Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight -- SportExcel

What does it mean to be in the Zone? We've all watched movies about an athlete achieving a zen state of mind and a laser-like focus on the task at hand. Such movies always end with a triumph -- a gold medal, a team championship, the final goal. But is this kind of experience rooted in reality? Does the Zone actually exist?

Yes it does.

And according to Bob Palmer from SportExcel, virtually everyone has the potential to be a peak performer. We all have an amazing ability to create success and own the Zone. To "just do it" doesn't always work. Sometimes you need a simple powerful process like Peak Performance Zone. For many athletes, it has become their "secret weapon."

Bob's own personal journey with achieving the Zone is like something out of one of those inspirational movies...

As a 32-year old martial artist, he was passionate about the speed, power and athleticism, as well as the emotional intensity in karate. He was fascinated by the elusiveness of the Zone. In his words, "How could I be so committed and work so very hard, yet be denied something so basic?"

With the right mentors and obsessive perseverance, he found the Zone and developed a system to teach others how to achieve it.

More than 10 years later, Bob continues to work with coaches, athletes, business entrepreneurs, and anyone who wants and needs new skills "yesterday."

"There are no winners or losers in high performance--
only those who actively acquire the Zone
and those who leave it to chance or to others."
Bob Palmer, B.Ed., B.E.S. SportExcel CEO
and High Performance Trainer

So what exactly IS the Zone?

Being in the Zone brings a clear mental edge to your game. You will perceive situations in a way that is different from your usual perceptions. You will see advantages where others see problems. Where others experience difficult and pressure-packed circumstances, you experience the exhilaration of the Zone.

Virtually all athletes have moments when performance is easy and empowering. Peak Performance Zone makes these moments consistent across the board. Whereas physical size, strength, and specific sport-related physiology may be limitations to success in sport, this is not true of the Zone. The Zone can be learned just like any other skill. There is no genetic component to it.

Okay, I am interested...but what do I have to DO?

Perhaps it is a good idea to point out what SportExcel does NOT do. They do NOT provide you with volumes of source material, reams of suggestions and pithy quotes. They do NOT perform an in depth analysis and assessment about your weaknesses and emotions. They bypass all these things and get right to the Zone, which after all, is what we are interested in!

Sport Excel starts straight away, giving you specific strategies you can implement immediately.

Professional triathlete (and one of MRT's head coaches) Sara Gross, underwent a 6 week transformation (The Ignition Series) with SportExcel that she blogged extensively about at

Her experience illustrates the power of effective mental strategies:

"I have always been a believer in the power of the mind and my previous attempts to change how I think about something could be called "the-little-engine-that-could-method," I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Or likewise, I love hills, I love hills, I love hills, etc...And this method does work as long as you can control your mind enough to keep the positive thought train running and the negative one in the station."

"What I learned from Bob is that there are easy methods that we can use to change our minds on the unconscious level that will actually stick! This is the revolutionary aspect of Bob's program. It helps you change your mind, and your physiology by using the Zone experience as the central focus of your everyday activities."

SportExcel is based out of Ontario, but for those athletes at the opposite end of the country (or anywhere else in the world for that matter), sessions are also offered via telephone and Skype.

Visit SportExcel at or contact Bob at

**Remember MRT athletes receive a 10% discount!***

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Painted Line

Ken Bagan took on his first triathlon this past weekend, the UBC Olympic distance. Here's a post-race reflection, through the eyes of his Ironman-wife, Kari Strutt:

A Painted Line

Races. They start at a painted line. End at a painted line.

Stories are different.

They are about what happens outside the lines...the places we’re not supposed to color.

But that’s where I find Ken - outside the lines and out of the race. He is not a happy sweaty pink. Parts of him are black, others blue. Red. Purple. The right colors, but in the wrong places. I remind myself that colors are better than grey.

Except red. Nothing good comes from red.

He fell off the bike.


His helmet is now shuffling its way to landfill. Thanks helmet...nice save.

Coach Carrie wants to know if a fall will be a problem, wants to know if he’s fallen before.

Ken and I laugh. Ken always falls.

Before we married he wanted a motorcycle. I told him he could get one if he rode his bike for a year, without falling. Twelve years later he gave up and bought a convertible.

I’ve become accustomed to his falling.

But not like this.

This fall was different.

This was a race.

He trained.


I half-carry Ken from the first-aid tent to the truck. He is still nearly-high on his magnificent swim - not entirely aware, perhaps, that the day is actually done. He doesn’t know that we need to get to a hospital, because his colors are fading.

When I climb in the passenger door I notice he is staring at his legs. They are lean and strong.

“I was passing people on the bike,” he says. “No one was passing me. I had a hell of a swim, eh?”

Then it happens.

His eyes well up with tears.

Mine follow. We are together, crying.

At the moment I think to reach for his bloodied hand, Veronika, our little girl, silent and watching from the back seat, snakes her arms around the headrest, wraps them ‘round his neck.

I turn to the back seat and see that her face is streaked with tears.

“What?” she shrugs, “I’m a sympathetic crier.”

So, for a minute or two, that’s what we do. We just cry. All of us.

When the tears pass we sit for a moment, bear silent witness to absolute disappointment.

...and in that moment I realize that disappointment is not a right, it’s a privilege...that some sorrows are earned, traded for in sweat and effort, early mornings, sometimes late nights, lonely hours, long rides. They are bought and paid for in miles on foot, miles on wheels, in countless lengths in crowded pools...forever following a painted line.

Editor's note: Ken is healing up well, back in the saddle, and prepping for his next race, the Mount Royal Sprint.