the historic women's only Ironman world championship
There’s no question that this month’s historic women’s only Ironman World Championship was one for the record books. From LCB’s course record to Anne’s run course record to the incredibly low DNF rate to every single athlete making the swim cutoff, it was one truly incredible day. For me (Coach Alison) watching from home, it was the second time I truly felt the personal impact of seeing people just like me (okay, maybe like me but way faster and more fit) being represented on the biggest stage of my world – the first time being last year while watching the women’s race at Kona. The women’s-only Ironman World Championship is meaningful, it’s well deserved, and it needs to continue. And if you have any concerns that a women’s-only day diminishes the event, then please read this data dive into this year’s field of 2000 competitors or this fantastic commentary on why every woman should take their damn spot.
Coach Julie was on-site for the race and several days leading into it, and she has a great write-up on the women’s only race that you can read in full here. Suffice it to say, though, that a women’s only race vibe is different from a co-ed race vibe: “The atmosphere on the island was electric, with countless women proud to be there, brimming with confidence as they tackled the challenge, and bringing their fellow endurance sisters along for the journey. It was like stepping into a world of empowerment, and while I cringe at the “Barbi land” reference, I now understand it. It was a place where supportive women took center stage, kicking ass, with the men cheering them on from the sidelines. It was good to see supportive partners and dads in the mix as well, great to see them stepping up and supporting on the sidelines.”
pre-season, not off-season
Coach Julie has some words of wisdom for how to approach the coming months:
The off-season is often perceived as a time to relax, take a break, and step away from the rigors of your sport. While rest is essential for recovery, viewing the off-season as a period of stagnation is a missed opportunity. Instead, consider it as the “pre-season” for the next phase of your athletic journey, a time to gain an edge over your competitors.
During the off-season, many athletes let their guard down, allowing their fitness levels to dip and their skills to rust. However, smart athletes see this time as an opportunity to get a jumpstart on the next season. Here’s why:
- Build a Strong Foundation: The off-season is the perfect time to work on your weaknesses. Focus on strength and conditioning, improve your technique, or address any nagging injuries. A strong foundation sets you up for success in the upcoming season.
- Mental Recharge: Athletes often experience burnout after a long season. The off-season offers a chance to refresh mentally, rekindle your passion, and set new goals. This mental rejuvenation can be a game-changer when the competition heats up.
- Strategic Planning: Use this time to map out your training and racing schedule for the next season. Consult with your coach, set specific objectives, and design a periodized training plan. This preparation can ensure you hit the ground running when the season starts.
- Stay Ahead of the Curve: While your competitors are taking it easy, you can gain a competitive edge by maintaining a consistent training routine. Small, incremental improvements during the off-season can lead to significant gains when it counts.
Embrace this “season” with enthusiasm, dedication, and a strategic mindset, and you’ll find yourself ahead of the competition when the starting gun goes off.
what to read / watch / listen to:
Listen to: One of my favorite podcasts is “Longevity by Design” from Inside Tracker. They discuss topics that are not very mainstream but are important. The podcast focuses on what we can do to increase our longevity and wellness. Not everyone loves reading research like I do and so this podcast makes it simple to understand and implement great strategies and new knowledge.
athlete win of the month:
Coach Kristin: Alissa Edoff
Alissa is a new NYX athlete who is training for her very first marathon! It’s been 10 years since she tackled a half marathon and is bravely prioritizing training for the Maui Oceanfront Marathon in January in the midst of her busy life as a veterinarian. We are working on gradually increasing her outdoor mileage, as well as incorporating speed work. I love coaching Alissa because not only is she dedicated to her training, she seeks out treatment from professionals as needed and is very proactive about injury prevention, regularly making time for foam rolling, stretching and activation exercises. I’m so excited for her to get to the start line healthy and cross the finish line with a smile!
what makes us better:
Coach Alison: Yes, Athletes Respond to Injury with Grief
Since I rolled/dislocated/totally f&cked my ankle a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the grief process translates for injured athletes. There’s a Triathlete Magazine article that does a nice job of mapping the standard stages of grief to an athlete’s trajectory when they’re struggling with an injury that causes major disruptions to training and racing.
But beyond that, it’s also important to (1) Recognize and accept that grieving is exactly what you’re doing, and that grieving is a reasonable and appropriate response to the setback; and (2) Once you’ve gone through that roller coaster of a grieving process and reached acceptance, focus on your path back to full training and concentrate your energy on what you *are* able to do while recovering.
did you know?
Coach Shana: Brain Battles
Do you ever have debates with yourself during a race or workout? Sometimes my brain battles start when I’m hungry, pushing a power or pace outside my comfort zone, or getting bored on a loooong ride or run. It can be cathartic to just yell into the void that “this sucks”! But that’s where it can get interesting because where your thoughts focus next can help or hurt – our brain is a fascinating machine with several systems all fighting for control. Negative lines of thought such as I don’t think I can do this, or I’m never going to be good at (fill in the blank) make it increasingly hard to perform. In contrast, refocusing on positive experiences such as prior hard/harder workouts that have been completed, or inspirational stories of other athletes, can be a boost to your LET’S GO power! How that works is complex.
In “The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion” authors Simon Marshall Ph.D. and Leslie Paterson describe your brain and how it functions in these kinds of situations. The simplified takeaway is that we have multiple brains: the CHIMP brain which is based on instincts and deals with feelings, impressions, and emotions; the PROFESSOR brain which deals with facts, truth, logic; and the COMPUTER brain which runs in the background and takes input from both to manage how things operate.
In the middle of a race or hard training day your Chimp Brain may go into “Operation Save You” even if you don’t need it, bringing those negative thoughts. When that happens remember that the Professor Brain is there too! By pausing to assess the facts and focusing on some positives, it could help to navigate those in-the-moment mental debates and keep you rolling.
Coach Julie: Who Knew?
Scientific research in the open-water swimming community shows that blue goggles make you feel colder. 90% of people associate blue with cold, thus subconsciously blue goggles make you feel colder. So your next cold OW swim, maybe reach for red goggles? Well at least not blue.
meet a teammate:
Teammate: Vicki Briner, coached by Coach Shana, resides in Erie, CO with her husband and two cats, Hondo and Sarge.
- Favorite race: Any race I can also turn into a vacation
- Walk-out song: Land of Confusion (the Disturbed version, not Phil Collins)
- 3 Words that family/friends would use to describe you: consistent, honest, driven
- Worst style choice you’ve ever made: Letting my sister do at-home highlights—she turned my hair orange.
- If you could have an unlimited supply of 1 thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Books!