Wednesday, December 31, 2014

5 Tips for Successful Winter Break Training (*And no, it’s not too late!)

It's that time of year again: it's cold and dark out, you're on a break from school or work, and you are perhaps feeling like sleeping in every morning, eating Christmas cookies whenever you want, and maybe-just maybe-putting off today's workout(s) til tomorrow. (Or maybe that's just me...) Regardless, here are five tips to help you make the most of the rest of your winter break training!

1.   Set yourself up for success.

When you’re at school, work or not on vacation, you know what time you’re heading to the boathouse or gym, and (usually) have a general idea of what you’re going to do when you get there. You know where your running shoes, workout clothes, water bottle and iPod are. Look ahead at your schedule between now and the end of your break and see where those good time slots are – and then mentally and physically (use your phone alarm and calendar) to schedule them in. If you’re dressed for a workout and your alarm is going off, it’s easier to get out the door and get moving – even to the workout equipment in the unheated garage – than if you’re lounging in your new Snuggie on the couch and thinking about whether today should just be your rest day.

2.   Find a buddy for the hard stuff (and the easy stuff).

If you have a recommended workout plan for the break, chances are you looked at it and thought the cross-training/steady state workouts seemed do-able, but groaned when you saw the hard erg workouts. FYI: it’s much better to do these with a teammate/workout buddy if you can. When I’m home, I wake up before 5am and drive to my nearest teammate, 30 minutes away, so that I can get in at least the challenging part of the day’s workouts with a buddy. No, I don’t always want to get up early, but guess what? That’s what naps are for, and you get to take them, because you’re on break!

For cross-training off the erg, check out November Project – chances are there’s one near you that you can join for one to three weekly workouts while you’re home.

3.   Be realistic.

Individual training during winter break is not usually when you are going to PR on workouts. (Although if you do PR – awesomeness! Enjoy it!) Be realistic about what you are shooting for in each workout, whether it’s heart rate, split, dumbbell weight, speed, or attention to technique. You are far more likely to continue to move towards your training and racing goals by training consistently – being able to check off every workout – than by cramming many workouts together to try to make up for lost time, or by blowing it out on the workouts you do so that you’re forced to rest due to injury or fatigue.

Consistency isn't sexy, but it's what produces results. Set realistic goals for each workout and if you are feeling like you have more in the tank, get faster as you go.

4.   Don’t throw nutrition out the window.

It’s a time-honored tradition that the holidays are meant for indulging – big meals, lots of drinking, whipped cream as a part of the food pyramid, etc. If that’s part of what makes the holidays great for you – don’t give it up! But you will enjoy those indulgences more if you plan them, but stick to good nutrition the rest of the time. If you’re going to have several drinks on New Year’s, get your Dec. 31 workout(s) in early and eat right that day before going out. Plan your schedule so that Jan. 1 can either be a rest day where you eat right, or an eat-right day with an easier workout in the late afternoon. The huge holiday breakfast at your relatives’ house will be that much more enjoyable if you haven’t also stuffed your face every other morning that week!

5.   Get some good tunes!

Training mostly by yourself over the holidays can mean that you get sick of your music really fast – but you keep listening to it because you can’t stand the terrible tunes that are being blasted by the gym/the high school rowers at your hometown club/your parents.

To that effect, here are three new playlists to help you stay motivated through the rest of your break!

For logging miles:
See Ya Next Year Playlist

Everybody needs a little electro/house:
Ecstasy Erg Playlist

And now for a little throwback:
Music Make You Lose Control Playlist

And you can find more playlists here, here, here, here, herehere, here, and here. :)

Happy Training!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

#GivingTuesday: Why I’m Encouraging You to Give Something that Isn’t Money Today

A challenging aspect of supporting a cause is that a lot of the time it requires you to make your fellow human beings a little uncomfortable. Think about the kids flagging you down on the street to talk about their cause. The cashier who asks you if you’d like to give a dollar to support the store’s charity as a line of folks wait behind you. The often plaintive pictures of suffering that accompany donation letters and infomercials.

Sometimes we’re uncomfortable because we know we’re not supposed to say what we’re thinking: “I already have plans for the time or the money that you’re asking me for.” Sometimes it’s because we know that although the idea of a cause might be good, we’re not sure how what we’re being asked to give is going to translate into the end goal.

Rowers and athletes succeed because we know how to sit with discomfort. We also succeed by seeing our end goals and seeing how our actions move us forward towards achieving them.

Today, on Giving Tuesday, I am asking you to consider giving a gift that fits in that uncomfortable category. It is also a gift that will unequivocally help save lives.

Be The Match is our national bone marrow registry. To register to be listed in it takes about 15 minutes and swabbing the inside of your cheek with a few Q-tips. That’s it.

What does the registry – and what do bone marrow transplants – do?

The registry works to match blood cancer patients with related and unrelated healthy people who have similar genes. If matched, the healthy people are then asked to make a donation – through either a blood donation or through a bone marrow donation, where a very small amount of marrow is taken from the donor’s hip bone – to the patient.

When a leukemia, lymphoma, or other blood cancer patient receives a bone marrow transplant, they receive more years of life and the chance at a higher quality of life for those years, whether the donation and accompanying treatment cure the cancer or not.

Registering is a big ask, even though only about 1 out of every 1,200 registry members will be matched to a patient in need. It’s uncomfortable to think about being asked to help support or save someone else’s life. It’s uncomfortable to think about the 70 percent of patients in need who do not find a donor in time. And it’s uncomfortable to think about how we would feel, standing in their shoes.

But we — rowers and athletes alike — are okay with feeling discomfort when we know how it will motivate us and inspire us to our goal. It’s how the daunting, the seemingly impossible, is achieved. We know how to believe.

So please consider registering today. You can sign up here and visit this page to learn more about Be The Match

In strength,
Esther and the Team Byron