Last week at swim practice, we had Shaunna Taylor, sports psychologist with Triathlon Canada come talk with us about our mental skills “toolkit”. She gave a short talk full of practical tips, stories from her experiences working with Olympic athletes, and worksheets for us to take home.
It was awesome.
For example, she presented an idea about using a personal highlight reel as a visualization tool during a race. Since her talk, I have been purposeful about collecting and writing down highlights from good training days this week to use in racing.
I am armed and ready … cue the music!
Recent research at UBC is exploring whether or not stretching works. With a headline like, “Stretching – Is it really good for you?” I was hoping for new research to justify my lack lustre zeal for stretching. However, it turns out as we age ladies, we still need to stretch. Boo!
Our vacation in Mexico was awesome. I ran lots, did some swimming (including some spectacular faceplants into the surf), but mostly we really enjoyed the visiting with family!
Puerto Vallarta, MX from Grant Fox on Vimeo.
Does it take talent to be good at triathlon? Or, does it take everyone exactly the same amount of time to become an expert? The prevailing myth in our culture is that the sportswomen, scientists, and writers that we admire are born with gifts. They were born with a natural ability to kick a soccer ball, had minds that understood chemistry, or could just write beautiful prose. But, current research shows this is not true. Every one of us has the potential to become a PRO.
I went to a talk today about how to help students learn to think more like experts and the speaker reminded me of research results indicating that innate talent is not linked to performance. Instead, it’s all about deliberate practice (i.e. the kind of practice that a good coach or teacher guides you through). And, it takes everyone approximately the same amount of time to become an expert at anything. In the end, if you want to improve at something it’s all about hard work, the attitude you adopt while training… and seeking out feedback from experts.
This article by Colvin entitled, “What it takes to be great” sums up these findings well:
The pacific populaire ride today was good. For the first hour, I was riding with the 2nd group out on the road. Then, I got a flat which meant I lost the group. I did most of the rest of the ride by myself which was a good challenge and I put in a good effort.
Last year, I had two flats so I guess only one this year is an improvement. I was annoyed but the flat tire was also a nice excuse to go at my own pace. My ride time was 3:35, my garmin tells me that it took me 10min to change my flat. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I rode solo, my friend was involved in a crash and broke his collarbone. Shoot, get well soon, Tim! There will be no biking for me next weekend because we’re going to Mexico! I’ll be doing my swim workouts from here:
Recently, I’ve been talking with my class about the Higgs Boson particle and recent discoveries at CERN. It’s fascinating stuff and my students are particularly intrigued by discoveries that are predicted by theory (that Higgs thought up in the 60′s). It’s an example that shows that contrary to what it seems in science textbooks there so much that we still have to discover or really don’t understand at all.
What do bosons and training for triathlons have in common? Not much really. (Other than the fact that these bosons help explain what makes up matter so they really have everything to do with everything) I was just thinking to myself how training hard clears my head giving me capacity for clear thinking. I wonder what’s behind that – probably some ancient survival response. I do know that if I find myself thinking about particle physics during a hard swim set or while pulling at the front of the pack on the bike, I’m likely not working hard enough.
The first step to running fast, is knowing that you can do it.
I had a really weird workout today. One where my body wanted to run faster but my brain was saying, “Dude, that’s too fast. You can’t do that!” If I want to get faster, I have to convince my brain that I can run fast. I don’t know why my mind tries so hard to convince my body that I can’t do it. Knowing and believing are subtly different word choices that I used in the title and in the opening of this post. For me, these words spark on the difference between what you see is possible and what you believe you can achieve. Several sports psychology studies with children (Duda et al, 2011) and with elite soccer players (VanYperen & Duda, 2007) highlight that what you believe is associated with success in sport is linked to both motivation and performance in sport. Convincing yourself that you have the skills to succeed is an interesting mental challenge. One that keeps sports interesting for me.
I think my challenge today stems from the fact that I’m just not practiced at running faster. Today, I opted to listen to my body and just relax and run. But the pacing was hard and not at all even because of my mental battle. From now on, I’m going to start believing that I can run fast … unless I can convince myself that I should go faster. Shoot. I’m not sure how my silly head will deal with that. Either way, it will be an interesting challenge.
In breaking news, a recent study has concluded that 3 x 30 second sprints daily can justify bacon for breakfast. Check out this feature on BBC news and the scientist’s press release. The BBC article also highlights how being a triathlete can make your body look >20 years younger. Seriously. It’s time to start sprinting.
… a study published in The Physician and Sports Medicine suggests that older athletes on intense training programmes are capable of achieving remarkable levels of fitness. MRI scans have shown that a 70-year-old triathlete can have as much muscle mass as a 40-year-old.
From: BBC News – Can an intense workout help you live longer? http://bbc.in/Xj656X
Today’s race was good. I went into the day feeling a bit conservative thinking that I would aim for 5min/km and a 1:45 finish. However, about 5km into the race, I realized that I was feeling good and I might as well just run. Starting out conservative is a nice way to race because for the whole second half I was passing people and feeling strong. I finished at just under 1:39. It’s quite a hilly route which makes it tough … but I felt good. Last year, I raced well and ran my half marathon PB on this route of 1:37:54. I think I probably could have beat that time today if I went into the race with a different mindset. That said, it was a good day and I had fun racing.
In other news, on March 1st, I start training with a new coach. Her name is Stephanie. Her favorite meal is dinner. I’m quite excited to get started with my new training program.
After a whole month off over the holidays for me, it sure feels good to get back into the swing of things. A few of our pictures from our trip are up on Flickr here.
We also ordered one of these this weekend.