How Kara Goucher Balances Life

A while back we asked our social media fans, “If you could ask Kara Goucher anything about her training, what would you ask her?”

The question we kept hearing back was, “How does she do it all? She’s an elite runner, a wife, a mother; how does she manage to get it all done?”

We asked her, and this is what she said.

The Eternal Search for Balance

By Kara Goucher

People are always asking me how I balance everything in my life.  How do I run full time, raise a child, maintain a healthy relationship with my husband, make meals for my family, and actively participate in the companies that I have partnered with?  The truth is, the balance is constantly shifting, and I am not always great at everything all at once.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a lot of help.  I have a husband who fully supports my career and steps in when I need more help.  I have family who steps up to help when Adam is out of town.  Colt has a nanny who plays with him in the mornings until I get home from practice.  I abandon some projects at certain times of the year and let other people take over.  I am not great at all of my roles all of the time.

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For me the key is a shifting priority based on where I am in my life at any given time.  Before a major competition, running becomes the priority.  Adam steps up to take Colt to the park and pool because I am trying to nap and rest in preparation for my big race.  The whole family will shift for a month or so and let my running take the lead.  But as soon as it is over, family becomes the main priority again.  Colt and Adam are my number one concern and I focus on special time with them.

When I got injured in March, running became low on the priority list.  I still cross trained everyday, but I focused on my family and the companies I represent.  I traveled and dove into business meetings, brainstorming, and photo-shoots.  I took full advantage of the time away from heavy training to get more out of the business side of my life.  I enjoyed the process tremendously but definitely missed my training.

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Now that I am healthy again, the focus is on staying healthy, coming back smart and cautious.  This is actually the time when my life seems the most balanced over all.  Getting back into the grind, not in it enough that I abandon my sponsors, having lots of quality time with my boys.  These are the days when I am pretty good at everything, but not necessarily excellent at anything.

There are times when I focus on my training and my family goes along that ride with me.  And there are times when I focus on my family, and the running is fit in to my family life.  The point is that it is constantly shifting and changing.  For me I look at my life overall- Did I give myself a fair chance to achieve my goals?  Did I let my son and husband know that they are the most important?  Was I a true player in the companies I represent?  While at one time or another one thing may win out, over the course of the year I want there to be balance.

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And that is my point.  You can’t be perfect at everything all of the time.  It is impossible.  Forgive yourself for that.  Do the best you can in the overall scheme of your life.  Your priorities will constantly change, and that’s OK.  Finding balance is about tending to what you need to at that time.  Speaking of which, Colt just asked to go for a late afternoon swim, so I guess we’ll be doing take-out tonight!  Balance!

Life Off-Belay with Nuun

Friend of Nuun, Carson, is currently living life off-belay. What’s life off-belay, you ask? Read more below to find out!

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Tell us a bit about your mission, living life Off-Belay.

Comparisons are often drawn between climbing and the journey we all embark on in life. There are peaks, valleys, treacherous crevasses and points at which the hand holds just seem to run out. A rope and harness are essential pieces of equipment for any climber on a belay team. They offer assurance and security while crossing glaciers or when scaling a sheer face. One day we asked ourselves if this life journey we are on is at its fullest when navigated “on-belay.” Over the past two years we’ve had the ability to see one side of the equation. We enjoyed established corporate careers where we were comfortable, insured and safe. This journey allows us to give the debate a fair shake and dive head first into the flip side of the conversation. We decided to take our rope team off-belay to embrace a life of adventure and meaningful relationships following the Pan-American Highway from Seattle to Patagonia (offbelay-americas.com).

How long have you been on the road now?

Just over six months.

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Have you had any close calls?

Driving in Mexico kept us on our toes, especially at night. To improve our odds we charted a route that took us through Mexican states that weren’t notorious for documented violence. Sadly, while we were in the country another American overland traveler on a motorcycle disappeared in a Mexican state that we opted not to travel through. Near the city of Guadalajara there was one incident that shook us involving automatic weapons, scores of Mexican Federale Police, trucks and spotlights but once they realized they had the wrong guys we emerged unscathed.

How has Nuun helped?

When traveling through developing countries as we have with a strong interest in trying almost every type of new food it is only a matter of time before one gets sick. It is just a reality of the road we are on. Once stomach sickness sets in dehydration quickly follows through one of its various forms. During these times Nuun tablets have been crucial in getting us back on the road to recovery. Easy to drink and full of electrolytes, Nuun allows us to recoup much of what is lost through the suffering while we contemplate whether our dietary choices were worth it.

What are your favorite Nuun flavors?

My favorite Nuun flavor has to be Lemon Lime. Up in the mountains we like to go light and fast which means we only carry around two liters of water per person at any given time. Using Iodine to purify our water saves weight, but also leaves a chemical taste that grows old after a couple of days. Nuun tablets are the easiest solution for this problem in the mountains and give us the added benefits of recharging us with electrolytes at the same time.

Have you shared Nuun with anyone you’ve met on your journey? Any good stories there?

While navigating on a single dirt track through the mountains of Guatemala we suddenly came upon road construction that wouldn’t permit us to pass until the next morning. Making due with the situation we found a rural single pump gas station that seemed secure and agreed to let us camp out for the night. Being the only gringos for miles in any direction always attracts a certain degree of attention, especially from kids. While we cooked our dinner on the tailgate of the Land Cruiser a number of kids came by with curious eyes. Not wanting to disappoint their intrigue we pulled out two tubes of Nuun tablets and let them first try them as candy and then in water. The look of shock on their faces when the tablet sizzled in their mouths was hilarious but they enjoyed the flavors regardless. As we sat down to enjoy our dinner they walked away with a tube a piece and a story to share with their friends about the crazy gringos they met.

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What has life Off Belay taught you so far, and how do you think our readers can apply these lessons to their 9-5 lives?

Life Off-Belay has taught us heaps of lessons that remain worthy for across different types of lives. Three specific lessons come to mind. The first is that every single person knows something interesting that you don’t. We have met hundreds of new people from hosts of different countries along the way and I can guarantee this fact is indeed true. The second lesson is to take the trials and tribulations that life throws us with a problem solving mentality. Never accept defeat instead take the time to pull back, brainstorm and move forward with inspired creativity. The final lesson learned is to critically think about what balance looks like in your life. Each person was created unique and thrives on a different combination of work, hobbies, fulfillment and relaxation. Finding one’s special blend takes time, thought and maybe even trial and error but the effort applied is absolutely worth it.

Where to next?

We’ve been climbing for the past month in the Cordillera Blanca Range of the Andes just outside of Huaraz, Peru. In a week we will drive south to Lima to pick up a friend from University who recently quit his job at a think tank in Washington DC and is coming to join us Off-Belay.

Why Cyclists Wear Bib Shorts

Since so many Nuun fans love their bikes as much as they love Nuun we wanted to share this great post from our friends over at Pactimo! Pactimo is also giving away a kit and 2 months worth of hydration supplies, scroll to the end of the story for more information.

 

If you’re reading this you could be new to cycling or a veteran cyclist—either way, you’re curious why so many roadies and mountain bikers choose bibs over regular bike shorts.

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Making the switch to bibs comes with a certain hesitancy. Not just for new cyclists. Even riders with years of experience and tens of thousands of miles behind them are reluctant to give bibs a try.

Why the resistance? Generally, it’s the leotard look of bibs. For some, it’s intimidating to imagine themselves wearing something as silly or dopey looking as bibs.

This article will hopefully shed some light on why so many people love them and why you may never go back to traditional shorts once you’ve make the switch.

Bib shorts are not just regular shorts with suspenders added. That is, however, how they got their start. Racers would yank out the drawstrings and use old-fashioned clip-on suspenders to hold their shorts in place instead. Today, the suspenders are integrated into the short, are not removable, and are designed using Lycra or mesh to be lightweight, breathable and easy on your shoulders.

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Here’s a few reasons why bibs have become so popular:

1. There’s no waistband. Since there’s no waistband, there’s also no drawstring or itchy, uncomfortable elastic cutting into your abdomen. You’re less likely to feel as if your blood flow and oxygen intake through deep diaphragmatic breathing is being restricted. Therefore, you’ll feel more productive in the saddle, especially over long distances. Another drawback to the traditional waistband is that they collect and retain moisture, which increases the potential for chafing and overall likelihood of discomfort. Bib shorts will leave you feeling completely free and comfortable in the torso.

2. The chamois stays in place. Traditional cycling shorts will end up slipping down over time, and that means the chamois, or pad, will shift as well. Keeping the chamois in place will ensure there is less potential for chafing, saddle sores, and generally unhappy times. Bib shorts by nature are designed in a way that guarantees the chamois stays perfectly in place.

3. Bib straps increase comfort. As mentioned above, bib shorts utilize lightweight, breathable mesh or Lycra straps over the shoulders. While there are a number of advantages to shoulder straps, the biggest benefit is how they comfortably hold the bib as a whole in place without creating pressure or binding points anywhere on the body. Properly fitting bib shorts should disappear when you are in your natural cycling position. You won’t feel anything tugging, binding or chaffing. Our premium bibs (Summit Raptor in retail and Ascent and Summit in custom) are designed with Silhouette™ Engineering, a natural bend or articulation that mimics the contour of your body when you’re on your bike. This articulation means that you experience total and complete comfort when on your bike.

4. Showing off doesn’t mean showing skin. The best designed cycling jerseys are shorter in the front to reduce fabric bunching and provide a more aerodynamic fit. For taller riders with traditional shorts that might mean they’ll be sporting the bare midriff when they’re not actually on their bike. With bib shorts being obviously cut higher than a traditional short, a seamless transition between shorts and jersey is maintained at all times. To the onlooker, your bib short and cycling jersey will look just like a jersey and traditional short would; to the wearer though, the difference is as stark as night and day. This is the same from the rear. You won’t ever be tormenting those behind you with an unsightly “plumber’s crack.”

If you’re already a convert to bib shorts you’ll likely agree with the points outlined above. Most cyclists who have converted to bibs have also said they’d never go back to traditional shorts.

Pactimo offers  a variety of bibs for men and women, and they’re giving away a free cycling kit and Nuun over on their site! Click the image below for more details.

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Friday 5: 5 Fun Facts About Sweating

As you might have noticed, we’re big on hydration here at Nuun. And as you might have noticed, hydration and sweating often go hand in hand. Here are some quick facts about perspiration to peruse while you wait for your favorite Nuun tablet to dissolve.

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1. Humans are the best sweaters.

Every animal has a way to dissipate heat—dogs pant, moths move blood from their heart to their abdomen, elephants stay cool thanks to their hair. Humans and a few other species, most notably horses, use sweating as their main way to stay cool.

Sweating is so integral to being human that some have posited a key role for it in evolution. Our ability to stay cool via sweating, some say, allowed early humans to track prey for hours, eventually causing the prey to collapse because of heat exhaustion. In this view, sweating allowed early humans to get high-quality calories and allowed running skill to be a desirable evolutionary trait.

2. There are two types of sweat glands.

Humans have apocrine glands and eccrine glands. Apocrine glands are the type that most other animals—who do sweat, but not as their main way of heat dissipation—have. In humans, apocrine glands are found only in certain body parts, including the armpits, nipples, eyelids and nostrils. The sweat produced by apocrine glands is oily and becomes smelly as it decomposes. It’s sensitive to adrenaline, which is why your palms, armpits and parts of your face might start sweating when you’re emotionally stressed.

Eccrine glands are found on your skin throughout your body. They’re the ones that release sweat to keep you cool, although, like apocrine glands, they can be triggered by emotional stress.

3. The fitter you are, the more you sweat.

As your aerobic fitness improves, you start to sweat earlier and at greater volume when exercising. This adaptation allows you to sustain a higher work load for a longer period of time, because it keeps your muscles cool enough to continue to function at a given intensity (up to a certain point of dehydration, of course).

But wait: Why does it seem like unfit people sweat more? The answer has to do with what constitutes a workout level of exertion for different people. If you’re fit, exercising at, say, 75% of your maximum heart rate involves moving pretty quickly. But for sedentary people, it’s easy to reach that level of exertion through something like climbing a few flights of stairs, and they might start sweating profusely. But if fit you and your unfit neighbor are both exercising at the same intensity, you’ll sweat more, because you’re moving faster, and are therefore generating more heat.

4. Sweat rates and composition vary greatly among people.

If you take a group of athletes of similar fitness and have them do a workout together, it’s likely that afterward some will be drenched, some sort of sweaty and some perhaps glistening a little. Some people are genetically more prolific sweaters than others (and therefore often more in need to be mindful of their hydration status).

The composition of your sweat might also be a lot different from that of your training partners. While everyone’s sweat becomes less dense with sodium, potassium and other electrolytes with continued exposure to heat, that acclimatization occurs within a genetically set range. There’s at least one facility in the U.S. that analyzes athletes’ sweat composition and recommends hydration strategies based on the findings.

5. Many cultures have a group-sweating tradition.

From Finnish saunas to Turkish baths to Native American sweat lodges, humans have long valued getting together to perspire. Anthropologists have theorized that group sweats build social bonds, reduce conflict and help to mediate disagreements.

 

We couldn’t agree more. Consider your next workout with friends a portable sauna.