Friday, January 27, 2012

About One Hundred Push Ups

I am not one to back away from a challenge.  Specially a self imposed challenge.

I came across a program called "One Hundred Push Ups" about two years ago.  Interesting, I thought, considering the fact that back then it was a stretch... a very long stretch for me to complete 8-10 push ups in good form.  So, I printed the schedule and off I went.

One thing led to another (excuses I think) and next thing you know I had forgotten about the program.  I don't remember how far into it I progressed, but I think it must have been somewhere around one, maybe two weeks.  The only thing I can think of is that I wasn't totally sold and committed to the challenge.  Yet.

Later on I challenged myself to start, and finish P90X.  Which I did.  The thought of One Hundred Push Ups never crossed my mind again.

That is until a real good facebook friend, James T., started posting his progress in the program. This peaked my interest and curiosity once again for I was looking for something different to do during the winter months.  This seemed like a good idea.  So I pursued it.

After going over the fine print and downloading the plan to my computer, I found that there's a nifty little app for the smart phones.  I quickly paid the $.99 and was on my way.

First thing to do was to perform an initial "test".  Here you are instructed to do as many "good form" push ups as you possibly can, until exhaustion. My number that day was 32.  The phone app told me to skip to week 3 because of the number of reps I was able to do.  Sweeet!

After performing all the required reps three times per week for the next four weeks, I came to the end of the program.  According to plan, I should be able to do, in the final "test" at least 100 push ups.  I was able to push up 111 times.  I did this in 4:18.

The key to success here is simple.  Commitment and plenty of Concentration.  While performing the high number of push ups it is imperative that you maintain good form:  shoulder width hand spacing, feet hip width apart, straight line alignment of the body, tight core, chin up, eyes straight down, full extension and all the way down as close to the floor as possible... bad form will drain your energy.  You should also continue to breath... Inhale as you go down, Exhale as you push up (at the point of most exertion).  Also break the number down into small, manageable numbers.  Thinking of 10's is much easier to imagine than thinking of 100.  When you start to feel wobbly and loosing concentration, take a deep breath, refocus of a few seconds and continue.

So what's next?  I will continue to do push ups as part of my regular strength routine.  I have found that my swim stroke has improved two fold since starting this challenge, mostly due to the muscles used doing a push up.  I have come up with a simple plan, which I have followed since finishing this challenge:  Sets of 30, 30, 20, 20, 15, 15, 10, 10, 5, 5.  In between I rest one second per push up performed, and yes... those last two sets of five each... they're tough!

Please go to this blog's facebook page and click "like" to keep up with my training... The feedback I get from you is always a source of tremendous inspiration to me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

About 2012 Schedule

Alrighty!  It looks like my "A" events for 2012 have been solidified for I have completed registration(s).

On May 20, 2012 I will be participating in...
I chose this one because most of my brothers and sisters, as well as their families live in the very area where this race will take place.  They have never been to one of my events so this will be a great opportunity for them to do so.  One of my brothers has actually purchased a new bike and will be venturing in the world of triathlons.  This will be a great opportunity for him to see what he's getting into.  They are excited about it, as am I.  It will be a blast!

On September 23, 2012 I will be participating in...

I chose this one because I heard the bike course is tough.  Yes, tough.  What else would you expect from an event in The Ozarks?

There could be another one in the works but I haven't committed yet!

One of my goals as I move on is to participate in different events each year; never to repeat an event.  With so many venues available it would be a shame not to experience all of them.

Any of you out there have experiences with either one of these two?  I know the Florida venue is a new one this year for it has moved away from Walt Disney World to Haynes City, Fl.  I suspect logistics for this will be easier to manage.  From everything I've read, Branson's hills are, well shall we say... killers!

Please go to this page's facebook page and click "like" to keep up with my training... The feedback I get from you is always a source of inspiration to me.

Friday, January 13, 2012

About The Fifth Element

Many say that triathlons have four disciplines:  Swim, Bike, Run and Nutrition.  I'd like to add Mental Strength as the Fifth Element, specially if you're involved in long distance triathlons.

It is without a doubt that an Ironman event is the ultimate test of speed, strength and endurance; a physical test like no other.  However, it is very possible that the triathletes mental strength will be tested to an even higher degree.

Making it through one of the world's most grueling events is not a matter of chance.  No doubt you will come, as most do, physically prepared to endure the challenge.  You will be ready to swim the 2.4 miles, to ride for 112 miles on your bike and to run a marathon (26.2 miles) because you have done your work.  And all this, you're asking your body to do in less than 17 hours.

But making it through the event is the easy part.  Getting there is another story.

At this moment you could be in the honeymoon phase of training.  You're just getting started.  Maybe you just returned to the pool and are getting a feel back for the water.  After your session you still have a smile on your face.  If the weather has been nice, you have a few rides and/or runs under your belt.  Nothing long, nothing hard. You're just getting your legs ready.  You still have a smile on your face.

A little further down the road, a month of so (depending on the date of your event), your training will be a bit more structured.  Perhaps you have hired the services of a coach, perhaps you depend on a close friend or an online buddy to get you to the finish line.  Regardless, structure will follow.

Then the miles will start piling up.  Your one a day sessions become two a days.  20 hours per week of training added to your normal, everyday obligations.  Insane. Your day off will be spent sleeping.  You will be tired.  Very, very tired.  All the time.  But this is normal.  Isn't it?

You will soon begin to questions your motives and your sanity.  "What was I thinking?", "It seemed like a great idea back then".  Doubt will begin to creep in.  This is your mind trying to tell you that the work is hard, very, very hard.  Your mind wants to know what you're made of.  Your mind is tired and it wants to quit.  So, what are you made of?

Your "I can" and "I will" self talks are beginning to change.  You will soon be saying "I can't" or "I won't".  As athletes we are very good at self talk.  Unfortunately our negative talks find their way into our mind much to often, much to fast.  They will, if we allow them, overpower and overcome the positive talks.  Again, if we let them.

I remember that one of my toughest challenges was climbing hard hills on my bike.  I would go around them.  I would dread the fact that I had to tackle them when there was no choice.  I would look at the top of the climb as literally say "this will never happen".  I also remember the day I was climbing this particular one and when things got iffy I started repeating The Little Engine That Could:  "Yes I Can, Yes I Can, Yes I Can."  And yes, with the "chugging" sound to go along with it!  Then, with a smile on my face, upon arriving at the top, I remember saying:  "Yes, I Did".  I repeated this each and every time I came upon a tough hill, including those at the Louisville Ironman.

Whatever your strategy is to eliminate negative talk, the most important thing is to recognize it and address it fast.  Do not let it take control.  Once it does, its hard, very hard to eliminate.

During training it is important to take continuous mental note of how you're feeling.  Your body, your mind.  There will be times when you're on a swim, a ride or a run when you just want to stop.  You're tired, you're in pain.  You just want to stop.  Acknowledge this and have a plan to deal with it.  Unless you are Superman or Superwoman, this will happen to you.  And at this moment, stopping is easy.  You're still training, there's always tomorrow.

At some point during the Ironman you are going to feel bad as well.  It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.  Again, it is important to have a plan.  A clear, specific plan.  What will you do?  Swim the back stroke, stop spinning, walk?  It is very important to remember that this will pass.  It always does.  Your  mental approach to pain will be the difference between a finish and a DNF!  Practice your mental plan to deal with this during your training.  You will have plenty of opportunity to do so.

My favorite strategy for dealing with misery during Louisville Ironman was to involve others.  I remembered that misery does indeed love company.  You can read my detailed account of this on my "About Becoming An Ironman" race report.  It was an amazing thing!

Before you even get started on your journey you must really have a clear and concise reason as to why it is that you're doing this.  Chances are that when you signed up for the Ironman you had goals and as you made your journey to the starting line, these goals turned into reasons.  Coming down the stretch, somewhere around mile 17 of the marathon, when you hit "the wall" things are no longer about your physical conditioning, your physical fitness.  All of the sudden things are about your "mental strength", your desire and your "reasons".  If, way deep down in every fiber of your soul you don't have a clear reason for finishing, chances are it may not happen.

Reasons are very personal.  They should be yours and no one elses.  What will motivate you to the finish line is highly personal.  The key is to have "your" reason(s) clear in your mind before the gun goes off, not at mile two of the swim, or at mile 90 of the bike or worse yet, at mile 18 of the marathon.

All during training, visualization and mental repetition will be your best tool.  When things get tough, look ahead.  Specifics will help.  See yourself crossing the finish line.  See your family and friends waiting for you with open arms.  See yourself feeling something in your gut you have never felt before.

Oh yeah, don't forget to have FUN. (it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown, hence less energy spent). You will be nervous as you wait your turn for the swim.  Smile.  You will be in pain as you climb those hills on the bike.  Smile.  And as you progress through the run, yes... Smile.  Enjoy the Journey.  Be Proud. This will be YOUR day!

***There has to be a million and one stories of how different athletes deal with the mental aspect of training and racing, not just in triathlon but in any other sport.  If you are so inclined to do so, I ask that you please, use this post's comments to share yours with the rest of us.  Ideas and thoughts are always welcome.

If you enjoy what I have to share,  I ask that you please visit this blog's facebook page and click "like".

Monday, January 9, 2012

About Mistakes

"If you're making mistakes, it means you're learning.  If you're making lots of mistakes, it means you're learning a lot."

There are two kinds of people who never make mistakes, the dead and the unborn.  The rest of us should strive to one day look back and consider all our mistakes as lessons, for this is what they truly are.

Everyone makes mistakes.  Accepting that fact is easier said than done.  We are all taught at an early age and reinforced through our entire life not to make mistakes.  Additionally, we are trained to react negatively when we do make a mistake.  Perfection seems to be a target of most people in their work, relationships and in life.  But there's big danger in that; perfection is not a place where we can ever be.

The bottom line is that we all make mistakes.  The key here is to understand that when we do make a mistake, there's a lesson to be learned; most, if not all mistakes, are gifts.  They offer us the opportunity to explore an area where perhaps we are deficient, need additional training or simply just need to reevaluate our approach; perhaps we were rushing.  Whatever the reason, we need to take time to explore what happened.  We can learn what we need to, to correct the situation and to put systems in place so that this mistake doesn't happen again.

I have made my share of mistakes.  So many so, that following the above mentioned statements, you would think that I am wise beyond belief.  Not so.  I started learning from my mistakes later on, sometimes after making the same mistake over and over again waiting for different results without altering the approach.  Thank goodness that one day I saw the light.  The ability to recognize this flaw comes with maturity and we all mature at different times and for different reasons.

I have accepted the fact that I am human and that at times I do things I will regret;  I may turn left when I should have turned right but I have learned to be open about my mistakes and to embrace them as opportunities to learn.  By doing this I can move forward instead of wallowing in regret and disappointment.

So, whatever happens, whenever you make a mistake or you are involved in a misunderstanding, take responsibility. There's always a lesson to be learned, no matter who was at fault.

Yes, its extremely difficult to accept that you were wrong, but it also very liberating.  It demonstrates strength, courage and a commitment to personal excellence and growth.  It is also respectful. You show that you care about yourself and others.  But if you're going to accept your own mistakes then you ought to do the same for others.  Accept theirs as you have accepted yours.

When you accept full responsibility for yourself, you also accept responsibility for making things right.  For correcting the wrong.  For fixing the mistake.  This completes the cycle.

You obviously don't want to be looking for mistakes to make, but putting yourself in situations and circumstances to try out new things will inevitably lead to making mistakes.  This is a good thing!  It's a way to learn and a way to avoid a world of complacency because of any fears of making mistakes.


I will discuss "change" on the next post in the series "Position Yourself For Success."  Until then, I ask that you please visit this blog's facebook page and click "like".

Related Posts:

About Positioning Yourself For Success

About Attitude

About Passion

About Risks