I'm going to talk about something that can help you improve your performance, lose weight, make you smarter, improve your mood, strengthen your immune system, help you run faster, bike stronger, swim better, lift heavier, move better and drastically increase your recovery. It will help you reach all your goals and make you feel incredible. And it is super duper easy! In fact, you don't even have to be trying to do anything while this happens. Wanna know how you can accomplish all this amazing stuff? OK, here goes- this is what is going to make an incredible difference in every tiny little facet of your life. SLEEP! SLEEP! SLEEP!
Did you get that? Yep, sleep. I don't know about you guys, but I really like to sleep. It doesn't mean I always get enough of it, but, I sure can feel a huge difference between when I do get enough sleep and when I don't. I'll bet you feel that difference as well.
Here are a few reasons that just might help motivate you to get a little more sleep: many of these ideas came from an article at: http://superhumancoach.com/category/sleep/...if you would like to read the entire article.
When runners deprive themselves of sleep, getting 6 hours or less, the negative consequences come fast and furious.
• Weakens your immune system: getting sick = less training, poor training
• Leads to Obesity: Recent studies have shown that even one night of poor sleep can result in changes in appetite and food intake. Sleep deprivation also impairs carbohydrate tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and glucose uptake. When glucose uptake is inhibited, you aren't able to refuel before, during, and after your workouts.
• Intellectual Decline: sleep deprivation negatively impacts short-term and working memory, long-term memory and the generation of nerve cells – all of which affects our ability to think clearly and function well.
• Inflammation: Sleep deprivation causes chronic, low-grade inflammation. Inflammation is the root of all modern disease and severely inhibits the bodies’ ability to repair muscles, tissue, and tendon damage.
• Injury: When you don’t get enough sleep your motor responses are dulled, this leads to bad form, inefficient neuromuscular patterns and injury
Basically there is no disease or condition (physical, mental, or even spiritual) that sleep deprivation doesn’t either contribute to directly or make worse. Just so you know this is serious from another author, with similar warnings:
Sleep deprivation can be linked to:
Colds and Flu: The less sleep you get, the weaker your immune system is, leaving it less able to fight off colds, flu, and other infections.
Heart Disease: “When you don’t get enough sleep, you have an inflammatory response in your cardiovascular system -- in the blood vessels and arteries -- and that’s not a good thing!” says Donna Arand, PhD, DABSM, clinical director of the Kettering Sleep Disorders Center in Dayton, Ohio. “We see the same thing in hypertension. If that sleep deprivation continues long term, chronic inflammation has been linked to things like heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.”
Diabetes: “In one study of young, healthy adult males, they decreased their sleep time to about four hours per night for six nights,” says Arand. “At the end of those six nights, every one of those healthy young men was showing impaired glucose tolerance, a precursor to developing diabetes.”
Another study found that people in their late 20's and early 30's who slept less than 6.5 hours per night, had the insulin sensitivity of someone more than 60 years old.
Poor Brain Function and Mental Health: Studies have found that people who aren't getting enough sleep drive just as unsafely as someone who’s drunk. “We also know that people who are sleep deprived have very poor judgment when evaluating their own performance. They think they’re doing well on memory or eye-hand coordination tests, but they’re not,” says Arand. “The memory is also slightly degraded when you’re sleep deprived, and gets worse the more deprivation you have.”
Metabolic Issues and Obesity: In one study, people who slept five hours per night were 73% more likely to become obese than those getting seven to nine nightly hours of sleep. In fact, one study found that lack of sleep was a bigger contributor to childhood obesity than any other factor. Lack of sleep has been linked to lower levels of the hormone leptin, which helps reduce hunger.
You can follow the perfect training plan, eat a pristine diet and take all the right supplements, but if you’re not sleeping well and managing your stress your performance and health will suffer... period.
Dr. Shawn Allen, of “The Gait Guys” and ACO, treats many high level athletes. “[He] finds that two things are commonly abused when it comes to effective training: recovery and sleep. Many athletes over-train and ignore the restorative benefits of ample recovery days but of the two, sleep is the most abused. In this day and age of productivity in the work place and family demands the average athlete has little time to train, work and recover adequately. And since work and family demands are less flexible, sleep for many tends to take a back seat.” Dr. Allen explains that there is no nutritional supplement or drug that can replace the benefits of a sound night sleep. “And yet, we continue to do what we need to do to get our workouts in, a valid yet jaundiced attempt to benefit our bodies, while at the same time sacrificing the beneficial aspects of health and recovery that can come only with sound repeatable sleep”.
Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat -- 56 percent of their weight loss -- than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. (They shed similar amounts of total weight regardless of sleep.)
Dieters in the study also felt more hungry when they got less sleep.
So, how can you start incorporating this hugely important, game changing, quality of life altering habit into your life?
We need to not only get MORE sleep, but we need to IMPROVE the sleep we are getting. Here are some suggestions:
#1: Don't watch TV before going to bed (or work on your computer, phone, etc.) Block all the blue light (phone, computer, TV and even your alarm clock) from your eyes. Serious. This stuff affects your sleep.
#2: Cut the caffeine in the afternoon and evening. Be finished with any of that stuff by early afternoon and preferably don't make it a regular part of your intake (and I am sure none of you are drinking soda)
#3: Don't eat late at night! You have done it before (as have I) and you know that it totally makes you sleep terribly! Aim to be done with food at least 1-2 hours before bed. In my opinion, make it more like 3+ hours! You will sleep so much better without your body having to digest and work on food as you are trying to sleep.
#4: If you work out in the evening, try to be done at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed. That doesn't mean you push back your bedtime, adjust your workout time to keep you going to bed at a decent hour.
#5: Be consistent with your sleep patterns. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day.
#6: If you find your mind is too busy to fall asleep, write down what is on your mind and then focus on just relaxing instead of feeling stressed that you need to be sleeping. Too many thoughts winding us up and making us feel tense and stressed will make it hard to actually sleep, so try to quiet the mind and assure yourself that you can attack those "to do" lists in the morning.
#7: Develop a sleep ritual. That can be taking a hot bath, reading a book, spending quiet time meditating, or whatever else will help prepare you for sleep. Experiment and find what works for you.
#8: If you have a more serious issue, like sleep apnea, get professional help! You need sleep! And if you are not getting the quantity and quality of sleep your body needs to be able to repair itself and prepare you for the stresses and demands of your life, your health and quality of life are going to suffer terribly. You are worth it, get help so you can get sleep.
So, can you improve your performance, reduce your stress, build strength, prevent injury, and generally enhance your life with one “magic pill”? The answer is yes. Sleep.
Coach Keena is a regular contributor at TriEdge and has 16 years experience coaching and training hundreds of individuals. She is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and holds additional certifications from the National association of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council of Exercise (ACE) as a certified personal trainer. If you would like to contact Coach Keena go to: www.coachkeena.com
I qualified to race World Championships at a prior 70.3 race in Lake Stevens, Washington. Since then, I’ve struggled. Mentally I have had a very long season, and it was a bit daunting to build for another major race. The fog began to lift in early August and I was good to go, and started to really find the excitement of actually being able to toe the line at a World Championship event! World Championships; that means the BEST triathletes in the WORLD! Pretty awesome!
My little family, Adam’s parents, and my parent’s all joined us in Vegas for the festivities. The race anxiety was in full swing and I was so happy to see my good friend Sarah Jarvis who would also be racing. She is a blast to hang out with at races. She gets me- I get her. We are quirky and crazy when it comes to pre and post race 'activities' and are just two peas in a pod in these situations.
OUTDOOR EXPO- Temperature 104°
The Expo was just right down the street from the hotel and it was HOT, HOT, HOT! Seriously, Vegas in September is really not a pleasant place. In the days preceding the race it was well into the low 100's and everything for this race was outdoors. There are many very nice places that have air conditioning in Las Vega- we didn’t have the pleasure of using any of those for the race. I was dehydrated and needing to supplement electrolytes just to get through packet pick-up and gear check.
HAVE YOU EVER SWAM IN PEE?
Being at a World Championships Event is SO VERY COOL! Everything is on a grand scale. You realize very quickly you are not experiencing some small local race. You are on the world stage and it shows. I love the swim venue for this race. It takes place in Lake Las Vegas, a beautiful, out-of-the-way resort 'town'. Spectators get awesome views of the multi-wave start and the backdrop is just amazing!
Sarah and I were competing in the same age group (female 30-34) and our start time was slated for 7:05- 35 minutes after the actual pro start of 6:30 am. The only drawback with such a huge race is that things take a really long time. With transition closing at 6:00 am, we would have a solid hour of just standing around in our swim skins waiting- not the most fun. The goal is just to conserve as much energy as possible. It was perfect to be with Sarah. We were low-key and just kept to ourselves. I really didn’t get nervous until about 6:45 when my stomach started to flip-flop. We spotted Coach Heath and Coach Mahogani along with fellow athletes Tony and Matt cheering us on at the swim start. It was so good to see them!
Purple Cap Wave Females 30-34
Our toes hit the water and the fact that the water temperature was 83 degrees started to sink in… literally. There was no chill-factor to the water. It was just warm. Pleasantly warm. Not a good thing when you are about to push yourself to swim over a mile as quickly as possible. I get hot during hard workouts in an 80 degree indoor pool. We had to wade in the water for another 10 minutes at least. No wetsuit to help us there. This was a swim skin only race.
We had a fairly large wave of about 120 women in our age group. Last year Sarah found that this was an aggressive group of ladies in the water, so I braced myself for impact and a very fast start. I got off the line well and was comfortably in my own bubble by the second buoy. With the rectangular swim the traffic wasn’t bad at all. We did start to catch up to other waves who had started before us, but for the most part I was feeling like I was swimming pretty well- other than the fact that I was melting!! IT WAS SO HOT! My head was on fire. Usually the swim provides you with cooler temps that you warm into by the time you finish. Not here. It was hot and the water was dingy. There were quite a few times I grabbed something in my hands and just quickly shook it off not wanting to even know what it was. There was no visibility in the water.
I exited the water in just under 35:00. I was happy with that considering I was in a skin suit race. Just two weeks before, I was knocking on the 40 min. door. Clearly, I was tired two weeks ago and today was a bit better. Not my best swim, but not bad either.
Swim Time: 34:52, T1: 4:04
HILLS, HEAT & NO RELIEF
I really like the bike course for this event as well. It takes place out along the shores of Lake Mead and then moves into downtown Henderson. Lake Mead is a nicely paved road with lots and lots of rolling hills. Not the Lake Stevens rolling hills I experienced in July, but the rolling hills that I’m use to. I really wanted to have a good bike.
T1 is SUPER LONG. You exit the water on one side of the lake and have to run all the way to the other side to get to your bike. Once you have retrieved all your bike gear it is up a steep hill to the bike mounting line. From there you have a steady incline out of Lake Las Vegas. My heart rate went through the roof. Super high! When I looked at the upper 170's blinking on my watch I was flabbergasted. I figured I would settle in a the top of the hill when we descended into Lake Mead. I was being passed like I was standing still- this was my first indication that this bike ride was not going to be what I expected. I began to take my nutrition as planned and was really trying to monitor my electrolytes since it was so hot. The outside temperature when we hit the water was 87°- it was just going to get hotter.
On the bike I felt like I was in an oven. I was hot! Usually on the bike, you are fairly comfortable with the wind in your face and the moisture of your own sweat. No such luck. I was taking in tons of water and my planned nutrition, but I was still off. My legs had no power. I continued to be passed by more and more people. I knew I was riding with some GREAT athletes, but I’m a biker. I can do this. I’m familiar with this course and was ready to ride. My legs weren’t coming to play. After the turn around I really tried to enjoy the beautiful course, but the moments of feeling good were fleeting and I would once again be talking to myself about what the problem was.
I ran out of all fluids just outside of the final aid station. I had to ride about 5 miles before I could get water. I needed water. That aid station just couldn’t come fast enough and I couldn’t ride fast enough to get there. As I approached the aid station, I had to throw two of my VERY FAVORITE Camelback water bottles and take two pop top water bottles just to get me to T2. I was not going to take the chance of running out of water again. As we climbed out of Lake Mead, my left quad started threatening to cramp- I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE CRAMPED ON THE BIKE- what was going on with me?! I was in for a long ride…
The final 10 miles or so into Henderson and T2 are a gradual hill. My average speed continued to plummet and I was hotter than if I was standing on the surface of the sun. I actually wondered if I was standing on the surface of the sun. As I approached the final miles I saw Heath and Mahogani and just shook my head and told them, “I’m dying!” All I could think was about the run.
I had two thoughts…
1) I’m going to have a great run because my bike legs didn’t show up, so I should be in good shape to run.
2) It is going to be a VERY long half marathon.
I was really hoping for Option 1.
Bike Time: 3:07:03, T2: 1:52
WHEN THINGS GO BAD… REALLY BAD
Within the first few 100 ft. of this half marathon I knew that the rest of this race would not be what I wanted. It is hard to explain what I was feeling. I wasn’t overly tired. I didn’t feel like my nutrition was crappy. It was that continued feeling that there was nothing in my body to give. I was running, but the resulting average speed was unbelievable to me. I was lucky to hit a 9:00 mile. Holy crap, I’m dying…
This run course is hard. It consists of a triple loop where you go down 1 mile, up 2 miles and down 1 mile. Nothing flat. It is one way or another, repeated over and over again. I was so excited for this course. I had visualized myself working hard for the uphills and then flying on the downhills. I was prepared to dig deep to finish, I just didn’t realize how deep that was going to have to be.
I was mad and disappointed the first loop. I had accepted my fate on the second loop. I just wanted to be done by the third loop. I would not have made it through this race without my spectators. Once again, my friends and family (who I won’t name for fear of missing someone very important) were out there cheering and encouraging me the entire way. I saw so many familiar faces who seeing the pain and distress on my face and body lifted my spirits to continue on. As racers a lot of times we don’t look like we are paying any attention, but believe me, we are. We hear every clap. We feel every cheer. We want to work harder for you. We look to you to carry us through. I was a rock-star out there to my friends and family- at least, that is the way they made me feel. Thank you, in this situation just isn’t appropriate. There are not enough words of gratitude that can be expressed.
I was suffering. Coach Heath told me to get out of my head. Find a different focus. Someone in front of me. The sound of my feet. Something to take the place of the disaster that was playing out in my mind. I wanted to stop. There were times it didn’t seem worth it anymore, then I started to see other athletes around me suffering too. I saw Meredith Kessler, a professional athlete, walking up that two mile hill. I saw looks of pain, anger and agony everywhere. It wasn’t just me out there. This was all of us battling for the same fate- THE FINISH LINE! I had found my new focus, other athletes in need.
When I would see someone cramp, I would stop to prop them up. When someone would be walking with their head down I would tell them “good job”. When someone seemed to feel sick, I would ask if they needed anything and offer a salt pill or two with a swig of my water. For some reason, this made me feel so much better. I was back in control. I could help. I would run when my legs would let me run and I would walk when I couldn’t run anymore.
I finally made it to the last turn around and the home stretch to the final mile. I walked the turn around and coaxed myself to run to the aid station ahead. The aid stations had been out of Coke for miles, but that final station had some and it tasted good. I kept running and finally took my turn running in the chute. I hit the finish line and it was done.
Run time: 2:16:14 (OUCH!), Finish time: 6:04:05
I staved off the really negative mental space for the run, and it all came crashing down the moment I hit the finish line. I stopped running and started sobbing. Sarah appeared right in front of me and I fell into her arms. We cried. I cried hard. She just hugged me. I cried harder than I ever have at the finish line. In my exhaustion, in my anger, in embarrassment over my performance; I fell apart. I was just so disappointed. I had just completed the longest half ironman I’ve ever done. Run my worst half marathon ever. The realization that my season was ending like this was crushing.
I walked out to the arms of family and friends. It was just painful and raw. So many people were there supporting me and pulling for me. They had driven all that way. I felt like I had let them down. In contrast, Sarah had just had an amazing race, finishing 3rd in our age group (in the world mind you) and 11th amateur overall. AMAZING! We should be celebrating her accomplishment and not my disappointment. Nothing made me feel better. I just wanted to be out of the heat and not on my feet. Sarah and I walked back into the finish line area. The food looked disgusting other than a slice of pizza. There were so many sweaty athletes in the food tent (which was air conditioned), I left as quickly as I entered.
My feelings after finishing would vacillate between feeling guilty for my selfishness, to being utterly ashamed and angry about my efforts. I just couldn’t come to grips with what had just happened. I tried to suck it up and celebrate a season of racing and the huge accomplishments of my good friend.
Sarah and I went to the post-race banquet which was low-key and fun. Good food. Good friends. Great athletes! We smiled and laughed a lot and it kept me occupied and out of my own mental space. We topped the night off with a 1/2 gallon of Dreyers ice cream and a bedtime of almost midnight. Family and friends had all gone home and it was just us. It was a good way to end such a hard day.
The next morning I woke up to a Vegas-style hangover. I was beat. I was glad I had packed most of my stuff the night before and after a very gluten-filled bagel and cream cheese I was in the car headed home. It was just me and my box of tissues. I’m not a pouter. I don’t usually stay emotional about things for very long. I cried almost all the way home. I cried because I was tired. I cried because I was mad. I cried because I was happy such a hard season was over. I cried because I didn’t want to hear the congratulations which I didn’t feel like I deserved. I cried because I was being so hard on myself.
You know those moments when you are almost seeing yourself from outside of your own body. Those moments when you hear the words coming out of your mouth or the thoughts in your head as if you are an outsider looking in. When you are saying to yourself that you are being silly and point out the err in your thinking, but you just can’t accept that truth. You need to have your moment. You need to suffer and endure for just a bit longer. That was my drive home.
Then a verse of one of my favorite songs came on my iPod, ”you wouldn’t believe the most amazing things that can come from some terrible nights.” That was it! That was my perspective shift. Yes. This race was hard. Really hard. But I can take those terrible things and turn them into something amazing!
I’ve talked with my coaches and evaluated what 'went wrong'. It’s hard to find an answer to that question. It’s been a very long season for me. It’s actually been a very long two years. My body has stuck with me time and time again. It has stepped up to the plate and been there when I needed it most. Right now it is done. I have robbed the bottom of the bucket one too many times in the past two months. There is nothing left, it is time to step away for a while.
As the distance between me and the race grows, I’m filled with more and more gratitude towards myself, my husband, my friends and my family. They put me on a pedestal that I have a very hard time putting myself on. They don’t look at times without understanding the race. They see me for the person who I am the hours of the day when I’m not swimming, biking or running. Is there anything more a person can be grateful for than to be surrounded by people like that? In Coach Mahogani’s wisdom she said this, “The people who love you, don’t ask for your time.”
So here’s to a swift kick in the butt. I am such a blessed person and athlete. To those who love me, THANK YOU! To those who just want to look at my times, YOU JUST WAIT!
From Qualification to Completion
To read more about Colleen's triathlon adventures, go to: www.stgeorgefitness.com
I have a confession to make: I am tired! Yep. Usually after I complete an Ironman, I swear I am going to sleep for ever...and then I wake up the next morning and pop out of bed (well, kinda pop), start packing and cleaning and really just get going. Ummm... not so much after this race! I have pretty much wanted to lay on the couch and move as little as possible. In fact, I was so tired that I am actually writing this race report a day later than normal. I just wanted to sleep the day after the race... so, I did! Go figure!
So, here is how my day went for the final Ironman St. George to ever be held:
After I competed in Ironman Cozumel last November and missed qualifying for Kona by such a small spot, I determined I had to give it just one more shot! So, I figured St. George would be a great option because it was close and I knew the course. I really enjoyed my winter of training and felt like I had put together a solid couple of months of consistent improvement...especially on my run (since that is where I ran into trouble in IM Cozumel). When I was able to put together a solid run (for me) at the Ironman 70.3 race in San Juan, Puerto Rico and qualify for Ironman 70.3 World Championships, I was really excited to come down here to St. George and put together another solid run on the marathon portion of the race and finish strong. Well, enter an unresolved IT Band issue (that has plagued me for over two years now) and it made an already interesting race even that more memorable!
I love swimming! I'm not the best swimmer... but, I really enjoy an open water swim in beautiful, clear water. I look at an Ironman swim as the awesome warm up for a nice long day. So, entering the waters in Sand Hollow, I was just looking forward to seeing what I had in me for 2.4 miles and hopefully coming out of the swim in close to an hour. The first stretch of swimming to the first turning buoy was very crowded and rough. I couldn't seem to take a stroke without either grabbing someone, being grabbed, kicked or knocked around. No big deal, cause I know how this works. I just tried to stay in my own groove, keep my head relaxed and calm and stick with my own rhythm. I made it to the first turning buoy and within 5 seconds I knew the game had changed. All of a sudden I had waves crashing down on me and chop everywhere! People were no longer the issue...i t was most definitely a new challenge between every swimmer and some of the roughest water most of us have ever had the pleasure of swimming in. As soon as I realized I had new conditions, I actually smiled. Now, don't take this the wrong way, but I like it rough!! I love to swim in choppy, wavy ROUGH water! I think it makes it SO interesting and keeps me focused on every stroke and staying as powerful and efficient as possible. My entire game plan for the swim went out the window as soon as I registered the water conditions and I just went into adventure mode! I LOVED IT! Yahooo! So, I began enjoying my new adventure and just focused on staying calm, powerful, efficient and ON course the best I could. When I made the next turn and headed towards the island that we swim around I just made sure that every 15-20 strokes I would pop my head up and ride a few waves, look around to make sure I had an island somewhere in front of me and a few pink or green caps somewhere within my general area and then continue on. Those 4-5 foot swells made for some interesting swimming! It took quite a while....but, I eventually made it around the island and enjoyed the final stretch into the dock where I was quite certain an adventurous BIKE ride was about to take place for me! I would like to give Eric Oscarson a big huge THANKS for my enjoyable mantra of the day, which he showed me was his mantra for this race (So, I borrowed it!): It is a quote from Winston Churchill and I must have said it perhaps 800 times during my race: "Keep Calm and Carry On!"
Final time: 1 hour 20 minutes. I'll take it and the fun memory of that crazy swim!
Normally, the bike portion leaving Sand Hollow and heading out towards Veyo is quite calm and fast. As I headed out on the first mile of the bike and couldn't get above 10 miles an hour due to the incredible head winds....I figured all bets were off, there was no longer any such thing as an A race, B race or C race....it was just going to be a FINISH it race, and I quit looking at anything other than my heart rate to ensure I didn't overcook it on the bike. Originally, I had some goal splits for each section of the bike and knew I could easily do the ride in sub 6 hours based on my training rides I had completed on this course. No more splits to look at for the rest of this ride now. Just go! It is interesting when it doesn't seem to matter which direction you are going because there is a head wind any which way you go. I just put my head down, stayed upright and kept pedaling! So, here is the truth....much of my ride is something of a blur. I know that I tried to keep my heart rate around 155 or so for the majority of my first 70 miles. I also know that my heart rate got up to 170 on the three major hills going out through the Veyo loop...but, that I very consciously lowered it as soon as I topped each hill. I know that the first climb up The WALL was awesome because the screeching winds completely disappeared and the silence was so beautiful that I smiled the whole way up that hill because it was such a welcome relief! I made it through to the Special Needs Bag area and grabbed my PBJ, Apple Fritter, Salted Nut Roll and new bottle of CarboPro and kept riding. We actually enjoyed a tail wind going up the Three Sisters hills (or whatever else you may call those hills) and then a screaming descent down into St George (49 mph for me, thanks!) to begin another loop of Veyo. A few things I was concerned about: I developed a splitting headache at about mile 25 on the bike and couldn't shake it, and my stomach didn't want my nutrition. That's right....no PBJ for me. No Fritter for me. No Nut Roll for me. I couldn't even tolerate my CarboPro/Rockstar Recovery mix. I was really glad I had thrown in a BadAss PreWorkout mix packet into my bag and I mixed that into a water bottle from an aid station and worked on that for about 10 miles. That was the only thing that I took in for quite a few miles. My headache on the miles 55 through 85 was so bad I could hardly think. I don't get headaches! I have a sweet sister that has the curse and suffers from the most insane migraines 2-3+ times weekly. I am a BIG baby, cause I was dying from this stinking headache! I thought a lot about my sis during this 30 mile stretch. I also asked EVERY person I passed or saw if they had any ibuprofen...no luck. I usually carry some with me, but as luck would have it... I hadn't packed any on this race. Estupido! So, I loosen my helmet, dump water over my head and keep going, baby. I'm writing up my Gratitude list in my head (I'm grateful for a helluva lot of things!!) , singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" (made it to about 40 bottles before I just couldn't sing that dumb song anymore) and kept pushing against the wind and hills. Finally, I pull into Gunlock town and reach another aid station and ask if anyone has any aspirin. Hallelujah! A man comes running out and dumps a bunch in my hand....3 of which I promptly swallow and pocket the rest for later! At the top of my Gratitude list at this moment: DRUGS! And those kindly people who distribute them! OK, not all drugs, just the ones I want, like aspirin!
Within 20 minutes I am a NEW woman! Why would a stupid thing like a headache be such a bother? I've never had that before during a race. But, what the heck! There is always a first!
So, I climb my way up The Wall for the second time (not quite as easy as the first, but still nice and quiet and a welcome relief from the wind!), come around into Veyo Town, up through the Three Sisters and then begin my final descent into town! If I am making this sound easy and comfy....just know that it wasn't. I really, really wanted to lay down and take a nap! I would actually drop my head down on my aero bottle as I was riding and just keep my eyes (mostly) open and looking at the white line on the road and just glance up every so often to make sure I wasn't going to run into anyone or anything. At the banquet before the race, they told a story about a guy that went into the port-a-potty during the bike and fell asleep. He woke up just in time to make it to the bike cut off by only a minute or two! I considered doing that! OK, not really...but, it did sound kinda nice (although, I would have just laid down on the grass in the open, clean air and not in a stinky port a potty!) But....at least I didn't have a headache any more! And...I was really happy with my bike! I was super comfy! No saddle soreness, shoulder soreness, wishing I could get off the bike cause I was miserable...I was totally set and had no issues! What a lucky girl! I did wish I could have taken in more nutrition...cause I know that I have not taken in even half the amount I would normally...but, I was able to take in a gel, a stinger waffle and a couple bananas from the aid stations...plus, I was good with my water and MetaSalts. So, it's now officially a good thing I didn't enter this race at my lightest and leanest...cause I know I am working off my excess! Good girl for eating that Ice Cream!! So, I make it in to town without falling off my bike and feel quite good and ready to tackle the run!
I have enjoyed the most wonderful winter of running! I was really focused on redeeming my run after having such a non-wonderful run at Ironman Cozumel. So, lots of miles and hills and miles and hills and I was feeling quite confident and ready for this St. George Ironman run! After dropping off my bike and changing into my running skirt, I headed out onto the course looking forward to all those miles paying off. I always know that the first 3 or so miles of my marathon will be a bit painful until I get my legs under me...so, I wasn't worried as those first few miles weren't super smooth and comfy. By mile 4 or so I could feel things smooth out and I was feeling pretty good other than some tightness in my knee (this is all relatively speaking, of course, cause we are, after all running a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles in 4-5 foot swells and biking 112 miles in howling winds on one of the hardest Ironman courses created). It was especially fun to see my sweet, awesome daughters during the run and to see so many friends and athletes on the course cheering each other on! I had about 4 more miles of feeling "pretty good" and then I felt that stinking, awful tightening in my left knee that I am too dang familiar with. For those of you that have read my past race reports...remember Ironman New Zealand? Well, I sure did! I ended up walking a fair portion of that due to an IT Band that chunked up on me. I have worked on this issue and thought I had it under control....but, I am afraid that it is my own dang fault because I did just about ALL my training on mountain trails or treadmills and nearly NONE of it on asphalt. The entire run was on asphalt that had you going downhill for about a mile and then back uphill for about a mile....basically the ENTIRE 26.2 miles! I had trained hills...but not asphalt. On top of that, I have been experiencing knee pain during all my training...but hadn't really aggressively tried to get to the root of the pain...so, it was a concern in the back of my head that it might flare up. I guess I was a little lazy in my treatment of this persistent injury. So...with NO excuses other than my own fault...I was pretty much reduced to run/walking a fair amount of the next 16 or so miles. Crappity crap! But, I got LUCKY! I found a NEW friend named Nick, who was wearing an awesome purple tri jersey and shorts with hot pink compression socks (like mine!) and he was also a gimpy runner with major calf and hamstring issues. Sucks for him....yeah for me cause now we can keep each other moving! So, here is how the REST of the race went:
Me: "OK, Nick....Let's run from the cone to the end of that street"
Then we would do that.
Nick: "Ok, Keena...Let's run from the light to the next aid station"
Me: "Ok....I'll give it a shot!"
Then we would do it.
Me: "Nick....you are my new best friend ever!!!"
Nick: "You too! Let's run from this cone to that port a potty....think we can do it??"
Me: "Ok!....Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!"
Nick: "No Pain!"
Me: "NO pain! Let's go!"
Then we would keep going.
And that is how we pretty much covered the rest of the entire race! It is just knee pain. It still hurts two days later. Who cares? I'll eventually get it figured out and fixed. Yes, I wish I could have run at my full ability that I had trained, but, it's not the end of the world, I just had a gimpy knee. Push on, keep moving, find a friend, stay in the moment, make (very) short term goals to keep you moving forward and, eventually... you FINISH!!
And guess what? We did finish! It was my SLOWEST Ironman I've ever completed, but, who the heck cares?? I finished! And, here is the CRAZY part; I ended up placing 2nd in my division and I was able to reach my goal of qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Kona! Go figure. I put in my fastest Ironman in Cozumel and miss qualifying, and I put in my slowest Ironman in St. George and qualify. I guess we just never know what life has in store for us. Perhaps with this race and it's crazy conditions, it just came down to whoever was still standing at the end! Either way, I am just happy and grateful that I not only got to participate in such an EPIC race, but that I get to go back to Kona and enjoy another dance at that party!
And, I had a GREAT time! I never once felt depressed or hopeless or overwhelmed. I just enjoyed that I was there and so lucky to get to live a life that is so privileged to get to do things like this!
A BIG HUGE THANKS TO:
My husband Cade who is the most amazing, awesome, supportive, and patient man. He knows how I tick and just rolls with all my crazy! I'm a lucky woman!
My sweet kids....especially Keeper and Covey who came down to this race with me and were SO MUCH FUN! You always love your kids...but, you know you are lucky when you really LIKE your kids! That's right girls...I LIKE YOU! (You too, Colten and Kaelun!!)
My Sponsors who have helped me in SO many ways:
BadAss Nutrition: I have never had so much consistent and quality training as I have this past winter! The Pre and Post Workout mixes have been phenomenal! Thank you! Thank you!!
ASEA: I am now two years using Asea and I know I am a better, healthier athlete because of it! My recoveries between training are, without a doubt, better due to Asea! I am so grateful for your support!!
TREK AF: I am not kidding when I say that I didn't have ANY discomfort on my bike during this entire Ironman! Not only is my Trek Speed Concept an awesome looking bike...but, it is an amazing RIDE! Smooth, fast, light, and the fit is RIGHT ON! Jeff and Kris....THANK YOU so much!
Natalie Rasmussen: Thanks so much for all the pain! Your weekly massages have been a huge key to helping me accomplish my goals of going to both Ironman 70.3 World Champs and to Ironman World Champs! You're the best!!
And once again, a big thanks to all of you for your friendship and support! You have no idea how much you help me and move me forward and make my life such an exciting and wonderful adventure!
Coach Keena is a regular contributor at TriEdge and has 15 years experience coaching and training hundreds of individuals. She is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and holds additional certifications from the National association of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council of Exercise (ACE) as a certified personal trainer. If you would like to contact Coach Keena go to: www.coachkeena.com.
A QUICK GUIDE TO
THE PALEO DIET FOR ATHLETES
Written by: Loren Cordain Ph.d and Joe Friel M.S.
THE PALEO DIET
The basic premise of Dr. Cordain’s research on paleolithic nutrition is that certain foods are optimal for humans and others are non-optimal. The optimal foods are those that we have been eating for most of our time on Earth—more than 4 million years. Only in the last 10,000 years, a mere blink of the eye relative to our species’ existence, have we been eating nonoptimal foods. Unfortunately, these foods comprise the bulk of what western society eats today and include such foods as grains, dairy and legumes. Given that our bodies have not changed, we are simply not well adapted to these non-optimal foods and they moderate health and peak performance. On the other hand, we have been eating optimal foods – vegetables, fruits, and lean animal protein – for hundreds of thousands of years and we are fully adapted to them. Science tells us that these foods also best meet our nutritional needs. Eat these and you will thrive. Avoid or strictly limit them and your health and performance will be compromised.
PALEO FOR ATHLETES
Serious athletes, however, when it comes to immediately before, during, and directly after workouts, need to bend the rules of the Paleo Diet a bit since we're placing demands on the body that were not normal for our Stone Age ancestors. Hour after hour of sustained high energy output and the need for quick recovery are the serious athlete’s unique demands. This requires some latitude to use nonoptimal foods on a limited basis. The exceptions may best be described by explaining the athlete’s 5 stages of daily eating relative to exercise.
Stage I: Eating Before Exercise
In brief, we recommend that athletes eat low to moderate glycemic index carbohydrates at least two hours prior to a hard or long workout or race. There may also be some fat and protein in this meal. All foods should be low in fiber. Take in 200 to 300 calories for every hour remaining until exercise begins. If eating two hours prior is not possible, then take in 200 or so calories 10 minutes before the workout or race begins.
Stage II: Eating During Exercise
During long or hard workouts and races you will need to take in high glycemic index carbohydrates mostly in the form of fluids. Sports drinks are fine for this. Find one that you like the taste of and will drink willingly. Realize that events lasting less than about an hour (including warmup) don’t require any carbohydrate. Water will suffice for these. A starting point for deciding how much to take in is 200 to 400 calories per hour modified according to body size, experience and the nature of the exercise (longer events require more calories than short).
Stage III: Eating Immediately After
In the first 30 minutes postworkout (but only after long and/or highly intense exercise) and post-race use a recovery drink that contains both carbohydrate and protein in a 45:1 ratio. You can buy a commercial product such as Ultrafit Recovery™ (www.ultrafit.com) for this. Or you can make your own by blending 16 ounces of fruit juice with a banana, 3 to 5 tablespoons of glucose (such as Carbo Pro) depending on body size, about 3 tablespoons of protein powder, especially from egg or whey sources and two pinches of salt. This 30 minute window is critical for recovery. It should be your highest priority after a hard workout or race.
Stage IV: Eating for Extended Recovery
For the next few hours (as long as the preceding challenging exercise lasted) continue to focus your diet on carbohydrates, especially moderate to high glycemic load carbohydrates along with protein at a 45:1 carb/protein ratio. Now is the time to eat non-optimal foods such as pasta, bread, bagels, rice, corn and other foods rich in glucose as they contribute to the necessary carbohydrate recovery process. Perhaps the perfect Stage IV foods are raisins, potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams.
Stage V: Eating for LongTerm Recovery
For the remainder of your day, or until your next Stage I, return to eating a Paleo Diet by focusing on optimal foods. For more information on the Paleo Diet go to www.thepaleodiet.com or read The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN, CARB AND FAT SHOULD I EAT?
The macro-nutrient requirement changes with the demands of the training season and so should be periodized along with training. We recommend that athletes maintain a rather consistent protein intake year round. As a percentage of total calories this will typically be in the range of 20-25% for athletes. This is on the low end of what our Stone Age ancestors ate due to the athlete’s increased intake of carbohydrate in Stages I to IV which dilutes protein as a percentage of daily calories. On the other hand, periodization of diet produces significant and opposing swings in the athlete’s fat and carbohydrate intake as the training seasons change. During the base (general preparation) period the diet shifts toward an increased intake of fat while carbohydrate intake decreases. At this time in the season when a purpose of training is to promote the body’s use of fat for fuel, more healthy fat is consumed—inthe range of 30% of total calories—with carbohydrate intake at around 50%. During the build and peak (specific preparation) periods the intensity of training increases placing greater demands on the body for carbohydrate to fuel exercise. At this latter time of the season Stages III and IV become increasingly critical to the athlete’s recovery. Carbohydrate intake increases accordingly to around 60% of total calories with fat intake dropping to around 20%. During times of the year when training is greatly reduced (peaking/tapering and transition periods) the athlete must limit caloric intake to prevent unwanted weight gain.
WHY IS THE PALEO DIET BENEFICIAL?
Health and fitness are not synonymous. Unfortunately, many athletes are fit but unhealthy. Frequent illness, injury and over-training reduce performance potential. The Paleo Diet for Athletes significantly improves health long term. Compared with the commonly accepted athlete’s diet, the Paleo Diet:
● Increases intake of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). Benefits muscle
development and anabolic function. Also counteracts immunosuppression common
in endurance athletes following extensive exercise.
● Decreases omega6:omega3 ratio. Reduces tissue inflammations common to
athletes while promoting healing. This may include asthmatic conditions common in
● Lowers body acidity. Reduces the catabolic effect of acidosis on bone and muscle
while stimulating muscle protein synthesis. This is increasingly important with
● Is high in trace nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for optimal health
and longterm recovery from exercise. The most nutrientdense foods are
vegetables and seafood. On average, vegetables have nearly twice the nutrient
density of grains.
EXCERPT FROM THE PALEO DIET FOR ATHLETES
" Training for endurance sports such as running, cycling, triathlon, rowing, swimming, and cross-country skiing places great demands on the body, and the athlete is in some stage of recovery almost continuously during periods of heavy training. The keys to optimum recovery are sleep and diet. Even though we recommend that everyone eat a diet similar to what our Stone Age ancestors ate, we realize that nutritional concessions must be made for the athlete who is training at a high volume in the range of 10 to 35 or more hours per week of rigorous exercise. Rapid recovery is the biggest issue facing such an athlete. While it’s not impossible to recover from such training loads on a strict Paleo Diet, it is somewhat more difficult to recover quickly. By modifying the diet before, during, and immediately following challenging workouts, the Paleo Diet provides two benefits sought by all athletes: quick recovery for the next workout, and superior health for the rest of your life. "
Coach Keena is a regular contributor at TriEdge and has 15 years experience coaching and training hundreds of individuals. She is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and holds additional certifications from the National association of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council of Exercise (ACE) as a certified personal trainer. If you would like to contact Coach Keena go to: www.coachkeena.com.
In order to really succeed at creating a healthy lifestyle and not just a temporary fix, you need to create some habits. The following habits, an exerpt from Precision Nutrition, if followed and incorporated into your daily, permanent, consistent, healthy lifestyle will pretty much guarantee that you will always stay healthy, fit, lean and looking and feeling great. Of course habits take some time, focus, energy and serious commitment to create. But once you get them into your system you will be able to really be rocking! The following are the habits that are going to get you where you want to be (and keep you there!)
#1: EAT EVERY 2-4 HOURS
Why? Because research shows that frequent eating stimulates your metabolism, balances your blood sugar and helps maintain lean mass (while burning fat!) How many meals per day should you eat? Just divide the time you're awake by 3. So if you are awake 15 hours a day, you should aim for 5 meals a day. If your goal is weight gain, you may need to eat more meals per day. If your goal is weight loss, then you may need to only eat 4 meals per day. Your meal size will be based on your gender, body size, body fat, physical activity levels, calorie needs, etc.
#2: EAT COMPLETE, LEAN PROTEIN WITH EVERY MEAL
Why? Because protein helps to maintain blood sugars, maximally stimulate your metabolism, improve your muscle mass (higher metabolic rate), improve recovery, and reduce your body fat. Women should aim for about 20-30 grams (80-120 calories) per meal- the equivalent of about 1palm sized portion of protein. Men should aim for about 40-60 grams of protein per meal- the equivalent of about 2 palm sized portions.
#3: EAT VEGETABLES WITH EVERY MEAL
Why? For many reasons! Science has shown that in addition to the micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) packed into veggies, there are also important plant chemicals that are essential to optimal physiological functioning. Vegetables also provide an alkaline load to the blood. Since proteins and grains are more acidic, it is important to balance this load since too much acid means the loss of bone strength and muscle mass. Vegetables are also a great source of fiber. A serving of veggies is about 1/2 cup. Aim to eat 2-3 servings (so 1.5 or so cups) with every meal. Make this a daily habit and you will be providing your body with 10-15 servings of awesome, cancer fighting, fat blasting, free radical destroying, acid neutralizing, power veggies every day.
#4: IF FAT LOSS IS YOUR GOAL, EAT VEGGIES AND FRUITS WITH EVERY MEAL AND "OTHER CARBS" ONLY AFTER EXERCISE
Why? Because, when it comes to changing your body's composition, timing your carbohydrates is one of the most effective strategies for kick-starting fat loss in people with stubborn and hard to remove body fat stores. It also minimizes fat gain in people gaining muscle!
#5: EAT HEALTHY FATS DAILY
Why? Because healthy fats (primarily monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) help you lose weight as well as help with cellular repair, fat loss, improved recovery and a host of other valuable healthy benefits. Aim for approximately 30% of your calories coming from healthy fats. In addition to getting healthy fats from your food (such as: nuts, olive oil, avocado, flax seeds/oil, etc.) you should also include fish oil supplements in your nutrition plan. These supplements can help protect you from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more. It is recommended that about 6 grams a day is about right.
#6: DON'T DRINK BEVERAGES WITH MORE THAN 0 CALORIES (this does not include your green protein smoothie)
Why? Because nothing can take the place of good, clean water. Your body is made of over 60% water! Water is absolutely essential for a variety of functions including weight loss and improved body composition, circulation, better athletic performance, and a host of other crucial bodily functions. You should aim for a minimum of 96 ounces of water every day!
#7: EAT WHOLE FOODS INSTEAD OF SUPPLEMENTS WHENEVER POSSIBLE
Why? Because no pills, bars or other pre-made options can even come close to giving you the quality of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that good
old fruits and veggies contain. Get a complete diet of lean meats (and other quality proteins), fruits and veggies, high fiber and nutrient dense carbs (at the right time) and good, healthy fats. I know it can be challenging to do this all the time, so aim to eat this way as often as you possibly can, and then give yourself a break when life is too crazy and go with the pre-made stuff when nothing else will work. This leads us to the next habit...
#8: PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE FOOD IN ADVANCE
Why? Because life is crazy and busy and the hardest part of eating well and healthy is consistency. Sometimes good nutrition is less about the food and more about making sure the food is available when it's time to eat. Remember, "Failing to plan is planning to fail." So plan ahead and succeed!
#9: EAT AS WIDE A VARIETY OF GOOD FOODS AS POSSIBLE
Why? Well first off, eating the same things over and over can get very boring. In addition, it is nice to give your body a variety of nutrients and fresh seasonal foods that give you a healthy variety. Be brave, try new things! You may just find some new favorites.
#10: PLAN TO BREAK THE RULES 10% OF THE TIME
Why? Because it gives you a break from feeling like you have to be perfect all the time, and really makes a negligible effect on your progress. But, let's be clear on what this 10% break really means. If you are eating 5 times per day for 7 days of the week, that's 35 meals each week. Since 10% of 35 is about 3.5, you can eat 3 or 4 "imperfect" meals per week. A 10% meal is one that doesn't conform to the above 9 habits. Did you miss your protein source with lunch? That's a 10% meal. Did you skip a meal? That's a 10% meal. Did you skip veggies? That's a 10% meal. Did you eat a whole pizza? That's definitely a 10% meal! You get it, right? If you are honest with yourself in regards to your nutritional quality and adherence to your 90% on and 10% off, you will succeed and reach your goals. If you are not seeing results, take a good, honest look at your nutrition and you will most likely find that your 10% break is probably more around 20%, 30% or even more. Aim for 90% of your meals hitting the above 9 habits and then enjoy your 10% break meals! It's a good thing!
So, there you have it, ten fantastic habits that are going to help you get lean and strong. When incorporated into your steady, consistent lifestyle they will keep you lean and strong.
Coach Keena is a regular contributor at TriEdge and has 15 years experience coaching and training hundreds of individuals. She s a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and holds additional certifications from the National association of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council of Exercise (ACE) as a certified personal trainer. If you would like to contact Coach Keena go to: www.coachkeena.com.
Raise your hand if you use a heart rate monitor on a regular basis in your training. Now, raise your other hand if you are using your heart rate monitor in the most effective and useful way.
"By adding a future triathlon that you can be 'training' for during your pregnancy you will not only keep your body healthy, but you will also keep your mind happy."