine your coaching style and practice.  Every new athlete I take on is a new opportunity to grow as a coach.  But as the sport expands and becomes more diverse in participants, distances, and types of events (ultras, double Ironmans, extreme triathlon, adventure racing, etc.), having a more experienced coach to provide mentoring and consultation will set you apart from other coaches in your area.

Writing your Schedule

Like me, many endurance coaches also actively race throughout the year.  As mentioned earlier, it can sometimes be difficult to remain objective about one’s own training and racing.  So having another coach writing your training schedule can relieve some stress and be a big help to the busy coach who also has a demanding family life and training schedule. Having someone else plan your workouts can provide some accountability and give you a fresh perspective that you might not have on your own. This is also a task that can be a shared responsibility between you and your coach.

Business Support

Supporting the business end of things can be of great value to someone new to coaching, especially during those first few years.  Making decisions about pricing, web design, social media, and what services to offer can be overwhelming in the beginning.  But even to the most experienced coach, having someone who has traveled down the same path you are on can be priceless in avoiding problems and concerns, and in advancing your business.

As busy entrepreneurs who are often trying to manage the business, as well as training and racing, having a coach can be beneficial in many ways.  From planning your training, to consultation and support, dollar for dollar, hiring a coach can definitely be an investment in both your athletic and business future.

Fight for it,

Jeff

drivemultisport.com

 

 

So you want to be an Ironman?

steps-for-deciding-your-first-ironman-12316-700x394

Each year, thousands of athletes make the decision to race their first Ironman. With credit card in hand, they register for their race, which in most instances is a year away. Once the registration is complete, then it’s time to train! Right?

To back up a bit, I offer this guidance to help you make the decision to race your first 140.6 in a more thoughtful way. Consider everything from your family, the course, to your work obligations. It’s a difficult decision, but one that can be guided with three main questions – What’s the goal? What’s your schedule? And last, what resources do you have available?

What’s your goal?

I think it is important to begin with the goal in mind. And the very first question you might want to explore is “why”? Why do you want to race this distance? Involve your spouse or significant other as you explore the “why” question. Discuss the fact that you are considering an Ironman with your friends and family – those who know you the best – and listen to their feedback.   And depending on your relationship with your boss, discuss with your employer. Look ahead over the next year and make sure you know about any major work initiatives that require your involvement. You will need your employer’s support if you decide to take the plunge!

Once you have made the decision that you will race your first Ironman, it’s time to decide on a race. Here’s where I think athletes need to do a little more planning. Do your homework, and consider both your strengths and weaknesses. If you are a weak swimmer, for example, you might want to choose a race with a more civilized time trial swim start like Ironman Louisville or Chattanooga. If you are a strong climber on the bike, then Ironman Canada or Wisconsin might be a good choice. Also consider your training environment. If you decide on Ironman Texas, which is now in April for 2017, then you will likely be doing many of your long rides in cold weather during the winter months and early spring. Not to mention, Ironman Texas always has the potential to be a warm race. And racing a course like Ironman Boulder will mean racing at altitude, so if you live closer to sea-level, that may require some planning around your training.

What about your schedule?

When we talk about schedule, we are considering things like the number of months until your goal race, and how many hours per week will you have to dedicate to training. You will need to be honest with yourself about the number of training hours required, while still finding time for family and work obligations.   Since most athletes register for their race nearly a year out, it may be hard to predict your schedule both at home and at work. But being realistic and planning your year out will be a great benefit to you come race day. Your Ironman training year would not be the best time to do house renovations or take on a major work project!

Resources means much more than money

The truth is, racing long course triathlon is expensive in more ways than one. The good news is, since you likely signed up for your race 10-12 months in advance, you will have some time to save some money, and do some planning around other resources you will need for your training year.

But when we think of resources, we also need to consider anything that might support your training year up to your race. For example, you will definitely need the support and understanding of your family and friends. And having a good training partner throughout the year is probably one of the most valuable resources you can have. Other considerations should be your training environment. This would include regular access to a pool and a safe place to ride up to 5-7 hours. And lastly, I see the flexibility of your week a critical resource, especially 10-12 weeks out from your goal race. This goes back to involving your boss when you are making the decision to race an Ironman, as gaining the support of your employer is important to having some additional flexibility in your workweek.

Tying it to all together

From the moment you register for your big race, until you cross the finish line, there are thousands of opportunities to learn and grow as an athlete. But it can also be a stressful ordeal if you don’t go in with eyes wide open. Being thoughtful as you make your decision, and planning your year out while being realistic about your schedule and resources will make the path to the finish line that much smoother.

Enjoy the journey!

Jeff

drivemultisport.com

*This post was adapted from the original article on Training Peaks, January 1, 2016.

Race Report | Lake Logan Half Iron | Rick Pruett

I have been working with Rick Pruett off and on since my first year coaching in the sport. I admire his passion and his desire to do what it takes to accomplish his goals.  Below Rick shares his thoughts on the Lake Logan Half Iron, which he raced on August 8th, as he approaches his final build for Ironman Louisville on October 11th.  Nice work Rick!

Coach Jeff

11802673_10206585540490916_1993976933043372548_oRace start time was 7:00. My swim wave started at 7:15. Arrived at transition around 6:00 and got my bike and run gear set up. My spot was about as far away from bike start/finish as you could get. That’s what I get for signing up so late. Did a walkthrough of the start/finish paths so I wouldn’t get lost looking for my bike rack space. Grabbed my wetsuit and goggles and headed over to the swim start.

I always like to warm up a little before the swim so I jogged about a half mile. Went down to the water and donned my wetsuit to get some swimming in before the start. There was a nice dock for the start and we were allowed to swim off the back side for warm up. Got in and swam around a bit. After a couple hundred yards I turned around and headed back to the dock. I’m stretching out some nice long strokes and BAM! I hit a submerged piling. An old rotted piling with it’s top about 6 inches below the surface 10 yards off the dock. I hit it with my chest scratching and bruising my peck. I was very fortunate it wasn’t about 6 inches to my left or it would have been my face that hit it. That was dangerous and should have been marked with a flag being in the area where swimmers were warming up. Swim time.

It was a reasonably crowded swim start. Plenty of bumping and shoving. Eventually found clean water and was able to stretch out and get comfortable. The swim was the best part of this venue. A beautiful mountain lake with a mist hanging on the hill sides. The course was well marked. The water temps were about 72 degrees. A beautiful morning! The swim felt good and I was able to run comfortable from swim to bike. About a quarter mile. Lets go for a bike ride. 2nd in my AG in the swim. If I hadn’t stopped as we went under the bridge to look for Vicki, I might not have lost the 52 seconds between 1st and 2nd. Oh well, Gotta wave to the sherpa.

T1 was a little slower than I wanted, but got out without too much dilly dallying. It was a long run to the mount line, but mostly grassy area. Ran all the way. I started out slow because I had seen some of these hills and knew it was going to be tough. After the first hills we took a turn and the road flattened out some. Having not drove the course, I wasn’t expecting this nice long rolling section. At this point I think I made my first mistake by pushing harder than I should have so early in the race. Miles 5-15 had my highest average power output….too early in the race for that. The course was enjoyable if not a bit scary. What goes up must come down and coming down some of those hills was scary. There were times I was praying my brakes didn’t fail. I’ve never used my brakes so much in a race. I didn’t set a speed PR, but these downhills were curvy. I’d heard there was a serious hill at about mile 41. That’s the toughest climb I’ve ever done. Two people that passed me early on the hill were passed later on that hill while walking there bikes. I wasn’t spinning, only because I didn’t have a low enough gear, but I did manage to remain seated. The downhill on the other side was great. The rest of the ride was only slightly uphill except for one last short climb near the finish. It was those last 10 miles that I regretted miles 5-15. I could tell at that point that I’d pushed too hard. Still, I was able to run my bike the quarter mile to my rack. Lets go run.

I transitioned quickly and headed out. The first half mile was flat, but then, it was 3 miles uphill. Then 3 miles down hill, repeat. The second time up the hill was tough. It’s here that I lost second place I think. If I could have pushed a bit harder, I could have made up the 2 minutes between 2nd and 3rd. Oh well, at least the last 3 miles was downhill. Pushed hard the last half mile to finish strong. Legs and feet were hurting at that point and I actually slowed down a little because I thought I might be injuring something (Achilles area and bottom of foot). I survived with no injuries except a bruised, scratched up peck and some sore muscles.

Nutrition/Hydration
This was the first race I’ve used UCAN instead of Perpetuem. I took my first dose at about 6:15 and then took a dose every hour after. A “dose” is 80 calories. I had mixed a bottle with 5 doses for the bike so I would get about 100 calories each hour. It was difficult to “eat” on schedule the way the course was laid out between hills curves and turns so I missed getting all my calories in and probably only averaged about 80 calories an hour. That probably contributed to my slowing down on the bike the last 10 miles. I took in my last nutrition and significant hydration at mile 50. Only a few sips of water between there and bike finish. Based on weather reports, I had dialed back my planned sodium intake to about 400mg per hour. After starting the run, and not drinking all my nutrition, which had my sodium in it, I decided to take the Endurolytes offered at the aid stations. That added an extra 240 mg per hour. I drank water frequently, but tried not to take in too much. I had no issues with bloating or anything else so I’m overall satisfied with the nutrition and hydration on this race. Well, except for probably not getting in enough calories on the bike.

This was a tough race. Hills are my worst area of performance so given all the hills on this course, I’m very happy satisfied with the results. Next stop, Louisville. I’d better slow down and find some endurance between now and then. Jeff Galloway, where are you????

From Coach Bob- Be Safe Out There….

From Coach Bob: Be Safe Out There…..

As an active triathlete and also now an Associate Coach with Drive Multisport, safety is something I’ve always been very passionate about since starting my triathlon journey over four years ago. Obviously, there are inherent dangers in triathlon, and I like to do everything possible to minimize them for myself, as well as for those I’m fortunate enough to help in this great sport. Given this passion, I have decided to share my experiences with the safety related equipment I use and am constantly trying out, in the hope that it might benefit others in the sport as they decide what’s best for them given the myriad of choices. First, a couple of disclaimers. I have no financial interest in any of the products I review, this is gear I’m trying for my own personal use, and I’ll share my findings. They are strictly my personal opinions and do not represent Drive Multisport or the USAT. Second, I am a naturally cautious person where my physical well-being is
concerned, and if there’s a product that will help me mitigate risk as I perceive it, thenimage1 I’m inclined to use it. I won’t go as far as saying I wear a belt with suspenders, but I

definitely have a “risk mitigation” approach in this sport, and I tend to buy more expensive gear if it has better safety features. And my personal experience has shown me this sport can be unpredictable, after suffering a bike crash at Charleston 70.3 in 2013 which kept me out for several months. So, with that as the backdrop, let’s get on with my first review, the Cycliq Fly 6!  https://cycliq.com/product/fly6

I recently purchased the Cycliq Fly6 Rear Light with integrated HD Camera. I was intrigued with the ability of capturing what was happening behind me during long training rides, where cyclists face the possibility of having either a close call with a vehicle, or something much worse. Although a rear facing camera isn’t going to prevent a careless driver from doing something dangerous, it can provide video and audio evidence of that behavior should something bad happen.   In States such as Georgia where vehicles are not required to have license plates on the front, positively identifying a vehicle from the front is problematic, but this system does provide clear video of the vehicles behind you, and as they approach to pass. The audio is also very good. Cycliq also carries a front facing LED light with integrated HD Camera, the Fly12, which would provide the capability of capturing the rear license plate as vehicles pass.

image2My Fly 6 arrived on Friday, and I took it out for a 60 mile test ride on Saturday with some friends. It’s listed for $169 on the Cycliq web site, but I was able to find it on Amazon for $150. The unit performed as advertised, and was simple to install and operate. I am not the most technically gifted person, so if I can do it, so can you. I did have a problem where one of my home computers didn’t recognize the system via the USB connection, but another computer was able to recognize it without any issues. The Cycliq Support Page cited this as an issue possibly relating to Windows settings. The unit comes with an integrated Micro SD card which you can then use with your computer to download the video files. The unit is capable of recording for up to 6 hours, depending on the light setting selected.

To view your video, you need to download the VLC Media Player (www.videolan.org). However, if you want to edit your footage and create videos, you’ll need VideoLAN software (the Home version is $39.95) (www.nchsoftware.com/videopad/index.html). You can also convert your footage to other video formats using a free Smart Converter (www.shedworx.com/smartconverter).

Using the VideoPad software, I was able to easily create a short (less than 3 minute) video highlighting different segments of the ride, and if you view it you can get a sense of the video and audio quality. (Flash Player is required.)  You can view my video here.

I hope you found this helpful as you consider your own triathlon safety strategies. Be safe out there on the road and happy cycling!  Stay tuned for additional updates on other safety gear! — Coach Bob

drivemultisport.com

“Run On”

166189_172223899481613_6134046_nWhen I think of training for an Ironman, I often think of the Johnny Cash song “Run On” (also known as “God’s Gonna Cut you Down”) and the lyrics: “But as sure as God made black and white, what’s done in the dark will be brought to the light”.

It’s funny how this single line reminds me that what we do, or fail to do, in training to support our Ironman goals will express itself one way or another out on the race course. We can’t hide from it.  So if we do the work in training, that investment will pay off in a positive way out on the race course. If we give less than our very best during the training year, if we cut corners, fail to do what we know to do, then that will likely express itself in a negative way on race day.  Training is hard.  It is.  It hurts, it’s time consuming,  and it takes away from those we love.  But endurance doesn’t come cheap, and it will not be rushed.

This article from Endurance Corner focuses on first time Ironman athletes, but I found the information very helpful for all endurance athletes. And the sentence below stood out and reminded me that no matter how many Iron distance races I do, I have to put in the work. I have to follow the plan and be open to the guidance of my own coach, and I must be willing to continue to push the boundaries of my physical and mental limitations.

“Make no mistake, the Ironman offers no mercy for those who have tread those roads before. She is and will always be a distance that demands the utmost respect, to finish an Ironman on any day is a significant accomplishment, one which is often forgotten by the experienced IMer until they experience the joy of crossing that line one more time”.

Be safe out there!

Jeff

drivemultisport.com