Tag Archives: running

A Few coaching/athlete thoughts…

17 Oct

This morning on my recovery run my mind floated all over the place as it typically does. The topics that came to mind are.
1. I believe all races/events should support and be sanctioned by the sports governing body like say Triathlon. It’s frustrating that all races are not USAT sanctioned and support them. USAT does so much for our sport and our athletes that we should all be members and all should support them! In Minnesota for some reason race directors don’t seem to feel this way and very few races are USAT sanctioned and that really disappoints me.
2. Coach/athlete relationships. As a coach and as an athlete, as a parent of a daughter who is a competitive athlete in swimming, running, Triathlon I’ve had a lot of experience here and seen many different styles. Not all coaches are the right fit for each athlete and this does not mean they are a bad coach; it just means their style and approach is not right for the athlete. Just like not all athletes can be coached the same, we are talking about sports like Triathlon, running, swimming etc… not a team sport like football. I can say that several athletes I have coached over the years has much better success when I coached them, than when they left and tried to go another path and some athletes, I coached have had success going another path so again really depends on the situation and the athlete. A coach really needs to get to know their athlete and what makes them perform, how to handle them emotionally, mentally, and physically. Like myself I know I can handle intense workouts, I can handle failure better than most and use it to fire me up and focus on the next event. I also know how to relax and do what I need to do to save energy and perform. Some athletes when a coach or outside party puts so much pressure on them, they actually stress, wear down their body and their performance suffer from the pressure and stress. Instead a coach needs to relax the athlete, help calm the nerves and help them relax and believe in themselves. When you build the confidence into the athlete and the athlete believes in that confidence and believes they have the ability to perform at a certain level a lot of times they will rise up and dig deep.
3. You can’t expect yourself or an athlete to peak at every race, to have that magical performance. So I believe how some coaches handle things making kids fight for their spot week in and week out and expect an athlete to always be on top of their game when they have stress and demands of workouts and weekly races and everything else a kid in college or high school goes through does not seem fair or right. Same goes for age group athletes or even pro level athletes. A race schedule needs to be thought out and planned. You can’t make all races be an “A” race and you can’t expect to PB or have amazing results at every race you do. Sometimes you train through races, are sore and tired and so your performance won’t be stellar and that’s OK because the goal of that race is not to be on top of your game but rather a solid workout and gain some race experience. I know a lot of college programs sort out in the pre-season who their top athletes are on the team those that will be in the championship season team and then they don’t race them much during the season rather they train them and taper them for the important events and let them skip the smaller ones. This makes a lot of sense to me, why try and race a kid week in and week out and fight for their spot? You only have 1-2 peak/great performances in you for a season so save them and use them on the days it matters most!
4. I believe you need to look at the athlete’s entire body of work! End of season awards, critics reviews, coaches picking who races at what events all of it age groupers to NCAA or high school teams. Don’t just focus on one race, rather look at the athlete’s entire body of work the entire season! If an athlete is consistently performing better than others all season long then why base awards, decisions on just one race/event? Like when athletes win end of season awards often times it’s sort of out of sight out of mind. So, if one athlete did most of their racing in the early season and was crushing it and because of things in their life did not race as much end of season, but another athlete raced more end of season I often see the nod go to the end of season athlete. This happens in football all the time, for things like the Heisman or an MVP if the better player is on a bad team and not winning games, and their season is cut short while other players go to bowl games or the playoffs it’s so easy for the better player to be overlooked for the athlete who is on the better team but maybe not the better player. Also, when looking over an athlete’s body of work you need to look at the events, what was the competition? Did they rise up against the good competition or are those results in small little races with no competition? Then you might need to consider weather conditions? And courses as well.
5. Learn about yourself and learn about your athlete! As a coach of age group athletes for many years, athletes of many different ability and age, and female or male. I have learned that you can’t coach each of them the same. I would say the same goes for younger athletes as well on NCAA or high school teams. I would say that Bella and I are similar and that our bodies have become accustomed to Triathlon training and mix of the three sports. So, when the two of us focus on running events and try to run train more and limit the amount of swimming and biking we do our bodies actually suffer and run slower than when we limit the run miles and focus on all three sports. Some athletes can thrive on high miles of running and some can’t. I use to be a high mileage run guy when I was doing a lot of marathons, but I believe I broke myself down more during that time and spent more money and time at massage and various therapy to recover than when I focused on less miles, but quality miles and then did more swim and bike. This can take time to figure out but if the athlete and coach have a good relationship, they will figure this out and do what is best for the athlete that in turn becomes better for the team. I’m excited about going back to the marathon sometime soon on my new method of training where I run less miles and do more bike rides for endurance recovery days. Focus my runs on intensity and pace work. The same for Bella during Triathlon season she could run 19:08 5k off a swim and bike, but then comes cross country season and she is just running and her times slow down by one minute or more because her legs are just not responding to the workouts and mileage. I believe had she kept training like a Triathlete her cross-country times for 5k would have been below 20 minutes all season. She had one of her best races of the season when she was coming off being sick and had little extra rest and some cross training. So, learn about your athletes and don’t be so rigid! They are not all the same.
6. Some athletes thrive in a group setting, some athletes thrive solo. I love group training, and I love a supportive team atmosphere! I do think most athletes will get better this way, and will push harder as long as the team the coach the athletes are all positive and a good mesh. When I was coaching this way many of my athletes really flourished! But some athletes that came into the group just were not a good fit. Nothing against that person just not the right style of fit for me as coach or the athletes in my group. But when you get the right combination of athletes and coach in a group man thing can really boom and a lot of growth and success can happen!
7. Learn to flow with change, learn to adopt new methods, don’t be rigid and try new ways! As a coach and athlete, I have learned you can’t keep doing the same old workouts, same old method of training year in and year out. You need to sure keep some things that work and change some things that don’t work. We can’t be archaic in our ways but adapt and go with new technology, new trends and try some new things. I always loved this approach with coaching athletes at group workouts. I wanted them to learn how to quickly roll with change and how to expect the unexpecting. Race situations things can change quickly and often especially in endurance races like say Ironman. We need to learn as athletes that we can’t control everything and can’t always plan for everything. So being in a workout thinking you’re doing 8×400 and then coach tosses out now do 4 more 400’s during the workout that can make a quick positive or negative affect in your mind and you must learn how to adapt quickly and stay positive. The same goes with planning out an athlete’s workouts for the season. I never want to plan too far in advance because I like to see how the athlete progresses and handles certain things. I also am a coach/athlete who studies a lot and likes to learn from others and then try some of those things learned on myself or other athletes and see how it works? I believe we always need to keep an open mind and be learning and changing.
8. No matter what happens in training and in racing, always stay positive! And Always believe in yourself! Don’t let one race get you down, don’t let one race determine your season or ability as an athlete!
9. Be open and honest and have good communication! As an athlete speak your mind to your coach and give feedback, let them know what is working and what is not. Let them know what methods work best with you and how you respond to things. Coach be open to this communication and be willing to change your thoughts and methods or give a good reason why, and explanation of the workout and why? Find the key words and ways to handle the athlete or coach emotionally. I find this is the biggest challenge and biggest thing that can bring success. How to handle the emotions of other people, how to get them fired up and in the zone, how to relax them and how to make them feel positive about themselves!
10. Just have fun and smile! And show gratitude and feel blessed! Having the ability to swim, bike, run is amazing! Don’t take it for granted, don’t waste your gift, don’t blow your talent! Embrace it!

Thanks for listening, if you agree, if you like this, if you want a coach. Please leave a comment, send me a note as I love to hear from you!
Just enjoy life and each moment you are given! No Limits! Never Give up!
Peace
Coach MB

Recapping Bella’s 2019 season!

10 Sep

As a proud father I’m blogging today and making my case for my daughter Bella Buenting to be the junior female athlete of the year! 2019 was a very impressive season for Bella, sure it had some ups and downs but overall, she rocked it!
I simply love that myself and Bella share the passion of Triathlon together and that we spend our summer training and racing together! She is an amazing kid and the hours we spend, swim, bike, run (mostly biking together she swims mostly with Minnetonka swim club) is just awesome! I live for these moments and our workouts together! Racing with her is so fun as well! Especially events that I compete in the Olympic distance, and she competes in the sprint and we see each other along the race course, or at the finish line! Nothing better than a sweaty hug at the finish line from my daughter! Bella also teaches me some things in transition and at race sites, she is a very smart kid and sometimes gives me a nice fresh perspective on something I maybe miss.
The future for Bella is exciting! Triathlon is an emerging sport at the NCAA level for women and Bella is being recruited by several schools and has been taking visits all year long to visit schools, meet with coaches and so on. It’s also a lot of work and stress for her as she has to check in weekly with all of these coaches giving them updates, they call her, text her, email her often making their sales pitches for their schools and programs. It’s fun but it’s also a lot of work for her but she is very blessed to have so many great options to choose from!

So let’s talk Bella’s 2019 season!
Race #1 kicked off in April down in Greenville, SC for USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships. This would be the first ever Duathlon that Bella competed in and it came in the middle of high school track season so she was not 100% dialed in to Duathlon mode, and it was her first outdoor bike ride of the season since we had a harsh winter. But against the fastest girls in the nation in a draft legal event Bella finished 4th at National champs! 2 of the 3 girls that beat her had won athlete of the year awards in 2018 from USAT so you can see the competition was stiff!
Race #2 Buffalo Sprint Triathlon in Minnesota. Again this was coming right after she ran in the high school sections track meet doing the 1600 and 3200 (she finished 6th in 3200 at sections and ran a PR time for the season) So training for Triathlon was a little limited. But she cranked out a new junior female course record! Crushing the old mark, she finished 4th overall female and won her age group by a lot!
Race #3 Lake Minnetonka Triathlon; this is a sprint race but it has a longer swim and longer bike than a typical sprint. This might be Bella’s premier race of the season her performance was amazing! Bella finished 3rd overall female, within 2 minutes of the winner who has so many Triathlon wins in her career! She crushed the junior female course record and of course won her age group. Her splits were outstanding here and she really had a great day beating some of the states best athletes!
Race #4 Junior Elite Nationals in Monroe, WA This was not Bella’s day. Draft legal race against 75 of the nations fastest and best athletes. She got a bad number draw so lined up in a tough spot on the beach got bottled up in the swim so could not get into the lead or chase group on the bike and if you get caught in a small group of 2 riders out of the lead groups in draft legal it’s just really hard to fight back up to the front. She still beat about 30 girls that day but certainly not the result she wanted. Time to move on and shake this one off.
Race #5 Mpls Triathlon (sprint) Bella bounced back and had a strong race here! It was really hot and humid so she rocked that swim/bike combo to create a lead gap and then just survived the run. But she finished 3rd overall female landed on the podium and had a great result! Of course winning age group again.
Race #6 Heart of the Lakes Triathlon (short course)
Well Bella was back at this race! She had her top junior female competition in the field and Bella came out racing hard! She was the overall female winner! Crushed the junior female course record! And has the 3rd fastest female time on this course in the races 30 years.
Race #7 USA Triathlon age group National championships in Cleveland, OH (sprint)
This is a deep and competitive field again with the best of the best in the country racing! Bella came out and put together a good swim, solid bike and not a bad run. She finished 10th out of a deep 60 girl field and qualified for Team USA in 2020.
Race #8 Maple Grove Triathlon (USA Triathlon regional championships)
This was a last-minute sign up for Bella. She had been gone all week at cross country camp with her high school team Minnetonka and had not done any swimming or biking for two weeks since her last race in Cleveland. But she thought hey I have a Saturday free so why not crush one more Triathlon with my dad this year! 😊 Bella did not have the race she wanted her legs where just dead. But she was still good enough for a 3rd overall female finish against some great older athletes! She crushed another junior female course record by over 5 minutes and of course won her age group. So in the end it turned out successful!

That’s a pretty busy summer for a 16-17-year-old kid but she handled it well and loved it! Of course, mixing in a bunch of college visits as well! Hopefully she did enough to win the junior female of the year I mean 4 course records! And never losing to another junior female all season! And really crushing her competition at each race! I think they should also give a junior male of the year award to Kyle Swenson also as he had an amazing season and is a great kid! Bella and Kyle have become friends and now chat at cross country meets when they see each other!
Bella so proud of you and all you accomplish! You work hard, have passion and dedication and it pays off! Enjoy senior year of high school and so excited to see what the future brings!

Cheers
Mike “Proud papa” Buenting

NCAA Triathlon emerging sport for Women!

27 Jul

USA Triathlon is excited to announce that there will be a triathlon combine in Minnesota for anyone interested in considering triathlon at the collegiate club or NCAA level. We are reaching out to Minnesota’s USAT members between the ages of 14-22. The wide age range is to inform students currently in high school, undergraduate and postgraduate about the opportunities to compete. We created the combine to assist our NCAA varsity triathlon and collegiate club programs in recruiting athletes.

The event will take place on Saturday, August 17th between 10:00am – 1:00pm at Minnetonka Middle School (17000 Lake St. Exit, Minnetonka, MN 55345). Please see the attached flyer for more details. The main pieces will be a short time triathlon in swim (100 meters in a pool) and run (1600 meter on a track). No experience needed. Athlete coaches are welcome to also attend with their athletes. For information, please reach out to Mike Buenting at mikebuenting74@gmail.com.

Here is the registration link: https://www.active.com/minnetonka-mn/triathlon/races/usa-triathlon-mn-women-s-triathlon-athlete-recruitment-combine-2019FINAL MN FLYER

 

Let go of the past, focus on the future!

12 Feb

As athletes especially competitive athletes who set goals and chase goals we often times get lost in the past chasing our success of yesteryear. This can be OK if we keep the right mindset but it can also be mentally draining and have negative effect on us.

This thought got brewing in my mind this morning on a run, reflecting back over data of several years of racing and training and asking that question inside ourselves “why can’t I get my times back to where they were three years ago?”

So that question has many different answers and paths, and it’s not that even as we age that we can’t get back to our youthful days of performance it’s how we do things, how we believe in ourselves mentally (confidence) and how we progress and keep moving.

As a coach I meet a lot of athletes without a lot of years of experience in racing or training for endurance events like marathon or a Triathlon. So as I meet these athletes and coach them and train them in a proper way to make improvements they make these massive gains and improvements over the course of the next 3-5 years and it builds all sorts of confidence in them which is wonderful. But as time goes by as an athlete gets faster and faster the rate of gain becomes smaller, now instead of every race being a PR time, it’s every few races or maybe one race per year and the others are still solid strong performances but just not at that rate of gain like they had in the early years of a focused training plan.  I have found with age group athletes and this equates to myself as well. That for many years we do this leisure way of training we just sort of workout at one level of intensity, we do things as we like with no true plan or understanding how to push our limits and get better. Then we decide to take things to another level, we hire a coach we begin to read some and learn and change our patterns for training. We now do interval sessions, we cross train, we increase mileage, we do slow recovery efforts and so on. As we make this shift we see these rapid changes within ourselves we watch race times quickly make huge leaps and get faster and faster and we are glowing with confidence and happiness/excitement. 

But as time goes and that PR in a marathon goes from 10 minutes shaved time to 10 seconds we start to have doubt in ourselves, doubt in our ways of doing things and methods. It can mentally drain us and make us feel down and less confident. This is that negative effect that can only be fixed with a shift within our mind. A new approach to things and believing in ourselves.

As athletes we have to understand that in the early years we will see massive gains in time drops but as we get faster and stronger those gains become smaller because the athlete is performing at such a high level all ready. We can’t take this as a negative but yet stay focused and positive and understand it.  Many of us age group athletes like myself had some really fast good times for the marathon etc… in our late 20’s and early 30’s but as we keep going and get into our 40’s then 50’s things change our bodies are a little different and we don’t quite have some of the speed like we use to. (This is not to say that past 40 you are done because I know a lot of wicked fast 40 and 50 year olds out there people who keep on getting faster and can stick it to the young kids) So don’t think you are past your prime and past setting personal best times because you are not. You just have to sometimes say it won’t happen as often, you need to be even more focused about your training, your sleep, your diet all the little things. Things that we could skip and short change a little in our younger days but as we get older we can’t.

I also find with athletes that struggle in this area of comparing times and fitness too years past is that most the time they still have it in them and they still have all that speed to get faster but because they trained so hard for those early years they get to the end of a season take a mental break and some time off (which I think all athletes no matter what level they are need these breaks at the end of the season) but they extend those breaks they say I’ll take one month relaxed and easy and not focused, one more turns into two and then into three and next thing they know their friends started training and getting focused a month or two ago and now they are lagging behind trying to catch up and mentally this bogs them down and makes them lose confidence. This is the point the athlete needs to let go and start pushing their limits, less thinking and just stay within themselves, keep training hard with passion and focus and in due time they will catch up to the others and then pass the others because deep inside them is all the speed and strength they just have to dig it out again. So these “end of season time offs” can be a good thing and a bad thing if not managed properly.  So when you take a break take a week or two off then enter back into building fitness with moderate workouts but if you have goals the next season and want to get back to work you can only allow these breaks to last so long before you get back into a routine otherwise you play catch up half the year and will set yourself back from continuing to grow and set personal bests. The movie American Flyers had a great line a quote at the training center. “Once you got it up, keep it up” I live by that and love it.  As an athlete myself I allow mental breaks, but fitness breaks I don’t allow much of that I just find a new way to do things to keep myself engaged and staying fit. Try this approach to make sure you don’t lose too much fitness and spend months or trying to get in shape again before your training cycle kicks in and that race approaches that you want to excel in.

But at the end of the day, no matter our age, our years of training and racing, our experience level all of it. We can still chase dreams, we can still get faster and stronger, and we can still set personal bests. Because the root to continued success lies within us, within our mind! It’s all about mental toughness! It’s all about how bad do you want it, how hard are you willing to work, how much pain are you willing to endure? When the workout is hard, the intervals are fast are you going to keep pushing your limits and fighting? Or are you going to make an excuse and back off and quit? At the end of the day the answer to any growth and success is all about your mental toughness, and How Bad do you want it! How much are you willing to work for that success because the success the growth the PR times don’t come with half hearted efforts, and just thinking about it, thinking it will come easy. They will only come if you have passion, desire, fire, and a relentless forward motion and positive attitude to push even when you think you can’t push anymore.

 

Go be great! Never stop believing! Never think your days are over and you can’ grow!

Because it’s all crap! No matter your age or fitness level you can always grow, always get faster and always keep having success chasing dreams and goals!

 

Cheers

Coach MB

www.gottahavehearttraining.com 

Just because you are down, does not mean its over!

6 Feb

This past Sunday I saw two incredible displays of never giving up even when you are down and it seems like things are over. Sport is an amazing display of pushing limits, challenging yourself and learning a lot about what you are made of.

 

Sunday morning I was watching college wrestling (I’m a Iowa Hawkeye) and they were wrestling Minnesota. Iowa’s 125 pounder and #1 ranked wrestler Thomas Gillman was flat out getting his butt kicked! In the first period the Gopher wrestler got a take-down then back points and was soon up 8-0 then he rode Gillman the entire 2nd period racking up over 3 minutes of ride time. I would say most of his though not good Gillman is going down. But never once did Thomas give up and quit wrestling, He kept fighting, he kept after it and taking his shots. Soon Gillman was on his offense got momentum shifted his direction and next thing you know he pins the Gopher wrestler and wins the match! It was a crazy amazing turn of events and one of the best wrestling matches I have ever seen.

Then came Sunday night and the Super Bowl! Now I know all most all of you watched this and were stunned when the game ended. If you watched the first three quarters you saw Atlanta Falcons pretty much dominate the Patriots and take a 28-3 lead with 2 minutes left in the third.

But Tom Brady and those Patriots did not stop believing and they did not stop playing. Most teams or athletes would have folded and quit assuming no way we can overcome this many points with just 15 minutes to play. But the Patriots showed an amazing never die, never quit attitude and stayed the course stuck to what they do and just kept chipping away at the Falcons as the Falcons kept making mistakes and wilting. Next thing you know the game is headed to overtime and the Patriots won the game! Simply an amazing comeback!

Both of those events showed such strength, such mental toughness and fight to keep going even when all the odds everything in the world said quit! And well that sums up how an endurance athlete needs to respond and act and think as well.

As endurance athletes we endure all types of things, things that kick us down take us off our game out of the race and make us want to quit. The lessons we need to learn is that if you’re a fighter, if you believe in yourself and you have passion and desire then no way you should ever let something try and slow you down and take you off your game.

It’s like a marathon runner who has been running a great race nailing all their splits staying tough and then mile 20 comes along legs turn to concrete the mind starts to say “Hey wait this does not feel good let’s quit” You slow for a mile maybe two and things appear like you will do the death march to the finish line, but since you’re a fighter and a positive thinker you keep pushing, pushing your limits, pushing through the pain and no quitting not giving in and you cross that finish line maybe still with that goal time, or place on the podium you wanted or maybe not but you are a lot closer to that goal time and with a finisher medal because you never quit! Had you given into the pain accepted defeat when those miles slowed you might have had a crap time, maybe not even finish as you walked along the final miles depressed and with a bad attitude. But when you keep that relentless forward motion and just keep fighting its amazing what can happen!

The same thing goes when you are an elite competitive racer and you are fighting for a top finish a podium spot and you fall back right away to your competitors and they look strong do you make excuses? Quit and drop back and say guess I just can’t beat them today or do you fight and dig your way back into the race from the hole you’re in? If you’re an athlete like Thomas Gillman you keep fighting and pushing and believing in yourself! Because you never know what can happen if you stay strong, stay focused and never give up!

So this season as you train remember these words, think of these examples of athletes being kicked and beaten and down that it appears they have not shot to bounce back, but then all the sudden they overcome the odds and they succeed!

When you have passion, desire, and a positive attitude! When you have confidence and believe in yourself magical things can happen! So don’t let anyone or anything kick you down just keep fighting and have that success go for the win!

 

Happy Training, Racing and being inspiring!

Cheers

Coach MB

 

Setting Goals! Chasing Goals!

19 Jan

Any competitive athlete or any athlete or person for that matter needs to be goal driven. Setting goals is ways to help keep you focused keep you on task and committed.

When it comes to setting goals as an athlete; and thinking about your race season, thinking about a goal within a certain race here is how I do things and maybe some tips to help you.

 

Every year about December or January I start thinking about the upcoming race season I think about the races I want to do and which races are my “A” races the ones I have goals for and what races are my “B” races that I just train through and take a little light hearted.

As an athlete you can really only peak a few times a year and you can really only look at having a few big races that you focus you’re training on and chase within a year.  But many of us like to race a lot as its fun! So we must look at many of our races as having fun no expectations and just train right through on our way to the big picture goal of the season.

But your goals might not be a certain race or time at the race or even place? They might be about weight loss or just finishing the distance or whatever you choose.

The Steps you need to follow to reach goals and have success.

Commitment! You must be committed to what you are doing, what you are chasing. You can’t be a person who talks but struggles to follow through. If you want to have success you must wake up each morning with a positive attitude and you must chase it!

Passion; you need to have passion for what you are doing as this passion will help you stay focused and on the path to reach your goal. This passion helps you stay committed.

Consistency; this is a huge one! Be consistent with your training, your diet all of it. You can’t cheat and skip workouts, you can’ change things around all the time. If you are training for a marathon you have no choice but to run the miles or reaching that goal won’t happen!

Set the plan and follow it; this goes with consistency. You need to design a training plan, hire a coach who does his for you something along these lines. You need to have a clear plan in place and then you need to follow it with consistency. How are you going to achieve that goal?

No Excuses; OK this one comes with an (astric)  because yes things can happen. Not that they are excuses but sure we get sick, we get injured, work, family things can come up and mess with us but overall we can’t make excuses we just have to get up and put the work in!

Adapt and change along the way; Life tosses us curveballs all the time and when I race I always have a few different goals my A,B,C goals. This way if weather is bad and I have to dial back the pace I can adjust my goal on the fly and still find the positive in the race. If an injury occurs during training, or some other outside factor you did not see coming and it gets you off course step back adjust and move forward with a new goal in mind. Be willing to always adapt to things and do it with a good positive attitude.

 

Setting goals makes life fun! Chasing goals makes life even more fun! To me it’s the journey it’s the hard work I put in each day to make myself better! I love to compete to get on that start line push my limits and see what happens. So my life is all about the various goals I want to chase and how I’m going to get there. The goals help me with my consistency, my commitment and staying focused!  My passion and desire for sport is what keep me motivated and setting new goals and always pushing my limits.

Find what you love, what makes you smile and get out of bed and keep doing it!

Don’t be afraid to get out of the comfort zone, don’t be sacred of hard things and accept a hard challenge and do your best in taking on that challenge!

 

Be inspiring, be amazing! Stay positive! And see you on the race course!

Cheers

Coach MB

www.gottahavehearttraining.com 

You just never know? Stay in the moment! Believe!

16 Jan

My inspiration today for my blog post comes from two different people with two different outcomes that happened over the weekend with their races.

 

I’ll start with my friend Julie an athlete that I coach. Julie is an inspiring mom of three a very focused and dedicated athlete who for the last several months has been training for the Houston marathon. She had been working so hard putting in the time, the miles she even changed her diet to get healthier and shed a few pounds. Julie was fit and was ready and focused! But what happened this weekend in Texas was not her fault and it was something she could not control mother nature choose to be rude to marathon runners and brought in warm temps in the 70’s and 96% humidity and if you run you know that is absolute death to overcome! The race had sent participants and email on Friday before the Sunday race warning people of the warm weather and to slow down. What I loved about Julie was she said screw that I’m fit and I’m bad ass!! Let’s run! She was going to plan hydration and nutrition a little different to deal with the elements but pace strategy was staying the same she was going to attack that course and push her limits as planned and hold on as long as she could. Julie ran a strong race through 13 miles but by that point the temps, the humidity all of it just took its toll and she had to slow down. The next 13 miles of that marathon became what I call a death march. But Julie finished, she earned that finisher medal and she did herself proud! And Coach and her teammates on Gotta Have Heart Training are so proud and inspired by her. Now the point of this is people that we can train for months we can do things right be in amazing shape have our mental game all dialed in and then something like weather something that is out of our control can mess it all up. So what I say is we just need to focus on the things we can control, and let go of the things we can’t control. Weather is a huge factor in racing that can make or break our success. Now Julie did no PR or even come close to her PR marathon time. But what she did do is not quit! She stayed strong, she stayed tough and she kept a POSITIVE attitude and a relentless forward motion and she crossed that finish line! Sure as competitive athletes we might have some disappointment the next day trust me I have been here many times. But the success lies within us for pushing through the pain the torture of bad elements and chasing that finish line! I never regret finishing a race even when my time stinks and I miss my goal. I had one DNF once in a marathon because of a bad hamstring and that day haunts me all the time that now I push and push until I cross that line. And even on the worst of days when my mind tells me to quit a 100 times out there I don’t and I keep pushing until I finish. That is exactly what Julie did Sunday and you know what it will make her stronger and better and she will learn from this! So to all of you when adversity kicks you, when things out of your control slow you down and get you off your game adjust and stay positive and focused and never quit. Then reflect back learn and move onto the next day, the next race!

 

Story two of my weekend inspiration comes from my 14 year old daughter Bella. This weekend was a huge and very competitive swim meet at the University of Minnesota. The weekend started out rough as Friday night she swam the 500 freestyle and well she might have kept her time the same as she was seeded with it was way short of her goal and she had a bad swim and was very upset. The frustration was in her and we still had two more days of swimming. Saturday was a new day and she swam 3 more events and posted best times in 2 of the 3 events so things were showing some progress. But then came Sunday morning and a very cranky wake up from a 14 year old girl who was not feeling well and was thinking about scratching and not even swimming that day. After an intense morning at home her mom and I convinced her go swim give it a go and hey if you aren’t feeling well we can scratch your last event the 200 butterfly that you don’t like swimming anyway. So we were kind of thinking she might not even swim the 200 fly that day but just crank out her 200IM and 50 free see what happens and go home. The first two events went OK but she did not really improve time and just sort of stayed the same. She decided hey I’m going to swim this 200 fly as coach would not like me to skip it. Well she got on those blocks dove in and cranked out a best time in the 200 fly and made finals that night!! Her mom sent me a message because I had to leave early and miss that event for work. We were both in shock that she made finals but what we had now was a little girl smiling, happy and full of confidence! Now that evening we needed to go back to the pool late so she could swim in the finals of the 200 butterfly and what did she do but drop another 3 seconds on her time and move up the overall rankings from where she started finals. Another smile and happy 14 year old girl! It was a great way to end a long weekend a weekend full of ups and downs. The point to this story is sometimes we might not want to do something we might not feel so well and we might be scared but if we just go out give it a go and try our best with no expectations just let go and swim, bike, run whatever it is who knows what can happen! I know some days we just don’t feel well some days it seems like our head is not in the game but we have this race we signed up for on the calendar and we don’t want to let ourselves down, our coaches down whoever so we try and rally ourselves to get up for the challenge! And I know even on days when I’m sick and lacking energy the moment I get into the race or workout something clicks and you pull some performance out of your butt that leaves you scratching your head. So don’t ever quit or give up on yourself and when you have those bad races like Bella did on Friday night that left her frustrated you need to quickly turn things around find your positive energy and your groove and just get back out there and go for it!

 

We all fail more times than we win, there are always things out of our control that want to mess with us and get us off our game.  What you need to do in these moments is let go and focus on what you can control and a major thing you can always control is your attitude! You can control believing in yourself and having confidence and when you bring the right positive attitude a level of confidence to any race and any workout well you have now set yourself up for success!!

 

So stay in the game! And you just never know what might happen? So never quit, never give up!

Keep a relentless forward motion going and be proud of just finishing sometimes!

 

Cheers

Coach MB

 

FYI: all the athletes I coach and train with inspire and motivate me so much! And I thank them for that. I just happen to write about Julie and Bella today as my inspiration because they raced this weekend.

Effort and intensity workouts, it’s a fine line.

30 Dec

Today blog education is inspired by the words of Alan Culpepper from his book “Run like a Champion”

Alan has a chapter about effort and intensity; the line I’ll take from the book then elaborate in my own theory about this which will agree with what Alan writes also.

“There may be a fine line between a hard effort and an intense effort, but they are distinctly different concepts in running. A hard effort typically describes the physical output of a workout, or run, while an intense effort relates to the mental or psychological approach.”

 

I really like that because endurance sports, running, swimming, cycling all of it are so much about the mental toughness of an athlete and how an athlete can handle and adapt to things with mental strength. But as athletes we have those hard effort workouts the physical kind that has us breathless and about to puke sometimes.  I would say most people look for or relate to hard efforts more than intense efforts because it’s easy for them to say that was a tough workout that was hard and kicked my butt. A hard effort workout leaves your body exhausted, sore, and grasping for a rest day.

But an intense workout I think is the money workout, when an athlete can tell the difference and understand they are in an intense workout one that challenges them mentally; to me these are the break through workouts! We all have those off days, those days we struggle and the mental game starts talking to us and trying to derail us. But as an athlete when we recognize this intense effort, this mentally tough workout and we power through we dig deep and we get mentally tough, stay positive and succeed the outcome from that can be huge in our growing and moving on to chasing those goals we set for ourselves.

Crossing the line from “hard” effort to “intense” effort is all in your mental approach all in how you think about the workout and attack the workout. To have an intense workout one that will prepare you for race day, you have to let go a little and be very positive! I coach athletes that are far away, but also athletes that are local near me and we train as a group often. The group and team aspect of doing your workouts with training partners can quickly take your hard effort to an intense effort and make the run painful. The workout it’s self could be a challenging tough physical one, but then you mix in that little bit of competitiveness of having a training partner with you and it can become intense and mentally taxing also. By nature we want to keep up or beat our training partners and this type of competition within a training environment has positive and negative effects. I think a person needs to be very strong mentally and very positive upbeat person that can handle adversity, can be patient, and if they are humbled will be OK with that.

Example: Let’s say your workout is a mid distance hard tempo run, you’re coach has prescribed certain paces for you to hit but you are with your training partner who might be similar pace as you but for whatever reason they are feeling really good and fit that day and turn the workout into a harder effort a pseudo race maybe. This can even happen if you are alone and set your watch to beep and tell you if you are getting too slow and not hitting your prescribed paces. What happens now is this workout turns into “intense” because mentally you have to get tough, you have to overcome the physical feeling you have to stay pace with your training partner or what the watch is telling you. (The caution for any runner doing a run or workout is not too add so much intensity that you wind up running harder than what is called for.”  As adding too much intensity can physically deplete you and kick your butt so bad that you struggle the next few days to recover from that workout and then it makes your other workouts suffer. So be cautious when entering into this zone.

 

As a coach, as an athlete I do appreciate the intense workouts that make us work mentally. Racing is hard, racing pushes us mentally just as much or more than it does physically. So often people are scared, they are scared to really go for it! They have fear of bonking, or whatever it is that scares them. When things get tough its human nature for us to shut down, slow down and stop fighting because physically it’s so hard and hurts. This is where having some good “intense” workouts that make us mentally stronger and build confidence within us!

And having confidence and belief within you is king!! I see athletes all the time that have loads of physical talent but they are so mentally weak, so crazy in their head that it derails them and leads them to more failure than success. They can easily shut down when things get tough, I also see where being in the group training element can affect them because their training partner is killing it they can’t keep pace so they shut down and come up with an excuse to quit or run slow. These people need more intense workouts and mental strength work to overcome these things and stay positive and keep pushing and moving and embracing the pain.

Then you see some athletes that are just so strong mentally and when surges happen on a training run, or in a race they can dig deep and withstand the pain that sets in physically, they can overcome the mental demons that make them want to back off and quit because physically it’s so hard. These athletes can find the balance in training between a hard effort and an intense one. They embrace intense efforts and use them to grow and become stronger. But these types of athletes also have to be cautious and not do this too often and then physically beat themselves up and leave them hurt or sore all the time.

So as you see it is just such a fine line between the two as Alan states in his book and as an athlete you need to learn to tell the two apart and embrace both.

One last line from Alan’s book that I agree 100% with!

“Perceived effort is becoming a lost art and must be practiced if there is any hope of running at your best on race day.”  In today’s world we have so much technology, so much data we can collect and so many runners get obsessed with this and focused on this data and technology and so often they need to just let go and perform on perceived effort based on what the day, the course gives them. This approach will also help keep the athlete in a more positive state of mind and in many ways can let them grow and become faster/stronger because they might get into that “intense” workout more and push their limits and not hold back trying to focus on a certain pace. So use the technology, its fun to see the data post workout, but during the workout practice some perceived effort levels and see what happens.

 

Happy Training, Happy Racing, train that mind and get mentally tough and positive to withstand any adversity or negative/painful things tossed your way!

 

Cheers

Coach MB

www.gottahavehearttraining.com 

 

 

You either want it, or you don’t! You either make excuses or you don’t!

3 Dec

Happy Saturday, I just finished my long run for the week as many runners most likely did as well. I’m in a base building phase right now before my serious training begins in a few weeks.

The run went very well and I’m feeling quite strong and good right now.

But my run today is not what my blog is about or the message today the message today is something I think about when I’m out running. Most Saturday’s a group of athletes I coach gather with me and we run together motivate each other and push each other. It’s really a special time of my day and hopefully their day.

Anyway back to my message; you either want it, or you don’t! You either make excuses or you don’t!  I think of this because as a coach and just as an athlete a person who talks to lots of people who talk the talk but so often don’t walk the walk.

It’s really a simple question; do you want it? If you talk about doing something and it can be anything it can be a 5k or a marathon it could even be something non-athletic related. If you can go through the motions of signing up for the event, or talking about how you want to do an event etc…; but then when it really comes down to having to do the work like “training” so many just sort of get lost and don’t follow through with things. This brings up the other part of this blog post. You either make excuses, or you don’t! I hear so many excuses all the time from people it drives me crazy! Because if the person truly wanted it they would not have any excuses they would simply do what they need to do in order to prepare for the goal they have committed to. So if you can make excuses and skip workouts and not commit to your training then do you really want it? I would say NOT because you simply are not showing the passion, commitment, and motivation one needs in order to achieve success and actually complete what they say they want.

Like my friend Stu says you need to replace saying “I can’t” with “I won’t” because really you can but you choose not to. And that’s OK nobody ever says you have to do anything but I’m a believer that if you say you’re going to do something, if you say you want something, and if you commit (like sign up for a race) then you damn well better do it and get committed and focused and not quit. Because at one time you said I can and I want but then when you found out just how hard it is to do you made the excuses to back out and quit. That’s not a good example for anyone and really what does it do for you?

I’m very much wired in this way and many of the people I surround myself are wired this way also. I’m passionate, I’m focused, and I’m dedicated! When I commit to something I go in 110% and I don’t give up ever! I always find my focus and motivation and I always push my limits. I don’t believe in doing things half way so I can always answer the question with “I want it” and I never make excuses. I respect all the people out there who think and act this way and they are the people who achieve goals and inspire and motivate others. They are the ones making a difference in this world.

Being an athlete a person who chases goals is not always easy but if you have the right mind set mental strength and the commitment it’s always easy to make the right choices and live with no excuses and no regrets and simply just get after it!

So how do you answer those questions?

Do you want it? Will you make excuses, or not?

Don’t say you can’t because you can, just say I won’t and I don’t want it. Then nobody will think anything of it and all is good. But if you say “You want it” and I can then don’t make excuses and don’t quit. Stay strong focused and passionate and chase that goal!

Anyone can accomplish anything if they truly want it and are willing to do the work. Never set limits on yourself and always believe in yourself!

Go be amazing! And train with passion!

Cheers

Coach MB

www.gottahavehearttraining.com 

Life is about moments!

1 Dec

Lately when I run or even sit in my basement on my Compu-trainer riding I have been thinking about “moments” little moments in life that make life special and lead to bigger moments.

Life can come and go so quickly we can be consumed by work, by family, and other distractions that speed things up and take us away from slowing down stopping and enjoying a moment.

It’s sad that we let these things get in our way so much, it’s sad that so many people get consumed by excess and material things and therefore work so many hours that they never stop and breathe the fresh air, watch birds in the tree or go for a simple run with a friend.

A friend of mine recently said to me; “I don’t care about material things, I don’t work to have big house and all that stuff. I care about experiences I work to fund experiences like traveling to do a marathon.”   The simple statement is exactly what I’m talking about and that simple little statement leads right into my message today and that is moments. Little moments, big moments just recognize these moments that happen in life and cherish them and keep making them!

As athletes that train and compete we have many moments and often times we overlook the little moments always looking into the future and we miss that what we just accomplished is a huge step on the way to the bigger picture goal or more major moment we want to have.

My daughter is an athlete and training for sport is a way her and I spend time and share moments together. Things as simple as when she comes home from school going out for a 3-4 mile run or even better running the Thanksgiving Day 5k together. These little moments I would never trade for anything, I happily alter my work schedule and get home to meet her after school so we can get that last bit of daylight before the sun sets and go for that run; because its little moments like this that matter to me so much in life.

I’ve had several wonderful moments lately that make me grateful for my health and grateful for the people around me. This past weekend a few athletes I coach (my friends) and I ran a half marathon together. We went and supported a runner on the team training for a marathon right now and helped pace her. It was so special and wonderful to be able to share this moment with Julie (the one training) and the other girls. As a coach it was so fun to see the look in Julie’s eye when things got tough how mentally she battled through moments of a race and then had the guts to push herself that last mile. I had another great moment this week when my friend Dan (who has been battling brain cancer) was free and able to go for a run and have a beer after work. Sure I had all ready done my workout earlier that day but I never say no to a friend and again it’s these little moments in life something as simple as this 4 mile run I shared with Dan that simply make me happy and smile and I never take for granted. 

When I train hard and am focused on a goal race I have lots of little moments along the way also. Things that happen during a workout that make me go YES exactly the feeling I was going for that kind of epiphany moment that gives you mental strength and confidence come race day.  These types of moments can be as simple as a swim workout that you have a goal pace to hit for your intervals and you nail it every time. It could be running 800’s on a track at Yasso pace before a marathon and hit smooth and consistent paces each one that leaves you full of confidence before race day. Lots of little things like this happen during a training cycle and we need to be aware of them and embrace them. 

Most of all with my words today I just want to motivate you all to go out and enjoy life, make moments, make memories and live in the here and now. Embrace what is around you and never take it for granted. Stop and make time for friends or family and go for those runs, or bike rides whatever it may be. Just don’t overlook something as simple as a 3 mile run with your kid or a friend because that 3 mile run is such a special moment and it’s something you and that other person will remember.  

Cheers to life’s little moments!

Coach MB