Strength Training for Peri-Menopause and Beyond
September 29, 2023

Peri-menopause is an essential time to make changes in diet and lifestyle in order to avoid unwanted changes in body composition, prevent bone density loss, sustain your greatest muscular integrity and muscular strength and improve longevity and overall quality of life. While it’s not a given exactly when every female will hit this time of life, it is important to understand what menopause is and the changes our bodies undergo not only as a woman, but what this means as an endurance athlete.

Peri-menopause generally occurs between 36-45 years of age and lasts for 4-5 years leading up to menopause. Menopause is a timepoint in which you have had 12 months with no period. Post-menopause is life beyond menopause.

At the onset of peri-menopause, our strength training needs begin to differ. If you’ve never consistently incorporated strength training, now is the time to start, whether you have hit peri-menopause or not.

Research demonstrates women in peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause benefit the most when incorporating a variation of strength training sessions in their weekly training, including: muscular strength (heavy weights and 1-6 reps), high intensity interval training (HIIT) and plyometric based training. While this may sound like a lot, this can be broken down throughout the week and incorporated into your endurance training quite simply. Done consistently, these combined forms of strength training provide a plethora of benefits including improved weight management, reduced visceral (belly) fat, reduced blood pressure, increased insulin sensitivity, increased lean (muscle) mass development, improved muscular strength and power, improved mood, focus, memory, endurance performance and overall health.

High intensity interval training alternates brief periods of intense anaerobic exercise with quick recovery periods. These exercise sessions are short but effective, 30 minutes at most, and should feel tough to finish. A good example of a HIIT session would be taking 10 minutes to complete as many reps as possible of 20 kettlebell swings, 20 walking lunges and 20 push-ups.

Plyometric training uses speed and force to produce power. Plyometric exercises can be included as part of your weight training sessions or you can include these exercises as part of your dynamic warm-up prior to a high intensity run. A few examples of plyometric exercises include squat jumps, box jumps, bounding, tuck jump, depth jump and single leg jumps.

This brings us to our final area of strength training, a focus on muscular strength which is the force that can be generated by a specific muscle or muscle group. With strength training the goal is to work towards lifting heavier weights at lower repetitions, 1-6 reps. If you are new to lifting, start in the 8-12 rep range and make your way over time to the 1-6 rep range. When completing an exercise, use a weight that is heavy enough where it feels difficult to complete the last two reps in the set with good form.

Try these two sessions each week, at least 48 hours apart, for the next four weeks to start incorporating HIIT, plyometrics and muscular strength into your endurance training program.

SESSION ONE:  HIIT with plyometrics | Complete this after a 45 minute or less easy run

Complete four rounds of this circuit. Complete as many reps as possible with good form in 60 seconds and then move to the next exercise. Take no rest between exercises and 2 minutes rest between circuits.

Walking Lunges

Box Jump

Skater Hops

Plank Circles

SESSION TWO:  Muscular Strength | Complete this on an easy ride or run day in the PM

Two circuits with four exercises each. Complete two rounds of the first circuit before moving to the next. For the exercises that use weight, use a weight that is heavy enough where the last two reps feel hard to accomplish. If after each set you think you could do several more reps than what you are tasked with, use heavier weights. Go up in small increments until you find the right weight for the given number of reps.

Circuit One

Goblet Squat | 6 reps

Step Up | 8 reps per leg

Toes elevated Romanian Deadlift | 6 reps

Side Plank with Leg Abduction | 6 reps per side

Circuit Two

Hamstring Curl on Stability Ball | 8 reps

Eccentric Calf Raises | 5 reps per leg

Pallof Press | 8 reps per side

Face Pull | 8 reps

The Importance of Strength and Mobility Training
September 29, 2023

As we head into run season and get closer to off-season training, it's essential to recognize the importance of strength and mobility training. While sometimes we will miss a session or two due to the demands of in-season training, it's critical to ensure we do our strength and mobility training throughout the year. The benefits of strength and mobility training are endless, not only for improved performance and reduced risk for injury. but to enhance our overall lifestyle, quality of life and longevity.

Strength and mobility training are essential components to reaching your highest performance in endurance sport. Mobility is the ability of the joints to move through a full range of motion freely and efficiently. Mobility exercises help to increase our efficiency in swimming, biking and running. Flexibility is a component of mobility. Dynamic warm-up exercises are good examples of mobility exercises.

Muscular strength is the external force that can be generated by a specific muscle or muscle group. Strength training improves our muscular strength and power resulting in improved performances in swimming, biking and running. Strength training plays an important role in injury prevention, reduces and removes existing imbalances and is shown to reduce fatigue in the latter portions of long endurance events. From a lifestyle perspective, strength training improves and maintains bone mass reducing risk for osteoporosis, improves and maintains muscle mass reducing and delaying sarcopenia (age related muscle atrophy), improves glucose tolerance and improves and maintains free fat mass and resting metabolic rate, resulting in more effective weight management. For women in peri- to post- menopause, strength training provides even greater benefits, read more on this in our article HERE.

Throughout the off-season, we have greater opportunity to enrich all of these areas through strength and mobility training. We can reduce overall training volume and intensity to an extent while bringing greater focus to our biggest areas of opportunity, whether that be the swim, bike or run and place a heavier emphasis on strength and mobility training. If you’ve never incorporated strength or mobility training, the off-season is a great time to begin making this a part of your regular routine.

The goal is to build up our muscular strength in the off-season through 1-3 strength sessions per week, depending on your starting point, and then maintain these gains in-season, lifting 1-2 times per week. The same goes for mobility exercises. Mobility exercises can be completed stand-alone, incorporated right into your strength sessions, completed before any swim, bike or run session or even completed as a part of your regular stretching.

While the off-season looks different than in-season, the change up in training provides great variety which is good both mentally and physically. For those that are not used to strength training, you will find your confidence will continue to rise as you grow in strength and become more comfortable using weights. With consistency, you will see the gains and results of off-season strength and mobility training in your performances next year.

SOS Race Report
September 19, 2023

I recently participated in SOS Triathlon and I wanted to share my race report. To start, I will say this race is the most challenging but most incredible and adventurous race I’ve completed to date. For some brief history on the race, SOS started in 1983. The event founder would use this course as training grounds for IRONMAN Kona and other IRONMAN events.

The race consists of eight stages including biking, lake swimming and trail running as the course makes its way up to the top of the Shawangunk mountains. To participate, you must complete a qualifying event within a specific timeframe and you must carry and swim with all your equipment (shoes, socks, goggles and swim cap) as you progress through the event. The race only accepts 200-300 athletes each year and typically sells out within minutes.


Stage one begins with a 30-mile bike ride which gains over 2,300 feet of elevation. One thousand feet of this elevation is gained in the last five miles.

There is only one transition area in the entire race which occurs directly after the bike. From this point out, you must carry and swim with all your gear. The first two stages of the race you must provide your own nutrition and hydration. After this, aid stations are plentiful, providing abundant nutrition and hydration throughout the course.

To start, I loaded my bike with two bottles of water halved with Osmo nutrition and brought two packs of shot bloks. My goal was to try and front load just slightly with nutrition and hydration on the bike knowing 1) this is a very difficult race and 2) I had to rely on course aid stations for all nutrition and hydration for the remainder of the race. I finished most of each water bottle and ate 1.5 packs of shot bloks, taking these in every 30 minutes and ensuring I took the last 3 bloks in just prior to the final climb.

While the bike course was challenging, I was pleasantly surprised by how those last five miles (the final climb) felt. I was envisioning a very painful, almost undoable, final five miles, but this turned out to be easier than I thought. While the bike was challenging and many were struggling, this section was doable without ever having to get off the bike or even consider the thought. With that said, the training must be there prior to the race to feel this way.

My goal for this race was to finish, enjoy and learn knowing this was a very challenging course and unique style of race. I paced myself well on the bike, saving good reserves for the final climb and remainder of the race. My strategy was to negative split the race as a whole and focus my thoughts and energy within each stage, taking the race one leg at a time.

The bike finishes at the top of the final five mile climb. You hop off your bike and run with it to the transition area inside of a large parking lot. Prior to the race, you are provided with a “bike to run” bag for anything you need for the rest of the race. This bag, plus a bucket to sit on and a rack to place your bike in is waiting for you inside transition. Volunteers direct you to your transition space so you don't have to find it yourself.

I racked my bike and put all my bike gear back into the “bike to run” bag. I put on my run shoes, grabbed my goggles, swim cap and two gels and headed out for the first run.


Stage two consists of a 4.5 mile trail run with an elevation gain of 495 feet. Immediately coming out of transition there was an aid station with water only. I used this as an opportunity to take my first gel and drink a cup of water, then I set off on the run. The other gel I stored in a gel pocket inside my tri-kit as a spare for any point in the race. I never ended up using it.

The trail for most of the first run was packed earth and gravel, while the last few miles got more technical. The trail tightened and roots and rock were prevalent, though nothing higher than about a foot out of the ground. A section of this run was long and steep, but mostly this was a gradual climb in its entirety. For the long and steep portion, I power walked. This allowed me to run at a strong pace as soon as I hit the top.

Overall, coming off the bike and heading into this run, I felt very strong. I was ready and feeling good as I entered into stage three.


Stage three consists of a 1.1 mile lake swim. This race is known for having cold swims, typically in the mid- 60’s. We were fortunate on this race day to have swims in the low- to mid- 70’s.

Since you must carry your shoes and socks as you swim, part of the difficulty of this race is learning the best way to do so. In training, I found the best solution was to wear my one-piece tri-kit and stick my shoes down the top front with my socks inside my shoes.

No matter how you carry your shoes in each of the swims, you will experience drag and feel heavier. Some choose to wear lighter shoes that drain easily and keep their shoes and socks on as they swim. Others choose to put their shoes on their backside against the curves of the behind. Thinking these options through in- and post- race, it became clearer to me the best solution is to place your shoes inside the front of your kit by your chest and stomach.

Physiologically, this may be the best solution. Our center of buoyancy is near our lungs, which is at the chest. By strategically placing our shoes here, we would experience less drag and drop than anywhere else. By placing our shoes near our behind in the back of our kit, this will make the legs sink, which is also exacerbated slightly by the lack of salt in fresh water. By keeping your shoes on your feet, you not only increase your drag the greatest, but you also tend to kick more which, in this race, not only reduces efficiency in the swim, but can easily trigger a cramp. This race is well known for causing cramps from having to transition so frequently from running to swimming. Plus, you're fatiguing the legs to a greater extent for the runs.

While the results show this as my best swim of the day, it felt like the worst swim of the day. We followed big orange buoys with kayaks and lifeguards all around.  One mental difficulty was you could not see the end of the swim from the beginning. Specifically for me, I felt as though I was making very little progress in this swim. I felt stagnant most of the time, but I believe this is because of the way the current felt as I swam.

Halfway through the swim, I lifted my head a bit higher to sight more because my goggles were beginning to fog. To get back horizontal, I had to kick more. This more aggressive kicking instantly triggered a cramp in my right hamstring. This went away quickly but made me nervous about another potential cramp as I would climb out of the water. As I made it to the swim exit, there were four to five people sitting on the rocks in the water clearly suffering from debilitating cramps in their legs. Thankfully, I did not have another cramp at this point in time. I made my way out of the water, put my socks and shoes back on and headed out on the hill which began the next run.


Stage four consists of a 5.5 mile trail run with 565 feet of elevation gain. This trail was all packed dirt and gravel. The first half of the run was uphill and the second half of the run was mostly downhill.

Shortly after coming out of the water from stage three was the first real aid station. At this point, the race provided water, two flavors of body armor, pretzels and Honey Stinger products including waffles, caffeinated gels and chews. I was thirsty and hungry but none of this sounded good to my stomach.

One thing to remember with races at altitude is your appetite becomes suppressed, so it becomes even more essential to ensure you are getting frequent nutrition and hydration as you race and continue to climb. I drank a cup of body armor, a cup of water and opened two waffles (leaving the trash there) to take with me and eat as I began the run. I was able to eat 1.5 of the waffles and then tossed the rest off the trail for the forest animals to enjoy.

In the beginning of this run, I was feeling the fatigue of the climbing, altitude and prior activities. I ran slower than normal as I fought the mental and physical fatigue. About halfway through this run, we hit another aid station. This aid station was strategically placed on the side of a cliff with a breathtaking view. I grabbed another cup of body armor, a cup of water and two small caffeinated chews. At first, this really upset my stomach because I have never had body armor or honey stinger chews. After about 5-10 minutes, this went away and I began to feel the benefits of the nutrition and hydration. My run got much stronger and I held a solid pace to the next swim.


Stage five consists of a half-mile swim. This swim was mentally easier from the get-go as you could see the end from the beginning. There was a rope line with occasional buoys across the water which you would follow the entire swim. This swim flew by and my method of keeping my shoes in the front of my kit seemed to work very well. I experienced a brief but intense cramp about halfway through the swim, this time in my right calf. Just like in the prior swim, I reduced my kick to minimal and this kept any other cramps at bay.


Stage six consists of an eight-mile trail run with an elevation gain of 600 feet. The first quarter mile of this run was on pavement and then turned to packed earth and gravel. The last two miles is a climb called Godzilla, where most of the elevation gain takes place for this run and the trail eventually gets more technical.

Aid stations are set at miles two, four and six. In this stage, the race provides coke in addition to the other nutrition and hydration items. The coke is a welcome addition at this point in the race. True to strategy, I took in a cup of body armor, cup of coke, cup of water and two caffeinated chews at each aid station.

There were many points on this run I was in complete solitude with runners far in front of and behind me. This run held beautiful views including a waterfall, breathtaking cliff-side views and huge rocky areas where people rock climb. I ran most of this run, but did walk on and off on Godzilla as it was so long and steep. I was also cognizant of the remaining half mile swim and having the energy reserves to do well in (and complete) the swim.


Stage seven consists of a half-mile swim. The entry into this swim is a bit more difficult as you climb down a short but steep path into the water. In this swim, you follow big orange buoys and you can see the end from the beginning. This swim went by very quickly. I debated wearing my shoes so I could head right into the final run finish, but ultimately decided to follow suit with my strategy and placed my shoes inside my kit. Ultimately, this was a good decision and as I climbed out of the water to put on my shoes, this time I carried my socks.


Stage eight consists of a 0.7 mile steep and winding trail run with an elevation gain of 279 feet. Eager to finish the race, I began to run hard up the steep climb. I quickly realized how fatigued I actually was and this pace did not last. I was so tired at this point, I put my hands on my knees and leaned into the earth to continue to walk forward. Knowing I had so little to go, I began to walk/run in intervals the best I could as I went up this steep climb. At a certain point, the climb turns into a gradual slope directly towards the finish line and I was able to “sprint” finish to the end at Skytop Tower.

Overall, this was a challenging and adventurous event with arguably the best views of any race course. I would highly recommend this race, but be sure to do your homework and your training before heading in!

Transition Periods
August 29, 2023

For endurance athletes, mental and physical recovery is an essential element to achieve continued growth. A well-designed training program combined with a meaningful and well-planned racing season and accompanied with adequate rest, sufficient sleep and good nutrition are key ingredients towards continued growth in the long run.

A big part of a well-designed training program includes not only the days on, but also the days off. These include the rest day (or days) you take each week, the planned recovery weeks that may take place every three to four weeks and the transition periods scheduled after big events and at the end of the season. In this article, we define and weigh in on the importance of these transition periods.

A transition is a period in your training where your physical activity and exercise demands are greatly reduced. Transition periods may occur multiple times throughout the year and take place after key events. The length of each transition period varies based on when it is in the season and when your next race occurs. Ideally, you will have a brief transition period after each race you complete throughout the season, with a longer and more final transition period after the last event of the season.

At first, transition periods may either feel welcome or you may be chomping at the bit to get back into the routine. It's important to recognize these transition periods are necessary and crucial for your physical and mental recovery, especially after your biggest events of the season have taken place and you head into the off-season. Transition periods after your "A" races in the middle of the season are typically no longer than one to two weeks, whereas transition periods at the end of the season may be anywhere from 2-6 weeks long.

While your training load is greatly reduced during a transition period, it is also highly encouraged to do physical activity that is different from your normal training. This is a great time to go on walks, hikes, spend extra time being active with the family and even do other activities or hobbies you typically like to do but are not able to in periods of heavy training. During transition, we do not want to become totally inactive or find ourselves heading into unhealthy eating patterns, which can sometimes happen. The goal is to rest, recharge and reset while maintaining some semblance of activity.

For the longer transition at the end of the season, the first week of transition is typically a solid and true rest or “active recovery.” The goal with an active recovery is to continue to move lightly throughout the day while still obtaining adequate rest. This light movement helps reduce soreness and stiffness. A good example week may include rest days with light movement only, short recovery runs without focusing on pace, walks, stretching or light yoga.

The second through sixth weeks will typically have more activity but still be light and with little structure to training. By the end of the transition, the goal is to feel well rested, ready and eager (mentally and physically) to dive back into the regular training rhythm. When you're not feeling that way, this typically happens for two reasons:  1) the transition period may have been too short or 2) you didn't take it as a true transition but did regular training and activity anyways. Not getting in this necessary transition may set you up for less success and greater risk for burnout heading into the next season.

Rest easy and take advantage of these light periods of time. These timeframes are guidelines of what tends to work well. Depending on how you’re feeling mentally and physically, or how stressful your current season of life is outside of training, you may want to lengthen these transition periods.

Enjoy the extra time with family, take extra naps and sleep in when you can. Sometimes, taking a longer transition than you think you need will be more beneficial in the long run than a transition that’s too short. While it may feel like taking this time off will make it more difficult to return to training, the opposite effect is usually achieved. Enjoy that time off and let's head into next training season refreshed, recovered and eager to accomplish more.

Assessments, Zones and RPE
August 29, 2023

If you train and race in endurance events, you have likely heard the words “zones,” “field assessments,” and “RPE” referenced with training. In this article, I want to refresh your memory on the importance of field assessments, zones, the RPE scale and how they all tie together to maximize your potential. For a deeper understanding of how to complete a field assessment and define zones READ HERE.

Typically, the first few weeks of your training and every 6-8 weeks thereafter, you should complete field assessments. Depending on your goals, these assessments are in the swim, bike and/or run. The goal of the field assessment is to push as hard as you can, maintaining as even of a pace as you can for the duration of the assessment. Ideally, the assessment is completed in the same modality (road vs treadmill, road vs trainer and swimming in the same distance pool), at the same time of day and following the same pre-workout nutrition with each occurrence. This offers reliable data to measure where your fitness initially started, to track improvements over time and to identify specific pace, power and/or heart rate zones to be used with training.

Zones are a way to apply and gauge intensity within your training and each zone is a percentage of your threshold from the field assessment. Depending on the modality, zones will either be set in power, pace, heart rate or rating of perceived exertion (RPE). I don’t typically recommend training solely with heart rate zones; however, it is worthwhile to understand where your heart rate typically sits within each zone. Heart rate can be affected by many different variables and has a somewhat delayed response, which is why you typically should not use this as the only measure of intensity.

Completing these field assessments is crucial to maximize gains. As you improve through your training and increase in speed or power, threshold changes. If you don't re-measure on a consistent basis, your zones may be wrong, possibly resulting in training at too low of an intensity. When training at too low of an intensity, improvements are minimized. While improvements are not always seen every 6-8 weeks (progress sometimes isn't seen for several months at a time) it's still important to reassess, gauge and document the data to know you are on the right track.

This is one reason why it's important to stay within the zones for each segment of your workouts in a well-designed training program. Research indicates generally the best training for endurance athletes to improve both speed and endurance while preventing overtraining and reducing the risk of injury is to apply the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule is where 20 percent of your training is done at a high intensity and 80 percent at a low intensity. Keep in mind, not all intensity levels are created equal. What I mean by this is you would never want to include 20% of training at zone seven in your week as your high intensity. Through this principle, and others, your training should be thoughtfully designed, unique and specific to you. You will make the most gains when you stay consistent with your workouts and apply what each workout demands. Focus on each segment of the workout. Push hard through the thresholds and intervals, dial it back on the easy intervals, recovery's and long rides, runs and swims.

When we think of RPE (rating of perceived exertion), this is another measure of intensity, solely based on how we feel. There are several different RPE scales, but the most basic is a scale of 1-10. On a scale of 1-10, one is a minimal effort and 10 is all out, how do you feel? At the end of each workout and within each workout. Each zone holds a specific RPE value, an indicator of how you should typically feel within that given zone. An image of this is above for the bike and run. It's wise to develop a good understanding of RPE to zone. When you're in a workout and hitting heavy winds, running on sand or even pushing a jogging stroller, you will over-reach on your intensity to hit the desired pace, so rather than aiming for that pace, you should aim for the RPE level associated with that pace.

Be cognizant of your fuel and hydration throughout each session and how that may be affecting your RPE. Are you well hydrated and fueled heading into the workout and how did that make you feel and perform? Did you stay well fueled and hydrated during the workout? How did that make you feel and perform? Recognizing the difference and then dialing in nutrition and hydration catalyzes growth.

For women, remember the phase of your menstrual cycle plays a big role in RPE and how your workouts will feel. The week before your period may be rough to find the motivation or you may struggle through the workouts. However, the week of your period, you are at an advantage and higher intensity levels will feel lighter. This is not to say you should keep high intensity workouts reserved for specific timeframes in the month, because you never know what you will get on race day. However, having an understanding of how this affects your RPE and overall outcomes is important.

Developing a good grip on zones and what each zone should feel like on the RPE scale will maximize your gains in training while leading to greater, more enjoyable performances on race day. So, get in the zone, sit in that discomfort and you will soon be stepping into new zones, faster speeds, higher power and greater performances.

Master Your Drive
November 21, 2022

The end of each training season brings considerable value to each future season. You have gained invaluable insight and lessons learned from a past season of training and racing while being filled with renewed hope for the coming season. As you reflect and look ahead to a new season there are a few essential training principles to remember. These are critical to understand when you first begin training and even more essential to remember as you continue to progress, reach new heights and elevate your goals.

Think back to when you first began training, whether this was structured at the time or not. You likely noticed progress came relatively quick and easy. Over time, as you grew, tangible progress continued to appear, but at slower rates and in smaller quantities. This is the principle of diminishing return. The greater our foundation and the faster we are, the slower and more limited our progress appears. For example, someone new to endurance running would find it easier to break 5 hours in a marathon than an elite runner trying to break 2 hours in the marathon. Higher level goals require greater patience, resolute consistency and the drive to excel in all areas, like recovery, rest, nutrition, psychological training, etc.

With this said, as we aim towards higher- and higher-level goals, our risk of setback becomes greater. As our goals are elevated and the difficulty in achieving these new goals is elevated, our risk of encountering setbacks, like an injury or loss of interest, becomes greater. Referring to our previous example, the five-hour marathoner would (generally speaking) need to continue to build on his/her foundation and begin adding speedwork into training to achieve the goal. Assuming this is a healthy and driven individual, the risk of injury and mental defeat would typically be low.  Alternatively, the elite runner would need to be on point in his nutrition and hydration, acing his recovery and sleep, working daily on his psychological strategies, testing and trying the best shoes, scrupulously analyzing every race course, be meticulous in race strategy and running the tangents on race day, running likely hundreds of miles per week in training and partnering with a team of people in order to push the limits of human performance. The risk of setbacks, like injury and mental defeat, at this level is much greater.

You may have accomplished many victories this year including PR's, new distances achieved and/or age group and overall placings. As you continue to look ahead and elevate your goals, both short term and long term, keep these principles in mind. Do not allow yourself to be defeated if progress is not seen as fast as you thought or if you incur an injury along the way to your goals. If you begin to feel mental defeat, stay open with your coach, family, training partners and friends and family in your triathlon club as this will catalyze your breakthrough and continued growth.

If you find yourself in a space where you have achieved high level goals and feel less driven or less excited to reach higher levels and set new goals, spend time reflecting on what achievements down the road would be the most meaningful to you. Drive will desist if you are not identifying your purpose and setting goals that are meaningful to you but rather attempting to impress the crowd or signing up for races out of a fear of missing out.

Take the time to reflect this week and over the course of the next month. The 2023 season will be here before you know it!

Purpose vs Comparison
October 28, 2022

Comparison can come in many forms and is a constant theme in our lives whether we want to admit or not. We are constantly comparing; comparing lives, how much effort or work we do daily compared to someone else, comparing what we've been dealt in life, comparing things and items of "value" we own, comparing training or lack thereof, comparing races completed and finisher times achieved.

Even listing these items out feels exhausting. Comparison is not only the thief of joy but tends to bring unnecessary stress into our lives. Comparison can leave us feeling bitter, tired, depressed and anxious. To live our most fulfilled lives and reach our highest potential, we must stop comparing. Comparing lives, comparing training and racing, comparing in general.

When we stay focused on ourselves rather than comparing to anyone else, our growth is catalyzed. Specifically speaking to endurance sport, we are more in tune with our bodies and how we feel. We identify all the small signals our bodies send, so we know when to keep pushing and when to pull back. We recognize when we need additional rest or recovery and we take it. We are mentally stronger and overall, more full of joy. We can more clearly see and acknowledge the small wins we achieve along the way to our longer-term goals. This provides for greater overall well-being both in and out of sport.

In race situations we race smarter. We push when we know we can push and dial it back when necessary. We race smarter, fuel and hydrate more wisely and perform better when we are not focused on our competition. Post-race, we know exactly where we could have done better and where we would like to do better. Without focusing on the competition, we are overall more satisfied with our finisher time when we push and race smart like we know we can.

The key is staying motivated to train smart, push as hard and stay as driven and dedicated when competition against others is no longer our driving force. This is where our purpose comes into play and the driving force truly becomes you versus you. Recognizing and pursuing your purpose is the greatest driving force you could possibly have. Dig deep and go all in. Read more and reflect on your purpose in our article “Determine the Root of Your Why.”

Determine the Root of Your Why
October 18, 2022

Identifying the root of what drives you and pushes you to a higher level is essential. Take a deep dive into why you participate in endurance sports. Be honest with yourself about your why. Understanding and defining your why, even writing this out and reflecting on it daily, is imperative in becoming the best athlete and best version of yourself you can possibly be. The objective is to understand your purpose, are you clinging to a "surface level" why or a "deeply rooted" why.

For many, when we first join the world of endurance sports, we want to see what is truly possible and this generally holds true throughout the life of the sport. Could we really run a 5k? Could we do a sprint triathlon? Can I make it through a choppy ocean swim? Could I ever really accomplish an IRONMAN? Can I really qualify for Boston? Is it possible to make it to the World Championships?

Once we get some of these wins under our belt, our why tends to change shape. We like people to see our finish lines and wins. Maybe we like how others perceive our ability to push through. Maybe we like the medals and landing on the podium. Maybe we even begin to think we are on a higher level, more entitled or elite because we participate in endurance sports, have completed a certain distance or hit a qualifying finisher time. So, this keeps us engaged, involved and coming back for more.

In a sense, none of these are wrong and you should be proud of every accomplishment, every finish line, every podium, every victory and every loss. We simply need to ask ourselves is this what's really driving our participation? If so, I would challenge you to dig deeper and rethink your why. A superficial why is indicative of your why in life as a whole. When we cling to a superficial purpose we never fully realize our highest potential in endurance sport or in life. This why will only keep you engaged in the sport for so long. At some point you will either no longer be satisfied with your wins or distances completed or you may at some point encounter loss over loss leading to frustration and lack of satisfaction on an entirely different level.

To some degree, we are all guilty of liking the attention. Ask yourself, if no one saw another one of your finish lines, finish times, or your perseverance in every training season, would you still hold the same drive to continue in the sport or push as hard in the sport as you do? Would you be willing to work this hard by training smart, practicing patience, enduring loss, persevering in defeat and triumphing in your victories with no one knowing?

It is so important to dig deeper and look within yourself to find your true why. Endurance sport plays such an important role in our lives, demonstrating to ourselves and others our ability to persevere through every situation. Realizing we always have more to give even when we think we cannot go any further. We find there is always more to give, always another step or stroke we can take. The victories and the losses in endurance sport show us what we are capable of, not who we are. Endurance sport has the potential to help us realize who we truly are.

We have an audience of one. God is our audience and persevering in endurance sport and in life for His sake is what matters. We are enough because He is enough. Take a deeper look, hold onto your deeper why. In this way, you will reach the highest level of athlete you could possibly become and the highest level of character you could ever achieve.

Athlete Highlight - Mike
September 28, 2022

Meet Mike!

Mike has been training and racing in endurance and multi-sport events since 2018. This year, he took on his first Olympic and 70.3 distance events. I first met Mike among the Wild Harbor Tri Club, but did not have the opportunity to really get to know him until he started coaching about three months before IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City. When you first meet Mike, you are quickly infected with his great energy and positive attitude. After several occurrences with him, you realize this is his every day norm and you can’t help but smile and walk away with an uplifted spirit after every conversation with him.

Mike brings this same energy and positive attitude into his training and every race. Just prior to starting coaching, Mike was briefly ill as he will tell you about more below. Despite this brief episode, he was eager and positive as ever to begin coaching, participate in group training sessions with the Wild Harbor Triathlon Club and partake in his 2022 race season. Mike crushed his training and ultimately had a fantastic and successful racing season, completing sprint and olympic multi-sport events and several open water swims prior to IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City.

His 70.3 race day arrived and he had an incredible day. He had a great swim and did well in his transitions and on the bike course. We knew going into the event it would be a tight race to finish before the cutoff and ultimately Mike was pulled on the run course just before mile 9. With every swim stroke, pedal stroke and step he took on that course he brought that same big energy and infectious smile. Post race the following day, while he admitted it was a tough loss mentally, he was able to quickly flip his mindset and in his words " any loss, you move on and figure out how to get better!" Without a doubt, Mike’s perseverance and positive attitude sets him apart. He gives his best 100% of the time and uplifts everyone he meets along the way.

We are THRILLED Mike chose AME to share in his journey!

Q & A:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

The summer of 2017 I became a bike commuter, that introduced me a bit more to the concept of increased endurance capacity because those first commutes I’d get 3 miles on a 6-mile trip and I’d have to stop and rest.  Then as my fitness increased, I started doing extra miles after work heading home.  

In 2018 I heard about Tri the Wildwood, and I thought well I’m biking to work already, and I swim a little bit, and as added bonus it’s at the shore, I figured maybe it’s something I can try.  Before signing up though I asked a good friend who had done a couple of full IRONMANS, can you walk during the run…he assured me there’s no triathlon police force that will DQ you for walking a bit during the run,  (It’s funny how at the time all I knew of triathlons what I saw on TV which, essentially was the super fit competing in Kona, so didn’t seem accessible to a regular person who just wanted to finish.)

I signed up for Tri the Wildwood in 2018 and ever since been hooked and look forward to the season now.  

What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?

Every finish line.  Completion of every workout.  The clichéd meeting some awesome people that help keep me motivated because, well I love my couch.

What has been the most valuable takeaway from your training?

Consistency and training with longer distances…This season I bit off too much in attempting a half-ironman…I couldn’t make the run cut-off, and I hated the training, but gosh I loved the bleed over into the rest of my life.  

This season after races, just walking around, my regular commute to work (when not a training ride), and at my advanced age I still attempt to play B-ball with a group of guys and I just felt better after all of these activities.  Plus, as a HS Wrestling Official just moving around the mat to officiate is aided by increased endurance.

What is your favorite aspect of the Wild Harbor Triathlon Club?

Too much to list, but it starts with the other members and the founders have created an awesome club.  An example around the time of escape the cape this year had a medical thing that hospitalized me for 10 days, so I had pinged via text a couple of the members I text with giving them a "go get em” text I wouldn’t be there in person.  Well out of the blue I got a text from Val, one of the founders wishing me a speedy recovery.  That’s the beauty of the club but this sport to me, at the end of the day these endurance events are grinds at least for me against myself mentally, and it’s a great a group of folks saying keep pushing, and in the end, you embrace in celebration, from the elites to the slow pokes like me we all are participants.  

My favorite activities are the ocean swims, especially late when the ocean warms up and I always must take a minute just to float in that early morning sun and so appreciative of the lifeguards and the club members at that point because it’s just fun, hearing the clicks of the dolphins and knowing after I’m done the rest of the day awaits. Also the parties great fun.  

Your attitude sets you apart. With that said, please share how you overcome and persevere in the face of difficulty or defeat.

Lol, I appreciate that.  

If I’ve overcome its probably because I’ve had enough failures and defeats to know it’s part of the journey.  The different activities I do and have done, from officiating, to trying triathlon means a learning curve that humbles you, so overcoming is the only option.   As it relates to this endurance, swim, bike, run thing, the difficulties and defeats really aren’t that big of a deal in the scheme of things.  I’ve already won just being able to participate.  

To put this in context, my family has been able to hold on to a house down the shore that my grandparents owned as they worked down the shore during the summers.  Plenty of the neighborhood families that were around when I was a kid, aren’t around to see how much the area’s changed.  My late father worked as a youth at the hotels in cape may, and as a 54 year old guy on the larger side of Clydesdale division lol, I get a chance to play with a great group of people doing this swim, bike and run thing at a place that I have some family history enjoying one of the greatest placed in my humble of the south jersey shore.

Pick your pain, in your next 70.3 you forget your goggles and must swim with your head up the entire swim or you get stuck in a crowd of athletes who seeded incorrectly on the swim and you cannot break through for the entire swim?

I reject this question!! Your next 70.3? That implies that mountain is still out there and I want to climb it.  Lol That’s the pain right there 70.3 just the number makes me cringe. Everything else you describe well that’s just something to deal with as part of that pain!  

My true pain: before IMAC 70.3 I would watch videos for inspiration on this social media, visualizing myself as a finisher, all that positive mumbo jumbo; after not finishing the stupid algorithm keeps feeding me 70.3 videos…I can’t repeat what I mumble to myself every time one those videos show up but I’ll say it’s not inspirational. Lol

What is your most valuable take away and biggest piece of advice from something you've learned during a race?

I’d say it’s the overall theme of just keep going.  As a person on the slow end, especially as it relates to the run, my least favorite discipline both physically and mentally, I get encouragement from all the great folks passing me and universally the message offered is just keep going!  

Please note this caveat, this is written at the end of the season, ask me the same questions in July, and all positive comments would be retracted, and I’m back to hating this stupid sport and wondering why I’m doing it. Lol

Off-Season Strength Training
September 28, 2022

As we transition into run season followed by the off-season, this provides a great opportunity to reiterate the importance of strength training. In-season, due to the demands of training combined with career, family life and finding some semblance of rest and relaxation, our strength training sessions are generally what get the cut over swimming, biking and running sessions when we need to miss a workout. While it’s important to give ourselves grace and the flexibility to miss a session here and there, or even a season of training due to greater priorities, it's critical we do what we can to consistently get in our strength training throughout the year. Even if this means rethinking the training program to reduce volume in the swim, bike and run to make room for strength.

The benefits of strength training are endless, from both a performance perspective and an overall lifestyle, quality of life and longevity perspective. Strength training is an essential component to reaching your highest performance in endurance sport. Research shows strength training improves our muscular strength and power resulting in improved performances in swimming, biking and running. Strength training plays an important role in injury prevention, reduces and removes existing imbalances and is shown to reduce fatigue in the latter portions of long endurance events. From a lifestyle perspective, strength training improves and maintains bone mass reducing risk for osteoporosis, improves and maintains muscle mass reducing and delaying sarcopenia (age related muscle atrophy), improves glucose tolerance and improves and maintains free fat mass and resting metabolic rate, resulting in more effective weight management.

Throughout the off-season, we have greater opportunity to enrich all these areas through our strength training. With races months away, we can reduce volume and consistency to an extent in our swimming, biking and/or running, while bringing greater focus to our biggest areas of opportunity and placing a heavier emphasis on strength training. The goal is to build up our muscular strength in the off-season and then maintain these gains in-season.

While strength training is very individual, as are individual goals, you should begin to work towards strength focused weight training, which means lower reps and using heavier weights while continuing to include mobility, stability and functional work. Depending on the individual and the goals, these sessions should take place one to three times per week. Ideally, continue to include plyometric and high intensity interval work one time per week. These sessions are shorter, but very intense and effective. Remember, form is of the utmost importance with strength training. Never sacrifice form for speed or the use of heavier weights. Good technique is the most critical aspect of strength training to maximize gains and reduce risk for injury.

While the off season looks different than in season, the change up in training provides great variety which is good both mentally and physically. If you are not used to strength training, you will find your confidence rise as you grow in strength and become more comfortable using weights. With consistency, you will see the gains and results of off-season strength training in your performances next year.

Tips and Insights from a Pro Timer
July 28, 2022

Aside from receiving a finisher time and wearing the required bib or timing chip, most athletes do not know the details that go into providing timely, successful, and accurate timing for races. When timing is flawless, these are the only details you should notice other than running over the timing mats at each split of the race. Timing is extremely complex and prior to race day, there are countless hours spent preparing and pouring over every detail to ensure a smooth and successful race day for the athletes and the event.

Times have changed drastically from your typical manual timing results. In those days, you would see people frantically pulling tags and punching in numbers as fast as possible as athletes cross the finish line. After you finished, you typically wouldn’t receive your results until several days later. Now, athletes and family members can simply pull up an app on their phone, track their friend or family member real time on the course, receive finisher results within a matter of seconds and even share this information instantaneously on social media accounts directly after finishing a race.

Imagine being responsible for the accurate and speedy arrival of finisher times for up to 40,000 athletes in a matter of hours. The pressure is real and in the life of a pro timer, this is the norm. As an athlete, it’s good to understand the work behind the results. I took the opportunity to collect timing tips and insights from Professional Timer (and husband), Ryan Morris. Ryan is hands down one of the best timers in the country. He has over 10 years of experience and throughout his career has been involved in some of the largest events in the country; as well as copious amounts of multisport events and smaller-sized running events. Ryan is COO of DelMoPRO.

Here are Ryan’s pro tips and insights:

  • Your Garmin or Smart Watch is good but not 100% accurate.  Certified race courses are measured very precisely (using a Jones Counter) and use the tangents of any turn – something that GPS tracking simply cannot replicate for both time and distance.  GPS devices aren’t measuring location in a ‘real-time’ stream.  Depending on the device, it will measure your location every 2-20 seconds on average.  Distance is then measured between these waypoints to create a ‘route’ and measure for distance.  When you add this up over a marathon for example – these little differences in distance vs the certified course will add up and your device will show a longer distance than the race course – every time. Keep this in mind when comparing your garmin/smart watch time to your official race time.
  • Another item to pay attention to on GPS tracking devices is the use of ‘auto-pause’.  Many devices have this on by default now and will show you your ‘moving time’.  Meaning, your complete race time with any pauses subtracted.  This will result in a time shorter than your official race time.
  • For accurate and timely results, the majority of the work is up to the timing team, but just as the athlete is responsible to know the course and race rules, the athlete is also responsible to wear the bib or chip correctly to ensure proper timing.
  • In a running event make sure to where your race bib on the front of your torso on the outer most layer.  If you are starting the race with an outer layer that you are planning to shed shortly after the start make sure to expose your race bib at the start line so it has the best chance of reading.
  • If you are participating in a triathlon and are wearing a wetsuit make sure that your timing chip is underneath your wetsuit.  This will ensure that your chip does not come off when you strip off your wetsuit.

A personal and professional Q & A with Ryan:

What about timing brings you the most joy?

Every event is different and each presents its own challenges.  No weekend (or weekday) is ever the same.  

How much prep work goes into timing an event?  

It depends on the size of the event.  A smaller event like a 5k run has prep work ahead of the race but is not ‘complex’.  Events such as large triathlons or a major marathon require more prep work than people will ever know. The execution before the race at that level is what sets up a timer up to be successful at an event.

How does timing work and what systems do you rely on to produce accurate results?

It’s magic.  Just kidding.  Chip timing systems use RFID technology to read timing chips and produce times.  There are 2 main types – Active & Passive.  Active timing systems use a timing chip that has a battery which allows it to be read at very high speeds and virtually through any barrier – resulting in 100% read rate.  They are also much more accurate – down to three thousandths of a second for some systems.  Passive timing systems use a disposable timing (some are reusable) that in majority go on the back of a race bib.  You will see these mostly at running events but they CAN be used for cycling and multisport events. A passive timing chip is more prone to interference as it depends on the timing mats to both power and read the chip and on a different frequency than an active timing chip. This is why you need to make sure you wear your race bibs properly. Body parts, outer layers, metal, etc. all can affect the reading of these chips.

On your typical race weekend, how many people are a part of the timing team to provide successful and accurate results?

Highly depends.  Most smaller events like a 5K require 2 timers at most.  Larger events can require upwards of 20-25 people on the timing team depending on the event requirements and number of timing splits.

What is one characteristic you look for in your timing team?

Passion – you must enjoy it.

Of all the events you have timed, which event was/is the most memorable and why?

The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run in Washington, DC.  This is one of the OG events in our world that helped invent the modern era of running events.  Going into it’s 50th year it brings with it so much history that I am very fortunate to just be a part of.

As a previous triathlete who’s held some notable times, what are your top tips on race day?

Make sure you wear your timing chip correctly and if you need to return it – don’t forget ;)

Taking Control of Your Thoughts
July 14, 2022

I recently finished the book "Switch on Your Brain," by Dr. Caroline Leaf. In a world full of ever-present distraction, I sought this book out to learn more about the brain and identify new ways to aid in continuously staying more present and aligned in developing my goals and character. Staying consistent in achieving lifelong monumental goals and good character are no easy feats. These are daily choices we must make and we can all attest to this. The ability to take control of our thoughts rather than letting our thought life control us is imperative.

Throughout the course of any one day, we encounter countless interactions and distractions and cycle through an immeasurable amount of thoughts. These thoughts are either contributing to your highest potential or taking away from it. Consistent focus on toxic thoughts and memories lead to stages of stress that impact health for the worse, both mentally and physically.

Let no thought enter your mind unchecked. As we go through the stream of our daily lives, it's easy to allow our environment to influence our thoughts, sometimes without even realizing it. If left unchecked, this impacts our mood and may ultimately affect our decision making.

You have the ability to reject or accept every thought that flows into your mind. This is critical, if a toxic thought enters your mind and you do not actively choose to let it go, this information, and the attitude you feel with it, will be converted to your permanent memory storage. These thoughts then literally move to the front of the brain. Consistent focus on toxic thoughts and memories lead to stages of stress that impact health for the worse, both mentally and physically.

The beauty of it is, we have the ability to change our thoughts and the attitude behind it at any point. Our thoughts constantly have the ability to change. We can either choose to reinforce the thought as is or choose to change some or all of it. We have a responsibility for our thought life. Free will is real and the choice is yours. The deeper we think, the more change we can make. Research confirms you can choose with your free will to interfere with genetic expression, changing your "I cant's" and "I wont's" to "I can" and "I will."

Taking this step changes the physical structure of the brain and begins to renew the mind. The goal is to aim for deep, intellectual and nontoxic thought. No one is exempt from mind issues and thinking toxic thoughts. We all have them. These toxic thoughts can be anything and are different for everyone, from constantly thinking judgmental thoughts; feeling consistently envious, bitter, angry, anxious or depressed; constantly ruminating on a past situation or scenario you wish had played out differently; feelings of inadequacy, loneliness or despair; feeling limited in any way, etc. The list is endless and depending on the gravity of the thought and our attitude behind it determines how much of an impact this will make in our lives. With that said, the point is we are able to turn our thoughts, and the attitude with it, around.

The design of our body and brain is truly incredible with its ability to constantly renew and break through any and all perceived limitations, thereby improving our thought life, mental health and physical health. Begin taking action today on one toxic thought that may be plaguing your life. Do the work to turn this thought and your attitude behind it around. I would highly recommend reading "Switch on Your Brain," as Dr. Leaf lays out a proven, straightforward and efficient strategy on how to take control of your thoughts, one thought at a time.

AME Athlete Highlight
June 20, 2022

Meet Doreen!

Doreen began training for multi-sport events in 2018. In 2019, she completed her first multi-sport event by jumping off a ferry and completing the sprint distance aquabike at Escape the Cape Triathlon and Open Water Swim. Following this event, she had plans to take bigger leaps and increase her distance by completing the Olympic aquabike the following year. Fast forward through the pandemic and cancelled races and she decided the time was right to race again in 2022.

Doreen began her coaching in March of this year. After 15 weeks of swim, bike and strength training while working on her training and racing nutrition, she was ready to take on the Oly! However, as sometimes happens, God had other plans. Two days prior to Escape the Cape 2022, Doreen broke her foot. I could hardly believe it when she reached out to tell me the news. She was devastated. The heartbreak that occurs with injury when you have prepared heavily for an event and are no longer able to participate is heavy and indescribable. However, Doreen showed up big on race day.

Doreen’s husband was also racing in Escape this year. He had the run portion of a relay team with a group of friends. After receiving a scooter from an AME teammate, Kait French, Doreen showed up on race day using the scooter to move herself around. She was unable to put any pressure on her foot, so she propped the knee of her hurt leg on the scooter and maneuvered around the race site to support and encourage her husband and friends racing. Doreen has an infectious, optimistic personality and a beautiful, beaming smile. Her whole face lights up with happiness when she smiles. Even with her hurt leg and inability to participate, she wore her beaming, beautiful smile the whole day through. Doreen has true character and class and is full of hope.

After only 15 weeks of training, Doreen improved her swim pace threshold by 10 seconds per 100 yards. For anyone who knows swimming, even a few shaved seconds over 100 yards is an incredible improvement. Doreen also worked hard over this time to improve her flip turns, building greater confidence and enjoyment in the water. She is eager for the Olympic Aquabike in 2023 and will now be even more prepared than she was for 2022’s event.

We are THRILLED Doreen chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

I started exercising when I was 12 years old because I was overweight.  This helped me keep the weight off and I felt stronger and more confident with myself.  Since then, exercise has become part of my life. I’ve always enjoyed swimming, biking, and strength, along with dancing, and some running.  

I hadn’t been part of any endurance events until I started jogging with my husband in the early 2000’s.  I entered a few 5Ks and enjoyed the feeling of competition and the rush of adrenaline!    However, because of the simple fact that I am not a runner and a few injuries, I realized running races were not for me.  So I continued to strength train, ride my bike and swim.  

Then in 2018 I heard about the Escape the Cape Aquabike race and I was definitely interested in signing up!  I joined the local pool and trained all winter and spring.  In the 2019 Sprint Aquabike I placed 2nd in my age group and 5th in the women’s group.  This motivated me to sign-up for the 2020 Olympic Aquabike.

What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?

Along with the excitement of competing and getting that adrenaline rush, when I train for endurance sports I feel like I am capable of accomplishing something significant.   Even though I’m almost 60, I want to continue getting stronger and healthier so that I can continue to do the activities I love!

What has been the most valuable takeaway from your training?

The most valuable thing I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter your age, your size, or your limits, you can do anything you put your mind to!  

What’s your biggest piece of advice for those experiencing an injury and not able to train or race?

Unfortunately, I broke my foot two days before the 2022 Escape the Cape.  This truly upset me especially after training harder than ever!  However, I am not going to let this stop me; I have suffered illness and injuries in the past and I know that I will heal and return even stronger!

Pick your pain, a longer than expected recovery delaying your return to training from your broken foot or repeated nightmares you forget to bring your bike to Escape 2023 and must forfeit the event?

The worse pain for me would be that my foot would take longer to heal.  If I forgot my bike, that would not stop me from training and I could enter other races.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

I would like people to know that I am the kind of person who follows through on whatever I put my mind to.  I will retire after 30 years of teaching this December   This is something I am very proud of because it wasn’t easy for me to achieve this goal.  I dropped out of my sophomore year in high school at the age of fifteen because I was pregnant.  I had no family support.  When my daughter was eight years old, I went back to school for my GED and then went on to college and graduated with honors!  

The reason I want people to know this is because I have encountered many children in my career who were/are growing up in similar family situations as I did.  I believe anyone can overcome challenges with a lot of self-motivation and determination to achieve anything!

Do It Right
April 25, 2022

This past week, in between work, watching the kids and training, I spent a good portion of time spring cleaning the house. I am no where near done, but I'm that much closer than when I started. I typically do this every spring and I really get into it, washing and wiping the walls and the ceilings, cleaning every toy, cabinet and crevice. In years past, I remember breezing through this without much fatigue. Now, it seems every year I get older, I'm more exhausted by the task. While this may be due to a number of reasons, this chord struck me harder this year. I take my time with each room, working diligently but not rushing the process just to get through it. The goal is to deep clean and that's what I set out to do. At this point, I have about half the house complete.

While the remainder of the task feels somewhat daunting, especially in the midst of cleaning and organizing each room, I am reminded this process is similar to many things in life. When faced with a big task, project, heavy training season, injury or even a life change, we have the tendency sometimes to rush through it. This is especially true if we perceive the task or occurrence as negative.

We have the opportunity to learn from everything placed before us. No matter how big or small, no matter how positive or negative, no matter if this was given to us to do, something we chose to do or a change we could not control. If we rush the process, we miss out. We miss out on learning by not giving every aspect 100%. Depending on the circumstance, we miss out on true understanding or resolve if we don't take the time to process, feel and heal. Sometimes, we even miss out on building positive relationships ahead based on how past experiences have affected us.

What if, instead of rushing through any of the tasks or changes in front of us, we gave each one our full attention and time. We gave everything our best effort in the moment we are in it. We take the time to understand the occurrence, the project or each other. We dig deeper and give everything a second look. Often, we feel pressed for time, but if we don't have time to do it right, when will we have time do it over? Take every opportunity, no matter the size or difficulty (mentally, physically or emotionally), and give it your all.

#AMEhigh today and every day.

All Great Achievements Require Time
March 23, 2022

Recently, I ran the Shamrock Marathon. I had three goals for this race:  my A goal was to earn my BQ (Boston Marathon Qualifying time), at an 8:12 min/mile pace, my B goal was to hit an 8:20 min/mile and my C goal was to simply finish. I did not hit either my A or my B goal, but I did finish the race and here is my race report with lessons learned looking ahead.

For some backdrop, I have been seriously training for the goal of achieving a BQ for about 2.5 years, since having my third child. My first triathlon was in 2008, but my first marathon wasn't until 2012, just a few months before I got married. Fast forward to 2014 and I was pregnant with my first. Then, every other year through 2019 I was either pregnant or coming off a pregnancy and breastfeeding. During this time frame I was running no more than half marathons and did not participate in any multi-sport events. After having my third child in March 2019, I began training and racing for Philly Marathon in November of that year. Fast forward through the pandemic, consistent training, some 13.1's, 70.3's, smaller distance tri’s and two more marathons under my belt, here we are today.

A full week prior heading into the event, I felt very confident in my training and how I felt overall heading into the event. My training had gone exactly to plan, I felt very strong heading into the marathon both mentally and physically and I believed this was the marathon which would demonstrate all the hard work I have put in to earn a BQ.

The Monday night before the race I started to get sick. In fact, my whole family started to get sick and we even kept the kids home from school a few days. I was completely wiped with a bad headache the first few days, cough, sneezing, etc (COVID negative). I had been taking Mucinex all week and struggling to drink water. By Thursday, I was starting to feel somewhat better and finally went on a 2.5 mile easy run that I thought would be the kick I needed to feel recharged and ready heading into the marathon. By the end of this short run I felt drained physically but mentally I felt better about the coming event. The next two days I took it as easy as possible, even trying to get in a few short naps.

On Saturday, the day before the race my husband had an 8k and our kids each had their own shorter distance events. I was feeling much better at this point, but not back to 100% and I was on my feet at these events well into the afternoon. I was tired, but my mind was in race mode.

Race morning arrived and I felt mentally and physically ready to tackle my goals. I did not waiver in my approach to my pace or strategy. The race began and within the first 3-4 miles I knew this was not my race. For the first 10k, I was holding onto just above an 8:12 pace (which was part of my strategy that early on) but based on my RPE I knew this was not a pace I could sustain for the whole event. I dropped my pace to my B goal pace and even that felt difficult to sustain. I knew in those miles this was going to be a long event.

I struggled hard both mentally and physically throughout this event, especially at the tail end of the race. As I mentioned earlier, I truly believed I could suffer through and still BQ after coming off being sick. While it seems like common sense I should have known to back off this goal, this is very difficult to do after you have put in so much work and the day has finally arrived. In complete transparency, throughout the event I became angry, frustrated and sad. I wandered through the phases of wondering why I even participate in these events, I felt at a total loss of joy in participating and, truth be told, I began to blame God for not giving me this win. I hurt physically because my body felt so sick and lethargic and I was hurting mentally knowing I was so far from a BQ. I felt as though I was letting myself and my team down. This led to the downward spiral of thoughts which I knew I had to turn back around.

I forced my thoughts to turn to praise and thanks. Praise for the ability to participate. Praise for the opportunity to see again what my body is capable of. Praise for the new lessons from this race experience. Praise for the support of my family and the success of their participation in the events the day prior. Praise for being able to do what I love, praise to be able to build a company I so firmly believe in and praise to be so blessed to work with each and every athlete on the AME team.

Overall, the biggest lesson I learned from this experience is a recognition that a week of sickness and dehydration plays a bigger toll on our bodies than we sometimes realize. Looking back, what I should have done was switch this race to a training race and pace it to finish (9:00 min/mile or slightly slower) while thinking ahead and planning for the next marathon. An extra training race at marathon distance could have been a help along the way to a BQ, versus what I did in pushing too hard, feeling miserable and keeping myself sick and lethargic for another week. Something to keep in mind if you experience sickness before heading into a long endurance event.

We run the races to learn the lessons. Some are victories, some are losses, both provide growth. I gave this race everything I had and there was nothing more I could do, so even though I didn't hit my main goal, this race was a win. All great achievements require time. It takes courage, strength, faith, dedication, perseverance and mental fortitude to continue to push forward after experiencing disappointment or loss. My choices reflect my hopes and I look forward to the training and racing ahead to reach that BQ. I know when I finally do, it will be all the more worth it.

AME Athlete Highlight - Jenn Maher
January 26, 2022

Meet Jenn!

Jenn has been training and racing for endurance events for almost 15 years. Since her training began, she has completed numerous events (too many to count) of all varieties. On the running end, these include 5ks through marathons and ultras, on both road and trail. In multisport, these include short course triathlons through numerous IRON distance events. In fact, last December she completed her 11th marathon after running a fun 5k with her husband and kids the day before. Currently, Jenn is training for the Jackpot Ultra 100 miler in February!

Jenn joined the AME team in October of 2021, she had just completed IRONMAN Maryland weeks before. Since joining the team, the focus of her training has been to build stamina and strength, both mentally and physically, for the ultramarathon ahead. An equally important focus has been working to cultivate and perfect her training and racing nutrition.

One of Jenn’s greatest strengths is her unparalleled drive and mental fortitude. A good example of this is her recent attempt at IRONMAN Florida. She had just completed IRONMAN Maryland not seven weeks before and was feeling strong and ready heading into her next 140.6. On race morning, the swim conditions were severe, even the pros were out of the water 10-20 minutes slower than their typical times. Jenn just missed the cutoff for the swim. Now, for anyone who has trained for an event of this magnitude, words cannot describe the weight of missing a cutoff and not finishing the event. However, Jenn’s phenomenal character was about to be revealed. She spent the next 12-14 hours cheering others both on course and at the finish line as the race progressed. Her ability to hold her head high and carry the positive and encouraging spirit she did the remainder of that day represents her incredible character and the true heart and soul of triathlon.  Jenn sets a phenomenal example to her family, friends, community and everyone she knows.

Jenn’s future goals include running a marathon in all 50 states and on all seven continents. She is excited to participate in more races with her family and continue spending time training and racing with her multisport community of friends.

We are THRILLED Jenn chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

I've been running since I was 9 years old, but I was a sprinter. I actually quit XC in high school because the race was too long! As I got older, I found a new love for endurance racing because it could push what I thought were my limits. While studying for the bar exam in the summer of 2007, I needed a stress outlet and signed up for Tri the Wildwoods sprint triathlon. I was hooked and started my quest to do my first Ironman, which I finished in 2009. Now I spend each year pushing myself to new limits with triathlons and endurance events.

What is your favorite event and why?

I've only done one so far, but I think ultramarathons are my new passion. Last year I completed a 50 mile race where I skydived to the start line (see picture). I'm an adrenaline junkie and this race was absolutely magical for me. Most ultramarathon races are very small and I love being a part of this new community.

What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?

The finish line. I do every race for the 10 seconds of pure joy you get running down the finish chute. I still get a jolt of adrenaline and goosebumps when I see a finish line. Every. Single. Time. And that feeling will never get old.

What excites you the most about your upcoming 100 miler?

I'm a little wacky (I think most endurance athletes are in their own ways!) in that I enjoy the suffering and can find pleasure in the pain. I've never ran further than 65 miles consecutively so when I hit mile 66 I will enter uncharted territory. I'm looking forward to seeing just how hard I can push myself physically and mentally.

What has been the most valuable takeaway from your training so far?

Rest and recovery are as important as the physical training. Stretching, yoga, foam rolling, epsom salt baths, massages, and, most importantly, more sleep have been crucial for me to maintain the training regimen.

Pick your pain, your next six weeks of ultra-training solely on a treadmill because we are hit with numerous blizzards or developing a nagging blister at mile 50 of your upcoming event?

Easy choice - blister. Did you know treadmills were invented by the English in the early 1800's initially for prisoners to grind corn, but they later evolved into a form of torture? On average, one prisoner died per week on the treadmill.  Enough said.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

I race for God's Glory (1 Cor 10:31). I've been blessed with a body and a mind that can withstand a lot. I feel it's my calling to use those blessings to show others that ordinary people can do extraordinary things (Phil 4:13).

Stay Coachable
January 18, 2022

Would you consider yourself coachable? There is a great short story in the book, The Champion's Mind, by Jim Afremow, about a professor and Zen master. This book is a staple in the AME sports psychology library, highly recommended for anyone interested or growing in this space.

In this story, the professor went to see the Zen master. While the professor spoke about Zen, the master poured him a cup of tea. As the professor was speaking, the master poured the cup full and continued so the cup was overflowing. After a few moments, the professor could no longer restrain himself and shouted "Stop! No more will go in!" The master said to the professor, "You are like this cup. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

This story provides a great example of being able to let go of what we know to always stay coachable, staying open to learning and growth. This story serves as a great reminder that it can be easy, once we have reached a certain educational marker or achieved certain mile markers or feats, to fall into a headspace where we think we know it all or the words of another may not hold value. Our ego grows and we become less coachable, less apt for growth and development and less likely to see or be approached with opportunity. This holds true in the endurance arena and every other area of your life.

Think back to when you were a kid playing on a sports team all the way to present day. Were you then, and are you now, able to keep an open mind and take "correction" without talking back (out loud or in your head), giving excuses, changing your body language or feeling hurt? This is a mental toughness skill that is not easily learned and must be done with intention and consistent practice. Correction and feedback is not personal, it's meant to nurture growth. It's someone recognizing your potential, the opportunity in front of you and helping to guide the way from their point of view. The very best athletes are those who are not only driven and dedicated to reaching their highest potential, but also coachable and continuously stay open to learning the best techniques and advancing their skill sets.

Take time and consider this topic for every aspect of your life. More than likely, you will be able to easily point out where this may hold true for you. Once you identify your areas of opportunity for growth in this space, be intentional in practicing an open mind when these situations arise. From our own personal vantage points, it can be easy to miss what others may see. Take some steps this week to grow in this space and remember to be present in the process, focusing less on the destination and more on the journey getting there.

Victories, Losses and Growth
November 9, 2021

In life and in sport, not every race goes directly to plan. When faced with unmet expectations, how do you overcome and adapt? For endurance sport, unmet expectation can feel like a massive loss and hit extremely heavy. Depending on the experience, desired achievement and weight of the outcome, the time it takes to process and understand what occurred will vary and, sometimes, we don’t know how to understand or work through it. Endurance sport requires such devotion and effort to achieve our goals, when these goals are not met when we expect them to, the result can be confusing, difficult to comprehend and weigh us down. However, what can feel like a massive failure or disappointment at the time can be your biggest path to growth or lead directly to your next PR.

July of this year, I had my first (non-virtual) triathlon post-pandemic. This was a long course olympic distance triathlon. I was ultimately training for Timberman 70.3. I was using this race to get back into a racing rhythm, develop smoothness in transition and ascertain my current capabilities in the olympic race distance to greater understand what I could achieve looking ahead. My training at the time was in excellent shape and I had high hopes for a PR. Not to mention, numerous AME athletes were competing in the various events of the day. I was eager, excited and determined heading in.

As can happen in life, this race day was far from a PR. In fact, the suffering began midway into the bike and all the way through the run, resulting in my slowest triathlon run ever. I gave this race everything I had. In fact, looking back at my race report, I literally wrote “my legs felt like lead,” “I constantly felt the need to puke” and “I had to stop and walk at least 10x throughout this run.” Running is my strongest leg, so for me, this race was exceptionally atypical.

I always recommend completing a race report for every event, those that go well and those that do not. This provides opportunity to reflect, learn and make sense of what occurred, how we did and why. Not only that, but reflection can help us understand why the outcome affected us the way it did.

Sometimes we are hit with curveballs, things completely out of our control which derail our results. Aggressive water conditions, heavy headwinds and lack of aid stations to name a few. Other times, when we take a deeper look, we realize there are areas we can work to fine tune, grow and perform better the next time. Regardless of the situation, there’s always something to learn and apply looking ahead. For this specific event, I realized through reflection, there were several variables outside of my control, as well as mistakes I made that led to the final outcome.

New lessons in hand, my training continued straight ahead to Timberman. Again, I headed into this event excited, determined and ready. I executed race day perfectly and set a PR. Even with an aggressive headwind for a portion of the bike, I managed to perform at my absolute best.

Sometimes, what can feel like a massive failure or disappointment at the time can be your biggest path to growth or lead directly to your next PR. To sustain growth, it is crucial we first recognize not every race will go as planned. Everyone has experienced a race that feels like a disappointment or setback in some way, shape or form. Second, we must reflect on the variables that lead to each outcome, work to understand it and apply the lessons learned. This is critical for the wins and the losses.

So, keep training. Dig deep into your purpose and keep consistently giving it your best. Celebrate the victories, learn from the losses, apply the lessons and always #AMEhigh!

AME Athlete Highlight - Amy
October 29, 2021

Meet Amy!

Amy has been training and racing in running events for over 20 years. In 2019, she completed her first triathlon and open water swim in Tri the Wildwoods, a local favorite. Collectively through the years, she has completed over a dozen endurance events!

Amy joined the AME team in June of this year, just prior to her biggest event of the year, New Jersey State olympic distance triathlon. While she did not finish the swim, her remarkable resilience and solid headspace carried her through the remainder of the event to finish the bike and the run. Just after this event, Amy cut a tendon in her hand that required surgery and put her out of commission for several weeks of training. Through this time, she began to dedicate and focus her efforts on a more well-balanced and mindful nutrition strategy outside of training. Now back into training, she eagerly looks ahead to the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November. Through her training this year, she has shaved one minute per mile off her running threshold so a PR is likely in order. In 2022, her greatest goal is to achieve a new distance in triathlon, IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City.  

While Amy won’t admit this, her greatest character trait is her ability to persevere through anything life throws at her. She has overcome numerous injuries, some of which took months to full recovery and she has overcome adversity in her personal life that would devastate and defeat most. Through all of this she has maintained a determined and positive mindset with a kind, caring, gracious and thankful heart. All the while maintaining her training towards greater goals and new heights. She sets a phenomenal example to her two sons and anyone she meets.

We are THRILLED Amy chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A with Amy:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

Growing up my dad was always doing some kind of race. He did triathlons, marathons and every shorter length running race there was. We used to go and cheer him on at a lot of them. It was family time that was special now that I look back. Lots of my extended family joined us to so many races too especially if he was running with my Grandpop. In fourth grade, I started doing 5ks with my dad. It was something I ended up really enjoying and stayed with me.

What is your favorite event and why?

My favorite event was my first half which was in Disney. I did it with my husband and it was a spectacular event that only Disney could have pulled off. Fireworks to start each wave with the main characters on stage dancing for you, you ran through the parks and along the way there were so many characters. You were excited to run to see who was next.

What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?

Crossing the finish line at my first triathlon was indescribable. I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of myself. I taught myself to swim in a few weeks and was new to biking. I had doubters that thought I couldn’t handle the swim especially in the ocean. I even started to believe them, but they were wrong. They underestimated me and I started to believe them because I have always underestimated myself. I did it anyway and started to learn something about myself. I can be bad ass if I want to be and I liked it.

What excites you the most about your first upcoming 70.3?

Honestly, that I’m scared! I have only told 2 people so far to keep any negative opinions of others away. The thoughts in my head are enough for now. So, Ashley and my oldest son are the two people I allowed in. Wait….I just realized, you all now know too. You have a job, positive vibes only please.

What has been the most valuable takeaway from your training so far?

I learned I need accountability. Most of all, I need to be pushed. I can do more than I am usually willing to give. Having Ashley beside me has taught me that I can be more and want more. I’ve also learned the importance of fuel and how it affects performance.

Pick your pain, a long and harsh winter limiting your bike and run training to mainly indoor sessions or a short winter, but the pools are closed again due to the pandemic?

Biking and running only inside! Geez…..that would be painful. Seeing and being in nature is huge for me. I know that I am beyond lucky to be able to bike along the water and run on the beach. So many cannot say that and I do not take that for granted.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

I always like people to know I am honest and loyal. What you see is what you get. You can always trust that I will tell you the truth and have your back.

Step into the Zone
October 28, 2021

If you train and race in endurance events, you have likely heard the words “zones” and “field assessments” referenced with training. Maybe you use these in your training, maybe you’ve never heard these words tossed around. Regardless of where you sit, this article will provide both a baseline of understanding and help to further your knowledge of how to train smart, understand where zones come from and how they play a part in the bigger picture of maximizing your potential. So, let’s talk about the importance of field assessments and zones and how they tie together.

To understand your current fitness, you need to determine a baseline. While this can be done in human performance labs and other facilities through VO2 max and other testing, for most, this is not a realistic option. Alternatively, one way to estimate your current fitness level is through field testing. Field testing is exactly what the words imply, tests run “in the field” of your sport of choice. Field tests not only determine a baseline of your current fitness, but allow for progress measurement, zone development and potential to be maximized.  Field tests should be completed for every aspect of multi-sport you participate in. For a triathlete, these assessments would be completed in the swim, bike and run.  They should be penciled into your training at the start of your training and every 6-8 weeks thereafter. If you’ve never completed one before and you’ve been training for a while, now is the time to start.

The goal of the field assessment is to push as hard as you can, maintaining as even of a pace as you can for the duration of the assessment. Ideally, the assessment is completed on fresh legs in the same modality (road vs treadmill, road vs trainer and swimming in the same distance pool), at the same time of day and following the same pre-workout nutrition with each occurrence. For the bike, this field test typically consists of a 20 minute all-out effort. The run, typically a 5k. For the swim, I typically like to use a 1000-yard test. These field tests offer reliable data to measure where your fitness initially started, to track improvements over time and to identify specific pace, power and/or heart rate zones to be used with training. With that said, data recording is imperative; track heart rate, pace, power and mileage.

This brings us to zones. Zones are a way to apply and gauge intensity within your training and each zone is a percentage of your threshold from the field assessment. Depending on the modality and what tools you have at your disposal, zones will either be set in power, pace, heart rate or rating of perceived exertion (RPE).

Completing these field assessments is crucial to maximize gains. Through training, we adapt and become faster, stronger and build endurance. When training in zones, you train based on a specific percentage of your maximal effort, so it's important to consistently measure and gauge changes or improvements in this number. As you improve and increase speed or power, threshold changes. If we don't re-measure on a consistent basis, zones may be wrong and training may be at too low of an intensity. If training is at too low of an intensity, improvements are minimized. While improvements are not always seen every 6-8 weeks (progress sometimes isn't seen for several months at a time) it's still important to re-assess, gauge and document the data to know you are on the right track.

This is one component in training smart and why it's important to stay within the zones for each segment of your workouts. Research indicates the best training for endurance athletes to improve both speed and endurance while preventing overtraining and reducing the risk of injury is to apply the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule is where 20 percent of your training is done at a high intensity and 80 percent at a low intensity. When this principle is applied in your training, either through a good coach or done yourself, be sure to follow the workout as designed. Focus on each segment. Push hard through the thresholds and intervals, dial it back on the easy intervals, recoveries and long rides, runs and swims.

Get in the zone, sit in that discomfort and you will soon be stepping into new zones, faster speeds, higher power and greater performances.

Mapping out a Strategic and Meaningful Race Season
October 18, 2021

As you map out your race calendar for the season ahead, recognize the importance of choosing the most meaningful finish lines to you. Consider what season you are in, where you started, where you would like to be from a long-term perspective and your current strengths and weaknesses (areas of opportunity). No two people are in the same season and no two race calendars and training programs should look alike.

First, determine your "A" races.  These races are the biggest achievements you want to accomplish within the next year.  When considering your A race(s), goals generally include aiming for races of greater distance, improving speed within a specific race distance or trying new types of races entirely. For example, you may be seeking to complete your first Ironman, PR in a 70.3, to become faster and stronger in sprint distance events or try something new entirely, like an adventure race. Based on where you are and what your long-term goals are, will determine your A races for the upcoming year.

Once you've decided on your A race(s), your next move is to determine what additional events will assist in achieving your A race goals. These are your "B" races. B races are placed strategically before your A races throughout the season to help you achieve your A race goals. Depending on your goals, these races may be completed for speed, used as a warm-up, help to fine tune your transitions and/or racing nutrition/hydration, test new gear in a race environment and work out any kinks prior to your highest priority events.

Once you've determined your B races, now it's time to choose the "C" races, if any. C races are events throughout the season where you support a good cause, enjoy a race socially with friends or even use as a training race to push yourself slightly harder than you would in a non-race environment. C races are not meant for PR's or speed; in fact, depending on your personality, C races may not be a wise move if you are unable to dial it back in a race environment. The proximity of C races in comparison to your A and B races may be harmful rather than helpful to your A and B race goals if you push too hard. Do not compromise an A race performance with a C race. C races can also be used to fine tune transitions and kinks and test new gear, just like a B race.

Altogether, you may have numerous races on your calendar, or you may have just a few. Either way, it will be unique to you. So, continue to think about the race season ahead. Reflect on your current season and remember to never compare yourself to others. Backgrounds, training and racing history, history of injury, lifestyle and goals (to name a few) are vastly different. It's not about competition with others, but the competition within yourself. Yesterday's achievements are yesterday's achievements. Consider what you are doing today, tomorrow and the next in the pursuit of chasing your best self. This doesn't necessarily mean greater distances or faster paces, but continuing to live the lifestyle, maintain balance and set the example for your family and community. Never stop in the pursuit of chasing your best self.

AME Athlete Highlight
September 29, 2021

Meet Gabrielle!

Gabbi has been training and racing for multi-sport and endurance events since 2016. Since then, she has completed close to thirty triathlons, running events and distance open water swims. Her accomplishments span from sprint distance triathlons and 5k’s through IRONMAN.

Gabbi joined the AME team early 2021. Her greatest goal this year was to complete her first IRONMAN, IRONMAN Maryland, which she just completed a few weeks ago! Throughout the year, she also completed, PR’d and/or placed in her age group in four other events, including two triathlons, a one-mile open water swim and a century ride.

Growing up, Gabbi was a competitive swimmer. With swimming her strongest leg, her goals for this year also included building speed and endurance on the bike and run while continuing to build and improve in the swim. She nailed her goals for this year, increasing her speed and endurance in all three legs of the sport. She hit her greatest milestones from a volume perspective in all three aspects, while building greater confidence and enjoyment in the bike and run. Since February, Gabbi has improved her swim speed threshold by 8%, her bike power threshold by 16% and her run speed threshold by over 5%! For 2022, her goals are to continue to excel, PR and podium at sprint distance triathlons and distance open water swims.

Gabbi is an absolute joy to have on the team. She loves the camaraderie, support, encouragement, and friendships that have stemmed from the AME team and the Wild Harbor Triathlon Club. She has a beautiful family with her incredibly supportive husband and pup, Luca.

We are THRILLED Gabbi chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A with Gabbi:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

When I turned 30, I was having a bit of a mid-life crisis. I decided to create a "30 before 31" bucket list. A list of 30 things I could do before my next birthday that would celebrate this time in my life and lead me on an adventure. The list was a bit schizophrenic in the sense that it had a huge range of items: reading, cooking etc... One of the items on my list was to "do a triathlon" and I signed up for TriAC. At the time, I didn't know if I could bike ten miles let alone run a 5K after. I had never been an "athlete" so to speak. I had so much anxiety leading into the training and race, I was terrified. One night, while watching the news I saw a segment on "things to do at the shore", and there was Val, Maggie & Lisa talking about the "Wild Harbor Triathlon Club". I signed up for their "Mock Triathlon" and that was it. I was hooked! Their kindness, energy and spirit was what drew me in and I knew I had found my tribe. I joined the club soon after and they helped push me to the finish line at TriAC that summer. Triathlon has made me broke ever since.

What is your favorite event and why?

TriAC by far. There's a little bit of nostalgia there since it was my first race. I also love swimming, biking and running through the city, seeing the characters on the boardwalk and finishing with such a rowdy crowd. The fast/flat course also is a plus.

What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?

I love the people. This sounds silly since it's a very individual sport, but it allows me to have friends and meet others who I would never otherwise have the opportunity to.  Through triathlon, I have made friends that were older, younger, of different backgrounds and have different political or religious views than my own. Without them, I wouldn't have the well-rounded view of the world that I do now. Without them, I wouldn't be able to race as fiercy. Without them, the sport would be flat out BORING. Coming into transition and seeing old friends, greeting each other, cheering each other on and celebrating at the finish line makes all the hours of training and sometimes the loneliness that comes with that training worth it. The people make triathlon joyful.

Now that you have completed your first IRONMAN, what next event finish line would mean the most to you?

Nothing will beat the finish at IRONMAN Maryland, but I think getting back to sprint tris and being able to be a little more competitive in my age group will mean a lot as we head into 2022. I'm also very much looking forward to having a little fun at the Key West Triathlon in December (beer in my bike bottles? Maybe!).  

What has been the most valuable takeaway from your training so far?

I have two - 1. Progress is progress, no matter how small or large. It is so hard when we are "in it" to see the big picture. This is something that I struggled with tremendously at the beginning of IRONMAN training. I would get frustrated when I couldn't see or feel progress in the big strides the way I was used to. There's progress being made every time we head to the pool, go out for a ride or hit the pavement for a run. As they say "There's no such thing as a bad workout". This is why it's so important to keep track of workouts and reflect back on them every so often. Thinking back to that first Sprint TriAC then to last weekend at IRONMAN Maryland, I am so proud of how much progress I've made. 2. Don't be so hard on yourself. Give yourself some grace every once in a while. Triathletes tend to be type-A (guilty!) and giving ourselves a break is never the first solution for many of us. I've had to learn that some days things just go wrong, and slowing down and taking a timeout is alright and won't destroy our fitness. This mentality got me to the finish line in Maryland. Forward progress is progress no matter how slow or small.

Pick your pain, another 2.4 mile jellyfish swim or realizing you ran off course and added an extra half a mile during an IRONMAN run?

I'll take those jellyfish ANYDAY! After 26.2 miles running/walking and crawling there's no way I'm going another step!

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

Get ready for a 76ers reference: Trust the Process. It may hurt, it may be exhausting, but there's a reason for some of the crazy workouts we are given. When I first started with Coach Ashley, I thought she may be trying to kill me with some of the speed workouts she was programming, (we all know how much I "LOVE" the run). I had to really change my mindset and relinquish some control when it came to training and trust that there was a plan in place to get me to the finish line, even if I couldn't see it at all times.  IRONMAN training takes sacrifice and grit, committing to the process is the first step. Tri On!

The Importance of Transition
September 21, 2021

The AME Team has officially wrapped up the 2021 triathlon season and is headed into either running or the off-season. By this point in the year, this is the case for most triathletes. As such, it's necessary to define and weigh in on the importance of a solid transition.

A transition is a period in your training where your physical activity and exercise demands are greatly reduced. Transition periods may occur multiple times throughout the year and take place after key events. The length of each transition period varies based on when it is in the season and when your next race occurs. Ideally, you will have a brief transition period after each race you complete throughout the season, with a longer and more final transition period after the last event of the season.

At first, transition periods may either feel welcome or you may be chomping at the bit to get back into the routine. It's important to recognize these transition periods are necessary and crucial for your physical and mental recovery, especially after your biggest events of the season have taken place and you head into the off-season. Transition periods after your "A" races in the middle of the season are typically no longer than one to two weeks, whereas transition periods at the end of the season may be anywhere from 2-6 weeks long.

While your training load is greatly reduced during a transition period, it is also highly encouraged to do physical activity that is different from the typical swim, bike and run. This is a great time to go on walks, hikes, spend extra time being active with the family and even do other activities or hobbies you typically like to do but are not able to in periods of heavy training. During transition, we do not want to become totally inactive or find ourselves heading into unhealthy eating patterns, which can sometimes happen. The goal is to rest, recharge and reset while maintaining some semblance of activity.

For the longer transition at the end of the season, the first week of transition is typically a solid and true rest, with only rest days, recovery runs, walks, stretching or light yoga. The second through sixth weeks will typically have more activity but still be light. By the end of the transition, the goal is for you to feel well rested, ready and eager (mentally and physically) to dive back into the regular training rhythm. When you're not feeling that way, this typically happens for two reasons:  1) the transition period may have been too short or 2) you didn't take it as a true transition but did regular training and activity anyways. Not getting in this necessary transition may set you up for less success and greater risk for burnout heading into the next season.

Rest easy and take advantage of these light periods of time. Enjoy the extra time with family, take some extra naps, sleep in when you can. Continue to think ahead to your future short and long term goals, what races you would like to accomplish, what paces you would like to achieve and any other health and wellness goals you would like to work towards. Let's head into next training season refreshed, recovered and eager to accomplish more.

The Advantage of Race Reports
August 30, 2021

After completing a race, have you ever written out a race report? A race report is a compilation of thoughts and reflections regarding a recent event. Considerations on your race execution, mentality, fueling strategy, hydration strategy, transition setup, temperature on race day and how that affected your performance, thoughts on your tri kit, pacing strategy, taper, training leading in, etc. While it seems like we would remember these details event over event or year over year, these details tend to get lost or forgotten.

By completing a race report just after finishing an event, you can reflect on those details you would like to improve or change and apply them to your races moving forward; resulting in a smoother, faster and/or better experience down the road. Not only that, but these are great memories to reflect on years down the road. With that said, I want to share one of my most recent experiences and a few key takeaways that may help improve your experience and headspace heading into a future event.

Last weekend, I completed IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman. The swim was perfect. It was a rectangular lake swim, the current was against us on our way out and with us on the way back in, and the water temperature was just wetsuit legal. I always emphasize seeding yourself the best you can with each race. Commonly, athletes will seed themselves too fast and find out quickly this is not the space they want to be in. With this event, I seeded myself too slow. I recently overcame a shoulder injury and underestimated my resilience and abilities back in the race scene. At first, this was frustrating as I had to make my way through the athletes ahead of me and it slowed my pace. However, once I got into my own zone and rhythm, it provided a great confidence boost at the beginning of the race as I continued to pass all the swimmers around me and ahead of me. I wouldn't recommend seeding yourself too slow, but if you are on the verge of two seeded times, it's typically best to go with the second group, placing yourself at the front of the group so you avoid some of what I encountered. You may also get this same confidence boost.

Fast forward to the bike. The first 20 miles were incredible, rolling hills and a tailwind most of the way. Then we turned around. The next 18 miles were rolling hills and a heavy headwind. So much of a headwind you had to pedal relatively hard even when going downhill. At mile 38 we made a turn to loop around to the finish. The majority of those remaining 18 miles were brutal climbs, with the last 1-2 miles of the event being downhill and flat as we made our way into transition. While it was difficult, I loved this bike course because I love a challenge. I aced my nutrition and hydration, aced my pacing and rode my gears right which is absolutely crucial with a hilly course.

The biggest reason I'm explaining the details of the bike course are because in those last 18 miles of climbing, after 20 miles of such heavy headwinds, seeds of doubt were popping into my head that the run portion of this race was going to be a walk/run. My legs were heavy and I felt spent. Now, depending on the distance event, the conditions on race day and how you have trained and prepared heading into a race, sometimes a walk/run is necessary and/or all you can give. However, the LAST thing you should do is give up or assume you will do worse than you can before you even start.

As I dismounted and made my way into transition, I was prepping myself mentally to fight the pain and fatigue ahead and found myself running comfortably with the bike. I switched into my run gear and headed out on the run. I nailed the run, running just slower than my goal pace for the race. I was aiming for an 8:30 pace and hit 8:37's overall.

At any time, but especially on race day, it's easy to doubt your capabilities on what you can do, especially when you're feeling physically and/or mentally exhausted. The BEST thing you can do is BELIEVE in yourself, TRUST your training, EXECUTE on race day exactly as you have in your training and OWN THE FIGHT through the pain and fatigue. Not every race is going to be your best race, but implementing these actions on and before race day, while collectively looking at each event and applying what you've learned will turn you into the best you can possibly be.

No event is the same and there is always something you can learn upon and improve with each type and distance event you do. Writing this information down and applying the lessons learned allows us to consistently reach greater and greater levels, leading to your highest potential.

So, write those race reports, apply the lessons, keep moving the gears towards your highest potential, AME high and do it with a smile.

AME Athlete Highlight
August 30, 2021

Meet Grace!

Grace began her multi-sport journey in 2018. She began with a duathlon in 2018, completed numerous triathlons in 2019 and one aquabike in 2020. This year, Grace has completed and PR’d in three aquabike events!

Grace started with AME in March. Through consistent effort and hard work, she has surmounted her greatest bike and swim distances, both in the pool and open water.  Grace has also made significant gains in speed. Since March, she has improved her swim speed threshold by 15% and improved her bike speed threshold by 21%.

In March, she had a newly diagnosed hip injury which caused much discomfort and prohibited running. Through a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach of stretching, strength training, cross training, working with her doctor and PT, she is slowly and progressively working towards running injury free. Looking ahead, she wants to crush the Olympic distance aquabike at Atlantic City Triathlon in 2022, among her other goals.

Grace has a passion and love for multi-sport and endurance events. She even encouraged her boyfriend to participate in a race this year, he crushed it and made the podium at his first event. Grace’s dedication and perseverance are apparent through her training, headspace through injury and the tough race courses she chose to complete this year.

We are THRILLED Grace chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A with Grace:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

I first got into running in 2013 because I wanted to do the Peachtree Road race 10K that took place in Atlanta every July 4th. In 2016 I broke my foot and couldn’t run so I decided to try biking and swimming and do a triathlon and I have loved it ever since.

What is your favorite event and why?

My favorite event is the women’s Philadelphia triathlon. It is a popular race with a lot of beginners and the energy is really positive. I’ve met a lot of other women in the transition at this race and everyone has always been so fun and encouraging.

What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?

The part about triathlon that gives me so much joy is meeting other competitors and training with them. I’ve met people from all walks of life and they have all been wonderful and encouraging. I also love testing myself and feeling accomplished outside of work.

If you could choose anyone to do a triathlon with, who would it be?

I already train with Maureen Lehr which is so much fun. But if I could train with anyone else it would probably be my mother. Hopefully my constant peer pressure will get her to try a little one one day.

Pick your pain, a two loop swim course with buoys that are consistently moving out and adding yards beyond what should be the total swim distance OR taking a wrong turn on the run course and adding ¼ mile to the total distance?

I would choose the moving buoys. I have already done a race with moving buoys which felt like the finish line was moving farther and farther away. But I survived that. And I am a terrible runner and would not want to run one more foot that I had to.

What is your favorite part of training?

My favorite part of training is feeling strong and accomplished and a little less stressed. (But my real favorite part of training is eating brunch after.)

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

I want people to know that triathlon is not a natural talent for me but I work really hard and enjoy it.

AME Athlete Highlight
July 19, 2021

Meet Katie!

Katie jumped headfirst into the sport of triathlon in 2017, since then she has completed several triathlons, including Atlantic City Triathlon, Escape the Cape and Tri the Wildwoods! However, her endurance sport journey began much earlier. Since 2007, she has completed numerous running events, including the Captain Bill Gallagher 10 Mile Island Run, Philadelphia Half & Full Marathon and Broad Street 10 Miler.

Katie’s goals for this season are to improve her power, strength, endurance and speed to earn some PR’s in her calendar of events this year. Since joining the AME Team in April, she has made progress in each of these areas and experienced excellent growth! She has dropped 4% off her swim threshold pace, seen a 34% improvement in her bike threshold speed and dropped 27 seconds PER MILE off her 5k time! She has now also seen her hard work pay off in her first and most recent event of the season, Lake Lenape Sprint Triathlon. Here, she earned 2nd overall female and 7th place overall!

Katie has superior drive and perseverance, she entered this season ready to roll after just having a baby last year! She has a beautiful family with her husband and two small children. She loves to help in her church family and has also recently taken up learning how to surf! For next year, she has her sights set on long course events.

We are THRILLED Katie chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A with Katie

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

I ran a marathon and half marathons in my twenties. I really enjoyed participating in endurance running events, but to be honest they got a little boring.  I love all outdoor fitness activities and trying new things so my friend suggested doing triathlons. It wasn't until I got into my thirties and had my first kid that I began looking for a challenge to get myself back into shape. I put triathlons on my 2017 goal list and completed my first one that summer. Then obviously, I was hooked! I wish I had gotten into them sooner!

What is your favorite event and why?

My favorite event so far is the Atlantic City Triathlon. I love the course (it's very beginner friendly!) and the energy and passion of the crew that organizes it. It's well run, organized, and there's great communication which helps me feel less anxious. And it's by the beach so who doesn't love that?!

What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?

I love what these events draw out of me! They make me realize that I am physically and mentally capable of doing so much more than I imagined. I love the energy and excitement I feel in the air. I love my fellow triathletes who are always so friendly, fun, helpful, and uplifting. When I'm competing, I am truly in the moment, me against my mind and body, feeling all of the strength I possess. The after-race endorphin rush is the best! It brings me joy to know that my mind and body can accomplish difficult things, and that I am investing in my long-term health.  I take pride in knowing that my children are watching how I take care of myself and I hope it rubs off on them!

If you could choose anyone to do a triathlon with, who would it be?

My 6 year old son, Luke. He's my little buddy and seems so fascinated in what I do. We made a goal to do our first triathlon together next summer, so that we'll have this year to practice! There's nothing more that I'd love than to cross a finish line with my son!  

Pick your pain, forgetting your cycling shoes and having to wear running shoes on the bike in an Olympic tri or forgetting your goggles for the swim in a sprint tri?

I'd so much rather forget my swim goggles for a sprint swim. I know my swim time wouldn't be as great, but since I beach lifeguarded for so long I'm accustomed to swimming in open water without goggles on. At least it would be over quicker than the bike! I feel like completing an Olympic Bike with running sneakers would be painful and take forever!

What is your favorite part of training?

The alone time! I love giving myself time to be alone and do something I love to help clear my mind and help me feel good. I know taking care of myself (physically, mentally, & spiritually) helps me to be a better person so I make it a priority. It's hard to do that with the noise of everyday life, so I need to carve out the alone time to decompress. Training for these events gives me motivation and accountability to take care of my health every day.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?  

If anyone wants to do any crazy location triathlons, I'm down! I love to travel and make new friends. I'd LOVE to do the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon one day!

Overcoming Open Water Swim Fears
July 18, 2021
It is in our ability to step into our fears with action that allows us to overcome.

The fear of open water swimming is extremely common. Rarely, do I work with someone who has no open water swimming fears. In fact, I believe everyone has some level of discomfort or anxiety with open water even if they don't like to admit it. For advanced and regular open water swimmers, this fear has evolved into a healthy respect for open water.

Open water swimming introduces a vast amount of unknowns. For example, the different swimming environments (ocean, bay, lake) and whether this environment is enclosed by land or open to a bigger body of water. When we let our minds wander and think about what might be in the water around us, like seaweed, fish or jellyfish. Or even thinking about greater fears, like sharks in the water or sharp objects on the lake or ocean floor.

Then, adding in the dynamics of a race tend to heighten our level of anxiety. For example, hoping the race is wetsuit legal due to a lack of comfort in swimming without a wetsuit. The distance and design of the course itself plays tricks on the mind; like the shape of the swim, how far out the farthest buoy looks and feels, the number and placement of buoys (sparse or close together). Then, once the race starts, the battle of finding your own space in the water begins, people swimming close to and in front of you, potentially knocking off goggles or swim caps, or pull buoys even getting detached. The tight wetsuit itself coupled with existing anxiety and your face submerged in dark water can greatly heighten anxiety.

So how do we work to overcome these fears? The first and most important step is by acknowledging your fears and recognizing that everyone has them. It is in our ability to step into our fears with action that allows us to overcome. Here are strategies to consider trying, broken into two categories:  training and racing.  


  • The number one way to work through it, is to do it. Get in open water swim practice as frequently as possible. The easiest way to do this is to join your local tri club (most of you have) and take advantage of their OWS sessions. The advantage of these is they are lifeguarded and others will be swimming with you. Never swim alone in open water.
  • You must be able to put your face in the water. Existing anxiety, a tight wetsuit and dark water can make it difficult to keep your face in the water and keep moving forward. A great way to practice this is by swimming underwater in the pool. This works your breath control and helps to work through feelings of anxiety which is elicited when we hold our breath underwater. For example, swim a 25 as far as you can underwater until you must come up for air. Approach the surface, take a breath, then finish out the 25 underwater. Do an easy 25 freestyle back. Repeat this three or four times and add into several weeks worth of pool swim sessions.
  • Focus on stroke count and sighting. When you focus on stroke count and sighting this keeps the mind from wandering, keeps you moving forward and keeps you on course. Ideally, you should be sighting every 6-12 strokes. So, focus on counting your arm stroke to 10, then sight, count to 10, then sight, etc.
  • Master the ability to breathe bilaterally and to your non-dominant side. I include this in most of your swim training because it's such an important skill. While it takes a LONG time to master this, your confidence in any swim session is amplified. You know you can easily breathe to either side if there is chop, swells, other swimmers or turbulence around you.4
  • Practice swimming in a tight pack with people around you. This is a great exercise that I like to do as a team. Swim at the same pace and very close to each other. With each practice like this you get more comfortable swimming close to others and learn how to breathe and vary your stroke as needed to swim successfully and finish at your best.


  • Get in a good warm up. If it's race day, get in the water and get use to the temperature. Get a feel for how deep the water gets and when you should dive in if it's a run in start. Do a 5-10 minute easy warm up with your face in the water to get used to the taste, color and feel of the water and which way the current is flowing.
  • Have a plan for when anxiety peaks. For example, when the urge to stop is strong or anxiety seems to be at it's worst, move to breaststroke or sidestroke. This way, rather than stopping or treading water, you are still moving forward, just in a different style. These strokes (vs backstroke) are great alternatives because you are still able to see your surroundings and stay on course. Have a plan in place on how long you will stay in this position (example, 10 strokes) then, move back to freestyle.
  • Know that in most races (always check the athlete guide) you can rest on the water support boats/paddleboards when you need to. The only rule here is you cannot use them to push yourself forward once you start swimming again.
  • When it comes to chop/swell/turbulence/etc and how to master your form in open water, read Achieve Your Best Open Water Swimming

Remember, the very best way to overcome your open water fears is to get in open water as much as possible. With each open water experience, you step into your fear, learn something new and build your confidence in what you can achieve.

Step into your open water swimming fears, have courage and confidence, trust yourself and your training.

#AMEhigh and do it with a smile!

Athlete Highlight
June 15, 2021

Meet Kait!

Kait started triathlons in 2015! Since then, she has completed numerous multi-sport events ranging in distance from sprint through IRONMAN 70.3. As you will read in her Q & A below, her triathlon journey began with her first and favorite event, Escape the Cape which led her to complete another two tri’s that very same summer. Kait has done many of the local short course classics like Tri the Wildwoods and Atlantic City Triathlon while also competing in longer course events like IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City, IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Placid and IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman. Next, she has her sights set on a full IRON distance event.

Kait has been training with AME since the beginning of the year! She is consistent with her training and puts in every ounce of work. This has paid off immensely for Kait. Despite having a brief foot injury as she came on board, she has made immense progress in her training. She has cut over four minutes off her 1000 yard swim threshold, improved her average wattage on her bike threshold by 30% and dropped one minute and six seconds per mile off her 5k time! Her biggest race gain is seen in her most recent finish at IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman where she dropped 57 minutes off her time from her last 70.3. GO KAIT!

Kait has a strong drive and love for the sport. This was evident in her training and completion of numerous virtual events throughout the closure of live races in 2020 during the pandemic. She has a go-getter attitude to dive in and take what comes next. Her energy, excitement and positive attitude make an impact on all around her and keep her growing to be the best she can be!

We are THRILLED Kait chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A with Kait:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

My cousin originally got me into triathlons, which is funny because she had never done one prior to our first race. A few weeks before Escape the Cape (2015), my cousin asked if I wanted to do the race as registration was still open and since it was right around the corner, I was like “why not!” I will admit that I had no wetsuit or bike until two days before and had no idea how to transition until my first T1. (If you’re thinking about pulling the trigger on a specific race, but are nervous, do it!)

What is your favorite event and why?

Hands down Escape the Cape! It will always hold a special place in my heart as it was my first race and got me hooked. Nothing else beats jumping off the Ferry to start the swim.

What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?

All the wonderful people that I have met through the sport. I have met one of my good friends, Rachel Leal, through triathlon. There are so many incredible athletes and volunteers coming together to accomplish something incredible.

If you could choose anyone to do a triathlon with, who would it be?

My dad. He continues to toy with the idea of doing a tri but hasn’t pulled the trigger yet. After my race this last weekend at Eagleman, I think we might be a step closer!

What is your favorite part of training?

I enjoy seeing the improvements over time. Training for months on end is tough, mentally and physically, but seeing the capabilities that I have achieved through training is such a great feeling.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

I DNF’ed at Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid and it absolutely sucked. Race day was in the mid-30s, the water was in the mid-60s and despite all of my training, my body couldn’t handle the temperatures. I struggled with that for about two years and put off triathlon completely. A DNF is rarely talked about in the sport as most people are embarrassed, but at the end of the day it ALWAYS beats a DNS.

Find Your Sweat Rate
June 14, 2021

Now that we have had some time in the heat and humidity, this is a wise time to find your sweat rate. Sweat rate is unique to everyone and varies for each person based on several factors; such as, your level of training, the modality of workout you do and the temperature/humidity in which you exercise. Knowing your sweat rate for each discipline (swim, bike, run), in different temperatures and in different phases of training provides an understanding of what your specific hydration needs are. Knowing your unique hydration needs allows for improved hydration replacement during training and racing, resulting in better training sessions, optimal recovery and improved performance.

To start, find your sweat rate in the heat/humidity for either the bike or run. Ideally, you should find your sweat rate for each discipline (swim, bike and run) in both moderate temperatures (earlier in the season) and a hotter and more humid environment (summer), every year. This provides greater insight to your specific hydration needs. The more you know and understand your body, the better off you will be, both in and out of sport.

How to find your sweat rate:

- Pick one of your training sessions this week lasting 60-90 minutes.

- Before you exercise, empty the bladder and weigh yourself nude.

- Exercise. Record how much you drank during exercise (Do not pee during exercise, this will skew the results).

- Use a water bottle or clear cup in which you know how much it holds so you know how much you have consumed.

- After exercise, dry off your sweat and weigh yourself nude.

- Every pound of body weight lost during training equals 16 oz of sweat loss.

- Fluid consumed during the workout are sweat losses replaced, so add this back into the weight lost (you can skip this step by not consuming fluid during the exercise session; however, this is not recommended for training in a hot/humid environment).

- Divide the total amount of fluid lost by the number of hours trained to get fluid losses per hour.


- 60 minute run, moderate intensity, outside, 80 degrees, high humidity

- Weight before: 150 lbs

- Weight after: 148 lbs

- Fluid consumed: 8 ounces

- Weight loss: 150-148 = 2 lbs

- Convert to fluid loss: 2 lbs = 32 ounces

- Fluid consumed: 8 ounces

- Total fluid loss: 32 ounces lost + 8 ounces consumed = 40 ounces total

- Sweat rate/hour: 40 ounces fluid lost / 1 hour = 40 ounces / hour

It is difficult to fully replace what we lose in our training and racing, essentially impossible in long course events. Having a greater understanding of what our fluid losses are sets us up for greater success in our rehydration efforts, allowing us to lessen the gap between what we lose and what we replace. Fluid losses as little as 1% total body weight can negatively impact performance. The goal is to optimize performance in racing and make the most gains possible in training by hydrating appropriately.

Ryan, M. (2007). Sports nutrition for endurance athletes. Velopress.

Sims, S. T. (2016). Roar : how to match your food and fitness to your female physiology for optimum performance, great health, and a strong, lean body for life. Rodale.

Achieve Your Best Open Water Swimming
May 13, 2021

Open water swim season is almost upon us. After what has hopefully been a solid off-season of focused work on form in the pool, we are about to be reintroduced to the exciting but unpredictable open water abyss. Every experience in open water is different. Even if you regularly swim in the same location, there are variances in temperature, depth, color, current, chop, sunlight and other activity that may be taking place on the water, like boats and water sports.

As multi-sport athletes, our form in open water will look different than our form in the pool. We do not train for perfect and pretty form in competitive lap swimming. We train for endurance and efficiency. We train to overcome chop and swells, to be able to stay the course by sighting efficiently and effectively and to be able to breathe on both sides of our body.

Let’s focus on some of those differences and how we can become better open water swimmers. While there are many variables that affect how we must adjust our form to be most efficient in open water, here are some key tips on open water mechanics, breathing and sighting to help you achieve your best open water swimming.


Chop, swells and turbulent water all call for changes in our swim form to power through the water and delay the onset of fatigue. The goal is to do our best to work with the conditions at hand, swimming as efficiently as possible, rather than fight the water.

With chop, the biggest key here is to clear our arms over the chop, rather than try and slice or push our hands through it. Trying to push through the water increases drag, reduces speed and leads to a much earlier onset of fatigue. To navigate chop effectively, we change up the style of our recovery.

In the pool or a calm open water environment, many swimmers default to a bent arm recovery, meaning the elbow is flexed as you bring your arm out of the water. In a pool environment, this is good form. Chop and swells, however, call for a straight arm recovery. We must reach out and over the water, think of making an arc with your arms to overcome the chop.

The pull. The pull is the first propulsive phase of your stroke underwater and may need to occur earlier. In other words, in smooth swim conditions, we can effectively glide with one arm while maximizing propulsion with the other. Heavy chop and swells do not allow for this, if we try to glide, the water will push us backwards, stalling our movement forward. To maintain continual forward movement, we must pull earlier than is typical, sometimes beginning the pull as soon as that hand enters the water.

The kick. Depending on if you use a wetsuit or not, open water conditions may call for a more aggressive kick to help the body stay horizontal and streamlined. A wetsuit provides the advantage of extra buoyancy, helping our bodies float and stay in a more horizontal position with the water. While the kick is less than 10% of our propulsion, it is used to help our body stay streamlined and can be used to help keep our body horizontal, bringing our legs up and reducing drag.


At AME, we place a heavy emphasis on the ability to breathe both bilaterally AND unilaterally on both your dominant and non-dominant sides.

Mastering this skill will keep you calmer on race day. Chop can come from any direction, and it will, depending on the course, wind and any other activity on the water, like nearby boats passing by. In a race setting, proximity to other swimmers will also influence which direction water will be splashing towards your face at any given moment. You may be swimming free and clear one moment and the next an off-sighting athlete comes surging right in front of you splashing water directly into your dominant breathing side.

The ability to breathe bilaterally and to your non-dominant side starts in the pool. Bilateral breathing simply means you are breathing every three or five strokes, which causes you to breathe to alternate sides as you go. Most swimmers do not practice bilateral breathing or breathing to the non-dominant side. The ability to do this will not only improve your confidence in the water and decrease any anxiety on a choppy swim morning but drive you to achieve faster times and less energy wasted in the swim which you can save later on for the bike and run.

Bilateral breathing can be as easy as making it a part of every warm-up. As an example, in your classic 4 x 100 swim, kick, pull, swim, breathe bilaterally, or every three strokes, in the first and last 100.

For non-dominant breathing, add in 4 x 50 at a moderate pace, making it the sole focus to practice your non-dominant breathing with each 50. You may need more rest in between sets as you practice catching your breath, this is a difficult skill to learn.

Like any new skill, these will seem hard to learn at first, but stick with it. With consistent practice, you will be that much more confident in your open water swimming, setting yourself apart from your competition and improving your experience and swim times from years past.


Near perfect mechanics mean nothing if you are not sighting and swimming in the right direction.

Sighting should occur prior to breathing. Lift the head just enough for the eyes to clear the water. Many open water swimmers lift their heads much too high. When the head is lifted, this causes the legs to sink, increasing drag and slowing propulsion. When there is heavy chop or swell, requiring you to lift your head higher to sight, utilize a more aggressive kick, this will help keep the body horizontal and streamlined.

When swimming in open water, sight often. Sight every 6-10 strokes. In a race situation, never depend on the swimmer in front of you to be sighting accurately. Always be cognizant of where you are and where you need to be, continuously sighting as you go.

Practice sighting frequently in open water and in your pool sessions to strengthen this skill. Try out 2 x 200 where you practice sighting every 6-8 strokes. Pick a spot on the wall or an object at the end of each lane to sight. Practice lifting the head only as high as needed to clear the eyes from the water. Again, this skill is not easy or fun, but practice makes permanent. Keep at it!

In summary, practice your sighting, ace your breathing, be flexible with your mechanics, #AMEhigh and do it with a smile!

AME Athlete Highlight
May 12, 2021

Meet Jude!

Jude has been training and racing for triathlons since 2016. Since then, he has completed close to 20 triathlons, including Escape the Cape Triathlon, Tri the Wildwoods and IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City! This year, he has several triathlons on the horizon ranging in distance from sprint to 70.3. His main event is IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City while hitting several local events along the way.

Jude started training with AME this January. Since then, he has made continuous and steady improvements in swimming, biking and running, even with a brief shoulder injury the first few months into the year. His biggest improvement has been the run, since the beginning of January, Jude has dropped 7% off his 5k pace per mile. One of his greatest assets is his focused and determined mindset, his willingness and drive to persevere. He also has a hunger and enthusiasm to learn and continue to develop his approach to the physical, mental and nutritional aspects of training and racing.

On top of his dedication to training and racing in triathlons, Jude has a full life with his career and beautiful family, including three kids, some of whom already participate in triathlons! Jude is an extremely hard worker, rarely misses a training session and keeps himself and his family active with outdoor sports throughout every season of the year. Jude sets an exceptional example for his family and his community.

We are THRILLED Jude chose AME to share in his journey!

Q & A with Jude:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

I had been curious about triathlon for a long time. I have a triathlon training book I bought in 2005 yet it took me until 2016 to actually sign up for one, that being Escape the Cape. I decided to raise money for charity that year so I was completely committed to racing but thought it would be one and done. As I got closer to the race, I realized all the training I had put in but I was also so convinced that I would get a flat tire on the bike or have some other issue that would end my race that I signed up for a second race a few weeks later just in case it was a disaster so I could redeem myself. Well, after that first race I was hooked and ended up doing 4 races that summer!

What is your favorite event and why?

Without a doubt it's Escape the Cape.  It's very unique with the ferry jump plus there's a different energy around that race that's addicting. The bike course goes by the house that I grew up in which is also very cool.  

What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?

I love the complexity of triathlon. I love the competition but there are so many reasons: to feel better, the great tri community and meeting new people such as through the Wild Harbor Tri Club, to show my kids that hard work pays off, to relieve stress, to have a healthier lifestyle and maybe to look a little better come summertime lol.

What triathlon or multi-sport event would you most like to do with your kids one day?

My 8 year old son is entered into the Islandman Kids Tri this summer in Avalon. The Islandman race has a Fastest Family Award. I would love to win this with one of my kids someday. I also think it would be fun to do a relay with my kids in a few years.

What is your favorite part of training?

There's always something to improve. It seems like you never have a perfect race but the process of training and seeing yourself get stronger and faster is motivating to continue.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

Before every race I remind myself that just getting to the start line in shape and healthy is such an accomplishment. Then I focus on the #1 goal of the day to be safe, #2 goal to have fun, and #3 is to go kick some butt!

Let's Stop Fighting with Ourselves and Better Manage the Mind Chatter
May 10, 2021

By Mitchell Greene, Ph.D., Clinical & Sport Psychologist

Sport psychologists are forever attempting to get athletes to be more positive and to stop their negative thinking. The idea is that if you can replace negative beliefs with positive ones your performance will improve. There is only one problem. The research data supporting the negative-to-positive replacement strategy does not exist. In fact, experienced triathletes will tell you that second guessing, and whispers of doubt remain despite determined and repeated attempts at positive affirmations and confident self-statements. Even the best, such as Hall of Fame pro triathlete Scott Tinley, talk about pro triathlon having its own “dirty little secret.” He reveals that, “Self-doubt runs rampant through the ranks of even the best.”  

Mindfulness strategies have become enormously popular for several reasons, the most obvious being that people, particularly endurance athletes, have a knack for being very tough on themselves. They often relish pushing their bodies to the brink, but many become frustrated (and humbled) to find that self-confidence still eludes them. From a mindfulness point of view, having an inner critic is not necessarily the problem. It is the relationship between “you” and your critic that is important.

Mindfulness approaches accept the inconvenient truth that we have less control over our thoughts than we might wish. As many a triathlete can attest, trying to forcibly make yourself feel confident about p.r.’ing in your next race or “nailing” your ocean swim can be akin to throwing yourself a surprise party. It just does not work. Trying too hard to feel something you do not really feel (i.e., confident) signals to a mindfulness practitioner that the athlete is basically saying, “I don’t know how to respond when I start doubting myself.” Instead of trying to not be nervous, mindfulness teaches athletes how to practice non-judgmental awareness of one’s thoughts (and feelings). The goal is to create some much-needed separation from your inevitable second-guessing.  

Here is a dialogue I had with “Dave,” a triathlete. Dave learned some basic mindfulness strategies, including what I call “managing the mind chatter,” to help him deal with the messages his negative self-talk was sending his way as he readied for his next big race.  

Dr. Greene: So, Dave, you have signed up for a half-ironman in late August. Congratulations! I understand you want to really challenge yourself, otherwise I guess you would have stuck to sprint and Olympic distance triathlons.

Dave: Yes, I heard from others that the 70.3 distance is not so bad if you train well for it. One early morning, immediately after a great swim session, I found myself paying the fee and there it was . . . an email congratulating me for signing up. The problem is now I’m literally freaked out about it.

Dr. Greene: I get it. One day you find yourself open to a new opportunity and nothing else at the time seems to matter. Now, you are questioning the whole thing.

Dave: Exactly, I don’t know now if I can do it. I mean, in training I can do all the distances, but I don’t know what will happen in the race and whether the heat will get to me, which happened once before, and I had to walk for a big chunk of the Olympic-distancer run.

Dr. Greene: The way we will look at this Dave is that you and I need to team up against something I call “Mind Chatter.” While you are looking to have an experience of a lifetime, your chatter is working on a wholly different agenda. Not surprisingly, it does not want anything bad to happen to you. If we stick together Dave, we can figure out what to do about that chatter.

The key, Dave, and this may sound a bit odd, is to accept that the doubting voices are not just going to go away because you say so. Consider them part of the competition picture. If you don’t want chatter, you’d basically be telling me you want to stop pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, which obviously is not the case. By the way, your chatter would be happy if you stayed home. It wants to protect you from getting hurt or looking bad.

Is this making sense Dave? For now, let try not give the second-guessing any more importance than it deserves.

Dave: So, the idea of me trying to not be nervous is a mistake?

Dr. Greene: Correct. It sounds funny, but your energy is better spent breaking down the race into small goals – physical ones and mental ones. I can help you with that. All along, while you and I are trying to figure out how to tackle this challenge called half-ironman your chatter will pop up and tell us why this might not be a good idea. We won’t do anything directly about that chatter – we will try to just let it do its thing—and we will shift our attention to race-related actions that put your training to good use.

Dave: I kind of get it. I am not going to be worried that I’m worried. I can race worried. But it’s better to fill my “mind” with how I want to approach each of the three sports, in terms of specific techniques and strategies.

Dr. Greene: Right. You are off to a great start!

Here is a fitting metaphor that resonates with many athletes who, like Dave, find themselves mentally exhausted trying to get on the right side of their racing jitters and fears. Think about being anxious for a big race like being in a tug-of-war with a monster. The monster is big, ugly, and very strong. In between you and the monster is a pit, and as far as you can tell it is bottomless. If you lose this tug-of-war, you will fall into this pit and be destroyed. So, you pull and pull, but the harder you pull, the harder the monster pulls back, and you edge closer and closer to the pit. The hardest thing to see is that your job here is not to win the tug-of-war. Your job is to drop the rope!

AME Athlete Highlight
April 7, 2021

Meet Jessica!

Jessica began training and racing for endurance events in 2010 and began her triathlon journey in 2014. Since then, she has completed close to thirty running and multi-sport events! Jessica just recently finished the Garden Spot Half-Marathon in March, her first live running event since a pre-Covid state.

Jessica has an exciting year mapped out ahead of her. She is doing her first half-Ironman event, Ironman Atlantic City 70.3. Then, very shortly afterwards will be headed out on a two-day adventure trek traveling 40-50 miles through Zion National Park! This is all done for a good cause as she has raised over $4,000 for Project Athena.

Participating in running and multi-sport events does not come close to describing Jessica’s active lifestyle. Once springtime hits, if she is not working or training, you will very likely find her out hiking the trails or riding her bike for leisure with a huge smile on her face. Jessica loves everything about exercise, the outdoors and an active lifestyle. She will be the last person to tell you she is an athlete, but that is exactly what she is.

Jessica has a remarkably busy life but manages to fit everything in with balance. On top of training, racing and exploring, she has a highly successful career and a wonderful mother who she now takes care of. Jessica has a beautiful daughter who graduates this year from college and she loves to travel and explore with her husband. They have been to 57 out of 62 of the National Parks.

We are absolutely THRILLED Jessica chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A with Jessica:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

I joined a newly formed group called Fit to Lead (FTL) within the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. This group combines the skills of being an effective leader to also being an effective athlete. The lessons are very similar. I am still a FTL member!

What is your favorite event and why?

My favorite event is the Philly Women’s Tri with DelMoSports. I have done it every year and I love seeing so many women athletes at one race. It leaves me inspired to do my best.

What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?

I am so proud when I set an ambitious goal and I reach it – pretty basic!

What are you most excited about for your trek through Zion National Park?

As you mentioned, we have a family goal to get to all the National Parks and we are super close. We have been to Zion before but this experience will be totally different. I will be hiking with a group of Athenas & Zeuses  that have had medical setbacks and are doing this 40 – 50ish hike as a demonstration of their strength. The hiking will be in the backcountry of Zion away from the crowds and the scenery will be amazing. Sunsets over red sandstone facades will be photo worthy. Also, once you are on the trail we are one team. There is no racing ahead. The team goal is to get everyone to the finish successfully and that might mean carrying a little bit more weight in your pack.

What is your favorite part of training?

My favorite part of training is following the plan and seeing greens in my Training Peaks for the week. Miles add up. When you get to the Start Line, all of the hard training work is done and now it is your time to shine. Another favorite quote is “Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do!”

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

When my daughter was growing up, she had this quote “if you do something new today, you get to live another day.” This sparked my love of diversity in training – biking, swimming, running, hiking, kayaking, skating, sledding … you get the point. It keeps me interested in being active and I enjoy trying something new. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

AME Athlete Highlight
March 18, 2021

Meet Dan!

Dan began training and racing for triathlons and endurance events in 2017. Since then, he has done numerous events, including Ironman AC 70.3, Escape the Cape Triathlon and Broad Street. After taking a brief break from training with the impacts of Covid last year, Dan was eager to get back to a consistent routine of training and racing and hit some PR’s along the way! Dan’s main event this year is Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City!

Dan joined the AME Team in December of 2020 and has made excellent progress since then. He has dominated his new routine of training, rarely missing a workout. He has consistently progressed in volume for all three disciples and continues to improve his speed with each discipline in every passing field assessment. So far, he has shaved one minute and 35 seconds PER MILE off his 5k time, cut 14 seconds off his swim threshold and improved his bike threshold by 28%!

The biggest takeaway with Dan is how incredibly hard he works. He works countless hours at his job, has three wonderful kids in high school and still makes the time to get his workouts in. Rarely does Dan miss a workout. He is committed and driven to be the best athlete he can be and learn all he can while setting a great example for his kids.

Absolutely THRILLED Dan chose AME to share in his journey!

Q & A with Dan

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

Heard about it from a friend and I could ride a bike and run a little. Didn’t know how to swim freestyle properly, thought it would be challenging.  

What is your favorite event and why?

The poverty to the cove swim.  It was just so far outside of my comfort zone I really loved it.  

What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?

Challenges every day, mental and physical.

Pick your pain, you realize while setting up transition on race morning you forgot your Garmin or after you cross the finish line you realize there is toilet paper stuck to the back of your jersey and it’s been there since using the port-o-potty before starting the run?

TP for sure.  

What is your favorite part of training?

I like the satisfaction that comes from battling with your mind.  When your mind tries to keep you comfortable but you get up and do the work anyway.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

I don’t eat meat/dairy/ eggs.  I cut those foods in 2019 as an experiment and found my weekly mileage drastically increased while my soreness and swelling after workout was greatly reduced.  I was amazed.

About the Fit
March 17, 2021

Now is the time to connect with your local bike shop for a seasonal tune up and a bike fit. Many endurance athletes have never had a bike fit. For endurance athletes who put in countless miles on the bike, a good bike fit is crucial. A good fit will maximize your power output, provide the most comfortable, yet aerodynamic / aggressive, position to you and decrease risk for overuse injury. For endurance athletes who crank out countless miles on the bike, setting your body up in the best position possible to decrease risk for injury is essential for longevity in your training, racing and lifetime riding.

Your fit will change based on a variety of factors. Generally, I recommend a bike fit at the beginning of every season and with each new bike purchase. Fit changes with season, your fitness level, weight, flexibility, age and goals, there are many different factors that go into a bike fit. Depending on the type of bike(s) you have and the style of racing you do on each bike, you may even be fit differently to each bike.

It may take time to get a bike fit this year. Some bike shops are not doing fits yet due to Covid, the fitter does need to be close throughout bike fitting. I would recommend reaching out now to your favorite or local bike shop to see if or when they are doing fits and book an appointment within the next few months. Ideally, you would be ready to hit the road come spring with your bike fit and tune up checked off the list.

If you are in the process of, or considering, getting a new bike this year or at any point in the future, always remember fit the bike to you, not yourself to the bike. It is crucial to buy a bike that first fits you and THEN get fit, not try and fit a bike to you that doesn't fit you. Think frame size first, it's important to choose a frame that fits as well as possible in the first place. Be an educated consumer. It is imperative to test ride before you buy and I would recommend testing out a variety of bike brands to find the best one for you. A good bike shop will expect and encourage you to take a test ride.

Beat the crowds and get it done or scheduled now so you are ready to hit the roads come spring!

The Importance of Good Nutrition for Endurance Athletes
March 17, 2021

Have you ever heard the saying the fourth and fifth legs of triathlon are nutrition and recovery? Developing good nutrition habits and realizing the value of recovery is crucial to maximizing your adaptations from training and reaching your best performance in racing. It is important to practice and improve your general nutrition requirements and training/racing needs EARLY in the year. Race day nutrition should be second nature come race day, you should feel 100% confident in how your body will react to the fuel you take in because you have practiced this in your training time and again.

To operate at your best, it is imperative you are eating ENOUGH calories and doing your best to get the RIGHT calories in. For several reasons, many athletes tend to eat less than they should. Not eating enough and not eating well can lead to increased fatigue, decreased recovery, weaken the immune system, increase risk for injury, provide a limit to the gains you will make with your training and limit your potential come race day. With that said, what are our goals with nutrition as an endurance athlete?

1) Meet the energy and fuel demands to support training and racing.

2) Achieve and maintain good body composition - for good health and good performance.

3) Fuel and hydrate well to optimize training for each workout session / race and attain optimal recovery and adaptations.

4) Maintain good health and build and maintain a strong immune system, reducing the risk of illness, with increases in training load and the demands on the body.

5) Practice race nutrition and hydration strategies that work well for YOU, fueling your needs while minimizing GI discomfort.

6) Taper correctly before events / carb load for optimal performance.

7) Enjoy what we eat! Eating what we enjoy in moderation and attaining and maintaining a healthy approach to nutrition for life.

With those goals in mind, you need to have a basic understanding of how many calories you should be taking in to maintain your current weight. This number is unique to YOU and is based on your age, weight, daily activity level and exercise/training. This number will vary week to week, season to season and year to year. To learn more about this specifically, read my article HERE

Once you know how many calories you need, the next step is eating as mindfully as we can. Getting the right foods in, thinking about what you are putting on your plate. You need to know the right amounts of fruit, vegetables, grains, protein and fat you should be getting in and then do your best to do so. An excellent and quite simple resource for this is

Nutrition and its requirements for endurance exercise can get very granular. As you begin to ace your journey to stronger nutrition, remember, it is always best to START WITH THE BASICS. By making sure you are eating enough calories and doing your best to eat healthy and mindfully, you are setting yourself up for lifelong success.

AME Athlete Highlight
February 21, 2021

Meet Amanda!

Amanda has been training and racing for endurance events for 13 years! She began her running career in 2008 and since then has completed over 20 running events. In 2015, she added triathlons to the agenda and has been doing those ever since. So far, she has completed close to 15 triathlons, including Ironman Atlantic City 70.3 and jumping off a ferry for the iconic Escape the Cape Triathlon.

Amanda will cross the finish line at her first Ironman event this year! For 2021, Ironman Maryland is her focus with a few smaller distance events along the way. She has been training with AME since October of 2020 and has grown significantly since then! She has made great progress in both volume and speed in all three disciplines, has built a strong foundation in her strength training and is eager to continue learning training and racing strategy.

While she has made gains and built a solid base for the bike and the run, her biggest improvements so far have been in the pool. She has been putting in the work all off-season to strengthen and improve the swim.  Working together, she has made great progress in her form and efficiency and has shaved close to 15 seconds off her average threshold pace!

Aside from her drive, passion and commitment to training and racing, what we love most about Amanda is her personality! She shows kindness and compassion to everyone, has a great sense of humor and is extremely detail oriented!

Absolutely THRILLED Amanda chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A with Amanda:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

After spending 8 years post college in Washington DC, I relocated back home to Cape May in May 2008. As that was a big transition point, I wanted to commemorate it and did so by dedicating myself to training for my first half marathon. I never considered myself and athlete, let alone a runner, so the commitment to training and learning was a huge deal for me. When I crossed the finish line in September 2008 at the Philadelphia Distance Run, I was elated and so proud of what I’d set my mind to and accomplished. And, that feeling is addictive.

After continuing to experience those feelings while posting better times/paces running, finishing a marathon in 2010 as well as planning a wedding (2011) completing grad school (2013) I guess I was looking for the next fix so to speak.

Friends who had completed Escape the Cape pushed me to sign up…they said it would be great fun.  They forgot I really don’t like heights, cold water and was not a trained swimmer. But, I got in off the waitlist and in June of 2015, I jumped, fell, was pulled of the edge of the ferry and found myself splashing into the world of triathlon.

What is your favorite event and why?

I don’t really have a favorite event in the sense of a certain race that have to sign up for every year. But if I had to choose a favorite event I’ve completed; I would say the inaugural Ironman AC 70.3. It was super exciting to be part of that event in its first year. The course was great, DelMo did an excellent job and the volunteers were amazing. The adrenaline was pumping, and the day did not disappoint.

Honorable mentions to the 2019 Key West Tri, 2009/2010 Key West Half Marathons, 2009 Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half (also an inaugural and you run the Las Vegas Strip all lit up), 2010 Philly Marathon (seriously though, if I never hear Eye of the Tiger or the Rocky theme song again, I’d be ok).

What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?

I’m a pretty goal oriented and achievement driven person, so endurance sports are perfect for me. They give you so much room to stretch and grow. You can always get better; you can always set a new goal. It isn’t always about the full race, it could be bettering one discipline within a race, or moving up to a new distance. It’s really very personal.

I also love the camaraderie we endurance athletes have here in Cape May County. Through the Wild Harbor Tri Club and the great slate of races put on by DelMoSports, Cape May Running Co and other local race directors, we get to train, race, volunteer and play together and it is so much fun. I have met so many new people I consider great friends though this sport and I love being able to support them in their goals and they do the same for me!

Pick your pain, a non-wetsuit legal 70.3, or greater in distance, triathlon event or bumpy roads and endless potholes in a sprint triathlon?

I’m going with the non-wetsuit legal race…which is huge for me because if you know me, you know I love my wetsuit and lava pants, or as I call them, floaty pants.  BUT, I choose this because I’ve actually already faced this challenge.  When I raced Tri AC Olympic in 2016 as a warm-up for IMAC 70.3 it was not wetsuit legal and I was not happy that morning.  However, I chose to have confidence in myself and my training and I went out there and swam that mile with no wetsuit! It was the first time I’d ever swam a mile plus with no wetsuit. So, if I can do it for 1 mile…I can do it for 1.2 miles…the 2.4 for a full…come get my opinion in August. LOL!

What is your favorite part of training?

My favorite part of training is when you hit a milestone you’ve never hit before, running 1 more mile than you ever have, swimming just a few second faster for a 100 yd, changing a flat by yourself, eeking out 1 more push-up. Those little victories are what keep you coming back. I cried the first time I ran 8 miles when training for my first half. I’d battled it for weeks, and couldn’t get there without walking some, and then one day I did.

The big victories, like crossing finish lines, are great, but those small victories, the ones maybe only you see are what get you there.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

I love being a volunteer for races just as much as being a participant. I know how much an enthusiastic volunteer can impact me during a race and how important it is to have those aid stations stocked and running smoothly. I was a cheerleader in high school, and I bring that all back when I am working a racecourse. I will cheer for you and high five you and help you bring your best in that race. I’m loud and I don’t care if I lose my voice if it gets you across that line! And yes, I have my own megaphone and I’m not afraid to use it.

It's Okay to Ask For Help: You Are Only Human
February 18, 2021

By Mitchell Greene, Ph.D., Clinical & Sport Psychologist

If you follow the blogs and tweets of triathlon’s elite performers you realize a couple of things very quickly. First is that triathlon is an around-the-clock job for them, with nutritional requirements, recovery aides, travel plans and sleep cycles requiring as much attention as any particular workout. Second, although their reputations are built on their head-down pedal-to-the-metal racing style, their patience and perspective are the key attributes that keep them from flaming out too soon.

Recently, as in pre-pandemic, I worked with a seasoned pro triathlete who traveled three states over only to achieve a much slower-than-expected duathlon time; slower than his time in this same event the previous year. Disappointed and somewhat shocked, he needed to perform some serious mental gymnastics to keep his training program from being sabotaged by one race. But, you know what, he reached out for help. Kudos to him; that takes courage.

Whether you are new to triathlon or someone who has been putting your sweat in for years, dealing with the all-too-common reality of underperforming is a job hazard that never gets any easier. Most age group triathletes gradually get through these rough patches with the support they receive from their training partners, coach, significant other and/or spot-on motivational quote. If those work for you, great! However, for some, the weight of what can feel like ever-present performance pressure can lead to significant cracks in the armor. Is it time for you, when the pandemic has forced all of us to slow down, to reach out for help?

In a sport psychologist’s work with age group and elite athletes, we provide a safe place for athletes like you to say how you feel. Sometimes when an athlete comes to a sport psychologist’s office, they are tired of feeling "stuck" and are sick of complaining to their coach, spouse or bike shop guru. In some situations, triathletes become so frustrated that they long ago stopped talking to anyone about what is bothering them (mentally or physically), but the significance of the issues and the affects remains. You spend so much energy and time on your physical game, please be sure to take care of your inner game as well.

For any triathlete who feels stuck, seeing a sport psychologist can provide an opportunity to get "out of the big chain ring" and reconnect to what you love about the sport. The goal is to return to enjoying the challenge of training and competitive racing, and not to let yourself be defined externally by any one race result or workout session.

Finally, it is important to not think of a psychologist (sport or otherwise) as someone who fixes someone who is “broken.” Sport psychology is more akin to teaching than emotional digging. In that sense, it is more mundane than mysterious. A triathlete’s willingness to build mental conditioning into their fitness program won't magically produce never-before-seen race results but they hopefully will be sure to keep racing happily (and with perspective) for years to come.

For sport psychology resources in your area, or on the web, please contact Dr. Mitchell Greene at

Challenges and Overcoming Odds
February 12, 2021

Weekly, I write emails to the AME team. Generally, I do not share these outside of the team but I felt this had relevance to many in the world today. Last week, I wrote about challenges and overcoming the odds. While we face challenges every day, albeit these challenges are generally small, facing bigger challenges is a common theme among the world right now. What it appears is life in general has hit many harder than ever, while Covid-19 has presented it's own ripple effect of struggles.

For some, these challenges look like overwhelming hours at work while trying to maintain family life and training. While more are working from home due to Covid-19, and this may seem great, many are facing higher hours or more demands on the job than ever before. For many, this time has provided a continued presentation of obstacles and barriers towards goals or business pursuits they are trying to accomplish. Others are overcoming injury, training related or not, which takes a toll both physically and mentally. Many are caretakers for family members who are sick, injured and/or elderly which is a load of itself and, on top of that, have had to find a way to manage the complex and confusing healthcare system. Finally, it seems many have recently faced the death (or anniversary) of a loved one.

The weight of each of these items is heavy. As we face big challenges, the weight of even the small challenges seems larger or more intimidating. Over time, if we continue to carry a load without working through it or determining a solution to step forward or ease the path forward, the load only multiplies. As this load multiplies our stress multiplies, we begin to lose our fire and passion for things that once brought excitement, our training begins to derail, we lose sleep, our immune systems weaken and we may even begin to get sick.

I'm currently reading "Finding My Voice," by Mike Reilly. One of the quotes in his book that I love is, "You can't tell just by looking at someone if they're having the race of their lives under extraordinary circumstances." This quote isn't actually by Mike, it's by an athlete who said this to him in a letter after Mike called him an Ironman in Kona as he crossed the finish line. This athletes name is Petri and it took him seventeen years and thirteen Ironman races to get to the World Championship in Kona. Three months before his race, he had a horrific bike crash. He drove HIMSELF to the hospital, part of his scalp torn off and his left eyeball hanging halfway down his cheek. He had reconstructive surgery three weeks later. During the surgery, he went into cardiac arrest, his heart stopped beating for fifteen minutes. They got him back and he went into cardiac arrest again. You can see how unbelievably meaningful it was for Petri to cross that finish line in Kona just NINE WEEKS LATER.

Overcoming the odds when they are stacked against us is all about how we approach them with our attitude. For some of these obstacles we must recognize that we do need time to heal, both mentally and physically. For others, we need to find a way to more efficiently organize and manage our time, get creative in how we approach the obstacle, ask for help or even gain a fresh perspective. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. When life puts us on these roads, especially when that seems to be a repeated pattern, don't say "why me," say "try me."

Another story you might enjoy is on Chrissie Wellington's 2008 World Championship win in Kona. I wrote an article on this about a year ago so I won't go heavy in the details, but ultimately, she overcame great odds to win the race. Long story short, she was leading the race by five minutes, got a flat on the bike, blew through two CO2 canisters and was begging for a spare from athletes passing by. She ultimately lost 10 minutes, when one of her rivals gave her a spare as she blazed by on the bike. Chrissie fixed the flat, got back on the bike and ended up winning the race by 15 minutes. If you want to read more, click HERE.

Character in the face of difficulty is what matters. In some obstacles, it may feel like you are being targeted or singled out. Generally this isn't the case. Remember, if someone is treating you in a negative way, they generally have pain in their lives and it comes out as an attack on you. I have said this before and I will say it again, always AME for kindness, AME for strength, AME for beauty of all kinds. The best stories are of those who face overwhelming odds yet overcome them with character, class and grace.

Muscular Strength and Endurance
December 21, 2020

There are five components of physical fitness:  cardiorespiratory endurance, flexibility, body composition, muscular strength and muscular endurance. In this article, I will focus on muscular strength and muscular endurance.

You may be wondering, what is the difference between muscular strength and muscular endurance? Muscular strength is the external force that can be generated by a specific muscle or muscle group on one occasion. Think heavy weights here, muscular strength is generally assessed with a 1 rep max.

Alternatively, muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle group to execute repeated muscle actions over a period sufficient to cause muscular fatigue. The muscles ability to continue to perform successive repetitions or exertions against a sub-maximal load. Think lighter weights here, bodyweight work, etc. One method in which muscular endurance can be assessed is through a protocoled push-up assessment to fatigue.

Building your muscular strength and muscular endurance is paramount to health, wellness and longevity. Below, I have listed below some of the benefits of improving your muscular fitness for both general health and wellness and specific to endurance sport.

General benefits of improving muscular fitness:

  • Lower risk of all-cause mortality
  • Fewer cardiovascular disease events
  • Lower risk of developing physical function limitations
  • Lower risk for non-fatal disease
  • Improvements in body composition
  • Improvements in blood glucose levels (think diabetes)
  • Improvements in insulin sensitivity (again, think diabetes)
  • Improved blood pressure in individuals with mild to moderate high blood pressure
  • Improved bone mass and bone strength (of particular importance to women as we age, think osteopenia and osteoporosis)
  • Slows the aging process

Benefits of improving muscular fitness relative to endurance sport:

  • Improved strength
  • Injury prevention
  • Neuromuscular training
  • Improved speed
  • Improved endurance
  • Improved power
  • Delayed onset of fatigue
  • Improved running and cycling economy

Now, we understand the difference between the two and we know their benefits. In my upcoming blog and newsletter, I will discuss how we apply this in training to maximize results and obtain the highest impact. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter if you haven't!

  • Riebe, D., Ehrman, J. K., Liguori, G., & Magal, M. (2018). ACSM's guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
  • Millet GP, Jaouen B, Borrani F, Candau R. Effects of concurrent endurance and strength training on running economy and .VO(2) kinetics. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Aug;34(8):1351-9. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200208000-00018. PMID: 12165692.
  • Hausswirth C, Argentin S, Bieuzen F, Le Meur Y, Couturier A, Brisswalter J. Endurance and strength training effects on physiological and muscular parameters during prolonged cycling. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2010 Apr;20(2):330-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2009.04.008. Epub 2009 May 26. PMID: 19473854.
  • Ronnestad BR, Mujika I. Optimizing strength training for running and cycling endurance performance: A review. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014 Aug;24(4):603-12. doi: 10.1111/sms.12104. Epub 2013 Aug 5. PMID: 23914932.
  • Vikmoen O, Ronnestad BR, Ellefsen S, Raastad T. Heavy strength training improves running and cycling performance following prolonged submaximal work in well-trained female athletes. Physiol Rep. 2017;5(5):e13149. doi:10.14814/phy2.13149
Triathlete Holiday Gift Guide
December 1, 2020

Treat the triathlete(s) in your family this Christmas by giving them gifts that support their favorite sport!


-Foam roller

-The Stick massage roller


-Abundance of their favorite training and racing nutrition

-Several of her favorite sports bras

-Swim buoy

-Pull buoy

-Favorite pair of run socks

-Resistance bands

-Motivational and inspiring endurance sport books


-Theragun, or similar, massage device

-Running shoes

-Aero Helmet

-Cold weather running and biking gear:  thermal and long sleeve tops and pants, coldweather socks, overshoes, waterproof gloves and hats, under-helmet hat

-Warm weather running and biking gear:  sweat wicking run singlets, run shorts

-Gore-Tex wind/rain jacket

-Transition bag



-Garmin Fenix 6 or Forerunner 945

-Aero Wheelset

-Normatec, or similar, recovery system

-Power Meter


-New Bike


Stocking Stuffers:

-Goggle anti-fog spray

-New swim caps

-All the components of a flat kit:  spare tubes, co2 cartridges, inflator, patch kit, tire levers


-Running hat/visor

-Handheld water bottle/hydration for running

-Race belt

-Road ID

-Body glide

-Individual packs of Gu, gels, chomps, Shot Blocks,Sports Beans, Clif bars, Honey Stingers, you name it!

Gift Cards (or $$ for) and other items to Place on the Tree:

-Greenpsych Sport psychology:  to master the mental component

-DelMoSports:  towards a local race registration

-Cape May Running Co:  for all their run essentials

-blueseventy:  for all their swim essentials

-AME Coaching: to maximize their training and racing

-Swim, bike, run ornament!

AME Athlete Highlight
November 24, 2020

Meet Elaine!

Elaine started triathlon in 2018. She had trained and participated in several events over the years and developed a love for the sport and the camaraderie of the sport. She decided this was the year she wanted to buckle down, set bigger race goals and hire a coach! She put her mind to it and has absolutely DOMINATED her goals this year! She has crushed race distances she had never completed, participating in her first Olympic tri this year. She has made gains in volume and distance on the bike she had never completed, covering 50+ miles on the bike on multiple occasions. She has made gains in speed, placing in her age group for many events and even setting PRs. She has pushed through her fears of open water swimming and covered distances she had not yet covered. And last, but certainly not least, she has put in the effort, time and training all season long to accomplish these goals.

She is not done yet. She is ready to go and has signed up for her first 70.3 next year! She continues to push through off-season training and recently completed an underwater swim analysis so we can nail down her swimming mechanics, which is where she wants to focus most. She has gone through many battles over the last several years that could easily knock anyone off their feet and keep them down. But not Elaine. She pushes forward with a positive attitude and uses this sport as a release and way to help her overcome obstacles.

Extremely proud of Elaine and her HUGE accomplishments this year. I cannot wait to watch her continue to crush every single goal she sets in front of her. Absolutely THRILLED she chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A with Elaine:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

After the tragic death of my son Sean, I felt that I needed to do something that would keep me balanced and somewhat focused.  Even though I have a husband, children, and grandchildren, I still needed something that would challenge me mentally and physically. During this transition in my life I reached out to my friend Valarie who is one of the founders of the Wild Harbor Tri Club and she took me under her wing and helped me along in the world of triathlon. Well, here I am three years later and training for a Half Ironman.

What is your favorite event and why?

My favorite event so far is the Jersey Genesis Triathlon. I really like this because it is a small event, and it is a lake swim. I prefer to swim in a lake instead of the Ocean or Bay.

What about triathlon brings you the most joy?

The people in the world of triathlon are great. They all support each other, and it makes for a more enjoyable event. Also, I feel accomplished after I complete my goal of finishing.

Pick your pain, a long and steep uphill finish at the end of a triathlon or forgetting your sunglasses in transition for the bike portion of your upcoming 70.3?

Forgetting my sunglasses.

What is your favorite part of training?

My favorite part of training is getting outside in all types of weather and the way that I feel mentally when I am finished with my workout. I also like the way I look and feel physically but to me that is just a bonus.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

I am a Wife, Mother, Grandmother, and a Great Grandmother. I look forward to training because it gives me something to strive for and it keeps me focused and balanced. I never thought that I could ever do a triathlon because it just seemed so out of reach to me at first, but with perseverance and will, I was able complete not only a triathlon but an Olympic Triathlon as well. After my son passed away I had a choice to make, I could either live or I could exist…..I chose to live because God has blessed me with so much and I don’t want to waste it!

Weight Management Principles
November 21, 2020

As we enter the holiday season, I wanted to provide insight into some basic weight management principles. There are several reasons why we need to place an increased emphasis on weight management at this time of year. First, this is the off-season for many athletes, meaning lighter training and less calories burned to counteract what we are eating. There is less daylight which impacts our melatonin levels, causing us to feel sleepy later into the morning and at earlier points in the evening. The temperatures begin or have begun to drop, typically resulting in less overall movement and exercise. Finally, our dishes and meals are heavier and desserts are plentiful which can cause us to throw eating well and in moderation straight out the window.

I am a big fan of eating mindfully or being very aware of our bodies, thoughts and attitudes toward food. Like when we feel hungry, when we experience cravings, how our bodies feel or react after a meal. Mindful eating encourages things like eating slow, recognizing when you feel full, only eating when you eat and not multi-tasking, enjoying and appreciating food and understanding the effects different foods have on our health and waistline. While mindful eating is not about calorie counting, it is important to understand the basic principles regarding weight management. Having a solid understanding helps us to not only mange our weight but make mindful eating a LIFESTYLE, which is what it is all about.

Finding Your Daily Caloric Needs

Have you heard of basal metabolic rate or BMR? Basically, this is an ESTIMATION of how many calories your body uses throughout the day to function if you were to literally sit and do nothing. This formula is based on gender, age, height and weight. I highly recommend you look this up and find your number. This number reflects at a very minimum how many calories you should be eating to sit and do nothing all day.

Now, you are not done yet. Once you have your number, you need to factor in how many calories you burn with movement, like your activities of daily living and any exercise on top of that. This is where the Harris-Benedict equation comes into play, which takes your BMR and your activity level and provides your estimated total daily energy expenditure, shown below. Before I move on, it is important to understand this is an ESTIMATE of how many calories you should be eating every day to MAINTAIN your current status. Understand this number changes with age, fluctuations with weight and changes in levels of daily movement/exercise.  

Harris Benedict Formula:  multiply your BMR by the applicable activity factor:

- Sedentary (little or no exercise):  BMR x 1.2

- Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week):  BMR x 1.375

- Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week):  BMR x 1.55

- Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week):  BMR x 1.725

- Extremely active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or training twice a day):  BMR x 1.9

Now, for those who know how many calories they burn each day with exercise (via their Garmin or similar device), I have one more step. To be more accurate with your caloric needs, I recommend taking your BMR, multiplying this by the “sedentary” activity factor (1.2) from the Harris-Benedict equation and adding in your specific number of calories through exercise. This is still an estimate for that days’ worth of calories, but it is more specific to you.

Training varies every day. You may have a long ride on Sunday that burns 2000 calories, while you have a tempo run on Tuesday that burns 500 calories. To understand your average number of calories needed per day, add up the number of calories you burned through exercise in a week and take the average of that number, meaning divide it by 7. Then, add this into your formula. Here is an example:

- Jane Doe:  Age:  48, Height:  5’8” (172 cm), Weight:  155 lbs (70.3 kg), Device:  Garmi

- BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x 70.3) + (3.098 x 172) - (4.330 x 48)

- BMR = ~1422 calories/day

- Total Daily Caloric Needs without exercise:  1422 calories x 1.2 (HBAF) = ~1706 calories/day

- Average number of calories burned through exercise in a week:  400 calories

- For this, add up the amount of calories you burn with exercise the last seven days and divide the total by 7. For Jane Doe, it was an average of 400 calories

- Total Daily Caloric Needs including exercise:  1706 calories + 400 calories = 2106 calories/day

- Average Total Daily Caloric Needs:  ~2106 calories/day

How to Lose or Gain Weight

Okay, we have our total daily caloric needs, now what? At this point, we need to understand how weight management works. To maintain weight, calories in need to equal calories out. To lose weight, calories in < calories out. To gain weight, calories in > calories out.  To influence these equations, we need to eat less or more, exercise less or more or do a combination of both. For weight loss, I am always a proponent of doing both.

Roughly, one pound of fat is about 3500 calories. A healthy, manageable and realistic weight loss is 1-2 pounds a week. Breaking this down, you would need to be in a calorie deficit of 500-1000 calories a day. So, you either need to cut back in caloric intake by this amount, burn this much in exercise or a combination of the two. To burn 1000 calories through exercise is the equivalent of running 10 miles, this is not realistic for most people. On the flip side, it is not realistic, sustainable or healthy to cut back this much on calories alone, which is why I recommend a combination of exercise and cutting back on calories to reach your goal. Let’s go back to our example.

- Jane Doe:  Her goal is to lose a total of 5 pounds. She wants to lose one pound per week, the equivalent of 500 calories/day. This should take her five weeks.

- Strategy:  Burn 400 calories per day through exercise and cut back 100 calories per day through her nutrition

One additional thing to keep in mind is women should NOT eat less than 1200 calories/day and men should NOT eat less than 1800 calories per day. Our bodies are extremely good at surviving. Cutting back in calories less than this causes our bodies to see this as almost starvation. This ultimately leads to a decreased resting energy expenditure and makes it that much HARDER to lose weight. Ultimately, you are harming your chances of losing the weight you wanted to lose in the first place. Plus, you are making it more difficult for yourself to keep that weight off once you lose it.

Wrap Up and Takeaways

Once you find your total daily caloric needs, keep track of your calorie intake for a week. Are you higher, lower or on point with your calorie requirements? Once you know the answer, adopt a mindful approach to eating with this new information in mind. If you found your calorie intake is too high, consider the types of foods you are eating, remember to eat slow and pay close attention to when you begin to feel full. It can take 15 minutes before our bodies begin to register a feeling of fullness. If you smash your lunch within five minutes, you may think you are still hungry only because your body hasn’t had the time to register what you have ingested yet.

Wrapping up, I wanted to share these basic principles to improve your understanding of how weight loss works. I am a much bigger proponent of eating mindfully. Listening to your body, eating only when you are hungry, staying hydrated (with water), stopping eating when you feel full, enjoying all foods (and drinks) in moderation and getting in your regular exercise. This makes a lasting change to how you approach weight management and turns it into a LIFESTYLE.

This is a long one and I hope you learned something. If you have ANY questions or want to pick my brain further, do not hesitate to reach out.

#AMEhigh guys, today, every day, and do it with a HUGE smile!

AME Athlete Highlight
August 17, 2020

Meet Aileen!

Aileen is a go-getter! She started triathlon in 2015 and since then has completed numerous triathlons, duathlons and running events, including three 70.3s! This year, Aileen has been working her tail off preparing for Ironman Maryland. Unfortunately, like all others, this event was recently cancelled. While this news can be crushing, especially after putting in so much training, Aileen has not let it stop her. She has ZERO intentions of losing all the gains she has made. She recognizes her next big improvements will be made in the off-season and is AME’ing for IMMD again next year along with several smaller events along the way!

Aileen has made MUCH progress since she joined the AME team.She has made significant improvements in her swim, bike and run speeds. She has crushed distances on the bike and run she has never tried before. She has improved her body composition, shedding the few spare pounds she had to lose, while building lean muscle mass and making serious gains in her muscular strength.She even came in FIRST, out of males and females, at a virtual triathlon she competed in with the local triathlon club. Aileen has a very full plate in life outside of training, yet she gets in EVERY workout and keeps a tremendously positive attitude when it could be quite easy not to.

Extremely proud of Aileen, her accomplishments, perseverance and drive to achieve her goals. Next year will be her biggest and best year yet, AME cannot wait to watch it happen!

Absolutely THRILLED she chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A with Aileen:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events? 

My first tri I committed to happened all over a beer. A friend of mine and I cheers'd to doing Escape the Cape after seeing it happen. After the first Escape the Cape I did in 2015, I was instantly hooked. 

What is your favorite event and why? 

My favorite race is Escape the Cape because I grew up here in North Cape May and swam in the Delaware Bay my whole life. Plus, this awesome event takes place within a couple miles from my home. It's in my backyard. And all my family and friends come out and cheer me on. It's a great feeling! 

What about triathlon brings you the most joy?

Being able to race and have fun.

Pick your pain, snoozing your alarm race morning and barely making it in time for race start or getting water in your goggles first thing into the swim because they weren’t quite tight enough?

Snoozing my alarm! 

What is your favorite part of race day?

The finish line. I like to push it hard to the finish, my signature move is a full out sprint. My old track moves come out. 

What is one thing you want people to know about you? 

You may see me running on my toes that's because I Irish danced for years as well as competed. I often walk and run on my toes. It's ingrained in me. My husband can always pick me out of a crowd of people based on my walk!

Just TRI
July 15, 2020

I was driving in my car today and I happened to notice an older silver Honda Civic with a simple bike rack attached to the trunk. It got me thinking of my first car, a 2002 silver Honda Civic. Manual, no air-conditioning and you had to hand crank the windows. Loved it. Like the car I saw, I had a simple bike rack for it that attached to the trunk. I owned this car for six years, lived with it in four states and it got my bike and I back and forth to my first six years of triathlons.

This also had me reflecting on my first triathlon from so long ago. My parents had come to watch and show their support. It was a good day. After I finished, I remember my dad was surprised at how many types of people did the race, of every shape, size and ability level. He had this preconceived notion that only highly fit people did these types of events. Now, I should say, my dad is naturally athletic and one of the hardest working people I know. With that being said, I think even he thought triathlon would not be for someone like him before he saw the race. A lot of people think this way about triathlon, it looks like an intimidating sport. Now, if you’ve never done a tri, I’m going to stop your thoughts right there.

Triathlon, and multi-sport (duathlon, aquabike) in general, is for EVERYONE. You do NOT need to have a huge training log in the books, expensive exercise clothes and a fancy bike. You simply need the will to TRI. It’s a simple event really, you swim, you bike, you run. That’s it. You don’t need loads of training to finish a triathlon, even just the recommended minimum amounts of exercise will do the trick. For most, the swim is the scariest, or hardest, part. Some people who start triathlon don’t even know how to swim when they first start training. If you don’t know how to swim, learn. This is an important, fundamental and potentially life-saving skill that everyone should know. Call me, I’ll teach you.

Now, while the events themselves are not happening right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing for one. Pools are starting to open up. Jump in. Get in the lake. Get a better feel for the water. Hop on your bike, whatever kind of bike it may be. Start walking, jogging or running a few blocks around your house every couple of nights. Just start.

Triathlon will change your life. I have yet to meet someone who has done a triathlon and didn’t beam about their experience(s). You will learn things about yourself you may not have known existed, you will be introduced to a phenomenal community of people and you will make memories you will never forget. On top of that, you will gain confidence, better health, new friends, new connections, new experiences and, quite possibly, a new lifestyle.

Just TRI, AME high and do it with that amazing smile!

AME Athlete Highlight
July 2, 2020

Meet Mary!

Mary is training for her first 70.3 this fall! She started running at age 40 and started competing in triathlons at age 57. Since then, she has completed numerous running events and triathlons, making the podium for many. Mary gets her workouts in early! On more than one occasion, my wake up call has been the Training Peaks notification of Mary’s completed workout and I absolutely LOVE it!

Mary started training with me in May after recovering from an injury last winter. Since then, she has made considerable progress. She never misses a workout and is always eager to learn how to improve in every aspect of triathlon. Since May, Mary has made huge improvements in both speed and power on the bike and her speed on the run. She has little to no pain from her previous injury and has not developed any further injuries. She has also gained knowledge on how and why we do certain workouts which has led her to do her workouts more effectively.

Getting nervous butterflies is Mary’s biggest hurdle. However, she pushes through EVERY SINGLE TIME with a can-do attitude. She gets those butterflies to fly in formation and crushes each one of her workouts. She is extremely positive of this race season, even if her upcoming 70.3 gets cancelled. She knows the gains she has made and knows the gains she will continue to make as she continues her training.

Absolutely THRILLED she chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A with Mary:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

I was a runner for a long time. I watched Tri the Wildwoods one day while out on a run. I thought I wonder if I could do that? My friends at 10th street gym always talked about triathlons, so I mentioned it to them. They were very influential in helping me train all winter for my first triathlon the following summer. My first triathlon was in Stone Harbor the summer of 2015 at the age of 57!

What is your favorite event and why?

My favorite event is Tri the Wildwoods. I guess because its in my own backyard and I love everything about that race, the spectators, the volunteers and of course the after party!

What about triathlon brings you the most joy?

The thing about the sport of Triathlon that makes me keep coming back is the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and the wonderful friends I have met along the way. Triathletes truly look out and take care of one another.

Pick your pain, the biggest calf cramp of your life in the middle of a choppy ocean swim or realizing you forgot to fill your water bottles as you’re running into transition from the swim?

Cramp in the middle of the ocean!

Favorite post-race meal?

My favorite post race meal is a Philly soft pretzel and a cold beer!

What’s one thing you want people to know about you?

Well, the one thing I think most people that know me in this sport is that I really push myself, despite my nerves. I am also very good at finding humor in most situations, which I'm sure has helped me not only with nervous jitters but in so many other areas of my life. I have a strong will and determination. That’s what has made me a triathlete.

I couldn’t agree more Mary, you are an athlete to look up to! I can’t wait to see you cross the finish line at that 70.3!

Always #AMEhigh folks and ROCK that amazing smile!

All I See
June 16, 2020

Over the past few months, I think we have all learned many lessons and a lot more about ourselves. Who we are, what we value and what we want to achieve. I know I have. My biggest takeaway:  things will happen as they are supposed to happen, they cannot be forced or hurried along. Sometimes, we make plans and God has a good laugh.

Most races were cancelled or postponed this year. Some of these being very meaningful events for people. Destination events for some, qualifying races for others and first-time events for newbies. This past weekend would have been a big event for me, Escape the Cape Triathlon and Open Water swim. This would have been my longest swim to date in a racing environment, 3 miles in the bay. Not to mention the best part of “taking the leap” by jumping 12 feet off a ferry to start the swim. In many ways, this race holds a lot of meaning for me.

Many have been upset by these cancellations. Grief, loss of motivation and lack of focused training has followed suit. The way I see it, this has been a good learning opportunity for all. We must train ourselves to see the positive in every situation. This is not the end of the road, nor is it a setback. This is a chance to better prepare us for what is to come. A chance to get in more training. To develop greater strength. To build more courage. To grow.

Most days when I run, I run past the side ferry exit, where Escape the Cape occurs, and make my way through the parking lot to a main road. For the past three months, the gate here has been locked and closed down with additional fencing. To my surprise and delight, I realized on my run this morning, the fencing had been removed and the gates were open. In my heart, I honestly believe that what will be, will be. Everything will happen in the right way and in the right time, generally when you don't expect it. Races will resume, life will progress, leaps will be taken and the gates will be open.

In the meantime, the best you can do is to keep being your best you. Choose FAITH in the process and your training. Choose HOPE that races will resume and life will progress. Choose LOVE for yourself, those around you and the future.

One of my athletes recently posted on social media about Escape. At the end of her post, she said “Keep following your dreams, keep your head up and keep making it happen. Anything is possible.” This is without a doubt what I believe and intend on doing and my hope is that you will too.

See the positive. Anything is possible. Keep being your best you. AME high and ALWAYS rock that amazing smile.

AME Athlete Highlight
June 9, 2020

Meet Maureen!

Maureen is a Philly-based athlete with a drive and determination like no other. She started triathlon in 2018 and has raced in numerous events since then. She suffered a rough injury at the end of 2019, which kept her from activity for six months. Did she let that stop her? Absolutely not. Since she started training with me in March, we have seen HUGE GAINS. At the time she started, we began her training with swimming (pre-COVID-19), strength training and stretching because of the injury. Slowly and progressively, we added both running and cycling back into her life and training.

Maureen works her tail off. She pushes when she’s supposed to push, she holds back when she’s supposed to hold back. She stretches, she eats right, she recovers. The result? In the past month alone, she has shaved 35 seconds PER MILE off her threshold run pace and improved her threshold distance on the bike by 38%! She no longer feels pain from previous injuries and most importantly has incurred no additional injuries.

Maureen’s strongest asset is her solid mental game. Instead of letting injury, lack of events and other battles life has brought her way derail her training, she has taken the opportunity to improve. Be like Maureen:  positive, courageous, determined, making gains. #cantstopwontstop

Absolutely PUMPED she chose AME to share in her journey!

Q & A with Maureen:

What got you into triathlon and endurance events?

My local running club (Thanks All Kinds of Fast!). I started running with the group a few months after I picked up running again on my own. A few of the women in the running club were already triathletes and suggested that anyone who was interested in doing their first triathlon sign up for the Women’s Philly Triathlon since the swim was in a pool. So I signed up and the rest is history as they say :)

What is your favorite event and why?

I love the Escape the Cape Triathlon in Cape May, NJ - there is nothing like the experience of jumping off a boat and into the ocean for the open water swim.

What about triathlon brings you the most joy?

The camaraderie - especially at women only events. I’m always surprised how supportive women are with each other - I’d love to see more of that in the world today!

Pick your pain, jelly legs from the bike to the run or forgetting where your bike is racked in transition?

Jelly legs any day!

Favorite workout song?

We Are One (Pitbull, JLo)

What’s one thing you want people to know about you?

I’ve only been doing triathlons for 3 years so I’m fairly new and have so much to learn - I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me :)

We can't wait to see where this journey takes you too, Maureen!

AME high folks and do it with a SMILE!

The Value of Stretching
May 12, 2020

Do you stretch? If so, regularly? Be honest, do you take time out of each day or a few minutes after exercise to get it in? Most people don’t. I didn’t even start stretching regularly until I hit my early 30’s. Today, I’m going to focus on flexibility and why it’s so important. Flexibility is one of the five components of physical fitness and the benefits are vast. There are several different types of stretching. Each type of stretching accomplishes a different purpose. Here, I’m going to focus on static stretching and dynamic stretching, as these are the most beneficial for both endurance athletes and the general population.

Static Stretching

Static stretching is what most people think of when they think of stretching. This is where you hold a position for a given period of time, like bending forward at the waist and reaching for the toes to stretch out the hamstrings. Back in the day, we were told static stretching should be done before exercise. Does anyone remember doing this? Team stretches before practice? I do. This is no longer the recommendation and some studies show it can cause adverse effects to performance when done pre-exercise.

Static stretching is ideally done AFTER EXERCISE or even after a hot shower. At this time, the muscles have an increased blood flow and the muscles are more pliable, better prepared to stretch. It helps to think of your muscles like a rubber band. Let’s say you have a rubber band you just pulled out of the fridge. This rubber band is taut, it does not stretch well. The likelihood of it snapping is greater. But once this rubber band has been sitting out in the warm air, it has much more flexibility and elasticity. It works the same way with your muscles. So, what are the rules with static stretching?

• Ideally, stretch after exercise or a hot shower

• Stretch all your major muscles groups

• Stretch to the point of mild discomfort, you should not feel pain

• Hold each pose for 10-30 seconds

• Complete each pose 1-3x

• Do NOT bounce while holding the stretch

Why should you do static stretching? What’s the importance? For many reasons, even if you do not regularly exercise. For one, it leads to an improved range of motion and decreased stiffness. This is especially important as we age. With age, our joints lose some range of motion, we can help to counteract this with regular stretching.

Stretching also provides a reduced risk of injury. Back to the rubber band scenario, a rubber band that has a lot of flexibility and a lot of give has much less chance of snapping if quickly called upon to stretch. Similarly, if we need to move suddenly, like quickly avoiding an unseen pothole when running or riding, or even in our regular activities of daily living, we are less likely to become injured. A greater existing flexibility and range of motion decreases risk of injury.

Regular stretching also improves posture and alignment. Tight muscles can contribute to poor posture. Think about the activities you do every day, the positions your body assumes on the regular. Stretching helps counteract tightness these positions can cause.

Last, stretching can be used as a great form of stress management. Taking deep, slow breaths as you perform each movement. Clearing the mind as you go.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching prepares the body for the stress of exercise. Think of dynamic stretching as part of your warm-up, to get the body moving, loosen the muscles, decrease risk of injury, promote circulation and increase blood flow. With dynamic stretching, you perform movements like those in the sport or activity you are about to do, but at a lower intensity. Then, increase speed and intensity throughout your warm-up. Some studies have shown improved athletic performance when dynamic stretching is performed consistently.

A dynamic stretch is not held for any specific length of time and involves movement. A few well-known examples are walking lunges, arm circles, or butt kicks. You might do 15 walking lunges, 20 arm circles (on both arms) and 20 butt kicks before a strength workout.

Stretching is not a once and done. Like putting on weight and then trying to lose that weight, stretching takes time. You won’t increase your flexibility in a day; however, putting it into your daily routine is what does the trick to increase your range of motion. Back to that whole healthy lifestyle thing 😊

Remember, if you have any health concerns or existing injuries, always talk to your doc first, in some cases, stretching may cause further harm.

So, get your stretching in, AME high and do it with a SMILE!

Where it All Began
April 24, 2020

I began triathlon in 2007, as you can see from the fuzzy image of me at my first triathlon above, I was a sophomore in college. I have shared this before, but I grew up playing basketball, basically since I could walk. After high school, I started college and no longer played sport competitively. I gained the freshman 15, and, like many college students, lived a little too carefree. Unsure of what I wanted to do as a career, I took a career assessment that told me, among other things, I would be a great drill sergeant in the army or do well in the field of exercise science. I chose exercise science. This is where I was first introduced to the sport of triathlon, by a graduate assistant in one of my ex sci classes. He put together my first training program and helped me with the process of buying my first bike. I worked my tail off that year for my first few tri’s. I still do, but for myself, not for any specific race. To be perfectly honest, triathlon has completely changed my life since it entered my life.

For me, triathlon has never been about finish times, making the podium or placing in my age group. Racing is just the cherry on top. Sure, I’m competitive, but I could not live without the day-to-day exercise that has since become my lifestyle. Clearing the mind, relieving the stress, maintaining my health, turning me into a better person and pushing my limits both mentally and physically. It is truly endurance training for life rather than for any race.

The greatest treasure this sport has brought, is all the people into my life along the way. From the helpful older woman at my first triathlon who racked her bike next to mine, to my supportive and encouraging husband, to my amazing athletes who inspire me every day, all the way up to the more recent people who have entered my life, who I cherish and value so deeply. The love that I hold is so great, truly something that will never fade and I would never want it to.

We all have a journey. I would love to hear yours. Connect with me and tell me all about it. In the meantime, AME high and do it with a smile!

Transition Like A Pro
April 22, 2020

While we get through this transition from our day to day norm, why not learn to transition like a pro on race day? Shaving time in transition is FREE TIME that can help you PR or give you an edge on your competition. The key is to get in and get out in as little time as possible, while expending the least amount of energy as possible. In a normal racing season, practicing transition may seem out of the question due to time and other life constraints. With the “extra” time this year, why not practice it now? Have you ever practiced transition? Most triathletes have not. A great transition starts way before race day. If you want to get better at any skill, you have got to put in the time and practice.

As we walk through this, we are going to practice visualizing race day. Visualization is a great exercise, if you visualize a great race and a great transition, it is that much more likely to happen. That said, let’s visualize its race morning. You’ve arrived on site. Yesterday, you picked up your packet and swag. Now you’re walking to transition area, bike and transition bag in hand. You find your spot, greet your neighbors and rack your bike. Next up, optimize your transition layout.

T1:  Everything you need on the bike course should already be attached to the bike. This is something you do the night before. Hydration/water bottles full and in place. Spare tube either taped under the saddle or in a seat pack, spare CO2 canisters taped to the seat post. For nutrition, most races are wetsuit legal, so put your nutrition in the back of your jersey BEFORE race start, underneath your wetsuit. It will not slide out or get ruined if it’s not open. For the rest of your nutrition, tape it to the top tube of your bike, ideally partially open and ready to eat depending on what it is.

Place your helmet upside down on your aerobars, positioned towards you so you can easily put it on without having to flip it around. Put your sunglasses inside your helmet so you can quickly put them on and won’t forget them. Depending on preference and race distance, place your socks in your cycling shoes. However, if this is a short course race, to maximize speed, do NOT wear socks. Put baby powder in your cycling shoes to help your feet dry out from the swim and to prevent blisters. Be sure to get training rides in without socks, this will help build up calluses prior to race day. Not to mention, you should NEVER try something new on race day. Which brings me to my next point, if you can and HAVE PRACTICED a flying mount, clip your shoes in, using rubber bands to keep them horizontal. If not, place them directly next to your bike on the ground, facing forward, so you can easily slip them on.

T2:  There is much less needed for the run, so place your running shoes next to your cycling shoes if they are not clipped in. If you are not wearing socks, put A LOT of Vaseline inside of your shoes so you can quickly slip them on, and your feet do not blister. As a side note, if you don’t already, use lock laces so you can slip your shoes on and go without having to tie your shoes.

Next, place your hat, race belt with bib attached and running nutrition in one small pile in front of your running shoes. This way, after you have thrown on your shoes, you can grab your items and go. Do not waste time putting these on in transition. Get running. Throw on your belt and hat and load your nutrition in your jersey on your way out of transition.

VISUALIZE:  Next, take in your surroundings and visualize. Find swim in. Count the number of rows and bike racks from swim in to your bike and remember this number. Visualize yourself running into transition from the swim, stripping off your wetsuit, goggles and swim cap while finding your bike. To make finding your bike easier, consider bringing a small brightly colored towel to drape over the saddle of your bike so you can quickly find it. Next, find bike out and run out. Visualize yourself going through the motions in each of these transitions.

PRACTICE:  Practice, practice, practice. Do it from home. Or, find an empty parking lot, empty track, empty field. Bring your bike, your transition gear, your race day mindset and practice. Visualize setting up like race morning (place your bike against whatever is around since there likely won’t be a bike rack) and go through the motions. Time yourself. Practice running to “transition,” putting on your bike gear and running with your bike out of transition. Go ride for 15-20 minutes, spinning your legs out in a high gear as you head back into transition to prepare for the run. Take off your bike gear, grab your run gear and take off for a quick run. This can be a great brick workout while also practicing transition. Use every open water swim to practice running out of the water and removing your wetsuit, swim cap and goggles with speed.

Be minimal, bring only what you need into transition and nothing more. Practice your transition set up. Practice going through the motions. Visualize what you will do race morning both in practice and on race morning.

Transition like a pro. AME high. And no matter what, always wear that smile!

Curveballs and Comebacks
April 13, 2020

Do you know the story of Chrissie Wellington’s Ironman World Championship win in 2008? Read on, I’m going to share, but search it on YouTube, you will be amazed. I remember watching that year, she triumphed big time when the odds were against her.

For those unfamiliar, an Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. The Ironman World Championship in Kona, a race you must qualify for, has exceptionally brutal conditions. Severe heat, high humidity and extreme wind. Having won overall female in this race the year prior in her Kona debut, all eyes were on Chrissie.

The start of the race went to plan, great swim and halfway into the bike she had already attained over a five-minute lead. Then, as sometimes happens in life, she was thrown a curveball and caught a flat tire. She pulled off to the side of the road and got to work. She had two spare CO2 canisters. However, she failed to use BOTH properly. Unable to accept outside assistance as this results in a DQ, she began shouting to other triathletes as they sped past for a spare. Time was ticking, she watched as her competitors continued to fly by. Eventually, word got back on the course of Chrissie’s situation. Rebekah Keat, a RIVAL, heard this and gave her one of hers as she passed her on the bike. Chrissie successfully filled her tire and got back in the race. This delay cost her 10 minutes, which, of course, did not stop her. She gained back the lead on the bike and absolutely CRUSHED the marathon, breaking the course record that year, ultimately winning the World Championship by almost 15 minutes. She did all this with a huge smile.

Life throws curveballs. It’s in your ability to fall, brush it off and get right back up that you WILL make an epic comeback. You can ALWAYS find a way, most of the time you just need to get creative, be bold, take a risk. Be resilient. Know that you can. Trust that you will. Like Chrissie, when in need, don’t be afraid to ask for help. In the words of Julie Moss (another story you should know), everyone has defining moments, hers were just captured on film.

Can. Will. Achieve. Make these your vocabulary. Power through, overcome challenges and you will come out stronger than you ever thought possible. ALWAYS AME high and you will never forget to smile!

Adjusting Your Season
April 2, 2020

Uncertainty seems to permeate the air. Athletes nervous about race cancellations, Race Directors under pressure to provide answers, workouts restricted due to social distancing, concerns on health in general. With this uncertainty looming, sticking to goals can be difficult. Maybe your first race of the season was cancelled, maybe your destination “A” race was rescheduled for fall. Should you stick to your original goals? Do you set new goals? Is it smart to sign up for a different race later in the year? How do you adjust your training?

The first thing I would suggest is to open your annual training plan. Identify what races were cancelled or rescheduled. For cancelled races, mentally, you need to grieve and move forward. Change is difficult, but you will overcome. Regarding your training program, you may need to get rid of a taper depending on if this was an “A” race or a training race. For rescheduled races, pencil those in for their new dates. Again, you may need to remove any existing tapers. You may also need to reconsider participating in some of these events if their rescheduled date is now too close to another race. It’s okay to have one or two races close in proximity, but too many can lead to overtraining, injury and burnout, especially if you push hard in each one. Looking at your adjusted season, make the decision if you want to add another race. I would not suggest registering now, but do your research and keep an eye on possible events.

Now that your race season is very likely heavy in the late summer and fall, you will need to adjust your base and build periods. Simply put, this means you won’t need to build in duration or intensity quite as early into your training as you originally would have. You don’t want to peak too early or burn out before you’ve even done a race. To help maintain training motivation early in the season, try out a virtual race. You will push harder knowing your results will be scored and it’s a great way to support your local or favorite race company.

Since you may have more free time with a bit less training and more time at home, this is a great time to improve or build on other areas of your game. Get down and dirty in the kitchen, testing new and healthy recipes for the season. Cook these in bulk to freeze and use when life is hectic down the road. Search swim videos and learn all you can about swimming mechanics. While you can’t swim now, you can certainly improve your understanding on form and be better prepared for training when you’re back at the pool. Maybe you didn’t work on your strength gains enough in the off season, depending on your new race layout, you could possibly build that in now. This is also the perfect opportunity to work on your mental game, read more on that in my previous blog, "Believe What You Can Achieve." Never stop learning, there’s always something you can improve on.

Think positive. Maybe this time is a blessing in disguise. Sometimes, you must take one step backward to take two steps forward. I talk a lot about dreaming big, setting goals and having courage. Sometimes I don’t even practice what I preach, although I'm definitely working on it. Progress is progress, no matter how small. Don’t give up on your goals or your training. If you’re not working and living towards your goals and dreams, what are you living for?

Think positive and get after your goals. Adjust your training and racing season and use this opportunity to build on your existing game. And, remember, ALWAYS AME high and rock that amazing smile!

Believe What You Can Achieve
March 17, 2020

In the past week, there has been a lot of stress in the triathlete world regarding COVID-19 and the social distancing rules put in place. Pools closed, gyms closed, no group workouts, races cancelled or postponed. This has been a frustrating time for athletes, not to mention the effect it has on the companies putting on these events. While this is something we cannot control, we CAN control how we respond.

That said, this is the PERFECT opportunity to work on your mental game. Take a minute and reflect on all the races you’ve done. Was there a race you started where every last detail went perfectly? Where nothing came as a surprise? I’m going to take a stab and say no. Every race brings with it a new learning experience. Something you can prepare better for at your next event. Whether race day was way hotter than expected, you caught glass in your tire, you forgot your race-day nutrition or maybe there weren’t enough port-o-potty’s so you were forced to pee in your wetsuit at swim start (plenty of athletes do this, don’t be ashamed to admit it).

I’m going to share a story about my first triathlon experience. My first ever race was back in 2007, small event, sprint tri, middle of nowhere, maybe 350 people. I was stoked. Showed up, racked my bike and gear in transition and walked down to the water. First thing I observed looking around, I was the only one not in a wetsuit. This was May, water temp was 65 degrees, and here I was in my little two-piece tri kit. Not even a full shirt, it was a sports bra style top. Mistake #1. Now, for mistake #2, I then proceeded to self-seed myself in the mass swim start near the front of the pack. Big mistake. This resulted in lost goggles and being swam on multiple times. I made it out alive, never more excited to feel land and made my way through transition. Little did I know back then, about the very specific run and bike in/out locations and timing mats in place to catch your time. Mistake #3. After being yelled at, not understanding why and finally making my way out of the correct bike out, I suddenly seemed to realize there was a hill located directly at the beginning of the bike split, right out of transition. Since it’s impossible to hop on your bike and clip in while trying to climb, this resulted in numerous people falling over on their bikes. Fortunately, I had my bike in a high gear and was able to make it up the hill. Fast forward back to transition, I realized once I re-racked my bike that my back tire was flat. The end of the course was incredibly bumpy and somewhat littered with trash. Thankfully, I didn’t realize this on the course; otherwise, I might not have completed my first race because I would not have known how to change a flat, nor did I have the tools with me to do so. Mistake #4.

Things happen. We can either choose to respond negatively and only see the downside in each situation. Or, we can train ourselves to choose to respond positively and see the OPPORTUNITY in each situation. You could say that I failed epically in that triathlon, but I see it as a huge win. I had done my training, completed the race, fell IN LOVE with the sport then and there, learned what NOT to do at my next event and I’ve never looked back.

We work on our physical fitness, so why wouldn’t we work to enhance and improve our mental fitness? There are several components to mental fitness that, if you address, will only improve your experience in triathlon and, quite possibly, how you finish or place in a triathlon. Some of these components include confidence, thought habits, focus, visualization and motivation. Generally speaking, triathletes are highly motivated people. But, how are your thought habits? How do you react when tough situations strike? Do you visualize a strong and successful race? Can you erase self-doubt? Back to my experience, did I make it through? Yes. Did I learn something along the way? Absolutely. Am I a better athlete (and coach) because of it? Hell yes.

So, the pool is closed, it’s the shortest leg anyway. And if you’re really concerned, transfer to a duathlon! Maybe your race was cancelled. Is it only about the race? Or, is it about the journey getting there? Did you train hard? Did you show yourself you can put in the work? Are you a better athlete and person because of it? On all accounts, yes.

Think positive, see the opportunity in every situation and never stop working on your mental game. You will only achieve as high as you believe. ALWAYS AME high and rock that beaming smile.

Conquer the Swim. But First, Breathe.
March 12, 2020

This past weekend, I coached several swim clinics for the Women’s Philadelphia Triathlon & 5k. Each clinic consisted of around 50 women, the majority of which were beginner swimmers. Women’s Philly Tri is the perfect event for beginners as the swim is in an outdoor pool, only 300 meters and extremely spectator friendly. The goal of the clinic was to prepare the women for race day; specifically, how to snake swim, understanding the importance of and how-to self-seed, the experience of swimming close to others, basic swimming mechanics and so on.

Throughout each clinic, there was a recurring question asked by most of the athletes. “How do I breathe in the water?” Now, before I dive into this topic, it’s important to understand, if you can’t breathe while swimming, there is slim to no chance you can focus on swim mechanics and improve your form. Getting faster at the swim is ALL ABOUT MECHANICS. Swimming “harder” does not mean you will swim faster. You must focus on form, do NOT waste precious training time doing otherwise. Ideally, this is done through video analysis that captures different angles both under and above water. If that’s not an option, have someone assess on deck. Better yet, find yourself a coach who does video analysis, writes up swim drills and then re-assesses form down the road. I know a great coach who does this if you’re looking for one 😉

Now, back to breathing. Many beginner swimmers like to hold their breath in the water, which is something you should not do. Holding your breath causes a buildup of CO2 in the body. This buildup causes a panic feeling, your body is telling you to breathe, to get the CO2 out and oxygen in. On top of that, your body is producing more CO2 and demanding more oxygen than normally required because you are exercising. Add to the mix you’re taking less breaths than normal and your body is already in a state of anxiety from being in water, a foreign environment.

To overcome this, there are several basic breathing drills you can and should do in every swim session. A few drills you can practice are 1) holding the pool wall and blowing bubbles while standing  2) holding the pool wall and blowing bubbles with a gentle kick  3) sink downs  4) blowing bubbles (practicing breathing) while using a kickboard. Google these exercises and do them correctly. Or, reach out to me and I will explain how to do them. You can breathe out through your nose and/or your mouth, most swimmers breathe out through both. The most important thing to remember with these drills is you MUST become comfortable putting your face in the water. Meaning, the water should be at your hairline or even towards the crown of your head. Putting your face in the water is a common fear beginner swimmers must conquer. If you are not putting your face in the water, you are automatically introducing bad mechanics. If your head is up, your legs are sinking and you are likely arching your back. More on that topic later.

Practice these drills, master your breathing, then focus on mechanics. You can conquer the swim, but first, learn how to breathe. And, as always, AME high with your goals and do it with a smile!

2020 Marathon Olympic Trials
March 3, 2020

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the 2020 Marathon Olympic Trials. This was a phenomenal experience; one I will always remember. The trials were in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, where the 1996 Olympic games were held. Even the Olympic torch in the park was re-lit for the trials. There was so much hype in the air, the energy was immense. Conditions were tough, hilly course with a heavy wind. The race was three loops and very spectator friendly. The male athletes went off first, followed by the females twenty minutes later.

Excitement bounded through the air as the athletes rounded back through with each loop. As expected, the lead group would get smaller with each lap while the rest of the athletes became more and more dispersed. A Des Linden fan, I cheered hardest for her each time around. Only the top three finishers for both males and females get to participate in the Olympic games, while 4th place lands you the alternate position. Galen Rupp placed first by over 40 seconds scoring the first male Olympic spot. Soon after, Aliphine Tuliamuk banked the first female spot followed by Molly Seidel seven seconds later, this was Molly’s FIRST marathon.

I walked away from this event inspired. All the athletes who competed that day, even those in last place, had worked their tails off to be there. They had put in the work to be in those Olympic trials, a position others only dream of. Good genes only go so far. These athletes had taken the road less traveled and it truly made all the difference. Similarly, every time YOU lace up and go for that tempo run, long ride or early morning swim, YOU are taking the road less traveled. YOU will finish a race that others won’t. And YOU are very likely inspiring someone else.

The next day I ran the Publix Atlanta half marathon, a great event if you have ever considered it. Towards the end, I noticed a runner wearing a shirt that read “courage is endurance for one step more.” A fitting quote for the weekend and upcoming race season. And, something to keep in mind when your workouts seem brutal or there seems to be no finish line in sight.

Have courage, endure, AME high and be sure to wear that smile!

AME High
February 21, 2020

Race season is quickly approaching. At this point in time, some of you have decided which races you will tackle this year and what your goals are for each race. You’re making your way through base training and strengthening your weaknesses. Hopefully, you’ve had the opportunity to spend some extra time with your families before training and racing season gets hot and heavy.

As you think about your goals, I encourage you to AME high. Sure, they should be realistic and achievable SMART goals. But as you think about where you want to be at the end of this year, next year and even five years from now, plan big. You are capable of more than you think, both in your physical pursuits and every other area of your life. Map out where you want to be in two, three, five years even and make a plan to get there. Don’t sell yourself short and don't let yourself get overwhelmed with big goals. Remember, like any endurance event, goals are achieved one step at a time.

Recently, a friend and former co-worker of mine passed away with no warning, likely due to a heart attack. He was young, mid 40’s, a cyclist and runner. He left behind a wife and two kids. Life is unpredictable, why waste it not dreaming and doing BIG! So, dream, go for your goals. Live your life without limits, AME high and always do it with a smile!

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