Ive read quite a few articles in endurance sports publications on the benefits and disadvantages of caffeine on athletic performance. It seems as though there are always new studies being conducted that disprove the latest theory.
Our very own Active Expert, Matt Fitzgerald, has saved us all the hassle of sifting through the most recent studies to find the facts in his article, The Caffeinated Runner.
Setting goals is one of the most effective ways to motivate an athlete. Goals provide a sense of direction while increasing effort and quality of performance. Teams and endurance athletes alike must choose goals carefully to follow a path towards success. I joined up with Trish Oberhaus, our team sports specialist, to provide a useful guide for setting S.M.A.R.T. goals in athletics.
1. Specific: These goals are most clearly defined by the five “W” questions: who, what, where, when, why? The answers to these questions will begin to bring your goals into focus.
2. Measurable: By establishing a system for measuring progress toward each goal you set, you will increase motivation by experiencing a sense of achievement when reaching the smaller incremental goals along the way. To prevent ambiguity and vagueness, make sure to incorporate an assessable time frame allowing you to carry out those steps and feel successful.
3. Attainable: Once goals are identified and specific increments are achieved, the larger goals that used to seem far away begin to grow closer as you grow as a person. It's truly amazing how one begins to figure out ways to make goals become reality. Previously overlooked opportunities manifest themselves and bring you closer to attaining your goals, all the while, new attitudes, abilities, skills and strategies develop to help you to reach them.
4. Realistic: By truly believing that your goal can be accomplished, your target will be realistic. This is something that you and you alone must decide. Be sure to set each goal so it represents ample growth. By following these guidelines, higher goals often prove easier to reach than lower goals, because lower goals produce a lower level of motivational energy.
5. Timely: Goals should be set with a starting point, ending point and fixed intervals along the way. This will perpetuate a sense of urgency for you to act as target dates approach. Goals without deadlines tend to fade in importance and fall in rank of priority where less commitment is established.
No matter what skill level, goals that follow this outline will facilitate the growth of the athlete. Experiencing incremental progress during the journey toward your dreams and desires provides a steady reward that has the power to maintain motivation--as long as you keep in mind what you want to accomplish and how you plan to get there.
My teammates and I competed in the Solana Beach Triathlon on Sunday morning. Our team, Active.com, won the mixed relay division and posted the best relay time overall. Swimmer, Carrie Smith handled the ¼-mile in 6 minutes, 59 seconds; our cyclist, Airey Baringer, biked the nine miles in 24:45; and I ran the 5K in 18:43 for a total team time of 50:27. Our performance ranked 15th place overall on the day.
Our team is satisfied with the outcome of the race and weve already begun planning our next event. I think we were most excited for the opportunity to compete as a team because weve each become used to training and competing on an individual basis. The camaraderie of the team environment proved motivational and I recommend this experience for anyone looking to get involved in the sport of triathlon or to gain valuable race-pace experience in any of the individual disciplines.
Individually, I set a PR because it was actually my first 5K distance. I felt extremely powerful throughout the 3.1 miles, and Ive recovered well already. Its interesting to note that on Sunday I raced at a six-minutes-per mile pace and on August 11 I will be attempting the Mount Disappointment 50-mile ultra marathon, which demands a conservative pace of approximately 10-minute miles of mixed running and fast hiking.
Here is a video I made of the event using the video editing technology, Jumpcut, which is a new feature of Active.com
Valmir Nunes, a 43-year-old Brazilian ultrarunner, was the first to complete the 135-mile run from Death Valley to the portal at Mount Whitney this morning. Nunes finished what some call the world’s most difficult race in 22 hours, 51 minutes, 29 seconds--almost two hours better than the previous course record set in 2005 by American Scott Jurek (24:36:08). Some say that the break in temperature had much to do with the time improvements. Yesterday, with a chance of thunderstorms, temperatures in the desert were a mild 112 degrees Fahrenheit compared to the average of 120 degrees. This year marked the 30th anniversary of Kiehl's Badwater Ultramarathon.
It’s been a while since I last checked in so I thought I’d provide an update on my latest endurance endeavors. I’ve been getting my feet wet with triathlon as a new member of the Triathlon Club of San Diego. Saturday I participated in a club race which was my first-ever unofficial triathlon.
The beginner’s race caught my attention because of the short and manageable distances. The race began with a 300-meter swim in Glorietta Bay on beautiful Coronado Island. I wouldn’t describe the water quality as beautiful, but it was a quick swim none the less. I exited the water and entered the first transition (T1) among the first three athletes. My transition to the bike was quick and I was into the 11-mile bike portion in less than two minutes. The bike portion was staged in an open course so, right away, I had to wait for a traffic light to turn green. During this delay, other triathletes began to catch up but I pulled ahead of the group during the 5.5-mile out-portion of the bike while battling a headwind along The Strand. During the 5.5-mile back-portion of the bike, I used the tailwind to distance myself from the second-place position. T2 was accomplished in seconds and I was into the run so quickly that it felt like I was still cycling. That was my very first experience with running directly following a bike ride and I found it difficult to find a rhythm. The one-mile out-and-back course was quick and I didn’t see other competitors from the beginner’s group until I began to pass them during my last half-mile of the race.
I’m very excited that my first unofficial triathlon resulted in a victory, although I consider completing the race to be a victory in itself. I must accredit a successful outing to my mental preparation and visualization techniques that I practiced before the race even began. I knew that I was physically able and needed to put it all together; that is what made Saturday such an important day for my athletic career. I urge you all to act upon your dreams and aspire towards your goals whether they are social, athletic, educational or professional. Believing in oneself and seeing oneself reach those goals is just the first step. Now get out there and go after them.
This boost in confidence was timed just right as tomorrow my registration for the Mount Disappointment 50-mile trail run will be submitted. On August 11, I will join a group of ultra runners in the San Gabriel wilderness for the longest run of my career. Stay tuned for a pre-race blog on the Active.com Endurance Sports Blog.
[http://active.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2007/05/08/rocketfuelblog.jpg] I began incorporating this featured recipe into my nutrition plan because it is a healthy balance of complex carbohydrates and protein. I prepare my signature Rocket Fuel on Sunday afternoons and the whole process takes an hour. Depending on my training intensity and resulting appetite, the recipe will produce a week’s supply of either lunch and/or dinner. I encourage you to be creative with the list of vegetables to keep the recipe exciting and new every time. I hope you enjoy this nutritious time-saver that will take your training to the next level.
Recipe: Rocket Fuel
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 cups Brown Rice
1 can black beans
½ cup red onion
2 cloves garlic
½ cup olive oil
½ cup red or yellow peppers
1 cup broccoli
1 cup zucchini (optional)
1 egg (optional)
Heat ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup diced red onion, and minced clove of garlic over med-high heat. Add chicken breast and pan-sear.
Cook 3 cups of brown rice with water or chicken-broth option.
Heat 1 can of black beans .
Add chopped veggies to chicken. Let veggies soften and absorb flavors from the chicken. Add black beans and cover with brown rice. Mix together over high heat and package for leftovers all week. The entire list totals approximately $15. Bon Appétit.
I fumbled to quiet my alarm clock radio at 4 a.m. on Friday morning. Half asleep and confused, I turned on my lamp to find my fully-packed backpack in the center of my bedroom. The events of the next seven hours remain unclear, but what I do recall is our group of four eagerly making our way to the western Sierra for a weekend of backpacking.
Things began to get interesting once we turned onto Mineral King Road, a single-lane road traveling high above the Kaweah River canyon. The road travels upstream for 25 miles along the rim of the canyon, through a forest of hairpin turns, scenic vistas and magnificent sequoia trees. An hour and a half later, traces of civilization became scarce and we had reached the end of the road.
Our drive that began at 5 a.m. was finally over and we left the truck in the lot at the trailhead for the next two days. It was hard to believe that we had slept at sea level that night and were already at 8,000 feet. The climb followed a series of switchbacks for the next five hours that led us by feathery grouse, a feeding mule deer, dancing butterflies, rambling creeks and cascading waterfalls. We left the timberline below as we reached Glacier Pass, more than 11,000 feet above sea level.
Our vantage point along the ridge provided an excellent panoramic view for what seemed like hundreds of miles in every direction. We continued climbing southwest along the ridge towards Sawtooth Pass where we reached the pass that overlooked Columbine Lake. The route descended to the east side of the pass and we set up camp in a boulder field to protect us from the wind. Our proximity to the lake was close enough to access fresh water yet far enough away to shield ourselves from mosquitoes that are known to be fierce in the Sierras.
Our approach began by retracing our steps to the top of Sawtooth Pass and continuing to climb the steep ridgeline to the south. The climb was a mix of class 2 and class 3 hiking up loose scree through a maze of large boulders. The 2,000-foot gain of elevation was a challenge, but our movement was liberated by carrying only a daypack. I reached the summit of Sawtooth Peak 40 minutes before the rest of the group and sat there as a cool breeze offset the direct sunlight that warmed my skin and the rock beneath me.
Ultra-marathon man Dean Karnazes continues to explore the boundaries of human endurance this week with back-to-back events. Today in New York City, Karnazes is running on a treadmill located on a platform attached to the Reuters building above Times Square. The 44-year old from the Bay Area is attempting to break the world record for a 24-hour distance run on a treadmill, currently set at 153.76 miles. This challenge is benefiting the organization Athletes for a Cure, which is dedicated to finding a cure for prostate cancer.
By 5:00 a.m. on Saturday, Karnazes will be back on the west coast, at the starting-line of the 34th annual Western States 100 Endurance Run. The WS100, dubbed the “ultimate challenge,” begins at an elevation of 6,200 feet in Squaw Valley and ascends 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4.5 miles. Runners continue west, along trails originally used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850s, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet to the finish line in Auburn, California. The 2006 winner, Graham Cooper, crossed the finish line in 18 hours, 17 minutes, 28 seconds, while Karnazes, finished 15th overall with a time of 21 hours, 38 minutes, 34 seconds. It will be interesting to see if Karnazes’ performance this year will be influenced by the 24-hour distance run.
This epic undertaking is just another day in the life of Karnazes, who completed a remarkable 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states this past year along with entering and completing a 200-mile relay race alone. Karnazes is an advocate of healthy and active living and has inspired many people, including myself, with his endearing persona and ability to encourage others to strive towards one’s personal best. Go Team Dean!
[http://active.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2007/06/19/73754689.jpg]Kate Ziegler of Fairfax, Virginia, shattered a 19-year-old world swimming record on Sunday, June 17 at the TYR Meet of Champions in Mission Viejo, California. Ziegler powered her way through the 1,500-meter freestyle event in 15 minutes, 42.54 seconds which was nine and a half seconds faster than Janet Evans’ record-setting 1988 performance. For more information on Ziegler and her impressive swimming career, click here.
(Photo courtesy of Gettyimages / photographer Francois-Xavier Marit)
European bicycle racing has been the target of major doping scandals, investigations and confessions for decades. The endless cycle of use, detection and deception has recently injected its presence into professional baseball and steroid testing is now prevalent throughout the league. The slippery slope includes widespread use of human growth hormone (HGH) because there is not a test designed or administered to target the use of HGH. Now a urine test is in the developmental stages and thus the cycle continues.
The consequence for doping in the sport of professional cycling can cost an athlete his records, sponsorship and career while Major League Baseball players pay fines and serve multi-game suspensions. Even under the most aggressive circumstances, athletes in our society are encouraged to risk it all when the reward of sports success outweighs the punishment and stigma associated with the use performance enhancing drugs.
Whether Bonds enters the history books accompanied by an asterisk, or not, the origin of this subject remains the relationship of sport to our society. The complex web of commerce, media and politics will always dictate what the consumer deems moral or not. Fans will continue to buy tickets and tune in across the country to watch these modern-day super heroes “go yard.”
To care for the tendinitis that developed in my Achilles tendon while training for a marathon, my sports medicine physician set me up with a treatment plan consisting of prescription anti-inflammatory medication, stretching and strengthening exercises. It is advised that an acute tendon injury can be cured within six weeks while chronic conditions take up to 8 to 10 months to heal.
With conservative treatment and non-impact cross-training, I hope to build upon the cardiovascular base that I developed while marathon training. This will allow my Achilles to repair while preparing for my first triathlon.
[S.M.A.R.T goal|http://active.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2007/06/13/openwaterswim.jpg]Next week, I’ll be training in the ocean with an open-water swim. I grew up a fresh water swimmer and gym-pool swimmer, so I lack an abundance of experience with the intricacies of open-water swimming. After reading Rachel Cosgrove’s article, Survive the surf: Entrances and exits in open water swims, I realized that swimming in the ocean is more hazardous than swimming in a pool. I feel confident in pursuit of my latest endeavor after gaining a better understanding of the imminent risks. Since Cosgrove is a USAT Level 1 certified triathlon coach, her explanation of basic techniques are helpful for both training swims as well as race situations.
[http://active.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2007/06/12/imgp1573.jpg]I caught the only showing of the film, 24 Solo, at the historic La Paloma Theater in Encinitas, Calif. The film introduced me to the world of 24-hour mountain-bike racing as well as Chris Eatough, six-time 24-hour solo world champion. The story offered a behind-the-scenes view into the training and personal life of Eatough during his quest for his seventh consecutive title.
On average, Eatough rides six to seven days a week for three hours. Occasionally, he?ll step up to a seven-hour ride in the weeks preceding a major endurance event. He believes that the consistent training allows him to maintain a higher intensity than if he were to train with longer outings, which would prevent him from riding as frequently. This also allows him to stay competitive all season long, as he enters an average of two cross-country races per month in addition to the major endurance events.
I grew up an avid mountain biker on the east coast, riding a long network of trails that double as snowmobile trails in the winter. Thus, I have always respected the sport and I believe this film has expertly portrayed the ?endurance spirit? that I often reference. The mental and physical fortitude that Eatough displays during both training and competition reveals the extreme nature of the sport. 24-hour solo riders are competing against something more formidable than other riders -- themselves.
Although 24-hour racing is not for everyone, Roy Wallack from Dirt Rag Magazine breaks down 24-hour racing essentials in his article, 'Round the clock racing: How to ride a 24-hour race. Wallack details the sports accessibility to relay teams and provides pointers to get you geared-up properly.
[http://active.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2007/06/12/mynewbike.jpg]The two-wheeled beast rests dormant in the corner of my bedroom. It sits at bay, pedal-less, knowing that I can’t pass the human-powered vehicle without visions of high-speed spinning along the Pacific Coast Highway. It knows that every morning I arise and examine the pedal-less crank, hopeful that my clip-less pedals will arrive in the mail that day. Until then, the inaugural ride of my brand new road bicycle must wait another day.
In light of my most recent acquisition, I realize that shopping for a bicycle can be an overwhelming process. There are certainly many questions to consider along the way. Bruce Buckley from Windy City Sports has helped eliminate the guess-work in his article, Component Speak. Buckley explains which components are most valuable to the overall performance of your bike. This is very helpful information for newbies and for those who already own a bike and plan to upgrade individual components.
I initially discovered the run-walk-run technique when training for my first ultra-marathon in May. Before I registered for the 50K, I was doubtful of my abilities because I had only completed an 18-mile training run. Upon experimentation, I discovered that the run-walk-run technique enabled me to cover twice the distance that I was able to continuously run. When race day came, I broke the run up into walking intervals throughout the race, including walking up hills and covered the 31 miles only 15 minutes over my projected time. I was surprised to learn that despite its advantages, there are still critics who believe that walking is a sign of poor fitness and conditioning.
Jeff Galloway’s Run-walk-run to faster times, faster recovery article goes into greater detail, highlighting the benefits and strategy behind walking intervals. I’m a huge fan of this technique and will incorporate this into my training for my next ultra-running event. As of now, it looks like the Bulldog 50K is next on the list. We’ll see how the rehabilitation of my Achilles tendon goes over the next month when incorporating non-impact training on my brand new Novara Strada road bike
As you can see, my mind is on over-drive as I adjust to being done with 18 weeks of marathon training. Setting new goals is going to help me work towards overcoming this injury while staying aware of this vulnerable stage. I have learned a greater respect for my body and its limitations. My approach to future endeavors now incorporates a greater awareness that my “endurance spirit” is stronger than my body. Finding a balance is going to require healthier communication between my mind and body.
I’m going to leave you with a quote by Napoleon Hill, an American author of personal-success literature in the early 1900s and famous for the following hallmark saying:
Congratulations, the hardest part is over. Eighteen weeks of training and now only 26.2 miles separate you from your goal. Take a look at this pre-marathon checklist to make sure you don't start celebrating early.
Avoid any unusual foods -- eat the training meals that you?ve found work well before long runs. Be sure to eat more than 12 hours before the race.
Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Your water bottle should never leave your side the day before a marathon.
Stay off your feet, rest and relax. Try some light stretching.
Use visualization during the day while relaxing. Envision yourself on the course. Think positively about all the work you've put into your training.
Lay out all your clothing and gear for the race. Essential items are:
Running outfit, shoes and socks.
Wristwatch - For timing/pacing in event
Your race fuels
Body glide or Vaseline to prevent chaffing
Plan and prepare what you?ll eat for breakfast.
Set your alarm clock and double check it. Make sure you have ample time to warm up properly.Sleep. Two nights before your race is the most important night of rest. The night before tends to be less restful, so don?t worry about it.