Some of you may recall a blog entry I once wrote about why myself and coach Britni Bakk still race.
We have both been at it a long time (over 95 Ironman when you combine us together), enjoyed some results and have had the opportunity to compete on a world class level.
And yet, we stay in the game. As much as we stay in the game for our own fulfillment, we truly believe it makes us more complete coaches on an emotional, physical and executional level.
I won’t speak for Britni entirely but have spent enough time with her over the past 20 years to know that we share a similar desire to keep our toes dipped in the water sometimes along side our athletes we coach and sometimes entirely in our own adventure. As much as preparing for endurance sporting events is being influenced by technology, nutritional trends, evolving training methodologies and social media, what remains the same is that we must show up to these events Healthy + Strong. Poke holes in these two qualities as much as you want, they matter more than you may realize.
Last weekend, Tremblant hosted the Ironman. As this is my current hometown, I felt super grateful and proud to have 7 of our athletes competing here to enjoy what is touted as one of the best IM’s on the circuit in terms of athlete experience. The perspective, as a coach & athlete, that I gain from solely supporting athletes in their lead up and from the side lines is well complimented by sometimes being at the start line too.
On Sunday, I was in the trenches as a participant, just like them. Like them, I too prepared my fuel, felt the nervous energy, planned out my own execution strategy, connected with my confidence and reminded myself that ultra endurance events come down to a constant stream if micro decisions all day long. Being a champion to the end is so much more fun than being a champion in the first quarter of the race then fading a heroic death (I’ve tried both ways). All of us Brite athletes had dramatic wins on Sunday with massive PB’s, podium finishes, qualification spots to Kona, nutritional wins and mindset breakthroughs. I like to think that even though we weren’t together throughout the day, our connection helped everyone find their best self.
The reason I want to communicate with all of you soon after was because my own race experience reminded me that having the opportunity to participate in these crazy events depends, very simply, on being strong and healthy.
Strength. Make space to be both fit and strong. When strong in body, you will be strong in mind…a fringe benefit.
You can be very fit and look lean, but if you cannot maintain your posture late into a long race, fire your gluts or access your core, your ability to resist fatigue will be exponentially higher and what had the potential to be a strong finish is diminished to a shuffle or soft pedal. Ask yourself, do you feel strong as well as fit? If not, add back or add in strength. And strength work doesn’t mean deadlifts and squat racks but it does mean developing the ability to maintain good posture and using your core to access more power, speed and agility.
Health. Define what health means to you and give attention to feeling and behaving as healthily as possible. Your performance will pay off.
Of equal importance is showing up healthy. Being healthy means something different to everyone and only you know what health means to you. We put hundreds of hours into our training each year and if we get sick or injured from over training, lack of recovery, mis-managed sleep and nutrition habits or absence of social time and connection to community, we run the risk of a) not being able to race at all or b) showing up flat, deflated and without the will to perform.
All of you are preparing for your “Next” (again let me know if you did not get the last emails regarding What Next). Remember that a huge part of your success is built on your ability to be strong for long and healthy before your toes or your wheel hit the start line.
Christine & Britni