The 12 Weeks Broken Ankle Recovery Video Update

The 12 Week Broken Ankle Recovery Update

It has been 12 weeks to the day since I had my bike accident and broke my ankle.  In this 12 week video update, I share a bit about the people that have helped me get back to speed so quickly and kept my attitude in check.  Staying positive and engaged in the process of recovery has been the key to getting back in shape quickly.

don't give up
Simple.

This injury has helped redefine and motivate my desire to race.  I feel like I am among a new generation of athletes who continue to race into their 40s and remain competitive as elites.  This isn’t “normal” and there is certainly some resistance to this notion.  Although I am more of an outlier at the moment, I don’t think this will always be the case.

I am thankful to have great sponsors and supporters who believe that fast after 40 means REALLY FAST.  I love the idea of helping to define what that is and work hard to set the bar as high as possible.  I look to my contemporaries, athletes like Jo Pavey and Gunn-Rita Dahle, who are competing as top level elites in their sports (running and mountain biking) to help me decide what level I plan to compete at.  The top level.

I am still looking at Kona in 2017.

Looking forward to setting some new benchmarks this season.

Thanks for following along.

xoxo  Melanie ???

 

 

Finding Flow In Racing

As published in the August 2014 issue of Triathlon Magazine Canada

 

At the 1992 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan sank his sixth consecutive three pointer, looked at the announcer and described his dominant performance as: “It’s beyond me. It’s just happening by itself.” As a triathlete, it might be difficult to imagine that it’s possible to have complete dissociation with the discomfort of racing for hours at a time, but it can happen. Many athletes have felt themselves fall under a trance or experience a level of focus where nothing but the act of racing enters their mind while performing. In this state of flow, the body can actualize the training that’s been absorbed without interruption by distracting thoughts or extraneous actions.

Flow, a feeling of being carried by a current of water, of invincibility, of unshakeable focus and of effortless performance is a term coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his 1990 book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Csikszentmihalyi was fascinated by artists who became so lost in their work that they would neglect sleep, food and water for hours or days at a time. In his research he developed this theory of flow and found it applied it to many facets of life including sports, work, education, music and spirituality.

An athlete with confidence in the preparation and training leading up to race day will have confidence on the start line. Remembering a key session or a race where you had a breakthrough performance, can do wonders for motivation.

Olympian gold and silver medallist Simon Whitfield knows much about the optimal mental state. He says:

“For me it was all preparation. If I felt I had done everything possible to prepare then my ideal mental state followed. I was able to relax. I arrived at the start line of my best races thinking it was simply time to express myself, to express my fitness and the result would follow.”

Smart goal setting and planning will also create small victories with which confidence is built. A good training plan and periodization will result in good workouts to build confidence in skills and preparation.

Simon Whitfield racing the 2006 Corner Brook BG Triathlon World Cup. Credit: Delly Carr/ ITU

Simon Whitfield racing the 2006 Corner Brook BG Triathlon World Cup. Credit: Delly Carr/ ITU

Whitfield explains he could tell when a good performance was imminent:

“I had indications, I used to call the feeling ‘I’m rolling,’ where my coach and I would get a sense from my training that I was on a roll and session after session was going well. Even the sessions that didn’t go as well I was able to ‘roll’ past. When I was able to carry this feeling into races I performed at my best. I remember in 2000 running a final workout before the Olympics with Jasper Blake at Bond University on the Gold Coast, in Australia. We rolled through a perfectly executed workout, hit the paces we were targeting, not faster or slower, but precisely and one week later I had the race of my career.”

Similarly, confidence can be immediately gained from feedback within the race. An emotional boost from a good performance will help narrow the focus on continuing that good performance. A good race strategy builds this feeling of control and keeps thoughts focused on the task at hand. A sense of control happens within the race if events are unfolding according to the race plan.

The second element in flow is distraction control. To be completely absorbed, block all but the most immediate and important stimulus, and to lose sense of time, thoughts must be trained on execution. Practicing distraction control is beneficial to achieve this level of focus. Pain, discomfort, other athlete’s performances and other factors that are uncontrollable must be eliminated from consciousness in order to lose oneself in the performance.

Minimizing thoughts to action items leaves no time for reflection and thus no distracting thoughts about the outcome. Thoughts that are poisonous to performance are thoughts that reflect on the race outcome before it’s over and poor management of the pain of maximal effort. Some athletes feel the most difficult situation to control is performing through pain or enduring “suffering.” Hillary Stellingwerff, a Canadian 1,500 m track runner and Olympian, offers her advice on achieving a better mindset while performing through pain:

“For me it’s about reframing the negative connotation around pain; I associate my ability to run through the pain as performing to my max ability and running as fast as I possibly can. I know if I’m running through pain

Csikszentmihalyi and his fellow researchers identified the nine factors necessary to experience flow:

1. Challenge-skills balance
Where there is confidence that skills meet the task at hand.

2. Action-awareness merging
The state of being completely absorbed in an activity, with tunnel vision that shuts out everything else.

3. Clear goals
When one knows exactly what is required and what one desires to accomplish.

4. Unambiguous feedback
Constant, real-time feedback that allows adjustment of tactics to adapt (for example, splits in a race or relative placing during the event).

5. Concentration
Completely blocking all distraction with laser-beam focus.

6. Sense of control
When one feels that actions can affect the outcome of the challenge.

7. Loss of self-consciousness
When one is not constantly self-aware of success during the event.

8. Transformation of time
One loses track of time due to total focus on the moment.

9. Autotelic experience
When one feels internally driven to succeed even without outside rewards (doing it “because you love it”).

I’m running as hard as I can and getting the most out of myself and that’s all I can expect on any given race day. ” Her husband, Trent Stellingwerff, a runner turned exercise physiologist, run coach and sports nutritionist, also understands how to work through pain. “For me, I try to not think about pain – pain is a feeling that is out of your control. Instead, I try to think about severe discomfort. Discomfort is something (at least for me) that I can manage and control. I also think about the limits of physiology. The body has evolved to protect itself by shutting down before critical status is met. In other words, it is very, very difficult to actually physically put yourself in the hospital. I use this reverse “logic” that I always have more to give when my brain says stop.”

Both of these perspectives are excellent for reframing the experience of pain. Thinking that pain of “suffering” is bad or dangerous might reduce performance due to perceived safety risk. Making the experience of feeling pain a positive part of racing, as Hillary Stellingwerff does, and imagining this reflects a good performance, will be a powerful tool on race day.

For Danelle Kabush,  mental performance consultant and pro triathlete with the Luna Women’s Professional team, knowing how to find flow in races to perform and to endure pain is essential to success. Kabush suggests using the following questions to help focus your mental preparation for racing.

Danelle Kabush Credit: Xterra

Danelle Kabush Credit: Xterra

• What will be the most challenging part of the training/race for you? What will you focus on to stay present?

• How will you break down the training/racing into manageable segments?

• Where can you take some mental recovery (just relax)? • Where will require 100 per cent mental focus?
• What are the things that could most challenge your

best mental focus such as unexpected success or an event not going well? What about the challenge of a technical, tactical or mechanical error? How will you refocus if this happens?

Achieving flow is possible for all athletes. The key to racing “in the zone” is to love racing and have fun while performing. Focusing on positive, constructive thoughts and immediate needs allows one to maintain distraction control for the duration of the race. To “suffer” well, turn all the sensations of pain into positive reinforcement that a great performance is underway.

In the end, attitude is a big determinant of outcome. The more an athlete loves competing the better that athlete will perform. There is a choice in attitude just as there is a choice in how one prepares for a race. Hearing that an athlete was having “the time of their life” or having “so much fun” often goes along with a performance that would be described as “in the zone.” The pleasure of competing can usurp all other feelings and distractions and instantly create flow. Chrissie Wellington was famous for smiling furiously while setting world records over the Ironman distance. Her supreme athletic talent aside – maybe her smile hints at her secret mental strength.

 

Do You Need A Coach? Do You Have The Right RADITUDE?

rad⋅i⋅tude  [rad-i-tood, -tyood] 
–noun

1. manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to complete awesomeness, a tendency or orientation towards being totally rad, esp. of the mind: a positive raditude

2. the extreme desire to race hard and have fun

 

In 2010, Melanie McQuaid is inviting 10 lucky amateur racers to Mel’s Rad Racing Team.  As witnessed in 2009, MelRad Racing is the most visible, most fun and most professional team any amateur could be on.  In 2010, it gets even better.

The team is getting even more pro with more pros being added to the roster with Melanie.  Announcements coming soon!

So, when do you get the chance to race on a professional team but be an amateur?  When you are on Mel’s Rad Racing Team and your job is to seek your regional, national or world championships title but still be a great mom, dad, nurse, doctor, teacher or whatever it is that makes you an awesome well-rounded and great ambassador for your sport and your team.

The first round of invitations are going out right now for coaching.  If you need a coach for 2010, are looking to win races and want to focus on XTERRA and 70.3, there are a limited number of spots to be coached by Melanie.  Athletes on the coaching roster will be offered spots on MelRad Racing FIRST.  If there are spots left after the coached athletes have chosen whether to accept a team spot we will then send out an invitation for NOMINATIONS to the team. 

The number of spots left is extremely limited.

So, ask yourself, do I want to get to the next level?  Do I want to qualify for Hawaii?  Do I want to focus one year of my life on my sport and my potential?  If you do, there may be a spot for you to work with a three time World Champion, three time National and Overall Series Champion and fearless leader of the Raditude movement.

Contact us through the website.  Applications for coaching and the MelRad Racing team will only be accepted in November until the program is full.

2010 Raditude Tour…. are you in with MelRad?

Life and Sport – It all applies

No matter what you do, if you do it well and have confidence you will succeed.  I love this video.  Everyone thought she was going to be terrible.  Everyone expected little.  Everyone, that is, but Susan herself….

Click Read More to click through to the video and see how cool it is for someone to believe in themselves, step up to compete, give it their best and outperform possibly even their own expectations.  Pretty motivating with the season just around the corner.

Time To Get Back To Business

November is always my month to reflect on the past season and decide what went right, what went wrong and what's next.  I have always thought to myself that we can all strive to be better at what we do until we are the very, very best.  Even then you may have room to improve.  I created the plan for 2006 under the following guidelines:  what do I need to do in order to become the fastest swimmer, biker and runner in the world.  Obviously, it is a tall order to EVER be the fastest at all of these things.  The important thing is to have the desire to be a lot better and desire is always more powerful than percieved talent or potential.  So, over the past month I have started to think about what to improve, how much do I think I can improve over another season (so as to set my goals appropriately) and how am I going to go about making these improvements.

The Worlds in Hawaii this year were fantastic.  When I completed that race I knew that my year had been planned correctly.  I steadily improved from May to October, winning every race from August to October.  That is exactly how the plan was written.  When I look at my splits in Hawaii, I was fastest cyclist and top five for both the run and the swim.  Good.  To improve I could look to be top three, or top two, or the best for all three disciplines.  That is what I would like to work towards.  So my run and swim will need to improve without sacrificing cycling.  Now I know how to set my process goals.  My outcome goals next year are simple:  defend both the Series and World Championships titles.  Oh, and have a lot of fun doing it!

To that end, I have started working with some other athletes as well.  Last year I found it very rewarding to participate not only in my own success but that of some other aspiring champions.  I have a few spots available for coaching in 2007.  I am accepting athletes for my coaching/mentoring program.  If you are interested, you can contact me through the website.  I apologize in advance if I can't accommodate everyone… I have a very hands on program so I need to handpick a small number of individuals to offer the best programs.

 Thanks so much for reading.  For the rest of the November transition period spend some time making your own goals.  In December, start the process of achieving them.

Coach Mel: Preparation for a Successful Season

Winter, for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, is the time of year to reconnect with your non-racing friends, reflect on the past season, and build some enthusiasm for the upcoming year. At the same time, you want to give your body a break. Since this time last year you will have completed hundreds of hours of training and racing, so it is important to take some time off to regenerate not only your muscles, but also your nervous system. You need a mental and a physical break in order to be at your peak training potential.

Since our Xterra season does not end until the end of October, I think it is beneficial to take at least two weeks completely off, meaning NO training. Sometimes this needs to be even longer, depending on your level of burnout. I usually go by feel. If I really don’t FEEL like training, I don’t do it. I wait until I really want to go to a workout or for a ride and until then I drink coffee, hang out and do yoga. This period of time varies from year to year and will vary from one person to another. I think that during this break is a good time to start thinking about what your goals are going to be for the next season.

During this training break, create two lists of goals. The first list should be your Outcome Goals, i.e. what are the results you would like to get (what place in a certain race or what time for a 10km). The second list should be your Process Goals, i.e. how you are going to achieve those goals (what skills do you need to develop, injuries to clear up, muscle imbalances to correct, techniques to improve). For example, one of my goals for 2006 is to defend my world title. In order to do this, I have three process goals. The first is to lower my race weight, the second is to improve my swim technique and the third is to work on my technical skills on my mountain bike in the winter. I invite you guys to share your goals on the forum so that you can all inspire each other next season and help each other achieve that success!

Continue reading “Coach Mel: Preparation for a Successful Season”

In Her Words: Melanie McQuaid On Rivalry

This report filed August 25, 2005 on http://www.insidetri.com

(Jamie Whitmore and Melanie McQuaid have waged a seesaw war over the past three years of Xterra – Whitmore capturing the world championship on the strength of her run in 2004 and McQuaid using her vicious bike skills to take the world title in 2003. Who will prevail in Maui, at the 2005 world championships on October 23rd? Here, Melanie writes about how a strong rivalry can force competitors to improve beyond perceived limits.)

A rivalry exists when one strives to obtain something simultaneously with another – something which only one can possess. In sport, there can be only one winner, which is why sport inspires some of the greatest rivalries in history. A great rivalry is something quite special. It allows competing athletes to create a history in the sport beyond themselves. It allows their actions, their efforts, and their heart to be permanently recorded with the spirit of sportsmanship and competitiveness. I can think of some great rivalries which will forever be linked with that sport: Armstrong v. Ullrich (cycling); Evert v. Navratilova (tennis); Allan v. Scott (triathlon). The story of their competition remains vivid beyond the victories, and I feel proud that within the sport of Xterra for the last three years I have participated in my own rivalry, McQuaid vs. Whitmore. Having close competition can be one of the greatest ways to explore your own ability as an athlete, and it can make even your losses become some of the best races of your career.

Continue reading “In Her Words: Melanie McQuaid On Rivalry”

Spring has Sprung….

The beginning of February.. it is so foreign to me that I still basically have three months at home before I am leaving for racing. Last year I was getting ready to go win the NOVA cross country in Arizona? this year I am getting ready to go run the Cedar 12km. Yes, some big changes in the training program this year. Instead of blazing a path through the spring cycling classics, I am getting my butt handed to me by the incredibly talented Vancouver Island running community. Loving every minute of it! Continue reading “Spring has Sprung….”