Sorry men, this post is more beneficial for women. While there is some useful information for men, please feel free to skim and share with the female athletes in your life.
As an active woman, it is important to understand how your cycle can both positively and negatively impact your training and race performance. In April of 2018, I decided to use my flexible benefits money and have Inside Tracker analyze my blood and help me optimize my health and performance.
The following were areas of concern that needed to be addressed:
Cortisol level was in the “High At Risk” category
Inflammation Group was in the “High At Risk” category
hsCRP Inflammation indicator was in the “High At Risk” category
Testosterone Group was in the “Low At Risk” category
Women are NOT small men! We have completely different physiologies. We have a cycle. We were engineered to store fat and birth children. Our hormones impact our mood, training, and life, but are not consistent from day to day. Stacy Sims has done a lot of research on active women and how their cycle impacts health, training, and recovery. I have followed her work for a couple of years now. Ladies, if you haven’t read Roar: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life, you DEFINITELY should!! It is FULL of useful information for women in all stages of your monthly cycle and life. The knowledge within it is so empowering!! After getting my test results back from Inside Tracker in April and reading up on Stacy’s research and advice, I knew I wanted to go off of birth control. Birth control causes high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body, which negatively impacts your health, training, and recovery. The only reason I was on it was to ensure regularity with my cycle because of all of the training I do. So why wait?! Well, I didn’t want to change things up right before racing season last year. With the Kansas City Triathlon in May, a 70.3 in June, Ironman Ohio 70.3 in July, and Ironman Louisville in October, I wanted to wait until after my race in October before making the change.
Two weeks after going off of birth control, I had my blood tested again.
These are the results:
Cortisol level is in the “OPTIMIZED” range
Inflammation Group is in the “Needs Work” category
hsCRP Inflammation indicator was in the “Needs Work” category
Testosterone Group is in the “Needs Work” category
While I still have areas to improve upon, these are HUGE improvements and I am looking forward to my next test at the end of April to see if further change has occurred. I am no longer in the “At Risk” category for any of the areas tested. Bonus…I haven’t been sick at all since going off of birth control. Not even a hint of the common cold. I am so grateful that I took my health into my own hands, decided to get my blood tested, and made these changes to improve my training, recovery, and overall health.
Knowledge is power! How does knowledge empower you?!
I love looking back and thinking about all of the amazing things that I’ve accomplished and all of the challenges I’ve overcome! 2018 was full of challenges, accomplishments, and FUN!! I’ve reflected for the last 5 years and now it’s time to reflect on 2018! You can look back at my previous posts if you’d like: Best of 2013, the Best of 2014, the Best of 2015, the Best of 2016, and the Best of 2017. Now its time to reminisce my faves from 2018! 🙂
Best race experience?
Ironman Ohio 70.3 was hands down my FAVORITE race this year!! I not only accomplished my #sub6orbust goal, but got to meet and race with so many of my Coeur Sports sisters + cross the finish with Steena!! It was truly one of the best race experiences I’ve ever had!! #blessed
Running with Steena at Ironman Ohio 70.3!! She ran stride for stride with me, pushing me to a 70.3 PR!! #sub6orbust
For me, the ride that stands out the most this year is the one I learned the most from…my first 5 hour trainer ride. It was a VERY tough day for me! Physically I was pushing higher watts for longer durations than I ever had before. Mentally, I WANTED to be riding out on the open roads around the amazing #IMWI bike course, but a gut check put me on the trainer instead. In this process, I learned SO much about how STRONG I truly am both mentally and physically and what I can do when staring adversity in the face! Thanks to Ruth for keeping me going when the meltdown started! ❤
The first time I went sub 1:30/100 yards in the pool was this year!! While I have seen a sub 1:30/100 yards a few times since then, it has not happened often, but I’m THRILLED every time it does!!
Best mental focus?
HANDS DOWN…Ironman Louisville!! What a day!! What a race!! I had to dig mentally into places I didn’t even know I had in me!! I was thrown challenge after challenge throughout the day; from Mother Nature providing us with MUCH LESS than ideal weather, to the race directors changing up the swim course 5 minutes before the race was set to start, to the traffic on the bike course that forced me to come to a complete stop (more than once) so I wouldn’t rear end the vehicle in front of me (with wet breaks I might add), to my body when my back cramped up on the run, and others I’m sure I’ve forgotten (or maybe blocked from my memory). Through all of these challenges, I fought the fight and won!! I remained focused throughout the day, stayed strong, and crossed the finish line with complete exhaustion and a smile on my face!!
Best training weekend?
My solo training weekend in Madison, Wisconsin!! I got to spend time on 2 wheels with Steena, I got to push myself out of my comfort zone, and I got to enjoy ALL. OF. THE. HILLS. on a course I LOVE!!
Best training compass?
Coach Kelly with Ever Racing has kept me grounded this year. There have been times this year when I overlooked my successes because I was consumed by the immediate feelings instead of the big picture. Thankfully Coach Kelly called me out on my SH!T and redirected my focus!! I would not be where I am today without her structure, focus, guidance, feedback, support, accountability, motivation + so much more! She has helped me to become a better, #everstrong athlete and person every day! I am forever grateful to her and so glad we have a strong relationship built on communication and trust!! I am excited to see how far we go in 2019!!
Best enCOEURaging moment?
Getting this text message from my sister after Ironman Louisville completely melted my heart!! I am SO excited that my 10 year old niece wants to do an Ironman with me one day in the future!! You never know who you are inspiring!!
Best nutritional find?
Infinit Nutrition has been a game changer for me this year!! Ironman Louisville was my first Ironman race that I did not bonk, have GI issues, or end up in the med tent with hyponatremia or dehydration. With 6 Ironman finish lines under my belt, I think I MAY have finally dialed in my race day nutrition!! 🙂
Best new gear?
My Normatec Recovery boots are da bomb diggity!! They have helped me recover from intense training + provided Basil with an inflatable pillow 😉 We are both in love with them and use them often!!
Best supportive role?
Chasing my fave around while he ran the Twin Cities Marathon the week before I raced Ironman Louisville. I am SO PROUD of the hard work, dedication, perseverance, and PR race that he put up!! High five (or ten) to my fave!!
Best way to stay healthy?
Obviously eating healthy + sleep are super important, but to help me get a better understanding of how I can recover smarter, I decided to monitor my blood work with the help of Inside Tracker. I have learned so much about different biomarkers + how they can impact my training, recovery, sleep, etc. Knowledge is power!!
Best piece of racing advice you received?
I know this has been my best piece of racing advice for a few years, but that is because I have not found anything better to remind me of my race day “job” and what I need to do to achieve success. Race day can be a mixed bag (hello Ironman Louisville), but this advice works no matter what the conditions and the day bring:
“Be calm; focus on what you are going to do. Don’t get distracted, don’t get overwhelmed, take it all as it comes. You are ready for this; you’ve prepared for years. This is it, your time to shine. Go forth with all your powers. Go forth with everything in you. Make it work.” ~Lynne Cox, “Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer”
Most inspirational athlete?
There are so many that I can’t pick just one! Everyone is on their own, unique journey and I am inspired by them all. My Coeur Sports sisters inspire me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! I’ve also been SUPER inspired this year by friends who finished their first Ironman. By friends who attempted their first Ironman, but didn’t meet cutoffs. By friends who did their first triathlon this year. By people who have survived an accident and are still training + racing. By people who fight disease and keep training + racing. By people who challenge themselves and try something new. By people I haven’t met yet and people I see everyday! There are far too many people who inspire me to pick just one!
Best support crew?
Hands down…Tim, Dad and my sister, Abbie! These three pushed me through during some VERY challenging times at Ironman Louisville. They were up EARLY on race morning to help me get to transition. They were patient with the process of all of the race morning shenanigans…even in the cold + rain + wind. They were in all of the right places at all of the right times during the race encouraging me (and SO many others) to keep moving forward when it would have been SO. MUCH. EASIER to throw in the towel and call it a day. Tim got all of my race gear while I was out on the run to save time. They cheered, photographed, and spread love to me and other athletes throughout a REALLY long day! There are not enough hugs and kisses for each of you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Love you all so much! I couldn’t have gotten to this finish line without your unwavering encouragement and support!!
If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
Strong, courage, believe, fun!!
Tell me about your 2018 year!! What are your “bests” from 2018?!
Last week was all about discipline! Discipline to go workout (even when I didn’t want to), discipline while racing (start off easy, build into race pace, and try to hammer it at the end), discipline to use the data given to me from Inside Tracker. Discipline, discipline, discipline…As Coach Kelly says, “You don’t always have to be motivated, but you do have to be disciplined.” #trackcatstrong
Swim: 5550 yards
Bike: 42.3 miles
Run: 19.7 miles
Strength Training: 10 minutes of core strength daily
Yoga: 30 minutes
Weekly Totals: 9 hours & 57 minutes
Quote of the Week:
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” ~Jim Rohn
Attitude of Gratitude:
Tips for when you’re unmotivated:
Text, call, email someone who is invested in your journey and will encourage + push you.
Put your feet on the floor and go do the work before your brain thinks about why it doesn’t think you should. JUST SHOW UP!!
Focus on your “Why.” Why do you want to achieve x, y, or z? Write about it! Reconnect with it.
Envision yourself achieving success. How does it make you feel?! Tap into those amazing feelings!
Find the FUN! Remember how much FUN you’ve had doing this before and how much FUN you are going to have in the future.
Listen to your favorite motivating song(s) to pump you up and get you moving in the right direction!
Eat a snack that makes you excited to go do the work! Taste success!
Make the decision ahead of time to do the work. Commit to it and follow through! JUST SHOW UP!
Prepare to celebrate! After you’ve shown up and done the work, CELEBRATE! Throw a dance party, jam out to your favorite song singing at the top of your lungs, do a handstand, indulge in a sweet reward, stand in power pose. Whatever it is, just celebrate!
Sign up for a race! Sometimes this is all the motivation you need to SHOW UP and DO THE WORK!
Order some fun, new gear to motivate you!
How was your week?! What were you grateful for last week?! What tips do you have for staying disciplined when you aren’t motivated?!