Monday, April 14, 2008

Nutrition and Mental Preparation

Dear All

Hope you had a great weekend - Saturday's Brick Session went really well and the athletes who attended appeared 'pumped' for the Busso HIM, now just under 3 weeks away!! Conditions in the ocean on Friday morning were also rather "lumpy", but as I said "it could be like that come race day" so we need to try to adhere to the old adage of "failing to prepare is preparing to fail".


This is another fairly long email, so if you have no interest in: 1) our nutrition notes and advice; 2) my decision to withdraw from the HIM; 3) Rottnest Boot Camp final details; 4) tips on "how not to lose your head on race day"; then by all means hit delete!

Nutrition Notes:

As discussed, please find attached Nic Holme's notes on nutrition for pre / during and post-race from our seminar 10 days ago. Also attached is some advice from Sports Dietiticians Australia which Nic has kindly resourced for us to compliment her notes for anyone who didn't make the seminar. Nic has also generously offered to field any questions via email ( Thanks Nic!

No race for Paul:

Unfortunately I'll again be off my bike (and run) this week owing to my hip injury which just doesn't seem to be getting any better. Its a tendonopathy of the TFL (Tensor Fascia Latae muscle) apparently, which is similar to ITB friction syndrome in its location and stubbornness to heal. I blame a change in bike set-up, a subsequent hard ride followed by a hard run a couple of days later...all of which was about 6 weeks ago now. I will however be down to all the sessions as usual, just that I'll be accompanying you on my scooter or in my "moon boot" walking shoes (!! In the short-term this means that I have made the decision to withdraw from the Busselton Half Ironman on the 3rd May and concentrate on improving my posture / imbalances. I made a similar decision to this in 2005 and doing so made one of the best decisions in my coaching life. Missing the race personally in 2005 allowed me to focus and channel all my energy into those who were training for the race under my supervision and allowed me to support everyone on race day. As such (together with my co-coach and photo buddy, Adam) we'll be there to make sure that each and everyone of you makes it across that finish line and with a big smile of accomplishment on your face too! Whilst disappointed, I am glad to have this opportunity and look forward to selecting another race to build-up for over the winter.

Rottnest Boot Camp:

A reminder that we will be meeting at 5.30pm at the C-Shed terminal in Fremantle on Friday 18th April for our 2-night stop-over to Rottnest Island for our annual Boot Camp. We have 12 people heading over and it promises to be a lot of fun! Here's what you need to remember to bring:
  • Bike and plastic sheet / blanket for covering your bike (where necessary).
  • Bike lock - essential if you will be staying till 2.30pm on Sunday.
  • Swim, bike and run gear (remember to pack warm gear as it may be a little chilly!).
  • Extra spending money for meals out.
  • Some smart / casual gear for our 2 evenings out.
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Usual tolieteries etc (the bathrooms are single-sex, but communal in nature).
  • A sense of humour!
For those unable to attend but training up for the Half Ironman, you should look to get in a shortened version of Saturday's session (i.e. 1000m swim, 50km ride and an 8km run including swift transitions) and can then either do the 80min run (that the group will do on Sunday morning) on Sunday or choose to do this on Monday (as normal). There will be no formal run session next Monday morning owing to the fact that those who did the Boot Camp will be resting.

How not to "lose-your-head" when racing in 3 weeks time!

Probably one of your biggest and best assets as an endurance triathlete is not your heart, legs or lungs, but your mind. Everyone can train this aspect of their race preparation (you do it sub-conciously with every session you motivate yourself to complete), and this is something we'll discuss over on Rottnest Island next weekend as part of our scheduled "team-talks" (this will be noted for those who cannot attend). Many of you racing this time around are doing so for the first time and will at this stage begin to potentially get quite nervous about the task ahead. This is perfectly normal. How we respond to this anxiety is what will determine what happens on race day. Like I mentioned last week we're also at that stage in the program (the "peak") where a lot of training has been completed and the body is now ready to rest and adapt leading into the event. This residual fatigue can play funny games with your mind and increase that feeling of apprehension and self-doubt. As we start to taper-down, this fatigue will start to diminish, but the anxiety may linger on. Here's my Top 10 Tips to beat those Taper-time "Blues" and look positively ahead to a good race:
  1. Have confidence in the training that you have completed so far. For many of you this will be more than you've ever done before, so give yourself a little pat on your back and appreciate your own efforts to have made it this far.
  2. Stay in the "now" - there's a great movie out now starring Nick Nolte called "The Peaceful Warrior" which I urge you to watch. It talks about staying in the "here and now" and not worrying about what has happened in the past or what will be the ultimate outcome of the race, but aim to give 110% at what you are currently doing...whether that be powering through the water, driving those legs through on the bike, or running as swift as a gazelle on the run! Give it a try, you'll find it works very, very well.
  3. Don't make any radical changes - we normally say this about your bike-set-up or nutrition, but the same applies to your mental focus. How often are you too nervous to do one of our brick sessions or one of the harder swim sets? Very rarely. How different are these race-specific sets to the race? Not very different at all. Our perceptions are that races are "big" and that we have to out-perform ourselves...but you've been out-performing yourself for the last 14 weeks, so why do anything different now!
  4. "PMA Paul - Postive Mental Attitude!" - thats what my Mum always used to say! Staying focussed and positive is your number 1 ally come race day. How do you do this? Even if you feel crap, tell yourself you feel good or that you'll soon start to feel good. Those who say this is "a load of old balogne" simply gave up on feeling good before they had chance to "come good". You won't feel great all day...the key is to focus on those positive times and use them to "ride through" the times when you feel less good.
  5. Break it down. Every Monday morning I've had you doing the Galloway run-walk method..and for good reason! Usually in any group that I coach 2 or 3 people will say "this is a load of rubbish - I'm not doing the race to walk - I'm doing it to run and run it fast!". Good luck to them - make sure you remind them of that when they're walking the last 4km of the run and you go whizzing by having done your run-walk diligently from the start!! Besides the physiological benefits of this method for endurance events (less load on the legs, increased chance to hydrate / fuel-up during your walk breaks etc), the real true benefit is in the way this method allows you to break the run down into more (psychologically) manageable chunks. We've been doing run for 9 mins + walk for 1 mins in training. At the race you may find it more convenient to run to each aid station and then walk through them (~2km apart)...this process starts from aid station # 1 - not just when you start to "blow"! Trust me, I've had guys run sub 1h30 half marathons off the bike with this method when their equally-able team-mates have crashed and burned two thirds into the run and come home with disappointing (for their level) 1h45+ runs. All it takes is CONTROL - mental control to allow yourself to walk, knowing that you'll be stronger and still moving at the same speed come the latter half of the race.
  6. Pace it out! If it feels "too hard" it probably is. This event is going to take you between 4h30 and 6h00+ - its not a sprint event, its a very aerobic one! Cruise the swim, feel steady and controlled on the bike (the 6 to 7 out of 10 perceived exertion we've been working on) and then tap those run "intervals" out on the run course as explained above. Pushing too hard and then realising you've blown and in for a long day at "the office" can be devastating for even the strongest-willed athletes. There is no better feeling than hitting that run knowing you've still got juice in the legs...but even then, don't blow it too soon!
  7. We all get "stressed" sometimes. Understand and accept that for training to have been effective we needed (need) to have periods of "over-load" followed by periods of rest and recovery. Its the recovery periods that allow your body to adapt and grow stronger...miss these crucial stages in your preparation and you're on a one-way road to "over-training's-ville". Don't forget that the stress your body goes through in any training program is not just "training stress", but work / family / social such, if you're having a tough time in any of those areas right now on top of what has been a heavy training period, you're going to really feel it! Thats OK, you just need to accept it and ease-off on the throttle a little.
  8. Remember that your number 1 reason to do this type of event is for fun and the sense of satisfaction it will give you to complete it. No one ever said it was going to be easy! You're in the minority of people who even have the gusto to take on such a challenge and therefore you can be proud in what you have a achieved and will achieve on race day. DO IT BECAUSE YOU LOVE IT...AND YES, YOU DO LOVE THAT "PAIN" EVEN IN A FUNNY WAY!
  9. Just getting to the start line is a huge effort in itself and this journey is something to be savoured. I personally haven't completed that journey this time...but you will. Know that all the hard work has pretty much been done already...if you've got this far, the race-part is easy (well, kind of!) and something that should be enjoyed - a bit like a fine wine!
  10. Don't under-estimate the power of support and encouragement! The last tip is the most important. We've trained as a group for this event and everyone has supported each other as we've gone along. That is a great atmosphere within which to train. Even then though, with 25 other like-minded souls aound you doing the same thing, there have been times during training when you probably felt very alone and wished that the guy on the mountain bike with fat knobbly tyres who just sped past you as you grovelled along having run out of energy, would have stopped and given you some encouragement! Imagine then what it will feel like down at Busselton with a good 40 times more people on the same course as you and with at least the same number again on the sidelines cheering you on. Soak that up and you'll know about it! You're legs will feel like pistons and your heart will surge like electricity (just keep it at 75% mind!). Do not under-estimate the power of this support. All you now have to do is get yourself to that start-line willing and motivated to do your best - it really is that simple!
Remember guys "we're not racing for sheep stations" here...the only pressure that you feel is the pressure you put on yourself. I'm personally terrible for this - but in my old age I'm starting to realise and acknowledge this! After a bad race many people say that they felt uncomfortable with so many people watching and "expecting things from them" (especially friends, family and loved ones). If this were "Little League Baseball" then maybe fair enough, but its not, its all about you and your goal to make this race something special and something worth enjoying. All I expect from you is to give it your best shot and to have a smile on your face when you pass my camera. All's you can do on race day, is all's you can do! The only thing anyone expects from you is to enjoy yourself and have fun, and if you think thats "a bit soft" then you totally under-estimate the power of enjoyment on your overall race approach!

See you tonight...if you've read all this by then!


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