Active Endurance Lifestyle

There are many different lifestyles: city, young, quiet, noisy, outgoing, lazy, family, etc. Nowadays, with an amazing growth of outdoor sports participation, endurance and ultra-endurance events and races of all different styles, and all kinds of industries and brands playing in the outdoor and sport participation market, there is also a trend to active endurance lifestyle. 

This lifestyle is practiced by people of all ages who love being outdoors, who like to be active and who want to explore nature and places in different ways. They travel to participate in races and events, sometimes worldwide, they build their holidays and free-time around such events and also trainings camps, their social life evolves around their sports clubs and cycling/running groups. 

What I love about it? Everything! (with a small exception of travelling with a huge bike box :-)). You stay fit, connected, focused and curios, you bring adventure into your life (as much as you tolerate :-)) If you are on your bike, it is a slower, greener and much more authentic way to explore places then going by car. If you run or hike, you kind of become a local in all these places. And I would always recommend (and I always do) to take off your cycling/running outfit from time to time and go see local museums and events. It makes the whole trip a truly diverse and unforgettable experience. 

Travelling on business? Just add your running/swim/gym kit to your luggage, and your business trip will never be the same! And if you have enough miles and a couple of days to add to your trip, then why not bringing your bike along? Hopefully, your CEO is an Ironman or cyclist too and will understand :-)

Good luck and happy holiday travels in an active endurance lifestyle way!  




CTB 17: Overcoming a low point

"Be prepared to handle a low point" - this is what I tell to my endurance athletes before every race. Because even if you are über-fit and mega-prepared, it is practically certain that at some point in a race you will hit a low point: drop in energy, onset of fatique, lack of focus, etc.  How to deal with it effectively? Painful situation - but truly the essence of endurance racing and being an unbeatable mind!

The navy SEALs would say: "When you are going through hell - keep going!". Tough, brutal - but wise? I say: "Race smart" - and help yourself overcome a low point. Two decades of endurance racing did teach me many lessons, especially how to get to the finish line over (sometimes painfully low) low points. I actually have an algorithm for you - which I had "the pleasure" to test one more time this weekend during the 238km/5500 altitude meters cycling marathon in Austria.

For some unclear reason, actually at the easiest part of the course, the only more or less flat 20km at ça. Km 80, I suddenly felt horrible, my heart rate jumped to over 200, lactate shot into my legs like a waterfall, my power went down the drain and my speed dropped to quite literally zero - I actually had to stop. I guess it was a kind of heat shock after a fast descend from a cold mountain pass into a hot industrialized valley of Innsbruck. "No panic" I said to myself watching hundreds of cyclists passing by.... I fueled and hydrated - and continued pedalling at a seemingly crawling pace for quite some time, enjoying the scenery and trying to think happy and motivating thoughts. What else can you do? And then it happened - I felt better, my propulsion force retuned to me and I got back to attacking the cols. The strategy and the algorithm worked again!

This magic algorithm is actually very simple: When you are not ok, i.e.  suddenly super low on energy, power, focus, when you feel fatiqued beyond normal racing fatique, or when you start cramping, this is what you do:

1. Slow down (to your base endurance Zone 2 pace) - or stop.

2. Eat and drink (sensibly - not too much and not too little, and only your normal race nutrition. By the way: Coca-Cola can do magic almost always!)

3. Wait untill you feel better - Engage in positive self-talk to manage your mental state. Use your mantras, visualize and motivate yourself. Connect with your purpose and with your "best self" - are you a person who complains and whines, when going gets hard? Are you someone who gives up? DNF is no option! Pain is temporary - glory is forever! You are alone out there and only you decide how you feel and what thoughts you think at this very moment!

4. Get back to your race pace.

You can use it in racing - or in daily life. When you "hit a wall" or get stuck - slow down, or stop if needed, recharge by eating and hydrating, engage in positive self-talk to alter your mental state,  connect with your purpose and your best self, wait and get back on track!

Have a great ride!



CTB 16: Cycling cols and life...

What cycling in mountains and over high altitude cols (mountain passes) can teach you about life? Well, many things!

1. Cycling uphill is difficult - but no col lasts forever. Same in life, sometimes you have a difficult period, but it will not last forever. Yes, it is difficult and maybe event painful right now - but you have to trust that it will be over one day. 

2. Cycling uphill gets easier when you train it - the fitter you are, the more fun it is. So in life, the fitter and more prepared you are: physically, mentally and emotionally, the easier it gets to overcome obstacles - and it is more fun too! 

3. When you reach the col summit, a new horizon opens. The challenges we face teach us new insights, new skills and new perspectives. When we struggle, we grow! 

4. There is always a downhill after a col and you can enjoy the ride. Life is like a Zebra - one black stripe, one white, one black, one white... In black stripes we struggle and grow, in white ones we relax and enjoy. 

5. Cycling in mountains is better with buddies. Cycling is social as our lives are. We need to get out of our personal bubble and to unite with other people to be able to conquer highest mountains - for achievement, safety and fun!

6. You need good fuel for your long ride in mountains. No cyclist will leave without hydration and nutrition - no fuel, no performance. For top performances in life, we also need to ensure best fuel possible. And science confirms - our best fuel comes from plants!

7. You have to be prepared for weather changes - take an extra jacket with you. You also never know how your day turns out - be prepared for "weather changes". Have your "survival kit" with you at any time: money, phone, some fuel, swiss knife, rain jacket, etc. Be prepared! 

8. Compared to mountains, flat riding is boring. Once you experienced the beauty of mountains, glaciers, water falls, fast descends, gruelling uphills and adrenaline of Alpine air, you will find flat roads just boring. So by bringing adventure, thrill and challenge in your life, you will enrich it so much, that you will never want to go back to a "flatlander" normality. 

9. Taking stupid risks is stupid. Period. Mountains can be dangerous, we need to respect them, be sensible and never take stupid risks, especially on fast descends. Taking stupid risks is stupid, in cycling and in life. 

Enjoy your ride! 

CTB 15: It´s OK to finish last! (if you have fought well)


Last week we did our traditional Lac Leman crossing, on Aug 1st, Swiss National Day. A distance between 4.1 and 4.5km, depending on how straight you can swim in the open water.  It was a nice swim with the sun rising above the lake and our neoprene-clad bodies. After the swim, during the ritual après-swim breakfast, our friendly event organisers did the "award ceremony", also a tradition with humorous presents for diverse "achievements". Of course, the first man and woman were awarded with something like a bottle of wine or shampoo  - and the last ones were to get a pair of fluffy white hotel slippers, as recognition for their relaxed attitude.

The last woman out of water identified herself quickly and took the prize, laughing with everyone else. Then we called for the last man out of water - but there was only silence. Called again - silence. And one more time - no one moved. Fluffy hotel slippers remained unclaimed. Funny. And not. 

We should really not forget that what counts is, first, to show up! Second, to finish! And third, to fight well, even if you finish last! Pierre de Coubertin said it right (but he is unfortunately  frequently misquoted):

"The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

So, bring it on, show up, fight and finish! And if you finish last, be proud, because you have fought well!

CTB 14: First half of 2016: Bravehearts´update!

I feel so humble writing this post... I was reflecting about the amazing achievements of my athletes in the first 6 months of the year - and their big & scary goals for the rest of the year, and I felt like tears were coming to my eyes... Happy tears and feelings of humility, respect, joy and just adoration! What a privilege to be able to help you achieve your goals, guys and girls! Here is the list of pure awesomeness: 

Anne-Sophie and Sofia finished London Marathon in April  - as part of their "Marathon Majors" series mission, started 3 years ago from zero running.. They pushed through cold winter training, heavy global biz travel and apparently crazy London crowds :-) Chapeau - the journey goes on!

Frederic finished his first Ironman with fantastic 12:02 time in spite of ankle injury (and Brexit)! What a discipline in training and what a mental toughness - warrior Fred! Amazing!

Lynn ran a half-marathon just 6 months after giving birth to her baby - and set her Personal Best! Moms do rock! 

Darren did several triathlons in Asia and keep inspiring the world by his transformation and dedication! Try training for an Ironman in Singapur, folks! Hot, humid and only a few roads to bike.. Onward, Darren! 

Galina started running, preparing for her first ever triathlon in fall. Walk, run, fly, my friend!!

James biked from sunrise to sundown, 300km at "Chase the Sun" event, in spite of aching ribs and everything else after a bad cycling crush... When you are going through hell - keep going!

Truly and humble yours, I did an Ironman Lanzarote, a windy and hilly beast and cycled 210km over 4 cols in Engadin - do what scares you!

What to expect in the 2nd half? More epic staff, of course, for all the bravehearts! 2 Ironmans, 1-2 half-Ironmans, ultra trail running events mountain marathon in Swiss Alps and a lake Geneva crossing - and a lot of inspiration for the world! 




CTB 12: Do What Scares you!! (sometimes)

Set Goals and Challenge Yourself

When was the last time that you did something that scared you? I mean, a challenge that you were not sure you would master, something you had never done before, an action that went way beyond your comfort zone? If the answer and example come ready to you – congratulations! Do you have another one? Do you do such things with some regularity? If so, congratulations again.

Should your answer be a “no”, or a “I guess so” or you are not really sure, if this something is actually representing a true challenge, or even if you did something challenging and audacious but it was a couple of years ago, then let us speak about why it is so important to do something that scares you – sometimes, but with some regularity.

First of all, I don’t mean something, which is really risky and you put your life in danger – please no! As they say in stunt videos “please do not try it at home”. Taking stupid risks is stupid, period.

What I mean is stretching your comfort zone to the level, where you actually doubt if you are up for the challenge, where you truly wonder, if you will have enough physical health, mental discipline or emotional resilience to complete the envisioned task. Like approaching a stranger, fasting for a day, running 10km, finishing a marathon, initiating a difficult conversation, starting daily writing, etc, etc. Sometimes these scary things are just things that you simply do not like doing and that require a mental and emotional push to complete. Some other times, the scary projects are long-term commitments, which require a lot of work and determination (like starting a book, PhD or marathon training).

Gear up for a  Biking Challenge

Nobody likes doing things they don’t feel comfortable doing and we all have a certain tendency to resist new things.

There is a physiological explanation to it: first, our brain always strives to reduce complexity and to save energy (that is why we have so many habits). Second, our energy systems like to save energy both short-term, by sending it to where it is most needed, and also long-term, by saving it in form of fat reserves (for a bad day), thus ensuring our preservation and survival. Also emotionally, we persist change and react highly irrationally to it, especially to any drastic change in our circumstances, both to positive and negative ones. 

Our lizard brain and our energy systems do like the Pleasant Life, which is about comfort, lack of discomfort and maximisation of positive hedonic emotions. It is very pleasant indeed to be in this happy state with all your basic needs covered and misery eliminated. Let us wish that all people on this planet experience pleasant life. However, not having misery and being comfortable is not enough. It is not enough for human progress, individual development and growth and it is not enough for reaching meaningful life. 

Inertia to remain at one state

The biggest trap of Pleasant Life is that we humans are highly adaptive creatures – once we reach a certain level of comfort and pleasure, we get used to it, very quickly actually, and go back to our default level of perceived happiness. This trap gets us on the “hedonic treadmill”, only to discover that positive emotions from material possessions and further increases in our comfort levels habituate very fast and we are not getting any kick out of it anymore. This is how we slowly discover the terrible boredom of being. 
A much better way is to take advantage of the adaptation law and use our limited self-discipline to step out of our comfortable state, challenge ourselves with something new and slightly scary and habituate on the higher level of self-control and development. This law of adaptation is the fundament of physical training. In sports, it is also called the “overcompensation principle”, because our body reacts to stress (=training) by overcompensation, so it can handle stress again in the future. By training you very minimally damage the muscles and other tissues, and this damage is repaired during the recovery/rest following the training - but your body always overshoots a little, so that an overall improvement in your physical condition gradually happens. This principle is why beginners at any sport see big improvement when starting regular exercise. 
The same magic works on emotional and mental levels: every time you “stretch” yourself, your nerves, brain, neurotransmitters etc. get to work and build their “muscles”, so that next time you are better prepared for the challenge. Growth only happens outside of your comfort zone! So if you want to grow, do something new and different every day, use your creativity to challenge yourself, do not fall into your habitual mindless routine – and do take on a bigger and truly scary challenge every year!

Why you need a Coach

The best place to start is to challenge yourself physically, because every physical challenge is also a mental and emotional one. It will require dedication, discipline and positive motivation. To gear up for a challenge you need commitment and discipline, a mentor who can help you stay focussed on the journey until you reach the peak. I will be happy to help you master this challenge as a coach. Here are some examples of my brave athletes and myself doing something scary:

  1. Committing to running a marathon in 6 months from zero running experience – and finishing it! Moreover, as a result, taking on a project of finishing all Marathon Majors.
  2. Running a half-marathon 6 months after giving birth (and looking after a baby and a toddler at home).
  3. Finishing 1st Ironman (a life changing experience)
  4. Conquering 30km of mountain run challenge.
  5. Finishing 2 Ironman races in 2 weeks.
  6. Training for 70km cross-country skiing race.
  7. Crossing Pyrenees on a bike.

And many more other examples. When you commit to such a challenge, it naturally scares you, especially first time. I remember, that I literally lost speech 3 days before my first Ironman. I was so scared and nervous, that I went silent. Some of my athletes reported the same experience. And how sweet it is to conquer such a challenge! However, the most important thing is to stay aware of the “reason why” we do it. Well, we don’t do because of winning and achieving, and not for earning “the bragging rights” (well, maybe just a little ☺)  – this would be a way to “challenge treadmill” and to “so that was it?” feeling. Did you know that even Olympic champions suffer from “post-win” depressions, when they realize this feeling of emptiness following the euphoria of achieving such a big, hairy, audacious goal? No, we have a different motivation and a much more enlightened “reason why”!

  • Do it, because of what you have to become in order to achieve such a goal.
  • Do it, for what taking on such a scary challenge, persevering and achieving it, will make you become as a person.
  • Do it for how much more aware, stronger, compassionate, resilient and positive will you become as a result. 

It is not about the challenge itself, it is about you! 

So, get out of our comfort zone and do so something scary today! 

CTB 11: To avoid collision - Turn Right!

Always Take Right, Flight Rules

Always Take Right, Flight Rules

Sometimes it happens on your run: your turn around the corner and someone is coming straight at you. Or it is a busy weekend with a lot of pedestrians on your running track and again here, people come right at you. And then you and the one in front of you start nervously moving side to side, trying to figure out which way to go around each other and avoid collision. Quite awkward, isn´t it? 

I just wish everyone knew this simple rule of airplane pilots: To avoid collision, always turn right! If both planes/runners/cyclists/skaters etc do it, everyone is safe! 

It just does not work with cats and dogs .... :-) 

CTB 10: Giro Colada

Giro Colada

Giro Colada

Today is ITT day at Giro d´Italia (individual time trial) - a hard-core 40.5km "contre la montre". Try it yourself: Go out and ride 40.5km as fast as you can, and then compare your time to that of pros! As a consolation you can make and enjoy this delicious and power restoring Giro Colada - while watching the race!

  • 100ml soy milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2-3 strawberries
  • 1 small carrot 
  • 1 slice pineapple
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp coconut creme
  • 3-6 ice cubes

Fight for Pink! :-)

CTB 9: How to retire your bike

You are a true and crazy cyclist if you a) have more than one bike and b) have an emotional connection with your bike(s), so you can never sell them. Now we have a dilemma: we have several bikes, we love them all but how can we use them all at least a little bit? Here is an idea: take your road bike and retire it by turning it into your travel and commute companion! Here how to treat your old friend with this makeover - and give it some love too!:

  1.  Send it to a  spa and hammam - clean it thoroughly and massage and rub it where needed
  2.  Send it to a doctor and replace some "joints" - put new tires, new chain, new brake pads etc
  3. Add light and bright bags for your trips - the good old aluminum frame can carry a lot!  
  4. With the new weight and bags (like people, bikes tend to be heavier when they are older :-)) - you might want to change to a compact crankset - so powering up hills is easier!
  5. Take it everywhere you go! Your old bike has been waiting for it too long..
  6. And finally, you can still brag with it - keep the race stickers on it! You can cherish the memories of your joint achievements together :-) 

Have a good ride on your "retired" bike!

CTB 8: Fast girls on bikes.. or catch me if you can!

Ups, it happened again today... I was doing my short speed intervals, going 38-40km/hr, and pushing hard. Going faster than traffic :-) And almost double as fast as that guy on his expensive road bike with high profile wheels. When I passed him, I waved my hand saying "bonjour" as I always do when I pass other cyclists. 30 seconds later, he was riding next to me. Of course! How can a blond girl with a round bum be faster? IMPOSSIBLE! And it happens again, and again, and again.. Even old guys with hairy legs, wool jerseys and steel bikes always do it. The question is "why?". So this time I asked him, "Please tell me why a girl can not be faster than you?" Answer: "But you were not fast!" Hilarious!!! i almost fell of my bike laughing...  So he drafted couple of minutes behind me, then went ahead making angry noises and breathing hard... and took the next turn... As it always happens.... :-) 

Peace and enjoy your ride, everyone! 


CTB 7: Vegan recovery bomb for sore muscles

My Russian coach used to say: "When it hurts, it grows". He meant sore muscles after the hard core training. Yes, there will be an adaptation process following the training, but let us help our system metabolize the stress better and faster with this plant powered green bomb! It is delicious, healthy, helps your muscles recover - and soybeans (edamame) is a perfect snack!

Green drink: 2 tbsp of soy protein powder, 1 celery stick, 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 apple, 1-2gr. spirulina powder, 150ml water. 

Edamame: steam or microwave frozen edamame 4-5min. Enjoy hot or cold. 

Let your muscles grow with plant power! 

CTB 4: Five running workouts every marathon and Ironman athlete must have done

These are 5 key workouts to build very specific skills and boost the overall performance. In order to get to these volumes and intensity, you need to start slowly, with just a couple of reps... Going too fast too long too soon is very likely to lead to an injury - so be sensible and patient. Once you get to these, you will rock&roll!

  1. 30x30/30 sec - This French "30sec fast - 30sec slow" method builds VO2max like nothing else. 
  2. 10x1000m intervals - This workout builds your fatigue resistance. If you are really hard-core, you can do 15x...
  3. 10x3min uphill, fast - Mountain goat training! Excellent training for flat races too. 
  4. 2hrs negative split run - Negative split always wins!
  5. 2x10km tempo run - a really long interval training to train pacing and build fatigue resistance. 

Never stop running!!!


CTB 3: Circle, triangle and square

I found this calligraphy in the oldest Zen Buddhist temple of Kyoto, Kennin-ji, situated in the famous historic district of Gion. This calligraphy was on the wall in one of the tatami floored rooms, adorned by a tiny zen garden with just a tree and a stone, representing the calligraphy for meditation. This calligraphy work was created by Sengai Gibon, one of the co-founders of the temple.

The idea behind the “circle, triangle, square” calligraphy is that all things in this Universe are represented by these forms. Therefore, using Buddhist universality, everything in our lives is either circle, triangle or square. So who and what are circles, triangles and squares in your life and what do they mean? Do this meditation and try to do without any judgement or bias – we all have preferences for certain forms... 

CTB 2: Year End Reviews and Resolutions

Each December many of us analyze the year and start making plans and resolutions for the year ahead. Here comes a very structured approach how to do in a very effective and insights-producing way. I have been using it for years and highly recommend it!

1. Start with the analysis of 2015. Ask yourself first: "What are my achievements and victories?" Write them down and celebrate them! Then ask yourself: "What did not happen?" and find reasons for it. Be honest and write them down. Lastly, ask yourself "What are my lessons from 2015?" Write them down - focus on what to do and what not to do. 

2. Define 3 focus areas and 5 core values for 2016. What are the 3 main things you are going to focus on and what are the 5 core values that you are going to live. 

3. Objectives 2016: Define key objectives for your health, job/career, relationships, soul, intellect, emotions, adventures and events (and any other areas that are important to you). Feel free to use any tools to set your creativity feel - from mindmapping to a glass of wine :-) 

4. Plan 2016: For each of the objective areas, define a plan with clear actions steps. Create a calendar and plan your activities and action steps across all 12 month. Be bold - but do not forget your 3 focus areas and 5 core values. Anything that is not in line with them needs to be eliminated.

Enjoy the process!