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Just Don’t Say It! The Mindset of Aging is a Head Game

Mar 27, 2017   //   by Frank Sole   //   Articles  //  No Comments

If mindset is so important to the outcome of our lives, why don’t we do a better job of thinking before we speak when it comes to our mindset on aging?

A recent Facebook post by an acquaintance who is considerably younger than me was quick to catch my attention and had me thinking about the mindset of old age. The guy posted a picture of himself, sitting in an armchair with a walker in front of him watching television.

He was recovering from a running mishap and clearly frustrated. What really caught my attention was his closing remark “Man, it really sucks getting old.” I cringed at the sound of that statement.

Driving Force

Our mindset is established and reinforced each moment of the day with the internal dialogue we choose to have with ourselves. Internal dialog will make comments on each and every thing that surrounds us.

Our mindset is established and reinforced each moment of the day with the internal dialogue.

Paul Walsh, an executive coach, best explains the necessity for a more positive dialogue with ourselves for this reason alone: “It is non-stop and continually shapes your world how you see it. Depending on what your internal dialogue says at key points in your life will determine not only how you feel about certain things, but also what you believe about yourself and things around you. And this will determine to your body where best to spend your energy.”

Mark Twain once said: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

 

Mindset of Aging

Do not make age a factor. Example: I want to try and do three push-ups but, I mumble to myself, ‘I can’t.’ At that moment, your self-fulfilling prophecy will come true: See, I told you I was too old to do this!

We simply need to do a better job of listening to ourselves talk and our internal dialogue. Try this instead: I know it’s been a long time since I have done even one push-up, but I know if I give myself time I can complete three in a row!

A few years ago, my mentor noticed I was using a considerable amount of negative self-talk. He challenged me to pay attention to the internal dialogue I was having with myself. It was not good, not good at all. I was very negative and condescending.

So, I made a deliberate effort to change the way I talked to myself, which in turn changed my thinking, my outlook and ultimately my results. My internal dialogue turned into a positive conversation with myself. Easy to change, no way. But was it well worth the time and effort to work deliberately and purposefully on my internal dialogue, you bet it was.

Power of Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

With the right mindset, we can reach our goals and achieve great accomplishments.

In a ground breaking book The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck manifests the differences between a fixed mindset (seeing everything with blinders on, limiting our beliefs, focusing immediately on what we can’t do) versus a growth mindset (approaching everything as a new challenge and with a sense of exploration.) With the right mindset, we can reach our goals and achieve great accomplishments.

To make significant changes, slow down and start to listen to your internal dialogue.

  • Do you use negative words? Example: You spill something in the kitchen and you use harsh language about yourself (“I am so #%&&&# clumsy!”). Your subconscious will remember. And every time you have an accident, the same words will repeat. Instead, when you spill something say, “Well, it was just an accident. I won’t let that happen again.”
  • Speak positive affirmations: “I feel great today.” Despite how you feel, the body responds favorably to positive words. Studies have shown that it will change your chemistry. So, speak and think positive.
  • Surround yourself with positive and uplifting people. The old saying “Misery loves company” is so very true.
  • Use your imagination and dream again! Envision yourself as you want to be each day. Apply a bit of action moving you forward and expecting positive results.

As for my Facebook friend, I ran into him a couple of weeks later, and he was back at his running and working out like nothing ever happened.

Mind, Body and Sole: Healthy Aging Attitude is Top Priority for This Boomer

Mar 10, 2017   //   by Frank Sole   //   Articles  //  No Comments

Excellent article by Liz Merritt, BoomBaby.me, that speaks to the attitude and healthy mindset of Frank Sole. As stated by Merritt “For Baby Boomer Frank Sole, having the right healthy aging attitude is more important than absolute fitness. This is coming from a professional triathlon and swim coach who believes fitness is attainable at any age – but only with willingness and a confident mindset. Be inspired by his healthy aging story!”
Mind, Body and Sole: Healthy Aging Attitude is Top Priority for This Boomer

Sleep Deprivation and Training

Feb 9, 2017   //   by Frank Sole   //   Articles  //  No Comments

Sleep deprivation and training for endurance athletes seem to run conjointly. It seems in our tribal culture that the lack of sleep is worn like a medal. “I was up at 4 a.m. and ran ten miles on only five hours of sleep.” But is this best for the athlete to continue to push through training at all costs. We can understand sleep deprivation in the military. The idea is to test the individual and troops alike; can they function and make sharp, necessary decisions in a deteriorated state. In the arena of triathlon and endurance training, the idea of sleep deprivation is important not only for training but for the overall health and well-being of the athlete. The lack of sleep in this country for the average adult is running at an alarming level. The Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that 40% of Americans get fewer than five hours of sleep per night, while 75% suffer from some form of sleep disorder.

Why is sleep deprivation eventually destructive for the athlete? First, we disrupted the natural circadian rhythm of our body which has the ability to create a litany of ongoing health issues including the body’s ability to burn fat which can disrupt one’s appetite. Sleep deprivation has been known to compromise memory retention, disrupt the immune system to heal itself, compromise the ability to combat higher levels of stress hormones which have been linked to heart disease, irregular heartbeat and higher blood pressure and affect moods. And, if you have been around anyone training for an Ironman after a long week of training, their mood can be suspect.

An athlete must avoid sleep deprivation at all costs. The universal benefits of appropriate amounts of sleep are overwhelmingly in favor of creating an athlete that is rested, rejuvenated, restored and ready to train and race. Optimal amounts of sleep help the body to recover from the day’s training and life’s activities by creating balance in hormones and testosterone to restore order in organs, strengthen and rebuild muscle. The immune system, during periods of deep sleep known as (LTP) long-term potentiation along with growth hormones, goes into a full-blown restoration process which best prepares the body to take on the next day’s training load and life in general.

Triathletes, many times left to their own devices, will train at intensity levels that will leave them fatigued and worn out resulting in training and performance declines or plateaus. Marc Evens states in Principles of Triathlon Training that “sleep is often and undervalued, and some triathletes might fail to appreciate the physiological importance of quality of sleep.” Rich Roll, considered one of the world’s best endurance athletes, makes sleep a priority: “A great night of sleep is the world’s greatest performance enhancer.”

Athletes need to trend their sleeping habits. A daily survey can be very useful for to help monitor their habits. The survey can consist of these simple questions: How many hours of sleep did you get; what level of sleep did you attain; what were your eating habits and stress levels; what was your resting heartbeat. Sleep deprivation, over a long period, can have devastating side effects on overall health and wellbeing generally due to the continual weakening of the immune system along with the decreasing number of white blood cells and their ability to perform healing work.

Your very first order of business is to best ensure your health and wellbeing to avoid injuries and illness. You should monitor, adjust and adapt your workload based on family and job responsibilities to ensure you are getting the appropriate amount of sleep. There are perils of sleep deprivation and it runs considerably deeper than just poor training and race day performance.

I heard it once said that it is in your best interest to avoid sleep debt otherwise be prepared to pay both the debt and the interest.

Frank Sole is a triathlon coach and premier swim tactician for endurance athletes. He has an extensive background in working with pro triathletes, Kona qualifiers and age groupers. Frank is also the Masters Swim Coach for One MultiSport Triathlon Club, Scottsdale, AZ, one of the top clubs in the country. He easily adapts to an athlete’s talents, personality and limitations and recognizes their abilities to maximize their swimming potential by utilizing the 10 B’s of Triathlon Swimming.

Mobility Comes First

Jul 23, 2015   //   by Frank Sole   //   Articles  //  No Comments

A new season and many endurance athletes are already deep into their racing schedule. Like any motivated, dedicated and disciplined endurance athlete, they are planning, preparing and laying down a foundation for a successful year of endurance racing.  Their calendar is now marked, entry fees paid and the real preparation is in full swing.

Another year brings the proclamation that “I will finally conquer my challenges in my open water swim.” As you move forward to making the necessary improvements that will directly affect your overall swim performance, things to consider are your biomechanics/technique, muscular endurance and ability to breath and exhale, along with your overall swimming fitness. There is one additional important thing that will need your consideration:  Mobility.

The five things to consider in helping you succeed in open water swimming 

#1:  You, me and the rest of the world are all a year older. This needs to be taken into consideration. Our bodies start to change and we probably don’t train today the same way we did five years ago. A loss of overall functional mobility can easily start to affect our daily routine and our ability to train efficiently. We can slowly and sluggishly start to lose our necessary range of motion. An increase in one’s sport-specific mobility, along with overall mobility will help to maintain a high level of quality of movement.

#2:   Our allowable time allotment for training has probably gotten no better than last year. In actuality it may have gotten even tighter.  There is an appropriate saying that goes:  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  So our training needs to become more efficient and smarter. As Grey Cook noted:  “More isn’t better, better is better.” Be deliberate in your training.

#3:  An increase in mobility can help to minimize injuries related to swimming. Shoulder problems such as rotator cuff and the dreaded swimmer’s elbow are generally all associated with poor technique.  But in many cases poor technique can be contributed to the lack of proper mobility.  Poor mobility may start to put excessive load pressure along with tension on muscles and joints as you start to build volume.

#4:  A more mobile body (hips, shoulders, along with ankles) help to maximize stroke length by taking complete advantage of your ability to reach and catch and hold the water in the front quadrant, body rotation at the hips, along with an efficient kick in the rear quadrant.

#5:  Work with a swim coach who knows and understands mobility and technique.  Get an overall assessment on your mobility.  First place to start is a Functional Movement Screening (FMS) to better identify asymmetrical issues in your mobility. We all have asymmetrical issues. Identifying potential mobility issues puts you in a better position to address them. This simple test can be easily administered by a certified FMS specialist or physical therapist.

Better mobility will ultimately lead to better overall athleticism, agility, durability along with the necessary resiliency for your body to hold up and sustain in your training and on race day.

Crossfit for Triathletes

Feb 28, 2012   //   by Frank Sole   //   Articles  //  No Comments

I knew a woman who as a young girl was raised in a particular religion and with that religion came dogmatic beliefs.  When walking down the street in her hometown her mother instructed this young lady she was not allowed to look into the local church of a different religion.  I know a lot of people, including triathletes, who treat Crossfit the same way.  In discussions with athletes the word “cultish” often comes up.  Many make the decision to stay away and not even go to their local box to see what, if anything, they could possibly gain from the experience.

Back to the idea of cultish, really?  You mean more then training 15+ hours a week in three disciplines along with spending a small portion of your yearly income on running shoes, bike part upgrades, nutritional supplements, training and racing gear, etc.  Really, cultish?  By our very nature we have the tendency to condemn what we do not know and fail to take the time to understand.

So, I feel compelled to list ten reasons why you would want to incorporate Crossfit into your triathlon training.

1.  Triathletes, by their very nature, live and die by the clock.  If that is the case, you will love the Crossfit WOD (workout of the day).  They are measurable.

2.  It is a way of life.  No different then tri training.  It defines who you are.

3.  It incorporates performance-based racing against the clock which is a great benchmark on overall performance, increased strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, accuracy, balance, stamina and, yes, speed!

4.  You are part of a tribe.  Fellow triathletes have this connection, a sense of community and kinship; a group of people who set achievable goals, compete and complete some incredible personal transformations.

5.  It takes your regiment “out of the box.”  You become that “weird” triathlete who now is incorporating shorter more high intensity workouts to your weekly training plan.

6.  Crossfit endurance takes your daily and weekly training out of the routine by adding a considerable amount of variance.

7.  Crossfit by its very nature helps to create a strong core and midline stability and, the last time I checked, everything we do initiates at the midline.

8.  This is interval training at its best.  Crossfit has adapted the principles established by Dr. Stephen Seiler on interval training and its necessity to help to maximize one’s endurance base.  “The first wave is increased maximal oxygen consumption.  The second is increased lactate threshold; and, the third is increased efficiency.”

9.  The essence of triathlon training as in Crossfit training is somewhat identical.  Both are looking for improvements in endurance, stamina, strength and flexibility, which simply come through training.  And, training by its definition, is improving performance through a measurable organic change to the body.

10. There must be something to this Crossfit endurance training because it is getting a ton of press from the triathlon publications.  Good, bad or indifferent, live life on the “weird side” and go check it out.  What is the worst that can happen; you simply get in the best shape of your life!

Holiday Gift Wish List

Dec 17, 2011   //   by Frank Sole   //   Articles  //  No Comments

With the holiday season rapidly approaching and we start to contemplate our next race season, what a good time to put together our holiday wish list. You know the stuff you would like to get for your racing and training needs but not necessarily running out to your local store or online shopping site to purchase. Plus, you will make it so much easier for good old Aunt Mable if this year you actually know what you want. What a great way to avoid that holiday-themed sweater!

Let’s proclaim that this will be the year of the improved swim! Everything on my wish list has been tested and evaluated for its efficiency and effectiveness and worthy of your consideration. I know that advice is worth only 55 cents which will get you a cup of coffee; but, trust me on this one, these wonderful swim toys will be worth seeing under the Christmas tree.

For many of you bored to tears with those swims that seem to go on forever, there is the Swim iPod from Swimman.com. It is completely self-contained and waterproof and one of the easiest to install on your swim goggles. Just put it on and off you go.

The drag suit for men and women has returned. What an ideal way to help increase your strength, power and endurance during your training sessions. The very nature of the drag suit is to increase the amount of water resistance and challenges you to swim faster. I am partial to the Finis drag suit. The two that meet the needs of many of my athletes is the Finis Ultimate Drag Suit with a mesh design and four pockets to impede your speed by exponentially increasing your resistance and the more traditional Drag Suit Solid. It’s like swimming in a baggy bathing suit creating a parachute effect. Keep in mind the purpose and design of the drag suit is to increase resistance to the already highly resistant environment of water. The additional resistance while swimming makes your workouts more challenging and; therefore, when actually swimming without a drag suit easier, faster and with increased efficiency.

There are two sets of swim fins that really grabbed my attention this year: the Positive Drive Swim Fins by Titan Swim Tech and the Aqua Sphere Alpha Fins. Both sets of fins are lightweight, easy on the feet and really address the necessary fine-tuning of the swim kick. Whether you are a triathlete or an age-group swimmer looking to improve the technical intricacies of your kick these may be the fins for you. The Aqua Sphere advantage is its offset profile allowing for pointed toes and its blade design providing for optimal kicking motion. While the Positive Drive fins’ claim to fame is the ability to help all four strokes. They do a substantial job of creating a very natural kick motion, very light on the feet and best emulate the perfect kick sequence.

Goggles are about as individualized as they come: different styles, sizes, face comfort, effectiveness and visibility. Plain and simple, do the stupid things leak and are they relatively easy to adjust and wear. I don’t want to have to get a degree in engineering to wear them. The Sable Swim Goggle, in my humble opinion, has done a very good job with their design and functional ability. The optical lenses are extremely clear making them perfect for open water swimming (when the sun is trying to burn your retinas) and lap swimming at the pool. They cause minimal fogging and have a positive fit so you won’t have to deal with leaking goggles. And, we all know how wonderful that feels to be swimming while water is seeping in.

And, while we are on the subject of water seeping in, I am noticing more and more swimmers stating, “Oh my God I can’t believe I am one of those swimmers. I am not a real swimmer or triathlete if I use a nose clip.” Really? The fact is more and more athletes are going back to a very simple and effective device that has made their swimming experience more positive vs. negative. Chlorine sensitivity has driven a large population of swimmers to look for the elusive Holy Grail of swim nose clips and I have found the perfect gift: the TYR ergo swim nose clip. This clip fits comfortably, stays in place and, unlike some of the others out there, doesn’t feel like your nostrils are sandwiched in a vice.

One of the very best gifts you can give the swimmer in your life is an opportunity for a video stroke analysis. This, in my opinion, is the gift that shows how much you really care. The ability to see your stroke from underwater and the opportunity to sit with a coach and break down the good, the bad and, yes the sometimes, ugly is priceless.

The holidays bring an opportunity to give the very best; and, starting the new year is a great time to take the gifts we do have along with the gifts we receive and develop ourselves to become the very best we can be.

Former Arizona Diamondbacks player Eric Byrnes becoming an Ironman

Nov 13, 2011   //   by Frank Sole   //   Articles  //  No Comments

by Bob Young, columnist – Nov. 12, 2011 05:05 PM
The Arizona Republic

Just over a year ago, former Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes had never run more than four miles in his life. His swimming was limited to catching up to his surfboard after a biff. His only bike rides were an occasional spin on a beach cruiser. Then three of his middle-school classmates talked him into competing in a sprint triathlon. “I showed up with my surfing wetsuit and my beach cruiser and ran in board shorts,” Byrnes recalled. “I was kind of the joke of the triathlon. “People were yelling, “Go beach-cruiser dude!’ as I was getting passed by 16-year-old girls. “I did OK in the run, probably because I couldn’t feel my legs.”
All three friends beat the baseball stud.

Somehow, though, Byrnes, who lives in Half Moon Bay, Calif., was hooked by the sport. “I told each of them, ‘That was awesome, thank you, and I want to let you all know that will be last time any of you beat me in a triathlon.’ ”
Byrnes bought a triathlon bike. He started training seriously. He contacted Frank Sole, a Valley-based swim and triathlon coach who operates Sole Swim Solutions. He beat his three friends in a rematch.

And on November 20 in and around Tempe Town Lake, Byrnes will compete at Ford Ironman Arizona, a soul-stealing 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. And you thought he was off playing beer-league softball somewhere. Actually, he was. And many of his friends and family members told him that’s right where he should stay when he told them Sole wanted him to enter the Ironman only 11 months ago.

But Byrnes always had been intrigued when watching the Ford Ironman World Championships from Kona, Hawaii, almost every year, often with his father Jim. “I told him when I was a kid, ‘I want to do that,’ ” said Byrnes, now 35. Of course, a 12-year major-league career put that on hold. But it was in the back of his mind. “I don’t know if we watched it, or I’ve seen replays of it so many times, but I had this lasting image of Julie Moss collapsing 100 yards from the finish and then getting across (in 1982),” he said. “I wondered what it was like to push your body to the limit. “My dad was the one who really tried to motivate me when everybody else thought I was nuts. “It was kind of fun reporting back to him on my progress.”

But in March, Jim Byrnes unexpectedly passed away at age 66 while undergoing a heart procedure. “It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Byrnes said. “It is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with. “Nothing in the world is going to make that pain go away or make me miss him any less, but in some way the whole triathlon thing helped me cope.
“My training got more intense. I’d be out on six-hour bike rides or three-hour runs and felt like I was training for the two of us. It became therapy.” He also thought a lot about Pat Tillman, whom he met during spring training when Byrnes was with the Oakland Athletics and Tillman was with the Cardinals. Already a supporter of the Pat Tillman Foundation, Byrnes decided he could help more by representing Tillman’s foundation in events, such as Ironman Arizona.

And now only 14 months since he was the goofy guy in board shorts riding a beach cruiser, Byrnes has evolved into an endurance machine. He ran the Half Moon Bay International Marathon – his first 26.2-miler – in 3:37.28 in September. In October, he stormed through the Soma Triathlon, a half-iron-distance event at Tempe Town Lake, in 4:54.45. His weight has dropped from 215 pounds to a svelte 183. He’s ready.

“I think back to my first long training run, and I got to seven miles and thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ My legs were dead. It’s amazing to me what the body can do.”

Stop Thinking So Much

Jun 23, 2011   //   by Frank Sole   //   Articles  //  No Comments

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.” –Napoleon

When sitting with a potential triathlon client a discussion will always take place concerning the athlete’s experience and background revolving around the three disciplines of swim, bike and run. When asked about his/her background many times the conversation goes like this: “All seems to be going really well with my run and bike training. It’s the swim that I am having the most difficulty with.” Swimming seems to be the most taxing for most triathletes at all levels and where the desire is to improve overall aquatic abilities.

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Do I Need A Coach?

Jun 23, 2011   //   by Frank Sole   //   Articles  //  No Comments

I recently read an article asking the age-old question that has plagued any and all triathletes: Do you really need a swim coach? And the answer should always come back as a resounding yes. It’s the same reason why we will spend the money to install titanium screws to hold down the water bottle cage, carbon fiber forks for the front wheel and $130 running shoes vs. $49 specials. You get the point.

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Video Stroke Analysis Part 1

Jun 21, 2011   //   by Frank Sole   //   Articles  //  No Comments

Harvey MacKay, motivational speaker, business owner and author of Beware of The Naked Man who Offers His Shirt, once indicated that his successes over the years was built on having a coach and that in business as well as in life practice makes perfect. Though he did add one important and dramatic word: perfect practice makes perfect. So the question to ask is this: In the world of swimming how do we take that advice and create success? MacKay goes on to tell an interesting and relatable scenario: “If you are a golfer and go out and play/practice seven days a week and have a loop in your swing, what are you doing? You are perfecting a practice era. You have put a ceiling on how good you can become.”

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