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Saturday, September 29, 2007

So, what ARE good choices?

"You can tell me all you want about eating more healthy- eating 5, 6, 7 times a day, getting in your protein, eating fruits and veggies, taking all the right supplements. But, give me some examples?"

Makes sense. I would love to. Michael A. Roussell has written a book called NAKED NUTRITION. I highly recommend that you buy it, read it, and follow it. What I like about his take on nutrition is that there are no special diets or gimmicks involved. Much of what he says is common sense, but also, the advice he gives focuses on lifestyle changes. Functional stuff. Real-life solutions for us- the busy mom/dad who needs just a few tweaks in her/his nutritional plan to make a huge difference.

I thought I would list some foods within the 5 major food groups from you to choose from on a daily basis- with these tenets in mind- protein at every meal, veggies/fruits throughout the day, fats sparingly, and starches in the morning and/or around your workout. Check out Mike's list of naked foods:

PROTEIN:
Chicken
Salmon
Tilapia
Eggs/Egg Whites
Lean Ground Beef
Turkey
Tuna
Protein Powder
Cottage Cheese
Workout Drink

STARCHES:
Brown Rice
Yams/Sweet Potatoes
Tomatoes
Oatmeal
Whole Grain Bread
Oat Bran
Corn Tortilla
Whole Wheat Tortilla

VEGGIES/FRUITS:
Spinach
Onions
Kiwi
Asparagus
Broccoli
Hummus
Carrots
Beans
Summer Squash
Apple
Banana
Blueberries
Strawberries
Peach
Grapes
Pineapple
Orange

FATS:
Walnuts
Olive Oil
Almonds
Avocado
Flaxseed Oil
Coconut Oil
Cheddar Cheese
Feta Cheese

Now, get to planing and cooking. Take the time to think about your meals and start seeing yourself as the healthy-you. If you start eating these healthy foods- great tasting foods- your workouts are going to benefit from it as well. Eat good-feel good-look good.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sight in Mind- Visualize

Ever take the time to truly visualize? I mean, I tell my volleyball players that I coach all the time to visualize the serve coming to them, visualize the set, visualize the kill...but, what is VISUALIZATION, truly? My volleyball coach in college once asked:

When you visualize, do you see yourself performing the act that you are visualizing, or do you actually embody- and, or, are you the main character in your visualization? Are you acting, or sitting back and seeing yourself perform the action? I know that I am both. Sometimes, I see myself, or sometimes, I can actually feel myself going through the motions. No one way is better than the other. In fact, some people visualize somebody else, but give that "somebody" the actions that they hope to perform. Anyway you SEE it, here are some tips for step-by-step visualization, which help for your overall focus for any goal you may have.

FIRST...find a quiet place. Allow body to relax and practice calm breathing.

SECOND...close your eyes and visualize a circle. Imagine it getting smaller and smaller and then filling with a color as it is decreasing. Then, imagine another shape, getting smaller, in another color, until it disappears. Do this several times for at least 5-6 shapes.

THIRD...visualize your SETTING. Whether it be for sport, or for any other event in your life, see all the details of the setting- weather, people there, time of day- all details are important.

FOURTH...picture the other people there with you. Your competition. Visualize yourself performing the act that you are trying to accomplish. See the sweat come down your forehead, or feel the running shoes embrace your feet. Taste the gu in your mouth...ok, well, maybe not. But, you get the picture...

FIFTH...see yourself finishing, ending in great performance. Take a few deep breaths and then open your eyes.

The whole process can last at least 10 minutes, to as much as 20 or so. Take your time. That is something that not a lot of people do these days- and, you wonder, why rash decisions are made. Think before you act- see yourself as you always wish you did.

Act with sight in mind.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Joys of Soy

O.k., so I went to Starbucks this morning and thought that I would get something different than my usual Grande drip. My choice a couple years ago would be to have grabbed a Nonfat Latte. However, a couple of months ago, I decided to try Soy Milk for the first time- mostly because it is lower in carbs than a regular milk latte. I thought I would look into the health benefits of Soy Milk to see exactly what I was enjoying and here is what I found.

Pros:
1. High in Protein
2. Higher in Fiber than cow's milk
3. High in isoflavones. (chemicals similar to the hormone, estrogen)
4. Not as much cholesterol as regular milk
5. Lower in carbohydrates than regular milk

Cons:
1. Lower in Calcium (only 1/4 calcium of regular milk)
2. Higher in Fat than regular milk
3. Doesn't taste as good as regular milk (as some people would say)

So, give it a try if you want to change it up. I have had put it in my oatmeal, and have tried it in regular cereal as well. This morning, I had a Grande Sugar-Free Vanilla Soy Latte and it is wonderful. I should have added an extra espresso shot, but next time.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Like Running on Clouds

Have you trained for a long race, finished it, and then told yourself you were going to take a few weeks or month off after to let your body and mind recover? I have, and it seldom works. I have a serious problem just chilling out when it comes to taking recovery, especially since I am addicted to that endorphin buzz that a great run outside or a hard workout in the gym gives you. It has been exactly 2 weeks since Ironman Wisconsin and I feel great- both physically and mentally, despite the fact that I didn't take too much time completely "off.". I had 3 days totally off from doing any workouts, simply because I had a bit of a head cold and couldn't muster up the energy to do much except for take a 30 minute walk outside. But, this entire last week, I have started Afterburn II in the gym (an advanced fat burning program that Rach and I are going to hammer on for the next few months before we delve into prep for Oceanside) and I have also had some nice 'unplanned' runs that have gone pretty well as far as my recovery and how my legs have felt during them. That takes me to where I want to blog tonight.

Today, I woke up, had breakfast with a friend, and then decided to go for an hour run. I left my house, sans watch, and took my 7 mile, somewhat hilly loop that I haven't done since the Spring. The weather was unbelievable- crisp, sunny, and not too windy. Just perfect. I had done a trail run the day before and hammered the legs a bit, so honestly, I wasn't expecting to feel that fresh. But, as soon as I stepped out the door, my legs felt relaxed and I was in the zone. I kept a great pace the entire time- not too fast, not incredibly slow. I just let my shoulders relax, my breathing calm, and my head wander. I felt at peace, and it was almost as if I was running on clouds. Ever had that feeling?? It is a great one, and sometimes, you don't want to stop. And, the only reason I did was because I had plans in an hour. But, otherwise, I could have kept going for a few more miles...

I think that my fitness level is still "up" since the IM and, having said that, I believe that if I were to race, even a half-iron distance next week, that I would have a great race. The base that I had built up (if there is such a thing as "base") during my training for the IM has given me the endurance to have these longer, steady paced runs and rides (even if they are under 2 hours) feel really good still. So, the drop in intensity during the off-season will allow me to keep my volume high, and recovery even higher. And, hopefully, my runs will continue to feel this good as I enjoy the incredible Fall weather we are having right now going into the last week of September and into October.

Have a great week!

Friday, September 21, 2007

4 Killer Stability Exercises

Are you wanting to do something other than CRUNCHES after your daily run/swim/bike that you can do 3 times a week to strengthen your core and help your overall performance? Here are 4 core moves that can add both a new dimension to your post-workout routine and some excitement to your cool down. Check these out...

1. Side Plank with Single Leg Lift:
How to do it: Lay on the floor, supporting yourself up with one elbow. Lift yourself up in a push up position, where your body is completely off the floor except for your elbow and side of your foot. Your hips should be in line with your shoulders. You want to stabilize yourself in this position and then lift your top leg up about 5 inches, keeping your core as still and strong as possible. Hold the leg up for a count of five seconds, then drop it for a second, and then repeat. Do a total of 10 reps, each side. Perform 2 sets total.

2. Kneeling Superman with Opposite Arm/Leg Lift:
How to do it: Get on the ground, supporting yourself on your hands and knees. You want to keep your head staring at the ground, keeping your core tight, while lifting your opposite arm and leg completely so that they are parallel to the ground. You want to hold your arm and its opposite up, squeezing your core and booty tight, for 3 seconds each and then switch. Perform 12 reps each and keep your head neutral.

3 . Reverse Crunch with Twist/Add Crunch:
How to do it: You want to lay on the ground, and put your knees up so that your legs are at a 90 degree angle to the ground. Ideally, you want to lay flat on a bench so that you can grab onto the bench behind your head. But, if you are on the ground, you can hold onto something bolted to the ground that is directly on each side of your head. You want to lift your hips up off the ground, pulling with your abs and then add a twist at the top. Then, lower your knees back to the neutral starting position. Once back at neutral, you want to put your hands behind your head and add a crunch. Then, hold on again, reverse crunch with the twist to the other side, and then crunch. Repeat 10 times each side. Perform 1-2 sets total.

4. Standing Single-Leg Cobra:
How to do it: You want to stand and bend at the hips. Extend your arms behind you, thumbs up. Then, raise one leg behind you as high as you can, while slightly bending the knee of your supporting leg, and keep your core tight. Make sure you don't support your pelvis and keep your head neutral to the ground. You want to statically hold your leg behind you for a total of 30 seconds and then switch sides. Make sure that you are keeping your arms up and thumbs back, squeezing your shoulder blades back together. Repeat 2 times each side.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Leg Cramps While Swimming?

I had a question posted to me a few days ago from a fellow swimmer in Massachusetts. He was wondering why he always got lower leg cramping during swim workouts, especially during kick sets with fins. Then, over the last day or so at Master's Swim practice, I have heard a few other swimmers talking about cramps as well. I gave Jeff some advice and hopefully it will be useful to you as well.

Jeff,

You have a very common problem- lower legs cramping while swimming, especially using fins. Good news: you are normal :) Let me tell you what you can do to help this problem get better. Your ankles are probably not as flexible as they can be. So, you need to take some time to stretch your ankles using an elastic band, pulling back on your toes, actively extending and flexing the ankles. You can also sit on your legs where your ankles are directly under your tush and lean backward- if that is not too much. You might need to work up to that. Essentially, your calves are what are cramping because during your kick, your feet are plantar flexed the entire time- it is essentially like you are wearing high heels throughout the entire workout. If your ankles lack flexibility, you will run into problems holding this position for any extended period of time- for you, at the 40-60 minute mark. It has nothing to do with what you are eating/drinking- even though drinking enough water is very important.

I would work on your flexibility of your ankles and also do some calf raises at the pool prior to your workout. You can do your raises at the edge of the pool or in the gutter if you are able to hang onto a starting block and hold on safely. Try this and let me know if you notice a difference.

Have a great day! Enjoy your workouts.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

FOCUS YOU

Webster.com defines FOCUS in 8 different ways. Today, I'd like to touch on these:

1. a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding
2. direction

In order to reach any goal in life: family, racing, nutrition, work- you need to first understand the direction in which you hope to go, and then set a path of least resistance for which to reach your destination. Take into account that our life throws us come curve balls now and again, and some this clear direction, or FOCUS, can get blurry. Some of these curve balls include:

1. Sickness/ Health
2. Kids
3. Friends
4. Work pressures
5. Time

These are just some distractions that can lead to a blurred FOCUS to our end goals. I don't like excuses- in fact, I am all about one taking personal responsibility for their actions. My biggest pet peeve when it comes to the 5 examples I list above is when someone tells me they didn't HAVE TIME. Time is the universal thing that each of us has in our corner- everyone has an equal amount of it in a day. The most successful people are the ones who use it most effectively. The people who are FOCUSED- focused on minimizing the curve balls in their life to use time on their side to get to their goals. Take the TIME in the planning of your route to your goal- so that when you are on your way to your destination, you can best manage your time effectively and minimize any pit stops along the way.

The biggest distraction to focus, however, that I did not list above is reading this email. Yes, YOU. I think that ONESELF be one of the biggest limitations in one's quest to focus who they only hope one day to become. I hear things like, "I wish I could", or "I can't see myself," or "How did you do that? I couldn't..." and that just baffles me. I have never put that much of a limitation on myself and you shouldn't either. So, literally- check yourself, see where you are at as far as your level of commitment is concerned and get YOU focused.

Have a GREAT swim/bike/run/fun today...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fortune Cookie Says...

A fortune cookie that I opened (and quickly devoured) in Middleton, Wisconsin last weekend a few days before my Ironman said..."Be assertive when decisive action is needed." I, prior to opening it, was saying that I was going to look for an immediate reason for this 1 cookie to tell me all I needed to know before I raced, as if it was going to be the tell-all of the result of the IM. I am not usually superstitious, even though my favorite number is 13, but seeing as though I had this big race coming up and it just seemed proper to read into anything three days prior to it, I let the cookie voice get the best of me. So, of course, I looked into the fortune and thought that being assertive in a race is something that I sometimes struggle with, especially on the bike. I sometimes sit back and let some chicks pass me because I am in a comfortable pace and don't want to push too much for fear I will blow up on the run. Being that I am usually decisive, but have wavering levels of assertiveness in the saddle, I took the advice personally and remember 3 distinct times where I held off a few girls on the ride and finished strong ahead of them, having trusted in myself to be the aggressive rider I knew I could.

I am sure the fortune cookie doesn't know jack- but, how fun is it when you look back in hindsight and find reasons for why you validated the cookie advice. Bottom line: trust your decisions, follow your heart, and give it 110%- as assertive as you can. Don't let life happen to you- take charge and decide for yourself to be all that you want to be and more.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Our 5K Team

Today was the 1st practice of our gym's 5K Training Team. We are prepping for the Santa Clarita 5K, which is to be held on November 4th. We have had sign-ups at our gym over the last couple of weeks, getting newbies (new runners) and some more experienced runners to join- all with the goal to finish or at least set a personal record. This is the first time that I have this much involvement training such a wide array of talent and people. It is very evident that many of the team members are hesitant and unsure after the first run today, but I honestly believe that everyone will surpass their goals and have a great race. I saw some great enthusiasm today and honestly, it is just what I needed to squeak out a 4 mile run for myself today after taking 5 days off from my Ironman on Sunday.

No matter your "running" experience, anyone can become a runner. I started with 1 mile just like everyone else. It takes some time to build up to your 5K or 10K, and eventually, maybe your next Marathon- but, with the correct progression and the right motivation (teammates sure help :) You can do it.

Have fun training!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

IM Wisconsin- Race Report

Wow, what a cool event. Probably the toughest event, physically and mentally, I have ever completed. However, that said, I would admit that I have had training days that would have rivaled the difficulty of this race, simply because of the mental toughness required to complete some of those 9-hour bricks by myself in the 100 degree heat. Having 2000 other people there completing the same event, reaching the same great goal, truly helps one keep going. I do have to say that a Lucky Charms Jersey and a really great smile on the entire run also keeps one going, so I have learned. I don't know if I really want to recall all of the events of the weekend, as it might bore you to read. But, basically, coach planned the race for me, and I raced the plan. Nutrition was a 9 on a scale of 1-10. The weather was perfect. I loved it- well, not right after I was done. But, I do want to do it again- the full distance. I have put together a TOP 10 LIST of what ROCKED and what COULD HAVE ROCKED MORE for the race. Check it out and thanks again to all of my awesome friends and family who followed me that day and cheered all of us on.

10 THINGS THAT ROCKED

1. The volunteers.
2. The weather- 78 degrees and sunny.
3. The bike route. Challenging, but some of the coolest riding I have ever done.
4. The town of Verona.
5. Exclusive Bicycles. Thanks to Jeff and Frankie for making me feel at home.
6. Roman Candle Pizza and Wil- Thanks for the pizza, the ziti, the coffee, the breakfast, and the flowers in the Zebra in the room after the race. Very thoughtful.
7. Meeting up with Lynn at the Athletes Dinner and saying "Good Luck" minutes before the race. Giving him a huge hug and seeing the focus and calm in his face through slightly wattery eyes. So proud of that guy!
8. Tri Bike Transport. Loved picking/dropping my bike off right there at the site. Super convenient. Very cool free visor as well.
9. Mexico. 300 Mexican participants and 1 free Mexico Jersey para mi. Gracias a Claudio para la cambio- voy a usarle con suerte.
10. My Lucky Charms Jersey. I seriously had my own fan following with that damn thing. People chanting "lucky charms, lucky charms," who would have thunk it.

10 THINGS THAT COULD HAVE ROCKED MORE

1. More Coke on the run course. (just kidding).
2. People in the stands cheering as we ran through the UW football stadium. What a rush, though. You could almost hear the crowd despite the emptiness.
3. More Chamois Butter. You can Always use more Chamois Butter.
4. Seeing Jeremy finish. You rock! Congrats for qualifying for Kona.
5. Having a Surge at the end. I didn't pack one- should have.
6. Running into the arms of a loved one at the finish line.
7. Actually having my mom and sis there to see me- especially to have my sister standing there at the swim exit screaming "go, Erika, go- faster transition, faster transition".
8. Not having my bike break at mile 80.
9. Keeping up with Sean on the bike- actually, good thing I didn't, as I would have blown up. But, Sean, if you know who you are- thanks for the great advice.
10. Having to fly back on Monday. I could have used a few more days with my friends from Kentucky. You know who you are! (J.B.)

Looking forward to doing Vineman and Silverman next year!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ironman Madison, Wisconsin

The night before the Ironman...less than 12 hours before I will wake up before the biggest race of my life. I am sitting in my hotel room, watching the Top 100 1-hit wonders on VH1. I am resting, and trying to "take it easy." It is kind of an oxymoron- to tell a triathlete to relax. That is a good one. Anyway, I am pretty excited and definitely ready to race. Madison is a calm 70 degrees, probably 75 for the high today- 55 degrees for the swim start. 55 above zero. :)

I have a couple of really awesome tangible pieces of motivational material here for me. I have a card from an awesome client of mine, who inspires me more than she knows- her card reads, "I know you can do it! Get out there and show'em your stuff!!- (inside)- well, Not ALL your stuff". I also have a hand scribbled note from a 7 year old girl and her sister who I met at the hotel the night before- that they left on my door yesterday, which reads: "To (blank): I hope you win your race. Love, ?". I also have a text message from my sister, which bottom line- reads, get out there and do your best. Classic Taylor. I love it. Also, Clancy and Mike have both sent me motivational texts. I have some voicemails that I have saved- of course, from Coach Rach, who (surprisingly) didn't say, NOTHING TO IT BUT TO DO IT, but who always says, you are READY and she knows that I will do my best. I have talked to Monty every day and of course I miss his call today so it goes to voicemail. I love it- he says, "go out there and race your plan. If things are not going that well, just change the plan. (laugh, laugh)." Classic Monty. I also have a message from a friend, Sue Fish, who says, "Take it to the bridge" and my uncle/aunt, who remind me to "Be the Ball." Bottom line, when you are with 2000 others who are trying to accomplish the same goal- nothing will stand in your way. That is the motivation you need- just catch the person in front of you, one at a time, saying "I am going to get you, and you, and you".

One of the coolest things about this race is that I am going to be racing with a friend of mine, Lynn Beiswanger, from Bismarck, North Dakota. He is one of the most inspiring people that I have ever had the pleasure to meet and train with. I seriously can't imagine racing my first Ironman with anyone else who has worked and has wanted this so much, so much more than even me. His determination is truly an inspiration and his focus is unparalleled. Good for you, Lynn, to be this ready and to have the health that you do today to compete in this big event. I will be waiting for you to pass me on the bike- that is if you can catch me! :)

Well, I have a dinner date at 7:30 with some pasta and a glass of yummy red wine. Then, up at 3:45am to get myself up, dressed, and off to the race site. I will be back to give a full race report when I am done.

Have a great day and check back by tomorrow for a full report!

Clancy, Mike and I

Clancy, Mike and I
SB Tri Finishers- Nice Tiles!