Wednesday, January 25, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #4 Yoga Mat

Have you seen it?  It’s blue.  It’s made of rubber.  It has the name “Andy Moose” written on it with a Sharpie (***don’t ask***).  It has a bit of a funky odor.  It’s my Yoga mat!  It is a very special tool in my triathlon toolbox! 


I use it just about every day for
·        stretching,
·        core strength,
·        swimming,
·        meditation,
·        cycling,
·        and finally, Yoga!

Stretching – I’m doing a lot more stretching these days.  It might be due to the fact that I turned 40 last year.  I don’t know.  All I know is that I try to stretch my muscles in ways that are opposite of the motion that is normally done in swimming, biking and running.  I just want to make sure those muscles don’t get neglected and come back to punish me!

Core Strength – For those of you know me, train with me, are coached by me, read my blog, you all know how I feel about having strong core muscles.  When athletes (and non-athletes) have strong core muscles, all things are possible!  You will go longer, faster and avoid injury!

Swimming – Ah, how I love to bring my Yoga mat to the pool to do my core strength in between swim sets.  The stares.  The snickers.  The whispering.  I just laugh as I drip a on my mat and do my 2 minute plank on the deck.  It’s blissful!

Meditation – This is a bit new to me, but I’ve began to get serious about meditation.  It is very easy for me to get caught up in my daily activities and forget to breathe deeply.  Taking time to meditate each day has helped me be centered and focused.  My Yoga mat provides the extra cushion I need to sit down and not think about the hardwood under my booty.

Cycling – I’ve made it a habit to set up my Yoga mat next to my bike trainer.   Just like with my occasional core strength between swim sets, I enjoy combining core strength sets between cycling intervals.

Tim Crowley, founder and owner of TC2-Training and Coaching who currently coaches several Elite and Ironman Athletes, including 2008 Olympian and two time World Champion Jarrod Shoemaker, US National Team members Alicia Kaye and Steve Sexton, as well as ITU athletes from the US, Egypt and Canada, recommends “enhanced indoor intervals to develop strength in the context of bike workouts”.  He provides an alternative of slow spinning as recovery with jumping off the bike and doing one leg set, one core set and one upper body set.  (Source: Triathlete, December 2011, Page 66).  Tim: I love it!  You get an A+ in my book!  <wink>

Yoga – After a good friend of mine completed her Yoga Teacher Training Certification last year, she convinced me of the many benefits Yoga provides athletes.  Yes.  It is difficult to fit it in my already busy schedule.  Yes.  It costs a bit extra money that I could be using to pay for race registrations.  Yes!  It is worth the time and money!  Not only is Yoga an excellent way to stretch and recover, it encourages strength and balance.  My blue, smelly Yoga mat that once belonged to Andy Moose travels with me to class!    

If you don’t already have one or two (might be nice to keep one in the trunk of your car in case an impromptu Yoga session breaks out during lunch), go to your favorite store,  pick up a Yoga mat and add it to your triathlon toolbox!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #3 Breakfast

Fruit smoothie.  Scrambled eggs with swiss cheese, spinach and tomato.  Steel cut oats with fruit.  These are a few of my favorite breakfast items.  For everyone, including athletes, breakfast is certainly the most important meal of the day!

Did you know that when you awake, you are already at a calorie deficit?  That means, you need to take in calories as soon as you get up in the morning.  Your first activity in the morning will determine what type of calories and how many calories you are consuming first thing in the morning. 

Allow me to provide you with a couple of examples of how I handle breakfast. 

Example #1: If I’m going to coach a swim workout, I have a full breakfast like a fruit smoothie.  My smoothie consists of 2 parts fruit, 1 part ice, 1 tbsp of plain, nonfat yogurt, 1 tbsp of peanut butter, 2 tbsp powdered milk and water.  This mixture is approximately 375 calories and includes a good amount of carbohydrates and protein, which is exactly what I need to start the day.  Oh, did I mention that it is so yummy? 

Example #2: If I’m walking out the door to go for a workout, I always have something smaller like a Granola Nut Protein Bar, which I make at home.  This is just enough calories (approximately 125) to break my fast from the night before and fuel my workout.  Of course, after my workout, I’m ready for a full breakfast.

I know there might be a few of you out there who don’t agree with having breakfast in the morning prior to a workout.  I want to change your mind!

Take a look at Scenario #1:

7pm – Eat dinner
10pm – Bedtime
6am – Awake
7am – Workout
9am – Breakfast

Whoa!  You just went 14 hours without any nutrition and burned tons of calories in the process!   (NOTE: Yes, you actually burn calories when you sleep!)

Now, take a look at Scenario #2:

6am – Awake
7am – Breakfast
12pm – Ooops!  Got too busy at work and skipped lunch!
5pm – Get off work
6pm – Workout
7:30pm - Dinner

Would you do something like this during the day?  Probably not!  If so, you’ve gone 12.5 hours without any nutrition and again, burned tons of calories in the process! 

Most of you realize that Scenario #2 is not too smart!  Do you see how Scenario #1 is similar?  This is why I’m encouraging all of you to eat breakfast.  Find a few of your favorite, quick and easy breakfast meals.  Make it a habit to get up early and be sure to enjoy breakfast every morning!

If you want to learn more, consider attending Nutrition for Athletes on Thursday, February 23rd at 7:30pm at PodiumMultisport.  Lauren Lorenzo, who holds a Masters degree in Nutrition, will be on hand to give us her expert advice!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #2 Alarm Clock

I like getting up early in the morning!  I find that I can accomplish so much more when I get the day started in the dark.  Alas, I didn’t always used to be so disciplined.  I spent a lot of my adult life getting up at the last possible minute to get ready and get where I needed to be.  It’s not fun and I’ve left those days behind.

Getting up early definitely coincided with my love for coffee!  My hubby and I get great pleasure from making coffee for one another in the morning.  We take time to have a small breakfast, drink our coffee and catch up with each other.

Before the invention of the smart phone with 1,000 options for an alarm “buzzer”, I used to be jolted out of bed by the alarm clock.  Now, I am pleasantly awakened by the most soothing alarm tone available.  I feel like a million bucks when I get out of bed, drink my coffee and get a fresh new day started!

Another reason I like getting up in the morning is because: Workouts are best done in the morning.  How many times have you scheduled a workout in the afternoon or evening, just to cancel it when the day got away from you?  Knocking it out in the morning avoids that situation and you feel great all day!  I’m really enjoying starting outdoor workouts to coincide with the sun coming up.  After living in Ohio for 25 years, I will always appreciate the sunshine in Atlanta! 

If you need some more reasons to get up early, take a look at this article by Peter Shankman:

Mr. Shankman even gives us tips on how you can start getting up early.  My favorite of his “Top Six Ways to Make Sure You Get Up Early” is #4 “FEED SOMETHING” Get a pet.  Seriously.  Feed the pet ONE DAMN TIME at 5am, and you’ll never through 5am again for the entire life of the pet.  Trust me on this.”

Hey, we’ve all got the same 24 hours in each day to accomplish all the things we want to get done.  I’m suggesting getting an early start and take care of some items on your list, including your workout, before the phone starts ringing, before a flood of emails start coming through, before all the crazies get on the road, before your boss arrives at the office, before the line is way too long at your favorite coffee shop and before you lose control of your day.

Decide to add an alarm clock (or smart phone with the alarm feature) to your toolbox.  If you already have one, decide to set it 30 minutes or more earlier than normal.  Then, get up and get on with accomplishing life!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #1 Pool/Trainer/Treadmill

I awoke to a cold and windy morning.  The thought crossed my mind to stay in bed and spend a bit more time underneath my new flannel sheets for another hour or so.  No sir!  There was a SWIM jumping out at me on my training schedule.  There it was in black and white: SWIM: 1,800 - 2,200 yards at the MLK Natatorium.  There were no asterisks indicating, "Unless it's really cold and windy, then you are free to stay in your new flannel sheets as long as your little heart is content!"  Nope!  It just said 104 days until the Florida Challenge (Half Iron-Distance Triathlon).  I got out of bed and reminded myself that the pool, pool deck and locker room are usually quite warm.  Just the walk to and fro the car and pool will be cold and windy.  

No excuses, right?  Just get your toolbox loaded!

This will be the theme of my next series of blog posts: Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox!  These tools will help you smash any excuse you try to use!  As a Professional Triathlon Coach with Blue Iron Coaching, I've heard many excuses over the years.  Heck, I may have even used one or two myself!  It's time to cut the excuses and get on with training! 

"We find time for the things that are important to us.  Period." -Scott Douglas, Scott's Original Miscellany, Running Times - March 2011 

Yes.  It's cold today.  Yes.  It's windy today.  Yes.  It can snow, rain, ice, sleet in Atlanta from time to time.  Yes!  Triathletes can still train in inclement weather!  You just need to have some tools in your toolbox.

The pool is a fantastic tool to be used year-round for training!  Living in metro Atlanta does not lend itself to many open water swim options.  Join a pool and add it to your toolbox.

A trainer is another wonderful tool.  You can complete a great cycling workout without leaving the comfort of your living room!  Shop around for a fluid trainer, buy it, add it to your toolbox, use it and make it your friend!

Access to a treadmill is another handy tool for training.  If you belong to a gym, you are sure to find a treadmill. Or, you can invest in one for your home.  Either way, the treadmill is there so you don't have to miss your run workout when the weather is not ideal.  Find the closest treadmill and etch your name on the side for when you need to pull out that particular tool!

These are just a few tools to keep you training through the winter.  I've got a bunch more to share with you so keep an eye out for the next one!  If you feel you have an excuse I can't smash, please contact me at or give me a call at 404.667.0817.  I will gladly take on that challenge!