Mental Tip From an Ironman World Champion

Our children and grandchildren are back at their homes in Athens and Pittsburgh after their Christmas visit. The house is a whole lot quieter. It’s going to take a while to get the place back in order. All day couldn’t be spent doing post ‘grandkids’ cleanup chores. There’s still time to train despite foul weather.

It has been cold, windy, and lightly raining all day. The shed I converted for indoor training on my bike was perfect for today. For the first time in many years, I have heat in the room where I train.

When we lived in Maryland, for 11 years prior to becoming full time residents of North Carolina, I trained in the garage on the coldest days. It wasn’t heated. It would be as cold inside as it was outside. Having been born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Maryland often felt like the tundra. It was better than Pittsburgh or Cleveland (I’ve lived in both cities), but still too cold for me.

When we lived in Pittsburgh I had heat. In Cleveland, I simply froze since my only option for cycling in the winter meant going outside. But, here in NC I have heat and it felt great.

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Fossil fuel is so warm.

Riding on my Computrainer, I watched the 2012 Ironman World Championship. During the show, on DVD, Leanda Cave, women’s winner in 2012, was being interviewed. She talked about how the sport of triathlon, in specific the Ironman distance is such a mental game.

I’ve raced the Ironman World Championship and a number of other Ironman triathlons. There’s a point in such long distance racing where your body is done and your brain must make it continue. When I’ve reached that point, I’ve always been able to continue. Mental fortitude is very different in archery.

In archery, I don’t have to push past physical pain. In archery, I must be able to clear my head. Leanda Cave mentioned this in her interview that is her ability to block out everything except what she was doing at that moment in the race.

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Leanda Cave winning the 2012 Ironman World Championship on Kona, Hawaii (photo from Google search images)

When the best archers in the world shoot, their brain activity has been measured. It turns out that the primary wave form just before an arrow is released is an ‘alpha’ wave. The ‘alpha’ wave is the dominant brain wave during meditation or stage 1 sleep. Something I wouldn’t expect during a triathlon, but paramount for peak performance in archery.

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Standing inside it wasn’t so bad.

So after I trained on my bike, I practiced archery. Today, shooting from inside my converted shed out toward the target. The wind was howling, it was misty (the rain had eased a bit) and it was cold. The heat still lingered inside the shed and it was comfortable.   I thought about the mental effort needed to complete an Ironman and tried to get a mentally quiet brain for archery. It’s a work in progress as is the post grandchild Christmas clean up.

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View of my target (Not River, my dog, the blocks in the distance)

Santa Myth Proven To Be True

At some age many people cease believing in Santa Claus. Here we present evidence that Santa does exist.

On the night before Christmas we set out trail cameras. These were carefully hidden as we expect Santa knows a trail cam when he sees one.

On Christmas day, we retrieved the cameras in order to determine whether any Santa evidence had been captured. What was revealed is totally unexplainable beyond the fact that Santa was in our home.

Initally, we see Santa in the yard at our house. He appears to be directing someone or some reindeer high up on our roof.

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Santa’s first photo on the trail cam

 

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Santa – looks like he’s instructing reindeer that may be on the roof of our house

 

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Santa walking away

Later, he is seen inside a locked house. We’d taken care to lock all doors and windows meaning either Santa picked a lock or entered our home by another method. Exactly how he entered remains unclear. One obvious conveyance – down the chimney.

One of the photos was completely wiped by a solid white image. We do not know what happened at this point. However, the next image on the camera shows Santa in the house. We suspect something magical occurred at this point, which affected the electronics of the camera.

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This picture, from a camera in the house, is entirely white. We believe this happened when Santa entered our home

Inside the house we see Santa apparently setting up, as determined Christmas morning, a Polar Express Train set. It is also interesting to note, while there were dogs in the house no dog barked at the jolly (but busy) intruder.

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Next photo, after the solid white picture, shows Santa patting River with a train in his hand. Look closely and small glittering points of light sparkle on River’s coat. Click the photo and it’ll enlarge

In fact, one photo took what appears to be magical glitter on one of the dogs. The dogs all seemed to be happy to greet Santa.

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Santa surveying the house while “Pippin” (visiting dog) stands nearby. Pippin is a barker. He never made a sound.

We further see Santa with a plate of cookies and reindeer food in his hands. Both plates had been left out in the event Santa arrived.

Santa with a plate of cookies and reindeer treats

Aside from these photos there was more Santa evidence. On Christmas morning we found many toys under the tree that had not been there the night before. Also, and unexpectedly, there was a note, signed ‘Santa Claus’, thanking the children here for the cookies and reindeer treats.

After meticulous and careful review we have determined this to be clear and indisputable evidence that Santa Claus is real. Merry Christmas.

The Chocolate Milk Myth

Aside from archery, I’m involved with other sports. Among them is running. I heard somewhere that one of the common rules of sports is that athletes run. Perhaps that’s a myth since from what I’ve seen, the rule isn’t applicable to archery.

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Run, David, Run

There are lots of myths in sports. Another myth is the 10,000-hour rule. If you dig around a bit you’ll find a number of Olympic medalists that earned their podium finish with a lot less than 10,000 hours of training. Some myths however are true – despite the attempts at debunking them.

In the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of Running Times magazine on page 29 the authors claim to bust a myth. The myth is that “Chocolate milk is Best.” In the article the writers are referring to chocolate milk as a sports drink specifically to provide protein.

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Hines Ward enjoying chocolate milk

IMG_4455There are plenty of sports drinks. I use TriFuel from BRL Sports Nutrition. Hines Ward, the ex-Pittsburgh Steeler, drank Chocolate Milk during his training to complete the Ironman event in Kona, Hawaii.

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The ex-Steeler, post training run, and after drinking the plain old non-chocolate milk

I like chocolate milk, but I think I’d be hard pressed to gulp it down after a hard run on a hot day. I can’t even imagine carrying it in my water bottle. But, here’s the thing about chocolate milk – it is never not the best when compared to plain old milk.

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I can drink TriFuel during a hot day on the range. Milk in any form might be hard to shallow.

Granted both varieties of milk have the same amount of protein, but seriously, chocolate wins when it comes to drinking. If you don’t believe me (well you’ve forgotten) go to any elementary school. Go the cafeteria and offer students their choice of plain old white milk or delicious cold sweet wonderful chocolate milk. See which one wins. Basically, regardless of the protein equivalence, if you don’t enjoy drinking it, so that you don’t drink it, the equivalency isn’t relevant. The Runner’s Times compared chocolate milk to a turkey sandwich. In that case, I say have both – it’s not one or the other. They picture the turkey sandwich next to a bottle of white milk. (Clearly a non-runner’s art)

Oh, one other myth – it really does not take 10,000 hours of training to become an elite.

Practice with River

River, my lab, is often with me with I shoot. She’s a keen monitor of form and barks if she thinks I need advice. Today, after running we headed out to practice archery.

During the hour or so we spent outside she: stole a bone from the neighbor’s dog, ate a small tree branch, sent swimming, rolled around on a dead mole, barked me while I shot, ran around the yard with a stick, and tried to steal a glove.

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Avoiding mental distractions is important in archery. Seems River is doing her best to help me focus.

The Puffed Up Company Representative

No matter what, we always treated customers with respect. Our company, our staff, everyone made customers feel as important as we knew them to be. Not so in archery.

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Maybe it’s the luck of the draw that I’ve come across the archery marketing / sales jerks of the industry. Perhaps, I bring out the worst in people. Or maybe too many people in the archery industry have learned behavior where they believe they’ve reached the podium of excellence making them worthy of customer adoration. Not all are bad, but the ratio of the good reps to bad reps seems askew in archery.

I’ve never been able to abide an arrogant person. My least favorite the self-entitled, puffed up company representative. In archery, we seem to have, at least in my observation, an abundance of those folks.

2015 – In the Books

In the final quarter of 2015, archery tournaments left the 3D arena and moved indoors. There were two events in archery where I was able to compete an indoor 3D tournament in Elizabeth City, NC and the 2nd Annual EAC 18-M Indoor Tournament in Madison, GA. In both events I competed in the Men’s Open (not in the senior age group) and finished 6th and 9th, respectively. Neither offered a professional class (Pros shot in the Open class) I was also able to compete in four 5K races, winning 3 and finishing 4th in one, all running in my age group.

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In November I hunted in Georgia and left with enough venison (3 deer total) to stock our freezer until next year. If you follow my website or Facebook page you will note I never post photographs of me standing over a bloody dead animal. Personally, I’ve always found that a bit disrespectful to the animal, even though I have at times have posted photographs of how much meat (after processing and packaging) was harvested.   Of those deer, I donated a portion of a church group here that helps feed needy families.

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During 2015, for archery tournaments only, I traveled approximately 13451 miles (excluding in town travel once I arrived at the destination). I shot in seven states: GA, NC, VA, DE, NY, and PA. I shot in 21 events earning: 1st Place 5, 2nd Place, 2, 3rd Place 3, 4th Place 5, 5th Place 2, 6th Place, 3, 9th Place 1, 13th Place 1, 15th Place 1. This includes 1st Place USA National Indoor South (Snellville, GA.) and 13th IBO Pro Hunter Class (Ellicottville, NY). A decent showing considering I had never shot a compound bow until 28 months ago. I had shot a bow as a child and did enjoy the blue suction cup tips on my arrows until my mother took it away due to a difference of opinion related to acceptable targets.

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I might have been able to compete in more events barring our permanent move to NC along with the selling of one of our houses that consumed a number of weekends. I will miss the archers on Delmarva but the cost of maintaining the Maryland home was unwarranted.

As 2016 approaches I am working on my competitive/training plan. That includes: archery training and competition, as well and other sports such as cycling, running and triathlon.

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My website, Puttingitontheline.com, remains popular even though I am pushing it less through social media. The decrease in pushing the post is to measure the readership without social media notification. What I’ve learned is that with a minimal push the range of monthly visits is from 8410 to 10,102 visitors per month. The range when I push it hard is approximately the same, meaning readers have learned where to find my site and continue to visit on a regular basis. The average length of stay is about 2 minutes, the time it takes to read a post. However, 5% of the visitors stay on the site from 5 minutes to over an hour. (GoDaddy data)

In 2016, I hope to improve the site with professional support. I want more feature articles, those about a specific person or company.

Thanks for reading and following my adventure in sports and archery

David Lain

144 River Cove Lane

Hertford, NC 27944

 

 

The Mid-day Nap – Highly Recommended

I just finished reading Greg Moriaties book The Zero Athlete. I read a lot of books. Many are non-fiction and among I occasionally pick up one that might have a pearl or two in it that might help me become a better athlete. Many of them are so much of the same but every now and again there’s a tidbit of something I haven’t heard or read. I picked up a couple of ideas from Moriates’ book. There was one theme that has been common in a number of books, take a nap if you can.

Taking a nap is nothing new for me. When I trained exclusively in cycling we’d often ride 60 miles in the morning and another 60 in the afternoon. We’d get in about 20,000 miles a year. It was a lot of riding. Our coach used to preach to us, when we weren’t on the bike, “Don’t stand when you can sit, don’t sit when you can lay down.” During the mid-day, the team would often be laying down, taking a nap before the afternoon training session.

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Afternoon ride, racing the rain home

I’m no longer hoping to earn a spot as a cyclist on an Olympic Team. That dream died in 1980. Following the mess with the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow and getting hit by a car during a training ride, my wife, Brenda, suggested I get a real job. That meant finishing college and that meant no more racing or at least at the level I’d been prepared to race. Some things, however, didn’t change, and one of those was the mid-day nap.

My body had become so accustom to taking a nap after lunch it was often a struggle to stay awake in class and at work. I eventually learned that if I didn’t eat very much for lunch my circadian dip wasn’t as severe – so I managed.

Today, I have different goals set than I did in 1980. My career and work goals accomplished, I set new goals around athletics. Certainly, I’m not going to race bikes or do a triathlon competing against 20 and 30 year olds. There are only two sports where a 60 year old can compete, pretty much equally, with a 20 or 30 year old athlete: shooting and archery.

Because I love to compete, I decided, in August 2013 to buy a compound bow and learn how to shoot it. I’m still learning. I’m also still riding a bike, running, swimming, and lifting weights. All of this exercise is demanding. It’s also a lot of fun. One thing I now have the luxury of is the mid-day nap. I do my best not to miss it.

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I don’t nap long, rarely over 20 minutes. I don’t get in the bed or lay on the couch. I lay down on the floor. I don’t want to be too comfortable and slip into a full sleep cycle. So, the floor is fine, as is Stage 1 sleep. It’s a light nap I take between morning training and my afternoon training. And everyday, I share the time with my dogs.

 

Old Cycling Shorts

If you’ve been riding bikes for over 40 years there’s a good chance you’ve got a pile of cycling clothes. I’ve got drawers full of jerseys, shorts, leg warmers, arm warmers, shoe covers, jackets, and gloves. I’ve even got kits from when I raced for Trek in unopened packaging. If I dig, I’d probably find stuff from the original Savannah Wheelmen cycling team.

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Some of the apparel has worn out or been crashed out and is long gone. Today, I grabbed a pair of bib shorts that are probably 15 years old. They’re old CTS cycling bibs (Giordana brand). I’d gotten them when I signed up for one of CTS’ discount coaching packages when we lived in Pittsburgh. The shorts weren’t free, but they had a significant discount and I bought two pair. One pair didn’t survive a crash, which happened during a training ride, and the other continues to serve me well.

Cyclists Will Understand

Around mid-day on Tuesday I took a short bike ride. The bike was a steel frame retro style rig with down tube shifters. It is one of my favorite rides. To be fair, all my bikes are my ‘favorite.’ And for perspective, I have one bow, and I have 12 bikes.

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Here, on the eastern shore of North Carolina, the roads are so beaten up by hurricanes, heat, and farm equipment that riding steel or titanium is going to be the most comfortable. So, I’m frequently riding a neat steel retro Peugeot or a LiteSpeed with its titanium frame.

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These roads take a pounding

If you’re a cyclist and cover seriously rough roads you know they can loosen teeth. Some folks might be partial to carbon fiber frames, but I’ve never been overly fond of mine. It’s a great bike and wonderful for climbing, but I’ve never really like the feel of the bike. Aluminum is what most of my bike frames are made from and I do like them.  But, they can be harsh on really rough roads.

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Great Reynolds 853 Steel

Steel makes for such a good riding bike. Riding a steel frame is like cruising in a Cadillac. Yet, good steel ‘springs’ with a cyclist when they ‘jump’. Great steel frames feel ‘alive.’

As I was enjoying the ride today, and the feel of steel, I decided to turn onto a road I’d not ridden in several months. I was shocked at what I found. Smooth as glass, like a flat velodrome, a newly re-paved road.

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Miles of smooth riding

Even riding steel, the roads here will rattle bones. When I turned and hit fresh pavement it was so pleasant I had to stop for a minute and take a look. Man, it was so nice! Smooth and fast, really very cool.

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Nice views as a bonus

Time to change routine

I like having a schedule. I know when to train, what my plan is, and where I’d going to do it. It is important to make a plan and stick with it. There are times, however, when small changes can help improve athletic development.

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Using a regular interval I measure my progress. The measurements I take include scores, targets, distance judging, and equipment. I don’t do this during every practice or everyday – still I do this every often. Some sessions I just go out and shoot for fun.

By monitoring my training sessions I can see when the data begins to plateau. When that occurs, I change up my shooting plan. Typically, that means a minor change, but it means some change. I’ll go to a different range, move targets around, or change my shooting positions. When results become flat, it is time for a change.

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Too extreme of a change for me

At other times, I become bored with shooting the same target, at the same time, day in and day out. It is important to keep times fresh and I’ll switch the paper targets I’m aiming at to different styles. That keeps me motivated and the new target becomes a new challenge.

It is easy to get hooked shooting. The mental aspects, for me, are often clarifying and nearly meditative. There is a physical element to this sport and even though the brain may want to continue, the arms and shoulders need time to recover. I shoot a lot of arrows and I try to be careful to keep practice time according to my plan in order to allow for recovery. I’ve blown that more than once and the outcome wasn’t good.

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Planned rest is good

From the other sports where I’ve competed, I take lessons learned and apply them to archery. When I see results level out, begin to feel bored, or get that burn in my arms that is different that usual I pause and evaluate, then often I will adjust my routine.

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