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How wellness can make you a better Triathlete

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Triathlons are intense, physically-draining events that can be perfectly complemented by an unlikely training tool: Wellness. Trizone looks at the power of the world’s favourite new health trend, and how it can make you a better triathlete.

“Competition is 90% mental and 10% physical, so it seems wasteful to neglect the opportunity to strengthen the mind of an athlete,” says Jess Gumkowski, also known as the Yogi Triathlete. Tim Reed echoes Jess’ thoughts, telling Trizone “on a daily basis, I’d lie down for 20 minutes and just listen to relaxing music and do some mindfulness training.”

Athlete burnout happens to age groupers and pros

Both Tim Reed and Jess Gumkowski are have been through periods of burn out that have sparked their interest in mindfulness; a vital part of living a holistic of ‘well’ life.

“Last year, I was completely burnt out from how tired I was. Everyone had sacrificed so much for my race in Australia; me and my family had made sacrifices. Then, when I got there, I was so anxious to get on that podium I destroyed myself,” Tim Reed told Trizone.

With his mind in overdrive and riddled with anxiety due to lack of sleep, Reed’s training couldn’t stand up to his exhaustion. “I didn’t sleep for three days. My training was spot on, but my anxiety got the better of me,” said Reed. “My power was lower than my power at Ironman Australia, and the event was only half the distance.”

Ironman age grouper Jess has a similar story, and found herself suffering complete exhaustion. She felt constantly overwhelmed, and now barely recognises the girl she used to be.

Mindfulness as a cure for athlete burnout

Tim Reed has completely changed his mindset after his experience in Austria. “I’m racing with a sense of gratitude now,” Reed told Trizone. “I look at it as an opportunity, and the only real failure is if I give up hallway through. I prioritise sleep and recovery more than I ever have in previous years.”

Pre-race preparation has completely changed for Reed, and incorporates specific mindfulness training in the months leading up to a race. “On a daily basis, I lie down for twenty minutes, I lie back and listen to relaxing music and do some mindfulness training,” says Reed.

“If you do it once or twice in the days leading up to a race, it’s probably not goin to do that much. If you’re getting the benefits of four or five weeks of daily practice; you get that little kick of healthy hormones, aid your recovery, clear your mind and reduce stress. I’ve found it pretty helpful,” Tim Reed told Trizone.

Meditation to finish an Ironman with ease

Jess agrees with Reed; the stress and emotional strain of competition requires mental calm. “In 2010, after a move back to New England from Boulder, Colorado it became evident that I needed to find a deeper way in which to find calm in the chaos of the world and competition. This is when I started to meditate. The effects were immediate, profound and have led me to a place in my life where I can now finish an Ironman with ease.”

Meditation and conscious breathing can keep you level-headed during a race, as well as before it. “When you are fully focused and experiencing your body’s movements and the exchange of air through your nose and lungs, you better relax into those movements. The less tension there is in your limbs, the more powerfully and efficiently they can move. As athletes experience from time to time, “flow” is that seemingly magical state of physical and mental engagement that can happen during sport in which they perform to their very highest ability with seemingly little effort,” said Elinor Fish. Fish has created the Mindful Running Training System, and like Yogitriathlete Jess Gumkowski, Fish works with triathletes with mindful techniques as part of their training.

Mindfulness for better balance

Adventure athlete Jason Magness is so passionate about the power of conscious breathing and mindfulness, he wrote about it for Ironman, and the benefits are huge. “Focused nasal breathing during activity can lead to increased cardiovascular and physical endurance, lower heart rate, less anxiety, more mental alertness, and even better proprioceptive balance,” Magness wrote.

Not only will you be calm, but your balance will be better. “Increased dynamic balance allows your body to react correctly during sudden moments of instability, like a misstep on a rocky trail run descent, or swerving abruptly on your bike to avoid road debris,” Magness wrote for Ironman.

Yoga and triathlon: The key to injury avoidance?

Picture this: You’re halfway through the run during a 70.3 event and you’re truly struggling. You’ve lost motivation and the thought of puling out is slowly becoming more and more appealing. As you’re incredibly fatigued, your balance and strength deteriorate and you’re barely able to function.

What if you’d been doing yoga for the months leading up to the event? “Practiced regularly (three times a week) it will help inhibit the formation of most of the overuse symptoms that come as a result of repetitive motion associated with long-distance events,” wrote Magness.

Not only will your body be functioning better, but your body’s ability to maintain momentum through extreme fatigue improves. “Many vinyasa yoga practitioners significantly increase their ability to endure physical discomfort while maintaining form, breathing pattern, and focus,” wrote Magness. Physical discomfort may be a euphemism, but it’s the essence of severe physical exhaustion athletes experience during an Ironman or long distance event.

Does mindfulness make you a better competitor?

Yes. Tim Reed swears by it and we’re hooked. Better balance, enhanced ability to face fatigue, better recovery and decreased anxiety on race day; it’s no wonder trainers like Elinor Fish and Jess Gumkowski create wellness-based training plans for athletes eager to become better triathletes.

Few triathletes have a regular wellness practice, but it’s becoming more and more important, and trendy for yoga, mindfulness and calm to complement training regimes.

A cyclist and tech geek at heart with a passion for new shiny things and a huge appetite for triathlon. I spend most of my time between managing two of Australia's best triathletes and a traditional corporate life.

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Are You Addicted to Triathlon?

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Triathlon is a vehicle that delivers in many ways. As a hobby, it provides us with challenges, rewards, physical changes and achievement. But for a large number of us it becomes more than just a hobby, it becomes the major player in our day-to-day lives and we become consumed.

What starts off as a friendly dare – to enter your first race, soon spirals out of control to the point where you’re thinking about it 24/7. Yes, commitment and dedication are key to success but not to the extent where you know nothing else. Imagine if triathlon were taken away from you tomorrow, what would you do?

I’m going to take you through a few tips to maintain that healthy balance, so you can avoid triathlon becoming an unhealthy addiction.

Have friends outside of Swim, Bike & Run

The time and effort we spend training can be made a lot more bearable when shared with others. With the highs and lows that we experience it’s nice to have friends who share our enthusiasm for a new piece of kit, our excitement for the next race or our fatigue during a heavy training block. So naturally, our training partners become the people we spend the most time with. However having a circle of friends who are only triathletes, can also become very competitive, comparative and sometimes even claustrophobic.

Maintaining friendships outside of triathlon is vital to ensuring that balance. Believe it or not there is a world outside of our triathlon ‘bubble’! It can be quite sobering to spend time with other people who actually don’t care what power you just rode, or how far you’re about to swim. Talking about something other than triathlon can be refreshing.

Health should always come before Performance

We’ve all been there, you’ve felt a little niggle or you’re running a temperature, but you think ‘Oh, one session won’t hurt’ and before you know it you’re laid up in bed for two weeks. The trouble with us Type-A’s is that we don’t know when to say “No!” and that can land us in dangerous territory.

It’s fair to say I think we all know someone who has been riding that path for too long. Maybe they have been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, they’ve had injury after injury or they’ve burnt out.

Mental health has been even more prominent in the media recently and regardless of our athletic ability and the goals we set it’s important not to ignore. When we become consumed we can allow an overwhelming amount of pressure take over -the pressure to succeed against all odds.

So when we become focused on a race and completing all our sessions it’s important to also remember that we need to think about what is best for our body and mind, long-term. If we want to keep doing triathlon for 10, 20, 30 years to come, adopting this ‘training smarter’ approach is essential for our wellbeing.

Don’t neglect your relationships

The majority of us are lucky enough to have the support of a partner, parents, children or siblings. As your ‘support crew’ they come to watch you race, put up with you always being tired and are woken by your alarm at 4.30am six days a week. They are the ones who have to listen to what training sessions you have or what times you have done.

Lots of us with have partners or families who are sacrificing a lot so we can chase our dreams. Unfortunately, many of us know someone whose personal relationships have suffered because of triathlon. Training takes you away from the home for large portions of time, so when you are at home it’s important to be present. Make time for doing things together that don’t revolve around your training. Talk about what’s going on with them. Maybe even arrange a weekly date night or family outing.

Prioritise your purchases

Triathlon is not a cheap sport as we have all come to realise. Even if you aren’t investing in the latest bike or wetsuit upgrade, you’re constantly forking out for spares, repairs and training fees. However, when we do give in to our latest purchase, a question that we don’t often ask ourselves (to the relief of retailers) is ‘Does this match my ability?’

I’m not saying that if you’re a mid-pack age group athlete you can’t go for the top of the range equipment, it’s your money and that’s your decision. But make sure you have invested in the things that are going to help you build a better body. This could be a proper bike fit, strength training sessions, nutritional guidance or regular massage.

Think of yourself as a car, if your engine isn’t working, buying a new spoiler isn’t going to make you go faster. By getting these foundations in place the new aero helmet or race wheels you want can be better justified.

Do you use your Training Peaks calendar as your diary?

Don’t let your whole life be dictated by your training schedule. Make sure you have something planned for your week that isn’t training or work. Yes, you have invested a lot of time, money and effort into crossing that finish line but for most of us, triathlon doesn’t pay the bills. If something doesn’t go to plan on race day you don’t want to feel like you wasted the last three months. Take time in your week to step outside the ‘bubble’. This will keep the fire burning, allow you to gain perspective and reset yourself for the week ahead.

This wasn’t intended as shock therapy but more as a tool to keeping things in check. We can become consumed without even knowing it so sometimes a little reality check can be just what we need.

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Pete Jacobs’ Guide to Conquering Kona

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For age-group athletes, the Ironman World Championship is Mount Everest. You sacrifice so much and work so hard through training and the qualifying events just to reach one race with hundreds of similarly dedicated athletes. But with the veneration that comes with Kona comes intense pressure. A pressure that cannot simply be trained for.

Australian professional triathlete Pete Jacobs knows all about the anxiety such a big event can create, having won this very race in 2012. He says overcoming the mind games on race day is about self-belief.

“It’s all about the preparation mentally. That includes having the confidence to stick to your race plan, not someone else’s,” he said.

“Race according to how you train; you do that with nutrition, racing and mental preparation, so stick to the plan you’ve practised. You can’t control how fast everyone else goes, but if you back yourself and believe in yourself you’ll do as good as you can do, and that’s all any of the elites (athletes) are trying to do.”

Jacobs also emphasises the importance of organisation, citing the abundance of distractions that take place in the lead-up to race day. There are festivals, dinners and exhibitions, which can quickly absorb your precious time.

“Have a good list of things you need to get done and do them as early as possible in race week. It goes really fast once everyone’s there and things start happening,” he said.

“If something comes up or you realise your race wheels aren’t shifting enough then suddenly you are busy three days out from the race. Have everything sorted as early as possible and tick all of the boxes.”

External conditions

Kona is known for oppressive heat and stifling humidity. For anyone attempting this race for the first time, the conditions might literally punch you in the face. Jacobs has the luxury of training in Noosa, which provides him with enough hot days to train his mental resilience under challenging conditions. He suggests some last-minute sessions in the lead-up to the race to help acclimatise your body and your mind.

“Most people when they get over there they’ve got enough time to get a few sessions in practising tricks to block out the heat mentally, to tell yourself it’s not that hot. If you focus on the heat, you’re going to feel it. Instead, focus on the sound of your feet hitting the pavement or your breathing,” he said.

“It all comes down to how you deal with it mentally and trying to use cues that you can practice to take yourself out of your own body.”

Make a splash

The mass swim start is an adrenaline rush for some but confronting for others. If you’re hesitant about getting crushed or kicked in the water identify a starting point that won’t be so congested.

“If you start in the middle there’s a good chance people will surge in toward you as you get closer to the first buoy,” Jacobs said.

“If you find space on the outside you’re probably going to have an easier swim and stay out of trouble. Be relaxed in the water, turn around and have a look at the crowd because it’s the greatest moment of the year – that calmness where there’s nothing left to do and everything is ahead of you. Your whole journey (to Kona) has gone into this moment, so it’s nice to take it in for a few seconds.”

Headwinds on the highway

The Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway is exposed to the intense winds of the west coast of the Big Island. These gusts vary in intensity but have the potential to blow you off the road. Jacobs says it’s best not to fight Mother Nature.

“The best thing to do is to keep pedalling. Keep pedalling when the wind blows against you because keeping the pressure on the pedals will help stabilise you,” he said.

“The wind changes constantly and everyone is in the same boat. Some 70-year-old women get through it, and you just have to keep moving forward as best you can.”

Running on empty

This is where the heat and humidity really takes its toll but another factor to be wary of are numerous challenging ascents, including a climb up Palani Road back to the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. Jacobs advises keeping your heart rate at the front of your mind during these tricky hills.

“Don’t run the hills hard, keep your heart rate down. If you go too hard on the hills and your heart rate spikes it becomes really taxing, and you won’t be able to control it,” he said.

“Take the uphills steady and walk the aid stations if your anxiety is up – get your breath back and release the tension before resetting your mind and running like it’s the start of the leg… it will do you a world of good.”

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Male Age Groupers At Risk of Death in the Swim – Key Findings From a New Study

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Cardiac arrest and sudden death are luckily rare in age group races, but unfortunately, they do happen. While critics blame under training, no link had ever been found between under training and cardiac arrests or sudden death in age groupers. Luckily, the results of a new study investigating the death and cardiac arrest within US triathlon participants in races between 1985-2016 has been published. Building on a previous study, here’s what we learned:

  • A majority of sudden deaths and cardiac arrests occur in the swim segment
  • 15 trauma-related deaths took place during the bike segment

MEN

  • Risk increased dramatically with age
  • Risk is much greater for those aged 60 or older (18.6 per 100,000 participants)

WOMEN

  • The potential for sudden death and cardiac arrest is much lower than for men
  • Risk increases only slightly with aging

Age groupers listen up! Here are the key findings

  • The majority of victims are male
  • Almost 40% of casualties were first-time triathlon participants
  • No elite or professional athletes were among the victims
  • The risk is similar regardless of the race distance
  • The majority of deaths occur during the swim segment

Does event distance increase risk or sudden death and cardiac arrest?

The study says no. After looking at the risk across short, intermediate and long races, the risk was similar across all race distances.

Does health matter?

Yes. During an autopsy, 44% of the deceased athletes were found to have “clinically relevant cardiovascular abnormalities, most frequently atherosclerotic coronary disease or cardiomyopathy.”

Essentially, this means that 44% of the few athletes in the study who were autopsied (27 of 61) were found to have pre-existing heart disease.

What is atherosclerosis and can you prevent it?

One of the abnormalities mentioned was an atherosclerotic coronary disease. Atherosclerosis means deposits of cholesterol, calcium and other substances congeal into plaques that cling to the walls of arteries in the body.

Over time, this causes narrowing of the arteries and restricts blood flow. Bits of plaque can break away and cause blood clots, cutting off the blood flow to the heart leading to a heart attack. Sometimes these clots can cut off blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke.

Diet, regular exercise and lifestyle habits can prevent the development of atherosclerosis. If you’re over 40, avoid turning into the stereotypical red meat, red wine, deep fried food-loving man as it will put your heart at risk.

This shows the importance that age groupers, particularly men over 60, maintain a holistic approach to healthy lifestyles, not just regular training.

Age groupers over 40 need heart checks…now

If you’re a male age grouper over 40, get your heart checked now. It’s important to know if you’re putting yourself at risk by entering triathlons.

Once you’ve had your heart checked out, take your training to the next level when it comes to the swim. The swim is by far the riskiest leg of a race, so make sure you’re able to manage a swim and have done plenty of practice.

Are age group deaths common?

No, the specialists want you to know risks are going down. “There have been fewer fatalities in the most recent years—and only a single death this year at USAT-sanctioned races. I believe that our efforts at bringing awareness of the importance of heart health among participants and the importance of safety planning for the swim segment have already paid dividends,” said Lawrence Creswell, MD, adult heart surgeon.

This study is a wake-up call for some and reinforces what many already thought. It’s great news to hear longer distances don’t increase risk, so if you’ve got your sights set on Ironman, go for it. (after you get your heart checked of course).

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Noosa Triathlon 101 – Everything You Need To Know

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Noosa has some of the best riding conditions anywhere in the world.

It’s the biggest in the southern hemisphere and second biggest in the world, Noosa Triathlon is a well-organised machine and an event that every aspiring triathlete should experience. Let me tell you why.

Not only are you surrounded by triathlon elite and cream of the crop age groupers but each leg of the race provides you with something special to treat the senses and challenge your abilities.

The weekend is full of activities from which you can participate in or just wander down and spectate from the many vantage points along the way. My personal favourite is the criterium racing on Saturday. Position yourself at either end of the hotdog course and watch the bravery/lunacy unfold.

So let’s get down to business. Noosa Triathlon is an Olympic distance event with a 1.5km swim, 40km ride and a 10km run, which starts and finishes in the heart of Noosa.

The Noosa Swim

When you walk onto Noosa Main Beach you’re presented with a view of what paradise might look like. 9 times out of 10 the water will be beautiful and clear and the swell will be mild and accommodating. The course generally follows the line of the beach so spectators can see all the action from start to finish.

On most days you’ll still see the bottom no matter how far you swim out from the shore. And for those nervous swimmers, there are safety pontoons strategically placed around the course as well as plenty of helpful lifesavers willing to lend a hand and point the way.

As with any race starting from the beach, my advice is to keep your knees up as you head into the water, find some space you can call your own, slightly wide from the pack, and get into your rhythm early. The main challenge will be to navigate the number of swimmers in the water at any one time. Although like most races you’ll find yourself surrounded by about 20 people at each turnaround buoy that seems to appear from nowhere.

The Noosa Ride

This is my favourite offering of the day. The ride provides a magical mix of technical turns, scenic climbs, fast straights and one hell of a downhill. The course starts in the heart of Noosa and makes its way along Noosa Parade and onto Gympie Terrace where you are presented with a combination of roundabouts, pedestrian speed humps, and tight turns as you make your way towards Gyndier Drive and the famous Garmin Hill. To this point the course is slightly undulating but nothing too challenging.

Garmin Hill is where the fun begins

At the 10km mark, Garmin Hill is where the fun begins. This stretch of the race is like a little oasis away from the real world as you weave your way up through the state forest. There are no spectators cheering you on, there are no aid stations, just you, nature at its best and the hill. It’s quiet, calm and picturesque, but can be daunting for the first time Noosa competitor. This is where you need to pick a comfortable gear, start spinning and just enjoy what the hill can provide. Gather your thoughts, don’t go too hard, and try and take in the sights and the sounds of the forest and your fellow competitors. Say hello, offer a smile of encouragement or if appropriate, have a chat on the way up.

Noosa Garmin Hill. Not for the faint-hearted.

It will take you around the 10min mark to tame the hill, clear your mind and prepare for the next stage of the ride, the Cooroy-Noosa Rd. When you get to the top of the hill you turn right, go up a slight rise and turn left onto the Cooroy-Noosa Rd where you have the chance to get on the tri bars and put the hammer down for 8km. This stretch of road leading up to the turnaround is relatively flat and perfect for getting into a good cadence and seeing what those legs can do. After 8kms you turn around and get to do it again!

But what goes up must always come down

Well, it’s time to come down, and fast! You’ll know when this next stretch of road has arrived by the presence of a sign suggesting that motorists slow down, 1.5 km of straight road (with a slight right at the end) straight down, and a strategically placed ambulance.

This is the ‘choose your own adventure’ part of the ride as there are many ways to get to the bottom. Typically the choices have been; slowly, at a medium pace, fast, 100km per hour insanity, and in some instances, in the back of the ambulance, you just passed at the top of the hill. So be careful. The crosswinds also play a part so there is a good reason why hay bales are scattered along the left-hand side of the road towards the end of the descent. Move to the back of your seat, feather the breaks if you need to (more the back ones than the front ones), look ahead and not at your front wheel, relax and hold on! Oh and don’t forget to smile ….. No matter what adventure you choose, it’s freaking awesome fun! (apart from the one that involves the ambulance)

Once at the bottom you’ll notice you pop out on the same road as the entrance to Garmin Hill. You then just retrace your steps back into town and start preparing for the run leg.

The Noosa Run

The run leg is where you truly appreciate the spectacle that is the Noosa Triathlon. The course itself is nothing too technical as its relatively flat and basically mirrors the first part of the bike course as it hugs the Noosa river. However, it does have a little twist at the end. At about the 7km mark the course plays with your mind a little. Instead of being a straight out and back, on the return leg, you take a detour into some back streets. So don’t forget to check out the course map and be mentally ready for it.

Even the Jack Daniels drinking, durry smoking, Metallica fans are embracing this great sport.

The run is about lapping up the atmosphere, engaging with the spectators and appreciating this great sport of ours. As you head out from transition you’ll pass the grandstands, wall to wall supporters cheering you on and the club tents where your teammates will be taking pictures and offering words of encouragement and hope. Then, aligning the entire course you will see kids, mums and dads all cheering, clapping, calling out your name and sticking their hands out for a high-five. They’ll even have their sprinkler systems set up in front of their house to give you the opportunity to quickly cool yourself down. Last year one of the locals was cranking out Metallica through his stereo system in an attempt to motivate everyone.

To me, this is the essence of Noosa. People of all walks of life (even the Jack Daniels drinking, durry smoking, Metallica fans) embracing this great sport and encouraging the 8500 competitors no matter what age, sex, race or disability. That’s pretty special.

Tips

So if you decide to come to Noosa there are a couple of things I would suggest you do, apart from training hard:

  • Arrive a couple of days earlier and take the opportunity to enjoy the venue, see other events and familiarise yourself with the course.
  • Do a practice ride of the bike course, especially Garmin Hill so there’s no need to be worried about it during the event. (Don’t worry, it won’t ruin your taper)
  • Register on Friday as it gets pretty busy on the Saturday from the second the gates open.
  • Get to transition early and give yourself plenty of time to find your bike and set up. Remember there will be another 8499 competitors doing the same thing at the same time, so it can get a bit crowded and hectic if you leave it too late. Lap up the atmosphere and post heaps of photos on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.
  • No matter what your goal might be. Whether it’s to achieve a specific time or just complete the event, allow yourself to take in the atmosphere and really connect with the people and the venue.
  • Make sure your water bottles are secure on your bike as I lost one going over a timing map at the top of Garmin Hill.
  • Know where the green zones are where you’re allowed to draft.

If you come and watch this year, I guarantee you’ll want to participate next year. So do yourself a favour, just register and make it happen. You won’t regret it!

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Training While Pregnant From an Age Grouper & Professional

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When there’s no big race in sight, it can be hard to stay motivated during training, especially when your body is rapidly changing during pregnancy. Trizone caught up with Liz Blatchford and Dayna Wilkie, an age grouper who maintained her momentum during pregnancy and even completed a race thanks to a new motivation.

Breaking both arms delays half Ironman dreams

“I’ve done two seasons of short course racing, almost three, but I broke both my arms in the third season,” laughed Dayna. “I was training for my first half Ironman, Challenge Shepparton, and was out for a bike ride. The guy in front of me’s chain fell off, and since I was on his wheel, I slammed the brakes and went straight over the handlebars and broke both my arms.”

After her accident in October, Dayna spent a few months recuperating, with the doctor telling her she shouldn’t be riding on the road until the following February. “We were going on our honeymoon in January and we planned on trying for a baby straight away.

Before my accident though I’d been training for a whole year, and I wanted to race before getting pregnant!”

Ironman 70.3 Busselton goes perfectly

Dayna’s physio and coach at Holistic Endurance decided she’d be ready for her first Ironman 70.3 in May in Busselton. “I did my first half in WA, there were no Melbourne races left!” laughed Dayna. “I finished in just over five hours.”

“It was one of those races where everything goes to plan and you feel really good the whole way. I was so happy with the race I decided we could try for a baby now.”

Racing while pregnant

Unsure how long it would take for her to get pregnant, Dayna Wilkie signed up to a half marathon. “I got pregnant straight away and found out at four weeks!” said Dayna, “as soon as I found out I told my coach. She has a right to know when she’s writing my program so she knows for my training.”

Dayna had signed up to the half marathon, and she wasn’t going to give away her spot, so she downgraded to a 10km. “I was ten weeks pregnantcy, and I tried to go at moderate intensity and not smash myself,” said Dayna.

Like any triathlete, going easy doesn’t come easily to Dayna.

“In hindsight, I don’t think I’ll race next time I’m pregnant. I found it really hard not to be competitive, yet still enjoy racing”

Training alterations for pregnancy

“In the pool I was allowed to do everything I used to do, except tumble turns,” Dayna told Trizone, “they were pretty awkward!” Dayna Wilkie swam throughout her entire pregnancy with no issues. It was her running and cycling she had to change, plus the addition of a much slower more conscious workout style.

Running doesn’t work for everyone

Running was no problem for Wilkie until her 21st week, when she started to experience the common issue of pelvic pressure. “My doctor told me it was probably time to stop running, so I did power walks, hill repeats and stair repeats,” Dayna told Trizone.

Liz Blatchford had the same experience, “I got a really unstable pelvis really early on, around halfway. That was slightly frustrating as I’d had so long off running after injury,” Blatchford told Trizone.

“I’d just got back to some running before my pregnancy, but at 21 weeks, it was really painful. Emma [Snowsill] one of my best friends, she ran until the week before she gave birth, but my body wasn’t letting me.”

Dayna found there was a lot more she could do than run though. “I also did all my cycling efforts on the indoor trainer. My coach has some experience working with women who are pregnant, and she’s now pregnant herself, so she gave me a really good program.” Similarly, Blatchford kept up her swimming and cycling too. “I rode for as long as I could comfortably,” said Liz, “the last few months was mostly swimming, Pilates and walking.”

During pregnancy, Sports Medicine Australia says those who exercised before pregnancy can maintain a moderate to vigorous intensity workout plan. This essentially means that you must be able to talk but not sing. “I definitely trained hard, but it was not as hard as I had before I got pregnant,” said Dayna.

Pregnancy Pilates adds concentration to training

“My doctor recommended I start Pilates during my pregnancy and i really enjoyed it. You really have to focus on what you’re doing. It’s an hour-long class and there is lots to get through,” said Dayna. “Because my pelvic floor wasn’t very strong after looking at it on ultra sound, it was really important I work on that too, even though I never had any continence issues,” Dayna told Trizone.

“In hindsight, I would have worked on my pelvic floor before I got pregnant, but you never really know how strong your is until you get pregnant and assess it”

Liz Blatchford did Pilates throughout her career, and continued it long into her pregnancy too. “There’ so much you’re told you can’t do when you’re pregnant, so it was nice to have these physios who taught me pilates telling me all the things I could do!”

Motivation to train while pregnant – It’s not about racing

During pregnancy, there’s no imminent race to motivate athletes, so motivation can be tough.

“Sometimes I’d set myself up on the trainer and thing ‘what’s the point?’” Dayna told Trizone. “I have no race coming up, why would I bother?

“Initially it can be hard to put all these hours into training when there’s no end game,” said Dayna. “Triathlon training is a lot so if you don’t have that motivation it’s hard. You know your fitness will go down, so you basically have to find a new source of motivation.” For triathletes who train during pregnancy, considering the benefits to both their baby and themselves can be the driving factor.

“Training during pregnancy isn’t just good for your baby, but it’s also really good for your mental health. I’ve had no post-partum issues, and I really think that’s why”

Liz Blatchford found out she was pregnant in Kona, and her motivation changed from then onwards. “I had to be a bit careful because Kona is so hot, and overheating is something to think about,” said Liz. “Whenever I was going out training, I’d just assess my priorities, and of course every time the baby was my number one.”

“That means I didn’t go riding when the roads were busy, and if it was really hot I wouldn’t run. I remembered it didn’t matter if I couldn’t ride that day, I’d run or swim. My priority dictated what changed,” Liz told Trizone.

While Dayna’s body told her training was the right thing during her pregnancy, here are a few proven benefits to exercising while pregnant.

Sports Medicine Australia’s proven benefits of exercise while pregnant:

  • Improved muscular strength and endurance.
  • Improved cardiovascular function and physical fitness.
  • Decreased risk of pregnancy related complications such as pregnancy-induced
  • Hypertension and pre-eclampsia.
  • Reduced back and pelvic pain.
  • Reduced fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Decrease in excessive gestational weight gain and post-partum weight retention.
  • Fewer delivery complications in women who are active during pregnancy.
  • Prevention and management of urinary incontinence.

Nutrition during pregnancy

“It’s definitely not eating for two like some people say,” said Dayna, “you only need an extra 200 calories, or around that; it’s not much. I found I was eating the same amount but because my training was decreasing, I was getting a bit extra.”

Listening to your body is key

It’s so important to keep moving during pregnancy, and with Sports Medicine Australia’s recent revised recommendations, exercise is one of the most important aspects of pregnancy. While there are plenty of guidelines and women’s health physiotherapists to help you keep moving, Dayna says it helps to listen to your body.

“Cravings really told me what I needed,” said Dayna. “Your body really tells you what to do. I just listened to what my body wanted. My doctor said to workout and do what felt good, and I did. I stopped running when I was getting pain, but everything else felt really good so I kept it up. I kept pushing myself, not to the extreme, but working moderately hard.”

Blatchford continued swimming throughout her pregnancy, doing 3.5km swims in just one hour, working hard. “Swimming was the one thing that kept me sane,” said Liz. “Listening to my older sister, and all my friends who have had kids has been really helpful.”

Triathletes are the exception to the rule that pregnant women don’t stay active enough, but the benefits to activity during exercise is incredibly compelling, and evident in Dayna’s experiences. Since we spoke, Dayna has had her little baby Isla and is now back to training. Check back in soon to discover how to get back to training after pregnancy.

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Triathlon: Changing your life one hour at a time

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Triathlon requires proficiency in three separate disciplines. However, finding the time to train is a challenge for anyone, never mind someone who works full time while juggling family commitments. But that extra hour in your day can be found more easily than you think. I’m going to show you how to overcome some popular excuses that stop people from changing their life one hour at a time.

No Time for Triathlon

I used to laugh at people who’d get up at 4:30am to go training. “You’re insane”, is a phrase that regularly popped out of my mouth. Yet I was also trotting out this little chestnut: “With work and kids, I just don’t have the time to do anything”.

So, how do all these other people do it? Are they all without kids, a demanding job, a house that needs cleaning and a family that’s high maintenance? Are they blessed with an extra 2 hours every day that I don’t know about? Do they also know where to find platform 9 3/4 to Hogwarts?

Every day as we go to work, walk the dog (which is exercise by the way), pass people in the street or sit next to people on the train we are inevitably seeing individuals who do in fact experience all these issues and many more on a daily basis. Yet some of them look really fit. How is this possible?

The answer is surprisingly simple

They set themselves a goal, and make the time.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “yeah sure, how do you just make the time?  It’s easier for them because ……. but but but ……..” Well, hold that thought and let me answer the question with another question:

“Could you find an extra 1 hour each day if your life depended on it?”

Ironically, in some cases this is exactly the scenario. You just need to tune into the Biggest Loser to see people who are inevitably saving their lives by doing just that. Of course this is an extreme example, but don’t underestimate the power that one hour each day can make to your life and wellbeing.

I recently met a single mum with 4 kids that trained for and completed an Ironman. An Ironman !!!! That’s a 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42km run. And let me be very clear that the event in itself was actually the easiest part of this whole equation. Training for something like that takes hours and hours out of every week just to get to the start line. Take a few seconds to think about the logistics she faces every day. I know I did.

So how do YOU do it?

In a lot of cases, it all happens in the wee hours of the morning before the rest of the world awakens. I personally exercise in the morning as I find it an amazing way to start the day. Despite getting out of bed at “insane o’clock”, it jump-starts my day by giving me a sense of achievement before most people have even opened their eyes.

Of course, that doesn’t always suit everyone’s circumstances. But luckily, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

Excuse Busting – Breaking down the Fortress

Success is often guarded by a fortress of excuses.

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else. – Benjamin Franklin

How we overcome these excuses defines how we live our life. Getting started isn’t easy, and it takes commitment and perseverance to develop habits. So to help you get started I offer you the following ways to overcome the top 4 excuses that hold people back from changing their life one hour at a time.

#1: Work is too busy

Excuse busting tips:

  • Block out specific times during the day for exercise
  • Prioritise your work and ask yourself “will any small children die if I went for a run instead of doing this other task right now?” How important is it really?
  • Renegotiate delivery times
  • Even on the busiest days you can still aid recovery by stretching regularly, wearing compression socks under your trousers and using a spikey rolling ball on your feet under the desk
  • Schedule walking meetings instead of sitting meetings
  • If you’re the boss:
    • learn to delegate and empower your team
    • ask your PA to keep these times free
    • set a healthy example for your team

#2: There are just not enough hours in the day

Excuse busting tips:

  • Incorporate exercise into your commute to and from work. Drive part of the way and ride or run the other part. Park near a train or bus station so you can get back to your car in the afternoon
  • Go for a run or a swim during your lunch break
  • Go to bed one hour earlier and wake up one hour earlier
  • Do something immediately after work before you settle in to watching the next episode of Game of Thrones
  • Schedule time on your weekends – do something with the kids or put aside one or two hours just for yourself. My introduction to running was Parkrun every Saturday morning.

#3: It’s so hard to get out of bed in the morning

Excuse busting tips:

  • Take a long hard look at your habits and identify trade-offs.
  • I was a TV addict. I used to watch every series, every night and regularly stay up late. I decided that my health was more important than knowing whether the Mentalist eventually caught Red John. I started reducing the amount of TV I watched and began waking up one hour earlier. Initially this was just for 2 days a week, but over time this became a daily habit.

#4: It’s difficult to keep motivated

Excuse busting tips:

  • I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I encourage you to join a group, a club, a team or exercise with a friend, your wife or the kids. We all need help to keep motivated and nothing does that better than introducing “obligation”
  • Pay your coaching fees up front. I don’t know about you but the thought of wasting my money is a huge motivator
  • Schedule a future event. Nothing keeps you honest like an impending deadline
  • Keep your shoes next to your bed so they’re the first things you see in the morning
  • My first running group was a free group of people that met twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30am for an hour. If I didn’t turn up I felt like I was letting other members of the group down

Above all, start slow and work towards developing habits. Try Parkrun once a week for the first few months while you get used to running and building your fitness. Begin by walking most of it, then slowly build up the distance you’re able to run each week. Once you’re running the whole way you might even consider riding instead of driving to the start line.

Triathlon is about changing your life one hour at a time and overcoming excuses. It’s about commitment and developing lifelong habits that will not only make you healthier, but also happier.

So take that first step and offer no excuses. A one hour workout is only 4% of your day. Set your alarm for one hour earlier tomorrow morning and go for a walk. Once you give it a go you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve. Maybe one day we might even be on the start line of an ironman together.

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