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  • How to Deal with Race Day Disappointment

    We’ve all had those races.

    You go in to an event and expect to do well. Hopefully everything goes your way.

    You plan everything, your training is excellent, your nutrition is exactly what you need it to be and everything just seems perfect.

    But then the race happens.

    Much like life, there is always something that you can’t plan for, nor expect. Sometimes it’s something small that you can overcome, while other times it’s something that completely ruins your race and you can’t recover. How you deal with that disappointment can help you succeed in the future and help you overcome new obstacles.

    I recently competed in a sprint triathlon where I was expected to compete for a spot on the podium. I was excited for this race and knew it was a great opportunity for me. Everything was lining up perfectly for me. The race started and off we went. My swim was on par where I wanted it to be, and once I got to the bike things started to flow even more. I felt strong and was flying. I started to pass most people on the course and quickly found myself within the top 5 racers. I was psyched. However, this is also where things fell apart. Course marshals ended up not directing the top 5-10 racers in the right direction and we all ended up on the Olympic distance course instead of the sprint course. So instead of competing for a podium finish, I was left being frustrated and fighting my inner demons on the extra 10 miles of the bike course that I wasn’t supposed to ride.

    Clearly, it was not in the cards for me to place at this race.

    Has something like this happened to you? Has your race fallen apart because of some outside factors? Did you do everything you could and yet, the outcome still wasn’t what you expected?

    How do you deal with this? Are you going to curse yourself, everyone else, blame things that are out of your control? Or are you going to learn from it and take the positives out of your day? Those are basically the only options you have after you encounter a disappointing race. So here are some thoughts on where to go and how to make sure you can learn from those experiences.

    Move on…quickly

    Races are typically a one day event. They can be as short as a 5k lasting less than 30 minutes, a full Ironman Triathlon lasting over 12-15 hours, or even 100 mile Ultramarathon lasting 24-36 hours. However, once the race is over, it’s over. There is no going back, no redo’s, no starting over. So once that race is over for you, move on. You can’t change anything that happened in it. So if your race didn’t go as planned, don’t let it get to you. There is nothing you can do about it now. It’s time to put it behind you and not get discouraged. It’s easier said than done, but if you let it eat at you then you won’t be able to focus on the parts of the race that did go well for you. This bad race will continue to drag you down until you let it go. So the quicker you can do that, the better it is for you.

    Breakdown individual segments of the race:

    This is easier in a triathlon than in a one discipline race, but you can use the same premise for everything. If you are just looking at the end result of your race than you are probably failing to see some the things you did that went well. Ask yourself, “what did you want to accomplish during the race”, “what were your goals” etc. There are probably some goals that you did accomplish. By focusing on these small “wins”, you can look to get stronger for your next race.

    Let’s use my race as an example. Sure, the end result wasn’t close to what I wanted to accomplish. I was expecting a podium finish, but I didn’t get it. In fact, I didn’t even get a sniff of the podium. However, looking at what I wanted to accomplish during this individual race, I can say that I am happy overall with the day. My race preparation was exactly what I wanted it to be and the execution of each individual discipline of the race went how I planned. I executed my swim the way I wanted to, I had the fastest run split of the entire race, and my bike splits were faster than I expected. In fact, my average bike split for 25 miles was in the top 5 average for the 15 mile sprint distance. Instead of focusing on something that I had no control over which affected the end result of my race, I am able to break down the individual parts of the race and know that I accomplished all my goals. Knowing this, I can be even more confident going into my next race because I already know that I have executed my race plan the way I wanted to. So all I need to do is duplicate what I did during my last race and I know the end result will be much better than this one.

    Learn What Needs to be Fixed:

    In my case, I don’t think there is much that can be fixed. I doubt my next race there will be problems with directions from course marshals. That’s a rarity. With that being said, there are still a few little tweaks that I can do to help improve my performance. So if your race went south, ask yourself “why”? What caused it to get derailed. Did you eat enough, put enough air in your tires (yes, that’s happened to me before), did you forget to tie your shoes, did you go out to fast and paid for it at the back end of the race, something else? Learn from your mistakes. Figure out why your race went wrong and work on them during your training and perfect them so when your next race comes, you won’t have the same issues again.

    There’s Always Another Race:

    The beauty of races is that there is always another one right around the corner. So when one race doesn’t go as planned, you shouldn’t have to look too far in the future for your next one. Typically, racing season runs from early Spring to late Fall. Obviously, there are races in the winter, but most people don’t plan their top races during this season. So if you experienced disappointment in a race early in your season, move on and put it behind you. Your next race is right around the corner. Use the disappointment as motivation for your next race, which probably isn’t too far away. Dwelling on a single race for too long can derail your race season. It will affect your training, demotivate you, and put you in a bad mood for a while. Instead, focus on your next race and put the disappointment behind you.

    Don’t dwell on one single disappointing race. Relish the victories and move on from the defeats. By learning what caused a race to not go as planned, you can have more success in the future races. Always look toward the future while learning from the past. I guarantee you’ll have a more successful racing season that way.

    Race on and Run Real.

    Jared is a triathlete and Team SKORA member from New York City.

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  • Hobbit Feet

    Feet are an awkward subject. We cram them into stilettos, stiff leather, and steel-toes for the workaday world. We kick off our shoes with a sigh at the end of a long day. When life gets us down We seek the feeling of sand between our toes. A post on feet might seem odd, but being a minimalist runner, outdoorsman, and budding sartorialist, I thought I'd accumulate my knowledge of feet in a single place.

    Real "Barefoot/Minimalist" Running

    Your feet are workhorses: twenty-six bones, thirty-three joints, and more than a hundred muscles, ligaments and tendons working together as a vital part of your overall skeletal well-being. Learning to respect this improves every facet of your life.

    If you don't spend much time barefoot, stop reading and go walk around your dwelling barefoot.

    Where is your foot hitting the ground first?

    Where does your foot leave the ground?

    Write these down.

    Go outside and run across some grass or up your sidewalk barefoot.

    Answer those two questions again.

    As you'll note, when you walk you're probably landing heel first. When you started running, you shifted to shorter steps and began landing nearer the ball of your foot. The reason your body does this naturally is that landing heel first nearly doubles your body weight on that point of impact. Your latest heel wedge running shoes may cushion that impact, but physics will not be denied.

    Real running treats your foot like the highly evolved biomechanical wonder it is. As you begin to run with a quality midfoot/wholefoot strike, you'll notice two things: your calves get a lot of work and your feet will be tired from the impact.

    Take this seriously. Your body is telling you to do these things:

    Rest and build mileage slowly. Muscles respond quickly to training, joints and bones adjust slowly. Everything you've heard about barefoot running injuries is true if you build quickly.

    Learn your feet. Work them around with your hands. Articulate those thirty-three joints. Stretch those hundred muscles, tendons and ligaments. Not only is this fantastic for your feet, but it helps you prevent injury by finding sore spots early and aids in form by acquainting you with the internal structure of your foot in a "felt" sense.

    Pay attention to your form. Good form eases the transition to running real.

    Outdoorsman: Hard-to-Barefoot Activities

    Now that you're paying attention to your feet, you'll notice you'll still have to wear unhelpful shoes, go hard places, and carry heavy things. Here's how to mitigate the effects of these things:

    Consideration #1, Unhelpful Shoes Minimize the time spent in shoes with a heel or a large wedge. Take off your shoes at work if you can. Choose shoes that you'll be spending a lot of time in wisely. Stretch and massage your feet when you're done with a stint. Walk actively, even in shoes that don't help you engage your arch or calf muscles.

    Consideration #2, Hard/Uneven Surfaces Lengthen your build periods even further. Running form is not your only consideration; you're also preparing the bottoms of your feet for increased articulation and local impact. Thin soled shoes help give you a thicker skin, but you'll also be building that in your feet as well: both on the surface and just beneath the surface. Standing desks can also help train your lower leg for long stints on hard surfaces.

    Consideration #3, Heavy Loads Bare feet are amazing, but what if you're carrying close to a third of your body weight in gear on your back? If you're an avid hiker just shifting to real running, you'll want to balance your use of minimal shoes and traditional hiking boots. The relatively inflexible shank down the center of your off-trail, heavy-load boots is intended to support the additional weight on your arch. The height of the boot is intended to support your ankle in the advent of a roll with that additional weight on your back. Knowing these forces are at play, self-evaluate your own biomechanical status and wear appropriately.

    Sartorial Concerns

    Real running does amazing things for your feet. Strengthening your arches as well as shapes and forms your feet, allowing you to rock footwear styles you may not have been comfortable with before. Varying the surfaces you run on and even occasionally (or routinely) running barefoot toughens the skin on your sole and individuates and strengthens your toes. But there are some downsides as well, hobbit feet should remain on hobbits. Here's how to care for yours.

    Consideration #1: Sockless Try rocking your shoes sockless and running barefoot occasionally. It's a fantastic way to clean up your form and also prepares you well for wearing other shoes barefoot, a sartorial edge runners can crush.

    Consideration #2: Clean and Scrub Gentlemen, it's time. Paying attention to your feet by massaging and articulating them is good, paying attention to your skin is important as well. Use a pumice stone on occasion. Scrub your feet in the shower noting where you're growing callouses. Callouses can give you insight into subtleties in your routine you would otherwise miss. Besides, you'll be all set for beach and pick-up football season.

    Consideration #3: American Heritage I began my real running career when I was nine years old. That summer I read Mark Twain and James Fenimore Cooper for the first time. If Huck Finn and Chingachgook ran barefoot, by golly, so would I. Give in to nostalgia and raise a grubby foot to our human history.

    Consideration #4: Raise Awareness TOMS dedicates a day every year to raising awareness of the dangers of being barefoot in places where people don't have things like clean water and people cleaning up after their dogs. This year it is April 16th. Join me in celebrating feet.

    You may also like: 5 Tenets of Minimalist Running Shoes The Specifics of "RUN REAL" Transitioning to Real Running

  • Art of the Easy Run

    Easy runs are the foundation that all other training is built upon.

    For new athletes, the best way for them to improve is to simply increase the frequency and duration that they run at a nice low effort. Whether it's the beginning of your running life or the beginning of your marathon training cycle, it all should start with easy running. The speed and hard workouts come later.

    What is an Easy Run? Easy runs are not meant to build fitness as much to flush out the legs, loosen them up, and increase weekly volume. The pace should be just as it sounds, "easy". A nice guide is these should be in the area of 1.25-1.5 times your 5k pace. If your last 5k was done at 7 minutes per mile, your easy runs should be in the range of 10:30 - 12:15 per mile.

    Purposes of the easy run: 1) Help build volume, which helps to increase or maintain fitness 2) Boosts metabolism to help burn fat, if weight loss is a goal 3) Helps keep the muscles loose, which may reduce DOMS from a previous workout 4) Increase blood flow, which may aid in recovery 5) Helps build aerobic fitness via increased mitochondria and cardiac output

    How often? This is the big question, how often should these easy runs be done? Lets say you run six days per week. If three days are key workouts, that gives you three other runs and one day off. Those three other runs should be a mixture of easy and moderate paces. Go by how you feel. If it's the day after your most difficult run of the week, perhaps you'll keep the pace quite easy. If you're feeling a bit energetic, you could do 3 miles easy and 3 miles moderate.

    The important thing to consider is that easy runs help increase your fitness while at the same time allowing your body to recover from the previous hard workouts, that left you fatigued.

    Generally longer and slower recovery runs are more beneficial than short and faster ones, because the longer and slower one adds more volume to your training. Use experimentation to find which types of easy runs work best for you. Remember, the goal should be to leave you feeling ready to run during the next hard workout!

    You may also like: Methods of negative splitting Don't go hard or go home How to run every day

  • Product Review: SKORA Form

    "After a month, the materials are holding up well; the sole appears to have less wear than I would have thought, too. The fit is true to size; I am officially a size 8, right on the line between EE and EEE for width, so I order an 8W from Amazon and receive an 8. After emailing Skora about how to tell the wide from the standard sizes I learned that they don’t make wide sizes, but some retailers carry them as both wide and standard widths because of the wider toe box. As it turns out, I didn’t have any problems with the fit. The asymmetrical lacing follows the natural curve of the foot instead of going straight up the middle, which helps you get the shoe snug without any bunching of the material."

    Read more at Rob's Surf Report

  • Triathlon Transitions

    We asked a couple Team SKORA members about their triathlon transition zones. Here's what they had to say!

    Swimming, cycling, running. Adam Sierakowski, Baltimore

    Those three disciplines take years of devotion to master, but we triathletes must remember that there is one additional discipline that can also make or break our race: the transitions.

    In races where every second counts and we work so hard to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch, we must not neglect the time we spend switching disciplines.

    Transitions are all about being quick. I want to maximize the amount of time spent moving forward on the course with two rules when it comes to transition zones:

    Here's how I plan and set up my transition zone for a race:

    Keep it simple I am admittedly a transition minimalist. I've seen some athletes set their transition zone up with everything but their kitchen sink (though I have a feeling if they could get running water piped out there, they'd bring the sink too). In order to minimize the amount of time I have to spend standing still, I strive to minimize the number of tasks that I must complete between legs.

    For T1, the transition from swim to bike, I attach my cycling shoes to my bike before racking it. This way I can jump on my bike and go as soon as I get out of the transition zone, riding on the course while tightening my shoes. Aside from that, my T1 is bare: my helmet sits on my handlebars with my sunglasses inside.

    For T2, the transition from bike to run, I loosen my cycling shoes while approaching the transition zone, swing my leg over, and come off the bike at a comfortable run pace. I leave my shoes attached to the bike and swap my helmet for my running shoes and race number.

    That's it! To recap, in T1 I have: Sunglasses Helmet Bike + shoes In T2: Running shoes Race number belt By keeping it simple, I make sure to spend as little time as possible standing still.

    Practice, practice, practice We practice swimming, cycling, and running all the time, but I believe many people neglect to practice their transitions. The perfect time for practicing transitions is when cutting back on mileage and intensity in the week before a race. I make sure to put in a workout that contains a handful of repetitions of both transitions before every race. I go to a park, set up my transition zone, walk away, and then run through the motions:

    Run to transition zone Drop swim cap & goggles Sunglasses on Helmet on Grab bike, run with it, then mount Tighten shoes while riding Then I ride a kilometer or two before simulating T2: Loosen shoes and put feet on top of them Slow down, swing leg over, dismount, and run to transition Rack bike Helmet off Shoes on Grab race number belt and buckle it while starting the run Then I run a few hundred meters. I never wear socks while running (even while training) because I want to avoid surprising my feet on race day and causing blisters. Of course, the insides of the SKORA Base and Form shoes in which I race and train, respectively, are so well designed that blisters are hardly a concern to begin with.

    I repeat this process about five times depending on what kind of distance I'm trying to accumulate, making sure to repeat the transitions exactly the same way every time.

    The goal is to leave nothing to think about during the race: you want it to be automatic. By keeping your transition zone set up simple, you minimize the amount of time spent standing still during the race. You also prevent yourself from forgetting anything because there's no extra gear that you intend to leave behind to clutter the area. By practicing the transitions over and over again, you know exactly what to do when you get there, further helping to ensure you remember everything you need. When you've practiced your transitions enough to be able to visualize exactly what you need to do without having the gear in front of you, you're well on your way to making your transitions as efficient as possible. To maximize your forward progress in a race, keep your transition zone simple and practice your transitions often.

    What I keep in my Transition area and why? Jared Fayer, New York

    When it comes to Triathlon transition and what to keep in your own area, my feeling is less is more.

    When you start to put too much in their transition area a few things happen. One is that everything you need gets too cluttered. You start having things in there that you aren’t going to use and this takes up space for the items that you actually do need. The second thing is that you piss off everyone around you who has to share this area. Unless you have your own designated area or bags to keep your transition gear in, the transition area is community property so if you are “that guy” taking up to much space, you are bound to get dirty looks from your fellow competitors and possibly your stuff moved “by accident” when you aren’t there.

    As for what I keep in my transition area, it’s pretty simple. I put everything is the same place for every race I do. You could take a picture of my transition area for every race I do and the only way you would know which race it is is by the race bib with my number on it. This allows you to get familiar with your set up and keep everything consistent.

    Here’s my list in order from the back to the front:

    2 white towels to put everything on, and an orange ShamWow for the front of the toweled area to put my feet on when I come back in the transition zone -Running shoes -Socks- optional depending on how far the run is -My race belt with number on top of my left shoe -A piece of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum on top of my right shoe -Extra Gel sitting towards the heel of my left shoe

    Those items are on the floor ready for me to pick up and roll coming off the bike.

    As for what’s on my bike set up when I come out of the water: -Aero Helmet sitting upside down on my aerobars on my bike -Sunglasses opened and upside down in my helmet ready to be put on -Stick of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum sitting in helmet half opened so I can put it in my mouth quickly. -Triathlon specific cycling shoes already attached to pedals so I can grab my bike and go without wasting time.

    Other miscellaneous items that I have depending on the distance of the race: -Body Glide -Different tinted sunglasses -Water bottle with only 4 ounces in and already mixed in Crystal Light Energy

    Some recommendations that I have for triathletes: -Practice, practice, practice your transition. This is the easiest way to shave some time off your race. I have a friend who during every race he does this out of the water…spends about a minute trying to get his wetsuit off, sits down on the ground to put his socks on then cycling shoes, takes a drink of water, gets up, grabs his helmet to put it on then his bike. His average transition time is just over 4 minutes. Even during a sprint race. He could easily shave time off his transition time by just spending an hour or so practicing what he needs to do. So practice your transition. Do a few dry runs leading up to your races and see what works best for you. If it becomes second nature to you during training, it will be just as fast during the race. -Don’t overcomplicate things. The less you have in your transition, the quicker you’ll be. If you have more than necessary you’ll be tempted to want to use what’s there. So only include what you absolutely need. -If you’re going to wear socks and have to put them on, set them up in your shoes already and have them rolled up so all you have to do is slide your foot in. Don’t leave the sock flat on the ground. So many things can happen to them this way, plus it’s a lot easier to put for your foot in an already rolled up sock than a flat one. -If you can do it on the move, then do it. For example, when you put your race belt on do it while you already started the run. Don’t sit in transition to put your race belt on wasting precious time. Anything you can do while moving will save you time, and ultimately that’s what we all want. -Learn how to do a flying mount. Have you ever seen a big crowd at the bike mount line where all athletes are standing over their bike trying to clip in and blocking the path? One way to overcome this is to already have your shoes clipped in your bike so you can grab your bike, run past the bike mount line and jump on your bike and strap your feet in while you’re already moving. This will save you at least 2 minutes over the course of the race and will get you in front of that big pile up near the bike mount line. Same thing for coming off the bike. Learn how to dismount while still moving, so you can jump off your bike, run to rack it and grab your shoes and go. You should practice this a lot. It takes a while to learn how to jump on and off your bike without falling, so if you haven’t tried it and perfected it, don’t do it.

    With all of that said think of the transition area as part of the race. If you view the area as a break between the swim to bike then bike to run, then you will sit there and relax in the transition area. But the transition area is part of the race. View it as that. Try to get in and out as fast as possible. It’s a race, and the fastest person wins. Let that be you.

    Run Real Everybody!

  • Earndit + Gympact

    Being paid to train is a dream of many amateur athletes.

    Money is a strong motivator. Imagine how much stronger it becomes if you can also be penalized with it.

    During a Mayo Clinic study, participants who were paid or penalized $20 for reaching or failing a weight loss goal were nearly 3 times more likely to even complete the 12 month program than those who had no financial incentives.

    Consider a professional athlete. For them, financial motivation can mean having food on the table or not. If they are consistent and smart with their training, hopefully the reward is good race results and prize or sponsorship money. However if they do not train or race well, there is less financial reward.

    Now, amateur athletes can have a small taste of one of the strongest motivators - Money.

    With Gympact, participants can choose how many days per week they wish to exercise and choose how much money they are penalized if they do not make this goal. Typically if you exercise six days per week your reward may be around $2.50 for that week. Missed days cost you $5 each, and this money is divided out among those that reach their pact!

    Earndit is another great motivator, but it uses credits instead of dollars. These are spent on gift cards from various brands, charitable donations, or entries into drawings for often very good prizes.

    The beauty is both of these can simultaneously use RunKeeper. Most of the Earndit giftcards require a purchase higher than the reward, such as a $100 gift card for a purchase of $175 or more. With enough patience, you can let the Gympact dollars accumulate into a high enough amount that you could use it to pay for the remaining balance on a purchase through Earndit!

    You can use RunKeeper to track distances while outside or use your phone's GPS to log in at a gym location. Either way, you may find a great motivator in these two programs!

    "Over the last 211 workouts I through Gympact I have earned nearly $70, which I have used to purchase a few rewards from Earndit. While not a lot of money, it's accumulating without me doing any extra work. In fact, Gympact has gotten me out for many 30 minute recovery runs that otherwise probably would have been skipped, and I'm glad I did them!" -Kyle Kranz, SKORA Ambassador

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