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Monday, March 5, 2012

Getting Recovery Time

I have had a very interesting last 2 weeks- not only in my training schedule, but my personal life- moving from town to town, keeping my work load the same, and then trying to train for a half ironman. It is pretty tiring sometimes, and it can get mentally exhausting. I have worked to find ways to de-stress and enjoy my free time as much as possible while still being productive. Also, I was thinking of how I could have the most fun as well while not wanting to quit my job!

Some things I have done in order to keep my mind on relaxing through this stressful time include:

1. Focusing on the things I really enjoy- coaching my volleybal kids. I have so much in Montecito and also down in Valencia doing LAVA strength training. Kids are so much fun and getting their feedback on how much they enjoy the coaching really makes me feel happy!

2. Going to Max Relax to get foot massages and/or full body massages. I enjoy Chinese Reflexology and it is so great to go in after a long run or bike ride and get my feet/back worked on. I also love the people who work there.

3. Laugh with my sister and mom. I enjoy spending a night or two down in Valencia and enjoying my family. it helps me to destress and we always end up laughing hysterically.

4. Drink less coffee and more tea. I love my coffee, but if I am a bit stressed, i can't have too much caffeine. It makes it worse.

5. Go for a run (fun run) on the beach. I really love going to the beach, and especially in the sun in the sand by the water. My favorite places ever.

6. Download some new tunes on iTunes. Who doesn't love more/new music! :)

7. Write my blog :)

I had a time trial today on my bike- a 30 minute, all-out effort and it felt amazing. I feel super fit right now and I am chilled out now that I am living in my new place. I am very excited and have a great friend/roommate.

Hope you have a great week!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Grocery Shopping Re-Learned

When is the last time you spent over $130 dollars at the grocery store? For me, it was 2 nights ago. I was swimming with a client today and I told her that I went shopping at Trader Joe's with my coach and she was like, "you needed to go with your coach? You know enough about food don't you? Why did you need him with you?". I answered her that I can always learn more, and honestly, I feel like I don't practice enough of what I preach.

Since I have trained with my coach, he has been strict with me as far as preparation of my foods, as well as the type of foods to get- fresh and ORGANIC. I had my own thoughts about organic- like it was all talk and too new agey for me. Oh, and not worth the money- being that the difference between regular and organic was not big enough for me to make a change. But, after my coach MADE me a few dinners and hammered the ORGANIC choices into me (and I started to feel a difference in my performance and see a difference in my body) I actually started to believe him. Because, after all, it is really easy to know the information, but sometimes you need that extra push in order to follow it.

At Trader Joe's, there are some distinct differences that I am adopting in order to eat-live-and feel better. Besides eating organic, these differences include:

1. Eating a bigger, better breakfast. I now have 2 choices for healthy breakfasts, which both include coffee (of my choice of course- my coach doesn't drink coffee, so he wouldn't know :) I eat either gluten-free Gorilla Munch or a cereal by the same brand with some Non-Fat Vanilla Almond milkn and a piece of fruit- 2nd choice is eggs and chicken sausage (which I just had for dinner) and some polenta. Both are balanced meals and will get my body prepared for the workouts it has ahead of it.

2. Getting nuts/peanut butter again is not bad. Im not gonna lie- before when I would get trail mix and/or PB at the store, it was too easy to take spoonfuls of it and/or handfulls and eat too many calories, for no reason except for to snack. My coach has laid out a plan for me for when to eat these snacks. For example, the almond butter is measured out and put on a rice cake with low sugar strawberry preserves. That is a perfect snack before a ride for me to eat. I add the single serving trail mix to my salads or eat a bag quickly before I go for my noontime run. I have found some discipline and portion control with this technique.

3. Limiting my alcohol and sweets. I did not buy any at the store- of either wine or chocolate. However, my coach said that it would be OK if I did decide to get some chocolate (some 85% cocoa/dark chocolate) which is lowest in sugar and tastes very good. I don't drink a lot anyway, but I did have a habit of once a week going out with my girlfriends and having a few beers each Friday night at the local brewery. However, I have stopped that- as my coach reminds me.."being an athlete can be lonely sometimes." Doesn't mean I dont go to the brewery- I just drink water now :)

These are just a few of the big changes I have adopted into my training life and I have noticed a huge difference in my performance. They are not super hard to do, I just needed some strict guidance and some solid reasoning behind the choices. I am positive that you can follow these tips as well and see a difference in your game.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

One Day At a Time

Above is a photo of my friend, Jason Smith, and I at a 6:30 am track session for our McDonald's crew. We work them out 2 x's a week at the Santa Barbara City College Track as part of a Corporate Fitness group that their managers encouraged close to a year ago this month. It has grown, and as a group of about 10-12 members, they have seen over 200 pounds total lost in that year and many lives changed.

I once was talking to a friend of mine who is a fireman and we were talking about another mutual friend who is a doctor. I mentioned to him that the doctor had an amazing life- young, successful, and worked to save lives each day. He reminded me that I get to do the same thing- in a better setting. I never really thought of what I do for a living as a way to "save lives," but in reality, I guess that is true to some extent. I often feel like I am in the need of a little saving, and my coach(es) have always been there to help me out of my funk and, sometimes, save me from dying... :)

Life can throw some gnarly things your way, and sometimes in my job, I am not always ready to hear what might come out of one of my client's mouths that day. In the last month, I have had a client's husband die, another client's husband be diagnosed with a fatal illness, and another client who is going in for a very serious surgery. I also have clients that are away in the Galapagos islands, a cruise in the Carribean, and a trip to Fiji. It is always a roller coaster of emotions and the hours can change from one emotion to the next, several times over the course of one day. I guess that is what makes my job so unique and, also, fast paced. However, at the end of the day- very exhausting.

So, as I am driving home tonight after working all day since 5:30am (granted, I took a break in the middle of my day to run 8 miles and swim 2 miles)...and as I sit here at my computer at 11pm this same night...I reflect on the day. I have talked to some amazing people- have met some new friends, and have grown again as an athlete, putting in some great time in the water and on a pretty hilly run course. I am fortunate to have my health and to be alive. I am happy to smile and talk to the people around me- for, as you may not know, everyone is fighting their own battle- some harder than others. Enjoy each breath and open your eyes to the things you may not have ever seen before, for you might be a hero to someone around you.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I'm Gonna Talk About Me For A While

This week of training for me has been one of the best I've ever had- I mean it. I've had lots of weeks, like, I know!

The highlights of my week included 3 very hard bike workouts. Last Sunday, we (my amigos from Ventura) rode 92 miles, from Ventura to Magic Mountain and back. I am doing the Solvang Century, so getting in some longer rides is no problem for my training schedule right now. We had had lots of rain Saturday, so we were praying for sun Sunday and that is what we got. Beautiful weather without too much wind, and we had just a beautiful 5 hour ride. When we got done, I put on my run shoes and ran to the pier and back. I felt good, just needed a few more calories. But, other than that, I was good to go.

Wednesday, my coach had some time, so he rode with me on this awesome 2 hour "fartlek" style ride (not to be confused with a far lick) on Foothill road- out and back to the far side of Santa Barbara and back to East Beach. Again, beautiful weather. And, riding with coach, it is always such a treat because he gives me a goal and then mini-goals through the ride. That day, we practiced big gear, out of the saddle style riding, with some in the saddle, high cadence spinning up the rollers. There were 4 times at least my heart rate got above 174, which is pretty legit on that ride. When I finished the ride, I ran my 10K with my boys at East Beach, and killed it. Felt great, but I was tapped out. Nothing left. Gave it 100 percent. Great training day.

Thursday...nothing too amazing to report- except 4000 yards in the pool...getting ready for Friday's ride- again with coach, and the same Friday ride...but now on my tri bike.

Friday (today), the ride was the usual climbs- Gob, 192, Toro, San Ysidro, Cold Springs...and then even a lil APS on the ride home. 40+ miles. I killed it today on the ride, on my fancy tri bike and everything was just feeling super good. I had only 20 miles on the legs this week as far as running goes (tomorrow morning, a longer run of 12-15 miles), so that probably helped. But, I am feeling way more efficient in my pedal stroke on my tri bike because I have been working hard on my road bike.

Overall, I am having a great time learning how to bike better. I alluded the cycling I have been doing before my coach as a young volleyball player trying to just get the ball over the net and in the court...and now, with my coach, I am placing the ball with intention and accuracy and having a specific goal each time I get on the bike. That was not always the case before. I am also eating better and having some down time- learning to take time for myself in preparing workouts and meals..and sleep!

Thanks for reading- if anything, I hope this motivates you to get up and go- on your bike, even if it is just for 10 of the 92 miles :)

Oh yeah, and 100 miles on the schedule for this Sunday... to be continued.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It Takes Hard Work

So, if you think becoming the greatest in your line of work, in your sport, in your LIFE...were easy, then becoming "great" wouldn't be that much of an accomplishment. I know that sounds obvious. However (and I am guilty of it), we all want INSTANT results- we want to change in a day what took MANY DAYS to create. And, whether it good or bad, it will take time to reverse or change, improve or dissipate. GREAT TAKES TIME.

A man in the gym today was talking about his mom still being alive. This man, Bob, is old enough to be MY grandpa. So, I asked, "how old is your mom?". He replied, "103! and I hope I don't have to live THAT long!". I thought to myself, "OMG, that is 70 more years for me if I live that long- that is extraordinary!". And, I would LOVE to live that long. Call me crazy, but I love life. I would not change a thing- except have my coach cook for me everyday. But, realistically- wouldn't change a thing.

I question all of the clients and athletes that I train everyday to reach their goals, and within this conversation of striving to do his/her best comes the question, "Well, what have you done to get there?." The answer given most often is usually..not a whole helluva lot. And, that is where we go wrong. It takes hard work-sacrifice, reading, learning new things, changing what you do every frickin' day in your routine in order to change. I am not asking you to give up coffee for god sake. But, perhaps see a greater you, within the current you, and get after it. That is the beauty of life- it is dynamic and it might take you further than you ever imagined.

Now, go slam dunk it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Shifting Gears, Efficiently

So, you think you are gnarly? Can withstand any amount of "road rash" and that you are a complete bad-arse? You bust through super hard workouts, day in and day out, beating yourself into the ground FOR FUN. The harder the better! Periodization goes out the window and MORE is better! Quantity not quality... (you get my drift)...

I was on a run the other day with my buddies, Jeff and Shawn, and we were running a hard 10K at lunch time. I think we averaged 7:20/mile pace, on a somewhat hilly course. But, Zone 3 style running. It was good. On the run, as always, we were talking away, telling stories about the other athletes we know...and the story about a fellow Ironman athlete came up (I will not mention his name). He used to run with "our group," yet he couldn't hang any longer because he was either too serious or too structured to do our simple, fun, up-tempo runs during the day (where most of the guys-yes, I am the only chick- on the runs, were RUNNERS). This "IM athlete" one day just lost it and went off on Jeff..."you are just a SUGAR know NOTHING about Ironmans!!!! you just burn sugar with your running...we go hours and just don't get it."

This made me think. I, at times, wonder why I train for as long as I do somedays. I have 8 hour training days sometimes- and most weeks are more than 20 hour training weeks. I am not a professional athlete, but I sure as heck train like one sometimes. I also work 50+ hours a week. HOWEVER, I hired a coach this week to keep me FOCUSED and get me on the right track as far as my mileage is concerned. Not doing too much at once. Pedaling efficiently. Starting from the beginning... breaking the chain!

I quickly realized something over the last 2 weeks since I have had DS as my coach. I have become a better coach. I have reverted back to many of the original philosophies that I had started to coach from- simplicity and fun. I have found myself having a great time writing programs for my clients with care and detail. I have put together some INTENSE volleyball practices for my MVC 14s teams. I have had a better attitude with my co-workers and I wake up each day feeling refreshed and looking forward to my training. I have had some amazing group sessions with my LAVA volleyball teams in the North at Spectrum Club. I am open to learning, and even more open to giving. It is amazing what things can be done when you step back, analyze how you can be more efficient in your life- and, at times, delegation of duties (even your own) can be so freeing. And, my coach, DS- has been that one I have delegated to- to handle the training sessions for myself, which I have so long taken into my own hands- haphazardly, inconsistently, and, frankly, foolishly- doing too much, too often, and with no focus.

As I sit here, post Friday ride with Coach, I am calm- exhausted, but so appreciative for my health, my clients, my athletes, my family/friends, and my life. Several times on our ride today we had reminders that we are truly in one of the most amazing places on the planet. And, even if it is just for today...I can say that I shared some pretty good times with some beautiful people. And, what can be better than that?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Constantly Improving

I have been coaching all day today at Cal State Fullerton- my Junior Olympic Volleyball team, Montecito 14-1s. It was their first tournament and, honestly, I could not have bet how they would have done. I figured we would make silly mistakes- rotation errors, communication flaws, missing serves..running into each other on the court. The usual "first tourney" mistakes. However, I was very pleased to see my girls do well- better than most for the first tourney, and most parents also enjoyed the day. That is always a win in my book.

When coaching young adults (I all my 14 year olds this... :), you have to be "tough" without being too negative- encouraging, but not too easy going that they think you don't care about winning. After all, life is a constant struggle to improve- get better, stronger, faster, richer. It is what we all desire. But, to what degree do you coach this? Encourage improvement? Hold athletes accountable?

I told my girls before the day started that I was proud of them- no matter the outcome of the day. AND I MEAN THIS- 100 PERCENT. I didn't used to be that way when I first started coaching....I wanted to win everything, super intense, almost scared kids away I think. However, I have learned the importance of finding the balance between "success" and "winning"- and, to me, just improving in small ways are big wins in your own book.

For instance, tonight- I was sending messages to my coach asking, "what should I grab for dinner?"...(not that I don't know HOW or WHAT to eat...,but I always knows he has a quick answer and very smart about food I trust that). I was driving home, and he said "salad, with oil and vinegar. Chicken breast, no skin. Oh, and a yam would be awesome." My first thought was, "uh, this is going to take to much work than it is worth...", but I did go to a nice store- bought my protein and salad, and had a great dinner. Small improvements to my past "grab and go" turkey sandwich from Starbucks. It is a constant improvement for all of us- and, if you see yourself making a few better choices each day, that is the important thing. Small steps in the right direction- and making sure that you are recognizing these.

Have a fantastic week!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years "Fun" Ride

I have never riden 100 miles on January 1st. Perhaps it is a foreshadowing to the year before me. I was unsure of the riders that were going to join today, but as soon as I saw the talent show up, I figured it wasn't going to be the mellow ride I initially thought.

My coach said two things to me yesterday: enjoy the ride, and keep the rpms up. So, that was my true focus- RPMs. However, I did get excited today when I saw on my computer that on the ride from Ventura to Zuma and back that I had pushed some strong watts today (high of 455) and close to 200 watt average. The 3 other guys I rode with are part of the Rincon tri club and are all doing Ironmans next year. In fact, Shiggy has completed 37 Ironmans- 30 more than me (but he is a bit older...) and a kicker asser on the bike. It was humbling riding with him today..he is super talented. And, waited until the very end to, what I call, open the hurt locker.

I felt great during the entire ride. Shiggy and I put in an extra 20 miles (after we dropped the other 2 friends off at the cars at the 80 mile mark) and Shiggy, in his best English said, "Erika- we make it hard? or medium?" Dude...I thought, his medium is my hard. So, what the heck is his medium is going to be? Well, there was no choice and the last part of the ride was the hardest and the best. 65 degrees....super sweaty soaked through my 3 layers...3000 feet climbed, and about 500 calories consumed on the ride.

You know what the best comment was of the day? When Shig said.."Erika..all the riders (on PCH) are looking at you...", and I said, "why?", and he said, "Because the girl is pulling the boys." I thought that was pretty cool. And, honestly, I was pulling pretty darn hard from miles 45-66..and it felt great.

I have added 2 races to my calendar- and the one I am super excited about is the Rouge Robaix- it is a 100 mile bike race right outside New Orleans and I am especially stoked because my coach is going to get me in such great cycling shape!! This should be one of the best racing years of my life.

Clancy, Mike and I

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