It’s about the 1%’ers that have to be put in place to help improvements happen e.g. nutrition, supplementation, rest / training balance, listening to what your body is needing and the step change improvements enjoyed as a result.
Mike’s is a great story. Here’s someone who made a choice, accepted a challenge and after 20 years and a few injuries then started to put a series of 1%’ers in place. Only 18 months later, he is about to represent his country over the London Olympic Course for the 2013 ITU World Championships.
Well Done & Good Luck Mike
From the Xtend-Life Team
Mike Cousins’ Background:
I started triathlons in November 2012 and was back in the pool for the first time in 20 years last August, so I was stoked (to say the least) to find out that I recently qualified (second fastest) to represent New Zealand for my age group at the ITU World Triathlon champs in London in September 2013.
Family me: I am a 37 year old father of a beautiful (almost 3 year old) daughter named Samantha and an equally beautiful fiancee, Miriam. Miriam and I have been together for 11 years and had planned a wedding down in Christchurch on February 26, 2011. However, the earthquake on February 22, changed our outdoor cliff-top wedding plans. We live in the Western Hills of Lower Hutt, in a house with a picket white fence and extensive views of Wellington Harbour. We lived in Ottawa Canada for almost 3 years and got used to ice skating on the canal onside our downtown apartment in -30 degrees C. We both ski/snowboard and our daughter loves the snow - so it will not belong until she is on skis and beating Mum and Dad down the mountain.
Sporting me: I have always been into a sport and outdoor activities of some kind. I used to go on long hikes with mates on many of the great walks of the South Island - including the Heaphy, Abel Tasman and Copland. I played rugby at school, touch rugby in later years and enjoyed a few seasons of ultimate frisbee in Canada. I love snowboarding, mountain biking, and now combining running, swimming, biking - or triathlons.
Professional me: I am a Wellington local working for the U.S. Government (U.S. Embassy Ottawa, now U.S. Embassy Wellington) as a Digital Engagement Specialist. I am at the forefront of digital engagement in the State Department, and am well known for forward thinking and testing digital outreach strategies, with many U.S. Embassy initiatives being used Department wide as best practices. I was Locally Engaged Staffer of the year 2012, and runner up within the East Asia Pacific Region. I have endorsements from former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and former Department of State Innovation Advisor, Alec Ross.
Road to London:
Back in mid 2012, a friend of mine from Christchurch signed up for the 2013 Lake Wanaka Challenge Half Ironman. When I saw this I thought, this looks like a great challenge, as we were both putting on a 'middle aged spread' - in other words getting too comfortable with minimal exercise and a not so healthy lifestyle. The challenge was on.
To finish this challenge, I needed to complete a 1.9km open water swim, a 90km hilly bike ride, followed by a 21km run. At the time, the last time I had swam a 30m length was over 20 years ago, my biking was OK (for anything under 40km), and my running was non-existent (I had torn my ACL playing touch rugby in Ottawa back in 2009, and had key hole surgery to reconstruct the ligament, so running was out of the question for a long time during recovery). So I had a bit of work to do.
Firstly, I started with a nutrition plan. I decided to have a stint at going Gluten and Lactose free - so plenty of gluten free cereals, breads and unsweetened almond milk. I also ate plenty of white and red meats, fruit, vegetables, and late in the piece, freshly blended juices.
Next I had to learn to swim again, so I completed a 4 lesson technique course with Ali Dennis called "Gliding On" back in August 2012. This helped improve my swimming technique and gave me confidence to increase the number of lengths in the pool, and eventually gave me confidence to go open water swimming in Wellington Harbour.
I gradually increased my run distance each week, until I was easily completing 14km without much fuss. During the same period I was out on the bike riding the around the Wellington Bays circuit.
I didn't have a set schedule for swimming, running and biking. I tried to fit them in around my life (family and work).
Then in November 2012, I decided to complete my first triathlon - the famous Wellington Scorching Bay triathlon. The conditions were difficult, but I pulled it off and enjoyed the experience - in fact it was then that I got the "tri bug". I completed the December Scorching tri in equally trying conditions. But after that, and after a few more kms on the clock, I was ready for the January Half Ironman. In the end a great result and I still had "the bug".
Then it was in March 2013 that I competed in the qualifying race to represent New Zealand at the ITU World Champs in London. The night before the race I registered to become a NZTri member (part of TRIBE) and as the race was in Wellington (and the forecast was not good) I knew it was course well and that the rough conditions would suit me fine. I had a great race and was the second fastest qualifier for my age group (35-39). Stoked! You can read about my training on my blog under the category "fitness".
Since then it has been a concentrated effort with my nutrition (no pies, no alcohol) and a committed effort on training in all 3 disciplines. At my age it is extremely important to listen to my body and to know my limits. However my 37 year mind with all of its life experiences is well more equipped than my carefree, bat-out-of-hell, 25 year old mind was. For example, I realise that stretching is just as important as the the 3 disciplines needed to complete a triathlon. Stretching helps decrease injury, but it also helps extend the limits needed to compete at a World Championship level. I also relaize these days that nutrition is equally important - the right food for refuel and muscle growth.
As with all Age Group athletes, it is a great challenge to train around daily life - with family, work and social commitments. The added challenge are the costs involved of carting yourself, your bike, and gear across the globe to London for the race in September.
I have to say that without Miriam and Sam's support and patience, I would not be going to London. So I am extremely grateful to have such a supported fiancee.
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