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It's the Little Things that Matter

By Martha Grinnell | Dec. 30, 2008, 12 a.m. (ET)

As a former pro triathlete, one of the greatest lessons I learned was that the "little things" go a long way in training. My biggest breakthrough occurred when I "stepped outside the box" and took my training beyond just swimming, cycling and running. Here are my suggestions:
  1. Take yoga 2x per week with a reputable instructor. You'll benefit from total body relaxation, breath control, flexibility, balance and core strength; all which come into play when racing.
  2. Find other forms of training to maintain base. A good long hike with plenty of vertical, XC skiing (great for core strength) and snow shoeing are all excellent base phase cross-training modes to keep you fit and fresh. Bring a buddy with you and keep it social!
  3. Work on SKILLS, SKILLS, SKILLS in all three disciplines – every week, almost every session (as part of a training session). Good form = efficiency = less energy expenditure = economy.
  4. Read motivational or inspirational articles or books as a form of inspiring yourself! We tend to neglect the spiritual side of ourselves to focus on the physical. The two balance one another out.
  5. Be your own biggest supporter. Hard on yourself? Most athletes tend to be this way. Write down all the things that you did well each day as a way of patting yourself on the back. Folks don't do this enough.  Remember ... it's the little things like this that go a long way!

Martha Grinnell holds an MS in Exercise and Sport Studies from Smith College, is a USAT Level I Certified Coach and is ACSM Certified. Visit her website at