THE T:ZERO BLOG
Free advice, content and media for all. It's our way of giving back to the tri community who have given so much to us. Enjoy!
“There is no royal road to anything, one thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures.”
Our May Fast Five feature is Brisbane based athlete Melissa Speare who has been kicking her endurance goals with the help of Coach Scotty and T:Zero for the past four years!
Melissa’s favourite thing about triathlon and endurance sport is getting to hang out with other people who think it’s all totally normal! She’s got a love/hate relationship with each tri discipline but says the run is perhaps a soft spot purely because it’s so uncomfortable for her that she challenges herself to love it.
Although she doesn’t have a favourite training session, Melissa says her favourite training week was attending the TZ Bright Camp and training up a storm with her buddy Farragio. Her motivation comes from setting the goal which she says makes her feel like she’s “on track” in life sometimes.
When she’s not training, Melissa likes to play hunt, catch and cuddle with her kids... even though they’re all grown up 😊
While 2020 has seen her take a bit of a hiatus thus far, Melissa still has her eyes set on Noosa Triathlon in November, aiming to give it a crack for the first time since 2014! Fingers crossed Melissa!
Favourite race? Why?
Most recently…my first 100km trail run in Tassie a couple of months ago. Getting to the end with spirits high throughout the whole event. Magic.
Proudest triathlon moment?
My first Port Mac IM in 2018 where I finally got to do something I never thought I could do – finish a 42km run leg.
Do you do other training outside the normal swim/bike/run?
I’m loving throwing myself into yoga right now. So much so, that I decided I to undertake some yoga teacher training. Doing yoga regularly seems to be a great alternative to spending $$$$ at my physio at the moment.
Have you ever had an apparent training or race day “failure” that has set you up for later success?
Doing my first OD tri at Byron Bay with my brakes on. Never has that happened again. Seriously, the learnings are endless.
Do you have any tips for athletes struggling to find some motivation or who may have temporarily lost focus?
Just roll with it….keep moving however you want…mix it up…..try to maintain a sense of perspective not just for the sport you love, but for everything that makes up the kaleidoscope of your world.
Make sure you keep talking with coach and surround yourself with good energies.
And one more for good measure (and a big head) …
Why do you love being part of the T:Zero Multisport team?
Motivation, sharing knowledge that spans in a web of wild direction and camaraderie.
With Coach Andrew Perry
As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and everyone comes to terms with the measures needed to flatten the curve, such as social distancing and isolation, many race plans have come undone.
The IRONMAN World Championship, which was originally scheduled for October 2020 has now been postponed to February 2021.
The Gold Coast Marathon has now officially been cancelled. The Sunshine Coast Marathon has also been cancelled.
These are just some of most recent changes to upcoming events, to name a few.
And with race plans derailed everywhere you turn; it can be easy to get down and to lose focus. As triathletes, we’re often told to ‘control the controllable’, a sentiment that rings true now more than ever.
To get through these global unprecedented events it’s time to change the mindset – to look at this as an opportunity for becoming a better you, rather than an absolute derailment of goals and plans; dreams you’ve worked hard to achieve.
It’s about shifting your perception of recent events and developing your long-term mindset.
Do you really need to race every other weekend, or every year to be a better athlete? Or can you still achieve great things – to become a better you – by setting smaller milestones that can take you on a journey towards not only physical but also mental strength and wellbeing?
My answer is: yes, you can. I’ve seen this in the athletes that I coach.
While the pandemic has been a challenge (for coaches as well) I’ve had the pleasure of seeing my athletes achieve some great things during this forced ‘downtime’ – without the stress or pressure of race days, race times etc.
Some of the notable improvements I’ve seen in my athletes, include:
So, my advice to athletes during this time is to look at the long-term (keep the bigger picture at the front of mind) while focusing on the short-term.
Improvements come through consistency – by ticking off sessions as they come, every day. It’s about actually doing the work.
Races will eventually come back – your racing calendar will once again be filled with exciting plans and race adventures.
But for now, rather than focusing on what you’re missing out on, focus on what you can do to get stronger; to build a great base; to work on your weaknesses.
With pools closed, why not focus on improving your running? If you can’t ride outside, why not focus on improving your technique on the bike while riding on the trainer?
How often do we get the chance to focus on our weaknesses? Use this time wisely – to your long-term advantage.
Without the added stress and pressure of short-term race goals, you can really get back to basics and build a stronger base that will set you up to achieve great things when we’re finally given the green light to race again.
If you do that, you’ll come out on the other side better than ever.
Click HERE to learn more about Coach Andrew Perry
Is your inner bookworm seeking new material?
Never content to rest on our laurels, at T:Zero we’re constantly searching for ways to improve our performance - both athletically and personally - coaches and athletes alike. In the interests of striving to live our potential, training our brains is just as important as training our bodies.
Recently, we asked our coaching team to recommend their favourite endurance-related books so we could collate a comprehensive list to share with our athletes and friends. There’s something to whet the appetite of almost every athlete below, so take a look - one of our recommended reads might just be the catalyst you need to tweak your training, lifestyle or mindset and in return, reap massive rewards in your next big race.
So next time you find yourself reaching for your phone for an hour of mindless scrolling, perhaps reach for one of these books instead.
Run with the Best by Tony Benson
Recommended by: Coach David Dellow
Run with the Best is a super practical guide to putting together a long term running program. Author Tony Benson gives a brief outline of training philosophies used by various world class coaches from around the world, then takes you through the benefits of specific training sessions and finally the best way to structure a long term running program.
Although it’s just a book about running there’s lots of stuff that can be applied to triathlon.
Unbeatable mind: forge resiliency and mental toughness to succeed at an elite level by Mark Divine
Recommended by: Coach Monique Ralph
Commander Divine is a former Navy SEAL who has trained thousands of candidates for the SEAL program as well as being on active duty for the Navy.
Unbeatable Mind has deeply impacted the lives of thousands of people seeking strength in their thinking, mental-state, and self-development with a curated package of tools and techniques not easily found anywhere else.
In this book, Author Mark Divine offers his philosophy and methods for developing maximum potential through integrated warrior development. This work was created through trial and error proving to thousands of clients that they are capable of twenty times more than what they believe.
The powerful principles for forging deep character, mental toughness and an elite team provided in this book are the foundation of the Unbeatable Mind 'working in' program being used by coaches, professors, therapists, doctors and business professionals worldwide.
I have learned the following ideas/principles:
> Mental clarity - to make better decisions while under pressure.
> Concentration - to focus on the mission until victory is assured.
> Awareness - to be more sensitive to your internal and external radar.
> Leadership authenticity - to be a heart-centered leader and service oriented teammate.
> Intuition - to learn to trust your gut and use mental imagery to your advantage.
The Road to Character by David Brooks
Recommended by: Coach Stuart Hill
Have you ever scrolled through your social media feed, only to be left feeling a bit empty? Everyone else seems always to be having such a great time on holidays, graduating from Uni, or getting some amazing job. But in real life, these people are having struggles just like us. Unfortunately, social media has made a shift from a place to express ourselves to an arena for self-promotion.
It’s not just social media, though. The internet itself is just a mirror of what our society has evolved into. These days we are increasingly concerned with ourselves and what we need. Living like this puts people under constant pressure to perform and compete. Because of this stress, we forget that what we really want is for people to remember us for who we were, not for what we did.
In The Road to Character, David Brooks reflects on how society’s values have changed for worse, and shares the deeper values we should start filling our lives with instead. He encourages us to rebalance our scales between our “resume virtues,” or achieving wealth and status, and our “eulogy virtues,” which are those deep within us such as honesty, bravery, and kindness.
Whilst not a book that relates directly to endurance sport or triathlon you can be sure to read this and emerge thinking about the things that really matter in life. How will you be remembered? Your resume may reveal that you won the race or conversely it may reveal that you stopped to help another athlete and forfeited your chance of winning. Read The Road to Character to "discover who you really are and embrace a simple truth: in order to fulfil yourself you must first learn to forget yourself".
Grit - The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Recommended by: Coach Heidi Sowerby
Author Angela Duckworth defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”. Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress.
Duckworth explores how gritty individuals approach achievement over the long term and how their key advantage is the commitment to stick to the plan despite challenges. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change direction, the gritty individual stays the course.
In endurance world essence... doing the work, day in, day out.
This book explores a wide variety of topics including measuring grit on the Grit Scale, how to grow grit, interest, practice, purpose, hope and the various playing fields of grit including parenting and sport.
The messages and takeaways in every chapter are in definite parallel to those you will hear from your coach on what it takes to be successful in our sport.
It may be still early days for grit research, but this book and its concepts are definitely worth exploring. A great read.
Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck
Recommended by: Coach Scotty Farrell
There are many simple takeaways that can be applied right across the board in skill acquisition and general growth in any area.
My favourite: the word 'yet'. By adding this simple word onto the end of a sentence that might otherwise finish feeling a touch negative, you can change your or someone else's whole mindset on something.
"I can't possibly do 20 push ups... yet"
Great for teaching my kids, and for attempting to shift an athlete's mindset a touch (maybe). Old dogs take more work obviously.
Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett
Recommended by: Coach Lisa Spink
A rabbit hole I am glad I am down - mobility - understanding how the body copes with load, why it breaks and what to do about it.
The Pyramid of Success by John Wooden
Recommended by: Coach Richard Thompson
One of the greatest coaches of all time and his thoughts around his processes. The chapters dedicated to his way of coaching is the blueprint for why he was so successful over so many decades.
The finish line feels!!! It means so much to all of us. But how we get there, how the race unfolds, how we deal with adversity and effectively problem solve throughout the day comes down to the months and sometimes years of preparation, and to some degree, how specific and customised your training program and coaching was, guiding you to that finish line.
Below is the latest blog from Head Coach Scotty Farrell who takes a dive into T:Zero's customised coaching approach.
At the very heart of what we do at T:Zero lies the notion of customised coaching. The group of awesome humans we have attracted and brought together, all have the shared belief of treating each individual athlete that graces us with their presence, as you guessed it… individuals.
In a recent exchange of ideas behind the scenes, I threw out the macro planning/periodisation question around season structure, and general planning. What overwhelmingly came from that discussion was that, well, ‘it depends’. Every statement made suggesting one method over another, backed by science, art, and experience, was caveated with ‘it depends on the individual’.
This exact phrase of ‘it depends’ underpins everything the team of coaches at T:Zero do on a weekly/daily basis with their athletes, and it makes me so proud to be a part of such a great bunch of humans. There is no progression without adequate recovery and adaptation. Therefore, a traditional approach of base/build/peak/taper and 3 weeks on 1 week recovery, that you might find in the classic training ‘bible’, is somewhat null and void, unless, the individual has a lifestyle that allows for an almost flawless routine, and next to zero outside influences effecting their flow. In all my years of coaching, this happens rarely if ever. Sickness, injury, family commitments, work commitments, all rear their face at some stage in a person’s life and without a coach to understand this, and adapt an individual’s training to suit, you are pushing the proverbial shit up hill/going nowhere fast.
There’s lots of buzz in the coaching world on a performance level at the moment around technology… AI, machine learning etc and the ability for machines to make better decisions than humans. There’s no denying that with the right programs and algorithms, a machine can indeed make more accurate decisions than us mere mortal humans. But, I am still waiting on a machine that can understand emotions and apply empathy… as I say this I am thinking I am probably going to be slapped in the face with a ‘yeah they can Farrell’.
I love the geeky side of coaching, but like the rest of the team of coaches at T:Zero, we believe the tools are there to aide in the daily decisions we make as coaches to treat every individual with respect and empathy, whilst at the same time, being acutely aware that each day, week, month, year, is all part of a bigger picture… the big picture of consistency, patience, stacking the layers, staying healthy, and enjoying the process.
My advice to you… if you are training, following a program, working with a coach… and you are not being treated as a unique individual, then find a coach who does. It’s the difference you could be missing.
You could for example start right here 😉
I was able to enjoy some time off training at the end of the year and have started the year easing into it again with some light volume and have gradually built each week. I wanted to have been running more by now but have had to ease off the running over the last 4 weeks due to a niggle in my knee. Thanks to a friend who reminded me of the saying “If we listen to our body when it whispers, we won’t have to listen when it screams.” Although, it’s frustrating being limited by the duration, intensity and amount of running training, I know I have plenty of time up my sleeve to get fit and sharpen up my run before being able to race this year. Once I am confident that my body is good to go again we will focus more on steadily building my run volume over the first half of the year.
Apart from the niggle that’s been puttingthe brakes on my run training, I’ve enjoyed riding my bike with mates. I’ve even had a couple of goes at trying to stay on my partner’s (Damien Collins) wheel on some long rides through the Sunshine Coast hinterland. I still have lots of work to do to be able to keep up with him but I have been enjoying the challenge and it’s great to see him riding so strong early on in the year. I’ve also loved being back at the Nambour swim squad a couple of times a week.
This month’s blog I thought I would write about tips on how to qualify for Kona as an age group athlete. The qualifying process takes lots of hard work and heart so I have come up with a few tips that should be able to give any age group athlete an advantage on their quest for Kona.
1. Talk to your close circle of people
It isn’t going to be an easy feat so you will need as much help as you can get. Before setting out a plan on what race to qualify at etc. you will need to talk to your loved ones and propose to them why you want to go on this journey. If you can get their approval and support it will make the next 12-24 month (or sometimes years) journey much easier. Come up with a plan together and work out where you want to try and qualify. You will be a team from that point forward. Ironman training is demanding when you’re in the thick of it, especially, while working full-time. It’s nice to have a couple of people who are looking out for you and can pick up the slack around the home when you need to catch up on “ironman related activities that are not training” such as; naps, bike maintenance, stretching, eating or going to body maintenance appointments. Let your friends know the reason that can’t make a special event and 9 times out of 10 they will understand. Your loved ones will be affected by your decision to go on this journey so make sure you take the time to listen to any concerns that the may have.
2. Hire a coach that will work around your lifestyle
Good coaches have experience and knowledge in specifically building your training up safely to get you ready for your chosen event. Training can be difficult enough so I don’t see the point in wasting further mental energy on planning your sessions. I am motivated by being accountable to someone and having feedback on certain sessions. It’s even better if you can hire a coach who will plan your training around your lifestyle. There’s no point in paying for a coach if you can only fit in a few of their training sessions around your busy schedule. Success in Ironman is based on consistency and this is what you want to aim for with your coach. You will need to map out your approach to qualifying with your coach and come up with some process-orientated goals. I believe you will be 100% more prepared physically and mentally on race day knowing that a professional in the field has planned the work for you.
3. Pick a race that suits you
If you’re thinking of qualifying for Kona you should know your strengths and weaknesses within the 3 disciplines by now. You want to reduce as many “unknowns” on race-day and select a course that is suited to your strengths. Look at what time of year you want to race and research each Ironman course around that time and select the one that BEST suits you. I find other athlete race reports/blogs to be VERY helpful here as well as the course description on the Ironman website in regards to race conditions. Know your strengths e.g. are you like me and have NO swim background as a child? Possibly, you need a salt-water and wetsuit swim rather than a lake swim so everyone spends less time in the water which will decrease the gap between you and the faster swimmers. Do you suit flat or hilly bike courses? Would you rather race in the heat? You don’t want to be adding any extra stress on race day by throwing in conditions that you know are playing your weaker cards.
4. Race at a regional champs
Age group racing has become so competitive these days and most Ironman races offer 40 qualifying slots which guarantees only one Kona slot per age group. The age groups with the highest percentage of competitors will be allocated the leftover slots and may end up with 2-4 in the densest age groups. At regional champs, there are usually 75 allocated Kona slots so therefore you almost double your chance of qualifying for a slot and double the chance that it might roll down to you. Yes, usually your competition increases at a regional championship but you have to remember that Ironman is a long day and anything is possible if you keep believing and focusing on your race.
5. Ask yourself if you really want to do this
Ironman training is hard. There are lots of fun and rewarding moments along the way but there’s also a lot of times that you will question why you’re doing it. You need to know YOUR why so that you stay disciplined and consistent in getting the work done. Develop a no-excuse policy because no one will do the work for you.
6. Recovery is key
Yes the work needs to be done but keep in mind you still need to be realistic in terms of your recovery and listening to your body. We’ve all stayed up late to finish off a session or set our alarms to some un-holy hour to get the session in before a big day of work. Sometimes we have no option but if our bodies aren’t recovering properly we won’t be getting the benefits from training and will increase our chance of burn-out or injury.
7. Surround yourself with positive people
There are going to be people in your life who are inhibited by fear that will judge you and tell you all the reasons why this is a stupid idea and why you can’t do it. They will be the first ones to say, “I told you so” when you come across your first deviation from the original plan due to injury or any other obstacles. While Ironman is mostly about being consistent in training, you will get so much more out of yourself if you’re in a positive frame of mind. You won’t have much spare time anyway so make sure you spend it with the people who make you feel refreshed after spending time with, make you laugh and celebrate the small things along the journey.
Good luck on your quest to Kona and/or happy training :)
Thanks for reading and I hope you find my tips helpful,
On the weekend of February 7-9, Goondiwindi will host its annual ‘Festival of Hell’, which encompasses the infamous Hell of the West triathlon (a 2km swim, 80km cycle and 20km run), now in its 29th year, and a number of additional complementary events the day prior on what is now known as ‘Super Saturday’. Described as one of Queensland’s most iconic long course triathlon events, HOTW is certainly one for the bucket list if you haven’t dared to attempt it already. Here are five reasons why we love this laid back, local long course race …
1. The diversity
Uber competitive age groupers, professionals and social triathletes - this race attracts them all! Every year, some of Australia’s very best triathletes and a contingent of internationals descend on Goondiwindi to compete side-by-side with locals and amateurs, toughing out the relaxed but competitive long course event in some of the hottest, most challenging conditions of any triathlon in Australia. According to the HOTW president, the prize money on offer isn’t what attracts professional athletes, but the history of this iconic, community-centric race and the desire to ensure its survival in the “very corporate” IRONMAN world of triathlon. If you’re looking for a decent long-course hit out but need a break from the all-consuming M-dot, HOTW is for you!
2. The course
HOT HOT HOT. The Goondiwindi temperature in February (up to 38 degrees) is what sets this race apart. A 2km freshwater swim in the Macintyre River, followed by an 80km (40km out-and-back) flat cycle along the Barwon Highway, topped off with a 20km run back along the river (3 loops - perfect for spectators!), presents athletes with a formidable challenge, undoubtedly enticing to athletes who love to race in the heat. Due to the timing of the event, it’s a great early-year race if you’re ramping up Ironman training or even looking to compete in a team as a warm up for whatever is on the agenda for the rest of the calendar year.
3. The community feel
Nothing beats local hospitality, and Goondiwindi offers it in droves. With an average of 500 competitors, HOTW is big enough to warrant a well-organised and professional event, but still small enough for race morning bike racking! The relaxed and casual approach to this race helps to curb many a pre-race jitter, as do the local volunteers, assisting as ushers, aid station attendants and in a variety of other roles. The location of race transition - in the centre of the town at Goondiwindi Town Park - means the race (racking, transition set-up etc.) is also easily accessible for athletes and equally handy for spectators and supporters (no huge line ups to cross roads for better vantage points etc.). The race attracts a strong and loyal following amongst age groupers, with many competitors embracing the community event and returning to compete on a yearly basis, only adding to the laid-back and familial atmosphere.
4. The weekend “festival”
Recently rebranded as the “Festival of Hell”, events now span the entire weekend, and athletes of all abilities and their families can participate in additional races on ’Super Saturday’ including a 5 or 10km charity run “Gundy Inferno”, an enticer triathlon “The Firestarter” and “Hell Kids” - a kids triathlon open for ages 6-11. These events really encourage more local and family participation, adding to the festive atmosphere and offering the opportunity for an even larger contingent of athletes to descend on Goondiwindi without having to commit themselves to the formidable distances of the iconic HOTW race.
5. Its “feel good” factor
When you participate in local events like HOTW, the impact of both your time and money spent in regional areas like Goondiwindi cannot be overstated. Each year, this event benefits the Goondiwindi Region’s local economy significantly - every dollar spent by athletes on accomodation and local services helps to support the community, which is particularly important during these times of drought. In fact, HOTW is run as a not-for-profit incorporation and donates a significant amount of money back to the local community groups, sporting clubs, schools and charities who volunteer their time over the weekend. What could be better than knowing you are making an impact on a local scale, while doing what you love? Surely, this “feel good factor” will help to keep those mental demons at bay during the last 10K of the run leg… :-P
Good luck to all our awesome T:Zero athletes racing Hell of the West next weekend! Remember to stay hydrated, have fun and give it hell!
“Be consistent in all you do. Consistency over many months and years will allow you to yield the results you want.”
This month we’re shining the spotlight on our coaching team again, featuring our Cairns-based super coach and a stellar athlete in her own right - Coach Mon!
Originally turning to triathlon as a new athletic endeavour after finishing her cricketing career, Monique joined T:Zero as an athlete in 2014 and has been a T:Zero coach for almost 3 years now.
Her favourite thing about the sport, she says is “the discipline it requires”, while her least favourite is washing all the training clothes (we’re with you on this one, Mon!). Her favourite leg is the bike, where she feels she can “get into the groove” and really work her hardest, motivated no doubt by the sweet sounds of Eminem, who dominates her training playlist.
Since her triathlon debut in 2013, Mon has competed in two Ironmans, 11 Ironman 70.3 races and countless sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. All her hard work has recently culminated in her proudest triathlon moment to date - qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in New Zealand later this year.
From a coach’s perspective, Mon believes the most successful athletes share the attributes of consistency, positivity and understanding that the process is more important than the outcome. We couldn’t agree more!
Outside of triathlon, Coach Mon is a self-confessed “nerd” who loves reading, brain training and doing jigsaw puzzles.
Since becoming a T:Zero athlete or coach, what is the one new belief, behaviour, habit formed or skill honed that has most improved your athletic (or every day or coaching) performance?
It is all about having a growth mindset. I am a very structured and rigid person and I can stumble with change, but I am developing my mindset to enjoy new challenges.
Do you do other training outside the normal swim/bike/run?
Love to MTB. I am an uncoordinated baby giraffe and always fall off but I love the feeling of being free!
What motivates or inspires you to train/race/participate?
Self drive motivates me. I want to see what I can do and I love to know the session has been nailed each and every day. Love the greens in TP (Training Peaks)!
Do you have any tips for athletes struggling to find some motivation or who may have temporarily lost focus?
Go back to your ‘why’. The ‘why’ you are doing triathlon in the first place. There was an initial reason you started, so search back and try and rekindle the passion.
What is your favourite thing about being a T:Zero coach?
I have grown as a coach under the tutelage of Scotty as my mentor. My favourite thing is when an athlete nails a session, or a race and they are so excited. That excitement is contagious and keeps me motivated to give them exciting and challenging sessions.
And one more for good measure (and a big head) …
Why do you love being part of the T:Zero Multisport team?
I love the way it has grown. When I started with Scotty, T:Zero as we know it today did not exist. It has been interesting to watch it grow from a thought to a reality and it has been exciting to be an athlete and a coach with this amazing coaching group and stable of athletes.
Wow – and just like that 2019 is done and dusted!
I hope you’ve all had a great festive season. I’ve been on my off-season since Ironman Cozumel and have really enjoyed the time away from structured training. I’ve been keeping the body moving with some light enjoyable exercise. It’s been nice having more time to catch up with friends and family over the break and do things that I wouldn’t usually do while in training like going to a couple of live music gigs. Off-season is now over though and I’m slowly getting back into consistent training. Getting back into training this year hasn’t been an easy feat. I’m not struggling so much with motivation but more so… (GETTING OLDER haha) now some of you may laugh at me saying this as I’m only 28 years old BUT I feel like my body is trying to tell me I’m getting older haha. I don’t remember feeling so many aches and pains in so many places! I’ve noticed the more I eat well, maintain consistent sleep patterns, wear supportive shoes at work, try to keep on top of massage and rolling the aches and pains go away and it’s easier to get going (hope those tips help you too if you’re feeling like getting started again has left you on struggle street).
It’s been GREAT to have a break and all but I’m ready now to start thinking about and working towards my next goal. Yay! So I would like to share with you what that focus is going to be.
My coach and I sat down to discuss my goals for the up and coming year, recently. As many of you know I have come from a strength background (powerlifting), which has mostly given me an advantage on the bike leg. But Ironman triathlon isn’t all about how big your power file is on the bike but mainly how well you can execute the run after arriving into T2. It’s been apparent in long course racing that I arrive into T2 usually at the top of the female amateur race or at least near the top. And it’s always my run where I am trying to not give too much time away and/or where I get overtaken.
Seeing as my run is letting me down quite a lot we have made a decision to focus on building my run volume over the first third of the year. I’m excited to spend more time running and working my way up to some pretty solid run volume (for me), we’ll aim at trying to build up towards 100km’s of running per week dependant on how my body reacts and adjusts over the block. Obviously, there is a chance of injury here so I have to be 100% aware of my body and communicate with my coach when anything feels out of place so we can move progressively forward.
I would like to take 20 minutes off my marathon time. I really enjoy the challenges of Ironman training and working towards trying to be the best athlete that I can be so I will try and provide myself every opportunity to do so while trying to balance “life.” I’d like to try and execute a marathon that I’m happy with in my home town at Ironman Cairns.
After Ironman Cairns we plan to bring back in higher bike and swim volumes in the lead up to the Ironman World Champs 2020.
I can’t wait to share how the run progress goes over the next few months.
Thanks for reading along
Coach Scotty - Sunshine Coast, Qld
“Successful athletes see the big picture and have a long-term approach to their training and goals. They also generally possess a growth mindset. Rather than seeing setbacks as failures and obstacles as a potential risk, they see them as an opportunity to learn and develop.”
T:Zero co-founder, Director of Coaching and resident qualified nutritionist Coach Scotty has been “officially” involved in triathlon and endurance sports for over 15 years and “unofficially” running his entire life. Making his debut via sprint triathlons in Hervey Bay in the early 000’s, he subsequently discovered his real love for the sport existed after 7+ hours of anything endurance related … aka “when the fun begins!”.
Scotty’s favourite race was Ironman New Zealand 2014 - a day where everything fell into place and he learned how deep he could go and still come out smiling! His favourite leg is the bike, because, as he says, it took him “forever” to get any good at it.
As a coach/dad/pseudo dad, Scotty derives his greatest pride from seeing an athlete achieve their goal - especially when he’s able to be there and see it happen in person. An experience, he says, that is second-to-none.
While he has some big, scary goals for 2020, at the moment, Scotty’s training purely for the love of it, and is motivated daily by the search for new boundaries and facing his fears. He cross trains with some yoga, Brazilian Ju Juitsu, chasing his kids, mountain biking and surfing. Outside the normal swim/bike/run, he dabbles in gardening, home schooling his kids, bee keeping, reading and listening to podcasts.
In lots of ways, Scotty is not your typical triathlete. In his own words, he’s more “laid back than most” and he says that while his process is still “methodical and precise”, he has chosen to do this sport and at the end of the day, “whilst I love it, it doesn’t define me”. His endurance goal for 2020 is to get out there, have as much fun as possible and race something scary and new!
Since becoming a T:Zero coach, what is the one new belief, behaviour, habit formed or skill honed that has most impacted your coaching performance?
As I become more experienced and my skillset has developed in all areas, I think the most valuable thing to come with the experience is the ability to zoom out (when required) and not get too caught up in the weeds. Educating athletes to be able to see things this way, from a global, long term perspective, is key to kicking over those big goals. Let the coach deal with the weeds and get down to the business of nailing the process ;-)
Have you ever had an apparent training or race day “failure” that has set you up for later success?
So many. Huge one for me was Kona 2014 and learning (in hindsight) all about the effects of outside mental stress leading into a big race. In order to nail an A race at that level, stress levels on all fronts need to be nice and low leading in, in order to firstly make it there in one piece and then be fresh enough to have a great performance.
Best piece of advice for someone starting out in the sport? Or best advice you’ve received?
For those starting out: be patient, be consistent and don’t be in too much of a hurry to go straight to full Ironman distance. Play around for a while in the shorter distances and get some decent skin in the game. It takes many years to build true endurance fitness, so be prepared to think in two year blocks as opposed to two months.
Do you have any tips for athletes struggling to find some motivation or who may have temporarily lost focus?
Take a break. If the motivation is not there and you can’t see the big picture, then either you’re heavily fatigued and in need of a rest, or you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. For the most part, motivation will ebb and flow, but you shouldn’t have to be constantly searching for it … the love of it all should be dragging your backside out the door each day. Otherwise, don’t forget the big picture … not every session needs to be all fancy and motivating. The big picture tells us that the real results come from putting together the big blocks of training, rather than the odd magic session.
What is your favourite thing about being a T:Zero coach?
I like when I get to share in the journey of ticking off big goals with an athlete, the same goes for sharing our coaching team’s experiences in training and racing. The joy in the lightbulb moments and breakthroughs is awesome. And sharing it means I get to vicariously relive all these experiences over and over. As well as this, I am constantly having my thoughts and perspectives shaped and challenged by the team environment, effectively making me a more well-rounded coach.
And one more for good measure (and a big head) …
Why do you love being part of the T:Zero Multisport team?
Helping athletes and other coaches to achieve their goals is what it’s all about. I got into coaching because I am drawn to helping others and sharing my knowledge, and the more you help, the more you receive in return. I get so much out of working with athletes and coaches. And I’m a not-so-closet nerd… so the technical side of coaching is always fun too.
With Head Coach Em Quinn
As a coach of any sporting code, the job requires a close relationship to be formed with an individual athlete and the guidance and goal setting process to help the individual achieve what he/she is seeking. Daily my role as a Head Coach within T:Zero Multisport has me continually working closely with my athletes by providing them with periodised, structured and diverse training plans to help them see the desired goal or outcome. I sit in the office for 3 days per week (plus often some nights when big racing weeks roll around) sifting through training plans, programming and making my way through emails all in the pursuit to bring out the very best in those I help.
Recently an athlete of mine ticked off her second “A” race for the 2019 year. It was a cracker, one of those days where things just come together across all three disciplines and the stars align, one of those rare days which we often only stumble across every now and again, but when we do, they are ever so sweet. Following this race and some planned active recovery weeks (those whom I coach will know I am a big fan of some active recovery sessions and unplugging a little post big events) I received an email from this athlete which outlined her next set of 2019/2020 triathlon goals. I opened the email with excitement as I get such a buzz from seeing what athletes set out to achieve within the sport but also within themselves. The first line of the email read “so….I know I will never be a champion in this sport or a podium contender BUT here are my goals and thoughts for the year ahead”. At the time, I continued reading the email, I got motivated and excited by the A, B and C goals that the athlete had in mind and replied with a lose agenda and of course scheduling a meeting where we can sit down and discuss the ins and outs of what it will take to get to where the athlete intended to be. However, that night, as I sat awake for several hours (the nightly grind with a newborn) I thought to myself, what does this world “champion” even mean? On the surface, some may say in the context of triathlon that a “champion” are those elite professionals, those who swim, bike and run for a day job and those who are successful enough to make a living from this all-consuming sport that we all seem to love so much. Others may say to a mate “you champion” for gaining world championship selection, for hitting a new personal best or for simply finishing an endurance event that once may have been a pipeline dream.
As a coach, of many athletes of varying abilities, goals and physical limits, I sat awake that night thinking of a way I could define “champion”. For me, I feel the definition is far more a mental one than a physical one. Of course, the fast 5km, the new PB’s, the World Championship Qualifications or the multiple Ironman finishes are impressive achievements and I am the first to feel immense satisfaction and pride when an athlete and I achieve one of these accolades, but do I feel these assets are individual qualities which define a person, the answer is no. For me the word “champion” means much more than results on paper or medals hanging in the garage. I think that an athlete who has a “champion mindset” is just as much of an achiever as those who swim, bike and run their way to the top level of this sport. By this, I mean, those individuals who strive to better themselves day in and day out, those who give 110% in training and in racing, even when at times it may seem like an impossible task. Those who seek to tackle the impossible and take each training session as an opportunity not only to better their physiological capacities but also to gain an insight and a continued love into the sport of triathlon. I, personally get just as much motivation and enthusiasm to create a plan for an athlete who is driven, process as well as performance orientated and brings with them a growth mindset (by this I mean viewing a setback or a weaker result as an opportunity to learn and grow rather than a failure). If you portray all of these qualities and have a genuine passion for the sport, then I believe that is a much more meaningful definition of a “champion” than simply a pen to paper result, which may appear on the surface like a success.
With the start of a new decade only a matter of weeks away, I ask you to question your mindset as you plan and set you goals for the season ahead. Seek the very best in yourself and strive to develop a love and genuine passion for the sport. Promise to be the best you can be, to learn, grown and develop as the highs and lows of the season occur (and they both will occur – prepare for them), I have no doubt that if you employ these tiny increments of positive mindset applications into your daily training, you’ll have an unbeatable season and without a doubt, enjoy the journey a lot more.
I cannot wait for 2020 and I am so excited by the goals and plans ahead for my team and the T:Zero Multisport crew. If you are striving for that next level in your performance (as an athlete and as a person) or simply feel as though your performance has plateaued, or that your love and passion for the sport has dwindled, then I challenge you take a step back and question your mindset, you never know where it could take you.
Until next time,
Head Coach T:Zero Multisport
Click here to find out more about what makes Em Quinn a champion coach!
Over the last three months I’ve been struggling with fatigue over the couple of days leading into my menstrual cycle or the first couple of days of my cycle. The purpose of ‘The Ash Hunter Diaries’ is for me to be open with you guys about my ups and downs along my journey towards Cozumel and my quest for Kona 2020. This has definitely been a low in my journey as it keeps interrupting the flow (pardon the pun) of my consistent training blocks... ugh! There’s nothing more frustrating than when training seems to be going on track and all of a sudden… BOOM! I’m floored for 1 or 2, or sometimes even 3 days with fatigue. Welcome to the world of being a female athlete.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve trained through this time of the month and have found some months affect me more than others and some don’t affect me at all. As of lately, though, I’ve noticed the affects three months in a row. I’ve always felt rather guilty or have beat myself up about not being able to achieve my target sessions during the pre-menstrual time of the month because I didn’t really understand what was going on inside my body. I hope that this blog helps other women who’ve experienced the same thing so they’re not be so hard on themselves when they can’t hit their targets during this time of the month. So let’s take a look at what happens to our hormones and the four different phases during the menstrual cycle and then we’ll take a look at a very simplified explanation on how and why our training is affected by our fluctuating hormones.
A quick summary – what is the menstrual cycle?
“The menstrual cycle starts with menses, when females are (unless they have become pregnant) bleeding and shedding the uterine lining. Menses is the start of the follicular phase, or “low hormone” phase, characterized by low luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), progesterone and slowly increasing levels of estrogens. This phase lasts for around the first 14 days of the menstrual cycle. Then around the "middle" of the cycle ovulation should occur, which is characterized by a spike in levels of estrogen and luteinizing hormone. This coincides with the release of the egg and is the time of the menstrual cycle when females can become pregnant. Ovulation is followed by the luteal phase and is the high-hormone phase of the menstrual cycle when both estrogen and progesterone levels are higher.” (Ihalainen, 2019)
According to author Dr Stacy Sims, when we start to get into the high hormonal phase (luteal phase / pre-menstrual phase) this is where oestrogen is inhibiting carbohydrate utilisation so therefore we can’t quite hit high intensities in training at this time. Increased oestrogen levels usually increases serotonin in the brain which causes some brain fog. The increase of progesterone increases the core temperature so we have less time to fatigue and less tolerance to heat. During the high hormonal phase we have less water in the blood so we become less efficient at getting blood to the working muscle tissue. Now that we know how our performance is slightly impeded we can use nutrition and recovery practises to overcome this.
Attempting to train when my hormones wreak havoc - slightly dramatic but keeping it real
The alarm goes off… my brain tells my body to get up, it doesn’t respond. With the sound of the alarm in the background, I feel like I’m looking at my body from above trying to wake it but it seems to be stuck in quicksand. I’m standing above my body shouting at it with motivational thoughts like, “you are ready,” “get up and slay that bike today, Ash” then I turn to negative comments to really try and get me out of bed, “you’re never going to achieve your best” or “get up, you’re being weak.” I end up having an internal battle and agree to reset the alarm for another 30 mins time. I roll over and regretfully still lay there achieving nothing because I am feeling so guilty for feeling like I’m giving in to fatigue and not being on my bike. One would think this would be a clear indicator that one needs to stay in bed. Hmmm.
Well, you see, we are endurance athletes and we’ve been trained to keep going without giving into tiredness and fatigue. Ok so I end up getting out of bed through shear guilt. I get onto my bike. Everything hurts more than usual, the spots on my saddle that usually take a few hours to get sore are there immediately, I feel short of breath, my heart rate is high, my attention span is low, where are my legs? They’ve gone! I can’t focus too long on one spot otherwise I feel like I will collapse onto the road into the foetal position and sleep there for the next 3 hours. Trying to be optimistic that I would ‘come good’ throughout the session I stayed out there 3 hours holding all of 100 watts NP (I usually sit at 135 watts for an easy warm up) which felt like a 7/8 RPE, I skipped my important backend intervals, went home and rested instead as I knew my body just didn’t feel right. I was able to train back to normal the next day. If you have ‘meat above your feet,’ (borrowing that saying from WITSUP – thanks) you may think I’m exaggerating here. Well, I’m not! I usually feel like this 1 or 2 days throughout each cycle. Life is a constant learning process and I’m just trying to work out my puzzle of the female physiology and endurance training.
Looking at fatigue
I wasn’t sure whether I was getting knocked out with these ‘fatigue days’ due to a lack of iron, dehydration, or that I hadn’t fuelled myself with enough calories a day or two before. I’d been to see a health professional about this topic to get my iron levels, blood count, B12, thyroid and a couple of other tests checked but they all came back within normal ranges. I make an extremely conscious effort to focus on hydration and have been seeing a dietitians to help with nutrient absorption and energy intake. But it keeps happening at the same time throughout my cycle each month.
Fatigue is very generalised but to me it feels like weakness, tiredness, decreased tolerance for heat training, increased heart rate, increased sensitivity, increased perception of effort and decreased mood. These symptoms seem to happen at any time throughout the luteal phase or start of menses. I could be training well and all of a sudden I hit a big wall (that seems to be built with solid bricks of emotions, sluggishness, discomfort and so much tiredness.) I then feel frustrated at myself for the interruption to my training block as I can only tolerate low –moderate intensity training and even missing a session or two due to needing the rest or not listening to my body (and also not telling my coach how I’m feeling because I just want to do the darn session… oops), pushing beyond what I should and then burying myself for a few days… doh!
After this happened for the third month in a row it’s becoming more obvious that my athletic performance can be impeded during this time of the month, maybe more so when my volume is higher. I’m pretty slow at working things out at times but I think I’m slowly starting to get it now.
I am calling this the quest to finding my menstrual cycle and exercise performance sweet spot.
Where to from here?
My coach has approached the topic with me recently, I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before but we are going to base my training block around my cycle. We’ll use the days where my hormones are back to being stable/low at the end of the follicular phase and during ovulation to build and hit those target sessions and then do active recovery during those days when my hormones rise up in the luteal phase and get close to menses. We have been using the FITR Woman app to track my cycle so far. I will continually play around with my nutrition and keep using trial and error to see how my body is fuelled best within each phase with the help of Stacy Sims research. Each one of us are different but I hope you’ve enjoyed a rather un-talked about topic and that it may bring awareness to this topic. I am excited to start using my female physiology to my advantage and get the most out of my training when I’m feeling strong! I look forward to being a happier athlete and not getting frustrated at myself for not being able to hit targets or complete sessions for reasons outside of my control…
Here’s a couple of interesting articles I found that will provide some more information on this topic which have links to evidence based research:
Until next time! Keep up the great work.
Lining up on the start line this year at the Ironman World Championship in 2019 was a pretty incredible experience. Although I had competed at this event on three occasions prior to this one, this year it was very different for two reasons.
Reflecting back on this, on race morning, I was acutely aware of the incredible density of human emotion packed into a very small area – the age group corrals before the swim start. If the tension and emotion could have been jammed into a bottle of start line champagne and then the cork popped, the spray would have easily covered the Big Island of Hawaii. Highly intense to say the very least.
From my own perspective, I sailed through race week with no hint of nerves or worry. The lead in to Kona is a busy week with expos, events and athlete catch ups – and lots of positive energy. Come race morning, it was a different story – and I had felt it before. That feeling of something being on the line, the slow creep of nausea at body marking, a rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms.
It was a classic sympathetic nervous system response – fight or flight. Was I reacting because I was in danger? Definitely not. It was just a triathlon, after all. When it came down to the nuts and bolts of what was happening, all it meant was that I cared about what was going to unfold. And if I interpreted it as a good sign, a positive sign – I could manage that response without it derailing my race.
There were 2000 athletes in those corrals experiencing some form of pre-race emotions before the start line that day. Emotions that had the potential to contribute positively or negatively to their day on course. I witnessed it. There were athletes in those corrals in tears, athletes sitting on the ground shaking, nervous overflowing chatter, those laughing, smiling, jumping up and down and those with blank stares. It was an interesting sight.
I am no psychologist. But as a coach and an athlete, I reckon those individual prerace emotions were highly likely to be linked to a number of factors.
All those factors feeding all that emotion - tightly crammed into a very small space. Super intense.
With the Aussie season in full swing, athletes in our neck of the woods are about to find themselves in similar situations at their own races. Pre-race emotions running rampant at race start lines. As an athlete, how do you prepare for this part of your race?
A great first step is to chat to your coach and work out the factors that are feeding your start line emotions. Work on those – confidence, preparation, belief, expectations, positivity and support to be in the best possible headspace leading into your event. Predict how you might feel and how you will manage your pre-race emotions. Practice your strategies before race day.
In my opinion, just like the emotions on the start line, the effective strategies to manage prerace emotions and that fight or flight response can be highly individual. Deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness and self -talk can all be used in the heat of the prerace circus. I am certain sports psychologists have more strategies to share.
In essence though, there is tremendous benefit in exploring and find a strategy that works for you. Being prepared for your race both physically and mentally is part of the ticket to a great race experience.
The next step is practice. Placing yourself in similar situations in training can help your practice your strategies – being mindful to create similar emotions around training races, unfamiliar or challenging workouts and training camps. Outside of training, visualisation of your start line with all of its sensory input can help create your pre race emotions and give you some experience at managing them.
So what was my strategy?
Lets go back to that Kona start line corral and the emotional overload of the athletes jammed inside it. How did I manage myself? Deep breathing works for me – big intentional diaphragmatic breaths to switch off that sympathetic response. It’s a common strategy, it is my go-to strategy, I have practiced it, and I know it works for me. So that is what I did.
Once my heart rate settled and the nausea dissipated, things then got rather fun keeping that right combination of anticipation and excitement in check.
Finding friends, laughing and chatting, jumping in front of the ironman paparazzi for photos. Hugging random strangers. All purposeful strategies in the “this is my A race of the year” start line corral. Totally odd behavior for me in real life. But whatever works on race day, hey!
Have fun exploring and finding your pre race strategy. Get after it!
Before I get started on this month’s blog, “A week in the life of me – Ash Hunter,” here’s a small summary on my experience from Sunshine Coast 70.3 a couple of weeks ago.
Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast wasn’t intentionally on the cards this year as we were in the thick of Ironman training. BUT… 10 days out from the race I’d won an entry… Thank you to Multisport Mecca and Cyclezone for this!! How could I turn down an awesome opportunity to have a hit out and see where my current fitness lies? It was an absolutely stunning day, apart from a little wind on the bike course we had ideal conditions.
Swim was amazing with crystal clear water. I felt comfortable navigating my way around the swim course, then onto the bike where I came into T2 with my highest ever NP split for an Ironman 70.3. The run felt great for the first 8 km and then after the second Alex Hill I started to fall apart but I gave it all I had for that last lap. I was happy to be able to come home with a PB 70.3 time of 4.42:07 and 3rd place in F25-29 AG. I hadn’t given much thought whether I’d take a spot to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships held in Taupo 2020, until after the race.
Over a quick lunch with my friend, Sarah and brother, Jordan I’d kind of made up my mind. I didn’t think there’d be 3 spots in my AG but I came to the decision that If there were 3 allocated spots then I would get the trusty old credit card out to pay for the entry + the 8% active fee ha ha. Waiting at the roll down ceremony I heard Pete Murray announce, “25-29 Female age group has 3 + 1 allocated spots” Whattttt???!!! I looked over to my bro, trying to contain my surprise and excitement. Although, I may need to work 2 jobs over the summer holidays to pay off that one! A super unexpected result and qualification but I’m looking forward to heading over to Taupo in November next year for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
A Week in the Life of Me – Ash Hunter
Have you ever wondered what a week looks like in the life of an Ironman athlete?
Let’s go behind the scenes and find out what’s involved during a typical week…
Also, if you’re tuning in for the first time, welcome to The Ash Hunter Diaries. I mentioned in my first entry that I’m going to be sharing my journey with you over the next 18 months in trying my best to qualify for the Ironman 2020 World Champs and then racing to my potential over on the Big Island. I mentioned something about “even if it’s just my Dad reading along…” well, turns out it’s more than just my Dad… Hi Mum, now I know you read these too… ;-) Ok, back on track with the diary entry… so you want to know what a week in the life of an Ironman athlete looks like.
If something isn’t working, change it!
In my last couple of Ironman preparations, I found that when I’d work full-time hours I’d be pushing boundaries and found I wouldn’t be able to get as much out of myself during training compared to when I’d work casual hours. Don’t get me wrong, working full-time and balancing Ironman training is achievable which involves less training stress and many early mornings waking up between 3-4am. Going forward in the lead up to Ironman Cozumel I want to put a focus on other aspects of Ironman training such as recovery, body maintenance and eating properly… Recovery is EVERYTHING! According to Budgett, (1998) being under-recovered over a longer period may not necessarily lead to overtraining, although it will lead to progressive fatigue and underperformance. Optimal performance is only achievable if athletes are able to balance training stress and adequate recovery (Kuippers, 1998). So I’ve made a couple of lifestyle changes to enable myself the time to recover adequately to avoid progressive fatigue and therefore underperformance. Until the end of November, I’ll only be available to work (supply teaching) 3 days per week during peak high volume build weeks. During recovery weeks I’ll make myself available for work 4-5 days per week depending on how I am feeling. I am lucky during the school year to be flexible like this with my work. I just need to let my faithful schools and supply teaching agency know what my availability is and I’ll find out the night before or the morning of when and where I’m working. So, with a couple of little lifestyle changes this is what my week will generally looks like until Ironman Cozumel.
Alarm goes off at 4:30 am, I’ll have a quick bite to eat (usually a Clif Bar) and make a coffee to sip on for the 38 minute drive to Nambour pool where I’ll start swim squad at 5:30am. My swim coach, Lisa is an absolute legend, she juggles stop watches, constantly gives feedback to athletes and also answers work phone calls for me to ensure I have work for the day. Thanks Lise! I’m usually out of the pool by 6:45-7:00am depending on where I’ll be working for the day. I’ll get ready for work and eat breakfast at the pool. Supply teaching usually consumes every second of your day requiring you to have eyes and ears EVERYWHERE and you’re either trying to put out metaphorical fires, work out what you need to do next and how you’re going to deliver the next task. So 8am-3pm tends to go by pretty quickly at work. By the time I hand in my paperwork at the end of the day and drive home it’s around 4pm where I’ll have an afternoon training session. I’m off the wind trainer or finished my run by 6:30pm and can cook dinner and prepare for Tuesday morning’s ride.
I’ll set the alarm for 5-6am, however, I listen to my body on Tuesdays as I generally have the day off work. If I need the extra sleep, I will happily take it! The morning is spent on the bike, I’ll head west to try and avoid as much traffic as possible.
Straight home for lunch where I’ll make a banana protein smoothie and some real food – eggs, sweet potato, spinach, avocado and mushrooms. Legs into the Normatec boots for an hour where I’ll focus on hydration and catch up on any emails or computer work. After recovery in the boots I’ll have a 20-30min nap followed by another meal. Between lunch and my afternoon training session I’ll either be booked into some kind of body maintenance appointment such as a massage with Di’s Massage & Fitness or an acupuncture and shockwave session with Vanessa Ng who is a Senior Podiatrist at Innovation Podiatry. If I don’t have any appointments, I’ll do some foam rolling and use the time to catch up on house work or grocery shopping as I don’t usually have any energy to do that stuff on the weekends. I’ll then get ready for my afternoon session which is a run and can range from 1 hour to 2 hours depending on the week of build. Home to make dinner and get ready for the next day (pack my lunch, get my training and work clothes ready for the morning.)
Wednesday – up at 5:45am for a core and range of motion session at home. I’ll have the phone ready to answer for a day of work. They usually call between 6:15am-7am if I’m not previously booked in and then I’ll find out where I’m off to for the day. I’ll need to be out of there by 7:30am to get to work on time. After work I’ll head home and quickly cook dinner so it’s ready when I get home from my swim. Swim squad is at 5:15pm to 6:45pm at Nambour pool. It’s usually only a handful of us on a Wednesday night. I get a lot out of our squad environment as everyone can have a laugh but when it comes time to doing the work everybody genuinely tries their best which lifts each other. Home around 7:30pm for dinner that I’d cooked earlier in the afternoon. Pack my bike and swim gear with a hearty breakfast for the next morning.
4:30am wakeup for swim, squad up at Nambour pool. Quick bite to eat, (oats soaked in water, honey and fruit with a couple dollops Greek yoghurt on top) change into my bike gear and head off for the rest of the morning my bike for hill repeats and some TT efforts. Pack everything back in the car, quickly drink a protein shake and head home for feed, sleep and put the legs into the recovery boots. Catch up on any emails, unpack the car, and get ready for the afternoon run session. This run session is my mid-week long run. Home to cook dinner and pack the car/bags for Friday morning swim and work.
Fridays are mostly an active recovery/rest day. Each week I usually alternate between a morning swim squad session at Nambour and an open water swim in Mooloolaba bay with the T:Zero crew. I pack my own breakfast but I love sitting down after Friday morning swim for a coffee with the gang! Off to work for the day and then I’ll use the afternoon to catch up with family after work and/or prepare for the big weekend ahead getting nutrition and training equipment ready. I like to have a big diner on a Friday night to prepare me for the weekend.
3am wakeups as of late, to be able to have a proper breakfast & coffee and get on the road to beat the traffic. I’m extremely lucky to live around some pretty awesome guys who love to ride and are bloody good on the bike too. No matter how early it is, there’s usually one of them there at least ready to start the ride with me, if not join me for the entire 4.5 - 6.5 hour ride. I’ll get home around mid-morning for a run off the bike with race pace efforts. Make a choc protein banana smoothie and a big healthy brunch. I’ll then crawl into my Normatec boots and stay there for an hour while napping. After an hour it’s time to head to the pool for a recovery swim. The hardest part is getting in the pool after the big morning but once I’m in, I actually really enjoy this 1.5-2km of active recovery and feel so much better.
Sunday is NO ALARM DAY! Sleep in, usually until 7am. Chuck the bike in the car for a long run-brick session. I like to drive up to Mudjimba for this session because my 1 hour bike before the run is a build ride and ends up around threshold at the end so I’ll head north to avoid the traffic. After the 1 hour ride I’ll chuck the bike in the back of the car where my run shoes and run nutrition is waiting (Clif bloks and Crampfix shot). I’ll then head on out for my long run anywhere between 20-34km depending on where we’re at with the build. I like to run up and over Maroochy Bridge and then follow the esplanade until it’s time to turn around. This route is great because there’s plenty of opportunity for drink taps when needed. Sunday afternoon I’ll take the pooch to the creek or dam and have the afternoon to relax before the next week starts. I try to get out of the house here and do something fun with people who put a smile on my face. In the afternoon it’s time to pack the work bag for the morning and prepare some meals for the week.
In the lead up to this race, I’ve backed off work a bit to be able to train smarter and rover better. I guess, I’m still trying to find a balance that works for me to be able to make a living and afford to travel to races while trying to be the best athlete and person I can be. Having a coach who understands my individual needs and goals is significant in improving my racing and training through safe and systematic training methods. I am very lucky to have Richard Thompson from T:Zero Multipsort, coaching and guiding me to achieve this balance. Every day is a day of learning and I’m excited to see what we can achieve by adding in more training, sleep and recovery to my week.
Thanks for reading along. :)
Budgett, R. (1998) Fatigue and Underperformance in athletes: The overtraining syndrome. British Journal of Sport and Medicine, 32. 107-110.
Kuipers, H. (1998) Training and overtraining: An Introduction. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 30(7): 1137-1139.
For anyone thinking about starting triathlon or taking on a challenge within the sport already, I hope this blog encourages you to go for it, believe in yourself, and live to your full potential.
I am a 22-year-old living in Canberra and I have recently entered the world of triathlon. I joined a novice triathlon program with the Bilby’s triathlon club in October 2018. At the time, I was spending 99% of my time at the university library, working two-three days per week in a law firm and had not long returned from an overseas trip. I was ready to try something new, (having come from a background in tennis and hockey), to challenge myself, and to meet people outside my usual social group. I had a road bike which I bought second hand, (and had used only for travel to and from uni), and that was all I needed (aside from caffeine), to sign up for my first ever triathlon!
I remember my first triathlon so clearly. It was in Canberra and (shock horror) it was so windy and cold for November. The swim was almost wetsuit compulsory! I was signed up to the novice distance, which was a 200m swim, 12km bike and 2km run. I remember watching some of the Olympic distance athletes beforehand and thinking ‘how on earth do their butts not get sore after 40km of riding!?’ It was such a fun day and I ended winning my age group! I guess you can say this was the start of an amazing 12 months to come.
After competing in a few novice races and then the Sprint distance at Husky Triathlon Festival (February 2019), my next goal was the Olympic distance. I decided to race the Port Stephens Olympic in May 2019. I enjoyed the longer distance, as it gave me more time to settle into the race and find my groove. Once I had completed the Olympic distance, I set my sights on the 70.3, however, I knew that I didn’t have the knowledge or expertise to self-coach. I was also still studying full-time and working, so I didn’t really have the time to think about setting a training plan! In June 2019 I joined the T: Zero team under the guidance of coach Andrew (Andy) Perry. I said I wanted to complete my first 70.3 by the end of 2019 and soon enough I was signed up for the Sunshine Coast 70.3 in September 2019 (giving me roughly 12 weeks training time). It was a short amount of time to train for such a huge step-up in distance. But I knew the time wouldn’t be a limiting factor if I was consistent with my training. Fortunately, I was also surrounded by supportive people, and Andy had no doubts about me being able to finish the race which was really empowering. I also really loved the fact that it was going to be a challenge, and probably not going to be easy!
The toughest part of the preparation for the 70.3 was training in the Canberra winter. There was one morning where it was -2 degrees and my toes went a dangerously blue colour (even with my shoe covers!). On social media I would see people training in warmer parts of Australia, commenting that they finally cracked out the arm warmers. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here defrosting my toes in the bathtub! I soon made use of the indoor trainer a lot more. I’m a sucker for routine, so it helped that I could fit my sessions in around work, uni and social life. Some weeks were obviously harder than others, and there were mornings where I really didn’t want to get out of bed. But it’s amazing how much you’re capable of when you really want to achieve something. I had a goal that I so badly wanted to achieve and that in itself was really motivating.
September crept up quicker than ever and soon enough it was race day! What a beautiful day for a half ironman! The swim was my favourite leg of the day. I felt comfortable in the water, I could easily block out the surroundings and really get in the zone. Out of the water and onto the bike was a slightly different story. It was a tough leg, especially in the wind. The bike is still something I’m getting used to, having no experience in cycling until I started triathlon. Despite this, it was still more enjoyable than I thought it would be! It was pretty warm by the time I started running (a lot warmer than what I’m used to anyway). This made for a challenging run, but by this point, I knew I was going to finish. The run is where the body starts to really struggle, both physically and mentally. After exerting yourself for several hours, the last thing you want to do is run a half marathon! But I knew this is what I had trained to do, and I trusted the process. Physical fitness aside, the run is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. What got me through the run and the race in general, was having a positive mindset, being patient and staying in the moment. It was the absolute best feeling to get to the finish!
Post-race, I’m still trying to process everything. It is such an amazing gift to be able to swim, bike and run and it is truly incredible what you can achieve when you truly set your mind to it. Signing up to my first triathlon less than 12 months ago was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Equally rewarding was joining the T:Zero team, who are an amazing bunch of athletes that I am proud to be apart of. Pursuing my sporting goals on top of a busy lifestyle is something I’ve really struggled with in the last couple of years. It’s really great to be a part of a team that understands and works around ‘life.’ I chose T:Zero because of their positive energy and dedication to helping people from all walks of life to pursue their dreams. If you’re thinking about taking up triathlon, or chasing a huge goal, surround yourself with people who empower you to be a better you, go for it, and don’t look back.
As the saying goes, ‘opportunity is missed by many people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.’ When you take on a big challenge, believe in yourself, and put in the work, you can excel in all aspects of your life. You will be amazed at just how much you’re capable of!
There’s a common perception out there that T:Zero is some kind of elitist group. That we focus our attention on fast times and podiums. Nothing could be further from the truth.
At T:Zero we focus on success. We celebrate our athletes setting big (sometimes scary) goals and watch with pride as they tenaciously set out to accomplish them. It’s the little wins, every day, and every week, that lead to the PBs, the breakthroughs and the smiles. It’s the shift in mindset from being outcome driven to process driven. And the move from fearing failure, to embracing it as part of the journey.
Whether an athlete is stepping up in distance, smashing a new PB or qualifying for a World Championship, it’s the process coming to fruition that we as T:Zero celebrate above all else.
We regularly hear from our athletes that the culture within T:Zero is one of non-judgement and acceptance no matter what level the athlete. This is precisely the kind of culture we strive to foster. We realise that everyone is at a different stage in their journey; each no more important than the next. Our values are growth, gratitude, consistency and honesty. These values underpin the way in which we operate as a unit, and this is where we want to focus athlete awareness.
The journey and process of endurance sport is long. It’s for the stayer, the disciplined and the strong individual. The person who understands that big goals are achieved through next-level commitment and determination is the person you will find at T:Zero. That’s who we are. You won’t find a trophy room in our HQ; you’ll find a celebration room.
If you want to be heard, have your accomplishments no matter how big or small, acknowledged and celebrated. If you want to learn to embrace the process and accept that every opportunity is something to learn from, come and join us. Then perhaps you’ll see why we are so fortunate to have such a high rate of athlete happiness and retention. Those who come and work with us, stay, and come back time and time again.
So, what are you waiting for? Come and embrace the enigma 😉
As triathletes we’re pretty fortunate to have the opportunity to race in some amazing locations all over the world, but sometimes there’s no place like home. Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast race week is upon us and there’s no doubt we’ve got a soft-spot for this race. Here’s why …
1. It’s our “local” race … kinda
T:Zero delivers customised online training programs to athletes all over the world, and while we’re not bound to a specific location, a number of our coaches and athletes reside right here on the Sunny Coast. On race day itself, 9 of our 12 coaches will be representing - supporting, participating or both, and over 30 T:Zero athletes will be out in force competing too. We absolutely cannot wait to see everyone giving it their best and we all know there’s nothing like a bit of home-town support to motivate us up and over that final gruelling hill on the run!
2. The swim is pristine
With any luck Mooloolaba Beach will be as flat, fast and clear as it was for the Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival earlier this year! Even if it’s not quite as brilliant, there’s no denying the beauty of Mooloolaba Beach with its crystal clear water and mild temperatures pretty much year-round. With any luck, a few sneaky waves will be around to lend a hand, offering athletes a welcome boost back into shore. A rolling start to kick off the swim leg will also help to spread out the field, calm the chaos and relieve some nerves for those of us who are less confident in the water.
3. A fast, flat bike course - primed for a PB…
Beginning from transition on Beach Terrace in Mooloolaba, the bike course heads out onto the Sunshine Motorway which is largely smooth, flat and fast with a few minor undulations. Typically we find there’s a pretty good tail wind in one direction which is counter-balanced by a not-so-nice headwind so keep this in mind if you find yourself flying out of town! Disc wheels and aero helmets are often the weapons of choice for more seasoned campaigners but this course is just as easily crushed by athletes with confident aero positioning, considered pacing and the right attitude!
4. A run leg with a million dollar view
Let’s be honest, if one must run a half marathon, is there anywhere more picturesque to do so? The two-lap run course takes athletes along Mooloolaba Esplanade, which is always lined with an incredible number of enthusiastic spectators, over Alexandra Headland and out towards Cotton Tree. The return presents an enviable view along the shoreline which may be lost on you if you’re suffering, but is spectacular if you’re cruising! While the Alex Hill is long and the run can be hot with no real respite from the sun, the T:Zero team tent and cheer squad will be one (yes, the best) of many lighting the way to the finish line, providing all the motivation and thunderous support you need to bring it home!
5. It’s the perfect destination race for everyone!
Whether you’re local, semi-local or live a little further away, Sunshine Coast 70.3 serves as the perfect destination race for all athletes - singles, couples and families. There’s a huge selection of restaurants and accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets as well as a number of local attractions to keep any non-triathlon loving family members happy too. The location presents a perfect opportunity for athletes to add a few extra days either side of race weekend to kick back, relax and enjoy the rest of what Mooloolaba has to offer.
Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast will see T:Zero’s second biggest athlete representation and we’re so excited to embrace this weekend in the company of our awesome athletes, friends and supporters! We’ll even be bringing along our professional photographer and videographer to capture some of the day’s highlights so make sure you’re wearing your T:Zero gear and we can’t wait to see you all in the T:Zero team tent on race day!
I’m Ashleigh Hunter AKA Ash Hunter, a long course amateur athlete (currently in the F25-29 Age Group). I started this sport back in 2015 coming from a powerlifting and team sports (soccer & touch football) background. I went over to the Big Island of Hawaii to spectate the 2014 Ironman World Championships which is where I became inspired to start triathlon. How could I not gain inspiration through watching my partner, Damien Collins place 4th in his AG and Mirinda Carfrae take out 1st female?
I started with T:Zero Multisport in April of 2016. In the 3.5 years I’ve been coached by Richard Thompson we’ve been able to achieve some pretty cool things in this sport; AG Ironman and Ironman 70.3 champion, Ironman Asia Pacific AG champion and 16th place in my AG at Kona. Looking forward, I’ve set a goal to have a crack at qualifying for the 2020 Ironman World Championships and then race to my potential back on the Big Island.
I have been asked to share my journey with you by posting a blog once a month. This makes me feel pretty uhhh… vulnerable but I am also really excited to be open with you and share some of the ups and downs of what’s to come. Even if it is just my Dad following along ha ha. So I thought my first blog post should be about why I have chosen Ironman Cozumel as my “A Race” for 2019.
Why I Chose Ironman Cozumel
Some of you are probably wondering why on Earth I would travel all the way to Mexico for an Ironman considering; I’m an age grouper, it’s such a long way to travel and Busselton Ironman is on at the same time on year… in my own country.
Well, here are my reasons for choosing to race abroad for the 2019 Ironman Cozumel
Race-cation / World Class Travel Destination
The biggest attraction for me, travelling ALL the way to Cozumel for an Ironman is being able to add on a small holiday after the race in a bucket list destination. Cozumel is a world premiere diving destination, with the second largest barrier reef in the world. Not too far from Cozumel are beautiful underwater caves (cenotes) that I plan on visiting after the race also. I grew up very close to the largest barrier reef in the world and have been scuba diving for the last 14 years now. I am pumped for a little holiday after the race to wind down the year with my partner, friends and family.
After sitting down with the coach back in April we looked at the ideal time for me to build up and be ready to race an Ironman again. It looked as though November-December would be the best time considering minor injuries and sickness that seemed to be hindering my prep at the start of the year. So looking at that time frame I had a few options to ponder on… Busselton, Malaysia, Arizona or Cozumel? Considering Busselton is in Australia it’s still quite a resourceful trip and it’s still about a 12 hour travel day so why not go somewhere I haven’t been before??? Malaysia looked to be a good option and then I heard about the MONKEYS on the bike course. Apparently they run out at people and you’re not allowed to get off your bike to help other competitors if they crash (because the monkeys will attack you)… I’ve already come off my bike during a race overseas so I didn’t think that would be a good option... been there done that. That left me with the choice of Arizona or Cozumel…. They are both so far away! Then I got word that 5 other training buddies were also racing Cozumel AND Damo (my partner) could potentially be racing there too so… DECISION MADE! Let’s go to Cozumel.
Travel with Friends and Family
After breaking the news to family that Kona isn’t on the cards for this year there was actually a lot of relief as we’ve been there a few times now, 3 times for Damo when he raced AG and once for me. There’s nothing better in life than to be surrounded by people who make you feel good. I am so excited to go on an awesome adventure with Damo, training buddies, Damo’s family and a couple of family friends who are coming over to support us. I really want to put in a good prep and perform well to do the family and friends proud who are travelling across the world to support us.
The course looks great for me, being a slower swimmer, it is a current assisted swim so the less time in the water, the better. The bike course includes 3 laps around the island which looks to be a flat fast course. I love nothing more than buckling into TT position on my trusty old steed and testing the mind in that last 60km of the Ironman bike. The run course is 3 flat loops also. This will be a massive booster as I’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the people who are special to me out on course as well as on the sidelines. It reminds me of my “why” to help get through those tough times during the marathon.
Increased Experience Racing in the Heat
As mentioned earlier I want to go back to the Ironman Hawaiian World Championships and this will be a great experience to practise racing an Ironman in the heat and humidity again. I will be taking in everything that the race and travel experience has to offer.
Thanks for reading my decisions behind choosing Ironman Cozumel as my “A race” for 2019. I am really excited for the rest of this preparation because we still have so much time to develop fitness and strength over the next 14 weeks! I’ve made a couple of lifestyle changes to allow myself a better opportunity to recover from training sessions and to have more time to focus on this prep. I can’t wait to share with you my journey over the next 14 weeks and beyond.
Thanks for reading! I can't wait to give you an insight into my little world each month!
Ash Hunter is sponsored by 17 Hour Triathlon Clothing, CLIF Bar, Brooks Running Australia & CrampFix and supported by T:Zero Multisport, Di's Fitness and Massage & Cyclezone Mooloolaba.
You can follow Ash's journey here:
“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?” - Epictetus
You’ve heard it before… we speak about it often. Some of the underlying pillars of T:Zero’s ethos is that we train smart, we are uber consistent, we trust the process, we support each other no matter what our experience or current ability and we go about our business with little fuss and zero ego. Sure, a little confidence doesn’t go astray... you have to believe in yourself and a positive, confident outlook goes a long way to dispelling nerves and enhancing performance… but we ain’t brash about it.
Letting go and not being concerned with what everyone else around you thinks is a mighty hard task. Zen Buddhists spend their whole existence trying to attain true enlightenment and still, I imagine, have trouble not being sucked into the realms of our consumer / ego driven society. For me, it’s a work in progress, I’m not sure whether it was a coming of age thing or a becoming a father thing, but all of a sudden in life, and I’m sure this happens to everyone at some point in time, we realise most of what we work for and are driven to want or have, really doesn’t matter all that much. You know the term ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ right!?
What matters most is ‘how much you live, how much you give and how much you love’. This doesn’t mean you need to sell everything, buy a combi van and start growing your own veggies (although growing stuff is pretty cool). It simply means, the search for happiness and contentment, doesn’t lie within attaining stuff. It’s in the relationships, the moments, the breakthroughs and the experiences we have and share with each other. It’s also about being the best person you can possibly be. Sure, you’re already awesome, but there’s no harm in trying to be a little better and give a little more each day right!?
I’ll get back on track... today I’m here to lay down a challenge for you, should you choose to jump on board. My challenge is this: let go a little. Get rid of Strava and stop comparing yourself to others so much- you know you do it far too much. As our coaches have said many a time, focus on the session in front of you and that square metre surrounding you. That’s the one you can control and that’s the one you can improve. Little by little, session by session, add the layers on and do what is necessary to improve you. The sooner you stop comparing and start focusing on you and controlling your space, the sooner those breakthrough moments will happen. Whether in a single training session or your next race… bring your focus back to you and stay present in the moment. It works!
“Because most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you will have more time and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’” - Marcus Aurelius
Want to know more about Head Coach Scott Farrell? - Check here to find more about him
The quest for the seemingly elusive “balance” between training and family is a journey many athletes eventually find themselves on (if they’re not already there). Finding this balance may be difficult, but for most athletes with families it is the key to achieving both success and longevity in the sport of triathlon.
Training for a triathlon (particularly long-distance) can be incredibly time-consuming. Yes, perhaps it would be easier to put your own health and wellness goals on hold for a few years until the kids are older or throw it all in the “too hard basket”, retire from the sport altogether and embrace your dad bod (or mum bod) with open arms. Balancing training and family life can be extremely difficult. Add work commitments to the mix and it can all swiftly seem like an impossibility (especially if both partners are training for events simultaneously) – too much, too hard. But there are so many physical, mental and emotional benefits to keeping fit and healthy and maintaining your athletic goals and hobbies, for both yourself as an individual and by association, for your family too.
At T:Zero we’re no stranger to this challenge. Many of our coaches are both parents and athletes themselves, faced with the same task of balancing family, training and work commitments on a daily basis. To this end, we’ve put together a list of tried and tested strategies that may just help you to master that elusive balance in your own domain.
Strategy #1 – Engage your family
Bring your whole family along for the ride so that it becomes the “family goal”, not just your personal goal. Besides, everyone in the family will play a role to enable the achievement of this goal. Yes, you are the athlete, but your family has an equally important role in other areas to ensure things keep tracking along. Including your family in your goals and allowing them to take part in helping you achieve them will help to maintain the family/training balance and ensure your family enjoys the journey too.
Some ideas to consider here include:
Strategy #2 – Training Time Management
Mastering your time management when it comes to training sessions is another key strategy that, when perfected, can really ease the pressure.
Think about incorporating lunch hour workouts during the working week, running or riding to/from children’s sporting games on the weekend, or squeezing in an open water swim during a beach trip while your partner supervises the kids, then swap over to allow them the same opportunity.
One particularly oft-practised and effective training time management strategy is to rise earlier and train when your family is sleeping. This way, neither party misses spending time together (or time spent away from family during “operating hours” is considerably less).
If you are having difficulty mentally processing setting a 3am alarm, think about going to bed earlier to ensure your total average hours of sleep are still maintained. Remember, if it’s important enough to you, you can make it happen.
Strategy #3 – Master your preparation
There’s no denying it. You must be organised – on a completely different level.
Early morning swim session? Pack your bag the night before. Early morning bike or run session? Pre-fill and chill your water bottles, charge your Garmin, bike lights, head lamps and phone the night before. Set out your kit. The night before. If packing school or work bags and lunches is on the daily “to-do” list, make sure these are done the night before.
The aim here is to make everything as easy as possible in the morning, primarily for two reasons. First, you have fewer excuses to ditch your session when that early morning alarm goes off. Second, these small steps add up and mean you’ll have more time to actually execute your session. Yes, half a session is better than none but a complete and honest session should always be the goal.
Dual athlete households would also benefit from considered collaboration with their coach or coaches with respect to allocation of training sessions, building in scheduled family time and coordinating the programs to ensure neither athlete has to sacrifice or compromise, as a general rule.
Strategy #4 – No excuses
In the time before you had a family (if you can remember it), you may have regularly succumbed to the temptation to skip assigned sessions and instead play “catch-ups”. Now that family commitments are in the picture, the temptation may very well still be there, but the opportunity will rarely be. Not only this, but it’s extremely unfair to expect others who are relying on you to grant you leniency on a regular basis and/or during allocated family times.
All athletes miss sessions every now and then but realising this is even less of an option now your time is spread thin, is important. If you miss a session, don’t beat yourself up. Move on. But as a general rule, make the commitment to be committed to your sessions and remember … if you [press] snooze, you lose.
Strategy #5 – Be realistic
You’ve just had a baby? Perhaps now isn’t the time to sign up for an Ironman. But the beauty of triathlon and endurance sport is that there are so many avenues to explore.
Now might not be the best time to start focussing on a Kona slot, but it may be the perfect time to compartmentalise and focus on honing your skills in one of your weaker disciplines. Build run strength by participating in some trail runs, or sign up for an open water swimming event and focus on perfecting your technique and feeling more comfortable in the ocean. Training for only one discipline as opposed to three can free up a lot of time! Alternatively, you might consider signing up for some sprint distance races and concentrate on speed work. If you’re in the sport for the long-haul then honing your skills in specific areas will not be a waste of your time or effort. On the contrary, it can make you an even better athlete!
And in the end …
When it all seems too much, remember that your family loves you – and they would much rather witness you love the journey than hate every moment until race day.
Incorporating some of the above strategies into your training preparation and plan of attack will ensure that both you and your family will love the journey – and if you can manage this, then you are 90% on your way to a cracking race.
There is no perfect situation and rarely is it all smooth-sailing, but if you make an effort to keep your family happy and incorporate them into the journey it will almost always result in less conflict.
Above all else, remember that clear communication is paramount and sometimes you may need to be a little more flexible and a little less selfish than you were in your past life as an insular triathlete.
One thing’s for sure, there’s nothing more rewarding than crossing that finish line with your family cheering you on, knowing the result has been a true team effort.
Focus, determination & mental strength - Morgan Millington's incredible ironman journey to kona qualification
I think it’s safe to say my journey is incredibly similar to many who have ventured down the Ironman path. It began with a crack at a bucket list item goal of completing a triathlon to catching the ‘bug’ and suddenly an entire day of exercise is the ‘norm’.
The main reason to give an Ironman a go was to learn what it’s all about, to see if my partner Luke and I were those foolish folks that enjoyed an entire day of absolute punishment. Turns out we are, 3 down and no doubt soon to be planning the next one.
Safe to say it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Ironman number one, two or three. But what is an Ironman journey without a few rough days at sea? What do we take out of each time is experience, lessons and fun that we won’t forget. I am writing to share my experiences and maybe you are bordering on entering an Ironman for the first time or after years of experience you really relate to the ride we have been on.
In our eyes the first step when looking to do an Ironman is to engage a coach from an Ironman background, by chance I happened to meet another triathlon ‘freak’ Steve who hooked us up with Rich. It’s been a few years now and we are so stoked to call him our coach as well as be a part of the culture and crew that is T-Zero. Rich might have other things to say about coaching us, it’s never an easy task to coach a couple who request to be nearly joint at the hip but are of different abilities, for us, it works and he makes it work.
We chose Ironman Australia as our first stop. The first one was all about getting our bodies used to the miles that come with the long distance. That wasn’t without its hiccups, Ironman training is never an easy ask with full time work as many I am sure, can relate. The main obstacle that was thrown my way was Achilles Tendonitis greeting me with 4 weeks until the race. After some serious down time for the 4 weeks I had reached a point where the medical advice was positive enough for me to line up on race day.
Race day was a new experience, there was that sense of complete unknown ahead of us, and on top of that I had in the back of my mind how on earth will I get through this, four weeks of no weight bearing running (subbed in some water running) I have to run a marathon. That little back of the mind voice had to be silenced. The mindset was so important that day, my mind turned to the previous six months and the training I went through, I found confidence in that and kept positive.
As the race went on I was perfectly positioned on the bike and was rolling back into town with about 8km left, only to hear something go terribly wrong, I look back to find an entire de-railer hanging, while I was prepared for all things flat tyres and chains off, can’t say I travelled the course with a spare de-railer! Eight kilometres from home it was time to get my hiking boots on. I kept strong, it was just a hurdle, one I had to jump over and keep moving. Lucky as I was on my walk the mechanic turned up and 20 minutes later I found myself on a fixie bike and 7km of hills. What happened was completely out of my control, what I could do, nothing but accept and find a way to make the best out of a bad situation. I was there for the experience and accepted this was part of the experience. I managed to pull off a really strong run, with my Achilles issue I was stoked, I knew I could do it. The overall result was unexpectedly close to punching a ticket to the ultimate Ironman World Champs at Kona with the 20 or so minutes on the side of the road with a mechanical being the difference. That certainly wasn’t within my control and knowing that left me comfortable with where I was with my ability and gave me drive to continue the Ironman journey.
What next was always going to be on the cards, it was an incredible experience and we were ready to improve.
Ironman Texas was the decision. We caught the bug but wanted to expand our horizons outside Asia Pacific. The build was near on perfect and our goal for the race was to better ourselves in the sport we chose, this is important for me especially, Rich has taught me, the goal is the best out of myself on the day, my square metre, my race, my goals and that will lead me to do what I deserve. This lead to a solid day out for me but not what I knew was my full potential. An opportunity for a Kona spot a whisker away, a mere 2 minutes over 9 hours 30, but because that wasn’t my end goal it was easy enough to accept. That Kona spot would come when I have my best day and the external uncontrollable fall my way. I took my learnings and spent the next 12 months finding that continuous improvement and enjoying the adventure.
Next back on home soil we decided we were all in for Ironman Cairns, our own personal goals were set. We were all in, as mad as our friends and family thought we were this was ‘fun’. It was all going to plan until….
Four weeks before the race in the best form I had ever been in, 28km into my 32km run I tripped over, I am a clumsy person and it wasn’t rare for the odd trip over but this one was different, it was at pace and getting up something didn’t feel ‘right’. Turns out I fractured my elbow. The next 4 weeks was a mind battle but as the coach said, there was no time for a pity party race was on and we would get through it. At the time I wanted a pity party, but looking back he was setting me up for success. There was no time for me to be upset or stress over what was happening, it happened and I couldn’t take it back, we get on with it and remind ourselves what this is all about, our goal to get the best out of ourselves and to enjoy the process whatever is thrown our way.
Race day came, the arm, while it had not fully healed, I had the tick of approval from medical professionals that it was ok to give the race a crack. Swimming training had been non-existent, running was short and sweet and a nagging hip was sending a few signals to me, but it was on.
Talking to Rich pre-race, mentally it was all about the path I chose to take was going to lead to either success or disappointment. The easy path was “tough race, tough conditions, I have a fractured arm, everyone will understand when I pull the pin” or “get on with it, pain is temporary and my arm is strong enough to get through this”. The day wasn’t without its twists and turns, the swim was a long way but I created my own path and stayed away from others, last thing my arm needed was to end up in a washing machine situation. The ride was amazing, that coastal road are just so beautiful the whole way and the run was full of on course support. Essentially throughout the day the path I chose allowed me to get on with the job. In this circumstance the mind helped the body achieve.
That resulted in my body giving me all it could on the day, 2nd in my Age Group and 3rd overall female age grouper and the big island. What a dream!
Things have since taken a twist, that sore hip, was a little more than just a sore hip. One week later I had an MRI which has resulted in finding out I have a bone stress injury. Us triathletes really know how to push the boundaries with our bodies, unfortunately in this case the body has told me to pull back.
The Ironman ride continues, what path it takes, not sure right now, crutches and couch time are my current situation. The plan is let the body heal properly re-set and go again.
Each time we learn more about the sport of triathlon, specifically Ironman, and the drive is there to strive for more, by more I don’t necessarily mean more training, or higher placings in my age group, or faster times. It’s about getting the process right through the entire journey, finding the perfect balance and most importantly have fun while doing it!
An amazing collection of training and racing advice from the T:Zero Multisport coaches- with the occasional guest blogger! Read this blog to help you live your potential!