Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Head Games

We did St. Anthony’s triathlon last weekend and it was fun to go do as it was one for the first major triathlons I ever did back in the 90’s. In fact, it was the first triathlon I ever took a plan e to lane to go do. So to get the chance to get that race in was a lot of fun.

The only trouble with the racing part of the trip were my achillies. I have haglunds deformity on both heels and some calcium in both tendons. I have been told that they will require surgery, and the might. I have also been told to try to put off the surgery as long as possible. All I know is when I have been running lately I have been in a lot of pain. I am not sure if it is in my head more than before because I have been researching or if they are legitimately worse.

One of the things that I believe you need to do with the any situation with this is to get a clear path in your head of what you want to do. I know that when I have things like this, or injuries, or whatever, I need to get resolution through a plan.

For the race my plan was to run in trainer shoes. After doing a lot of research I need to find a shoe with a high heel toe drop and something without too much cushion because instability will add to the stress of the tendon. That’s going to be a little bit of an issue because I have a separate issue with my fore foot which will require a bit more cushion. Of course this couldn’t be easy. J

So armed with my training shoes, which I even took time to tie in transition I came off the bike in what I thought was first in my age group. When I started to run my legs were feeling worse then I feel in a 70.3! I’m sure it was a combination of things such as I didn’t really focus on the race and was trying to vacation while there. It was very hot and humid. Lower 90’s which is a lot different than Chicago. I knew my shoes were 2x heavier than the shoes I race in normally. To make matters worse I looked down at my Garmin hoping to see between 6-6:15 and saw a lot of 7 min miles and slower! OMG, I was dying and the feedback I was getting from everything was making it worse.

Trying not to panic I told myself that to think about the basics: quick feet, form, positive thoughts, not over thinking, not concentrating on the negatives. I hit the first mile in 6:05, WHEW! That helped but the garmin was still off the entire race. I had to mentally fight all the feedback I was getting the entire race. I held it together to run a 40 min 10k which isn’t lighting the world on fire but good enough to won the AG by 9 min, and 5th overall.

My point in telling you this is not to say that I did well, but that I did well DESPITE dealing with all the negative opportunities. We are all going to have days ahead us that will present opportunities to take negative mental paths which I promise you will lead to worse results. It’s HARD to not fall into that trap.  Try to find mental practices to fall back on.

In my experience, I need to focus more on process then results. It doesn’t do me any good in those times to visualize having won the race. That’s clearly not what is happening then. What I do try to practice is paying attention to physical cues in training when everything is feeling good and then telling myself I can do these things even when things are going badly. For example, if your cadence is up while having a good run, I try to tell myself that even if my legs are too tired to push hard, I can still turn them over quickly. Or relax shoulders, or forward lean. All these things are metal tools you can use to help you in tough situations.

More than likely you’re not going to have the day you had hoped, but if you hold it together, you can avoid have a bad day, and actually do a lot better then you think.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


I think one of the aspects I do well is self-evaluation. I may have had different perspectives on this as I have moved through life, but the willingness to look inside yourself with honesty and integrity I think is an important characteristic to success. That doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers, but you need to at least know when you don’t, and possess the willingness to seek out and listen to criticism.

It infiltrates so many aspects of what we do. Such as:

-        The person who is just “big boned” but unwilling to look seriously at their snacking habits

-        The unwillingness to recognize you don’t like one sport, so just don’t train it

-        The ability to recognize when you’re hurt and when it is time to maybe chill for a bit

-        When you have done all the right things in training, and then not executing correctly on race day

-        The ability to select races that truly reflect your goals for the season (I’m just going to do an IM for fun)

-        Your ability to really train at intensity zones you should on the days you need to

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. I have used this tool in so many ways. I used to be told long course racing was just not my thing. I knew inside me though this was not the case. I knew at a minimum I had not reached my potential yet. I figured out pacing, nutrition, training zones, race strategies, recovery, etc. All things I had to be willing to take a long look at in order to go from several DNFs to several sub 9:30 IM finishes to include 9:16 at Kona.

I find myself in the same position every year and my goal from this post is to tell you some of the things I run through every year on my own to see what I believe I need to change. These are things that even when I am coached, I need to figure out internally and then use a coach at times for objective feedback to maybe help me game plan a strategy to fix the issue.    

Here is my latest example of having to do this. This year I know I am dealing with a heel issue. I know the time is upon me that I need to figure out at least what is going on, and how to address it. I set up an appointment to see a respected ortho and he helped me diagnose what the issue is. It may require surgery on both heels, but at least now I know and I can come up with ways to try to get past this.

I know that I need to stay on top of my training zones. I went to see Gina Pongetti and her crew this year and had a complete metabolic profile done. What I learned was very informative. I need to be training harder than I have been training. The years of training at my old zones have made me very efficient at those zones so in order to take another step forward I need to drastically change some slower intensities.

Structurally I need to address why my heels are in the shape they are in. Could I have avoided it, or should I address a root cause. I believe through the help of Dr. Turner I was able to identify a huge deficiency in glute activation. My hip flexors are actually currently stronger by a significant amount from my glutes and hamstrings which is completely backwards from how it should be. If I am not using my glutes then my calves are having to carry the burden of my running which is going to keep them very tight. Even if I had surgery I would have the problem come back unless I address this cause.

Nutritionally this year while I am not fat, I have a lot of trouble shaving the last 5-10 lbs. that I like to drop for actual race weight. I am hiring Bob Seebohar but actually now that Tanya is certified through him, she will be changing my nutritional profile based on the read outs of my metabolic tests. This will be another article all onto itself. Again though if I am honest I know I could clean up several aspects of what I eat to get the low hanging fruit cleaned up. I speak to friends about this though and the key is finding the life balance you want to achieve though. There is no right or wrong, it just requires honestly and awareness to say this is what I want, and this is what I can expect from what I am putting into it.