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: email@example.com
~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ 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!
So what is mobility?
Firstly, flexibility and mobility are not the same thing. They are often used interchangeably but are different. Think of flexibility as a component of mobility, with mobility being the key driver.
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.
These yoga mobility sequences will include:
Warm up routine, mobility flow and activation
Yoga flow with core stability focus
Yoga flow focusing on the hips and glutes – the prime movers!
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…
Over the past week/s we have really started to see and feel the real impact of the Coronavirus in Australia. We first started witnessing it in the supermarkets with many staple items becoming low or out of stock. Something that many of us jeered at when people first started to stockpile (in particular toilet paper!) but now is a real concern for many, including the vulnerable and the elderly.
And now this week the Australian Federal and State Governments have directed that all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people be suspended from tomorrow along with recommending social distancing. Schools, may be closed for extended periods of time, gyms and play centres could close. Some may not even survive just as we have already seen in the hospitality industry. This is unprecedented and will probably not be seen again in our lifetime. The Government and Health Authorities action is to reduce the SPEED of the spread and the impact that it has – not just on the health of individuals, but on the economy as a whole.
Sporting events are now being impacted too. This week alone we saw the NBA put a hold on their season, the Formula 1 cancel the Australian GrandPrix, and closer to home for us as endurance athletes, Run for the Kids, and the remaining races of the local 2XU Triathlon Series have already been cancelled. Ironman also sent out an email whereby CEO Andrew Messick said: “We expect that there are going to be substantial and widespread event postponements in the coming weeks and months.” This comes on the back of Ironman already postponing 70.3 events in both Greece and Puerto Rico.
Given the Australian Governments action to date, and the advice coming from the World Health Organisation, there is a real possibility (and reality) that some – if not the majority of endurance races and events in the coming months to be cancelled / postponed.
SO – if this does happen, where does that leave age group endurance athletes? What does that mean for the remainder of the season ? (NOTE: I haven’t even touched on the impact this has on professional athletes who rely on races / racing for their lively-hood, or the impact on the broader triathlon / endurance community)
Some athletes are already feeling a little ‘lost’ – their A race/s taken away from them, their season abruptly cut short and so now even after just a couple of days are already feeling a little ‘lost’ or unmotivated. And that’s not to mention those athletes who seasons are still up in the air, with uncertainty on whether their upcoming races are even going to go ahead (ie Ironman Port Macquarie and Cairns and Challenge Shepparton to name a few) I see the same / similar feelings emerge after an athlete finishes an A race, a big goal or at the end of a season. When all an athletes training and focus was on one (or more) targeted race/s and the sudden loss / end of of the main purpose on what fueled their daily training has now been and gone – OR taken away in the scenario we are now finding ourselves in.
So – the question is, what now? Where do we go from here? How do we come back from this?
Adjust your training Firstly, you will need to adjust your training to reflect the changes in your race plans – whether the change was in your control or not, you can control how you react. Remember – you want to be peaking for your races, not for races that are now not to be. So this may mean heading into your recovery phase OR starting / continuing your base preparation phase instead of continuing your current race / competition phase.
Firstly – recovery at the end a season or major race is extremely important and can look and feel different for every athlete but generally should include a reduced load, focus and / or structure. Sessions during this time should be light, with a focus on active recovery, refreshing the body and the mind. Even if you didn’t get to finish off your race season, it is still super important to include this phase in your season. So don’t skip it..
If you have already served out a recovery period after your last A race and feel refreshed, ready and motivated, then get stuck into your base preparation phase. This phase aims to develop your base endurance while developing and correcting technique and refining your skills – it underpins your whole season. So great news is, you now have extra time to spend in their all important training phase!
So if your race season has been shortened, then now is the perfect time you should either kick start your post season recovery or dive straight into your base preparation training phase. This is the PERFECT time to get a head start on both!
If your races are still uncertain…. If you have a race in the next couple of months that have yet to announce a cancellation or postponement, then continue your training / build as normal. It’s all systems go. What may adjust ever so slightly though is the underlying factor and that base endurance is key, and reducing intensity if needed. This can help ensure that your immunity isn’t compromised too much in a time when the virus is at it’s peak, along with continuing to work on the foundations of endurance sport – aerobic strength and conditioning. So work with your coach, ensure you continue towards your goal, and cross the bridge of any announcements when they come to light.
Review your season Just like at the end of any season or major race of your season, it’s the perfect time to sit down and review your goals for the past / current season. So now is your chance to sit down with your coach and evaluate your year / season. This is important to make certain of your continual development and progression and ensure your next season is even better than the last ! Again, don’t skip this part of your season..
Shift the goal posts Just because your race day may be shifted, it doesn’t mean your goal has to. You can still have that goal of your first triathlon, your first Ironman, you can still go in search for your next PB, of qualifying for a World Championship – these goals don’t need to change. They can still happen AND if you think about it, may even come about bigger and better than you had planned. Giving yourself more time and more space to really hone in on your goals through further progression in your underlying base endurance, technique and mastering the skills of triathlon / endurance sports. So even though the race may not happen when you planned, your goal can and still will be achieved regardless of when.
Stay healthy During a health crisis such as we are experiencing, it is important that we keep ourselves fit and healthy so that if we do get the virus, our immune systems are in a good position to fit it off quickly and/or lesson its impact. So ensure you are doing all the right things such as good wholesome nutrition, sleep and recovery, maintaining our hygiene and exercising (read training).
In saying all of that, we should all be following the advice of the Department of Human Services – Victorian Chief Health Officer, so if you feel unwell, or if you have been in close vicinity of someone who has the virus, you should isolate yourself until you are all clear. More info is available here.
Remind yourself of WHY you train Of course having races and goals to train towards are a big part of that, BUT remember the underlying factors of WHY you love to train and the value it adds to your life and how it makes you feel. There are so many benefits to training, including the feeling of being fit and healthy, the social interaction, the sense of accomplishment… the list is endless. Enjoying the process of training and learning provides so much more. It’s not just about crossing that finishing line, collecting a medal and posting it on facebook / instagram! 😉
So don’t use the Coronavirus as an excuse to drop the ball on your training, health or fitness. See it as an opportunity for extra time to improve your strengths, work on your weaknesses, hone those skills that need extra refinement and become even stronger and more robust than before – so when we do race again – you will be your strongest and fittest yet!
I haven’t written a racing blog in a LONG time, so what better time to write one given it’s been a LONG time between races !
It’s been 3 years, and 2 babies since my last long course race. My youngest is nearly 10months old already. Wowee that time has flown, yet at the same time, pre kids seems like a distant memory. I guess now having two little ones keeping us occupied, plus working / running my own biz as well as back into full training – there really isn’t much time to just ‘sit and reflect’. 😉 So much has changed in the past 3 years though and it’s hard to even compare my life now to what it was like 3 years ago. But as all mums / parents would say – we wouldn’t change it for the world!
So making the decision to return to long course racing as a mum of a 2 year old and a 9mth old wasn’t taken with a grain of salt. I knew I wanted to, and my main driver was when I heard the 70.3 world champs were going to be in New Zealand. I have always wanted to visit NZ, and we would have loved to have gone for our honeymoon last year but I was 6mths pregnant at the time so we decided we’d go another time when we could really explore and experience what NZ has to offer. SO what better way as two outdoor loving people to go and race there at the same time! (well hopefully anyway!) So the idea was born to work on qualifying for the Half Ironman World Championships.
This racing blog I’d thought I’d write a little differently though – because, well why not! Instead of writing a normal race blog on how my race panned out, how I felt, where I could have done better… I wanted to share the added challenges of getting to the start line, and racing as a triathlete MUM. Of course there are challenges being a triathlete dad also, but this is my experience as the main care giver at home and there are definitely additional challenges faced being a female.
So whether you are a mum yourself or not, I hope this can give you a little insight into what it takes to get to the start (and finish line) as a triathlete mum and an overview of how my return to racing went.
Lack of sleep / broken sleep This one is REAL. And for anyone who has ever suffered from sleep issues, I FEEL your pain! Sleep is when our body goes to work in repairing and rejuvenating itself. So when sleep is disrupted for what ever reason – and not just the quantity but more importantly the quality, then your recovery is going to be impaired. This is something that really has to be considered in the training of athletes – and in particular mums who have to wake (or are woken) over night.
From the period of 6 – 8 months old, Edie woke just about every night. Sometimes 2-3 times in the night. So for a good 8 weeks solid, I did not have a full nights sleep. I wasn’t getting to bed until around 10/10.30 and waking 5am to train, which is only 6.5-7hours of sleep regardless, but throw in a few wakes during that time and all of a sudden i’m only getting 5-6hours of UNBROKEN sleep. I definitely felt this at the time and I had to modify my training accordingly. I couldn’t do any hard / quality training sessions in the morning, and even in the day/evening I had to be mindful of doing any back to back intensity days knowing that my recovery was going to be impaired. So this limited my training during the week some what. But despite this, I still felt I was able to make the most of the time and energy I had at the time and stayed super consistent and healthy – which was going to get me better results than a few days of hard training, then resulting in having to have a few days off as a result OR getting sick or injured. Next race hopefully I won’t have to contend with this and I’m happy to say that Edie is back sleeping full nights and so am I ! 😉
Balancing training with family life There is a quote that I remember seeing on social media a little while ago – ‘You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce’Implying that we should all be able to do as much / be as much as Beyonce’ . Yes – it’s true that everyone has the same 24hrs in a day, but we don’t all have the same help and support. I don’t know any working age group triathlete mums who have a personal chef, a personal trainer, a stylist, makeup artist, a manager…… so go easy on yourself. And remember, you can do ANYTHING you want, just not EVERYTHING. And it is your choice on what you choose to do with your time. If you choose more family time over training time, then go you. If you choose more training time over family time. Then go you too. Just don’t go comparing yourself and your situation to anyone elses. It will serve you no purpose.
For me, gone are the days when I’d happily train all weekend. Before kids, I would happily start training at 6am in the morn and not get home until after lunch and never thought anything of it. But when you have 2 young children at home (one still breast fed) then this wasn’t an option for me, nor did I actually want to. PLUS hubby is a cyclist and trains too, so we had to make compromises on the times we trained, when and for how long.
Did this impact my race? I’d say it probably did to an extent. I certainly wouldn’t have trained the same quality or quantity that some of my fellow competitors would have, but would I change it? Nope. As for now, finding a balance between training enough and still spending quality time with my family was important to me so I am happy to make that compromise for the sake of a slightly faster race time. 🙂
Body changes A couple of weeks before the race and I actually started to not only feel ‘race fit’ but I felt I looked race fit too. So I decided to try on my race kits from 3 years ago. ‘There’s no way I can wear that!‘ I thought as I glared at the image in front of me in the mirror. In that moment, all I could see were the little things that others would not notice, but through my own eyes was simply seeing what I thought were flaws. My stomach was firm, but it didn’t quite have the ‘abs’ that it used to have. My butt was strong, yet had this little sag I could’t remember having pre children. My boobs were lopped sided, thanks to two fussy children who only liked one side… So as I stood there in front of the mirror, being overly critical of myself I suddenly thought of my daughter. As women, we are far too critical of ourselves. We put ourselves down. We wish we could be better, smaller, firmer, stronger, leaner, taller…. And it was that thought that brought me back to reality and instead of being self critical and pointing out any perceived ‘flaws’, I started to be grateful and thanking my body instead;
So I thanked it for two healthy pregnancies. I thanked my stomach for growing two beautiful children. I thanked my boobs for being capable of feeding two vulnerable babies. I thanked my butt for giving me strength on the bike and run. I thanked my body for staying strong when I felt weak, for being the vessel to my soul and for being exactly who and what it is. I thanked it for allowing me to continue to train and do what I love.
This was a reminder to me that our bodies are far more on the inside than what they just look like on the outside.
These thoughts didn’t effect my race at all, but I wanted to include this. As our bodies do change post pregnancy. Some more than others. So I implore women to try and not to compare themselves to their pre baby body, simply to appreciate your body for what it is and remember how incredible they really are.
Hormonal changes The female body is INCREDIBLE. Just in case you didn’t know already. 😉 The changes it goes through to grow another little human inside of it still blows my mind. There are so many hormonal changes that happen in a females body during pregnancy to prepare the body for child birth, and even more changes postpartum (post birth) that it’s hard to even get your head around! I feel blessed that my body managed well with these changes and settled back into routine within about 5 months post birth. BUT it’s certainly not fool proof just yet. I track my ‘cycle’ on an app and by it’s calculations I wasn’t due for my period (yes guys I just said period) 😉 for another 2 weeks. But low and behold, I go for a pit stop at the race venue before heading into transition and HELLO female hormones! Argh! I had not prepared for this! Luckily I was there with another female athlete who helped a sister out. (thanks chick!) Otherwise I was going to have to make a quick dash to the medical tent. Lesson learnt – always come prepared, just in case!
Did it impact my race? Possibly. But I don’t feel like it did on the day. But it did weigh on the back of my mind throughout the race. At another race at a different time of the month and it certainly can though. So again, for female athletes this is something that should be discussed with your coach when you are talking about your training and racing planning.
The logistics Preparation for a race doesn’t just come in the form of training, it comes in the form of logistics. Long gone are the days when you can simply plan, book and organise a race without thinking about others. Given this race was going to be interstate, and I was going to be away for 5 days, this meant even more planning and organising. Hubby had to work the weekend of the race so he wasn’t going to be coming. (and let’s be honest, Penrith isn’t really an exciting holiday destination anyway) 😉 But given I was going to be heading up solo, kids couldn’t come up with me, so the process started in working out where they would be, who would be able to help look after them, what time Hubby could have off work, and then there was the issue of my youngest still being breastfed – being strong-willed (read stubborn) means she refuses a bottle!
So my race planning and logistics included not only myself but my family and the worry of ‘will they be ok without me?!’ (of course they would be but why is it that as mothers we always worry they won’t be?!) Thankfully we have fabulous family who were able to step in and help out Hubby while I was away. And no, my youngest didn’t take a bottle for the 5 days while I was away (bless her stubbornness!) And yes I had to express while I was away – including getting up at 3:15am race morning to do so !
Did this impact my race. No, not at all, but it does make it even more satisfying to reach the finish line knowing what you have had to organise behind the scenes to make it there. 🙂
Making comparisons As mothers we are told not to compare our children to other children. That every baby develops differently, in their own time and in their own way. Yet as mothers we still find it hard not to compare. I already see myself doing it with #2 child and comparing her to #1. By 9 mths Mr Mills was already well on his way to crawling. Yet at nearly 10mths Miss Edie hasn’t shown much interest at all and will happily sit and play all day long without going anywhere. I found myself going back into my development books to see what I had done ‘wrong’. Had I not given her enough tummy time? Has she had less attention due to being #2? Other mothers told me the second learns so much faster so why hadn’t she?
But then I reminded myself what I was doing. I was trying to compare two totally different individuals. Comparing one child to another – what purpose did that serve? Will it make her crawl faster? No. Will it instead create self doubt in myself as a mother? Yes.
The worst thing one can do is compare – as all that does is create uncertainty, self doubt, a feeling of ‘I am doing this right?‘ ‘Am I doing enough?’ ‘Should I be doing more?’ Instead of trusting in yourself and in the process of development – in this case, the development of our children, but putting it into context of athletes, in the development of their training and putting trust in the process.
So when I was planning out this race, I made sure I didn’t get caught up in comparing my previous training or racing to that of my current training and racing. A lot has happened in 3 years since I last raced, and my body has gone through an incredible experience – not once but twice! So I wanted this to be it’s own unique journey. Of course I knew what my previous training looked like and I previously trained A LOT more than what I did for this prep, but I was ok with that. I was ok swimming twice a week, not 3 or 4 like I used to. I was ok doing the majority of my bike training on the trainer. I was ok missing a session here or there if needed to for my family, or for my health. This was a totally different journey that my body was going on, so it served no purpose to compare.
Someone messaged me post race – congrats on your race, a PB post pregnancy!! And I smiled. I loved that. 🙂
Avoiding (unsuccessfully) bugs and germs If you have children you will understand the struggle! And this one was the biggest one that impacted me on race day, and my biggest take away from the race. Heading into the race I was feeling amazing, everything had gone to plan, everything was organised, I was feeling strong and ready both physically and mentally and I couldn’t wait to head to Sydney.
That was until Tuesday of race week things started to unravel slightly. I started to feel nauseous that evening and all of a sudden I had the urge to rush to the bathroom. Gargh! I had picked up some kind of gastro bug! Bad timing! Ironically a day before competing in the Melbourne Half Marathon I caught the same / similar thing and it impacted that race. But I thought to myself, I’ve been here before and it only lasted a couple of days. I still had 4 days until race day, I should be fine! Little did I know how stubborn this bug was going to be! (and I laughed later as I thought I must have caught it from my youngest given how stubborn she is!) 😉
So from there I did everything I could to get rid of this thing that was turning my stomach inside out and causing everything to go straight through me like an open sieve! (too much information?!) 😉 As race day got closer, I actually started to get a little concerned. I wondered if I was going to be able to make it through the race without needed to stop at every port-a-loo on course. Would there even be enough port-a-loo’s out there for me?! I had pictures in my mind that no one would want to see! Plus I knew my energy levels were declining every day. Any food I ate – which was minimal, was heading straight out the other end, and dehydration was a real concern especially going into a race where it was going to be warm. I can’t believe a gastro bug was going to derail my whole race prep !
A last ditch attempt the afternoon before the race I headed to a local chemist again to see if here was anything else I could take that would stem the ‘flow’! lol ‘You really should be going to a doctor’. The pharmacist warned me. I know. I know. But that won’t help my race tomorrow I pleaded with him. ‘Take 2 of these tablets every 3-4hours, if this doesn’t stop it nothing will’. The pharmacist assured me when he grabbed a packet from behind his counter. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! I said. And a little hope was restored that I would at least get through the race without needed a toilet stop.
Race morning and I woke early. And immediately I knew I was in trouble when I had to jump out of bed and head straight to the bathroom. Not once. Not twice. But 6 times before I left for the race…. This wasn’t looking good! I was aslso slightly concerned about the toilet lines I was going to be confronted with at the venue and working out what story i’d have to tell the ladies in front of me as I rushed in. God help me.
So I guess you want to know if I survived the race? THANKFULLY I did. I got through nearly 5 hours of not needing to visit a port-a-loo and that was the most satisfying thing ever!! haha.
Did this impact my race though? Yes, I believe quite significantly. I went into the race under nourished and dehydrated and my energy levels were way down. At the start of the race I didn’t notice it at all, but as I had experienced the same thing prior to the Melbourne Half Marathon, I knew it was in the back half of the race that it was going to come and bite me in the bum (literally and figuratively). I knew it was going to be hard to manage my nutrition and my energy levels and I had to adjust my race accordingly. And it hit me at around the 60km mark on the bike. Up until then I felt strong and in control, but around 60km I could start to feel the energy wane, like you get that sugar low if you haven’t had enough nutrition. There was nothing I could do other than to drop my intensity and slow my speed down to counteract it. It took probably the next 15-20km at a lower intensity and continuing to drip feed myself with nutrition to balance this back out again and finish off the bike feeling ok. Not great. But ok.
Onto the run and I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold the pace / intensity that I wanted to. If I tried I knew it would end in disaster. So as I started out I did some calculations in my head and decided on settling into around 5km/pace (by goal was originally 4:40-4:45’s). I felt at this pace my energy levels were conserved enough that I could still finish the race consistently. And I did. And I was super proud of that. As I felt in control for the whole run AND didn’t need a toilet stop once ! ! ! Winning!
Lesson learnt: I’ve joked that I will be putting myself into quarantine before my next race. And that I might just have to ! (sorry family!)
Western Sydney 70.3 Results Goal Time: 4:45-4:50 Actual Time: 4:58:50
Apart from my goal time for the race, my main goal was firstly just getting back out there and racing and feeling good doing so. Despite the issue with the gastro bug leading in, I felt I executed my race day well, adjusting it through the day as I needed. And this is what I try and teach my athletes to do. It is all good and well to have a well laid out race and nutrition plan, but you need to be able to be flexible with it. If not, things can go pear shaped quickly. If I hadn’t have adjusted my intensity on the bike, my whole race could have finished off completely differently – and not in a good way! So I’m super happy with how I executed my race and I gave it 100% of what I had on that day – and that’s all that anyone can ask for. I did also have the goal of qualifying for the 70.3 World Championships – which I missed out my one spot, so although disappointing, I had anticipated this as a possibility so had already got my next races lined up. So here’s to a HEALTHY race prep into next race! 🙂
Big thank you’s Go out to firstly my family – Hubby Aaron especially for supporting me on my journey back to racing. He is the most amazing support person there is and couldn’t have got to the fitness levels I did without his support.
Jano and his team at Giant South Yarra. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jano for the majority of my racing ‘career’ now and I can’t thank him enough for his support. To head my return to racing on the fastest TT bike I have ever ridden – the LIV AVOW Advanced Pro 1 gives you that added confidence on the bike. And man does it ride like a dream! Seriously you can’t get better value for money in a bike than a LIV / GIANT. So thank you again Jano, one less thing for me to worry about when out there racing!
Jamie Edwards and his support with his coaching JET Coaching. As a fellow coach with similar principles and philosophies, we bounce ideas off each other, support each other at races and he’s been helping me in the pool with my swim. So thanks Jamie, nothing like learning and supporting other coaches for the benefit of the triathlon community and athletes as a whole and has definitely helped me personally as an athlete too.
My athletes – for being amazing yourselves! As well as being supportive in your own ways of my journey alongside your own. I have my own internal drivers for why I love to race and part of that is because of my athletes. It is important to me as a coach to be able to race and continue to share my experiences with my athletes so thanks to each of you for sharing the journey with me as coach and as athlete.