Friday, November 23, 2012

Tucson Phat Camp

Gates Pass is right out our back door!

This year Mercury Rising Triathlon will be offering a warm weather camp in Tucson Arizona. Here are the details:

What: 7-day camp in Tucson, AZ

When: Saturday Feb 16th-Saturday Feb 23rd

Accomodation: Its included!! 3-bedroom condos on a golf course on Tucson's west side. Walking distance to 2 restaurants, small pool and hot tub in condo complex

Price: $1200 which includes all the coached sessions outlined below as well as accomodation. (If you would like to share a room between 2, the cost of the camp is $1000 each. Please note that most rooms have queen or double beds)

Coaches: Experienced pro and age group coach Clint Lien and professional triathlete and coach Sara Gross

If you are interested, please email me;

All abilities welcome!

Sunset at the hotel is a must!

Tentative Schedule

Sat Feb 16th
Arrive, easy RUN, intro meeting

Sun Feb 17th
AM- SWIM 1h30
PM- BIKE hilly, 2h w short RUN off

Mon Feb 18th
BIKE Mount Lemmon Climb, 3.5-5h (depending on ability level) w optional RUN off

Tues Feb 19th
AM- SWIM 1h30
PM- RUN track, drills
Optional easy BIKE

Wed Feb 20th
AM- BIKE steady 2-3h
Option for SWIM technique help with coaches

Thurs Feb 21st
BIKE long 4-6 w short RUN off

Fri Feb 22nd
option for technique help w coaches
PM- RUN long trails 1h30

Sat Feb 23rd
pack up and travel home!

Complex pool and hot tub

Monday, October 22, 2012

Top 5 Cycling Technique Mistakes

Submitted by Adam Redmond, Speed Matrix Calgary

In cycling as in most sports every individual develops a unique style or way of doing things that is natural to the specific person.  Even though it's natural to have variation between cyclists there are fundamentals which everyone can base their riding technique off of.

1.  Smooth circular pedal stroke vs.  "Pedal mashing." 
A smooth circular pedal stroke is generally considered more efficient then one where a person       concentrates force only to the down stroke.  This spinning style of pedalling usually leads to a higher cadence which puts less strain on the joints and muscles.

2.  Ankling
Over the years there have been many opinions on ankling patterns while cycling.  Current trends are to maintain a relatively flat foot throughout the pedal stroke.  That's not to say that your ankle shouldn't move at all, but minimizing  movement to about 15-30 degree range is a good general guideline.

3.  Cornering technique
How you corner can depend if you are riding single file or embedding in the middle of a peleton.  Within a peleton you will have to flow around the corner with the people around you, ie. if you start on the wide side of the corner you will have to hold that line through the entire corner so as not to take out other riders.  In a single file line you can "sweep" through the corner going from outside to inside taking the most efficient line throughout.  It's best to brake and gear down before the corner so you are going the appropriate speed and are able to accelerate out the backside and thus maintainas much speed as possible.  Your eyes should be scanning the road ahead of you so you notice any obstacle in your path.

4.  Shifting
Smooth shifting depends a lot on anticipation ie. looking ahead and reading the road so you can plan your shifts appropriately so as to prevent errors and thus loss of efficiency.  Pedal pressure can also have a huge impact on shift smoothness, especially while climbing.  As you shift on a hill it helps to give a slight boost to increase momentum pre-shift then ease off pedal pressure while shifting to allow for a smoother shift.

5.  Choose a line and follow it.
Whether you're in the middle of a peleton, in traffic, or on a bike path holding a line is an important part of cycling.  It allows other cyclists and/or drivers to confidently judge where you're going as you're riding.  While riding in a group this is even more important because like a school of fish, cyclists need to flow together to avoid crashing.  That task is made easier as everyone holds their line and flows with the pack.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Victoria, BC High Performance Clinic - Oct. 20, 2012!

Jessica Zelinka's Sport Strategist Comes to Victoria, BC to Conduct High Performance Clinic!

Bob Palmer, SportExcel's High Performance Strategist for Canada's Jessica Zelinka, is bringing his revolutionary sports high performance clinic for athletes and coaches to Victoria, BC in partnership with Mercury Rising Triathlon.

PRLog (Press Release) - Oct 02, 2012-
The highly acclaimed SportExcel Six-Step System is the staple of athletes in many sports, from track and field to hockey, Ironman to snowboarding.  The successes include Jessica Zelinka's Canadian Championship record in heptathlon, a gold medal in skeet shooting in London, a silver medal in Vancouver in snowboarding and a pro contract in hockey this summer -- as well as victories in dozens of other international, national and master-athlete events.

"My work with Bob provided tools to face any feat, small or large, with a clear mind and a confidence that allowewd me to perform freely and in the moment," says Zelinka.  "As an athlete there's nothing comparable to performing in the moment."

Sara Gross, Ironman Competitor (photo by David McColm)
The SportExcel Clinic -- Be the 1% of Champions:  Six Steps to Winning -- will be held at the Arbutus Room at Commonwealth Pool, 4636 Elk Lake Drive in Victoria, BC from 9:00am - 4:00pm on October 20, 2012.   The cost for the full-day clinic is $275.00 + HST per person with lunch and snacks included.  It is open to athletes and coaches in all sports and at all sporting levels.

"At present, there is limited help for athletes like Zelinka in the mental game," says Palmer who is a 4th degree black belt in karate and a professional high performance strategist and educator.  "Most experts get athletes thinking way too much, or they insist on having them talk about personal issues and problems.  For athletes, this is simply perceived as not cool."  Palmer's System, one he originally developed to help him win in the martial arts, doesn't involve any sharing or personal issues.  Instead, it provides easy-to-use tools that even his young surfers are stoked to use.  (Bob has two surfers on the world tour.)

"In the clinic, attendees learn to resolve virtually any problem, without having to share emotions or issues," says Palmer.  "They become the expert with a huge ability to resolve distractions, resolve intimidation and to learn new skills quickly."  "And," he adds, "Since they usually come to me to win, they learn that as well."

Victoria resident, triathlete coach and Ironman, Sara Gross, has been working with Bob for two years.  She says, "The revolutionary aspect of Bob's program is that it helps you change your mind and your physiology.  It uses the Zone as the central focus of your everyday activities."

"And that Zone," says Palmer, "is the starting point for winning."

Seating is limited.  To find out more information or to reserve your space call SportExcel toll-free at (877)967-5747 or contact us via email at:


Monday, October 1, 2012

Belated Thank You - Rocky Mountain Soap Company

Better late than never!

A big, big thank you to Rocky Mountain Soap Company who generously provided awesome swag for our PHAT camp in Penticton this year!

Apart from creating 100% natural products, Rocky Mountain Soap Company also stages an annual Women's Run/Walk event in both Canmore and Winnipeg.

Over the years, a number of Mercury Rising athletes have participated in the Canmore event and all have raved about the swag and the race course.  (Swag is just one of the perks to all the training we do...great swag ratchets up the race experience even more!)

THANK YOU Rocky Mountain Soap Company!  Your generous donation was eagerly accepted and the athletes at our camp were thrilled!

Your high quality products are amazing! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Learning "The Zone" in Calgary

Bob starting off the clinic at Tri It in Calgary.

This past Sunday, 11 people attended SportExcel's High Performance Clinic in Calgary.  Triathletes and pistol shooters.

Yes, you read that right!

I teamed up with a woman for one of the exercises Bob had us undertake and learned she had nearly made it to the Olympics this year!  She is now prepping for qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.  How cool is that?

Bob laid out a six step system that you can use to get yourself into the zone.

The Zone.

You know that place?  Everyone has heard of it, talked about it, maybe even experienced it.  My ears perked up when I heard Bob say, "At the end of the morning, you will all know how to get into the Zone at will."

Another thing Bob stressed was that there was NO PSYCHOLOGY involved.  We literally dove right in and began a number of exercises that taught us what our own individual cues were for being in the Zone and when we are in the NO Zone.

Bob would select a volunteer from the attendees and demonstrate each exercise.  It was amazing to see the physiological transformation of each athlete as he would guide him/her through each exercise.  You could literally see a person's posture and demeanour change.  And the coolest thing of all was how Bob demonstrated time and time again with each of us, how much physically STRONGER we were when we were in the Zone.

Again, yes, you read that right.

When you are in the Zone you are actually stronger than when you are not.  All the training that an athlete goes through can be wasted if you are thinking of past failures.  Bob utilized a simple technique to demonstrate this point:  the athlete would hold out his/her arm and he would attempt to force it up.

When the athlete was in the Zone, the difference was tangible -- not only was his/her body language exuding confidence but there was no way you could budge his/her arm.

This was a mind-blowing moment for me.  (One of many I had at that clinic!)

In rapt attention listening to Bob!

During one of the exercises, a woman I paired up with tried to move my arm once I was in the Zone, and it felt like her fingertips were barely pressing on my arm.  Seriously!!  I was so amazed, my eyes flew open and I asked her, "Were you REALLY trying to move it? REALLY?  I mean, really trying, because I felt like you were barely touching me!"

Yup, it was that big a deal!

MRT triathlete Tessa P. pairs up with Peter (pistol shooter) during an exercise.

Everyone has heard the expressions like "mind over matter," etc. but this particular exercise really drove the point home.  Simply by being in the Zone, you can tap into strength you didn't even know you had.  So awesome. 

Kendall is most definitely in the Zone.  Lisa is getting coffee.  ;)

We also learned how other people can affect us.  How important it is for a coach to be in the Zone as well as the athlete.  Bob taught us strategies to remain in the Zone and even how to help a teammate get back into his/her Zone.  Powerful stuff.

If there is an event where triathletes are involved, you can be sure there is food!

Bob fielded questions throughout the day, answering questions about how the Zone can be applied to your life outside of athletics:  your kids, your family, your work.  How one person being in the Zone can effect positive change in others.

Lunch time and gourmet sandwiches!
During the afternoon portion of the clinic, Bob told us we would be visited by a "special guest."  An athlete he has worked with...Canadian Olympian Jessica Zelinka.  For those of you who might not know about Jessica, her sport is the heptathlon.  And the 100m hurdles.  Two sports!

As part of her heptathlon training, Jessica competes in separate events that make up the heptathlon, like the 100m hurdles.  Here is the amazing thing:  During her training for the London Olympic games, she actually beat out other competitors at the 100m hurdles and qualified for that event too!!  On tired legs.  

Jessica Zelinka and MRT triathletes!  From left to right: Elissa, Lisa, Kendall, JESSICA!, Lorraine, Tessa, Cheryl, Julie (me)

Jessica talked a bit about her sport and the different strategies she uses to stay in the Zone while training and competing.  She had a super high energy level and an infectious smile.  When she demonstrated how she jumps to stay focused, I know I wasn't the only one marveling at how high she flew up!  

And her pipes!  Holy smokes, she is strong!

I am thrilled to have participated in this clinic -- and so excited to implement the strategies Bob taught us.  What an afternoon!

If you (like me) have ever bought books about positive thinking, making your dreams a reality, etc -- this clinic will blow those books out of the water.  This clinic was the real deal -- I learned how to get into the Zone instantly and how to get rid of the negative clutter of bad memories of poor performances just as quickly. 

Bob will be hosting one more clinic on October 20, in Victoria, BC.  You can register here:  Triathlete, pistol shooter, whoever you are -- you need to do this clinic! 

Thanks to Bob and Caron for flying out to do this clinic, and thanks goes out to Tri It who graciously allowed us to use their store as the venue!

Friday, September 7, 2012

SportExcel + MRT = AWESOME!

Join us on September 23, 2012 at Tri-It, Calgary, Alberta for a high performance clinic hosted by SportExcel founder Bob Palmer!  There is NO psychology involved at this clinic  -- Bob gets to the meat of winning and high performance and gives you the tools and methods that work.  Get rid of distraction, get the most out of each training session, and unlock your true potential!

Bob has helped Olympic, professional, amateur athletes and coaches.  This is an amazing opportunity to learn from the best.

Register here for the Calgary clinic:  Click on the big blue "Register Now!" button and we will see you there!

Bob will also be coming to Victoria, BC on October 20, 2012.  To register for the Victoria clinic, click here:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Who was the real women's winner of IMC?

A quick word on who exactly won the woman's race at IMC.
By Clint Lien

First of all I want to make it clear that I do not coach Gillian Clayton nor is she a member of Mercury Rising Triathlon.  In almost every report I've read on the race it's stated that Gillian Clayton won the professional category of the event but immediately following that they make note that age grouper Kendra Lee actually had the fastest time of the day.

Some suggest that Gillian's win should come with an asterix.

I want to suggest otherwise.

I don't want to take anything away from Lee's awesome effort out there but it simply isn't right to suggest she was somehow the real winner of the race.

A glance at Clayton's swim time suggests it was a pretty lonely start to the day.  She had no draft there -- except maybe the occasional fast (really fast) age grouper who would have gone by like a Greyhound in the night.  You're never lonely in the age group swim.

From there it was onto the bike -- and more loneliness.  She was out there solo.  Lots of targets in the age group race though.

On to the run.  She had a few girls to run down -- one of them was Janelle Morrison on the comeback trail.  Janelle is a dangerous runner and it took Gillian until the 21st K to make the pass.  At that point she knew she was running faster than her competition.  She ran the pace she needed to win the race.  The last 2k of the run were spent easing up and taking it in.  An Ironman champion.  Had she needed to, I have no doubt she could have responded to another challenge.  How much faster?  We'll never know.

Kendra Lee was in a different race with different dynamics -- in that race she was victorious.

Last year Gillian Clayton was not 5th woman overall.  She was the first age grouper.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

PHAT Camp 2012 was a blast!

MRT's annual PHAT camp in Penticton was a great success for all participants!  This year, it ran from July 8 - July 15.

PHAT Campers all stayed in the same motel -- Spanish Villa Resort.  Between us and the Gran Fondo folks, the place was filled with athletes!

For those who arrived a bit earlier, we met for a wetsuit openwater swim on the beach right outside our accommodations.  A nice little swim to shake out the muscles.  After the swim, the camp was kicked off with a "meet and greet" and a delicious locally catered dinner.  Between bites of kale and quinoa, athletes and coaches introduced themselves and got to know each other a bit better.

The next morning, athletes had a choice to either attend a bike skills clinic or climb Apex.  Later on in the afternoon we met on the beach again for 50 minutes of swim starts and exits.  We practised running and dolphin-diving into the water, deep water starts, and swim exits.

Tuesday, athletes had a hard interval run session followed by an easy spin to Tickleberry's and back.  (Everyone was astonished at the size of the "single" cones.  Three gigantic scoops of ice cream -- haha!)  After we returned, we met again on the beach for another open water swim -- this time an hour of solid aerobic swimming.  That evening we met for a talk about Ironman nutrition from Coach Sara.

Wednesday, we rode the Ironman Canada course.  Athletes left at staggered time intervals ensuring that all athletes would finish approximately at the same time.  The day was hot and the riding was awesome!  Support vehicles with water and all kinds of goodies awaited us at various spots along the course.  After the ride we ran a 20 minute brick then gathered around the barbeque food, drinks and good times.

Thursday morning was transition practice.  We practised running from the water to our bikes, riding briefly then dismounting, and running off the bike.  Coaches stood by and took notes and offered advice and tips for the next go around.  The final transition practice saw us all swim out to a platform, climb up the ladder, then jump off -- (this was for the fun of it!) then swim back to shore, strip off our own wetsuits and quickly move through each phase of transition. 

After transition practice Thursday morning.

Friday we did a good, hard open water swim in the morning and then hill reps on McClean Creek road in the afternoon.  That evening Coach Clint led a discussion about what separates athletes and their performances.

Saturday, athletes did a long run on the Ironman course, followed by an easy swim in the afternoon. That evening we had our final dinner at the Dream Cafe followed by some parting words from the coaches and some fun draw prizes from our sponsors!  (HUGE thank you to Rocky Mountain Soap Company, Tri It Multisport, Speed Matrix, and Team Aquatic Supplies for your donations to our camp!!)

Athletes pushed themselves and got to enjoy a solid training block in the Okanagan.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight - Team Aquatics Supplies

What do you think of when you hear the words "outlet" or "warehouse?"  If you are like me, you think of deals!  And that is exactly what I found when I visited  Team Aquatic Supplies Calgary location.  (Phillips Park Mall, D7, 6115 3rd Street SE, Calgary, AB, T2H 2L2)

They have a massive selection of the latest styles of swimsuits; and alongside one wall, there are bins of discounted "Grab Bag" swimsuits.  (Don't forget, MRT athletes receive an additional discount!)  If order a "Grab Bag" suit online, you receive your specified size, but the style will be a surprise.  If you come into the store, you can rifle through the bins and choose your suit.  Either way, this is where you need to go to buy your swimsuits!

Team Aquatic Supplies also carries a wide range of swimming accessories:  From swim staples like goggles, pull buoys, fins, swim caps, and paddles, to specialty items like underwater MP3 players, books, dvds, and swimming watches, they really do carry just about anything and everything related to swim-training.  And if they don't have the item you are looking for, ask.  Craig Pollard, manger of the Calgary location told me that they often source out and bring in new products due to customer requests.

The same idea goes for the website.  I noticed that the Calgary location had some items that weren't listed on the website.  (I recently placed an order of paddles from their site, and when I was at the warehouse, discovered they had an even wider selection of styles and brands of paddles.)  If you are on the Team Aquatic website and don't see what you are looking for, give your nearest Team Aquatic Supplies location a call.  The chances are really good that they carry it.

The bottom line?  If you are looking to make any kind of swim-related purchase, check out Team Aquatic Supplies first!

You can order directly from their website or visit one of their four well-stocked warehouse locations across Canada and three retail locations in British Columbia.

Warehouse Locations:
North Vancouver
104-2411 Dollarton Hwy.
North Vancouver, BC V7H 0A3
Tel:  604-980-2805
Toll-free: 1-800-234-4833
Fax:  604-980-2814

Phillips Park Mall
D7, 6115 3rd Street SE
Calgary, AB T2H 2L2
Tel:  403-319-2000
Toll-free:  1-800-661-7946
Fax:  403-319-2002

8-4155 Fairview Street
Burlington, ON L7L 2A4
Tel:  905-632-2590
Toll-free:  1-888-259-7946
Fax:  905-632-0902

11-1085 Bellamy Rd, N
Scarborough, ON M1H 3C7
Tel:  416-431-3334
Toll-free:  1-800-461-3309
Fax:  416-431-3338

The Swim & Fitness Shop @ Watermania
14300 Entertainment Blvd.
Richmond, BC  V6W 1K3
Tel:  604-277-1260

The Swim & Fitness Shop @ Nanaimo
Lobby of the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre

741-Third Street
Nanaimo, BC  V9R 1W9
Tel:  250-740-0372

The Swim & Fitness Shop @ Kamloops
Lobby of the Tournament Capital Centre
910 McGill Road
Kamloops, BC  V2C 6N6
Tel:  250-372-5305

Monday, May 28, 2012

Spring Update

The 2012 tri season has officially arrived!   MRT athletes have been clocking PB's and standing on podiums...

Here is sampling of what we've all been up to:
  • Nick Doulias has been working so hard on his swimming and took 10 sec off his 100m time!
  • Sarah Miller swam a 5km event then shortly after ran a 10km PB of 45:44!
  • The Westshore Tri in Victoria didn't stand a chance against MRT athletes: Sonja Futehally and Carla Rhodes took 1st and 2nd, Matt Patriquin 4th in the men's race, John Peebles, Denise Champion, Christina Stoehr, and Kathy Davidson all place 1st in their AG!!
  • Patty Infusino came in 9th in her AG at Ironman Texas!
  • Heather Myers earned a PB in the swim and the bike at Florida 70.3!
  • Kim Mills Connell took 3rd in her AG at the Try-a-Tri at U of C
  • Cheryl Jones successfully completed her first marathon at the Calgary marathon!
  • Todd Pringle earned himself a 1/2 marathon PB of almost 10 minutes at the Calgary event!
And our pro triathletes have been at it too:
  • Sara Gross raced her way into 3rd at St. Croix 70.3 and 4th at Ironman Brazil!
  • Rachel Kiers has been on fire this year earning a 10km PB in April, placing 2nd at the Bare Bones Duathlon, 1st at the Blossom 10 Miler, and 1st at the Shawnigan Lake 1/2 iron-distance!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Coach Rachel's Super-Power Salad

From the kitchen of MRT coach and professional triathlete Rachel Kiers...

Choose your own preferred amounts of the following:
  • Grilled chicken (Rachel chops up some chicken breasts and adds lemon and herbs in the fry pan)
  • Strawberry
  • Cucumber
  • Orange pepper
  • Quinoa
  • Black beans
  • Red onion
  • Spinach/greens
  • Almonds - slivered or whole
  • Shredded carrot
And for the dressing, Rachel uses a Curried Mango Vinaigrette recipe that she found online: 
  •  3/4 cup mango chutney
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 1T peanut oil
  • 1t honey
  • 1/4 cup mint
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • salt/soy
  • lemon zest
The vinaigrette will be good in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

 Rachel is KNOWN for her culinary prowess -- she keeps things simple (ie meals don't take hours to prepare), nutritious, and loaded with flavour.  Have a go at this recipe and enjoy!

Thanks Rachel!

Friday, April 13, 2012

3rd Annual Penticton, BC PHAT Camp

Mercury Rising Triathlon is pleased to announce our infamous triathlon camp (affectionately coined PHAT camp for no other reason than because it sounds cool!) will be taking place in Penticton, BC again this year: July 8th - July 15th, 2012.

This camp is open to EVERYONE and ANYONE! You don't have to be an MRT athlete to participate and reap the rewards of a solid block of training!

You can expect an intensive tri camp that focuses on both volume and quality in all three disciplines, all under the careful guidance of our professional coaches. PHAT Camp is also perfect timing for those athletes prepping for Ironman Canada and Calgary 70.3.

The MRT PHAT camp includes:
  • 6.5 days of full-time coached training
  • Ride the Ironman Canada course
  • Run the Ironman Canada course
  • Technical sessions for open water swimming, cycling, and transition practice
  • 7 night accommodation at Spanish Villas on Lakeshore Dr
  • 3 group dinners
  • Talks from coaches

Mercury Rising Triathlon caters to ALL ability levels and race goals. Cost is $1500.

Here is a tentative schedule and what you can expect at the camp:

Sunday - arrive, optional easy SWIM, intro dinner

Monday - am; RUN intervals, noon; BIKE clinic (puncture change and group riding techniques) and easy spin, pm; SWIM

Tuesday - BIKE IMC course, RUN off, group dinner, evening talk

Wednesday - am; BIKE, pm; SWIM hard

Thursday - am; MINI TRIATHLON and transition practice, pm; OFF!

Friday - am; SWIM solid, pm; BIKE hard/hilly, evening talk

Saturday - am; long RUN IMC course, pm; SWIM & optional 30 min RUN, final dinner

Sunday - pack up & leave!

If you have never attended a tri camp before, THIS is the one to attend. There is an amazing team dynamic that forms when people train together: New friendships, new skills, and new fitness all rolled into one. Come for a week of fun with us and earn bragging rights that you survived PHAT CAMP 2012!

Interested? Send us an email for information on how to register:

We look forward to seeing you!

Your coaches,

Carrie, Sara, Clint and Rachel

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight -- SportExcel

What does it mean to be in the Zone? We've all watched movies about an athlete achieving a zen state of mind and a laser-like focus on the task at hand. Such movies always end with a triumph -- a gold medal, a team championship, the final goal. But is this kind of experience rooted in reality? Does the Zone actually exist?

Yes it does.

And according to Bob Palmer from SportExcel, virtually everyone has the potential to be a peak performer. We all have an amazing ability to create success and own the Zone. To "just do it" doesn't always work. Sometimes you need a simple powerful process like Peak Performance Zone. For many athletes, it has become their "secret weapon."

Bob's own personal journey with achieving the Zone is like something out of one of those inspirational movies...

As a 32-year old martial artist, he was passionate about the speed, power and athleticism, as well as the emotional intensity in karate. He was fascinated by the elusiveness of the Zone. In his words, "How could I be so committed and work so very hard, yet be denied something so basic?"

With the right mentors and obsessive perseverance, he found the Zone and developed a system to teach others how to achieve it.

More than 10 years later, Bob continues to work with coaches, athletes, business entrepreneurs, and anyone who wants and needs new skills "yesterday."

"There are no winners or losers in high performance--
only those who actively acquire the Zone
and those who leave it to chance or to others."
Bob Palmer, B.Ed., B.E.S. SportExcel CEO
and High Performance Trainer

So what exactly IS the Zone?

Being in the Zone brings a clear mental edge to your game. You will perceive situations in a way that is different from your usual perceptions. You will see advantages where others see problems. Where others experience difficult and pressure-packed circumstances, you experience the exhilaration of the Zone.

Virtually all athletes have moments when performance is easy and empowering. Peak Performance Zone makes these moments consistent across the board. Whereas physical size, strength, and specific sport-related physiology may be limitations to success in sport, this is not true of the Zone. The Zone can be learned just like any other skill. There is no genetic component to it.

Okay, I am interested...but what do I have to DO?

Perhaps it is a good idea to point out what SportExcel does NOT do. They do NOT provide you with volumes of source material, reams of suggestions and pithy quotes. They do NOT perform an in depth analysis and assessment about your weaknesses and emotions. They bypass all these things and get right to the Zone, which after all, is what we are interested in!

Sport Excel starts straight away, giving you specific strategies you can implement immediately.

Professional triathlete (and one of MRT's head coaches) Sara Gross, underwent a 6 week transformation (The Ignition Series) with SportExcel that she blogged extensively about at

Her experience illustrates the power of effective mental strategies:

"I have always been a believer in the power of the mind and my previous attempts to change how I think about something could be called "the-little-engine-that-could-method," I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Or likewise, I love hills, I love hills, I love hills, etc...And this method does work as long as you can control your mind enough to keep the positive thought train running and the negative one in the station."

"What I learned from Bob is that there are easy methods that we can use to change our minds on the unconscious level that will actually stick! This is the revolutionary aspect of Bob's program. It helps you change your mind, and your physiology by using the Zone experience as the central focus of your everyday activities."

SportExcel is based out of Ontario, but for those athletes at the opposite end of the country (or anywhere else in the world for that matter), sessions are also offered via telephone and Skype.

Visit SportExcel at or contact Bob at

**Remember MRT athletes receive a 10% discount!***

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Painted Line

Ken Bagan took on his first triathlon this past weekend, the UBC Olympic distance. Here's a post-race reflection, through the eyes of his Ironman-wife, Kari Strutt:

A Painted Line

Races. They start at a painted line. End at a painted line.

Stories are different.

They are about what happens outside the lines...the places we’re not supposed to color.

But that’s where I find Ken - outside the lines and out of the race. He is not a happy sweaty pink. Parts of him are black, others blue. Red. Purple. The right colors, but in the wrong places. I remind myself that colors are better than grey.

Except red. Nothing good comes from red.

He fell off the bike.


His helmet is now shuffling its way to landfill. Thanks helmet...nice save.

Coach Carrie wants to know if a fall will be a problem, wants to know if he’s fallen before.

Ken and I laugh. Ken always falls.

Before we married he wanted a motorcycle. I told him he could get one if he rode his bike for a year, without falling. Twelve years later he gave up and bought a convertible.

I’ve become accustomed to his falling.

But not like this.

This fall was different.

This was a race.

He trained.


I half-carry Ken from the first-aid tent to the truck. He is still nearly-high on his magnificent swim - not entirely aware, perhaps, that the day is actually done. He doesn’t know that we need to get to a hospital, because his colors are fading.

When I climb in the passenger door I notice he is staring at his legs. They are lean and strong.

“I was passing people on the bike,” he says. “No one was passing me. I had a hell of a swim, eh?”

Then it happens.

His eyes well up with tears.

Mine follow. We are together, crying.

At the moment I think to reach for his bloodied hand, Veronika, our little girl, silent and watching from the back seat, snakes her arms around the headrest, wraps them ‘round his neck.

I turn to the back seat and see that her face is streaked with tears.

“What?” she shrugs, “I’m a sympathetic crier.”

So, for a minute or two, that’s what we do. We just cry. All of us.

When the tears pass we sit for a moment, bear silent witness to absolute disappointment.

...and in that moment I realize that disappointment is not a right, it’s a privilege...that some sorrows are earned, traded for in sweat and effort, early mornings, sometimes late nights, lonely hours, long rides. They are bought and paid for in miles on foot, miles on wheels, in countless lengths in crowded pools...forever following a painted line.

Editor's note: Ken is healing up well, back in the saddle, and prepping for his next race, the Mount Royal Sprint.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Triathlete Training Tip: You have to love training

Bob Palmer, founder and high performance trainer of SportExcel, personally answers a question posed by one of our own MRT athletes...

Bob Palmer has created a highly successful (non-psychology) system for high performance that has been embraced by athletes and coaches around the world. A former competitive athlete, national champion and coach himself, Bob combined his successful sports background with his professional training in education and human ecology to create a unique, repeatable formula for high performance

His clients include triathletes, ironman competitors, snowboarders, surfers, hockey players and golfers. They have successfully used his system to medal in numerous competitions including the Pan Am, Commonwealth, Olympic, and X Games.

  • Website:
  • Toll-free: 1-877-967-5747
  • Skype: sportexcel
  • Email:

Bob is also the mental coach for pro triathlete (and MRT's very own!) Sara Gross.

THANK YOU Bob and SportExcel!!!!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Why Do My Knees Crackle?

Scott Sherman from Panther Sports Medicine answers this question...

Typically, most individuals knees begin to make some noises at some point in their lives. Truth is that most of our bodies tissues are made up of fluid and water. This is particularly so of cartilage that covers the ends of the articulating surfaces of bones that make up our joints. When cartilage begins to lose its water content, it dries out somewhat and becomes less flexible and smooth. With movement occurring over the drier less smooth surface, noises begin to emerge.

In the case of the knees, it is usually the patello-femoral joints that are responsible for all the cracking and popping. In some who develop significant osteoarthritis, we may also begin to notice similar sounds arising from the main knee joint -- the tibiofemoral joint. Medically, these noises are referred to as "crepitus." Many people have crepitus all their lives without any other adverse symptoms, whereas in others, it may be the first sign of degenerative changes.

Supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, keratin, are hydrophilic compounds naturally found in our cartilage and soft tissues. Hydrophilic means they attract and bind water molecules to keep our soft tissues supple and functioning properly. Taking these orally is theorized to improve the water retention ability of our joint cartilage and thus improve the longevity of our joints and potentially stave off arthritis.

Clinically, the jury is still out on whether these compounds taken orally actually make their way to the affected joints. Some of these molecules are too large to pass through the wall of the gut and are therefore, never even absorbed. My advice to patients is to go ahead and try them for a 3 month period and then see what changes.

Crepitus in knees particularly can also be the result of a flexibility or strength imbalance in the lower extremity. Most of us have heard of the IT band? The iliotibial Band (IT) is a very large, strong, sinewy tendon running along the outside of our thigh terminating at an attachment side on the upper end of the tibia. It is the main attachment for our gluteal musculature and has contributing attachments from the quads and to the patella (knee cap).

If any of the muscles attaching onto the IT band get too tight, this can result in the patella being pulled more laterally resulting in crepitus at this joint. The gluteals often become hypertonic (tight) as a result of lumbar spine dysfunction even though there may not be any overt signs or symptoms here.

Finally, crepitus at the knees often results from sub-optimal foot mechanics. If the foot overpronates (pes planus) or is too rigid (pes cavus), then this can also affect the rotation of the whole lower limb with weight-bearing activities. This alteration can then influence how the patella moves and crepitus is often a sign.

Have a question you'd like answered by Scott? Post it here!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight -- Maryna Massage

As athletes, training consists of increasing loads of physical exertion and adaptation to these loads, with the happy result of achieving new levels of fitness. Of course, this all depends on the athlete remaining injury-free...

Think about your training schedule and what your body undergoes on a week-by-week, month-by-month basis: You are not only using your muscles; your bones, ligaments, and tendons are also involved. Constant physical training takes a toll on soft tissues, and if you neglect (like many of us have experienced) a self-care routine, this toll can lead to an injury.

What am I trying to say here?

Regular massage can actually decrease your chances for injury as well as speed up recovery.

Yes, you read that right.

How? Read on...

Some common injuries are strains and sprains, muscle fatigue and tenderness, trigger points and overly tight (hypertonic) muscles.

Strain = When you inure a tendon
Sprain = A ligament injury
Deep massage can alleviate the pain of micro tears caused by heavy exercise. Maryna from Maryna Massage often sees triathletes with bicipital tendon injuries (from swimming) and ankle ligament injuries. Left untreated, bicipital tendonitis can lead to a permanent tear (OUCH) and weak ligaments in the ankles can lead to an ankle sprain (another OUCH). Then, the athlete is faced with a lengthy recovery time and physiotherapy. Massage can nip this kind of thing in the bud.

Muscle fatigue and tenderness = Tight tissue constricts blood flow (and oxygen) to muscles
Massage loosens the muscles and breaks up the connective tissues surrounding them. Your circulation system resumes its course bringing fresh blood flow and oxygen to the muscles.

Muscle tenderness = Micro tears in the muscle belly and/or post activity lactic acid build up
Massage promotes a resting state for muscles, giving them time to repair and remove chemicals like lactic acid. It can also help elongate and straighten muscle fibres in the right direction.

Trigger Points = Muscle spasms on a cellular level
If you are overusing a muscle and over-stimulating the nerve that innervates it, or perhaps the muscle isn't receiving the appropriate nutrition (potassium etc), you may experience a muscle cramp/spasm. Trigger points are similar to to muscle spasms; however a spasm happens on a cellular level. Decreased circulation, insufficient hydration, stress, injury, body misalignment, lack of sleep, exercise, and tension can all lead to trigger points. Massage lengthens the muscle tissue, soothes the nervous system, and brings fresh blood full of nutrition to the area.

Hypertonicity = The muscle is contracted and does not fully relax
Every athlete can relate to this one! When you are muscle-building, hypertonicity can be a great thing. Other times, it is a side effect of training and actually slows down an athlete's training progress.

This was a key lesson I learned from Maryna. Think of your muscle as a tight fist. If you keep working a muscle with a limited range of mobility, the chances of injuring that muscle increases. If the muscle is relaxed -- think of an open hand -- you can work that muscle the way it was meant to be worked.

This leads to the notion of massage as a recovery tool and two common massage myths:

Myth #1: Massage is a luxury, why pay more when Advil does the trick?


I admit, I was guilty of this mindset. No one had ever explained to me how and why massage was an integral part of proper recovery, as opposed to my interpretation of recovery as lying on the couch and watching TV. (Think of the closed fist analogy above.)

My first visit with Maryna was a real eye-opener. I honestly believed that training with chronic sore muscles was par for the course. As the weeks would go by, my back for example, would get tighter and tighter. Usually when it reached the point where I could hardly bend over to put on a sock, I'd know that a rest day was near. I was in disbelief after my session with Maryna, my pain was gone, my muscles were relaxed and I could bend over. I'm a convert.

For triathletes, Maryna suggests a regular massage regime of at least once a month. Maryna's rule of thumb is, "Come when you are sore!" This is the time when you want to get a massage to aid in recovery.

Myth #2: Massage is just a relaxing, fluffy, rub-a-dub -- its only real benefit is calming the mind.


Again, I was guilty of this. A good athletic massage is very different from a relaxation massage and will be felt the next day. (Think of it as a 3 out of 10 on a pain scale. You feel it, but you should not be DYING from it.)

Athletic massage focuses on deeper tissue work -- getting into each muscle and working it until it becomes its normal length, decreases in tightness, and is trigger point free. Passive stretching of the muscles is often incorporated into the treatment, but the patient always remains lying down and relaxed.

Massage does not always have to be painful, but some tenderness should be expected afterward. This slight tenderness is an indication that the muscles have been worked on, lengthened, and are going into recovery-mode. Your muscles are now healing and getting the nutrition and healthy cell recovery they need. The soreness also serves as a reminder not to overuse the muscle too quickly. massage something you should do?

The questions you need to ask yourself are:
  • Do you want to be a better swimmer, cyclist, runner?
  • Do you want to be faster? Stronger?
  • Do you want to recover more quickly so that you can jump back on the bike and keep training?
  • Do you NOT want to be sore all day long after your training sessions?

Maryna's clinic focuses on getting you to answer YES to all these questions. Every treatment is tailored to the individual athlete taking into consideration the time spent massaging an area, specific stretching, which techniques will be used, and the amount of pressure applied. Maryna has a 100% focus on her clients -- no one ever leaves an appointment with an unaddressed issue.

The massage session doesn't end at her clinic. Maryna gives you home-care maintenance recommendations like a personalized stretching routine.

To book an appointment, call Maryna at -- 403-604-6339 or email her at Maryna Massage is located at 9624 Academy Drive Southeast Calgary -- near Southland Drive and Blackfoot Trail in the Acadia community.

Check out her website: To ensure a preferred date and time, call a week in advance. If your schedule has a bit more flexibility, call anytime! Maryna Massage is open from 9:00am - 9:00pm Monday to Friday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Breakthrough swim workout alert!

A big congratulations to MRT athlete, Sarah Miller on swimming her first 1:30/100m!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Doing The Double

For many iron-distance triathletes, the transition from finisher to competitor is often years in the making. Training, recovery, tapering, racing. Lather, rinse, repeat. But every once in awhile something challenges the way we view our sport in terms of recovery and performance. Outside of the box kind of stuff -- like racing two Ironman races only 1 week apart for example.

In November 2011, professional triathlete Sara Gross ( and did just this. (Keep in mind that Sara gave birth to her daughter Rosalee last year. So, not only did Sara train to regain the fitness required to compete at an elite level, she did so with all the challenges of being a new Mom!) On November 20, 2011, Sara competed at Ironman Arizona. One week later she raced Ironman Cozumel.

The following is an interview I had with Sara about her successful execution of the Ironman Double:

1. How did you feel after IMAZ? In other words, do you feel as crappy as the rest of mortals after an IM race?

How I was going to feel during the week between races was actually one of my main concerns going in. After Ironman Canada this year, I felt terrible for more than a week, so I worried this would happen again. Before deciding to do the double, I talked to Chris McDonald (and wife Marilyn) to pick his brain and get the low-down on doing the double. (Chris was very successful at it and actually won the second race, Ironman Wisconsin 2008, ed.) He told me that recovering from the first race is all about what you do (or don't do) during the first 72 hours after the race. This includes getting hydrated, massage, using compression, recovery food, and the little bit of exercise that you do to keep things firing. To answer your question, I felt great after IMAZ. A lot better than after most IM races, and I contribute that to being more diligent with my recovery. I was also in a very positive frame of mind, which always helps.

Sara blasting out a 3:07 at Ironman Arizona 2011

2. Why did you decide to do another IM only 7 days after IMAZ? Have you ever done this before?

I have never done back-to-back Ironman races before but I did race two long-course distances (4k-120k-30k) 8 days apart in 2005. I finished 2nd at the first race in Gerardmer, France and won the second race in Sweden 8 days later. So, I had a good feeling about racing back to back. I am not sure exactly what made me decide to do both this time. I was signed up for both races and was having trouble deciding which race to do. Arizona is always very competitive and I really love racing against a tough field. That always motivates me, though it isn't a wise choice if you are after Kona points! Once the idea of doing both popped into my head I just couldn't shake it. I was worried that Clint (my husband and coach) wouldn't go for it, but he got completely behind me. I guess the short answer is; because I wanted to. It really is as simple as that. I thought I was fit enough to pull it off and it was a challenge that excited me.

3. In terms of recovery after an IM, what did you do differently, if anything, to prepare for IMCoz?

The differences in what I did after IMAZ compared to what I normally do after an IM were subtle. It was more a mindset that kept me focused after the race. I did everything a little bit more quickly and efficiently. I ate the post-race pizza immediately even though I wasn't hungry. I went to the massage tent right away instead of hanging around and chatting with my friends. It was mostly little things like that. I had my Zoot compression socks ready to put on in the car on the way home. I ate lots of protein. I went to bed and actually slept for 8 or 9 hours. I stretched the next day. I had multiple massages. I walked around and didn't allow my muscles to seize up.

Post-race pizza-eating recovery

4. Racing 2 IMs only a week apart goes against the widely held notion of training, tapering, racing and recovering. Do you think you were fully recovered for IM Cozumel?

Lol! Well, you only have to look at my bike time to see that I was not fully recovered! I was however, recovered enough to finish in 6th place, so I consider it to be a success. So many things can go wrong in an event that takes all day that a little fatigue was not a great concern for me on race day. You know, this little experiment has really challenged the way I see myself and our sport. My performance at IM Cozumel was pretty much exactly what I would expect it to be if I were to do a full Ironman in the middle of a big training block (ie, with no taper). Its amazing how it panned out in such a predictable way. And, the fact that I wasn't fully recovered sort of makes me want to try it again. The whole challenge of racing back-to-back Ironmans is about how well you can recover in 7 days. I think I could do better. I could use my compression clothing from Zoot more effectively or try to get my hands on some of those compression boots that people are using. My daughter really kept me on my toes in the week between the races, so I would recruit more people to help out with that. There are a few bits and pieces that I would change.

On the bike in Cozumel.

5. Did you do any "training" in the week between the two races?

Based on advice from Chris, I kept moving in the days after the race and also listened to my body. The morning after IMAZ I rode my bike for 30mins. On Tuesday I did an 800m swim and a short water run and on Wednesday I did a 1200m swim and was able to do some short surges of 15m or so. I also did a fair bit of walking (with my daughter in the stroller). If I did this again, it might be entirely different, but this was the right amount for me that week. My legs and energy levels started to come around on Thursday and from there on I proceeded with my normal taper week. I ended up taking Friday off and did the "biggest" day of the week on Saturday with a 20min swim, 1h bike and 20min run. My total volume for the week between the races was 4h30mins.

6. How much food did you eat after IMAZ? Did you eat even more (the day after and the days following) after IM Coz?

Lol!! Yes, Julie, if you do 2 Ironmans in a row, you can eat as many bananas and sweet potatoes as you like!! Seriously, one of the things I was thankful for was that I had a good appetite the night after IMAZ. I often feel too sick to eat after an IM. Clint took me to Chipotle after the race for a giant burrito. During the week after Ironman, I normally eat whatever I want. And I did that this time as well, but I also made sure I was eating enough protein for my muscles to recover. I thought that I would be painfully hungry for weeks after the second race, but shockingly, I just had a "normal" post-race appetite after Cozumel. Actually this applies to how I felt after IMCoz in general. It really felt like I had just done 1 race. I had been warned that I may feel a lot of systemic fatigue in the weeks after the second race, but its been weeks now and I feel great! I am very happy about that.

7. How on earth did you run a 3:07, and then a 3:18 in an IM only 7 days apart? WOW!

Ok. You always have to see things like this in relation to how fit you are and what you are capable of. So, in Arizona I ran 3.07 and had a couple of minutes of walking break in there. In Cozumel, I had a low patch that lasted 4-5hours smack in the middle of the race, so I was running slowly at the beginning and built into it until I was running at a more suitable pace. The same would apply to the difference in my bike times when compared with my ability, the conditions etc.

Gutting it out on the run at Ironman Cozumel 2011

8. Did the new Hawaii qualification system effect your decision to race back-to-back? Will we see more of these double IM races in the future?

To be honest, the points system was a factor, but not the main reason I decided to try the double. If I had done only Cozumel, I would have likely had a faster day, got decent points from that race and made more prize money. For me, it was mostly about the challenge of it. I love Ironman and just really liked the idea of the double. I don't know if we will see more o fit in the future as many people worry (and rightly so!) that they would not recover in time for the second race. Though I did feel that by playing my cards right it was easier than I thought it would be. I was excited about it and had fun executing it. The race in Cozumel just felt like a celebration to me. It was the right thing to do.

9. Anything else you would like to say?

First of all, thanks for the questions Julie! At the risk of sounding a little cheesy, doing back-to-back Ironman races has had a subtle effect on my worldview. It has reinforced the idea that we really can do anything we set our minds to. Once I got my mind linked to the idea of doing the double, it was easy to just follow the path and get the job done. It stretched me as a person and as an athlete. It has had a positive effect on how I feel about my future and on the attitude I bring to my coaching as well. All in all, it was a great experience.