Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm --- Winston Churchill
I discovered this quote searching for a way to combat my loss of motivation this week. It is the first time this year that I have waivered in my journey to “reinvent myself”. The enthusiasm, I failed to carry over from yet another failure was eating me alive. That failure initially in my eyes was losing another swim challenge.
Heading into the off season portion of my training the last week of November, I knew I needed a jumpstart to get my butt in the water, because we all agreed my swim needed a massive overhaul. So I called up my boy Paul, who also needed a jumpstart, and challenged him to a swimming competition. It took A LOT of convincing, but he agreed to a 3-week competition to take place Dec 1 – Dec 21. The rules were simple; all he had to do was swim half the distance I did in the water. IF he did, he won.
The first two days of the competition we swam the exact same distance. Waking up the morning of the 3rd I remember being mad at him. My anger came because I thought this was going to be easier than Paul was making it. The first two weeks Paul and I stayed relatively even and we agreed that we would be honest with each other about the distance we swam, no funny business.
Rolling into the final week, I thought this was going to be where I separated myself from him. Every day he rose to the occasion. As a result, I just got more and more hungry to make him suffer. The deciding day, however, came 4 days before the actual end. My home pool was closed because of chlorine levels, so they sent me to another pool. That pool was a meter pool. I remember the entire time I swam thinking; this is going to win me the challenge.
Well hindsight is 20/20 and it ended up being my demise. The evening of the 21st, Paul had a choice; either swim above or below it. I lost the first swim challenge. I was mad, I threw everything I had at him. I swam over 100K in those 3 weeks, the most I had ever done, and yet I lost. I was also extremely proud of Paul. He tenacity each and every day brought the best out of me, but most importantly himself.
Well our little rivalry lead JB to think of a different way to bring this challenge to the entire Mind Right Endurance (MRE) group. The rules (a basic overview): swim as much as you can for the entire month of January, but time was going to be recorded, not distance. At the end of the month he would arrange us bracket style for head to head until we had a champion. I didn’t like this initially. I had just got out of a challenge with Paul and I just wanted to swim. He told me I didn’t have a choice, so suck it up buttercup.
Through January I swam very consistently. My goal was to swim 120K and let it be what it was. The challenge (to me) was about the brackets not about January. I just needed to make it to the playoffs in my mind. I was right and I completed that goal.
Making into the playoffs, I decided to be aggressive. I was riding a high and felt really good in the water. My goal was to swim a 50K week. I knew that if I lost, it was going to take a major effort from my competitor. Mid-week the distances were released (remember this was a time challenge). I knew instantly I was losing. I was beside myself, but I knew swimming over my goal wasn’t going to lead to long term success.
Fast forward to this past Sunday. I completed my 50k goal, it hurt and at points I got tired of being in the water. Yet, I was proud of myself, it’s not every day that I get to do something I have never done before. That pride though didn’t last long. As the results were announced I felt instantly deflated as I found out I lost again. Honestly, in my gut I knew I was going to. I had a break point and had a long term view, but that didn’t help the sting one bit.
Which leads me to yesterday. The loss drove me insane and I was beating myself up pretty bad because of it. I hate to lose and, to a point, my self-worth is tied to winning (something I am still working on). My tribe tried, unsuccessfully, to pull me out, so, I Googled failure. I knew there was a lesson in this, I just had to find it.
The Winston Churchill quote brought me out of this slump. Instantly, I felt better. I know failure is not bad, but this quote gave me the perspective to push through the negativity and regain that motivation to attack the day. So remember to enthusiastically chase your dreams, dare to make mistakes and don’t let failure put out your flame. Instead let it ignite you to new heights and climb mountains you never dreamed you could.
The Polar Vortex is starting to subside, the days are getting just a hair longer each day, and well of motivation to be on the trainer or treadmill is getting dry. What do you do now to keep your momentum up, to keep your fitness improving, to not be an impatient, cranky low life to your family?
GET OUTSIDE! And not just outside the house, garage, gym, Zwift, Strava but get outside your normal routine.
I personally don’t spend day after day indoors for months, the weather where I live is nice enough to get outside even in winter. My schedule allows for time in the middle of the day to be outside. I get to travel to warmer climates to work at training camps. But all of that was still my routine and it was weighing on me. And when I talk with athletes that don’t have my schedule, I can hear the weight of their routine.
So what did I do? I took a sick day. I dropped my son off at school, did an absolute minimal amount work, and I drove to my favorite place to ski tour. For various reasons, I hadn’t been on my skis in a couple of years and I was unsure of my ability due to a lingering minor injury, but I went anyway.
As I drove into the mountains, the sun shone brilliantly and the temperature dropped from a balmy 45 in Colorado Springs to a low of 7 in South Park. I saw pronghorn, bison, and a big coyote. Once at the trailhead, I got a little nervous, but worked through it with some box breathing and the discipline of double checking my equipment as I put my skins on my skis, extended my poles, and buckled into my boots.
When I started the uphill ski it hurt but in a way that refreshed my mind and soul enough that I pushed a little harder and decided to climb a little higher. It took a little while to feel like I had any skill at all but every second was still glorious as looked across the valley to the high peaks.
When I arrived home later that night, even thought I was exhausted I felt refreshed and was grateful for all the things in my life; the people, the work, and even the suffering. It only take a little bit of time and doesn’t need to be everyday but occasional ejection from your routine can do wonders for your motivation.
Get outside and live life!
- Coach Mike
The ability to to swim faster, more efficiently and without feeling like death at the end of each lap is a common goal for all swimmers, especially beginners. Consistency is without a doubt a key component to becoming a better swimmer. The more you perform a skill or function, the better one becomes at it. All swimmers want to excel in something they spend hours doing but how? In the sport of swimming it comes down to efficiency of forward propulsion by reducing drag on ones body. There are several types of drag that are imposed upon a swimmers body but that is a topic for another post.
That being said, here are 3 of the most common areas that swimmers struggle with and the drills to help combat them.
Midline Crossover- This is by far the most common issue with swimmers in general, especially beginners and one of the biggest killers of speed in my opinion. It is one of the most crucial pieces of the swim stroke. So many parts of the swim stroke are affected by midline crossover, so fixing this one problem will improve several other aspects of the stroke. Crossing over ones body midline creates several issues including the potential for shoulder injury, hips to lower, poor head and body position as well as preventing the swimmer from initiating a proper hand entry and “catch” on the water. All of these create a substantial amount of drag on the body. Crossing over the mid line also increases the chances of the swimmer performing a scissor kick to compensate for hips. Midline crossover also affects a swimmers EVF(early vertical forearm) which is a main component of generating power.
This problem is amplified in open water and prevents one from swimming a straight line when visibility is less than ideal. In an Ironman swim this problem can cost a swimmer 4-12 minutes of time!
Catchup Drill: This is one of the most commonly used drills in helping new swimmers with midline crossover. Besides helping with midline crossover, this drill helps the swimmer with timing and tempo as well as lengthening the stroke. Begin by pushing off the wall and start swimming your normal stroke. If you begin with your left arm, leave your right arm out in front of your body fully extended. The right arm or lead arm in this case should not begin the catch and pull back on the water until the left arm (recovery arm) comes to the same position as the lead arm or in other words “catches up” to that lead arm. I like to have new swimmers use a snorkel and pull buoy the first few times so they can watch what they are doing without worrying about breathing or kicking. As this becomes more natural the pull buoy and snorkel should be taken away. Another aid is to have the swimmer hold a pencil or pipe in the lead hand. The swimmer holds onto the pipe or pencil and then switches hands when the opposite hand “catches up”. There are also special swim aids that can be used in place of these items.
90 Degree Kick: Use fins to help with the kick. Push off the wall and rotate your body over to 90 degrees. Your stomach and belly button will be facing the side wall. Kick at a steady pace and keep your lead arm out in front of you. I like to start with the right arm out in front. Rest your top arm(one closest to the surface) at your side and face downwards. Rotate the head out of the water to inhale and then rotate back downward. Eyes are looking down but slightly ahead. This helps the swimmer learn what it feels like to keep the lead arm out in front while holding body position, kicking and the breathing cycle. Alternate sides each lap. If this drill is difficult in the beginning use a snorkel until you feel comfortable and then try a few laps without it.
I also like to have a swimmer perform the drill and then swim a normal stroke to feel the difference immediately after the drill to create muscles memory correlation.
Fingertip Drag Drill: For this drill start off with a snorkel. This allows you to visually focus on the hand entry and catch without having to worry about the breathing component. Start by pushing off the wall and swimming normal freestyle. The only difference is focus on keeping your fingertips pointed downward towards the bottom of the pool the entire time. As your hand and arm comes out of the water and begins the recovery phase, drag only your fingertips along the surface of the water, aiming to just skim the surface. By doing so it makes it nearly impossible to cross over your midline but if you do you will instantly notice it because your forward momentum will stop and the body will sink in the water. This drill also promotes a high elbow recovery. Also one must fully relax the wrist on this drill for it to be effective. Remember to watch your hand entry during this drill. Notice if your fingertips get close to crossing over. This drill also helps promote a slight fingers down hand entry at the start of the stroke. Keeping the fingers lower than the wrist and the wrist lower than the elbow will help promote a proper and efficient entry, catch and pull in the water.
Visualization Drill: This drill we will use a clock and the pool lane line to help us prevent midline crossover. Start by swimming in the middle of the lane with the center of your body being directly over the black lane line of the pool. With your eyes watch as your hand enters the water in front of you. Focus on keeping your hands and arms outside of the black lane line. If you cross over the lane line then you know you are crossing your midline. Side note: Every wonder why the lane lines come to a T at the end? The T stands for turn and it is where the flip turn should take place for timing.
The last visualization drill is using a clock as reference. Imagine the 12 oclock position is the center of your body. Think about your hands entering the water at the 10 oclock and 2 oclock positions on the clock face. This will feel odd at first but with consistency will become more natural and in time you will start to see times increase.
Lastely, have someone film you doing the drills for reference. Film yourself every couple of months to see the progress. If you have a coach this can be extremely useful in helping them decide what drills are best needed and how to make corrections for the swimmer.
- Coach Ray
As coaches, we like to know the process. Our purpose is to bring an athlete from point A to point B, from start line to finish line. The beauty in that seemingly simple goal is that the process gets to look different for everyone.
I have athletes ask me all the time how they can get faster, or stronger. No matter who is asking, what their goals, are, or what context they’re asking, I respond the same.
Why do you want to get fit, why do you want to break 20 minutes in the 5k? Why did you sign up for an Ironman? When you can identify your why, the rest becomes much easier to execute because your purpose has become clearer.
You see, I can write you workouts all day long that center on pace, reps, watts, laps, etc., but you aren’t going to want to do them if you can’t turn back to your why.
Your why dictates your willingness to be up before the sun. Your why is what pushes you to go harder, do one more rep, swim one more lap, push the pace on that last mile.
In contrast, as athletes, we like to know why we’re swimming five days a week or what the purpose behind threshold bike intervals are. It is never a bad idea to ask why. Your coach has a process, there is a method to that madness. I have gained much insight as an athlete asking my coaches “why?” over the years. Now, as a coach, I love the investment behind my athletes asking me why.
So much weight is carried with such a simple and short phrase. Three letters that set the course of your goals, the purpose behind your path, the purpose behind your training, and fuels the passion behind your drive.
Know your why and strive for it daily! Keep putting in the work!
I found myself staring at my bike this morning for what would be my fourth ride of the week. Due to a laundry list of reasons, the majority of my time these days is spent on the bike trying to build and maintain as much fitness as possible for when I have more variety back in my training. Yesterday, my ride was rough, I was tired, and I barely got it done.
The problem is, today I had zero desire to spend another few hours on the trainer. I was frustrated with yesterday and I knew I needed a break. It’s also that awkward time where things need to start ramping up for the impending triathlon season, but with my current situation, I’m limited in my ability to do that. There are only so many hard rides a triathlete can handle in a week.
So, instead of suffering through another grueling trainer session, and in lieu of a rest day, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and do something that would not only strengthen me as an athlete, but relax and calm my mind.
I started my session with a dynamic warm up relying solely on bodyweight. I then preceded to partake in a pilates workout that wiped the floor with me. As endurance athletes we are very good at going in straight lines for long periods of time. We often neglect areas of weaknesses because, while they make us faster, they aren’t “essential” to our ability to complete swims, bikes, and/or runs throughout training. Additionally, for some athletes, time is such a motivator. My workout this morning was only a half our which is significantly less time than I typically spend training in a day, but it was a packed session that I was glad was only a half hour.
Not only did I get a killer full body strength workout in this morning, I enjoyed it. I got to take a break from the bike while still being productive as an athlete. There are times in every athlete’s training where they just need a break. It’s absolutely okay to shake things up because the last thing we want is burnout.
I can carry on with my day feeling like I’ve accomplished good work towards my goals while knowing that tomorrow I will likely feel much better about getting back on the bike.
In the continual search for passionate people who are willing to go above and beyond for their fellow man/woman, some people rise above in every category.
Coach Ray Delahoussaye exemplifies the traits that are found in great leaders. Dynamic communication skills, patience and a deep understanding of their craft.
He is always quick to step up and answer the call of the Mind Right tribe. From the incredible video work, to hosting data analysis parties at his own home to help athletes understand the why and how of what they are doing.
These are just a few of the reason Coach Ray is a cornerstone in the Mind Right tribe and our NEW Director of Athlete Relations!
On a more personal note, a big thank you to Coach Ray for his years of trust and support in me, my vision and the need to ask him the same thing 4 times because I forgot. Love you bro!
Date: Jan 1-31
Purpose: To get you in the pool more, duh
Entry: $10 per person
This will be a tiered based contest where you will be matched up against people who had a similar swim volume for the 2018 year. I (Coach Jeremy) will make sure it is an evenly matched contest.
Totals will be populated from your training peaks (I will do some verification of workouts if I feel something is off) on Mondays
3 tiers available for the participants. The top 4 from each tier will have a bracket based elimination contest in the first 2 weeks of February. Winner advances. Plain and simple. The end of the 2nd week of Feb, we will have our winners.
Randomly drawn for the 3 tier champions.
Roka Wetsuit, Roka Swim Skin, Roka Goggles
Winner of each tier takes the prize money from the tier
The purpose of this is to motivate, inspire and drive you to get out there and get in the work that is crucial for your success this year in a competitive atmosphere. It is meant for you to have fun and test your limits. Don't take it, or yourself to seriously, I won't be ;)
You MUST email me BEFORE Jan 1 to get your name in on the challenge. The coaches are aware of it and in support of your efforts!
Let the games begin!
Joshua DavisMon, Dec 3, 9:06 PM (8 hours ago)
Race week. So this is when I start freaking out that I'm not prepared, I don't know if I can hit my goals, I feel like I can't do this; and you reassure me that I've put in the work, followed the plan, hay's in the barn, all that jazz--right? ... Right?
In all seriousness, I have no idea if I'm going to be able to finish this thing, at least in any way that resembles a "run" (or even a walk). But that is kind of exciting. I can't remember the last time that I took something on, especially in a public way, where I wasn't guaranteed at least some safety net of success.
I have followed the plan though. Maybe moving a workout here and there, but I haven't skipped or skimped since I started this. And that in itself is a victory for me right now. I am in probably the busiest, most stressful, and most intense stretch of work that I've had over the last several years, and I have still made time to workout and to recover as prescribed. So I can take that away for sure.
I suppose I owe you a substantive update as well. I was having some tightness and soreness on longer runs, so we focused on some yoga and stretching this week--that seems to have really helped. The legs felt a little heavy early in the week, but I think I am getting used to the strength training again. I miss my bike--haven't had time for any "extra" workouts lately--so that's probably what I am looking forward to the most after this week.
Anyway, thanks for following along. Please send prayers for rest and recovery this week, and for perseverance this weekend.
Well the week is finally here. What was a crazy, semi dangerous yet calculated idea that formed in a coffee shop, is now upon us. This has been a tough test for me as a coach.
The balance was one that could not be taken lightly as someone's health could be at risk, thus causing much larger implications. The calculated part was knowing that this athlete has a strong running background and while not "training" a lot this year, was physically active. This is a smart athlete that understand the importance of recovery and rest (as much as an attorney can).
This week was about keeping the body moving and functioning without adding much stress overall. At this point, it will be what it will be and trying to squeak out little gains will only cause potential issues.
I am proud of Josh for taking a risk, putting in the work and rising to the challenge. God's speed my friend, this weekend you get to do some epic shit!
But it’s too cold and/or wet to ride outside, Jordan, what do I do now?
It’s time to bust out the trainer and/or rollers. I, for one, spend the majority of the winter riding indoors. I have no issues riding in the cold, but I save the cold and wet for race days, and for when cabin fever has gotten the best of me.
My set up includes the following:
Mat: they make trainer/roller specific mats you can purchase. A towel will suffice in a pinch, but the mats have a non slip finish that will keep you firmly in place.
Towel: I keep at least one towel on hand to wipe off excess sweat. I also keep a small hand towel over my stem to keep sweat fro getting into my headset. (I also give my bike a good wipe down post ride as well, paying particular attention to the bottom bracket area)
Fan: These are crucial! As you are riding indoors during the winter, you probably have your thermostat dialed up a bit. You are also static, so don’t get to feel the thrill of the wind in your face and the cooling affects that it provides. This is where the fan is worth it’s weight in gold.
Water bottles: This should be fairly self explanatory, but be sure you have the means to keep yourself hydrated for the duration of your session.
Entertainment: Whether it’s your phone, computer, tablet, iPod, TV, a good book, etc. Have something available to keep yourself entertained and motivated for the duration of your indoor session.
Lastly, I will give you my take on how to endure the mental anguish of suffering through hours of suffering on the turbo. The majority of my trainer sessions are broken down into either drills or some sort of intervals, typically in the 90-120min range. While this may seem like a long time overall, it actually isn’t.
Here is how. Break down your total trainer session time into smaller blocks. 20min warm up, 5min hard, 5min easy, 10min hard, 5min easy, 15min hard, 20min cool down. This would be a good example of a 90min session. So now you only have to be focused on each individual time segment, rather than the full duration.
Hopefully with the help of your entertainment source, you can drive on through the session. Another thing to consider is the benefit of roller/turbo sessions.
Unlike riding outdoors where you have times where you are free wheeling, you won’t be doing any of that while riding the turbo/rollers. So an hour ride indoors roughly equates to 2hrs on the road. Smaller sessions, bigger pay off!
I hate riding indoors as much as the next guy, but it’s a necessary evil to reach your fitness goals.
I constantly tell myself that “Right now, there is someone else out there working harder than I am”. Know yourself, know what you need to keep yourself motivated, and do the work. At the end of the day, it really can be that simple. Now fire up some Game of Thrones, and get pedaling!!!
Mind Right Endurance coaches are here to address the many question, issues and topics that endurance athletes encounter all the time! Check them out and share them with your friends!