Thankful For …

Some friends wonder how I can say, I’m thankful, after this year has not been a good year for me. Every time, I tried to get to the race start line something happen. From being sick with kidney issues ending in the hospital, to autoimmune system shot, to anxiety attacks because of thyroid issues, to rolling my ankle during a long rung. I still keep pushing through with my training because of my friends and my boyfriend. I am lucky that my friends swim, bike and run which were always ready to train with me. Mark would bike with me outside on the weekends because he believes in me as a cyclist. By Fall, I did get over my anxiety issues, my kidney and my autoimmune system back to normal so I can do races. Still working on my vegan nutrition but slowly getting there. Now that it is off season, the ankle will get better after 2 weeks rest from running. Now the gym is open with no limits, I can lap swim, run on indoor track, and strength train through the winter compare to last winter. I am creating my plan now for 2022, picking my A, B and C races. I have renewed energy to swim, bike and run with big goals. I keep saying to everyone, 2022 will be my year and I will have fun. Thank you to my friends, clients, my athletes, my boyfriend and my blog readers. Don’t stop believing in yourself or give up because you are an awesome athlete! Stay safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Being In The Zone

One of the pretty views during the half marathon

Have you gone for a run or a swim or bike which felt effortless and fast. Like your performance seems to happens automatically. In the book, Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui, she talks about this. That the researchers describe this as a psychological alteration of time of the here and now. Like time no longer matters, which many athletes want during their training but especially on race day. To get that feeling is part how you train and part is your stress level. When I’m in the zone, it is as if I’m meditating or in a Zen. Next time you train outside, just listen to nature not your cell phone and focus on your environment. I hope your next workout is in the Zone. @pamhouck


Just Be Happy

Beautiful morning to run with a friend!

Today, we are very dependent on our smart watches for everything. When something goes wrong with them, we get stress out. But do you have an alternative plan? Today, for the 3rd week, the Garmin screen of death happened during my swim. Garmin screen of death is the green triangle. I only get it during my swims but no other time. Only thing, I don’t wear is the heart monitor strap when I swim. I never had this issue. So I used my iPhone stop watch for the time and counted my laps. Contacted Garmin support which helped by deleting certain folders that could have corrupted files. Lesson learn: you cannot stress out with stuff out of your control, especially objects like smart watches and phones. I’m just happy this was not race but a training workout. So many things are out of our control but getting angry with people or objects does not solve the issue. Just go with the flow and be happy for what you have. Today, life is too short! Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Your Recovery Cycle

I think Bootsie knows how to chill!

Many of you finished your big race then wonder what is next. The best thing to do is take some down time for the body to recover. Depending on the length of your event, this can be from 2-4 weeks off. Some would think that is crazy but your body will be happy. And you will be surprise how fast you will come back. Sarah took 3 weeks off from training, maybe walk or bike on trainer a couple times. Then last night, she was rewarded with her fastest run pace in 6 months. Some athletes during this time, do yoga, Pilates, walk, hike, take a vacation or do some home projects. I find this is the best time for recovery because of the holidays. Be safe and be healthy! @pamhouck


Nutrition the Key to Success

10 mile run on local rail trails after a nor’easter

Number 38 Half Marathon didn’t happen! Getting sick the night before the race was not in my plans but a lesson learned. The lesson I learned that my nutrition before and after races needs to be fine tuned. Nutrition is a big key to endurance racing! I’m still learning the vegan/vegetarian (limited fish on weekend and eggs for baking). Currently I am reading. The Plant Based Athlete to give me a better sense of the nutrition as a vegan. Meaning that plants do contain protein more than I knew and which ones are higher. And how not to get sick again by creating balance in my daily nutrition. I don’t like to use word diet because diets are short term and don’t work lifetime. Me going vegan is lifetime change which is the key to be successful in my health and training. Stay healthy and safe! @pamhouck


Number 38

This Sunday will be my 38th Half Marathon, Newburyport Half Marathon. I wasn’t sure I would be able to do any half marathon this year after being so sick in July. So this one will be special! Including the fact I turned 70 in August, so a new age group. By the beginning of September all my numbers were good including my thyroid. I had to change my diet to vegan with fish on weekends, since my kidney didn’t like any meat including chicken and goat cheese. The strength training and TRX 2 days a week plus stretching everyday has really helped. I sleep better. I feel better! My swimming, biking and running is better/faster and it feels easier. I do have goal finish time I would like to do but the main goal is to have fun and enjoy the fall foliage. Do what you love because you will feel better about yourself! Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


We Did It!

In 2 weeks, 3 of my runners completed a marathon. Above pictures are Sarah and Kim when they finished the Virtual Boston Marathon. I know one is still shock that she did it because it was her longest race. What made their marathon successful: training, mindset, and nutrition. It is normal on race day to have pre-race jitters. But once you start the race your body gets into a rhythm that your nutrition is second nature and your mindset is focus. Those long training runs should have your nutrition and mental games nailed. Endurance races are half physical and half mental. Some runners feel a little down when race is over. You can start thinking of your next big race but you need to let your body totally recover and have some down town for couple weeks. Even go away on a vacation. Reconnect with family and friends. Let your body heal! Then you will be ready to start training for your next big event. Stay safe and healthy! @pamhouck


The Taper Magic

Many of you are doing the Boston Marathon in person or virtually or another marathon. The 2-3 weeks leading up to your marathon the mileage decreases, which is the taper magic. The last 20-22 mile run completes your marathon training. Then the week prior is so low some runners try to add training because they miss some key running workouts. Sarah, a triathlete I coach, doing her first marathon added extra time on the bike. Then she got a text from me not to do that! When you try to add in the week before the marathon can destroy your race. Let the body rest. Marathon takes a lot of energy, fuel and mental energy to run it. If you have a lot of restless energy then catch up with family and friends or work project or school. I know it is hard to relax with the nervousness especially the first timers but your body will appreciate it. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


The Running Shoes

The running shoes are the most important piece of equipment for runners and triathletes. Finding the perfect pair can be daunting especially for newbie runners. But when you do find them, the major manufactures keep changes the model that can create injury. For years I wore Brooks Ghost as well as many of my running friends. Then 6 years, Brooks did major changes to the model that started to create injuries for us. Then I switch to Brooks Glycerin then year latter Brooks change that one with a new model. After that, I decided like many others it is time to switch to a different brand. That brand is Topo Athletic which I wear Phantom. And I don’t wear any insert with these running shoes compare to the Brooks. Topo is not one of the big running shoe companies but they keep the one big part of all their shoes, the wide toe box. I love it since many of the major brands have gone for narrow toe box. Topo doesn’t do changes fast but use their customer input. If you are getting injured from your running shoes, try a different brand! Stay healthy and safe! @pamhouck @topoathletic


Good as You Last Game!

“Good as your last game!”, Matt Jones, New England Patriot’s Quarter Back after the team lost the first game of the season. It is so true for any sport including triathlons and running races. Last Saturday’s long run gave me encouragement in thinking I can do a local half marathon in October. We all have good and bad workouts and races. It is how we move on and know our magic formula to be better. Today, I looked back at my training and races times the past couple years to see how I can create a plan that will make me faster than last 2 years. The one thing I saw, that hinder me, I really didn’t take a rest day every week consistently which my body needs. 2019 and 2020, I keeping having the same issues with my left side that slowed me done because I didn’t do strength training and stretch consistently. Last year with Covid, I was not consistent with any training. The last 5 weeks, I have been consistent with strength training, swim, bike, run and 1 rest day. This consistency has made me feeling stronger in bike and run, swim will take time. That picture was taken after doing 6 x 45 second hill repeats which will make me run faster. So I will be looking forward to the next race being my best! Maybe it will be that half marathon in October! Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Best at 70!

The picture says it all! It will be a long road to be my best, fastest and strongest at 70. Last month on my birthday, I had hard time turning 70 because I lost so much fitness from the month before being very sick. This week I realized, I am lucky to recover quickly and have a great support team around me. My girlfriends are all younger than me, great to train with and keep me thinking young. The next 4 months will be base which I will be working on my strength, endurance, form and speed for swim, bike and run. Aiming for New Years day race (5k or 10K). 2022 will be my best racing in a long time, better than my 60s. As you age, it does take long to come back but you can be faster than your 60s. I have a plan and goal races for 2022 with times to beat. I am up for the challenge mentally which is biggest part of the training. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Mental Games

During our long run on Saturday, Eve and I talked about mental games we do during the long runs and endurance events. Eve is training for virtual Boston Marathon. Saturday, she ran 18 miles and I ran the NH 10 Miler virtual which is my last virtual race. Eve celebrates each mile she complete and every 4 miles she does a GU. This is a great way to keep track of your nutrition throughout your run. Nutrition is one key element for successful endurance event. Me, I break the total miles into sub events which includes the nutrition. An example of sub events for the marathons: 5K, 10K, 15K, Half Marathon, 20 miles then the finish line. I try to finish a fuel bottle and take in gel each sub event. For Half Ironman sub events: swim, transition 1, bike: 15, 30, 45 then 56 mile, transition 2, run: 5K, 10K, 15K then the finish line. The nutrition on the bike, is to make sure I eat part of a bar and drink water bottles with electrolytes at the 15, 30, and 45 miles. Mental games and nutrition work together. Don’t be overwhelmed by the total mileage or time, just be present in the current mile. Be safe, be healthy and be happy! @pamhouck


Marathon Training

With many races are happening including marathons, many runners are training for a marathon this fall. I am always ask how long is a marathon, all marathon are 26.2 miles. So what does marathon training involve? A lot! Nutrition: practice on days your run: eat small meal 1-2 hours before you run; your hydration during your run especially on long runs this includes electrolytes; and eat/drink right after your run, amino acids to recover faster. Next is the running: critical are the consistent long runs slowly building up to 20-22 miles and at least 2 other runs each week. You can add cross training on days not running: bike, Pilates, Yoga and strength. Stretch after your runs and other cardio. Next is practicing the mental part during your long so you know how to overcome hitting the wall. Everyone has their own mental games. The biggest part is have a plan so you can check off your progress each week. Happy running! @pamhouck


Do You Really Want To Do It?

Tomorrow, I see the doctor which I will know what is happening next. Like going to lIve races or have to do races virtually and/or more tests. Saturday is the Allen Mello NH 10 Miler which will be a stretch for me since my longest run is 8.5 mile. I am not running fast, still get tired, and have no strength for the hills. Mentally, I am strong for any endurance event and I can push myself to run that hilly 10 miles. I will keep telling myself that I love hills throughout the run! Marathons are 50% physical and 50% mental. But if you don’t do all the physical training for marathons which is get in all your long runs up to 20-22 miles and other weekly runs. Then that can lead to a tough marathon race and injury during the race. There are many doing Boston Virtual Marathon which is there first marathon. Some are saying this will be there one and only marathon but that can set you up to not complete all the training and not finish the race. As a coach, I have seen it all. You have to really want to do it and not put up mental blocks or stop training for a minor issue. Once you embrace that want to do it, the training becomes more enjoyable and you start to see progress. Be in the moment! @pamhouck


Back to the Basics

All the tools for swim workout

Everyday I am getting stronger for the bike and run but not the swim! It is 4 weeks since I was sick and taken to emergency room. It has been slow process gaining weight and getting muscle strength back. In another couple weeks, I will be back to pre sick pace and power on the bike and run. But the swim is like I am slow motion no matter how much I push. So it is time to get back to basics of the swim: body position, freestyle stoke phases, body rotation, kick and arm/back strength. Strength part using body weight and weights (dumbbells and machine). Swimming is getting the pool doing drills by focusing on body position, freestyle stoke phases, and body rotation. Drills should not take up the whole swim workout or you will swim like a drill. An example of workout: warmup 300-400 yards; drills 4 x 100 yards focusing on body position, hand/arm entry, catch, pull and recovery phases; main set focus on speed and endurance, which is 60-75% of total yardage; cool down 100 yards. Many think using hand paddle for the majority of the swim will make you faster. Wrong, it is all the form! And you can get injured with paddles if form is bad. If you don’t know why your swim is bad, have a friend do video or have a swim or triathlon coach look at your swim. I am going to have my boyfriend video me but I have some good swim workouts to do in the pool to get me faster. Happy swimming! Be Safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Training Status – Really?

Garmin sport watches have an phone app called Garmin Connect. It gives a lot of data that useful except Training Status which you should beware. Tuesday I ran 4 miles, which my Training Status was Productive. Today, I ran 1.2 mile on the track then swam .5 mile, which my Training Status is Unproductive. It also lets you know when you are at Performance or Overtraining. First it is inaccurate and take it with a grain of salt. How does it know what your training goals and when is big race? You know your body better than a sports watch. The data is good to know but it doesn’t know what is happening in your life. I was very sick 5 weeks a go which the watch doesn’t know that important data. The process of building strength and endurance time takes time but Garmin only looks at the stats of today’s workout. And we all have good and bad days of training. The next time you look at your stats, ignore the training status. Many coaches agree this is a bad info. Your VO2 Max, power, cadence, pace/speed and heart rate are the important stats. Stay safe and be healthy! @pamhouck


Rock Says It All!

On Tuesday as I was trying to run 4 miles on hard pavement, I saw this painted rock on the wall. You can interpreted it many ways but for me it was a sign to keep living my life with sports, continue coaching and training clients. On Tuesday evening, I found out some good news from Monday’s lab tests that I am better and can do more. Everyday I am getting stronger and building my endurance. I know I will be back to running half marathons, doing triathlons including Olympic distance and maybe bike a metric century. But getting sick made me want to get stronger and be more flexible to make me faster and have more power. And go back to being vegan which I have been doing the past 4 weeks. My body feels better for that. Since it is summer still need to do a Hodges dairy-free gluten-free treat a couple times (in moderation). We all have good and bad days. Try not to look back at the bad days but look forward the good days to live our life to the fullest and keep blooming. Stay safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Mental Health

Virtual Run New England Challenges total of 1693 miles

When training for big events, there several components that critical to success: strength to keep injuries minimal; flexibility to prevent overuse of muscles; build endurance to to sustain energy throughout the event; nutrition to sustain energy; mental strength. Training can be stressful by getting workouts in between work and family and keeping everyone happy. But race day of the event can be very stressful. Some athletes question are they ready for it. Or some athletes are so nervous they cannot eat anything or cannot sleep because they have nightmares about it. The one thing many coaches don’t talk about is the mental and emotions throughout the athletes training. I seen coaches pump up athletes the day of the race instead asking how their athlete feeling or thinking. So many people are criticizing Simone Manual for backing out of 2 Olympic events. We don’t know the full history leading up to it. These Olympic athletes have had TV cameras in their faces, constantly be on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the past 2 years. That is so stressful. Some are so afraid to say they have been seeing a sports psychologists because it will the wrong impression of being weak. They are human! We all are human beings with brain and emotions! Give them some space to let them digest what is happening and not criticize them. Mental health is so important for everyone including Olympic Athletes. Be safe and healthy. @pamhouck


Decisions We Make

Today’s decisions we make can affect your life, health and future. 2 weeks ago, I ended in Emergency Room with high fever and right kidney not happy. It started on the morning of Friday July 9th before the Dam Sprint Triathlon on Sunday. All athletes think we will be better in time for our event but luckily some friends knock some sense into me to defer to next year. I am happy I did defer because I didn’t get better and went to ER on Monday. Week latter, I realize it will be a slow process to get my endurance and strength back and my autoimmune was compromised that I decided to defer REV3 Olympic to next year. Till doctor says ok, no races in person for now but I can work on my strength, endurance and eat to gain some weight back. Last week, I walked but this week hoping to run and maybe bike outside. As athletes, we always push our bodies to the limit but it good to know when to step back and seek advice of professional (doctor/PT). My rule is if you hurt more than a week then it is time to see a doctor/PT to get back to your training sooner pain free. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Don’t Stress, Be Happy

Amesbury Days 5K Start – First mass start race!

Saturday, I woke feeling good and ready to run the local 5K. I was happy it was cool cloudy 58 degrees. Race start was 5 min drive but I realized I forgot my Garmin watch I got there but decided to not go back home to get it. It was drizzling at start to pick up my number but I was greeted with warmth from my running friends. It was great to see all my running friends which I couldn’t stress out about not having watch. Try to download a running app but decided to run based on iPhone stop watch time and feel. And since our number bibs was chip with mat at start and finish I was good with the race result time. As I was doing my warm up, my legs just wanted to go which put a smile on my face. Since it was warm and humid decided to go easy to avoid asthma attack. My body just cruised up the hills for the first 2 miles and the legs wanted to spin. After the race my body was still happy to do a couple more miles. Last week, my thyroid started to feel happy, not feeling stressed or anxious. It is funny that I did a 5K race 2 months ago with the same result time. But 2 months ago I was a walking zombie, stressed and anxious about the hour drive and the race. 3 weeks after I stop taking the vitamins my body has started to feel better. This Sunday is the Dam Triathlon a local race which will be fun. I’m just going to relax and get through the race with a smile. I know my training has not been good the past month or 2. I cannot stress about it but just be happy we are having races and I still can do them. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck @tritobeyoungathlete


Hot Times!

In the USA, we are feeling the heat this summer and records are being broken. Here in Massachusetts, we are in our second heat wave and it is only June. In my town today we are 96, which feels like 106. Oregon and Washington states are breaking records of over 110 degrees which is normally in the 70s. As athletes that are not use to this hot weather then the question how do I train? On Strava, I saw many opt out there training run for a walk or run at 5:30 am. Then some of us did yoga or strength/core workout. Next question is when is your big race/races? If in the summer then you need to get use to this heat but safely. If you do have a race in the summer slowly build up the distance in the heat. This includes biking and running! Start with shorter easy rides and runs till you feel comfortable to increase distance. Drink electrolytes throughout the training day. Be smart and plan ahead to have a successful race. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Different Directions

Amesbury Cultural Council Art Project 2021

Some days, our minds and bodies want to go different direction. As I deal with the hyperthyroid side effects, they don’t want to work with my training schedule. Right now I am build phase of training for Olympic distance triathlon which is about 8-10 hours for 2 weeks then 1 week low training of 6 hours. This week, I am on the 2nd week of build which my body hurts and still cannot sleep. Today plan was to be 5-6 mile tempo but the energy level and body said no so I walked 3 miles. As an athlete I find it discouraging, but as a coach I’m trying to fine a compromise. I know I am not in overtraining because my resting heart rate has lowered 10 points which is good. At the end of my walk, I decided I’m going to do 1 heavy week then 1 pull back week. I am hoping my body will cooperate and have me ready for the triathlons and half marathon in the fall. Stay safe and healthy. @pamhouck


Beware of Misinformation

My boyfriend’s way to make me feel better!

The internet is full of information especially with health and medical but some can be bad. Unfortunately, I fell for it! I was looking for a good multivitamin to take. I stick to the strict diet but still lack key nutrients for my body. I take many different vitamins because celiac has reduce my nutrients intake from the past destruction of my small intestines. Instead of buying certain vitamins, I thought it would be cheaper to buy a multivitamin. Wrong! First, I take thyroid medication in the morning, which you need to wait an hour to eat. Also, calcium and iron vitamins need to be taken 4-6 hours after thyroid medication. And certain foods can interfere. I take calcium at night to avoid interference with thyroid medication that has zinc and magnesium but has no vitamin D. Also, I have to avoid vitamin D because of my 1 functional kidney cannot absorb it. Yet I still need vitamins at my ripe old age to train for endurance races. The 2 multivitamins I tried still gave me problems. One made my thyroid go from hypo to hyper which is rare but can happen. And the other made me fatigued because a few ingredients interfere with my thyroid and kidney. I stop them on Saturday by recognizing the fatigued symptoms and back to what I took before. I am slowly feeling better and hope by next week I’ll be back to normal training. If it looks too good to be true or you have questions, don’t buy it and talk with your doctor. Even if a friend tells you how great it is for them, stop and research. If it works for one person it may not work for you. If you have questions about any health stuff, ask your doctor. Stay safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Plan A, B, C

Some days you have a plan for your work or workout in the training plan but something happens to change it. We started with a swim at our the local lake where we do our open water swims. There was an accidental drowning which caused Lake Gardner to close for an investigation. So a friend and I decided to swim Stiles Pond which is 40 minutes away from where we live. We were all set for Wednesday but she text early that morning she was sick. Immediately, I called our local gym to get a swim lane which I was able to. I planned to swim a mile Wednesday and I did but in the pool. I already swam the lake twice which I will be good for Saturday’s Land Shark Swim 1.2 mile event. The big but was distance and speed. The swim in the pool proved I was ready. So the morale of the story, don’t give up and find alternate plans to complete your task. Be healthy and safe! @pamhouck


And Now Summer!

The entire United States will be under an heat advisory starting tomorrow. Some states started a couple days ago. Memorial Day in New England was cold and rainy, now heat. Welcome to New England weather! Question is now how do you train in this weather? Simple, modify your workouts, adjust the time of day and hydration. Tomorrow, I have long run which I will run earlier like 6 or 7 am. Don’t try to push hard, go easy and your heart rate will be higher which is normal. After a few runs/workouts your body will adjust to the heat. Hydrate more! That is not just water but electrolytes in your water, gels and chews. The electrolytes should have calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, which should be balanced of all 4. Also drink often and bring extra hydration. Some sports drinks can be high in sodium which can cause gastro issues. Some of these tips will help make your training a little easier and your body will be happier. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


It Is That Time of the Year

Now the weather is warm, we can bike and run outside without masks if vaccinated. And there are more cars on the road. So here are a few ways to stay safe when running on the road: wear bright clothes; run against traffic; if wearing head set keep the volume down to listen to nature and the cars; beware of your environment; run on safe roads and avoid major roads/highways. Here a few ways to be safe on the bike: follow the rules of the road (you are a vehicle); don’t listen to music when riding; don’t bike on the sidewalks (that is for pedestrians); avoid biking in the cities and highways; beware of your environment; check the forecast before you leave. Now as vehicle drive respect walkers, runners and cyclists and don’t text while driving. Hope you a safe and healthy summer!


That One Nagging Thing

So many runners and triathletes don’t make time or forget to stretch. It so simple but the focus is on the training. I started to put it in my athletes training schedule. Then there is the question I get from athletes and friends: how do I stretch the muscle that is hurting? I always shake my head and chuckle a little. You might think the muscle hurting is tight but it may not be. All muscles are connected. If the muscle is just tight then stretch that muscle and all other muscles around it. If it continues hurting after stretching then you need to see a doctor and physical therapist. Also something can be out of alignment especially from running on the road. Many roads in New England are cambered (slanted) to allow the rain to run into gutters/drains. This puts a lot onto the left side of the lower body. Then try to run on rail trails or trails. Check out my videos on stretching and foam rolling at: https://gearupforfitness.com/videos/. Be safe and healthy.


We’re Back

On Sunday, Cinco de Miles 5K was the first race I ran in person since 1/1/2020. The weather was nice but seeing all my running friends was the best. Millennium Running put on great safe events (road races and triathlons). Many runners and volunteers at the race were fully vaccinated and runners wore the masks before and after their run. Everybody, that is 1800 runners, followed the rules. It was time trial start, with 2 runners going off every 10 seconds. Many races including triathlons, marathons will be doing this. Some runners like time trial and some like the mass starts but you have to look at the big picture. And the big picture is we are getting close to being back to normal. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck @millenniumrunning #millenniumrunning


Patient With Process

Completed Run Maine (495 mile) Virtual Challenge

Saturday’s long run help me complete Run Maine (495 miles) Virtual Challenge, which I started 9/1/2020. Today’s run I completed Run Rhode Island (140 miles) Virtual Challenge. Today’s news was the best to hear that road races and endurance events will be permitted to start May 10th in Massachusetts. I have 2 more states (CT and VT) which I will finish in May and that will be the end of virtual racing for me. This Sunday, I will be racing a 5K in New Hampshire in person. And I am excited because it is 15 months since the last race. All my friends and clients (triathletes and runners) are doing happy dance as more states allow races to happen. But we all have to do our part by getting vaccinated to allow more businesses to open and we get back to normal. Stay healthy and safe!


How Did You Do It

Recently for Zone 1-2 post I got a comment: “I would like to know how you and her managed this. My runs are almost always in zones 3,4 and 5 even allowing for heat and other factors”. As a coach, I am ask this question many times. First is to understand how your heart rate zones 1-5 are created. Did you do FTP test on the bike or Lactate Threshold field test on treadmill or use the new Kavoren formula or max heart rate formula? This is critical in determine how your heart rate zones are created. The most accurate way are the FTP test and Lactate Threshold field test on treadmill. The least accurate is max heart rate which is 220 – your age very generic. Many sport watches do that and some do the Kavoren formula adding your resting hear rate. Sarah and I did the FTP test on the bike then add 10 for each zone for the run. I tried the new Kavoren formula for Sarah but she was always higher. Where the FTP test is based on her current physiology and more accurate for her. Now you need to understand how your perceived exertion relates for each heart rate zone is critical too. I created a chart for my athletes using Borg Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), and feeling through breathing. Example of Zone 1 is hardly noticeable of the breathing. Example of Zone 2 is slightly noticeable of the breathing. When you run in the heat and/or up a hill your breathing will be harder and heart rate will be higher. Also, your running paces will be different for each zone. Sometimes just walking a bit or walk a hill on easy day will lower your heart rate. I hope this answered the question. If you have any question please reply to the blog. As a coach, I want to make you better athletes. Be safe and healthy!


Pool Lane Challenge

A week after my first COVID vaccination shot, I joined local gym to swim. First shock, I haven’t paid for gym membership for long time because I train and taught classes at that gym. The second part, you have to call to reserve a lane. I’m use to just going when ever to swim. Now because of COVID, you cannot share a lane which is why you have to call to reserve a lane. As more people get vaccinated, more are going back to the gym to swim. Living in New England to cold to swim in lake now. Swam in March 2 times and 2 times in April so far. Swimming is aquatic which you need to swim at least 2-3 times a week to make any gains. To get me in the habitat, I schedule in my Google calendar to beep me on my iPhone to call the gym to reserve pool lane for the next day. I miss calling Sunday but did call call Monday morning which there was 1 lane open a 12 pm. Yup the rest of the day all the pool lanes were reserved. If you snooze you loose! If you are a swimmer or triathlete use your Google calendar to remind you to schedule your swim time lane. Be safe and healthy!


Zone 1-2

Back in January, I did a post “Battle of Heart Rate Training”. I talk a little about my client/athlete Sarah how all her workouts would have high heart rate Zones 3-4-5. 3 weeks ago, she ran 5.5 miles at the usual pace. But what she noticed, her average heart rate dropped 15 beats and the run felt easier. Since January, the majority of her training has been in heart rate Zones 1-2. Zones 1 (easy) and 2 (endurance) which are critical for endurance training. As she changes her focus to Boston Marathon, she will find the training easier as the distance gets longer. Another training benefit of Zone 1 – 2, your resting heart drops because you are getting stronger. Be safe and healthy!



Beware of Wahoo

I have a Wahoo Kickr Snap smart trainer which it is sync to Zwift for my bike rides during the bad weather. For the northeast that is about 5 months of the year. The rides on the trainer feel like you are riding outside. But past couple of weeks, the rides were not fun and going nowhere. I would be pedaling then all sudden Zwift would stop me then start picking me up a couple minutes latter. First I thought it was my WiFi but that was fine. So I went on the Wahoo app and my account was deleted. I went online to create my account again. Then went back on the app to check Bluetooth connection which found my Wahoo Kickr Snap and updated the firmware. This morning before I rode, I did the Wahoo calibration of the Kickr Snap. So next time, you are crazily spinning and going nowhere on Zwift then check your trainer app/firmware is up to date. Be safe and healthy.


I Got This

The Start of Sarah’s Boston Marathon Training

Last Tuesday was the online registration for Boston Marathon virtual race. That is 70,000 runners around the world signing up. Some wanted to do this marathon all their lives but knew it was impossible to qualify. Sarah knew that was her and it was her chance to get the unicorn medal. She knows the next 6 months will get real and tough but she is mentally ready. For many this will be their first and last marathon. Then some register because other friends were doing it. I know one did sign up then next day question why?! She has come to a resolution that she will be doing it and started get herself ready. Then there is Kim, she has done the race but was injured. This time she wants to do it but train safely and be injury free. Many athletes have same goals as Kim. This is where I come into the picture as their coach. What both Kim and Sarah do one positive thing, they cross train with bike and strength. Marathon can be one of the toughest sports on your body and mind. My goal is to create a safe program which focuses on their current physiology and their goals. I have another athlete doing Mt Washington Road race (running up 6288 feet, only 1 hill!). The funny part, I have run up Mt Washington race 7 times and completed 3 Boston Marathons, which gives me a little experience. But the thrilling part for me is to watch all my athletes reach the finish line with tears and smiles.


Treadmill VS Road

Infamous Powwow Hill, just keeps going up!

I have couple athletes like treadmill but most prefer the road/trails to run. Me, I am a road/trail runner. To me, treadmill environment is too control. Most runners that run treadmill do it at 0-1% incline that doesn’t relate to the real road conditions. Many fine it difficult to adjust to running outside especially during a race. Treadmill running can be good during bad weather in the winter but don’t make it a habit. My home town has great training for runners and triathletes. We have plenty of hill from rolling to steep. Sometimes during a race, I will hear a runner or triathlete complain it is too hilly. When ask where they trained, answer usually track, flat area or treadmill. Now we are in the good weather, go outside and enjoy what mother nature gave us. And say I am going to conquer this hill! Be healthy and safe!


The 2nd Shot

Thankful To Be Running!

I think the photo says it all! What a year it has been for everyone. Like you, I am ready to get back to normal which for me is doing races live. Virtual races were good to motivate us to keep running and biking but a live race is totally different. I feel lucky that I didn’t get COVID. I know some athletes that had mild symptoms are still feeling them, the long haulers. Today’s run felt good because a big weight has been taken off my body with the 2nd Moderna vaccine shot on Friday. Looking forward doing a live race but that is also dependent on how many do get the vaccine for many races to happen. If you love sports, your friends and family then get the vaccine. I have many friends know this and want/getting the vaccine. Be safe and healthy!


Almost Back To Normal

Around the bend, the hill keeps going up which I am hoping races will be happening.

Races websites are starting to have actually race dates. Some races are happening in some states but others are waiting for the state governors to give the okay. But races won’t be the same! Some will require for you to be vaccinated or do COVID-19 tests before race day. Many are doing time trial starts but must wear mask before and after the race. Some are no social gatherings after the race which many athletes do the races just for that part. Some no spectators. The races will be different but many will be happening. I am hoping here in New England they will July 1st. The more that get vaccinated quicker we can get back somewhat normal. I thank Millennium Running for making events happening in-person safely or virtual. I know I will be at one of their races in soon after my second COVID vaccination. Be Safe, Be Healthy, and get vaccinated! #millenniumrunning @millenniumrunning @pamhouck


Daylight Savings

Yesterday was a tough day to stay awake for many of us. Who thought in congress to change our internal clock and create sleep deprived people with Daylight Savings. Many athletes found it tough stay awake then try to do your training workout. I put an easy workout in the schedule for my athletes to keep the body/legs moving forward. Some people suffer for a week. Skipping the training is not a good idea since you want to keep your body in rhythm of the training schedule. Try to stay with you bedtime and wake up schedule times. Eventually, your body will adapt. Stay safe


Now the Vaccination

As you can see my cat, Bootsie is chilling and wants us to join her. Great idea but many of us are trying to figure out how to get a COVID vaccination appointment. Spent 2 weeks doing this on Massachusetts vaccination website! Either the website keep crashing or putting you in a waiting room for 10 months (no joking). But i didn’t give up last week, then tried one more time and CVS pharmacy had available appointments 20 miles away the next day. CVS website and getting vaccination appointment was so organized which many states can learn lessons from. We all walked out after our shot elated and with tears. I’m all set for second shot appointment in 3 weeks which I will see a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I will be able to relax with Bootsie. To celebrate, I plan to do a local road race in New Hampshire. Millennium Running has created safe races to do in person or virtual. We might have to wear masks for another year but we will be able go to a sports events, small concerts, see friends and family and more. To beat/win COVID, we all will need to work together to get the vaccination and wear masks. Be healthy and safe!


Covid Back

Many of you are working from home because of Covid. You are finding it hard to take brakes with all the Zoom meetings. Now your back, shoulders and other parts of your body you didn’t know exists are hurting. Here are the questions I ask: is your home setup is the same as your ergonomic office setup at work? Are you taking brakes especially lunch? Are you sitting at a desk, table or kitchen counter? What is your chair, a desk chair or dining room chair? Now you see where I’m going but another question is do you stretch a couple times a day? There is more to it than you think. If you own a stand up desk, great but you still need to stretch and move around. Go to https://gearupforfitness.com/videos/ which have a couple videos of stretches and foam rolling. The stretches on the bike are great for sitting in front of computer as well the foam rolling. Latter this week, I will post another video of stretching and foam rolling. Try to take breaks and stretch, your body will be happy you did it. Stay healthy and safe!


Being Cupid

As we approach Valentine’s Day, we as athletes and coaches need to respect and thanks our significant other by being cupid. My boyfriend, Mark, is so supportive of me being a coach, runner and triathlete. We see each other on the weekends but that is when most long training workouts happen. When I’m training, Mark will do errands for us, be handyman, make a meal for us or catch up with some work. Never complains, even when my clients call or text. So this Valentine’s Day, tell your cupid how much you love and thank them by surprising them with a meal, flowers or card expressing how much you appreciate their support. Just do something, they would love you more and continue to support you. Now, I know Valentine’s Day is one day a year but is is always good show how much you appreciate them all year long because they will be their at the finish line. Happy Valentine’s Day! Be safe and healthy!


The Pull Back Week

The pull back week, either triathletes/runners love it or hate it. Me I love it because I know my body needs it. But many athletes don’t understand why they need it. When athletes training for endurance events (half marathons/Olympic distance triathlon to longer distances), coaches use periodization training. Periodization training uses micro cycles of 2-3 weeks of heavy volume to build the endurance then 1 pull back week of lighter volume to recover. That pull back week allows you the athlete to continue to build your endurance. Many athletes say they feel good and don’t need to recover or don’t need a rest day, which leads to injury. Use that recovery week to catch up with life, family! Pull back week volume is reduced but not all the speed workouts are removed. Just know that it is part of the process to be ready for your big event day.


What We Learn

As a coach, we are always learning new tools, apps, techie gadgets, and new training methods. So many coaches stick what they learned in class but don’t change with the latest. We are constantly learning from the science of pro athletes; what works and doesn’t work in training for today’s athlete. And training older athletes. Science keeps changes which makes learning new stuff interesting. Now as an athlete, we are constantly learning about ourselves; our bodies adapting to the training; and how we should be productive with the training. Being productive is listening to our bodies on how it reacts the workouts, mentally aware of the environment, and scheduling the workouts within our life (family and work). Science is an evolution as an athlete’s body! Don’t stop learning or you will miss the boat!


Battle of Heart Rate Training

Running/triathlon coaches and aerobic instructors see heart rate training differently which it is a battle for the athlete. Spin/aerobic instructors say if your recovery is fast for intervals then your cardio is good. Also, they believe you can do a couple interval workouts a week. Majority of spin instructors don’t even own or bike outside. Now running/triathlon coaches see this is a problem with their athletes because it creates confusion from their side. Running/triathlon coaches use Zones (1-5) for the heart rate training by using the heart rate monitors and RPE (rate of perceived exertion). Depending on what events you are training for that can determine what heart zones you will be most of your training. Half marathon/marathon and half Ironman/full Ironman, you will be training mostly in Zone 1 (easy/recovery) and Zone 2 (endurance). 10K and Olympic training will Zone 1, Zone 2 and some workouts Zone 3 (lactate threshold). 5K and Sprint triathlons are Zone 1, Zone 2 and some workouts Zone 4/5 (above lactate threshold). Now you ask, how are these heart rate zones determine, most common test is FTP test on the bike or lactate threshold test on the treadmill. I have a client that has been struggling to keep her running and biking in Zones 1-2 because most of her training before was done in spin classes. Today, she had a break through with a 70 min ride mostly in Zone 2. At the end of the ride, she felt she could keep on going and felt good. Took her a couple months to understand this, now she gets why Zone 1 and 2 are so important for triathlon training. She sticks to the plan, she will see improvements in a couple months. Be safe and healthy!


Going the Distance…

This topic was suggested by my boyfriend Mark. Mark knows I like to do long distance races and training. Distance is all relative to the person or athlete. Long distance is a mental game, being present in the moment compare to shorter/sprint distances. Usually, I train for 2 Half marathons a year but COVID still happening and is still having an impact on races being virtual, postpone or canceled. And living in New England, winter can make it tough for running outside with snow and ice. So far, it has been good weather but that can still change. Not sure I want to do another virtual half marathon race this spring. So I decided to focus on shorter distances 5K-10K for the spring, and improve on cadence, speed, strength and flexibility. When winter happens, biking indoors on trainers is easier with Zwift. After getting vaccination, which I hope soon, then start swimming in a local indoor pool building endurance. When coaches create training plans, distance is measure by time (biking/running) and/or distance (run/swimming) by slowly incrementing the distance/time through periodization plan to peak you for the big race day. So going the distance can be measured by time, miles, kilometers, meters or yards but it is how you train for the big race day and be ready to go the distance. Be safe and healthy!.


Winning and Losing

Winning and losing is a big part of sports and other parts of our lives. You can use this as positive part of your life. Most age group athletes compete in sports (running and triathlons) as a way to lose weight, get in shape or stay fit, have fun, meet their friends or inspire their children. Some do compete to win races or win their age group which can be good or bad. It is how you approach the race mentally: confident or arrogant. Going into the race being confident is good because you trained in all weather conditions, completed the training as scheduled, practiced the course and you know the competition. But then something happens race day like a curve ball: a change in the course because of weather or a newbie that no one knows is hard to beat. You know your training got you ready and confident about the outcome will be good. The confident one wins no matter how he places in the race because he shows sportsmanship. I like to look at my race results to see how I can improved my times. I know I am a competitor but like to compete against myself. See if I improved or what I have to work on. When I win or place top 3 of my age group, I see that as a bonus. It is how you train physically and mentally creates confidence to be ready for the big race. When you lose congratulate the winners then go back to your plan to see how you can improve for the next race. Don’t dwell, don’t look back, look forward to the next big one!


The New Norm for 2021

2020 is the year of virtual racing from 5Ks to Marathons to Ironman events. Many athletes are nervous, wondering if any races will be happening or what race events will be like in 2021. Now that there is a vaccine for COVID, I see races happening. but might not happen till June and will look different. Staggered starts, no spectators, and smaller number of athletes. Bikers, runners and triathletes just want to race at the events and see their friends. Race directors want you back to race live too! 2021calendar is starting to fill up with events which some athletes are starting to sign up. I’m being cautious but want my athletes be excited again about racing. Start planning your race schedule but also be flexible with the new norm. Stay healthy and safe!


What is Next?

Last badge makes me think of summer!
I wish for warm weather!

Saturday, I completed Run MA Challenge. That is run/walk 645 miles and raised around $900 for Pettengill House. Pettengill House helps local families and kids with food, pay rent and other ways of support, especially with pandemic. It is good to have physical goals but it is also good to take a break and rest. Right now, I am enjoying my recovery, strength, and workout without a training schedule. Just do what I feel like! Athletes are so program to train all the time which can lead to overtraining or injuries. I like December to rest/recovery as it is the best time to do this because of the holidays. I have not registered for any 2021 races. But with the Covid vaccinations, legit races probably won’t happen till June here. I will decide in January what is next. Just enjoy your holidays! Stay safe and healthy!


I Can See the Finish Line

Slowly getting to the end of the Run MA Challenge (645 miles). Started the challenge July 1st, since then ran a couple virtual 5Ks, 10Ks, and 2 Half marathons. Completed 9 badges of the challenge with 1 more to go. Each badge helps the runner/walker keep the distance manageable. This is not the year I originally planned for racing but 2020 has been different everybody. I am lucky not to have not suffered as many are during the pandemic which is why I raised money for the Pettengill House. Pettengill House helps families and kids in the local communities with food, paying rent and other service. I can see the finish line with this challenge but also the vaccinations know there will be an end to the pandemic. To get there, we all need to be “Patient with the Process”. This is Angela Naeth’s mantra for endurance racing but also we need to remember it for the Covid pandemic. Stay safe and healthy!


Covid Stomach

Everyone is telling me I have COVID stomach! Most of us are working from home with kids doing remote learning. Many states are doing more lock downs now. And the holidays are here! Being home more, food is near you all the time. Some are working from the dining room table or kitchen counter, which they see all those snacks are staring at them all day. You get that picture! Now some are working in the basement or in a home office which the snacks are not staring at them. Out of sight, out of mind! Now you see this picture. Which picture is yours?

Simple tips to reduce COVID Stomach: 1. Put a timer on your cell phone or schedule break when you are finish with meetings. 2. Take breaks by walking around the house or go outside for 5-15 min. When you come back in, you will forget about the food and feel refresh. You will work more productively. 3. Put healthy snacks on the counter, like fruit then unhealthy snacks. 4. Don’t skip eating meals which is just as bad as eating too much. 5. One simple ab exercise that you can do sitting, push your abs to your back and hold those Transverse Abdominals for 20 seconds to a minute. Do 3 sets a day. This will help your back and abs feel better. Stay healthy and safe!

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