You’re a Speedy 5k/10k Runner, But Are You A Speedy Double Race Runner?

Jannine Myers

Ever heard of double racing? Some of you have probably heard about double races, but if you haven’t then keep reading.

Bob Anderson, the founder of Runners World magazine, is also known for his running, photography, publishing, and film producing skills, but beyond those, he can also be credited for creating what is now officially known as Double Racing.

2014 San Jose Double Febv

While some people think that Double Racing is basically just running two races in one day, there are a couple of key rules that distinguish it as something quite different. First, it is technically one race, done in two segments – the first a 10k, the second a 5k – with a timed recovery break in between. The 5k race begins exactly 105 minutes after the start of the 10k, so the length of each person’s recovery break will differ depending on how fast or slow they complete the 10k.

The Double Race is all about strategy – knowing how to pace yourself through the 10k and then learning how to make the most of your recovery time – these are both important factors to consider. In fact, to show just how seriously the race organizers are about race strategy and optimizing recovery periods, each race has a Recovery Zone that includes nutrition, hydration, exercise equipment (for those who want to stay loose and keep moving), massage, and several other forms of physical therapy.

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One other distinguishing factor about Double Races, is that winning is based on a runner’s total race time; that means that a win in the 10k or 5k will not necessarily result in an overall win. The best Double Race competitors are those who have learned how to run both race segments with equal or near-equal pacing and stamina.

Interested yet? If so, click here to find a list of upcoming events (sorry Okinawa WOOTrs, you’ll have to make your way to the States if you wish to participate, or maybe Bali might grab your attention). There are Double Races held in California, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, and as far abroad as Africa, Greece, Mexico, and Indonesia (Bali). For more information, check out their website, and let us know if you have completed a Double Race before – we’d love to hear your feedback.

For tips on how to train for a Double Race, click here.

Current Records:

Men’s World Record Holder: 31 year old Julius Koskei from Kenya – Time: 44:24 (10k time 29:45 / 5k time 14:39)

Women’s World Record Holder: 25 year old Risper Gesabwa from Kenya – Time: 48:45 (10k time 32:55/5k time 15:49)

We Are Runners – But We’re Also Much More

Jannine Myers

I read an article recently in the Running Times magazine, about New Zealand ultrarunner, Anna Frost, and her return to competition after taking time off due to a double shin injury. What was interesting about her story is not so much her impressive come-back wins in New Zealand and the U.S., nor her part in pacing Killian Jornet to a course-record win at the Hardrock 100 in Colorado, but the depression she experienced during her time of recovery.

© www.annafrosty.blogspot.com

© www.annafrosty.blogspot.com

Hearing about runners feeling depressed because of forced rest and recovery is nothing new; we may have personally experienced it ourselves, or if not we’ve certainly seen it discussed on various running forums and in blog posts and articles (including this one I wrote for Breaking Muscle). What might not be a new concept, to some, is the idea that depression occurs because running strips a person of their identity.

That’s exactly what happened to Anna Frost; she encountered the reality of possibly never running again, and found herself asking the question “Who am I, then, if I’m not Anna the runner?” She wondered how she would spend her time, and worried too about peoples’ reactions, specifically those who knew her as Frosty, one of the world’s leading female ultrarunners.

I suspect even some non-elite runners, if deprived of the ability to run, might also let the feelings of a lost identity push them into a vulnerable and sad place. Most of us, after all, wake up each day and anticipate our morning, afternoon, or evening run, and some of us may even have started thinking about it the night before. And for many of us, much of what we do on a daily basis is scheduled around our runs; versus our runs being completed only after everything else gets done.

It’s easy then, to imagine the downward spiral that Anna Frost experienced; she struggled to fill her time and thoughts with anything unrelated to running – which triggered depression – which led to unhealthy habit replacements such as partying, neglecting sleep, and drinking too much caffeine – which resulted in weight gain and a general decline in both physical and emotional health – and so on. Fortunately, she managed to overcome all the negatives by allowing only positive and empowering thoughts to enter her mind, and eventually, as her emotional health improved she slowly regained her physical health – and, in time, her ability to resume running.

Now, after a full recovery and more wins under her belt, Frost says that her attitude towards running is much healthier and her lifestyle much more balanced. Besides running she also spends time swimming, making jewelry for her online business, and enjoying quality time with friends and family. Her experience can serve as a reminder to those of us who can’t imagine our lives without running, that if such a time comes, we are more than just runners!

 

Review of the S-Lab Exo Twinskin Skort

One of our many awesome WOOT runners, Corinne, came in first at Kunigami trail race in December. One of the sponsors is Salomon and the cool thing about winning, is you get stuff from the sponsors. She wrote up the following review on the running skirt or skort she received as part of her winnings. Congratulations, Corinne and thanks for the review!

Review of the S-Lab Exo Twinskin Skort

WOOT Runner #1

WOOT Runner #1

I desperately wanted to love this skirt! For 3 months I had been hinting to my husband that this is would be the perfect Christmas present.  At $150 this should be the ultimate skirt, but the problems with it just kept multiplying. 
skirt review
The size I received was a medium. I usually wear a small or medium. The first problem that I noticed is that the center seam is situated perfectly up the center line, giving a nice camel-toe effect. Which is fine as long as the skirt doesn’t fly up. Also, I would have preferred the waistline to come up a half-an-inch higher. As a woman who has had a child, I have a bit of extra skin that makes a little pooch that I’d like to tuck in a higher waistline, or at least have a lower waistline the does not highlight this pooch. But, this skirt is high in the back and lower in the front, exposing a bit more belly than I like. Another design flaw is the color. White inner lining in white shorts of a very thin fabric! I planned on wearing this skort during an 85k trail race in the forests of New Zealand. I don’t want to stress out the whole time about being a gross mess by the end! And, God forbid, what if I were start my period out on a long run!
Loved the compression skirt while running in it! I wore it (the one and only time) on a New Year’s Eve Marathon with friends. The compression shorts hugged my thighs and derriere very nicely. The posture control was surprisingly supportive. The fabric was light weight and oh, so comfortable. Luckily, the skirt never blew up revealing anything inappropriate. 
After the run, I washed the skirt by itself on cold in washing machine on gentle cycle, then air dried it. The dirt came out very nicely and the shorts were bright white again. But, the final complaint was the stitching. With one wash the stitching already started to unravel! 
skort review 1

coming undone after first wash!

For the price, this should have been the greatest running skirt ever! But, there were one too many design flaws, so it had to be sent back before it just ended up at the back of my dresser drawers.

A Tart But “Super” Nutritious Berry – Golden Berries

Jannine Myers

golden-berries

Golden berries, a staple food item in some South American countries, are considered a “superfood” – due to their highly concentrated nutritional content and bioactive compounds. Some of the suggested benefits of golden berries include:

  • Antioxidant effects
  • Cancer protective effects
  • Counters bacteria
  • Kidney protective effects
  • Liver protective effects
  • Lowers fever
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Modulates immune function
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Weight loss benefits

[http://renegadehealth.com/blog/2014/05/30/incan-golden-berries-10-benefits-of-a-peruvian-super-food]

Because of their not-so-sweet, more tart flavor, I prefer adding golden berries to savory rather than sweet recipes, such as the following Wild Rice Pilaf.

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Ingredients

1½ Cups any type of wild rice blend
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil

1 Cup Shallots, minced fine

1 Cup Water

2 Cups Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth

2 sprigs fresh Rosemary

1/4 cup chopped celery

1 cup Golden Berries

⅓ Cup Pine Nuts
Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse the rice well, and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Mix in the rice and cook for a minute longer, stirring. Pour in the broth and water, and add sea salt and black pepper (to taste). Cover with a tight-fitting lid, and bring to a simmer. Add the rosemary and golden berries, cover again and place in the oven (transfer to a baking dish if you do not have an oven-proof skillet). Bake for 65-70 minutes, or until rice is cooked through and tender.

While the rice is cooking, toast the pine nuts: warm a small skillet over medium low heat. Add the pine nuts, and cook for a few minutes until fragrant and golden brown, tossing consistently to prevent burning. Remove from pan and let cool until ready to use.

Once the rice is fully cooked, remove from oven, add the pine nuts (and optional chia seeds), and fluff with a fork. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Best served warm.

A Fitness Resolution For 2015

Jannine Myers

I was asked several weeks ago by the Marketing Manager of a diverse fitness site (top.me.com), to offer just one fitness resolution for 2015. An abbreviated version of my proposed fitness resolution was published several days ago – here – but I’d like to share with you the expanded version of what I submitted:

If I were to suggest just one fitness resolution for the New Year, it would have to be one with a two-fold approach. My recommendation for the ultimate fitness resolution would be to visualize what your lifestyle would look like if you were in the best shape of your life. What would it take to achieve that lifestyle, and considering all the influencing variables, ask yourself if it really is possible? If it isn’t, go back to the drawing board and visualize the next best scenario. That’s your “key” resolution!

Second, stop setting the same yearly resolutions! When you allow yourself to set the same health and fitness goals each year, you’re essentially selling yourself short. You’re giving yourself permission to repeatedly set those goals, but on the premise that you’ll probably abandon them partway through the year – because as long as there is always a new year there will always be another chance to “try again.” Don’t settle for that; instead, determine in your mind once and for all what it will take to live a happy and healthy lifestyle. Then, with fierce resolve, endeavor to spend every day from this moment on in such a way that you move yourself one step closer to your desired lifestyle.

fitness is a lifestyle

All I Want For Christmas

Jannine Myers

….is a pair of runner’s legs, killer abs, and toned arms! 

athletic woman

Runners are usually telling the truth when they say they “love to run,” but most would be telling a lie if they said that staying in shape wasn’t also part of the reason they run. Then again, most of those who run to stay in shape, would also be naive if they thought that running (or running, combined with strength work) could transform their bodies into one that looks like the image above. Well, maybe not naive, because it can happen for some – and that’s the point – it can happen for some, some being an exceptional few.

I read an article a few days ago; it was about the Victoria’s Secret runway models and their perfectly toned bodies. The author however, wasn’t looking to praise these women for their obvious beauty and athleticism, but to highlight instead the price these girls must pay to acquire such a lean and taut body. She mentioned for example, that a severe change of lifestyle would be required, one that involved never missing a workout, always preparing packed meals and snacks, and rarely accepting invitations to social events. This may not sound too bad, when you consider that the competitive runner or athlete probably follows a fairly restrictive lifestyle anyway, but when training is focused solely on achieving and maintaining lean and sculpted muscles, it tends to be far more extreme – and quite often, not so healthy.

There is a theory (set-point theory) that states that we all have a pre-determined body weight, one that is regulated by a feedback control mechanism located in the hypothalamus. The role of the control mechanism is to ensure that the body’s weight does not deviate too far from it’s “set point,” and if true, it may explain why some people who attempt to lose weight often reach a plateau that stops further weight loss. It may also mean that extreme body transformation efforts can overly stress the body, resulting in adverse effects such as severe mental and physical fatigue, menstrual problems, constant hunger, and possibly even long-term health problems.

While it might be nice to have a pair of runner’s legs, killer abs, and toned abs, the reality is that you probably never will – unless you’re genetically gifted and have the will to withstand a lot of discomfort and social isolation. But if you can accept yourself where you’re at, and recognize that you already have the perfect body – because you run and you eat well and you generally take better care of yourself than the average person – then you’ll enjoy a far greater quality of life than that rare group of extraordinarily toned women who look amazing, but who are likely suffering as a result.

Ask yourself what you really want, and maybe you’ll see that what you really want is a renewed perspective – a realization that you have legs that can run, a heart and lungs that are incredibly strong, and a mind that is refreshed after every single run.

love-your-body

Carbing Up On Chemical-Laden Breads

Jannine Myers

Growing up, I remember walking to the local dairy (that’s what we call the little corner stores in New Zealand), and buying fresh bread on Sunday mornings. They were so fresh that they were stacked, unpackaged, on large aerated baking racks. We had to eat the bread as soon as we bought it, otherwise it would dry out and go stale within a day or two. Nowadays, if you buy bread from a supermarket, you’ll end up buying bread that was probably baked at least two days earlier, and baked with ingredients that will preserve the bread’s freshness for several more days.

I don’t have a problem with one or two harmless food additives, but I do have a problem with multiple preservatives being added to breads (and other food products). Have you ever taken a moment to look at the nutrition label on the back of the breads you buy? Take a look for example, at one of the most commonly sold breads in our commissaries here in Okinawa – Wonder Whole Grain White Bread:

wonder-white-whole-grain-61166

Wonder Whole Grain White Bread has a whopping 78 ingredients listed on it’s nutrition label!

Wheat Flour Enriched ( Flour , Barley Malt , Ferrous Sulfate [ Iron , Iron ] , Vitamin B [ Niacin Vitamin B3 ,Thiamine Mononitrate Vitamin B1 { Thiamin Vitamin B1 ,Thiamin Vitamin B1 } , Riboflavin Vitamin B2 { Riboflavin Vitamin B2 } , Folic Acid Vitamin B9 ] ) , Water , Wheat Flour Whole , Corn Syrup High Fructose , Yeast , Wheat Gluten , Rice Brown Flour , Soy Fiber , Calcium Sulphate ,Contains 22% or less , Soybeans Oil , Salt , Vinegar ,Corn Starch , Wheat Starch , Soy Flour , Honey , Dough Conditioners ( May contain : , Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate ,Datem , Mono and Diglycerides , Mono And Diglycerides Ethoxylated , Dicalcium Phosphate , and/or , Calcium Dioxide ) , Yeast Nutrients ( May contain : , Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate , Datem , Mono and Diglycerides ,Mono And Diglycerides Ethoxylated , Dicalcium Phosphate , and/or , Calcium Dioxide , May contain : ,Ammonium Sulfate , Ammonium Chloride , Monocalcium Phosphate , and/or , Ammonium Phosphate ) , Yeast Nutrients ( May contain : , Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate ,Datem , Mono and Diglycerides , Mono And Diglycerides Ethoxylated , Dicalcium Phosphate , and/or , Calcium Dioxide , May contain : , Ammonium Sulfate , Ammonium Chloride , Monocalcium Phosphate , and/or , Ammonium Phosphate ) , Enrichment ( Vitamin E Acetate , Ferrous Sulfate [ Iron , Iron ] , Zinc Oxide , Calcium Sulphate ,Niacin Vitamin B3 , Vitamin D , Pyridoxine Hydrochloride HCl [ Pyridoxine Vitamin B6 ] , Folic Acid Vitamin B9 ,Thiamine Mononitrate Vitamin B1 [ Thiamin Vitamin B1 ,Thiamin Vitamin B1 ] , Vitamin B12 ) , Enzymes , Whey ,Calcium Propionate , To Retain Freshness , Soy Lecithin

Or, how about Nature’s Own Enriched Honey Wheat Bread:

honey wheat

Unbleached, Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Honey, Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Whole Wheat Flour, Rye Flour, Wheat Bran, Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Yeast, Soy Flour, Salt, Soybean Oil, Dough Conditioners (Contains One or More of the Following: Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Stearoyl Lactylate, Monoglycerides, Mono- and Diglycerides, Distilled Monoglycerides, Calcium Peroxide, Calcium Iodate, DATEM, Ethoxylated Mono- and Diglycerides, Enzymes, Ascorbic Acid), Cultured Wheat Flour, Vinegar, Calcium Sulfate, Yeast Food (Ammonium Sulfate), Monocalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Calcium Carbonate.

Although fewer ingredients are listed on it’s nutrition label, the number is still ridiculously high at 35. If that doesn’t alarm you, then consider the potential side effects of food additives that have been linked to specific illnesses and cancers (and these are in several commercially-sold breads), such as:

  • Mono- and diglycerides – these are emulsifiers that are used in bread to help prolong shelf life. They typically contain trans-fats, which we now know raise bad cholesterol levels, and lower good cholesterol. The caveat here, is that food manufacturers do not have to mention that the mono- and diglycerides in their products most likely contain trans-fats.
  • Azodicarbonamide – this is an artificial chemical used to bleach flour. It is banned in Europe and Australia because of it’s link to respiratory issues, allergies, and asthma.
  • Calcium Propionate – this is an antifungal used as a preservative. It’s believed to also cause permanent damage to the stomach lining and cause ulcers.
  • Bromide (listed in some breads as potassium bromate) – it supposedly makes the dough more elastic and able to stand up well to commercial baking tools. Bromate has been linked with several cancers, but especially cancer in the thyroid. It’s often used in fast food rolls and buns, and in pizza dough.

These are just a few of the controversial ingredients used in today’s breads; I didn’t have time to research others. My point though, is that we are “carbing” up on breads that contain an ingredient list longer than my arm, and most people don’t even know how to pronounce half of the ingredients, let alone explain what they are. If you care at all about what you put into your body, then consider buying only organic-labeled breads (most organic breads have far less ingredients and preservatives/additives). Or better still, if you have a little spare time, make your own bread.

Here’s a recipe from KingArthurFlour.com; it’s easy to make, and doesn’t involve any kneading. Besides tasting great, with or without condiments, it has just eight safe ingredients:

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons molasses, maple syrup, dark corn syrup, or brown sugar corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups King Arthur whole wheat flour, white whole wheat preferred

Directions

Heavily grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan. This loaf tends to stick, so be sure to grease the pan thoroughly with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Beat the mixture vigorously for about 3 minutes; an electric mixer set on high speed works well here. You should have a very sticky dough. It won’t be pourable, but neither will it be kneadable. Scoop it into the prepared pan.

Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes; it should just about rise to the rim of the pan, perhaps just barely cresting over the rim. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

P1060052

P1060055

Uncover the bread, and bake it for about 40 to 45 minutes, tenting it with aluminum foil after 20 minutes. The bread is done when it’s golden brown on top. Remove it from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out onto a rack.

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Cool the bread completely before slicing it.

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References:

Donsky, A., & Tsakos, L. (2013, August 28). Scary Ingredients Used in Bread Manufacturing. Retrieved December 11, 2014.

Weil, M.D., A. (2012, July 16). Q & A Library. Retrieved December 11, 2014, from http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA401144/A-Carcinogen-in-Your-Bread.html

Yoquinto, L. (2012, March 16). The Truth About Potassium Bromate. Retrieved December 11, 2014

The Side Effects of Calcium Propionate. (2011, March 28). Retrieved December 11, 2014, from http://www.livestrong.com/article/314019-the-side-effects-of-calcium-propionate/

Why I Never Eat Commercial Bread. (2012, January 31). Retrieved December 11, 2014, from http://realfoodforager.com/why-i-never-eat-commercial-

Nicciola For Nutella Junkies

Jannine Myers

Are you a Nutella junkie? And a runner? If you answered yes to both these questions, keep reading. You’ll be pleased to know that your favorite combination of Hazelnut and Chocolate has been mindfully put together in a Hammer gel formula that will not only give you all the endurance you need, but also the same amazing taste experience as a huge spoonful of Nutella.

hpn-300x300

Some of you may be wondering, “Why not go straight for the Nutella?” Surely it has similar nutrition components, or at least enough sugar to provide a decent burst of energy. You’re right – it has plenty of sugar. In fact, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a leading obesity expert and physician at the University of Ottawa and Bariatric Medical Institute, explains that two tablespoons of Nutella (one serving size), has approximately 5.5 teaspoons of sugar. That converts to around 22g of sugar, and that’s in addition to the 21g of sugar that is already naturally present in Nutella. Compare that with just 25g total sugar in Hammer’s new Hazelnut gel (called Nocciola – pronounced “No-CHO-la”).

Here’s two more comparisons:

  • Nutella fat content 12g (per serving) versus 2.5g fat in Nicciola
  • Nutella sodium content 15mg (per serving) versus 40mg sodium in Nicciola

Interested in trying Nicciola? Buy now from Hammer and get your supply before Christmas! And, as an added bonus, try using Nicciola in other creative ways, such as these – suggested by other athletes:

  • a pancake or waffle syrup
  • an ice cream topping
  • over bacon
  • with a banana
  • an oatmeal sweetener

Or, do what I did and make a hazelnut granola:

P1060031

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup “extra dark” cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp each of nutmeg, ginger, and cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 packets Hammer Hazelnut-Chocolate gel (Nicciola)
  • 2 tbsps agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2-3 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Pulse the hazelnuts in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until well blended. Spoon mixture onto a baking tray and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Let cool, then store in an airtight container. Serve with organic yogurt and fresh or frozen berries.

Book Review – The Boys In The Boat

Jannine Myers

download

The Boys In The Boat is an account of the US rowing team’s victory at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Nothing to do with running, I know, but it’s a story nevertheless about athletic accomplishment that will inspire you from start to finish.

One of those “hard-to-put-down” reads, this book effortlessly captures the reader, provoking an instant sense of connection with both the characters and the setting. Much like Laura Hillenbrand did in her books, Seabiscuit and Unbroken, Daniel James Brown also delivers a triumphant story of hope against all odds, only this time the odds are overcome by a team of boys, who once introduced, you can’t help but root for.

Interspersed throughout the story are background snippets of a dark and grim reality going on behind the scenes, in Berlin, Germany. Brown provides just enough details to paint a clear picture of the level of grand deception orchestrated by Hitler, and his close associate, Joseph Goebells (Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945). While the boys (from Washington State) were busy working hard to earn the coveted privilege of representing the United States at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Hitler and Goebbels were also hard at work – concealing the extent of Nazi persecution against Jews and other inferior groups.

At the core of the story, is Joe Rantz, one of the members of the 1936 US Olympic rowing team. His strong resolve and humble demeanor make him a true hero. But as the story evolves, it becomes clear that his teammates are equally heroic, each possessing the same positive attributes and incredible will to persevere when most would give up.

The highlight of the story is obviously towards the end of the book, as Brown recounts the dramatic events leading up to the final race and then describes in vivid detail the race itself. It really is a remarkable story, backed by extensive research that makes it well worth the read. I give it 5 stars.

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Extra Observations: Some things about the boys that I believe gave them a competitive edge:

1. They trained through the harshest of weather conditions, understanding that extreme discomfort was at times necessary if there was to be any hope at all of making it to the Olympics. A missed day of training meant an extra day of training for a competing team.

“They rowed six days a week, rain or shine. It rained, and they rowed. They rowed through cutting wind, bitter sleet, and occasional snow, well into the dark of night every evening.”

2. Some of the boys came from particularly challenging backgrounds, yet they approached life – in general – with optimism and hope. That type of attitude carried over to the obstacles they faced, including all those presented during their many months of grueling workouts.

Joe Rantz, for example, had an uncanny knack for finding four-leaf clovers (it’s much easier to find the more common three-leaf clover). He told his girlfriend, “The only time you don’t find a four-leaf clover, is when you stop looking for one.” Joe spent much of his childhood just trying to survive, but he never let his circumstances cheat him of hope and optimism.

3. George Pocock, designer and builder of racing shells, played a pivotal role in leading the team to victory. He taught the boys many things, including the concept that once they stepped into their racing shell, they needed to leave everything else behind. These boys learned to be “fully in the moment” during races; able to keep their minds one hundred percent focused on the goal at hand.

“…..from the time an oarsman steps into a racing shell until the moment that the boat crosses the finish line, he must keep his mind focused on what is happening inside the boat. His whole world must shrink down to the small space within the gunwales.” George Pocock

4. The boys followed strict rules imposed upon them by their coach, Al Ulbrickson. They were tempted at times to break those rules, and on a few occasions they did, but for the most part they respected the necessary disciplines required of them.

“You will eat no fried meats, “ he began abruptly. “You will eat no pastries, but you will eat plenty of vegetables. You will eat good, substantial, wholesome food…..You will go to bed at 10 o’clock and arise punctually at seven o’clock. You will not smoke or drink or chew. And you will follow this regimen all year round, for as long as you row for me. A man cannot abuse his body for six months and then expect to row the other six months. He must be a total abstainer all year.” Coach Al Ulbrickson

5. Finally, in the days leading up to the biggest race of their careers, the boys were all nervous and all dealing with some level of fear and self-doubt. They each centered and calmed themselves in their own ways: a couple of boys took long walks along the seashore and skipped stones, a few journaled or wrote letters home, one or two simply rested and reflected, and they all quoted their mentor, George Pocock.

Whether we realize it or not, part of the tapering process for runners should include a “centering and calming” routine too – a tried and true method that is applied in the days and hours leading up to race day.

So, five things that matter: 

  • Train, train, and train – no excuses.
  • Feed your mind positive thoughts and don’t allow room for negative ones.
  • When the starter gun goes, it’s time to narrow your focus and zone in on your race goal.
  • Optimal performance requires optimal nutrition, sleep, and lifestyle habits – not just some of the time, but all of the time.
  • Tapering is a necessary part of pre-race preparation – not only does the body need to be rejuvenated, but the mind does too.