Thursday, April 11, 2013

Race-day strategies

For those who are new to running a race, having a race-day strategy might seem like something foreign. Some people get discouraged after they race because they didn't reach the goal time they had intended. Others find they made an adjustment on race day that caused them to have poor performance or finish the race in the medical tent. Below are some race-day strategies to consider:

·        Don’t do something new: Never EVER do something on race day that you haven’t tested in your training. This includes what you eat/drink the night before the race, the morning of the race, and during the race; what you wear; and how you warm up.
·        Warm up appropriately: Recall what you did during your training to warm up. Don’t let the excitement of race day stop you from getting an appropriate warm up. It may take a while for your body to get going and you want to make sure you are prepared to go when the race begins.
·        Position yourself in the pack appropriately: Larger races typically have pace seeding at the start line. However, many local and/or smaller races don’t necessarily have this and it may take a little planning on your part to determine where you should be at the start line. If you run a 12:00 mile then you don’t want to be at the front of the start line. Alternatively, if you run a 6:00 mile, you don’t want to be in the back of the pack. Not positioning yourself at least somewhat in a reasonable area for your pace could cause you to miss your time goal.
·        Pacing: Ultimately, you want to keep a steady pace throughout your race. However, many people choose to race a negative split: running a little slower at the beginning of the race and then picking up the pace toward the end. Only race this way if you have planned to do so and have found it to be a successful strategy during training.
·        Don’t overdress: A good rule of thumb is to dress as if the weather is 15 degrees warmer than it is. If it’s cold outside, wearing additional “give away” clothes can be worn at the start line.
·        Pick up your race packet early: If you are able to pick up your packet before race day then do so. This will give you one less thing to worry about the day of the race.
·        Race Bib: Pin your race bib to the front of your shirt. This allows race officials and photographers to know you are part of the race. Alternatively, you can attach your bib to a race belt but still keep the number showing in the front.
·        Get to the race early: Many runners get to the race venue about 45 minutes – one hour early depending on the size of the race. You’ll want to give yourself enough time for a warm up, going to the bathroom (lines can get LONG!), picking up your packet (if you haven’t already) and pinning your bib.
·        Have fun! Seriously, if you aren't going to have fun then why are you even racing? Put on a smile, greet other runners, and run happy to the finish line!

Hopefully, knowing and planning for your race day will give you the finish line success you are looking to achieve.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Menopause and the female endurance athlete

There are a lot of topics women are scared to talk about and menopause is one of them. Lately, however, I've been wondering about how menopause effects female endurance athletes. So, I googled it and found some very interesting information on the Internet that I'd like to share with those who are interested in reading about it! Yeah, guys...this is when you can bury your head in the sand...HOWEVER, GUYS THAT ARE COACHES...LISTEN UP!!! You might just have some women you are training that can benefit from your knowledge of this subject!

In a triathlon forum, one woman talks about the drastic decrease in participation among women in triathlon as they get older. She also writes about how she went from being competitive in a 140.6 (top 10) to barely being able to finish a 70.3 race in just as little as a few years. Another woman writes about having her "personal worst" in a 70.3 of +45:00. Was it because of menopause? These women seemed to think it was mostly to blame.

Menopause typically starts when a woman is in her late 40's - early 50's but can start as early as their 30's so this is something that shouldn't be taken lightly by coaches.

There are several symptoms of menopause that could cause female athletes to perform poorly in endurance events. Not all women react the same to menopausal symptoms or treatments. Any treatments considered should be done under the consult of a doctor. 

Menopausal symptoms:
  • Lack of sleep: We all know if our sleep patterns get messed up our training gets messed up. And, women in menopause experience this a lot. Fatigue sets in and it becomes very difficult to even have the desire to workout, let alone the energy. Working women/moms will find this even harder since they are already struggling to find time to workout with their busy schedules. Throwing them off by even and hour can be devastating to some of their training. 
  • Weight gain: Broadly speaking, for every 1 lb you lose, you shave off 2 seconds/mile on the run. So, in theory, if you lose 5 lbs, you can shave off 2 minutes on a half marathon. Alternatively, if you gain weight, you'll tend to get slower. This can be a huge "downer" to the competitive athlete whether they are competing against themselves or others. 
  • "Brain fog": First of all, exactly what is brain fog? Well, it's lack of concentration, lack of focus, not being able to problem solve, etc. This can play out in many ways and many times women chalk it up to "old age" but it's just another of the menopause symptoms that can cause these athletes to become really frustrated and possibly perform less desirable than they intend.
  • Hot flashes/Night Sweats: Yeah, we all get sweaty when we workout but the hot flashes tend to give some women heat intolerance. Women have said it is sometimes so bad they have to incorporate a run/walk method where they never have in the past. Or, they can barely ride one hour on the bike when they previously had no problems. Another problem with sweating so much is the loss of Magnesium in the body. Many athletes are concerned about loss of electrolytes during training and starting a workout already depleted of magnesium is cause for concern. Foods high in magnesium include: green vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts and refined grains.
  • Headaches: Some women have headaches more frequently, some experiencing migraines for the first time in their life. 
  • Irregular periods: What use to be normal is now NOT! Some women struggle dealing with an extremely heavy flow when it comes to training.
  • Backaches: This is one symptom that can really hinder performance. Women experiencing backaches should be sure to see a doctor so they can be treated correctly. 
  • Mood changes: Although this may or may not hinder an athletes performance, everyone around them needs to know this! Moods can change RAPIDLY in a woman experiencing menopause! 
  • Loss of muscle mass: Although this is probably not something women recognize physically, menopause brings with it a significant loss of muscle mass. This will, in turn, put the athlete at a greater risk for injury. To combat this, women in menopause should increase the amount of strength training in their weekly plan.
Menopausal treatments:
  • Hormone therapy: Obviously this is something you need to discuss with your doctor because they'll need to do some blood work on you. But, going down this path seems to have worked wonders for some women.
  • Birth control pill: If a woman isn't on the birth control pill, it could greatly help regulate some of the menopausal symptoms.
  • Other medications: Some antidepressants have helped control symptoms such as hot flashes.
  • Isoflavones: Isoflavones are found in some soy products (soy beans, chickpeas, lentils) and have been found to relieve symptoms such as hot flashes.
  • Vitamin E: Some women have reported Vitamin E helps to reduce hot flashes but studies warn having more than 400 IU/day may not be safe.
  • Black Cohosh: This is a herbal remedy to help relieve women of some of some symptoms such as hot flashes. Studies show it's best to use it for up to 6 months only. 
  • Melatonin: This has been known to help people sleep better at night. However, some people experience vivid nightmares while taking it. 
  • Other natural remedies: Items such as licorice, dong quai, chasteberry, and wild yam have been used by some but, again, studies have not proven it's safety or effectiveness.

*Note: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I'm sure this isn't an exhaustive list of symptoms or treatments but I wanted to do a little research on the subject for my readers. Any other advice is more than welcome - please post in the comment section below.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What would you do with an extra hour?

Four days ago I embarked upon a 30 day journey with my Rev3 Teammate, Trimommy as part of her #Project30Days.

As part of my journey, I decided I would no longer lay around in my bed all morning (7 am...) but would start getting up NO LATER than 6 am. There is so much that can be done in just that one hour but, when I get up even earlier I feel like I've made great strides in getting my life back on track. So, what has changed in just these four days?

  • There aren't piles of laundry to be cleaned
  • There aren't dirty dishes in the sink (although there will be in about 30 minutes when my kids wake up!)
  • Candles are lit early in the morning making the house smell fresh (this is something I really love!)
  • Floors are vacuumed.
  • Business projects have been completed.
  • The stack of paperwork on my desk has been organized.
  • HEALTHY breakfasts have been fixed (typically cereal is part of our morning ritual. Not now!).
  • Started blogging more.
And...all it took was waking up an hour early for only the past four days. Imagine what I'll accomplish in the next 26 days!

If you had an extra hour in the day how would you spend it?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Blocks, flips, and a BIG R!

A few months ago I signed up for my FIRST SWIM MEET EVER! Yeah, I'm kinda nervous just saying those words. Swimming is obviously not my strong point and I'll have 1000 meters to prove that come April 19th.

When I first started in the sport of triathlon in 2008, my logic was this: I've swam since I was a kid (not on a team or anything competitive...just swimming), I've biked since I was a kid (certainly not on a tri bike...with aerobars), and I've been running since 2002. So, why not give it a try!

Years later I find myself in this sticky situation of getting ready to swim my first swim meet. I hear people talking about starting with a dive off the blocks...(note, this isn't a picture of me...)

and doing flip turns (otherwise known as flippy flip turns)...

and I realize just how unprepared I am for this meet. Of course, my team has offered training for both these but I've been unable to attend the clinics. 

My fear for diving off the blocks is that I'll dive in and my goggles will go flying off my face. Then there is the unspoken fear (until now) of doing a belly flop! The unfortunate part of this is I'm unable to practice diving off the blocks due to some rule that I have to have a US Swimming Coach there while I'm using the blocks at my pool. The good news is, I'm able to dive off the side of the pool so at least I get some practice with the goggles. But, probably the most embarrassing part of all will be keeping that block position (above) while having my booty up in the air with a big "R" on it from my Rev3 shimmer suit! Great way to promote Rev3 but I'd rather hand out cards if you know what I mean! 

Now, for some reason I do remember learning how to do flip turns as a kid. I know I took swim lessons at one point so it may have been there where I learned how to do them. But, as an adult, re-learning the flip turn is something I never thought I'd have to do...EVER! Even in most pool triathlons, flip turns aren't allowed. And there is no reason to use a flip turn whatsoever in an open water swim. But, at the age of 47 (yeah, I know, I still look like I'm in my 20's!), I find myself in the pool practicing flip turns. The good news: doing a flip turn is similar to riding a bike - it comes back to you quickly. The bad news: I have way too much pool water up my nose (yes, I  blow out through my nose during the entire turn). 

Well, I have less than three more weeks to train for this swim meet and then my TRIATHLON SEASON begins!!! I couldn't be more excited!

Monday, April 1, 2013

How will you spend your time in the next 30 days?

I have to laugh. I was thinking of writing today's post about how I spend my time on a daily basis. So, when I logged on to Facebook, I found my friend had already talked about this on her blog !

Some days...okay, MOST days...I find myself totally into my work on the computer...and...let's be honest...playing around on the computer...that I feel just like I've wasted the whole day.

I'm going to join trimommy in #project30days. Won't you join me, too? In my #project30days I will:

  • Get up early every day (yep, just like trimommy). I'm a big morning person and I've been slacking off getting up early lately. When I get up early I get much more accomplished with my day. So, for the next 30 days, I will get up no later than 6 am.
  • Spend QUALITY time with each of my kids individually every day. It's hard having a 14 yr old boy in the house because statistically speaking teens don't want to hang out with their parents. Oh well, he's going to spend time with me and he's going to LOVE it! :) It's easier to spend that quality time with my daughter because I homeschool her and she's with me all the time. But, some days I feel we're all about "work" and never about quality time. So, it's time for some quality with her, too!
  • Stick to my workout schedule! I know this might seem crazy coming from me but I've been really slacking this winter. I think training for my 140.6 set me back a bit and I've just been taking it too easy this winter. Time to get serious! I have a swim meet (my first EVER!) in three weeks, a half marathon in four weeks, and my first triathlon of the season - Rev3 Knoxville Olympic in five weeks! YIKES! I need to get busy!!!
  • Commit to 2x/week strength training. Gotta get it done!

What will YOU do for the next 30 days?