New Challenges and Surprises in Athletics: We Bounce Back and Start New Things..... .....inspired by others of all ages.
Ask this sample collage of wide-ranging athletes (beginners to professionals) whether they’d have been surprised two years ago by what would happen two years later….. and they’d have said “yes”.
The point? Try something new. Reclaim something old. It’s never too late to surprise yourself. Here are athletes in new situations/sports. What helped? Embracing the uncomfortable. Valuing experimentation. Practicing patience. Adding humor. Staying calm in stressful moments. And more.
Stulberg and Magness’s stress some of these concepts in their new book, Peak Performance (2017). Reducing perception of effort even during intense exercise improves performance. Writing down your larger purpose also helps, and as Stulberg and Magness write (p. 182), “Your purpose can change over time. As a matter of fact, it should! Perhaps the only constant in life is change. Revisit this process as often as you like.”
So who are some of these athletes?
Experienced, passionate hiker and masters runner with an age group ranking of number 4 in the world, Julie Craig, might be surprised she’d be competing in mountain races, recently placing 5th overall (and winning her age division, 50 – 54) in the Fells Mountain Race in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.
Marathon age group winner Sue Gustafson (3:06:09 at age 54) might not have thought she’d take up race walking when sciatica sidelined her from running….and then get over the sciatica and be running track intervals again.
Member of a world record setting 4 X 800 meter relay team (W 40 – 49) Eileen Troy would not have entered the 2017 national masters 5K cross country championships. But, inspired by her granddaughter, Elle, 10 (above) she did.. “I swore I’d never do that race again,” said Eileen. “But then I thought if Elle is doing it, why can’t I?”
In 2016 competitive runner, strong swimmer, and aquathloner, Kate Butler would have been surprised to think that in 2017 she’d have entered an aquathlon and conquered a fear of open water. “When there’s a new physical challenge it boosts your confidence in other activities. I had more confidence to push the run after the swim."
Age-group winning runner Gina Shield wouldn’t have thought she’d run her best times at 49 and 50, start swimming, and place second overall in her first aquathlon.
Accomplished hiker and leader of hikers Cheryl Suchors who mastered the 48 4,000 Footers in New Hampshire wouldn’t have thought that she’d be biking routinely on the Peleton as part of her training.
In early 2016 U.S. national rowing team member Jane Demers wouldn’t have thought she’d be swimming in open water mile races and lower her mile swim time from 1:04 (swimming “way wide” of the buoys) to 45 minutes.
Two years ago competitive age group distance runner Francesca Dominici hadn’t pictured competing in an Olympic distance triathlon.
And Category 3 cyclist, age group winning runner (and race car driver) Neal Heffron would never have thought he’d try aqua running as part of his training.
Betsy Miller wouldn’t have thought she’d be competing in mile open water swims – or competing with friends from high school.
Silver medalist sprinter in the Senior Games Inez Kelleher would never have thought she’d be swimming and complete an aquathlon.
French national team runner Liv Westphal might not have predicted she’d now be running for Nike now.
And new runners Esra Burdak and Heli Carlisle wouldn’t have thought they race a 5K as fast as they did. (Esra began last year by a routine of alternating 15 seconds of jogging with 45 seconds of walking.)
Paddle tennis, tennis player, and cyclist Sandra Comerchero might not have thought that she’d lower her mile pace from a 12.5 minute mile to a 10.5 minute mile in three months.
Antonia Hieronymus might not have thought she’d complete the Boston Marathon in 2017.
Tennis and paddle tennis player Maureen Marota might not have believed she’d be swimming again.
I (and orthopedic doctors) wouldn’t have thought I’d be running in aquathlons with a problematic knee.
And Charlene Francis, 76, wouldn’t have thought that she’d still be racing 5Ks and inspiring everyone else…… “That’s for sure,” she just said. “I just ran six miles with my son yesterday. He said, ‘Mom, I’m so sore’. I told him ‘You probably did overdo it. Take a rest day and ice your quads.’ He laughed at me. I am so proud of him.
In parting, Charlene added the most powerful comment about her recent running, given her decades of experience. “Everything is coming together AGAIN. It’s just incredible!”
Achieving Goals Through the Lifespan: Love and Belief
Responding to the article ("Grit and Mind Shift: A Powerful Combination") below, painter and champion age-group marathoner Sue Gustafson added perspective on deliberate practice (continual practice focused on challenging details and weaknesses with feedback from a coach). According to expertise expert Dr. Anders Ericsson, deliberate practice is essential for achieving excellence and goals in any field. Deliberate practice is, he says, not inherently fun.
Sue knows deliberate practice for long-term goals. At 71, she knows its challenges through the life span. And she adds additional perspective (from her own experience) to Ericsson’s.
Love is also essential for deliberate practice, she says. So is belief in deliberate practice, regardless of our age. Believing that improvement is possible – and that we can achieve our own uniquely defined goals – is essential for success. Goals don’t have to be Olympic goals. In short, goals need to matter just to us and no one else. They give purpose to the unique meaning we give to our lives.
She talked about her experience with deliberate practice applied to painting and running.
“Author Richard Rabkin quotes the violinist Paderewski’s views on practice: ‘If I don’t practice for one day, I know it; if I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it; if I don’t practice for three days, the audience knows it.’”
(The article mentions another book on deliberate practice in different fields: Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed).
Practicing Painting: “Fuzzy Territory”
“Practicing painting is something I’ve been grappling with for years,” said Sue. “It’s such fuzzy territory. How do you know when you have succeeded?
“I’ve been doing brush work practice and the benefits make me realize its importance. Brush work practice is just like practicing scales in music. It can be as simple as drawing wavy lines across a sheet of newspaper to understand brush marks you get with greater or lesser pressure.
“One of Rabkin’s points is that talent is a myth. ‘Athletes love their sweat,’ he writes. “While Rabkin affirms that deliberate practice is important, he says it’s not a question of being fun or not fun. Deliberate practice is consumed by passion,” said Sue.
Love Underlies Deliberate Practice
“What I’ve experienced is that the skill you are practicing becomes automatic. Getting a perfect expressive brush stroke is not a matter of some God-given gift,” said Sue. “It’s a matter of loving the medium and understanding what you are working with – the water, the paint, the brush, the drawing instrument – so well because you have practiced with them and love them so much that they are part of your hand. Love underlies deliberate practice. I suspect that deliberate practice also develops judgment – and certainly confidence.”
Sue said awareness of mind shift also inspired her thinking about painting.
“Many artists look to develop a distinctive style so that someone who walks into a gallery instantly recognizes their work. It’s easy for artists to get locked into that.
“It’s easy to be afraid that your work won’t be as distinctive or as good if you try new things and maybe fail or go through a period where people say ‘Oh! She’s not as great. She has fallen off.” The really great artists just don’t care about that. They just want to grow. And I suspect this comes from passion.”
Goals Don’t Have To Be The Olympics
“The beginner runners story validates the fact that goals don’t have to be the Olympics. Having goals that are important enough to put effort into is something everybody needs – especially through the lifespan.
“It’s harder when you get older to believe that you can grow – that possibilities are still ahead….that you can get stronger, even relatively stronger….and that you can succeed at something you never could before.
“These beginner runners have inspiring open, beginners minds. It’s very easy, especially if you have had some success, to get locked into having turf to defend and to feeling that if you failed you are worth less. Failing is an essential part of doing something well. Having the luxury to fail is a part of the beginner’s mind that’s so easy to lose.
“One thing I’m gaining from MOVE! running now is being able to relax and focus on setting a pace and not even worry about how fast I am. It helps me apply the effort to the purpose rather than just to the results.
That to me is huge. That applies to running, painting, and I suspect everything.
Sue: Grit, Mind Shift, and Running
Sue started running at 40 and has won her age group in numerous marathons and national championships (including a 3:06:09 marathon at 54 – the equivalent of a 2:35:33 for a young runner). “I used to feel badly if I stepped into a race and didn’t win my age group,” she said.
About a year and half ago, at 70, Sue had her first major setback requiring grit and mind shift. Sciatica prevented her from running for six months. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
She came to MOVE! practice every week, walking around the track in twice the time she used to run. “The support of teammates was unbelievably important,” she said.
Walking became race walking became running and racing. Mile times fell from 15:00 min. per mile a year ago to 14:00 on down. “It was a hard slug and a fight,” she said.
She won her age division in a road race a few weeks ago and recently ran the mile in 8:09. She’ll soon be running it under 7 minutes and change.
Grit and Mind Shift: A Powerful Combination
Experiences this past week reminded me about the power of grit and mindshift—particularly in adulthood. That’s when we think we know our strengths.
Here are the general concepts of grit and mindshift first.
Grit, a concept promulgated by “rockstar” U Penn Professor and author of Grit Angela Duckworth, is passion and perseverance for long-term goals. It’s hard to succeed in anything without grit.
Mindshift is the title of the book, Mindshift (2017), by celebrated author, engineer, and educator Dr. Barbara Oakley. Its message: we often underestimate ourselves, assuming we can’t learn new things in adulthood. But we can….and we can discover hidden potential.
Grit on Wednesday
On Wednesday I heard Dr. Duckworth speak at the Boston Public Library thanks to the Penn Alumni Association and to my friend Martha, a Wharton grad.
Dr. Duckworth is a polished, inspiring speaker. She reiterated four main ways to develop grit: 1. Develop your interests before training your weaknesses. 2. Know the science of deliberate practice (DP), a term coined by Dr. Anders Ericsson. DP often involves 10 years or 10,000 hours of practice. DP is not fun. It can be frustrating and it does involve frequent failure. And DP is done with feedback from a coach or teacher to improve performance. 3. Cultivate purpose. What's your mission? 4. Finally, have a growth - as opposed to a fixed- mindset. Growth mindset author Dr. Carol Dweck explains that those with a growth mindset believe intelligence can be developed (it’s not static). People with growth mindsets want to learn (as opposed to look smart) and they embrace (they do not avoid) challenges.
We know that we’re usually the only ones who know the many small steps of hard work behind our accomplishments. Dr. Duckworth showed this quote by dancer and choreographer Martha Graham.
Grit and Mindshift on Thursday
On Thursday night I cheered on women from my beginning running group. Two of them had never run a 5K before. (It was a 5K in cold, driving rain.)
Esra, Margot, Heli, and Sandra show grit and "mind shift". A cold and rainy 5K.....
Esra: I'm amazed!
Like the other members of their group (Milica, Betsy, Misti, and Tracey), they are examples of grit and “mindshift”. They show up for practice on most weeks. Practice is outdoors all year long -- snow, rain, etc.
Taking up running for the first time as adults (or after years of not running), they show up to push themselves, testing believe and hope that they can be their running best in mid-life. The possibilities exist: Where might they be running and how fast might they be after 10 years or 10,000 hours?
Esra, a native of Turkey, told her story. Active all her life – a skier, tennis player, cyclist swimmer, etc. – Esra had never considered running until she started with MOVE! last fall.
“I always attributed running to athletes and thought it required very special physical abilities that ordinary people cannot even try,” she said.
She tried a “mindshift” instead. Last fall her first goal was to run for 15 seconds. “I am a real beginner runner,” she said. In addition to attending practices, she ran twice more each week.
“The biggest challenges were doing it consistently, changing the mind set, getting rid of fears like getting injured and beliefs like running is not appropriate after certain age,” she said. After about six months she was able to run twice around the Brookline Reservoir (1.9 miles).
More Organized, Confident, Energetic
Things started to change. “I started to believe in my physical strength, inner integrity, and in the importance of consistency,” she said. “I became more disciplined, more organized. Most important of all, I feel more healthy and energetic.”
“The first couple of months are tough,” she said. “But if you keep on doing it consistently you will see the progress you make and it gives great pleasure, strength which will be reflected the other fields of life."
Like Heli, Margot, and Sandra, Esra exceeded her goal. Her “A” goal was 34:30. She ran 32:28.
She returns to Turkey on Monday as a runner. Esra.....ready for more grit and “mindshift”?
She looks ready for more grit and "mind shift", don't you think?
Why, When, How?
Caffeine as a performance enhancer: Make a good thing even better! by Joe Maloy (Olympic Triathlete, Rio 2016)
Many of us already enjoy coffee, tea, soda, and other caffeinated beverages. Research on endurance athletes shows that caffeine intake can be strategically timed to deliver performance benefits—both making a hard effort feel easier and helping to keep you focused during a race.
Here we’re going to discuss timing that caffeine intake to achieve the maximum performance benefit. It’s important to note there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach with caffeine supplementation. Try it out and see what works best for you!
General guidelines to know when deciding your strategy:
Decrease intake days before event to make caffeine feel more effective. When we grow accustomed to drinking coffee every day, our bodies “get used” to the caffeine high. Decreasing consumption in the 2-3 days before a week can make the caffeine dose more effective on race day.
Amount: 1-3 mg/kg of body weight. -There’s no added benefit to having more than 3mg/kg. (1Kg ~ 2.2lbs)
Time for stomach to digest ~ 15-45min, Peak stimulatory effects of caffeine ~ 30-75 min post-absorption.
Obviously this is a large range, so it’s important to experiment during training/workouts to see how fast you metabolize the caffeine/when you notice any performance benefits.
Caffeine amounts in brewed coffee and tea vary greatly depending on the beans/tea leaves and method of brewing. With coffee in particular, the method of brewing also impacts the drink’s acidity. Cold brewing and drinking espresso-based coffee drinks are good ways to drink coffee with lower acidity. There are also coffee beans that have naturally lower acidity, and this is normally noted on the bags. The caffeine dose in soda is controlled, but the acidity and carbonation can cause an upset stomach.
Cold brewing coffee is a great way to drink highly caffeinated coffee with low acidity. Espresso-based drinks generally have lower caffeine but are also lower in acid. (Brewing the beans with hot water causes the drink to become more acidic. Espresso is lower in acid because the hot water spends less time in contact with the beans.) Brewing with “The Toddy” home cold brew method and “The Aeropress” are two suggested methods to make cold brew/espresso at home.
The benefit of taking caffeinated pills or chewing gum (like Run Gum) is that it is a consistent, controlled dose. You also don’t have to worry about acidity. With caffeinated pills, consideration should be given to the time it takes your stomach to digest the pill and release the caffeine to your system. Gum, on the other hand, is a more direct delivery method. It’s broken down in your mouth and absorbed through saliva, which is a much faster delivery method and removes the “digestion” variable. “Run Gum” is the brand I liked to use, and is available for purchase online or in select specialty running stores.
The key thing, as with anything regarding sports performance, is to find what works for you. Find a routine that works for you, and enjoy the extra boost!
Arm Swing For Running
Whether you're sprinting or marathoning, arm swing is essential for running speed and for stabilizing the body. Improving arm movement improves running efficiency. (Sprinting on hills is also an excellent chance to work on arm movements -- as well as overall running form.). Below are reminders for arm swing. The cue word or words that follow each reminder will help you remember it.
1) Swing the opposite arms and legs in sync while running. Cue words: “In sync”.
2) Pump the arms forward and backward in line with the direction of movement. The arms should not swing across the body and the elbows should point backwards, not outwards. Cue words: “In line”.
3) Swing the arms from the shoulders, not the elbows. Keep the elbows bent and focus on driving them backward. “Swing from shoulders”.
4) Hold the elbows at about a 90-degree angle. Allow the elbow angle to fluctuate slightly during the arm swing, but don't stray too far from 90 degrees (70 to 120 degrees is a good range.) Cue words: “90 degrees”.
5) Pass your hands by your body at hip height – not above the waist or below the hips. Cue words” “pass at hips”.
6) Swing the arms powerfully through a full range of motion. While distance runners' hands should move from their hip or a bit further back to their chest, the hands of runners sprinting or running uphill should move from the back pocket as high as your chin. Cue words “chest or chin”.
7) Keep your shoulders and hands relaxed. The shoulders should be down, not tight. (Don’t clench your hands in a fist or let them flop around.)
The Zoom Vaporfly
Sneakers With Performance Advantages
With the Boston Marathon a month away, we’ll be reading more articles on topics related to running – and to running marathons.
Covered recently in The New York Times, one topic is sneakers: high performance sneakers now made by Nike and Adidas, shown to improve race times in the most elite runners and marathoners. The Nike sneakers were worn by all three medalists in the men’s marathon at the Rio Olympics and by winners of recent marathons in Berlin, Chicago and New York. (The name of the Nike shoe used by the Olympic medalists is the Zoom Vaporfly. It will retail in June for $250.)
“The shoes weigh about 6.5 ounces and feature a thick but lightweight midsole that is said to return 13 percent more energy than more conventional foam midsoles. Some runners have said the shoes reduce fatigue in their legs.
“Embedded in the length of the midsole is a thin, stiff carbon-fiber plate that is scooped like a spoon. Imagined another way, it is somewhat curved like a blade. The plate is designed to reduce the amount of oxygen needed to run at a fast pace. It stores and releases energy with each stride and is meant to act as a kind of slingshot, or catapult, to propel runners forward.
“Nike says that the carbon-fiber plate saves 4 percent of the energy needed to run at a given speed when compared with another of its popular racing shoes.”
According to South African exercise physiologist Ross Tucker, wearing these sneakers results in a “massive” difference in results, “the equivalent of running downhill at a fairly steep gradient of 1 to 1.5 percent”.
This new technology is just another in a parade of innovations of all kinds – ingestible and external -- designed to improve competitors’ performance in sports. Sports get more competitive. There’s more investment in technology and research to improve performance. Performance is increasingly rewarded.
In the popular press as well as in sports publications there are weekly articles on improving performance at all levels in everything. Everyone from elites to recreational athletes wants to know the latest finding or innovation. How do Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, or Serena Williams swim, throw, and serve respectively?
So while ingested substances have long been frowned upon (many banned), what about gear or external equipment (for lack of a better term)? Different sports have judged innovations in equipment differently. As Longwood writes, after the 2008 Beijing Olympics full-body swim suits were banned, judged to give swimmers an unfair advantage. On the other hand, new material for cyclists was welcomed. In the early 2000s carbon fiber replaced aluminum as the main material for competitive cycling. And what elite tennis players today play with wooden racquets?
In the world of running, there is precedent for sneakers being banned. As Longman writes, in 2007, Spira Footwear running shoes were banned by the International Association of Athletics Federation. The spring technology in them was considered an unfair advantage.
It will be interesting to see how the International Association of Athletics Federations, the ruling body of track will judge these sneakers. Do these sneakers give runners a fair advantage or not? The sneakers worn by elite marathoners are tailor-made for each competitor’s unique foot. They cost $250. Another version (not tailor-made) will be available for runners in June for $150. Will these sneakers be just as effective? (Hirsch, chairman of the New York Road Runners, believes that age-group competitions as well as elite races will be affected by this technology. )
These sneakers and their implications raise endless other questions. If the sneakers are allowed, do they give a fair or unfair advantage? If the sneakers are not allowed, how will race directors check runners’ feet? How will the IAAF consider the advantages of the critical carbon-fiber plate in the mid-sole as compared with those of the springs in the Spira Footwear shoes? How will the IAAF articulate its stance on the sneakers, specificity of language being critical to clarity and rules?
Never Too Late For A New Sport Under the photo below is National Masters News publisher Amanda Scotti's article on Cathy's first adventure into aquathlon (no biking! - :). It was published in the December '16 issue of National Masters News.
Cathy Utzschneider in her first Aquathlon at 60 (National Aquathlon Championships)
A New Sport To Team USA: Cathy Utzschneider Transitions in Training (As Published in National Masters News, Dec. 1, 2016)
By Amanda Scotti
We never know until we try. We masters runners often surprise ourselves either after trying a new event – a new distance or field event…..or after returning to a favorite one after doctors tell us our running days are over. Stories of transitions, comebacks and overcoming obstacles inspire us.
NMN columnist Cathy Utzschneider has one such story. Coach, middle distance runner (seven time national age-group champion), Cathy has written for over 10 years about others’ transitions. “Masters runners are inspiring – determined and ever-optimistic,” she said.
The short version of her story is this. Wanting a new athletic challenge, she added swimming to her training and entered the 2014 National Aquathlon Championships, a mile swim followed by a 10K run. A few months before it intense pain in her left knee (what turned out to be Grade 4 arthritis, multiple tears including an anterior cruciate ligament tear, a Bakers Cyst, quadriceps tendinosis etc.) she abandoned that plan. She stopped running for a year, advised to do so by several orthopedists. Then, after experimenting with treatments, she began adding a little running back into her training at the end of last year.
With some months of every other day running behind her, this past October she entered the 2016 National Aquathlon Championships in Santa Cruz. The results were beyond surprising. Placing second in her age group (W60 – 64) behind the age-group world champion, she qualified for Team USA for the 2017 World Championships in British Columbia. “It seems kind of crazy,” she said.
Here are highlights of what she learned along the way.
1. While swimming started out as work, it has become more and more fun – despite the hassles of hair, the cold, and the driving time to the pool. “I had been a swim instructor when young but that was decades ago and a lot has changed,” she said. Cathy found a masters swim coach at Boston College to work on drills. For the past two years she has swum every other day, taking lessons regularly and attending masters swim sessions occasionally. “I enjoy focusing on technique – the focus on different drills like the catch-up, early vertical forearm, the ‘11 and 1’, and the finger tip drag drill. In swimming skill is almost at least as important as fitness.”
She has enrolled in coaching classes also, certified now as a masters swim coach. In August she attended a week-long US Masters Swimming High Performance Swim Camp with 3.5 hours of swimming dialing, and 6 hours of lecture daily. “I’m also learning about the parallels between swimming and running, which is fun.”
2. Pool swimming is very different from lake swimming that’s very different from ocean swimming. Since she started, she has entered three different events. In 2015 she entered her first event, a 200 yard race in the Connecticut Masters Swim Championships. This past summer she trained with her athletes at in Walden Pond and in Maine ocean water. She entered two open water mile swims. The first was in the lake. That took 31:59. “The water was calm, the day perfect,” she said. Her second mile swim a few months later in Salem Harbor took 34 minutes “and something”. “I got slower,” she said. “There were 17 mile per hour winds and an incoming tide both working against me.”
3. Experimenting with treatments has been worth it. In 2015 she had two series of weekly injections of synovial fluid in her knee. Expensive and not covered by insurance, they worked for four or five months, allowing a few miles of running every other day. Instead of a third series of injections she ordered a pill that includes synovial fluid. Cathy has taken that pill since March of this year. “It is noninvasive, inexpensive, without known side effects (so far, at least), and it works as well as the injections. I can run a few miles every other day without pain. You need a prescription from your doctor to obtain these pills.”
4. Cathy agrees with doctors who say “Treat the pain, not the MRI.” Her NMN articles this year have included interviews with doctors who say that. Other doctors believe in treating the MRI. “I can’t predict the future – I may eventually need a knee replacement but I’m willing to risk that. For the moment I have no pain so I’m enjoying a little running. I want to live in the present on this issue.”
5. Sometimes it’s not worth setting a running goal – an interesting comment from an adjunct professor of high performance at Boston College and founder of MOVE!, an athletic coaching practice which stresses goal achievement.
“With so little running – with a base of just 15, not 50 miles a week – and not knowing how to think about a 10K (which I hadn’t raced for 11 years) after a mile swim, I just wanted to enjoy the run and do my best. In fact, I gave my husband my watch beforehand. A running goal was pointless.”
Her goal was 100% focused on the swim. “I had two swim goals, the main one being to stay calm. There were more than 100 women at the start, most of us were wearing full-length wetsuits (and I wore a neoprene cap underneath my bathing cap) because the water was cold – about 59 degrees. I wasn’t bothered by the announcement that we might find sea lions and sea otters nearby. We did. They were hanging out by the pier around which we swam. My second swim goal was to break 30:00.”
She was happy with the results. She swam the mile in 26:55 and felt lucky to run the 10K in 48:55, the fastest in her age group. And she knows she has to work on the transition. “I was almost slowest in the age group. The zipper got stuck under the Velcro and I was convoluted like a pretzel trying to get the wetsuit off.”
Transitions in training are an ongoing challenge. The Worlds are a slightly different format: a 5K run, a 1000 meter swim, and a 5K run. There will be two transitions but no wetsuit because the swimming will be held in an inland lake during August.
- Amanda Scotti
Use Words and Images for High (or Better) Performance - Jan. 13, 2017
Using Words and Images for High Performance was the subject of a talk for Boston College swimmers, entering the height of their competitive season. The strategies below are useful for sports or for any other challenge.
Listening to coaches and athletes share their strategies with words and images.....
Boston College Women Swimmers and Divers
We train. Meanwhile we think and imagine. Language and pictures help us be our best in sports – and in everything. “Exacting mental standards” mark Olympic athletes – swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky.
Why not, then, train our minds as we do our bodies? An ancient Latin phrase “Mens sano in corpore sano” ("a sound mind in a sound body") recommends that. Many recent studies confirm the power of mind over body. Take one study (1996) in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. Imagining weight lifting caused actual changes in muscle activity. Take another: a study in medical rehabilitation reported that people with fractured arms immobilized in casts imagined their arms moving. In fact, they were not. The result? Their arms improved significantly more in mobility and strength than those who did no visualizations.
Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, reports that hotel cleaners who were told they could lose weight while cleaning (vacuuming, dusting, etc.) lost weight while those told nothing did not. Achievement without mental training can be hard. My research with over 100 national- and world-class masters runners found that 96% of them use mental training techniques of affirmations or visualizations.
What can we do? Six things.
#1. Have a slogan, a motto, re. your effort. And say it daily. The words make your effort more important and intensify commitment. Create your own slogan or use one which others use (ones like “Embrace The Uncomfortable”, “Embrace The Intensity”, “Embrace The Loneliness”, or “Detach From Stress”). Slogans also reduce ambivalence and distractions.
By intensifying commitment, words make your efforts easier. Being 100% is much easier than being 90% committed. Indecision is always harder than commitment. As neuroscientist Dan Levitin writes in The Organized Mind switching from one focus to another and questioning oneself too much is tiring.
#2. Remember that positive words inspire action more than neutral or negative ones. Take this simple picture: in winter, the swimmer who hesitates before entering the indoor pool. The mantra “ice cream” – an image with a positive experience– helps her jump in the water sooner.
#3. Self-talk including affirmations – positive, present, and personal statements – improves performance under stress. Self-talk and sports performance expert Dr. Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis teaches at the University of Thessaly in Trikala, Greece. (His meta-analysis of sports psychological studies appears in Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2011, in the Journal of the Association of Psychological Science.)
Self-talk “stimulates your action, directs your action and evaluates your action," he says. "You instruct yourself until it becomes automatic." Two kinds of self-talk improve performance: instructional self-talk and motivational self-talk. Instructional self-talk focused on specific actions (“Relax your shoulders”, “Keep your leg straight,”) helps athletes improve specific techniques or skills. Motivational self-talk (“You know you can do this!”) improves performance in strength and endurance-based tasks).
Boston College swim and dive coaches are focused on all the details of training - with about 80 swimmers and divers, a big team.
#4. More research finds that third person self-talk improves performance most.
An athlete, Debbie, should say “Debbie has grit” instead of “I have grit” or “You have grit”. Use of the third person not only enforces belief and increases confidence but also improves performance under stress (The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, February, 2016).
When people think of themselves as another person, "it allows them to give themselves objective, feedback," says Ethan Kross, professor of psychology and director of the Self-Control and Emotion Laboratory at the University of Michigan.
5. Visualizations, in a place where you can recreate the environment, help performance as well. Wikipedia’s definition of visualizations is good: “the practice of seeking to affect the outer world by changing one’s thoughts and expectations”. Whether you want to visualize a movement or race, try to feel the event with all your senses – hearing, smells, sounds, sights, touches. (Olympians like swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, basketball player Michael Jordan and figure skater Randy Gardner visualize performance regularly. Since Phelps has visualized since he was 7 years old, he has a huge portfolio of them.) Many MOVE! athletes attribute their wins in tournaments or races to visualizations.
#6. Visualize with alternating themes. One visualization should focus on the perfect practice or race. The next should focus on anything that can go wrong so you can imagine how you will handle problems.
The next article will discuss three-minute visualizations. - c.u.
Olympian Joe Maloy on MOVE!: "The Act of Setting and Pursuing a Goal Changes Us - especially if it's a big one"....
Joe Maloy: "The act of setting and pursuing a goal changes us--especially if it’s a big one."
More than five years ago Olympic triathlete Joe Maloy said that the goal achievement method of MOVE! is not just for women. He was quoted in the book, MOVE!: How Women Can Achieve Athletic Goals At Any Age. Other men including former Olympian Willie Banks said that, too, but since I’ve worked mainly with women, the book was focused on them.
Having returned from Rio, Joe – the first American male finisher in the triathlon – answered questions about how MOVE! applies not just to training for a major athletic achievement but how it also applies after one.
C.U.: As you know, the MOVE! method of goal achievement is about preparing for goals, setting realistic goals, managing the process, assessing the outcome, and setting the next goal. What was your goal in the Olympics and how did you feel about your outcome?
J.M.: The best finish an American male had ever posted in the Olympic Triathlon was 7th, and my “outcome goal” going into the race was to finish 6th place or better. I thought that would be possible if I did an excellent job of controlling my individual process throughout the race.
Immediately after the race, I felt disappointed with my 23rd place finish, but there was a deeper pride in the way I’d prepared and competed on the day. The emotions have faded with time’s perspective, and a still-increasing pride of what the journey did for me, my family, and my community is taking its place. While I aspired for a higher finish, the result has more to do with the way I pursued, and will continue to pursue, my goals.
C.U.: Looking back, is there anything that surprised you about the experience?
J.M.: There were plenty of surprises--but my biggest surprise was the camaraderie between the athletes. It’s hard to put into words the feeling of walking into the Olympic Village dining hall, looking around, and knowing that each person is among the best in the world at his/her chosen pursuit.
Getting to the Olympics can be a lonely pursuit. Few people can relate to the focus and drive one must embrace to compete at the Olympic level. To be surrounded by people from all over the world, all of whom understood that focus and commitment, was pretty special.
C.U.: Now that the Olympics are over, are you taking a break from thinking about goals? How are you thinking about this period of time?
J.M.: It’s funny you mention that! When I returned home in late August, I felt like a dog that had just caught its tail. Can you picture that satisfied yet confused expression?
Over the previous six years, I had grown accustomed to making my decisions (where to live, who to hang out with, what to eat, etc.) with choices that aligned with competing at the Olympic Games. I had achieved the experience I had aimed for, but then life kept going. My family and friends went home--back to their lives--and I returned to my studio apartment outside of San Diego. I initially jumped back into my training routine, but my regular actions suddenly lacked direction. Instead of “going through the motions,” I recognized the opportunity to reassess the reasons behind my actions, and to decide if they were taking me in a direction that aligned with my other long-term goals.
While I was disappointed with my finish in the Olympic race, setting a goal to compete in the Olympics and then sharing that experience with my family, friends, and community was the most fulfilling experience of my life. Making the choice to pursue that goal meant I simultaneously chose against other things that are important to me--time with family and friends and longer-term financial security.
While I had no problem choosing full-time training at the age of 24 or 25, I’m a 31 now and wondering if I need to adjust my actions. I’ve grown as both an athlete and an individual over the past decade, and is continuing along my current path the best use of my current talents? What does this path mean? What are the costs? What are the benefits? What are my options? What gets me excited?
The MOVE! method of setting goals is about envisioning a future version of yourself and then creating the daily structure that will facilitate that evolution. I’m using this time to explore my options so I can move forward with conviction.
Boston College swim coach Michael Stephens, Joe, and I: athletic goals require thinking about other life goals too.
C.U.: The next three questions relate to thoughts for others about athletic goal achievement. Do you have any thoughts about preparing for, setting, and managing goals that others in might find helpful?
J.M.: When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I find that it helps me to make a list of things I need to do. I usually feel better about myself as soon as I give a little structure to the things I want to accomplish.
That’s kind of how I feel about preparing for, setting, and managing goals. The act of setting and pursuing goals doesn’t have to be this big, grand gesture. It’s a matter of acknowledging that something is important to us, and then structuring our work towards that imagined future. Whether it’s working for something 10 years or 10 hours in the future, goals empower us to take action.
C.U.: …..any thoughts about assessing goal achievement?
J.M.: Goal achievement doesn’t always look or feel the way we imagine. The act of setting and pursuing a goal changes us--especially if it’s a big one. Working towards a big goal changes us, and that new person will judge the accomplishment (or relative failure) from a new perspective than the person who originally set the goal. I think that new perspective is the true reward that comes from setting and working towards goals.
C.U.: ….any thoughts about the period following a major goal achievement? J.M.: I think it’s important to take some time to ask yourself if you’re satisfied. Satisfaction is the enemy of achievement.
C.U. Thank you, Joe, and thanks for inspiring us! ☺
Dec. 23, 2016: Reflections
Below are thoughts of 45 MOVE! athletes at the end of 2016.....
- We went outside our comfort zones. Whether that meant establishing a new habit in running, swimming, biking, hiking, walking or rowing by “getting out there” 3 times a week, entering a first track or swim race, trying to place in the top 5 of an age group in the world, qualifying for the Olympic Trials, returning to running after seven months cross training, entering a triathlon or aquathlon for the first time, etc.
- We trained consistently – and reasonably -- regardless of snowstorms, downpours, and heat and humidity. We ran together, swam together, biked together, stretched together, and lifted together.
- We trained individually and in small groups – and we talked….about mindfulness, habit, goal achievement, nutrition for performance, balancing main life priorities, and strives for lives that reflect progress in everything, athletics included. We learned.
- We supported and challenged each other. We value individual pursuits and community support.
- We talked about goals and transitions during times of injury, boredom, uncertainty, and aging.
- We benefitted from talking with women in different fields.
- We defied the odds – the doctors who said we “could never ____ again”, our own voices which said “you can’t”.
- We know that regardless of our pasts, we can find a way to be better, athletically, as we age.
WE CAN DO, BE……BETTER – NO MATTER WHAT OUR AGE. PICKING THE RIGHT GOAL IS KEY.
Transitions In Training - New Sport?
“Transitions in training” is a favorite topic (title of National Masters News column) – life being long and sometimes unpredictable. Experiences of other athletes and those of my own are sources of learning. They help me coach and teach. And while what I learn from their and my own experience is partly about the sport – adopting a beginner’s mind, embracing the uncomfortable, the value of a coach, deliberate practice, setting successive short-term goals etc. – it’s also about transitioning to anything new. Which makes life exciting (no matter how old we are) and not the “same old, same old”. You can’t transition to anything new without having a sense of humor (sizeable), a “who cares?” - “je m'ens foutisme” - attitude, or confidence that accomplishment in earlier sports is enough already. This, the first of a few articles on transitions in training, is about thoughts I had after a running injury which led to attending the U.S. Masters Swimming High Performance Swim Camp in North Carolina. I’ve been cross training and swimming as well as running. The five-day session, the daily schedule involved four hours of swimming – including lactate threshold and power testing—and six hours of lecture daily and lots of energetic talks in between. Testing involved swimming four 100s in a 50 meter pool as fast as possible with 10 minute recovery periods, swimming as hard as I could tethered to a rope and machine (we’ll leave it at that) that measured my power output, and doing the equivalent of a lat pull-down on a weight bench. The lead speaker was Dr. Genadijus Sokolovas, physiologist for the U.S. Olympic Swim Team (of course Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky) and on first Google search he is described as “considered by many to be one of the world’s most accomplished sports physiologist”. Wonderful man. A walking swimming encyclopedia. “Inspiring” was the adjective for every day. I was the “newbie” in the group of 10 swimmers, most of them either coaches or masters swimmers on the competitive masters circuit. (Acceptance into the program uncertain, I gained entry as the lucky “outlier” – partly because I happened to bump into the CEO of the U.S.A. Masters Games when my open water swim event in Greensboro, North Carolina was cancelled the day before the race.) Having returned, I think now about swimming a lot: swimming with tennis balls in each hand, my head as a submarine, protecting my ears from 58 degree water with ear plugs, watching any swimmer to see whether their fingers are pointing straight down, looking forward to analyzing hundreds of slides on physiology, comparing findings on swimming performance with those on running, and corresponding with new swimming friends. I just returned from a pool with my nephew, a 32-year-old surgeon. He wanted some tips, having stopped competitive swimming at 15. I keep coming back to a favorite metaphor based on a house with shutters. Think about life in sports as a metaphor for the house. A new sport can reinvigorate. After all the uncertainty during the early steps of taking it on, you may later realize you may have lived in a house where shutters were closed. And then you add a new one and see that the shutters are open. You haven’t moved but the light and possibilities are more now. That perspective was reinforced as I watched new swimmers who couldn’t swim 50 yards with ease last year swim more than a mile comfortably at Walden Pont this past week-end.
In 2015: Jane Demers and Betsy Miller focused on swimming 50 (25?) yards. In 2016: They swam more than a mile at Walden Pond.
Take The Plunge? Try The "Transitions Test": A Pilot Test
It’s fun, at times, to think about new sports you might want to try – just as it is fun to think of new kinds of goals. Like train tracks, goals may run in one direction for a long time. And then they change direction. Often we wait a long time to make transitions or any kind of changes, uncertain of what is next. We may start cross training because of an injury – and we may turn cross training in a more focused direction to a new sport. Or we may want to continue our sport and just want another challenge. We may want to try something we never thought we could do. Or we may be curious about another sport but our time is limited and we’re unsure in general. Why not try a new sport – even if you want to continue the one you love? Maybe it’s something to think about – and act on. “Act” is the key word. We often wait longer than we need to before starting something new. This article talks about transitions and the transition to swimming -- a sport that complements the “pounding” sports like running, tennis, and squash. A number of athletes talk about adding swimming – either transitioning to swimming or adding swimming as a main sport. The article concludes with a pilot phase of a transitions questionnaire. That may tell you how open you are to trying anything new. As Nancy Schlossberg and William Bridges say in their respective books, Overwhelmed: Coping With Life’s Ups and Downs and Transitions, Making Sense of Life’s Changes, change of all kinds is challenging. Many people avoid it, even if it’s something to consider and act on. Often they avoid it because they haven’t thought about the transition objectively. Change can raise charged logistical, physical, and psychological questions and uncertainties – like these: Where am I going with this sport? (What am I doing?) Do I need a coach and what kind? When can I fit it in? What are reasonable goals? Will I have any ability in this? Am I just experimenting or actually going for a first short-term goal? Any change can challenge identity. Transitions are also an opportunity offer for growth. If you are thinking of starting swimming (or any sport), you may build new skills, meet new people, be better than you ever were at the sport, and learn more about yourself. How do you respond to unfamiliar situations? Can you enter a race and finish last? Can you enter an endurance swim just for the fun of it? You can use MOVE! principles not just to achieve athletic goals but to clarify your thoughts as you transition to swimming. Apply MOVE! goal achievement concepts to it: the values of experimenting; of setting short-term successive goals; of focusing on specific tasks aimed at our weaknesses; of correcting them with feedback from others; of considering methods to anticipate obstacles; and of evaluating short-term goal achievement objectively. Several athletes in their forties through seventies – Jane Demers, Eileen Troy, Inez Kelleher, Betsy Miller, Francesca Dominici, and Gina Shield – are among many who have recently tried swimming. In some cases they have just tried the sport a few times, in the early stage of experimenting. In other cases, they have committed to their sport for a year at least and are astounded by their progress so far. Jane Demers, a competitive athlete through high school and college and a member of the US National Rowing Team after that, says about swimming that “I am delighted I now have a new sport I can enjoy and practice in so many different venues, both indoors and out.” She’s delighted now but when she started about a year ago, swimming 25 yards was a challenge. “I had never been taught how to swim,” she said. “I got an instructor and struggled for about a year and a half in the pool because I could not calm down enough to figure out the breathing pattern.” Her first accomplishment was swimming a 25 “without wanting to die.” “Progress was very slow and made even slower by my high anxiety,” she said. “My instructor told me to stay calm, to remember that air was always available to me ….and she told me I was absolutely capable of swimming for 10 minutes and not just 25 or 50 yards and I needed to get past the anxiety and the panic.” “I fought hard to stay calm and swam for 10 minutes and once I had that confidence that I could do it, I quickly progressed to swimming for 25 minutes in the pool and just last week headed outside to do a mile plus open water swim. My anxiety in the water around breathing is always there but I did not give up and now, at age 60, after a year and a half of very slow progress, I had a breakthrough and I can now call myself a swimmer.” The journey, she said, has “required courage, determination, trust in my instructors and a commitment to showing up despite lots of set backs and disappointments.” Eileen Troy is a competitive masters runner who has run 13 Boston Marathons. Recently experiencing a number of minor injuries including Achilles tendonitis, she has started – just a few times – swimming 10 to 12 laps. “Swimming not only keeps me in shape for returning to running but gives me another fun form of competition which is less demanding on the joints!” Senior Olympics silver medalist sprinter Dr. Inez Kelleher has also begun to integrate swimming into some of her weekly workouts for the same reason. She wants to keep focus on sprinting but open to swimming events, too.
Betsy Miller was a recreational swimmer as a child “spending every summer in and on the water.” Then came adulthood and “a full-time job, then spouse, then children…..and pretty much all exercise fell by the wayside. “Then in my mid-fifties, stomach surgery necessitated rebuilding my core. I started out trying to do a couch-to-5K, but I'm not much of a runner and oddly, the couch never moved. I moved to a weights-based strength building routine, which worked well until I moved away to a new job and new environment…… I needed to get more exercise.” She took on the challenge of running…..”but by the time the hot weather hit, I was miserable.” So she tried swimming. “I thought it would be easy,” she said….”Or so I thought at first.” She needed to rest after one length of the pool. Her legs were sinking. So she relearned the freestyle. “Week by week, the challenges got easier.” A few months later, she swam more than a mile at Walden Pond with high school friends “and we made it look easy!” Competitive distance runner Francesca Dominici has been running marathons, including five Boston Marathon for years. A year and a half ago she began swimming when she was sidelined with plantar fasciitis. When she started swimming she could not swim for 25 yards. Four months later when she was back to running she continued swimming and is now preparing for her first sprint triathlon. She’ll compete in that three weeks before she runs the Rejkavik half marathon. “It is a total exhilarating experience transitioning from a situation where running was the ONLY sport I could do, to a situation where I have added a whole new dimension in my life, swimming! I worked really hard on the swimming. I started from a situation where I was not even able to put my head under the water, to kicking with the board with fins at the pool, to taking lessons on freestyle - every Sunday for over a year…and finally I am now swimming for 3/4 mile at the lake. Swimming is so different from running, being able to accomplish something so big for me has further boosted my level of confidence. It has given me a sense of freedom and demonstrated the important lesson is life: always leverage a set back and an injury as an opportunity to do something new.” Gina Shield was a Division 3 College tennis player who became, in adulthood, a competitive masters runner focused on PRs. She is now swimming in addition to running. “I am interested in open water group swims because I want to be able to run for a long time and feel cross training will help me do that and allow me to develop new skills to achieve those goals. Also it's definitely outside my comfort zone and a little scary for me (I've had 2 panic attacks in the water) and I think that will be good to push myself through that to improve my confidence not only for swimming and running but for all that I do.” Why not “take the plunge”? If you’re thinking of taking on a new sport (or any new activity), see how ready you are for transition. This is a pilot test. Take it and, if you want, let me know your results and what you think about the test. Are the results accurate? Transition Test 1. I have a sense of humor about myself. 5 = Very much like me 4 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 2 = Not much like me 1 = Not like me at all 2. Routine is very important for me. 1 = Very much like me 2 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 4 = Not much like me 5 = Not like me at all 3. Looking awkward bothers me. 1 = Very much like me 2 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 4 = Not much like me 5 = Not like me at all 4. If given the opportunity, I like to seek out new friends and environments. 5 = Very much like me 4 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 2 = Not much like me 1 = Not like me at all 5. I do everything I can to avoid making mistakes. 1 = Very much like me 2 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 4 = Not much like me 5 = Not like me at all 6. I tend to view new things as exciting rather than scary. 5 = Very much like me 4 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 2 = Not much like me 1 = Not like me at all 7. I would rather learn more about what I know that learn a little about something new. 1 = Very much like me 2 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 4 = Not much like me 5 = Not like me at all 8. I am impatient. 1 = Very much like me 2 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 4 = Not much like me 5 = Not like me at all 9. I try new things even if no one I know does them. 5 = Very much like me 4 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 2 = Not much like me 1 = Not like me at all 10. I am someone who likes to experiment. 5 = Very much like me 4 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 2 = Not much like me 1 = Not like me at all 11. I have done the same extracurricular activities, including sports, since I was young. 1 = Very much like me 2 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 4 = Not much like me 5 = Not like me at all 12. I am comfortable asking for help when I need it. 5 = Very much like me 4 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 2 = Not much like me 1 = Not like me at all
Scoring: 1. For questions 1, 4, 6, 9, 10 and 12 assign the following points: 5 = Very much like me 4 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 2 = Not much like me 1 = Not like me at all 2. For questions 2, 3, 5, 7, 8 and 11 assign the following points: 1 = Very much like me 2 = Mostly like me 3 = Somewhat like me 4 = Not much like me 5 = Not like me at all Add up all the points and divide by 12. The maximum score on this scale is 5 (extremely willing to make changes), and the lowest scale on this scale is 1 (not at all willing to make changes).
Compute Your Predicted Minimum Times No Matter How Old You Are: AGING TABLES FOR RUNNING AND SWIMMING
At some point -- whether that's at 33, 38, 44, or sometime before or after that-- we slow down in running and other sports. For a long time runners older than the age of peak performance (25 is one of those ages) have used the World Masters Athletics age grading calculator (http://www.howardgrubb.co.uk/athletics/wmalookup15.html) to estimate what their times in distances from sprints to ultra distances might have been if they were 25 again.
Another aging performance table published by Ray C. Fair of Yale University provides predicted times both for swimming and running. You can, given your best previous times at a certain age, predicted the times which you might have scored at 25, for example.
Dr. Fair's article on which the tables are based is "Estimated Age Effects in Athletic Events and Chess," from Experimental Aging Research, 2007, 37-57. As his abstract states, his estimates show a linear percent decline between age 35 and about age 70 and then quadratic decline after that. In addition, the abstract states that rates of decline are generally larger for the longer distances, and for swimming they are larger for women than for men. Using best-performance records to estimate rates of decline, the records are generally based on very large samples. The age range in his study is 35 to 100 for swimming and 35 to 98 for track and field and running.
Find your event and highlight the link below to use Fair's formula. The World Masters Athletics age grading calculator is the standard calculator for all running events and you can compare those with Fair's. Fair also computes age grading for swimmers.
Observer: Olympic Impropriety?? Anna and Lisa Hahner hold hands as they finished the marathon
8/19/16- "In the News": Olympics from a few participant and observer perspectives
PARTICIPANT: When Joe Maloy -- Olympic Triathlete, 1st American finisher -- was in first grade, his teacher asked the class to keep a journal. One of his first entries read: “I am going to the Olympics.” http://www.shorenewstoday.com/sports/cape_may_county/joe-maloy-finishes-as-top-american-in-olympic-triathlon/article_f51c5562-655c-11e6
Gold Medalist cyclist Kristin Armstrong with son Luke
Masters Champion at the 2016 Olympics: A Model of Never Too Late, Transitions, Life Balance, A Positive Mindset
Just two days ago Kristin (not Lance) Armstrong herself one of the most legendary time-trial cyclists in Olympic history – winning her third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the cycling time trial (she also won golds in Beijing and London) and the oldest women’s cycling gold medalist ever. On the day of her event – an 18.5 mile hilly course which she completed in 44:26.32 (almost 25 miles per hour), 5 seconds ahead of Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya – Armstrong was 42 (and 364 days) -- almost 43, older than all the other cyclists by seven years. Kristin’s example confirms facts, which many of you know.
1. It’s never too late. "I think that for so long we've been told that we should be finished at a certain age,” she said. “And I think that there's a lot of athletes out there that are actually showing that that's not true." Many you know this -- and can inspire Kristin.
2. Transitioning to a new sport of focus can be exciting. Kristin was originally a triathlete before osteoarthritis in her hips changed her course. She only became a full-time cyclist in 2011.
3. Training provides balance that helps her achieve other goals as well. Kristin is the Director of Community Health at St. Luke’s Hospital in her hometown of Boise, Idaho. And she’s also the mother of a five-year-old son, Lucas. Training, she said, “provides me balance and it keeps me on track and it keeps me super-focused."
4. Training and competition are full of challenges for which a positive mindset is transformative. On the morning of her race Armstrong woke up at 4:30 a.m. Looking out the window, she saw it was pouring. Blowing sheets of rain created mist. Obviously the roads, many of them steep, would be slick.
“Ugh,” she said. “I had two choices,” Armstrong said. “I could say, ‘Oh this is awful, I don’t want to race today,’ or I could say, ‘Hey, you know what? I have experience in the rain. I can do this.’ I took the latter and kept my mind positive.”
Another athlete who will be having that attitude for sure is Olympic triathlete Joe Maloy who will be competing next Thursday on August 18th at 10:00 a.m. Go Joe!
FOOT STRIKE AND SPEED: What You Should Know And What You Can Do
Are you a heel, mid-foot, or forefoot striker?.....Do you wonder about that and speed?
Many of my runners ask about their foot strike - and everyone wants to know about speed.
Some facts, first…
1.) Generally foot strike changes with speed. If you are a heel or mid-foot striker in a distance race, you may well be a forefoot striker in a 50 meter sprint. (The longer the distance, the more likely you are to run on your heels.) Sprinters almost always use a forefoot strike.
2) Most runners – at least 75% -- are heel strikers.
3) Some heel strikers are the fastest in the world. Meb Keflezighi is one.
4.) One of the few studies on foot strike patterns during running events focused on elite distance runners and confirmed the frequency of heel strikers among them. The study focused on runners in the 2004 Sapporo International Half Marathon (results published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning (2007, volume 21). The scientists set up a high speed camera at the 15km mark of the race, observing the foot strike of 248 men and 35 women. The runners were mostly heel strikers – 75%. Twenty-four percent landed on the mid-foot, and only 4 of 283 runners landed on the forefoot. 5. Unless you are already getting injured frequently, it’s not worth changing your foot strike. There are many accounts of runners getting injured as a result. (One study at the University of Cape Town asked runners to change their foot strikes from a heel to a midfoot strike. Within two weeks all had Achilles tendon injuries. The loading on the knees was reduced, but the loading on the ankle increased. Changing the position of your footstrike impacts your hip flexion, cadence, stride length and almost everything in the bio-mechanical chain….‘nuff said!)
6. If you are thinking about form, don’t over stride and reach out to strike in front of your body. That creates too much impact and effectively breaks your speed.
7. If you pretend that a string is attached to the top of your head and that someone is pulling it upward toward the sky you’re likely to run tall and land under your body’s center of mass (not too far out in front of you).
8. If you want to increase your speed (a function of stride length and stride frequency, the number of steps you take in a minute of running) whether you are a sprinter of distance runner, focus on increasing stride frequency. More steps means less impact absorbed with each foot strike.
Of course sprinters take many more steps per minute than distance runners. As an example, world-class sprinters like Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce take 221, 231, and 286 steps per minute respectively. That’s the respective equivalent in 100 meters of 36, 38, and 51 steps. By contrast, elite distance runners take about 180 or more steps per minute. Recreational runners take about 150 to 160 steps per minute.
To increase stride frequency, periodically count the number of times your right leg hits the ground. If you are a distance runner, as an example, count the number of times your right leg hits the ground in 30 seconds of running. Then multiple that by 4 for your per minute cadence. Cue words that help you improve your cadence are “quick feet” and “running on eggshells”. You can also use your phone by downloading songs according to beats per minute from a range of websites including www.runningmusicmix.com. That has songs from 140 to 180 beats per minute.
Muscle cramps -- get them gone.
Swimmers, runners, tennis players -- even loungers -- who doesn't encounter them occasionally - and hate them? An article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday (July 11, 2016) by Matthew Futterman shares findings from Nobel Prize winner Rob MacKinnon and Harvard neurobiologist Dr. Bruce Bean, who have a solution. If you've been trying bananas, quinine, pickles or beets, try something else. MacKinnon and Bean suggest spicy liquids: wasabi, hot chillies. “The primary origin of the cramp is the nerve, not the muscle,” said MacKinnon.
He and Dr. Bean have invented a spicy drink to neutralize the nervous system’s excessive firing of motor neurons, which causes muscle cramps. By applying a strong sensory input and by stimulating receptors in the mouth and esophagus spicy foods overload nerve receptors, producing a numbing effect. “The strong sensory input causes inhibition of the motor output,” says MacKinnon.
For the article see, http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-new-way-to-prevent-muscle-cramps-1468256588.
Food For Athletes? The bread basket, salt, bananas, pomegranates
“Science Explains ....” tells about a study published in the Journal of Nutrition (2016) that found that salt made people eat 11% more food and calories. The study showed that eating lots of salt has been linked to obesity, even independent of calorie consumption.
“Nine Foods….” tells reasons to consider abstaining from bread baskets you find at your table while you wait for your meal at restaurants. Usually bread in bread baskets is refined, processed carbohydrates. When you swallow refined carbohydrates, insulin drives up blood sugar levels and that accelerates hunger. So, apparently, do bananas. Interested in reading more? Check out Always Hungry (January, 2016) by Dr. David Ludwig.
“Nine Foods……” also cites a recent study from Australia which cautions against foods with artificial sweeteners like diet soda. They trick our brains into wanting sugars, craving foods, and expecting more calories. When none arrive, our brain signals disappointment.
That article also mentions a helpful tidbit about small snacks close to mealtime. It recommends avoiding eating a small snack close to a mealtime, as it will accelerate, not satisfy your appetite.
“Pomegranate finally reveals its powerful anti-aging secret tells about a study with implications for aging athletes. The study found that pomegranates, which produce the compound called urolithin, can slow the aging process by protecting muscles and boosting endurance in aging mice. Urolithin encourages cells to repair and renew mitochondria, the cell organelles that convert food into energy.
Scientists found that mice who received urolithins from pomegranates were found to spontaneously exercise 57% more than control mice, with increased running endurance of 42% for mice and 65% for rats. Earlier studies have shown that regularly eating pomegranate could have a protective effect against neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. Currently, there are clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of urolithins in humans. Results are expected in 2017. - c.u.
Carbohydrate Loading Before The Marathon -- and more
Each runner approaches tapering differently and many plans work. The following physiological principles apply, however, and are helpful to remember.
Rebuilding depleted nutrient stores in the body (such as glycogen) to their maximum requires 2 to 3 days of lowered activity.
Rebuilding minor injuries in muscle or connective tissue takes a minimum of 5 days.
The body's store of oxidative enzymes diminishes in 72 hours if not stimulated by aerobic exercise.
Any training effect you get from hard activity during the last 10 days before the race will be minimal.
Training up to the week before the marathon helps runners run faster on fat metabolism and store more carbohydrates (CHO) or glycogen to be used. Note that some glycogen metabolism happens for fat metabolism to easily occur. It’s possible to store even more carbohydrates carbohydrate loading. Normal stores will last for 1 ½ to 2 hours of running, but CHO loading can be a useful tool for events longer than 1 ½ hours.
The original CHO loading plans lasted for six days, with a 3 day depletion phase to trigger supercompensation by the muscles to store glycogen. David Costill, Ball State Human Performance Lab, has done extensive studies showing that the three day high CHO diet works just as well. Given the above, one common approach follows below. Begin carbohydrate loading just four days before the marathon. The high CHO diet must be accompanied by reducing mileage at least by 50%.
Marathon Week Mon - Thurs: 1/2 the usual distance run, Usual Diet - 50 - 60% of CHO Fri - Sun: low exercise, high CHOs (70 - 90%) Mon: Boston Marathon
Glycogen stores are higher if you eat two large meals rather than smaller ones. Our recommended plan is:
Carbohydrate load for 3 days before the event accompanied by a period of reduced exercise.
The first day of loading is the most important. Begin with a big carbo breakfast, such as pancakes or French toast. This is the day for the traditional pasta dinner of spaghetti and bread. Try eat as many complex carbohydrates as possible in these two meals.
Taper off bulk and switch to more simple CHO's as the days progress. Do not load on large quantities of fruit or any other foodstuffs that you don't normally eat.
The last major meal should be 12-15 hours before the race and should not include too much bulk.
If you plan to eat on race day morning and are used to doing so, eat a light CHO meal such as toast 2-3 hours before the race. No carbo's, especially simple sugars, should be ingested within 2 hours of the run; this could lead to an blood insulin reaction causing weakness and fatigue.
You will know that you are effectively loading if you record your daily weight and see a 2-5 or more pound weight gain over the 3 day period. As the CHO is stored, water is also stored in the muscle leading to the weight gain. This water storage may make your legs feel sluggish during your few miles of easy runs, but it may well come in handy during the marathon as a source of sweat etc. You may also feel sleepy, cranky or tired due to the blood sugar and insulin responses to all the carbohydrate. During the race however, you should feel energized!
The Day before the Marathon
Stay away from foods you know will cause stomach distress. Drink water frequently. Eat meals at home if possible. Go easy on caffeine products. Avoid gassy foods like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, beans, etc. If you are on the road, pack non-perishable food items.
Eat 2-4 hours before the race. Aim for 100-200 grams (400 – 800 calories) of carbohydrate (low in fat and a small amount of protein). Ex. Bagel, banana, non-fat yogurt, sports drink, toast, sports bar, etc. Drink 16 oz. of fluid before the start of the marathon.
During the Marathon
Drink 5 1/2-oz fluid every 15 minutes. Use a sports drink if available. Try to test out the sports drink that will be featured at the race BEFORE your race. Try to eat/drink 30-60 grams (120 – 240 calories) of carbohydrate every hour. Do not wait until the end of the hour to obtain all of your carbohydrates. Try to take a gel or part of a sports bar every half hour.
After the Marathon
Drink (no not alcohol or diet coke!) Try to replenish 100-400 calories within 30 minutes after your marathon. Eat high carbohydrate foods and some protein (a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is best). Ex. Pasta/chicken, sandwich, non-fat cottage cheese/fruit, cereal/milk, trail mix, etc.
Confirming MOVE! and the Importance of Friendships and Family I look forward to reading Life Reimagined by Barb Bradley Hagerty who interviewed me for a recent NPR segment. The link to the segment is at the bottom of this e-mail.
Barb confirms MOVE! 's main principles for happiness and goal achievement -- related to in mid-life in particular. Hagerty (like MOVE! ) stresses the importance of
- experimenting with new goals at any stage of life, of setting goals that have meaning for YOU (and not others in the "Group Think" pack)
- of facing fears or, as we say in MOVE!, "ETUing" (Embracing The Uncomfortable)
- of setting goals to help define our lives (otherwise Big Brother/Sister "WORK" takes over) which otherwise gallop increasing fast with the decades
- and of viewing hurdles as fun challenges to overcome....
Barb adds to this perspective. She says the secret to happiness "is warm relationships."
Thank you and congratulations again, Barb! For Barb's perspective on "8 Ways You Can survive -- and Thrive In -- Midlife" -- check out this link: "http://www.npr.org/2016/03/17/469822644/8-ways-you-can-survive-and-thrive-in-midlife."
OLYMPIC RUNNERS: TRIPLETS
Nature and nurture – genetics and training –contribute to excellence in sport but the question of which contributes more is ultimately complex and elusive. Yet we still try to figure it out, particularly when the stakes are high – as at the Olympics.
A recent story that invites the question is that of the Nature and nurture – genetics and training –contribute to excellence in sport but the question of which contributes more is ultimately complex and elusive. Yet we still try to figure it out, particularly when the stakes are high – as at the Olympics. A recent story that invites the question is that of the “Trio to Rio”: Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik, 30, who will be competing in this year’s Olympic marathon for Estonia. (There is also a set of German twins, Anna and Lisa Hahner, competing in it.) Raised in the medieval city of Tartu, the Luiks are the first set of triplets – and they are identical triplets -- ever to compete in the same event in the Olympics. Each country is allowed three athletes of each gender to compete. While identical, all born a month premature and not weighing more than 4.5 pounds, their genetics show some variation. They do not have exactly the same speed or oxygen-carrying capacity and they recover differently from tough workouts. As a result, their coach, physiologist Harry Lemberg at the University of Tartu, designs different workouts for each of them. While their physiology shows some variations, the sisters – who live separately in Estonia – often train together. They regularly spend winters together at a high-altitudetraining camp in Kenya, and in June they just spent weeks training together in northern Italy.
Their view on medaling this year?
They’ve considered the facts. In the 2012 London Olympics the gold medal winner was Ethiopian Tiki Gelana, who set the Olympic record of 2:23:07. The silver and bronze medal times were 2:23:12 and 2:23:29. By contrast, Leila, the oldest of the triplets, has the fastest personal best at 2:37.12. Liina’s personal best is 2 minutes and 30 seconds slower and Lily, the youngest, who is a further 45 seconds back.
The Luiks’ goal for the Rio games is to finish together, to set personal bests and to enjoy the experience. But the 2020 Olympics may be another matter. If the expert theorist K. Anders Ericsson is correct in that it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours of focused hard work to achieve excellence, another four years should give the Luiks better times. Unlike many Olympic marathoners who have been running seriously for at least a decade, the Luik sisters are late comers to the marathon. They have only been running seriously for six years, since they were 24. They don’t come from an athletic family. Their mother, Lea Luik, encouraged her daughters to take into music lessons, preferring that they play the piano, the cello and the violin instead of taking part in sports. The Luik sisters were always active, however. In school they took hip hop lessons and after high school actually became professional hip-hop and show dancers. They taught dance lessons and appeared in a music video. They also worked as lifeguards, which required running as part of training. It was that experience that led to competitive running. So Dr. Ericsson: here’s more fodder for your research on excellence. And Luiks: you are already setting a record.
- c.u., who will be competing in this year’s Olympic marathon for Estonia. (There is also a set of German twins, Anna and Lisa Hahner, competing in it.) Raised in the medieval city of Tartu, the Luiks are the first set of triplets – and they are identical triplets -- ever to compete in the same event in the Olympics. Each country is allowed three athletes of each gender to compete. While identical, all born a month premature and not weighing more than 4.5 pounds, their genetics show some variation. They do not have exactly the same speed or oxygen-carrying capacity and they recover differently from tough workouts. As a result, their coach, physiologist Harry Lemberg at the University of Tartu, designs different workouts for each of them. While their physiology shows some variations, the sisters – who live separately in Estonia – often train together. They regularly spend winters together at a high-altitudetraining camp in Kenya, and in June they just spent weeks training together in northern Italy.
Their view on medaling this year?
They’ve considered the facts. In the 2012 London Olympics the gold medal winner was Ethiopian Tiki Gelana, who set the Olympic record of 2:23:07. The silver and bronze medal times were 2:23:12 and 2:23:29. By contrast, Leila, the oldest of the triplets, has the fastest personal best at 2:37.12. Liina’s personal best is 2 minutes and 30 seconds slower and Lily, the youngest, who is a further 45 seconds back. The Luiks’ goal for the Rio games is to finish together, to set personal bests and to enjoy the experience. But the 2020 Olympics may be another matter. If the expert theorist K. Anders Ericsson is correct in that it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours of focused hard work to achieve excellence, another four years should give the Luiks better times. Unlike many Olympic marathoners who have been running seriously for at least a decade, the Luik sisters are late comers to the marathon. They have only been running seriously for six years, since they were 24. They don’t come from an athletic family. Their mother, Lea Luik, encouraged her daughters to take into music lessons, preferring that they play the piano, the cello and the violin instead of taking part in sports. The Luik sisters were always active, however. In school they took hip hop lessons and after high school actually became professional hip-hop and show dancers. They taught dance lessons and appeared in a music video. They also worked as lifeguards, which required running as part of training. It was that experience that led to competitive running. So Dr. Ericsson: here’s more fodder for your research on excellence. And Luiks: you are already setting a record.
Be Your Best At Any Age MOVE! is a coaching practice that uses a unique goal achievement method. MOVE! helps you identify and achieve athletic goals. In the process you realize balance and achievement in your personal and professional life.
MOVE!'s effectiveness in helping people achieve athletic goals has led to its use in changing behaviors from sleep, eating/drinking, and stress management to mood regulation.