Turning To Triathlon When Life Turns On You

Turning To Triathlon When Life Turns On You

A while back on the podcast we started asking for stories from listeners. What got you into triathlon? Why do you love it? How does it make a difference in your life?

We knew people were listening, but really didn’t know how (or if) we were connecting. Then we got an email from Ross Kaffenberger and it pretty much defined why we keep doing the podcast.

He said he loved listening and left a review on iTunes, then unceremoniously dropped a link to his blog, “Out and Back.” The next day I read his latest post and was blown away. Robbie said the same thing, and we made plans to get him on the podcast.

His words were heart wrenching and optimistic at once. I’ll let Ross tell the story, but it crystalizes why I think so many of us get into triathlon. It’s either to get us going, or keep us going. In Ross’s case, it has been both, and I’m really happy we’ve connected.

He’ll be doing my favorite race, Ironman Wisconsin, and he unveiled the incredible reason why in this podcast. If there’s any doubt triathlon can have a profound effect on our lives, please listen to this podcast and follow Ross on Twitter: @rossta

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


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.

Running Slow To Get Faster

Running Slow To Get Faster

For the longest time I thought running my perfect Ironman marathon came down to one theory: If I could learn to make my ideal goal pace (around 8:30) seem easy in training, I could hold it during the race.

It made total sense to me.  I already knew I could hold a 10 minute race pace but it was very difficult to stay that slow in training for extended periods.  It was hard to stay that slow?

I’ve always been sort of a quick-fix-guy and being patient in training or a race is difficult.  But the more I learn about triathlon, the more I realize building base (or chassis as Coach Robbie often says) is the key to real growth in our sport.

It’s easy to think that means beating up our legs and training hard, but have we thought about building base on a cellular level?

Most people (especially me) don’t want to hear it, but getting better at Ironman can be . . . boring.  It’s less like a thunderstorm and more like a steady rain dripping deep into your roots, or in this case, oxygen seeping into your cells.

The reality of boring is that it can actually be more enjoyable because it doesn’t hurt as much. I’ve spent a lifetime looking for the short cut, but putting in the work is always the best, and less frustrating solution.

So many of us spend our training days excited to post the results on social media, but could that be ruining our race?  Ironman success on the marathon is a slow burn and building the perfect running machine should be the goal.

These techniques just make sense and intrigue me with their simplicity.

Have you ever thought that it might make more sense to break your 10 mile run into two five milers?  How about running three separate times during the day to be fresh by giving your body a chance to stay recovered?

On this podcast we dive deep into why running slower might be the key to building your distance running.  We also cover speed work, why it should be limited, and the best way to approach it.

The topic was stimulated by an article in “The Science of Running” about theory of Ernst Van Aaken.  Here’s the article link.  Below is our 8th Podcast:  Running Slow To Get Faster.



The Sports Addiction

I can’t remember how I felt when I discovered Santa Claus wasn’t real, but the feeling I had after watching my team, Wisconsin, take a 59-0 public stoning in the Big 10 Championship must be similar.  Something I believed in, cherished, even worshiped felt like a lie.

This will likely seem overdramatic, but thoughts are things.  Feelings are things.  And that’s what this blog is all about.  That, and growing.

I gave up on watching pro sports years ago.  The money, superstars, and hype were too much.

I much preferred college.  Guys busting their ass for the love of the game.  Sticking their nose in the middle of a scrum on passion alone.

I was especially proud of Wisconsin football.  Gritty over-achievers that never backed down.  I thought of Wisconsin as that team nobody liked to play because they were tough and wouldn’t give up.  They may not win, but they’d be trading blows until the end.

They reminded me of me.

Saturday night, I sat in that stadium, stunned.  Play after play, it felt like I was losing more and more of my identity.  It was rape and pillage; and I was taking it personally.

Sometimes it takes an ass whoopin’ to grow up.

The best part of the game.
The best part of the game.

I was also confused.  What did it mean?  Was it just a game?  Of course, but suddenly, everything I have ever spewed about Wisconsin, or college football in general, started to feel like a joke.  30-plus years of “scrappy, hard-nosed Badger football discussions” were a fraud.  I was a fraud.

I realize this may be an overreaction in the heat of the moment, and in no way is this about these kids. They work their asses off and shouldn’t carry fans’ emotions on their backs.

My desire to disconnect from the idolatry of a sports team, a state, a country, and product brands has been building for years.  Separation from the distractions that pollute us and holds back the evolution of consciousness.

It’s important to separate from the ego and not take stuff like this too seriously. Especially things you can’t change, and these games are 100 percent out of our control.

This isn’t about quitting, this is about evolving, which is what I find most fascinating about endurance training.  I have been having similar feelings about my relationship to Ironman.

What does the race mean if the training isn’t enjoyable? Do we really want to tie all of our efforts and image into the result of one day?  Exercise is supposed to be physically, mentally, and spiritually uplifting.  It’s supposed to give you energy, not take it away.

Not only energy, but clarity and confidence to become the best you.

I can no longer justify hiding behind the distraction of football.  The pain I experienced that night is not only unexplainable, but genuinely grotesque.  Why does sports matter so much?  Why do we tie our emotions to the fate of young men throwing around a ball?

It’s another form of addiction and I have finally realized the highs from winning are nowhere near the intensity delivered by the lows of losing.  It’s probably similar to how Rome felt while they were on the conquering spree that came to an abrupt halt at the hands of the Franks or climate or disease; or in this case Ohio State.

But they too will fall.  Resigned to carry the baggage for an entire fan base of fragile adult egos.


Pro Pics from Ironman Chattanooga

Andrew Drobeck on the run out.  8:34:08 – 9th Place


Dude goes first at Ironman Wisconsin, then brings it back with a 2nd at Chattanooga.  Daniel Bretscher, freak of nature.


Angela Naeth, first place woman at Ironman Chattanooga.  If you were following me @miketarrolly on Twitter you would have been one of the first to know this.

Ironman Chattanooga Run

Third place female at Chattanooga Jennie Hansen.  She was making a strong finish for second right here, but came up a few minutes short.

Jennie Hansen Ironman Chattanooga

The Shock Jock of Endurance Sports, Jim Lubinski hammering up the run out on his way to 12th place with an 8:41.


Doug MacLean steeped in the run out.



The “Voice of Ironman”

Someone once told me, “Everywhere you go, there you are.”  Lately it’s been, “Everywhere I go, there HE is.”

Over the last 5 weeks I’ve driven to Louisville, Wisconsin, and Chattanooga for Ironman.  Once to compete, twice to spectate, and within minutes of arriving to these wonderful cities, a powerful voice of inspiration floods my ears.

As of Ironman Chattanooga 2014, Mike Reilly has announced 138 IRONMAN races and if you haven’t seen one, you have no idea how impressive that is.  His voice rings in the air from 6 am until midnight and the pitch never waivers.

I didn’t make it to the Swim Start in Chattanooga, but Mike was there, pumping everyone up and calming nerves at the same time.  When you nervously await the start, as an athlete or a spectator, his voice is omnipresent and the words always seem to be right.

I had a brief meeting with Mike at Louisville pre-race as I was noodling around near the sound board.  I was about to walk into a furnace and Mike knew it.  He likely knows more about IRONMAN than most.  On this day I was trying to impart my strategy when Mike politely stopped me and simply said, “Take it easy out there and try to have fun.”

He was right, of course, but I didn’t listen.  I went after the run like a dog in heat and it ate me alive.

Yesterday, he stood high above the crowd in Chattanooga as the last swimmer battled to get out of the water.  He did everything in his power to help her get home.

It was one of those moments that stops you in your tracks.  She was alone in the water, battling demons while hundreds watched her labor to reach shore.

“Keep going, we’re all here waiting for you!”  “Doggy paddle if you have to, you can do it!,” said Reilly with a combination of compassion and the tenacity of a father.

His day started before sunrise and he was still going as I watched the live stream from my hotel room until 12:15 am.  His energy and passion for what he loves was just as enjoyable to watch as the finisher.  He danced, joked, shouted encouragement, and dished high fives as the last runners crossed the finish line.

At 12:16 the lights went out and Mike Reilly was gone from my sight, but his voice was ringing in my core.  “You are an Ironman!”

People always ask me why I write about Ironman and travel around to races and I think the simple answer is, I love it.  I love to surround myself with optimistic people who stop at nothing to push their limits, and Mike Reilly has certainly been a great representation of that lifestyle.

Here is Mike Reilly from this morning after handing my new buddy, Dave Richter his award and Kona slot.



Incredible Day at Ironman Chattanooga

First of all, what a great city for an Ironman.  Chattanooga is amazing and it lived up to a year long hype for me and several friends from Nashville who came to watch a blistering race.

It’s 11:58 and I’m back in the hotel after being on the course for about 15 hours and plan to write more in the morning at one of the awesome coffee shops, but for now, here are a few pictures, starting with my main man Corey Coggins who once again raised the Ironman bar for me.

Ironman Chattanooga Run

Marc Swain, who worked his ass off all year and loves training so much he inspires everyone around him.  So happy for him to have this under his belt.  Many more are surely on the way.

Ironman Chattanooga Run

Pumped for my good friend Vince Wyatt who kicked some ass today.  Seemed like I saw him swimming at the YMCA every time I worked out.  He had a great attitude the whole way and says he is a huge Crushing Iron fan.  Congrats, buddy, I know the little man is proud!

vince wyatt Ironman Chattanooga

My old college buddy Pete from Wisconsin called and said his friend Dave Richter was racing this weekend.  Well, Pete’s friend not only raced, he qualified for Kona in 45-49.  I’ve never met him, but luckily caught this picture of him at the last minute.  Can’t wait to catch up with him in the morning and hear his story.

Ironman Chattanooga Run

Crushing Iron may have been the first source to report Angela Naeth as the woman’s winner by taking this photo and posting on Twitter .5 miles before she won the race.  Congrats Angela!

Ironman Chattanooga Run

Great shot of Jennie Hansen, who was just out of second place and digging hard, but wound up with 3rd and her friends all over Twitter were tuned in when I posted this pic.  Nice race, Jennie!

Jennie Hansen Ironman Chattanooga

Here’s a great shot of 2nd place male, Daniel Bretscher who was one finished behind fellow Iowan Matt Hansen.  Iowa is the Australia of the US.

Daniel Bretscher Ironman Chattanooga