Endurance

Twist of Lime

It was a miserable, miserable day at Ironman Ireland, Cork. Nearing the finish line, I was tremendously grateful that it was over. Yet, a few days later I began to taste a sweet twist of lime that I had missed during the 11+ hours of heavy rain and wind. The pelting downpour, cold temperatures and poor logistics management by the race organisation were challenging, to say the least. However, the continual outpour of well-wishing and support from the spectators was heart-warming; for them, I kept digging deeper. Deluge The Youghal and County Cork residents are perhaps the most wonderful people I’ve

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Z1 Training

Slow Cook It

When you crank the thermostat the room heats quickly. On an already warm day, it takes quite a while for the temperature to reach liveable levels again. The human body works in a similar fashion. With intense exercise, the system throws fast burning fuels into the furnace to meet and maintain required energy levels. In then takes time to recover and replace the resources consumed. In other words, once you burn your britches you have to stitch a new pair, walking around exposed in the meantime. The smarter move is to nudge the thermostat, letting the tissues and processes heat

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Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway

Settled

<< Settled >>That was the feeling after my recent 8 hour, 52km jog while crewing for an Ultraman World Championship athlete. The sense arose immediately after crossing the finish line. Maybe it was endorphin saturation, or mental fatigue from extended focus on another person. Or perhaps it was the completion of a journey that I’ve deliberated with mixture of curiosity and fear for a long time—travelling by foot from the north end of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway to the old Kailua airport. It’s said that life is not sprint, it’s a marathon.I’m seeing it now as an ultra. Always check

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Face Your Fear

Fear & Leaning In

I wrote in my journal last week, before Ironman Tallinn, that what I enjoy most is a simple, consistent daily routine. As an ultra-endurance athlete that means the repetition of training, eating, sleeping–preferably in a rather unchanging setting. Two days post-race, however, I find myself somewhat lost at not having a race for another ten months. Pausing, I notice a very subtle sensation of panic, and that my breath tightens ever so slightly. I thrive in the methodical. But I’m stimulated by goals and new experiences. It’s a very curious dichotomy; one that I don’t understand and am unsure how

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Consistency

Consistency

That hurt. …And I loved it! After two months of fluctuation it’s time to dig in again and get some solid, steady training done. Today, I FINALLY got back on a trainer! It’s been fabulous to live in a splendorous (new) location, journey to two races, build new friendships, and revisit an intriguing city. But between unstable weather, a few body tissue issues, recovery time, and travel days I’ve become increasingly uneasy with the lack of consistency. For the next two months I’ll be in one location, and hopefully with limited distractions. Some will consider me a nutcase for saying

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Sleep

Recovery

Why are some athletes OK with training 7 days/week (1 day being just movement, without any actual physical stress) and others, like me, need a day off? In a Science of Ultra podcast with Dr. Shawn Bearden, Dr. Shona Halson, Senior Recovery Physiologist at the Australian Institute of Sport, clued me in. …It depends on one’s own psychological landscape. There are athletes who have trouble taking a day off. They feel stressed if not engaged. Then there are those, like me, whose mind is quietened and strengthened by regularly turning off sport specific focus. I found through experience that just

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Yes

Yes!

Yes! Today was my official return to structured training after some time off. It feels Grrrreeeeeat! I’m a big believer in the importance of taking time away from one’s primary sport (or career) to allow for regeneration of physical tissues, to provide time for the mind to absorb all that has happened, and to grant the spirit space to charge our batteries. Room is required in order for growth to occur, and when that gap is mindfully provided it fosters cultivation of positive change. Development doesn’t always happen exactly as–or when–desired, but we can arrange our environment in a way

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Heat

It’s been a week since IM Los Cabos. My inclination is still to avoid sun and heat which tells me a lot about how stressed my internal systems were by racing in 30-36 Celsius air temperature, very intense sun, and radiating heat off the asphalt. I felt that I did everything possible on the bike, nonetheless, my heart rate was abnormally high as the body attempted to cool itself. Let’s take a closer look at this. The body attempts to rid itself of excess heat by increasing blood flow to the skin. In order to facilitate this process, the heart

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Sunrise, and another day

What It’s All About

Falling asleep last night was a slow process. Pain was present throughout the entire body, inside and out: sunburn, blisters, muscle aches, joint stiffness, abrasions, internal systems in turmoil, you name it. Today, looking over my race stats and feeling the subtle sensations, I notice that I don’t want anything to do with the sun right now, which is very unusual for me. A friend of mine asked if the heat at Ironman Los Cabos was similar to Ironman Kona: no, Kona can be hotter but the sun in Los Cabos feels more intense. My heart rate was too high

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Headspace

The Mental Game

The muscles in my legs ached… Kilometre 8 of 42 complete, the mind asserting itself as speed governor, “This hurts. Just walk for a while.” Cheers from my friend, as I started cycling, warmed and encouraged me. The Ironman Sweden bike course is especially beautiful, perhaps bested only by Zell-am-See 70.3 in Austria (assuming clear skies & warmth). But the layout and weather patterns on Öland and north of Kalmar conspire to create hours of mostly headwind, which can be mentally draining. Regardless, the job is still the same–set the wattage and keep your head down. Despite their occasional grumbling,

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Ironman Sweden

Courage & Confidence

I often ask myself why I continue to train for and compete in Ironman events–both half- & full distance. To be honest, it’s a scary question because what if the answer is “I don’t want to”. Then what? The question then becomes whether I’m doing this in order to create an identity to hold on to. But down that rabbit hole is not what this particular post is about. It’s very clear to me that I really enjoy training, being fit, and improving my health–mind, body, and spirit. However, much of my athletic life has been testosterone driven. The underlying

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Transformation

Transformation

I work hard at making change happen. More precisely, my efforts are directed towards improvement: getting healthier, fitter, faster, leaner, stronger, smarter, wiser, calmer, more balanced in mind and body. I don’t like to see decline in any of these areas. A few days ago, I noticed that I’m able to do longer workouts with less complaining from the mind. You know, the experience of things ticking along nicely and before you know it the job is done. I accredited the development to being and training on an island where the pace is slower than my internal hamster-wheel, thereby supporting

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Keep Coming Back

Keep Coming Back

In twelve step programs, there is a saying, “Keep Coming Back”. For me it has to do with breaking down tasks, that feel too big to tackle, into increasingly smaller bits until the currently tiny piece feels doable. At that point it’s just a matter of completing that step. The key is to focus on the directly manageable task. Once it’s done then shift focus to the next bit. Eventually, what previously seemed insurmountable has been tackled, or at least an amount that may seem surprising with retrospection. The portions can get as small as needed. The smallest piece that

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Step by Step

Step by Step

For me, there is joy in the experience of each step as an expression. During my long run today, the focus was inward–feeling and connecting with the body and mechanics; looking for and exploring the boundaries of balance, stability, support, relaxation. I pictured myself running the double marathon on day three of #Ultraman. Energy bubbled up with regularity; thankfully, I was on the treadmill where my pace could be restrained, instead of running away with myself. During long sessions on the bike, in the pool, while running, or even when cleaning the house I’m easily tempted to be carried off

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Slow Burn

The Journey

People ask me, or more specifically wonder, how I can do an Ironman. They find the idea of swimming 3.86 km (2.4 miles), cycling 180.2 km (112 miles) and running 42.2 km (26.2 miles) to be outrageous, or even preposterous, let alone complete it in one day. My answer is always the same, “it’s just one step then another step.” In the book “Slow Burn“, Stu Mittleman & Katherine Callan break it down nicely. Although they are describing how to be metabolically efficient and burn fat as the primary fuel source, the metaphor is transferable. “There is a way to

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