Periodization Basics: Base Training

The Base Training phase is a perfect time to focus on one's weaknesses within the sport of triathlon.

The Base Training phase is a perfect time to focus on one’s weaknesses within the sport of triathlon.

Periodization is generally broken into 4-5 phases or mesocycles: base building (general preparatory), strength, speed, racing & maintenance (competition phase) and recovery (off-season).

Base building is one of the most important phases of an athlete’s annual training plan because the base phase sets the stage for the year. The major goals of this phase are:

  • Build cardiovascular and muscular endurance
  • Improve VO2max
  • Build base mileage and distance of long workouts

Joe Friel once said “As much as 80% of race-day fitness comes from the base period.” (Ch 25; Triathlon Science)

The amount of time spent in the base phase can vary depending on the athlete’s goals and fitness, but generally lasts between 12 to 16 weeks in duration. The base phase is mainly about training for time and mileage to build cardiovascular fitness, but not for speed.

The first and most important step for any athlete in the base phase is to assess their “limiting factors,” i.e. their weaknesses within the sport. Perhaps the triathlete is a weak swimmer or lacks power on the bike. What ever the athlete’s weakness may be, the base phase is the perfect time to focus on those weaknesses.

Once weaknesses are determined and goals are set, the coach and/or triathlete must determine how much time in the athlete’s life can reasonably be devoted to training.

SWIM BASE

Most triathletes tend to be weakest at swimming because swimming is very technical. For athletes looking to improve in swimming, frequency of swimming becomes arguably the most important aspect of training. Usually a minimum of three 60-minute sessions per week is recommended for skilled swimmers. Novice swimmers might need shorter and more frequent sessions to see improvements.

The energy systems that the coach and/athlete choose to focus on during the base phase are unique to the individual needs of the athlete. However, they generally include improving the aerobic capacity, developing anaerobic power, maintaining aerobic and anaerobic endurance, and improving stroke technique and mechanics.

BIKE BASE

The intensity and duration for a large majority of base phase training can be described as relatively low intensity with increasing duration. It is important early in the base training phase to determine proper intensity through field or laboratory-based testing. Field testing is most often utilized for the everyday athlete. Athletes who train with a power meter should undergo a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test to determine proper power zones while athletes training with a Heart Rate (HR) monitor should undergo a HR test to determine proper HR zones.

During the base training phase, triathletes should spend about 50% of their total weekly training volume (hours) on the bike. This normally translates to about 3-5 workouts per week. One to two workouts will be steady-state endurance, one workout will address power and/or neuromuscular development, and then one or two workouts will focus on race-specific demands.

Steady-State Training – Generally longer rides performed nearly exclusively at the aerobic base intensity that is defined as 55-75% of FTP (power-based training) or 60-70% of maximum HR (HR-based training)

Neuromuscular Development – This type of development is generally achieved through either sprinting or big-gear work. Neuromuscular training in cycling is all about recruiting the maximum number of muscle fibers to produce peak force and power.

Race-Specific Demands – Each race an athlete competes in has certain features that make it unique, such as big hills, long windy flats, etc. Athletes should focus on training for these conditions. Also, distance is important, such as Ironman vs. sprint distance.

RUN BASE

The classic base training protocol for running is to perform low intensity, high mileage; however, exercise physiology research is still debating if this method is best for athletic performance. Some newer research has suggested that athletes should spend 80% of their training at or below aerobic threshold and 20% of their training at higher intensity. Most triathletes train using HR for running. A widely accepted training concept for run base training is designed around running in the aerobic endurance zone, which is generally defined as 60-70% of maximum HR. Phil Maffetone, a legendary endurance sport coach, suggests subtracting your age from 180 and using that number as your maximum HR during base training. For example, if you are 40, your maximum aerobic HR would be 140bpm. Over time, your running speed will increase at the same HR because your cardiovascular fitness has improved. Another age old training protocol is increasing training load (volume – either time or mileage) by no more than 10% each week. Science has yet to support this concept, but incorporating rest or recovery weeks is key to a good periodized training plan to reduce injury potential.

BASE TRAINING KEY POINTS:

  • Builds cardiovascular and endurance fitness
  • Improves VO2max
  • Intensity is generally performed at low intensity (55-75% of FTP and/or 60-70% of  Max HR)
  • A good time to focus on weaknesses in each or one particular sport

~ Happy Training!

Frugal Fridays: First Edition

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One of my big 2014 goals is to become financially stable and pay off some student loans! Thus, welcome to my new series called Frugal Fridays! I plan to post at least twice a month on everything from paying off debt, making and sticking to budgets, and living frugally.

Since September I have been using the free online budgeting program, mint.com, to create a monthly budget and track my spending. The first few months I knew I would be off my budget because I started a new job and had to buy an entire new wardrobe. Hello big girl job! I also wasn’t 100% sure about my gas, health and grocery spending and what it was going to look like. The fall months were definitely a trial by error months. By monitoring my spending over the past three months or so has led to some fine tuning of my monthly budget going into 2014.

The largest chunks of my budget were student loans, food and medical. Obviously I can’t cut down my student loan payments, but I knew I could make cuts in my food and medical spending in order to grow my savings account. With my new job I get a company funded HSA to help pay our high deductible insurance plan. Last month I realized that I could use it to pay my chiropractor (since that is my medical spending)! But now that my hip is starting to “normalize,” I don’t have to go weekly. Yay!

Food is a big area most people can cut down on in order to save more money. I use to go to Starbucks a couple of times a week for a latte and a breakfast sandwich. That’s about $7 a time, which over a month can add up to a lot of dough. I will still stop at Starbucks on an occausion, but I’m focusing on making and eating breakfast at home. I don’t normally go out much for dinner so I really don’t have much to cut back there. In the recent months I have been bringing my lunch to work almost everyday to work. Sometimes if I’m traveling for work though I have to buy it and I’m okay with that.

For both my undergraduate and graduate degree, I started with about $44,000 in student loans, which I use to think was really bad, but after hearing about some of my friends undergraduate debt, I don’t feel as bad. However, $40,000+ debt is definitely scary and I want to get rid of it as fast as possible, especially since I would like to go back for my PhD. Over the past few years I have managed to pay it down to about $35,000.

Here are my mini-goals for 2014:

  1. My goal is to get my student loans under $30,000 this year. I plan to pay off two loans for sure this year: one for $2500 and a second for $1500. If I have extra money in my budget, then I may apply more money quarterly to certain loans to pay them off quicker.
  2. Saving for a car. I’ve been driving my 2000 Hyundai Elantra for over 7 years and it’s on its last legs. However, I plan to drive her to the grave. My goal is to pay for a new car with as much cash as I can manage instead of completely funding via loans. I also don’t plan on buying a brand new car. I would love to buy a Subaru, but at this point in my life, I don’t want to pay that much for a car. We’ll see though what is available when the time comes. I just want sometime good on gas and can fit my triathlon gear!
  3. Cutting back on things and sticking to my budget. There are somethings in my budget that I can’t cut from my budget, such as student loans and rent. However, I’m going to make every effort to stick to my budget and make cuts when I can. Recently, I decided to dump my $100 a month Verizon bill for a more budget friendly cell phone plan. I will let you know in a month or so how that new plan is going, but I should be saving anywhere from $50-75 a month!
  4. Packing my lunch, eating breakfast and dinner at home. One of the best ways to save money on food is via meal planning. Confession: I’m a total Type A person, but not when it comes to food. I rarely grocery shop with a list. That is going to change. I’m also considering a small garden this summer as well.
  5. Pay myself first. I had built a good emergency fund over the past few years, but the amount took a drastic hit over the past year due to some very expensive car repairs. My main goal is to build this up again to be able to have enough money to cover all my bills for 3-6 months. Hopefully I won’t have to use it, but it will be there if I need it. I also plan to add additional money to my second savings account for potential travel this year or early next year.
  6. Buy things I only need. I’ve never been a huge spender, but when I want something I will go out and buy it. I have a lot of friends that are very liberal in their spending and I have a feeling a lot of them are in some debt. Most people are in this country, especially in their 20s. I’ve started to keep a list of items that I would like to purchase over time. No more impulse purchasing!
  7. The Mason Jar Savings Plan – I’ve seen various versions of this running around on the internet and I have decided to do it this year. Frugal Beautiful gives you a good outline of the plan here (plus her blog is really a good read too!). I don’t have a fancy mason jar to put my dollar bills is; I just keep a big envelope in my safe.

So that is my plan for 2014 to save some moolah and also pay down some student loan debt. Anyone have some good advice on ways to save? I’m all ears!

~ Happy Training!

 

Launch Party Specials!

In honor of the official launch of Big Sky Multisport Coaching & Personal Training I am offering a few discounts to new clients! The offers are good through the end of the month! So check them out and contact me through the “Contact Form” below. I hope to hear from some of you! 🙂

launchspecials

~ Happy Training!

Big Sky Multisport Coaching: The Official Launch!

As you have probably seen and I have mentioned a few times before, my blog/website has grown and changed over the past few months and I’m finally excited to say…

I am officially launching my personal training and endurance sport coaching business!

Launch

I’ve been working behind the scenes to dot my “I’s” and cross my “T’s” to get everything in order to make this little dream of mine into reality.

First, I would like to give a big shout-out to my very talented cousin, Chris, at Blue Planet Graphics for designing my awesome logo for me! If you’re in the market for a logo, graphic design, or car wrapping then check out his business at Blue Planet Graphics.

Currently I am offering the following services:

  • Triathlon Coaching
    • Monthly Coaching at two different levels to meet your athletic goals while being wallet friendly
    • Pre-built plans for various distance races
  • Single-Sport Coaching (monthly or pre-built)
    • Cycling
    • Running
  • Personal Training
    • At home, your gym, or anywhere you like
    • At Zone 3 Fitness
    • Online structured monthly programs
  • Fitness Class Instruction
    • I currently teach a Spin & Core class Tuesday nights at 5:45 at Zone 3 Fitness
    • Small group training and/or boot-camp classes
  • Writing
    • Freelance writing in fitness, health, and/or science

As always, I will continue to write weekly in my blog on topics ranging from my own personal training stories to exercise physiology and fitness to travel and everything in between. If you ever have any blog post suggestions please feel free to contact me using the “Contact Me” tab in the above Main Menu.

You can connect with me through the following social media platforms:

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Bloglovin

So please check out what I offer and share with your friends, families and co-workers! Fitness and endurance sports are my passion and I love helping others achieve their goals. So let me help you reach your goals in 2014! 🙂

Thank you all for the wonderful support!

~ Happy Training!

A Few of My Favorite Indoor Trainer Rides

Hello bike trainer!

Hello bike trainer!

If you live anywhere where it snows in the winter chances are you are quite friendly with your indoor bike trainer! Many of us spend countless hours spinning to nowhere in front of the tv watching trashy shows (okay, maybe only I do that. New guilty trainer ride show: The Bachelor)!

I’ve had a few inquiries about what kinds of workouts I do while on the trainer. Trainer rides can be quite boring as you can imagine. However, triathletes are made during the winter months. This is where you build that big aerobic engine. One of my goals this year is to rebuild my power functional threshold (FTP) again. In early 2012 it was about 180watts (although I’m sure it was higher at the end of the summer, however we never tested again) and early 2013 it was about 150-160watts. A huge drop that I was never able to recover during Ironman training. Note: FTP is relative to an athlete. It can depend on a bunch of different factors, such as weight, bike setup and, obviously, fitness. It’s best not to compare with other people. I learned that the hard way! 🙂

Here are a few of my favorite rides:

Cadence Pyramid

  • Warm-up: 10 min – Build up to Z2 HR every 3 mins, easy 1 min spin before MS
  • Main set: (1) 95-100rpm 1 min, easy 1 min, (2) 95-100rpm 2 min, easy 1 min, (3) 95-100rpm 3 min, easy 1 min, (4) 95-100rpm 4 min, easy 1 min, (5) 95-100rpm 5 min, easy 1 min
  • 5:00 easy 90-95 spin
  • Repeat pyramid in reverse starting from 5 min
  • Cool down: 5 min easy spin

I work a lot over the winter months on my cadence. I used to be a really bad gear grinder, meaning I would spin a harder gear at a lower cadence. I had very strong legs from this method, but it killed my running off the bike. Working with a coach in 2012 helped me break this nasty habit and I continue to work towards comfortably pedaling at a cadence of 85-90rm.

powerride

rollinghills

 

These are just a few of my bike trainer workouts that I have in my workout library. If you are interested in more than please consider hiring me as your coach! I have a few openings left for 2014! Check out my coaching options HERE! 🙂

What are your favorite workouts?

~ Happy Training!

Periodization Basics

If you have a coach or are following a solid, structured training plan then you may be familiar with the term periodization. Not only is (and should) periodization be part of endurance training, but also strength training programs as well.

Periodization can be defined as training for specific physiological benefits, such as cardiovascular endurance, strength, speed, and power. Periodization began its roots with Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) model, which describes the body’s biological response to stress. Leo Metveyev and Tudor Bompa are considered the modern-day fathers of periodization.

Periodization is divided into three cycles:

  1. Macrocycle – The overall phase of your training plan. This generally tends to be a 12-month time frame, but could be 3-5 years depending on an athlete’s goals, i.e. competing at the Olympics.
  2. Mesocycle – The mesocycle is the number of continuous weeks of specific training that emphasizes a type of physical adaptation, i.e. strength or speed.
  3. Microcycle – The microcycle is typically a one or two-week cycle that includes daily variations in your training plan.

In order to fully understand the concept of periodization, one must understand the six basic principles of exercise physiology:

  1. Stress – In order to build endurance, strength, speed, and/or power, you must stress each of these physiological systems in order to grow and adapt in these areas.
  2. Adaptation – Your body will adapt to physiological stress over time. This is how the body becomes fitter, stronger, and faster. Adaptation in a nutshell is the body’s response to physical stress.
  3. Progression – Over time the body will adapt to its current training and thus in order for your body to continue to improve, you must increase and change stresses.
  4. Specificity – Training should be specific. If you want to build more power on the bike, then you must train for power on the bike!
  5. Individualization – Every person is unique and responses differently to training stress. Training plans should be specific to an individual to maximize the outcome.
  6. Reversibility – Rest is critical, especially a few weeks of unstructured training at the end of the season. Training gains will reverse when extended breaks are taken, so try to be active throughout the year so you don’t lose too much fitness over time.

The body has several physiological  energy systems that it utilizes to produce energy for movement. Here is a brief overview of each:

  • ATP-PC system (phosphagen system) – This system is utilized first by the body because it requires no oxygen. However, it can only provide energy for about 8-10 seconds. This system is used most during short sprints and strength training.
  • Glycolysis – This system starts after the ATP-PC system ends. No oxygen is required to break down glucose or glycogen to pyruvic acid. It generally lasts for a couple minutes at most. Glycosis is often referred to as the anaerobic system.
  • Aerobic System – The aerobic system begins after about 2 minutes and requires oxygen to produce ATP (fuel source of the body). As long as your body has oxygen then the aerobic system will produce energy.

When a coach builds an athlete’s Annual Training Plan (ATP) or macrocycle training plan, they will break down the plan into mesocycles or blocks. An ATP usually breaks down into the following training blocks:

  • Base Building – A majority of athletes will spend most of their training cycle time in base building. Base building generally lasts between 12-16 weeks, depending on race schedule and goals. This block is focused on developing aerobic endurance and building mileage.
  • Strength Building – The focus of this block is building muscular strength. This block generally lasts between 6-8 weeks.
  • Speed Building – The focus of this block is on developing neuromuscular movement and building speed. This block generally lasts between 6-8 weeks.
  • Racing & Maintenance – This period focuses on racing and resting between races. This time period varies depending on the athlete’s season and goals.
  • Recovery – The focus of this block is to recover and rest from a long season. Training is generally unstructured and easy. This block lasts usually between 2-4 weeks.

The above information is just a basic introduction to periodization and training plans. As a coach I love creating training plans based on the periodization concept and the individual athlete. As an athlete, I am a strong believer that the concept works. Over the next few months I plan to provide a more in-depth overview of each training block or mesocycle to help you understand your own training plans. Stay tuned! 🙂

~ Happy Training!

2014 Goals: A Year of Adventure, Stability, and Growth

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This year I decided to pick three words that I hope will describe the upcoming 365 days in 2014. Adventure. Stability. Growth. These three words have multiple meanings to me, but in summary the words are synonymous to the goals that I will work towards achieving this year.

2013 started off a bit rough, but as the months passed on, I started to move my life in the right direction – where I wanted to go. You can read my 2013 recaps HERE and HERE if you missed them last week.

2014 Goals:

Professional:

  • Grow in my job – I have been in my current job for just over 3 months now and I really love it thus far. Throughout my public health graduate studies, I would have never thought that I would find a job in healthcare technology. It was a topic that never really interested me; however, now that I work in the field, I love it. Not only is healthcare technology important in the United States, but globally, where my heart lies in global health and international development. My job is challenging and rewarding. Each week I am learning new skills that will only improve my work quality and also aid in my future career development. In 2014 I look forward to working hard, learning new skills, and furthering my future career path.
  • Grow my business – If you have read my blog for a while you have probably noticed the changes over the past couple of months. I plan to officially launch my new business in a couple of weeks. I started my own coaching and personal training business because it is my passion and I find great satisfaction in helping people achieve their goals. I don’t plan to make a million dollars in my business, but a few extra dollars to help pay my student loans would be nice. I have some interesting plans and opportunities in the future so stay tuned for future developments! 🙂
  • Learn French – This has been one of my goals from early fall 2013. I want a future career in global public health and international development, thus I need to become bilingual, or at least competent at a second language. I’ve been slowly practicing my language skills via software programs, but I will continue in 2014 with french lessons at The Language Exchange in Portland. I don’t naturally pick up language quickly, so this is going to be a tough goal, but it is necessary and important for my future career goals.

Personal:

  • Become more financially stable – The last couple of years have been a bit tough financially. Last year I took a risk with my career and it did not pan out as well as I hoped. The last couple of years were also riddled with unexpected purchases, i.e. lots of car repairs and health bills. My graduate student loans also kicked in and I quickly realized that about a third of my monthly income goes directly to SallieMae and Nelnet. Awesome. With my new job I received an increase in pay from my old one. I need to buy a new car some point this coming year and thus I have begun to put some cash away for that big-ticket item. I’m still driving my little car until it dies for good (or is going to cost me a zillion dollars to fix). I also plan to stash some money away again into my emergency fund since it became low due to said expensive car repairs. For the past few months I have created budgets and reviewed my spending habits to determine where I can cut back. Going into 2014 I feel pretty comfortable with my monthly budget and I have been researching ways to live more frugally. Stay tuned for that journey.
  • Travel – It’s ironic that one of my main goals is to save more money and live frugally, but I also seek adventure outside the US. I haven’t been to a new country in a couple of years and thus, 2014 is the year I discover a new part of the world. My mind has gone crazy with ideas, but I yet to commit to anything yet. I may travel to South America with a friend, go on a medical mission to a developing country, or take a solo trip to Southeast Asia or Europe. I love daydreaming about traveling the world and I know this year will be the year of an adventure. Anyone looking for a travel buddy? 🙂
  • Volunteer more – This past fall I joined the Junior League of Portland, Maine and have met some pretty fabulous and inspiring women. The organization is built on giving back to the community, which is one of the main reasons I joined. I look forward to volunteering around the community with the JLP, but I also hope to give back to my community in other ways. I have been researching various organizations related to my career interests and will be making contact soon so hopefully I can help in any way needed.
  • Read a book once a month (or more) – I love to read and you periodically will have book reviews on my blog. For a collection of old book reviews click HERE. I’m an avid reader and I usually read daily, whether job related papers or pleasure reading. My goal in 2014 is to finish a book at least once a month; however, I would like to read more than just 12 books a month. Heck, in the past 5 days I have almost finished all three Hunger Games books. 🙂 I have a stack of half-finished books so I will start my reading list there.

 

Health & Athletic:

 

  • Injury Prevention – I plan to focus a lot this year on injury prevention and prehab. I was struck with a lot of hip/knee/IT-band issues last triathlon season and I don’t want a repeat this year. Now that I’m confident that my chiropractor and I have identified the underlying cause of my chronic right hip issue, I know where to target my prehab exercises. Much of my issues are fascia-related, which often take 12-18 months to fully heal and thus it will be a long-term goal to return to normal human movement patterns.
  • Weight – I’ve mentioned before that I’ve struggled with disorder eating in the past. I still have relapses often and thus I need to focus on living healthy and forgive myself when I make mistakes. I’m so use to negative talk about my body image that sometimes it is often tough to shake a stick at it. I’m slowly accepting my body and learning to create a healthy body image through exercise and a “diet” that works for my body. I’ve played with different “diets” (note: I use the term diet to refer to food in general, not your typical diet to lose wieght) over the past couple of years and have discovered what works and doesn’t work for me. I will continue on this journey over the next 12 months.
  • Triathlon – I announced my tentative 2014 race schedule about a month ago. You can view it HERE. My “A” race is Timberman 70.3 in August with a few local races spattered in between. I tried to keep my race schedule light this year to save money (racing is expensive!), making sure I keep my body healthy, and also to enjoy other fun things in Maine, like hiking, rock climbing, and go to the beach with friends just for fun (apparently brining your wetsuit to swim is frown upon with “normal” people). I would love to qualify for Age Group Nationals. If I qualify for this coming season then I won’t go because Timberman is so close, but I would consider 2015 depending on the locale. My very, very far-reaching goal who be to qualify for 70.3 Worlds at Timberman but the chances of that happening would be that of me winning the lottery (and I would actually have to purchase a lottery ticket to do so)!
     

 

So what are your 2014 goals? Anything fun and exciting? Want to travel together?

~ Happy Training!

 

A Year in Review: 2013 – Part II

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Yesterday I reviewed 2013 by month in photos. If you missed it then check it out HERE. I recently reviewed my Year in Review posts from 2012 (here and here) and have realized that I have come a long way personally and professionally. 2012 was a good and rough year for me. In reality, the past couple of years have really been BIG growing years for me as a person.

I’ve always felt that I aged a decade or two after losing my mom at 22. Losing your mother at a young age can definitely do that to a person. I learned quickly to enjoy the moments with your loved ones and live life to the fullest because you never know how long you may have left on Earth. I know it sounds super cliché and I honestly hate clichés, but it is true.

2012 gave me an incredible triathlon and athletic achievement year, but personally it was not such a good year. I learned important lessons about myself as a person, which allowed me to grow further as a person in 2013. I finished my master’s degree in December 2012, which was huge accomplishment that I had worked for 2.5 years to complete while working fulltime. Finishing my degree also meant looking for a job in 2013; a process that was ultimately very stressful and difficult because the economy and public health job market was not yet recovered.

First, I’ll begin with a review of my 2013 goals:

1. Become an Ironman! Check!

2. Learn to piss on my bicycle! Nope, still failed! 2014 maybe?

3. Increase my bike fitness and finally achieve the perfect VI so I can get an A from my coach! Epic fail here! I did well on the VI aspect in that I learned to pace myself well at long-course events. I rode strongly at IMLP. However, my bike fitness and functional threshold power suffered greatly due to my 2012 fall running (and subsequent bike) hiatus from injury. It was my own fault in that I let my aerobic fitness suffer over the fall months. Training for an Ironman also did not help my case in improving my FTP on the bike.

4. Focus on doing at least 10-15 minutes a day dedicated to mobility, soft tissue work, and core strength. Kinda. I would do well with this for a stretch and then would fail miserably for a while. I certainly did much better with this after my IT-band/knee issues began in April and lasted throughout my Ironman training.

5. Continue learning and seeking out knowledge and advice from the leading health and fitness professionals so I can continue helping my clients and athletes reach their health and athletic goals. I definitely met and surpassed this goal. I am constantly reading and researching exercise physiology and training techniques.

6. Continue working on achieving a healthy body composition through proper nutrition and training. Yes and no. I never got down to race weight this year and I believe it was because I did not train well in the proper HR zones at the beginning on the season. Also, I did not starve myself like previous years and thus that is a small victory in itself. My 2013 aerobic fitness was not the same as my 2012 aerobic fitness. I learned a lot of lessons because of this.

Now, for a greater, more philosophical review of my year:

Athletic/Triathlon – Overall, I am disappointed with my 2013 season. I had such a solid 2012 that I was hoping it would continue into 2013. I met my main goal and that was to complete my first Ironman. However, I do find this year a blessing in disguise. I find that I am the type of person that learns best from her mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes this year and I have learned what not to do in the future for myself personally and the athletes/clients that I coach. I would often have to tell my clients to do what I say and not what I do. That’s truly a bad business motto and thus I will focus on not making stupid decisions and mistakes in 2014. Athletically I suffered a lot in the beginning months of base training because I was super stressed from my work situation, working three jobs, and being sick for several weeks on end. That was critical time I needed to build my aerobic base in running, cycling, and swimming. I did the best that I could, but in retrospect, it was not enough. In April I began to have IT-band/knee issues, due to my chronic right hip issues. I was devastated with the diagnosis and I worried that I would not be able to toe the start line at IMLP. I had several people tell me not to do it. Umm… would you not do an Ironman after you stood in line for 3+ hours and paid $700 the year before to do it? I realized that many people thought that I was crazy to attempt such an event and I found myself having to defend my sport and desire to compete long-course events. Despite my reluctance to give up on my dream of becoming an Ironman in 2013, I knew that if my injury was not going to heal then I would have accepted the DNS. I’m not that stupid.

Health – I was under constant stress at work for a large majority of the year, which took a huge toll on my health both physically and mentally. I never really talked about the situation at my old job and I still am not going to because it’s in the past, but I was put into a really shitty situation and I just wasn’t able to deal with the stress of it well. My immune system took a major hit, which lead to a major cold that turned into a sinus infection and then later developed into a fever of 102. Being constantly sick and stressed led to my poor aerobic fitness in the early season that I was just never able to regain and build later in the season. Because I had a bad aerobic base, and the fact that I did not prioritize strength training enough in the early base phase, I developed painful IT-band/knee issues that succeeded to plague me throughout my Ironman training and made me re-evaluate my goals for IMLP. A lot of the stress and injury prevention could have been prevented from the start. It was my own fault and I own up to it. However, when I returned to running again in the later summer/early fall I developed some serious right hip issues. Working with my brilliant chiropractor I think we finally nailed down what is wrong with my hips and why I continuously get chronic overuse injuries. Going into 2014 I feel confident that I have all the knowledge and tools I need to “fix” my hip issues and hopefully prevent any serious injuries and lingering issues in 2014.

Professional – I finished my MPH degree in December 2012 and began my “big girl” job search. As I have mentioned above, I was put into a shitty situation at my job and dealt with a lot of stress from that. I was also working part-time at a gym training clients. I loved that job, but quickly realized that I did not enjoy working in the traditional gym environment. I left my gym job in July to pursue my interest in starting my own endurance sport coaching and personal training business, and thus Big Sky Multisport Coaching and Personal Training was born. I interviewed for my “dream job” in June, but was second choice due to my lack of supervisor experience. I was genuinely heartbroken, but I realized that I was going to have to work harder to find my next job. At this point I began to realize where and what I really wanted to do as a career. I really enjoyed personal training and nutrition, but I knew that it was not my future career. I love doing it on the side as my passion. Through a lot of reading, researching, and evaluating my personality and passions, I discovered that my true career goals lie in international development and health care systems. I was lucky in August to find a few job advertisements in the state of Maine that were related to health care systems and health care reform. I quickly applied for the jobs and had several interviews. Once again I was second choice for a few of them, which left me disappointed. But, at the end of the day I was offered a fabulous job at a non-profit that I have come to love quickly. The job environment is about 1000 times less stressful and I am really enjoying the work that I am doing. It is the perfect “first career” job and I look forward to working here for a few years before heading back to school for my PhD. It was a long bumpy ride professionally in 2013, but at the end of the day, everything worked out for the better. The bumps in the road made me a stronger person today.

Personal – I have evolved and grown immensely as a human being this year. My graduate education has led me down a road that I never predicted and I have researched and discovered new views on life and the world. I’ve always loved travelling and experiencing new cultures, but I was unable to do so this past year. Thus, 2014 has some big travel plans! As I grew as a person, I became more aware of the crowds of people I associate with in the past and present. I have some amazing friends. Some I see often, while others not as much. I’ve come to realize that some people in my life are toxic and I need to let go of them, while I need more contact with the good people. I accepted the mistakes I have made in past friendships and I hope not to repeat them in the future. I realized that I’d rather have a few good friends that I can count on then a bunch of friends that will be available only at certain times. I have branched out and formed new friendships that will hopefully last for a lifetime. I have discovered my strengths and my weaknesses and work towards accepting the things I can change about myself and the ones that I cannot. I have learned to speak my opinions despite what others may think. I have learned to accept the negative things that happen and find the lesson and the good in each to grow as a human being. I have learned to live a life of love, happiness and passion for oneself and others.

2013 was a growing year and I have accepted the mistakes I have made and only hope to grow further as human being. Bring on 2014!

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~ Happy Training!