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!
In this age of social media and unlimited information at our fingertips at all times it’s no wonder we are often distracted. Whether that be due to the smartphones, someone posting on FB, emails or merely thinking about the nights plans. How many times have you started a training session fully committed, only to get to the end and wonder what happened in the last 30min or seeing the lap data below what was prescribed. We can say that it’s human, we’re busy or even multi-tasking, but at the end of the day, if we’re not completely focused the session is only partly successful. Forget PEDs, forget motors in the bike, a clear way to improve yourself as an athlete is to go all in on each training session.
As coaches, each session has been specifically designed for you the athlete, at that time, for a reason. And to truly get the most out of these sessions all other non specific thoughts and distractions need to be removed. I know in my program I can have any number of combinations of pace, power, HR and cadence requirements to be focused on. I’m not immune and I do find myself occasionally drifting out of focus and thinking about other issues which can lead to a completed session in time only, which will not bring out my best come race day.
To assist with this I have used a number of techniques both before and during the session which may help if you are in the same situation.
At this point, like any time during the day, your mind may start to wander and it’s up to you to bring that focus back to the task at hand. This can be done in any way you like.
These are just a few simple tricks that may help you nail each session as it was designed. Get at it team!
Want to know more about Coach Steve? - Click here to find more about him
My world-beating race nutrition strategy & tips for Mooloolaba Triathlon race nutrition
By Richard Thompson
Triathlon can be an incredibly complex sport with so many different elements affecting an athlete’s race-day performance. Elements such as preparation and managing injury spring to mind, amongst others.
At T:Zero Multisport, we do everything possible to get you to the race in your best possible shape. But once you arrive at the start line, you can’t possibly get any fitter. Only three things can impact the outcome of the day for any athlete:
Nutrition is something we certainly hold dear to us at T:Zero Multisport. Head Coach and Co-Founder Scotty Farrell is a qualified nutritionist and I was so grateful to have him in my corner for the Ultraman World Championships, particularly when it came to developing a plan of attack for my race-day nutrition. Further, having such a wonderfully long-standing relationship with CLIF Bar Australia, it wasn’t difficult to find the right nutrition within their extensive range to suit the plan that Scotty had developed for me. Indeed, their help enabled me to live my potential in Hawaii last November.
Fuelling during an Ultraman is different to a standard Olympic distance triathlon in that you have the opportunity to fuel during the swim with the assistance of an escort in a kayak paddling next to you and further, there is no run off either portion of the bike leg; the result being that you can afford to eat heavily in the backend of the ride knowing that you won’t be running until the Day 3 double marathon. For Ultraman, our fuelling plan was based on grams of carbohydrate per hour.
SWIM – DAY 1 (10km)
In the swim, our plan of attack was to hit roughly 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. Following the adage that one should consume small amounts often as opposed to a large amount at once, I was aiming to fuel myself with 15 grams of carbohydrate every 15 minutes (versus having one big hit of 60 grams at the one-hour mark). There are obvious benefits to this, most notably not overloading the stomach when you want your blood to be directed to other parts of the body as opposed to your digestive system only.
Obviously, it’s pretty difficult to chew under water and I didn’t want to stop swimming completely so the Citrus CLIF Shot Energy Gel (with 25mg caffeine) was my go-to here. To prepare, I squeezed the required amount into a drink bottle and added water, shaking it up until it became one consistent liquid. I then marked the bottle, indicating where I’d need to drink to for each 15-minute increment. This had worked perfectly for Ultraman Australia where we broke the world record and again worked well in Hawaii at the World Championships.
BIKE – DAY 1 (145km)
Both Day 1 and Day 2 were very similar in that we were trying to hit 80 grams of carbohydrates per hour. Again, I was aiming to digest something every 5 to 10 minutes, following the principle that consuming carbohydrates when your body is working hard is a lot easier when they’re ingested in small increments as opposed to one large hit.
I managed to execute my bike nutrition plan with precision on Day 1, consuming only the CLIF Bloks in Mountain Berry, Strawberry and Margarita (extra sodium boost) flavours, aiming to take-in 1.5 packets per hour (roughly).
Once I crossed the finish line on Day 1, I went straight into recovery on the wind trainer to ensure I cooled down effectively, not dissimilar to how professional cyclists warm down during the big cycling tours. I also immediately consumed both carbohydrates and protein in the form of CLIF Bar’s greatest flavour of all time – Chocolate Almond Fudge.
BIKE – DAY 2 (275km)
We always knew Day 2 on the bike was going to be a long day, and during the first half of the ride my heart rate and effort was going to be much more controlled than in the back half. Therefore, whilst we were trying to maintain 75 to 80 grams of carbohydrate per hour, we were happy to consume some more solid food in the first hour of the day. This constituted a combination of CLIF Bars and the ever-trusty vegemite sandwich. Once I began climbing up the volcano (a 40km climb), I diverted to my Day 1 method of 1.5 packets of CLIF Bloks per hour. This continued until the latter stages of the day, whereby – for a complete variation - I changed to a bottle of diluted CLIF Shot Energy Gels.
This strategy and well-paced nutrition plan not only allowed me to feel full of energy but also maximised my ability on the bike without having sluggish side-effects at any point in time.
In the final 40 kilometres of the bike leg, I managed to average 303 watts; and this was after 7.5 hours of hard riding. I attribute a lot of this to both a well-developed nutrition plan and high quality nutrition products that complemented it perfectly.
RUN – DAY 3 (84.4km)
A much more difficult prospect came in the form of the double marathon run from Hawi to Kona (point to point) on Day 3. Again, the plan of attack was to hit 70 to 75 grams of carbohydrates per hour. Throughout the day I relied solely upon CLIF Bloks, moving to Coke only in the latter stages of the run.
Often, it’s not until the run leg that we as athletes get “found-out” on a nutrition level. On the bike, it’s generally always too early to know whether or not you’ve paced your nutrition well. Too much nutrition and you’re going to feel bloated as you head off out of T2, but too little and you’re going to feel lightheaded and despondent. Whenever I feel that my mind is turning negative on the run, my first thought is to my nutrition. In my experience, the mind turning against you is the first trigger that you may need more fuel and it’s a good reminder to ask yourself how well you’re fuelling at that current moment in time.
My race at the Ultraman World Championships was executed with precision by my entire team and we were thrilled to cross that finish line in first place, in such a great state. While I couldn’t walk properly for a few days following, at no point in the race did I feel like I had a carbohydrate deficit or surplus. We planned and implemented our nutrition strategy to perfection and I am so thankful to CLIF Bar Australia for helping me perform at my peak.
Nutrition Tips for Mooloolaba Triathlon
As always, when it comes to nutrition the overall principle is: do not try anything new on race day. Practice makes perfect so keep testing your nutrition and honing your plan until you’re 100% confident it’s right for you; then you won’t go wrong.
T:Zero Multisport wishes everyone all the best for their training. Stay safe, and have a wonderful race at Mooloolaba.
Having competed in the sport of triathlon for well over a decade now, I like to think of myself as a relatively seasoned triathlete. Despite this, I regularly suffer from the most debilitating race day nerves, induced, I’m certain, by my tendency to over-analyse almost every aspect of my life.
According to the experts, pre-race anxiety is a completely normal occurrence and, if managed correctly, can help you race faster by getting that adrenaline flowing. But there’s a fine line between pre-race butterflies and being hunched over in transition, heaving with your head between your legs (aka me, Noosa Triathlon circa 2012, 2013, 2015 et. al.). Yes, controlled nerves can be good, but the kind that completely sap all energy from your body? Not so much.
The following tips for tackling race day nerves have been tried, tested and suggested by some of the best in the business.
If you find yourself suffering from unhealthy pre-race nerves, try putting some of these tips into practice – they might just be your ticket to a more relaxed race day.
1. Be honest with yourself and trust in the training
Nothing makes me more nervous than greeting the start line knowing I have not put 100% into my training. Conversely, nothing makes me calmer than greeting the start line knowing I’ve prepared to the best of my ability.
Remember those days you ran in the rain, swam in the dark and opted out of a very enticing sleep-in? Now is their time to shine!
Trust in the training you’ve done, set realistic race expectations and be confident that your T:Zero Multisport coach has prepared you as best they can. Having trust in your coach and knowing within yourself you’ve given it everything can go a long way to calming that nervous beast within.
Know your plan, be unwaveringly confident in your preparation and stick to it.
Visualise yourself going through the motions – from race morning preparations all the way through transition set-up, swim start, bike, run and my personal favourite - the finishing chute!
Not just handy to employ on race day itself, visualisation is great to practice regularly in training before race day rolls around. Every training session is an opportunity to visualise - race morning, race start, transitions and crossing that finish line.
When race day dawns, having that familiarity and focus will make it feel (almost) like just another training day.
3. Get organised
Depending on the location and type of race, arriving a day or so beforehand for smaller, local events or more if we’re talking long-distance, provides a good opportunity to settle in and familiarise yourself with the local area, race HQ and the course itself.
If you can, take the opportunity to do some race course reconnaissance – ride (part of) or drive the bike course, jog part of the run course and do some easy swim course laps in the day(s) leading up to your race. Alternatively, if you live close by, make sure you train part (or all) of the course regularly.
Familarise yourself with the race day schedule, transition opening/closing times and any specific race requirements to alleviate unnecessary stress, so you can save that energy for the race itself!
Also, think about booking your accommodation early - perhaps close to the start line (but not too close) and take into consideration the location of any support requirements you might need such as bike mechanics and masseuses etc.
4. Meditate … or just breathe!
For a sure-fire way to destress, there’s nothing better than a solid meditation session. But if the thought of finding your zen in a sea of nervous pre-race chatter seems impossible, employing a simple breathing technique might just do the trick.
Try “3,4,5”. Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 5 seconds and repeat (I know you just did it, but do it again for good measure).
This little technique has been instrumental in calming my nerves and lowering my heart rate during periods of peak anxiety, and best of all it’s so easy to remember. If this one doesn’t float your boat, there are plenty of other breathing techniques around. Find the one that suits you best and … breathe.
5. Listen to Music
Listening to music can provide a wonderful and easy distraction to stop you getting too worked up by what’s going on around you – particularly during transition set up.
Music can help to relax you and headphones provide a great buffer to drown out the nervous chatter of other athletes and act as a deterrent for unnecessary interruptions.
Keep your music light and fun. I like to listen to the same music I’ve trained with over the months leading up to race day, making sure a couple of key favourites that really lift me up are on high rotation.
6. Use Mantras
Effective mantras address what you want to feel as opposed to the adversity you are trying to overcome. When you feel as though doubts and distractions are getting the better of you, a mantra can help to keep you calm and focussed on the task at hand.
Numerous studies have shown that positive self-talk leads to overall increased performance and an increase in athlete self-confidence. Mantras are great at directing your mind away from negative thoughts and towards more positive ones that can help you transcend the pain or anxiety you are (inevitably) experiencing.
Choose a mantra that’s short, positive, instructive, and full of action words. For example, “Strong, Light, Smooth” was my mantra for Ironman marathons.
Test your mantra during training to find one that works for you.
7. Pre-Race Rituals
Developing a pre-race ritual is a great way to help you bring a sense of normalcy, familiarity and comfort to race morning. As with visualisation (refer Tip #2), the best time to create and polish your pre-race ritual is during training.
Your ritual can be anything from eating the same meal the day before and on race morning, (the classic) flat lay of race gear on your bed before packing it up or the order in which you go through the motions on race morning - body marking, transition set up, stretching and so on. Your ritual can be whatever you want, as long as you find it effective, calming and meaningful.
8. Remember your ‘Why’
When all else fails? Make sure to remember your ‘Why’. As cliché as it sounds, at the end of the day, we love this sport and we do this sport because it’s FUN.
Training, racing, logistics and irrational fears aside – what’s the one thing that lights the fire within, for you?
Take some time to stop and reflect on your journey, your progress and your ‘Why’.
As always, there’s rarely a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution and what works for one athlete may be completely useless to another. So please, take the above suggestions with a grain of salt.
Try testing some of these techniques during training and on your ‘B’ and ‘C’ races to find what works for you. Come race day, you’ll be sufficiently equipped to transform those pre-race nerves into excitement and measured anticipation.
What are your own tips and tricks for dealing with pre-race nerves? Let us know in the comments below!
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.
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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!
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