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!
It’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game that matters most.
This is a great ‘quote’ that resonates loud with me in my life and in particular, how I raise my two young boys. Whilst we strive for ‘mastery’ and progress each day, the most important aspect is that we enjoy the journey and play nicely with our friends - whether we win or lose.
In the big scheme of things, how you carry yourself when you ‘win’ and when you ‘lose’ is far more important than the actual result itself. It is what it is, things happen one way or another, and your reactions to these events in time, determine whether you grow your character for the better or to your detriment. Let the ‘wins’ go to your head and you’re on a path to becoming a self-centred egomaniac. Dwell too long on the ‘losses’ and mope around feeling sorry for yourself, and you’ll find it hard to stay consistently motivated for all those gains you’re after.
The trick is to find some solace - a level of cool handedness and balance - that helps you keep it real and see things for what they truly are - lessons in life. Celebrate the wins and learn from your losses but take a step back each time and take stock of the true learnings. Ask not why did this happen to me, but what can I take from this result to enhance my skill and progression forward as an athlete and person. Just a little better each day, week, month, year or event, and all of a sudden, when the time is right, the accumulation of all those micro lessons will be allowed to flourish. Like anything in life, your time to shine will happen when it’s your time. There are no rules with how fast someone should reach their potential - each journey to their own. How many lessons you learn along the way, depends on how much you’re prepared to listen and how bad you really want it.
Stay true to the course. Take the ebbs and flows of the journey for exactly as they are, and you will arrive fulfilled and ready to rock n roll.
Cheers - Scotty
Want to know more about the incredible Head Coach Scotty Farrell? Click HERE
From Normatec Australia
You may be wondering when scrolling through your social feed “What are those big zip up boots that everyone’s wearing at the moment”? You’ve probably seen athletes from all sports, ranging from amateur weekend warriors to the world’s elite, and whilst there are a number of similar products on the market one stands out amongst the pack – NormaTec Recovery.
So often the quality of a product can best be determined by who uses it. The biggest and best athletes in the world can get their hands on any product they desire, whether they purchase it or get given it is irrelevant as they simply will not use anything that doesn’t move them closer to their goal. Someone like a LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Gareth Bale earning hundreds of millions understand that looking after the body is imperative to a healthy and long career as a professional athlete – they want and demand to use the best on the market.
Besides the myriad of NBA, NFL, NHL and Baseball teams using NormaTec in the U.S, many of which have set up full NormaTec recovery centres within their training facilities, there are now a host of Australian and NZ athletes and teams who use the product and swear by the results. Elite Ironman athletes such as Patrick Lange and Mirinda Carfrae as well as the Australian Institute of Sport are all using NormaTec to take their recovery to the next level, to gain that extra 1% over the competition.
Following the trend in the USA, in 2018 we saw the first Aus/NZ elite team set up a NormaTec recovery centre at Auckland Blues Rugby Union HQ. Link to this video below. I am sure the first of many more to come!
Other elite clubs using NormaTec include Brisbane Lions, Sydney Swans, Adelaide Crows, Gold Coast Suns, Gold Coast Titans, Parramatta Eels, Canterbury Bulldogs, Sydney Roosters, Penrith Panthers and Wests Tigers to name a few.
So what is NormaTec and how does it actually work?
NormaTec is a sequential compression system designed for faster athletic recovery between and after training and also for rehabilitation. It’s essentially portable massage therapist that can travel everywhere with you, allowing recovery whenever and wherever is convenient.
The system accelerates the mobilisation and movement of fluid acting as a recovery ‘flush’ for the legs similar to the effects of a deep tissue massage. This means moving metabolic waste (lactic acid, toxins) and deoxygenated blood out of the legs via its patented pulse massage pattern, starting at the foot/ankle and pulsing through to the lymph nodes at the groin - pictured below. Once released the leg is flooded with new oxygenated nutrient rich blood to help heal muscles and speed up recovery.
The significant difference between NormaTec and other systems on the market is its patented pulse massage pattern comprising of pulsing compression, gradient holds and distal release. The dynamic pulsing acts as an amplifier to the natural muscle pump in the leg – which means it’s more effective and faster at moving fluid and waste out of the legs. The distal release, releases the section of the limb that’s no longer required to be pulsing or holding. Apart from feeling great this also allows normal circulation to return quicker and allow some rest before the next cycle begins.
Recommendations around use are very much determined by the users comfort level. Whilst 20 – 30 minutes is recommended as a minimum to allow the unit to go through a number of cycles, the intensity level starting at 1 and a maximum of 7 is completely up to the user. I would suggest starting on a level 4 or 20 minutes and working your way up from there. Once you work up to a level 7 intensity there is no scientific evidence that show pressure (squeeze) over 110mg is anymore beneficial. Let’s look at the length of time. Some will use for up to 3 hours on a low setting whilst others will crank up to a 7 intensity and sit for 45 mins to an hour. Once again its users preference, play around and see what feels best and work for you.
Does it have other uses and do I need a degree to use it?
NormaTec is also a great device for assisting lymphedema patients, post op swelling and management and post injury rehabilitation. The device is brilliant for assisting in blood flow and circulation as well as getting rid of swelling and pooling around injuries where old blood sits. It was actually initially developed for medical patients with severe circulatory and peripheral vascular disorders. Please consult the product page on the website if intending to use for medical purposes.
For more information on this and the medical studies you can visit our website - HERE
You won’t find an easier device to operate. It’s literally a plug in, turn on, and away you go device. The product comes with a manual but you just need to adjust 2 settings – time and intensity, completely custom to how you’re feeling and what works for you.
Despite what you may think, the coaches at T:Zero aren’t sitting around in the Jacuzzi sipping gin and juice. Just like you, we are working our butts off in the attempt of refining our craft. Our ‘job’ encompasses many tasks and as with everything in life, it’s a constant work in progress.
One area that lends itself to progression is learning new stuff and applying this to our daily practice. At T:Zero we love learning and encourage it in many ways. One such way that we learn is through something we like to call the monthly ‘Geek out’. At the start of each month, one of our Head Coaches throws open a new topic for discussion and sets about leading that topic with discussion questions and prompts to get our coaches thinking and reading research and anecdotes. Some of the topics recently, have been: the importance of feedback and communication; macro (season) planning and periodisation; and zone setting using HR and power. And the months roll by and so too our coaches are expanding their expertise and coaching tool kit.
We love that our coaches share a common philosophy about coaching – we possess a good honest whack of humility. We are confident in the methods we use, and you don’t have to look far to see that we get great results with our athletes, but we remain steady in our growth for we know that one shoe does not fit all and there is no one way that trumps another. Every individual responds differently to different styles and stimulus, and therefore to assume the ‘my way or the highway’ approach is the duck’s nuts, just doesn’t sit well with us.
As I mentioned earlier, we encourage our coaches to develop their skill set in many ways, the ‘Geek Out’ being just one of these methods. We will share more of what we do behind the scenes with you over the next few months. And as you read our coaches’ blogs, you might be reading the fruits of these Geek Outs as they share the big takeaways from our learnings. Or, if you’re lucky enough to be working with our coaches now, you are likely sampling the very skills that our coaches are refining in the background.
“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardour and diligence.” – Abigail Adams
So you’ve just raced your A race for the season.
You’ve been training for months and months and now it’s done…
Just like that?
You’ve finished your race, you’ve had a few celebratory drinks and it’s now Wednesday and you’re wondering what is next. In most instances you will have another goal in mind or another race already set – because let’s be honest, triathlon is addictive and we love pushing ourselves to our limits. Some of you may have had the race of your dreams and all of a sudden have a world championship to train for.. But what if you don’t have that next race locked in? Motivation might be a little low. Below I share some tips on how to get ready for that next epic goal.
First things first are talking with your coach, give yourself time to really relax and have that break that your body needs. Racing for up to 15 hours takes a serious mental let alone physical toll on your body. So firstly make sure that you (if your next race allows it) give yourself a small break. Give yourself at least 7-10 days of easy training/rest. Coach Emma’s biggest tip for recovery is don’t set an alarm… if you wake up, train. If you don’t then your body needs the rest. You may also wake up and feel that you’re ready and walk out the door and struggle for the entire run. Turn your run into a walk and use it as some fresh air and time to think about your next race and how you might change things up a little to achieve that next goal.
My few tips on what now include:
Hopefully these tips above resonate with you all as Triathlon is such an epic sport but it does require a lot of mental focus (Rich has posted a few blogs about the mental side of Triathlon). Some of you may even just need a video for some motivation.. here is one I like below:
T:Zero Development Coach
By Jen McMillan
"Esprit de corps - noun - a feeling of pride and mutual loyalty shared by the members of a group"
It happened again today... I set out for my ride before work and was heading towards Redcliffe when somebody pulled alongside and asked “Are they T:Zero socks?” And there it was, the esprit de corps of the silly pink socks!
I’ve never really been much of a joiner. I am a card-carrying introvert. A loner. There is probably a good reason why I gravitated towards solo endurance pursuits. And I am sure I’m not alone in that!
But then I signed up with Coach Rich and without really knowing it, became a member of the T:Zero family. It was subtle. It started with the pink stuff. I’ve never been a huge wearer of pink. But when you are with T:Zero, pink is inevitable! A splash on a running singlet here, and a logo on a navy shirt there...
And then it began. “Hey T:Zero!” Shouted at me in the Bunya Forest when I was out running trails one day in my T:Zero singlet.
Then it was the crazy pink socks. I have legs like upside down coke bottles - I don’t usually do tall socks. And yet, somehow, I found myself wearing long pink cycling socks! The iconic T:Zero pink socks. I even abandoned my beloved Thorlo socks and ran in them!
And then it was “Hey T:Zero!” Shouted at me through the cold and dark mist as I rode around the Nundah crit track before dawn. Shouted by somebody flashing past in the aero position on the Moreton Bay Rail bikeway.
There was the gift of the first T:Zero hoodie. We wore them with pride while cheering on Coach Rich winning at Ultraman Oz 2017. And EVERYBODY there wanted a pair of the iconic pink T:Zero socks! And we had them, because we were part of the T:Zero family.
And somehow in all of this, I started to feel a sense of belonging to something bigger. Pride in wearing the T:Zero kit. I shoehorned myself into the legendary T:Zero trisuit that fit like a corset and gave me cleavage up to my ears! And then it was “Hey! Go T:Zero!” at Cairns 70.3.
And the piece de resistance was the pink trucker cap. Not wanting to be rude, but triathletes are some of the most anally-retentive, performance driven people about. They will do almost anything to shave a second or two from their times. They will pay heaps for gear that is lighter, sleeker, faster. And yet, these incredibly competitive people were wearing the pink trucker cap! Clunkiest caps EVER! And not just to walk the streets. They were wearing them to RACE! And when I was spectating, I was the one yelling “Go T:Zero!” every time I saw one!
So, there it is, the esprit de corps of the silly pink socks! Esprit de corps - a feeling of pride and mutual loyalty shared by the members of a group.
What has been created by the wonderful people of T:Zero is very special. I am an engineer, but at this end of my career, the most important thing I do is build and lead fantastic teams. And I recognise a good one when I see it! It doesn’t happen by accident and it takes care and hard work on the things that people tend to think of as ‘extras’ and ‘not the real work’. At T:Zero it starts with great coaches - coaches with a self-development ethos. Coaches who work with all of their athletes to provide flexible and appropriate training for their needs. Coaches who show the love to all their athletes, from fastest to slowest. But I’m sure there are plenty of caring coaches out there.
What has been created goes beyond that, to form a glue that joins disparate solo athletes into one T:Zero family. It’s a bond fostered by weekly Facebook shout outs, celebrating success for our athletes, regardless of what success looks like for them. Cheering on PBs all over the place! Support through blogs and useful information. Merchandise that makes people look and feel like part of the team. Whatever you’re doing - keep doing it!
The esprit de corps of the silly pink socks... the reason I now own pink sunglasses, a pink helmet. And if I could have found a pair of those hideous pink Louis Garneau tri shoes in my size before they were all gone, I’d have probably owned a pair of them too! Somehow, I found something I wasn’t even aware I was looking for. “Hey T:Zero!!!”
- Jen McMillan
“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change”.
This is a quote that I have stuck up in my training room and office to remind me to embrace the concept of a growth mindset. Too many of us look for the worst in things instead of seeing potential positives. I will give you an example to solidify the concept. Say you are prescribed a swim set with 40 x 50s. Mentally this is a challenging set and can create some angst of how hard it will be to do the set. What many of us do when we have completed 10 of the 40 is to think ‘oh no I still have 30 to go’ instead of thinking ‘oh great I have done 10 already and I am a quarter of the way there’. This concept can apply across all of you training and in life in general.
This article is going to address how to develop a growth mindset that will assist you in unlocking your mental barriers and hopefully helping you to improve your mental and physical performances. Before we dive in let’s take a look at the difference between a fixed and growth mindset.
A fixed mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, creativeness and the like are all static and that we simply cannot change them in ourselves.
A growth mindset on the other hand thrives on challenges and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a springboard for growth and furthering our existing abilities.
We manifest one of these mindsets from a very early age, largely due to the environment in which we are brought up in, the influence of our parents, teachers and friends. These mindsets have a significant impact on a great deal of our learned behaviours about ourselves and can impact on our relationship with success and failure in both a professional and personal capacity, which as we all know can ultimately impact on our capacity for happiness!!
One of the leading researchers in this field, Carol Dweck, has poignantly stated ‘the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life’. This is interesting and worth rereading. This concept suggests that if we view ourselves different then we can make positive changes in our lives. A good example of this is thinking and believing we are athletes and conducting ourselves in that manner with confidence and poise.
Dweck believes that we all lie on a continuum of fixed and growth mindsets depending on what it relates to. In terms of endurance sports, we might have a fixed mindset when it comes to doing an ironman believing it is too hard, that we are too old, slow and the list goes on. Whereas we might have a growth mindset in terms of nutrition as we want to learn more about it so we can shift weight to feel and look better. I find I have differing mindset at work, in training and in my general life and a lot of these differing mindsets can come down to positivity, past results, self actualisation, self belief and worth.
So, if you are keen to try and work on the growth mindset, I have a number of approaches that will help you on the path. As with everything in life, we need to identify when we are fixed in our mindset, examine why this is the case and then work hard to switch it over. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Keep training hard and recover well.
Click HERE to learn more about Coach Mon!
By T:Zero Head Coach Emma Quinn with guest Dr Kellie Pritchard-Peschek
For many of us, we have an overdrive personality that sees us combine family, work, triathlon racing and training all into a finely balanced week. Many of us feel with the time we have available to train in order to prepare for our “A” goal needs to be focused on hard training in the pool, on the bike and pounding the pavement and we have an undeniable trait to neglect rest and recovery and shiver at the sight of a rest day or week in our training plan (sound familiar to anyone)? During my four years of study at the University of Queensland, my focus was on Exercise Science and physiology, the science behind the body and how it responds and adapts to heavy training loads. During these years it became quite clear that there is so much more to rest and recovery in a well-periodised training plan than simply “a day off”, the benefits that occur both physiologically and psychologically are undoubtable steps taken towards making a stronger and more successful athlete. An analogy was once said to me from a former coach, as I too am guilty (not so much anymore) of neglecting the rest days- as an athlete in my mid 20’s who thought I was invincible and the only way to out-perform my competitors was to train hard, every day, every week, every month till I eventually got sick or had a niggling injury. I was told to think about training as a sponge in water, when we integrate periods of rest and recovery (be this active or passive- this we’ll go into more depth a little later) this sponge soaks up all the water and expands. The nitty gritty behind this rather odd analogy was that when we take time off to recover after hard days or week training and effectively integrate effective rest and recovery techniques our body has the time to adapt, make physiological modifications and “soak up” the hard work.
During my final year of study, I had the pleasure (or pain) of conducting an Honours research project working with some of the academic staff within the Exercise Science facility. One member of the teaching team who I always looked up to as an academic and as an athlete was Kellie Pritchard-Peschek (now DoctorJ ). I remember Kellie having a strong passion for her own personal athletic success representing Australia at Long Course Triathlon as well as Duathlon as well as a passion for educating others on the importance and the science behind training philosophies. Whilst we became good friends during my studies life took us on very different paths in the years that followed, after spending time at the QAS Kellie then went on to work with the Swiss national swim team at their headquarters in Switzerland (yep my path drew the short straw haha). However despite these few years achieving different goals I have always stayed in touch and as life would have it Kellie has now returned to Brisbane to focus on her own business and I had the pleasure to catch up with her earlier this week and discuss the science behind recovery. My hope is that this blog will deliver a little insight into why rest, recovery and implementing periods of less intense training (easy weeks or active recovery days) is so vitally important in order to enhance and optimize one’s athletic performance. No matter what your goal, training age or level is, the training principle of recovery should be held with as much importance as base/endurance, speed/power and taper.
Firstly, let’s start by getting to know Kellie a little better and what she has done in her career so far, before we then jump into some key questions that I sat down with Kellie to discuss.
About Me - Dr Kellie Pritchard-Peschek Director/Owner of DrKellieRose Performance Science:
I’ll get it out there early – I’m a self-confessed sports addict, major science nerd, and a lover of triathlons and boxing. When I sadly realized at quite a young age that I wasn’t up to scratch to ever become a pro, I decided the next best thing was to work in elite sport. I’m now running my own performance consultancy business, DrKellieRose Performance Science, in which I’m providing sport science coaching and support to triathletes, endurance athletes, and sports organizations around the world, in the private and third sector. A job I absolutely adore, as I'm really passionate about performance sustainability, and enhancing the health of athletes through a holistic approach that's individualised, and meets the athletes' specific needs from a training, performance and lifestyle perspective. Prior to starting my own business, I worked for over 10 years as a sport scientist in the Australian and Swiss national sports institutes with world, Olympic, Commonwealth and European champions from endurance sports, through the last 3 Olympic cycles.
Why are integrated periods of rest and recovery so important for triathletes (especially age group athletes)?
This is a really great point to bring up Emma, as I think recovery is often an underestimated factor of the overall training program, possibly because it’s not something an athlete can always see the immediate results of. For this reason, the importance of recovery is often brushed off as unimportant, particularly when time is scarce. However, recovery is extremely important for age groupers in particular, as it’s not only the exercise training that they’re recovering from, it’s the mental and physical aspects of working full-time, managing a family, and other life commitments, as well as training 10-12 sessions per week – that takes a toll!
Recovery essentially has a two-pronged effect: first, it allows for the physiological and neurological recovery of your systems, muscles and mind; and second, it acts as a counterbalance to all the training volume that you do, with the rest period helping to prevent mal-adaptations such as overreaching and overtraining states, and preserves immune function. It also manages training load and helps you to avoid injury. By allowing some periods of recovery during your weekly training, you’re allowing your system to adapt to the training stimuli and volume that’s already been completed, and regain a level of homeostasis, so that it is in an optimal state to take on and adapt to the next load of training stimuli. And this is on a weekly basis; factoring in a 1-2 week break after a major race or at the end of the season will have the same beneficial effect, only amplified.
What occurs to the body during periods of rest and recovery (following strenuous training loads)?
The answer is – lots! The process of recovery from exercise is multifaceted, affecting many physiological systems, structures and pathways, from the muscles to the brain. Recovery also depends on the type of sport, and the intensity and duration of the exercise, with the more intense exercise causing more damage.
Physiologically, the purpose of recovery is to manage muscle damage and reduce inflammation, in an attempt to decrease DOMS, which is the feeling of muscle soreness, and fatigue. A couple of the immediate recovery processes that can be aided with recovery strategies include the removal of waste products from the muscle, like lactate and fuel metabolites; and minimizing the influx of inflammatory markers and swelling to the damaged muscle.
If we look at recovery from a broader perspective, the short rest periods between two training sessions usually don’t allow sufficient time for full recovery, meaning that we are generally in an under-recovered state during the course of our training week. This is often referred to as a state of overload, and is actually the purpose of the training program. So at regular intervals, it’s really important that we give our bodies extra time to fully repair damaged muscle, and eliminate soreness and fatigue from the heavy training, so that it is ready to perform the next block of training feeling rested, healthy and free of injuries. Adaptation is a key factor here, which I mentioned before. Adaptation is the rebuilding process that occurs during the rest period following a period of overload. Let me explain. When our bodies are exposed to all these training stimuli during our hill rides, sprint runs, and strength swims, we are eliciting changes to the muscle and the cardio-respiratory (and other) systems. We do this every day, multiple times. But for our bodies to get stronger, faster and fitter, we need to allow it time to make these structural changes in response to the training stimuli, so that it regenerates and rebuilds our bodies into a stronger state. And that’s how we see improvements in our abilities. So, without this downtime, our body essentially remains in the same damaged, fatigued, stressed state, and usually any subsequent training is performed poorly without any positive adaptations. And if this continues for a period of time, you’ll be placing yourself at greater risk of illness, injury and overreaching and overtraining states.
What methods have been shown to be most effective in terms of aiding recovery?
When it comes to recovery methods, its horses for courses to ensure you elicit the best responses. So depending on the type of recovery you need, for example repairing muscle damage or reducing soreness, there will be different methods.
If your goal is to manage muscle damage, then cold water immersion, contrast water therapy and whole-body cryotherapy techniques are the most effective. Practical applications of these include making your own ice bath, by simply filling your home bathtub – or a wheelie bin! - with bags of ice and water, or immersing yourself in a cold river, ocean or lake for the muscles affected. Around 11-15 degrees for 5-10 minutes should do the trick. With contrast water therapy, alternate a hot-cold shower, with 30-60s hot and 30-60s cold, 3-5 times, always finishing on cold. Cryotherapy is a little harder to do, as it will require going to a special facility to use their machine.
If you want to reduce muscle soreness, then the most effective method is massage. Good news, right? Now we feel justified for our weekly treatments! Compression garments are the next best, along with the cold water immersion. Active recovery immediately after exercise is also helpful, as is the contrast water therapy to a lesser degree. And for reducing fatigue, massage combined with stretching works well.
Those strategies are well supported by research. However, new techniques, like the Normatec boots, electro-stimulation devices, and heat therapies are becoming more popular as a way to reduce muscle soreness.
At the end of the day, sleep, nutrition and hydration remain the key ingredients to a solid recovery protocol, which are simple and can be done after each and every training session. Restore muscle glycogen, the muscle’s fuel; rebuild muscle with protein; repair systems with vitamins and minerals; and replace lost fluid to get back to a hydrated state.
Thank you Kellie so much for your time and for making it possible for me to sit down and write an informative piece which can be passed on to our athletes! I hope that everyone can take something positive away after ready this and make the most of those easier days :).
Happy training and racing team and I hope the plans are well under way with yourself and your coaches to nail the 2018/2019 season, it’s going to be epic.
Until next time,
Want to know more about Head Coach Em Quinn? Click here!
By Head Coach Scotty Farrell
“Without a struggle, there can be no progress” – Frederick Douglass
It’s talked about regularly – in order to achieve that next level result, you have to be prepared to endure a good sold smattering of cold hard suffering on race day. But how many of you are prepared to ‘suffer’ just a little more than the rest, on a daily basis? How much are you really prepared to sacrifice in order to put yourself in a position to even attempt to reach the outer limits of what is possible? Do you take the easy option? Are you doing the mundane, extra little things, that makes the difference between a successful and mediocre performance?
These are big, somewhat deep questions – but honest questions nonetheless and questions that for those of you who want to go next level, need to be asking yourself on an almost daily basis. Stick a post it note on your mirror – “have you suffered a little today?”
The word suffer can mean a few different things depending on what angle you’re coming from, so let me explain what I mean when I say suffer, for the purpose of this article at least. Firstly, keep it in the context of triathlon and your life bubble, and relate it directly to your ultimate goal (ultimate goals – this is a whole other blog, but for now, let’s just go out on a limb and suggest that for most of us, this means putting together a truly honest, grit filled performance that you can step away from and smile with pride. Not so much a number on the clock, but a performance worthy of a deep, intrinsic smile and maybe a few tears of guts and heart). I digress (sorry, I’m a tangent master at the best of times – mum called me a day dreamer). Back to suffer and its definition.
The Oxford dictionary defines the word suffer as “To experience or be subjected to (something bad or unpleasant).” Let’s define suffer for our bubble as ‘putting yourself in situations you’d rather not be in and enduring it for want of facing fears and improving your weaknesses’ – much the same as the dictionary, but with a slight twist, geared at performance.
If you’re still with me and you’re willing to endure a few more tangents (possibly suffer a little), I will attempt to share with you, my thoughts and opinion on what it takes to suffer on a daily basis and take yourself closer to living your potential.
How to suffer 101
It’s a broad and subjective term is ‘suffer’. We can define it in a few different ways. But ultimately, it’s the collective ability to consistently put yourself in positions where you feel discomfort and work towards being a better person/athlete. You don’t have to be a navy seal and put yourself through hell week every day of your life, but if you want to take your performance to the next level, then you have to be willing to suffer, every day, period – even just a little.
Want to know more about Head Coach Scotty Farrell? Click here!
CAIRNS 2018 RACE REPORT
WOW! WHAT A DAY – LUCKY NUMBER 9
SWIM 58:32 – BIKE 4:55:21 – RUN 3:19:45 – TOTAL 9:19:18
T1 3:42 – T2 – 1:56
Overall 36th (including pros) – 16th Age Grouper – 5th in 35-39 Category.
After having a pretty good day setting a new PB in Port, it was to be another short 5 week turnaround to Cairns. Nothing that was new to me, as I’ve done both of these races for the past three years. The day after Port Mac, Rich had me back moving again with a short Swim / Bike / Run on the program. The next day the same, but a bit longer. Seems daft, but it works. By the following Saturday I felt a million bucks, my body was ready to rip in, and the mind was strong to now focus on getting a full head of steam up as we go into Cairns.
The biggest challenge for me between these two races is that it is my busiest time of year at work. Years ago I made a promise to myself, and my boss at that time, that I would never let IM affect my work, and my passion for what I do for a brand that I love, and I still stand by that. Another promise I made was, to my best ability, try and limit the impact the training has on my beautiful family. Yeah I might miss a couple of binge sessions, or the start of a team dinner or two because I need to head for a swim or run once the day is done, but neither my good work colleagues or my family ever question my commitment to what I do, and are always full of support. The time disappears between these two races extremely quickly because of this busy period!
So the body was recovered, the niggles that I had before Port seemed a distant memory, and I was firing. I was swimming consistent pace, my bike was strong as ever, but my running was peaking as I headed towards Cairns. I had a couple of real key runs in between the two races that really put my mind in a place where I believed I could achieve whatever I set my mind to (within reason of course). As always, it is a bit of a mental battle to keep dragging your arse out of bed as winter joins us, but if you haven’t realised as yet, I’m a pretty determined little shit!
I had some real good chats with Rich in the couple of weeks pre-race, and it was decided that with the data that I had put together in this lead up, we would do a straight run rather than the run/walk that I did at Port. I was happy with this! Race week was here, and I was off to another conference for a couple of days, home on Tuesday night, to be on the plane to Cairns on Wednesday morning. As you probably know, I work up there in the expo from Wed – Sat, which isn’t the ideal prep obviously, but once again, nothing I’m not used to.
Rich called Friday night to discuss the plan. He had taken on board some of my comments and presented me with a plan that I was super confident of nailing! Previously, I’ve got the plan and tried to convince myself that it was achievable, a “I reckon I can do that” mentality. Not this time. This plan was perfect for me, and my head space during a race. It was to be more power on the bike than previous, faster pace on the run than previous, but it was the right way around for me! Put a few in the bank early, and FKN hold on!
Here’s how the day unfolded.
No stress getting to the race start. The long walk down to transition from the carpark as per normal, got my bike sorted and chilled out with Mandi and Carl from work until it was time to get my shit together. I was a little more nervous than normal, but pumped!
SWIM – 58:32 – 1:32/100m avg - 9th in the age group
I took the same approach as always, into the cage early to get towards the front of the rolling start, however, I did go for a short warm up swim as time allowed. This gave me a bit more confidence that the water wasn’t quite as horrible as previous years. Before we blinked, the pros were away and we are being released into the water. The heart rate sky rocketed as I punched through the swell on the way to the first turn buoy. Not a nice feeling at all. But I just knew that once I turn that first can, we will get settled. From there it seemed to take forever to get to the far end of the course; the orange cans just seemed to keep appearing in the distance before I finally reached the next pink turn can. It was another tough little section heading back out into the swell, but then seemed like a quick trip home once we made that turn. I found a few sets of feet during the swim for a bit of help, but for most part I was in my own space. Once the HR settled down, I was pretty comfortable and felt strong! I came out of the water feeling that I hadn’t spent too many cookies.
T1 was smooth, there were only a couple of volunteers in there again, as per last year, so no help. I had decided to carry my shoes to my bike rather than running in them as I was close to the transition exit, and the transition is quite long. I also took note of the guys that I came into T1 with, and a couple were recognisable as being in my category. Onto the bike feeling good.
BIKE – 4:55:21 – 36.24k/hr avg – 12th in the age group
The bike plan this time round was heavy, but I was very confident in getting it done. I was to ride 255 – 260 watts for the first 40k (which would take me to PD) and catch as many athletes as I could, geeing them up on the way past to come with. And then settle in to 240 – 245 watts for the remainder of the ride. To hopefully end up in T2 with a 240W avg, ready to run.
To put this into perspective, I averaged 208W in last year’s ride, so quite an increase.
I felt good onto the bike, and picked up Duncan who I knew from a previous race, he is a very strong athlete and he came with me, sitting his distance. Some hot heads took off past me heading out of town. Before too long I’d picked them back up and had a decent train behind me going into Port Douglas the first time, with a 39k/hr odd average (many thanks to the tail wind). The lead changed a few times, but it seemed that once they came around me, it was time to relax and back off, and put me in a bad position, so I’d make my way around them again. I wanted to race my own race and stick to my plan, but it definitely helps if you have others in similar performance to pace off. I was feeling strong and pushing my power into the headwind on the way back to the turnaround for the second trip to PD, taking stock of how many riders were ahead of me. Outside of the pros there were only one or two trains of five or six riders.
I had a quick stop at special needs to grab my bottles of nutrition, and then had to track back down these riders, which didn’t take long. I was back in contact at Rex’s lookout, and before too long back to the front. I could see that a couple of the guys were starting to struggle on the hills, so knew that they would drop off at some point. Back into Port Douglas the second time and I was still bang on the plan. Coming out of town, I was back on the front and pushing my power, still feeling good, limiting any highs or lows by keeping a cool head. About 10k out of town I took a look over my shoulder on a long straight to see no one behind as far as I could see. I guess they are gooooooone! Sticking to the plan, I just kept ticking off the k’s picking up a rider here or there and spitting them out. J I had a young guy come past me who was riding strong, so I went with. This was a blessing, as he was riding really consistently and keeping me honest on the power. I sat back off him the whole way back to town, never going to the front (I didn’t owe him anything). We were punching into a solid headwind in certain parts of the trip home, but it was bearable. There were a couple of occasions that I questioned if I was going to have legs for the marathon, but I just kept telling myself that “today is your day”. Throw it all out there! One of my challenges I’d set myself was to ride under 5hrs, and I knew that if I nailed the plan I’d achieve that, so that kept me interested as I got closer and closer to town looking at the numbers.
Back to town and into T2 feeling good knowing that I had belted the bike! A 7 minute PB on this course.
THE RUN – 3:19:46 – 4:45 pace/km – 6th in the age group.
Another smooth transition and out onto the run feeling really good. The plan for the day…. the first 5k at 4:30 – 4:35 pace… the next 5k easing off to 4:45 pace, and then I had 32k to hold onto 4:45 pace. Which is a reverse of my previous plans where I would go out conservative, and attempt to get faster each lap. I was actually having to pull myself back in the first couple of k, as I was on 4:20 pace, comfortably. Good problem to have I guess. The first lap went pretty quick, and I was feeling good. There was some awesome support on and off the course which made things a little easier to deal with. Mandi spent most of the race down in a dead part of the course where you double back on yourself, which was a massive help to me on the day. Not only to see her smiling face, but to be able to concentrate on what she had to tell me in regards to splits, how far to the guy in front, and what was going on behind me, also messages from Rich… and some wise words of her own of course. I had the RTC crew hanging out of the RSL on each pass, the TZero crew giving me updates in town of positioning and messages from Rich who was back home in front of the computer… probably more nervous than me. I even had random people telling me my position. They know how to pump a guy’s tyres up!
I knew that Nathan Sandford from Cairns was only about five minutes behind me, and Duncan not far behind him. Both these lads can run, so I knew I was in for a race today, especially with me coming off the bike in 9th position. I had plenty of work to do to hold on to this placing, let alone pull some of the guys back that were in front. But knew all the same that it was mine to take, and mine to lose!
I will say here again that Kona wasn’t the be all to end all leading into this race, Rich has instilled in me that this result will come when it will, and that I just need to focus on having my best day, getting to the finish line as fast as possible, and have no regrets of leaving anything out on course. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when he would say to me.
But wholly shit it came into my head space when I got to the second lap of the run! Haha. I was now in 7th position, knowing that there were 7 slots to Kona in Cairns last year, and a few more spots were on offer this year across the categories, I needed to hang in there.
After taking off out of T2 on the first lap, nailing the first 5k at 4:31 pace, the next 5 at 4:41 pace, I was a little bit ahead of the plan and feeling really strong. This is where the top three inches comes into play, the mental strength to battle from the 10k mark through to the 10k to go mark is what makes the difference between a good race, and a great race. It was time to hold on to a 4:45 pace for the next two laps. The big message from Rich pre-race in this marathon was, if you’re going to actually die by running the next k at 4:45 pace, stop. If you’re not going to die, run 4:45 pace. Fair enough.
I’ve done it enough times now to know the mental games that you have to play with yourself to keep ticking off the k’s. “we only have to run out to this deadshit part of the course one more time” “just get back into town and use the crowd” “Mandi is just up here, get there”. You’ve got to have your triggers, and turn negatives into positives.
I was nailing my nutrition all day, and the stomach was reciprocating well, along with my muscles. The second lap is a bloody battle, but even when I felt like I was struggling, I was still holding onto my pace, which keeps the mind strong. I had conversations with Mandi as I passed, around the guys behind me, and that I felt like they were catching me. The message back was, don’t worry about what’s going on behind you, concentrate on sticking to the plan, and you will catch the guys in front. After news early in the race that these guys behind were close, and the guys in front were 4 plus minutes ahead, it was all about holding on to what I had, staying consistent on my plan, and what will be, will be.
I was getting word through the back end of the second lap, and the start of the third that I was now in 5th place, and the excitement was growing after battling through that middle 20k, whilst still holding my pace. The reality of running a sub 3:20 marathon was real, and the new mind games start with 10k to go, to get to that finish line as fast as possible, ticking the k’s off one by one. The message came from Rich as I came back through town. “you are on a treadmill, stay there!” The other word was that the guys behind were fading further back, and 4th place was only just ahead of me. Wholly shit…. Where’s third, I want to catch that rooster! Haha.
Knowing that I was in this position, and that it was mine if I wanted it, I was asking myself the question of “how bad do you want it”? “DO YOU WANT IT”??? Turns out that I wanted it pretty bad. I hadn’t cramped all day, but with 8k to go, my hammy showed signs. I gave it a big NOT TODAY BROTHER, threw in a crampfix, and found a spot where I didn’t aggravate the little bugger!
Back passed Mandi for my final run out to the last turn around, in fourth position. Hearing those beautiful words “see you at the finish line baby” was music to my ears. I received word on the way back to town that I was now in 4th place, with 5th place only 20 seconds behind me, but that’s ok, I just need to get to the finish line as fast as I can.
I started talking to myself again to get home. “Enjoy this last six k, you are going to remember this run home, this race, for the rest of your life”. “This is the day you achieved the pinnacle of this sport”. “Head up high, and take it in, enjoy the crowd’s attention, and know that Mandi is waiting for you at the finish chute”. This will go down as my most memorable, knowing that I had ticked every box possible on the day, and that I had achieved what seemed like an impossible reality only a couple of years ago. Sub 10 was a goal back then, and now I’ve hit a 9:19, the sixteenth fastest age group athlete on the day, and I’d left nothing to chance with roll down. Wholly shit! I’m still battling to get my head around the achievement. The finish line was a relief to see, and the emotion was hard to hold back! Mandi was so excited, SO GOOD! “you did it babe, you’re going to Kona” she said to me! WOW! The pace for the last 32k was 4:48 pace, which left me with a 4:45 pace overall! Nailed the plan!
I was a little crook after the race, but I got a magic pill from the medical tent to settle my guts, and I was good to go. Bit of recovery, some food, and into the VIP tent to watch the finish line… with a couple of cheeky ciders! All whilst answering some of the 1000 messages I had on my phone from my awesome support network.
Fair to say that I didn’t sleep much on race night, it could have been the copious amounts of caffeine in my body, or the thought of what tomorrow brings for me, but either way, I was lying there at 1am with possum eyes.
Bit of an extension to this report…..
I can’t not talk about Monday, WORLD CHAMPS ROLL DOWN TIME.
I’ve really enjoyed attending the roll down in the past, even well before I was ever in the mix. There’s so many good stories, and achievements come out of it, with people reaching this incredible milestone in their journey… some in their first effort, some 15 IM’s down the road. It was quite a surreal feeling walking over there with Mandi knowing that I had secured my spot with my 5th placing, and I didn’t need a roll down to be heading to Kona. I’ve grown a great long standing friendship with the Voice of IM Pete Murray, and over the last fourteen years of being involved in events with ASICS, he has seen the path that I’ve been on. He knows the battles I’ve faced of getting to this position, having been to Kona twice himself. It would be a special time today for the both of us, as he gets to call me up on stage to receive my slot to Kona. He didn’t disappoint. It took forever to get to my age group however, but once there, he called the four names out that beat me on the day, and none of them were there. Pete did a quick mic check to see if it was on, and then led into his announcement for myself. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck as he told a bit about my story “MR ASICS” as he calls me, and I bounced up onto stage for an embrace with the big marn!
The support, and messages of congratulation that I have received since is out of control, thank you so much everyone.
I’m not going to get all soppy here and thank Mandi, the kids and Rich, as they know how I feel about them, and that I can never repay them for what they have aided, and allowed me to achieve.
Watch this space though, as I’m planning on putting together some words about my “journey” of sorts from the fat kid to Kona qualifier, and the coping mechanisms that we have introduced as a family to get to this point.
It’s nearly been two weeks, and I’ve been gently training since race day. Another week or so of cruising, and then back into it for the run to the big show!
For the last two seasons I have watched incredible ironman athletes run down the finish chute in Cairns. Wanting to be a part of the action, I signed up to compete in 2018. After watching my partner Larissa do an amazing job at Ironman Cairns 2017, I decided to ask her coach Em, if she would be willing help me reach my ironman goal. Seven months later it was race time, and thanks to Em’s preparation I was feeling excited and confident of making it down that chute.
This is by far my strongest leg of the race, I followed coach’s orders and got to the front of the swim start. After 200-300m I managed to find some clear water and get into a great rhythm. The plan was to swim strong but hold back given how long the day would be. I swam mostly alone until just after the turnaround, before swimming into a group of five. I stuck with this group until the end which was helpful considering it felt as though we were swimming against the current. Although, it wasn’t exactly a ‘free’ ride to the swim exit with this group, I had to put up with a few blows to the face, including losing my goggles at one point. Happy with my debut ironman swim, time of 56:55 and still feeling fresh.
My first experience of an ironman transition. Turns out it comes with a helpful volunteer and chairs – very luxurious compared to other T1 experiences. My plan was to wipe down my feet and face, before the usual socks, shoes, glasses, helmet routine and then apply sunscreen before jogging off to the bike. Spent a little too long fiddling with my bike shoes, but apart from that happy with my T1.
Having only started using power 6 weeks ago the race plan for the bike was something new to me. The plan was to ride at 70% for the first 90km and if feeling good, up to 75% for the final 90km. Apart from my heart rate monitor disconnecting itself from my watch at the start of the ride, the first 40km went according to plan. This was probably aided by the friendly tail wind all the way into Port Douglas.
At that stage, as I headed back from Port Douglas, my legs started to feel a little heavy - which had me worried given the 140km or so to ride. In hindsight it was probably just the fact that I was now riding into the wind. I had to really focus on my race plan during the next 10-15km, constantly reminding myself to avoid surges. Although with some great views along the course it wasn’t too difficult to forget about any struggles I was having. Eventually my legs got over their little tantrum, and by the time I was turning back to Port Douglas everything was on track once again.
I followed the plan for the rest of the race, as expected there was an unwelcoming headwind for the final 20km. The reward for getting that final 20km done was the ride through the crowds along the esplanade, a great feeling. After the race I realised my average power was lower than I had hoped, in some cases by upwards of 10%. Perhaps my inexperience riding to power, especially over this type of terrain had contributed to the low numbers. In any case I was delighted with my time of 5:26 on the bike. There is no way I would have been able to pull that off six months ago, but there is definitely room for improvement.
I once again enjoyed the novelty of the chairs and volunteers. They even put sunscreen on my neck while I changed socks – incredible! Off to the run.
My plan was to run/walk the marathon at between 4:45 and 5min/km - 14 minutes on, 1 off. The idea was to stick closer to 4:45 for the first half marathon. The first 10km went to plan, everything was feeling good and even the weather was perfect. My stomach then really started to get sick of gels and chews. On my next walk break I couldn’t stomach another chew and skipped it, thinking I was better off not feeling sick.
At the beginning of the second lap, I tried to continue with my plan and get back on the gels. My body didn’t approve, and my stomach problems got worse. Skipping my nutrition then caught up with me and I felt zapped of energy, becoming light headed with very heavy legs. At this point I decided to slow right down and see if I could recover – rather than continue and have to be sick. So, I walked until I felt I could try to run. I couldn’t get back to my planned pace, rarely dropping below 6 min/km when I was running. A few aid stations went by before I decided to try and take on different foods. Over the next few stations I had some banana, watermelon, coke, and even found a cookie. To cool down I also started using ice and pouring it down my trisuit. Eventually something started working, I was able to run for longer periods of time and the pace started increasing. For the last 10km I felt back to normal and was able to maintain between 4:50 and 5:10 min/km, although I continued to walk the aid stations.
In the end I was proud of myself for turning around what looked like a potentially long run leg. I finished with a run of 4:11, much slower than planned but much better than it was looking at one point. It goes without saying but running down the finish chute was a great feeling.
Delighted with my first Ironman race, I can’t wait to pick my next one and have another go. Huge thanks to my Coach, Em, who not only prepared me for the race but was a brilliant supporter on course - as I’m sure all T:Zero athletes would have experienced.
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