Coach Kaitlyn & Fueling for Success

This is something that I have spent a lot of time working on for myself.  It was the cause of some tough training and way too many emergency pit-stops in the bushes!   After struggling with pit-stops, especially on long rides and runs, I knew something had to change.  First, I asked other people about their nutrition strategies and tried to copy that – without any positive results.  I went through years of this until I found out what was right for me versus what “they” used or what the current fad was that I “should” try. I’m not going to tell you what YOU should be eating or drinking, either. Hopefully I can give you some tools to find your own plan that works for you.

What is fueling? I consider it not only what you’re going to put in your body during your race, but what you’re going to eat the week before and the morning of your race.  All of this can influence how your day goes and needs to be thought out and practiced.

First of all, I’ve had a lot of athletes who put off working on their fueling program until they are a month away from their goal race.  I’ve even talked to athletes where I’ve asked them what their plan was a week ahead of time and they didn’t have a plan yet… ooof!  As a coach, I make sure that my athletes are working on their nutrition strategies from the beginning so that it’s completely nailed down by the time they get into their long workouts.

Daily Nutrition

This was part of the puzzle for me.  I had to find out what kind of foods were helping my body versus irritating my digestive tract.  There are many ways to do this, and there is no one right way for anyone.  You can start out by trying different foods leading up to your big training days, or you can try eliminating certain foods pre-race, or you can go to a doctor and get tested for your food sensitivities.  I ended working through a combination of these things. I found that dairy can irritate my stomach, so I generally try to avoid it before big training days and races.  I’ve also discovered that alcohol, or foods high in fiber, aren’t great for me the night before a big race.  The first marathon I did, I ate a big salad as my pre-race dinner thinking that would be “healthy” fuel…oops!  Now, I reduce my fiber 2-3 days leading into big races. 

Additionally, do not try to reduce calories while in heavy training to try to lose weight.  This can be very damaging!  Your body needs all those powerful nutrients to keep you going through the hard workouts.  Not eating enough is a big mistake, and it can turn training into a struggle.  So please, please, please EAT.

Training & Racing Nutrition

There are a LOT of different options and opinions on this topic. The most important thing is to figure out what works for you, then repeat it diligently. From my experience, fueling with solids or semi-solids is what works best.  On the bike, I use fluids for hydration and I get all of my calories from solid food.  On the run, I switch over to semi-solids like chews which works well.  The bottom line is you need to practice what you’re going to use.  My rule of thumb for my athletes is: as soon as you’re going out for longer than 60 minutes, you need to be fueling and/or hydrating during your workout.  Make sure to pack exactly what you think you want to use during your race and time it just as you would during a race.  Use these workouts to figure out the best ways to carry your nutrition – bento box or bike jersey, waist pack or run shorts… there are a lot of possibilities. 

For this blog post, I really want to emphasize the importance of practicing your fueling plan.  It’s definitely the fourth discipline in triathlon and can be just as important, if not more important than fitness in any sport.  If you do not get your nutrition dialed in, it can negate all of the hard work you’ve put into your training.  So please, talk to your coach and make this a priority in your training. 

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Coach Chrissy & Winter Swimming

For most triathletes, January marks the beginning of training. Whether it’s short course or long course, most triathletes are starting to increase volume and time in the pool. Many athletes are coming off of off-season where volume is lower. Likely this means the shoulders (and body) feel pretty good. And, as Coach Kaitlyn noted in her off-season blog (https://teamamazingday.com/blog/) this is the time triathletes should be working on drills to improve stroke form and efficiency while slowly increasing volume.

Have you ever focused on drills but feel they are not helping (or they are so hard)? Do you ever feel that no matter how much you try to correct swim stroke techniques from your coach, you just cannot seem to correct them?  Do you ever have shoulder pain in the front or top of your shoulder, or into the side of your shoulder or biceps? If so, mobility, stability and strength in your shoulder, back/core and hips may be to blame!

This series of articles will discuss mobility, stability and strength issues commonly seen in triathletes and swimmers and provide some mobility, stability and strength exercises you can do to correct these impairments, decrease the risk of injury and become a more efficient swimmer.

Do you have any of the following?

    • Shoulders that are rolled forward
    • Increased thoracic kyphosis (like a hunchback)
    • Shoulder pain
    • Difficulty breathing to your non-dominant side
    • Trouble flattening your back against the floor
    • Low back pain
    • Tight hip flexors
    • Swim faster with pull buoy than without

Any and all of the above can be hindering your swim stroke, speed and efficiency!

This series of articles is not about HOW TO swim, but how to make sure you have the proper mobility and stability throughout the kinetic chain (read feet to your head) to make sure you can properly perform a free-style stroke. This article will address the common impairments most triathletes (and swimmers in general) have in mobility, stability and strength and provide exercises to both correct these impairments and/or prevent them as training load increases to keep your shoulders happy throughout the season!

Shoulder Mobility:

During the entry phase of the front crawl/freestyle, you need to be able to reach your arm fully overhead.  The ability to perform this motion is dependent on your shoulder joint, shoulder blade and your thoracic (between the bottom of your neck and low back) spine. When your arm reaches overhead, your shoulder blade needs to be able to rotate upward and tilt backwards.   If your shoulder blade is unable to achieve these motions, you may have limited mobility as well as create an impingement (and pain) in the front of the shoulder.

What causes these mobility restrictions? It is usually a combination of two things: decreased thoracic extension and tight pec (specifically pectoralis minor) muscles.  Due to spending a lot of time sitting in front of a computer for work, as well as time in aerobars when cycling, triathletes tend to have decreased thoracic extension, which is necessary for the shoulder blade to properly move along the rib cage. Additionally, for the same reasons, the pec (chest muscles) are often shortened, especially with increased swimming volume.   If these muscles are tight (in addition to the lats), they keep the shoulder blade forward and do not let the shoulder blade rotate backwards and can impinge on the rotator cuff muscles.

Here are a couple of mobility exercises you can do to ensure you achieve/maintain proper thoracic mobility and pec muscle length to ensure proper biomechanics at the shoulder to achieve full range of motion and decrease risk of shoulder injury:

Thoracic extension over Foam Roller

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/thoracic-extension-on-foam-roller-for-neck-pain/vi-BBPdbbS

Tips:

    • Make sure head is resting in clasped hands to decrease any cervical stress
    • Bring elbows together to really get into the thoracic spine in between the shoulder blades
    • Keeping your butt on the ground, reach upper spine/shoulders/neck towards the ground
    • Do 10 repetitions in a nice controlled fashion in one spot and move along the thoracic spine
    • From ribs to bottom of neck

With Trigger Point ball:

https://www.shannonstephensyoga.com/blog/2018/3/19/6-yin-poses-and-myofascial-release-techniques-that-free-tension-in-the-upper-body

Tips:

    • Put 2 tennis balls in a long tube sock and tie a knot at the end; place each ball on either side of the spine
    • Arms straight up toward the ceiling
    • You can bring both arms overhead together, or one arm at a time
    • Pay attention to how each side feels compared to each other
    • Exhale as you bring arm(s) overhead

Thoracic Rotation:

SAS T-Spine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj4hvPXJC9o

Tips:

    • Hips and knees are both at 90 degrees
    • Keep knees and hips stacked
    • Inhale and reach top arm out in front of you
    • Exhale, rotate to bring top arm/shoulder down to other side without moving your hips
    • Let your head follow your top arm

Pectoralis Minor Release:

https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/how-to-erase-shoulder-pain-with-self-myofascial-release

Tips:

    • Place tennis ball (lacrosse ball, trigger point release ball) under your collar bone toward your shoulder
    • Lean up against a door, on the floor, on the floor with the ball on a yoga block)
    • Move your arm overhead and/or into external and internal rotation
    • Breathe

Try out some of these exercises and see if you feel limited in any of your mobility. Let me know how it goes!!! Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.

Next article will address mobility deficits in the back and hips and how they affect your freestyle!

Coach Chrissy is a triathlon coach with Team Amazing Day who works with all levels of triathletes from beginners to athletes with a goal of qualifying for Kona. As a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Coach Chrissy is focused on injury prevention of her athletes through movement analysis and corrective exercise prescription to improve limiters in all 3 disciplines in triathlon. Note this information is general information. If you have pain or any issues, please contact a local physical therapist for evaluation and treatment. Feel free to contact coachchrissy17@gmail with any questions.

2018 Race Results

Catching up on all of our race results for October – December 2018

October:

Jeannette M raced a 10k in 50:30 on 10/28/18

Shannon M raced a 5k in 26:13 – AG Win on 10/27/18

Sarah L, Coach Katie, Russ K, Jen B, and Emma G raced the Eerie Erie 5k on 10/27/18

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Kaitlyn H raced the Columbus Marathon in 4:33 – PR on 10/21/18

Russ K raced the Columbus Half Marathon in 2:19 on 10/21/18

Lauren K raced Ironman Louisville in 11:49 on 10/14/18

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Shannon M raced the Fleet Week 5k on 10/15/18

Jeannette M raced the Army Ten Miler in 1:34 on 10/15/18

Erin D race the LBI Commemorative 18 Miler on 10/7/18

Kaitlyn H raced the Hot Chocolate 15k in 1:36 on 10/7/18

Russ K raced the Hot Chocolate 5k in 27:52 on 10/7/18

Allison S raced the Chicago Marathon on 10/7/18

November:

Thom I & Coach Katie raced the BBC Turkey Trot 5k on 11/22/18

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Jeannette M raced the Asburn Farms 10k in 48:46 – PR on 11/22/18

Erin D raced the BCRR Thanksgiving 5 miler – PR and 1st in AG on 11/22/18

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Sarah L raced a Turkey Trot 5k in 21:26 – 2nd AG on 11/22/18

Emma G raced the Austin Turkey Trot 5 Miler in 48:38 on 11/22/18

Lauren R raced Edison Park Turkey Trot 5k in 29:14 on 11/22/18

Karen O raced the Mukilteo Turkey Trot 5k on 11/22/18

Debra D raced a Turkey Trot on 11/22/18

Chrissy D raced Ironman Arizona on 11/18/18

Kaitlyn H raced the Turkey Trek 5k in 29:37 – 3rd AG on 11/17/18

Russ K raced the Turkey Trek 5k in 27:58 – 3rd AG on 11/17/18

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Coach Katie raced the Brown County YMCA 5k – 3rd Overall Female on 11/10/18

Jennifer C raced the Longmont Turkey Trot 10k in 1:05 on 11/10/18

December:

Russ K and Kaitlyn H raced the Superior Stocking Run 5k in 30:39 on 12/16/18

Erin D raced a local 5K in 20:11 on 12/16/18

Emma G raced the Snowman Stampede in 29:18 on 12/15/18

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Jenn P raced the California International Marathon in 3:39:26 – PR on 12/2/18

Coach Kaitlyn & Off Season Training

I used to take the approach that once my last big event was over in the summer, official training was done until January.  Taking 4-5 months off would result in a lot of lost fitness and some weight gain that I had to then conquer come January.  I would only use a coach during my “in season” and the rest of the year, I exercised sporadically or not at all.  After getting frustrated about not making progress year over year, I decided to make a change.

That said, taking a short off season is extremely important after you’ve raced all year, but it doesn’t need to be several months.  Take the time to let your body and mind re-energize, allow yourself the recovery in order to make sure you don’t end up sick or injured.  For most people, this is 2-6 weeks. Use that time to catch up on life, enjoy the nights out, days off, and casual social training.  Then find your focus again.

There are a couple of different ways to approach this time of year.  First, sign up for some short & fun winter races  Knowing that I have an event on the other side of the holidays helps keep me checking my workout boxes and motivated to keep working.  It doesn’t need to be a long or important race – some short 5Ks or 10Ks should be enough to keep focus.

My favorite strategy is to set some goals not around racing – like working on a weakness, for example.  Historically, I have not always been great about getting my strength workouts in.  After a couple different injuries, I realized that strength needs to be a very important part of my workout routine – especially as I get older!  Building stronger muscles helps support joints which can help keep them healthier and happier.  Plus, it’s a huge factor for me and my endurance.  The stronger I am, the longer my muscles can fight for me through long runs and bikes.  So, for me, focusing on strength is a great off-season goal.  I have more time to commit to the gym with shorter swim/bike/run sessions.  Progress is easily measured which helps keep me going as I see the results.  

Another option is focusing on technique, mechanics or form in one particular sport.  We can always improve our efficiencies – and this will result in time gains during the season.  I’ve done swim blocks where I commit to masters swims each week, so I’m getting form corrections along with keeping up with fitness, bike blocks where I work on technique, handling skills and strength, or run blocks where I dedicate time on drills each workout.

There are so many different ways to help you through this time of year and keep you from just binge watching Hallmark movies on the couch – although I still watch them, just on the bike!

Race Results: January – April 2017

January 7-8

Amy S raced the NYRR 10K in 49:08.

January 14-15

Russ K & Kaitlyn H raced the Star Wars Rebel Challenge (10K + 13.1).

January 21-22

Lauren K raced a local 5K in 24:44 (PR).

January 28-29

Catherine W raced the Miami Half Marathon.

Karin O raced a local 5K in 27:23 (PR) for 5th OA.

The following athletes completed our January Green Box Challenge:

Monica C, Kaitlyn H, Russ K, Lauren K, Ann M, Elaine N, Karin O.

February 25-26

Chuck W & Teri W completed the Havana Sprint Triathlon.

March 11-12

Erin D raced the St Patrick’s Day 5K in 22:45 for 3rd OA.

Emma G raced the Running of the Green 8K in 48:43.

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March 18-19

Meghan M raced the St Patty’s 5K in 24:55 for 2nd OA.

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March 25-26

Hope H raced the Mad Moose Ultra 30K in 4:13.

Stephanie S raced the Arizona Distance Classic in 2:10.

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Hannah O raced the San Francisco Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in 2:17 (PR).

April 1-2

Wendy D ran her first 5K (post giving birth to twins!) in 30:57.

Stephane D ran the Santiago Half Marathon in 1:54.

Allison R ran the Santiago Half Marathon in 2:06.

Emily R the Santiago Marathon in 3:27 (BQ!).

Debra D raced the Texas State Sprint Triathlon in 1:24 for 1st AG.

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April 8-9

Sarah L ran the Shoes & Brews 5K in 22:29.

April 22-23

Allison R ran the Best Kids 5K in 23:58 for 2nd OA.

Karin O ran the Oiselle Tenacious 10K in 59:50 (90″ PR!).

Sarah L ran the Three Creeks Half Marathon in 1:46:31 for a 3′ PR & 7th AG.

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April 29-30

Debra D ran the Fredericksburg Wildflower 10K in 55:40 for 1st AG.

Russ K ran the Raptor Run 5K in 30:12 for 3rd AG.

Coach Katie ran the Raptor Run 5K in 24:41 for 1st AG & 4th OA.

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Race Results: November 2016

November 5-6

Hannah M ran the New York City Marathon in 4:29 (first 26.2).

Karin O ran the Mud and Chocolate Trail Half Marathon in 2:55.

November 12-13

Stephanie S ran the Longmont Turkey Trot 10K in 57:27.

Russ K ran the Longmont Turkey Trot 10K in 1:01:28.

Kaitlyn H ran the Longmont Turkey Trot 10K 1:01:28 (4′ PR).

Teri Ward ran the Longmont Turkey Trot 10K 1:04:15 for 4th AG.

Emma G walked the Longmont Turkey Trot 10K 1:48.

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Nick D ran the Richmond Marathon in 3:37 (13′ PR).

Kaitlin D ran the Pensacola Half Marathon in 2:05:45 (first 13.1).

Jason B ran the Pensacola Marathon in 3:58:29 (90′ PR).

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Ashley S ran the Monterey Bay Half Marathon in 2:09.

November 19-20

Erin D ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 3:54 (20′ PR).

Russ K ran the Panicking Poultry Turkey Trot in 24:41 for 4th AG.

Kaitlyn H ran the Panicking Poultry Turkey Trot in 29:33 for 1st AG.

Debra D ran the Thanksgiving 5K in 42:00.

Kimra M ran the Berkeley Half-Marathon in 2:24.

November 24 (Thanksgiving)

Melissa R ran the Sugar Land Turkey Trot 5 Miler in 46:39.

Amy S ran the Alexandria Turkey Trot 5 Miler in 36:58.

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Ashley S ran a local 10 in 56:00

Emma G ran a 2.5 mile unofficial friends Turkey Trot in 28:25.

Karin O ran the Mukilteo 5K in 35:26.

Sarah L ran the Loveland Turkey Trot in 21:37 (PR & 2nd AG).

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Coach Katie ran the Louisville Turkey Trot in 23:35 (PR).

Hannah M ran the Turkey Trot 10K in 54:56.

Nick D ran the Turkey Trot 5K in 20:00.

Racing goals aren’t easy

I have wanted my goal races to feel easy so many times. I’ve toed the line wishing fiercely for a day that felt effortless. (That never happens.) The first time I ran a Boston Qualifier (Marine Corps Marathon, 2012), the miles ticked by quickly, and largely without issue, until about mile twenty-two; then the pain set in and suddenly it definitely was not easy. This was one year after I ran a very painful 3:37, because I spent a good part of the first half going too fast, and thinking “Wow! This feels great!” Until it didn’t. I crashed hard.

The second time I ran a BQ (Eugene, 2015) was tough from mile fifteen on. I thought my quads may literally explode right off my femur. I convinced myself that was a thing that could definitely happen, and probably would happen, as soon as I finished. I couldn’t even fathom a walking break, because my legs might not start again if I stopped. It was not easy.

I’ve spent many cycles thinking that only the training would be hard, but the (goal) race would be a breeze. But, isn’t that kind of the opposite of why we race and train hard?

Most of our clients, myself included, race because it’s an opportunity to push personal limits, challenge what we’ve done before and what we could maybe do on this day, and then see what happens! It doesn’t always turn out well. But there is solace in knowing that at least we tried.

If you train well, trust that you are ready for it to be hard.

Training isn’t easy! It takes months of being dedicated to something, many moments of convincing yourself to do a hard workout by choice, and then getting through those workouts. Our brain is used to the “hard” moments, even though we so want to avoid it.

So, come race day, guess what your brain is ready to do? Push through the hard stuff. You just can’t doubt that that’s true.

A lot of us are bracing ourselves for the fall marathons (or half-marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks) that are finally here, after months of training. As the taper comes on, so do the nerves. We start to remember, yes, it’s going to be hard in some way or another! That’s the only thing we know for sure, which can be a little daunting.

If you are going for a goal, it’s not going to be easy. Even if that goal is a marathon/race that feels “easy!” Because then you still have to stay in your head all day, before and during the race, convincing yourself that you’re trained to do this and you will be OK. That’s still a fight. It takes consistent effort to stay in that good place.

Always trust these two things: your training, and your self.

Your training probably wasn’t perfect. No one’s ever is. Your self—body, mind, ego, etc—will communicate, you just have to listen up. You’ve done hard work to get yourself to this starting line, trust that you’re ready for hard work on race day, too!