Saturday, August 5, 2017

Training as a Parent Part II: Letting Go and Finding Your Village

Letting Go and Wanting It

Learning to let go when you cannot fit a workout in is key to keeping your sanity (whether you have kids or not). Life happens and you have to just roll with the punches. Mastering letting things go helps to build mental strength and prepares you for anything race day. Yoga and meditating greatly help build these skills.

Set priorities for specifics in work, family, home, friends, and training life. You have to really want it and make sacrifices for your goals. Sometimes the laundry won't be put away and the counters will be full of clutter. Embrace that reality, take a deep breath and realize it's a momentary sacrifice for your goals. Volunteer commitments, such as coaching soccer or volunteering for PTA, probably aren't in the cards when taking on longer distances such as 70.3 or 140.6. There are only so many hours in a day and we can't do it all or you risk running yourself ragged. That's not good for your health, family, or racing.

I've found being organized really helps my life balance. Have your things together the night before... the kids lunches and clothes for the next day, your workout clothes and fuel, have your tires aired and gear together, even put as much of your breakfast together as you can, have the coffee set to just turn on or automatically turn on in the morning.

Find Your Village

It takes a village to do a triathlon as a mom. Spouses, partners, grandparents, uncles, aunts, close friends, amazing babysitters, or awesome neighbors can be key to your success. People you know and trust can help out with the kids while you workout. Another option is using a gym with an excellent childcare center. The gym childcares usually will watch your children for two hours. You can also pair up with other triathlete moms and trade child watching and training. There are sitter search websites to find sitters and nannies such as or in Houston, Motherhood Center has a search service (for a fee of course). Our neighborhood newsletter has a list of neighborhood teens looking for jobs (see if your's does too). They are listed by what jobs they are seeking along with whether or not they are CPR certified. Another option is a drop off daycare like Adventure Kids Playcare. They are great in a pinch!

Your village includes your kids. Make them a part of your training and racing. It sets a good example for them and creates fun family memories. To create some memories and more training time, invest in a good running stroller and bike trailer to train with your kids in tow. It can be a great bonding experience and set a good example for the kids once they are old enough to safely ride in either (jogging strollers usually have carseat attachments and can run with infant as long as surface is smooth and trailer child usually needs to be 1yr). They will love being with you and seeing your achievements. 

Make a game out of it. Sometimes we count the birds or rabbits along the path or name the shapes we see in the clouds. We also find fun landmarks for them to look forward to. For example, on one of my routes, there is a bush that looks like a rabbit. My daughter enjoys spotting it every time we pass and coming up with stories about the “bunny bush”. Other landmarks, such as the long wooden bridge along the path, provide entertainment for my children as they try to look for alligators or other wildlife.

Having your family at your races is a great example to set for your kids. Most kids love to cheer on athletes and meet you at the finish line. They can learn about good sportsmanship by your example. If you don't hit your goal let them know there will be other races and if you win a podium spot congratulate your fellow athletes on their job well done. Be positive.

Your village extends beyond family and friends. Enlist the help of other professionals and services when you need the help. A dietitian, experienced working with athletes, can help you plan healthy meals for you and your family. If planning yourself pick simple yet wholesome foods for healthy meals. My favorite cookbooks for healthy family meals are: The Runner's World Cookbook, Cook Without a Book Meat Meatless Meals, Runner's World Meals on the Run, Danielle Walker's Against all Grain Meals Made Simple, Run Fast Eat Slow, and Paleo for Vegetarians: Quickstart Guide and 30 Recipe Cookbook. When you put good quality food in your body you feel good and it helps you to be a happy mother and healthy athlete. Many grocery stores now have a pick up or delivery service such as Instacart. The hour or more you would have spent shopping can become family or training time.

Happy training!
Coach Angy

Monday, April 17, 2017

Training as a Mom

Training as a Parent 

Part I
Creative Scheduling

Planning ahead will greatly increase your chance of getting in your workout. Have your workout clothes laid out, fuel mixed and in the fridge, tires aired, breakfast organized, etc all together the night before. The more organized you can be the more likely it will be you'll get your workout in.

Some times I end up having to break up a workout. For example: My daughter's school is very close. I will often put the kids in the running stroller or bike trailer for the trip to school. Great strength work! Remember to be mindful of your running form when running with a stroller.

Another way to break up a run is to get in a couple miles first thing in the morning and then the rest of your run in at lunch or the evening. The same theory works for bike trainer or strength sessions. Some days I have to do my strength sets throughout the day. 

Swims can be more complicated with small children. I’ve had the childcare ladies come and get me mid swim or some times during my warm up. Occasionally I was able to nurse then hand my baby back, but often my baby just wasn't having it. If not, I called it a day and would do dry land work at home after the kids went to sleep.

You can also incorporate workouts into your child's activities. If your kid has a baseball or soccer game, run laps around the field. If they have swim practice, find an empty lane and get your swim in. Or schedule a playdate with a fellow swimmer. A friend and I will take turns watching the kids on the playground while the other swims at the community pool. One of my coached athletes likes to run at the gym while her daughter is at dance. I have run laps around a park pushing the baby in the single stroller while my friend watched my daughter play with her kids. Definitely many ways to be creative.

A lot of people need to use the early mornings for a workout. If you can let your body wake on it's own that is ideal but not always possible depending on your situation. You can do strength workouts at home and incorporate your kids in the plan. You can make most workouts a brick (by combining the two workouts of the day back to back) to save on time. Check with your coach first! Some workouts require a more lengthy break between.

Include the kids when you can or need to. It is best to get speed workouts in without pushing a stroller, but some times there's no other option and pushing the stroller is better than not getting in the run. Just be very mindful of your form.

Happy Training Moms!
Coach Angy

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Training Post Baby

I'm about two months into the start of post baby training.  It's been a very gradual transition.  A week or two after the little nugget was born I started back with planks and one or two other core moves.  Gradually adding back walking and increasing time.  Then introducing running again after walking felt completely normal. Swimming I was able to start back pretty quickly.  The first time back felt so weird swimming without the little one in my belly.  I got back on my bike as soon as I felt like I could stand sitting on the bike seat comfortably.

Everything is thrown off from pregnancy and child birth.  It's so important to build core and hip strength back and to be careful not to over stretch the first couple of months back, since your ligaments are still pretty loose from pregnancy.  Of course always consult with your healthcare provider about when is right for your body to resume activity and at what level.

This time feels very different than my return with my first child.  I gained a little more weight this pregnancy and the birth was almost half the time of the first one.  It was easier to get back to it this time.  I'm a lot more motivated after #2.  Before #1 I was very burnt out on training and racing before.  I had been racing for about 10 years when I got pregnant with baby #1.  It was time to take a break.  With the semi-retirement and the extra weight I'm very motivated to get back to it this go round.

Balanced training helps me to be a better mom, spouse, and person.  Mixing core/strength, foam rolling, yoga, meditation, swimming, biking, and running help enormously with the stress of raising a toddler and infant along with other daily life stressors.  It's a lot to fit in, but doing even 5 minutes of yoga and/or meditation daily along with my other training do a world of good.

I don't stress as much over missing workouts or schedule changes as I use to.  With one kid it's hard for sure and two even more challenging.  One kid is throwing a fit and the other explodes their diaper and needs to nurse all when you need to head out the door for your workout at the only time slot of the day you have... workout not done.  C'est la vie.  Tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities.  I've learned over the years, and especially since having kids, of letting things go.  Meditation really helps with being accepting things as they are.  (A very good tool to have in your toolbox for race day!)

I was introduced to the meditation app Insight Timer recently.  It's a great tool that has guided meditations or you can do custom sessions.  There are so many yoga videos out there... dvds, apps, online courses.  These things make it easier to incorporate into your daily training with hectic schedules.

It's especially hard to fit in training when you are so tired... getting in at least a 10-15 minutes workout is a great way to feel that sense of accomplishment but not totally zapping the rest of your precious energy when returning post baby.

Snuggle those little ones then get out for some training!

Happy training!
~Coach Angy

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Training During Pregnancy

Training doesn't have to stop while pregnant (as long as the pregnancy is going well and exercise is approved by your provider).  Just need to be smart about it.  Communicate with your care provider and listen to your body.  Generally you bring down the intensity and shorten the distance when you are pregnant.  Most women I know stop running around 6-7 months because they just feel it's uncomfortable after that... but there are some that feel ok running all the way through.  Again, listen to your body and keep open dialogue with your care provider.  I wasn't able to run during my first pregnancy, but my second I have been able to.  Swimming is probably the best sport you can do while pregnant (definitely my favorite behind yoga when pregnant).  Less stress on your joints and takes the pressure off your back and other areas from the weight of the baby.  

Not only does exercising while pregnant help your health but the health of your baby.  It also makes labor easier... by keeping your muscles relaxed (from yoga and stretching... but be careful not to over stretch since your ligaments are looser) and strong.  Also, helps with stamina for labor.

During labor it really helped me to pull from those really tough training days and from really challenging races to remind myself I could do it and deal with the pain.  Meditating and yoga during pregnancy also really helped with coping with the pain of labor.

Here are some of my favorite resources.  Videos, apps, and books.

My favorite late 2nd trimester/3rd trimester youtube yoga videos.

Some yoga dvds:
Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga and Short Forms by The Dolphin Method
Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga by element the mind & body experience

Buff Moms-to-Be The Early Workout (if already in pretty good shape doesn't really feel like much of a workout but keeps you moving and helps stay toned.)

iPhone Apps:
(there's a free version and a paid one. Get more workouts with the paid version)  - workouts are by trimester and are challenging enough if you are already in great shape to feel like you got something out of it but not too challenging so that it's still safe while pregnant.

Kegal Trainer - there is a free version and paid.

Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by James F Clapp III MD and Catherine Cram MS

Runner's World Guide to Running and Pregnancy: How to Stay Fit, Keep Safe, and Have a Healthy Baby by Chris Lundgren

What to Eat When You're Pregnant: A Week by Week Guide to Support Your Health and Your Baby's Development by Dr. Nicole M. Avena

The Pregnant Athlete: How to Stay in Your Best Shape Ever--Before, During, and After Pregnancy by Brandi Dion and Steven Dion

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


The current issue of Running Times (September/October) has an article titled Never Satisfied written by Richard A. Lovett.  It's a very well written article about runners trying to achieve perfectionism and how that's not exactly the best approach.  This article is very applicable to triathletes...  especially since triathletes tend to be type A people (of course not all triathletes are).

Also, striving for perfectionism sets yourself up for regular disappointment and sucks the fun out of training and racing.  A lot of people focus so hard on just the results rather than the experience of the race or training.  I fully agree with Lovett, "...shift from thinking only about the outcome to focusing on the drama and experience of the entire event: from training through race-day preparation, strategy, tactics, and everything else that goes into a race."

When in a perfectionist mindset you are more focused on the outcome.  Shift your focus to mastery instead.  By doing this it will allow you to still become a better athlete without the mental stress of having to have everything perfect.

Only having the end goal in mind... i.e. 2:50 for a 70.3... will most likely set you up for disappointment.  Instead set two goals for a race.  Have an A goal and a B goal.  Your A goal should be something ambitious but realistic and the B goal should be something you know for sure you can achieve and be satisfied with.

Every great athlete and achiever has had many failures and some pretty big ones.  You learn from them and get better because of it.  Often times you learn more from your failures than from your successes.

So stay positive, make realistic goals, enjoy the experience, and smile!!

Happy training!!
Coach Angy

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Race Nutrition

It's so important to practice your race nutrition! Never a good idea to try something new on race day. Long run and/or long ride days are good opportunities to practice pre-race dinner and breakfast... plus race nutrition. 
Everyone's different and can handle different things. For me what's always worked well for a pre-race dinner has been fish, cooked veggies, and a fist size serving of pasta. I try to eat before 8pm the night before a race. (If it's going to be a hot race I salt my food and drink extra water race week.) For breakfast (longer races 1/2 marathon, 1/2 iron, full iron) I eat a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and a banana plus a big glass of water... Ironman I added a glass of juice. For a sprint or olympic race usually just the bagel and pb. I eat breakfast 2-3 hours before my wave starts. Depending on the distance I may take a gel about 10 minutes before my wave starts. I've worked with dietitians while training for my Ironman races and it really helped me dial in my pre-race and race day nutrition. 
Race day nutrition greatly varies depending on the distance. A sprint you may only need hydration or a small amount of calories for a boost at the end. Olympic distance - typically once maybe twice on the bike (nutrition) and once more halfway through the run. Half iron and full iron you'll obviously need more nutrition... generally the rule is 100-200 calories an hour. You have to experiment with how much your body can handle and what types of products work well for you. For the full iron on the bike I typically take in small bites of Clif bar plus Accelerade or Tailwind. Run I only do liquid nutrition. The longer you are going the harder it is for your stomach to digest since your blood and energy is working so hard to keep your brain and muscles functioning. Keeping a close eye on your nutrition timing is pretty important during a race.
Again, everyone is different and what worked for me may not work for you... That's the beauty of training... you have the time to try out what will work race day.
Good luck to everyone this season!!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Boston Strong

Good luck everyone racing Boston today!!  It's going to be a cold, wet, windy race.

Smile... happy racing!
~Coach Angy