It's race week...
Emotions running high. Questions of doubt. Feeling every ache and pain. The list goes on...
There is so much that goes on in an athlete's head on race week...especially those that are embarking on the journey of completing an Ironman. I'm writing this now as I'm officially entering the exciting/dreaded/scary week of Ironman not only for myself, but for a crew of 8 others. Tomorrow we hit the road to Lake Placid and will have almost an entire week to soak up the mountain air and beautiful views of Mirror Lake.
So before getting to the race scene, I wanted to give a 'heads up' especially to my first time Ironman athletes. Nerves can sky rocket and feelings of "am I prepared enough?" come into major play. The task of completing a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and finish with a 26.2 mile run is daunting and actually being in the race atmosphere can exacerbate the nervousness that comes along with it.
First off- the question / comment I get all of the time- "Did I do enough? My friend (or competitor) did 'x' amount of hours more of training each week, rode 120 milers every weekend, and says he/she isn't ready!" Ahh, the beauty of Strava and other social media.
DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS! This is one of the benefits of having a coach that is working with you. They are there to make sure you are prepared. Yes, the situation for every athlete is going to be different. Having a coach that is making plans specific to YOUR needs (and not just another generic plan) is what will make you the better and smarter athlete. Every athlete is going to have different strengths/weaknesses, time commitments with families/jobs, injuries or imbalances, workout intensities, etc.. This list can go on and on. So remember- next time you log onto Strava or FaceBook and see that your friend (or maybe competitor) just did a 20 mile long run and yours was 'only' 10, you are doing 10 because every workout of yours should be done for a specific reason. Trust me, after completing now 7 full Ironmans, I have had the same exact feelings. I check the various social media and panic for a second when I see another athlete doing quite a lot more than me...and the questions of doubt creep in. Kick those thoughts aside! If you did your training and your coach is paying attention, you did specific work tailored to YOU. Stick to your gut and trust in YOUR training. Having that faith and trust in yourself and your coach will get you a long way.
Next- the TAPER! Again, every athlete is different. Some may taper for 3 weeks, some 2, some maybe even 1. There are times when a taper isn't even in place (usually not for Ironman though!). Once arriving at the race site, it is very easy to get caught up in the moment. You see athletes working out all day long (especially in Kona). Stick with your plan- so if you have a 30 minute easy ride, do not over ride it. Make it easy- stay light on the pedals and enjoy the taper. If you have an off day- kick those feet up and REST! Many times athletes will start to feel the 'itch' to do a little more because they are used to it. Or they see another athlete that is doing a 2 hour ride instead of their planned 45 so they decide to add a little extra on. Don't be that athlete that does too much or pushes over the top during the taper. You will just end up more fatigued and can possibly put a damper on all the work that you put in. Focus on your goals and your plan!
Keep in mind that during the taper, it is normal to still feel bouts of tiredness and/or fatigue. Sure there are times in a taper that the body and mind will feel amazing, but is not always the case. Make sure that your workouts are less intense and volume is dialed back. Your body will respond and the energy will increase. Do not let the feelings of 'did I do enough?' drive your workouts. Know that you did the training that was set up for you and it will drive you to the end goal.
Next- enjoy the experience...but do not get caught up in the hype. Race week for Ironman has a lot going on. Simple advice- make a schedule and stick to it! If you plan on visiting the expo while picking up packets and race gear, allow yourself a certain amount of time to spend there, and then get out. Stick to the schedule or there are times you can end up spending hours on your feet walking around. That is not ideal. I still recall my first Ironman World Championship experience in Kona. I was exciting and soaked up as much as I could. Little did I realized, but day after day, I was on my feet constantly. I wanted to be everywhere---at the farmers market, checking out the latest and greatest at the expo, meeting up with friends and chatting, attending pre race festivities, etc.. Each night I went to bed exhausted. My best Ironman to date was at the 2015 Ironman World Championships. I had signed up for a Training Peaks University class which was the Thursday and Friday before Saturday's race. I was forced to sit and be in class most of the day on Thursday and Friday. SIT. RELAX. Not rushing around seeing what else I could do. The class was the biggest blessing as it forced me to rest the body and legs. Yes, sitting all day isn't the best, but I was able to get up to stretch and walk around when needed. It was much better than walking around all day in the sun. So I advise to come up with plan / schedule to stick to. If there isn't one in place, you might find yourself jumping into more activities than what would be beneficial to a successful race day.
Last- control your emotions on race day. You did the training and are ready. But on race day, anything can happen. In Ironman, there may be times of 'wow, this is easy and I feel great!' and then the next second of, 'wow, everything hurts. There is no way I can even move forward. Why am I doing this?' Most everyone will cycle through the emotions of lowest of lows and highest of highs. Learn to control those emotions at the high end and low end. When feeling great, kept your effort in check. Its often very easy to get caught up in and push a little harder than you should. When feeling miserable, maintain a positive attitude and do what you can in oder to keep moving forward. Be prepared mentally with how you will deal with the emotions.
I recently read, "In the heat of competition, it is easy to get stuck on what is not going well, which causes you to lose sight of how lucky you are to be able to race." Remember, you are doing this because you enjoy it. Have fun and be grateful that you are doing something many could only dream of doing.
Good luck to all of my Iron-distance racing friends- especially those first timers. Looking forward to sharing stories of the adventure when it is all said and done!
Everyone could use a little motivation every now and then.
This is especially true for those that are just entering the 'thick' part of winter, and outdoor training becomes almost nonexistent due to icy roads, sub freezing temps, and limited daylight hours.
So how does one stay motivated and keep plugging away through the dark, cold, winter months to prepare for the season ahead?
All are great ways to keep pushing you along the way....but today I wanted to share one of the big things that keeps me going day in and day out and hopefully can help others as well...
'creating your space'
What I mean is having an area that you feel comfortable in and get excited to train in. This was one of the first things that was decided on before even moving into my house. There was going to be a dedicated space to train with all of the tools necessary to stay driven and focused. It keeps me excited, and I really do look forward to working out in a space that I created.
Now I know that there are plenty of people out there that stick a bike trainer/treadmill in the darkest, gloomiest corner of their garage and pound out interval after interval saying that it makes them mentally tough/stronger. And I have no doubts that they are able to improve and become better athletes if they have that kind of will power/motivation to get after day after day that way. If that is what they can define as their optimal space and have the drive to keep charging forward, then all kudos to them. But for me, the thought of riding in a cold, dark, corner of the house while blankly staring at the wall just doesn't work. I have tried it and failed. I was not excited to train and dreaded the next time I'd have to stare at the wall for hours. I wanted a space that was comfortable and had distractions (tv, music, etc.). A place that I could write out my goals and execute than plan to achieve them.
So for this post I wanted to show how I created my space - A space that is comfortable and accommodating, yet still allows me to dig deep and get the most out of each training day. And this is especially true through the winter months when this is the view from the front door-
First and foremost- I'm not saying that my space is the best, nor am I saying that it is the only way to go. But I wanted to give a glimpse at what I find helps me get the most out of my training. Maybe you can pick out a thing or two and implement it into your space!
As I said, before even moving into my current house I dedicated a room in the basement that would service the sole purpose of becoming my "pain cave." This is what it looked like before moving in-
In my head, I wanted more of a gym type atmosphere. So the first step was paint and putting some flooring in. I bought some thick rubber square tiles that can be picked up at just about at home improvement store. Since the room was small and square shaped, it wasn't that expensive nor difficult to cut and place the rubber.
It also worked out really well that there was a back corner that turned into a space for race gear/tools/storage.
Once the room was ready to be furnished, I measured out the space required to fit two computrainers and a treadmill. It was important to get the measurement of the space as that played an important role on which treadmill to get (some are much bigger than others).
From there it was time to fill the room with everything that I thought would help keep me excited to train and this is how it turned out-
The breakdown of how it is set up-
The most important training tools were the treadmill and dual computrainers. Those took up the majority of the space but fit in perfectly side by side along the back wall. The computrainers have been a critical tool in my training as I can dial in the workout without any thinking needed. I can zone off and power away at the pedals. The treadmill has also been key as I am a a big believer in hill work. I am able to do hill repeats at set inclines/speeds.
One of my favorite parts of the space are the chalkboard painted walls. I have written goals, motivational quotes, workout details (so I don't have to memorize them), and reminders to my wife about how much I love her t̶o̶ ̶t̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶t̶r̶a̶s̶h̶.
A powerful fan to create airflow. A fan is a deal breaker for me. I never realized how important having one was until I started using it. And butt cream...yes I said it. As I mentioned, anything to make the workouts more enjoyable is going to keep me motivated. Would you be excited to ride if you were dreading the pain you were going to experience down under?
And lastly, constant reminders. I like to change up the screen saver on the computer with either a quote, a goal race that I have coming up, or something to remind me why I do what I do. I always log onto the computer to type in my bike workouts, so it is the first thing that I see. Some simple words or an image can really make a difference on your mindset and turn your workout completely around. So now I ask you, if you had your own space, would it change your outlook on training?
Well- here we go!
Welcome to the introduction of Rybread Racing. I wanted to start out by introducing myself for those of you that don’t know me. My name is Ryan Giuliano, and I am the founder and owner of Rybread Racing. I’m an avid triathlete/runner as well as a fierce, goal-driven competitor. Finding ways to improve on my abilities is a driving force in my life and helping others achieve the same has lead to where I am now. But before getting into what Rybread Racing represents and hopes to achieve, I wanted to give a brief background on how things got to where they are now.
Background and Beginnings
Sometimes, it is strange how life comes full circle, and as the saying goes, ‘'everything happens for a reason."
The journey creating Rybread Racing began roughly 5 years ago. I signed up to take a USA Triathlon Level 1 coaching class shortly after graduating in 2008 from the University of Illinois with a degree in Kinesiology. Working part time and racing as a professional triathlete, I dabbled with thoughts of coaching, going into PT school, or just seeing where the pro life of racing took me. The USA Triathlon coaching class intrigued me, and I learned quite a bit, but still felt that I lacked the true experience in the sport that would be needed to successfully lead others to reach their goals. Yes, I knew what the books said and how to implement certain training ideas and structure, but I wanted to know more. I wanted to experience the training/racing/up and downs first hand. So, I put the coaching thoughts aside and continued to work part time and race professionally.
Although the life of a professional triathlete wasn’t paying the bills, I still learned quite a bit in the time that I had done it. It was a time of trial and error- seeing what worked and what didn’t. In that time (2010), I had also picked up a full time position through one of my sponsors, PowerBar, as a nutrition tech rep. The job itself fit my lifestyle perfectly. I was able to still train hard and race, while at the same time met many individuals with the same passion of mine- which was to push the body’s limits and achieve goals. Whether it was to complete a certain race or set new personal bests, the individuals that I interacted with all had similar mindsets. I loved educating and helping the athletes around me find ways to improve.
In 2011, I decided that I no longer enjoyed racing as a professional triathlete. The results were showing that I still had many areas to improve on and my drive to improve were diminishing daily. Simply put, the others I was competing against were just in an entire different league. Having drive and motivation are critical when trying to achieve any anything in life, not just in athletics- and it just wasn’t there any more that year. 2012 was a year that I took a step away from the sport of triathlon (still trained and raced, but not as seriously) to get a better picture on what I needed to do in order to become successful while also focusing on my career with PowerBar.
With all of the mistakes that I had made since beginning the sport in 2009 (my early college years), I knew what I needed to do and started training harder than I ever did in the past while also spreading knowledge and advice to others that were once in my position. With the help of a coach, a plan, a wife that was by my side, and goals that were hard but attainable, 2013 was the year everything turned around for me.
2013 was the year I sat down and wrote out my goals from short term to long term- all with stepping stones along the way to make sure I was on track. My drive to succeed and reach the goals were at an all time high, and with dedication and patience, my body and mind responded. I started to drop times and get faster in all three disciplines of triathlon. It was also in this time that I started to help a few friends that wanted a little guidance in training. I had written and developed a few training plans for close family and friends- ranging from doing a local 5k up to gearing up for a first timer’s ironman. But it was then that I started to get more and more questions from others about how to train, what they should do, and what works/doesn’t work. With more people coming to me for advice- I decided it was time to branch out. I offered to help plan out custom training plans for a few people to delve into the coaching world a bit more and see what it was about.
What I quickly noticed was that I really enjoyed interacting and seeing the progress that was being made with the individuals that I was helping. Their success gave me just as much, if not more, joy than my own races. 2013 was a great year in that I really had the light flicker in my head- helping others reach their athletic goals would be something that I would love to do full time some day.
Jump forward to 2015. Through word of mouth and the others that I had been coaching for the past few years, I offered to help more athletes and was at a total of 10 individuals- all different ages, abilities, and goals. Some pure running, some pure cycling, and some pure triathlon. 5 of those athletes were going to be doing their first Ironman.
One thing that I knew- in order to be a good coach, you have to put the time into it and be there for the athletes at all times. I saw how much time I needed to spend working with these athletes- whether it was writing out and planning their workout sessions, helping them make adjustments due to life in general, mental preparation for key races, questions on gear and nutrition, and the list goes on. While still working full time for PowerBar and training for Ironman racing, I did not take on any additional athletes as I knew it would draw myself thin. I was unwilling to give up time for my job, wife, training, and athletes that I was helping. There seemed to be a great balance, but deep in the back of my mind, I kept telling myself I should just go for it full time and see where the coaching takes me.
It was then in August that as I said, “everything happens for a reason,” that I got a call from my then boss that the new owners of PowerBar were not going to be continuing the tech rep program. Now I’d be lying if I told you that it hit home pretty hard when hearing the news because as I said, things were going great with the balance that I had. Training was great, my job was wonderful, my athletes were improving...so hearing the news did shake things up a little bit. But after talking with my wife, I started to see it as a great opportunity. It was a time when I would be able to really do what I had been thinking about for the past few years. And to make things even better, the athletes that I was coaching had tremendous success, including a 100% finish rate for all of my first time Ironman athletes and a 3 hour 15 minute drop in time for one of my Ironman athletes!!! I was riding a high for days with with the outcomes of my athletes and soon wasn’t thinking about how sad it was losing my position with PowerBar, but how great things can be with coaching and helping athletes around me.
Knowing that my job with PowerBar was to end at the end of September, I devoted the month to dialing in and preparing for Kona while tying up all the loose ends with the job. It was nice to really have a great lead in to Kona with much more time to train and recover, and it ultimately lead to my best ever athletic performance with a 38th overall place finish and 3rd in my age group. But post Kona, it was time to sort my future out and create what I had been thinking of for a long time- coaching!
What’s in a name?
Why Rybread Racing?
First goal when starting up the coaching side of things was coming up with a name that I could work under. Jacqui and I tossed ideas back and forth ranging from just using my name- Ryan Giuliano Coaching, Giuliano Endurance, RG Multisport, to names incorporating endurance and discipline- 3d Coaching, Beyond Endurance Fitness,etc. Nothing was quite sticking. I asked friends and family day after day trying to compile as big of a list as possible. I explained to my family that I wanted something that I would be able to create a fun and quirky logo with. Something that when seen would be recognized immediately. Now I didn’t expect it to be a worldwide recognized logo like Starbucks, Apple or McDonald’s, but I wanted to create something that was sharp and presentable. After looking through a few logos of others, my older brother said, “what about Rybread Racing?” It rang a bell immediately.
For those that don’t know, close family and friends have called me Rybread since I was born. Simply put- Rybread is me! My first website that was created was www.rybread.com (still exists, but not used). Not only did the name just seem to work, the logo associated with it could take many angles.
From there, my brother took the idea and used his graphic design background and had ideas immediately for me.
And just like that, Rybread Racing was born.
From here, my goal is to help and develop athletes to reach their true potential, hit goals, and enjoy the process along the way. I look forward to sharing the knowledge that I've learned over the years and making positive changes in the lives of other around me!