I usually write articles on topics that will give advice when it comes to health, fitness, and racing. I think this month I am going to mix it up a little bit and give you something a little more light-hearted. For those of you that have been following my writings and blogs, you already know that I have been playing sports for most of my life. Along the way I have picked up quite a few quirks. Now, I am not superstitious or believe in LUCK but throughout my years I have come up with things such as my Lucky USC Hat, a Lucky Chicago Bears Shirt, a Lucky 1880 Silver Dollar that was given to me to represent 100 years before I was born, a Lucky color orange, a Lucky number #17. I have even been known to throw items away that I believed were unlucky like my running gear I was wearing the day I rolled my ankle last year, and a random one not showering during finals week in college (I am not so sure that one actually worked). OK so maybe I am a bit superstitious and believe in LUCK but I know I am not the only one.
So what is Superstition? The definition of superstition is “ the belief that certain events or things will bring good or bad luck”. By the definition, superstition and luck go hand in hand. So this phenomenom pertains to not only athletics and sports, but can also be relevant in our everyday lives. Luck is all around us, I would bet everyone at one point in their life has turned to an object, a routine, or article of clothing to help them through a rough patch or maybe even to continue on a streak of wonderful fortune and prosperous times.
Can luck give us some sort of advantage when competing? I think luck gives us a sense of superpower or hidden energy. Our opponents don’t know it but we keep that bit of luck in our back pocket and use it when we need it the most. Perhaps in the late stages of a race, or when you step up to the plate in baseball, or even to overcome weaknesses. We use this as our Kryptonite, our secret weapon, our strength. For me, I use it to build my confidence and put myself in the right state of my mind while I am racing or while I am preparing to compete. It gives me a sense of comfort and consistency. Regardless of which race I show up at, or the conditions on race day, or even if circumstances that are out of my control, I trust and have the confidence that my LUCKY items will be there for me to help make everything right.
Can luck really have a positive impact on our performance during events? I believe that if you believe it does it will. We often are looking for something to give us an advantage physically to make us stronger, faster, and smarter. The concept of luck might not make us physically stronger, faster, or smarter but it can give us a mental advantage which could translate into a better performance through confidence. The direct correlation between luck and confidence is the formula that will give you the edge to compete smarter, or push more, or go faster. Sometimes, keeping a positive outlook is all we need when entering the late stages of a race and I strongly believe that Good Luck Charms provide just that. Luck can be a powerful hand if you play it properly and truly believe in it.
So in conclusion - YES!! If you think GOOD LUCK is a true phenomenon that could be the last piece of the puzzle to propel you past your competitors then go out there, find some LUCK, and use it to your advantage. GOOD LUCK in all your endeavors and I wish you the best!!
On Race Day as I am preparing myself mentally and physically to take on the unknown of what the day might bring, I always think back and ask myself - "How did I get to this moment?". For me the start of the race is such an exciting time - the buzz is flying thick through the air, the adrenaline is pulsing as it flows through your veins, I can feel the electricity of excitement and the anxiousness of nerves in the air. Its time to put my body to the test as I push my limits and see how close I can get to the edge without going over.
As I make my way to the start line my senses are always heightened. The colors are always so much brighter as I squint over the water to locate the buoys. The sounds are crisper as I can make out every huff and puff of breath from fellow competitors as they battle through conflicting emotions such as nervousness or "amped up" control. All of these emotions prepare them to get ready for the task at hand. I can feel the wind change as it blows across the back of my neck and across every hair on my arm. I can smell and almost taste that familiar smell of the rubber, from the hundreds, even thousands, of wetsuits and swim caps that surround me on all sides. The rubber combines with the smell of sunscreen which always reminds me of the long, hot, grueling road ahead of us as we seek our main objective for the day - the FINISH LINE!!
As I dig my toes into the sand and feel every grain on the bottom of my feet and get that cool jolting sensation shooting up my legs from the water that has mixed with the sand, I hear the race announcer yell "5 more minutes!". With the countdown now in full swing, I pull down my tinted goggles and I escape/hide into my own little world. This is where the race starts for me. I take my position at the starting line right up front and take a look around at my fellow competitors and ask myself - "Did they sacrifice as much as I have to get here, to this moment? When they were totally exhausted did they get back up and say "just one more", like I did? Did they hit the snooze button when I was out there training? Did they quit when things didn't go their way, when I persevered and kept pushing? Do they look confident, as I know I am confident? Did they mentally prepare the way I did? I go through all these questions about my competitors and think to myself that the answer to all these questions is NO!!
The race announcer says, "2 more minutes!"
I ask myself - Do I belong here? Am I confident in all the facets of my training that has prepared me to perform well on this day? When times get tough and I face fear in the eye am I going to rise to the occasion? Am I going to give up and am I prepared to live with myself knowing I did? Did I exceed all my expectations leading up to this point? I am going dig deeper than the guy next to me? Am I ready to handle all the pain and suffering that today is going to bring? ABSOLUTELY!! NO QUESTION!!
If I can honestly say that I know for a fact that most of my competitors will answer no to those questions and I can honestly say yes to all of mine I know I am going to have a great day. I must face the facts of my preparations and be completely honest with myself.
":30 seconds" Everything goes silent and chills of excitement race up my spine. Goosebumps shoot down my arms.
I launch my body into the water like a coiled up snake ready to strike and ...
GAME ON!! It is going to be a fun day and I'll see you at the finish line.
This blog might seem out of place with our race seasons are so far in the distance, but I challenge you to look into this article a little bit deeper. All the questions referenced above we should be asking ourselves - now. This is the time we create all the answers for those questions. This is the time we compare ourselves to our competitors and use them as motivation to keep pushing, keep getting back up and keep putting one foot in front of the other. This is the time we hold ourselves accountable for the way we are training, the intensity at which we are training, and the focus we have for our goals. This is a critical part of training, so take it seriously so that you can carry yourself with the confidence of a champion when you start your race season. Train Hard, Train Smart, and Have Fun.
What's in a performance?
I recently raced my first full marathon. I have done three marathons in the Ironman distance races after a 112 mile bike and a 2.4 mile swim - but never solo. So, I was anxious to see how it was going to unfold. Let's just say it didn't unfold like I had planned it; which happens sometimes for whatever reason on any given day. I felt as though I did everything wrong and nothing right. I paced wrong, I hydrated wrong, I think mentally I was a little absent, and, possibly, was over confident. So after the race the question became - What the heck happened? Did I do anything right? I must be able to find something positive, right? Then the icing on the cake - I had someone approach me and ask "so are you done racing marathons?" The question struck me at first as odd, but then I thought should I stop after only trying it once? After quickly analyzing the question I shot back and said "No way I am not ending on that note." That is all fine and dandy to not want to end on a "bad note" but I guess the question then becomes - What have I learned from this not so stellar performance?
I knew one thing I needed to do, and I needed to do it quick. Figure out the answer to that last question. But how do we learn anything from such negative experience?
Answer - Analyze it!! I am going to analyze every aspect of the race and learn as much as I can about the way I reacted to the event, my body, my mental outlook, my preparation, and my nutrition. This is the positive that comes from this scenario - learning from the negative. I needed to turn this big negative into as big of a positive as I can so I don't make the same mistakes again. The worst thing that can happen to us as athletes is to let the same things happen to us race after race after race. We need to constantly be changing our approach and learning from these mistakes. I analyzed this race up and down and learned a lot of valuable information about the day. Most were very obvious points and some I needed to go digging for. I really put myself back into that race - even though I mentally didn't want to experience it again. I found that I wasn't as consistent as I should of been when hydrating and fueling on the course. I got stubborn and just turned a blind eye to this aspect. Probably one of the biggest things I learned is - don't underestimate a race! I believe in the back of my mind I was overly confident thinking that this might be a walk in the park since I have completed this distance before in an Ironman event. Running this race solo is a whole different animal - lesson learned. Respect the distance ALWAYS.
But with all that negative I did find one positive, no matter how bad it got out there on the course, even with my whole bottom half of my body seizing with cramps as I made every step, I was resilient and never gave up. I kept pushing forward even though my body was rejecting every step and my mind was telling me to shut it down, I finished. Maybe not the way I wanted to but I did cross that line. There were many more lessons learned that day but these were just a couple of them. So, if you have a bad race or training session I challenge you to analyze that session so it doesn't happen again. What you learn can be one of your biggest tools in your racing tool box and your biggest confidence booster as you move forward.
All of this analysis produced a light bulb moment for me - can this analysis approach apply to a positive racing scenario? Answer - ABSOLUTELY. Sometimes we overlook all the information we can learn from a positive session, when in reality we should be asking ourselves almost the same questions. Why did my nutrition work this time? What did I differently? How did I fuel the night before my long workout session the night before? All these are just some of the questions we need to ask ourselves after a positive experience. After a positive performance we need to analyze for one major reason and that is to make sure we follow this information when we race to ensure that same positive outcome.
My final point, in regards to the analysis process, is for all the times we are outside of a race. Frequently I am asked "What do you think about when you're training for such long hours?" I don't take offense to it when it comes from someone outside the sport because they perhaps don't understand the sport, but when it comes from a fellow endurance athlete it makes me concerned for them. For me, you guessed it, I analyze and assess frequently during my long training sessions. No matter what the distance is that we might be training for, I think we should constantly be analyzing and assessing everything going on with our bodies, our minds, different stress variables, the environment, our hydration, our fueling, our equipment, our competitors, EVERYTHING. We need to keep ourselves in constant check with how we are holding up as conditions and circumstances change around us. This will allow you to understand your body inside and out. It will allow you to understand how your body might react to almost every situation or stress you might throw at it and, if need be, how to get yourself out of certain situations. This self analysis should be happening regardless of the distance you are covering or the intensity of the session. The stresses and effects on the body are definitely different with the distances, so this just allows you a different opportunity to gain more information with different variables which you can then use to your advantage.
You never want to be guessing on race day, so the more information you have going into a certain situation the more likely it will become a positive outcome. So if you have a productive training session, outstanding race or one that you might want to forget about; I encourage you to analyze it and learn as much about that experience as you possibly can and take it with you to your next race or training session. One final thought before I end this blog, athletics teaches us aspects about ourselves that we can implement into our everyday lives. This holds true for self analysis, we can use what we just learned to improve ourselves beyond belief as people, as employees, as employers, as spouses and the list goes on and on. So, I challenge you to not simply go through the motions, I challenge you to analyze, assess, and reassess what your body is doing and why, to help you reach your full potential on and off the course.
Train Hard, Train Smart, Have Fun and Analyze Everything
Being Fit vs Being Healthy
When you hear these two phrases they appear on the surface to be one in the same. People usually use these topics interchangeably and in my opinion it is a skewed perspective. Being fit and being healthy are two different issues and actually one is part of the other. They are common elements of a greater collective theme. I feel that being healthy is the overall result of living a certain lifestyle where you take care of your body in every aspect. Being fit is only one of the aspects of being healthy. Too many times people think that being fit is good enough and disregard the other aspects of living healthy. I believe the aspects of being healthy are:
1) Being fit – exercising regularly
2) Eating healthy - eating nutrient rich foods that benefit your body
3) Sleep – making sure you are getting an adequate amount that allows you to perform at a high level
4) Stress – the ability to manage and remove the stress from our lives
5) Happy – Keeping yourself happy and content is what life is all about
It is an often occurrence, that when someone encounters a health crisis, others are quick to say, “I can’t believe it happened to them, they take such good care of their body”. That may be the case, but how were they in the overall scale of being healthy. I see people working out like crazy people, only to get done and eat poorly or not get enough sleep to help the body repair itself. It is important to cover as many of the above stated issues in order to stay or start being healthy in totality. Remember being healthy is a lifestyle and constantly needs to be tended to. Listen to your body and it will tell you what it needs. Remember to live a life of moderation and balance and you will reap the benefits.
HUUB AERIOUS 4.4 Wetsuit
I ordered this wetsuit from PX Triathlon – www.PXTriathlon.com – because of our cold conditions we have been having here in the Northeast. Winter just won’t leave, which left me worried about the water temps in my early season triathlons. I went up to Lake Placid to try it out in some very chilly conditions. I went up for a triathlon training camp with some good friends for the Memorial Day Holiday and wouldn’t you know it, it started snowing while we were there. So I thought the conditions should be perfect to try out my new HUUB Full Wetsuit Aerious 4.4, or maybe I have a touch of the crazy bug. Probably a little bit of both.
I ordered the Small Tall (SMT), I am 175lbs and 6’2” tall. I was right on the upper end of the size chart which I thought would be perfect, nice and snug. I ordered it and PX Triathlon had it to me in 2 days, perfect!! I pulled it out of the box like a kid on Christmas morning and I thought I had ordered the wrong one, I wasn’t sure if it would my 8 year old daughter. I thought I might as well try it on before sending it back and getting the next size up. I wiggled a bit and worked it up my body and got it on. It felt nice and snug with no air pockets what so ever. It felt great, guess I won’t be sending it back.
Test day in Lake Placid. I walked up to the beach in Lake Placid contemplating if I should go in or not, and looked out over the empty chilly lake with the top of the water looking like glass, and decided to suit up. I wiggled and squirmed again but not as much this time. It felt nice and snug, kind of felt like my skin. The wetsuit material was stretchy, and conformed perfectly to my body type. I felt the sand between my toes as I pulled my TYR Velocity Goggles over my eyes and dove into the shallows of Mirror Lake. The first sensation as the High 50 degree water temp hit my face was man this is crazy. I took about twenty strokes and got myself into a rhythm and started to evaluate my new wetsuit. I felt the buoyancy effect right away as it popped my body right to the top of the water. Then I concentrated on feeling the arm restriction from the sleeves of the suit. As I rotated my arms around my shoulders I could not feel any restriction what so ever. I have more restriction in my ZOOT sleeveless than I do in this HUUB Wetsuit. The material is thin and flexible enough that it does not interfere with the swim stroke at all. It felt almost like I was swimming without a wetsuit, in terms of arm restriction. Very refreshing to feel like this when swimming long distances like in a Full Ironman. Then I finally realized I forgot to check how I felt temperature wise. Well I wasn’t frozen up to this point. Since the temperature didn’t cross my mind after the initial shock, it goes to show that even though the material feels thin, light, and has a high elasticity that it doesn’t comprise the temperature controlling nature of the wetsuit. I did not feel cold in the least and actually started breaking a sweat towards the end of my 25 minute swim.
Finally I had to get this thing off of me. I raced up the beach as I would in a race and pealed it off my upper body with ease and then made quick work with my legs. It did take me a little longer to take it off my feet since the elasticity is very high but nothing that a big yank couldn’t take care of.
This product , the HUUB Aerious 4.4 Full Wetsuit is a great product. I was very impressed with all the qualities of this wetsuit. I felt that the makers of this wetsuit really took their time doing their research, design, and constructing such a great product. I would recommend this product to all my fellow racers that want a quality product. The whole process from ordering it from PX Triathlon to trying the wetsuit out seemed flawless and close to perfection.
Now that New Year's is here and gone, I know a lot of people are really AMPED UP to start training again or get started for the first time. Some advice: Take your time and ease into it. You do not want to throw your body into fits by over doing it the first day or even first week. Take it easy and take your time, you won't get in the prime shape of your life the first day but you can definitely hurt yourself. Try and relax!! Concentrate your time on proper form and technique not on how much weight you are lifting, how many reps you might be pumping out, or how fast your legs are moving on the treadmill. Proper form and technique now will save you from injury later. .
5 Easy Tips when starting out:
- Focus on Technique
- Focus on Form
- Keep a workout log
- Make sure you are getting a good night sleep
- Stretch, Stretch and then Stretch one more time
Stay AMPED UP but make sure you funnel your time and energy into the right areas of your workout from the very start.
How to CAPTURE IT!!
SET YOUR GOAL THEN GO AFTER!!
I have discovered throughout my life how important it is to have goals and how essential they are for one to succeed. I started noticing, though, how many of us have goals (which is wonderful) but sometimes we don’t put a solid foundation down as to how these goals will eventually be attained. As we head into the New Year, I want to help you in reaching your goals for 2013. Listed below are my favorite goal setting tools designed to help build that strong foundation that will ultimately result in success. My latest goal is to race triathlons professionally and from my experiences throughout my life and from racing, I have put together a strategy outline that you can use to achieve any goal you can think up. These steps have helped me immensely and I hope they will do the same for you.
1) Goal Identification:
a) Figure out what it is that you want to accomplish. Develop benchmarks to keep you on track or to use along the way to gauge your progress. Set a specific long-term goal and adapt your benchmarks as short- term goals that you can check off on your way to your long-term goal.
2) Motivating Factors – definition: to act as the motive for; the causative factor of; instigate, induce
a) This is the reason, the force, which drives us or will drive us to attain our goals. It could be in the form of a reward, to prove to yourself or to others that you can do something, the inspiration you receive from others, or possibly just the satisfaction of completing the task. Motivating factors will help you push through the tough times. I encourage you to re-visit these factors throughout your journey to remind yourself of what your inspirations mean to you.
3) Perseverance – definition: to continue striving in spite of discouragements
a) This is the ability to push through diversity or difficult times in order to achieve your goal. At times your perseverance will be tested to its limits but will be necessary to break down the roadblocks you face in order to fulfill the ultimate prize. These next three items: Fear of Failure, Doubters, and I CAN’T – are the topics I feel are the ones most commonly associated with not attaining your goal. Your ability to overcome these issues will be critical in your overall accomplishment of your goal. I want to delve a little further into these subjects below.
i. Fear of Failure - Failure in our society has become a very negative word and I am not exactly sure why. Instead of treating it as a negative word, reverse the perception and use it to your advantage. So when you come up short don’t be afraid of it, embrace it. Failure will happen - it is inevitable. It’s not the failure portion that will make or break your quest to reaching your goal; it’s what happens after and how you react to it. Are you willing to put the extra effort in to make sure the same outcome won’t happen again or are you going to do everything the same to ensure the same negative outcome? I urge you to change your approach and look at it from a fresh perspective. That is where the answer lies. Don’t take failure as a negative, use it as a positive and learn from your experience and change your approach. You didn’t fail, you ruled out one way that is not going to get you to where you want to go and you’re discovering the correct path.
ii. Doubters: These people will be all around you. Unfortunately, you will always have people telling you “you can’t do it”, “you’re not good enough”, or “you’re wasting your time.” My point of view is, why not at least make an attempt and see for yourself. Don’t let someone else’s comment deter you, especially since they haven’t done the homework like you did. You have to live life on your own terms - not on someone else’s. You don’t want to have any regrets when you’re taking your journey towards your goal.
iii. CAN’T: Remove this word from your vocabulary! This is a self confidence, or as some believe, a laziness issue. Never think that you can’t, anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I do not believe the issue comes down to the fact that you can’t do something, I think what happens is that if the approach to the situation is off, you might be attacking the situation wrong. Try it from a different direction. Be creative, don’t let a can’t deter you. Turn your can’t into a can.
4)Support System – Who are you going to have in place to help you attain your goal
a) Your support system are the people you will surround yourself with to help you achieve your goal. This group of individuals will help you through the toughest of times and help get you pointed in the right direction when things don’t seem to be going as planned. These individuals can be your parents, siblings, teachers, pastors, coaches, friends and people you might never expect.
One motto I have lived by is: “Surround yourself with great people and great things will happen”
It’s the truth. Embrace this group of people when they want to help and ensure that they feel included and a part of the process. Continually thank them for their support.
Goal setting is critical when trying to attain all different levels of success throughout your life. Setting up the proper goal setting outline will allow you to achieve your goals easier than just saying I want to do this or that. Don’t get discouraged, no matter what road blocks are thrown at you during your journey, pull from everything you have put in place to help you through and keep moving forward. You will get there. You can do it. Put your mind to it and it is amazing what one can accomplish. Also, lead by example. Help inspire others to reach their goals, be part of their support system (sometimes it is just as gratifying to see someone else reach their goal as it is to reach your own), help motivate them, and help them persevere through the rough patches.
DREAM BIG and then GO CAPTURE IT.
Endurance Sports Central Blog
Endurance Sports Central
For endurance athletes living in Pennsylvania, it gets very tough to train, keep yourself motivated, and stay in shape for the winter months. I can’t blame you: the days are shorter, it looks gloomy outside with no leaves on the trees, and not to mention its COLD outside, sometimes hovering in the single digits for weeks. So here are a few training tips to help keep you on point during the cold months and have you prepared for your season to begin in the spring.
1) Use what you learned – Use this time to correct or strengthen everything you learned from your season. Ask yourself the following questions: What parts of my training program will I change from last season? What limiting factors did I encounter during my season/events? What training methods were productive that I would like to carry over to the next season? These questions and their answers will ensure that you hold on to your strengths and correct your weaknesses in your next season.
2) Keep it fresh: EXPERIMENT – This is the time to see how your body will react to new workout techniques and regimens (yoga, a Crossfit class, P90X, or a MMA class). Mix things up to see how your muscles react. Also use the time to try new food/dietary combinations (Paleo Diet, increasing protein in your diet, more veggies, less carbs).
3) Train with others: Hence the old adage – misery loves company. This will allow you to shiver through the cold with someone else and will make your workout a little more bearable. And let’s face it – you won’t get out of bed when it’s thirty degrees outside unless someone’s waiting for you to show up.
4) Strength Training: Start to re-strengthen the supporting muscles that have been neglected during your in-season training. The supporting muscles are just as important as your sport-specific muscles and will be utilized when the other muscles become fatigued in training or on race day. Supporting actors win Oscars – don’t neglect your supporting cast.
5) Get Outside: Always get outside on those rare but awesome unseasonably warm days. Take advantage of these moments and make the most of them. I love training outside and will do almost anything to get out there. There is nothing like fresh crisp air filling those lungs.
6) Schedule: Work on your schedule for next season - this will give you motivation and excitement to keep training and you will have deadlines to make sure you are ready. Additionally, set specific achievements you want to hit next season and write them down for visual accountability.
7) Finally, have FUN!! You have plenty of time in season to be serious. Build a snow fort and challenge the kids or your spouse to a snowball fight. I know they won’t turn down a chance to hit mom or dad with a snowball.
So, keep training, think warm weather and palm trees, and it might make it feel a degree or two warmer and keep that body moving. Hope to see you out on the course!
BooBoo and I did the ritual underpants run of Kona. Booboo is the little guy in the picture and I'm the one with the tan calves and the ghostly looking thighs. He got a lot of eyes looking at him. It was definitely a bonding time for father and son. He was a little timid throughout the whole run which blows my mind because at home we can't keep clothes on him. We and about 1000 other athletes did the annual race, jogging up Ali'i Dr through tons of spectators. That's when I thought to myself - look at all the people here just for this silly little underpants run, imagine what it will be like on Saturday. We had a ball and hopefully got some much needed sun on those thighs.
WHO'S READY TO RACE - WE ARE!!!
Today at Kona
This morning I started out with my first taste of the bike course and the winds of the Lava Fields. I was very excited to get on it and to see what it's going to be like. Though my ride was short, I managed to get some valuable feedback from my little training session. I felt like the course could be extremely fast but if I take it out too fast in the beginning of the bike it could come at a cost later. If I hit strong winds at the late stages of the bike then it would catch up with me in the marathon and proper nutrition is essential. I have to be extremely careful to not get caught up in the time, speed, people flying by me, etc. and just concentrate on how I feel and make sure I am comfortable at all times, while keeping a positive attitude.
I then drove home to be greeted by a smiling family ready to head to downtown Kona. We just walked around on Ali'i Dr. stopping at the different product and gear booths. The kids always love picking up all the free stuff. Then headed over to registration to make it official. So #1672 is officially signed up and ready to go. Then we made a must stop at Lava Java for lunch and saw a lot of Pros and fast looking triathletes, while chowing down on a great healthy meal.
We then came back to rest up before heading back downtown for the Ironman Parade of Nations and to see Macca at the Profile Design tent.
Just being there for the Parade of Nations, getting to see Macca and seeing the expo briefly really started getting me amped up for the race. It was a great feeling when I saw all the people lining the streets just for the parade and then I realized, this is what it will be like for the race. AWESOME!!!! Can't wait.
We finished up the night at where the rest of the K-Krew is staying and celebrated our son's birthday. Happy 4th Birthday BooBoo!!
Kenrick Smith - Be a part of the K17Sport Lifestyle.
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