Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Simon Thompson

When Simon came to speak to us this fall he told us when he toed the line in the Athens olympics he absolutely knew he was ready. That perspective took him to a 10th place finish despite 2 bike crashes.

When it comes to looking at things, it amazes me how people may have a different perspective, or completely different take on it. (yea this one is a little deep) Ask 3 people what they think about "x" and they each might have totally different spin on it; sometimes this can lead to confusion, misunderstanding, or... a totally new insight. Add to that a Male's opinion of "x" and compare that to a female's and 9/10 they will be completely different.

Take for example in the aftermath of an Olympic distance race when all are strutting around trading race stories and giving their own personal re-cap Joe Shmo might say, wow it was such a hilly run, I was so not ready for that. Where Tommy Tri Geek might say that wasn't hilly, that was nothing compared to "x". You could substitute wind, cold, heat, for hills and have the same conversation. Each individuals past experience can shape their perspective on any given thing.

This time of year, a 2 hr indoor ride seems long, but 2 hrs of riding outside goes by in a flash. For an athlete returning to running after time off due to injury, run 4 miles can seem like a marathon, or an athlete who has had their ACL reconstructed, just pedaling a full circle on the bike is a big milestone. Sometimes perspectives can change as our experience changes.

Perception of pain is no exception. In the clinic I work with people in some degree of pain or there wouldn't be there to see me. Usually some amount of pain is causing dysfunction, or impairment to some aspect of their life. For some it may be just sleeping, others simple day to day tasks like walking, getting dressed or just sitting at their desk, and others ....it affects their sport. Individuals have their own level of pain tolerance. Some can handle a lot, some can only take a little. Each perspective is different. For those that have pain that impairs their sleep, might face each day with a whole different perspective than those who have pain only when playing tennis, running or shooting hoops.

Perspective on how the day will go, or how a workout will go before the start...can influence the outcome. If you go into a workout saying; this isn't going to go well because I'm tired, hungry, sore, bored then most likely that perspective will take you right there to a bad workout. Sometimes even if the above is true (hungry, sore, tired, ) and I have given workout that seems daunting, I have to really psych myself up to do it. There have been plenty of times the negative perspective has won and its has been for sure a bad workout, but....there have been many times that I have overcome what seems impossible and amazed myself.

That pain tolerance for each individual is evident during triathlon. How much pain can you tolerate when racing, doing hard interval sets, or hill climbs. As a coach it gets difficult to educate athletes on dealing with the pain that comes with pushing and taking it to the next level. It is difficult because everyone's perspective of pain is different. In the middle of a race when it starts to hurt (if its not, you're not going hard enough), how much pain are you willing to endure before slowing down. In an Ironman how long can you go before the pain makes you stop and walk. This level of pain is different for everyone. The pro's get good at tolerating pain. Their experiences in training and racing help them with their perspective on enduring it.

Changing your perspective and opening your mind to greater potential, faster times, higher wattages, can make or break your workout or your race. A better perspective can allow more tolerance of pain.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Midwestern Triathlete

Tuscon Swim

Anyone who knows me well enough knows I love the mountains and west coast, but has adapted (I think) to living in the Midwest for quite some time. This weekend I sacrificed a trip to San Diego for the good of my professional career. Adam had enough of our ferocious winter and booked a trip to San Diego. I was welcome to come, but had a continuing education course to take. As a physical therapist in order to keep your license you have to complete classes throughout the year to stay up to date on the latest techniques. This class was held right at Fox Valley Ortho where I work, in the dead of winter with all my fellow employees. I really don't like taking these especially when the weather is nice and I'd rather be outside, but this class couldn't make it any easier on me to get it done. So I passed on the trip and sat in a class all weekend to better myself as a PT and for the good of any future patient that may find their way onto my schedule.

As I sat there spacing out, and cold, and drinking coffee to stay awake I thought about what I was missing out on in San Diego and wondered if it gets routine to have such nice weather. They are missing out on some of the true joys of being a triathlete from the Midwest such as :

1. You hold your swimsuit under a hair dryer at the pool to warm it up because it has sat out in your car and is frozen like Popsicle, and then you sit in the sauna to warm up before heading out on the pool deck.

2. You have to add an extra 15 min to your workout just to get dressed to go out for a run and that in turns leads to.....

3. Your laundry volume doubles because of the multiple layers you have to apply just to go out for a run

4. You wear your coat around the house for 45 minutes when you come home just to warm up

5. Your shoulders are sore in strange places when you swim because you've been shoveling snow

6. Your GU freezes when on a training run

7. You shovel 3 inches of snow off the track to do a track workout (its true, we did this for the kids team !)

8. You even have to wear long sleeves when riding on the trainer in the basement

9. People at work think you've been tanning when really your face is just

I have had my share of winter frost and fun and those character building moments. I am starting to dream of the Tuscon camp. It can't come soon enough and I can't wait to see cactus, desert dirt and rocks, Gates Pass, Mt. Lemmon and Mexican food.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

snow vs. cold

Today on talk radio they were taking calls on which is better, "snow vs. cold"; and I'm not talking just cold, I am talking the extreme cold (which on its way here btw). You know that cold. The 0 deg. for a high with wind chills in the -30 range. With that comes sunshine usually. Some claim that the sun makes it all better. Lovely. The talk show hosts were encouraging people to call in with their vote for which was better, warmer and snow coming down in inches, or the extreme cold dry roads and sun. You can just imagine the reasons people came up with. 1 teacher voted for snow, due to the "possibility" she might get a snow day. 1 husband voted for snow because he was definitely a better driver than his wife in the snow. 1 husband voted for cold, because then he wouldn't have to snowplow his neighbors' drives. Last tally when my trip on the snowy roads ended: snow was beating cold 4 to 2.

My vote.

No question. Snow. With snow you can at least stand to go outside without your nostrils freezing together, skin feeling like glass poking into it or your lungs freezing. I am truly a sun person. Love the sun and warm sunshine. That being said, I will still pick snow over those frigid temps. With snow you can stand to go outside and play... ski, snowshoe, make a snowman, go sledding. When it is -30, you bolt as fast as you can to the car, building or wherever you're heading with a million layers on making it hard to move. And heaven forbid you need to go through and ATM or Starbucks drive through and have to reach out in that with your glove off!

My real vote is for the hot sun. That won't be around any time soon; and we seem to be having the winter of the decade! So I am making the most of it. Today I did my run in a blizzard. It took an extra 15 min just to get ready to run. I had yak tracks on my shoes, multiple layers and ran (trotted) along getting pelted by snow. The wind was coming from the north so, for a few miles the right side of my face was frozen before I could make my turn just to let the other side freeze. I kept telling myself this is better than the treadmill and better than -30. It really was kind of fun though. By the time I was done I must have looked like a snowman.

And, at the end of today, I wondered if any one's laundry room looks like mine with boots, gloves, hats coats piled up from many trips in and out to shovel, sled, or just run errands.

But talking about our extreme weather gets so old. It is always bad here from Dec to April; just accept it. So better debates might be:

boxers or briefs?

Impeach Blago or not?

Treadmill or road?

Ironman or ITU?

text message or email?

Stay warm!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Camp Siberia

Hello 2009!

We spent the New Year's weekend in Galena with the MSM kids triathlon team at "Camp Siberia". Actually were in a remote location outside of Galena with 18 teenagers, 2 kindergartners, 1 dog and a few adults. The training camp was "Rocky" style meant to toughen up these talented athletes. Adam has been coaching the Multi sport Madness kids for a few years, and this year I have been helping do their functional strength training. Honestly I was a bit hesitant about spending my New Years in the cold, barren farmland. Not my first choice of ringing in the New Year. But we had a great weekend with some TOUGH training and fun memories.

We arrived New Years' Eve afternoon. I had done a Masters swim in the morning/ 100x 100s! I did 48 before I had to leave for work. (Everyone celebrates New Years in their own special way :)

New Years Day I did an early a.m. run up and down the hills around Apple River Canyon. It was so cold and wooded and hilly but even though frozen, a change of scenery was so cool. I only saw 1 car the whole time and it was so quiet. I ran several long climbs out of the canyon and once on top/ I nearly was blown over by wind. We packed up all our snow gear and headed out to the site of the camp and met up with the team. They did a very challenging run/ plyo strength/ run workout. I helped coordinated the kids and this workout of jumping over, bounding over and lifting logs. See pic above. They concluded with a sled relay race where the pulled our 5 and 6 year old on their sleds through the snow. Of course our kids loved it and couldn't wait until we could do sled races again! The second workout of the day were stair repeats in Galena. Jack and Kaitlin called them the stairs to the sky. We did a descending interval set of stair repeats on a set of steep stairs. I have no idea how many stairs we did but it burned like nothing else I've done in a while. For sure I thought there would be 1 OCD athlete doing the workout who would count them, but I guess O2 debt made it a little too difficult. Later that night they built a big bonfire with the logs and wood they had been tossing around for the past 2 days.

The highlight of Day 2 included a trip to Freeport IL. The team had rented some pool time at the YMCA. This was a surprisingly very nice pool which raises the question again, how do these small towns have such nice swim facilities with normal pools and we live in the suburbs of Chicago and swim in small health club pools. We swam a massive set which left my arms dragging on the ground, then played some basketball. Thankfully, no sprained ankles from a bunch of triathletes trying to run, jump and shoot hoops.

The final day everyone skied. This was the first time on skis for Jack and Kaitlin and they were rock stars on the slopes. They loved it and did great. I had so much fun seeing them get better with each downhill they took.

So 2009 is of to a great start. While I only did a portion of "Camp Siberia" (mom duties called), I still left tired and sore in strange places. The MSM kids team is a hard working, dedicated group of athletes and it is hard not to catch some of their enthusiasm.