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Consistency Trumps All

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Dec 31, 2008

As you dive head-long into the New Year with new goals, it doesn't matter whether they are oriented toward health and fitness or other life-spoke goals, it is consistency that will make you successful.

 

Do you need 100 percent? No.

 

If you can stay on course at least 80 percent of the time, I think you will be successful.

 

 

"The secret of success is consistency of purpose." - Benjamin Disraeli

 

 

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How bad do you want it?

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Dec 29, 2008

Ah, tis the season for New Year's Resolutions. Some people have already decided on their New Year's Resolutions. (Some of them were at my gym this morning. I noticed things were more crowded than usual.)

 

Others haven't decided on resolutions yet and will put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. Still others wait to plot goals until sometime later in January or February.

 

What are your "resolutions" anyway? Are they wishes?

 

A wish can be defined as a desire, longing, or strong inclination for a specific thing. A wish is mostly a thought.

 

 

A resolution can be defined as a decision to do something. A resolution is action oriented.

 

 

Whether or not you will be successful in achieving your resolution or resolutions depends on how bad you want it.

 

 

To get you thinking, answer these three questions about your most important resolution:

 

 

  1. Why do you want it?

  2. What are you willing to give up in order to get what you want?

  3. How bad do you want it?

 

If you don't want it bad enough to give up a bad habit or behavior in order to achieve success, then rethink your resolution. Pick a new one.

 

Keep going through the process until you have a resolution you're willing to fight for, then you will be successful. By "fight" I mean change your behavior.

 

 

 

 

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity

To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment

Would you capture it or just let it slip?

 

 

(Lyrics from Lose Yourself by Eminem)

 

 

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The holidays are a tough time for endurance athletes. All of the tempting foods, drink, social obligations, dwindling workouts and feeling like you're getting worn to a nub. Below are a few tips and thoughts to help you survive the next few days:

 

  • Your number one priority is to stay healthy. Cheating sleep to fit in that extra workout on the indoor trainer is not worth it. If you need the rest, then skip the workout and focus on getting some quality rest. The rest can keep you from getting sick and potentially losing several days or weeks of fitness and training.

  • Let some of your workouts be optional. During the holidays, I typically give my athletes a few key workouts to keep stress under control and the other workouts considered optional. If you can only do three workouts this week, which ones will you do? (And no, they don't have to be the workouts that include the highest intensity.)

  • Some is better than none. If you don't have time to fit in that one-hour run or bike ride, then take a walk for 20 minutes. Doing a little something physical is better than bemoaning your busy holiday schedule and turning to the fridge for comfort.

  • Take time to be grateful for family and friends. Stop for just five minutes and think about all the great people in your life. Glad they are there? Let them know.

  • Avoid fatigue. Yeah, yeah, I know this looks like the first tip; but I can't emphasize enough how important it is to get adequate rest. Nothing tanks a nutrition plan faster than fatigue. I've found most people can control the amount and number of treats they have if they feel rested. Once they feel stressed and tired, many will seek food in an effort to help feel better. When that happens quantity and quality of food increase and decrease respectively. Get rest.

  • Look for the good in the holiday. Lots of people don't like the holiday season for one reason or another. Certainly there is at least one good thing in about your holiday season?

  • Do something nice for someone else. It feels great to do something nice for somebody else and it might help your immune system. There are at least two  books that look at positive moods and immunity. One excerpt is here, a second is here. Being negative is bad for your health.

  • Keep intensity low. In general, when the stress levels increase, keep the intensity levels low in workouts. A double-whammy of stressful "life" in addition to stress in workouts might be too much. Stay aerobic.

  • Caffeine is not a substitute for sleep. Try to avoid the nasty cycle of using, rather attempting to use, caffeine as a substitute for rest. If you feel exhausted, rest. Consider taking a 10-20 minute nap after work. Set the alarm on your watch to keep you from over-doing the nap.

  • Seek out positive people. Every group has at least one negative person. Choose not to spend much time with this person, rather seek out people that are positive and that make you laugh.

 

Enjoy the holiday season ~

 

 

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My riding buddy Todd and I were out on our mountain bikes about six weeks ago. We were reminiscing about the "good old days," when we had the fitness to do a race that lasted over 10 hours. Back then, a three-hour ride was "easy" that ride included hills and intensity. The good old days have slipped through our grasp like water would sneak through the creases of your cupped hands.

 

 

With the cold that sweeps the nation pushing many of us indoors and the holidays forcing all of us to focus on things outside of our ordinary routine - change can be good. While you might not have the "same" fitness as you had four months ago, perhaps it is time to look at how this time can be put to good use?

 

 

Back in warmer months when you were spending hours building your endurance many of you ignored items such as strength, left side compared to right side muscular balance, technique, flexibility, full injury repair, mental focus, body balance (like the ability to stand on one leg, bend over so your opposite leg and torso are parallel with the floor), whole food nutrition, learning something new, and other items.

 

 

Maybe it is good that some of us cannot work on endurance workouts right now? Perhaps it is something else that would benefit us more than the same old routine? A new schedule or focus for the next couple of months?

 

 

What is your answer to this question:

 

 

If you could improve one thing that is not overall endurance, that would compliment your endurance training and racing for next season, what would that be?

 

 

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On Saturday, my motorcycle riding pals Don and Todd invited me to ride motos in Eastern Colorado at the Pawnee National Grasslands. Pawnee is about an hour drive east of where we all live. Living along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, I get to the mountains a lot. I'll admit I don't travel east much - particularly for recreation - but the grasslands are really interesting and worth the drive.

 

The last time I was at Pawnee was about six years ago when I went with my uncle on a cattle drive. (No kidding.) But...that's another story.

 

On Saturday, the weather was predicted to be in the low 50s and minimal wind. Translated: Get out and enjoy this weather, it won't last long. There is a big cold front approaching and then you will be wearing everything you own to walk three feet outside the back door.

 

My buddies took me trials motorcycle riding. For those of you that don't know, a motorcycle trials bike has no seat. Yes, you stand the entire time. The really good moto-trials riders do amazing tricks on the motos, just like trials riders with a bicycle.

 

 

Look Mom, no seat!

 

 

 

 

Below is a photo of the crew in the parking lot at Pawnee. (Left to Right: Andy Yount, Roy Gatesman, Amy LaTendresse, Roy Gatesman, Don Lorenzen, Todd Singiser and inside the grey truck out of sight is Craig Singiser.

 

 

 

 

Behind the parking area it looks like flat grasslands go forever, up to the buttes in the background; but that's not true. About 200 yards behind the parking lot is a canyon where motorcycles are allowed between October and April. It's a great place to practice riding skills.

 

 

In addition to the main canyon, there are several small canyons or gullies feeding into the main canyon. Don (aka All-Great and Knowing Master Moto Coach) had me ride into one of the small gullies. I really struggled at the beginning because it was narrow, there are banked sides, large/medium/small rocks littered the main trail, and the trail was really tight and snaking. There were lots of turns, including turns that were greater than 90 degrees and in some cases, one turn came shortly after another. As much as it freaked me out in the beginning, for me, it was the best part of the ride. The skills I was acquiring here transfer to the mountain bike. This one section helped me gain the much-needed right-hand turning and balance I seek on the mountain. Got to go back and do more of this.

 

 

 

 

I'm so glad we did this on Saturday. This morning (Monday) my backyard thermometer said -6 degrees. Denver is at -9 you can see on the lower right corner below. With wind chill added, it gets much, much colder. Temps with wind chill are on the main map. I live between Ft. Collins and Denver (-29 and -36 respectively), so we were between Ft. Collins and Denver temps - maybe -30. Dang it's cold...

 

 

 

 

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Estes With the Pros

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Dec 7, 2008

Big-name riders from Rock Racing, Chipotle, Rabobank, Toyota and Health Net were in Estes Park yesterday on the Sunday group ride. Tyler Hamilton and Tom Danielson are two of the names you might recognize.

 

Before I launch right into the adoring-cycling-fans photo, let me begin by saying the ride today was to bag our monthly Estes ride. I've mentioned this monthly goal in past blogs, and I can tell you that today's weather was better than any of our other December Estes rides in past years.

 

We started with ten people from my doorstep. Scott Ellis, Steve Douglas, Todd Singiser, Bill Frielingsdorf, Bruce Runnels, Ron Kennedy, Peter Stackhouse and Dave McClure. It was one of those rides filled with flats. There were four flats on the way up, Todd and Peter had two each. Ron turned around early due to family commitments, Peter and Dave turned around at the top of the Glen Haven switchbacks...would they regret it?

 

The remaining members of the group arrived at Estes later than normal, by about an hour-and-a-half. Not only due to flats, but we were riding at a winter-out-of-shape pace. After a leisurely lunch, we were getting ready to head back down when a "that's no amateur" rider walked in the door. More followed.

 

Steve, his shy self, walks right up to Tyler Hamilton and says, "Hey you look a lot like that Hamilton guy" and that opened up the conversation. Turns out several of us know mutual people.

 

The photo below was taken at our favorite haunt, the Notchtop Cafe in Estes Park. Blog readers, please check me on this - left to right: Tyler Hamilton, Scott, Steve, Heath Blackgrove, Todd, Bill, Gale, Tom Danielson, TeJay van Garderen (Thanks Steve), Bruce Runnels, Matt Cooke and Chris Baldwin took the photo (much to my dislike - I would have rather had him IN the photo). Anyway, thanks Chris.

 

 

 

The last time I saw Tyler was at the 2004 Olympic Games. The TT course was held just outside the city where the triathlon was held so a few of us walked up there to watch them warm-up and ride some of the course. The rest of the guys I have not met in person.

 

 

These guys were very friendly and approachable. How many professional athletes do you know are completely approachable (sans the triathletes, of course)?

 

 

Though not on my Sunday ride, they were out for a Sunday ride. I'm happy we were delayed on our trip up and got a chance to talk to them awhile.

 

 

Just how cool is that?

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While doing some research for a column I'm writing, I ran across the following segment from the February 1988 issue of Triathlete magazine. I clarified a few items, prefaced with "GB". I thought you would be interested...

 

 

Protest System

 

 

Rules are Rules, But...

 

 

If you were confused by our January report of the pro women's race at the Bud Light USTS National Championships in Hilton Head, South Carolina, you weren't alone. Not only were Dian Girard Rives and Liz Bulman unsure of the process of their drafting disqualifications, but the USTS (GB: United States Triathlon Series) staff and the Tri-Fed (GB: Tri-Fed was the governing body for triathlon at that time.) officials were perplexed as well.

 

 

Back in 1985, Tri-Fed compiled the guidebook of safety standards and competitive rules for the governing body. Based on the lack of qualified people available to marshal bike courses of triathlons across the country at that time, Tri-Fed leaders felt that an alternative method of policing the drafting problem was necessary to provide a fair race environment. Their solution was to provide athletes with the option of "protesting" the actions of their fellow competitors. Unfortunately, that method has had the effect of encouraging some athletes to improve their finish places in events by trying to get faster competitors disqualified.

 

 

This protest system was first implemented in the 1986 guidebook and remains intact today, having been used on several occasions in 1987 to disqualify athletes. The current situation is confounding to say the least. We decided to take a look at the rule book for some clarification of the rule and its problems. Unfortunately, what we found was a lot of contradiction, ambiguity and an inappropriate rule made worse by poor wording.

 

 

The current protest process allows an athlete to file a protest against another athlete with the referee within 30 minutes of the finish. The written protest must include: the rule allegedly violated, the location and approximate time of the incident, the persons involved in the incident (the protestor must be involved), a statement of facts, and the numbers and names of any witnesses to the violation.

 

 

Upon receiving a protest, the referee forms a protest committee; he chairs the group and appoints two race officials to act as additional judges. A hearing is then called by the committee and the protest is read to the accused. Both parties to the conflict, it is stated in the book, must be present. The protestor and protestee are then given three minutes each to state their respective cases. Based on these statements and the testimony of two witnesses from both the protestor and the protestee, the committee makes a decision on the guilt or innocence of the protestee. The rulebook also states that in the event that one or the other parties is not present, the committee can still reach a binding decision based on whatever information is given at the hearing. (But remember that "must be present" proviso? The rule book doesn't.)

 

 

If a penalty or DQ is handed down by the protest committee (or directly from the referee based on a marshal's report), the violator has the option to appeal the decision before the ... TriFed Appeals Commissioner. The commissioner may uphold or reverse the decision of the Protest Committee based on his interpretation of the same information. Confused yet?

 

 

Tri-Fed officials admit that the drafting rules are contradictory and leave them open to serious controversies in the future. It appears that there is a large contingent within the federation that disapproves of the protest system. However, no one has been able to get anything done to change the situation, claiming that the officiating program has not been developed enough to eliminate the rule. One source inside the organization said, "The protest rule shouldn't exist. We'd like to take it out of the book completely for '88, but I don't know if we can get a solid officials program in place that quickly."

 

 

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During the Thanksgiving holiday week I was in Madrid, Spain for the 2008 International Triathlon Union Congress meeting. The purpose of my attendance was to be part of the Sport Development presentations. You can see the entire Congress schedule attached at the bottom of this blog. (If you don't see the attachment, click on the blog title and the attachment should be at the bottom of the blog.)

 

 

The Congress is part of the organizational structure that manages the sport of triathlon within the Olympic organization. The entire management structure of the ITU can be found within the Constitution document in the download section of the ITU website.

 

 

If you read the Constitution, you will find that there are specific rules to include a certain number of representatives from the five regions:

 

 

1) Africa,

 

 

2) Europe,

 

 

3) Americas (North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean),

 

 

4) Oceania (seventeen member nations including Australia and New Zealand) and

 

 

5) Asia

 

 

Inclusion rules are established to be sure that each region has a voice.

 

 

This Congress was a historical event in that the only president the ITU has known, Les McDonald, retired and a new president was elected. That new president is Marisol Casado from Spain.

 

 

More history was made with this being the first ITU Congress that did not require "recruiting" by the organization to fulfill the requirement of at least one woman on the executive board. Though I have not found a complete list of International Federations, I am told triathlon is the only federation with three women on the executive board.

 

 

In addition to Marisol, two more women sit on the Executive Board and include newly elected Secretary General Loreen Barnett (Canada) and Vice President Sarah Springman (Britian).

 

 

Each National Federation, or National Governing Body submits names to be considered for election. The NGB in the USA is USA Triathlon. Individuals from the USA that were elected to new positions at this congress include:

 

 

Melissa Merson (Executive Board)

 

 

Joyce Donaldson (Technical Committee)

 

 

Doug Hiller (Medical Committee)

 

 

Gale Bernhardt (Constitution Committee)

 

 

Full election results can be found here.

 

 

I will give you a few more congress tapas (name of a wide variety of appetizers in Spanish cuisine) in the blogs this week. In addition to the blog tapas, I am in the process of boiling down a five-hour interview I conducted with outgoing president Let McDonald. Watch for that story in an upcoming issue of Triathlete magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

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