Personal Best Triathlon. Still Room for improvement.

Dateline: Sunday, Aug 28, 2011.

Scott completed the Chicago International Distance Triathlon.

Pre-Race:

I had a great time with my family downtown.  We walked a bit more than I’d like.  We got down to the Hilton Hotel (the Chicago Tri sponsored hotel) right before lunch.  We checked in, and then walked to Macy’s for lunch.  I’m a big fan of the Seven on State quick serve restaurants especially Rick Bayless’s Frontera Fresco.  MMM… Tacos.  Probably not the best idea for a pre-race meal, but so worth it.  Then, we walked back to the Chicago Multisport Expo to pick up my race packet, get marked, and attend the course talk.  I skipped about 1/2 of the course talk due to off-timing of the my lunch and the schedule.  Luckily, the course didn’t change from last year, and I was able to revisit my notes from last year which calmed the pre-race jitters.  Speaking of pre-race jitters. They started a week before the race.  I could sense the tenseness, and I’m sure my family could sense my distracted mind.  I was focused on the race.  I had difficulty even meditating to calm myself down. After attending, the expo. we walked to Millenium Park, had a great dinner at Harry Caray’s, and then visited Chicago Summer Dance.

Pre-Race Goals:

My main Triathlon Goal is to break 3 hours and be above the average.  That hasn’t changed.  However, I took note of my last year’s time and incorporated my training times, and came up with these goals:

Realistic Goal:

Swim: 35 min (my 2010 swim time)
Tran 1: 7 min (my 2010 time)
Bike: 85 min (17.5 mph my 2010 bike avg)
Tran 2: 5 min (my 2010 time)
Run:   56 min (9 min miles. pace run during 2011 training pace)

Total: 188 min

Stretch Goal:

Obviously, this is above 3 hours.  So, I created a stretch goal to finish under 3 hours:

Swim: 32 min ( quick swim)
T1:  5 min
Bike: 83 min (18 mph)
T2: 3 min
Run: 55 min (8:40 min miles)

178 min

How did I do?

Pre-Swim:

In order to get a good spot for transition, I woke up at 3:40am to get out the door about 4:10am and make my way over to transition which opens at 4:15am.  Before transition set-up, I like to shower to wake-up.  I also want fresh ice for my water bottles, and I like to eat a pre-race breakfast of a banana and a cliff bar.  I always bring too much stuff with me, just in case, to transition.  My suggestion is only bring what you need.  I don’t need an extra set of running clothes.  Although, I don’t know if I will listen to this advice in the future.  I like to be prepared in the event of rain or just some odd occurrence.  It was a windy morning, and there was a rip-tide warning for the beach.  So, I was starting to get mentally prepared to be battered during the swim.

My wave for the race wasn’t until 9:06am.  So, instead of watching the sunrise and the first heats, I met my brother in the transition set-up and we walked back for a little pre-race Bagel.  Next year, if I have a late start again, I think peanut butter on a bagel will be an awesome breakfast choice.  I then went back to the room, and tried to sleep.  That didn’t happen, but I did walk through the race twice using visualization techniques to help prepare myself.  That was very helpful.

The 1.5 KM Swim:

It always takes me a while to get my wet-suit on.  So, I like to get to the swim-start about an hour before my race time.  This gives me some time to relax.  It gives me some time to put on my wet-suit which takes me about 20 to 30 minutes to do.  Then, I get some time for photos and then off to the chute.  Waiting in line is fun and exciting, but still stressful.  Both last year and this year, I experienced an unexpected swim-shock.  Its really difficult to see in Lake Michigan especially when its choppy and wavy.  I’d categorize myself as a strong swimmer.  Yet, when swimming with a big group of other guys all starting to swim, there’s no room.  I don’t position myself in the front.  I position myself in the middle.  Maybe I should change that next year.  By being in the middle, you have wait for the front of the line to start.  So, the first 100 yards or more, I swim freestyle with my head above water so I can see where I’m going.  Its similar swimming style when you try to swim freestyle without goggles.

Combine the crowded swim, with not being able to see, with a changed swimming style, and the adrenaline of a competitive race, and you get my heart rate racing super high and consequently my breathing was uncharacteristically hard.  In fact, my thoughts in the first 1/4 of the race, are Why the heck am I doing this to myself again?  What’s the benefit of doing this triathlon thing again?  So, I can scare myself and swim in a lake with a bunch of other people,  Why?

After I get to the buoy turn-around, I know that I’m 1/4 of the way done with the swim.  so, I usually settle down.  For some reason, I didn’t settle down as much.  It took me unbelievably long to get into a rhythm. I am normally a breath every 3rd stroke swimmer in the pool.  However, in the lake, I turn into a breath every other stroke.  In addition, I know my form was off.  I was not feeling the water.  It felt foreign. I know I was not stroking the way I can. I think more practice in the wet suit is required. As I’m going along, I’m thinking I have to get my stroke back, and I’d break into a little bit of a sprint, then I’d have to stop and do a little breast stroke to see where I’m going, then do the whole sequence over again.  One part, I’m glad I practice is cleaning my goggles while in the deep end of the pool.  My goggles were foggy about 1/3 of the way through with the swim.  Once, I cleared my goggles, I seemed to calm down and get my breathing under control.  Now, about half through the swim, you are back at the swim start.  That always energizes me, because I know I’m half-way done.   However, the next part of the swim is where the break wall opens up, and the waves were really pushing me around.  I was kicking much stronger than normal, and it seems every fourth breath, I’d get a wave in the face.  Happily, Lake Michigan, being a fresh water body, tastes much better than pool water.  For the next part of the race, I was playing bumper body / tag with a couple of other swimmers.  We were all at about the same pace, and one would go a little faster, and then I would pass him, and back and forth until finally, I concentrated on my form, and I pulled away from that pack.  However, I ran right smack into a slow group of swimmers which means I had to concentrate on sighting better to swim around all that group.  Once, I got to the final buoy, I was swimming towards the stairs, and I had a little difficulty getting out the lake.  Happily, the volunteers were great in helping us out of the water.

Part of the Chicago Triathlon Swim, is about a 450 yard jaunt back to transition.  I did my best to unzip my wetsuit while running.  I had to run around a few participants which was good.  I’m glad the cloth they had on the ground was in tact.  The cloth really helps running bare-feet on the concrete path.  One thing that was new this year, was I heard my wife call out to the kids.  “Oh, there he is.”  I quickly turned and tried my best to wave while running.  That put a smile on my face after the wavy choppy swim.

1.5 KM Swim Time:  37:23 minutes

I am a little disappointed in my swim-time.  I can swim faster than that.  I know I have a sub-30 minute swim in me.  I guess that gives me incentive to freak myself out again next year.

Transition 1:

I wanted to beat my transition time of last year (7 minutes).  I like to sit on the ground when I take of my wet-suit.  It just makes it easier for me.  So, as soon as I cross the timer, I find a spot in the grass, pull of my wetsuit.  Then, I ran to my bike.  put on my socks/shoes.  Throw on my shirt and shorts.  Grab my iphone and put it on my bike.  Set-up runkeeper on the iphone.  I totally forgot my glasses.  (Can I blame my bike time on lack of glasses?)  Luckily, I’m not blind.  I just have a little difficulty reading signs that are far-away which wasn’t a requirement while riding.  I also drink some water, and grabbed my bike nutrition.  I think I want to get a little bento box or something for my bike so I can reduce the time for that.  I also have to work on transition.  it still feels slow!  I did my best to run to bike out.  I was quicker than last year, but I feel I go get better.

Transition 1 Time:  06:12 minutes

The 40 KM Bike:

I forgot the first part of the bike course requires an ascent for the initial ramp onto Lake Shore Drive. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the initial burst of energy required to get up to speed.  Combine that with the Head-wind coming from the North, and that lack of initial burst set the pace for a mediocre bike ride.  Last year, I averaged 17.5 mph.  This year, I averaged:  16.8 mph.  Quite a bit slower.  The one saving grace, I feel is that I was rarely passed by anyone with non-road bicycle. In fact, I think only one non-road bike passed me.  The rider looked like he was 6’8″ tall.  I have a fitness bicycle, the Trek FX 7.3.  It has a similar riding position to a mountain bike or hybrid bike, but has tires and bicycle frame styling closer to a road bike.  So, on a windy day like Sunday, my riding position really is a detriment.  Knowing that, really set me back.  Mentally, due to wind, I  let myself relax in the first quarter of the race and did not push as much as I should have.  That was my second mistake.

Now, on the second quarter of the loop, the wind is a tail wind, and boy did that feel awesome!  I was riding at super speeds.  I was really hoping the tail wind would make up for my early bike ride mental lapses.  In fact, I was cruising and passing many of the road bikes which felt awesome.  Last year, I rarely passed anyone.  The other difference was last year, I was an early heat (7:38am swim-start).  So, I had fewer bicycles on the course.  This year, the bike course, felt really busy.  I think passing the slow riders artificially inflated my confidence in my speed.

Lessons Learned:  Weather is a challenge, but if I had stayed strong mentally, I think I could have averaged a faster time.  Be prepared for the initial ascent.  its an easy climb, but if I charge the climb up and really push the climb, that will set the pace for the entire ride.

I also need figure out how to get faster on the bike without the use of technology.  Can I get to an 18mph average with my current bike set-up?  What can I change?  seat-height?  Training style? Ride more intervals?  Do more hill-work?  One training style I changed this year compared to last year, is this year, I rode much more road trails compared to last year, I rode more forest preserve hiking/biking trails which are more gravel, hilly, and twisty.  Maybe, I should return to the forest preserve trails?

Technology wise,  Should I think about buying shoes & clips, aerobars, a new helmet, or maybe even a road bike?

40 KM Bike Time:  89:50 minutes (16.8 MPH)

Transition 2:

Last year, I changed my shirt from biking to running.  I was sweaty, and thought I’d feel more comfortable. In an effort to speed up my T2 time, I decided not to change as I planned.  I tried to run back to my transition spot on the rack, but I got caught behind some bike walkers.  I also took too much time switching my Runkeeper iphone app from bike mode to run mode.  I grabbed a drink of cold water from my insulated mug which was refreshing.  I grabbed my race belt.  Part of me wonders if I shouldn’t just wear the race belt for the bike portion to speed up T2.  T2 should be easy.   Rack bike, change shoes if needed, and go.  I know I can improve my T2 time.  Granted, I beat my last year’s time.

T2 time:  04:00 minutes

The 10 KM Run:

I’m proud of my run.  In fact, this year, I feel I can call myself a Triathlon finisher.  Last year, I didn’t have that finisher feeling.  Why?  Last year, it was so hot and I was unprepared, I walked about 4 miles of the run.  This year, I was determined not to walk.  I didn’t even want to stop to walk near the water stations for fear that my momentum would be lost.  So, slow jogged through the stations gulping at water.  The Chicago Triathlon run is deceiving.  You think Chicago, and you think flat-land which is totally true.  The run south is a little more elevated than you think.  So, there’s some hills and some elevation climb.  Not much, but enough that its noticeable.

Now happily, the wind was at our tail for about 2/3 of the run.  That was great.  In fact, it was a cool breeze.  So, when I got to the turn around just before the 4 mile mark and the wind was now blowing into my face, I felt refreshed.  It really helped me.  In fact, I yawped at the turn-around how great it was to be there.  The Run was not easy by any means.  Its a mental battle.  Yet, I was determined to run the entire thing.  I wanted that finisher feeling that I lacked the prior year.

In fact, I trained for the run much differently this year.  Last year, I did more biking & swimming with less running.  This year, I was balanced between the swim/bike/run.  My longest training run this summer was 10 miles.  During the doldrums of the running race, I mentally chatted with myself that I didn’t run a 10 miler just to walk the run portion.  I didn’t do all my training all summer long just to feel a little deflated at the finish line.  That’s why I’m proud I won that mental battle.  I ran the entire portion.

I have to say the last mile was difficult, but so worth it.  I pushed it. I have Sean to thank for pushing it. I remember him suggesting to leave it all on the course.  I knew I could run faster, and I tried to pick up the pace a ton that last 1.5 miles.  It doesn’t show in my times, but I’m sure that helped at least keep me consistent and not slow my time.  The last mile is a little more challenging than you think, because you go down hill under a tunnel, then you have to go back up hill to the finish line.  So, its not a forgiving flat run that you would expect.  You think you’re finished, but boom, you have this incline to face.

Near the end, Happily, I saw my wife and two kids cheering me on.  It was exciting.  I waved my 6yr old son to run with me.  I know its probably not a good idea.  I could get other racers hurt, but I held on to his hand, and he ran hard.  He started to lag behind just a bit, and I said, come on Cam, we’ve got to run faster, and he started to pull my hand a bit.  I was so proud to finish with him.  Seriously, I’m beaming now just writing about it.  Cam and I got an official picture taken.  It felt great having my wife and kids there along with my parents.  Of course, my sister-in-law and her kids were there for my brother who finished about 10 minutes before me.  Having a cheering section really does help.  In fact, in a happy surprise move, I saw my parents in the first mile of the run.  They took pictures.  I was tempted to stop and give them a hug, but I did not want to stop momentum.  I wanted to break the 9 min mile mark.  Overall, I’m happy with my performance, but I know I can go faster.

10 KM Time:  55:09 minutes (8:53/miles)

Total Time:  192:36 minutes

Post-Race:

The best part of the triathlon is getting the cold towel on the head to cool off and drinking the ice cold water.  This year, I grabbed some watermelon at the post-race bar-b-cue, and that was some of the best watermelon I’ve had.

The worst part of the triathlon is the 1.5 mile or so walk back from the finish line back to the transition area.  I just finished the triathlon.  I swam hard, I biked hard, and I ran harder.  Then, you’ve got to go collect all your transition items and pack up and go home.  That’s the grueling part of the triathlon.

Mentally, I have mixed emotions.  I am ecstatic that I ran the entire run.  I really feel like a finisher.  I feel like I can call myself an age-grouper triathlete.  I am happy this year’s time 192:36 minutes beat my last year’s time 213:51 minutes.  In fact, I think a 19 minute improvement is great. However, I missed my realist goal mark by 4.5 minutes, and I missed my stretch goal by 12.5 minutes.  I know I can be faster.  I just have to figure out how to adjust my training to become faster while maintaining endurance coupled with the difficulty of scheduling workouts with busy family life.

The future:

My kids asked me before the race, will you win the race?  My first answer was No, I won’t win the race. However, I went on to explain to them, I’m not running against everyone else.  I’m running against myself.  A Triathlon is a mental test as much as a physical test.   To me, Triathlons and Endurance sports in general are similar to Golf. I’m competing with myself and the course.  Can I  run my best race and achieve a personal best time? After racing in 2010 & 2011, I know I can do better, and that is reason enough for me to sign-up for another Triathlon next year.

The nice thing about racing the same event year after year, is you get comfortable with the course set-up.  You also have an easy ability to compare performances between years.  However, the Chicago Triathlon is a bit of a logistics issue.  There are so many people, and its so busy.  I love it.  Yet, I might try a different race for a more intimate experience next year.  We’ll see.

Final Thoughts:

After training for an entire summer, and then completing the pinnacle event of my race year, I want to tell everyone.

Of course, I tweeted it, I facebooked it. and now I’m blogging it.

In fact, on Sunday, I almost wore my medal when I ran out to pickup some Chipotle for dinner  just so I could show-off.  I didn’t do that.

Finishing a triathlon without walking is an accomplishment I’m proud of.  In fact, I received all sorts of congrats from online friends.

Thank you to my family for coming out to the Race.  I really appreciate it.  Thank you to my friends who gave me congratulations. Thank you to all the Volunteers for a great Race.

Philosophical Ending:

Yet, there are plenty of other endurance activities we don’t cheer on.

For example, I have prepared and practiced my trombone for concerts.  I then performed in the concerts.  I tweet it, and facebook it, and I get much less congratulation responses.

Another example, you have a difficult project at work, you prepare months for the completion of the project.  You announce the finale to your friends, family, strangers, they don’t seem to celebrate those accomplishments as much as an endurance event.

Triathlons make me realize that Life itself is an endurance event.

We all have challenges.  We all have accomplishments.

Cheer each other on daily!

–Scott Stawarz

In the meantime, Swim, Bike, and Run!

Why Are You Destroying Yourself?

For the first time in 6 weeks, I set my alarm to wake up this morning. I’ve been fortunate enough that kids, wife, or nature will wake me up in time to be productive for the day. However, I noticed that my son is arriving to school a little later each day. I don’t like it when he’s at school and they have already started the lesson plan. So, I figured its time to set the alarm.

Boardwalk through cattails on a lake during Autumn.

When I awoke, I was groggy, and wanted to go back to sleep. Of course, I snoozed twice. I am a snoozer if I can. Finally, I decided its time for me to get up, but I wasn’t ready. I’ve got about two dozen books on my nightstand ready for browsing and reading. On a whim, I opened my bible to random page like I like to do:

Here’s what I read:

God…asks you: “Why are you destroying yourselves?”
Jeremiah 44:7 New Living Translation

Wow, what a wake up call for the morning.

How am I destroying myself?

  • I’m announcing my goals and failing to meet them i.e. Not blogging every Tuesday & Thursday.
  • I’m exercising when I feel like it rather than making exercise immutable.
  • I’ve been terrible in the productivity department. Take now, I’m writing this blog post when I have other more pressing priorities and tasks.
  • I’m searching for my working identity. Where is it?  Who am I?
  • I eat too much food. Its autumn and my appetite is out of control. I’m not exercising as much. I wonder if my ancestors were cold weather hibernators. Does my body feel the cold Chicago winter coming on and is it building its winter fat stores? How cruel.
  • My diet is bad. Its not terrible, but its definitely not good. Take today. I had two fast-food hamburgers, a large french fry, and a small chocolate shake from Culver’s. I just had a hamburger on Sunday, and have fast food at least once or twice a week.
  • I will eat too much ice cream, cookies, cake, or other sweets for after dinner desserts. Even if I just have a benign grilled chicken with vegetables, I end up eating too much.

Who’s at fault for the destruction?

Its not the food’s fault. It’s not my family’s fault. It’s not my injuries or anything. Its my fault. As God mentions above: Why are you destroying yourself? I am the one at fault.

I’m destroying myself by my actions. These actions are not indicative of the lifestyle I want to live. Yet, I know by talking about it, I have just relieved the mind. At the same time, I also know I’m not as bad as it sounds.

What can I do to stop destroying myself?

One) I can stop the negative self-talk.
Sure, I’m not exercising 5 times a week each day for 60 to 90 minutes a day like all the science studies suggest. However, I’m still exercising two to three times a week. That was much more than I was doing this time last year. This time last year, I was not exercising at all. Productivity wise, sure, I might not be doing the high priority tasks, but I am doing the medium priority tasks. Action: Accentuate the Positive!

Two) Make Exercise Immutable even in the Fall/Winter/Spring time.
Find an offseason training program that can i fit in my schedule pronto! Find my next event to participate in.  Century Ride?  Triathlon?  Walk?  Hike?

Three) Plan meals better.
I often eat out due to my lack of meal planning.

The thing is, I still have not answered God’s question: Why am I destroying myself?

How about you: How and Why are you destroying yourself?

Knock some posts out of me.

“…Man this feels good. …fast, smooth, smile… Come on pops, Keep going… You can do it!… Fast, smooth, smile… I’m cruising today.  FAST, smooth,smi–Oooowwww – Thunk!”

Thoughts of Scott while cycling Tuesday, Aug 10

Wow, It took a nice nasty crash to knock a blog post out of me. Yes, after owning a bicycle since March 2010, I finally crashed. I have a hybrid bicycle that’s more of a road bike with skinny tires. Those skinny tires sure do not like to take packed gravel turns too fast. I came up on some loose gravel while trying to fly/ride home to get to my son’s T-ball game on time. I was riding what felt fast for me on these types of trails, but I felt in control. Then my wheels just slid out. I felt my legs scrape, man hands braced the fall. I’m kind of glad I chose not to buy cycling shoes this year. I think it could have been much worse.Broken Bicycle Helmet

I’m also terribly glad I had my helmet on. My head hit the ground really solid. In fact, I broke my helmet. (Do these things have warranties?) Right now, I’m trying to keep my computer clean from my scraped up hands.

I’ve neglected blog posting this summer a lot. I’ve been active on twitter and I still read tons of blogs through google reader and instapaper.  While reading, It seems like I’m not the only one in a funk:

I saw that Sean is having the summer malaise.  I’m right there with you with summer burgers and ice cream.

I see that Steve said he was struggling, but looks like he’s about to get his workout on!

I see that Andrew is having the issues.

Even Mac hasn’t been his steady blogging self. Although, he’s having a banner year when it comes to goal achievements!  Excellent Work Mac!

About the only dude fitness blogger not going through this summer funk is: Ryan.  He’s been a blogging / twittering machine. Yet, he reminds us not to compare which is exactly what I’m doing right now.

Why is it that the women fitness bloggers seem so prolific in their sharing of food and activities, but us guys just seem to be going through funks?  Does it have anything to do with the female fitness and food bloggers are more a community?  I don’t see guys chatting and hanging out much on twitter talking about fitness.  Is fitness really a female type topic?  Or, am I just not following and interacting properly on twitter?  Then again, if you look at who I am following on twitter, many of them are tech guys who may or may not be writing code as we speak.

For me, this has been a year of action.  I’ve been working out a ton.  I’m two and half weeks away from my Olympic Distance Triathlon.  I feel good.  I feel rather nervous especially since I haven’t really followed a specific workout plan.  My plan has been and is to swim, run, bike as far and as fast as I can as often as I can while throwing in some weight workouts on those rainy days.  Of course, I listen to my body and take breaks when I feel I need it.  I’ve been good for a minimum of 3 days a week.  Many weeks have been 6 workouts a week.  Recently, its been more like 4 days a week.  Running is just not my strong suit these days.  I can do it.  I run about 5.5 miles consistently at 8:40 minutes/mile.  I’d just rather be biking or swimming.  Swimming is fun, but I am probably about average speed.  I know next year (Doh! – did I just commit to doing Triathlons next year too), I’m going to have to work on my speed interval workouts.

While I have been very active, I have to admit, my eating habits have not improved.  All my exercising just gives me more freedom to eat what I want when I want it. Of course, with all the exercise I’ve been doing, I have lost a little bit of weight.  I’m averaging about 176 pounds a day.  Which is great considering at the beginning of the year, I was over 192 pounds a day.  I feel my waist is thinner since my jeans are too big, and my belt needs to be as tight as I can make it, but I still have some belly fat that many of the experts say is so detrimental to our health even if you exercise.  I know it is directly related to my eating habits.  I’d like to lose about 16 more pounds.  We’ll see if I can reign in my eating habits.

So, I’m still in a blogger’s hide out for a while.  I will write more.  I’ll definitely do some follow-up after I do my triathlon. I have some thoughts on triathlon preparation.  I just want to stay active, get sleep, and be action focused!

Focus on the Minutiae, while planning many steps ahead.

Oh no, you did not just do that?  Really?  that?  did you?  What were you thinking? I can not believe it.  No, seriously?  you did what?

Yes, yes I did, and yes I will.

In my quest to make 2010, my year of action.  I am taking action.  I’m stopping talking about things, and I am doing.  I have not swam or biked competitively ever.  The last time I ran in a track meet was bout 18 years ago (give or take a few years).  Even when I did run, I ran mid-distance sprints.  I did not run cross country.  So, Can you guess what I did?

Congratulations! You are now registered for Chicago Triathlon, Kids Triathlon and Fleet Feet Sports SuperSprint Triathlon. Please check the event’s official website for updates: http://www.chicagotriathlon.com

Okay, I haven’t actually completed a triathlon.  However, Yes, I did sign-up, and yes I will finish.  You can cheer me on in Chicago Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 6:00 AM local time.

Chicago Triathlon

I’ll be doing my best triathlete impersonation.  When I finish, I won’t be impersonating anybody.  I will be a triathlete.  I’ve been talking about it for a few years now.  I like biking.  I like swimming, and I tolerate running when I have to get away from danger.

I know, I know. If you are a reader, you may be thinking that I am violating my own advice: Do not tell me your goal, and you will succeed. However, I don’t feel I have accomplished anything yet. I know I have work to do. Signing up is just one step along the way.

I have been taking steps along the way.

How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.

  • I’ve been reading triathlon books at the bookstore (haven’t bought one yet, if you have a recommendation, let me know).
  • I’ve been reading about improving my swimming form and better breathing techniques.
  • I’ve been swimming once a week for the past few weeks.
  • I’ve been doing some interval short runs/walk combinations to build up my running stamina.
  • I’ve been doing some heart rate walking as well as some elliptical workouts regularly.
  • I’ve been doing muscle focused weights every morning 6 days a week.

This is just the beginning. I’ve got 4 to 6 hours of running, biking, swimming, and weight workouts a week for thirty weeks.

So, as all the pro athletes state, focus on the next day, the next possession, the next move while thinking and planning multiple moves in advance. I focus on my next workout. I focus on my form during the weight workout. I focus on the posture while running, and the breathing while swimming. Build a strong foundation, and build up from there.

Step 1:  Do your research.  Done!

Step 2:  Do a feasibility study.  Done!

Step 3:  Register.  Done!

Next: Step 4:  Build a training and fitness workout plan.

Next: Step 5: Execute the workout plan

What’s the funny thing about my registering for a triathlon?

I don’t own a bike. I do own running shoes.  I own a swimsuit and googles, but not a wetsuit.

How do you train for a triathlon without a bike?  

Guess, I know what I want for my birthday. A Triathlon Hybrid Bike and a Swimming Wet Suit. As Lucy says in her letter to Santa, just send tens and twenties.

If you have any international distance training plans for newbies with 20 to 30 weeks, let me know.

More goals ahead. In the next few weeks, I am overloaded with work for my main job at my technology boutique consulting business.  So, my simpleweight posts will be a little farther in between.  Rest assured, I am making exercise a priority in 2010.

What’s your priority in 2010?  As always, let me know how I can help you.

Pick and Commit Time to Exercise, 10 minutes a day. Ground Hog Day 2009 Fitness Resolutions.

Groundhog Day is here and gone, but there is still time for you to resolve to be better.

David Seah, the first person I know to talk about Groundhog Day Resolutions explains his GDR ideas. Leo at Zen Habits talks about Groundhog day resolutions too. It is in the air!  So, is 6 more weeks of winter regardless of whether the Groundhog saw his shadow or not.  (Hint:  the First Day of spring is:  March 20.  Count the number of weeks from Feb 2, 2009 to March 20, 2009)

So, What is Simpleweight’s Ground Hog Day Resolutions?

Number one: I know I can do a better job at convincing you (and I) that we can and will achieve our fitness goals. I know it, and I will help you to know it! It is imperative!

Number two, and more importantly: Our GroundHog Day Goal is to become physically fit. That Goal is too BIG! however, we need it that way. As I wrote in my previous Groundhog day post, Begin With The End In Mind, we must become absolutely certain where we want to go. So certain, that we believe and know it is inevitable. Remove the fat talk from our consciousness and replace it with fitness talk.

Some suggestions about goals:

  • Break out a map (a piece a paper).
  • Draw a line of where you are to where you want to go.
    • If you don’t know where you are, then write down everything about where you are now.
    • If you don’t know where you want to go, then write down everything about where you want to go.
    • Then keep that in your mind.
  • Then, break this big elephant into small bites. We must start small in order to make good habits.

As we begin to create our new selves, creation and being creative is a habit we must form just as a our fitness habits must replace our fat habits. So, how do we build this creative habit? In Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, the first step she talks about is the “Rituals of Preparation”:

When you have

  • selected the environment that works for you,
  • developed the start-up ritual that impels you forward every day,
  • faced down your fears,
  • and put your distractions in the proper place,

you have cleared the first hurdle. you have begun to prepare to begin.

Tywla Tharp

Wow. That is a lot in just one paragraph. I added the list and bold for emphasis. In order to create creative habits, we must make rituals. Rituals are things we feel impelled to do consistently. For some, that means to attend church everyday or every week. For others, it means praying five times a day. For basketball players, it means shooting your free throws in the exact same form every time. If we want to create good exercise and food habits, we have to be boring at first. We have to create rituals. We have to be consistent everyday.

Homework exercise:

  • Decide what time of day you are going to exercise every day for the next week.
  • Decide how much time you plan to exercise.
  • Decide what type of exercises.
  • Decide where you are going to exercise.
  • Decide why are you exercising.
  • Write this time and what you plan to do on 7 different 3 x 5 index cards.
  • Put the index cards next to your alarm or on your mirror or somewhere you will have to see them!
  • Set your phone alarm, set your watch alarm, set your clock alarm, set your computer alarm, and set your spouse alarm. Do whatever you have to do to meet this goal for the next 7 days! Each Day, pick up your card, go to the appropriate place and exercise!

Homework Hints:

Make this exercise time a ritual that is so rigid and so small, that it’s almost impossible for you to fail. Failure will not be possible. Guess, what we will do the following week. Increase the time and keep increasing it until we get to a net-caloric effect, but for now, we start small. We have to.

Mental thoughts: people who are not committed to exercise will ask themselves, how can I fit exercise into my day tomorrow. People who are committed ask themselves, how can I plan my day around my exercise time. Are you committed? Do you really want to become physical fit and achieve your ideal body? If so, change the questions you ask yourself.

Resist the urge to start exercising 60 minutes everyday. You are changing habits. People gradually become out of shape and sedentary. When we come out of the womb, we’re not super fat overweight babies. As we grow, most children are naturally active and moving around. We gradually learn to become sedentary, so we have to gradually learn to become active. If we do it too quick, we generally see people fail and over-whelmed. We know failure is not an option. So, start slow.

Homework Recommendations:

For those of you who need recommendations, because you don’t know where to start.

  • When to exercise?: First Thing you do when you get out of bed is to exercise (you might need to use the restroom, take a drink of water, and put your exercise clothes on and then exercise!)
  • How long? 10 minutes.
  • What Exercises? Anything. Do Jumping Jacks for ten minutes, Do stretching. Do Yoga, Run in place. I don’t care as long as it is something physical and you are pushing your body beyond what it normally can do. The goal is really to make the exercise a habit. If you need more stringent recommendations, I think you’ll see the most benefits from High Intensity Strength Training (we’re not talking heavy weight lifting, we’re talking weights that make you tired when you get to repetitions 7, 8, or 9.) Possible Exercise plans: The pattern that Jorge Cruise uses in the 8 minute workout is an excellent starter plan. Also, the Fitness Ladder Exercises from the Hacker’s Diet is another excellent quick starter workout. Remember pick something you love. So, if you love being outside, then go for a 10 minute walk.

I was reminded today, that big websites started out small. The first Amazon was nothing in comparison to what it is today. The first city began with a one room meeting place and then evolved into skyscrapers. Our Fitness habits will start small, we’ll build a strong foundation of habits that we’ll layer on top of. We’ll add biometric habits, eating habits, and more exercise habits all of which will make up the Slow Weigh to long term weight management and weight loss.

Dream Big, Start Small, and Continually take action! What’s your Ground Hog Day Resolutions?

5 Summer Weight Loss Strategies

Summer is the easiest time of year to lose weight, especially for those of us who endure long, cold winters. With summer’s abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, not to mention, warmer weather, there’s no excuse for us not to be eating healthy and exercising. Adopting these simple weight-loss strategies into your summer plans may leave you more than a few pounds lighter come October.

Here are 5 Summer Weight-Loss Strategies to try this summer:

1) Get moving – self explanatory, but for those of you who see exercise as a big scary monster and run screaming when faced with it, think of exercise as a time to reenergize yourself. Exercise does not have to result in a pool of sweat (you know who you are). It can be as simple as a brisk walk with your spouse, playing tag with your kids, or biking to/from work a few times a week. Anything that gets you moving for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day is worthwhile.

2) Eat au natural – I’m not suggesting you eat naked, although some people may like to try this, but rather try to eat foods with the fewest ingredients and limit the amount of processed foods you eat. Processed foods can pack on the pounds, because they tend to offer less fiber and won’t fill you up as much as natural foods. One rule is to eat food with ingredients you actually know and can pronounce.

3) MUFA Me, MUFA You – Monounsaturated fat, or MUFA, is known as the “healthy” fat. MUFA keeps you feeling fuller for longer and studies show that MUFA may also help us stave off chronic diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and depression. There are five main MUFA food groups:

* Oils that include canola, flaxseed, and olive oil
* Nuts and seeds that include walnuts, macadamia nuts, and sunflower seeds
* Avocados
* Olives, particularly the green variety
* Dark chocolate

Check out these great ideas to add a little MUFA to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also, make it a habit to eat MUFA snacks whenever possible. Keep in mind, MUFA is still high in calories, but a little goes a long way.

4) Divide and Conquer – Think of your plate as a clock – fill the space between 12 and 6 with fresh or steamed veggies; the space between 6 and 9 with whole grains and 9 and 12 with protein/fish. Throw in a little low-fat dairy and you’ll be good to go. By adopting this strategy, it should be easy to eat meals that are low-calorie, high nutrient foods, and to keep portions in control – just make sure you are using normal size plates!

5) Limit simple sugars – Simple sugars or simple carbohydrates refer to foods made with refined sugars or table sugar. Most foods made with simple sugars are essentially “empty calories”, providing very few vitamins, minerals, or fiber but remaining high in calories. They tend to leave us feeling unsatisfied and/or less full, prompting us to eat more. Simple sugars can also lead to a spike in blood sugar levels, giving us a short boost of energy, but leaving us sluggish and energy-zapped for hours on end. Simple sugars can be seen in foods under the names of corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, and glucose, among others. Foods high in simple sugars include sweets like cookies, cakes, and candy. Simple sugars also are found naturally in fruit and milk, but, unlike other simple sugar foods, these provide essential nutrients.

Have another great summer weight loss tip? Let’s hear it….

Eating Healthy, 30 minutes Walking, and 60 minutes Quiet Thinking fixes Health Problems

Just another reason to eat healthy and exercise.

As reported by Will Dunham from Reuters, Dean Ornish conducted some studies on men with prostate cancer who elected against surgery for remediation.  To try to combat the low grade cancer: the men in the study:

  • Ate Healthy,
  • Exercised 30 minutes a day, and
  • Meditated | Prayed | Thought for 60 minutes a day.

Guess what happened?  In three months time, they lost weight as expected, but even more encouraging is they actually changed Genes.  The healthy lifestyle activated some disease fighting genes and deactivated some unhealthy genes.  WOW!

Read the Original News source: Healthy lifestyle triggers genetic changes: study

I know many a people who say they can’t lose weight or can’t get healthy, because they have bad genes or they are big boned, or you name the excuse.  Well, here is a study that says even if you have bad genes, you can get healthy with lifestyle changes.  To steal a phrase from someone before me:  Yes we can!

What’s stopping you from committing to a healthy lifestyle?

I want you around.  I want you to live life! Enjoy what Earth, God, Metaphysics provide for you.  Happiness is health and family.  Frolic with grand children at the park, Watch your dog chase his tail, or just watching the trees blow in the wind.

Where do I start?

Well, Let’s Think about it.

What do kids get on their children’s menu at restaurants?  They get connect the dot pictures.  It allows the child to create a dog, lion, car, or any number of pictures by following the dots one at a time slowly and incrementally.  It’s much easier to connect the dots to draw a picture than to draw on a blank slate.

So, connect the dots!  Start Slow, be methodical and incremental.  Work up a ladder.  I’ll expand on this method later, but here’s the abridged version:

Dots:

  • 0 days – 14 days: Commit to weighing yourself everyday for the first 2 weeks.

Don’t worry about the details. The fact that you are weighing yourself everyday is the accomplishment!

  • 14 days – 42 days:  Continue weighing yourself everyday, in fact, don’t stop weighing yourself for the rest of your life.  Add to that small amounts of exercise everyday.  I recommend the 8 minute weight workout, but you could also do 10 minutes of walking everyday, gradually build up.

You’ve got some great new habits now.  you weigh yourself everyday and you commit to your 10 minutes of exercise a day!

Lets add another dot.

  • 42 days – 56 days:  Continue your current weighing and exercise habits.  Now add tracking your diet everyday.  Keep a pen and paper handy.  Write down everything you eat, and just keep track, don’t worry about how much you eat.  Just log it.

We’re finding out internally what we do.  when we eat.  It will guide us in our nutrition plan.  Do I really eat 3 starbucks a day?  Do I have that many potato chips?  you can be amazed at what you eat without knowing it.  Again, remember the goal is to Identify and Track.  That’s the accomplishment for this dot.

  • 56 days – 84 days:  Pick one dietary change each week, and focus on that change.

Examples:  I recommend lowering your diet each week by 200 calories.  Or, Pick a food item that really causes you trouble.  For me it is french Fries.  If I cut out french fries, I cut out a ton of places I’d go to eat which means I make different diet changes.  I also have the challenge of large portions.  So, that can be my change.  Whatever it is, Pick one and focus while keeping up your habits.

  • 84 days – forever:  Rinse, Recycle, and Repeat.  What I mean, is this is lifestyle change.  we have to be willing to commit to the change and keep it at that.  it’s a change.  No going back.  Learn to love new foods and new ways of eating, Learn to love exercising, make it fun for you.  By creating these new habits, we can replace our old diet habits.

How do you connect the dots?  What’s your incremental lifestyle change you can make?  Can you commit?

Of course, I recommend simpleweight for managing this healthy diet and exercise planning.