Link to my Youtube post of my 2018 Kingston Long Course Race Day Summary
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Link to my Youtube post of my 2018 Kingston Long Course Race Day Summary
— by Darren Cooney
In 2018, after many years of hard work, I think I have finally qualified for elite status. No, I am not the kind of elite athlete who completes a sprint distance race in under an hour and competes as a professional. Instead, have unfortunately qualified for the rare status of elite collector of injuries.
Shin splints became my nemesis the day I first put on a pair of running shoes as an adult. From my first duathlon, through to Running Room clinics and on to focused training with a coach, I have been dogged by aches and pains in my posterior tibialis muscles. In 2013, I had my first stress reactions – injuries that are essentially one step below micro fractures in your bones – in both shins. In 2016, I had a stress reaction in my upper left femur. In 2017, I added Achilles tendinitis (right foot) to my list and in early 2018 that injury was followed by plantar fasciitis (left foot). As I write this post, I have been sidelined for six weeks with an undiagnosed shin ailment.
It’s clear that my time in duathlon has not been a tale of linear progression and improvement, much as I wish it were! In fact, if my multisport career were a line graph, the ups and downs would resemble a trip through the Rockies.
In hopes that you can learn from my experience, I am sharing my top 5 lessons for preventing and dealing with injuries, all of which I learned the hard way. Just a reminder, I am neither a doctor nor a physiotherapist, so if you’ve got an issue, speak to the pros. (See tip #2!)
The best way to manage an injury is to prevent it in the first place. The big things to work on here are mobility, strength and recovery.
For mobility, I know my hips get very tight, so every morning I do hip opener exercises before getting out of bed. How flexible are you? Can you maintain your position on the bike? Help prevent injuries by adding stretches to your daily routine to offset these issues.
For strength, if you want the most pay-off for your time, you’ll want to incorporate sport-specific exercises that will not only help prevent injury but will also make you a better swimmer, cyclist and runner. For example, I do single leg glute bridges each morning to work on my butt, which is often weak in runners. You will find ideas in these two helpful books: Strength Training for Triathletes by Patrick Hagerman, and Running Strong by Jordan Metzl.
For recovery, invest in a foam roller and spend a few minutes at least every other day – daily, if possible – working out the kinks, aches and pains that may be developing over time. If you’re able, plan to get a massage a day or two following your races to help keep your body in fine form.
Get help from the experts! Do you have pain that is present during daily activities like walking? Does an ache throb when you’re lying down in bed at night? Are you compensating for pain when you’re exercising? If so, get attention ASAP. An expert can diagnose your issue, get you on a treatment plan to fix it and help you figure out how to prevent it from happening again. I’ve found an amazing sports doctor in Toronto, as well as a health and wellness studio that specializes in running – exactly what I need because that’s where I keep hurting myself.
Me receiving an electroacupuncture treatment to loosen up a locked ankle joint.
As mom used to say, “Finish your vegetables!” Eat a range of fruits and vegetables that contain anti-inflammatory properties, as they will help to prevent a number of the overuse injuries that plague endurance athletes. Make sure to have a healthy snack within 30 minutes after each workout, to replenish glycogen (energy) stores and repair muscles. Whether you realize it or not, you are an athlete and you need to make sure you’re eating enough to fuel your body – this includes carbs, fat and protein – as chronic under-fuelling in endurance athletes can lead to all sorts of problems.
The quickest way to an injury is to do too much, too soon and too fast – especially in running. This is where I usually mess up. While you may have cardiovascular endurance, your body needs time to adapt to the stress of the repeated pounding on the pavement. I’ve done best when I followed the 10% rule: add no more than 10% volume or intensity each week, while also taking an easier “recovery” week every fourth week. My problem is that with my hectic schedule, I will occasionally miss workouts and skip to the next one, without the progressive “step” in between them. My body doesn’t like that and lets me know it.
You may be wondering, “If you do all these things, why do you keep hurting yourself Darren?” Good question.
There is one final and most important lesson: listen to your body and act on its advice.
In chatting with my coaches, it is clear that my strong focus on my goals has drowned out the voice in my head that says, “This hurts. You’re pushing too hard. Slow down.”
This most recent injury made me realize that I need to focus on training with the long-term in mind. In other words, I need to get to a place where I can train on a consistent and sustained basis, even if that means pulling back a little (or a lot!) from the intensity.
I listened to this tea bag affirmation when I should have listened to my body!
I admit that it’s a hard lesson when I want to faster. My willpower and endurance levels are stronger than my lower body. But I’d much rather show up at a race happy, healthy and perhaps a little slower, than not show up at all, which is the situation I’m in now.
A final thought: if you aren’t able to race because you’re injured, it is truly disappointing, but I’ve found that one of the best things you can do for your mental health is to volunteer instead. You still get to take part in the action – from a different angle – by giving back to the Skechers Performance MultiSport Canada Series, which was given so much to all of us.
Come volunteer – you’ll be glad you did it!
We often learn the most through life’s setbacks, and that includes sports injuries. I hope that with these painful lessons I can relinquish this “elite” injury-prone title ASAP… and that you can avoid it altogether! See you at the next race!
— By Daryl Flacks
“It’s not how fast you go but how long you go fast.” No one knows this better than endurance athletes. The ability to maintain speed over the longer distances requires consistency…. draining the reserves and then going beyond. It’s not uncommon in a hard training session to puke a little, shed some tears and have self-doubt. We strive to go faster, it’s all about speed. But is it really? I’m often asked, “does it get easier the longer you are in the sport?” The answer is simply “No”.
“It never gets easier; you just go faster” – Greg LeMond
Endurance sport requires a huge commitment but the satisfaction of completing your FIRST event is like no other. The hours dedicated to training, the new-found aches and pains, the highs and the lows…it became your normal. Your friends encouraged your sanity, in awe of your dedication and craziness – enjoy, you’ve earned it!
Too often our goal focused dispositions have us immediately analyzing our results. We want to go faster, race smarter and ultimately become better at our craft. We log longer training runs, buy more expensive equipment, analyze data and count calories. We train in less than ideal conditions and hunker down in the basement watching Netflix while putting in hours of training on the dreaded treadmill or bike trainer. The result if we’re lucky, is a brand new shiny Personal Best Time and the process starts all over. In a lot of instances, this is almost immediate.
Truthfully, many athletes have more bad days than good days. Training sessions that are less than fulfilling and races that don’t go as planned. Many second guess their training, are plagued with injuries have work commitments, family responsibilities and the inevitable…just simply getting older.
I speak from experience, seeing my fastest days are behind me. My training logs are filled with big mileage weeks – back to back and months on end. Times got faster but I was never satisfied. I was always chasing the next faster time, never appreciating the times I had worked so hard to achieve.
So, promise yourself to take a moment and relish your accomplishment. New to the sport? You just earned your first Personal Best Time. Remember, it’s never just a 5k, or “oh, I just did the Sprint distance.” You trained, you put in the effort and you worked hard for that result. There’s no guarantees in life. Take the time to enjoy each and everyone of your accomplishments because it never gets easier and there’s no guarantee we go faster. Enjoy the training, your new-found friends, health and the fact that you’ve achieved something many will never experience. You are a MultiSport Athlete!
— By Niels Dekker
When I hear the rhetorical question, “is one sport not enough for you triathletes?” I can’t help but chuckle. For those who truly love this amazing sport, I don’t think that crosses our mind. If anything, the muliti-discipline nature is what adds to the challenge, and triathletes love a good challenge!
My personal journey into the world of triathlon started in 2016 when a good friend told me about an upcoming race and suggested I try it. I’ve never looked back! Last year I enjoyed lots of local races, gaining as much race experience as possible.
This winter came around and I was super excited to get started with some strong off-season preparation for the 2018 race season… and then life showed up. Life where there are already prior commitments that you made with yourself, family, career, community, you name it — they got in the way. In these familiar instances, how do you stay on track to do what you set out to do in sport? This became the biggest challenge I personally have faced in a while.
It became easy to get frustrated when my training schedule started to fall apart and the “days off” started to stack up. It felt like I had really hit a wall that I didn’t know how to get over.
When you have a personality that is really all or nothing it can be difficult. This was the biggest lesson I’ve learned about myself from the past five months. I wanted to give my all to training, feeling that only giving 30% would not be enough to get me where I wanted to go — yet it was still better than nothing. This was my conundrum.
As time has passed I’ve reflected back and realized that everything has its time and some commitments will take precedence over others at certain times of life. Once I realized that I was ok with not being able to train as much as I committed to when I made the schedules, things shifted for me. My small swims, runs, bike rides… I found new life in them and enjoyment where I had thought I lost it all together!
The shift happened! I would say my expectations dropped, and the reason why I started this sport in the first place was back; to bring out the best of me. The beauty is that the ‘best’ is not always the clock at the end of the training or race. I learned that the ‘best’ was showing up day in, day out.
I trust all of you will have an amazing summer of 2018 training, racing and being with your communities out in the gyms, pools, trails, and roads! I look forward to seeing you at one of the upcoming MultiSport Canada races.
— By Felicia Long
This year my friend in Florida selected an early season Ironman for us to do together — Ironman Brazil in May. This seemed like a good idea last year when we entered but as we all know this year’s winter was especially long. Swimming and running are not affected by the cold weather for me… I swim indoors with Toronto Triathlon Club and I run in all weather, hot or cold… and yes I have had a few accidents running in the ice. The biggest effect of the weather has been on my biking – I like to do my cycling outside. I work harder and am not distracted by the TV, the pile of laundry I can see from my trainer or the fact that I can just sit and pedal without falling off when indoors. As a result I ventured out on my bike in April while there was still snow on the ground, in 0-degree weather. While it was stunning to look at, I just could not keep my feet warm and the pain was not pleasant. I decided then that early season Ironmans should not be considered again!
Luckily I attended the Toronto Tri Club Collingwood camp on the May long weekend and while the weather had sun, rain and cold – I was cycling outdoors, that and a few other cold cycles left me feeling more comfortable about cycling the 180km required in Brazil and I am happy to report that I finished it successfully and in one piece. Now that is out of the way and this summer I am planning to do a lot of sprint triathlons as part of the MultiSport series. I have usually shied away from the shorter distances as I believe them to be way harder than the longer Ironman distances – I know you are scratching your head and wondering how I could possibly think that. Well, Ironman is a long race at a lower intensity and I can go for days but a sprint involves a lot of energy over a short period of time and I have to change my thinking to make my body make that effort. I am nervous and excited to see how it goes.
I will be at a lot of the MSC events this summer, please say hi and ask me whatever questions you may have and I might know some of the answers 🙂
— By Emilie Whitson
The title of this article is a little click-baity, but you’re reading! How many times has something small (or maybe something big!) gone wrong in a race, and you find yourself in a negative self-talk spiral into oblivion? Speaking from personal experience, sometimes mental game is our own worst enemy when racing.
By now, many of you may have read the recent articles and research showing that smiling while undergoing a hard physical task can actually lower our perception of effort. When we are racing, we are dealing with two factors: physiological and psychological. There is solid scientific evidence showing that periodic genuine smiling can improve both physiological and psychological performance while running. During the study, runners were 2.8% more economical to be exact. Runners who frowned actually became LESS economical!
So what does this have to do with helping our competitor? Just as smiling while undergoing an intense painful effort is actually a strategy to distract ourselves from the pain, encouraging or altruistic actions during a race can have the same effect.
We have a lot of anecdotal evidence of athletes putting their own race on hold to help another competitor, who end up winning a race. For instance at the 2018 Boston Marathon, winner Des Linden stayed back to pull struggling favourite Shalene Flanagan back to the lead pack and ended up winning the day. So, what is it about trying to save someone else’s race that can be so valuable to our own?
Theories suggest that perceiving and thinking about emotion involve perceptual, somatovisceral and motoric embodiment in oneself (Niedenthal). In plain English? Listening to yourself encouraging someone else can take you out of your own negativity and end up inspiring both of you.
How can you put this science into practice at your next tough MultiSport Canada race? My strategy — when I’m struggling, I pick out another athlete who looks like they are struggling too. If they’re walking, I’ll say “let’s run together!” or if we are on the bike, a few words of encouragement to each person you are near, can break you out of the dark cycle of thinking how terrible your own race is going.
Try it at your next race!
— By Raúl Andrés Pérez
Being a triathlete is demanding, and to meet your goals in races you need to ask a lot of your body in training. So what happens when we (triathletes) suffer from a condition that doesn’t allow us to complete our training as expected?
For me, by the end of summer in 2010, I had had several months of being unable to complete my training because I felt so lazy (not intentionally) but I was not doing anything except sitting on the couch, I also had muscle pain frequently, cramps, and feeling that all my body ached; I had never felt those symptoms before so I went to see my family doctor to understand what my problem was.
I always was a really “active” person, full of desire to discover life in different ways, practicing all kind of sports and being happy most of the time. It was like in the movies when all happens in slow motion and it seems you are a spectator of yourself. The doctor said that word that I never heart before —“Hypothyroidism”, describing what I had after analyzing the routine blood exams I had done.
Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid or low thyroid, is a disorder of the endocrine system in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. It can cause a number of symptoms, such as poor ability to tolerate cold, a feeling of fatigue, tiredness, constipation, depression, and weight gain among others.
This was not good news at all for me. My doctor gave me a prescription and said, “We’ll see how it develops from now on”. You will have to take this medication for life. .. After a few seconds of silence, I still did not understand anything. The doctor handled me a few brochures with related information about the thyroid. That day, started my battle against this “athletic killer”– not literally a killer, but it is very easy to give up and let the symptoms step over you.
Once I got home and started to read all the info received, I called my mother and asked her if she had ever been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Unfortunately, it was in my DNA — my mother had when she was younger.
In time, after taking my medication for several months; I started to feel better, closer to the person I used to be, but never ever the same “me” again. Since then, the battle continues every single day of my life, every morning I start the day taking medication (… and … do not forget it, it will be a bad day).
It’s a challenge to get through busy days of work with enough energy and then try and fit some good training in as well. Only in time, after so many years, I have been able to rethink my approach to life and continuing to be an Ironman triathlete. My advice for anyone with this condition — absolutely don’t give up training or racing! It’s probably better not to, probably it will be a reason to be excited about yourself having some clear objectives and goals to complete. Additionally, if we stop training, we tend to put on weight more easily and lose it more slowly than others despite the medication. Some people have knee problems to beat, we have thyroid problems. Don’t let the thyroid win 🙂
If you’re anything like me, you’ll wake up one day and have a bad training session and then realize, “hang on, I’ve been having bad training sessions for 6 weeks now”… and then it all clicks. If you get to a point where your training is not progressing, you’re falling asleep during the day for no apparent reason, feeling fatigue after a good night sleep, you’re putting on weight changes despite no alterations in training/diet or you have other factors that led you to look for diagnosis, go and see the doctor again and again, and insist until agrees to check your thyroid with the corresponding blood exams. A big number of people (women and men) are underdiagnosed since it is easy to get confused with other similar conditions. Unfortunately, it’s going to get worse over time (assuming you don’t want to have it surgically removed).
It’s been almost eight years now that I‘ve been battling hypothyroidism and despite all complications, I was able to complete my first full Ironman – 140.6 miles – at Mont Tremblant in 2016 (this is considered one of the most challenging races) and also six other Ironman 70.3 races and about 20 Olympic distance triathlons. Currently I’m training to participate in Ironman Frankfurt this year. Hopefully I will be able to finish it. My thyroid does not control my life. It is me the one responsible for my own actions. I won’t quit. I won’t let my thyroid control me.
Hope this provides some guidance and help to any other fellow triathletes in a similar case like me eight years ago.
— By Angela Hofstra
“Would you please ask the kitchen to just steam the broccoli and not add butter or salt”. “That’s how it is done, maam”. “Really, just steamed?”. “Yes, ma’am”. Despite the promising conversation the broccoli was dripped with fat and salt, and didn’t get eaten by me. This is a common conversation between restaurant servers and me. Fortunately, although the servers often look at you oddly, most restaurants, even in the southern U.S., can manage to serve simple steamed vegetables if you ask. Your colleagues might look at you oddly too, until they realize you are the one not gaining weight while travelling for business.
Fresh vegetables, simply steamed, are my go to “starter” — or appetizer, as we call it in Canada. This is a “survival tip” I learned from a consultant friend who travels extensively, and so “simply steamed” is how I request my vegetables to be cooked when the main course at a restaurant includes a “side”. As an athlete, I want healthy fuel whether I’m at home or away. As a toxicologist in the agricultural industry, I don’t worry about trace amounts of pesticides; I eat conventionally raised food including things produced via genetic engineered (GMO). What I do worry about is all the hidden sugar, salt and fat in food when I travel.
Here are some other quick tips I follow when travelling:
Having solved my dinner woes, if only I could get tea made with boiling water while in the States!
— By Randy Cornelisse
Has anyone ever told you that no matter what you’re doing, it should be fun, or there’s no point? Let’s put that oft-used statement into perspective. I have completed a few triathlons and half Ironman events… not fun! Not because of the distance, but because they kept the swimming portion in. I’m not a fan of “the swimming”. I don’t like to get into the cold car in the winter, hop in the always cold, eye-burning, nasal drip-instigating pool and practice endless, mind numbing, tedious end-to-end drills, which I never seem to improve on. Don’t misunderstand, I am not bitter, it is a fact. I was told by my lovely girlfriend, Danica, that after two years and a couple swim clinics I was the only person she ever knew that actual got worse. Needless to say I am back to duathlons. My motto is “Swimming is for Suckers”…or quite frankly those that enjoy it, or are good at swimming, but you can see how that wouldn’t be a catchy motto.
I’ve led you to believe that I am not detailed at all, but I do write out my workouts a couple weeks ahead of time and I do keep a log of past years workouts to compare. They are all however written in pencil and can be adjusted to suit the circumstances. Right now you may be wondering what those circumstances could be. The usual of course; maybe a nagging injury that needs to be nursed, an appointment, kids or of course an unusually loooong drawn out winter, that never wanted to quit and kept coming back for more, like your ex-wife’s lawyer…but I digress.
This paragraph is about specifics. Swimming — really, we’re still talking about swimming? Don’t do it! Swimming should only be done if you’re floating and there is a nice beach, in a tropical location! If however you ignore my sage advice and insist on swimming and are just starting, or are simply a horrible swimmer, like me, go to some clinics. Swimming is all technique, of which I have none. You can easily get hooked up with some clinics through MSC or your local pool. Running — you might be thinking that this guy must love running, because he’s a duathlete and runs twice in a race, well surprise! I don’t really like running. Quite often I find it a lot of work and quite tiresome. Come to think of it I believe it is almost as silly as swimming. If I’m always coming back to where I started, why am I leaving in such a rush in the first place? Track they say will make you faster. That’s true, but all people faster than me also know that fact and they aren’t getting slower. This makes me think they do a lot of track. The only reason I’m running track then is not to catch them, but to stay ahead of the runners behind me, who also know that track will make them faster. This all seems like a vicious circle, that we could end, by just agreeing to never do track again. Have you ever driven your car along your run route, to put water and fuel out, prior to your run and realized that it seemed like a ridiculous long way to run? If so you might be a marathoner, but that’s another article. Biking-Your thinking to yourself surely this is it, he loves biking, wrong again! Admittedly I look pretty cool, all decked out in my multi colored spandex, on a bike the costs more than my first car and everyone normal, that I know(I don’t really know a lot of normal people) asks “does it come with an engine”? Ha ha ha oh man that’s the first time I’ve heard that one. I have tried saddle after saddle, to find the most comfortable and ergonomic for my body. Makes me laugh just thinking of the fun times that it brings to my mind, but at least a saddle usually comes with the bike, as opposed to pedals. Really no pedals? Isn’t that like a car without wheels, Peanut butter without jam? Did you know any day I ride its’s windy? No really it’s always a head wind of a least 20kph and it shifts every time I change direction. They say hills will make you stronger. I don’t know who “They” are, but I don’t like hills and I thought this was supposed to be fun.
This all brings me to the title of this training article,”Multisport…Why”. Obviously, because it’s fun! Have you not been paying attention? Put all these sports together, whether it is triathlon or duathlon, and it becomes fun. I know, I don’t completely get it either, but it does become fun. The fact that there is a great sense of camaraderie in the sport and that it’s great for your overall health and lifestyle adds to it. Don’t get me wrong, for sure individually each sport can be a real downer, but together they are like peanut butter and jelly or a new bike that comes with pedals. After all why do it if it’s not fun?