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Coaching

Ray Charles & Santa Cruz 70.3

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“Learning to read music in braille and play by ear helped me develop a damn good memory.” -Ray Charles

I admire Ray Charles as a man who chose to make the most of the hand of cards he was dealt. Growing up in an impoverished family, Charles contracted glaucoma which (untreated) left him blind at age 7. He witnessed the drowning death of his younger brother (prior to losing his sight) and lost his mother when he was just 15. A student of music at a state school for deaf and blind children, he grew up to become a legendary singer, songwriter, and composer. He is considered one of the pioneers of soul music.

While most of us will never know the same roadblocks which Ray faced in his life, I think that we can all learn from the way in which he chose to interpret obstacles–whether our obstacles are seemingly insignificant (e.g. “first world problems”, inconveniences, etc) or insurmountable (e.g. grief, loss, addiction, illness, etc). Ray Charles did not see obstacles (pun intended); he saw opportunities.

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on this concept with regards to racing. In close proximity to race day, athletes tend to be extra aware of things–obstacles– that may hinder performance. When in this “high alert” mode, it is easy to allow a less-than-ideal situation or “sign” trip you up and cause you to doubt or descend into a spiral of negativity. This might include thoughts like “I didn’t have time to go to the grocery store to buy a banana for before the race. I always eat a banana pre-race, so now I can’t possibly race well!” or “I have been feeling really stiff and tired this week. I think I’m out of shape. This is going to be a bad race!”…

Something that has been helpful for me is to only look at the positive “signs”. I either ignore the negative ones (i.e. obstacles) entirely, or else turn them into something positive/helpful (i.e. opportunities). When race day is in sight, I have a very selective tunnel of vision/hearing/thinking. I filter out any little bugs that may pollute my positivity. If it appears that it might help me, I keep it. If it appears that it might not, I reconfigure it or toss it out. For example, if I find a heads-up penny on my run, I pick it up for “good luck”. If I find a heads-down nickel on my run, I decide that nickels are the new penny and heads-down is the new heads-up! When things are going as planned, I think “this is just what I need to have a great race!” If everything is going wrong, I think “I train when things are not ideal, so I can race when things are not ideal. Imperfect conditions are to my advantage.”

This filter is extremely biased towards positivity. Regardless of the situation, it works in my favor. I’ve found that this is the best approach to fend off doubt and fear heading into a race. Recently, at Santa Cruz 70.3, the swim course was cut very short and our start was delayed by about an hour due to heavy fog. I had already eaten my pre-race snack and consumed my electrolytes. I had timed it “perfectly” so that I would be well topped-off and hydrated for the race. Then, we were delayed and my snack/drink plan was derailed. I also felt well-prepared for the full swim distance and knew that it would probably be my strength of the 3 disciplines. While the negative thoughts tried to pry their way in, I chose to think “I will be fine. I am used to performing in imperfect situations. Everyone is in the same boat. I will give my best and see what happens.” Additionally, when I was on the bike  course being passed by every single woman in my division, I was tempted to panic and go harder than planned, but I chose to stay within my power range, thinking “It’s okay. Let them go. I will race my own race.” Then, I was able to feel strong on the run and gain back some lost ground–I even ran my half marathon PR. Not that the race was perfectly executed, but I’m improving!

Thanks, Dean, for finding this pic of me at the Santa Cruz 70.3 finish!

Continuing with the Ray Charles theme, I recently dug up some wise words of his:

“The notes are right underneath your fingers. All you gotta do is take the time to find the right note. That’s what life is, we all got notes underneath our fingers and we gotta take the time to find the right notes, to come up with our own music.”

Triathlon/sport is one of the things in my life that music was in Ray’s. I want to keep learning and improving– searching for the right notes. I want to find the notes to the song that God has put inside me. I want to express it fully and beautifully.

Meet the Athlete: Josh

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When Brice and I got married, we were able to include many of our good friends in various aspects of the ceremony/celebration including the photography, the ceremony music, the readings, the cake, the table decor, and even the refreshments. We also asked pastor Josh Santin, a triathlete and member of my swim class in Ventura, to be our officiant. It was an honor to have him be part of this special moment in our lives, and it is an honor to continue working with him as he pursues his athletic goals. Read more about those goals, why he tris, and other random facts about Josh below. If you are trying to figure out what to get Josh for his next birthday, scroll down to the bottom for some of his favorites…

Athlete: Josh Santin

Current residence: Oxnard, CA

Place of birth: Hollywood, CA

Day job: Pastor

Dream job: I’m living it.

Favorite sports or hobbies: Football, Basketball, Board Games

When/how/why did you become an endurance athlete? Originally to get fit again. I began by accepting a challenge in 1996 to do the next year’s Steamboat sprint triathlon. Only one person finished after me that year. The passion of challenging myself to do better became too strong for me to ignore after that point.

Favorite endurance athletic accomplishment(s): My first Ironman at Arizona 2010 was a great experience. But my favorite has been and continues to be the Carpinteria Triathlon, because of so many friends on the course.

Hardest endurance race and/or workout you’ve ever completed: Hits Ironman distance Lake Havasu. Got dark at 5:30 pm. Most of the athletes who were in this race finished in 13 hours or less. The last 20 of us finished the marathon in the dark. Very tough when you’re running/walking alone. Pulled my hamstring at mile 14, but continued to walk/limp to the finish line.

Most memorable endurance training and/or race moment(s): Vineman 2011. Temperature was over 100 and my whole body was cramping up at mile 85 of the bike. Somehow made it to T2. Did the first two loops of 3 of the run. At the beginning of the third loop, I quit mentally. I walked over to the lunch trunk and ordered a double cheese with bacon and a large Diet Mountain Dew. As I sat there and ate, I was amazed as these athletes, many older then I, some hurting more than I was, who had the mental strength to finish.

Current 2016-2017 training/competition goals: Granite Man in September 2016, Oregon Double Anvil July 2017.

Why do you want to accomplish this goal? Because God made me this way. I’ve tried to walk away from triathlon and endurance racing many times. Believe me when I say I have tried, but I can’t. And it’s because God made me to enjoy the mental, physical and yes PAINFUL, experience of challenging myself to do better and go longer. So now as I race and the mental, physical and painful reality begins to challenge me to quit, I thank God for allowing me to be who He made me to be.

Training tips: Make sure you try out all your racing fuel during training.

Training pet peeve: Flat tire!

Post-race/workout treat: DIET MOUNTAIN DEW

Ideal training “camp” location: Disney Grand Floridian Resort

What motivates you to keep going when it gets tough?  I try to remember that I chose to do this, so enjoy it. I also tell myself to remember how I felt when I gave up and quit.

Something you’ve learned about yourself through endurance athletics: I can’t be afraid of failure. Failure is a part of getting better, and that includes me.

Best encouragement you’ve ever been given: It takes incredible courage to put your toes on the starting line of any endurance distance race.

Athlete hero: Shigy Suzuki

Words of wisdom to aspiring endurance athletes: Your dream is just as important than anyone else’s. So don’t let anyone discourage you from striving to achieve your dream.

What does “Fuel” mean to you?: The octane that is going to make my motor work and run best. (Now if I could only remember that!)

What does being “Fit” mean to you?: Taking the best care of my heart, soul, strength, and mind, that was given to me.

Pick one:

Swim, bike, or run? Bike

Open water or pool? Open water

Trail or track? Track

Solo or group training? Solo

Chocolate or cheese? Cheese

Watch on your left wrist or right? Left

Morning or evening workout? Morning

Hat, visor or headband?  Neither, only need Sunglasses to look cool.

Swim cap or no cap? No cap

Cheerios or Wheaties? Cocoa Pebbles 😀

Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? None

Crocs or Birkenstocks? Bare foot

Good N Plenty or Mountain Dew? Good N Plenty’s inside my 20oz Diet Mountain Dew. HA!

View More: http://driverphoto.pass.us/oliverwedding

Thanks, Josh! Keep Doin what you Dew!

Triathlete Mag: How I Fuel

By | Coaching, Fitness, Fuel, Triathlon | No Comments

A few months back, I had the pleasure of composing a brief article for Triathlete Magazine on how I fuel for a race. It was exciting to see it in print when I skimmed the pages of the June issue while waiting to board my flight at LA-X, and now it is online, too. You can click on the pic or link below to check out how I fuel my body for a triathlon:

How I Fuel: Race Morning

So, how do you fuel?

Weightlifting

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Last week, I attended a USA Weightlifting coaching clinic. I learned proper techniques for weightlifting movements such as squats, deadlifts, cleans, jerks, and snatches. I also learned a lot about effective coaching in the sport of weightlifting. But, most of all, I learned that I still have a lot to learn about this sport–both as a coach and as an athlete.

Why weightlifting? When I was a freshman at UCLA, I was a walk-on with the women’s varsity swim team. These ladies are not kidding around! They train 20+ hours every week–not just in swimming, but also in yoga, weightlifting, running, and other “dryland” workouts. That was where I was first introduced to the barbell, and I loved it! But, I decided not to continue swimming after my first season, and so my weightlifting career was on pause. A couple of years later, this time as a triathlete, I came back to my old friend Mr. Barbell, and was instantly reminded of the extreme soreness that he inflicts after long absences. We hung out a few times, and I felt extra strong again, but then I graduated from college and bid farewell to my friend once again.

This fall, I started to miss those good old times, and decided to buy a used barbell on Craigslist. I figured that if I wanted to start lifting again, I’d better learn to do it correctly. Plus, I enjoy broadening my general knowledge for my personal coaching and training.

Who is weightlifting for? I am so glad that you asked! Weightlifting is not just for bodybuilders and CrossFitters. You don’t have to enter weightlifting competitions or go on the Paleo diet to enjoy the benefits of weightlifting. It is actually an excellent strength, power activity for everyone–triathletes, runners, swimmers, cyclists, numerous other athletes, and those seeking general fitness. You can add weightlifting into your training schedule and expect to see improved performance because it utilizes muscle groups and movements that are key components of pretty much every other sport. Another carry-over of weightlifting into other sports is improved technique and injury prevention via strengthening weak or under-used muscles and improvement of balance, stability and coordination.

But, isn’t weightlifting dangerous? It can be dangerous if done incorrectly. Please don’t just show up at your gym, pick up a barbell, and start lifting because you once saw a weightlifting competition on TV. Ideally, you should learn proper technique and skills from a certified weightlifting coach. A qualified coach can assess your readiness to lift and take you through each movement step-by-step at an appropriate pace.

In one of my favorite parts of the coaching course, our instructor showed us a scientific research-based table documenting sport-related injury rates.  Interestingly, weightlifting carried lower injury risk than other sports within the study (Hamill 1994).

Sports Injury Rates (Hamill 1994)
Sport Injuries (per 100 hours)
Soccer (school age) 6.20
UK Rugby 1.92
USA Basketball 0.03
UK Cross Country 0.37
Squash 0.10
US Football 0.10
Badminton 0.05
USA Gymnastics 0.044
USA Powerlifting 0.0027
USA Volleyball 0.0013
USA Tennis 0.001
Weight Training 0.0035 (85,733 hrs)
Weightlifting 0.0017 (168,551 hrs)

What is the difference between Weightlifting and CrossFit? Great question! While I do not mingle with many weightlifters or CrossFitters, I believe that both sports have their unique benefits and drawbacks in terms of fitness goals, environment, etc.

Whether you choose to lift weights, do CrossFit, join a bootcamp class, run, bike, swim, or take up yoga, I hope that you find an activity where you can challenge yourself, have fun, stay fit, and be safe!