Monday, December 26, 2011

Commitment...Beginning 2012

Midnight on Monday marked the kickoff to the 2012 triathlon season. My younger brother Josh joined me for "Midnight Madness" this year to help me get the season kicked off. After 5 weeks of eating like crap and exercising at a minimum it is time to turn this sorry state of a body back into a race ready machine. My goal in the 5 weeks off was to get into terrible shape. It sounds kind of funny huh? For 57 weeks I punished myself on a regular basis to get into the best shape of my life and then I flipped the switch to off-season with a goal of getting into terrible shape. I've always believed that improvement from one year to the next lies deeply in what you do in the off-season and the most important thing to do in the off-season is to get into bad shape so you can build the body back up systematically through the tearing down and repairing process of training. In order for the tear down and repair adaptations to take place at a greater level I think it is important to start with nothing. I am there right now. The numbers don't lie. The day before Ironman Arizona I did one of those blood pressure machines and my heart rate was 50. My blood pressure was 98/58 which was the lowest I can ever remember it being. The highest I ever got my heart rate during the most intense bike intervals all summer was 158 beats/minute. Last week my resting heart rate was 81, my blood pressure was 131/66, and I did some bike intervals last Tuesday night and my heart rate hit 179. My weight for the race was 155 lbs. and today I tipped the scales at 172 lbs. I am out of shape. Mission accomplished. Now the fun of getting back in shape begins. I always love this challenge and I'm confident the race results in the summer will be better because I allowed myself the time to repair itself of all the training and racing trauma suffered last year. Today as a nice wake-up call with a 5 mile run (my first run since Ironman), a 45 minute bike ride, core work, weight lifting (1st since Ironman), a 5,000 yard swim practice with our high school team, and push-ups and more core work this evening. I am sure to be sore this week but sorness is a sign of muscles being torn down which is what I want. When you begin to get over the sorness it's a sign of the body adapting to the workload that caused it to tear down.
I decided to read a book to help get me started in 2012. It is called The New Dynamics of Winning. The author is renown sports psychologist Denis Waitley. Last year I started my year by reading one of his many other books called The Psychology of Winning. I'm about 100 pages in and one of the topics that has stuck out to me revolved around "commitment". Commitment is not just about putting in training hours. It is about how my entire life revolves around my goals. I could train like crazy but continue to eat like I have the past 5 weeks and I'm certainly going to have a terrible year. I have always felt like I'm very committed to my triathlon goals. This year I'm hoping to reach a new level of commitment. My family will always come first and my job will follow. Outside of those two things I plan to be 100% commited to being the best triathlete I can be. It's a tough road to follow. My time is mostly taken by my family, job, and training. Beyond that it is difficult for me to have much of a social life when I am training hard for my goals. I've often debated this it worth it? Is it worth not being able to go out with friends on a Friday night because I don't want to face the pressures of drinking and eating like crap? I would say most people should not give up their social life for the sport of triathlon. It would be quite normal to do a workout with your buddies and then meet up with them afterwards for food and drinks. I can't do this however. Because I'm already spending so much time away from the family training I can't justify to myself spending more time away socializing. So there is the big it more important for me to be focused on triathlon in the way that I am or should I say enough is enough and go back to enjoying life outside of family, work, and training? I'm commited to at least 1 more year of finding out how good I can be in the sport. I guess that means I'll miss out on social events for one more year. I wish I had the talent to have it both ways but I simply don't. I knew guys in college that could go out 3 nights a week, eat like crap at every meal, and still perform well on Saturdays. I was not blessed with that set of genetics. If I want to be successful it means I have to be commited to the sport in other ways beyond training. When this journey is all finished maybe I'll look back and decide it wasn't worth the commitment...maybe not. I'm one of five male professional triathletes from the state of Iowa (6 after Adam Bohach gets his pro card). 3 of the 5 are married. I'm the only one with children. I'm also the only one who has a full-time job outside of triathlon (although Adam will be joining me in that feat). Being able to balance family, career, and triathon with success in all three is what Live Uncommon is about. We hope that busy moms, dads, students...etc. can all find the time to stay healthy and active. Between my family and career I don't have too much other time outside of training. I plan to be more commited than ever this year because I don't want to finish this journey with any regrets. In the book Waitley mentioned how legendary PGA golfer Lee Trevino said "commitment" to him meant not calling a day of practice until his hands were callused and blistered from taking so many swings. Commitment was staying out until dark hitting golf balls while his fellow PGA friends were in the clubhouse drinking beer. I know there aren't many things in life you get to be fully commited to...due to my situation the only way I can be fully commited to triathlon is to give up some other things I would enjoy. I made sure not to miss any of those opportunities over the last 5 weeks because I knew once the season started my commitment would be back to becoming the best triathlete I can be. I'm looking foward to climbing the ladder in 2012. Thanks for following. Make this year your healthiest ever! Challenge yourself to do something you never thought was possible. Be commited to your goals...DREAM BIG!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Offseason Update...Power of Positive Thinking

The offseason is slowly coming to a close. I have one more week before I begin training for the 2012 season. I'm pretty excited to begin. I have gotten myself in the worst shape I've been in for quite some time which is exactly what I planned. I had a long year in 2011. Adding Ironman Arizona meant my season lasted 57 weeks. I knew I was due for a long rest to let my body recover and adapt to a year of training. I'm a little afraid to face the scale next week but I'm also really excited to begin chipping away at the number I see as I prep for my best year yet. I've always been a believer in the importance of getting out of shape at the end of a year before trying to get in better shape the following year. I've done the out of shape part. I have only run 10 minutes over the past 4 weeks...1o minutes total. I have biked 4 times...just easy rides. I have swam about the same number of times with our high school kids. Following my race in Arizona I gave some thought about going back to amateur racing but I knew my heart was telling me to race professionally for one more year. I feel my best racing is yet to be reached and I really want to see if I can continue to move up in the pro race standings. Outside of my first pro race in San Juan I finished in the middle third of every pro race I entered except for Racine 70.3 when I finished just inside the top third with a 6th place finish amongst 18 pros. My schedule for 2012 will include 3 professional 1/2 Ironman races and one full Ironman. I've had more success at the 1/2 distance so that is where my focus will be. However, after missing the 9 hour mark by only 5 minutes I want to go back to Arizona with a single goal of breaking 9 hours. I loved the venue, the spectators, and the level of competition in Arizona. I do not have any big spring races so I'm not worried about beginning my training nearly 2 months later than I did a year ago. I want to be in great shape by early June and know that I have plenty of time to get there.
3 weeks ago Jen and I volunteered at the Turkey Trot 5 mile run in Davenport. The race fell with both of us on training breaks so we thought it would be a great chance for us to give back at a race. We brought both of our kids with us andour 3 year old daughter Payton asked us if there was a kids run she could do. The only option was a mile and I explained to her that a mile was twice as far as she had ever run so she could not do it. She emphatically insisted to me that she could run a mile but I thought it was a bad idea. Jen said we should let her try but I was convinced she would hate running by the time she was half way in and she would never want to run again. Jen won the argument of course and we signed Payton up for the 1 mile run. She was excited to know she would get some GU Chomps to help power her through the run...those are her favorite training snack! Payton shocked Jen and I by running the entire mile without stopping. I was reminded of the power that positive thinking has on athletic achievements. While she was running she kept saying, "I'm sure I can do this." It was quite comical listening to her say this while she was running...but the positive thoughts worked out well for her. She finished in 13:31 and mom and dad were both extremely proud that she convinced herself she could do the mile and then did it without walking. Afterwards she said, "That was easy." She keeps asking us to share her video with anyone who will watch. Unfortunately I didn't realize my ipod camera was sideways...I guess because the screen you look through adjusts automatically so I never knew I was filming her sideways. Thinking positive during a race can make a huge difference in the outcome. Next time I'm hurting at mile 20 of an Ironman I hope I can recall Payton's line..."I'm sure I can do this." I can't wait for midnight madness next Sunday night at 12:00 when the journey will resume. Have an awesome holiday season. DREAM BIG!!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Swim Clinic for Triathletes

I just got word that my swim coach Stacey Zapolski is hosting a swim clinic for any interested triathletes this Sunday from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 at the Augustana College pool. I think this will be the 2nd or 3rd clinic they have had and I heard the clinic is growing rapidly more popular as these swimmers have spread the word about how much they are improving. I really like the format of the clinic. It is nearly the identical format that helped me improve a lot over the summer under Stacey's guidance. Stacey will watch the swimmers during the 1 hour and give technique feedback. She will let you know what areas of the stroke need work and what drills you can do to work on them. She will show drills for all the swimmers to work on. The clinic is held once a month. After the clinic it is up to you to go swimming and work on the drills and technique. The next month when you return Stacey will be able to judge improvement and give you something new to work on. This helped me tremendously this summer because she gave me one or two things to work on and helped me focus on those things for a few weeks before she would watch me again. For example, one of the first things she noticed about my stroke was that my left arm was entering the water too wide. Without having her watch me and point this out I never would have known. She gave me some drills to work on and I made that left arm my emphasis for the next 3 weeks until I saw her. When I saw her again she said it was much improved and then she let me know that my left hand was turning outward when it entered the water. This is a habit that has been tough for me to break. It really helps to have someone watching who knows what they are doing. I have never been a great swimmer and I have a LONG way to go but I made good progress this summer under her guidance. All the races I did this summer that I had previously raced I had my best swim rankings in this year. I had 2 races this summer when I had the fastest swim split. One of them had 130 people. That was a huge breakthrough and accomplishment for me and one I don't believe would have happened had I not had Stacey coaching me. What's great about this format is that it isn't terribly time consuming because I'm able to get stroke feedback and then go work on things on my own schedule. The cost is $30.00 for each monthly session. If you are brand new to swimming and have no idea what kind of workouts to do I'm sure Stacey would be able to give you some great ideas as well. I'll be there on Sunday...I hope to see you there as well! Let me know if you have any questions and I can send you Stacey's e-mail or possibly answer them myself. DREAM BIG!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Xterra Wetsuits Discount Code SA-JEFFP

So after last week's post I decided to do some of my own research to see how Xterra's return policy compares to other wetsuit companies. Xterra claims the best return policy in the industry. Why is this important? Wetsuit sizing is extremely important to getting the most out of the wetsuit. You want to get a suit that fits well. If it is too big it will fill with water and that will slow you down. If you get one that is too small it will be much more restrictive and will make you feel tired. It is difficult to know without swimming in the suit. It's tough to tell if the suit will fill with lots of water or if you will be quickly tired due to a restrictive suit. Here is what I found out. All this information was taken from the websites of the manufacturer website or in the case of the retailers listed from their websites.
Xterra Wetsuit return policy- Xterra will allow returns for full refunds or size exchanges within 30 days of the purchase. They encourage buyers to swim in the suit. They will accept it back for a full refund or exchange after it has been used in open water. They even suggest that buyers in cold weather states use it once for a short period of time in a pool if the weather is too cold to try in open water.
2XU- Will accept returns only on new, unopened merchandise within 30 days. You open keep it.
TYR- Wetsuits may be returned only for exchange. They do not give refunds. Suits that have been used or gently worn will not be accepted as returns. No exceptions.
Zoot Sports- All items have a 30 day money back guarantee. All items returned must be new and unused with tags still attached.
Blueseventy- Will accept returns as long as the item is new and has only been tried on for sizing purposes. The tags must be attached to return. All wetsuits returned are subject to a 20% restocking fee which will mean you are out $60.00-$150.00 depending which suit is purchased.
Orca- Will accept returns within 14 days of purchase. The wetsuits must be new with tags still attached.
DeSoto- Allows returns on wetsuits that have been used. Returns must be made within 14 days of the day purchased.
Aquasphere- Will accept returns for 30 days on new, unopened items. You open it, you keep it.
Retailers Accepts returns on new, unused merchandise with orginal tags attached within 60 days of purchase. Accepts returns after "one free swim". Allows returns for 30 days after purchase on all new items with tags still attached. Allows returns on new merchandise for 30 days. Tags must still be attached. Accepts returns on all new items with tags still attached for 30 days. If you send back without tags they will return to you and charge you the return shipping. Accepts returns on all new items with tags attached within 30 days. A 15% restocking fee applies on returns.

As you can see from this list Xterra has the best wetsuit return policy in the market. 2nd best vote goes to DeSoto. The only downside to DeSoto is that the returns have to be received by them within 14 days of when the suit was purchased. That reduces the window of how long you have to try the suit because the 14 days does not include the time it takes to get the wetsuit to you and for you to send it back. The best retailer is because they at least allow 1 swim in the wetsuit. It was a little unclear to me on their website whether or not the return is only accepted for an exchange or if you are allowed to get a refund. The worst vote goes to Blueseventy because not only do they not allow you to return a suit you have swam in...they will charge a 20% restocking fee! The worst retailer is who is similar to Blueseventy except their restocking fee is slightly less at 15%. This information makes me even more proud to represent a company like Xterra Wetsuits. If you want to get the best price available...even better than their sale prices use discount code SA-JEFFP.  You may use this discount code if you are a follower of this blog, friend, or family member. Right now they are running a special and I thought it was going to end Sunday. They lower our discount code price to beat their existing specials. I tried the code today and the special was still in effect. The Vortex Full Suit (400.00 retail) can be purchased for 149.00. The Vector Pro Full Suit ($600.00 retail) can be purchased for $223.50 with the code. I've had some questions about which suit people should go with. If you are training for a sprint or Olympic distance race I would say the Vortex Full Suit is sufficient. If you are training for something longer than Olympic distance I would recommend the Vector Pro. The biggest advantage of the Vector Pro is that the arms are made of 6 different pieces of material. What that means is that the arms are going to be much more flexible than a lower priced wetsuit that is typically made using 3-4 pieces of material. This will make a difference in a longer swim because your arms will not tire as quickly if the wetsuit is more flexible. The other difference I noticed is that the Vortex 3 is made with a material that is a little slippier through the water. There is also a spot on the arm that the Vortex 3 has to help with the catch of the water. It is a rigid spot that is supposed to catch more water than the lower priced suits that do not have that catch spot. You can see that spot if you check out the photos on the Xterra website at If you find one you like and you are a friend, family member, or follower of this blog use discount code SA-JEFFP.

As for my own training I'm finished with my 2 week vacation. I did zero training, ate whatever I wanted, and gained some weight. I'm still not ready to resume regular training but for the next 3 weeks I enter a phase I call "exercise phase". I will begin eating better than during "vacation phase", and I will also be working out but not hard-core. I'm not tracking my workouts. I'm swimming with our high school kids, running with friends, getting on the trainer to ride during Iowa games...etc. I'm working out without specific weekly goals. Hopefully my weight gain will come to a halt during "exercise phase." I'm getting a schedule and goals laid out. I'll write more about my training and what my plans are next week. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Xterra Wetsuits...Christmas is coming!

I'm thrilled to continue my partnership with Xterra Wetsuits in 2012! I had the opportunity a couple years ago to partner with a different company but I opted not to because the lowest price wetsuit the company carried was nearly $300.00. It wasn't that I was looking for something less expensive but it had more to do with my own beliefs about helping the sport of triathlon grow. Triathlon is a sport that helps people who get into it to live a healthy lifestyle. While training for a triathlon people exercise regularly, set goals, lose weight, and feel like they can accomplish anything. I hate hearing from people that they don't want to give the sport a try because of the costs associated with it. This is why I love Xterra Wetsuits! They provide top-notch wetsuits at the world's best prices. Many of you are probably wondering how they can beat competitors price by so much without sacrificing quality. It is a pretty simple concept that I teach to my 8th grade social studies class in a lesson on economics. Xterra Wetsuits sells directly to the customers. You won't find their westuits in stores. By sending suits to retailers, known as the "middle man" the other companies in the wetsuit industry have a huge markup fee. If you are looking at other companies compare the material with Xterra and also the thickness of the suit. In the spirit of cyber week Xterra is currently offering 60% off retail on the Vortex Full wetsuit (regularly price at $400.00) and on the Vector Pro westuit (regularly price at $600.00). I contacted them today and was informed that if you use my discount code SA-JEFFP you save even a little bit more than their current super sale price.  That code is for fiends, family members, and followers of this blog. If you are debating a wetsuit for 2012 I encourage you to go to their website at and compare their suits to the other ones you are looking at. Both of those suits are full. Some people believe that full-suits are more restrictive and cause their shoulders to feel tired faster. There is no debate that full-suits are faster than sleeveless. It is true that your first couple times in a full-suit your shoulders will get more of a workout than you are used to without a suit on. What I have found is that by swimming in my wetsuit a few times in open water before races breaks in the shoulders and I don't notice any difference in how my shoulders are worked come race day. One more thing that separates Xterra from the rest...the return policy. Xterra has the best in the business. Most tell you once you have tried on the westuit you can no longer return it. If you have swam in it then it's a guarantee they won't return it. Not Xterra. They encourage you to swim in it to make sure the size is comfortable. If you decide you want your money back or a different size you just ship to them and they will either refund your money or send you a new size at no additional shipping charge. That's incredible. On top of that, they have a 2 year warranty on their wetsuits covering anything except damage caused by the owner. If you have any questions regarding wetsuits don't hesitate to ask me. If you find another company offering a better price on a similar quality wetsuit let me know and I'll contact Xterra to make them aware...I'm confident you won't find one. The customer service you will get from Xterra is incredible. Check them out on facebook for more information. I know swimming is not my strength but swimming in the Xterra Vendetta in 2011 was my best yet. I had 2 races where I had the fastest overall swim. In every race I did this year that I had done in the past my swim ranking was higher this year. I believe in Xterra because they allow people who are on the fence about triathlons to buy a wetsuit without breaking the bank. If you are thinking about a wetsuit for Christmas...think Xterra. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!