Monday, February 1, 2016

Gina Kehr

Understanding and Making the Commitment to be Consistent

This is a great time of year to reflect on understanding what a commitment to qualifying for a world championship really entails. In the past three months we have had three world championships take place and many of us are winding down and taking a much needed rest from the season.

Setting Expectations: Racing After Defeat

I remember my worst nightmare race like it was yesterday. What I remember most was how humiliated I felt, how insecure I felt and how hard it was to stay positive while preparing to race again.

Early Season Racing Should Be Individualized

Holy moly it is May and triathlon season is officially starting -- well that is for all you age groupers out there. I, however, recently returned from South Carolina coaching the Stanford Triathlon team at the Collegiate Triathlon National Championship.

Some Workouts to Kick LoMo

I have an affinity for the East Coast, particularly Massachusetts. So it is for all you East Coasters that I write this article. Getting hit with snowstorm after snowstorm and even something called “thundersnow” -- I can only imagine it may make for some LoMo (low motivation). Here are a few workouts to give you something new as you continue to hit the treadmills and trainers.

2014 Reflections

Towards the end of 2014, I sat back and reflected about what worked in my coaching and what I can improve. I asked myself many questions and I couldn't help but think about each athlete I coached and what they have taught me. I learn so much from each athlete I work with and together we have a relationship that is unique to itself.

Year End Reflections

As a coach you feel a lot of the same emotions as your athletes. Everything from elated with success, disappointed with defeat, motivated and driven with new goals as well as frustrated when things seem to not be working. Your season is our season and it is at this time of year that we like to reflect and learn from our successes and our failures.

Money Workouts

You have heard the saying, “That was money!” or how about, “That’s money in the bank!” Neither one of these sayings have anything to do with actual money but have everything to do with making a gain in training.

What to Do When Your Priority Race Gets Cancelled

Most of you have probably heard by now that both Ironman and 70.3 Lake Tahoe were cancelled this year due to an arson fire that has destroyed over 89,000 acres. Devastating is the only word I can think of to describe what this fire has done in so many ways.

If you were one of the athletes planning to toe the line, what do you do now?

Swimming in the Front

I used to get so fired up for the swim at most of my races. But it wasn’t until I learned how to be a smarter swimmer that I really got confident with my swim ability. When I first started triathlon, I was three years past my collegiate swim career and I was still thinking like a swimmer: my strategy for races was to put my head down and just go like hell from the start.

Our Favorite Workouts: Understanding the Tempo Run

The Tempo Run. It has been defined many ways by many great coaches. Daniels calls it a pace between T pace and M pace and it is based on the amount of tempo you do (20-60 minutes). McMillian says it is a “comfortably hard pace and your heart rate will be around 85-90% of your max heart rate.” Hanson says it is simply “marathon pace.”

I knew while I was racing that the tempo run was one of my best workouts to gain speed and strength for ironman.

To Bag or Not to Bag

We have all been there. The feeling of “off” -- things are not clicking, everything feels like work. We can get this in training on multiple levels. On any given workout you may have a focus and as the workout starts things are not falling into place. What do you do?

Discussing Swimming with IMTalk

A lot of people have questions about the best approach to swim training and racing. I recently chatted with John and Bevan from IMTalk to share some of my thoughts and best tips for IM swimming.

Three Parts of Swimming Faster

One of the questions I most frequently get asked is, “How can I become a faster swimmer?” My answer is always to look at three parts when trying to become faster:

1. Swim technique
2. Swim frequency
3. Workout execution and specificity

A Case for Masters Swimming

I am a swimmer at heart. It is what helped me be the athlete I am today. It is what I go to when I need to get my mojo.

"Training" Before Real Training

Not more than a few weeks into the new year I heard two athletes talking about how they were on day 1 of their Ironman training. When I asked them what race they were training for they said Ironman Tahoe. I thought to myself, “Isn’t that about 9 months away?”

Top Takeaways from 2013

We may be a little into 2014 already, but as I sit back and reflect on 2013 and think about what worked in my coaching and what I can improve on, I can not help but think about each athlete I coached and what they have taught me.

A Coach's Experiment

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Experience is everything.” I’ve been hearing it from others as far back as Wildflower Long Course in 1998, my first year racing as a professional. I was 10th that year, Heather Fuhr had won and I was standing up on the stage next to Wendy Ingraham and a lot of other big names in the sport just smiling and being sort of amazed and overwhelmed thinking, “How am I going to get faster?” I said something to Wendy and she leaned over to me and said, “Gina, you're going to do great in the sport, just wait; experience is everything.”

At that time I thought “Wait, I want to be better now... Experience… what is she talking about?” But here I am 25 years later and am amazed at what years of experience can do.

Post Season Let Down

It is that time of year. Weather is changing, holidays are starting and a new year is less than two months away. The triathlon season is all but wrapped up and with that comes the lull that follows hyperfocus for an extended period of time. Some people refer to it as the Ironman blues since Ironman is the distance that requires such an intense focus for 12 to 20 weeks. In reality anyone can experience the let down that follows a major build up and peak for a major event.

Kona! Kona! Kona!

The Ironman World Championship… I love the race, I love the venue. I have been blessed to have competed in that race 10 times. I feel like I know the race and the venue as if I have been there my whole life. It so ingrained in me that when I take a GU while riding or running I literally feel myself on the Queen Kamehameha Highway. In an instant, I can picture the lava fields, I can see the flowering bushes blowing in the wind. When I hear a helicopter overhead I get a rush over me and can instantly feel the energy of the swim start. As clear as day, I can see the pier to my right, the hotels to my left and even the rocks and the way they are lined up as I swim out to the start line. If I was an artist I could probably paint the entire sea floor of the swim course.

Creating Your Nutrition Plan

Swim, bike, run, nutrition. How many times have you heard or said, “All was going well and then I…” had stomach issues, ran out of all energy, couldn’t stop cramping and so on. I remember my first ironman I was given so much advice on what to eat and how much that I ended up being overwhelmed and went into the race with the, “I can not eat enough” mindset. I completely over-ate; eating gels, bars and more bars… ugh.

I will never forget starting that marathon feeling and looking so bloated. It was at that time I told myself I was never eating solid food during a race again. It occurred to me that eating solid food was difficult to actually digest since all the blood was being shunted away from my gut to help my muscles perform. So my journey of nutrition training began.

Should I Warm Up for a Race?

There was a time when 500 people at a triathlon was a lot of people. It would be fair to say it was a BIG race. At that time, you could leave in and out of transition all the time, up until race start. I say this because at that time the leeway of the transition allowed for athletes to warm up in any manner they wanted. Now that races have become so much bigger, stricter rules have come into play. Bikes are not allowed to leave transition once they are in and some races take the swim warm up away, only giving you five minutes before your start. So how does one warm up for a triathlon? Is there a difference between each distance in what one needs? How do you decide what is best?

Heat Training "Secrets"

Heat. I love it. The hotter, the better as far as I am concerned. I am not sure why I love the heat so much. Even as a swimmer in college, when the water temp was 81-82 I would swim my best, 78-79 degree water had me in the warm up pool right to the minute of my event.

My fellow athletes would have their hypotheses why heat didn’t affect me as much as others. Reasons like low body fat, having grown up in Bakersfield where the average temperature was about 105 in the summer or maybe I had some heat training secrets that I was not sharing were always the top of the list.

Your Best Bad Day

Bad races -- all of us have them. With three disciplines, the odds for something to go wrong is pretty high. But what do you do with a bad race? Do you use it as an excuse for why you did not meet the goals you set for yourself or do you take what you learn and apply it to the next race? A bad race can serve a purpose but you need to look at it the right way.

I have two bad race experiences that I will never forget. They molded me as an athlete and helped me make a decision to become the athlete I wanted to be.

The Purpose of Early Season Racing

When I started the sport of triathlon you could barely find a race earlier than Wildflower which was, and still is, the first weekend in May. I was living in San Luis Obispo at the time so of course the famous Wildflower Festival was the marker that triathlon season had officially started. It wasn’t until I started racing as a professional a few years later that earlier races even entered my mind.

Creating Epic Performances

When it comes to racing, almost everyone is constantly looking for the perfect workout to help have that epic performance. What I think many people do not realize is that while the physical workouts are important, the mind is the source of true epic performances. The question is, how can you train yourself to have that epic performance?

Tips to Maintain Your Motivation

Those who knew me during my racing career knew I was one of the worst athletes when it came to staying motivated during winter. Every year after competing in Kona I would come back to Cali to our first rain and mornings in the low 40s. The days were short, the weather was cold and my will to work out was dried up. My coach would comment that I took my “break” way too far.

How to Maintain Your Strengths this Winter

The beginning of a new year always brings about different questions. The number one question I ask myself at the end/start of every year is what went well and what may need improvement. The critical athlete in me usually ends up very confident that my strengths went well and my never ending weakness needs improvements.

While developing a plan to improve your weakness, you should incorporate a plan to maintain your strength.

2012 Lessons Learned - Let it Go

I have been thinking about the topic of “lessons learned” for quite some time and there are so many lessons to be learned each year. Whether it is personal or about training, there is always some sort of nugget one can take away from his or her experiences throughout a given year. I think there are several types of lessons, both specific to individual circumstances, and macro, which can be applied to many aspects of life.