All Posts by Coach Beth

Why I Loved Being Raw For A Month!

I finished a month of eating raw, and here is what I learned. I loved it! In fact I loved it so much that I decided to make my life more raw than not. I remember the apprehension I felt the few days before going raw, and had I only known how easy it would be I would have been more excited!

Here are some of the things I loved about being raw:

  • One - I have never been much of a cook. I have a tendency to burn food, because I put it on the stove to simmer and then promptly forget about it as I flit around to some other project I’m in the middle of working on. There is nothing I find as painfully boring as stirring a pot of food as it cooks. That is why I loved raw. I basically throw a bunch of ingredients into a food processor or blender mix it all together, pour it on to a plate and start to eat. Meal prep was around 10-15 minutes. Perfect for me!
  • Two - I love fruits, vegetables, and nuts. And the longer I went raw the more ways I found to work with these main ingredients in new and interesting ways. Everything started taking on an earthy flavor that I love. And as I was reading new recipes I’d come across ingredients I hadn’t heard of and would need to do a little research. This is how I found out that I love Tamari!
  • Three - Leftovers don’t take on a weird taste over the next couple of days. Everything is fresh and uncooked, so you don’t have to worry about eating rubbery chicken after it’s been zapped in the microwave the next day. I actually looked forward to meal prep on Sundays because I’d be able to make a bunch of lunches for the coming week and wouldn’t have to worry about anything getting funky.
  • Four - I was shocked by the amount of energy I had the month I went raw. I’ve tried many different types nutrition plans, from counting calories, to Southbeach, to Whole 30, to Paleo, and nothing left me feeling as energized as being Raw. I felt like I had turned into one of those people that has so much energy that you almost wonder if maybe they are taking something a little extra, wink, wink. But honestly I felt super focused and energized all month long. I probably made more progress on my goals during the month of January than I did the whole previous year.

Does that mean you should go raw? Honestly, it’s a personal decision. I’m not sure if going raw would have the same effects for everyone that it did for me. Do I think it’s a viable option that should be looked at? Absolutely! Do I think it’s the only way to live and everyone should go raw…NO. I think everyone is on their own journey and needs to find what works for them. I’d love to work with anyone who is looking to make a change through diet and exercise and find a process that works for them!

What Does a National Champion Think About When Racing?!

So what does a Winter Triathlon National Champion think about when she’s racing? Pretty much the same thing every race. This is so hard. Maybe I should just quit. I really don’t need another medal. Ugh, why didn’t I bring more food.

I had the pleasure of competing in the Winter Triathlon National Championships in St. Paul, MN over the weekend and unbeknownst to me at the time, I won my age group. To say I was shocked is an understatement.

After the race a friend sent me a text asking how it went. My reply:

It was really, really hard and honestly I don’t know if I would do it again. All they had for food at the end was chips and bagels (remember I was raw for the month of January) The bike was super icy and really hard to get up some of the hills, and they did alter it so I was on the bike path a lot, but the parts in the snow I was falling all over the place. At one point after falling, I just kicked my bike, and said ‘I’m over this Sh!t’. It took me over an hour to go 10 miles. I’m just glad I finished.

After I got home and ate something, I did send a follow up text:

I think I may have been hangry when I replied to your text. I feel much better now that I’ve eaten!

Something I’ve struggled with during all my races is race anxiety and fighting the little voice in my head that is constantly encouraging me to quit. I signed up for the King Boreas Winter Triathlon because I want to practice my skiing in a race situation for my upcoming 50K Birkie in February. And I figured adding on a 5k run and 10 mile bike before the ski would be easy peasy. Oops, not so much!

The bike course was comprised of 3 loops of a 3.3 mile route that had some trail riding as well as some paved riding. Of course I had no problem on the paved portion, but the trail riding was super icy thanks to a snow/freeze/thaw/freeze the previous week. And the race director put in hours upon hours getting the trail ready for us to race and they did a fabulous job. But I just wasn’t ready for the conditions.

I fell multiple times on the bike and granted it was on soft snow, so no danger of injuries. But those fat tire bikes are heavy, and honestly, the bike has always been my go to discipline in triathlon. So to be struggling so much on the bike was very humbling. During the first loop I started to formulate my plan on how to quit the race, turn in my chip, but still complete the ski portion of the race.

At the end of the first loop I pulled over, and made some adjustments to my toe warmers, and got my neck gaiter pulled up over my ears. Ok, on to the second loop. Yep, this is still hard, and I’m definitely going to quit after this loop. My rear wheel came off the skewer as I was walking my bike up yet another hill. Got it back on and tightened down. At the end of the loop, I once again dismounted my bike to check my rear wheel. Unfortunately it was all secure, so I had no reason to quit. On to the third loop. Ugh, I’m so tired. But I persevered and finished the third loop.

Finally on to the ski portion. I did have a nice chat with another athlete in transition who was already done with the race. Oh to be that athlete. Oh well, finish the ski and you will be that athlete. He was nice enough to tell me that the ski was fun, and had some good glide to it, so I should be able to get up some speed. Well, all I can say, is I did my best. I knew it probably wasn’t going to well, when a fellow athlete skied up past me and with much concern in his voice and a little look of horror on his face he asked if I was okay. I was, just super tired. He skied on with little effort, and I continued on, wondering how in the world I was going to complete the Birkie in a month. So now instead of considering quitting this race I was looking ahead to quitting the Birkie.

I did finish, I did get home and eat, I showered and warmed up, I foam rolled my aching muscles. I was fine!

That evening my husband and I went out to eat, and one of my athletes texted to ask how the race went. I replied that it was hard, but I finished, and was looking forward to competing again next year with her. Her reply about ten minutes later. OMG – you won your age group!!! Did you get a prize??? That’s great! What… I had no idea. I didn’t even go to the awards ceremony. Now I really am glad I stuck with it and finished the race. And to think of all the times I thought about quitting.

The more I race the easier it is to fight the urge to quit. But the urge is still there, constantly battling me at every step. But the more times I don’t quit the stronger I become at overcoming the urge. It’s like any other skill, it needs practice to strengthen. And now I can call myself a National Champ! What will you do with your strengthened perseverance?!

Can I Eat Out on My New Nutrition Plan?!

So January is coming to a close and I’m still going strong on my raw diet. It’s been an interesting month. I’ve saved quite a bit of money by eating in rather than hitting the fast food chain or restaurants. And I’ve tried a lot of new fruits and veggies along with different ways to prepare them.

But it hasn’t all been unicorns and rainbows. I had three team dinners to attend in the month of January. And these are all out, fancy restaurant team dinners. One of them was at Rodizio’s in Maple Grove and I will admit that I was drooling a little bit. If you’ve never been it’s quite the place. At this restaurant they actually bring you platters of meat that they serve you, and when you’re done with that piece another wait-staff is there with another style of meat to try. And to boot the night we went was bacon night.

Now it’s been three weeks since I’ve had any meat, let alone any cooked food, so my temptation was at code AMBER. But instead of going into full on panic mode, I went in prepared. I knew where we were eating so I checked out their menu online ahead of time. This isn’t just for people who are going raw, this is for anyone who wants to know more about what they are eating period. Many places now offer menu along with Nutrition information. So now you can go in knowing if need to make substitutions and what they have to offer.

I was fortunate because Rodizio’s had a complete salad bar that was fully stocked with all things salad as well as a great assortment of fruits and veggies. But if they weren’t I’m sure there would have still been different styles of salads available. And if you do end up going to a restaurant that only has a basic green salad with little fixings available order that, and then bring a small ziplock bag with additional items such as, seeds, nuts, dried fruits. All easily portable and will help bring a boring salad to life.

Because ultimately when you’re dining out it’s usually because of the company you’re with firstly and the food secondly. Now if you’re with a group of people who love their desserts, and I was, then you’ll need a second plan of action. See if the restaurant offers assorted fruit. I found the more fruit I ate, and the less processed sugar I consumed, the more I loved the fruit and my sugar craving was satisfied. If they don’t offer any fruit then pop a piece of gum in your mouth, or sip on some lemon water, or tea. And if all else fails, ask the person next to you if you can just smell their dessert. I do this quite often, and will get some funny looks, but it helps just to get a smell of something indulgent.

Always remember it’s a choice of what we put in our mouths. We have the control, not the food. And if there is a minor slip up, which can happen, as we are only human, take a moment to recognize it as just that… a minor slip up, and get back on track. You can do it!

Birkebeiner Fever!

This year has been about trying new things. When I was telling a friend that I was bummed that the Tri season had come to an end, she asked if I skied. I haven’t skied in about 10 years, but was thinking about getting back into it. The competition season doesn’t have to end just because Tri season is over, why don’t you sign up for the Birkebeiner?

So without putting much thought into it, I went home and signed up. I’d figure out the finer details later… like the fact that I didn’t own a pair of skate skis, or that I’ve never actually skate skied before… just minor details.

I was recently watching the Kid’s Baking Championship on TV and I think adults could learn a lot from watching kid’s compete. On this particular episode the kids were tasked with making a cookie cake, AKA a bunch of huge cookies stacked on top of each other. The kids tackled the task before them with enthusiasm. Then came the moment to stack the cookies. Some were great, perfectly stacked, nice and even. But others started to break apart as they were stacked. But instead of throwing in the towel, they just pushed those broken parts together the best they would go, used some frosting as glue, and covered it all up with more frosting.

The best tidbit I came away with after watching that show is that the kids weren’t afraid to try and fail. Because they knew that there was also a chance they would try and succeed. And that to try and fail, really meant, to try and learn.

Back to my Birkebeiner training. I had my skis, I was at a trail with man made snow, and I had watched some YouTube videos on how to Skate Ski. I was set. Until about five strides into my first practice session when I knew that I was far from all set. I was on a 1k loop and I was being lapped multiple times. I made it around the loop once, took off my skis and went straight to my car. Ugh, I thought, how am I going to make 50k when I barely just made 1k. But instead of wallowing in self pity, or giving up, the first thing I did was send out an email to a fellow coach that had a ski instructor in his arsenal of coaches and got some one on one coaching.

As adults I think we get so wrapped up on needing to appear like we know everything that we’re afraid to try new things for fear of looking foolish. But if kids had that same fear they would never learn and grow. And as an adult we should always strive to continue to learn and grow. There is a great big world out there, surely we can’t be expected to be and expert on everything just because we’ve reached adulthood. I encourage everyone to get out there and try something new, even if it’s a little scary. You never know, you might find a new passion!

Here’s to New Adventures

I decided to for the month of January to go raw. As with all great things in my life this wasn’t something I woke up and decided to do, but rather a friend made the suggestion and of course I jumped in with both feet, not really looking to see where I would land. I’m truly blessed to have such great friends in my life that lead me on all sorts of adventures.

When my friend suggested going raw for a month my first question was, when do we start. Not because I was super excited, but because she asked me right before Christmas, and I had already decided to pig out within moderation at Christmas. When she said I could start in January, I was on board.

Then December started slipping away and January was looming just ahead and I went into full panic mode. I started eating everything in sight. I made special trips to the grocery store just to buy “sugar”… you know, my favorite sugary drinks, and chips, and candy all things that I’d never be able to eat again. My friend quickly set me straight. “The point you’re missing when thinking about Raw is that you get to eat whenever, and however much you want. If you’re hungry just eat some food.” What a novel idea.

But I grew up with the idea of eating three square meals a day with snacks in between. How would this new idea of raw fit into my lifestyle? When I finally wrapped my head around the fact that I wasn’t going to starve to death I bought a couple Raw Cookbooks for my Kindle and started perusing them. This was thanks to another little gem my friend laid on me, ”when your stressed out about something you don’t eat sugar, you do research.” Huh! For those interested these are the cookbooks I purchased: Raw and Simple: Eat Well and Live Radiantly with 100 truly Quick and Easy Recipes for the Raw Food Lifestyle by Judita Wignall and The Raw Deal Cookbooks: Over 100 Truly Simple Plant-Based Recipes for the Real World by Emily Monaco

So on New Year’s Eve day, I hit the grocery store with my list of ingredients I’d need for my new adventure. I bought a lot of similar things as normal; fruits, vegetables, nuts, but just in a greater variety, and larger quantities. And I bypassed a lot of things too; bread, granola bars, eggs.

I have to say with the right seasoning the meals have turned out a lot better than I thought. I definitely don’t feel deprived and this has probably been the easiest eating change I’ve made in my life to adapt to. It’s been fun learning how different foods pair together to change the overall texture and flavor. I’ve enjoyed making my own protein bar snacks, and venturing out into new foods to try – parsnips and turnips – not too bad.

Now I’m not going to say when my husband made Pasta Fagioli soup my mouth didn’t water a ton. And when I was at my brother’s house eating with his family and they were enjoying Baked Ziti I really did want to have a big plate also. But what I haven’t missed is that overfull feeling and the food sleepies after a big meal. I love having more energy and freedom from past food choices.

The adventure will continue. Share your new adventure of 2018!

Six Steps to New Year’s Resolution Success

As the year draws to an end and the New Year begins we are often in a place of reflection and hope. This is the perfect time to bring about the best you possible with New Year’s Resolutions. The following six steps will help you keep those resolutions.

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    1.Set “SMART” Goals. Make sure your goals are; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Instead of saying I want to get stronger on the bike, try instead, I will increase my FTP by 10 watts over 3 months by training on the bike 3 times per week for 1 hour per session.
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    2. Plan ahead. Nothing derails a resolution faster than not being prepared. If your goal is to increase your bike power, make sure you have workouts designed to for this purpose, sign up for a spin class with great instructors whom are on board with helping you reach your goals.
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    3. Keep it positive. There’s going to be a time when it just doesn’t happen. A deadline at work keeps you late and you miss your favorite spin class. These things happen. One slip up doesn’t mean your whole resolution is shot and you should just give up; it only means you are human. Remind yourself of all the times you have been successful, they will far out way one minor slip up.
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    4. Pick a start date. A lot of resolutions are made with a January 1st start date. But in actuality you want to pick a date that is right for you. Make sure it’s a day that you feel well rested, are enthusiastic about your goal, and are surrounded by positive people. You also want to have all the tools in place to make your first day successful. So instead of the 1st, make your start date the day the first spin class is offered.
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    5. Go for it. Be 100% committed to your resolution. If you’re wishy-washy about the goal then failure won’t be far behind. Instead of a chore to complete think of it as an adventure. The first step to a new you. Visualize yourself faster and stronger on the bike and be enthusiastic about the steps that will get you there.
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    6. Plan rewards. Nothing helps more than positive reinforcement. It may be something as simple as enjoying a magazine, going to a movie, or spending an afternoon with a friend. The main thing to remember is to congratulate yourself along the way. Start with daily congratulations, then move on to weekly, monthly, and then annual anniversaries. Before you know it your resolution will be part of your healthy habits making the best you possible.

Hopefully these steps will help you achieve resolution success!

Leave a comment about your New Year's Resolution!

It’s the Off Season, Now What?!

The off season is a time to allow not only your body to recover but your mind also. Striving and training can take a toll on your over-all being and it’s okay to take a break. This doesn’t mean you should hit the couch and binge watch all the seasons of Lost, Stranger Things, and Grey’s Anatomy, while munching away on multiple bags of chips and cookies.

 But it’s necessary to give your mind and body a break from triathlon. This is the time to participate in activities that have nothing to do with swim, bike and run. In the colder climates there are many options: skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating. In warmer climates it’s tempting to train all year because you have the temperate weather to be able. But you can still get out and do some hiking or roller blading or take to the water and try paddle boarding or kayaking. Focus on trying activities that get you out of the sagittal plane of motion and into the transverse or frontal plane. We spend so much time swimming, biking, and running in the forward motion that we need to allow our bodies to move in different ways to avoid overuse injuries.

The off season is a time to get back into the gym and do some strength training, or join a fitness group and try out a P90X, TRX, or Core de Force class. Join a local yoga studio and help your body recover from the long strenuous season. The added benefit of doing something other than the three disciplines of triathlon will give your mind a chance to recover also. Don’t focus on pacing and power outputs, let those numbers rest for the time. The numbers will be there when base season starts. But taking the time to recover will actually help you be a stronger, more focused athlete.

Many athletes worry that they’ll lose fitness if they take time off. And yes your numbers will tail off from where they were at the end of the season. But if you were following your plan during the season your starting point at the start of the next season should be higher than the last season, especially if you take the time to recover. If you continue to pound and make every workout every day the hardest workout you can do, your body will eventually break down and injury will be close to follow. Then you’ll have a major set-back that will put your starting point much lower than your starting point of the last season, or even the season before.

 The key to a successful off season is to enjoy yourself, stay active, and not over indulge in relaxing.

Mindset: Choosing to Not Give Up

I was last out of the water at Rocketman. How far behind was I? Well the mass of my wave had already exited and I was alone in the water. Before the race started as we were all waiting to enter the swim start an athlete in my age group informed me there were five in our age group. Well now I know, I need first place to qualify for Nationals. I looked around, butterflies in my stomach. Everyone seemed so much fitter than me. We entered the water and I put my nerves aside. All I could do was my best. I had trained and I was ready.

So I’m last out of the water. But I’m okay because I love the bike portion of triathlons. So I get on my bike and start checking the calves of everyone I pass on the bike. I made a mental note of each athlete I passed in my age group. Meanwhile I thought about Rinny Carfrae at Ironman World Championships 2014. She came from behind off the bike and had to make up a bunch of time on the run to take first place. So my mantra of the day became “If Rinny can do it so can I.” I counted down five people in my age group. When I passed the last person she was still right behind me. And it didn’t take long for her to pass me again. I sat back on the bike, maintaining my cadence and power. She was still just ahead of me when I saw her sitting up and stretching her back. I picked up my speed a little to start to close the gap. Again I saw her sit up and stretch. That’s when I pounced. I kicked up my power and passed her. But I didn’t want to just pass, I wanted to put enough gap that she would find it crushing to even try to bridge the gap. I put myself in the pain cave long enough that there would be no coming back for her. I never saw her again during the race.

For me the bike is my strength and I still had the run. My legs screamed for me to walk, but I said No. I stayed focused. I kept running. With about a mile to go someone passed me with my age on their calf. At that point I knew it was over. I needed to get first place in my age group to qualify for Nationals. But I made the decision to keep running. You have to keep going because you never know what is going to happen in a race. They may have to stop just up ahead. The wheels might fall off on the run. They may have GI issues. You just never know. So I ignored my brain begging me to walk and just kept going. I maintained my pace through to the end of the race, and crossed the finish line spent, in a complete daze. I wandered around in a bit not sure what to do with myself as I waited for the initial standings to be stapled to the results board.

Finally the results were up… and at the top of my age group was my name. Not second, not third, but FIRST. I walked away and then went back to recheck. Still first. I stepped away again, only to go back for a third time to reverify that I was indeed first. I’ve sat through many awards ceremonies, for the sole purpose of waiting to if my name would be called of a door prize (it never was) but this was my first time waiting for my name to be called to stand on the podium.

What would have happened had I let myself go after coming out of the water last? Or not built a gap on the bike when that athlete was stretching (whom came in second place)? What if I had walked during the run? All opportunities to stop, slow down, not win. But I stayed focused and determined to keep going and do the best that I could. This is the mindset you need to reach your goals. What will you do with perseverance?

When Bad Days Happen To Good Athletes

September 2

Goal was to go 17 mph. Just wasn't able to get it to happen. Felt like I was pedaling through molasses. Tough day on the bike. At 4 hours 30 minutes I was at the end of the gateway trail near my car and it took a long time to decide if I should throw my bike into the farmer’s field and call it a season, lay down right there and take a nap, or continue with the last hour and a half. At the end of the ride I felt completely shot. Everything just felt off. It took a long time to decide if I wanted to do the run. I seriously contemplated skipping it. Then I thought about just doing an hour. Decided I better do the whole thing as I'm going to have to do a marathon at the IM.

This is the entry during one of century training rides followed by a long run during my Ironman training. Every athlete is going to have training days like this. The goal is to not give up and push through these days and come out stronger in the end. On these tough days I go back to one of my favorite quotes by Greg Plitt, “Championships aren’t won in the theater of the arena. They are won in the thousands of hours of training and the five a.m. runs in the rain when everyone else is sleeping. That’s where it’s won. The heart of a champion is a light switch that’s always on – it doesn’t go on and off when someone’s watching – it’s constant.”

If you’re quick to give up during a training session what’s going to give you the drive to go through when the going gets tough on race day. Tough days in training are what you need to help you have the confidence to finish tough races. Training days aren’t just about working on your body and your muscles, but about training your brain and mindset. It’s equally important to have a strong mindset and a strong body because it’s your brain that will give up on you long before your body will. 

Here are six steps to help you get through those tough training days and help you start to improve the strength of your mindset:

  • Have one or two positive mantras that you can repeat to yourself when you’re struggling.

This is tough; I’m tougher

I’m not training to be skinny; I’m training to be bad-ass

Kicking my ass today, so I can beat yours tomorrow

  • Check your nutrition. Often times when I find I’m completely depleted and just don’t think I can take another step it’s because I have neglected to stay on top of my nutrition. Try taking on nutrition and see if that helps your energy level. Be sure to record any changes in your mood/energy in your training log.
  • Are you training in the correct zones? If this is a long bike or run session then you should be training in a lower zone. Often times athletes will push too hard during easy sessions and not hard enough during hard sessions. This can lead to burn out and over-training, and will not help an athlete improve.
  • Some days in training are meant to tough and fatiguing. Remember these days are built into you’re training plan and should test your mettle. Remind yourself that of your long-term goals and this is just another step in the recipe to make you successful.
  • If it’s safe to do so during training try listening to upbeat music or motivational speeches. I subscribe to different Youtube channels that are full of motivational messages as well as videos about going after your dreams, being a champion, and never giving up. My favorite is Mateusz M.
  • If you find yourself in a negative downward spiral, take a moment to distract yourself. If you’re outside pay attention to your surroundings. Try to find one positive thing whether it’s an interesting cloud in the sky, or the color of the leaves, or a cool breeze against your cheek. If you can’t find anything then take a moment just to be grateful that you’re able to train at all. Sure it’s hard, but there are much harder things in life than training. Be grateful and give thanks for all the things you are able to do.
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