Monday, February 1, 2016

Sue Aquila

Consistent High Performance Racing

In 2015 I competed in three long distance races (70.3) and three full distance races (140.6). I won two long distance races and podiumed in all but one of the others (finished 7th in my age group). After this season, I am sitting here with a glass of bourbon and a cigarette.

Preventing Overreaching: Are You Paying Attention?

Each year one of my goals is to attend a camp with a top coach. Last year, I had the opportunity to attend Coach Darren Smith's (aka Coach Daz) camp in San Diego. Darren has had great success with Olympic level athletes.

Up and Over

A few years after I started my business, I approached a business broker about selling. Profits were bleak and the hours were long.

When Your Coach is Wrong

My management team at work has been with me for many years. They handle me well. Sometimes I have a bold idea, a unique way to change our business. I present it with enthusiasm. Most often my idea fails. My team reminds me that my part-time status has let me to forget the issues of implementation.

We operate as a team on some simple principles:

  • No means no and yes means yes. No double guessing.
  • Communicate face to face. Email is fraught with danger in misreading emotions.

Willing to Fail

by Sue Aquila

For the last 18 years, I have met with another business owner to discuss business and life. My fellow CEO became my best friend and my sister. We agreed that our meetings were a safe place to talk about everything. I think we spend the most time talking about areas we have paid “tuition.” We don’t discuss failures but rather the opportunities to learn how to be better: better CEOs, better wives, better parents and better friends.

Nutrition: Eating for the Right Tool

When I show up to race long, my team prepares a top 10 list of my competition and they expect me to memorize their numbers. I smile every time someone on my top 10 list shows up too buff… like bodybuilding competition buff. The are lean and stripped. Usually these incredible bodies lack the ability to finish strong.

Millimeters

A few years back, I insisted the production side of our business move to measuring in the metric system. Why? Accuracy. There is a reason drug dealers measure in grams.

Guess Your Age

Shock and awe.

I don’t know why, but I recently saw my true self in the mirror. Not the every day, I towel my hair dry and I just need to make sure I don’t look like a brunette Billy Idol mirror check. No, for some reason I stood in front of the mirror and saw that I have developed a patch of gray hair. And not the Bonnie Raitt cool patch of gray.

No, this is more like the mature older man’s temple gray. Except I am not mature, nor old and definitely not a man.

Should Triathletes Use Activity Trackers?

After my bike wreck this summer, my first priority was to keep moving. I started walking the morning after my accident. I haven’t stopped walking since my accident.

Planning Your Nutrition Focus

by Sue Aquila

After smashing my ribs and clavicle this season, I decided to use my down time to work on learning more about nutrition. Once cleared to restart my Kona prep, I focused on chasing elite level body composition (women less than 18% body fat).

I knew to reach my goal I would need professional help. I contacted Brittney Bearden, Registered Dietician (RD). Brittney is a sports nutritionist for Division I athletes at Indiana University.

The first thing Brittney asked me to do was keep a food log. She suggested using the app MyFitnessPal. I found it super easy to use and started logging my food intake immediately. Yes, I even purchased a food scale for travel.

In our first meeting she did a bod pod to compare with a previous bod pod I received as part of a study at IU. After the bod pod we discussed my goals. My first was to train hard and have a great race at Kona. My second was to to be as lean as possible while retaining as much muscle mass as I could.

The last part of the meeting involved reviewing my food log. Here is what I learned:

  1. I eat healthy.
  2. I often ate too much protein.
  3. I usually ate too few carbs.
  4. I did not eat enough fats. Lower than low fat.
  5. My calorie consumption was low for my level of training.

How did this happen? As my training evolved in quality/quantity, I failed to change my nutrition. I learned I can’t fuel an elite performance with a middle of the pack diet.

Embracing Your World Championship

I find the athletes that I meet before a championship race (70.3, 140.6) often deflect their intentions for the race. I believe that it is one of the few times in their lives they find themselves to be just one among thousands of the best athletes in the world.

Sue Aquila Talks Recovery from a Crash with IMTalk

EC coach and elite age-grouper Sue Aquila crashed during this year's Munice 70.3, breaking some ribs and her collarbone in the process. She's been focused and diligent with her recovery and return to training in order to prep for Kona this year. Sue recently took some time with John and Bevan at IMTalk to discuss her approach and recommendations for what to do after a crash.

You can hear the interview on the latest episode of IMTalk.

Stop Training and Start Practicing

A young triathlete recently reached out to me with a question about nutrition. He was gearing up for his first 70.3 in a few weeks. He mentioned that he usually fuels with water during training and was curious about what to do in his upcoming race.

Ironman 70.3 Muncie

Our course profile for Ironman 70.3 Muncie in Muncie, Indiana, as provided by Sue Aquila.

Getting Chicked: Women Triathletes and Drafting

Two things I dislike in triathlon:
1. The phrase "Getting Chicked"
2. Fast age group men whose goal is to race pro women or fast age group women

Integration

I am a mom, entrepreneur, wife, long course triathlete and a gay woman. This past year, I accomplished what I once considered the impossible and married the woman of my dreams after a 17 year committed relationship. I also finished the triathlon season as the best performing woman in my age group in the world.

This is not a coincidence.

Cresting the Wave

I completed a race in January in the Cayman Islands (70.3 miles) called the Mercuryman Triathlon. We awoke on race morning to the the winds howling and the surf crashing onto the beach. An uncommon occurrence in one of the top open water swim locations in the world.

Ironman Texas

Drawing on Endurance Corner's collective years of experience and access to an extended network of some of the most knowledgeable racers, we wanted to provide our best recommendations for approaching some of the biggest races around the world.

Here, we profile Ironman Texas in the Woodlands, Texas, outside Houston.




Travel

Early Retirement

I can’t help but laugh when I hear age group athletes announce their retirement from triathlon. I won’t be announcing my retirement from my hobby anytime soon. Or work for that matter. My journey requires me to work my body and my mind. Without either, I am lost.

Discussing Hot Weather Racing with IMTalk

Most racers sign up for races based on proximity, destination venue or time in the season, but for hot weather events, many often don't consider the impact of the temperature until right before race day. Having raced successfully in the heat for a number of years, I've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't in terms of race preparation and hot weather racing.

Training Camp: The New Normal

At last count, I have attended seven training camps in my triathlon career. These camps can range anywhere from a three day race simulation to a seven day cycling focused camp, like Endurance Corner’s most recent Tucson camp. During my camps I can expect my training volume to increase anywhere from 30% to 200%.

At each camp, the campers ask each other about changes they notice in their bodies. How do I manage those changes?

Decluttering for Camp

I think of training camps as our opportunity to declutter, reduce the bloat and do the work. As you approach camp, the week or two before camp is the perfect time to enjoy the reduced training time and reduce your bloat.

Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Triathlon Swimming

In business, I have learned when I need a skill I don’t have, like programming, the best course of action for me is to outsource it to someone great. In triathlon, I wish I could outsource my swimming to someone who swims well... or even someone who swims only okay.

Seven years into the sport and I am still working hard on being a better swimmer. Here are my tips I wish I had known when I started long course training.

Planning Your Perfect Storm

For many long course triathletes, the big race of the season rolls into their life like a storm. They know the front is coming, they prepare for it, and then it meets life: family, work, and personal health. Like most storms forecasted by your local weather person, things seldom go to plan.

Mercuryman Triathlon

Our course profile for the Mercuryman Triathlon half iron-distance race in the Cayman Islands, provided by Sue Aquila.

Kona 2.0

If and when (think positive people!) you qualify for Kona the first time, you will not be alone if you suffer from a case of imposter syndrome. Some of us do this routine quietly. Others of us will tell fellow triathletes how they don’t really belong because of (insert disqualifier for qualifier here).

After the 2012 season, I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t a fluke.

Your Kona Push: Big Season Planning

In 2011, I aged up to the women's 45-49 year old age group. My family and my support team decided 2012 was the year to push for a slot. It required some serious commitment in planning, time, equipment and finances. I didn't write down my qualification plan but it was structured much like a business plan.

Location, Location, Location

There is more to starting a successful business than location but you can’t have a successful business unless you have the right location. Racing to the pointy end in triathlon requires a similar focus. You can race well on lots of courses but to truly be successful you have to learn what is the right location for you.

Ironman Louisville

Drawing on Endurance Corner's collective years of experience and access to an extended network of some of the most knowledgeable racers, we wanted to provide our best recommendations for approaching some of the biggest races around the world.

Small Unit: Eat to Train and Race

Kilojoules don’t lie.

One of the reasons I love my power meter is that regardless of my weight, height or bad attitude, it will display the work I have completed in kilojoules. Without boring you with the science, a kilojoule equals roughly a calorie of energy found in food.

When I started my triathlon journey, my goal during long course events was to learn to consume half the kilojoules per hour in calories. As a novice, 34g of carbohydrates (150 calories) per hour worked fine. I could even process some protein at this level.

As I improved, the kilojoules per hour that I burned steadily climbed.