Interested in hitting the trails for your training? In this episode, host Andrew Harley sits down with TriDot coaches and experienced trail runners, Elizabeth James and Jason Verbracken, to discuss all things trail running for triathletes. Elizabeth and Jason share their insights on the essential gear needed, valuable tips on how to navigate the unsteady terrain, and which metrics to track to make the most out of your trail running experience. With their expert advice, you'll also learn how to incorporate trail running into your triathlon training routine. So whether you're a seasoned triathlete or just starting out, this episode is a must-listen for anyone looking to conquer the trails.

A big thanks to UCAN for being a long-time partner of the podcast! At TriDot, we are huge believers in using UCAN to fuel our training and racing. To experience UCAN’s LIVSTEADY products for yourself, head to their website! Use the code “TriDot” to save 20 percent on your entire order.

Time is running out to participate in this year's triathlon research! The Preseason Project® is a triathlon research initiative that helps us quantify and enhance the performance gains that TriDot’s Optimized Training™ delivers over training alternatives. Qualified participants receive 2 free months of triathlon training. Learn more and apply here.


TriDot Podcast .229

The Triathlete's Guide to Trail Running

Intro: This is the TriDot podcast. TriDot uses yourtraining data and genetic profile, combined with predictive analytics andartificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results inless time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, andentertain. We’ll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and specialguests. Join the conversation and let’s improve together.


Andrew Harley: Welcome to the TriDot podcast! We are going well off the beaten pathtoday to talk about trail running. Can trail running fit into a triathletelifestyle, and if so, how do we fit it into our triathlete lifestyle? We'llfind out from two of our TriDot coaches who are no strangers to runningoffroad. Our first guest is professional triathlete and TriDot coach ElizabethJames. Elizabeth is a USAT level 2 and Ironman U Certified Coach, who quicklyrose through the triathlon ranks using TriDot from beginner, to topage-grouper, to a professional triathlete. She is a Kona and Boston Marathonqualifier who has coached triathletes with TriDot since 2014. Elizabeth, HappyTrails to you!


Elizabeth James: Well, thanks a lot, because now I'm going tohave that song in my head all day.


Andrew [singing]: Happy traaaaaails to yoooou!


Elizabeth: But I guess Happy Trails to you too. Glad to be here.


Andrew:I apologize to everybody for making you listen to me sing there for a second.Also joining us today is the Ultraman himself, TriDot Coach Jason Verbracken.Better known as Coach Verbie, Jason lives in San Diego, California, where heworks as a Pepsi sales manager, in addition to coaching TriDot athletes andmotocross athletes. He has been racing tris for seven years, racking up nineIronman, one Ultraman, and seven extreme triathlon finishes in that time. HeyVerbie, it is trail-running day on the podcast, and you just had a pretty epictrail run yourself. What race did you just finish a few weekends back?


Jason Verbracken: Oh thank you, Andrew. Thanks for having me.Yeah, I went out for a little run a couple of weeks ago. A hundred-miler, theHURT 100. I had a great time doing it, it was an unbelievable experience.


Elizabeth: Just a little run out there. Yeah, hundredmiles, no big deal.


Andrew:Did it live up to its name, as the HURT 100?


Jason:It definitely hurt. I can vouch for that. Yes, it hurt tremendously.


Andrew:All right. Well, I am Andrew the Average Triathlete, Voice of the People, andCaptain of the Middle of the Pack. As always, we'll roll through our warmupquestion, settle in for our main set conversation today about trail running fortriathletes, and then wind things down with our cooldown, where Vanessa willinterview a TriDot coach to get a training tip. Lots of good stuff, let's getto it!


Beforewe get too deep into the show today, I want to give a shout out to our goodfriends at UCAN. Here at TriDot, we are huge believers in using UCAN to fuelour training and racing. In the crowded field of nutrition companies, whatseparates UCAN from the pack is the science behind LIVSTEADY, the keyingredient in UCAN products. While most energy powders are filled with sugar orstimulants that cause a spike and crash, UCAN energy powders, powered byLIVSTEADY, deliver a steady release of complex carbs to give you stable bloodsugar and provide long-lasting energy. I personally fuel my workouts with theorange-flavored Edge gel and the unflavored UCAN energy powder. Between theirenergy mix, energy bars, almond butter, and more, there is definitely a LIVSTEADYproduct that you will love. So head to their website,, and use the code TRIDOT to save 20% on yourentire order. Now that code used to be 10%, but the fine folks at UCAN haveupped it to 20% for TriDot Nation. So once again, that's, promo code TRIDOT.


Warm up theme: Time to warm up! Let’s get moving.


Andrew:Triathletes are usually a pretty adventurous bunch, so chances are a goodportion of our audience has run, camped, or hiked along some spectacularstretches of trails. As our warmup question today, what was a specific trailthat you explored in some way that was just extra awesome to you? ElizabethJames?


Elizabeth: I'm going to go with a trail that is in Chacala, Mexico. There is thisextinct volcano – I'm probably going to botch the name of it – but it's theDurón Ivanna, and it's located just south of the town of Chacala. You can takethe trail from the beach right up to the dormant crater. And this was quite anexcursion. I went with a group of about eight other women. We had taken paddleboards earlier that morning from one of the beaches in Chacala to a nearbycove, and then we had gotten on a boat from the beach that we paddle-boardedto, to access the trailhead. And this is probably one of the times that I havebeen most scared – as we're on the boat, the water is just super violent, andwe have to take off our shoes, put them in our dry bags, jump off the boat, andswim over to the shore. It is just so many like big jagged rocks, so you'retrying to not get smashed into the rocks as you are trying to access the shore.But once we got past that part, we have this just beautiful hike up to thedormant crater. Then we're able to go up and over, and then down to anotherbeach on the other side. It was just an awesome trail, scary at the time, butepic memories of that whole excursion.


Andrew:Yeah, sometimes those moments, in the moment they're a little hairy, but thenyou get on the other side and you're like, “Man, that was so fun! I can't waitto do it again!”


Elizabeth: You're like, “That was epic! Yeah, what a good story!”


Andrew:Coach Verbie, you've raced all over the world. What is this answer for you?What is a specific stretch of trail that just really stood out for you?


Jason:The one that stuck out in my head is a local trail down here in SouthernCalifornia, it's called San Gorgonio Mountain, it goes up to 11,500 feet. I hadnever been on it before, and following some people on Strava, I saw them hikingit. And I just said, “Hey, I want to go out and try that trail.” So I justpretty much packed up my stuff. It was 20 miles round-trip, it has like 6,000feet of gain. I had no idea where I was going, I just packed up my running bagand hit that trail, and just was off on the adventure by myself, justexploring. You start running, and there are little streams hidden in themountain, and the views – it's just one of these adventures I just went out bymyself, and have the most fun just exploring. No specific training in sight, justgo out and explore that trail and have fun. I still remember it to this day.


Andrew:Great story there, Jason. For me, this answer – my wife and I did a vacation afew years ago in Banff National Park in Canada. It was an extremely memorablevacation, a lot of really, really cool things that we did. Some great hiking,obviously, in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The one particular trail, JohnstonCanyon to Ink Pots is the name of it, and it takes you through just somebeautiful, almost like this little gorge canyon, and there's just beautifulsee-through, light blue glacial water running below you, a few waterfalls tosee along the way. Then as you get away from the waterfalls and away from thecrowds, you get up into the mountains and go up and down a little bit, and thathike ends in this area where there's some really cool – they’re called InkPots, and it’s some kind of thermo – I'm totally botching these science terms –some geothermal activity, it’s these little mud pits that you can look at. Butit drops you off in this field where just every direction you look, there'sjust white-capped mountains. It was the perfect fit for the perfect day. That'swhat I’m going to give a shout-out to, Johnston Canyon to Ink Pots Trail inBanff National Park.


We'regoing to throw this question out to our audience, so make sure you're a memberof the I AM TriDot Facebook group. I'm going to pose this question on the Mondaythis show comes out – from all the hiking, adventuring, exploring you have doneon trails around the world, what was a specific stretch of trail that was extramemorable for you? Let us know.


Main set theme: On to the main set. Going in 3…2…1…


Andrew:Hey folks, TriDot is currently running the 2024 edition of our annual researchproject that we call the Preseason Project. We are looking for non-TriDotathletes who want to jump into the research project this year. Qualifyingathletes get two free months of TriDot training. It is literally two months ofthe best training available in exchange for TriDot getting to analyze thetraining data that comes in from those sessions. I started training with TriDotduring the 2018 Preseason Project, and immediately took a liking to thestructured training schedule, and I started seeing huge improvements in myswim, bike, and run. Even once the two-month research project was over, Icommitted fully to TriDot training, and have used it for everything from localsprints to my very first. Ironman. I'm fitter and faster than I've ever been,and more importantly, I'm enjoying my races, the sport, and the triathloncommunity much more than before. I also have a podcast now, but that is adifferent story for a different day. If you are already training with TriDot,now is the best time to invite your tri friends to participate in the PreseasonProject. And if you are a podcast listener and have never given our training atry, use the link in the description for today's show to see if you qualify.


Asa triathlete, you can certainly knock out your training on the track, you canknock out your training just around town, you can find a good park pathway, oryou can go off the beaten path and do your running on some trails. That's anice way to mix it up, it adds a little variety. But as triathletes, we have tobe careful about when we do this, how we do this, how often we do this, andthat's where Coach Verbie and Coach EJ are here to give us some guidance. So myfirst question for the two of you today when it comes to trail running, is whendid you get hooked on trail running in the first place? You're both veryfamiliar with trail running, and I know there had to be a point where you firstfell in love with it in the first place. So give me your “fall in love withtrail running story”. Coach Verbie?


Jason:I can't even really say when I fell in love with trail running. I can justremember being at a young age, being in love with trails. Being in the car withmy parents and seeing dirt bikes and quads, on the side of the road, on trails,and watching them go up and down hills. And in the winter, seeing snowmobiletracks, and seeing the trail go off into the woods – from a young age, any kindof trails just always fascinated me, going, “If I take that trail, I'm going toget into some fun adventure.” Just let my imagination go crazy and have anamazing time.


Andrew:Yeah. Jason, it's so funny that's your memory, because I remember when I wasyounger – we didn't run trails, but we hiked all the time, my family would gocamping. Specifically, my uncle and cousin across the street from me growing up– my cousin Brandon is a huge trail runner. Growing up we hiked all the time,and we would do like multi-night kind of stuff. But at some point Brandonrealized, “Oh, you can run these things instead of just hike them.” So nowthat's all he does, is run trails. So when I go trail running, it's with mycousin Brandon, just tagging along with him, trying to keep up. Elizabeth, whatis this answer for you? When did you first realize, “Oh, trails are out thereand I can run on them? “


Elizabeth: I do have more of a distinct timeframe. For me, I fell in love withtrail running when I was a camp counselor. I worked at a summer camp for foursummers after high school and throughout college, and the campgrounds were justbeautiful – expansive, had a great trail system – and as a cabin counselor, wewould take the kiddos hiking. But in the morning, when the kiddos were stillasleep, some of us staff members would get up real early, run the trails, andthat's what did it for me. Just beautiful, peaceful, but challenging. You startoff in the dark, and get to watch the sunrise – it was just magical out there.I mean, we talk about adventure, those two phrases “adventure” and “magical”come to mind when I think of trails.


Andrew:As triathletes, I think most of us are more immersed in triathlon culture, andwe have our own vibe that's even different from road runners. What makes thetrail runner vibe a little bit different, and how can we show up to theseevents without looking totally like a fish out of water? Elizabeth?


Elizabeth: Well, I think the first thing I would say here is, even if you do showup looking like that fish out of water, the trail running community is amazing.They are so welcoming, so supportive. So if you show up looking a little bitlike, “Yeah, this is my first rodeo out here on the trails,” I can almostguarantee that you will have people there to welcome you and offer help,support and advice. Because even if you're sticking out a little bit, they wantyou to be a part of it and are excited to see you there. I think that'sprobably one of the greatest things that I've found about the trail runningcommunity, is just the openness that they have for everybody, and the supportthat they show to all runners that show up. Now, if you do prefer to not bethat person and look like the fish out of water, to show up and feel like youknow a little bit more about what you're doing –


Andrew:I like to blend in, myself. I like to not look like a tourist when I'mtraveling somewhere new.


Elizabeth: Okay, well, we'll offer those tips as well. I think one of the firstthings that I always offer as a piece of advice for people looking to get intotrails is that it's recommended to start with a shorter distance. You know, ifyou go to the track, out on the paths, it’s no big deal, you've got that down.But take it to the trails, and all of a sudden you're like “Whoa, this is adifferent venue.” Trail running can be much more physically demanding than roadrunning, just depending on the terrain that you're facing. So don't expect togo out and just tackle a marathon-distance trail race if you've only trained onthe roads. I would definitely recommend starting with shorter distances, andthen building that up, just because the terrain is different, and therefore thedemands on the body are different. Along with that, starting to learn some veryspecific trail techniques, such as using a little bit of a shorter stride, orfocusing on lifting your feet a little bit more, can be important because of thedifferent obstacles such as the rocks and the roots that you might be facing.


Andrew:Yeah, Elizabeth, great point there. Actually, when I used to coach a juniortriathlon team, whenever we were working on run form, I had a lesson I would doevery single year in the summer where I would actually take them – instead ofpracticing at the park near the triathlon shop where I coached from – I wouldtake them to some of the local trails, because it was a great lesson oncadence. “Hey, notice that when you're running these trails, you justautomatically by default are going to start shortening that stride. You'regoing to pick up your cadence, you're going to take smaller, quicker steps toadjust for the environment.” I literally used the changes of terrain from thepaths to the trail to point out, “Look at what you're naturally doing,” andintroduce them to the concept of different cadences, different stride lengths.So yeah, Coach Andrew used to use that in a clever way with the kiddos.


Elizabeth: I think one of the other things too is just a little bit on the gearand attire – I'm sure that Coach Verbie can jump in here and give us a littlebit of extra color as well – but trail running sometimes uses different gear.There's trail shoes, those are going to have more aggressive tread. A lot ofrunners will use a hydration pack as well, just because there isn't necessarilythe availability of gas stations or water fountains when you're out in thewoods and running around. Depending on the terrain that you're using, trekkingpoles are also very commonly used. So one, just know that the gear demandsmight be a little bit different. And then two, investing in some of that gear,if it were appropriate or something that you wanted to tackle a little bitmore, will make you maybe seem a little less like that fish out of water, ifyou show up for the woods with some trail shoes versus your Nike Vaporflys orsomething.


Andrew:Yeah. So Jason, as you were racing the HURT 100 shortly ago, and as you'retraining on trails, what gear is different for you from when you go out for aroad run?


Jason:Obviously, like EJ was just saying, you’ve got your hydration pack, you’ve gotyour trekking poles. You could have gaiters, those are basically covering thetop of your shoe so dirt doesn't get into them. Then obviously your trailshoes. And speaking of how you said you could be a fish out of water, like yousaid, there's so many friendly people. It's the nicest environment out there,and so laid back. They're not looking down at their pace. They're not, “Howmuch power am I pushing out?” They just like to run and enjoy that feeling.Coming from the triathlon side, and you're looking at your watch and worriedabout your pace, they could definitely tell the newbie in that. But you'll haveall sorts of people, from the person who's just got a pair of trail shoes on, apair of shorts, and carrying a water bottle in his hand, versus the personthat's got the pack with the full hydration, and trekking poles. The biggestthing is what works for you, and making sure you've tested out that gear beforeyou're on your first race. Don't all of a sudden be like, “Hey, somebody said Ishould use trekking poles,” and you buy them and just show up to that race andhave never used them and don't have any experience with them. You're going tostruggle, and your arms are going to be sore. Definitely whatever gear you havefor your runs, test it out and make sure you're comfortable with it and itworks for you.


Andrew:I'm taking a slight diversion here from our notes, but while we're kind oftalking about gear a little bit – when you head out the door for a trainingrun, you're both introducing us to some of the things that we can use in trailrunning. I imagine you don't always need gaiters, you don't always needtrekking poles. There's probably some runs that's beneficial, some runs whereit's not. How much are you varying what you're using in those training runs? Orare there certain things you're always using, because it's a trail run and it'sjust good to use a hydration pack or a handheld water bottle or whatever? Speakto that a little bit, both of you. I'll go Verbie and then Elizabeth on whatyou use all the time, versus what you use if the terrain calls for it.


Jason:My all the time – and it doesn't matter if I'm on an hour run or a three-hourtrail run – I always have my hydration pack, and always bring water, just soI'm always used to that being on my back, comfortable carrying the water backthere. For some reason, I always think, “What if something happens to me onthat trail, and I'm not accessible?” If I'm running on the street by my house,and I slip off the curb, and God forbid break my ankle or something, I knowthere's going to be a car going by, or call on the phone, somebody can get tome very quickly. But if I'm out on a trail somewhere and I get hurt, I could bethere a while before I drag myself out, or somebody comes and helps me. So Ialways want to make sure I have water, and I always have a little first aid kitwith just some necessities with me, just in case something happens out thereand I'm out there for a little while. Then if I know I'm going to be using mytrekking poles in my next upcoming race, I almost always bring them with me, justso I'm training with them, working the muscles in my arm, and having my bodyused to that. Same as I don't want anything new on race day. Even if it's ashort run, but I know I'm going to be doing some climbing and using trekkingpoles during my race, then I'm out there training with those. Just so I havethat experience and I'm used to it, and have got that technique down that I'mflying up that hill and flying down the hill using those poles.


Andrew:Yeah. So, Elizabeth, same question over to you. How much is it different eachtime you run, versus things that you always take with you no matter what?


Elizabeth: Very similar to what Coach Verbie said, I would say that I am ratherdirectionally challenged, so if I can print off a map of where I'm going, Iwill always do that as well. Because yeah, you get out there and sometimes youdon't have cell phone service. I think that's also why I always top off thewater and have a snack, because it's not as easy to navigate sometimes outthere. I have been known to miss a turn and get lost, and turn a shorter runinto a much longer run. So I always make sure that I'm prepared with food,water, map, cell phone for when I can get back to service, and then that firstaid kit, too. There's just things like rocks and roots, where you might falland just bump your knee, but being able to clean that out, put a Band-Aid overit is a great thing mid-run. Unlike Coach Verbie, I don't use trekking polesoften. I think that has a lot to do with the terrain that I have around here,there isn't a lot of need for me to use the trekking poles. We don't have awhole lot of elevation change. I do wish that I would have had them for some ofthe events that I've been pacing, like out in Utah or Leadville, Colorado.That's something that is on the list of “I need to learn this,” but I also needto find a place to put those into practice in a practical way. So for me, thatisn't something that I bring out there often. I've only tried them once, Idon't even own them. It's more focused on having the right shoes, making surethat I have a little bit of a backup, just because it's not as predictable interms of food, water, directions as it would be if I'm just headed out the doorfor a neighborhood jog.


Andrew:So Elizabeth, when you were talking earlier about how you got into trailrunning, and talked about how magical the experience is being out on the trails– I think it takes a very rare person to describe a track session as beingmagical, right? A track session is just a track session, the only changingvariables for a track session are, “What's the temperature? Is it windy? Is itsunny? Is it rainy?” Other than that, the track is the track. But every timeyou go out there into nature to run on trails, the elements are different, thetrails are different, the wildlife is different, the scenery is different, theterrain is different. Talk to us about the connection that trail-runners havewith the wilderness, with that sense of adventure, that sense of being out innature, that is so different from road running.


Elizabeth: Absolutely, yeah. Trail runners have this deep connection to nature,and will often have a “leave no trace” mentality. One of the things I thinksticks out quite a bit from the trail running community is that they are veryadamant about following proper trail etiquette by staying on designated trails,not going off the path and ruining some of the delicate plants that can be offof the trails. Always making sure to pick up after yourself, not littering, andthen respecting the wildlife, too. If there's a bird nest there, you leave italone. If there's an animal on the trail, you don't necessarily have the rightof way, you are the invader here. Really, just wanting to respect the plantsand animals that live out in the spaces that we have the opportunity to visitwhile we're out there. I think that's a really neat aspect of trail running, isthis connection with nature and the appreciation for what's out there.


Andrew:Elizabeth, what’s some of the nature you've seen out on some of your trail runsthat you’ve done?


Elizabeth: Yeah, this is quite a long list – snakes, moose, elk, bear, bobcats.


Andrew:Where did you see a bear?


Elizabeth: Up in Alaska. Now I'll have to think of what else I've seen. Deer too,quite a few encounters, some a little closer than others. Yeah, all goodstories coming out of it.


Andrew:Coach Verbie, any memorable wildlife encounters for you?


Jason:Bears, moose – I can remember specifically at Alaskaman, we had to wear bearbells and have bear spray, just in case. And I was getting close to finishingmy race, and I'm coming down the trail, and me and my pacer saw some big bearand some cubs. They had warned us, “If there's a bear on the trail, the racecould be stopped.” You know we're not going to mess with that. And my pacer hashis phone out, he's recording it like it's the coolest thing, and I'm like, “Itlooks like that bear is going to be crossing our trail, and we're going to haveto stop.” And I was in so much pain, I just wanted to finish, and I'm like,“Put the camera away, we gotta go! I'm not stopping the race now, I'm in pain,I want this to end.” And he's laughing and filming, and I was so out of it, thebear wasn't even going close to where we were going. I thought he was on mytrail where I needed to go to finish the race, and we had to go. So yeah, thatwas one of my big ones. Another time I was out running a trail by my house, andI was practicing at nighttime because I knew my race I was going to be in thedark. I was on the trail, and I heard a big, deep growl. I was about five milesout in the mountains. To this day, I have no idea what it was, because I heardit growl, and then I heard it trampling off into the bush. Let's just saythat’s probably my fastest pace I've ever run in my life, because I didn't knowif it was coming after me or not. It could have literally been a squirrelgrowing at me, but it sounded like the biggest dinosaur chasing me. And I wasgone, I was out of there.


Andrew:When I go run the mountain bike trails near my house – we're not super immersedin wilderness, it's a lake with a bunch of suburbs around it. But there arevery wide-ranging extremities to the wildlife you can get yourself into withtrail events, trail training, running on trails. So Coach Verbie, you've donethis all over the world. What do athletes need to consider, and what do theyneed to research about the trail they're about to go potentially run on, asthey're looking at, “How developed is this, how remote is this? What do I needto do to stay safe? What do I need to do to be prepared once I get out there?”Talk to us a little bit about the wide ranges of remoteness, proximity to townsand whatnot, that you will get into on trails.


Jason:Yeah, like you said, definitely know where you're going, and know the terrain.Another big thing is, – for me trail running, it could be 80 at my house, andI'm in shorts and T-shirt. I go up in the mountains, and there's still snow onthe tops, and then you're getting storms. So knowing what the weather's goingto be up there, having the windbreaker, rain jacket, some gloves – that canchange in an instant up in the mountains. So really knowing everything youpossibly can, researching about where you're going to run, the time of day,what the weather's going to be, is huge. Yeah, I can't say that more, just foryour safety. If you're going out by yourself, let somebody know the routeyou're going to be on, and kind of when you're going to be done. Because likeElizabeth said, you can get lost out there. It's very, very easy if all of asudden you take a different path, and it looks like the main one but it mightnot be, and you have no cell phone service. The next thing you know, you’relike, “Where am I?” So let somebody know, “This is where I'm planning on going,this is the time I'm supposed to be back.” Those are keys to helping you stayalive, if they have to send out a search party, God forbid. You’re not justtraining in a town where it's easy to find yourself, you’re in the elements attimes. So definitely prepare for if something bad could happen, and make sureyou have a plan.


Elizabeth: This is one of the other things that I love too, is there's such a widevariety. You can go to a dirt path, mountain bike trail, and get a fantastictrail run in. Or you can venture into some mountainous terrain and really workon an adventure off the beaten path. There's a wide variety of opportunities,and if you're just getting started, you might want to tackle something morelike a mountain bike path that's nearby. Something that's well marked, that'straveled by others, so that if you do get a little bit turned around, youprobably have other company out there to help redirect you back to the parkinglot. There is also just this increased interest in trail running. So I see,even in the DFW community here, a lot of groups that are getting together fortrail runs, three or four times a week. You can do it on a Tuesday or Thursdayevening, you can go out on Saturday or Sunday, and you can have the opportunityto explore some of those trails, and be familiar not only with the terrain, thepaths, learn a little bit more about the gear. It's something that, justdepending on your comfort level, you can find something that is well suited toyour needs. And if you get more and more comfortable and feel ready to take ona grander adventure, then those opportunities are always there too. But it'snot something that everybody should worry about getting lost, or stuck in themountains, or face-to-face with a bear on their first time out there. Thosethings do exist, but you kind of have to choose that adventure, too. If you'regoing to the local mountain bike path, it’s very unlikely that you would have ascary encounter like that as you get into trail rubbing.


Andrew:So let's talk about the training itself. For a triathlete interested in trailrunning, how different are the muscle groups we’ll be working on the trailsversus pavement? Elizabeth?


Elizabeth: Trail running and running on the pavement, they work very similarmuscle groups. Where we see a difference is the intensity and the impact onthose muscle groups, and I'll give you a couple of examples here. So like withthe quads, both trail running and running on pavement rely heavily on the useof the quadricep muscles to propel the body forward. However, trail running maychallenge the quads a little bit more due to the added terrain changes. So youhave probably more incline, decline, you have uneven terrain. Same thing withthe glutes, you're going to use your glutes on any run that you do. But trailrunning may engage them a little bit more, because you have to have thatstability and balance on some of the uneven surfaces. That's where I see thebiggest difference. Again, the ankles, the muscles in the feet, trail runningis typically going to involve more unpredictable and uneven surfaces, so that'sjust going to activate the muscles differently than you probably would on atypical neighborhood run. So having the strength and stability of all thoselittle muscles to help you stabilize and keep moving forward is probably goingto show up more on the trails than it does for a neighborhood jog. And this issomething that I definitely feel. Even though those same muscle groups areutilized, I come back from a trail run, and the next day I'm like, “Ooh, thoselittle stabilizer muscles!” I needed a little bit more as I'm going up, down,and sideways, and making maybe some more lateral steps than just a forward stepall of the time. So the same major muscle groups are going to be hit in anyrunning that you do, but I think there is a greater demand, just because of thestability requirements on the trail.


Andrew:Yeah, totally makes sense. And I'm like you, when I do go try running, Iprobably go a handful of times a year, the two things I notice differently forme, training on trails as opposed to going down to the track or around theneighborhood, are those stabilizer muscles. I'm not any more sore than aregular session, I'm just sorer in some of those stabilizing muscles. The otherthing I notice is different when I run trails, is you have to be mentallyengaged the entire time. You can't check out and just daydream and let yourmind wander. Maybe if you're a little more skilled than I am you can, but everytime your foot is hitting the ground, you're having to focus on where that footis going. Because there's roots, there's rocks, there's uneven terrain, there'sweird steps. There's stretches where it's maybe a little calmer, a little bitmore stable, and you can kind of check out. But for the most part, I have tomentally stay a lot more engaged trail running than I do when I'm just clockinglaps at a certain pace around the track. Jason, what do you notice in yourtraining for trail events versus your training for road events? What'shappening differently in your muscles on those sessions?


Jason:Yeah, you two hit it on the head exactly. Especially that one, Andrew, whereyou can't just zone out. Running through the neighborhood, it's easy, it's flatpavement. You might have to worry about going up and down the curb once in awhile, or there's a little crack in the sidewalk. But like you said, you’ve gotto stay alert that whole time. Where's your foot landing? “Oh, am I doing astep up onto a rock? Am I going over a rock? Am I running down the steep hill,and it's on rock, and it's a little sandy, or it’s slippery?” So your stride ischanging, and like Coach EJ was saying, you’re using all those littlestabilizing muscles. Your feet are never pushing off a completely flat surfacelike you are on the road, so your ankle could be bent just a little bit of anangle one way or the other way, and that's hitting those muscles just a littledifferently than you're used to. And working them all, you get done, and you'relike, “Oh wow, I really worked those,” even though you're not feeling it. I knowone of the big ones for me too is, depending on how steep your terrain is,really working your calves. If you're going up those steep hills, and you maybe just on your tiptoes, pushing off climbing these hills. And if there’s softsand, you're sliding down a little bit. My calves – a lot of times, when Idon't run trails for a while then go run some steep stuff, my calves are onfire, just from that climbing up, or even climbing on the rocks and pushingoff, and being more on the balls of my feet, pushing off with my toes more thanyou definitely do on a road run. Then even the running down the steep hills,that pounding on the quads, they take a good beating from that added weighthitting it, compared to again running on the road. Most roads aren't going downat a 20% incline, where you could get that out on a steep trail run.


Elizabeth: For me, the other thing that's really telling is my posture with ahydration pack. If I let my posture fall, and I've got that hydration pack on,my back and my shoulders are sore the next day. It's not even necessarily thedemands of the trail, but the gear that I'm wearing. So that's something too,if I know I'm preparing for an event, I'm always going to wear that trail packso that I'm aware of how I'm carrying my upper body, and making sure that myshoulders are still stacking on top of my hips, so that I'm not hunched over.Because I can tell that the next day immediately, sometimes my upper body ismore sore than the lower body just because of the gear.


Andrew:My next question about training on trails for triathletes like me, who maybearen't as used to it as the two of you – especially our TriDot athletes in theaudience –you usually have a specific run workout that TriDot is giving you forthat day. And when you have a certain workout to do in your training regimen,can trails be a conduit or a method for getting that workout done? Or do theyjust obliterate your workout, and when you are doing a trail run, you're justconceding, “Okay, I'm skipping the workout today to put it on trails.” Talk tous about that mix. For the triathlete, you've got your structured training,you've got the workouts you're supposed to do, can running on trails jive withthe workout schedule or is it just totally not? How can we fit this into ourtraining? Coach Verbie?


Jason: First,If your race is going to be on trails, then I definitely suggest training ontrails also. But if you just love trails, and your next race isn't going to beon trails, you definitely can include it in there, especially if you enjoy it.You don't want to take out what you enjoy. I always try to still do my speedwork on pavement, in the neighborhood, and I'll make my Zone 2 or my long runson a trail. Obviously it depends, some trails are fairly flat and just throughthe woods or whatever. But I'll just try to switch it and go off heart rate,which a lot of time our Zone 2 runs are off heart rate, or can be with our longruns where we may have a little bit of Zone 3. I'll just stick to the heartrate, and just monitor that, and go by my perceived effort also. That way I'mout on the trail still having fun, enjoying it, it's always good to change itup a little bit. But that way, you're still doing what you love and you'regetting your training in.


Andrew:Yeah, I always joke on the podcast – you’ve got your TrainX score for how wellyou executed your session, but sometimes it's worth it to me to take a slighthit in your TrainX score to increase your FunX score, and make sure that you'rebreathing some life into your training. I love the track, I love running at thetrack more than anything else. But yeah, it is a nice breath of fresh air,literally, to get on the trail sometimes and change it up a little bit.Elizabeth, for your athletes, what do you coach them here when it comes todoing your training, doing the structured training, but taking it to thetrails?


Elizabeth: Well, I love how you have at least one question where we can give ourstandard answer of “it depends”, because that's where it fits here. Iappreciate you putting that in there for us. But it really does, it depends.When we're talking about compromising the quality of your training, I thinkthere's a couple of things that we need to look at. Are we compromising thequality of your overall fitness? Are we compromising specific triathlon racepreparation? And as Coach Verbie said, if you are planning to race somethingthat is on trails, yes, you absolutely need to be training on trails. If youare preparing for a triathlon, but you absolutely love running on trails, thenthat enjoyment factor is huge. We want to continue to incorporate things thatmake triathlon a lifestyle that you enjoy, and something that's sustainable.Trail running can be incorporated. I think one of the things that I enjoy mostabout trail running is not worrying about the pace or the power that I'mfollowing. So using metrics like perceived exertion and heart rate to monitoryour effort on trails is very appropriate, because it's going to be a verydifferent terrain than if you were to go out and do something at the track. Soas Coach Verbie was saying, those heart-rate runs are a fantastic way toincorporate some different paths. Put a trail run in there. As long as you'resticking to that Zone 2 heart rate, you might be getting a little bit moremuscular fatigue than you would from a neighborhood run, but you're stillallowing that same response from the body. Because how hard your heart isworking, and taxing the cardiovascular system in a similar way to what youwould be doing on the road for that Zone 2 run. I incorporate it a lot more inthe offseason than I do when I get into a race-specific training phase. In thedevelopment phase, if I have the opportunity to go out and do some Zone 2running on the trail, for me that's just fun and enjoyable. But when I'mgetting closer and closer to a triathlon race, I am less likely to go to thetrails. One, because I want that preparation to be very specific. But two, Ipersonally start getting a little worried about the rocks and the roots and thepossibility of falling.


Andrew:Yeah, absolutely. That's real.


Elizabeth: So I'm like, risk/reward at this point. If I'm four weeks out from atriathlon race, you probably are not going to find me on the trails at thatpoint, either.


Andrew:Yeah, and that exactly mirrors my approach. I'm glad, Elizabeth, that youmentioned going more off of your heart rate and your RPE, as opposed to payingattention to pace and power. That's a struggle for me, when I first starteddoing trails every so often. Because I'm used to going down to the track orgoing around the neighborhood and seeing that nice tidy lower number on myaverage pace. You go out on trails, and I felt like I was working really hard.I felt like, “Okay, I'm going to look down to see my normal 7½-minute per milepace,” and I would look down and see 10:30. I'm like, “What do you mean I'monly going 10:30??” You just totally have to let go of that. You totally haveto let go of average pace, current pace, all that jazz. If you're racing maybeit's different, we’ll talk about that here in a second. But racing trails, weknow the culture is different. The races are also very different from goingdown and pulling up to a triathlon. So Elizabeth, walk us through what a trailrace event is like, particularly pointing out some differences from what we'reused to seeing at triathlons.


Elizabeth: Some key aspects of trail races – obviously from the name, you knowthat the trail race is going to take place on more of a natural surface. It canbe challenging, unpredictable, you're navigating rocky or muddy terrain, steephills, uneven ground. That's really the essential element that is one of thebiggest differentiators between a road race and a trail race, is the terrainitself. Then when we get into a little bit more of the logistics for it,oftentimes trail races have fewer aid stations along the course, compared toroad races. Most of the time this is just because the terrain can make it verydifficult for race organizers to access points to put those aid stations.However, when you do have an aid station, it's usually very well stocked withwater, sports drinks, snacks. On the longer races, you'll see a whole lot morereal food options than what triathletes may be used to seeing at events. It'ssomething where, again, the gear that the trail runners will have makes themprepared to go a little bit longer from aid station to aid station. It's notgoing to be like your triathlon events where you've got an aid station everymile or so. It could be 15 miles until you get to the next aid station. So youreally need to make sure that you have hours’ worth of fueling and hydrationavailable to you, and really plan for how you're going to get from one aidstation to the next.


Andrew:Hey, Verbie, when Elizabeth says that there's more real food options at the aidstations, what real food is she talking about? What are you seeing out there atthe trail events?


Jason:Oh gosh. Depending on the time of day – like at the HURT 100, there was a36-hour time limit on it – there were pancakes at breakfast time, there'squesadillas, there's chicken broth, there's burritos. You name it, they had somany different options out there for you, like Elizabeth was saying. For meanyways, I can only do so many gels or so many drinks. You want somethingsolid. Potatoes, some broth, especially at night when it cools down, you'regetting something warm, some kind of warm food. That can change your spirit,it's huge. So at those big races, they have a variety of everything.


Andrew:Yeah, this might be the aspect of trail running that I can get behind the most.


Elizabeth: The buffet.


Andrew:And probably where we as triathlon events can learn a little bit from the trailcommunity. Elizabeth, sorry to interrupt your list there. I had to hear alittle bit more about the real food options.


Elizabeth: No, all good. All good.


Elizabeth: What else is different about a trail race and how these function, pastthe wonderful buffet aid stations?


Elizabeth: Well, we've talked a little bit about how I will try to carry a mapwith me, or at least an outline of the trail where I'm going. In some trailraces, runners are required to navigate the course on their own. They will tryto mark the course in a lot of the events that I've been in, but if you'regoing out and doing a 100-mile event, you're not going to have it marked atevery couple hundred feet. It might be a couple miles, and then you see anotherlittle ribbon that is just a reminder of, “Okay, good, we're on the righttrack.” I know that, as I'm pacing for events, one of my jobs now is to reallysay out loud when we see those course markings. It's like, “Yep, orange ribbon,we're on the right track. This is good.” Just confirming that we are not yetlost, and in case we haven't seen one in a while, then it's time to pull themap back out and confirm.


Andrew:It's just that peace of mind for your athlete that you're pacing, right?


Elizabeth: Yes, exactly. And I think one of the other things that is somewhatunique is that trail races will often take place in more extreme weatherconditions. Not necessarily purposefully, but unlike road races that may becanceled for weather events, trail races are more likely to go forward withthat. Now again, it's not to a point of putting anybody in danger, but if youhave runners that are spread out over 100 miles, and there's a small pop-uplightning storm that comes, they're not necessarily going to cancel the entireevent for everybody that's on the course. One of the last events that I pacedfor, it was on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona. In the athlete guide, they had veryspecific instructions for what to do if you were caught in a lightning strike.It wasn't, “Hey, if there's a lightning strike, we're going to cancel it.” No,it's like, “If you are encountering one of these pop-up storms, know the crouchposition so that the strike can travel quickly through your feet back to theground.” Those are things that are very different as well. If there's lightninganywhere in the area for triathlon, typically it's canceled, or they try toclear everybody from the course.


Andrew: Yeah,you're done. Yeah.


Elizabeth: That's not the same here. Again, not to put anybody in danger, but toreally let the runners know that if you are out in a remote location, andeverybody is spread through miles and miles of the race, it might not feasiblybe possible for them to cancel the race and get everybody to safety. That'sagain where having all of the gear for the different types of weatherconditions is essential. I know we talked about gear a little bit before too,but things come up, so having your bug spray, and things to treat insect bites,having flashlights and lights to illuminate the trail when it gets dark, all ofthose things are a part of trail races that a lot of triathletes don't need toconsider in an event like we might be more used to.


Andrew:Coach Verbie, there's been a couple times Elizabeth has alluded to being apacer at these events for another athlete. One of the things that's reallyfascinating to me, that's different from a triathlon, is the culture of therelationship between the athlete and their pacer, the athlete and their crew,the crew taking care of the athlete. You'll see athletes rolling into – it'snot a transition area, it's kind of like a crew hub area – where the athletecomes into town and they're being changed, they're being fed food by theircrew. All this stuff, almost like a little pit stop. Talk to us, Jason, aboutthat side of trail racing, where you, the athlete, are relying on a team to getyou to the finish line, and how all of that works.


Jason:Yeah. It's usually most relevant the longer the race. The pacers are allowed,and your support crew. It's huge. With the pacer, you’ve got a friend with you.When you're going through a dark spot, what could be better than to havesomebody there with you who knows you, and can help you get through that darkspot. Or again, like Elizabeth was saying, she points out that there's a trailmarker. Because you're at 24 hours, and you’ve got race-brain going on, and allof a sudden you’ll look and you're like, “Am I on the right trail?” And yourmind goes, “Oh my god, we haven't seen a marking in six hours!” It goes to theextreme, and you start freaking out, and, “Where's the next marker? Am I in theright spot?” Well thankfully, you have somebody with you that can point outthat you're in the right spot, where you can almost zone out and say, “I justgotta follow Coach EJ’s feet. That's all I’m looking at, is her feet. I got myfaith in her to get me to where I need to go.” It's huge for you. Then like yousaid, coming into the aid station where your crew is at, seeing some friendlyfaces, they have your favorite things ready for you. Your feet may be hurting,they may be taking your shoes off, popping some blisters, bandaging you up foryou while you're taking in food. Like you said, it's like a NASCAR pit crew.Somebody could be feeding you, somebody could be tending to your feet, somebodycould have a massage gun, massaging your legs, putting fresh socks on you, thenputting shoes on, lifting you up. “Alright, time to get back out there!” Youwere there five minutes, but four people were doing four different things toyou, and you're ready to continue on. All you have to do is sit there, openyour mouth, chew the food, and let them do their job. And that can change yourspirits, just knowing – I mean, the trails are lonely at times. There's notpeople lining the trails, cheering you on every mile. You may not see anybodyfor hours. Then knowing, “Hey, in half a mile, my crew is there waiting forme.”


Andrew:Yeah. Wow.


Jason:It gets you excited, it keeps you pushing on, knowing, “Well, I don't want tolet my crew down. They've given up their day, they've given up their weekend tobe out here with me. They're waiting for me. I'm not going to slow down, I'mnot going to quit. They're there for me.” That, in general, there’s justnothing like it.


Andrew:So Jason, our listeners have heard us talk about how to train on trails,they've heard about the culture, they've heard about how the events aredifferent from triathlon. If someone is interested in trying a trail race, whatare some of the resources they should go check out in terms of finding – Ithink we all know for triathlon, you go to your local event producer, or you goto Ironman for Ironman events, you go to Challenge Family, CLASH, whatever itis, you go to their websites. We all know how to find the tri events. How doyou even find where the closest trail events are to you, and get to the startline in the first place?


Jason:Well, kind of the same way. We’ve got this great thing, the Internet. You typein “local area ultra races or trail races” and boom, the list will come up. Andagain, if you get with a trail running group, word of mouth, they start talkingabout different runs they've done. Facebook has many different ultra-running,trail-running groups and you can find little groups in your area. And kind ofgoing back to what we were saying about how much they're with the environment,a lot of these events are now requiring you to go and do trail work. Kind ofgiving back, trimming things, making sure the trails are good, that kind of“leave no trace”. A lot of these races want you to be more environmentallyfriendly, and you have so many hours of trail work you have to do before youcan even enter or be in that race. Giving back to the community is a big partof it. So when you're looking for a race, make sure you're reading about therace, and all the requirements for that, because that is a big one that's been outthere now, too.


Andrew:Last question for today, and I just want to hear from the both of you – all ofyour trail running adventures, you've done this much more than I have, in somestunning locations – just leave us very quickly today with one really, reallygreat trail running memory. EJ?


Elizabeth: One of the things that we've mentioned throughout is how I've had theopportunity to pace at a number of these longer-distance trail events. Thetrail races that I've done myself have been much shorter, I have not been at adistance where I've required a pacer yet. Someday we'll get there. Right nowI'm focused more on the triathlon stuff, but still take every advantage that Ihave been offered to be a pacer. This probably favorite memory comes frompacing at the Leadville 100. And it is snowing, but somehow despite all theprecipitation in the air, these stars are so bright. We are so high up in themountains that you feel like the stars are close enough that you could touchthem. Mark, who's the racer, and I are just freezing cold, absolutely shivering.We are out of breath from the altitude, and yet that feeling of being so alive.For me, this is just a stand-out memory, because it is a feeling that has notbeen replicated yet. Just pushing your body, in the beauty of nature, with yourclose friends, that's just something that I will always remember and cherish.


Andrew:Yeah, chills. Just super chills, just hearing that. Yeah, I can picture itsomewhat, but you’ve got to be there to see it. Definitely a moment you'llnever forget. Coach Verbie, what is this answer for you?


Jason:Well, I've got so many. I had a couple really good ones, but I'm going to go tothe HURT 100, my most recent race, kind of tying in everything we talked allday about. So I'm out on lap one, and I'm going, and I kind of feel my chestprotector – that’s not a chest protector, I’m thinking motocross here – myheart rate strap was kind of sliding down. So I went to adjust it, and itsnapped in half. Two-something hours into my 36-hour time limit adventure,100-mile race, my heart rate monitor split at the seams. Well, my whole racewas going off of my heart rate. So honestly, I got scared for a second, going,“Uh oh!” Then I'm like, “We could just go off feel!” And I felt such a hugerelief that I just started running off feel, watching what I was doing,enjoying looking out, getting out on some of these mountains in Hawaii. I cansee Waikiki in one way, and I can look over the other way and see Kaneohe Bay,and the beautiful jungle. It took a lot of pressure off, of looking down at mywatch. So then I was just kind of going by, I would take a drink every tenminutes and just try to stay on top of my hydration. Well, on my third lap, Ilooked down at my watch, and my watch was shut off.


Andrew:Oh sure.


Jason:Yeah. And I know I have plenty of battery still. So again, I was like, “Do Ireally need my watch? No!” So again, it was just going off of feel, justenjoying the moment. This was a very big race for me that I put a lot of timein, and suddenly my two key elements – how I'm supposed to be tracking what I'mdoing – are gone. And it was like a weight taken off my shoulders, and I justenjoyed, got to just go. My watch did magically turn back on. I can see onStrava how it magically uploaded at 47 miles, so I wasn't even halfway throughthe race when it turned on. But I didn't even restart it, all I would do isjust look at the time and kind of where I was. I didn't start any trackingagain, I just let it be, looked at the clock, that way I knew when to take adrink. But other than that, those two weights were gone, and I just enjoyed the35 hours. I just got to enjoy it – as much enjoyment as I had, it did hurt –but going back to everything we said, of just going by pace and getting to feelall with the elements, that is in my mind one that's going to go down as one ofmy greatest.


Cool down theme: Great set everyone! Let’s cool down.


Vanessa Ronksley: Hi friends! I'm Vanessa, your AverageTriathlete with Elite-Level Enthusiasm! Joining us today for the Coach CooldownTip is Mandy Starling. Mandy works full-time in internal marketing andcommunications. She also mentors clients on emotional, mental, and physicalhealth through body mapping, and as a breathwork facilitator. On the side,Mandy started coaching with TriDot, as she loves sharing knowledge she hasgained having completed over 130 races within the last ten years. Mandy loves coachingpeople starting out on their triathlon journey, and her specialty isshort-course racing and emotional health. Mandy currently lives in Utah withher husband, who she describes as the man of her dreams, and they have ablended family with ten children and three grandchildren. Welcome to thecooldown, Mandy!


Mandy Starling: Hi, Vanessa! Thanks so much for having metoday. I am really excited to be here!


Vanessa:Awesome. Well, something most people don't know about you is that you are anauthor, which is so cool! So tell me about your work.


Mandy:Sure! So I've had a few articles published over the years. The first was when Iwas in my undergrad program. I wrote this article for single moms, to help themget through college. Because I had just gone through that process myself, andlearned about all these resources that are available that most single momsdidn't know about. That was published in a local magazine here in Utah. Thenduring grad school and then in my professional career, I've also had a fewresearch articles published. One was about internal communication in federalgovernment settings, and then another one was this really cool project I got tobe a part of, of digitizing and making available a bunch of works by Germanwomen. During the time that they were published, they all had to use fakenames, because at the time, women were not allowed to publish content inGermany. So this collection was fantastic. It was a really amazing project tobe part of.


Vanessa:Wow, that's really cool. It sounds like you're a really giving person who'sinvested in situations, and you like to share the knowledge that you've gainedfor other people. Just from having gone through this experience through collegewith being a single mom, and now you're wanting to be a triathlon coach becauseyou've gained all this knowledge, and you just want to share. I just love that.What a great gift that you have.


Mandy:Thank you! Yeah, sometimes I feel like a sponge. I just learn all of these coolthings, but then I just want to share it with everybody so they can have abetter life.


Vanessa:Yeah, well, let's get to the sharing! Let's share the triathlon tip love. Whatdo you have for us today?


Mandy:Yes. So my specialty is working on emotions, and I want to emphasize thatemotions are a little different than mental. A lot of us are well aware ofmental toughness, mental strength, mental health. But emotions are their ownkind of thing, and they can really impact your training and your racing. AsI've done this and gone through this, I've had so many people who said, “Man, Ihave this big race coming up, and a week before I got injured, and I didn'teven know if I was going to be able to race.” Or, “Two days before the race, Igot really sick, and I didn't know if I was going to be able to race.” Andthese are athletes who are in tip-top shape, but the more I've learned aboutemotions, the more I've learned they can actually be the culprit of a lot ofthe illnesses and injuries that we get. Let me explain that a little bit.Emotions are energy and motion. Every emotion you have has energy with it. Infact, in about 2016, MIT researchers created this device called the EQ radio,and it measures the vibrational frequency of every emotion. It's really cool.So the more positive the emotion, the higher the vibration, and then the morenegative the emotion, the lower the vibrational frequency. And there's been alot of additional research that has taken a look at how these vibrationalfrequencies affect our bodies. The more low vibrational frequencies can moreeasily put you in a state of illness and injury, while the high vibrationalfrequencies keep you healthy. Your body and your cells really like those highvibrations. And just letting you know, shame is the lowest vibrationalfrequency of any of the emotions, followed closely by apathy and guilt. Thenfor the highest vibrational frequencies, those are love, joy, peace, andenlightenment, so all those happy things. So if you're beating yourself upabout not doing well in a race or not doing well in a workout, you're creatingemotions that are creating a low vibrational frequency in your body, and you'remore likely to get sick or injured. Whereas if you give yourself love, “Hey, Idid the best I could. I'm happy with it, this is great,” then you're going tobe more likely to recover quickly from that and be able to keep racing. So howdo you let go of these negative low-vibrational-frequency emotions? Because aswe're growing up, as I was growing up, people would say, “Oh, just let it go.”And into my 20s, I was like, “Well, what does that even mean, ‘just let it go’?Can you demonstrate? Can you give me a formula or pattern or something? I don'tknow what that means.” Nobody really taught me how to let emotions go in a waythat worked, so I've been studying that for the last several years. One of thetechniques that I found that resonates with athletes the most, is what I liketo call the “full-body crunch”. It's really quick and easy, which is anotherreason I love it. Here's what you do – you're going to set a timer for 20seconds, that's it. And you're going to get into a tight ball, and just focuson tensing every single muscle you can in your body, and you're going to holdit for 20 seconds. And you're going to think about that emotion, whether it'sanger or frustration or guilt or shame, and just push that into every tensedmuscle in your body. Hold it for 20 seconds, and then just let it all go, andyou feel this release of that emotion. Sometimes you might have to do it acouple of times, but it can make you dizzy, so don't try to stand up too fastright after doing it, and you might want some water. But 20 seconds, and thatwill help you to release that emotion.


Vanessa:Okay, I have a question about that, because you said take the emotion thatyou're feeling, and magnify it in this physical sense. What happens if youdon't actually know what emotion you're feeling? I know that for me sometimes,I know I feel like I'm in this “negative low vibration” as you described it,but I don't actually know how to verbalize or put a name to that emotion. Isthere a way that you can do this without knowing the emotion that you need toprocess?


Mandy:Yes, definitely. So some of us are really visual, and it's easy for us topicture something in our mind, and some of us are more verbal. So if you'remore of a visual person, then you can picture whatever comes to your mind first– a shape and a color – to represent whatever it is you're feeling. So maybe itcomes up as a black spiky ball or something like that, then you can picturehaving that black spiky ball, and when you release it, you release that blackspiky ball. If you're more of a verbal person, then you might have to say itout loud, like, “I am feeling just like garbage right now.” And you just try toverbalize whatever it is you're feeling, like, “It feels kind of like anger, orI feel like a puddle on the ground right now,” or something like that to put itinto what you're doing.


Outro:Thanks for joining us. Make sure to subscribe and share the TriDot podcast withyour triathlon crew. For more great tri content and community, connect with uson Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Ready to optimize your training? Head and start your free trial today! TriDot – the obvious and automaticchoice for triathlon training.


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