I could never hate you but….

I can honestly say, I don’t “hate” any of my clients or runners but when someone shared this article with me, I couldn’t help but giggle.

“Eight Reasons Your Coach Hates You” by Jene Shaw, published july ’11 (triathlete.competitor.com – http://triathlon.competitor.com/2011/07/training/eight-reasons-your-coach-hates-you_34740/8 )

1. You lie about workout results.

You may have missed a workout or wished you had run faster, but inflating your workout numbers drives your coach nutty—and hurts your future training. One coach discovered her client’s true habits via social networking. “When I see unexpected performance drops and bonks when they should be doing great, it’s time to start probing them for answers. I have found Facebook can tell me a lot about their habits. They don’t realize that I see all those drunken photos and the pictures of the giant food plates!”

2. You’re too needy.

You can expect your coach to care about you. But some athletes need a little too much handholding. “It’s amazing to see very successful, intelligent people who are leaders in their field becoming clueless and needy,” says one coach. Adds another, “Clients talk about doing the workouts, how and when they are going to do the workouts, how they are going to communicate with me in regards to doing the workouts, talk, talk, talk, and then, the workouts don’t even get done. Then they call or email hourly wondering why they aren’t improving!”

3. You think you’re a better coach.

Questioning your coach’s decisions can be useful for learning the methodology behind their training approach. But if you’re interrogating every single workout and switching the plan to be the way you want it to be, you may need to look in the mirror and ask: Who’s the expert here? “There are always those who think they know more so they adapt what they want to do to our training method and ultimately end up over trained, under performing, injured … and then they wonder why they aren’t qualifying for Kona and blame us!”

4. You suck at communicating.

Coaches base future workouts on the feedback you give them. So if you’re not telling them how everything is going, you’re doing yourself a disservice. “Clients expect you to help them improve performance but there are the few that give little to no feedback and wonder why things aren’t working well. This could be as simple as not responding to emails, not uploading HR/pace/power data, responding in an untimley manner and not fully answering important questions that you ask.”

5. You listen to your friends’ advice instead.

That’s great that your friends are fast and are such experts in the sport of triathlon. But if BFF Johnny Triathlete runs a 50K this weekend, should you run a 50K too? “I hate when athletes ask their friends for advice (often absurdly wrong) and then take it without first discussing it with me. This is often displayed when you see their Facebook post about the awesome 14-mile trail run they did last weekend with their friends when they were supposed to be resting up for an important marker set the following week.”

6. You do extra workouts.

There are rarely “extra credit workouts” in triathlon training. Your plan is (hopefully) based on smart periodization, peaking and recovering at the right time. By adding in bonus work, it shows that you’re not listening to your coach’s advice. To a more specific degree, you favor your favorite sport over your weaker one. “I coach a triathlete who is a 2:58 stand-alone marathon runner. She rarely does the bike work I want her to in favor of running, and she struggles on the bike. In her spring Ironman she asked me ‘why?’— I showed her the training log. You can’t run well off the bike if your legs are toast.”

7. You’re too Type A.

“I had one client that would email me every week by Friday that his next week was not planned out for him yet. I always look at the previous weeks workout comments before working the next weeks plan and never go further than one week in advance to customize to the clients needs. After explaining this to him a couple of times, he still sent me the emails.” You think you’re laid-back and low maintenance, but you may be just as Type A as the next age grouper. Your coach is operating the way he/she does for a reason. If it doesn’t work for you, learn to relax or find a new coach.

8.  You disregard the race plan:

Ahh… the race plan. A coach’s time to put together all he or she knows about your training into a smart, executable strategy to get you to your next PR. Instead of listening, you go willy nilly and swim/bike/run how you want and end up walking the last few miles. One coach experienced this with a marathoner whose original plan was to “run fast and hang on.” She instead gave him several different scenarios to get him to his 3:20 goal in a more comfortable, logical fashion. “He agreed and was excited about having a ‘smart plan.’ Unfortunately, after mile one he said he couldn’t control himself and just wanted to run fast, so he reverted to his original plan and ended up with a 3:29. He told me afterward that he ‘did the opposite of what you told me to do and paid the price.’”  


Triathletes are born

(pic above taken at MIM- keith, lauri, melanee, sandy, amanda, emily, bevan, karen, steve, summer, stephanie, star, grace, jeremy, brandy, niel, ashley, stacey, henry, katie, teresa, brad, mimi ; teammates missing from pic: katherine, lindsey, laura, dave, steven, penny)

Wow!  What an interesting couple of months.  It seems like just yesterday that we were starting our triathlon training group and now it’s already over.  I’m actually sad to see it go.  I really thought that after 3 months of 7-day work weeks and keeping up with 3 disciplines for 30 people instead of 1, I would be ready to move on to something else but I’m not!  I’m really going to miss this group.  The past few months have been a ton of fun.

I sat down with the group on Day 1 and told them I would be expecting a lot out of them; that we’re no longer training for one discipline, but for three.  I was honestly concerned about how this would go over with everyone.  Although I understand that everyone has a life outside of the tri group, I also know that in order to be successful, you have to put in the time.  This meant I was going to have to really stay on everyone about their workouts.  (trust me, i hate having to feel like a nag just as much as they hate me being a nag)

This group was used to 3-4 runs per week and here I was expecting them to have 2 swims per week, 3 bikes per week, and 3 runs per week….at a minimum.  This is a lot!  Our weekends were going to have to be our time to get some long workouts in so our Saturday’s were dedicated to running or bricks and our Sunday’s became our time to do our long bike rides.  Everyone in the group has a job and lots of people have kids but they made it work!  I can happily report, they were pretty dedicated to their workouts….which makes my job a lot easier (and more fun!)!

I have been impressed every single week with this group.  I’ve witnessed people go from not being able to swim half the length of a pool to swimming hundreds of yards at a time.  I’ve seen people progress on the bike in ways they didn’t know they could.  I’ve watched their running improve as we’ve tackled bridge repeats, speed work, and bricks on a regular basis.  I’ve noticed leaner and more muscular bodies.  But, most importantly of all, I’ve been so proud to watch the group really become a team.  They’ve been so incredibly supportive of one another.  My favorite thing about my running groups has always been watching friendships grow between people that would have never even known each other had they not joined the group.  This group took that and ran with it!  (i’m sure it helped that we were together a LOT!)

Keith and I were so excited heading down to MIM.  It’s been so fun and inspiring to watch people truly face their fears and go head first into this training.  We knew some people were terrified but we also knew they would surprise themselves.  I LOVE race day!  There’s nothing more gratifying as a coach than watching people conquer a new goal, whether it be attempt a race for the first time, PR an old race, or whatever.  The race is the icing on the cake.

We had dinner Friday night with a lot of the group who had gone down to Tunica the night before.  I really enjoyed how laid back this felt.  There were some nervous nellies but I think it did everyone some good to just hang out and not talk too much about the race.  Saturday morning came and Keith and I wanted to be at transition before anyone got there…you know how nervous I get when my group is racing and I just wanted to be sure everyone had everything they needed.  I did body marking for the group (and a few random people who asked me to do theirs too) while Keith pumped tires.  I was surprised at how calm everyone seemed.  I really think it helps so much to have the whole group to lean on.  We went on for our picture (yes, first time EVER that we’ve had everyone doing a particular race show up for the picture!) and then off they went.  I had an emotional moment as they all walked away.  I really felt like i had kicked all my little birdies out of the nest and I just had to hope they could fly!

Fortunately for them (and me!), they could!  I hated not being able to stand at the canal and see people swim by but i was so afraid I would miss them and then they wouldn’t have anyone at the swim finish so I left Keith at the canal and I ran to the transition area.  I managed to see all but 3 come out of the water..somehow people just slipped by without me recognizing them.  I was so excited to see every single one of them come out of the water and, without a thought, head straight into transition and move on to the bike.  I believe by now Keith was near the bike out so he and I were texting back and forth to try to keep up with where everyone was.  I was really proud to see everyone race their transitions even when i’m sure they would have rather laid down and taken a nap.  After everyone got out of the water, I went to the bike in and was able to see most everyone.  I started having people come in from the run finish so I ran over there while Steve and Toby stayed at the bike in to support our last couple who were still out on the bike.

I am so proud of the whole group.  Several had swim experiences that I know they would rather forget but they still managed to get out of that water and move on.  Many wished the bike hadn’t been so windy but they still worked and pushed and finished with great times.  Katie even had to get off her bike to assist a lady who was having a seizure but she didn’t let this get her too frazzled.  The run was tough for all but everyone was able to push through the pain and crossed the finish line as a successful triathlete!

Saturday’s race was a huge success and it was time to move on to Sunday’s race.  Emily, Steve, and Keith were racing and all felt pretty good that morning.  I absolutely loved how many teammates stayed to cheer them on and how many even drove back down from Memphis.  I know this meant a lot to them, as it did me.  This really proved that we’re not jut a group, but a team and we have the best team spirit around.

I must say, it was much easier keeping up with 3 people in a race than 19!  I was able to see Keith come out of the water, Emily and Steve go out on the bike, all come in on the bike, go out on the run, and finish the race!  It was hot and they were struggling but each of them finished with a smile on their face and with another Olympic distance tri under their belt.

My props go out to every single person who has been in this training group, even those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to race.  Triathlons aren’t easy.  The training is tough and the races are unpredictable.  I’m inspired by every single person in the group to get better at each of the disciplines, show up for workouts even when i’d rather be sleeping, and sign up for tri’s even when i feel a little nervous about the distances!

Summer tri season, here we come!!


In the news…


as posted in the Commercial Appeal, May 14th…

Training group gets beginners ready to compete in Memphis in May triathlon

By Stacey Greenberg

This weekend, about 2,000 people will head to Tunica, but gambling won’t be on their minds nearly as much as swimming, biking and running.

It’s the 30th installment of Memphis in May’s triathlon weekend. On Saturday, 500 people will compete in the Memphis in May Sprint Triathlon, which is a quarter-mile swim, 12-mile road bike ride, and 3-mile run. Sunday is the Olympic Triathlon event, and 1,500 people will compete in a 1.5K swim, 40K bike ride and 10K run (or a 1-mile swim, 24-mile bike ride and 6.2- mile run).

Kevin Leathers, 47, a Road Runners Club of America-certified running coach who started Can’t Stop Endurance Training in 2007, has done the Memphis in May Olympic Triathlon 20 times. He says triathlons gained popularity in the early ’80s after the Ironman competition was televised in 1982.

“Back then, the Memphis in May triathlon was the race in the Mid-South,” Leathers explained. “Everybody did it. Once it became a qualifier for the Ironman competition in Hawaii, it became a must-do race around the country.”

He says triathlons have absolutely become more popular over the years. “It’s a natural extension of the running boom and general emphasis on health, fitness and diet.”

Despite Memphis being at the top of the list

of fattest cities, Leathers says Memphis is home to a very large and passionate endurance fitness community.

“Most cities our size have one or two triathlon teams. We have four — Los Locos, Memphis Thunder, Terrapin Racing and Journeyman Racing. Also, look at how many bike shops we have and the fact that we support two really large running stores — Breakaway and Fleet Feet.”

Leathers believes there are a lot of things fueling the growth of endurance sports in the area, like the Shelby Farms Greenline, but he gives special props to area coaches like Star Ritchey of Star Runners. “What she does is a perfect example of growing the community. Her beginner classes show that it’s not impossible for anyone to run who is willing to get off of the couch and put on some running shoes.”

Ritchey, 38, has trained runners and individual triathletes for several years, but this is her first year to have a triathlon training group. The idea came about last fall when her husband, Keith, was training for his first Ironman. “He was such an inspiration to the group. One day on a run, someone in the group said, ‘Hey, you should train us for a triathlon.’ Other runners in the group overheard, and the next thing I knew, I had a triathlon training group,” she says, adding that it just felt natural, like it was what they were supposed to do next.

There are 30 people in her triathlon training group, most of whom are first-timers planning to enter the Memphis in May Sprint Race. Now in its third year, the sprint distance race is a great way for beginners to experience an open-water swim and a flat and fast course, all with a big-event atmosphere.

Ritchey says her experience with her first training group has been incredible. “I am amazed at the progress I’ve seen from everyone in such a short amount of time; whether it be the swim, bike or run, everyone has improved,” she says. “Everyone is so incredibly supportive of one another that it just has the friendliest vibe even when being competitive.”

Ritchey believes that anyone can learn to run, and she believes anyone can train for a triathlon. “It’s crucial that you have a good training plan that fits with your current ability,” she says. “You can’t go swim 1,500 meters if you can’t swim 25, so know that even if you have to start slow, you’ll get there. Just be patient, stay strong, and don’t give up.”

To enhance the training for her beginners, Ritchey reached out to Charlie Boehme, the Rhodes College swim coach, to help with the swimming, which can be the most daunting part of a triathlon. Boehme provided swim clinics in addition to the workouts Ritchey gave the group. “It’s been a great way for everyone to get more personalized instruction, while also having the benefit of swimming as a team,” Ritchey says.

The group also paired up with Victory Bicycle Studio as their “go-to” bike shop. “Clark, Robert and Nathan have been incredible to work with,” Ritchey says. “We’ve had maintenance classes, trainer classes, and even a tri-clothes try-on day. I can’t think of a better collaboration.”

Brad Heinz, 52, planned to do a triathlon when he was 24, but doing it took a few years longer than expected. He completed his first triathlon last year in Oxford after training on his own, but this year he signed up with Star Runners. “It’s been a lot different training with Star and being part of a team,” he says. “She and Keith are really inspiring to the troops.”

Heinz is a lifelong runner with 30 years’ experience. A few years ago, he started cross-training with cycling. “Then it was just a logical progression to swimming and doing triathlons,” he says. Swimming has been the hardest part for him, but he likes that the triathlon training isn’t too taxing on any one part of his body. “I’ve lost a few pounds and inches,” he says. “It’s going to be hard giving up the workouts after the race.”

He says it’s been nice to see that he could still pick up something new and improve his overall fitness. “It’s been worth it alone just for that,” he says. “I’m investing in myself.”

Grace Korzekwa, 32, also in the group, signed up on a whim. A friend trained for the St. Jude Half-Marathon with Star Runners and then also signed up to train for the Memphis in May Sprint Triathlon. “My friend always tried to get me to join the running groups, but I used to work at night,” she says. “Now I have a normal schedule, so that helped me say yes.”

Korzekwa, who had never run more than a 5K, says training for the triathlon has been a total roller coaster. “It was really, really hard at first, but I was really excited, too, so that got me over the hump.”

For the first six weeks of training, Korzekwa says, she was either tired or in pain or both. “You name it, it hurt. Mostly my legs, but all of a sudden, after swimming my abs would be on fire.”

Despite the exhaustion and discomfort, she says the training has made her feel really good about herself. “Exercise is an excellent stress reliever and anxiety reducer. These benefits were immediate and obvious.” She has really enjoyed training with a group and says it helps to have other people in the same boat as well as a trainer she can talk to anytime. “I pretty much e-mail Star every day.”

The hardest part has been time management. “The eight or more workouts per week take at least an hour each, and I have to spend a lot of time preparing for them, eating right, drinking enough water, getting plenty of sleep, etc.,” she says. “It’s an intense balancing act. I miss having downtime and reading for hours on end.”

Taking on three new sports also proved to be expensive. Korzekwa already had a bike since she used to ride to work, but all of her workout clothes were 100 percent cotton. “I had to buy clothes that breathe,” she says. Additionally she purchased a special quick-drying “tri outfit” for the race, biking shorts for practice, a bathing suit, running shoes, goggles and a swim cap.

To train with Star Runners, she paid $180. A six-month pool membership at UT was $70. A monthlong bike class at Victory Bicycle Studio was $50, and the six-week swim clinic at Rhodes College was an additional $100. The entry fee for the race, along with a racing license, was another $90. “I really didn’t blink at the training costs,” Korzekwa says. “I feel like I got that all for a steal.”

After eight weeks of training, Korzekwa says she hasn’t lost a pound, but her body looks completely different. “I feel better, my skin looks better, and I’m lighter on my feet,” she says. “It may be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.”

Race info

Memphis in May Sprint Race, 8 a.m. Saturdayat Harrah’s Tunica.

The 30th Annual Memphis in May Olympic Triathlon, 7 a.m. Sunday at Harrah’s Tunica.

Other info

Star Runners: starrunnersmemphis.com

Can’t Stop Endurance Training, cantstopendurance.com

“Ready” to tri

Ready – 1) being in a state of fitness for some experience or action; 2) having a desire or inclination

Ready seems to be the word that is at the top of the vocabulary list right now as we are gearing up for the MIM triathlon.  “I don’t know that i’m ready.”  “Do you think i’m ready?”  “What if i’m not ready?”  “I don’t know that i’ll race since i’m not ready.”

Take note that the 2 definitions of “ready” encompass both your physical and mental readiness.  To be “ready” you must train and prepare your body but you must also train and prepare your mind.  I find it interesting, and a tad disconcerting, that some of the tri group are doubting their readiness for race day.  This is simply doubting their mental readiness.  I know these people have a stronger mental muscle than they’re showing when they’re allowing these negative thoughts.  As the coach, I am certain that every person in the group is physically ready!

How do you know if you’re ready?  We have been swimming at least 1000 – 2000 yards (depending on Sprint or Olympic) at every single swim for the past several months.  The race is 440 m.  Looks to me like you’re physically ready.  We’ve been cycling 20+ miles at every ride.  The race is 12 miles.  Looks to me like you’re physically ready.  We’ve been running 3-7 miles at every run.  The race is 3 miles.  Looks to me like you’re physically ready.   So, the question is “are you mentally ready?”

If I backed out of everything new that was thrown my way that I was nervous about or didn’t feel “ready” for, I would live a pretty dull life.  When I headed down to Oxford for the Rebel Man, i had serious doubts but I knew i needed to push these aside.  I kept telling myself, “you know you can stay afloat for 440 meters, even if it requires floating or dog paddling.  You know you can bike 15 miles, even if it’s slower than you’d like.  You know you can do a 5K, even if it means you have to walk some.”  I knew in my gut that I could manage all of those distances.  I was still terrified.  My swim was terrible and I was disappointed and even had some moments of embarrassment and I had to make the conscious decision to squash those negative thoughts and tell myself that I deserved to be there as much as anyone else, that I was ready, that i’m no quitter, and that I was determined to persevere.  I was less than 150 meters in with more than half to go and i started the “i’ll never do this,  i’m going to drown,  i can’t swim this distance,  i can’t breathe.  i can’t reach” thoughts and I knew I needed to nip them in the bud.  I knew I had to stop the negativity so I began to repeat to myself, “you can do this, you are doing this, you can float, you will not drown, you’re doing great.”  I cannot imagine how disappointed I would be had I not pushed through and done the race.  Believe it or not, it ended up being one of my greatest racing experiences to date.  I really believe that it’s these moments that make you strong.

Do you think Keith felt “ready” as we were driving to Louisville, KY knowing that he was going to swim 2.4 miles in the river, bike 112 miles, and then run his first marathon?!?!  Of course he had doubts.  He wouldn’t be normal had he not.  He had actually never completed any of these full distances and had certainly never strung them together but he knew that he wanted it bad enough he would persevere.  I can tell you, even when doubts would arise, he never once thought of backing out of the race.  He believed in his training and fortunately for him, has incredible mental strength.  He was determined to believe that he was ready.

Perseverance- continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition

If you didn’t feel a little uncertain when embarking on something new and unknown, you would probably be a little abnormal.  You cannot tell me that you can’t swim 400 meters when you’ve been swimming more than that!  You cannot tell me that you can’t bike this distance when you’ve been biking more than this.  It may just be that you check your ego at the door and decide that you might not do as well as you would like in one of these disciplines and that’s exactly what makes up a triathlon.  As Kathryn Bertine, pro triathlete says, “triathletes embrace the concept of embarking on a journey, without knowing how it will end. Living in the moment and trying your best without any guarantee things are going to go as planned.”  I think this is the perfect summation of what it means to be a triathlete.

Here’s to being ready!  Here’s to persevering!  Here’s to becoming a triathlete 🙂

Drink up

It seems that it wasn’t that long ago that i was leaving the door for runs wearing everything i own.  Well, no more, my friends.  It appears that the heat in Memphis has decided to join us a little early this year.  I’m cool with that though.  I hate being cold and I really do love to sweat.

I know some people who “don’t like to sweat.”  I think they think it’s not girly or maybe they don’t like how it interferes with their bouncy curls and perfect makeup.  I personally think there’s no better look than the red-faced, messy hair, sweaty body look that a runner has after a good run.  It’s proof that you’re tough.  It’s proof that you value your health.  It’s proof that you’re a runner.

With this, though, does come some responsibility.  We happen to live somewhere that the humidity is pretty much always a factor and the temps soar for months on end.  We don’t have the luxury of waiting for it to cool off to go on runs when it’s still 80 at night with 70% humidity (making it feel closer to 95 when you run) so we just have to take it into our own hands and be smart.

Dehydration and overheating can both play dangerous roles in the summer months if you’re not careful.  Dehydration is the process of losing valuable fluids from the body.  As you sweat you lose water and electrolytes and if you don’t replace these, you are putting yourself at risk for becoming dehydrated.  (see this post for my soapbox on this topic:  https://starrunnersmemphis.com/2011/08/12/sweaty-girl/ )  Overheating is the result of inadequate cooling.  When your body cannot keep up with how much you are sweating (how much water and electrolytes you are losing), then you are at risk for overheating.

So, what can we do to prevent these 2 things from happening?  Well, we can make sure we’re replenishing all of the water and electrolytes we’re missing.  We all know, the easiest way to check your hydration level on a regular basis is to pay attention to the color of your urine.  If it’s anything darker than a lemonade color, you’re battling some dehydration.  An easy way to calculate how much water (at minimum) that you should be drinking on a daily basis is to take your body weight, divide it in half, and drink that many ounces of water.  So, if you’re 150 pounds, aim for 75 ounces of water each day.

Is this enough?  No.  Now you’ve got your body at a good, normal level of hydration  but you go out and sweat for an hour.  Most  people would say that you don’t really need water or sports drink unless you are running for at least an hour.  Sports drink, i would agree (unless it’s super hot, you’re feeling a little dehydrated already, or it’s a lower calorie performance drink).  That’s just going to be a lot of calories when you could really just drink water and make sure to take an electrolyte pill or salt tablet.  Water, no, you don’t necessarily need it for a 4 mile run but it can’t hurt.  A 4 mile run in 80 degrees with no humidity is very different than a 4 mile run in 80 degrees with Memphis humidity so, if you feel like running with water, go for it.  It’s important, if heading out with water, to sip every 15 minutes or so.  This keeps you from taking too much in and feeling like you’re sloshing instead of running but it also is enough to continuously replenish the fluid you’re losing.  This has you getting in about 4-6 oz every 15 minutes or so.

I, personally, am a fan of Salt Sticks which i always take for any sweaty run that is going to last an hour or so.  These have really helped me with muscle cramping due to heat (it’s salt so it helps you to hold on to some of your fluid) and I’ve found that if I take one every hour or so, I have less heat problems.  Keith is a big fan of S-Caps.  These are electrolyte tablets that will also help you to replenish what you are losing through your sweat and, again, he takes one an hour and this will help to combat overheating and dehydration.

After a run, it is crucial that you drink water and, if it was a super hot run that lasted over 60 minutes, I would probably add in some sort of electrolyte drink along with my protein/carb recovery fuel.  Again, you can get the lower calorie/ lower sugar versions of many of these so be on the lookout for these rather than a full bodied drink such as Gatorade.

Bottom line, you have to pay attention to your body.  You have to come to runs hydrated, bring water, sports drink, gels….whatever that that particular run may call for, and rehydrate afterwards.

For more info on running in the heat, here are some articles i really like:  http://knol.google.com/k/running-101-running-in-heat-humidity#  (interesting info on what the heat does to your HR), http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-267-269-11993-0,00.html (interesting discussion of overhydration and dehydration).