Listening To Your Body

Listening To Your Body

Yesterday I was driving by the YMCA and decided to go for a swim.  It was a chilly day and I stood in front of my locker in underwear, shivering.

My gym bag and swim trunks were sitting on the floor and I was literally 30 steps from being in the pool.  That’s when my mind started with the games.

“Maybe you should just go for a run, or better yet, hop on the trainer in the warm living room when you get home.”

I was dumbfounded by the ridiculous, but powerful dialogue that nearly convinced me to get dressed and leave.  Thankfully I remembered Steven Pressfield’s book “Do The Work.”

Pressfield talks about what he calls “resistance” and how it’s on a  constant mission to keep you separated from your dreams and goals.  He labels resistance as: fear, self-doubt, procrastination, addiction, distraction, timidity, ego and narcissism, self-loathing, perfectionism, etc.

Somehow I managed to beat resistance by simply reaching down, sliding into my cold shorts, and walking toward the pool.  What happened next turned into one of my better swims of the year.

How do we go from having virtually zero physical desire to excelling in the swim, bike or run that follows?  It made me wonder if in those moments we are holding onto massive tension in the form of pent-up energy that is disguised as lethargy and disinterest.

It was different than “being tired” or feeling overworked.  I felt more tense and constricted.  That cold-kinda-feeling that says, “stay in bed.”

It was a perfect example of “not” listening to my body, but more often than not, I do.

I have a long history of stopping a workout when I know that I could go further.  Yesterday’s swim was a good example.

I’m still working back into swim shape, so I set out to go 2,000 meters.  A comfortable, controlled swim to re-gain form and confidence.  Around 1200 I felt an excellent rhythm and decided to stop while I was ahead.

Two thousand meters felt like it was in the bag, but I wasn’t in the mood to risk any kind of exhaustion.  It was all I needed and in the Ironman-game, pulling back is one of the toughest things to do.

It’s kind of like wearing a watch to make sure you go slow enough.

Finishing an Ironman doesn’t happen in one day.  Sometimes it takes years to do it right, but a lot of us, including me, tend to rush it.  Not only the first, but the next and next.  This is a sure fire way to burnout.

On today’s podcast, we talk about long-term progression, maintaining the spark, and when putting off Ironman for shorter races is a good decision.

We also talk about why Lionel Sanders (the man with the fastest Ironman time in history, 7:44:29) is passing on KONA in 2017.

And, there’s Mary Keitany of Kenya who’s won the New York City Marathon three consecutive times, but seemingly scoffs at the idea of any real “formal” training.

Enjoy our latest podcast: Listening To Your Body

Ask The Coach Podcast

Ask The Coach Podcast

On today’s Crushing Iron triathlon training podcast we hit on a ton of topics for the beginner and intermediate triathlete with our new “Ask The Coach” segment. These are questions (or versions of) we see all over the internet. This is one of our favorite podcasts to date and we cover learn answers to the following questions.

  • What is a threshold test for the bike and how does it work…why should someone do this?  Explain power meter??
  • I’m having a tough time getting back into swimming… other than prescribed workouts, what do you suggest to get back into the groove?
  • A lot of people have a hard time training for hills because of where they live….what would you recommend for both the bike and/or run?
  • How do you deal with the mental aspects on the bike and run?  Do you prepare your thought process beforehand?
  • Regarding apparel…. what do you look for when you’re buying a new kit?
  • What about supplements… do you take them?  Why do you take the ones you do?
  • Let’s talk about dry land training for swimming….
  • Would you compare your first Sprint to losing your virginity?
  • FB question:  Since headphones are not allowed during the race itself, I’m assuming that training without headphones would be wise. Opinions?
  • FB question: I have been training six days a week, but I want to make sure I’m training right. What training plan does everyone recommend? Even though I’m a 140.6 first timer I don’t want to train as a beginner. I am ready and willing to put the time and work in, but want to make the most of my time.

Please subscribe and comment on iTunes and email your questions to: crushingiron@gmail.com
www.crushingiron.com

 

What Do I Eat?

The other day I got a text from a friend asking what kind of a diet I was on for triathlons.  I sent back a picture of a can of vegetarian chili and said, “Tonight, it’s this.”FullSizeRender-3

I guess my diet is a bit of a dirty-little-secret in some ways.  I’m not afraid of pizza or even fast food a couple times a week, but of course there’s always a price to pay.

It’s funny, too, because I think nutrition is everything.  I am nearly 100% convinced that a solid diet (along with exercise and a good spiritual practice) will take care of most modern day ills.

I’m a big believer that inflammation is the root of most of our our problems, including things like depression and anxiety.  And the best way to reduce inflammation is to be on a alkaline leaning diet.  But I’m not scientist or nutritionist, I go by feel. I also listen to a lot of podcasts,  so I guess I like to regurgitate alternative facts.

My overall dietary habits can be summed up like this: I try to eat at least one solid meal a day, and by solid I often mean tuna from a can on bread with butter, steamed broccoli, and . . . that’s about it.  It can vary, of course, but I’m pretty simple and did have pizza tonight.  I also drink a lot of water and try to mix in a spinach smoothie during the day.

In general, our relationship with food cannot be understated.  But, unfortunately I have yet to find a clean handle on my diet, and know just enough to be dangerous.

That’s why we have brought a Registered Dietician onto the podcast today.  It was interesting to hear her philosophy, which I will describe as balanced and thoughtful.

We talked about everything from the best way to change your diet, how to keep is simple and steady, along with things like how to better access body fat for energy, ketosis, and challenges with body image.  We also get into race-day nutrition.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the podcast on Triathlon’s 4th Discipline, Nutrition, featuring Lizzy Miller.

Triathlon: Chasing a Dream, or . . .

Below is a picture I posted on Facebook 5 years ago. I was the heaviest I’d been in my life and depression was my new buzzword. I posted this picture as a “carb-loading” joke the night before starting a Couch to 5k running program. We did 6 sets of 60 seconds of jogging followed by 60 seconds of walking that first day. Since then I’ve finished 4 Ironman races and will likely do more. I’m almost positive you could do something similar if you put your mind to it.carbloading

As I reflect on that day, I remember how obsessed I became with the quest, to first, be a runner, then an Ironman.

There were a lot of pictures like the one above.  Posts of my Garmin after workouts, race results, or anything else to do with my new found love of transformation.

But, after about a year of that, I started getting self-conscious of my quest.  I remember how I would covertly steer seemingly every conversation around to Ironman, then I’d launch into a diatribe about how “amazing” everything was in my life because of triathlon.  But it wasn’t.

I was still struggling with many of the same issues and triathlon was mainly an addictive substitution.  My life balance was still out of whack.

I was definitely on a better path, but had to figure out how to balance the incredibly demanding sport of triathlon with other passions in my life.  And more importantly, how to use the momentum for personal growth.

I can honestly say I haven’t quite figured it out yet.  But I have been on a path of finding contentment in the simpler things in life.

I’m feeling more comfortable in my skin and finding clarity in the idea that this process is for myself.  Most people could care less if I just had a kick-ass 8 mile run, or swam 3,000 meters in the pool.

But some do.  And it’s those people I feel most comfortable with.  The ones who take genuine action towards being a better person, not only in triathlon, but business, creative pursuits, and exploration.  The ones that know it’s a long road and change, privilege, and understanding  doesn’t happen overnight.  The ones who realize we’re all flawed and life is a work in progress.

This is kind of the tone for our latest podcast.  We talk about the delicate balance between endurance sports and life.  The price of isolation, addiction, and obsession.  We ask questions like, “How can we trek 138 miles, ache in every inch of our body, and be sad an Ironman is almost over?”

I just love the drive and desire of people who take up triathlon.  I truly believe they are the type of person who wants to get the most of life through action.

Commitment to change is never easy, but it helps to have like-minded people in your corner.  Hope you enjoy this discussion.

De-Mystifying Swimming

De-Mystifying Swimming

Without question the biggest mystery for triathletes in training, is swimming.  The fact that you literally cannot breath half the time can be tricky, and the fact that drowning is a real possibility probably doesn’t help.

When our breathing gets out of control on the bike or run, we instinctively know how to slow down without fear.  But slowing down in the water isn’t as natural.

In each of my first four races I slowed to either a breast stroke or started treading water to catch my breath and slow my heart rate.  There are not many feelings worse!

That’s why I made it my mission to get that anxiety-piece out of my triathlon-puzzle.  I became obsessed with learning how to relax in the water.

The biggest breakthrough came when I committed to swimming every day for two straight weeks.  I didn’t go long (usually between 1-2,000 meters) but the repetitive nature of my practice made a huge difference.

I naturally got faster, but I really think it was because I was more relaxed. Being “tight” in the water (and land for that matter) is my biggest enemy.

After about 7 straight days of swimming I noticed a very simple thing: That first plunge into the water didn’t feel cold or weird or uncomfortable.  My body had adapted, and I really think that’s the biggest win you can have as a swimmer.

In today’s podcast we go back into the water for a follow up piece to “How To Not Suck At Swimming.” Part 2 takes a closer look at swimming technique, and more importantly ways to remove the mystery.

Coach Robbie lives and breathes open water swimming and he’s back with another round of great insight to becoming faster, stronger, and more efficient in open water.  Topics covered today are:

– Proper breathing – How and When
– Body Positioning and how to get it right
– Hand entry and exit – How and When
– How to deprogram from bad advice, including workouts that get you there
– How to structure a swim week of workouts
– Should you join a Master’s Team?
– Swimming square and why you swim crooked
– A big announcement from Coach Robbie
– Which country has the second most Crushing Iron listeners

If you feel you’re getting some good information, please subscribe and review on iTunes.

Triathlon 101: In The Beginning

Triathlon 101: In The Beginning

It was the morning of my first triathlon and I was understandably nervous. So many fears:  My first open-water swim, the unknown of running off the bike, and walking around in public wearing head-to-toe spandex.

It was actually lycra, but the self-awareness was frightening.  I stood on fast-warming concrete and waited with about 600 others to enter the water. Truth be told, I still didn’t really know how to swim and I was about to jump into the fast moving Cumberland River in downtown Nashville.

We filed down the pier and soon my number was called.  With an exhilarating (and fearful) scream, I plunged into the murky water for a 300 yard swim.  Six minutes later I fought the current with all my might just to get to the ladder with a VERY high step.  I couldn’t get my foot on there and did more of a pull-up-to-body-flop onto dry land.

Everything about that day was a trip.  The feeling of running to my bike was wild.  Gasping for air as I tried not to lose my balance.  Trying to remember what to take off, leave on . . . and put on.  I didn’t know anything about transition and started running out without my helmet, of course.

We hear all this stuff about nutrition, aero bars, race wheels, and on and on, but so much of it is overkill in the beginning.  If I had to do it over again, I would probably do everything in my power to think of my first time as a practice race.

Again, this was a sprint, so the run was 3.1 miles, but it was . . . um . . . weird. I wasn’t yet used to the feeling of running off the bike.  This feeling stayed with me for a few races, but now I almost look forward to running after loosening up the legs.

I finished the race that day and it was genuinely one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.  I thought I’d just scaled a mountain but it was just the beginning.  I was hooked.

I’ve gone on to do many Olympics, several 1/2 Ironman, 4 fulls, and yes, more Sprints.  I love them all.

I think the key is to keep moving forward is to have patience with our development.  It doesn’t happen overnight, but it eventually happens.  You will fall in love with the sport and hopefully with how it makes you feel.

In today’s podcast we talk about the most important things to consider before doing your first triathlon and how you can stay in the game for a long time.  We also share ways to make starting triathlon a LOT less expensive.

Here’s an outline of our podcast:

  • Things to consider before signing up for your first race
    – location
    – brand
    – race management
    – time of year
  • What made you want to do a “triathlon” in the first place – Finding your “why”
  • Gear: Items you HAVE to have, would be nice to have , and items that are just  because you WANT to have them
  • How to set up a plan for success
  • How to know if you are ready to go to the next distance 

New Crushing Iron Video Trailer

New Crushing Iron Video Trailer

Tomorrow marks the 19th Crushing Iron podcast.  With that, I thought I’d make a little trailer showcasing some of the comments we’ve got from listeners.

Thanks to everyone who is listening and there are a lot of you!  If you haven’t please check one out and let us know what you think at crushingiron@gmail.com.

You can listen to any of our podcasts here or better yet, subscribe and comment on iTunes.

From Couch to Sub-12 Ironman at 50

From Couch to Sub-12 Ironman at 50

I don’t look at this as a big big deal, but a lot of people are curious about how I got off the couch and finished an Ironman at age 50.  It wasn’t easy, and definitely took a major turning point, but I really believe almost anyone can do an Ironman.

Coach and Mike
This is me culminating my Couch to 5K training

I started running for the first time in 2012.  I was 48 at the time and probably 30 pounds over my ideal weight.  A party video changed my life and I knew it was a now or never moment.

After about 8 weeks of walk/run training I finished my first 5k.  In some ways I still feel like that was a bigger deal than finishing my first Ironman.  It was the turning point that sort of shoved me into working out again.  I loved it and kept going.

I went straight to a 5 mile, a 10k, then a 1/2 marathon two weeks later.  It was probably an excessive path, but I was bitten by the bug.

But later that year the big bug bit me when I went to watch my friend Kevin do Ironman Louisville.  It was truly a remarkable experience, and even as a spectator, I didn’t want to let go.  I ran around with Jim for 17 hours and I knew it was just a matter of time before I was lining up to do Ironman.

The next weekend I almost drowned in an Olympic, but I was in too deep.  One week later, along with four other guys, I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin.

From there it was just a matter of wrapping my brain around what it would take to get ready for a mass start swim, a hilly 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon, which I would never come close to running in training.

The swim was the biggest mental obstacle.  The Wisconsin mass start intrigued and intimidated me at once.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it, but the bottom line was I had to start working or I would be embarrassed . . . or worse.

A couple months after my decision, I met Coach Robbie and he patiently answered a million questions, guided my workouts, inspired me, and jumped my ass when I needed it.

We worked together from the beginning of January 2013 all the way through Ironman Wisconsin 9 months later.  It was a bumpy road at times and often I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off.  But the incremental growth kept coming.

Have you ever seen a coach so proud?
Have you ever seen a coach so proud?

Along the way I had 4-5 breakthrough moments that convinced me I could be an Ironman.  They were mental victories that I believe pushed me over the top.  I started with the hope of finishing under 13 hours, but as the summer went on, I started looking at the idea of sub-12.  That decision was far more mental than physical and in this podcast I talk about how my mindset changed and what I think was the key moment.

We also talk about:

– The importance of recovery as you get older
– Turning points in Mike’s belief system
– How Mike went from a 42 minute Olympic swim to a 1:20 Ironman at Wisconsin
– How to virtually guarantee a solid Ironman run
– Why Mike’s longest training run was only 14 miles en route to a 4:20 marathon.
– How Coach Robbie kept him focused over a long 9-month-plan
– Overcoming mental and emotional burnout
– The mind game Mike played with himself to assure a sub-12 Ironman

*** And here’s a great recap from Coach Robbie from his day as a spectator/coach for my first Ironman at Wisconsin.

Please review our podcast on iTunes

 

 

 

Triathlon Trends: Fraud or For Real?

Triathlon Trends: Fraud or For Real?

Everyone’s looking for an advantage, and that’s certainly true of triathletes.  But sometimes you have to wonder if we’re taking placebos.

There is an endless supply of accessories, nutritional options, and advice, but where should it stop?  Or should it keep going?

That’s the topic for today’s podcast, and it will certainly ruffle a few feathers, but it is genuinely an open and honest discussion about which trends are fraud and which are for real. There’s a lot of gray area in this stuff and we address most of it.

Fraud of For Real?

  • Compression Socks
  • Chocolate Milk
  • Stretching
  • Ice Baths
  • Altitude Training
  • Heat Training
  • Oxygen Masks
  • Coca Cola
  • Pull Buoys
  • Wind Breakers
  • And all of the intricacies that could actually make some frauds for real.

Here are the reference links discussed in the podcast:
Chocolate Milk
Stretching
Ice Baths
Compression Socks