Caffeine + Naptime = AWESOME
The Coffee Nap. This paradoxical beauty combines two of my favorite things: Coffee and taking naps 🙂 not that I often get to do the latter succcefully…until now.
I had read an article recently regarding brain chemistry during sleep and how caffeine can impact brain receptors during this time. Intrigued I have trialled the theory a few times since with great success I am pleased to report!
So what is the ‘caffeine nap’ or ‘Coffee nap’? Well, it does in fact have everything to do with chemistry, brain chemistry to more specific. Throughout the day a chemical in called adenosine accumulates in your brain blocking receptors, causing you to feel drowsy. When you sleep your body is able to reduce the adenosine molecules, so that when you wake you feel refreshed and you start over. Caffeine has been shown to interact with these same receptors blocking the interaction of Adenosine and therefore allowing the stimulating effect of Caffeine to work without having to fight against the adenosine.
So how do you take a coffee/caffeine nap?? Well here you go:
- Enjoy a cup of delicious caffeinated goodness (I recommend Adventure Roast from Grimpeur Bros. or if you’re in Las Vegas stop by Grouchy Johns’ Coffee Shop – they have awesome coffee combinations and super comfy nap-worthy chairs!)
- Set your alarm for 20mins
- Close your eyes, relax and NAP
- Wake up to your alarm feeling awesome!
- Charge forward with your day with renewed vigor and energy 😀
Now, I will say that although this is definitely an awesome solution, avoid indulging too frequently as this can have a negative impact on longer sleep periods. In addition to that, if you have any medical condition that could be negatively impacted by caffeine (heart condition or blood pressure issues) this won’t magically change that… so be smart people.
Good luck with you coffee naps and be productive, positive and happy 🙂
January 19th – Plan B is ok.
Since I was a teenager, a very independent teenager, I’ve always tried to plan ahead, make smart decisions and learn from mistakes. And I can admit I have made mistakes, haven’t we all! So when I decided to make the jump to work part time in September and train full time, my first plan was to work in MVPT, a cash only sports outpatient clinic. I knew the hours would be tough to make up so I also applied for a position in Home Health Pediatrics which I had a taste of in Scotland and loved! For those of you who don’t know, this is physical therapy with children primarily aged 0-3 years who have developmental delay or disability. I work closely with the parents/guardians to educate and teach them how to help their child, as well as working hands on with the children to help reach significant milestones like rolling, sitting, standing and walking. I began working in the outpatient position but due to scheduling, the unique cash only clinic model and a unique perspective on outpatient approach it was difficult to create a patient caseload and sustainability. In addition to this the first couple of months with the home health agency were very slow due to paperwork and clerical obligations. However, in December I suddenly was able to begin building a much bigger pediatric caseload up in North Las Vegas where although the driving is farther, the flexibility and dependability was more reliable to the point that i could easily fill 2-3 days. All of a sudden I found I was back to an almost full time schedule between two jobs but with much lower financial stability than when I did work full time. This really didn’t make sense.
Time for Plan B. I received my Elite off-road triathlon license in the post as I returned from Scotland, which was a great reminder of what my current path and goals were/are. I am trying to work part time and train full time, but I’d ended up backwards in a very short space of time, blowing through my savings just to pay bills and living expenses. With the flexibility and stability of the home health position it was a clear choice to make. My decision to move away from MVPT was a tough but necessary step. I can continue with Pediatric home health part time with a flexible schedule and actually train full time. I am grateful to Ron Gallagher for allowing me to try Plan A and his understanding in my moving on to Plan B.
So what do I mean by training full time? Well, for one I won’t be training 40 hours per week, but the beauty of training full time, is the flexibility and time to RECOVER! With often 2-a-day workouts, recovery is a huge part of an elite schedule. Every session counts. Eating counts. Resting counts. The physical and mental stress of working needs to be carefully managed to ensure the athlete can continue to improve and progress with a much lower risk of illness and/or injury.
The second part of Plan B, having extra time, will allow me to pursue more community projects, including some coaching, organizing training rides/runs/groups, and deliver small workshops and clinics in the Las Vegas/Henderson area.
I ask myself why I do what I do quite frequently. One answer is that I want to push myself to be the best I can be, challenge myself to do what I initially think I cannot do, and prove that we are capable of much more than we think. Another answer is my love of empowering, educating and encouraging others to take control and responsibility for their physical and mental health and well being. I believe that my position can be a great platform to deliver that message and encourage others to push themselves and the best version of themselves, promoting healthy living and happiness.
So there you have it. I’m not giving up on my dream because of a bump in the road. There will be MANY bumps in the road. I have only just begun to travel down this road and I’m not prepared to turn around.
“The Bamboo that bends, is stronger than the oak that resists”
Embrace change and allow yourself to adapt as your path unfolds.
Thanks for following and believing 🙂
April 21st – Why being an Age-Group athlete is kind of like being a superhero…
Long before the sun is rising in the sky, while children lay tucked up in bed, couples snuggle in close, as the vegas strip begins to dwindle into submission, the age-group athlete awakens to an early morning alarm calling her into action. Scantily clad in lycra she begins her routine by initiating a workout, fine tuning her body to churn out intervals, increasing power output and V02max. She sweats, aches, and digs deep into the hurt locker, hungry for change, hungry to make a difference and to become the ultimate machine. With the workout coming to an end, she smiles, satisfied with the effort and work applied, but then begins her transformation back to her mere mortal self. A shower, change of clothes, breakfast and a coffee and she heads out into the world; the 9 to 5 grind, her ‘normal’ life. She enters work and begins her ‘normal’ day, unbeknown to her colleagues the secret hurt locker session she experienced just a couple hours prior. To the world, during the day, she is a healthcare professional. Once her day is by with and she is finished with the niceties of her day-to-day employment, she heads once again back to that hurt locker to suffer in silence, pushing, grinding, hurting, trying, believing…thats it…believing. And so it goes, a ‘double-life’; from the 9-5 routine to scantily clad exercise in an entirely different sort of uniform. Each day she puts in the work with no immediate reward or return on effort. Each day pounding away in the hope that one day she will be needed. But superheroes don’t wait around hoping to be needed, they ARE needed; they are needed to instil hope, faith and belief in others that they too can change, better themselves or achieve seemingly impossible goals. And what better way to enforce this than race day.
Along the course she digs deep into her inner superhero to find the strength, mental power and focus and determination to guide her through the course. Donning her team kit, she resembles not the day to day mere mortal, but an athlete. Acknowledging volunteers for their efforts, she hopes to show them how much they are valued and instills self-worth and gratification. Taking in the crowds of spectators, giving a knowing nod of appreciation for their cheers, she knows that that simple human gesture acts as a reminder that she is still human and that they could do what she is doing. She hopes to empower and motivate with her work. On the way back to her car still dressed in her ‘superhero’ attire, a new athlete congratulates her, however she will not pursue a conversation of self-appraisal but instead shows her admiration and interest into this new athlete, providing encouragement for future events and to continue this lifestyle of healthiness and happiness.
It may all sound ridiculous, but sometimes we age-group athletes need to take a little more comfort in knowing about our ‘superhero’ status. We live and train these double lives, often with family, friend or work commitments that professional athletes may not have to deal with. Undeterred by these challenges we show that with determination, hard work can overcome adversity, belief can self-efficate our own abilities and push us farther than we ever dreamed of, and a little motivation can move mountains….well maybe not literally…
So this blog goes out to all my fellow age-groupers, some of which aspire to and may become professional, others content with the challenging ‘superhero’ lifestyle, either way, this is for you. You know who you are; you are special, motivating, hard working, influential, empowering, dedicated…you are superhuman.
Swim, Bike, Run. Believe.
2012 has easily been the most eventful year of my life not only in personal achievements but in sporting achievements also. And when I say sporting achievements, I’m not talking about Olympic medals or world records, I’m talking about something MUCH more than that…personal goals. You see you can be first in a race and be disappointed because you didn’t meet YOUR goal and similarly you can be 50th and be absolutely delighted because that personal goal, that milestone of achievement that you have worked so hard for has finally been met.
So 2012. I had been searching for that sub 40minute 10k for some time and who would believe I would achieve it on the first leg of a Duathlon: 39:45. A couple weeks later running a 10k alone back home, on a hilly course I achieved it again in 39:09. Absolutely delighted. Milestone reached. Now onto attaining that sub-38….
Completed my first half marathon in June in Ventura, CA. Aimed for 1:30 but hoping for sub 1:35….achieved 1:26:45. DELIGHTED. Now to get that 1:25:00.
Completed my first half Ironman Triathlon. Time goal was for between 4:45-5:15. Achieved in 5:01. AMAZED and so delighted with result despite also getting heat stroke during the race and spending a considerable amount of time in the medical tent…
So why, when I started the year so well and so positively, have I finished the year with less than impressive results.
9/9/12 70.3 Triathlon: 5:38
17/11/12 10k race: 41:10
2/12/12 Half marathon: 1:37:54
Now each of these last three events may have indeed have had their own individual difficulties (HEAT, long hill, 40mph winds respectively) but still, after starting the year so well, I only feel like I’ve gone backwards and let myself down.
I know there are potentially many reasons for this and I know there is a lot I can do myself to fix issues I have had….still disappointing nonetheless.
So where from here. Well, right now I am looking to put one of the LONGEST seasons behind me (first potential reason for shitty recent results), and look forward to base training and easing off from high intensity training (second reason). I look forward to sleeping more (third reason) and eating a healthier, more nutritious diet (fourth reason), having recently switched to a dairy free (choice) in addition to Gluten free (medical) diet.
To end 2012 with some words of wisdom…founded from stupidity and experience….
- Your racing season should not span the majority of the year. Your body needs to rest and recover PROPERLY…. Choose a handful (no more than 5) of races that you want to do well in and focus on these. Don’t be afraid to turn down some events!
- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. When you are stressed mentally you become stressed physically. If you miss one session its not the end of the world. Take the time to treat your body and mind with respect and it will reward you with better results come race day.
- Eat to Live don’t live to eat. Think about why you are eating whichever food you’re eating and what nutritious purpose it is serving you. Everything in moderation…
- SLEEP. Disruptive sleep patterns have a negative impact on your life. Don’t burn the candle at both ends and try to relax a good hour before attempting to sleep. Late night gym sessions = not ideal.
- Believe in your own physical and mental strength. When you believe you can be the greatest, great things will happen. If you allow yourself to become absorbed in self doubt, you will slowly succumb to the negativity, and your goals and dreams will fade into the distance. Be strong.
So as I write these ‘wise words’ I realise how late it is at night and that I must sleep. I hope this finds each of you in a better place at the end of 2012, or are you, like me, looking forward to a fresh start in 2013?
Goodnight America and Good morning Scotland
Pro Triathlete in the making…someday…
September…. Races and Battles
Have been off the radar a little from everyone, everywhere and everything so apologies for that but I have had some time to recoup, regroup and regenerate… all positive steps!
On September 9th 2012, I competed at the 70.3 Ironman World Championships in Las Vegas, my (now) home turf. A new distance to me this year and one I only started training for in May, when I moved to Las Vegas and signed up for the 70.3 Wisconsin.
Rewind back one year…. I was sitting with my coach, Ken Bryson, discussing goals for 2012. I believe my goals were:
- Sub 40min 10k – did this in March…twice
- Qualify for World Championships
- Top ten finish at Worlds
Now I did qualify for the World Duathlon Championships in Nice, back in March but Triathlon was still my focus and qualifying for World Triathlon Championships. Albeit I was still at this point thinking of the Age Group Olympic distance – 1500m Swim/42km Bike/ 10km Run – but with the move to the USA I was unable to race at any qualifying events. So, after moving here I signed up for half ironman to see if i could somehow qualify for Worlds, knowing the half ironman championships were in Vegas. With a great swim and bike leg, and half decent run considering I heat stroke, I managed to qualify for the World Championships- GOAL ATTAINED.
Now fast forward back to the 9th September….
The day was hot by the time the sun was rising and I was wave number 15 starting at 7:50am. The weather forecast had said it would be cloudy and a cool 80-ish degrees Fahrenheit. Of course this was too good to be true…there was not a cloud in the sky and the temp was closer to 100degrees if not higher at times. The race began as a deep water start with over 100 of us treading water over the starting line.
And we’re off! At least 5 hits to the face, a couple kicks and a few gulps of severely questionable water and I completed the 1900m swim through Lake Las Vegas. The swim for me is my weakest aspect of the Triathlon and I just focus on getting through it so I can really begin my race! True to form I came out of the swim quite far down the field but exited the water to transition and had a reasonably slick transition. I headed out onto the bike to grind through the 56miles of desert in the scorching heat. My nutrition here was almost spot on; I alternated with one bottle of electrolytes then one bottle of water, consuming approximately 5-6 bottles throughout the bike course. I had my EFS gel bottle which I consumed throughout the bike also – this was a brilliant find brought to me by Lelani at Pro Cyclery. Unfortunately I had a couple hiccups on the bike…. I vomited a couple times (probably the questionable water) and also received a yellow card, I presume for drafting. This is something I don’t agree with as I was overtaking up a hill at the time but you can’t argue with the ref and you’re just as well taking the hit and getting on with the race and just hope that the people that really ARE drafting also get penalised! And breathe… Anyway, I reached T2 and passed my bike to one of the volunteers before running through to pick up my run kit – the organisation at this event was truly amazing, and even more amazing were the hundreds of volunteers who were out supporting us throughout the day! I spent a couple minutes in the transition tent putting on my shoes, getting lathered in sunscreen and drinking an ice cold water before heading out into the unforgiving heat. The run course was a gruelling 3 lap course consisting basically of 2 and a bit miles uphill and 2 and a bit miles downhill… in the unrelenting heat… By this point I was feeling the exhaustion of the heat starting to take over. This is a strange feeling because my legs felt ok but my body was suffering. The race became a case of getting from one aid station to the next. The focus was simply to finish. Sometimes you have days when you know you’re on for a PB/PR but that day it was simply about crossing that line. Something that was really special for me was having so much personal support on the race course. My running team mates from Ninja Endurance Racing, my Sponsors from Pro Cyclery and my friends from Work at Healthsouth plus other friends that I have met through cycling, running etc since I have moved here. On reflection this really was all I needed. I had achieved my goal of qualifying but more than that I had successfully started a new life in a foreign country, a move that was scary and full of unknowns but I really feel lucky to have met and become friends with all these people. These people cheered me on through the 13.1 mile run and handed me the Scottish flag so I could fly it home over the finishing line. Running down towards the finishing line, I sported the biggest smile because I knew how much I had achieved, how far I had gone, just to cross that line. Not just on the 9th September but over the past few months. This was a mental and physical battle of will, heart and determination. And I did it. So this is a thank you to everyone who helped me to cross that line.
Post race I had a bit of post race/post season blues. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about the race or think about running or cycling or swimming or training of any kind. I had alot of personal and emotional issues built up from the preceding months and the stress of moving, starting a new job, training for such a big event hit me hard. I escaped with a couple friends away to the beach and it was just the therapy and getaway I needed. Floating effortlessly in the Pacific ocean with the water covering your ears so you can’t hear a thing, feeling the water just soothe your troubles away is something that everyone should experience just once. I took another week after that to chill out with little to no training involved at all. Trying to figure out what and where I wanted to go from there. And now, this week (now Tuesday) I feel I am on my way towards new goals, a new season (after a productive and smart off season of course) and hopefully some better times ahead.
So, Im back to training, yoga and eating healthily/sensibly and trying to sleep more – still working on this!!! But the long term goals are still there – Professional Triathlete, and World Champion. Might not be this year or next year but one year I will be 🙂 so watch this space…
As I have been out the loop please feel free to leave comments and tell me what inspires YOU, what YOUR long term goals and dreams may be?
For now, Goodnight