,

Road to Ironman

How I became an Ironman Mum

The Ironman race day itself is really just one small snippet of long journey that ended at that destination. One does not simply complete an Ironman… many months, days, hours, minutes are put into crossing that finishing line. Without all the pieces of the puzzle, you don’t have a picture, so I have shared the pieces of my Ironman puzzle….

What made me want to do an Ironman?
I used to be one of those people who thought running 3kms was insane… this was prior to the start of my journey to improve my overall health and fitness many years ago. Eventually I set myself a goal to run 5km non-stop… before long I have achieved that goal and soon it was 10km and then a half marathon with a goal of running it in sub 2hrs…. all which I achieved. When I finished my first half marathon I thought anyone who could swim 1.9km and ride 90km before running that far was again…..insane!

It wasn’t long before I started doing more and more triathlon events and loved the challenge and sense of achievement that I was getting from each event. Then one day, I become one of ‘those’ people who I had previously thought were insane – I had signed up for my first half ironman. Race day come, and unfortunately the weather was not conducive to a good race and I ended up with 3 flats on the bike leg pushing my finishing time out a lot further than I had anticipated. As heartbreaking as this was I decided to cheer myself up by supporting the full Ironman finishers… As I watched on, I got overwhelmed watching these people achieve their dreams and goals, and thought to myself, I want a piece of that, one day I want to be an Ironman! And that was it, that dream then became embedded in me and I was ready to go out and get it…

So after months of consideration I decided I would sign up for Busselton Ironman 2015. I had a year under my belt to train for this epic event… only to discover a short 6 weeks later I would actually be training for a completely different endurance event…. Motherhood. The plan had changed slightly and my dream of becoming an Ironman would be delayed but not forgotten… since then my motto has become #dreamsneverexpire.

How did I decide the ‘time’ was right to train for Ironman?
Fast forward a year and my partner and I had had a beautiful baby boy, fast forward another year and this baby boy was now a one year old. The first year of parenthood was by far the hardest thing I have EVER done, so much sleep deprivation, so much learning and growing as a family, but we got through it. During that time I kept up regular exercise, which kept my sanity and allowed me to be a better partner and mother. I then felt that I was ready to get back to the world of triathlon… to start training again and aim for my post baby come back – at which time I signed up for the Husky Long Course. This however was not without consideration of other factors, yes I felt ready to train again but I had to factor in how and when I was going to make this happen. We had established a good routine at home, and Cooper was going to daycare 2 days a week and thankfully starting to sleep through the night more regularly. We come up with strategies on how I could fit in my training around being a mum, working part time and do it without major impact…. . We also used my training for the long course event as a ‘trial’ of sorts for Ironman further down the road.

So how did I fit all my training in, be a mum and work part-time?

2 words – organised and preparation – particularly with meals! The Thermomix and Slow Cooker is an Ironmum’s best friend. I also use Google calendar to schedule my training, work, outside appts and other general ‘life’ stuff. This really helps me identify where I am ‘wasting’ time and times/areas that I can utilise time more effectively and efficiently – I would definitely recommend this strategy to everyone.

The majority of my training was done very early in the morning before my partner went to work. I felt this was also a great way to set myself up for the day and avoid missing the session if my partner got delayed at work in the afternoons.

I utilised daycare days to do my swims after drop off or at lunch – which is fantastic for getting a lane to myself. I am also lucky enough to work from home which gave me more flexibility.
Doing my longer rides and runs on the weekends worked out well for us as my partner loves being a Dad enjoys the one on one time he gets to spend with our son while I’m out training. They go to swimming lessons and have boys time! Win win for everyone 🙂

My training is not the old school way of ‘going hard or going home’ nor is it a smash feast. It is a lot of low HR aerobic endurance in order to avoid excessive stress. Yes, intervals are part of my training but it is balanced.
This was also great to ensure I had enough energy for my son and partner. I didn’t need to nap during the day. I had energy to take my boy out on adventures and not feel fatigued all the time.

 

What did a typical weeks training look like?
My program wasn’t just trial and error, nor was it a set 3 swim, bike, run sessions… it was developed through use of an Annual Training Plan, taking into account my current fitness, my end point fitness level (CTL – chronic training load) and from there working backwards applying enough stress and load (TSB – training stress balance) as to develop fitness and fatigue but not overdo it in order to avoid injury, sickness, burn out and keep my hormones happy.
It included a happy medium of 80% aerobic / low heart rate training and 20% anaerobic (the real hard work) – and spending as little as time as possible in-between those two zone – more commonly referred to as the ‘grey zone’.

So what did I actually do…
Ok here’s the nitty gritty..

During the week:
> 2 shorter bike sessions, which were transferrable to doing on a WT if needed. Usually session one with a run off the bike
> 1-2 runs – usually an easy recover run and an interval run (the hard work)
> 2-3 swim sessions – recover, endurance, speed anywhere from 1.8 – 4kms
> Yoga – 2-3 times a week – only 30minutes and do at lunch when I put Cooper down for his day nap. For me yoga is probably one of my non-negotiable sessions – its great for strength, stretching and allowing me to check in with myself, give myself the time to ‘just be’ and really helped set me up for the rest of the day.

Weekends: were for long training sessions –
> Long ride (3.5-6hrs) and short run (30-60minutes) of the bike Saturday
> Long run (1-2.5) on Sunday – as the length/distance of runs increased; I started doing spilt runs, with a shorter aerobic run in the afternoon following the morning session.
> And a recovery swim thrown in there for good measure too 😉

 

Below is a screenshot of my Peak Week – just shy of 20hours of training time!

For other data nerds out there :
CTL – 120.4, ATL – 190.2, TSB – -48.1
And ….. TSS for the week was 1192
These numbers were pretty smack bang on ideal of Ironman training.

 

 

What else ? : But wait there’s more? There is always more!
Pre workout mobility, stability and activation – this was a game changer for me… Giving my body the chance to wake up, gain movement and activation specific for the task ahead. 10-15 minutes of time dedicated to prepping my body, I believe, lead to no injuries. This along with muscle maintenance – rollering, trigger point and stretching. Done practically everything while watching TV while spending time with my partner.

 

What about Nutrition?
Low Carbohydrate High Fat (LCHF) and the fat adaption approach has served me well, it works well with my body and my training. My journey on this approach started a good 3 years ago – after I had had enough of feeling bloated, sluggish and constantly eating. Around the same time I came across Holistic Endurance, I also found The Natural Nutritionist – and then to find the two were good friends and worked in collaboration was a double win!
I have found that the LCHF has stabilised my energy supply avoiding energy high and lows typically experienced with high carbohydrate intake.

The key note about LCHF – is the fact that it is Lower Carbohydrates – not NO carbohydrates. It is also about nutrient timing ensuring good recovery from sessions. In addition to this, I use natural nutrition in training and racing which has cleared any GI issues I would previously experience.

Supplements – yes! As an endurance athlete, we demand a lot of our bodies so it’s only logic that we give back and provide support to it. In the way of supplements – supporting the adrenals, boosting the immune system and overcoming any mineral/vitamin deficiencies that we may have .

What is my WHY?
When I think about what MY why is…I think Why not? Why not be the best version of myself that I can be, why not choose adventure, challenge, health and wellness over sitting on the couch wishing and waiting for it. For me I feel it’s one thing I do have control over, I control if I do my session or not, the level of effort or performance I put into that session,
My WHY now also encompasses my desire to be a role model and leader for my son. Showing him that through hard work, determination and passion, you CAN do anything you want… but it is up to YOU to make it happen.

Were there any epiphanies or light bulb moments along the way?
Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible about your methods…… when your training to be an Ironman and are an Mum at the same time … this rings true… I wasn’t going to give up my goals/dreams because I was a Mum or it got too hard, I just had to be flexible. This came into play particular for early morning sessions when I was up multiple times through the night, or just plain feeling like shit… instead of skipping my session, I altered it, for example if it was intervals, I dialled it back to a low HR run – I was still making gains and taking something away from the session then if I had of not done it in the first place.

Low Points
The last few weeks leading into Ironman got hard, they were physically longer and I was getting more and more fatigued as you would expect. Somedays I got out of the pool and never wanted to stick my head under water again – I was over the smell of chlorine.

There were also times, particularly on my long runs that I felt ‘unfit’ and wondered how I was ever going to complete the marathon without walking the whole way. However I had to remind myself that I was under fatigue, my body and legs were tired it wasn’t because I was unfit.

 

 

 

High Points
There were many high points during my IM journey.
The weeks where I had hit every session as planned, completing my longest swim set and the challenge weekend I had 6 weeks prior to race day, where I rode my longest ride, completed a 2.5hr run and also did a PB in an ocean swim – all in one weekend!

Another high point for me was my consistency to training – I may not have hit the targets given for every single training sessions but I sure as hell made sure I was consistent.

In all of this, my highest point would have to be the fact that I was able to accomplish all of this without burning out, becoming sick or injured, and just learning how my body responded to the stimulus I applied to it.

Who helped get to that finishing line?
The road to success is not a solo journey, it takes input and support from many to grow and achieve. This is why I have built my tribe – people in my corner that have provided the resources, guidance and ability for me to be successful in my goals. All of which deserve acknowledgement and recognition.

First and foremost – one very supportive partner – coming from an Ironman background himself, he knew what was required and involved in training for an ironman. From making post workout smoothies, being my in-house masseur and quite simply allowing me to dedicate the time require to training.

Holistic Endurance Coaches – Katee & Sarah – it was not just about prescribing a program and making it happen, it was an energy exchange, I was learning as I was going, these ladies not only developed my athletic capacity, but also my personal and professional aptitude.

A massage therapist who knew the demands on the body of a triathlete and could treat accordingly… along with knowing where those deep dark angry muscles were hiding!

Training Buddies – the majority of my training was solo, simply because it was easier that way. No I didn’t get lonely or lack motivation. I honestly quite enjoyed solo training as it doubled as ‘me’ time, and as any mother will attest to that time out is paramount to ones sanity! However it was nice to have one go to training buddy who would join me for my long rides or part thereof. A mum herself, we had a lot in common and it was not just having kids .

 

I believe the process of training for and completing an Ironman also holds purpose for the role I have as a coach. I now feel better prepared and more qualified to guide an athlete through an Ironman program now that I have completed one myself. To know and to have experience in not only the physical demands but also the mental and emotion side of it.

If you want to make your Ironman or any triathlon dream a reality – I can help.

Find out more about me as a coach here.
The body achieves what the mind believes.
I had a goal, I believed I could do it, so I did it!

 

Part 3 – Katee as an Athlete

In a three part series Coach Katee, gives us some insight, as well her thoughts and feelings on being Katee – The Business Woman, The Coach and Athlete.

Following on from last weeks blog, Katee as a Coach, we continue with the third and final installment to our conversation with Coach Katee about her as an Athlete.

(*If you missed Part 1 – Katee as a Business Woman, you can read it HERE.)

  • Your last major race was Ironman Dec 2015whats been going on since then?

If I were to summarise me as an athlete I would use the word complex.

Since Ironman I’ve been 100% focusing on health and wellness over performance. It’s challenged my mind and ego but not my body. My body is thanking me for it in a great way. Now I realise that it’s a LONG time to focus on health and still not be a 100% well. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that my health will be an ongoing evolution. There will be no one fix. So as I begin my journey back to performance I take a lot of comfort knowing that my health, hormones, nutrition and lifestyle habits are far superior than they have ever been before – I’m not in search of perfection. But this doesn’t mean that everything is hunky dory. I still have to take well considered action steps to keep my health at an optimum level while bringing performance based training back into my life. So over this time period I’ve been exercising, including swimming, biking, minimal running and lots of strength training. I’ve had a plethora of pathology tests and consulted with a plethora of experts. I have more pieces to my puzzle than ever before which gives me the confidence to go ahead with my goal to return to long course!

I attempted this return last year (2016), but hit a major obstacle in August with my mental health which disrupted life and training for about 2 months so I’ve been working on the re-build since then. Very gently. My driver is to ensure that I don’t take steps forward to then be shoved backwards.

 

  • Why so many issues with injury, burnout, hormone imbalance and gut health?

Oh boy. Just like there is no ‘one’ solution, there is also no one causation. The issues I’ve had since Ironman are not a product of 2015 and training for Ironman (because I trained smart), nor are they a product of my life since Ironman. From the start of 2015 to now I’ve been re-building what was broken long before 2015 and finally crumbled at the end of 2014. It was the perfect storm that started as a teenager. At age 13 I was put on the pill for acne – I wasn’t sexually active. I’ll write another blog on this topic to go into more depth, but I can pinpoint this as the first catalyst to ill health. The years that followed saw decline in my mood and health (food intolerances). So by age 15 (still with acne) I remained on the pill and the solution was anti-depressants. Side effects made life pretty hard but I stayed on them until I was about 20 years old. At which point I managed a 1 year break before needing to go back on them. Throughout uni I worked 2-3 jobs at a time and in my final year I somehow thought I could manage a full time job (managing a gym) and complete university. I got by – only just – with many breakdowns in the process. I was also training for Triathlons and other activities at this point. To cut a long story short, everything that I am now healing is a product of metabolic and hormonal chaos resulting from;

  • over doing it both physically and mentally.
  • binge drinking and partying in my early 20’s
  • being on the pill from age 13 – 23
  • being on anti-depressants from ager 15 – 23 (notice the correlation? I got off the pill and voila! – no need)
  • stepping up to long course training and doing very high volume and intensity not specific to my needs
  • use of high sugar and carbohydrate products to fuel endurance races and training
  • cramming too much in, rushing, lack of mindfulness
  • not respecting or nourishing my body
  • following standard recommendations for nutrient intake (the food pyramid)

 

  • So why keep pushing on? Shouldnt you give up and just join Crossfit?!

Haha Yep. That’s probably what I should do, but it certainly wouldn’t light my fire and keep my soul happy. Endurance sport is where my heart is and will stay. I’m a natural at lifting and respond well so I utilise this to my advantage for Triathlon performance (my hormones also love it), and this has changed me as an athlete dramatically in the past 3 years. I’m pretty excited to see how this translates into performance this year. Thanks to the team at Virtus  for creating an incredible environment to help cultivate this in me.

Note: I don’t actually do CrossFit – I do strength training specific to developing strength, power and functional movement as an athlete.

  • Whats YOUR why, Katee?

Oh another deep one! I can physiologically FEEL my why, it’s deep, it’s clear and it elicits raw emotion in me. But I will admit it’s hard to describe to others.

It has nothing to do with times, placing or external validation. I train and pursue racing because it helps be discover who I am, it allows me to be that person, it provides a platform to challenge myself, go to places I’ve never been before (metaphorically and physically) and it puts a goal in front of me that helps add meaning and excitement for my future self. During the hard times, this helps immensely.

  • There have been many challenges for you, what has been the hardest to overcome?

I genuinely can’t answer this question. Maybe because I’m not there yet. Maybe ask me at the finish line of my next half ironman?

But if we rephrase to what has been the hardest to tackle… then I would say the frustration of “why me” and “comparison-itis”. At times, I can find it difficult to watch athletes, (and gen pop) getaway with habits (too much training, lack of recovery, poor nutrition, alcohol, stress etc etc) that I have to work very hard at managing to stay in one piece. I’m certainly grateful for how far I’ve come, but this progress doesn’t mean I can simply slip into old behaviours of working too much, eating refined sugar, eating gluten, training hard too often, miss taking supplements or making poor nutrition choices.

It happens less and less, but I just have to work on grounding myself and reminding myself that I am putting myself in a much better position for health and longevity in sport.

  • So how do you motivate yourself?

Numbers 🙂 The data is what makes sense to me. I know that training stress, with consistency and adaptation, equals results. So I focus on what I know needs to happen. Mix that with my emotive why and I have a recipe for motivation. voila!

  • What has this initial base phase of 2017 entailed for you? 

We are focusing on MAF training with an element of polarised training with short (20-30s) hard bursts of intensity. I’ve continued by 2-3 lifting sessions per week covering squats, deadlifts, chins and bench press along with functional movement patterns. The running has been minimal, as I’m still working on turning myself into a runner. My form and efficiency has improved out of sight, I now just need the cardiovascular fitness to run. I am fortunate enough to live with great trails in my backyard on the Mornington Peninsula so enjoy embracing trail walks to build my endurance. Much less taxing for me, as lots of running just doesn’t suit my body (YET!).

 

 

  • Do you have input from others into your program or are you flying solo?

I sure do. The last time I was officially coached was by Craig Percival for my base phase leading into Ironman Busselton 2015. From there I was self coached and bounced my programming ideas off some friends who were coaches at the time.

Since then I didn’t really needed a program from a coach but I have had plenty of support and input from my team of practitioners such as physio, Greg Dea, Strength coaches at Virtus Human Performance and of course Coach Sarah. At the start of this base phase, Coach Sarah and I began to work more closely together and she now oversee’s my program, I enjoy being able to hand over to someone so that my own programming isn’t a last thought.

 

  • Planning beyond your base phase, how does your annual training plan differ from the ‘standard?’

It will follow the principles outlined in my Ebook, Healing the Grumpy Athlete.  Whereby we will have a 3-4 week build phase with an adaptation period timed around my menstrual cycle. You can read more about that in the Ebook. This approach has been pivotal for me and I’ve worked this way for the past 3 years. I also will do very minimal threshold work and next to no tempo  (Zone 3) work. So this means majority of my time is spent in aerobic training zones or well above threshold and working on Vo2 Max. Which is coined the polarised approach. My body loves it. My mind loves it and it works brilliantly for me, and our athletes. I also won’t be aiming to do the traditional amount of running required for half iron distance. This ties into how my body responds hormonally to running but more so my history of niggles and injury. I still don’t have answers to the pain I experience. My mobility and function are spot on, and my biomechanics are also quite good, of course, not perfect. Structurally all my scans come up clear. A few weeks ago I went in for a surgical procedure to do some more investigating to the potential cause of general knee, hamstring and psoas pain that I’ve had long term. A blog for another time.

  • You recently conducted an Metabolic Efficiency Test (MET)- what was the result like and what did you learn? 

I learnt that long long long (ultra) endurance events should be my game! First off I want to explain what MET means.

MET is a test that measures your use of O2 and production of CO2 to determine how many calories you burn at different intensity levels and how many of these calories are coming from fat and carbohydrates. The tests are done both at rest and during exercise using either a bike or a treadmill. The exercise test will start easy and gradually increase in intensity until you reach your VO2max (your max ability to use oxygen to produce energy)

What testing tells us;

  • Discover any metabolic dysfunctions
  • If your predicted MAF heart rate is suitable for you
  • Determine if you are a sugar or a fat burner
  • Allows you to fine tune your training to improve fat burning ability and endurance
  • Understanding how much fuel your body burns at different intensities will help you plan your event better and avoid “hitting the wall” too early

My results?

Cross Over Point: 173 bpm

Aet (Aerobic Threshold): 167 bpm

Current MAF  heart rate as per 180 formula: 143 bpm

What this means is that I have a higher aerobic threshold and I am also an efficient fat burner during exercise (and at rest). So in a racing scenario I do not need to rely on a high level of exogenous fuel (gels), limiting the risk of GI distress and energy fluctuations.

Completing this test has been pivotal, we would have been programming/ training based on MAF heart rate, which would have meant;

  1. I would barely run, 95% walk to stay under that heart rate
  2. I would not have got the fitness gains required as my heart rate would have been TOO low

 

  • Whats the hardest part about getting back into structured training (again)?

Ha! the again part. So many false starts in the past 2.5 years so my head gets clouded with the doubts and frustrations. But with each of my false starts I’ve learnt more about my body and I go into this build with a different mindset and level of confidence.

  • With your goal of having a come back in long course this year what will be your top 3 action steps to determine success?
  1. Continuing the improvements I’ve made to balance my hormones and limit PMDD symptoms – this will allow for greater consistency and recovery. (This involves, stress management, supplements, balanced training, having FUN, looking after my gut health and eating LCHF naturally).
  2. I’m trying not to pin too much on the surgery that had. But my hope is that this will help clear up a lot of inflammation floating around my body, contributing to fatigue, niggles and hormone imbalance. So a successful surgery recovery is a big factor for success this year.
  3. Being open to change my mindset, letting go of the fear of effort that developed from my experience with burn out and over training.

 

  • Do you have a long term plan for training/racing or are you focussing on one particular race?

I’ve got a few races ear marked for 2017, some trail running events will be in the mix, maybe some more adventure races. But mostly my mind is set on a Half Ironman for this year and after racing for so long I don’t need lead in races to motivate me or to practice, happy to perform in training and let my A race do the talking.

  • Whats your fav race and race distance? Best race? Worst race?

Ooooo tough. Considering I’ve spent most of my Triathlon journey competing in 70.3 i’ld say my heart lies there. But perhaps my talent lies in Olympic distance (historically). My body and strengths have changed a lot in the past 2.5 years so I think moving forward things might be a bit different and 70.3 could be my distance. If the body holds up on an injury front – then ultra distance will be in my future for sure.

Best race?

Well Ironman was memorable and special of course. But my best race that was executed to perfection and I obliterated my own expectations was Noosa Tri 2013. Fond memories.

Worst race?

I’ve had a few! But my only 70.3 DNF at Canberra in 2014 was the hardest to take. I was a physical and emotional mess. All the burnout factors rolled into this day and it was my catalyst for change. So in that regard, it still holds a positive memory.

Thanks Katee for allowing us to get to know you more, for your openness and willingness to share, giving us insight into who you are and the varied roles that you hold. We wish you luck in your come back to long course racing and look forward to hearing your progress.

And that wraps out our three part series with Coach Katee – The Business Woman, The Coach and Athlete.

Reach out and learn more about Katee here.

 

 

 

Cairns IRONMAN Race Report – Jackie Richters

“I took mental photographs of the scenery as I passed by, knowing that minute by minute, kilometre by kilometre I was achieving what I had set out to do, I was going to be an Ironman.” “As I rounded the corner and took that first step on the red carpet, the party had begun… I rocked out to B52’s Love Shack… on the way down I saw my partner and son, ran over for a quick kiss and continued on grooving down to the finish line…. And then I heard it… those words YOU ARE AN IRONMAN… tingles, goosebumps and sheer pride.”

Follow Coach Jackies account and relive her emotion of crossing the finish line in her first Ironman in Cairns:

 

After months of long and consistent training, counting down the weeks and days, race morning was here….

We had arrived in Cairns a few days earlier and I had prepared myself so that race morning would be stress free… I had slept fairly well thanks to my partner for being on night shift with our almost 2yr old son. The alarm went off around 5am, I got up and pulled out the roller to loosen up the muscles and completed my mobilisation and activation exercises while my coffee brewed. There was no need to get up hours before to have a 3 course breakfast, thanks to being fat adapted, a fat black was all I needed pre-race. After taking it easy, I figured I had better actually get ready, so pulled on my race suit, carefully put my race number tattoos on ensuring they were the right way up. Once I was set, a friend and fellow first time ironmaner pick me up and off we went to Palm Cove.

It was a gorgeous morning, some cloud cover with glimpses of the sun through the clouds – I was sure to remember my first Ironman and paid attention to things like the sunrise.We found a park and off we strolled casually up to T1 – this was of course not without a few photo stops and a live Facebook feed! Once nutrition and hydration was on the bike it was time to pull on the wetsuit and head down to the waters edge of race start. Still no nerves, just excitement to get the day underway. We made our way to the swim zones and waited; laughing and making jokes and taking more photos of course!

                                                                     Sand Angels – pre race entertainment 

Finally the line started moving and my friend and I inched closer to the start, it wasn’t long before we were at the front of the line and within seconds we were released and ran off into the water together, and once again, as in my first 70.3 back in 2014, with the very same friend.. I yelled YOLO and dove in the water. Laughing to myself I took on a good mouthful of water at which time I thought it was time I knuckled down and got on with the 3.8km swim that was ahead of me.

The water was a sloppy chop… and we swam the first half of the swim against the current… it seemed to take forever, and finally made it to the turn around buoy, only to realise I needed to swim out another 25-30meters out to the next turn buoy. This was probably the hardest part of the swim as you were swimming directly into the chop and it felt like you were going nowhere. So I put some effort into it and made my way out and around the buoy and headed for home. Despite going with the current, it wasn’t as easy as I had expected; the chop made it hard to get into a good rhythm, but soon enough each sighting buoy came and went and eventually I could see the swim exit on the beach. You bloody ripper! I smiled to myself again and made my way to the shore line and exited the swim – I had officially finished the swim leg of my first Ironman.

On dry land again, I ran into T1, stripping off the wetsuit with the help of some lovely volunteer ladies and before I knew it, I was all set to head out on the bike leg.

As I started the 180km bike leg I knew this would be the biggest part of the day, so I made myself comfortable and away we went. Once my heart rate had stabilised I took my first swig of nutrition. After that, all I had to do was keep the legs going around and take on hydration and nutrition as per my plan. The hours ticked away, some faster than others. For anyone who has done Cairns Ironman or ever driven from Cairns to Port Douglas via the Captain Cook Highway knows how beautiful the scenery is. One minute you are riding along with the ocean at your side and the next you are marveling at the rainforest of rolling hills then suddenly pop out to flat terrain as you pull in and lap around Port Douglas, with a community of spectators lining the road and cheering from cafes.

                                                                             Business time on the bike

After leaving Port Douglas for the first time, it was back down to Palm Cove, over the rolling hills, and back up to Port Douglas again. As I passed through Port Douglas for the second time, I was chuffed, so far so good, I was feeling strong – I had stuck to my race plan, I didn’t allow myself to get swept up in other competitors going past me and I never felt the urge to push harder to keep up with anyone else. This was my race, I was doing it my way! As I started descending back into Cairns I took mental photographs of the scenery as I passed by, knowing that minute by minute, kilometre by kilometre I was achieving what I had set out to do, I was going to be an Ironman.

Finally I had made it back to Cairns and started to roll down the Esplanade to T2. Along the way I could see Ironman competitors out on the run course… at which time I cringed a little at the thought of the 42.2km under foot that was yet to come, but diverted my attention back to the moment that I was in.

As T2 got closer I may have gotten a little too excited about getting off my bike and making it for the dismount line that I forgot that my feet were still in my shoes… in the time I had left before the dismount line I managed to get one foot out and had to un-clip the other… I then graciously hopped off and very ‘Cinderella’ like, ran with one shoe on into transition and handed my bike over to the volunteer to rack… This was one of the perks of Ironman I had looked forward to since seeing this bike valet parking back when I did the 70.3… felt like royalty … it’s the little things… 😉

I made my way through bag collection and into the tent where I was greeted by two beautiful volunteers who couldn’t do enough to help me, unpacking my shoes, getting my socks ready, putting on my race belt!! These people deserve a medal. All prepped and ready to go, they wished me luck and I was on my way… 42.2km – come at me!

I’m not going to lie, the first 4-6kms were a struggle, my body was fine and able to move, but I was mentally tired, seriously I could have laid down and just gone to sleep on the grass.. I do believe I even requested (or demanded – minor detail) that my partner get me a coffee stat… I then remembered I had packed a little survival kit including… a No Doz tablet, I hadn’t taken it before and yes ‘never try anything new on race day’… I know… but figured a bit of caffeine was what I need to break through my mental fatigue… so I took it… with 10-15 minutes I had come good, I was back, and it was game on…

                                                                              Loving the Run Course

The kilometres started ticking away and I was soon onto my second lap – I could kiss those lap band people! I then realised that I had let my nutrition slip and started to go downhill a little… I didn’t feel like taking another gel – but I force one in and soon enough I was feeling on top of the world again. I was really loving the run course. Daylight was fading and darkness rolled in, which gave a new element to the whole experience – I love running in the dark, makes me feel like I’m going much faster!

Around the 32km my calves where starting to really hurt and I told myself it was to be expected after all, it’s been a massive day and now you are going into foreign territory, running further than I had ever run before. I just stayed focused and excited knowing that the finish line was well and truly in sight, however kept my wits about me, as it’s not over until the fat lady sings… or you cross that finish line. Consistency, all the way, keep it ticking, you got this….

As I rounded the turn point at the far end of the course, it was only about 4kms back to the finish line. At this time, I was smiling and getting goosebumps, reminding myself to soak it all in, your almost done. The last 1km of the run, was certainly an emotional one, with so many supporters, many of whom I knew, and at one point I passed a group, and started to get overwhelmed and almost got my ugly cry on… told myself to do it now, and not down the finishing chute, but after a few deep breaths I was good.

The best advice I received was from a fellow HE athlete who had recently finished her first Ironman, she told me to lap up the finish line chute… and that’s what I kept in my head the whole run, and as I got closer I could not wait to party down to the finishing line, and that’s exactly what I did!

As I rounded the corner and took that first step on the red carpet, the party had begun… I rocked out to B52’s Love Shack… on the way down I saw my partner and son, ran over for a quick kiss and continued on grooving down to the finish line…. And then I heard it… those words YOU ARE AN IRONMAN… tingles, goosebumps and sheer pride. As I crossed the finish line, my towel was draped around me and my finishers medal placed around my neck, two young volunteers came and guided me to the recovery tent, I let a huge yahooooo, which may have scared them somewhat. One of that young boys then said, it must be a great feeling, and I was like mate… you have no idea…. I had done it, I had achieved my dream to become an Ironman!

 

Them Finish Line Feels……… 

 

I can not thank Coach Katee and Coach Sarah enough! They have taught me so much over the past 3 years and can guarantee my first Ironman race would not have panned out the way it did without you!

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The Inside Scoop – Holistic Endurance Training Camps

If you’ve been watching from afar and you’re wanting to know what a Holistic Endurance Training Camp is really like, what better way for us to show you, then to interview someone who has been to every training camp that we have held, including the Winter Wellness Camp (Rye), Gold Coast Female Retreat,  Holistic Training Camp (Shoreham) and most recently the Long Course Specific (Shoreham).

Jaimie Lee Brown started as a Holistic Endurance athlete over 3 years ago and has been a camp participant to all four training camps and will be attending our next Pre Season Training Camp in August Team Leader. Jaime-Lee is also qualified personal trainer with a passion for strength training for endurance athletes. Read on to find out the inside scoop.

To  join us for our Pre Season Training Camp 4-6th August along the iconic Great Ocean Road click HERE to get more information or take the plunge and register today!

~ There are now only 9 places left, and price rise is in effect as of Thursday 15th June!

  • Can you tell us about your history of training with Holistic Endurance [HE] – including how/when you found out about HE?

I’ve been coached by Sarah for nearly 3 years now. I was actually with Sarah prior to her teaming with up Katee and Holistic Endurance. I had been following Sarah and her journey on Instagram and jumped on the chance when she had new coaching spots opening up. All the while I was following HE on Instagram. The posts/blogs that I was reading were really hitting home for me. I could really relate to them. Fatigue, weight gain, injury, loss of motivation ect, so when Sarah told me she was teaming up with Katee and Holistic Endurance, I knew I truly was in the best hands.

  •  You’ve attended every Holistic Endurance training camp, what made you sign up to the first one and what is it that draws you back to each training camp?

Yep! Sarah had mentioned to me that they were running their first training camp, I was super interested and super nervous but I knew I had to sign up. The first camp really reignited my motivation to continue with triathlon. The people I met, the seminars that were presented really helped me get everything back on track. The thing that keeps drawing me back to each camp is the feelings I have when I leave. I’ve always felt satisfied that I’ve pushed myself with my training. That I’ve met some incredible people who share the same interest as me and I now call my friends. That I’ve learnt something to help make my training easier weather that be related to recovery, nutrition or hormones, its all been so useful to me. Most of all I leave feeling inspired and focused on my goals.

  • Were you nervous about attending your first training camp?

HELL YEAH! I had never been on a triathlon training camp before. I had no idea what to expect. I had the most nerves prior to the first camp than I have on any other camp. I didn’t no a single person and knew I wasn’t feeling the best within my training/fitness leading into the camp. I was completely nervous about how I was going to perform or if I’d make it through the weekend without crashing. What if I got a flat tyre? Or if I got lost! However I was reassured that there was plenty of ‘down’ time to enable those of all abilities to get through the weekend. Having being coached by Sarah really helped as it enabled her to put me in groups where she new I’d be pushed but not to the point of exhaustion. The nerves were basically gone once I started to meet everyone. The coaches and athletes were so nice and encouraging that all those crazy thoughts disappeared. Funnily enough we were all nervous about the same thing!

 

  • Given that you have been to all the Holistic Endurance Training Camps have you learnt something new from each training camp?

This is exactly what I love about the camps. I’ve taken away something from each which have been valuable in my journey. Not only from the coaches, but from the people who attend, they all bring different experiences and backgrounds to learn from which is pretty cool!

  • Is there a particular training camp that you have enjoyed or got the most value/knowledge from?

Each camp I walk away saying ‘that was my favourite camp of all’ I feel like the HE Team just keep getting better and better. (Go girls)

However if I was to choose a camp where I feel I got the most from, I would have to say the last camp held in March, specifically for long course. I left with my heart feeling full, it created a fire in my belly to undertake my first Ironman this year. I constantly refer back to the things I learnt from this camp in my current training. Also the fact that I met some incredible athletes who are undertaking the same races as me, it really built a community of support throughout our journey’s this year. 

  • What would you say to some who was nervous of their skills/abilities to ‘keep up’ with others at the training camp?

Being nervous is completely normal!

My advice would be to communicate any concerns/apprehensions to the coaches prior to the camp, that way everyone
will be best prepared. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, these training camps are an excellent way to work on your weaknesses as you will be surrounded by people want to see you succeed. You’ll pick up so many tips and tricks not only from the coaches, but from the people you riding/running with. Keep in check with YOU! It’s your training camp, therefore listening to your body is crucial, stay within your abilities

  • What are the top 1-3 learnings you have taken away from the camps?
  1. Natural nutrition/fuelling; this has been an game changer for me. Since the first camp I have changed my pre/post and general nutrition in many ways and the benefits have been amazing!
  2. Understanding hormones;  again a game changer for me. Understanding why I was feeling certain ways and how to manage my training/hormones.
  3. You are not alone; the coaches will support you 100% of the way!

  • How have you found the other camp participants? Have you made any lasting friendships?

This is another of the reasons why I love attending the camps, because I get to spend the weekend with other people who share the same interests as me. We get to chat about experiences, bikes, running, races, goals and all things triathlon. I’ve learnt so much from these conversations. The best thing is, the friendships that have formed by the end of the camp. I still keep in contact with many of the people I’ve met from these camps. We still catch up for training sessions!

  • How would you describe the coaches?

Phenomenal!

These women know their stuff! They are educated, organised, committed and inspiring all at the same time. They are approachable and willing to share their experiences. They have changed my life in many ways and I cannot wait for you to get to experience this camp and learn from the best!

 

Thanks Jaime-Lee! Look forward to seeing you lead another group of athletes with us in August.

 

To  join us for our Pre Season Training Camp 4-6th August along the iconic Great Ocean Road click HERE to get more information or take the plunge and register today!

~ There are now only 9 places left, and price rise is in effect as of Thursday 15th June!

 

A Triathlete’s Musings During First Adventure Race

Just a little step outside of your comfort zone can take you to new places, not to mention on new adventures!

And this is exactly what Coach Katee did on the weekend… signed up last minute to her first ‘real’ Adventure Race.. read on to find out how it went down!

Words by Coach Katee:

Monday: I see Facebook post promoting a new adventure race series. The seed is planted.

Tuesday: I don’t stop thinking about it, check the calendar is free and then continue to think about it…. Oh and I had a dream that night that I nailed the paddle.

Wednesday: I message race organiser and ask if I can “wing” paddling 7km as I haven’t done any race paddling before. The answer is “if you can swim 1km, you can paddle 7km”. Okay…. more thinking…

Thursday: Off to the gym and I realise I better bloody decide to avoid DOMs from my usual deadlifts or squats. So the decision is made and I take my S&C session a little easier.

I enter later that afternoon then text message a few likely suckers that would be silly enough to get out of their comfort zone with me.

Sunday: Race Morning!!!

3deg. The numb toes and fingers begin very early.

I find race organiser, Jarod Kohlar and get fitted to my boat (hire was provided by the event – super helpful!). It’s at this moment my excitement wains and I think “what have I got myself in for?”.

 


                                                                               Out of comfort zone – moment #1

The closest thing I’ve done to an event like this was a recent womens only team intro to adventure racing, it was a ~2km paddle (in a two person kayak), 10km MTB (non technical course – mostly residential streets – included orienteering) and a ~2km run.

This event involved, 7km of paddling on Lysterfield lake, followed by a 20km MTB and a 7km trail run. For the data nerds, I went in with a whopping CTL of 20 points. I had surgery a few weeks back and I’ve just been building back up. Which means I didn’t have my usual gym strength to fall back on like I usually do when my cardio fitness is also absent. So I was truly biting off more than I could chew. I think the max hours of exercise I’ve done in the past 2 months is about 5 hours, so I’m not exaggerating when I say I was no fit or ready for this event.

Here is how it went down in my brain and body…

I  jump in my boat to paddle to the start line.

Brain says: “Okay Katee, these boats are VERY sensitive, the likelihood of falling in is very real.”

It didn’t feel like any Kayak I had been in before – this was the real deal.

Out of comfort zone – moment #2.

Sitting at the start line I bump into old Triathlon buddy and thank god I did.

Lisa: “Your paddle is upside down”

Me: “Whoops, good start.”

Out of comfort zone – moment #3.

The race gets off to a very casual start and 95% of the field are off very swiftly, meanwhile I focus on not falling in and going in a straight line. So far so good.

I reach the first turn around and the field is way ahead, but I still have company of a few other paddlers to keep me motivated. I feel fatigue in my shoulders set in rather early.

Brain says: “uh oh – you ain’t gonna make the distance woman. Better figure shit out STAT”

I think I was 1km in!

I was then greeted by another old Triathlon buddy who came to the rescue, she was the sweeper – helping us slow-coaches at the back. With some very welcomed tips from her, I changed up my technique and could feel the boat and water better. I got into a better rotational position.

I was surprised at how hard my cardiovascular system was working, but there was no backing off. My competitive nature would never let me do that, so I continue to push beyond my limits. (see data below for the evidence!)

It was a two lap course. Finishing off lap 1 – I was already stuffed.

Out of comfort zone – moment #4.

Lesson 1: Definitely carry a water bottle or camel back for paddle leg – I was parched!

I had packed it – no Idea why I didn’t take it with me. Triathlete brain perhaps?

On lap 2, I figured the faster I went, the sooner it would be over, so I continued to push hard despite the fatigue. I was thoroughly enjoying it despite this though, a stunning day, sun was out, and the lake was beautiful. I did make sure I took moments between crazy heart beats to enjoy this.

Brain says: “You know as a coach you are doing the opposite to what advise you would give”

Me: “Yes, thanks brain, I know that, now piss off”.

I paddled into shore and got ready to get out of the boat and onto my MTB.

Brain says: “Um, your legs don’t want to work”

I was SO surprised at the shaky / wobby legs feeling from paddling!

   7kms of figuring out how to ‘drive’ the Kayak!

 

Out of transition (a bunch of bikes lying on the ground), and onto the course, I needed to follow the orange ribbons in the tree’s. I knew a 20km MTB was going to be tough, so there was no need to get lost and ride further.

2km in, Brain days: “Well, this course ain’t so bad. You totally got this. let’s have a gel”

1 min later – “oh shit – tree root !”

That was the last of any “non technical riding” – I did not know what to expect from the MTB course as I’ve been (proper) MTB’ing once in my life – (last year on mammoth mountain in California). I’ve ridden my MTB (an old piece of junk from cash converters) while coaching athletes during run sessions around the Tan but that would be the extent of my off-road experience. Again, I do not exaggerate!

Out of comfort zone – moment #5

 

                                                                           Ready to wreak havoc on the trails

 

In summary,  I battled and winged my way through the course. I dropped gels, ate gels mixed with dirt and had gels dripping down my cleavage. I swear the secret ingredient in Vfuel gels got me through this event! I didn’t look at my watch, mainly because I was too busy focusing on the course, but also because I did not want to know how very little distance I had likely covered. Then my Garmin’s auto lap feature alarm went off.

It was in that moment I could have cried! ONLY 10km!!!! What?!!?!

I was in for a long day. Nothing I could do out in the middle of nowhere, so I kept plugging away at a 180bpm. (see data file below).

                                                                          Data file from MTB leg #maxHR

 

Physically my legs and body felt fine, my wrists and hands were in a world of hurt though. Some MTB training might have come in handy here.

Feeling like a rookie was a strange but valuable experience. After 13 years in Triathlon and a long time adventurer, it’s rare to learn something new. I reflected on what a beginner Triathlete would feel like out on the road for the first time, worrying about how to change gears, take a drink, signal, understand road etiquette and more. So as a coach I think it was a great reminder to acknowledge how daunting these skills can be, despite feeling very simple and automatic to myself.

When I finally came out of the track and could see transition I was one happy lady. Time to run – whooooooooo.

Brain says: “Why are you excited to run? You don’t even know if you can run, you haven’t done enough training.. blah blah blah blah” (she went on and on about this point).

Me: Oh yea – thanks Brain, but your negativity is not wanted here.

Into transition I get some cheers – they were probably excited that I simply made it back!

I headed off on the run which was described as “friendly” in the briefing. hmmmmmmmm

I felt Ah-mazzzzzing!

Then I reminded myself of my number piece of advise to Triathletes: take the first 1-2km super easy, no matter how good you feel.

Brain says: “You’ve gone against your own advise all day, why start listening to wise advise now?”

With a lack of run training and fitness behind me I didn’t want to look at my watch, so I ran to feel.

The first km went by super fast.

Brain says: “you’re freakin super woman. I take it back. you totally got this”

Mid way between 1km and 2km I started to struggle and the 2nd km went on and on and on. I also really needed to pee. I figured on a  trail run I could just stop for a nature stop. But no, too many healthy people were out for a Sunday stroll. Damn you healthy people.

Brain says: “maybe we could try that pee in shorts thing that everyone does”

Me: Hmmmmm, nope.

Once that long 2km lap alert went off I was pleasantly surprised to see my pace was well above expected and was no slower than lap 1. It was all in my head. (of course!).

From 2-4.5km it was undulating and I was in struggle town. Vfuel came to my rescue. Although I had lost most of it to leakage down my top.

Out of comfort zone – moment #6.

Brain: “Some run fitness would be nice right about now, time to slow down”

Me: “Even when we are run fit – it hurts – so lets get moving!”

I focused on my breath.

Expanded my diaphragm.

Checked in on my cadence.

Relaxed my shoulders.

Stood tall.

Brain: “Maybe the course will be shortened? Maybe it will be completely flat from here on here…”

Me: Stop bargaining woman! Bargaining only has a place when your shopping, not racing.

I exited the trail onto the bridge that runs over the lake towards transition. I had about 1.5 km to go.

I lapped up the sunshine, (and flat track), kicked up the pace and ran for it.

Brain: “I’m 100% ready for this to be over”

Me: Okay, I agree with you this time. LETS DO THIS.

I finished with good form, a PAIN free run – which is happening more often than not these days, and a great accomplishment for me.

 

  Run Leg – how about them hills?!

 

I came in under the 3 hour mark, very elated, but equally stuffed.

My wrists were so sore I couldn’t press stop and reset on my Garmin!

I’ve always had the goal and drive to do adventure racing. But so many things have “stopped” me. Mostly brain barriers.

I’m so glad I finally took the plunge and got WAY out of my comfort zone.

#themfinishlinefeels

 

I come from a family of white water paddlers, and I grew up Sailing competitively. The mix of endurance and adventure really appeals to me. So you can guarantee i’ll be back.

My strength in Triathlon is my upper body strength and power, so I look forward to competing in events that have a swim and a paddle to put myself to the test.

Next up: MTB training and technique coaching!

 

Until next time I do something crazy,

Yours truly 

Coach Katee

 

What will YOU do this week to get out of your comfort zone?

We would love to hear about it when you do!

My next big event!

JOMO not FOMO – say what?!

I wrote the below article not long before I picked up the phone and called Coach Katee… I knew there had to be another way to triathlon training life, I was fatigued, bloat, periods were a mess and I had pretty much had it…. I had seen a few things about training around your lady cycle, gut health and natural nutrition. After doing some of my own research I came across Holistic Endurance. The signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue and pure burn out mirrored what I was feeling… this was the starting point of my journey to holistic lifestyle…..

October 2014

This week has been by far the hardest of the year. Getting to that point of realisation where you NEED to rest a hammered body and …. mind. I have accomplished so much in the past year. From adventure racing to my first Half Ironman at Cairns 703, backed up again at Challenge Gold Coast and not mention the list of local club events. In this time I have also faired a marriage breakdown, changed jobs, left my house, done a bit of travel and started a business. Amongst all of this I haven’t given anything back to my body. I have asked a lot of this vessel that harbours my body and mind but what have I given back I haven’t let it rest. Sure I have nourished it with good food and exercise, but have I let it just be…given it time to relax, release the tension and recover?! Simple answer is no…

Would I flog a race horse to its limits and ask it to turn around and perform day after day; of course I wouldn’t, so why then am I doing this to my very own body. Why haven’t I taken the time to say thank you to my body for allowing me to compete in ventures that are my goals? When I ask myself this question I come to the realisation that I have not done this simply because of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out.

Fear of missing out?! Missing out on what? Missing out on a training session with others? Fear that if I don’t say yes that someone will think less of me, fear that if I don’t do that session others will gain an advantage over me and be better than me? Ha… this is crazy… talk about competitive and obsessive, it’s like keeping up with the Jones triathlete style!

I think of myself as a smart person, I should know better! The thing is in my mind I can justify saying yes each and every time… ‘oh I will do it, but won’t go as hard’, ‘I will do it just this time, I will rest tomorrow instead’, yet that rest tomorrow never comes. Finally, I have identified this! I’ve had that light bulb moment and actually go real with myself!

So this week I have turned my FOMO into JOMO… Joy of Missing Out. Instead of focussing on the negatives of missing out, turn it around and put a positive spin on missing out.

So what has ‘missing out’ allowed me to do… sleep in, I have set my alarm to an hour later each day… in return I have slept more and woken up when my body feels ready, usually before my new alarm time. I have embraced that sense of freedom that comes when your body natural wakes up without the abrupt call of the alarm bellowing in my ear.

From here I have enjoyed stretching in my own time, not with a sense of rush or urgency to get the stretch done and out of the way. This slower paced has allowed me to really focus on the pains and niggles that my body presents. Allowed me to actually think about the areas of my body that are trying to tell me – hey I’m overworked. Having breakfast at home, wow, what a strange concept… taking time to think about each spoon full of food that I am giving my body, instead of guzzling it down in the car or at my desk at work. In doing so, would you believe I fill full and that food lasts longer? All because I have taken the time to connect to the sense of feeding my body, being present in this activity, thinking about the process that is occurring. It’s like my mind is being fed with each mouthful of food.

My sense of clarity is returning, because I have actively chosen not to schedule anything it, my mind is somewhat clearer as I am not thinking about the next 7 tasks I have to do… why, well because I don’t have these tasks, I have not planned anything, I have taken obsessive exercise away, I have not scheduled appointments…. What do I do with this time instead, particularly after work? Yesterday I washed the car… do you know how therapeutic washing the car can be… it’s a cleansing feeling.

What else has JOMO given me…. Time to just think, time to listen to my friends and family when I’m talking to them instead of just hearing the words they are saying. After all of this, I still have a mad urges to fill my day, have moments where I’m like, oh and I do this, and this…. I have struggled to avoid filling this voids I have created for myself. However as the days go on… its becoming easier, as I am ‘missing out’ on these activities, I slowly realise, it’s not so bad… life goes……. And JOMO is exactly that… a Joy…. Happiness that I now have the strength to say no.

So next time you’re in a FOMO moment try and see what missing out is actually giving back to you, see it’s positives and embrace it!

Post writing this, I knew I wanted to continue triathlon, a sport I enjoyed, but this time I wanted to do it in a way that didn’t leave me burnt out. That’s when my journey with Holistic Endurance and Coach Katee begun.

If the above rings true to you, why not check out www.holisticendurance.com.au and see what they have to offer in ways of Training and Wellness programs. Or if you want to pick up the phone click HERE to book in for a 15minute complimentary consultation.