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Coaching – It’s Kids Stuff!

March 22nd, 2013 by samwarriner

Here in New Zealand I coach quite a few kids. I’m sort of the Team TBB of kids coaching as I seem to get all the kids who for one reason or another don’t quite ‘fit’ with their local clubs, or perhaps they have barriers to joining a squad – so usually they or their parents hunt me out and ask me to help them; some of them a little and some of them a lot!

I just can’t turn away a kid when they email me and ask about improving their performance – I don’t charge any of them, it’s just what you do isn’t it? It’s my duty within a sport that has given me so much pleasure to give back – and that’s what I try to do. And I’m sure there are hundreds more just like me here in New Zealand in all manner of sports – trying to help kids enjoy the buzz of being involved!

Some people volunteer at races, others organize those races, I love to work with kids toward their goals and see them grow as healthy young members of the Tri Community along the way.

The ‘coaching’ I end up giving varies from maybe just a Facebook message from time to time advising them on what races are best for their development, and for others it’s a full on plan written toward an event or long term goal.

I read the Docs ‘Looking for Clues’ article on Kids Play and it really got me thinking about what I believe to be important in kids coaching in triathlon, if you haven’t read it here’s the link it’s a great piece:

http://www.teamtbb.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1534%3Alooking-for-clues-&catid=37%3Anews-headlines&Itemid=17

The one thing I continually find in coaching youngsters is that it’s really not that complicated! We as human beings naturally look for answers whether in our professional careers or the games we play for recreation. But if we can remind ourselves from time to time why we actually participate – it really does simplify the coach / athlete relationship and make planning training and executing racing a whole lot less complicated!

I’ve never met a youngster yet who started triathlon, or any other sport for that matter, because they wanted to make a living off it! But at some point along the way that inevitably creeps in.

There seems to be a continuum – first kids take part because it’s just fun, they enjoy the sport for sports sake, enjoy participating with their friends and the sense of achievement that comes from finishing an event.

Then comes the desire to be the best they can be – usually fostered by improving results amongst other things.

And at some point dreams of making a living from the sport they love inevitably manifest.

I usually meet them when they’re at the second stage of development – wanting to be the best they can be. And over time I’ve come to realize the hardest part of the coaching process is keeping them at that stage.

Last weekend I had the honor of ringing one of my young athletes and informing her she’d been selected to race for New Zealand at the Elite World Championships in the U19 division, later this year in London.

The biggest decision for me was whether she is too young or not – she’s currently 15 years of age but capable of taking down most girls a couple years older than her.

I’ve seen so many athletes performing at National and World level at a young age – just to vanish from the sport within 18 months of their ‘break through’ season.

Why is that?

Whether it’s injury or burnout – we seem to lose so many talented young athletes from our sport.

If I think about the ‘training’ that I set for my kids – its basic theme is fun! I don’t get overly technical with intervals, or heart rates etc. We focus on what makes the young athlete happy and try and incorporate that as much as possible.

The young girl I talked about above – her training is far from technical! She does something every day, she swims with a squad, does a couple of fast runs per week – maybe a Fartlek session. And rides her bike with her dad and the local club time trials. The only ‘technical’ thing I’ve done with her is introducing a little track racing to hone her sprint savy at the end of the run.

Some coaches of young kids are far more technical than this – heart rates, power meters and all manner of other ‘stuff’. I just mentor the kids, give them someone to talk to about their worries, suggest strategies to deal with their worries, and above all else encourage them to do what makes them happy and healthy.

The chance of any of my kids developing into a World Class athlete? Well it’s slim – but what I hope to develop in them is a love for sport, and a life long engagement in physical activity that will enable them to achieve other goals in their life.

But above all else I want them to be happy with their achievements whether in sport, family, work or just life in general.

So my first ‘covenant’ of coaching kids is simple – Keep it Fun.

Overly technical training programs just aren’t the go and will turn kids off, whether it’s because you’ve injured them or they’re just not mentally and emotionally developed enough to handle the day -to -day workload.

I encourage the kids I coach to find a swim squad they’re happy at, there are plenty out there with grumpy swim coaches who have been in the job too long. They may be great at tech instruction but I’d much rather have my kids in a squad they enjoy attending and look forward to seeing their friends at.

And that brings me to my second covenant of coaching youngsters – Keep it Social.

Triathlon is an individual sport and we struggle to retain youngsters compared to the lure of team sports such as Soccer, Rugby and Hockey.

The kids need a sense of belonging, and that is what is so important about the School Triathlon Setup. If you have time this is the GREATEST thing you could do for our sport and it’s future – volunteer within a local school to take a triathlon team and encourage them toward your local or national championships. Support the kids, make trainings fun, and give them something to look forwards to after a long day in the classroom!

I take a bunch of kids from a local school every Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon – we have such a great relationship and they all love coming to training.

Some school-aged students are a little embarrassed to be associated with a ‘fringe sport’ such as triathlon. The fear of ridicule is enough to keep them from trainings. But by keeping it social, and buddying them up with someone else, you give them strength in numbers. Girls especially want to be ‘accepted’, Sports can be all about belonging — being part of the group — with team names, uniforms etc.

My kids race as a team here in New Zealand – and they’re developing quite a reputation at the races! The young athletes are proud to wear their colors and it reflects in their results.

Preventing injury is one area we as coaches really can make a difference. There’s a reason your National Federations organize short sharp fast racing for kids – To keep them from getting injured. Ultimately they want to have fast kids coming through the system to win them medals later in life – And that means not injuring them at an early age!

Have the kids race developmentally appropriate distances. Far too often I go to events to support my kids and see 12 to 14 year olds racing Sprint Distance events or even longer?! They finish the run bent at the hips looking like they’ve just done an Ironman…it makes me cringe!

If an injury doesn’t take them out of the sport the pressure from a parent that’s pushed them into that distance usually will.

Let them race in the races that are put on for them.

We have a 3:9:3 series here in New Zealand – 300 meters swim, 9km bike, and 3km run.

It’s the perfect distance for these young triathletes as not only are they learning all the attributes of a successful triathlete – fast transitions, speedy swim starts and exits and everything else the Brownlee’s have taught us are important in the new age of Olympic Racing.

But they’re also able to race week after week – further supporting my first covenant – keep it fun!

I’m new to this parenting thing – and I’m sure I’ll fall into the odd trap along the way before Lola-Rose is old enough to stand on her own two feet.

I often wonder why I developed into the athlete I am today. As a school aged kid I was nothing spectacular?! I was lucky some years if I finished in the top 100 of the Inter-Schools Cross Country Champs.

There’s obviously some part of what I’ve achieved that is down to genetics…..

But what I did learn at an early age was that I needed to take ownership of my situation if I wanted to do something. If I wanted to go to swim squad in the morning – I had to make a coffee for my father first and get him up at 6am.

No coffee – no swim squad!

At the races now nothing makes me cringe more than seeing a parent yelling instructions to a bewildered teenager in transition;

“Helmet…Helmet…HELMET!!!”

Kids need to learn for themselves, they need to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Shouting instructions whilst they’re at that level of arousal already – it just clouds the situation even more.

I like to prepare the kids I coach so I can take a step back on race day and let them discover for themselves what’s needed to perform. We’ll go over their mistakes afterwards once the adrenalin is out of the equation. As stress levels go up – the cues the young athlete can take in decrease….they see less and less.

If you’re yelling all manner of useless info at them and they’re already highly aroused…….they’ll likely trip over their own feet!

Anyway, that’s enough rambling for me this week.

Like I said last week – it’s currently head down and bum up for Sam! I’m getting in lots of great training and preparing myself for the Auckland ITU WCS at the beginning of April.

I’ve confirmed the first half of my racing year and we’ll make some big decisions about what direction I head once I’m back in New Zealand in June.

All the best for now and remember….Keep it Fun!!

Sam.

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Head down – bum up…Auckland here I come.

March 12th, 2013 by samwarriner

ITU Oceania Triathlon Championships

This past weekend I raced here at home in New Zealand – the event was an ITU Continental Cup in the capital city Wellington.

I’ve not raced an ITU event since 2009, it was the Hy-Vee ITU World Championship Series. I’d broke 2 ribs a couple of week’s prior and was still living in denial and attempting to perform…despite a crushed diaphragm and not being able to see as I exited the swim during the race….

Since that day I’ve really not had any desire to race ITU events – I felt I’d achieved everything I wanted to at ITU and was happy to leave that part of my career behind me. Although I’ve always kind of felt I never had the chance to say good-bye to all the great friends I’d made during my ITU career.

So this past weekend really was a surprise in the sense I never envisaged racing ITU again until a couple of weeks ago when discussing racing options with the Doc.

We’ve had quite a stressful couple of weeks in our house. I was down in Taupo for the Ironman the weekend before Wellington, Lola-Rose had been sick with a cold the week leading into that event so sleep was a rare commodity…broken at best!

I’m the sort of person that when I go to these events I’m always rushing around cheering people on, and I had certain commitments with the key sponsors of the event too – I hosted the Pro Q&A panel, along with the VIP Sponsors Breakfast and guided tour of the course race morning.

As soon as we got back from Taupo we had to deal with another health scare – this time Stephen but as its transpired he’s on the mend now and on his way back to his normal self…. all be it rattling a little from the medication he’s on!

So leading into Wellington I was anything but relaxed and focused on the race. Maybe that worked in my favor but I know I felt tired and in need of a good sleep…for around 2 weeks prior to the event?!

I’ve won in Wellington before – but this past weekend I had no illusions of that. Since coming back to racing I really don’t care much for putting pressure on myself – I’m just loving the fact I’m racing and every race is about having fun and seeing what I can achieve.

Yet again my swim surprised – not just me but those who have followed my ITU career. I remember the last time I won the NZ National Champs was 2007 and that year I exited the swim around 30 seconds down on the pack and had to work my way up on the first lap of the bike.

This past Saturday I exited the swim on the back of the front pack. Kate McIlroy had exited T1 around 20 seconds ahead of us but a solid pack of 10 of us headed out onto the windy 6 laps of an 6.6km circuit.

I felt really strong from the get go on the bike – despite the youngsters being seemingly unaware of how to organize a chase – we’d pulled Kate back in after 2 laps of the course.

I couldn’t help but stretch my legs from time to time, but the zip I used to have before Lola is still on it’s way back and I was unable to break the pack – but it’ll come. ☺

Out onto the run and 11 of us hit the pavement together. I’d commented on Facebook the week prior that all I wanted was to leave Wellington without embarrassing myself – and that I did.

I eventually finished 8th overall in the ITU Oceania Continental Champs – and 2nd New Zealand Open Elite behind Kate McIlroy.

The result has seen good and bad things come my way….

- I’m currently sat on the couch on a Monday night that I’d hoped to catch up on some admin…waiting to Pee! The drugs testers turned up around an hour ago now…as I was getting back from a 90 minute run quite dehydrated. So 3 bottles of sports drink later I’m almost ready to produce the goods! Obviously my performance on the weekend has alerted to them that I’m back racing…as I’ve not seen them since Kona 2011!
- The flip side of that result is that I asked yesterday if I could get a start in the Auckland ITU World Championship Series opener at the beginning of April – and Triathlon NZ have agreed to it. So I’ll be back on the circuit and have my chance to introduce Lola to all the girls I used to race with which will be very special to me.

The next 4 weeks for me are about staying putt here at home and having a good block of training. Things have gone well so far, and the forms is coming back – but I know I need to really just get my head down and do some serious training now. It would be disrespectful of me to turn up to a WCS with anything but good condition in my legs – and that’s what I plan to go after.

So no distractions, no commentating at events or driving the length of the country…it’s time to take this post pregnancy form to the next level.

That’s both a scary and in fact dangerous proposition though. I’ve repeatedly asked Doc ‘why is it that I seem to be going so well – so soon after Lola?’

I’ve read about the metabolic changes that occur post birth and wondered on quite a few occasions if I were riding a wave that would suddenly dump me. But every step of the way Doc has held me back and reinforced the notion that I’m responding so well to training because of the simple fact it’s the first time in about 3 or 4 years that I’m not overtrained?! Which when I think about with my rational mind….makes perfect sense.

So the challenge over the next couple of weeks will be to go after more speed but keep myself fresh and not fall back into the old trap of more is better so I’ll do more than everyone else!

We’ve spent time working on my racing schedule the past month too – and I can now confirm that I’ll be returning to a series that I’ve previously won.

After I’ve raced Auckland ITU the focus will switch to Rev3 Knoxville. I won the Rev3 Series in its inaugural year 2010.

Originally the series included an Olympic, Half and Full Iron Distance race. And I won the series after finishing 2nd in Knoxville, 3rd in Quassy and 4th at Cedar Point in the full Iron Distance.

Fast forward to 2013 and the series is made up of more events and to qualify for the series you must race at least 3 – which I’ll be doing.

http://rev3tri.com/

So Rev3 Knoxville it is, followed by Florida 70.3 and then Rev3 Quassy. I’ll then head back to NZ and we’ll fly over to Cairns for the 70.3 there.

We’ll decide the 2nd half of my overseas campaign once we return from Cairns – but it will include London in September as Stephen has been selected for Age Group Worlds in the Sprint Race so we’re taking Lola-Rose for a holiday to England to meet her family there.

All the best for now and I’ll update again in a couple of weeks on how the preparations for Auckland are going!

Sam.

http://tvnz.co.nz/othersports-news/aussies-take-control-oceania-triathlon-champs-video-5364279

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Erin Baker Trophy Olympic Tri

February 3rd, 2013 by samwarriner

God I’m shattered – but thought I’d write a quick blog as I want a day off racing, training and computers tomorrow and just spend it with Lola!

I’ve just got back from Taupo (which is a 6 hour drive from our house) and a really busy weekend of racing and encouraging others.

This weekend was my first time racing an Olympic Distance Triathlon since about 2009/2010 I think.

As I’ve said before the plan is totally speed driven at the moment, Brett is getting my top end back before we start worrying about going long. And to be honest I feel faster than I have since maybe 2008/2009 at the moment.

This weekends race had me excited from the moment Brett told me I could race. As he said in one of his emails Erin Baker really was (in the Docs words) a “Hard Arse World Champion” so I was really motivated to have a good hit out and prove I’m on my way back.

Kinloch is a beautiful spot on the shore of Lake Taupo. The village is around 20 km’s North of Taupo itself, the little village / town has a marina, a couple of shops and less than 1,000 houses all dotted around the lake.

Most of NZ’s High Performance ‘Elite’ were there this weekend, along with a team of Aussies, as it was also the Oceania Sprint Championships and Tri Tag Relay race too.

My race started early on Saturday and the girls went off 5 minutes behind the boys.

I quickly went to work in the swim and by the end of the 1,500m I’d put 90 seconds into 2nd place. The only person to beat in the swim was the eventual second place male who put just over a minute into me.

The Doc has said he is going to tweet something that will change the face of triathlon this weekend – well honestly I hope he doesn’t share the one piece of swim equipment that I’ve been using since beginning our relationship…as honestly if you saw it you’d think “never” but for something so simple it really has turned my swim around and I’m swimming as well as I was the year I won the ITU World Cup in 2008. I hope you have it patented Doc!

Onto the bike and my only goal was to stay on the aeros on my P3 for as long as possible. The bike course in Kinloch is quite tough…infact it’s VERY tough. You climb out of transition, a false flat follows, and then it’s 3 more climbs before the turn. 2 laps of 20km.

By the second lap I was catching a lot of the males and this is probably the only part of my race I’m disappointed with. I ended up playing cat n mouse with a few guys whose ego wouldn’t let me pass, but that’s racing and I need to learn to deal with that. In fact maybe it’s my ‘ego’ that’s the problem….

My run – although not where I’d hoped is probably a good reflection of where I’m at. You run on grassed sand dunes for around 600m of the 2.5km lap, and there’s an exceptionally steep footbridge just before transition too – so a 39-minute run was light at the end of the tunnel after the last 6 months work.

I won the race by around 8 or 9 minutes I think, and would of finished 5th in the men’s race too.

My favorite part of the day though was being able to donate my prize money to the local organizing club Tri-Sport Taupo – with the proviso that they spend it on the development of their youth triathletes.

We spent 3 weeks in Taupo at the beginning of January on a bit of a ‘training holiday’ and the club was good enough to let me go along and do some of their training races. The kids they’re bringing through have talent and I was really stoked I could give a little back yesterday.

Now….

I think I may get my ‘wings clipped’ by the Boss for this – but I ended up backing up my win yesterday with another race today.

We had the Oceania Sprint Teams Tag Relay in Kinloch today, and Tri NZ fielded a full Elite squad of 4 teams.

Some youngsters I know wanted to give the race a go to see where they’d sit amongst the elite – and they asked me if I’d race with them.

A chance to race against the best we have in New Zealand….what could I do?!

Out of the 9 teams in the event, going into the 3rd leg that I was racing we were in 7th out of the 9 international teams.

Now I don’t say this lightly – I had hell of a swim and passed 6th place and put a further 20 seconds into the girl.

Onto the bike (which I’d borrowed that morning as I don’t own a road bike so had never ridden before) I held my own.

But my run really did give me a ‘glimpse’ of the light that Brett has continually told me is at the end of the tunnel. In terms of time I was within seconds of girls finishing in the top 16 of ITU World Champs Series events….6 months after giving birth.

So I’ve come away happy and ready to get stuck into a full build toward an international event now (If the Doc doesn’t sack me for racing an event I shouldn’t of!!!)

So it seems I’m almost ready to make a full return to racing. Thank you so much to Team TBB and all the sponsors for standing by me through the last 12 months.

It was exactly 12 months ago that Brett contacted me now and said I was one of the most talented and yet most underperforming Ironman athletes out there. And it was 12 months ago that I had to tell Brett I was pregnant and although really grateful of his offer would need to decline as I wanted a healthy baby and that was number 1 priority at that point in my life.

But Brett kept me fit and healthy through pregnancy, was always supportive as were the teams sponsors, and now I plan on giving back from this end.

Bring on the next race…..but time for some sleep first. ☺

Sam.

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2013 is going to be an exciting year!

January 25th, 2013 by samwarriner

Well Christmas has come and gone – and I’d love to say Lola-Rose will remember her first as the fun day it was….but to her it was just another 5 bottle day with a couple of sleeps thrown in…….. and some wrapping paper to crunch and crinkle!

My own training has been going particularly well of late. Doc set me a goal back in December to beat 17:30 for 5000m’s on the track – I failed miserably but have since redeemed myself.

I made the mistake of confusing myself with a certain athlete I used to know well ‘Sam Warriner’

17:30 was the goal and my instructions from the Doc were simple (in hindsight!) ‘settle into a group and build. Simple you’d think. Not to an old battler like me though. ☺

The gun went off and a group of 5 or 6 gazelle like teenagers sprinted away from the main group. The predator in me sparked back to life – I found myself running well under my planned pace. It did feel good…for all of 3 or 4 laps….slowly but surely though the pace took its toll and before halfway I was running alone and finally crossed the line around 60 seconds down on my prey.

To say I was annoyed with myself would be an understatement. 17:30 was the time needed to start ‘talking triathlon again’ as Doc put it. And a short 18 just didn’t cut it. I felt like I was in exile – a technicality keeping me from the place I love…. The racecourse?!

I wasn’t kept in the cold for too long though – a couple of weeks solid training and New Years Eve and Brett instructed me I needed to find a Sprint Distance race to bring me on – well he didn’t need to say that twice.

4 days later I was racing in the first Contact Triathlon NZ Sprint race of 2013 – and I won the event convincingly.

“Excellent work by Sam Warriner, great 2 see her open race comeback with excellent win don’t be fooled it was fast look 2 men split congrats” @TriSutto

It’s great the confidence you get from a solid performance, and it’s amazing the strength those 140 characters on Twitter gave me.

We’d planned a couple of weeks holiday in Taupo – after commentating at the Tauranga Half Ironman we headed down to the lake with the intention of getting in some solid training. I say ‘we’ because I’ve managed to get Stephen back out on his bike and he’s even been swimming in the lake too. Stephen’s parents came with us to Taupo so Lola spent lots of time with Granny & Poppa.

I coach some kids here in New Zealand and we had a couple of days where they came down too and we did some solid sessions. The youngsters are always good to train with as they’re just so raw and take it to you on every session!

This coming year I’ll be coaching for Team TBB and the age group athletes who take advantage of the wealth of knowledge the team has available.

I’m new to the structure but excited by what I see. As it really is a supportive team with everything in place and proven results to back up the coaches.

I hear a lot of people say that athletes who coach are merely subsidizing their own expenses – but I’d disagree that’s not always the case. I’m in a position where I really don’t need to be coaching – I want to be coaching. I love helping others and I love being part of their goals and achievements. There are 24 hours in any given day and I need balance in my life – I can’t train for 24 hours a day and love talking with others, helping them plan their training and racing, and following their progress.

I’ve coached since I was in my late teens – that’s over 20 years now! I’d gained the highest (as it was then) swim teaching accreditation in the UK by the time I was 22.

Coaching does interest me – working with an athlete whether it is for triathlon or any individual sport. I actually spent some time as a teenager coaching Jonny Wilkinson the famous English rugby ‘Fly-Half’. It wasn’t his kicking though – I coached his tennis, as that’s another sport I love to play.

Coaching ‘Philosophies’ is a buzzword that athletes like to talk about and ask you about when considering if you’ll be of help to them. And I think sometimes ‘Philosophies’ cloud what is good coaching.

Coaching to me is getting someone out the door – day in day out. It really is that simple…but a whole lot more complex at the same time!

I started my triathlon journey at 29 years of age. I entered a local woman’s type triathlon here in New Zealand; I was a High School PE teacher and kept myself fit doing the odd bike ride, run and swimming in summer in the sea.

I managed to win the event and a free flight to anywhere in New Zealand courtesy of Air New Zealand. The flight had to be used within 3 months so I took off to The New Zealand Age Group Champs just 8 weeks later and qualified for the 2001 World Age Group Champs in Canada.

A podium in Canada and the day following my Age Group race I sat on the roadside watching the elites race it out and I set myself a goal there and then – next year I’ll be in that elite race.

2002 I was an elite and finished 28th in the Elite World Championships in Cancun.

Since then it’s been a case of small steps – setting goals, working toward them and then re-assessing.

2 x Olympian,

14 ITU World Cup Podiums,
7 ITU World Cup wins,
1 x Commonwealth Silver Medal,
2008 ITU World Cup Series Overall,
7 x 70.3 Wins,
Ironman New Zealand Champion.

I don’t list these results to brag…although it does look good on paper ☺

But my point is – coaching really is a no frills business. It’s about setting a goal, figuring out what’s needed to get there…and then doing the work. Plain and simple – Doing the work. If you’re willing to commit the time and effort it’s amazing what you can achieve.

I wasn’t a Jodie Swallow or Emma Snowsill as a youngster – I use these as examples of hugely talented athletes who also worked damn hard from a young age. I had very little ‘natural talent’ – but I did have a love of all sports. Growing up in the UK my mother used to take me to local triathlons and ‘biathlons’. I was told by a talent development coach from British Triathlon that I had little ‘talent’ and would do well to find another sport if I wanted to succeed…I think I was about 17 at the time.

Hence the break from triathlon until I was 29 – we didn’t fall in love instantly. ☺

And now I’m in the position that I’m able to help others toward their goals – and I get a huge amount of satisfaction out of that.

So 2013 will be a year of establishing myself as a Team TBB coach and re-establishing my international racing career.

I have my first Olympic Distance Triathlon in just over a week – yes we’re allowed to ‘talk triathlon’ again now since I broke the 17:30 barrier for 5km’s just this week.

Doc told me to find an Olympic Distance Tri I could enter and when I emailed him back ‘What do you think to the Erin Baker Triathlon’ here in NZ, his reply was short, succinct as always and gave me the green light to go after it:

‘There’s the name of a serious World Champion Hard Arse’

Well that was enough of a challenge to me – time to prove I can be a hard arse too next weekend. ☺

Talk soon,

Sam.

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Better Work Stories….

December 3rd, 2012 by samwarriner

Monday 3rd December – 2012.

The last time I wrote a blog Chrissie was still Ironman World Champion, Quintana Roo was just a bike brand and I was well ……acquainted with 2am?!

Kona this year was always going to be an exciting race – seeing who would step up and attempt to fill Chrissie’s shoes. Leanda Cave really has proven she’s one of the all time great athletes and deserves her Ironman world title. She’s won at every distance and done it with a smile.

It’s always the very few film stars, soccer players or rugby players that manage to keep themselves out of the limelight and just get on with their job that I admire. So many of our so-called role models seem to court controversy these days. The guy that doesn’t go chasing fame, that doesn’t end up splashed all over the cover of some magazine (mostly for the wrong reason) that’s the star I like.

Leanda is kind of that athlete. She just goes about her work in a professional manner, keeping her head down and does the business. And she’s got the results to back it all up.

Well done on an amazing career so far Leanda – I’m sure there’s a lot more to come too!

Caroline and Mary-Beth had me on the edge of my seat for hour after hour on 13th October. It was so inspiring to have athletes off your own team fighting it out at the front of the race – and because of the way the race played out they were all at the front of the race at some point!

I really do hope Ironman take note from this past year and see it’s time they treated the women’s race with the respect it deserves. Give it a totally separate start to the men’s event please.

In this age of professionalism women’s sporting endeavors are recognized as on a par with the men’s in all but a few sports. WTC need to recognize that far too often our race is being affected by dynamics associated with pro and age group males going off too close to us.

Rant over…. ☺

We have a TV advertisement over here in New Zealand – its aimed at recruitment for the Police Force – its signature line is ‘Get better work stories’. Well I figured there’s only so many blogs about babies that I can write so it’s time to get myself some different work stories…. training proper started today.

The Doc has talked about the benefits of walking in his ‘Looking for Clues’ posts.

I wouldn’t say I was skeptical – I knew it would have a benefit, it’s just that walking has never really fit into my life…I do EVERYTHING at break neck speed. But as it turned out it was a nice way to while away the hours both during pregnancy and also when I was looking for an odd hour or so to myself once some normality came back into our lives 5 or 6 weeks after Lola’s birth.

I got the nod from the Doc to go looking for a little speed around 4 weeks ago – I’d been walking up to 3 hours at that point. Lola-Rose’s sleep patterns settled around 10 weeks. Since early October she’s slept through the night on all bar maybe 2 nights. It’s made a HUGE difference to our lives.

An average day (I know – you’ll laugh…anything BUT average) for us is something along these lines now:

- I’ll wake at 4:50am, cup of tea and some toast with maybe avocado,
- Out the door by 5:30am and on the road to the pool.
- By the time I’ve completed my first KM at around 6:15am Lola-Rose is usually stirring and Stephen gets her up at 6:30am for her first feed of the day.
- Now this is where it gets interesting! Because we only have the 1 baby seat for the car, Stephen will bring Lola in to town in my car and meet me at the pool at 7:45am where we swap cars and he goes off to school in his own truck whilst I head home with Lola for the morning.
- By 10 she’s ready for her first sleep of the day and mums ready to get on the wind-trainer or treadmill. It’s hard sometimes to hear the baby monitor when she wakes up so I learnt very quickly to put it on vibrate and have it in my back pocket so I can wind down as soon as she signals she’s ready for some more play time!
- For the past 2 – 3 weeks now she’s got into the habit of a really short nap in the AM but will generally go down for 2.5 hours over lunch…, which is even better for mum!
- The afternoon we spend playing, or going for a walk around our property in the Mountain Buggy – she loves going and looking at the sheep in the back paddock.
- 3 afternoons a week I coach some school kids in town so Lola goes for her second drive of the day and daddy meets us back at the pool to swap vehicles again and he brings her home and she has ‘daddy time’ which usually involves her going in the front pack and feeding the chickens, opening gates for the cattle and all the stuff that young ‘country’ ladies should be able to do!? ☺

- I’m home for 5 and Lola-Rose has her last feed of the day at 6 and then she’s usually asleep between 6 & 7pm for the night.

So for 4 weeks now we’ve been looking for a little bit of speed. Doc has set me a goal – and if I achieve it he’ll consider triathlon again for me. It’s looking like I’ll get my answer on Wednesday 19th December.

It really does make sense – how can you expect to run a marathon fast…if you can’t run a half fast? And how can you run a half fast….if a fast 10km isn’t in your armory. With that guiding light – I’ve been doing some Splash n Dash type events to stimulate the system.

Last week we went down to Auckland for the second of this seasons ‘Stroke & Stride’. I’d raced the first event and came in 5th place amongst some pretty impressive future stars we have here in NZ. That gave me a little confidence boost so the second event of the series had me eager to improve my time.

The 750m swim / 4km run really means you have to hurt from start to finish if you want to be competitive.

I think these sorts of events are so important in the development of young athletes and the not so young athletes too. Whether you’re training for the Olympic or Iron distance – I’ve always said you learn to train first, then you learn to race, and eventually with LOTS of hard work you’ll learn to win. These are just the sorts of events where you can really get to grips with your ‘craft’ and begin to master it.

So that’s me at the moment – back to basics, racing the midweek events, looking for speed and aiming to please the Doc enough in two weeks time so he’ll see I’m ready to get back racing sometime in 2013.

Here in New Zealand it’s the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Taupo Half Ironman this coming weekend. It’s the last triathlon I competed in 1 year ago – and the last event I won too!

I’m looking forward to going down and supporting the athletes on the course, as I always love the atmosphere in Taupo.

After that it’s all about Christmas and it’s taking me all my energy not to go out and spend huge amounts of dollars on presents for Lola – presents I just KNOW she won’t appreciate just yet!!

Oh and that small appointment with pain I have on Wednesday 19th December!

I’ll let you know how I get on in 2 weeks time and if I’ve done enough to impress The Doc….

Sam.

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9 Weeks on….

October 3rd, 2012 by samwarriner

So I started writing a blog maybe 4 or 5 weeks ago – it never got finished. I really don’t remember why I didn’t finish it at the time but it’s a fair guess that Lola-Rose was something to do with the interruption.

Since giving birth to Lola-Rose on 29th July 2012 everything has been about her…I mean EVERYTHING!

I honestly never expected her to dictate my life this much, but she does and I love it.

It’s like a switch flicked inside me the day she was born and all of a sudden you don’t matter anymore – it’s all about making her happy.

Suddenly it’s ok to talk about poo’s and nappies when you’re at BBQ’s!?

Since the day The Doc and I came to terms back in February it’s always been Brett’s stance that if I decided after giving birth that motherhood was for me and triathlon had no place in that equation – well he’d support that and we’d go our separate ways. I don’t know if he expected that to happen, what I do know is every time we talked about training or plans he would say ‘If you decide to walk away I’ll support it 100% and be happy for you’.

For the first couple of weeks of little Lola’s life I couldn’t see how I could conceive of getting back into training. Not only did she demand all of my time – but even when she was sleeping I’d find myself either absolutely shattered or just wanting to be near her anyway and had no desire to head out the door training and leave her.

But some semblance of normality has slowly come back into our lives. You slowly work out what works for her and what works for you. You make a hell of a lot of mistakes and they never cease to amaze you with the lessons something so little can teach you. And after 9 weeks of her life I’m slowly starting to get back into things.

I think I was very lucky in term of the birth. I was up watching the men’s road race in the Olympics – it was about 1am and things were starting to turn pear shaped for Mark Cavendish when I first noticed some pains in my stomach that I’d not felt before. Ironically a reporter had rung a couple of days prior and mid conversation had suggested if I managed to give birth on the day of the Opening Ceremony that it’s make a great story for the Sunday Herald…at the time I just thought ‘what a twit – as if I can turn it on by demand!’.

We waited until 9am the following day as I didn’t want to ring Maree our midwife during the night…especially not a Saturday night! She confirmed what we kind of already knew that I’d started labor. By 2pm the pain had stepped up and Stephen rang her again – this time she said It was time for us to make the trip to the hospital.

Living a little way out of town it took us around 40 minutes to get to hospital, that included a stop-off at the bottle shop for Stephen to buy a bottle of Brandy…he’s not good with blood. ☺

By 7.50pm that evening little Lola-Rose was born, I refused drugs throughout the birth. I’m not against drugs during pregnancy per se, but once it all started I just saw it as a little bit of a challenge to be honest – besides Stephen had enough for the both of us he got quite a taste for the gas apparently it complimented the brandy?!

At 6 pounds and 6 ounces little Lola-Rose was anything but the large baby all the scans had predicted, but what she lacks in size she makes up for in strength. Just this morning at 9 weeks old and a touch over 10 pounds I came in the room after hanging some washing out to find her shaking a small wooden rattle friends had brought her – she’s well ahead of other baby’s born at the same time as her.

I’ve decided I shall get back into things and have another crack at the Ironman. I still feel I have unfinished business with the distance. Lola really has put things into perspective for me and if it doesn’t work out I’ll be happy to know I gave it a go and I have the rest of my life with my beautiful daughter. But something excites me about the thought of giving my best effort somewhere in the world and having little Lola cheer me over the line.

It certainly won’t be easy – but with the support I have at home I know it’s definitely ‘do-able’ I’d never even consider it if I thought it would jeopardise my time with little Lola.

Just yesterday we were down in Taupo here in New Zealand. It was the National Secondary Schools Duathlon Championships and I had some of the kids I coach racing down there. What really struck me was the disparity between the level of support the kids had. Some of the kids had ALL the gear, where others just got by with the basics. Regardless of what bikes or wheels they were riding – it was the kids with desire and work ethic that performed the best. I had two of my athletes podium in the National Champs – they’re not the kids with the best gear or most talent – but they work, achieve small goals, celebrate, and then re-set their goals.

If watching me race helps little Lola learn work ethic, determination and perseverance, then I’ll be happy. I don’t care if she’s an artist, sportsperson, homemaker or whatever else she decides on I want the world to be her Oyster not mine, as long as she is happy with her choices and knows how to work toward a goal.

Anyway, I’ve rambled enough. I’ve turned into one of ‘THOSE’ parents whose whole world revolves around their children…and I’m proud of it. Next step is to get myself back to fitness and give little Lola-Rose some memories of mummy that’ll make her proud.

All the best,

Sam.

My little Princess :)

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Autumn Colours

June 13th, 2012 by samwarriner

So a couple of weeks ago I postulated I was in the autumn of my career. Some may say that’s as obvious as rain is wet! And for others such as the girls I race here in New Zealand it was perhaps even a welcome whisper?

But rain’s not always a welcome thing for water birds. Ask the poor Wader bird if he likes the run off that heavy rain brings – it kills the small invertebrates that he feeds on.

And this Kiwi still feels she has one good run off left in her legs at 40 years of age.

When Doc approached me back in January and invited me to join Team TBB I really did feel I had more in me, but at the same time I had just found out I was pregnant and really wanted a healthy child.

Every elite athlete thinks they’ve got one good result left in them – many a time I’ve said to my husband ‘you will tell me when I’m over the hill won’t you?’ I’ve never wanted to be the one still racing long into their forties, banging their head against the brick wall of lost form.

Pregnancy has brought its fair share of challenges – perhaps mental more so than physical. If you think training for Ironman is a roller coaster – try harboring ideas of making a comeback to it – whilst pregnant.

So how do all the feelings I’m going through at the moment get me thinking of autumn?

In our garden autumn is a busy time. From the trees perspective it’s a time when some show their most vigorous growth. It’s also a time they give back to the ground – after drawing on it all season the leaves they shed will protect and feed seedlings until spring arrives.

And from our perspective of the ‘garden keeper’ – it’s an important time too. There’s a lot to be done to make sure the garden is in order for next season. Old growth that serves no further purpose needs to be pruned away thus allowing energy to be directed toward the young new shoots.

If I really do want to return to top level racing Brett told me some time ago my biggest challenge would be mental.

Brett believes my best Ironman is ahead of me. But before I can get there I need to overcome self-doubts and mental flaws that are preventing me from achieving to the same levels I’ve experienced at ITU.

Pregnancy has provided me with many opportunities to work at these very character traits – as my husband would say I’ve encountered many teachable moments of late!

You’ll find with a lot of elite athletes when you get to know them well enough – we’re actually quite frail and harbor self-doubts. I’ve often thought the primary motivator for many athletes is the fear of failure – I hate to think of people writing me off!

Racing ITU from 2002 until 2009 I was able to ‘muscle’ my way through – I was strong and fast, and even when I doubted my self as I did on many occasions I was still able to muscle the other girls and force my way to the front.

But Ironman is a totally different beast – try and ‘muscle’ Ironman and you’re the only one getting bruised!

I really have had to throw out any concerns about what others think of me the past few months. I’ve been written off by some of my closest friends. Not in a bad way – it’s just what I’m attempting to do is so far from their normal experience of motherhood that it’s just incomprehensible to think that I could potentially go back to racing after Junior is born.

But I know I can. And at this point in my life two things are important to me; the health of my family and being able to do what I believe in.

I think coming to the best coach in the world and in fact the best triathlon team in the world has played a huge part in this change of perspective. I’ve been known to ‘search’ for answers in the past. If my swim, bike, or run dropped off I’d search for a solution. The Doc has nipped that in the bud pretty quickly! And for the first time I’ve felt happy to hand over the responsibility – I guess you could call that loss of fear – trust.

I’m supported by some amazing sponsors – why would the likes of Cervelo provide me with a world-class bike if they too didn’t have 100% confidence in my ability to get back racing at the absolute top of the sport.

The growth I’ve felt through this sudden loss of desire to second guess everything and everyone has liberated me to focus on the one step in front of me. And that step is nurturing a healthy baby.

The remarks I was getting early on about training really challenged me. People stressed about my training and how it could affect baby. But just last week we visited the mid-wife and after a raft of measurements the midwife duly informed us baby’s measurements suggest we’re in the 95th percentile. And if I make it to 38 weeks (I’m currently 32 and a few days!) then baby will be on for around 9 to 10lbs….ouch.

I really do feel the change of perspective from worrying about what others think to just trusting my own body to be an amazing thing capable of producing amazing results will not only help me to be a better mother but also a better athlete when I make my return.

Having a little more time on my hands of late I’ve been able to give back a little too. Just like the tree sheds its leaves and new trees appear in spring from the seeds shed in autumn – I too have been passing on my knowledge to the next generation of athletes.

Last year I set up The Future Championz Academy here in my hometown in New Zealand. I invited 30 young athletes along to attend a few days of seminars and training. From there I developed a group of local athletes who are passionate about triathlon. We trained all summer and the culmination was taking them away to The New Zealand Secondary Schools Triathlon Championships.

I’ve continued to coach these young kids this past year and we’re all focused on the Auckland ITU Triathlon World Championships where the kids are entered in the youth category of races – they’re all under 16.

Giving back to these kids is a real honor and I find it really rewarding when I see them give it their all in races.

Not only am I giving back to the kids – I feel now is the time to give back to my husband Stephen too. He’s supported my dreams for quite a few years now! Staying at home and working for months on end whilst I’m away racing around the world – for the past 3 years I’ve been away from March through to October except for the odd trip back home. Stephen has wanted children for a couple of years now – so I really am ‘giving back’! ☺

So in all I really don’t see this phase of my career as being about slowing down. Although my 1 hour runs on the treadmill really are more of a shuffle than a run these days – that’s about being strong mentally and just getting the job done whilst eliminating self doubts so I’m able to just focus on the step ahead of me.

Autumn is a pleasant time and we’re really excited about the next few weeks. I’ve been asked lots of questions about the ‘whats’ and ‘hows’ of my training so next week I’ll draft a blog on the details of my training through pregnancy, what I’ve been doing and some tips for overcoming the many challenges you’ll face if attempting to train through pregnancy!

All the best for the coming weekend to those of you racing around the world – and if you’re not racing be sure to check in over the weekend to see how the other Team TBB pros are getting on!

Sam.

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Change of Seasons

May 26th, 2012 by samwarriner

As the weeks click by so do the comments that I seem to be ‘storing up’ more and more.

It never ceases to amaze me – just how polarized people seem to be in their opinion of mixing motherhood and triathlon. All of my non-competitive friends are adamant that I’m biting off more than I can chew. And being a big one for proverbs I can’t help but think of an old Chinese saying ‘ If one doctor tells you to lie down – get a second opinion. If the second doctor tells you to lie down…. lay down!’

But then I get so much feedback from other athletes who have had children and successfully got themselves back into competing. You just need to look at Bella and Stephen to see that it can be done – what an amazing couple they are and what a phenomenal result both finishing on the podium just last weekend in Lanzarote.

As Brett recently pointed out, I really do have everything going for me. With both Bella and Stephen competing at the elite level it must be doubly difficult for them to balance family life and training commitments. Our situation couldn’t be further from this!

My husband teaches at a local High School. He has purposefully dropped certain extra-curricular commitments this year so he’s able to just turn up to work at 8am and leave at 3.30pm each day. My mother will be here for the birth for around a month and after that Stephen’s parents will help on a day-to-day basis with Junior and the two of us!

The reality is I’m 40 years old and going to be a first time mother who intends to race at the elite level and win races in 2013 – I can totally understand where the skepticism comes from. But I didn’t get where I am today without a little hard work, belief and perhaps stubbornness! And ultimately if Brett has faith in me – I have faith in me.

Today I’ve been out in the garden planting vegetables. We’re getting more self-sufficient every week! Stephen’s goal is for Junior to just eat meats that have been farmed on our property – no steroid fueled factory farming for our little champ. At present we have beef, chicken, ducks, and the most recent addition is a pair of breading pigs!

Being out in the garden often gets me thinking – and today the autumn colors really struck a chord. I think I realized I am in fact in the autumn of my career as a triathlete. But that’s not a bad thing – autumn is a wonderful season!

But before I discuss just why I think the next season in my triathlon career will bring the greatest fruits – I’d first like to share with you an article I wrote some time ago now for a magazine here in New Zealand.

At the time I was writing about talent development for a column – and the reason I thought I’d share this first before considering my own thoughts on Autumn is because you can’t have an Autumn without a Spring. The early development of talent is just like spring…and I wanted you to understand some of my beliefs before I start opening up my heart next week on why I think Autumn is going to be such a great season for this particular athlete.

NZ Triathlete Magazine October 2011:

An athlete recently quizzed me on my style of coaching – and I compared his development to that of a juvenile olive tree – It was one of those ‘off the cuff’ remarks!

The more I reflected on it though the more I realized the development of talent is in fact very similar to the growth of juvenile trees.

In my metaphor I used the example of the young trees we plant up here in Northland, we’re on a windy coastal block with seasonal extremes of wet and dry.

I get a lot of emails from keen parents searching for the next ‘edge’ for their child to get ahead of the crowd. Every time my reply is simple – get them to contact me personally and they can tell me all about themselves.

We’re new to country life – and I’m sure the neighbors still look on us as ‘townies’. But we’ve noticed in that short space of time that our trees need room to move. We stake them for the wind – good support is pivotal in those early years just like talent needs the support of parents, mentors, coaches and friends. But tie the trees too tight and water them in the dry summer months, and you’re setting them up for failure.

If the young olive doesn’t learn to move in the wind, bounce back after a storm and steady itself for the next season – it’s unlikely to develop into a mature fruiting tree. Likewise the young athlete that has no say in her direction, who never experienced adversity and is suffocated with support, will struggle when the winds of life come blowing.

A tree looks great in summer if watered and fertilized, lush green leaves and fast growth will ensue. However take that water away as mother nature invariably will at some point – and the shallow fibrous roots you’ve encouraged will soon dry out. Leave it dry and deep ground roots will eventually find a moist spot.

As a child I had to make my father a coffee at 5.45am – that was the deal. If I wanted him to drive me to swimming there was first a price!

Far too often I hear stories of ‘high performance’ being about what toys you’ve got, an Iphone for logging training, a power meter or heart rate monitor. These tools will never replace desire, resilience, and a commitment to being the absolute best you can be.

Hamish Carter has slept in the transition area of ITU World Cups on more than one occasion, and when he’d finally clawed his way to the top of the sport he was good enough to let this developing athlete and others sleep on his hotel floor from time to time whilst attempting to follow in his footsteps.

I love helping athletes chase their goals. There’s nothing more exciting than someone coming to me who truly wants to win – and nothing more rewarding than working together toward achieving just that. Ultimately though – there’s only one person who can take ownership of those goals – some people will tell you not to sweat the small stuff but in my mind it’s your responsibility to sweat every little detail if you’re serious about chasing dreams.

I hope you enjoyed the read and I’ll update next week once I’ve had a little more time to think about the coming season. ☺

Sam.

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If you keep your head when all about you are losing theirs….

April 12th, 2012 by samwarriner

August is shaping up to be a huge month.  Not only will it mark the start of a comeback to the sport I love – but there’s also a rather large race going to be happening over in London that will showcase triathlon to the world once more.

Although I’ve been given a due date – Junior hasn’t been informed and he’ll arrive when he’s good and ready.  For the athletes of the 30th Olympiad – they’ve known their due day for around 18 months now, there’s no excuses and no escaping their destiny.

Having competed at 2 Olympics (Athens 2004 & Beijing 2008) I’ve got a fair idea of the pressures they’ll face over the next 4 months.

In 2004 I was just happy to be there – the only New Zealand girl to qualify for the triathlon, I collected my blazer and race suit from the New Zealand Olympic Committee and proceeded to take every opportunity to soak up the Olympic atmosphere.  From the opening ceremony to the closing, I went to so many events, little wonder I didn’t perform on race day – it was all one BIG adventure to me.

In 2008 I’d finished on the podium in every ITU World Cup leading into Beijing – and had my best ever finish at a World Elite Triathlon Championships; 3rd place in Vancouver. I’d also found a far happier mental space to hang out in, having got engaged and found the support of my husband to be.

To say I took Athens less seriously than Beijing would be wrong – the fact was I was just far more focused as an athlete, knew how to prepare a lot better by 2008, and had the support to back it all up.  I knew if I came off the bike in the front pack there were only 2 girls in the world that could run faster on their day; Emma and Vanessa, and it needed to be ‘their day’.  I felt I was going to China with a fighting chance.

6 months out I stated in an interview that I believed there were 10 girls capable of winning that Olympic Gold – and each month one would drop away as a result of misfortune, poor decision making, or the pressure that the Olympics invariably generates.

“Welcome to the Beijing OLYMPIC GAMES”  “You’re here at the 29th OLYMPIC GAMES”  “ Welcome to China – home of the OLYMPIC GAMES”

It’s everywhere on your arrival, loud speakers at the airport, on the buses, billboards and sides of taxis.  The newspapers are full of it and everyone wants to talk about it!  Tell them you’re going to be amongst it and you may as well gift them thirty minutes of your time.

That’s the thing about Olympics – they’re a real war of attrition.  From the qualification process, logistics involved with where to base your build up, filtering out all the information people want to give you and balancing sponsorship commitments along the way – it’s a real art arriving on race day with your powder still dry!

I’m finding pregnancy strangely familiar.

Everyone has an opinion of what’s right and wrong, and they’re quite comfortable telling you.  Just the other day I was at the gym, I’d done my early morning swim and thought I’d jump on the treadmill before breakfast and do a build.  Now when I say build I’m building from around 9km/h upto around 13 km/h…on a GOOD DAY!

The lady next to me…power-walking on the treadmill…. decides to ask me mid effort “do you really think you should be doing that in your condition”.  I have no malice towards her, she felt she needed to ask and did so – good on her for speaking her mind.  But what she didn’t realize is that I’d normally start this session anywhere around 15km/h and finish up around the 17 km/h mark.  I was running well within Junior’s limits and mine.

In 2008 I was one of the last couple of athletes to drop out of contention.  I didn’t know it at the time – you kid yourself that you’ll come right on race day, but looking back around 4 weeks from the big dance my chances started to go south with my form.

Giving birth to Junior isn’t about winning or losing but getting to the finish line is far more important than any Olympics now for me.  From all the reading I’ve done on pregnancy and all the advice Doc has given me on training through it – the trick is to keep things simple.  Just like preparing for the Olympics or an Ironman you don’t want to be changing things up in the lead in to your big day – a steady consistent build is the key.

Research suggests that if you trained regularly leading into pregnancy then this should be continued throughout the full term – stopping at any point could put strain on the placenta.  Likewise if you weren’t an exerciser before the miracle occurred you need to be really careful about suddenly starting an exercise regime mid-term, again this can put a strain on the placenta and thus affect baby.

Not only does training throughout pregnancy help with stress, but it also improves your posture and helps with managing weight gain.  The stamina that you’ve maintained will I’m guessing be useful when it comes to labor too!

It’s all about sticking to what you’ve always done, not getting caught up in the moment and trying to be someone you’re not.  Just like the last months and weeks leading into a big event, whether that is Olympics, Ironman or your local Half Marathon.

Consistency of effort is the key.  Doesn’t matter who you are, Alistair Brownlee, Caroline Steffen or a weekend warrior preparing for your local sprint triathlon – consistency is the key, doing the basics right – day in day out.

This week athletes from all over the world are descending on Sydney, Australia.  They’re racing for a place in the Worlds largest spectacle – The 2012 London Olympics.  These guys and girls are the crème de la crème; the absolute best in our sport and they’ll show us all how it should be done this coming weekend.

Saturday will be the first of many hurdles they have to clear if they wish to be on that start line in London.  Some will have stellar performances and qualify this coming weekend and still not race London, whilst others will scrape through unnoticed and go into London as a dark horse.

Either way, whether we’re talking my pregnancy, these ITU studs, or your build up to your next event -  the trick is to manage the situation, master yourself , and  not succumb to your emotions along the way.

All the best to everyone racing this coming weekend,

Sam.

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22 Weeks and counting….

April 2nd, 2012 by samwarriner

There’s something not quite right about running with a small pumpkin up your top. Well the American’s apparently call it a ‘Spaghetti Squash’ and that’s just what it feels like in my tummy at times!

Exercise is going well – I’ve stopped calling it ‘training’ as it’s too demoralizing. I’m ‘exercising’ to keep healthy and ensure baby is healthy too.

Last week I headed down to Karapiro here in New Zealand for the Secondary Schools National Championships. It’s an event I love, as the kids are so competitive and every year I go the numbers seem to increase which is awesome to see!

We were down there for 3 days with the team from the area I live in New Zealand called ‘Northland’. We’re the most northerly district in New Zealand hence the name – we’re 2 hours North of Auckland.

Our kids really stepped up, as it was the first time racing outside our own area for a lot of them. Two of my girls got Bronze medals – one in the Under 14’s and the other in the Under 16’s so I was really happy with them and all the others we took down.

Triathlon here in New Zealand is a really fast growing sport – they tout it as currently the fastest growing sport and that doesn’t surprise me at all! We have events for women, men, Maori, kids, Duathlon’s, there really is something for everyone.

Once back home it was a weekend exercising indoors as the weather has been shocking here! I’ve spent sooo much time on the wind-trainer and treadmill – it’s just not funny!

Doc says I’ve got one more month running and then that’s it until Junior arrives. In the past that would freak me out – the thought of not running, but I have a new found sense of confidence in what I’m being asked to do, I just don’t feel like questioning anymore – the planning is taken care of….I just need to worry about getting out there and doing it!

I did the mandatory watching of races and following of tweets whilst on the wind-trainer yesterday – and it amazed me the amount of people in our sport who seem to be injured?!

It seems it’s a sport that actually isn’t always that good for you!

One of the main reasons I think I’ve never been injured through 10 years of ITU racing (touches wood very quickly!!) Would be my consistency. Hubbie would argue I’m too stubborn to get injured and maybe he’s right – stubbornness get’s you out the door on a regular basis and its consistency that’s the protector of athletes in any sport.

I went backpacking in my mid 20’s with a friend. We traveled all around India, and then on to Australia and New Zealand before heading home via the States. I was so worried about putting on weight (as we did have the odd beer and burger!) I ran every day for one hour…this went on for a year. When I say every day, I think I probably had less than 7 days off all year. I wasn’t doing tempo runs, or build runs, or anything else fancy, I just plodded. Some days I’d go in the hills, others run on the beach, but my goal was always an hour. If I passed the campsite at 55 minutes – I’d always do the extra 5 before stopping.

Having Junior is no different – all the reading I’ve done suggests that you just keep things simple and keep doing what you’ve always done. I trained before Junior came along so I’m still ‘exercising’ now – albeit a little less intense!

So 22 weeks in and 18 to go, it’s Easter weekend coming up and that means school holidays. We’re having a quiet first week and then Stephen and I plan to finish off the nursery-which will be fun. We haven’t decided on a theme yet, so I’m open to suggestions, at the moment we’re leaning toward a ‘farm’ theme with pictures of animals etc since we live on a small farm anyway Junior will have to get used to cattle in the paddocks pretty quickly!

So the week in summary:

Happiest moment:

-20 week scan (2 weeks late) seeing Junior, doctor struggling to get a good image as the little bugger seems to move SO MUCH, he’s def going to be a mover!

Proudest Moment:

13 year old Lois competing in only his 3rd triathlon and first event outside of our town finishes 5th in the National Championships.

Funniest moment:

-Again at 20-week scan, Doctor asks prelim question, “Before we start will you be wanting to know the sex of baby or shall I avoid that area in the images”. Stephen replies “We’re not interested whether it’s a boy or girl but it would be handy to know the fast / slow twitch ratio – if that’s possible Doc?”

Most embarrassing moment:

-Down at Secondary School Nationals, I was in the finish area having just done a turn on the microphone. Triathlon NZ had one of the young girls down there from the High Performance Programme. I was congratulating one of the kids as they finished and managed to get myself thrown out of the finish area – according to the technical official on duty “She’s High Performance and you’re not!” I laughed so hard on the inside junior kicked me!

Hardest Moment:

-Build run on the treadmill – managed to get up to 15 km/h….that used to be called a ‘warm up’.

Speak next week,

Sam.

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