Archive for life balance – Page 2

What Is Your Margin Of Error?

Whether we like it or not, when it comes to things like movement quality (mobility, flexibility, stability), running shoe choice, and training volume or intensity, to name a few, each of us has our own "margin of error."

That margin tends to lessen as we get older, as the miles pile up, or if we'd had a previous injury.

What does it mean for you?

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition I'm referring to is: If you have little or no margin for / of error, it means that you need to be very careful not to make mistakes. If you have a greater margin for/of error, you can be less careful.

The principles are the same for everyone. Violate one of those principles, and you'll end up injured, sick, or over-trained. And frustrated.

One lesson I learned the hard way and am often reminded of, is...

...it's when we feel most bulletproof and resilient that we are, in fact, most vulnerable.

Vulnerable to something as frustrating as an injury or tweak at the worst possible time (such as right before an important race), or worse, long lasting irreparable damage to our body...

Do YOU KNOW what your margin of error is?

~Coach Al

 

058: Mindsets for Optimal Performance with Stanford Researcher, Omid Fotuhi [Podcast]

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Dr. Omid Fotuhi

Dr. Omid Fotuhi

Today I am really psyched to welcome onto the podcast, Dr. Omid Fotuhi, triathlete and project manager for the Stanford University Interventions Lab. I truly believe the topics we discuss on the podcast today will have a profound impact on anyone listening in. The group of researchers led by Dr. Fotuhi are doing absolutely state-of-the-art research on mindset and performance!

Dr. Fotuhi and his colleagues at the Interventions Lab describe their research as "focused on identifying psychological barriers that impede performance and well-being, and leveraging those insights to create theory-driven interventions that target those barriers." Here's a link to a short video that provides a brief look at the work they do.

In this podcast, Dr. Fotuhi shares his experience and research on topics such as:

  • What are some of the most common patterns of beliefs and thoughts that we all have, and how do those correlate with our performance?
  • Do seemingly inconsequential events have an impact on how we see ourselves and therefore how we perform in races?
  • How is our own motivation to train and race to our ultimate potential impacted by how we see ourselves and the world?
  • Having a fixed or growth mindset: Which is more likely to lead to reaching one's potential?
  • What can we do to improve our ability to persist in the face of adversity, to experience less negativity and perform better at our races?
  • And much more!

I personally found our discussion incredibly valuable, especially from a coaching perspective. I learned a lot and encourage everyone to listen in. This is powerful stuff!

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al 

Don’t Forsake Long Term Improvement for Short Term Gain

Coach Al sharing his positive vibe!

Coach Al sharing his positive vibe!

Happy Friday!

One of the benefits of having been a coach for so many years, is recognizing certain trends that are typical for developing triathletes, whether they are the first-timer, or the seasoned weekend warrior, or even the experienced age grouper trying to get onto the podium.

One of the most common trends I see in many developing triathletes (and I think it’s probably human nature to some degree) is the tendency to self-sabotage their ultimate chance for potential massive long term improvements in order to reach some short term gains.  

The best example of this is giving up on perfecting stroke technique in the water too early, by logging yards and yards (in the pool or open water) in order to build swimming “fitness.”

One thing I’ve said repeatedly to novices who asked (so many times it has made my head spin): Once you KNOW you can finish a swim (especially with the aid of your wetsuit), why not put all of your energy and focus into setting up your long term gain in swimming ability by working on skills relentlessly.

While many nod their heads in agreement, when push comes to shove, most forsake that advice and that approach and just go swim, mile upon mile, grooving poor skills and trashing their shoulders in the process. When they finally decide in the years to come, that their abilities are subpar and they want to go faster, they’ll be faced with the fact that they’ve now hard-wired that poor form to the point where change is nearly impossible to achieve.

What are some other examples?

  • Building running mileage with the primary goal being to make that running log look impressive (from a mileage point of view, because that’s how you get better, right?), without first identifying imbalances and weaknesses in the body and addressing them head-on.
  • Signing up for long course races (70.3 or 140.6) without first developing a solid foundation of fundamental skills and experience at the shorter distances.
  • Spending $5,000 or more on a state-of-the-art triathlon bike before even owning a road or mountain bike. And getting that “cool bike” without even possessing basic bike handling skills or experience.

There's a lot of reasons why so many athletes tend to approach things this way. Some feel they need more confidence to just "complete" the distance, and others, fired up by their newfound enthusiasm for the sport, think they can jump on the "fast track" to improvements in durability and speed. I am willing to bet that many folks just plain downplay their own potential for improvement, or sell themselves very short when it comes to how good they can actually be!

Do you REALLY know how good you can be? NO, you don't.

Truly GREAT performances (YOUR best possible potential, no one elses) are built upon a solid foundation and mastery of the basics and fundamentals.  

It takes a long time to truly get good.  And that's one reason why I encourage folks to really embrace the process and enjoy the journey.

Of course, I’m often reminded that I don’t think the way that most people think.

I guess that is true.

The thing is, most people who achieve LONG TERM success and absolutely explode their potential, going much further and getting much better and faster than they ever dreamed was possible, do it because they think like I think.

So who do you want to be?

Do you want easily achieved short term “confidence” building, or true, long term, massive gains in performance potential?

It’s up to you.

Have a great weekend everyone!
~Coach Al

 

From Olivia: Stop. Rebuild. Reclaim.

Pursuit Functional Well-being coach, Olivia Syptak

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Well-Being coach, Olivia Syptak

It has been quite a long while since I’ve posted here. A few months of significant overscheduling of work, the holidays, more overscheduling, on-going rehab from surgery a year ago, work related research, and hours of business development work. It completely took me away. It not only took me away from this inspired Team Pursuit world, in reality, it took me away from my “baseline standard” of living.

All that busy-ness, could have been observed (by me or by others) as discipline, dedication, or drive. It could have been labeled as sacrifice for building my dream. What I came to realize was that, in addition to making me really tired, this pattern of living was actually depleting me. It became obvious that by making the choices I was making I was draining myself of perspective and creativity. It was actually life and energy denying rather than life affirming. I was closing myself off from possibility, isolating myself from community, limiting my opportunity to recharge and maintain not only my strength by feeding my needs for connection, support, and collaboration, but also the needs of others. Bottom line:  I was diminishing my potential for fulfillment and success.

In Team Pursuit parlance, I was moving poorly and piling more and more on top of an unstable foundation. More “miles” was not going to make me perform better. Something had to stop.

So, just like what Team Pursuit athletes do when they commit to rebuilding from the ground up, I looked honestly and critically at what needed to change. I looked squarely at that compulsion from outside forces that said, “if you slow down people are going to think you’re not committed.” It was clear that a period of getting back to the fundamentals of effective and efficient “movement” in my life was essential to rebuilding my strength and stability, and to restoring my potential for optimal performance and happiness.

I cut back on the areas of my work that were sapping huge chunks of my time and energy. I reconnected with my friends and family. I recommitted to overcoming the post-hip surgery complications. I got back into my creative energy building space in the kitchen. I got outside. I spent time re-connecting with my vision for success in business, sport, and live at large. All of this was analogous to a break from running piles of miles on a broken body, and a time to rebuild foundational patterns of movement.

So now I’ve emerged! I like to think of this as my figurative “return to running.” In addition to feeling energized, and strong of heart, mind and spirit, I am “moving” so well now that even though I’m again fully busy I am doing so with a new level of consciousness and connection with how easily things can get out of whack if I don’t remain vigilant and committed to my “core.” I can now add “miles” or load knowing that I’m better able to absorb what I throw in. Work is rocking again, my body is running again, my connections are reforming. I am what might be described as “getting’ my groove back!”

We are all susceptible to this kind of thing. The allure of working harder, doing more, and driving ourselves further can get the best of any of us in any aspect of our lives, especially triathlon. But if we’re aware and notice when added stress—physical, mental, emotional—becomes counterproductive, even detrimental to our goals we have the option to stop. We can stop that trajectory, renew our strength and stability, and reclaim our future success.

Who’s with me?!

~Olivia

Are You Doing The Right Race Specific Training?

 

Now that spring has arrived here in the northeast (snow flurries yesterday not withstanding!), it is time for you to start looking closely at the specific demands of your upcoming races.

A smart training progression does build from more general fitness elements, to very specific race demands. Preparing in the right way can make the difference between a disappointing finish or a new PR!

 

 

Have a great weekend everyone!
~Coach Al


ps: do you have questions on how YOU could better prepare for your upcoming events? Ping me on our Facebook page.

pss: don't forget our upcoming Trail Camp and Retreat with Debbie Livingston! There are still a few spots left.

cedarlakecamp

 

Guest Blog from Triathlete Paul Scholz

Team PAP_CLTeam Pursuit Athletic Performance – the virtual key to unlocking anybody and everybody's potential.

I really don't want you to read any further … because I am going to tell you the secrets.

This information will make the competition more intense and allow more people to compete and complete any triathlon or running race in the US.

Let me tell you about our team, our coach/doc combo, my teammates, and my short story.

Team PAP

Our team philosophy is focused around building a solid foundation of Mobility, Flexibility, and Stability before moving on to the Functional Strength and Sport-specific Training.  This very individualized approach to uncovering areas to work on makes the virtual nature of the team and team coaching work very well.

Coach Al Lyman and Doc Kurt Strecker

These two professionals specialize in assessing each individual who contacts them and through a series of questionnaires and on-line discussions, Skype sessions, and/or talking on the phone they help you find your first step. Improvement is about making one step at a time and ensuring that your next step/choice/decision is a good one. Through authentic and honest feedback and individual thought and response they will help every single individual uncover their particular weaknesses and guide you through a process of working on them. A series of small incremental steps can make huge gains in a very short period of time – for anyone and everyone.

Team Pursuit Athletic Performance Members

We all have very different backgrounds, live all over the US and Europe, have different types of jobs, and very different skills.

What we have in common are the following three things:

  1. A passion for sport as a lifelong part of our lives.
  2. A commitment for growing every day, one step at a time.
  3. A need to address some weakness (usually related to running) and/or fear (usually related to the swimming leg).

I don't know how I know these three things to be facts, because honestly I don't really even know my teammates very well. We do communicate through an on-line forum and Facebook and even occasionally race together when we hit them at the same time.

What I do know, is they are true.

Here’s a representative snapshot of our team:

  • We have a nationally ranked elite woman’s ultra-runner, mother of two, and business woman
  • We have a 5 or 6–time (we lost count) female Iroman age-group World Champion who has three small children and she helps run a small business
  • We have first time runners
  • We have first time triathletes
  • We have male and female Ironman and Half-Ironman age groupers who have qualified for and competed in both Ironman and Half-Ironman World Championships
  • We have people who are learning to swim AND nationally ranked former collegiate swimmers
  • We have former competitive bike racers and people who have not ridden a bike since they were a kid

My short story – one example of how Coach Al and Doc Strecker have impacted me:

I found "PAP" in July of 2012, after a physical breakdown while trying to complete Ironman Coeur D'Alene in 2012.  I had done over 120 triathlons over almost 27 years by that point in my career. That next spring I had a 30 minute "PR" in my first half ironman race nine months after starting with PAP.  But this note is not about my story, rather about how Coach Al and Doc have changed my life in triathlon and work.

Life happens to all of us, and my story of transformative change started early on a Sunday morning July 27th 2014, click on the short video story of my journey since then and the impact Al and Kurt have had on my life.

So what I want you to know, is that regardless of whether you live in Timbuktu, Kansas, Maine, Florida, Europe or anywhere else -- or if you want to be world champion, a weekend warrior, compete into your 70's, or just complete a 10K, triathlon of any distance, or an ultra-marathon -- check out the Pursuit Athletic Performance website or contact Coach Al Lyman or Doc Kurt Strecker.

Get started NOW on transforming your racing, training, and your life.

Have a great week everyone!
~Paul Scholz (teammate, triathlete, father, husband, and change agent)

 

Can You Be Better Than Your Best?

Coach Al sharing his positive vibe!

Coach Al sharing his positive vibe!

Happy Friday! I thought I'd share a tidbit with all of you this morning, that has drawn some interest on Facebook...

An ironman triathlete I coach, in her unending quest to be a better athlete and achieve her (for now) ultimate goal of qualifying for Hawaii, asked a question on her Facebook wall, hoping that all of her friends might chime in with a "golden nugget" or two of wisdom, that would help her answer THE question.  And what was it that she posted?

"I am looking for a way to be better than my best."

Ironically, we had discussed this topic in an email exchange prior to her posting this, but she was looking for more!  Yes, she is determined!  And I love that!

So, to get to the point, I read through a litany of responses from her friends, and was amused to read all of the things that had been posted, such as "try P90x," or "dig deeper," and even "let me know when you find the answer."  At the end of a long string of responses, I posted a single word: "interesting"....

Of course, this athlete posted something which in hindsight, I should have expected: "Give me your thoughts, Coach!"

Since she had reached out and asked for more thoughts, I chimed in. Here's what I posted on her wall; I hope you all find what I had to say valuable AND interesting, and I hope you find something which applies, as you ALL embark on your own hero's journey....
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I found all of the comments your friends left, as quite interesting, that's all. You work very hard, certainly as hard or harder than many athletes out there whom you're competing with for a coveted Hawaii slot. "Digging deeper," or trying some fad training program that is sold to the gullible masses, not as a way to "train" smarter as an athlete, but as some kind of magical "workout," designed to carve a "six pack" and make you like yourself more when you look in the mirror, is NOT the answer. In my humble opinion, what you are looking for is a way to short circuit the "grind." The process. And in my experience, that rarely - ever - works.

What it DOES often do, however, is cause us to be impatient, and look for an easier, or in your case, "better" way.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it) it takes a long time to get good in this sport, and we ALL have our own unique adaptive abilities, which we aren't in control of, as hard as that is to accept sometimes. Rather than look for ways to press on the gas pedal HARDER, why don't you step back, and with respect to your LIFE, take your foot off the brake.

In other words, try to see if there is a way to enjoy the process, the grind, more, by not looking beyond the task at hand.

Look for more ways to balance your life away from the sport, and then what might be the hardest thing of all - accept that IF YOU continue to train smart, work hard, recover harder, and stay the course, that you will get where you want to go......because you will.

The "problem," is that you don't get to hand pick when that will be. Life isn't like that.

Mental toughness isn't just about gritting your teeth and hammering more.....it's also about being focused on the task at hand, and not looking for any specific result from the process, EXCEPT for the process itself.

Smell the roses. Enjoy the grind. Be present. Learn every day, about yourself and about the sport. Accept that you CAN'T control much of the results of what you do, despite your desire to. And while you are working very hard, and recovering as hard as you work, just let everything else take care of itself..."
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Have a great weekend everyone!
~Coach Al

 

From Olivia: How Will You Commit Yourself This Year?

Pursuit Functional Well-being coach, Olivia Syptak

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Well-Being coach, Olivia Syptak

As the start of the new year draws ever closer bringing with it the promise of achieving the goals we’ve set and for living according to the vision we’ve created, it becomes more important that we commit fully to those goals and that vision.

What I’m talking about here, is the agreement you make with yourself to make everything that you think, feel, do, or say, support not undermine your vision and your goals.

During Team Pursuit Reset camp in early November we talked about how committing fully to your goals is really about being completely engaged in the endeavor of reaching your goals. It’s being “all in” even in ways that you might not have previously considered to be important.

So if you’ve completed your visioning and goal setting for the coming year, the turn of the calendar year is a great time to set those intentions for what you will do, who you will be, and how you will think and feel as you navigate through your year in pursuit of those goals.

 You may know of an athlete who has a particular time goal in a race who consistently cuts all of her planned training rides short. Or you may know that athlete who plans an “A” race for the year and then decides to jump into all manner of other races leading up to the “A” race, diverting his or her focus and wearing out their body for what the race he or she says is really important. There might also be that athlete in your life who has said they want to dial back training and racing for the year so they can be more available for family, yet they continue to prioritize evening runs with training partners over helping the kids with homework and who at family and social gatherings still only talks about training and racing.

These examples may or may not resonate with anything that you’ve seen or experienced in your life, but they do show where actions, thought processes, and the way the athlete “shows up” can be incongruent with our defined goals. These examples are great illustrations of where disconnects exist between a defined goal and where some degree of commitment to those goals is lacking. As long as the dissimilar actions, decisions, and conversation persist the likelihood of athletes like these achieving their goals will be compromised.

Now let me clarify one thing. The commitment I’m talking about here is not meant to suggest that there is no place for making plans and consciously deciding to diverge from them in a manner that is responsive to your vision. Corrections and adjustments on the path are often necessary to keep us appropriately focused on and moving toward the goals we set and to ensuring that we’re reinforcing our vision. Frankly, as circumstances change as we learn and grow along the way refinement of our vision often makes adjustments to the plan and how we’re approaching the achievement necessary. The commitment in this case is to being open to course corrections and being able to assess them according to those values, what you most want and where you want to be ultimately.

So while it is important to have a clear vision of what you want as aligned with what you most value and to set goals that are truly aligned with that vision, committing to thinking, doing, talking, and feeling in ways that reinforce those values and vision is essential.

What will you commit to this year? How will you be “all in?” What does commitment and full engagement look, sound, and feel like for you? How will you keep track of how you’re doing and recommit when needed?

Happy New Year to one and all!

~Olivia

From Olivia: What Is Your Vision?

Is Visioning a Part of your 2015 Season Planning? It Should Be!

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Wellbeing Coach, Olivia Syptak

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Wellbeing Coach, Olivia Syptak

I hope everyone here in the US had a great Thanksgiving holiday last week, and that all of you in other lands nearer and farther had a good weekend!

Now that December is upon us and 2015 is drawing ever closer, we should all be getting really clear on what it is that is most important to us and that will drive our training and racing in the year ahead. At Reset camp last month we explored the importance of doing up-front visioning that would get us particularly focused on what it is that we want—in general and specifically from our athletic endeavors.

This visioning should be rooted in “the why” that drives us. This is that inner purpose behind what you do; that which is deeply important to you and which influences your decisions and choices daily, weekly, and monthly. It’s all in the name of living the way you want to, and achieving what you set out to achieve.

As you plan your next season, take the time to envision what you want, how you want to BE and how you want to FEEL as you make your way through the season. I mean really carve out some time to sit, thinking AND feeling about this. Write about it too!

Consider questions like:

  • How important is (are) the goal(s) that you want to achieve? Why?
  • What will it be like to achieve what you plan to achieve?
  • What will achieving your desired the result give you in your life?
  • Who will you be and/or what will you have when you reach your goal(s)?

Really and truly feel into these questions. Think about them, yes, but then sit with them. You know how they say that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well apply that to creating your vision. The stronger your emotional connection to what it is that you will pursue next year (and beyond) the more likely you are to get there.

So, what is the picture that you see yourself in? Bring that into sharp focus and use that as the basis for the tactical planning that you’ll do for both this off-season and next year’s training and racing season.

~Olivia

From Olivia: Do You Know How to Want?

Olivia Syptak leading the team on their journey to re-set mentally.

PAP Functional Well-Being coach Olivia Syptak, leading the team on their journey to "re-set" mentally.

We had a great Team Pursuit Reset Camp last week! What a great time to refocus and reconnect with the fundamentals of what makes us #pursuitstrong out there on the race course—physically and mentally!

We talked openly about our motivators and what drives us, and we honestly looked at what limitations we face externally or that we impose ourselves. And we considered why we do what we do.

Call it your “why,” call it motivation, or call it the fire that fuels you. Whatever you call it you should be able to identify a deeply personal reason for what you do and what you do should reflect and support what you want.

When was the last time you clarified for yourself what you want?

We are prone to spend a fairly significant portion of our lives in a state of what I call bounded wanting. By that I mean that we don’t freely let ourselves envision the life we want for ourselves. Often unconsciously, we apply limitations to ourselves when we think about what we want. And even that practice, the thinking about what we want versus feeling what we want is limiting us from really “knowing” what is most important to us—which is that force that will drive us.

Athletes who have worked with me on this have been stumped when we explore what they want. Sure they can state goals and some superficial desires, but when we try to dig deeper into what’s behind the goals they set it becomes clear that finding the really meaningful wants requires stepping into a whole new territory, one that they’re convinced is off limits! Maybe you’ve seen that place from afar too. It’s that place we all assume we’re either not allowed to enter at all, or that if we could it’s not practical, and even if we could  we won’t know exactly how we’re going to get around there so we’d better not even think about going in.

But holy cow! Once someone steps into that space, and walks around the wide open wild of unbounded wanting....amazing things happen!

It is in that openness and freedom that we get out of our heads, let go of expectations that come from others or ourselves, suspend tactical concerns, and let ourselves feel what is important. We let our hearts come out from the shadows of thinking and rationalizing and let them play. In the process our very personal “whys” come forward. We come to know what is really true for us but that we’ve held back or fully denied while we continue on a course based on the wants of some other compass.

Do you know how to want like that?

Do you know what it feels like when you do?

Do you know how confidently and deliberately you will make decisions and choices toward getting and achieving what you want when you’re clear on what that is?!

If you’re not sure, you don't.  There’s no “sort of,” or “maybe” on this. And if you don't, the foundation on which you’ll make commitments and choices may not be as firm as you think it is. That may impact your ability to get through the challenges that you’ll face in life, at work, in training, and in racing.

Team Pursuit members listen intently as Olivia Syptak guide them through the mental re-set process

Team Pursuit members listen intently as PAP Functional Well-Being coach, Olivia Syptak, guides them through the mental re-set process

Thanks to our time at camp last week, Team Pursuit athletes get the importance of being clear on their “why” as they plan next season, and as a guide for the choices they’ll make in the off season to set themselves up to achieve what they want next year. They entered that previously off limits territory.

So here I am, giving you explicit permission to enter that space, too. No matter how weird or uncomfortable it feels, stick with it. I promise you that as you get a feel for the place, you will become comfortable navigating and start to have fun with what you discover! Your intuition will guide you to where you need to be!

 

~Olivia