Archive for September, 2017

How to Use Your Last Race of the Season as a Motivation Tool for Next Season

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No matter the result, the last race of the season is a culmination of a long process of work, rest and racing. The good, the bad and the ugly may have all played a part in the athlete you are at that final race. Upon completion, the time to reflect and analyze is upon you.

Being diligent and thorough in your analysis should play a key role in setting next season’s race calendar. The ending of one season is the beginning of the next. Riding the wave of motivation into a productive off season, focusing on your goals for next season, and training diligently to put your best self on the starting line of your “A” race is paramount to achieving your full potential as an endurance athlete.

Reflect on your complete self.

Reflect on the season as a whole: Your family life, your work life, your spiritual life and your training. Analyze your stresses, if any, and make note of their effect on your training. Happy people make happy athletes!

Use your motivation to plan a race schedule that suits your lifestyle, including demands and commitments outside of your athletics. This may mean planning a family vacation that includes your “A” race, or it may mean racing locally and exploring the options in your local endurance sports scene.

Further reflection may find you setting a goal for one to two years down the line. This is a great tactic to employ when thinking of exploring the ultra-distance events of endurance sports as it often involves transforming yourself into a completely different athlete.

Harness the beginner’s mindset.

If you are coming off your first racing season, I’m speaking about you, but if you’ve been in the game for awhile, I’m working to circle you back to where you started.

Remember the feeling of finishing your first race? One that you planned for, trained a little or a lot for, and came away thinking of the myriad number of ways you could improve? When you reduce expectation, stop the comparisons, and decrease pressure, the racing becomes or stays fun!

Experienced racers can utilize this by mixing up their racing and training. Setting goals for the following season that add to your repertoire, develop a new skillset, or focus on a new distance may be the spark that’s needed to stoke your motivation.

Consult with a professional.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes the third-party view is exactly what is needed. It’s easy to think you are in a unique place, but the reality of it is that others have been where you are now, thinking the same thoughts.

Maybe you’ve wanted to hire a personal trainer to work on core strength and balance. You may also recognize a need for a running, swimming or cycling coach to help you manage your training, work on weaknesses, or enhance your skills.

Now is the time to do so! Jumping into this process after a short rest and recovery period allows you to harness the motivation from your last event. Roll it forward and keep improving.

You can learn a lot about yourself in reflection and there is no better time to reflect than after your last race. Take an honest look at the season as a whole (family, work, racing) and use the motivation of that final race to plan a killer next year.

Onward and upward.

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How to Make Sure You Start Your Race Hydrated

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When people talk about hydration, most of the time it’s about what and how much athletes should drink during exercise.

This is clearly important, but your performance is also massively influenced by how hydrated you are when you start exercising in the first place. Drinking a strong electrolyte drink to optimize your hydration status before long, hot or really hard training sessions and events can significantly improve your performance.

At Precision Hydration we call this “preloading,” and the practice has been widely studied in the last 20 years or so, both with astronauts and athletes.

Whilst there’s not a completely bulletproof consensus on the subject (there rarely is) there’s strong evidence that taking in additional sodium with fluids before you start sweating is effective in promoting increased acute fluid retention and in improving endurance performance—especially in the heat.

This article aims to give you a more solid understanding of what you can do to arrive at the start of your next event optimally hydrated.

Once you start sweating, you’re fighting a losing battle

Once you begin sweating you’re generally going to be fighting a losing battle against fluid and electrolyte loss, so starting off properly hydrated can be extremely beneficial. When you’re properly hydrated you have a larger reservoir of fluid to draw from over time than if you’re dehydrated.

Starting well hydrated has other benefits too. Optimal hydration maximizes your blood volume and this helps general cardiovascular function and your ability to dissipate the heat produced by your working muscles. This reduces fatigue and enables you to maintain your performance for longer.

Despite the relatively obvious benefits of starting exercise well hydrated, a recent study of more than 400 amateur athletes showed that around 31 percent of them were turning up to training sessions (and, in some cases, competitions) dehydrated!

Amongst the data there were strong indications that this was very likely to be compromising their performance. This will probably seem like common sense, especially if you’ve ever tried exercising when you know you’re a bit “dry.”

Who in their right mind would want to start exercising hard in a dehydrated state if they’re trying to perform at their best?

This study certainly backs up previous work I’ve read on the subject and the kind of things we’ve seen over many years working with athletes in different scenarios. It’s certainly not uncommon to see people only really thinking about hydration once they turn up to a session rather than preparing in advance.

Often this just happens because those of us who are not full-time athletes are running around flat-out between workouts and aren’t always able to think about preparing properly for them 100 percent of the time. That’s just life.

But it can also be a problem for full-time athletes when training two or more times a day, or at times when they’re just under a very high total training load. That’s because uncorrected dehydration from a prior training session can make it’s presence felt when the next session gets underway.

We tend to overcompensate before the big day which severely impacts performance

Although athletes turning up to training a bit low on fluids is relatively common, it’s generally less of an issue before major competitions. That’s not to say that turning up to an event dehydrated never happens, I’m sure it does.

But, because most athletes care a lot about their performance in big events, there’s a tendency to increase fluid intake before the big day because extra priority is placed on all aspects of last minute preparation.

The irony of this extra emphasis on pre-event hydration is that quite a lot of athletes can go from slightly under-drinking before training to significantly over-drinking pre-competition and this can lead to a different set of problems including hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels caused by inadequately replacing the sodium lost when sweating and further dilution by drinking plain water or weak sports drinks), something that can be pretty catastrophic for health and performance if it goes unchecked.

A recent study found that 10 percent of athletes tested at the IRONMAN European Championships had hyponatremia, which shows you the extent to which hydration issues might be impacting performance.

What can athletes can learn from astronauts?

The importance of sodium to hydration and maintaining your performance was further proven by research conducted at NASA at the end of the 20th century.

NASA’s astronauts were commonly found to be suffering with low blood pressure because they were losing bodily fluids (and therefore blood volume) during their time in microgravity.

One NASA paper I read suggested that astronauts live with as much as a 3 to 4 percent deficit in total body fluid levels during a typical mission. It was causing them to feel weak, light headed and even to black out on re-entry or once they landed back on terra firma. That’s not something you want to be dealing with when you’re trying to land a rather expensive spacecraft!

To combat this, NASA tested lots of drinks containing different carbohydrates and electrolyte mixtures and found that the more sodium you put in a drink, the more effective the drink would be at being retained in the body and bloodstream and correcting dehydration.

So, how do you “preload” effectively?

It’s about striking a balance between being aggressive enough to drive some extra fluid retention in your bloodstream without this leading to gastrointestinal issues or excessive fluid build-up making you feel bloated and sluggish.

Typical sports drinks, which generally contain ~200 to 500 mg of sodium per liter, simply don’t cut it when it comes to preloading as they’re just way too dilute to make a meaningful difference to blood volume. The reality is it’s not vastly different from drinking water.

At the other extreme, most of the scientific studies that have been conducted in this area have looked at using extremely strong electrolyte drinks containing ~3,600mg of sodium per liter.

That’s like drinking a bag of saline solution that would normally be put into you via an IV! Whilst this has been shown to be highly effective at boosting blood plasma volume, it’s has a tendency to cause upset stomachs, sickness or diarrhoea, something that is obviously very counterproductive when you’re trying to improve your performance!

At PH we settled on a strength of 1,500mg of sodium per litre (32oz) for our preloading drinks as that seemed to be the “sweet spot” in that it’s very palatable and easy on the gut, whilst still being effective at boosting your blood plasma volumes and getting you optimally hydrated before your start sweating.

If you want to test whether preloading improves your performance, follow these recommendations before your next long/intense training session or “B” race:

What to do

Drink a strong electrolyte drink (like PH 1500) with 500ml/16oz of water the evening before your activity.
Drink a strong electrolyte drink (like PH 1500) with 500ml/16oz of water about 90 minutes before you start. Finish your drink at least 45 minutes before you start to give your body time to fully absorb what it needs and pee out any excess.
Drink the strong electrolyte drink in water you’d have drank anyway to ensure you don’t overdo it.
DON’T just drink lots of water in the build-up to a race. You can end up diluting your body’s sodium levels before you start, increasing the risk of hyponatremia.

Why

Boosting your blood plasma volume before intense exercise is a proven way to enhance your performance, especially in hot conditions.
Having more blood makes it easier for your cardiovascular system to meet the competing demands of cooling you down and delivering oxygen to your muscles.
Stronger electrolyte drinks are very effective at increasing your plasma volume as they contain more sodium than a typical sports drink. That extra sodium helps to pull water into your bloodstream and keep it there.
Preloading may allow you to get away with drinking considerably less in shorter/harder events where previously they would have had to try to consume more on the move (not easy when you’re flat out!). It can also help reduce the amount of times you need to pee before you start.
You can’t preload anywhere near as effectively with weaker sports drinks as you’ll lose a large proportion of the fluid as urine. Or it’ll slosh around in your stomach without being properly absorbed.
Drinking a stronger electrolyte drink before you start can also help you avoid/alleviate muscle cramps, especially if you’re prone to suffering from them late on in events and especially when it’s hot. For more on why athletes suffer with cramp, read this.

If you’re looking for a way to optimize your performance then testing sodium preloading is definitely worth a try. If you have any questions about how to preload effectively or need help optimising your approach, drop us an email.

Oh and if you decide you’d like to use our all-natural, multi-strength electrolytes to personalize your hydration strategy, just use the code TRAININGPEAKS to get 15 percent off your first order.

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Your IRONMAN Preparation Checklist

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You’ve done the base work, honed your technical skills, and you’ve built your aerobic base—together these three things will define your IRONMAN potential.  Adding specificity in the later stages of your training through IRONMAN simulation workouts will better prepare your mind for the specific environmental challenges and logistics of race day.

Without specificity in training, you leave yourself open to unknown and preventable risks that, once trained, could turn into an advantage for you out on the course.

In IRONMAN training we often string together multiple days of increasing stress through periodization, while the race is a single day of significant stress. We need to ensure we are mentally prepared for the higher race-day demands this will bring to our mental and physical endurance.

To prepare well, we need to spend the time assessing our race day environment and make sure our training and preparation allows it to align with our skills, capabilities. In order to do this, we must form a strategy to execute by focusing on areas where there may be gaps between our skill set and the course.

This approach is even more important where the race environment is unfamiliar or especially challenging. Racing in the IRONMAN World Championship, for example, has some specific challenges that do need intensive focus: heat, winds open water swim that is not wetsuit legal—, you do not want to be surprised about any elements like that on race day!

I recommend these four steps to ensure you are fully prepared for the day:

Understand the race day environment. Be detailed in this analysis as familiarity will help you prepare well. Study the course map, talk to people who have done the race, and pay attention to the race’s local weather, both historically and in the weeks prior to your event. Consider heat training or preparing for inclement weather, especially if you live in a climate that is much different than that of your race.
Isolate areas of the race that will have not been covered in your training so far and form a strategy to address these, either logistically, physically or mentally.
Implement and practice the strategy throughout your build and peak phases. Be creative, it is about being mentally prepared as well as physically.
Test, assess and adjust. Work with your coach, social networks, and experienced peers to validate the demands and where you are at in your fitness and experience level. Be self aware. Being prepared and understanding your strengths and weaknesses may mean you’ll avoid that meltdown in the later stages of race day.

The IRONMAN race day is special and demands respect. I typically work through an exhaustive list of race specifics in assessing an athlete’s specificity focus. Here are some examples to consider:

Pre-Race (Race lead-up should be familiar and controlled)

Travel and accommodation
Location climate and healthy food availability
Location-hype level. Don’t change anything based on race expo sales and marketing. There are noo silver bullets, no new kits, no change to nutrition, no change to race plan that can possibly do you any good this late in the game.
Registration and bike-racking logistics. Be on time, but don’t get flustered if things don’t run completely smoothly.

Swim

Wetsuit or non wetsuit (possibility of it not being as expected?)
Extreme temperature (Warm or cold)
Mass start or rolling
Single lap or multi-lap with half-way exit and re-entry
Will you be swimming into the sun?
Distance from T1 – how long is the run? Will you need flip-flops or shoes?

Bike

Elevation profile, where are the hills? Do you need a power/heart rate cap strategy? What should be your gearing choice?
Are headwinds and crosswinds expected (for example, those on the IRONMAN Hawaii course) which may lead to a different wheel choice?
What is the road surface and condition, including the chance or rain? Will this alter your tire choice and inflation pressure?
What is your expected aero time? Are you trained for this?
Is there a potential for groups forming? Do you need an anti-drafting strategy?
What is the expected race time temperature and humidity? Do you need to decouple hydration from nutrition? What may you require at special needs?
Aid station stock. Do they have what you need? Have they run out in the past?

Run

Elevation profile, where are the hills? Do you need a heart rate cap strategy?
What are the renowned “tough areas” of the course?
What is the expected race time temperature and humidity. Do you need to decouple hydration from nutrition? What may you require at special needs for nutrition and clothing?
Aid station stock. Do they have what you need? Have they run out in the past?

Ticking off this checklist we can quickly identify race specifics that require some attention. These may be logistical, mental or require adaptation through training.

Depending on where you live you may need to think outside the square in terms of simulating the environment. A good idea is to simulate the ride and run in and indoor area using heaters or air conditioning to simulate the climate.

Another great example is to use BestBikeSplit to generate the course for your weight, Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and bike profile. This can be used on a ergotrainer indoors with a simulated climate using planned race day nutrition. I set this for athletes as a two ride day, riding the first four hours of the course in the morning and the remaining a few hours later.

The IRONMAN run is about running on fatigued legs—it is what we do! Double run days or broken IRONMAN weekends ensure you are conditioned for this. A solid weekend is to do the BestBikeSplit course on a Saturday and two runs on the Sunday totaling the full course length (26.2 miles).

The second run is on a indoor treadmill simulating conditions. A tough day to be followed by a couple of active recovery days—but you will know where you are at!

Specificity is about being prepared. It ensures we leverage our strengths and are prepared for the specific demands of the day. It also ensures we have a plan for possible, uncontrollable scenarios. It is always easier to execute a planned response to an exceptional scenario that make up a plan on the fly than to come upon it unexpectedly and respond reactively.

Train smart, do the work that counts, but most importantly—enjoy the journey.

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How to Beat That Workout Slump: 5 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Motivation

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Training in the summer and early fall can be a monumental task. It’s hot or suddenly cold, sometimes the weather changes rapidly within a given day, and let’s not forget you’ve been at it for months already. It’s easy to fall into a slump, but I’ve got five ways to help you rejuvenate your motivation and get back out there to kick some butt!

For those of us that follow a periodized training plan year round, we normally hit the outside workouts in April and are now several months into our building and peaking season, if not nearing the end.

Waking up still a little sore from that last workout, needing to snooze that alarm a few times, and feeling ravenous and maybe a bit more cranky than usual are all signs that you have been training hard. And while the finish line may be in sight, it’s impossible to feel ready to rock every workout.

There’s great news though! There are ways you can revitalize your energy and start feeling really good again right now!

Tip #1

Take two to three days completely off training. Yes, you read that correctly. “But Coach!” I hear you say, “Won’t I lose fitness?” Actually, no. You can hit your training hard, and stick to your diet plan perfectly, but if you don’t apply that same diligence to your rest, you will run out of gas.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean it’s time to clean out the garage, pull stumps out of the yard, or rotate the tires on your car – it’s time to relax. So please, with my blessing, take two to three days off and rest up.

During this time, eat to support your daily energy requirement, go to bed early, take naps, stay hydrated, feel free to foam roll and do some mobility work, but take it easy. You will come back recharged.

Tip #2

Add more Omega 3s to your diet by eating cold water wild-caught salmon and other fish. The Omega 3’s help reduce inflammation, and they can really boost your brain activity and help clear up some of that mid-day brain fog and slump that happens. When you are less brain-fuzzed, you’ll have more energy for your next workout.

Tip #3

Keep at least five to six hours between workouts. While there are great benefits to completing a brick workout once a week, stacking workouts on three or four other days often leads to mediocre results.

If you absolutely have to stack two workouts, keep them short and the quality high. Otherwise, respect the purpose and desired adaptation for each workout, and complete them with enough time for your body to recover in between.

A good example of a stacked workout to maximize time and results would be a bike run combo that gets your heart rate up and then lets it recover over and over like in a high intensity interval training session. If you have a solid base, then give this one a whirl:

Bike: Warm up 5 minutes Zone 2 easy pedaling at about 90 rpm. Complete 5 x 30 seconds of spin ups (easy gear, high cadence) to prime your CNS, then proceed with 2 minutes Zone 4 effort at 88-92 rpm followed by a 1 minute Zone 2 recovery, still with a cadence of 88-92 rpm and repeat nine more times. Spin 5 five minutes at a more high Zone 2 to flush some of the metabolic waste, then get off the bike and lace up your runners. (Time elapsed 45 minutes)

Run: Your body is already warmed up from the bike session and ready to go, so we will hit the meat right away. Begin jogging at your maximum aerobic heart rate for 5 minutes so your legs wake up, then accelerate over 20 seconds to your mile pace, recover 1 minute 40 seconds, repeat this four more times, then jog 2 minutes easy to help lower your heart rate back to your recovery heart rate.

When you’re ready to go again, aim for 2 minutes at your goal 10K pace, followed by 2 minutes at your goal 5K pace, and finish off with 30 seconds at your goal one mile pace, recover 3 minutes and 30 seconds by jogging low Zone 2 then repeat the last set of the 2/2/30 and finish this off with at least 5 minutes of easy aerobic running.

If you have time, include another 5 minutes of aerobic walking at the end. (Time elapsed 26 minutes) Women should aim for at least 10 minutes of aerobic running/walking at the end to have a better chance to flush metabolic waste. Men are more efficient and need less cool down (5 minutes minimum), but that’s a topic for another day.

Download this workout at the bottom of this article and upload it directly to your compatible device, including your Garmin, Wahoo ELEMNT or Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt.

Tip #4

Take naps (my favorite!). They can be 20-minute cat naps, or full blown two-to-three hour sack outs on the weekends.

During the week, a quick cat nap after lunch can completely recharge your brain, giving you more energy and making you ready for the rest of the day.

It may take a few tries to get used to taking naps, but your work and workout productivity will start to soar with this new practice. If naps end up affecting your nightly sleep, then try taking them earlier in the day or investigating why you’re not sleeping soundly. It could be a sign of chronic overtraining.

Tip #5

Complete two to five minutes of meditation. Athletes benefit from daily meditation because it helps improve your focus, and aids in visualization of goal attainment.

Those who meditate proclaim the powers of it are extraordinary for their brains, so how can you get those benefits without sitting for 20 minutes twice a day?

An app called Stop, Breathe & Think provides a great alternative for athletes. It’s free for the basic version on iPhone, and the three minute Mindful Breathing Session is perfect to start with.

Finding three minutes a day to listen with headphones to this app with eyes closed can really increase feelings of calm, control, motivation and relaxation.

It may seem crazy, but taking time to let our bodies and our brains recover and giving them what they need with rest could be just the ticket that will help you feel more motivated for your next workout, and enable you to take your strength and performance to the next level.

Download my bike-run workout here and upload it to your compatible device:

Download (.fit)

Download (.mrc)

Download (.zwo)

Download (.erg)

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When Should You Quit a Race, and When Should You Stick it Out?

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We’ve all been there. Over our heads. Maybe even afraid. We’ve found ourselves at some portion of a race where we were no longer in control. Or just plain whipped. Likely thinking to yourself, “I don’t need to be doing this.”

But how do you when know when to throw in the towel or to pause; how do you decide whether or not it would be beneficial to build on previous race and workout experiences, regroup and then soldier on?

Not Their Day in the Drink

One of my local sprint triathlons has an ocean swim which is parallel to shore. They throw a buoy into the water, see if it goes up or down the beach, and then swim that same direction so the athletes are going “downstream.” I’ve done this event several times.

Once the swim course is set, athletes then walk the 1,000 yards down the beach to the start and swim back to center and the transition zone. While walking with the entire field one year, my friend Neil and I were talking and noticed three young women in front of us chatting animatedly. As the group of three approached the start line, the women pointed toward the modest waves and a somewhat angry ocean, pow-wowed, and then pointed back at the ocean while shaking their heads.

Then the threesome just walked away, leaving the race course. Using excellent head work, they realized that the swim requirements for that day exceeded their abilities. Or at least their comfort level, and they decided to save their enthusiasm for another day.

The race proceeded as scheduled. Those athletes with a little more experience saw the big waves, waited one or two seconds, then swam though a smaller set until they reached much quieter water. The swim was within their abilities, so they decided to seize the day.

A Long Day on the Big Island

Here’s another example of knowing your personal limits (and in this case choosing to soldier on). In his first (and likely last) trip to the Big Island for the Hawaii IRONMAN, athlete #2, a racer we’ll call Tim, was having a heck of a time with all that the Kona course threw at him.

A veteran of a dozen 140.6 mile efforts previously including IRONMAN Lake Placid and IRONMAN St. George (a course so tough they permanently converted it to the 70.3 distance), he’d raced under many conditions, some pretty awful, and a host of different terrains.

It didn’t help, of course, that he was nursing an ailing Achilles and had been under chiropractic care for a sore back.

This athlete is a real student of the sport. From pre-race reading and reconnoitering, he knew precisely where to line up for an excellent swim. He exited the water, and a good T1 followed. It would be the last good thing in his day for the next 14 hours.

He only made mile four on the bike before flatting. Then he flatted at mile five. Now out of tubes—you guessed it—he flatted at mile six. Now, Tim had done his homework. He had made sure he had two tubes and done several test rides and equipment checks pre-race to make sure everything was in working order.

If you are at all a student of IRONMAN history, you’ll recall in 2005 where two-time IRONMAN world champion Normann Stadler flatted, then went berserk as the lead pack rode away from him. A superb biker, after his bike was quickly fixed, and putting his brain back in his head, he was making great progress in reeling in the lead pack until he got a second flat. Poor Normann. He was so beside himself that he heaved his incredibly expensive bike into the lava fields. His day was done.

Tim briefly considered this option but chose a course of patience instead.

He waited 20 minutes for the bike mechanics, who also couldn’t explain the etiology of his situation. They gave him a new tire and tube and set him off on his way.

This was a hard way to start this race. By now, he was basically cooked. He had such a slow bike start that he had headwinds (and crosswinds!) almost all the way out to the turnaround at Hawi.

You read that right. The out-and-back Kona bike course snakes through the rugged Kawaihae region of the Big Island well known for this wind blowing both ways phenomenon, Mumuku the Islanders call it, depending on the time of day you traverse it.

Tim confidence sank even further as he watched the pro field already making their swift ride back into town while he was still struggling to get up to the turnaround point.

He made the bike cut off, although not by much. He was able to run only the first few miles of the marathon, but he had to walk the majority, saving the small reserve of kindling remaining to actually run the final mile to the finish.

Cramping badly, he was taken to the finish line medical tent, weighed, and found to be 17 pounds down. Seventeen! Through all this he still laughed when he told me (I was a medical volunteer in the tent), “Yes I made it to the finish line by midnight. And at midnight I was busy receiving my second bag of IV fluids!”

But if anything, Tim is a glass is half full guy. Despite his multiple misadventures this day, he was still terribly impressed that he, Tim from Missouri, was able to watch one of the most glorious sunsets he’d ever seen as the sun plunged into the Pacific. How dark and peaceful the nighttime race course was, “The Big Island at night, the stars are really something,” he told me. “ And you know, I’m doing watching them while racing in Kona. How cool is that?” Yes, Tim, how cool is that?

When Slowing Down Leads to Triumph

Our last competitor, let’s call her Amy is a swimmer with 20+ years of experience. She wants one more race to cap off the summer.

There’s a race not too far away, one that’s “only a one mile swim.” Beautiful setting, the perfect setup for a great day. An easy day. One more in the books, right?

Only on race day, it was a little more windy than it had been expected to be. The water was a little rougher than it had been expected to be.

When the horn for this swimmer’s wave sounded, she didn’t get 50 yards, breathing to her left, before getting a big mouthful of choppy water.

Not panicked, she recovered, took another stroke, and a second breath, also to her left (since that’s just how she swam). Wham! An even bigger mouthful of water! “I thought I was gonna drown!” she remembered. “I thought to myself, I just need to get out of here, NOW. But wait, I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I’ve never dnf’d anything.”

Then she remembered the words of one of the local open water super swimmers she competed with who said that a slow time is better than no time. She repeated it to herself. “A slow time is better than no time …” She also wished that she were a bilateral breather.

Patiently, she forgot about the race, waited in place for the choking to stop, and started swimming again. Slowly, very slowly. It took at least 300 yards to return to a semi-normal stroke and breathing pattern but she finally relaxed and finished the mile.

Another race in the books, and more importantly from which she learned a terrific lesson that would likely be applied in some future race. Oh, and she also learned that maybe it was time to learn bilateral breathing.

Trust Your Instincts, But Don’t Be Afraid to Adjust Your Expectations

We all have to make the decision at some point or another in a race whether or not the particular situation we’ve found ourself in is one we can recover from. If our safety is in jeopardy, it shouldn’t even have to be said that the best course of action is to take a bow.

Sometimes, we know before a race even begins that the effort isn’t worth it. And that’s okay. But more often than not, if we can take a brief moment to calm down, fix what needs to be fixed or slow down our pace for a bit, we can find the strength to venture onward.

Often, the decision to keep moving forward will also mean making a huge change in our race-day expectations or race plan. Once you can accept this and adapt, the lessons learned from the experience can make all the difference, not only in your training, but also when you are fortunate enough to have a solid race in the future. Remember, bad races are often the lead-ins to great races, so don’t count them out too quickly.

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