No matter who you are, what you do, what role/s you have in your life, you must take care of yourself – ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’. Rest and self-care are so important for the mind, the body and the soul. Regardless on whether you are an athlete or not.
It is shown, women especially find it difficult to take time for themselves and to prioritise their our own self-care. It often takes an illness, an accident, an injury, burn out or simply ‘cracking’ under the pressure to remind us to give ourselves the time and care we need.
When we are stressed out, self-care is often the first thing we let go of – and I’ve seen it within a number of my athletes, so I can only assume that it is happening more broadly.
During stressful times such as many are currently experiencing, our brains can go into fight-or-flight mode and our perspective narrows. We can be so busy trying to solve problems that we are stuck in a “doing” mode and can become anxious and overwhelmed. And many may not have a ‘go to’ list of self care activities that they can lean on during these times so we simply don’t even go there. And this doesn’t mean you have to go away on a retreat (although how nice would that be right now?!) It can be as simple as taking 10 minutes to yourself – and NO, scrolling on social media doesn’t count!
Here’s a simple list of some ways you can give back to YOU that don’t take much time at all, but the benefits can be wide ranging.
– Focus on sensations around you, sights, smells, sounds… these can help bring you to the present moment – Go for a walk and breath in fresh air – leave the phone at home / in your pocket! – Listen to running water / take yourself near water. t is one of the most soothing sounds and the energy from water can be drawn within. – Take a hot shower / bath and play some relaxing music. Take your time. Don’t rush. – Get creative, draw, journal, play some music, do a puzzle… These simple activities can bring your focus back. – Get back to nature, do some gardening, go for a walk or sit and take in the sights, sounds and smell of nature. Nature is so healing. – Turn the lights AND TV off, light a candle and read a book or listen to a meditation.. – CONNECT with others – it is so important while isolated. Call a friend (txt doesn’t count), facetime, zoom. OR meet at a park, go for a walk with them. Connection is key to our fundamental being.
So remember: self care is not self indulgence, it is self preservation. Take care of yourself – starting today. What will you choose? 🙂
I was asked recently whether I’d be up for sharing what a day on my plate looked like. An athlete was interested in seeing what I eat pre/post training and for the remainder of the day to support my training, recovery and overall health and immunity. She suspected that she was a chronic ‘under eater’ and thought that maybe she wasn’t alone. So I thought i’d give you a look into a day on my plate (obviously every day is different, but give you an idea) and feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
My Stats: Age: 38 (yes! getting close to the big 40 now!) 😉 Height: 157cm (or 5foot1 if you prefer) Weight: ~52kg. I tend to not fluctuate much, my lightest race weight has been 47kg – which looking back now was probably a touch too low. I still raced well, but my mood and energy throughout the day wasn’t great plus my recovery post racing was HARD. It would take me 2 weeks to recover from a sprint, and 4-6weeks to recover from a half. (not ideal!) I find a good healthy happy medium for me is around 50kg. BUT in saying that I don’t stress over this, and certainly not right now am not focusing on it. I look at food as FUEL for my body, so it can support my training, my racing, my recovery and my health and immunity.
I firstly wanted to say – that, just like training, you need to do what works for YOU. Not just doing something because someone else does it. Yes of course, take away some general principles, some tips for good eating habits, ensuring you are fueling sufficiently for training, recovery and general health, but what works for ME doesn’t mean it is right for YOU. If nutrition is something you want to focus on a little more, then I recommend working with a naturopath or sports nutritionist. We have a number of specialist we work with in this area, and in particular for those who may have sensitivities, stomach issues or underlying health conditions. The most important part as always – is listening to your body. How does something make you FEEL when you eat it? How do you feel 1-2hours after? Do you have any symptoms? How are your energy levels throughout the day? Do you have regular bowel movements? If you think something isn’t right for you, then maybe it’s not..
And on a side note – just because as endurance athletes we train more than the average person, it doesn’t mean we can eat average. As a general principle: Eat a mostly wholefood diet filled with a variety and abundance of vegetables and fruits (think the colour of the rainbow!) include some supporting gut health including cooked and cooled sweet potato, fermented foods, bone broth etc, and don’t forget your good quality carbohydrates, quality protein and good sources of fats.
My food philosophy.
I’m not vegetarian. I’m not vegan. Nor am I paleo or low carb. I simply work on eating an all round nutrient dense whole foods, mostly plant based diet to support my health and my training. I supplement in areas I know I need to or have been tested for and I enjoy chocolate. 😉 So I eat lots of vegetables, and a sprinkling of fruits. I do my best to understand where our meat and animal products come from and I do what works for me and my family. So do your own research, and do what works for YOU, but I do believe we should all eat more plants, more often.
A DAY ON MY PLATE: HIGH TRAINING LOAD DAY .
SAMPLE TRAINING DAY: HIGH TRAINING LOAD DAY AM 1.5+hour strength + high intensity indoor training ride (hard session) Day time walk with the kids + 30min strength/core PM 1hr Endurance based resilience run
SAMPLE FOOD PLAN: HIGH TRAINING LOAD DAY Pre AM Training Session: Glass of water, just to wake me up!
During session: 1/2 – 1 banana + water with salt/lemon OR Koda Electrolytes Tablet I’ll generally have a banana on hand to help fuel the session. This can depend sometimes on what (and when) I ate the night before. But given this sessions is longer in duration (1.5+hrs) plus includes intensity, I like to include some fueling during the session as I know my glycogen stores will start to become depleted. Given we aren’t near racing, I aim to consume whole foods rather than gels etc as I’m not working on training my gut / practicing race nutrition. Another option here: my home made chocolate sweet potato brownie or a home made / quality bar, or some homemade banana bread etc. And don’t forget the hydration! With more indoor trainer session, there’s a lot of sweat going on !
Post Session: Green Protein Smoothie OR Loaded Oats & Chia Porridge My Green Protein Smoothie is my go to Smoothie, packed full of goodness including carbohydrates, protein and fats, and all round balanced post training fuel. I generally have this within half an hour of finishing my session – or when kids allow. 😉 But some days I don’t feel like a smoothie, or it’s a cold morning and there’s nothing like a big bowl of warm oats to warm you up and fill the belly after a big session. My loaded oats & chia porridge has all of that and more and keeps me full all morning.
~2-3hours post session/smoothie : Egg bowl / Omelette OR leftovers Around 2-3 hours post smoothie (or a bit later if I had porridge) I’m ready for my next re-fuel. My favourite go-to is an egg bowl or omelette. Basically 3 eggs, tossed in with some pre roasted vegetables plus a handful of spinach, some goats fetta, a side of sauerkraut and a dollop of my Green Basil Veggie Pesto and/ or my Homemade Hommus and sprinkled with hemp seeds and nutritional yeast. And I don’t skimp on the salt or pepper either. 😉 (see here why food prep is king?!) Omelette is basically the same, but it’s just whether I can be bothered / have the extra time to make the meal into an omelette. You can also add a quality bread or sourdough to boost up the carbs if you don’t have many root vegetables included. If you aren’t working from home / don’t have the time to whip something like this up, part of your meal prep could be a delicious frittata filled with roasted vegetables and simply add the rest as a side. But really anything goes with eggs! Just make sure there are plenty of greens and a variety of colour. If i’m not vibing eggs that day, and I have left overs from the previous nights dinner, then leftovers it is for lunch!
Mid-AfternoonSnack: Once lunch has settles, kids are asleep, some work has been done, I’ll generally do a mid-day strength/core and/or mobility session. After this I’m looking for a light top up for my PM run session. Given on this day my PM run session isn’t a key / long or intense session, I’m just looking for some additional fuel for my day, rather than to fuel the session itself. Generally around 1-2hours before my PMsession I’ll have something like a small bowl of berries with Greek/Coconut yogurt topped with nuts and seeds, or a slice (or two!) of home made banana bread with yogurt/berries on top, a sliced up apple with peanut butter, or if I’m looking for something a bit sweeter, my chocolate peanut butter slice or No Bake Choc Bites ! An afternoon tea goes down nicely here too! 😉 Anything here goes really and it can really depend on how I feel, but I’ll always have something. OH – and that reminds me, I don’t drink coffee… In case you were wondering. Not for performance or health reasons, simply because I can’t stand the smell let alone the taste! (yes – go ahead and judge me!) haha
Dinner: Mexican Burrito Bowl I could pick any of my dinner favourites to add here for dinner, but one of my favourite things for dinner is to have a dinner ‘bowl’. Basically a lot of different veggies, combined with some protein and carbs and you have a bowl full of goodness. Here I share my Mexican Burrito Bowl. I aim to have a lot of my dinner prep already done before I head out for my PM session so it’s easy to whip together once I get back (and especially with kids, you need to be organised for dinner time!)
Supplements: Currently I am supplementing with a Womens multi with Activated B’s, Magnesium, Vitamic C and Zinc. And I don’t skimp on quality. (ie practitioner only brands) I don’t always have all of these all year round, and sometimes I need to add in others based on blood work (which I recommend all athletes get on a bi-annually or annually basis) and top up in other areas as needed / i’m deficient in so I’m not just chugging down tablets or wasting money. Remember though, we as athletes are generally training longer, harder (or both) than the general population, so ensuring your body is getting all the vitamins and minirals it needs for not just optimal performance, but optimal function is so important. And sometimes we simply can’t get enough from the foods we eat and/or additional can help with better recovery.
So there you have it – it’s always hard to choose just one day to share, as each day for me is very different, and I try to eat a variety of foods daily – not to get stuck into a ‘food routine’, but instead have a suit of meals and snacks that you can draw on to create diversity.
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!
Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes, Sarah shares her 10+ years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.
How are you tackling your current training with no ‘real’ races on the horizon? Are you finding it hard to keep motivated? Not sure which direction to take your training? Feel like you are just ‘fumbling’ your way through?
Up until recently, we were all probably sitting in ‘hope’, continuing our training, hoping that things will start to shift, the state and country will start to open up, and things will start to return to ‘normal’ – and with is, races would start to happen.
For some people around the country, this is slowly starting to happen, but for those of us in Victoria (and some other states), we have come to the realisation that we won’t be seeing any further mass participation events in 2020. It’s just impossible to see this happening. If there is, that is a massive bonus and something to celebrate, but we are now under the assumption that there won’t be any. Most of my athletes have already taken credit or deferred their race entries that were scheduled over the next few months, (of which I recommended my athletes do). In the event and on the off chance that a race does happen to pop up, then bonus, we can look at entering then, but in the mean time, we are best to have the flexibility (and the credit) in our own hands .
We know Tri Vic have are still hoping for the Tri Vic Dualthon Champs to happen 18 Oct, and Ironman Melbourne hasn’t been officially cancelled yet either – and we can only hope that things change that these may go ahead. BUT by not cancelling yet, this can often just be more a formality / legality reason, (ie they need to wait to be advised by the governing bodies they can’t be held to then cancel/postpone, otherwise a refund would be required) So yes, we can hope they may still happen, but we as a team and not just sitting around waiting in hope.
So what are we doing about it?
As a group and as a Coach, we’ve had to shift and we’ve had to adapt. Just like all of us have had to do in varying aspects of our lives. We haven’t just continued on our merry way, on the same trajectory as if nothing has happened. We’ve had to evolve, to grow, to learn and to create our own new ‘normal’. We’ve grown as a team and with that, our athletes are going to grow and evolve and they will emerge stronger out the other side of ‘this’.
So I thought I’d share an insight into how we are tackling this first half of the ‘racing season’ so you too can check in to see if the work you are doing now is helping you emerge stronger. That the training you are doing now is not going to waste… Because by retaining structure and purpose in your training, you WILL emerge stronger from this period and WILL be a more robust and resilient athlete in the long run. What you are doing now is not just setting you up for this season, it is setting you up for 2021 and beyond. As I posted on our FB page recently on in my ‘Monday Musings’- in case you missed it:
“A random approach to training (and life) will result in random results”…
SO – here are some of the key areas our athletes are focusing on over the coming months to help ensure they are continuing to improve, evolve and become stronger and more resilient athletes – now, and into the future. And if you don’t have a plan in place, if you are simply ‘exercising’ – then NOW is as good as time as any to get back on track……
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS: We shall continue to focus on the key fundamentals, strength, endurance, resilience while layering in some race specific work as we continue to work through our build phase and then into the first part of our race season. Although our ‘off’ season has been extended, this has meant we have had MORE time working on these fundamentals (a GOOD thing!)
BUILDING: We won’t just sit ‘idling’ and waiting for the race season to return, we WILL be building up to a little peak in Oct/Nov, after which in December most athletes will have a little ‘reset’, some fun, a change to the structure – mentally refreshing the mind and body. Just like you may/would have if there were races at this time. Because we can’t be at our peak ALL the time.
RACING! Our own virtual Challenges and events (and any others) will help us work up to this peak. So get excited about these! Push towards them so you can see the hard work unfold!
REFRESH & RACE: After a little ‘refresh’ we will then head into the second phase of our race build into the back half of the season. This is where we are aiming for athletes to truly peak for the season / year. Not now. Not in Oct / Nov, but in the new year, the second half of the season. When we anticipate for real world races to be upon us!. And that’s exciting!
RECOVER, REFLECT, RELOAD: And then, just like after any racing season. We’ll return to a recovery phase again. Recovering, reflecting, and then getting to reload.
TRUST & ENJOY! So trust in the process. ENJOY the process. Ultimately we all do this for the enjoyment. The sense of achievement. The feeling it gives us. So go back to that. Remember why you started. Take the pressure off and simply enjoy the process….
**To find out how you can join us in our upcoming challenges, live coached virtual sessions, virtual at home swim, yoga, mobility and S&C sessions or find out more about our coaching and programming, simply send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes, Sarah shares her 10+ years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.
Here at CPC we are laying the foundations. Setting the benchmark and going above and beyond to ensure our athletes not only remain healthy, but reach their athletic potential. We not just COACH but we EDUCATE.
For the Month of May we are focusing on MOBILITY. The key underlying function of our bodies. Mobility underpins all movement. A lot of athletes are familiar with the word, but unfamiliar with its importance to athletic performance and therefore don’t take the time to include mobility work into their daily routines.
So we’re here to try and help educate so you can see the benefits – and you can reap the benefits!
Mobility – think of it as the active range of movement. It is the ability of a joint to move through its entire range of motion fluidly. Mobility is not just about the muscles, but the joints that allow for movement as well. A good way to vision mobility is like opening a door. The hinge should open and close smoothly and without resistance. Now imagine trying to open the door and it getting stuck half way. That’s a (simplified) way of looking at lack of mobility – and this is all too common for age group athletes.
Flexibility– remember we said is a component of mobility. It is the ability of your soft tissues to stretch when needed. Think of our muscles like a rubber band. If you pull both ends of a rubber band, it will stretch (i.e. it’s flexible). Our muscles are designed with similar elasticity that, when needed for movement, help the muscle to stretch. This is the static range of movement.
Why is Mobility Important?
When we see an athlete with good mobility, they are able to perform functional movements – without limitations – on their range of motion. On the other hand, if an athlete has good flexibility but lacks good mobility, they may not be able to perform the same movements or as effectively. So in order to have good mobility, you need good flexibility. They go hand in hand.
To put it simple – mobility means having strength, control and stability within your flexibility.
Benefits of mobility work
The benefits of including mobility work are proven, not only increasing performance, but also aiding in recovery. Training for endurance sports is hard on the body, and while recovery methods such as saunas, good nutrition, and quality sleep are all critical to help the body rest and repair, adding in mobility work as well can give you a ‘one-up’ on your recovery – so why wouldn’t you?!
By including specific mobility into your regular routine you can:
Decreases the risk of injury
Keeps joints strong and healthy
Improves strength and performance
Helps aid recovery
Through the above, can increase longevity in your chosen sport
How can we introduce / include mobility work?
Introducing mobility into your daily routine doesn’t have to be onerous or time consuming. It can be as little as 10-15min in the morning, pre and/or post session or in the evening and you will see improvements in your physical performance as well as your mental and emotional health. (bonus!)
Complete prior to a session and it will help you prepare for the session ahead. Then include after your session as muscles, tendons and ligaments respond best as they are warm from the proceeding session. As for improving recovery, spend time on foam rolling, mobility and strengthening will help increase the responsiveness of muscles and speed up muscle recovery. Stretching alone is not always enough to release tight muscles, which is where foam rolling and trigger point comes into play. Foam rolling helps to break up these muscle knots, resume normal blood flow, and normal muscle function.
One way we are helping our athletes include mobility into their day is by introducing mobility combined with yoga. Yoga is a great activity for improving one’s mobility, stability and strength and as well as being very therapeutic. I know many athletes tell me it’s difficult to find another hour in their week to do a yoga session, and yoga in itself isn’t targeted specific to everyones individual needs, so by incorporating both specific mobility work into short yet specific yoga flows, we’re reaping the benefits from both worlds! This allows you to have the benefits of targeted mobility exercises specific to your needs, as well as the overarching general benefits of yoga’s movements and relaxation. How good is that!
How can you get involved?
All athletes under our guidance will receive weekly yoga mobility flows targeting specific areas for mobility, flexibility, strength and stability along with incorporating some relaxing flow all aimed at helping to increase mobility and stability, improve strength for performance and aid recovery and improve relaxation and sleep. All even more crucial in the times we find ourselves in at the moment.
If you want to get involved, and aren’t currently under the guidance of CPC, then get in touch or DM me. I’d love to get you involved! We’ll also be sharing short snippets along with some challenges along the way, so stay tuned…
Meet our Resident Yogi – Jo
Jo is an experienced Naturopath, nutritionist and athlete with an obvious zeal for her craft. She is an energetic vinyasa yoga teacher and a lover of triathlon. Her skills are vast but all wellness lead, her passion for this space is palpable and infectious.
“As triathletes we are often engrossed in the swim, bike and run but I believe incorporating mobility, flexibility and strength training is fundamental to both optimizing your performance today but also your long term sustainability and longevity within the sport”. ~Jo
More about Jo: I have Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy and Nutrition) and have practiced and supported my clients to reach their health potentials for over 13 years includingdeveloping, programming and delivering corporate health solutions and yearly plans to many large corporations over Australia. I am also a 200hr qualified yoga teacher. I believe I am an honest and authentic example of the phrase ‘practice what you preach’. I live a life in which I encourage to see in others.
Since my late teens Yoga has always played a large role in my life. It not only creates balance for me ‘mentally’ but it also enhances my physical performance on and off the triathlon course. I love teaching strong, flowing classes with purpose; integrating strength, flexibility and mobility. Yoga has so much to offer and I feel truly honored to be able to share this with others.
I have an amazing family and love being a mum and mentor to my young children; Matilda and my twins Florence and Charles. I am a competitive age group triathlete and am very proud to have qualified for the 2020 70.3 World Championships in Taupo, NZ. I am a dedicated yogi; my goal of 2 x 20min meditation practices daily mostly always gets done…. The family knows when it doesn’t that is for sure!
I am also the founder of and naturopath consultant for Franjo’s Kitchen; a beautiful brand of functional food for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
For many people it’s real. It’s here. And it’s right now. Everything can feel that little bit too hard. Too much. You are trying to hold it all together but feeling like everything is falling apart at the same time. Trying to do everything, but feeling like you just can’t get on top.
The work load is overwhelming, the children’s schooling a challenge. Finances may be strained. Relationships challenged. Life in a whole just seems so uncertain. The overwhelm is overwhelming.
You are feeling weary, frustrated, anxious, exhausted and emotional. ‘When will this end‘. ‘How long can this go on for?.‘ ‘Surely it has to let up soon… surely?’ You almost pray to anyone out there that is listening. You know it’s not sustainable, but you don’t know how to make a shift.
If this is you. Know I feel you. Understand that I hear you. Life for some is tough right now. The situation we all find ourselves in is tough. But I know that YOU are strong. And I know that we, as a community will all come through the other side. And I honestly feel we will come out stronger, more resilient, tolerable and able.
But while we are all living in the middle of it, it’s important to remember that your health and your mental and emotional well-being is still being made a priority. YOU are number one. If you don’t have your health, what else do you have? So make time. Learn to say no. And find something to be grateful for….
It’s ok to not be ok. Know that your feelings and emotions are real. Allow yourself to grieve, to let out your frustrations, to cry it out, to be angry, but once you have given yourself that, gather yourself and refocus. Get yourself back on track and keep moving forward. .
Say no. You have the right to say no. It is your life. It is your health. So keep the communication lines open with work, with family, with loved ones. And know that it is ok to say no sometimes. .
Make time. For your own physical and mental health. I can’t stress enough how important this is – especially in high stress situations many of us find ourselves in. Whether that be extra workload. Or no work at all. Home schooling the kids. Or having to close or reposition your business, put off staff. Not knowing how you are going to pay the bills, or pay someone else. It is all stress and you need your own stress relief. For many of us that is in the form of exercise. It doesn’t mean having to spend hours training, it could be as simple as walking around the block. Spending 10min mindfully, reading a book, taking a bath, … you choose. But make it a priority. For your mental, emotional and physical sake. Yes there will be some days that everything else comes first, but if you look at your week as a whole, there HAS to be time in there for you. Whatever form that takes. .
Don’t feel guilty. Don’t ever feel guilty for making your mental, physical or emotional health a priority. So if you need to tell your hubby/wife/partner to watch the kids while you go for a run for you. Then do it. But don’t feel guilty for asking. If you need to set yourself a ‘meeting’ during the day so you can get out and get some fresh air. By all means do it. You have permission to look after yourself. So never feel guilty. .
Find something to be grateful for. Your health. Having a job in these challenging times. Your children. A loving family. Friends… if you look, there is so much to be grateful for. Sometimes we just have to stop and remind ourselves or look a little harder. But there is always something to be grateful for. .
Seek help / support. You don’t HAVE to do it alone. You don’t have to try and do everything. Be everywhere. So don’t try to. If it means your children watch TV for the morning while you work. That’s ok. If it means ordering a meal service, or asking family / friends for some home cooked meals, then do it. Delegate, reposition, or simple let some things go. Know that you can do ANYthing, but not EVERYthing. .
Stay connected. Staying connected now is more important than ever. If you are an athlete who used to love training by yourself as that was your alone time, training solo may make you feel even more isolated right now. So stay connected to your training buddies, to your training squad, to your friends / family. Organise or join in on a virtual training meet up, catch up with your friends and family online. Staying connected is important to keep some reality and some normalcy in such times we find ourselves in. .
Use this as an opportunity. Instead of seeing the situation you are in as a burden, try and shift your thoughts and see this time as an opportunity. An opportunity to become more efficient. To re-plan. To change. To make a shift. If there has been something you have wanted to do, or change, then use this as a driving force. Sometimes the biggest changes can happen during a crisis but it may just be the catalyst needed to make that shift you didn’t even know you needed.
The theme here with all these points is to LOOK AFTER YOURSELF. Get support if you need support, take a moment for yourself, as we all need it and stay connected. It is a trying time for so many, look after yourself, and check in on others. Even those who seem they may have it all together may just be treading water, bobbing between floating and sinking…