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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

You Can Do It! NIFS Training Helps You Meet Your Goals (Part 2 of 2)

IMG_9434Following on from part 1 of this blog, where I talked about goals, there are few fitness achievements that are more impressive than completing a triathlon. The combination of running, swimming, and biking along with power, endurance, perseverance, and attitude are imposing, especially for those who have never completed one before. The traditional Ironman races are comprised of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run for a grand total of 140.6 miles.

The Event Takes Many Forms

You can’t wake up today, without training, and begin to dream of the goal of finishing such an event. Most people will never complete a true Ironman triathlon in this form, but there is hope. Through the vision of great-minded individuals, we have a multitude of triathlon options that tinker with the original chemistry to create some equally impressive challenges for all levels. There are indoor versions that are held in the friendly confines of a gym (usually with a pool); there are sprint triathlons that modify the distances to a 5,000-meter run, 250-meter swim, and 14-mile bike ride. Notably, NIFS has been involved with a women-only triathlon called the Go Girl, the Indianapolis event of which is held at Eagle Creek Park. With so many options available (more will surely surface), there is hope for our triathlon aspirations after all!

Why Would Anyone Want to Do a Triathlon?

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Why would you ever want to do a triathlon in the first place? Kris Simpson, a personal trainer and triathlon coach at NIFS believes, “It is great cross-training” and “it can test your mental toughness by getting out of your comfort zone, especially if you have been traditionally a single-sport athlete.” With that being said, getting into a structured training regimen with focused end goals might be just what you need to awaken your inner athlete and competitive drive.

According to another triathlon finisher, Kaci Lierman, competing the tri event is a monumental occasion. Hours of hard work cumulate in that moment when you step across the finish line and take a deep sigh of relief. A sense of accomplishment, wholeness, and pride overtake you. You can stop there if you like, but the endorphins from the actual high are so great, you might want to do it again and again.

NIFS Training for Triathlons 

How does one train for a triathlon event? You could train on your own, but with so many small details (think transition training, bike maintenance, and clothing management), it’s beneficial to seek guidance from a seasoned professional. NIFS offers such training, catering to beginners who are new to the event, as well as triathlon veterans trying to get personal bests.

NIFS group training currently includes the Go Girl Triathlon Training Program. Women who are interested in the training program can contact Kris Simpson at ksimpson@nifs.org for more details regarding times, dates, and signup deadlines. Don’t limit yourself to traditional triathlons; you can find an event that best suits your abilities, needs, and training module length. The commitment to greatness is huge, but the rewards are even bigger. Dream BIG!

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: Thomas' Corner running group training swimming triathlon biking triathlon training program Go Girl

NIFS Personal Trainer Takes on a Triathlon Challenge (Part 3)

IMG_9672.jpgWe have followed NIFS trainer Crystal Anne Belen throughout her triathlon training program experience (see part 1 and part 2). It’s finally time for the race, the moment the entire group has been waiting for and anticipating for the past 2½ months. Let’s hear from Crystal about her experience!

It’s the week of the race and training is complete. A lot of preparation has happened over the last 10 weeks. The hard part is over. Hydrating, breathing drills, staying healthy, visualization, staying positive, and relaxing were my areas of focus. By the end of training, I was feeling confident with my transitions and prepared for the race.

Goal: 500m Swim, 10-Mile Bike, 3-Mile Run

At the start of the race, I felt the excitement in the atmosphere! Almost 400 athletes were there to compete, and everyone had worked so hard for this moment. From my perspective, the distance didn’t look that far to swim in the open water. As I stood there waiting for my time to enter the reservoir, I was determined to conquer it, and there wasn’t anything that was going to stop me. However, the swim turned out a lot harder than I expected. I unfortunately found myself going kayak-to-kayak, needing assistance, and eventually met George, a gentleman who stuck with me as far as I could go. He encouraged me as I went along and said that he was there for me whenever I needed him. No matter how long it was going to take me, I was determined to finish the swimming portion.

I swam about halfway through the 500m, and there came a point where I was taking too long in the water and was told that I had to be picked up in the boat to catch up with the rest of the swimmers. Along with a few other ladies, sitting in the boat in tears, I was disappointed in myself. The official who picked us up offered that if we wanted to swim the last 50m, we could get back in. I wasn’t about to end the swim in total defeat, so I got back in the water and swam the rest of the way in.

The Ride

While I thought that the obstacles were over for me, the bike portion of the race brought even more roadblocks. I started off with a nice, quick transition to begin the ride. Determined to make up some time from the swim and knowing that I couldn't let the swim get to me, I came upon the first hill of the race and ended up running into a problem immediately. As I shifted gears, my chain came off my bike and I ended up having to pull off the road to put my chain back on.

After getting my chain back on, I rode for the next 6 miles, passing a few ladies, but then another unexpected mishap took place. As I shifted gears on another hill, my bike came to an abrupt stop. Emotionally done, I had had enough, and the disappointment of all the training I did for nothing was overwhelming. Another gentleman came and asked if I needed any help. He tried to see what was wrong with it, spent a few minutes looking at it, and ended up telling me that I was going to have to walk my bike the rest of the race. My derailleur flipped over and would catch in my spindle, not even allowing me to pedal. Beyond frustrated and embarrassed, I wasn’t able to keep the positive mindset I had been working toward, although I was still determined to complete the course. It had to happen.

While walking the rest of the course, an unexpected turn of events took place. I caught up to a woman who was also walking with her bike. I felt so frustrated and defeated but as we began to talk, I was grateful for this time. She said, “I’m sorry to hear about your bike, but I'm thankful that you are walking with me.” In that instant, my mindset completely changed. In the full-throttle of my stress, someone needed my help more.

The next thing I knew, the trainer in me ended up encouraging her to keep persevering. I was no longer thinking about the struggles I was going through. I walked with her the rest of the 3 miles, and she eventually rode back on her bike to complete the remainder of the race. Finishing in last place in the biking portion allowed me to put things in perspective, and I was so thankful that I had the opportunity to help another athlete. I was no longer mad at myself, and I kept telling myself that the only thing left to do was the 3-mile run, my strongest portion of this triathlon.

The Last Leg

Running indeed was my strongest event as I completed the 3 miles without any major incidents and ran the entire way. I finished my run in 28 minutes with an overall race time of 2 hours 12 minutes and 10 seconds.

With the rollercoaster of events that took place, I'm very grateful for accepting the challenge, going through the experience, and stepping outside of my comfort zone, and especially grateful for the people I've met along the way. I’ve learned that there are things that happen in life that you can’t control, things happen in which you have a decision to make, for which your attitude can instantly determine the path that you will travel on. As a trainer, I work with many individuals who go through their own challenge on a daily basis, and this has given me more appreciation and a fresh perspective on the process it takes to overcome a difficult part in your life.

With how I completed the race, I've been asked if I'd do another one. Surprisingly, yes, I would do another one. Knowing what it takes and where I currently stand, I can work to improve. So the journey continues, I am tentatively planning on completing another triathlon on September 30, in Illinois, to write a new chapter in this book.

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This blog was written by Crystal Anne Belen, personal trainer and health fitness instructor at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running swimming nifs staff race challenge biking triathlon training program

NIFS Personal Trainer Takes on a Triathlon Challenge (Part 2)

IMG_5313.jpgTriathlon training is past the halfway point (see part 1 of my blog) and has been quite the journey! With long days of juggling my work schedule, the training plan, a dog, a home life, and trying to find time in there to rest, training for this triathlon has been quite challenging! In addition to the training plan that I am following, I have analyzed areas where I need to improve, especially in the swim portion of the race. I have noticed that not only the physical aspect of the triathlon training needs work, but my attitude does as well.

Back to the Basics

How do I tackle this without being overwhelmed with the other 50 things running through my mind that need to be done, and then keeping a positive mindset about my energy to top it off? I have decided to break it down and take each segment one step at a time, in order to not become so stressed out. I have taken the mindset of going back to the basics of training and mastering those first.

Mastering Swimming Basics

On our first swim training, one immediate thing I noticed was how my heart rate skyrockets when I’m in the water. My quads are on fire from kicking incorrectly, my breathing and head are uncontrolled, and I tend to hold onto the edge of the pool in order to not drown. Even worse, this all seems to happen within a 50-meter stretch in the pool! While I wanted to quickly bail, I was reminded to take it one step at a time.

Something that really helped to reassure me was that our coach mentioned to our group, “The hardest part is getting in the water; once you’re in, you’ve accomplished half of the battle. The key is not swimming faster, but it is to concentrate on your form and technique.” Needless to say, I’ve been focusing on those basic tips and am beginning to feel more comfortable in the water and see my swimming improve!

Biking: Getting to Know the Bike

I ride my bike for recreational commuting purposes but have never raced competitively. One of our first rides as a group was focused around getting to know your bike. We had to check our seat height and the air in our tires (and know how to fill them up), learn the gearshifts, and learn a few other tricks about knowing our own bikes. This was a huge help for me.

Another training day we were working on mounting and dismounting our bikes in order to learn to be efficient with our transitions between the swim-to-bike and bike-to-run. A few seconds in your time makes a difference. I ended up having a nice bruise on my leg as my pedal caught my knee on my first try. On the plus side, the convenience of working at NIFS and being downtown has enabled me to run errands and train with my bike, accumulating cycling miles over the course of the week. This has helped me to be more comfortable on my bike and learn how to get on and off quickly.

Improving My Running

Running is probably my strongest event in the triathlon. Last year I ran competitively in the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, although I have not kept up with a consistent cardio program until now. My goal is to increase my pace in hopes of making up for where I am challenged in swimming and biking, but without running out of energy before I cross the finish line. Getting back into a running program is hard! I’ve battled plantar fasciitis in my left foot and a mild case of low back pain. I’ve mixed my workouts with weight training prior to running, sprints, and longer-distance runs in hopes of mimicking the fatigue that I will feel from swimming and biking on race day.

My Top Triathlon Tips

I have learned through this triathlon training program so much about myself and the importance of not stressing over the big picture, but instead focusing on each segment of the training and race. As a trainer and a first-time triathlete in training, here are a few tips I’d like to share:  

  • Use a coach to help you. It’s hard to see your technique when you are swimming, biking, and running, and a few simple tips will make a big difference. You can always improve.
  • Warming up is essential. Techniques such as foam rolling, tension release, dynamic stretching, and letting your body adjust to the environment have made such a big difference in my workouts.
  • Bring on the food. Don’t get me wrong; eating healthy, meal prepping, and portion control are all essential to my daily way of living. However, what I’ve noticed is that I’m hungrier and my body has been leaning out and getting toned from the additional training. I’ve had to increase my food/calorie intake so that I can stay energized throughout the whole day.

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This blog was written by Crystal Anne Belen, personal trainer and health fitness instructor at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS running swimming triathlon cycling nifs staff triathlon training program personal trainer

Allison Anderson on the Benefits of NIFS Tri-Training

Allison-3.jpg It’s triathlon season and 2016 program participant Allison Anderson is coming back for another round. Many people come back to try something a second time, and for Allison there was no question whether she was going to tri again!

I took some time to talk with Allison about her experience with the NIFS Tri-Training Program and what inspired her to do it. Take a few moments to hear what she has to say.

What made you decide to
join NIFS Go Girl Tri-Training Program?

I saw the Go Girl training advertised on the NIFS Instagram. I immediately thought, "I can swim, I can ride a bike, and I can run/walk 3 miles. Let's do this!" The training was intense, but it prepared me for what was ahead. I was also interested because it was an all-female race. It seemed a little less intimidating than competing in a male/female triathlon.

What was your favorite part of the training?

Swimming! I was a swimmer in high school and was missing the workouts. The swimming aspect of the tri was the deciding factor for me. I was ready to take on the challenge again.

What did the group training program offer you that you wouldn’t have been able to do on your own?

The training program offered a full training plan, the opportunity to find others that were around the same level, and information on appropriate nutrition and food choices.

Allison-1.jpgWho would you recommend this training program for?

This training program would be great for any woman interested in participating in a triathlon. There are multiple levels of intensity, so it is appropriate for everyone. The NIFS staff is helpful with all levels, encouraging beginners and challenging veterans. 

Do you have any recommendations for those in the training program?

Have fun and follow your training plan. Following the training plan to a t will help you be as successful as you can. Making a friend who works at the same pace is encouraging and gives you accountability to keep working out, even when the whole group isn't working together. It's also nice to see that someone is working toward the same goal as you are. 

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If you are a woman looking for a new challenge like a triathlon, or maybe you’re a seasoned veteran in triathlons but are looking for a training group, the Women’s Triathlon Training Program may be just what you are looking for!

Spaces are limited! Register now so that you don’t miss out!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS nutrition group training swimming triathlon accountability triathlon training program

Benefits of Team Training for Fitness: Motivation and More

One of the hardest things about trying something new is that deep-rooted fear of not being able to do it. When you want to achieve something and feel you are on shaky ground about whether you actually can achieve it, the odds of you starting the task drops.

The Payoffs of a Team Support System

IMG_0184.jpgOne of the best ways to ensure that you overcome that fear is to have a support system or team behind you. There’s a lot to be said about the phrase, “There is strength in numbers.” Having that team environment and support system will allow for hefty payoff in your training. Take a look at some of the benefits.

  • Accountability with like-minded people: While this may be the most obvious result, it also happens to be one of the most beneficial. Having a group of people who will follow the same training plan can help to keep you accountable in both your workouts and goals.
  • Punctuality: Having a support team behind you in your health and fitness goals often correlates with your “workout buddy.” Having someone or a group to meet at the gym will not only get you there more often, but will also get you there on time.
  • No excuses: There are about a million and one excuses that we all can come up with as to why you won’t get yourself to your workout. But by having a team behind you, the excuses drop quickly and the desire to make less and less of them becomes more and more real.
  • Encouragement: Sometimes we all need a little bit of encouragement to keep us moving along and staying motivated. If you have ever been on any sort of sports team, you quickly learned that the power behind encouragement from more than one person is strong and can really get you going.
  • Social network: As we know, the wide world of social media has exploded and is constantly at our fingertips. And in the exercise world, creating a social network in your workouts beyond face-to-face time in the gym is a great tool to keep yourself on track and “like” what your friends are doing. Exercise is more than fitness; it’s about the social experience involved, too.
  • Motivation: We all have experienced those times in our fitness journey when we have wanted to give up. The demand is too hard, the time we have available is pressing, or the work project gets in the way and we quit. Having a team support system behind you will allow you to get over that roadblock and move in the right direction: forward.

Tri-bikes.jpgTraining within a group or team setting provides you with more than you thought you needed to meet your fitness goals. And training with a group of people who are working for the same thing can be powerful and even unstoppable!

Try NIFS’ Triathlon Training Program

If you are looking for this type of environment, you should try our Women’s Go Girl Triathlon Training Program. Training with a group of 30 women who are all working to cross the finish line at the Eagle Creek Triathlon in August is a fun and empowering thing! Give it a “tri" and challenge yourself to something new!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manger. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS motivation accountability triathlon training program