“Stop it!” A very good blog post to check out..

Posted in Training Tips on April 7, 2014 by Gleason Endurance Coaching

Jim Vance, head coach of Formula Endurance Coaching for youth triathlon, (formerly Tri-Juniors), an Elite Level Coach at Training Bible Coaching, and my former coach, wrote a really good blog I think you should read, if you’re reading this.   http://www.coachvance.com/2014/03/stop-it-16-things-you-likely-do-and.html.  It hits some simple and very important points.

Jim gives a brief and very succinct list of things that most triathletes, especially the pressed for time age-grouper, regularly do;  Those common mistakes that are between you and your very achievable, yet elusive peak performance.  I completely agree with all 16 things that Jim lists.

 

My favorites:

#5 – The effect of what you eat and drink 24 hours a day, 7/365 is more broad and profound in every aspect of your life now, and in the future, than you realize.  I guarantee it.  You can improve training and racing performance, without doing anything else at all, simply by eliminating foods that you don’t need, (and eating more of the ones you that you do).  That may be a bigger portion of your food than you think.   Have you had any chips and salsa, meat, flour tortillas, beer wine or booze, ice cream, pizza, bread or any refined grains, gluten (wheat or barley products of any sort), dairy products, sugared and processed anything, etc, lately?  Would it surprise you to hear that you require none of those things to live well, thrive, and excel athletically?

 

# 6 – When will endurance athletes realize that how many miles, yards, hours that you do was is nowhere near as important as what you specifically do with those mile, yards, hours etc.  Volume is, at best, a loose metric of how fit you are for your race, and it really matters most for IM. And IM athletes already know that.

#11- See my post here: http://gleasoncoaching.com/2010/04/23/return-on-investment-for-the-serious-triathlete/ that I wrote in 2011.

 

#16 – Cramps are not usually caused by a nutritional factor.  Period.  They are more likely caused by acute fatigue, resulting in a cascade of events, predominantly neuromuscular in nature, that result in muscle failure.  In other words, not being fit enough for the job that you ask your muscles to complete that day.  Yep, its most likely about your training, NOT how much Gatorade you got.

 

#17- This is borderline blasphemy, and I totally agree.  I don’t believe that the full IM ought to be considered the Holy Grail of triathlon.  Officially, an Olympic Gold medal ought to be.

 

Well done, Jim. I will add a few of my items to the list of things to stop:

 

#18- Stop thinking that strength training, even lifting weights, is not helpful.  It is – for most triathletes. It can directly make you faster in the water and on the bike and, if done correctly, it will not hurt your run speed and it will increase your injury resistance significantly.

 

#19 – Stop believing that running performance is all about cadence.  It’s not.  Do the Brownlee brothers run better than most because their cadence is a little higher than everyone else?

 

#20 – Stop thinking that a bad race makes you a bad person, or that a good race makes you a better person.  It’s only a game.  ..A game we love.

 

#21 – Stop thinking that even though you never really were able to do it in training, that somehow on race day you will magically tap into a new power, and experience an astonishing new level of performance.  It won’t happen.  You pretty much race like you train.  You’re just a little faster and more motivated race day.

 

#22 – Stop looking for the easy button.  There isn’t one.  Most athletes get out of their racing what they put into their training.  In the immortal words of John Wooden, “There is no substitute for hard work.”

Seeing results from hard work is the essential gratification to be found in our sport, and it can change your life.

 

Do you know what you are capable of?

The Long View of Your Racing

Posted in Consistency on February 27, 2014 by Gleason Endurance Coaching

What you do now, in the Winter and early Spring, can determine how you do in your big race in late Summer or Fall. Building your base level fitness each season is critical for performing at your highest level when you want to be ready months down the road.  It requires a lot of planning, patience and motivation. Above all, it demands persistence. Consistently staying motivated to train, in order to perform at your highest level is not easy. In particular, if you have been training for less than 3 or 4 seasons, it is hard to build (or rebuild) your base in the Winter or Spring.  Cold weather, nightfall at 5 PM, rain, snow, ice and a general lack of motivation, can all act to sabotage your breakthrough season, and the achievement of new heights.  To stay motivated now, in the Winter while its cold, dark, and wet outdoors, is often a big challenge.  And let’s face it, a lot of the base training needed at this point in the season is just not that fun or sexy.

Exercising-Rain

That’s why I believe it’s critically important to see your whole season, really your racing career, and all your planned races as one long-term project. It’s also critical to understand that the (proper) training you do now, will potentially make the difference between achieving high goals, or not, months and seasons later.  It can be the difference between PR’s, podium, championship level performances and mediocrity or worse.  Lance Armstrong once said that the Tour de France is won in December, not July.  I know, I know, maybe a bad reference because we now know when he probably did win the Tour. Cheating not withstanding, that statement is still correct. Building a solid foundation for high level performance now is critical.  So, when you feel like calling it off, the weather stinks, or you have to train indoors, and you just don’t have the drive, know that you will come Summer and hang in there!  Stay focused. This is one of my most important coaching objectives for my athletes at this time of the season:  keeping the focus in the right place, and seeing the long view.  Solid base training and consistency now will bring great rewards when you want and deserve them most.

Meta-Training (Off-Season, Part II)

Posted in Consistency, Recovery, Training Tips on December 8, 2013 by Gleason Endurance Coaching

Is something out of whack?

A nagging injury that won’t heal and is really too easily irritated?  You know, the ones that resurface at just the wrong time..

Low back, shoulder, or hip pain?

You know what I mean, it’s those issues that you manage all through a tough series of training blocks for perhaps most, if not all, of your season. They don’t sideline you (at first).  You manage to hold them at bay long enough to train and race, and you make it through some peak races, despite the latent (or even acute) pains.

Well, maybe you could eliminate most if not all of them with a little effort.  Now, the “Off-Season,” or into early Base training, is the optimal time to handle these particular problems.   The good news is that you may be able to do so with only a little re-training.  It’s what I like to refer to as “Meta-Training.”  I often describe Base training to my athletes as training to train, not training to race.  Meta-Training is really even a step before that.  Its training to train, to train, (which leads of course to training to race).

massage23

As a serious endurance athlete, you have fairly well ingrained movement patterns.  They are a direct result of several factors:

  • Your postural and alignment status
  • Physical injuries – or hopefully a lack thereof
  • How you originally learned to swim, bike, run, & strength train
  • Your body finding the fastest way to get from point A to point B, utilizing proper form, or not.
  • How you handle, and train in, a very fatigued status (i.e. training with already compromised, damaged muscles, and pain)

Fortunately, these are all malleable patterns. You can relearn and therefore ingrain new and better fundamental movement patterns. This will primarily help you avoid potential injuries. However, it can also make you a more efficient swimmer, cyclist, & runner. In my next post, I will go over some of  the how to’s.  They are easy and quick!

Running Better

Posted in Skills, Training Tips on December 27, 2011 by Gleason Endurance Coaching

Running is a highly individualized and fairly technical activity. What is good for one runner to focus on might be the wrong thing for another.  So, I just want to make a quick comment about the two aspects of running that matter most when it comes to pace (and that is really all that matters ultimately, right?)  I don’t mean to suggest that these are the only two aspects comprising running. Of course, that would be a vast over-simplification.  This is one (useful) way to analyze running.

The two components of pace are: cadence and stride length. There is plenty of advice about cadence, or leg “turn-over,” and it usually boils down to ‘increase it for better running..’  True, most runners probably would benefit from increasing their cadence, a little. But maybe not. What if its already at your optimal rate?  Once cadence is where it should be for you – probably in the 84-94 range – that’s all you can do with it.

Stride length is really where the big gains are to be made for most endurance athletes. This involves a lot of training, a large part of which is strength training. You MUST have a lot of running specific leg, hip, lower trunk (“core”), and even shoulder strength, to maintain a large stride over the course of your race, particularly if you’re coming off the bike.

brownlee-gomez finish

Running fast is not supposed to be easy

Some exercises that you can fit into workouts to increase this specific strength are:

  • Forward lunges (grip dumbbells in each hand and hang arms at your sides to add resistance to this exercise)
  • Box-jumps
  • One-leg hopping
  • Skipping
  • Very short (i.e. 20 second) hill sprints
  • Stairs , as in the kind at a high school football stadium or track.
  • Running in soft sand (be careful with this one, as it’s very hard on foot and ankle muscles)
  • Adding or increasing hills (gradually) to your long run

After you become proficient at any one of these, try combining it carefully with another one for a complex workout.

The “Off-Season”

Posted in Recovery on October 5, 2011 by Gleason Endurance Coaching

If you had an active racing season, you are most likely finished with your last race, or you will be soon.  As you log your last race for the year, and look forward to some well-earned down time, what do you do about training, working out, or just staying active in the “off-season?”

First, it is perhaps a good idea to take some time to stop and reflect on your season. I have my athletes write up answers to some basic questions to evaluate and reflect on the season just passed.  Did you accomplish your main training and racing goal?  Why or why not?  Did you accomplish other secondary goals? What was the most beneficial type of training in your opinion?  The least? Are you racing at the right distance, or even the right sport? What do you want to focus on for next season?  Do you have ideas, or even specific plans for racing next year?  Now is a good time to reflect on all these Q’s and more. Take plenty of time to evaluate the direction in which you’re heading.

So, what about the off-season?  There are some basics for the off-season that all athletes, especially those that train hard and consistently over the year, benefit from:

  • Do not try to maintain your peak fitness from the end of the season, or anything close to that.  You must let it go.  In order to build peak performances again next season, you have to let this one go, and travel through the “valley” of fitness, or there will not be another true peak.
  • Do not remain inactive.  You should stay active with other sports  activities such as hiking, skiing, basketball, or whatever you like (and won’t get injured doing).  You can, and maybe ought to, cross-train with activities that will directly benefit your multi-sport performance next season: yoga, Pilates, strength training such as weights, plyometrics, and outdoor functional strength training are all very good choices.  These are highly individualized with regard to how to improve your sport specific performance for next season.  I work one-on-one with my athletes for this in the off-season.  One of the goals however is to get away from swim-bike-run for a while.
  • How long is “a while” and how long should an off-season be?  That again, is highly individual.  It depends on a few key points:  How long was your season? How high are your goals for next season? When is your first race for next season?  What is your limiter and how much of a limiter is it?   Regardless, you should take at least 4-6 weeks away from any structured training plan like the one you followed.
  • If you must do some swim-bike-run activity, what should it be?  Probably run.  Running is the ability that fades the farthest, the fastest for most athletes, particularly those over 40ish.  This, in part, is due to the  strength and resilience required of the tendons and ligaments used in injury-free running, and the length of time it takes to build that type of specific fitness. It is easier to rebuild bike and swim fitness in a relatively shorter period of time.  Again, even with off-season running, no structure (i.e. training plan): They can be short and easy runs, or do some racing: 5K, 10K, half marathon.  I would avoid a full marathon unless you are a very accomplished runner and have a lot of time to recover before starting back at your multi-sport training for next year.

Regardless of what you do in your “off-season,” get rested, physically and mentally recharged and refreshed, and be proud of your athletic accomplishments for the year!

So you can’t win a triathlon in the water, huh?

Posted in Racing Tips, Skills, Training Tips on April 21, 2011 by Gleason Endurance Coaching

swim trainingIf you think this “conventional wisdom” is true for any triathlon, except perhaps an IM, please look at the results of Ironman California 70.3 from Sat, April 2, 2011, and March 31st, 2012 (and probably March 30th, 2013 in one week).  Check out Andy Potts very impressive wins.  It can be argued that the difference was his gigantically dominant swim performance – where he was more than 1 whole minute out in front of pro-competitor #2 into T1 (both years)!  Then, look at the margin of error at the finish. Yeah…   You can win (or podium) a triathlon in the swim.  Forget “conventional wisdom.”

Is it time to reconsider the swim as merely defensive?  I say it is.  And if you think you can’t improve your swim, or it doesn’t really matter for racing triathlon, please send me an email.  I believe you need to talk to me  :)

And this was on a 70.3 course!  If it’s true there, it is for sure true in short course racing, i.e, Oly’s and sprints, even non-drafting events where the gap a strong swimmer can put on the field is even harder to bridge.

open water start

Time to get in the water.

TCSD Wed PM Track Workouts, starting this Week March 12th!

Posted in Training Opportunities on March 10, 2014 by Gleason Endurance Coaching

I am happy to be taking over as the Track Coach for the TriClub San Diego Track Workouts this Spring and Summer. I look forward to continuing to help TCSD and other athletes develop their skills, speed work and anaerobic abilities!

The workouts will generally follow the pattern of a warm-up, done at your own pace and effort, skill work and drills, speed work/anaerobic endurance work on the track, followed up with a cool-down of each athletes choosing. Plan stretching on your own, as that is an individualized aspect of workouts.

Come on out and get faster on the run!

Bill

brownlee-gomez finish

Myth Busting Article on USAT

Posted in Racing Tips, Training Tips on November 10, 2013 by Gleason Endurance Coaching
I normally don’t get very interested, excited, nor spend more than a few seconds looking at the vast majority of triathlon articles that come my way. That includes those arriving via most triathlon magazines, and most other “in-the-know” resources, newsletters, including race directors giving ” tips” in their emails. They are, nine times out of ten, just displaying their very firm grasp of the already well-known, (otherwise known as common knowledge), and/or the plain old obvious.
Nonetheless, every now and then I see one that is really good.  “Good,” in that the article makes a very important point about training, racing, nutrition, gear, or another area of interest to multi-sport athletes. These are the ones relevant, insightful, and worth considering for most of your training decisions.  Or, the article is “good’ in that it breaks new ground, while hopefully dispelling one or more of the many myths out there that pass for wisdom, or free “advice.”
This one is the former.  This is not new, but it needs to be emphasized.  I wrote a very similar article over 3 years ago (minus the statistical data. Mine was largely based on experience and opinion – but in my opinion correct ).
See it here:
http://www.usatriathlon.org/about-multisport/multisport-zone/multisport-lab/articles/bike-weight-102113.aspx
Is it the bike or the rider?

Is it the bike or the rider?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it (and mine too).
http://gleasoncoaching.com/2010/04/23/return-on-investment-for-the-serious-triathlete/
Lance Armstrong was right about one thing at least: It really isn’t about the bike …or the shoes, or the wetsuit, the goggles, the wheels, the helmet, the ….). I won’t get into what he was wrong about.

Eat for … Health (?)

Posted in Food and Health, Fueling, fueling and Health on July 5, 2013 by Gleason Endurance Coaching

Before I write more about food, health, training, and performance by relating personal stories of my own, and those of people close to me, let me say a few things that may, or may not, be pretty obvious to you.  I’m gonna say them regardless.  And I’m going to ask a question.   Forgive me if this seems terse and unrelated to training, racing and performance. I have a background in Political Science and Law (I’m also still an attorney), and I very much care about how all these issues are interconnected.  It baffles and frustrates me that most in the media, those in public policy, and political leaders do not publicly discuss these matters more frankly, or even see them in the first place.  I guess the “politically correct” cops and/or the bought and paid for corporate interests are still on the beat and calling the shots.  God forbid we offend (or offer an alternative way to eat and live) to someone who may be 20, or 200 lbs. overweight and suffering metabolic disease – unnecessarily.

As you most likely know, the US is in the middle of a health crisis.  The US is also running unsustainably high, long-term debt. (I’m not getting into all the reasons why re: the debt.)  One major part of the long-term debt is Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – so-called “entitlements;” Benefits to which you have a statutory right, once you meet the legal requirements to qualify.  Medicare and Medicaid, it should be obvious, are directly related to health care costs.  They are very high ..ridiculously high.  Why? See: Time Magazine, Cover Story,  March 04, 2013. Please. Therefore, its pretty obvious that one way to begin to resolve the long-term fiscal problem is to dramatically cut health care costs.  Of course…

junk food plate

Mmmm, lots of saturated fat, refined carbs, wheat, and salt!

How?   Can we make high quality health care, hospitals, drugs, and insurance all much more affordable??  Don’t  hold your breath.  No. (Did anyone before Steven Brill even bother to ask publicly why health care costs are so high in the first place?)  In my opinion, that’s not the answer. It’s not even the right question.

How about this question:  Could we make the enormous, expensive, bloated, cumbersome, confusing and prickly health care system, by which I mean: hospitals, insurance run medical care, and doctors who specialize in metabolic syndrome diseases – i.e. diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, dyslipidemia (high VLDL, LDL, and low HDL), angina, osteoporosis and others –  all of which are very often marked by obesity – could we make them all largely unnecessary and therefore rare??   WTF??  ..what the hell am I talking about?  I must have finally gone off the edge…

healthy veg plate

Look Ma, no crap on this plate!

Come visit again..

Consistency and Interruptions

Posted in Consistency, Training Tips on June 7, 2013 by Gleason Endurance Coaching

I say it all the time, like almost all good coaches, and endurance sports athletes who’ve been at their sport for more than a season or two.  That’s because its true:  staying consistent in training for endurance sports is your best ally.  The flip side to maintaining that valuable consistency is moderation in nearly every aspect of your training.

So what about when you’re forced to miss a chunk of training? First, don’t fret.  I’ve recently had athletes miss small to larger blocks of training for various reasons: injury, vacation, work & life obligations, equipment issues, etc. The reason really is not the most important thing.  Even if its injury, you can manage it.  You can fix gear, you can cross-train at other activities when you’re forced to stop one sport.  For example, if you can’t run or swim, you can do something entirely different.  If you can’t run, then you can walk, hike or even get on the elliptical (though I’m not a fan as a substitute for running).  If you can’t swim, then you can strength train, spin, or do yoga, or all of those. The point is to maintain some basic level of aerobic activity and strength as best you can at the time.

The most important thing to keep in mind through a down period is that you probably won’t lose as much fitness as you think you will, and that you will get back at it!  It’ll be there for you when you’re ready.

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