Friday, October 30, 2009

Yoga & Meditation

As I was reviewing the recent blog posts on my Google Reader I came across and article about meditation by Patrick Stinson ( This article reminded me that one of the most ignored and important part of training, behind but closely related to recovery, is the mental game.

The mental game is interesting because some people believe that it's you really need, "If you want it bad enough!" and it is important but it has to be accompanied with the physical game. I believe that when two similarly trained and talented athletes compete it will often come down to who is mentally tougher but that the real 'Mental Game' happens every day.

Every single day an athlete makes choices that will ultimately help her/him become successful or lead to their ultimate downfall. For most athletes it is relatively easy to tough out a workout, push through the end of a race, or do that last rep in strength. It is not easy to then lie down, go to bed early, eat the right stuff AND give your brain a break. Small choices snowball into huge avalanches when the season starts and it is the athletes that, because I'm also in Wyoming, just "git er done!" every day, all year long, that will ultimately see the success for which they strive.

This is one of the things I like about Patrick's blog post, he is acknowledging the importance of dealing with your mind to increase your ability to recover. Being mentally able to deal with the everyday trauma of training is extremely important but in many ways dealing with the everyday stresses of life is more difficult and finding the balance between the two is the most difficult.

Patrick gave us one example of mental work that athletes can do. Our team started doing yoga last fall for the same reason. The mental part of yoga is extremely important but it also has the advantage of increasing flexibility, balance, strength and provides a great opportunity for active recovery. It's a win-win!

Whichever method you choose, it is important for you to consider the mental part of your training. In the long run what separates the dogs from the pups is not the ability to train hard on the interval days but the ability to recover from those days, make good choices and keep mentally focused.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's a good day in Laramie!

Friday, October 09, 2009

From the Eurochopper!

Dear all,

As some of you might know (many of you don't) I am currently on a research visit to the TU Delft in the Netherlands. I will be working here until Christmas which I will spend in Austria. I am still not done with my PhD but really not too far away from finishing anymore (most likely sometimes in summer). Below you'll find a brief summary of my experiences so far...

The traveling was pretty smooth (thanks to my ride Kristyn to Denver, and my hosts Andy&Laura in Denver) since the predicted snowstorm was a little bit late. My last minute packing method worked perfect as usual but my brain did not after a nice meal at the Cafe Berlin and so I managed to forget my Laptop + some paperwork in Kristyn's car. The problem was solved the next day by arranging for a shipment of the documents to the Netherlands (thank you Rene!). Getting to Delft after arriving in Amsterdam was a piece of cake and so was checking in to my new room. I am sharing kitchen and bath with my new roommate Mehmet from Iran. He does not talk very much and I really hope he is not here to get is pilot license...
On my way from the apartment to my new office (which is only 10min by foot) I realized a few interesting things:
1) I must have really adapted to the nice, cold and dry Wyoming climate over the past 4 years, beacause the 15C rainy weather with a humidity of close to 90% was killing me!
2) I already missed mountains!
3) I am not used to people anymore: everybody looked very important and busy here, how annoying!
4) Similarly to the states not many people walk here but that's because everybody rides a bike. I almost got myself killed several times! The way traffic works here: bikes first, then cars at the end of the chain is the pedestrian
5) There is a lot of water here!

After getting a desk in a really nice student office (!) I met my new Prof. Dirk Roekaerts. He seems to be very much like Dr. Heinz described him to me: very smart, very nice with gray hair and sometimes a bit lost in thought (isn't that how a Prof. should be?). We went straight to talking business which was not a good idea since I was pretty incoherent after not sleeping much for 48 hours...Anyways, I think he did forgive me for that and we had a much more fruitful discussion the next day and by now we have already a pretty good idea of what we want to work on (a flame of course!).

Over the last days I met most of the PhD students and a few undergrads. A nice international mix of people! Also, half of them do experiments which already resulted in some interesting discussions about, guess what, flames. Next week I am invited to watch one of the students fire up a burner and take some measurements in the flame. Besides my immediate colleges in the thermo-fluids group I am surrounded by labs in which people research pretty cool things like quantuum tunneling and so forth (my office is in the physics building). Overall, an intellectually very stimulating environment!

The food in the Mensa is pretty good and decently priced. In the evenings I have different cheeses and sausages with pretty good bread everyday. In terms of food it already feels close to home. Though there is one striking difference to home (and to Laramie): the people here are all so tall! Every other guy and every third girl are taller than me (nothing for you Rene!). Must be from the cheese...

After I got rid of a cold which I caught on the plane (of course...) I went on my first run yesterday. Going for a run is always a good way to check out new places. To avoid getting lost (which I usally do) I decided to run along the main canal which runs through Delft. Running at sea level (or even below) is quite an experience after living on top of a mountain for the last 4 years. I started with a nice slow zone 1 pace but my heart rate did not really go up. After a few minutes I increased the pace to what would be a fast zone 2 pace in Laramie. My heart rate was still in low zone 1. I felt like supermen! Along the canal there are very pretty old brick stone buildings all of which are renovated nicely. Living in Laramie, I almost forgot how nice houses can be! Besides the old houses there were more things that really made me feel that I am in an old European University town.
I must have came across at least a dozen rowing boats. To my surprise (and pleasure) most of the boats were filled with pretty hot girls (thats what paradise must be). Seeing these girls I was thinking to myself that I better should have learned rowing instead of spending all my time playing tennis in St. Gilgen. I don't know if the girls were the reason for my heart rate to catch up with the pace I was running but it eventually did. I guess some things don't change: you cant turn a donkey into a race horse, not even at sea level.

It's Friday evening and I pretty much wrote what I have to tell so far. I will go for another run now and perhaps I am able to find out where the rowing girls hang out later on. I will grab a bite to eat and have myself some of the Dutch brews!

Cheers and Goedenavond,

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Nutrition talk!!

In case you missed the nutrition talk on Friday afternoon or just want to review something the videos have been uploaded on the uwski YouTube channel:

There are four parts uploaded on YouTube but here's the first section.