Friday, January 27, 2012


A friend of mine recently blogged that she was struggling with her expectations.  Her own expectations of herself as well as other people's expectations of her and her expectations of others.

My opinion on this has changed as I've gotten older.  

Expectations of Self 
This relates back to your goals and if you truly buy into your goals and 'dreams'.  You can say you "are all in", but the true measure of if you are in with all your heart comes at 4:15 am on a cold morning when you are extremely tired.  Do you hit the snooze?  Do you get up and go? It's that simple.  If you believe in your dreams and goals - you go with no hesitation.

Expectations of Others
As a coach and consultant, I cannot truly know your expectations of self until we get to that point when you have every legitimate reason to say, "Not today."  It's on those days that your workouts happen at 3 am or 11:30 pm that tell me if you have bought in to the statements you've made regarding your goals and dreams.  You can discuss this and be and shoved in the right direction, however, ultimately, my client decides.  My expectations must be based on the data that is returned to me.  From here, I make expectations of my client's season and results.  This is somewhere a coach and consultant can only hope to influence the client.  I cannot do the work for you.  It's moments when I tell a client to meet me for hill repeats at 5 am and I arrive at 4:45 am and they are already warming up that puts a smile on my face.  This "no excuses" attitude is what gets you to your goals.

My expectations are that people show up and try their hardest.  

It's that simple.  Don't use 'time predictor' apps or any bullshit like that.  Just show up and do the session to the best of your ability in the here and now.  When we race, you do the same thing.  What you've got, here and now.  Let me (your coach, advisor, consultant) figure out the rest.  You might just shock your own "best possible" prediction.  Don't put a cap on your ability.  Especially when you believe in yourself.  

There is a story that my club swim coach Ed Richardson used to tell us LONG before Senior Championships or Nationals.  He'd say, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like you to consider the possible.  Someone at this championship is going to be the talk of the meet.  Someone is going to swim so fast, that nobody saw it coming.  Someone is going to swim so fast, that they practically swim out of their suit.  Will you be that person who everyone will be talking about?"  I've had several times when that was me.  I remember one particular meet where I swam the 100m breaststroke championship in 1:06 something and got a very respectable 5th or 6th in state.  The next day in the prelims of the 200m breaststroke I took it out in 1:05.5.  I only remember it because we have video and Ed was ready to kill me.  ONE - for not going 1:05 in the 100 the night before, and TWO - for making him stress that I was taking out the 200 too fast.  I didn't.  I won that prelim heat by about 65 meters and set the fastest time that would last all the way until the final heat in the prelim.  That night in the finals, I went a little faster and wound up on the podium - top three.  The top four guys all broke the long standing state record.  I heard that Ed told the story of how hard I worked and how I believed I could do well to every team he coached from that point on.  I wasn't one of the most physically talented guys on that team.  No doubt about that.  I was certainly just one of the guys who was working to get better.  This is why a coach like Ed was perfect for me.  All Ed every asked was that you give your best.  He treated the state champions just as well as the guy or gal who was last on our team.  The common denominator - we all gave our best.  To Ed, we already were a champion regardless of the race results.  I feel the same way about my athletes.

NEVER put a cap on what is possible.  

Other's Expectations of Me
To be honest, I really don't care what your expectations are of my athletic performance.  I do what I feel is important for my family right now, and I don't expect you to understand.  I would never share my athletic goals on a blog or otherwise.  This is learned behavior from my swimming days.  You don't talk about it, you do the best you can and see how fast you can get.

Time waits for no one.  
Time never stops.  
Time is arguably the most precious thing we have.  
Spend it wisely.  

I will compete at certain events, but not at the expense of my family's happiness.  We plan the race season together.  I even plan annual vacations when we don't workout or race.  I know... shocking.  While I workout more than the average Joe, I understand the things that need to change and I work on them.  I don't use words like "limiter" or "weakness"; they let the negative creep into your thoughts.  I believe there are things you do well, and things that need to change.

Tomorrow is promised to no one.  Spend your time as YOU see fit.  (Kinda like voting.  Who do YOU like?  You don't need to tell me.  I just want you to vote YOUR conscious without any influence.) Live your life the best that you can and tell anyone who doesn't like what you do to go to hell.  Only YOU know what is right for you at this time in your life. 

Whatever you choose, it will be right for you and your ethics, morals and values.

Now, get after it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Show Up Every Day and Give it All You've Got

I tell my athletes to do one thing: consistently show up to workouts and try their best.  Training for any athletic event is never all rainbows, ponies, ice cream, cake and balloons.  It requires effort.  It's why most people choose to sit on their couches for hours and WATCH someone else play a game / do an event than EXPERIENCE their own life and do it themselves.  The later is much more challenging, but amazingly rewarding regardless of any result in any competition.

I remember the first time my buddy Ross and I watched EcoChallenge.  On a couch.  Eating Doritos out of the bag and drinking Miller Lite.  My wake up came when Ross was yelling at a guy who just punctured his lung with a tree branch on a single track, high speed descent with three hours sleep over the course of four days. (His team was winning until that point.)  Something snapped me back to being an athlete that I am at my core when I watched this guy from Team Nokia (a team I would later become a part of - the "E" team anyway.  These guys and gals make the best Ironman athletes look like rank amateurs. A quote from training camp, "3:18 marathon? Not bad.  What do you think you'd do with a 60 pound pack on your back?" Yes, he was serious) trim the branch that stuck THROUGH his ribs and in his lung with a bike multi-tool.  He then told his team.  "It hurts and I cannot really breathe, but I'll be alright."  Thankfully, the nurse on his team told him to park it and he got helicoptered to the nearest hospital.  He was there and going to give everything he had until he passed out from blood loss. 

The military calls this "putting out".  The mind will want to quit before the body will.  Think about it.  When was the last time you went to the gym or a workout and felt awful.  You showed up.  You applied yourself the very best you could.  Then you left feeling awesome and you just MIGHT have put in some pretty solid efforts.  Interesting.  So, if you get your mind into the right state before training... it matters. 

It's as simple as that... show up every day (and sometimes, twice a day) and give it all you've got.

A great example is this morning (for me).  I am dog tired.  It's one of those weeks.  Had a funeral to put a cherry on top of everything going on as well.  ZERO workouts missed.  ZERO dog walks missed.  You know what?  The fatigue isn't that bad.  I'm kind of enjoying the soreness and "fog" of fatigue.  Funny thing... this morning I also had an outstanding swim coming off of a run.  That is a rare occasion by itself, let alone considering the conditions of the week.  The "main set" was 1500 yards.  I can only hope to swim that strong (or better) at my next half Ironman.  The workout finished with 3x 50 sprints.  I was going to do IM (individual medley) order (fly, back, breast) when I thought about the butterflier next to me.  One look and "it was on".  Then I swam some respectable times (if I was a sophomore in HS) 33.0, 32.6, 31.8 for three 50s.  While the times may not be very good, this is what I had today.  The heart rates I finished these 50s at was appropriately high for a strong effort.  I still have a long way to go, but I'm getting there.  Generally, I don't put times in the blog entry, but these were "noteworthy swims" and proove my point.

Show up every day and give it all you've got.

To all of you who are LIVING your life instead of WATCHING images of others live their life on a box in your house (maybe while eating Doritos and drinking beer) I give you this as we close out January of 2012. 

The road to the podium is longer than the rest, and there is only one route. One lap of the pool, track or cycling route/routine at a time, over and over and over until you’ve done so many, you’ve lost all track of time and distance. And still you’re not there. There are more laps and endless kicks and strokes and breaths and turns and pedal strokes, and footfalls. So you keep training, and training, training, because you know that one day you will arrive at your big race, and you will climb the podium.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Welcome XTERRA Wetsuits!

Today, Kokua Multisports and XTERRA Wetsuits agreed to a sponsorship deal for all my athletes in 2012.  We are extremely excited to welcome XTERRA Wetsuits to the Kokua family.

Friday, January 20, 2012

It Ain't Rocket Surgery

In 2006 (when I last took working out and eating seriously) I did group personal training with a guy named Mark.  He was a bit older.  Owns several companies and is a hard core foodie (long before it was popular or "in".)

Mark really isn't the best training partner.  He is normally 5-8 minutes late - although may also arrive 40 minutes EARLY and wonder where you were.  (Never more than 8 minutes.)  The best part of Mark is that when he works - he really works.  Having a training partner who is NOT a triathlete is great.  Who cares what race you are doing or what your "speed" is!  How fit are you at THIS task?  Kinda a cross fit mentality.  If I grab 135 lbs. for walking lunges, Mark grabs 140.  If he cannot do the same weight as me, Mark makes sure that my form is spot on and will openly (and loudly) mock me in the gym.  

When people ask me what they should do to get better at triathlon (or any sport) my answer remains the same as it did years ago: 

1) Find a group that will challenge you.  A group that won't except your bullshit excuses for stopping short, showing up late, and failing to "put out" (effort into the session).

2) Work with people who are better than you are.  I swim with people who are faster than I am.  I ride with people who are stronger.  I run with people who LITERALLY run loops around me during a long run (their easy run).  

3) Seek out the best in exercise and recovery and ask them questions.  They are just people too.  I'm no longer amazed when a "big name" sends me an email, tweet, Facebook message or phone call after I ask them a question.  "When the student is ready the teacher will appear." - Confucius 

4) Show up.  Yes, it's that simple.  Show up to every session and try.  One day you may just find yourself at the Ironman World Championship pier and wonder, "How did I get here?"  One of my clients had that moment when he WON the USAT National Long Distance Duathlon Championship (M30-34).  He still doesn't believe he really did it.

5) Have a positive mental attitude.  99% of your worries won't come true.  Stop thinking about the negative and wonder "what if...."  There are tons of people who will tell you you "can't" or that "you suck".  Ignore them.  Concentrate on what you can do and do it to the best of your ability.  Find and hang out with positive people.  Stay away from the negative people.  They are a giant energy vacuum.  Remember who told you 'you can't' and enjoy "shoving it up their ass" when you do it.  One of my HS running coaches once told me, "You'll never be a good athlete."  I'll never forget the look on his face when I told him I had just returned from NCAAs or when I saw him in O'Hare the moment I got off the plane from Kona with a giant silver medal in my hands.  PRICELESS!!!

6) Follow the plan.  Stick to your plan.  Ignore the group and listen to your wattage and heart rate monitor (or pulse if you are in the pool).  If it sounds too ambitious, it probably is.  Error on the side of caution and FOCUS on your "A" race.  Especially if you are doing an Ironman race - LESS is more.  Most fast guys I know, when they do Ironman, they do only four races in a year FOUR.  Including whatever Ironman they are doing.  Choose them well.

Now... get to work.  It's not complex, but it also isn't easy.

It ain't rocket surgery.