Another conversation with Rich Roll as we prepare for Ötillö

Preparing for the upcoming Ötillö Swimrun World Championships, my race partner and Ultraman Rich Roll and I did some training up in Lake Tahoe. Afterwards, we sat down and had a state-of-the-union on our race preparation.

Specific subjects discussed include:

  • the impact of altitude training & training camps
  • the benefits of accountability partners
  • the primacy of patience for maximum success in sport
  • the perils of overtraining
  • the importance of injury prevention

You can listen to this podcast on iTunes or download it from Rich’s website.

Conversation with Rich Roll on Smart Endurance Training

I recently appeared on The Rich Roll Podcast, where Rich and I discussed a number of fitness, training and overall wellness subjects that included:

  • Chris & Rich’s preparation for Ötillö
  • Getting Rich ‘race fit’ at 50 after a 5-year break
  • Training into your 50’s & 60’s
  • Chris’ training & racing philosophy
  • Pros & cons of external monitors/trackers
  • Fitness versus racing
  • Chris’ three pillars for peak performance
  • Training smart vs. training hard
  • The primacy of process over results & enjoyment over obsession
  • Strategies for optimizing recovery 

You can listen to this podcast on iTunes or download it from Rich’s website.

Patriot Perfection: What the New England Patriots can teach Triathletes

A timely re-posting of an article I wrote in 2007:

Patriot Perfection: What the New England Patriots can teach Triathletes

By Chris Hauth
12/13/2007

I watch a lot of sports. Many would be of the opinion too much sports. I love college football; enjoy the NFL, baseball and anything that ESPN seems to get excited about. I listen to sports talk radio and check the websites for the latest information. I am actually watching football as I write this. Anyways, you might have heard about this incredible season the New England Patriots are putting together. Tonight they are looking to go to 13-0, all while completely destroying their opposition. They have been favored in the past weeks by the 2nd biggest margin of victory ever according to the Vegas ‘line’. How are these guys so good? How does this relate in ANY way to triathlon?

Flawless execution and experience.

Flawless Execution

The common theme that most ‘experts’, former coaches, radio hosts and Monday morning quarterbacks seem to agree upon is that football is a game of execution and nobody is currently executing their offense better than the New England Patriots. I argue that all sports are about execution. We practice for only one reason: to execute better on game or race day. Of course fitness ties into this equation. You cannot execute a great race in triathlon (or any sport) without having the fitness to execute your plans late in the bike or run. But I have observed that most triathletes are ‘fit’ enough to have the result they desire on race day. So, therefore we are back to how we execute on ‘game day’.

Flawless execution begins in training & practice. We all know that in order to be fit enough on race day we need to swim, bike and run plenty of miles. We do this by combining a number of base miles with tempo & speed miles and the outcome should be the fitness needed on race day. Once again, all football teams practice, and I doubt they vary too much in what they practice. But I have a feeling they vary greatly in how they practice. Sure, you can go out and bike 100 miles and run 15 after. But how are you doing these miles? Are you focused on race day nutrition and hydration or just stopping at the local bakery and shops for a pastry or Snickers? Are you simulating long sections in the aero position or sitting up? Are you transitioning quickly from the bike to the run or hanging around socializing with friends? Are there numerous stops on your ride or are you focused on staying steady on the bike?

On average we train about 16-20 weeks in prep for an Ironman or 70.3. This gives us 12-16 weekends where we can truly simulate all our race day needs. Whether it is the race day breakfast, the dinner prior to a long training day, bike & run nutrition or what we plan to drink. Plenty of weekends to make changes, adjust and fine-tune our strategy on race day in order to execute flawlessly. Plenty of practice opportunities for transitions, wetsuit removal or even eating from a Gel holder while running. Practice, practice, practice until we execute our ‘game day’ flawlessly.

The latest research and studies conclude that what I describe above is called “deliberate practice”. The best people in almost any field are those who devote the most hours to this kind of training. It is activity that’s sole purpose is to improve performance, that reaches just beyond one’s current level of competence and – very important – involves high levels of repetition all while understanding the feedback the results are giving you.

Simply riding a 100 miles and running a few miles after is not deliberate practice. Simply hitting a bucket of balls is not deliberate, nor is quarterback Tom Brady just throwing 50 footballs down field. Riding 80 miles within your prescribed HR zone or wattage, in the aero position, holding a preset cadence, while monitoring hydration and nutrition, as well as how this affects your run after, is deliberate practice. Coming back a week or two later and making adjustments based on your observations and riding that 80 miles again with the goal of improved performance – ever so slightly – is deliberate practice. It’s like hitting an eight-iron 300 times with a goal of leaving the ball within 20 feet of the pin 80% of the time, continually observing results and making adjustments.

The more of this deliberate practice, the more flawless execution becomes.

I hound many of my athletes continuously during the season to practice everything from race day in order to ‘control the things they can control’, because on race day there are always plenty of things out of our control. Flawless execution can only be achieved by having practiced it deliberately numerous times, leaving race day to be very similar to race simulation: just catered!

Experience

The New England Patriots are a team of veterans: free agents bought for their experience, skill and understanding of the game. This skill and understanding of the game allows for even more focus in preparation for the games. Having experience allows for an extra level of calmness on the field when events can cause confusion. It’s the classic ‘don’t panic’ approach that the veterans apply differently and therefore remain focused on their assignments, execution and then, the outcome of the game. Experienced athletes like the Patriots actually become more focused and deliberate when they are challenged or their backs are against the wall. This is evidenced by the past few weekends, the Eagles, the Ravens and the Steelers were all out to ‘dethrone’ the perfect Patriots. This changed their mindset going into the game and, despite being challenged, still prevailed.

In triathlon this experience is also crucial to successful race day results. It would be easy to point out that we need to know how Ironman works before being able to deliberately train for it. But experience means so much more. There is a reason why Tim DeBoom and Chris McCormack have had their best Hawaii results after 5-6 attempts: experience and with it the ability to understand what the day brings: don’t panic. For these guys it means staying focused on your own race despite others riding off the front or the swim having not been as good as planned. It means allowing for 26.2 miles to reach the finish line first, not by mile 10 and then fold (DNF). It means remaining calm but focused and concentrating at the task at hand even more.

For those of us that have not won Ironman Hawaii, it means remaining within our day. Experience allows us to understand the highs and lows we all experience during the event – even expecting these highs and lows and shrugging them off. It is knowing that we will reach a point on the bike we no longer want to turn the pedals or eat another morsel, no matter how fit we are or how many times we did this in training! Experience is knowing we hit a lull on the run and need to move to coke as of this point. All of us have our own observations from race day, and despite the best planning & preparation, we also need to display the experience of having been here before and knowing what we will do to get through it and finish!

Once again, control the aspects of race day we can control via deliberate practice and outstanding fitness. But experience allows us to embrace the aspects we can’t control by focusing & concentrating even more on improvingthis performance and its desired outcome.

The conclusions currently being published throughout sports psychology show that we all have a chance to be great. Mainly because we can be great with work, and high-level performances can be achieved with practice and experience.

Now tell that to the other 13 NFL teams that have lost to the New England Patriots….

Original article can be found on xtri.com

Conversation with Rich Roll

I was recently a guest on author and ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll’s podcast. It was a great chance to talk in depth about integrating the mental game with physical training, and about training as not just race preparation but as the training lifestyle. Have a listen!

Lessons from Kona 2016

For the first time in many years I had the opportunity to watch the race from the sidelines.  It is surely a different perspective, but it also reminded me how many mistakes we make when so caught up in the world of racing.  Standing on the sidelines gives you a perspective of what we overlook when it the midst of the race.

I was able to narrow the race in Kona down to four key factors that great determine the race outcome and the individual results.

All about the run

Kona is all about the right pacing on the bike.  Whether a Pro or Elite Age Grouper (aren’t they all in Kona?), your ability to effectively run off the bike is the entire goal.  It is a delicate balance between biking strong, but not too hard.  It is an understanding that the bike leg is tiring, demanding, but there is an extra tank of fitness awaiting you in T2 in order to run an effective marathon.  It is your maturity and confidence to allow others to push harder than you, knowing that you are looking to race the full 140.6, not just 130-135 miles of it.  Many in the pro field as well as the AG field can bike faster/stronger, but they choose not to since they know their patience on the bike allows them to shine on the run.  Besides the demoralizing effect of going backwards in your placing off the bike, you are also feeding your competitors ability to run better since they recognize your struggles.

This year had an extreme example of this.  Look at 3rd place Patrick Lange running himself from 23rd with a 2:39 marathon.  What kind of confidence must he have had in his run while seeing the gap and his placing grow on the bike?  What kind of math was he doing while seeing the 12 minute deficit coming out of T2?   It was not just a few racers ahead of him, it was 20+ each one he passed he grew more confident and his competitors more nervous about him approaching.  Could he have ridden faster?  I am quite certain he could have.  But instead, in his first full IM race, he chose the humility to have the best possible 140.6 result, and that meant running to his potential.  How confident is he now going into any IM in the world?  Knowing that against the best in the world he can run himself to the front.  He swims well (48) and runs faster than anyone has ever in Kona (!), so now he can gradually, strategically work on his bike strength, approach and pacing.  A textbook approach to joining the world’s best in Kona in your first IM ever!

Even this past weekend in IM 70.3 Hefei China: once again both winners ran themselves to victory.  It is all about the run…

Take a look at the Age Group results:  all show a similar approach.  They could all run.  Despite many of the frustrations in the sport regarding drafting, the best runners still win.  And if you think its that much easier to draft a 112 miles, then try it some time in training: almost always are you riding faster than your fitness, hence the draft is needed, and that effect still drains you, leaves you fatigued etc.  While drafting might save you watts here and there, it is mentally draining, still requires a fair amount of work, and has you pushing at times way harder than you would usually ride on a steady, controlled, efficient 112 miles.  So, you are back to needing to have the best possible run.

Which brings me back to the overall triathlon training & coaching principle:  until you teach yourself in racing how fast you can run, there is no point in riding the bike fast, or nearly as fast as you can.  Until you are seeing the run pacing and splits you see in training, the ones you know you are capable of holding, then any faster AG bike split is a waste of your IM racing progression.  Knowing what you can run, whether a 3:30, 3:15 or even 3:00, is well worth it when it comes to the next IM:  riding the bike with that confidence in your mind.  The performance benefits of moving well at the end of a race are significant – most importantly in your ability to tolerate pain and displaying mental toughness.

How does this apply to your training and racing?  Knowing it is all about the run, means…you need to run… a lot. But this is also a big misconception in the sport:  the need to run a lot of miles or the need to run fast miles.  No – the key to successful IM and Half IM running is:

  • Frequency: gradually, safely and it might take a few seasons to get there. But each season you get faster.  And more importantly:  focus on the running frequency vs. biking and swimming.  If you can only do one, run.
  • Nutritional quality: high quality food = superior performance. There is no other way, especially for handling the running volume.
  • Hills: perform the bulk of your runs in rolling hills to build all around leg strength, especially at this time of year (trails!)
  • Steady State flat running – 1-2x a week we insert steady paced flat running. Leg turnover, economy of motion, technique and mental focus.
  • The proper fatigue:  remember the keys to a superior run leg: we want the majority of our fatigue to come from sessions that directly impact overall race performance. This means outstanding race specific cycling muscular endurance.  You want to access your existing run fitness.

Since most athlete are running so far below their existing run fitness, our goal is to improve overall endurance (best trained on the bike) and durability (best trained with run frequency)…

Know your strategy

It’s your 140.6, so don’t let anyone take your strategy from you.  In Kona you can see the best athletes are focused on their own race.  Frodeno?  Never sniffed too much wind on the bike, he knew what the others can do, what he needs to do, and stuck with it.  Rinny?  No panic – just run when the time comes – get to T2 well, and then go!  Elite AGers? Race your splits/wattages/paces/efforts and then see what needs to be done with 10 miles to go on the run.  “If I stick my plan until 130.6, I’ll be having a great day.  Then, I will evaluate the situation and see placing vs. effort vs. current body scan”.  You are almost guaranteed success at this point.

Drafting and others racing should not influence your race strategy.  The strongest emotions of the day come within seconds of crossing the finish line.  How did I race?  Did I give it my all?  Did I execute my plan?  Did I race to the best of my ability today, given my fitness, the circumstances etc.?  If yes to all this, then you are most always happy with your race result and the progression you are making as an athlete.

Focusing on others, getting sucked into another’s race or being distracted from yours, means you are risking months of training for a race with people you don’t know.  You don’t know what they are capable of, how they race, what their fitness is as well as the mistakes they are currently making.

Training Principle:  Focus on your training plan.  A long training day on the weekends is filled with distractions:  Friends and other riders.  Multiple places to stop.  The terrain might not be ideal.  Training days are great for executing your plan despite adversity & distractions.  Let others come along on your day.  Let others ride along your intervals.  Eat your fuel and drink your hydration on your schedule.  Execute your training on the terrain for your day.  It’s your training day.  Own it.

Control the chaos

In Kona there a so many inputs.  Despite having the best intentions to race your own race, execute your plan, and run well off the bike, it’s a long day of chaos.  Incredibly fast racers, hot temperatures, constantly shifting winds and then throw in nerves, the finality of the race and intentions to do well.

When watching the best in Kona, those with the best results all controlled the chaos around them on the day.  Control the chaos.  Understand things will go wrong.  Brace for things being more difficult than planned.  Realize the your fellow competitors are capable of racing well too, as they are just as focused and prepared as you.  Use temperatures and environment to your advantage since it creates challenges and difficulties for all.  The best in Kona also deconstruct their race prior:  whether via visualization of the race, detachment exercises and segmenting their day in to multiple stages of successful results.

Training principles:  create chaos in your training and simulation days.  Ride too hard, run too hard early off the bike, ride with others that ride too hard for you, have others draft off you & properly annoy you, choose a harder course and then run off the bike, ride into windy conditions on purpose.  Start early when its too cold; start midday when its too hot; practice getting flats; practice being stuck in one gear; race Olympic and half IMs with the intent to blow up yet continue on; create high stakes around a local race so that you can simulate nerves (i.e. post your desired best outcome on social media PRIOR to the race or bet someone a big dinner, wine etc. regarding the result).  Create chaos – internally as well as externally.

The only thing I would avoid practicing chaos?  Nutrition and hydration.  That is not something to create chaos around.  This is something to narrow the focus and perfect.

There are many ways to train chaos.

Bike Setup

This might seem like a no brainer but it is ridiculously clear in Kona.  Not only have I learned from my own mistakes and understanding with this, but the front of the field in Kona has a glaring lesson:  bike setup is critical.

We all know the basic principles of being aero, but it becomes so much more exposed in Kona.  Not only can one observe hundreds (!) of athletes sitting up on their $12,000 aero bike, completely exposed to the wind, but the most important lesson was how relaxed, efficient and focused the best athletes in Kona were on the bike.  Their ability to not only cut through the wind in a superior position & setup, but remaining aero for 95% of the course despite its difficulties, remaining relaxed while still pushing significant wattages at the front, staying focused in their cadence, race positioning all while conserving as much energy as they can.  The ability to ride fast, while conserving energy is the key to a good run.  Only a bike setup that allows you to stay COMFORTABLY in the aero position for 5+ hours, WHILE still maintaining the wattage range you intended will allow you to achieve this.

A good aero position with allow you to ride lower watts but with the same bike split (or faster) in mind.  A good set up will allow you to save even more time/watts as you integrate wheels, clothing, helmet and bottle placement.

The key lesson from Kona here?  The front of the pack is focused meticulously on their set up.

Training Principle:  A great bike fit helps, but you must must must be relaxed and efficient in it.  It might be great in the wind tunnel, but if you can’t hold it for 105 of the 112 miles, fuhgetaboutit. So therefore – we must train it – every so gradually.  It might be frustrating seeing some lower wattage numbers, but without starting aero, relaxed and efficient in your pedal stroke, you will not see the gains of being in an aero position.  Every minute in an IM bike leg where you are not aero costs you 2 minutes vs. had you been aero for that minute.  2 minutes!  String that together over 5 hours, think how many times you sit up.  This takes into account not only the drag by not being aero, but how long it takes to get back to an efficient, relaxed aero position; how sitting up effects cadence, motivation, as well as many times athletes stand up and sort of stretch out their back and legs.  The later in the bike leg this happens, the longer the transition time is to going back to an aero, relaxed, efficient position…

Therefore seeing lower wattage numbers is no big deal since you are staying in the aero position.  Imagine now if you train relaxed, efficient and focused, seeing the wattages gradually increase over your training phase, that is pure speed AND time savings.

This is a great time of year to work on this.  Outside staying aero.  On the trainer indoors staying aero.  Turn off the lights and feel yourself relaxing into your aero position without focusing on watts, only feel and clean, efficient pedaling.

If you can remember these four factors as you go into the next Ironman season, you are certain to have significant race day improvements.  How can you not?  A better run, a better focus on your own race strategy, a better ability to deal with the chaos and adversity of the day and a better bike set up…each one will buy you time.  Put them all together and they might buy you a PR.

 

 

 

Lessons from Rio

Racing well, racing fast & executing a set race day plan is fun.  We just observed 17 days of it in Rio.  Its what athletes worked hard for – so it should feel great and we surely saw those emotions on display!

But as we all know – beyond all the joy of the Olympics and the incredible athletic achievements, there are plenty of challenges.  Many athletes struggle to break through to that next level.  Whether you have now graduated to racing your event vs. just finishing, all the way to qualifying for something like the Olympics, Kona or Boston – it is always about progress and moving forward – to that next level.  Often just executing a successful day with all the little details (like no walking aid stations, avoiding too many calories, controlling the pace during the first half of the race or faster transitions) is a struggle for many come ‘the day’.  What does it take?  How can you take that next big step forward?  What will it take to get that next big break through?

For many endurance athletes its all about the mental approach they bring to their sport.  Whether triathlete, ultra-runner/swimmer, or any ultra endurance endeavors:  the mental approach is a huge untapped potential.  Key word here is approach.  It’s a mindset.  It is a set approach to how you, as an elite athlete, go about your day of training (Please remember: being an elite athlete does not require elite results.  Being an elite athlete is about how you approach your sport: you can match the focus, diligence, consistency and daily awareness that World Champions bring to their sport despite being a complete beginner. It’s a mindset!).

Some of the best athletes in the world have a few things in common – whether sprinters that race for a whopping 9-ish seconds or solo sailors out alone on the oceans for weeks on end.  We have all seen great athletes this week and so it is a good refresher what they all – across all playing fields – seem to have in common.

  1. All great athletes understand that ‘greatness’ is something that has to happen daily.  It means taking small definitive steps daily in their focus on excellence or diligence.  John Wooden used to teach even the best basketball players coming in to his program on Day 1 how to tie their laces.  It sounds ridiculous, but attention to detail and doing it right, by habit/routine is a common trait all great athletes have.  It’s the little details that add up to a great result.  So many weekend warriors have a great occasional workout.  But in order to achieve their best, a great athlete understands the great workout needs to be a daily norm, not the exception.  Focused training equals focused racing.  And focused racing means executing a successful day.  (The hidden benefit here is progression as well: what was a great workout now becomes the norm and elevates your definition of a great workout to an even higher standard!)
  2. All great athletes have a deep connectivity and purpose as to why they are doing their sport.  While many athletes focus and repeat good habits (recovery, nutrition, body work and technique), the best of the best have a deeper reason for being so engaged in the sport.  It’s a sense of mission, its that little extra when the days are tough, when the workouts suck.  Its a deep conviction that there is no quit, no matter what the consequences.  This doesn’t mean your training is dedicated to you grandmother or that you are raising awareness to a cause.  It’s a deep down set of values and reason as to why they will see it through.  ‘It might not be today or this year but I will succeed’…
  3. Patience – Great athletes – in all sports – are in it for the long haul.  It is a common thing in endurance sports for participants to do one or two events and then check it off their list of cool things to do. I have found this is indicative in many cases how they always did sports or in other aspects of their lives.  Great athletes understand that hard work today (while valuable) doesn’t necessarily mean results tomorrow – or next month etc.  Every year I coach busy working athletes that bust out 5-6 weeks of great workouts and then are discouraged when they don’t suddenly PR their next event.  Especially in ultra endurance events: there is no such thing as overnight success.  It’s a gradual, slow progress.  It requires discipline, diligence, humility and perseverance.  And luckily it does as it is what makes a great result even more rewarding a deeply satisfying.  The long haul approach is also what will separate you from the rest of your competition/peers.
  4. All great athletes seem to also understand the simple beauty in what it takes to be fast/successful/achieve the desired result: that hard work, consistency and focus can’t be faked, there is no short cut through this.  Daily deliberate training sounds so easy to say/write, but we all know its not.  It’s actually quite funny how simple their approach is.  We all know athletes that try the quick approach to success, try to hack the system, but we also don’t see them at the top, especially not in ultra endurance sports.  The sports in the ultra world are hard, and for anyone looking for a shortcut to success is quickly exposed over the long distances.  Nothing, absolutely nothing can hack into fitness: true, deep, aerobic fitness…Pay your dues every day, and your ROI will not only be results but satisfaction in knowing you did it the right way: Daily deliberate training.
  5. Failure.  All great athletes have failed.  It’s a part of every path that leads to the top.  Those stumbles, those DNFs, those races where walking was the majority of the ‘run’, those injuries, those bad workouts all help great athletes stay on track.  Failure reminds us what we are working for, why we are working for it.  Overcoming obstacles makes us stronger – helps us realize that the path is littered with challenges.  The path to great results must be hard, hence why it is such a rewarding, valuable, delicate path!  It brings out our true emotions to why sport is important to us.  Failure narrows our focus again on what our goals are.  Failure also motivates great athletes:  the “come back stronger” sensations are incredibly powerful.  If it were easy to achieve our desired results, then all this work is not very inspiring.  If it just took a little focus, a little desire, a little extra push to reach our goals, that would make the result less valuable.  Embrace the suck as someone has been know to say.  Understand that overcoming the obstacle is the entire point of it all.

The Long Run – Week # 3

Distance: 33.5 miles
Time: 5:28
Pace: 9:54
Elevation Gain: 4140ft – although getting ready for a race that is 25,000+ ft of elevation gain…
Drink: 80 oz in bladder – water 1x GU Roctane Drink. 1 solid drink at water fountain = 110oz (cooler temps today – fog until noon)
Food: Nature Valley Granola bar & ClifBar. 1 pack Chomps, , Clif Oatmeal squeeze, Justins Hazelnut Almond Butter Packet = 900 cals (plus some in Roctane drink)
Breakfast: 5 eggs, 3 cups of chard, spinach & kale mix, sprouted wheat bagel with butter. 18oz of water, 12oz of coffee
Podcasts: The WSJ What’s News, TrailRunner Podcast, TED Radio Hour, Freakonomics Radio
AudioBook: Extreme Ownership: Leadership Lessons from a Navy Seal. Chapter 1-3

Observations: I got sick after the last long run 12 days ago. I knew something was wrong given my exhaustion from that 50k. I ended up not training for 3 days – although the first day I did an easy indoor cycling class that I teach. The following 2 days I was wrecked: head cold, and the completely congested lungs. After 60 hrs of rest I was able to fight through an easy hour run while hacking quite nicely. But this also kept me off my legs for 3 days, and it forced me to truly rest, sleep and recover. Last week was ‘supposed to be a recovery week, but due to the sickness and a weekend completely off, and gradually built into the week and ran 25 miles on Thursday. I felt 85% healthy but also felt way better than the previous long run. Heading out today I felt good, and things stayed quite connected until mile 22/23. I hope to get to a point where I can run the first 30 in my event while connected, relaxed and not really focused yet: just fueling and hydrating for the hard miles ahead. The bladder worked a little better for drinking than bottles, but am surprised I drank less. I assume that running with a bottle keeps my drinking more than a tube coming out of my pack. Calories were fine as well, although if I were to run longer – I need to eat more in the last hour. As we all know – when we are close to being done, we look forward to eating real food at home. I paid attention to stoppage time today: took a break every 10 miles to get some real food and drink in me. Check in with the world, and head into the next 10 miles with fuel, focus and hydration…

Goal of workout: Since I ran 25 on Thursday, and then a bit over the weekend, the goal is now to start compressing the time of 100 miles in a certain amount of days. Look like I am currently on pace for 7-8 days. That is plenty for early June. Later this month I will compress this to 6-ish days. While that is not a lot of mileage in the UltraRunning community, I still have July and August to go and I still maintain a solid 12-14,000 yds of swimming per week and a fair amount of cycling. The goal today was twofold: 1) feel better than the last 50k – 2) improve how I run the 50k. I know what I want to feel like at certain parts of the day. I like the ability to wake up, eat, answer some emails, run 30+ miles, come home, eat, and answer some more emails/work etc. It is not the same as cycling – 5.5 hrs is a solid day – but does not leave the legs pounded like 5.5 hours of running.

What I learned today: More fats and more fats. I need to start my morning with slightly less carbs and a bit more fats. Mainly since these runs are so low HR, its all fat burning (60-70%!) – so while carbs are surely needed (this 1600 calories in glycogen deplete as well despite the low HR/aerobic effort) – I need to start bringing some healthier fats with me (real food: avocado on bread, nut butter packets etc.). Continue to up the drink. 20oz of fluid per hour worked today, but if temps were higher it would have been a nono…Learned about the first DQ at Western States – despite him finishing first…and it was an interesting perspective since I am friends with the guy who ended up the winner that year (2006).

Commentary: Best long run so far in this build. I have a nagging ankle issue – I rolled/ripped/did something weird back on Thanksgiving of last year – and despite a solid marathon build up for Boston, it now is tightening up at 20ish miles. Will need to monitor closely. Stoppage time was 30 min today – but that too is part of Ultra training. Chill out….

Next long run? Next week I might look for 40, but let’s see how the body is feeling. No rush. Maybe an overnight in Tahoe next week in order to get some altitude in.

#TBT – Endurance Fueling

An older article I wrote for a European Triathlon Magazine, but worth the read.  Not only for those of you as a reminder – but for many of you new to my coaching and consulting.

Endurance racing comes down to a simple ingredient called carbohydrates.  Yes – carbs, those evil calories that the rest of the world seems to hate – we need desperately in endurance events to fuel our brains and allow us to push our effort in many sections of any endurance race.

We all know we have plenty of fat in our body to run 100s of miles, cycling 100s of miles and swim…well, that’s different – but you get the point.  But as many of you have heard me say – we only have about 20 miles of running in us based off the carbs stored in our liver and muscles.  That’s apporx. 2000 cals.  Figure most ‘endurance events’ are more than 8-10 hrs, and those require a minimum of 7000-8000 cals.

Now throw in this annoying fact that you have also heard me say: we can only absorb max 350 cals per hour in carbs.  Most of the time its way less than that…closer to 250 cals per hour.  Yet – as many of you have seen on your power meters or garmin watches, that your burn rate on endurance races is way higher – like 600-1000 cals per hour!  Simple math shows you that we are running at a deficit of about 300-600 cals PER HOUR!  Now, most of you know from testing, that if the pace is relatively slow, or if you have developed a good fat burning engine, one where you can hold about 80% of T2 (LT, AeT) without activating your anaerobic energy system, then you COULD get half your energy from stored fat, half from carbs…So – doing that math again, its brings us quite close to equal balanced energy BURN and energy FUEL needed.  Even sum game that allows for steady pace/effort/output for quite a long time!  This can be trained very effectively by developing a fantastic aerobic energy system.

Mess around with this balance too much and things get complicated.  Surges in effort, standing while pushing over a roller, running uphill too hard, swimming too fast for a bit, anything where the HR/effort jumps quickly, then Carbs become the dominant fuel, and because of ancient adrenal system functions, this causes your fat burning ability to slow way down for…..hours!  Even if you slow down, or dial back the HR dramatically, because of the adrenal response, the body will not return to ‘par’ for a while.  (Have you ever ridden harder in a group ride, seeing watts way higher than you ever train…and feel really good?  And want to just keep riding like that – and you can??!  That is all carb pushing through you – and a few hrs later you are dozing off on the couch….instead of running a marathon…)

As you can see – your harder effort too early in the day – in ANY endurance event (over 5 hrs) means that your fuel source will run out.  Your harder effort comes at the cost of burning through those carbs way too quickly without being able to replace/replenish them.  By going too hard – even for shorter periods only – you are shutting down your fat burning as a fuel source…and that means at some point in your later stages of your event, the deficit of output to input will be too big…and you are walking, hiking, stopping or slowing down considerably.

Keep this in mind when racing your endurance event in the future.  Can you go faster?  Sure.  But at some point your run out of fuel, literally…and you slow down.  Instead, as many of you have also heard me say/preach:  go as FAST as you can, using the LEAST amount of energy…Energy being burn rate of fuel…

The Long Run: Weekly post #2

 

Oh – yes – I get to play on some wonderful trails every day!

Distance: 30 miles
Time: 4:56
Pace: 9:55
Elevation Gain: 3720ft
Drink: 5 bottles, 22oz each. 4x water, 1x GU Roctane Drink. 1 solid drink at water fountain = 120oz
Food: PeanutButter filled pretzels & ClifBar. Chomps, 1/2 pack, and Roctane Gel late = 700 cals (plus some in Roctane drink)
Breakfast: 4 cups of oatmeal, banana slices and strawberries. 16oz of water, 20oz of coffee
Podcasts: This Morning with Gordon Deal, The WSJ What’s News, TED Radio Hour: The Meaning of Work, radio-Wissen (German Podcast), Planet Money, HBR IdeaCast: Be a work/life Friendly Boss
AudioBook: Rise of Superman – Chapter 6 & 7

Observations: gorgeous morning in Marin. Out the door at 8:30am. New gear (shorts and pack) worked well but need to tweak some pack things. Felt great, cool temps until 10 miles in. Should have eaten more early on – and when planning 4+ hr runs, I need to pack foods that address morning and lunch interests, vs. just one type of food (Bars etc.). Felt energy lull around 16, held on to steady feeling until about 20. 20 miles seems to be the current mark of switching from running to ultra running: which means different stride, slower pace, settling in to an all day affair. Important in ultra running as well is the achiness and lower energy is where the training day actually begins. Not physically, but mentally. Stopped at 23 for a moment, bit wrecked. 3-4 min later was ready to go. Important in this sport as well? Being in no hurry. Body definitely hurt more this week from 24-30…those are the ‘new’ miles – the extension as I like to call it.

Goal of workout: gradually building miles on long run. This week minimum goal was 10% more than last week but an eye towards 50k. First 90 min is all up, so effort level and energy drain is there. While goal of 50k in May was achieved, the goal of feeling connected and controlled was not.

The Long Run – weekly post #1

During my training for Kona I captured some of the big training weeks in a blog. I don’t have the time nor is it nearly that interesting in running as I prep for the Wasatch 100 mile endurance run. BUT, as I am constantly reminded by my clients and friends, there is always some tidbit of information that is worthwhile sharing in the longer training days. This past weekends’ IM TX downloads once again highlighted the need to repeat the fueling and hydration needed for ultra endurance events on a hot day. Actually, any day. Combine this with the amount of work, training time, energy and thought processes that go into prep for an ultra endurance event – it is highly frustrating for athlete & coach to see things derailed by components of the day that CAN be controlled – like hydration & fueling as well as body scans, observations, emotional control and process management.

So, as I go into this next build up in training for my longest event ever (100 miler two years ago in Texas was fairly flat – so those 17ish hours will be maybe the 75 mile mark in this event) – I thought I’d share the inputs from my weekly long runs. These will build up to 8-10hr runs, so a valid input for ultra endurance training. And no, this is not some Strava noise of what I did and how fast – its more about how I went about it and why.

I started my build 2 weeks ago, and with 16 weeks to go, today I am at a 3.5 hr long run point. I have had a spring of road miles getting ready for my first Boston marathon, so I do have a fair amount of running consistency in me – but as any ultra runner will tell you, road running and trail running are not the same sports. Same motions, but different sports. Sorta like mountain biking and road racing. Any ways – week one was a 2.5 hour run that got cut short into 2:15, and week 2 was a 3 hour run that got cut short to 2:45…why? Because life got in the way.

So – here the format that will always include these bolded points:

Distance: 22.8 miles
Time: 3:31
Pace: 9:18
Elevation Gain: 2600ft
Drink: 3 bottles 20oz each. 2x water, 1x GU Roctane Drink. 1 solid drink at water fountain = 68oz
Food: ClifBar at 1.5hrs. Chomps, 1/2 pack, at 2.5hrs = 340 cals (plus some in Roctane drink)
Breakfast: 4 slices of whole wheat toast, fancy european butter, blueberry jam. Banana, 3 cups of coffee, 16 oz of water
Podcasts: The Dan Patrick Show Hours 1 & 2, This Morning with Gordon Deal, A State of Trance Podcast with Armin van Buren, HBR Ideacast: Let Employees be People.

Observations: out the door once back from dropping kids at school. Have short window as I need to be back by 12:15 for lunch at son’s school. Felt good until 3 hrs, then right foot/ankle started getting quite tight and achy. Stiff, not painful. Temps are good, body is alert, connected throughout. Form stays attached until that 3hr mark when things get achy/stiff. Downs felt good – no soreness. Ups I hiked mainly. Avg pace still too fast for when runs go over 30 miles, but rest from running yesterday allowed for fresher legs.

Goal of workout: gradually building miles on long run. This week minimum goal was 20 miles. As of 3 hrs in Marin you get some solid terrain/climbing in, so the long run is a valid build component for the training week.

What I learned today: Need a bit more water. Breakfast was a bit too small for anything longer than 90 minutes. Rex Chapman once scored 39 points on Jordan. There is no such thing as a girl skateboard.

Commentary: Build is working. Very gradual and slow – but still have little under 4 months. My goal for this build is to not hit big miles until needed, and running more than 100 miles a week will not happen until mid summer. This build will only have one peak, 100 mile weekend in a 40hr window. Goal is to close out May with a controlled 50k in my regular training week (10-12k of swimming and 100-125 miles of cycling). Will have time for that next week. Then I plan a lighter recovery week of multiple 2 hr runs.

As I progress into these long runs, hopefully you get some value out of these posts…

Some good insight

I wanted to share some solid insight from this power file from the Paris Roubaix winner this year. First – click here to take a look at the file yourself in a more raw format. But below is also how I look at the data with regards to fitness and aerobic capacity.

What I wanted to highlight was a few points:

  1. Power to HR ratio (1st graph below). As many of you have heard me say – a great indicator of our fitness is your ability to maintain watts/HR ratio for most of your rides. That means the range of your watts and of your HR stay consistent throughout a 4-6 hrs ride. If early on your averaged X watts for 30 min and late in the ride you avg similar watts at the same HR…awesome. Very little fatigue and drift. Most of us do not have this fitness. Late in the ride our watts may be the same – but the HR is way higher. OR if riding on HR – the watts later in the ride are way lower. Given that Mathew Hayman is racing, and trying to win, it is really amazing to see how ‘in control’ he was of effort to HR throughout his ride. Early on you can see he was riding within the groups as his wattage and HR are quite choppy. But once he settles in to racing and his strategy/group – it stays quite steady in ratio to each other.
  2. Please notice his cadence (2nd graph below). Not only does he average 87 for 160 miles….! But it says in very close relationship to his HR. Another sign of control and fitness. Also please notice how Normalized Power (347) and avg power (302) are quite far off. This means there was a) a lot of coasting b) some incredibly high wattage spikes (1100+ watts a few times…!) Peak 1 min is 660w, Peak 20 sec is almost 1000w! Despite these efforts, he still maintain HR control and still averaged 87 cadence…
  3. Notice that these are just the last 110 miles of 160. The first 50 are chill roll out miles in the peloton. But it is still 50 miles (2 hrs) of cycling prior…so fuel, and hydration and conserving energy are key.
  4. 6700 kj in 6 hrs…he needs to eat about 2000 calories…just in this back end…so his first 50 miles were truly that…fueling and prepping. In pro cycling you can’t just grab a bar from the bento box during an attack..or breakaway..!
Graph 1: Power to HR Ratio

Graph 1: Power to HR Ratio

Graph 2: Cadence

Graph 2: Cadence

 

What does this mean for your training? We want to be able to maintain this type of aerobic balance between solid power and HR control. Especially when racing, and needing to run off the bike, if we ride in a ratio that maintains balance between HR and watts, the running energy levels and speed will still be available.

As we head out on long rides and the weather turns to summer, be aware of this ratio. Ask yourself if there is a wattage that you can ride whereby your HR stays steady throughout. Or, how far do the two drift apart. Most of you cannot, and why I want you to start easier, or ride on feel more often!

For those of you without power: notice how your cadence and HR stay in line. Since we know that power = force x speed (cadence), keeping your cadence steady, relatively high, means your watts will most likely be showing higher. The great part about good cadence control for all of us is: because higher cadence early on in the ride nets lower watts, it keeps us in good balance throughout – late in the ride that wattage will stay somewhat in range…Try it!

As always – please let me know of questions. I hope this helps you see some interesting power/cadence/HR ratios.

Better than Yesterday

Although the heart of the racing season is approaching, it still seems quite far off.  It is these weeks in March and April that truly set you up for the summer.  It is also during these weeks, since you did a better job through the winter, that you can propel ahead of where you were last year – or in years prior. But too often, despite the days getting longer and the weather gradually turning, athletes often lose their perspective and motivation for the season that lies just ahead.

I receive daily workout updates and emails from athletes that either missed workouts, couldn’t stay motivated, have too much going on, or are even a little burnt out from pushing themselves mentally too early in the season.  Where once the athlete was filled with inspiration and pumped (!) to train for the next season, there is now lack of perspective regarding improvement, the doubt on how to get it all done, even frustration with the training plan.  The common theme in all these emails & updates is the difficulty to sustain motivation.

Somehow, when the event is right around the corner, life doesn’t get in the way, schedules clear up and the excuses fade from the training logs.  The athlete is filled with inspiration and focused to execute each session effectively.  Yet it is those events, the ‘A’ races, which end up also being the problem.  As we try to remain focused on the big event, our season highlight, we end up feeling overwhelmed. The amount of work between now and then is so large that it leaves us paralyzed.

Consistent, daily motivation & inspiration isn’t about the final result though.  True motivation, the kind that replenishes itself daily, lies in that simple concept I repeat so often: progression.  Of course your long-term goals are important, and they act like a North Star as you navigate through a season of competing and training, but the daily jolt you need comes in the form of progression.

Be a little better, just a tiny bit, than yesterday:

If you can focus on just one thing (in life actually…), it is being a bit better today, than yesterday.  When you get on your bike today, lace up the running shoes, or dive into the pool today, don’t think about your ‘A’ race.  Think about how you will be just a bit better than yesterday.  That’s all.  If you achieve this, you are not only a better athlete, but also one step closer to your goals for the ‘A’ race.  But the beauty in focusing only on being a better YOU, not a better athlete, faster, stronger etc., is that it simplifies the daily fun & motivation into it being just about you.  Just being a better you than yesterday.  You warmed up better, your prepped better for the workout, you fueled better, you hydrated better, you focused on recovery better, you were more engaged during the workout, you understood the workout better, you filled out your log better for your coach (!?) etc.  All and any of these things make you a better athlete than yesterday.  Not always a new personal best in the pool, highest avg. wattage or best running pace…but instead a better YOU.

Why?  Small, easily digestible improvements work so well.  Being better than yesterday allows for many little improvements to be made and allowing yourself to be successful.  How you are going to drop the avg. pace on your run by x:xx seems daunting, but being a second here or there faster than yesterday is doable.  This will help you move forward with positive momentum vs. the overwhelming feeling of how far you still need to go.  Better than yesterday…

Better than yesterday also allows you to focus on the process, it forces you to be in the present.  It requires you to pay attention in your workouts: “what am I doing now, today, that is better than yesterday?”  You never want to miss the opportunity, even if oh so small, to do things better.  Being a process-oriented athlete will inevitably create an environment for you to be an even better athlete.  In many ways, you are now behaving and approaching your training like an elite athlete: being better than yesterday…that is often all they focus on.

Better than yesterday also peaks our curiosity (and therefore motivation).  Can I?  How will I be better than yesterday?  Think ahead and prepare for that improvement.  And repeat the next day…can I be better?  Yes!  Only a little bit, but I AM BETTER.  Repeat.

Be creative with your daily dose of improvement too.  Eat better, arrive earlier, practice the mental game for your workout, maybe push one set harder than ever before, try warming down.  Any and all of these things can help answer the simple question:  Am I better today than yesterday?

 

 

Weekly Word: The Coaching Syllabus (re-post)

Note: I am re-posting this from Nov. 13, 2013 since I feel it still applies quite well and helps many of my newer athletes understand the training a bit better. -Chris

Every year when athletes inquire with me on being coached, I get a typical question: how do you go about your coaching? Can you give me training samples or what a typical week looks like? After coaching for 15 years now, I do think a lot of it is based on feel, intangibles and learning from previous years, plans, personal experience. BUT – I also strongly believe that coaches are educators – we help you learn, understand, embrace the training and plan that should lead you towards your goals. I have also come to learn that every teacher needs a syllabus for their school year – some basic principles by which they can format their teaching with. I have started this with my coaching over the past few years.

Many athletes might think that this means the same format year after year. But as most of my long term athletes can tell you – my coaching plans and training approach never repeats itself. The concepts of adaptation and stimulus might, but not the specific training needed to bring about the adaptation. Every year is different, but the road map rarely changes.

Let me remind you of my core mission as a coach to you: I am looking to coach you with a plan that allows you to train effectively enough (time available) to stimulate the appropriate adaptation (progression applicable to you towards your goals). Key words: enough and appropriate

Important is to also understand that this is a very general road map, but it allows me to time your season properly, stay within the phases, and build mini training plans within each phase. It also allows me to take your feedback, races and testing data and keep them in line with our timing towards that ‘A’ race. Sometimes its too late to address a specific need, so we place that need into the next syllabus…

The Road Map: We basically need 25 weeks. If you had all the flexibility of time without work, family, personal life as well as health and recovery getting in the way: 25 weeks is ideal. It follows a simple pyramid growth:

a. 8 weeks to apply the correct Z2 platform of aerobic base with 2 recovery weeks built in
b. 6 weeks to start incorporating Z3 and tempo work with 2 recovery weeks built in
c. 4 weeks for race specific steady state and race pace interval work with 1 recovery week built in
d. 2 weeks to taper and sharpen the blade

Looks quite simple right? Lets break it down a bit more:

Z2 platform: important is to come in with a solid base and the proper testing to truly apply 8 great weeks in a very tight range of watts/HR in order to maximize the Z2 aerobic platform. This is the first piece where individuality comes in: some need more weeks than others PRIOR to these 8 weeks. Those of you working with me for a season or two usually hit this within 4 weeks. Newer athletes usually require 6 weeks just to shift their energy systems to feel and understand Z2 aerobic work. Its hard to give me the feedback needed in the logs without knowing what Z2 aerobic training actually should feel like. Again: 8 weeks of aerobic Z2 work in order to stimulate the appropriate adaptation. What is enough coming in varies for all of you.

Z3 and tempo: Here is where things really become individual: The testing validates how much Z3/tempo work we will want to sprinkle in and your personal limiters help determine which discipline requires some extra attention: swimming, biking or running? Where to focus more time – what is our limiter in races? How much Z3 work, what format (cadence vs. muscular power?) – what is your appropriate adaptation – do you historically respond better to quality or quantity? The syllabus calls for about 60% still Z2 aerobic work in this phase – and 40% at Z3 tempo. So on a 16hr training week, that means 6.5 hrs of your week are Z3 tempo intervals or paces! Solid training!

Race Specific steady state and race pace intervals: even more individual training plans here: IM, HIM? Oly distance? Ultra running? Race course dynamics or profile? Temperatures (6-8 weeks out is when you want to start heat or altitude work etc.) – Depending on distance and limiters – now the ratios also change: 50% Z2? 50% Z3+ Z4? Or still 60/40? Or for IM, maybe 70/30 but the testing and your fitness gains make the aerobic work quite hard due to volume etc.

And finally resting/tapering: what works for you? How do you absorb the last phase as well as can you hold form until race day? How do we keep you sharp yet not tired?

As you can see – as your season advances, your plan becomes so much more individual and specific to you. Yet the most important ingredient for this entire syllabus is missing: your input and feedback. As we move through the season, your insights, observations, feedback, notes, and complaints are vital to make this plan effective. In order to train effectively enough to stimulate the appropriate adaptation, I need to hear from you, I need to validate our training with testing, and we need to apply in the real world of racing. This constant exchange of coaching and feedback keeps the syllabus applicable to you and allows for true progression: am I better today than yesterday? Why? Because the coach/athlete feedback loop is constantly being applied to tomorrows training plan.

And finally – what makes this syllabus change year over year, from athlete to athlete, is what I call Wedge Weeks. If we follow the weeks listed in the syllabus above, then the season starts about 30 weeks out from the A race (4-5 weeks to enter with the right platform plus the 25 weeks listed). Wedge weeks are what makes this training plan a realistic one: Wedge weeks are weeks inserted into those 30 weeks at any point in time due to injury, sickness, extra rest needed or life/family events. Any one of these reasons might require the plan to be delayed for a week or two. Work travel or a project overwhelming? Wedge Week…Sickness? Wedge Week. Family overwhelmed or Holidays? Wedge Week. Friend getting married in Bora Bora? Wedge Week.

Most of us went Pro in something other than the sport were are training for, which means we have plenty of Wedge Weeks (Pros have Wedge Weeks too!). On average, I see about 6 a season…Now, the plan is 36 weeks…That means if you start this next week, your ‘A’ race is the first week of August…

Ready…?

Four Questions to start your 2016 season

As we enter into the 2015 Holiday season, it means 2016 is quickly approaching, and with it comes a fresh new start.  No matter how you did this past season, whether you totally exceeded your goals or came up a little short, you start with clean sheet into your next season.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you enter 2016 with the right mindset.

 

What kind of athlete do I want to be?

Its easy to point at a season end goal – winning my AG, qualifying for Kona, finishing to a new PR, successfully running a 100 miles – and think how great it will feel to be THAT athlete.  Breaking news:  you don’t need to wait to cross that finish line to be that kind of athlete.  You don’t become a consistently hard worker after you achieve your goals.  It’s something that you are.  Think about the athlete you want to be next season, and apply it – be it – live it – on a daily basis.

 

What is the biggest thing I can improve this coming season?

It’s easy to understand how athletes become a little overwhelmed at the beginning of the season when they think of all the hard work to come.  Thinking about all the things we need to improve in order to achieve our goals can leave us feeling a little like we are being sucked along in a rip current.  This year, pick one thing you know will have the most impact on your results.  It could be managing your time better, hitting 100% of your swimming sessions, not forgetting running drills, or nailing your nutrition, either in training as prep for race day or your daily fruits & vegetables.  Pick one thing and do it supremely well.  A nice added bonus is that the attention to detail will soon infect other parts of your swimming, biking and running:  strength, swimming, drills, nutrition, etc.

 

What will I do each day to be a little bit better?

Success in the long term isn’t the result of one big moment.  It’s the steady application of marginal and incremental gains, of showing up each day and doing it a little bit better.  You don’t need to be perfect in practice every single day, but you should absolutely try to be just a little bit better than you were yesterday.  Progress, not perfection…

 

Why not?

We all have secret dreams of what we would like to achieve during our time doing these crazy endurance sports.  Why sabotage yourself right out of the gate by limiting your opportunities to see what you are capable of?  You are just as deserving of success in what you are doing as anyone else, so chase those big, moderately-crazy goals with excitement and confidence this next season!  Remember…moderately crazy..not unrealistic crazy…!

Kona 2015 Race Report (long!)

kona podium

 

Certainty is the confidence in our belief…

It was a good year.  I knew I was fit.  I had created a great summer.  I had the classic feelings of “it’s all been worth it, no matter how race day goes”…. I had kept the training exciting with different locations, done all the training I wanted to do.  Trained primarily with friends.  Never hit that point in the build of being exhausted, gotta get through it.  I was actually surprised a few times how good I was feeling despite the volume.  I was healthy – I was absorbing.  It was a good year.

I had learned some things in CDA. I had a chance to race harder at Vineman.  I had the season unfolding just the way I had planned it, envisioned it.  I just needed to get to Hawaii and race.  Just go do…Its always so much easier on paper – or when not in the race..Just go do..Duh!  But I knew I was ready.  I knew it was a good year.  And, most importantly (to me), I knew that there was not more I could have possibly done this season to prepare for Kona.

I prepped my gear better, I dialed in my aero position better than past years, I adjusted my calories to a new amount, and I had trained it.  Trained ALL of it.  No more excuses for me.  I wanted those 162 seconds back that I missed last year.  I was not going to have gear, fuel, or free speed from a better aero position be a reason.  I am going to control the things I CAN control on race day.

 

The Race: 

Woke up that morning, good breakfast and no real issues to eat all I needed to get down.  Plenty of oatmeal with milk, banana, peanut butter and a bit of honey.  Couple of sips of coffee, and of course, the PreLoad in prep for a hot, strenuous day.  Couple of sips of water, and soon we were getting dropped off down at the start for body marking and bike prep.

Nothing was eventful this morning.  The routine of 14 Kona’s was setting in, I knew where I want to be at all times, certain time checks and meeting points.  Sure, this year was a bit earlier that usual, but the flow of the morning stayed the same.  Get to the grass area out in front of the King Kam 30 min before race start – its been like that since 1999…

Brain is on.  Things are clear.  Not nervous at all, just clear – aware – present.  Walk down to swim start, all smooth, even decided to wait on the side for a bit once going in: no getting cold and clobbered while waiting for swim start this year – its bad energy up there – too many agro swimmers fighting for a front row start.

Mantra for today is: Strong, Steady, Race.  Swim strong, stay steady on the bike, allow yourself to race the run!

 

Swim: STRONG.  Gun goes – I swim off – and immediately I feel connected to my stroke.  Power, flow, rhythm and kick.  Keep it together until things empty out, then hold my own line – feel good about my effort.  Around the Body Glove boat – and off I go – stronger effort – nothing hard, but no way will I be lackadaisical like last year.  Stay in it – stay with your day – my day.  My push puts me further ahead of the group I am with, and then I bridge up to the remaining lead group.

Get out and despite swimming well, surprised how slow the time was…oh well.  Just another slow year.  I know that is was STRONG.  Off onto bike.

 

Bike:  STEADY. I’ve broken this course down so often in my head, I have splits, wattages and observations from every part.  7.5 miles through town and up to Queen K.  Keep it under control, and just get my ass up to the Queen K – then settle in.  Its supposed to be steady.  Wattages are in check.  No – its not ‘easy’ but its good.  Steady.  Eat, drink, observe.  Time checks are ok.  Uneventful to Kuaihai.  All systems on.  Food going well.

Up to Hawi things become work.  I have been passed by a guy in my AG, but see him up ahead.  Another guy comes through – he seems more efficient and powerful.  That’s ok.  I know what I am riding. Feel ok.  Turn around in Hawi – its wet – we are really getting rained on.  Time check, solid, still too early to project, but everything where I want to be.  Special needs – top off, and keep it rolling.  Ride down from Hawi doesn’t feel that great – it has in past years, but despite keeping the effort smart (not pushing watts on downhills, using this section to chill a bit in prep for Queen K) I am still moving well.  Some years, backing off mentally here means feeling slow, and tired.  Not yet.  Calories are going down, everything is getting harder.  Legs, energy level, brain.  Stay in it – no emotions, your day, just do what you need to do, and it will be fine.

Things get hard the one mile from base of Kuaihai Harbor and Queen K.  Feels awful and the wattages are way lower than past years (man I have pushed some watts in this race over the years!), but here is where my day changed: time check onto the Queen K…is way off – AHEAD!  Too far ahead.  Somethings not right.  Compared to 14 yrs of data, this one was way off.  Past year all splits are 51-58 minutes.  Now?  43…!  I check my Garmin, something must be wrong. Its working, time is being kept accurately.  Holy sh*t.  Think Chris.  What does this mean?  You rode quite easy/not good energy the last 10-12 miles, yet still record time.  Its 32 miles home to Pier…That’s 90 min.  Hmmm.  Now I can project.  It can be a solid bike split…4:45 range…steady…clear thoughts, stay in it.  That split means tailwind, so as we turn on this island, there most likely is going to be something waiting for us down the road.

Sure enough, just before the Mauna Lani – headwind.  Solid, and blowing…its gonna be a long ride back.  I know where this is going.  Time to let go of watts, ride on feel.  This is disheartening.  Watts on feel quickly look ugly – really low.  Steady.  I know what low watts can do – I’ve had great races where the last 20-30 miles have been way low = good runs!  Keep on the plan, steady, eat, and drink.  All seems to be good.  Legs are a bit lethargic and achy, but cmon, its 85 miles into Kona.  Shoulders are tight – shoulder blades a bit achy, lungs a bit tight.  Nothing that is too unfamiliar.

The headwinds stay pretty solid all the way into Kona.  Pass a few people I know, I’m in the womens pro field now.  Off bike and splits look good:  Shit – it might be a great day: 4:55 bike and a 55 swim?  Out under the T2 banner onto the run in under 6 hrs…that is always a good number/marker and goal….

Immediately in T2 I notice my stomach is tight.  VERY tight.  All across my upper stomach.  Not just one side, but a nice wide berth across upper tummy.  Its also distended. Hopefully something that will loosen up?  I’ve felt similar before and at this moment I don’t remember if it goes away or not.  But I do know that if it were big problem, I’d have remembered it.

Dehydration related abdominal pain (DRAP).

Run:  RACE. I start running the first 2-3 miles just on feel.  Seeing how my stomach holds up – and what effect it has…I am able to eat, also sip water, so feel ok about prepping for when it loosens up.  Pace is going ok, but again confident to have good legs once the stomach subsides.  I also know I am in third place, so I am thinking to myself:  you were 14th last year Chris, just run relaxed and allow the race to come to you.  I also knew it was a fast year potentially with those bike times, but then quickly recognized the heat on Alii.  Nobody was going to shatter records today.  The day was on avg 15 min slower, even for the pros – so I was thinking that the run will be a mess: carnage up ahead.

My watch is showing me pace, and things start to get better.  I set the watch to only show overall pace, so I just am patient.  But once off Alii and up on the Queen K, its getting bad.  Legs are flat, energy is quickly dipping, negative thoughts are creeping in.  Competitors that I know are running behind me must be coming up soon.  I am going backwards, I must be at this pace!  Where are they?  Mile 13, 14 things really get ugly.  I know to push aside the negative thoughts, just keep running Chris.  I feel off, way off.  I dip my head in a big bucket of ice water.  That feels good, but legs are giving me very little and stomach is still tight.  I walk aid stations and work my way through coke and water.  I know I have eaten enough, I will not fall into the “I must be low on energy, eat more” brain game!  Keep moving Chris.  Just keep moving.  Where are the faster guys behind me??!  I know I am in second now.  I passed the guy a few miles back and my friend (Training buddy and overall support in Kona) is telling me I am second on the course.  He knows I am not well, so he leaves it at that.  He knows me – plenty of hours in CDA, Park City, Bend and Boulder together this summer.

Let’s do this Chris: get to Energy Lab, see how far the lead guy is ahead of you and gauge it from there.  You are not going to quit: remember today was simple: stay in it.  Race the Run (if I only could…)  At mile 15 I hear Lindsey Corbin say to me: no matter what today brings, just no regrets.  That was about as perfect of a comment I could have heard.

I enter Energy Lab and I begin scanning the athletes.  I know the guy is going to be coming any moment.  I had been walking 4 or 5 of the aid stations, so I assume he has stayed steady with his lead on me.  Half mile in, 1 mile in, where IS this guy?  1.5 miles in! Are you kidding me?  Is he literally right in front of me?  Sure enough – I get almost to the turnaround and there he is.  I smile at him.  It’s time.

A brief history here.  I have been racing Kona for so many years.  This 8 miles, from Energy Lab turnaround back to Kona Pier is what I visualize most EVERY long run.  Its either the best 8 miles in the sport, or the worst.  Its where you can make the race, that last hour where positions change and holding goal pace can make your marathon a success.  Its also a very long hour.  You have now been exposed in the sun & heat for 8 hours.  You feel the energy sucked out of you – not because its ‘Energy Lab’, but because you are now surely light on calories and hydration.  You just want to get home.  1 hour.  A season of training, many years of prep, for this last hour.  How often have I been here:  8 miles to go – placing – time – all become crucial here.  Can you still find a gear, can you push, can you have a PR?  In 2006 I looked at my watch and realized I could break 9 hrs, so the afterburners went on.  Last year exact opposite, I was convinced it was not my day, so I helped Caitlin Snow get some water and RedBull.  I’ve thrown up here in 2003 from drinking defizzed Red Bull with 3 Advil (dumb!), I’ve run with friends, caught some big name pros just trying to get home.  It’s a very strange, lonely, emotional place…yet when you prep for the race, 8 miles to go – last hour – is always something glorious…how often do we push our pace, pray to feel like that on race day!  8 miles home.

400 meters separate me from 1st place.  After 17 years of triathlon, 35 IMs, 14 Kona’s…and here I need 400 meters…Luckily this is where the years of experience pay off.  Auto pilot:  catch him, run behind him and wait for a mile marker, then 1 mile fast, push through 2 aid stations, then settle into pace again.  I catch 1st just outside of the Energy Lab, hold him in my sights for about a half mile, then at mile marker 19 I go…run harder until mile 21 – yes – 2 miles, just to be certain.  Settle back into pace and think:  you caught him on pace alone, so that 2 mile push has got to be enough.  I look back, all good…Hold on Chris…Mile 22 comes and this is where the public is able to be on the course again.  My buddy rolls up: “I’ve got some good news…you are in first…but 2nd is charging hard, he’s 1:20 behind you and tracking faster..” Darn.  I have nothing.  I used most everything in the 2 mile push.  I’m already shot, energy is just gone, legs are just doing their thing, I’m disattached mentally from the legs.  They are just plodding along.  Darn.  I didn’t get here to get passed.  I would never live that down.  Not from my athletes, not from myself.  Whatever Chris – find something.  Arms swing, push through the aid stations full stride – those are precious seconds…darn this hurts, not in pain, but in that I push and it feels slow.  Effort seems to mean I am slowing down less…

Mile 24: “Ok Chris, you got it.  I’ll see you at the finish.  1:40 up on 2nd, enjoy the last 2 miles.  You are gonna win your AG.  Let’s celebrate with a ‘few’ beers”…I put 20 sec on him in 2 miles.  I will finish this right.  Form, think form and footwork Chris… Mile 25, ouch.  Its all slow, even the last 1.5 miles.  I always run this faster – excited, happy to be done…enjoying the best mile in the sport…not today – I feel so flat, no energy.

Last mile – roll into finish chute, look back – all clear, cross the line – I am done.  Done.  No more – IM triathlon is not going to see me for a few years.   I am done…

And then into volunteers arms, medical.  I’m done.  Feel SO done. They carry me to Medical…whens the last time you pee’d?  Umm – in T2…actually – now that you ask, that was the ONLY time all day.  I didn’t pee on the bike..?!  Uh oh…Let’s get you weighed.  17 lbs.!…17 lbs lighter than the morning weigh in!  Weight in at 176 in the am, now I was 159!  Holy Sh*t…We recommend Hospital right away.  Severe dehydration like this etc. etc. etc. liver, dialisys etc.  Lets take a blood panel first.  Phew.  No hospital – blood panel.  I am not talking, just hearing..so done.  Blood checks out ok.  Hematocrit – check, sodium – check, potassium – check, magnesium – check, blood pressure – check, pulse – check…its just severe dehydration…2 bags of IV…let’s see.  3rd bag and I am feeling better.

17 lbs dehydrated.  Wow.  5-6 bottles on the bike, of which only 3 were water.  I would say about 5-6 short!  Throw in sips only while running…no wonder I felt like crap.

The amazing thing about this race was what went wrong and how it underlines the point I always make to my athletes.  Things WILL go wrong on race day.  But with outstanding fitness, you can stay within the margins of a good day.  With that I mean the following:

Had I not been dehydrated, I might have run 10-12 minutes faster.  I believe that in those conditions a great day for me might have been a 9:10.  If you look at this in percentage deviation, we are looking at less than 3% difference from 9:10 to 9:24.  3% was my bad day.  It did not feel like I was close to being within 3% while I was out there running.  But by moving forward, by just sticking with it, by just staying mentally in it, the day can still be good.  Do I care about the time that much?  Sorta.  Only because I had been so ridiculously absent last year, that I was very committed to doing it right this year.  Yes – I won my AG and that was the primary goal, but also racing correctly, feeling good about the effort throughout the 9 hrs, was important to me.

I left the race last year (2014 Kina) with a few goals/observations:

  • Positioning – this year I was committed to swimming better – staying ahead of the field, and remaining present to know my place and flow in the AG placing. I had some eyes on the course for me, but I was also aware all day where I was in the race.
  • Distraction – the mantra this year was Stay in it. No matter what the day brings, stay in the race.  No drafters, no sensations, no conditions, no splits will distract me from staying in the race.
  • Strategy – stick to the plan. Resist the temptation to deviate from the optimal race strategy.  I remained observant to the splits and race day conditions to adjust the race strategy accordingly.  While it did not necessarily make a huge difference, I think my body would have responded differently had I not backed off on the bike.
  • Poor planning – this year I planned everything out. People one the course, people at home.  I felt good about knowing I could trust my people.
  • Trust – This year I trusted my fitness. I knew, with absolute certainty, that I was the fittest guy in my AG.  I forgot this last year, and let the day get to me.  This year, it was a deep belief that I did more, and my body had absorbed more than years past.  Maybe not my best fitness ever for Kona, but for sure in the 45-49AG.  I learned this year that certainty is ‘the confidence in our belief’.  With the summer of training I had had, the numbers I had seen, the health I had kept, the continuous weekly work on sleep and recovery…I had 100% belief that I had done all I could to be ready for this race.  Last year I was the fittest too, but I let my head get in the way.  This year I was not going to let that happen.

My son Jasper took part in a basketball camp early in the summer.  And since he just turned 7, some of the concepts they were teaching were a bit advanced, yet he came home every day with a card or note regarding the mental game of training and competing.  We would read them and usually before I finished talking, he had already walked off to do something else….!  Working on your mental game is not a high priority when you are a month into being 7.  And hearing what your Dad has to say about it – even MORE boring…but one card stuck with me.  It asked: “What have you done TODAY to accomplish this goal?” – on the other side you were to have written a goal for the 2 week session.  I took that card and hung it in my kitchen:  what have I done TODAY to accomplish my goals?  Getting on a plane to Kona I felt I had adhered to that card every day of the summer besides 2.  And those two I had chosen to do something with my kids, which I will argue might have allowed me to feel better about the other remaining days this past summer.

Its been 16 years of racing in Kona – its been many 2nd and 3rd places, its been plenty of 4-6th places.  Its been incredibly fast years (sub 9) and a DNF.  There has been racing Pro, and racing as a rookie.  I’ve had every experience in Kona – besides this one.  And although it felt so nice to close this chapter successfully, to have written the best story of this past year that I can imagine to write, I also can honestly say it feels no different.  Of course the cliché of ‘life goes on’ fits here, but I think that Kona this year taught me something a lot deeper….That truly doing your best, sharing that approach daily with my friends, and those around me, is a lot more rewarding.  Of course I wanted to win this year.  And it was hard.  And its WAY easier to write this observation after winning, but I also felt great about the race before it even started. I came into the race at peace.  I was more verbal with my goals.  I felt good about what I was doing, why I was doing it, and I felt connected to all the elements of ideal performance – physically I was fit, mentally I felt prepared and confident, emotionally I was happy with my training, myself and how the season unfolded without sacrificing too much regarding family and loved ones…and spiritually: I felt connected to deeper values and a sense of purpose to do this race.

So now I will stay off the Ironman circuit for a while.  Its time to enjoy races and activities I have not been able to do in past years.  Not because of Kona, but because of life.  Now I want to use this fitness for some fun events.   The Boston Marathon is one of those.  That’s what’s next.  Running Boston in a Yankees hat.  That is plenty challenging….

 

 

 

Final Days of August

Boulder day 1

Woke up Saturday in a new environment once again to train.  I have been in Boulder a few times before, but never to train.  Once again visiting my good friend and training partner from Park City who also joined me in Bend, and now here in Boulder.  He lives a good schedule like mine!

Coffee, breakfast and off for a 4 hr bike and a 30 min run.  Great ride out of Boulder, up St. Vrain to Raymond, and then on to Nederland along the Peak to Peak Highway.  Epic scenery, good work intervals again on long steady climbs that allow you to stay in the big ring.  In this case I did 2×20 min at 10% above race watts with 10 min recovery (on a hill).  Short stops at Raymond store (cool spot), and back home via Left Hand canyon.  Home, quick turnaround to a steady run on Cottonwood trail, 4 miles of steady IM goal pace.  Done!

Observations:  riding at altitude is a personal thing.  Some people really struggle with it, despite being crazy fit, others don’t really notice it.  I felt very little over the past month, whether at 7200 ft in Tahoe, 9500 ft in Park City, or 9500 ft yesterday on Peak to Peak Highway.  As long as I gradually warm up the Diesel engine, allow my breathing and legs to work in synch, the wattages are just as high as sea level.

Another thing I noticed on this last short stack is that if you focus only on the work that lies ahead in your training, the remainder of the time running or riding turns into a more effective, efficient and relaxed output.  As many of us have observed, once doing some work intervals, the wattages and paces after seem to come easier, be stronger.  Of course there are days when the work needs to be done later in the ride, but again, if the focus is just good execution until the work, things seem to be just fine.

Lastly, finishing up this final push reminds me that I am reaching a bit.  Reaching means that I can tell the fatigue is coming, and while the workouts are still very effective, I know I am needing more sleep, recovery, food, hydration and body awareness to execute well.  Nothing comes easy.  It requires focus, inertia and prep to do right.  Luckily I have been in environments these last 30 days where almost all has been ideal for this training.  Time for a few easier days!

Boulder day 2

Feeling good from training yesterday made for a fun long run today.  Today would be about endurance and strength, as running Magnolia Rd. is not only an ass kicker, but it’s at 8500 ft or higher the entire run (16 miles).  I started cautious since I don’t usually run that high, and know from past experience that once the HR goes at altitude, it rarely settles back down.  But since this was a rolling, dirt road out and back, it allowed for a steady build run, going from an aerobic effort to anaerobic over the course of 2 hrs.  Finished strong, last mile is uphill, but knowing that this was basically the last workout of the Epic August, I pushed it to exhaustion.  After we dipped the beat up legs in Boulder Creek, grabbed a lunch and toasted to an epic August coming to a close.

Boulder day 3

Solid morning swim of 3500yrds and then off to see Matt Steinmetz for some last tweaks to bike fit before Kona.  Any changes now can still be effective going into the final 6 weeks.  He is not only a good friend but really knows his stuff when it comes to gear, technology and coaching principles, so it was a great match to work with him today.  He chastised me enough on the Coast Ride on my fit and why I leave time on the course with subpar technology, I made an effort to come out here and see him.  Also not easy after he just got off a plane from Europe and being at EuroBike.. Good tweaks, good knowledge exchange.  Can’t wait to apply the changes.

The afternoon is off!  A full afternoon off today!  Tomorrow is September 1, and the race prep and focus kicks in.  No more big volume, more about focused watts, lots of race sim and adding speed and power into the fitness I built in The Epic August of 2015!

August was amazing.  I got to train with some amazing friends in amazing locations.  Tahoe kickstarted this push in late July, staying with friends that were generous to share their home last minute in Alpine.  It continued into August with a great trip to Park City, again with friends that were so generous and fun with letting me stay with them.  On to Bend to visit my ‘family’, close friends that have been supportive of my life, approach and family for 10 yrs now (When I left the corporate world), and finally here in Boulder, back with my friends that also live in Park City, now they open their home in Boulder and join in my adventures again.  It is a month like this, I will look back on many years from now, remembering the amazing training, the epic locations along with the sufferfests out there.  It’s friendships, beers, stories, and amazing memories that will make this sport nothing but a big smile some day…and something I am totally grateful for.  That is what all this is about: living.

I’ll go on to Kona in 6 weeks, race my best, and feel a deep satisfaction that I not only trained the best I could, but also made the best memories along the way I could.  Solidified friendships for life, made many new friends, and still kept moving forward with the training and fitness.

Progress, not perfection.  That’s living…

 

Days 22-25: The Short Stack

Just like eating pancakes I like to stack my training into short stacks and big stacks. Short stacks are usually super focused 2 days – either big volume or high intensity – followed a a day or two of easier training. I modeled this approach from my ultra running days – where it is quite common to try and decrease the number of days you do a certain distance in. For example: when training for a 100 miler, you might begin with it taking you 10-12 days to get that distance in…and as you get fitter, better prepared and see your body is able to handle the load(s) – you might be running a 100 miles in 3 days with little recovery windows. So – back to triathlon: After some bigger volume and training with a fair amount of intensity sprinkled in the last 3 weeks, I wanted to throw in a short stack this week. A lighter Sunday (just a swim) and an early Saturday run (20 miles on trails in Bend) – I had 48 hrs of recovery with only a long – stretched out swim…I should be recovered.

My short stack consisted of 3 hrs bike with 10% over and unders with a 6 mile tempo run off the bike. I do this later in the day in order to finish the training, eat, sleep, wake up early and continue the short stack: in this case a swim and 16 miles speed changes run. Therefore in 20 hrs I got in 6 hrs of quality training. Then I planned to keep things simple again for 48 hrs.

3hrs on the bike included 5×10-15 minutes over race watts by 10%, with recovery at under race watts by 10% in between. Due to terrain, this means I started my ‘work at 25 minutes into the ride, and had to shut it down after 2:25hrs. It worked out to being a great quality ride with 5 steady rounds of under overs. Off bike and go for 6 miles, ran a little hot, but kept the RPE dead on a tick slower than 70.3 feel. Home by 6pm, eat, drink, little work, eat and drink some more…bed…5am wake up, coffee, to the pool, and in the water at 5:40am. Quick 4000, then home – eat, hydrate and 16 miles run at 5-5-5 build. 5 miles at IM pace, 5 miles at tick faster (12-15 sec) – 5 miles another tick faster (15sec)..1 mile back off on feel of IM pace. Done by 10am. Got ‘er done in just over 20 hrs.

What is a big stack? 3-4 days in a row, but being real smart on the intensity vs. volume. Since the big stack also has little recovery time (since the training hrs are longer), you can’t ask for both – so back off the intensity – until the last day – then – if things are still clicking – go! Have fun – work out all the ‘patience & restraint’ you showed earlier. But if you stack it right – that should not happen. The real big stack? What I did with Rich Roll and some of my UltraMan guys.. Day 1 was a 8-10k swim + 50 mile bike – Day was a 100 mile bike – Day 3 was a 40 miles run….basically 80% of the race distance..if you can resume ‘regular’ training after that…you are ready…!

After my short stack I ate a lot – quality = carbs! After 20 hrs of recovery it was easy to resume regular Wednesday intervals in the morning class and today worked a quality swim (3900yrds) with a quality run (2x{3×1 mile build to 30 sec faster than race pace} continuous).

Class in the morning and off to Boulder. Another short stack in the mountains please!

Day 21: What it all means

As I wrote my athletes today – any big training week, or multiple weeks, is only as good as your ability to come back home, into your structured training, and being able to execute the same or better than before.  Once home – on your familiar routes, your runs, your classes, your pool, your climbs, TT sections or favorite loops – and you can do them better, stronger, faster….THAT is successful big training.  Being able to absorb a big block of training, and then come home or into your ‘measurable environment’ and return to executing like there never was a big week?  THAT is fitness…THAT is getting stronger…THAT makes you feel good about your progress, focus and execution.  Training is only as good as your ability to absorb and progress…one day to the next…Absorb requires paying careful attention to recovery, sleep, diet, refueling and rehydration.  Progress requires smart prep, diligent execution in order to fairly and accurately compare the training week over week…month to month.  With all our tools to train these days…power meters, HR monitors, GPS for pace and speed…nothing replaces feeling strong and progress on your loops, your roads, your familiar environment…then you know you are getting stronger…

…”Your ability to train effectively enough to stimulate the appropriate adaptations”…

I woke up early today – despite getting in late from the drive yesterday.  Got some things organized, and off to swim I went.  4500 yards in the pool felt amazing.  Not necessarily super fast – but steady, long, connected, and great to flush out an 8 hr drive on the same day I woke up and did a 20 mile run…Its been 3 shorter days now with Fri/Sat and Sun.  Tomorrow week 4 begins.  But so far its all been quite manageable, I have been able to train effectively enough to stimulate the appropriate adaptations.  More on the how..and what I am seeing, in tomorrows entry.

Bend is done – Park City is done – Tahoe is done.  One more tour stop to go.  Boulder later this week.  Lets throw on one more week for good measure.  I am still feeling good/connected/healthy/recovered/absorbing:

August is 23 days old.  So far its been 1053 miles of cycling, 149 miles of running, 41,380 yrds of swimming: 78:57 hrs of training….only 8 more days to go!

 

Day 20: The Long Run

We woke up to a beautiful but cold morning in Bend (34 degrees…!) but we knew that starting early allowed for a bit of humidity in the air as well as better running conditions….It was a long one – we planned for 18-20 miles.  This run is quite smooth on soft single track through the woods and high desert at the base at Bachelor.  Not a lot of rollers or elevation gain and the return is a wee bit faster than the outbound leg…everyone was able to just set their watch for 1:15-1:20 out, knowing the return is faster..then whatever mileage you ran…done.

When running long on trails, without valid mile pace – the body should/like to settle into a rhythm, homeostasis.  A place where the effort, the balance between aerobic and anaerobic energy systems (fat & glycogen burning engines) synch up nicely and you just allow the ‘legs to carry you’…So after a steady start – just relax, run, take in the surroundings, and enjoy the ability to be able to go out and run 18-20 miles on a Saturday morning in Bend OR, with perfect cool weather, incredible views, fit legs and sound mind.  Allowing your thoughts to clear, to untangle the brain…and realize that you are actually running pretty well, clicking off some steady miles, feel energetic and like you…can…run….forever…THAT is the brain off running I talk about in my coaching a lot…but it only comes if you allow yourself to let go of ‘how’ you are feeling with regards to running, and instead absorb and experience your environment – surroundings – your body’s synchronicity.

It was nice to hear when I got back, that others felt the same way: connected, strong, like they could run…much longer…and that they kept looking at their watch saying “ok, just a few more outbound minutes”…!

That afternoon the kids and I packed up – and drove back to Marin, Bay Area.  I was hoping to get back before midnight – get a decent night sleep and be in the pool (remember the one I missed?!) by 8:30am for Masters…

Day 19 – Rest/Recovery Day

After stacking 3 bigger days in a row, and a total of 15 hrs in 3 days, it was time to take an easier day.  Since I missed my swim on Thursday morning, I planned on swimming a bit longer this morning.  As with most camps, with the work being stacked, and everybody absorbing the training well, besides a swim there was choice afternoon.  This means if you so desire, we are in an ideal environment as well as a beautiful one, for an afternoon spin or easy trail run.

After morning 5300m swim I got my kids squared away at the skatepark as well as riding lessons, I did my weekly strength work in stretch cordz (600) and some general core and body stably work.  Solid day that might not have been a lot of hours, but good quality.  Swim was steady and late sets were still as fast/connected as the earlier sets.  The stretch cordz are pure technique combined with strength.  Of course all of us met at 10 Barrel Brewing Company in the afternoon and toasted our hard work so far this week…

Tomorrow:  2.5 hr trail run and thats a wrap for Bend!

Day 18: getting to the back end

Last day of cycling in Bend.  The smoke has cleared and we started the day with a clear blue sky and views of all the seven peaks surrounding Bend.  Today the agenda called for a morning swim – 3 hrs bike with some cadence strength intervals on the climb up to Mt. Bachelor..followed by a fast focused run off the bike.

I missed my first workout in August today.  After picking the kids up from camp and running around with dinner and the group on Wednesday night, hot temps etc., I knew I needed sleep.  I didn’t get to bed until later, and I can feel the body creeping closer to the edge: training + kids + daily activities/work/dogs/life was starting to affect my recovery from these past 4-6 days of training.  I needed a good nights sleep – which I got (9hrs!)…and skipping a swim, well, that is one area I feel I can ‘catch up’ again quickly if I miss one…and I sorta feel good about my swimming for IM..

Off to camp after making morning lunches and breakfast etc…last day of camps!  Then off to ride bike.  Solid ride.  Legs responded immediately on the intervals – started off a little hot, but stayed within ranges (just creeping to the top end) – and I like playing mental games with this:  if I commit to a number early, well then I am ‘stuck’ holding it throughout the intervals…Can start off hot without standing by the watts/pace etc.  my…own…fault…right?  Finished a solid ride over Bachelor to the lakes and back, (60 miles) in 3:05, then off to run:  6 miles, dead on race pace.  Not quite as fast/smooth/controlled as the other day as well as I would have liked, but never compromised form, footwork and focus to finish the 6 miles as ‘asked’..

Then – with my Park City training buddy in town, we closed out a good 3 day block with beers and lunch at Cascade Lakes Brewing Co.  Off to get kids from Camps, then to pump track for some dirt biking fun…ouch…late night dinner out in Bend…and a few drinks too many as the morning alarm clock’s gonna hurt…7am swim:  5000 meters of steady work at pacing sets.  Later stretch cordz, core and strength work.  Easier day is planned.

 

Day 17: BOR day

There are days – where you just go out and ride…long.  Why?  We had done solid quality the day before (4.5 hrs at race pace or faster) and today a 6 hr ride was scheduled.  All aerobic..it was going to be a day just like last week in Park City – 3 hrs out – long chill stop – and a long ride back…throw in that today was also over a beautiful landscape with McKenzie pass on the agenda.  Flat roads into Sisters – then a nice 15 mile gradual climb into Lava fields and spectacular vistas.  Then the plan was to descend down the other side, flip a b*tch, back home we go.

Why not ride focused?  Why just a big ole ride?  Why turn the brain off?  When we just ride, we again listen to our body and tend to ride smarter.  There are days to push – watch the watts, HR, pace etc.  Where we want to grind out the work, keep the technique sound while being very focused on keeping up the intended workload. This days require mental and physical engagement…and therefore they are quite taxing for both – brain & body…And while we often feel ok enough to come back and do it again the next day, it often is not as effective as taking a day to focus on aerobic training, relaxed riding, good circles, good breathing – allowing the body to create the fatigue based off the distance (100+ miles) vs. the effort.  The load stacks well for a few reasons:  first, because the brain and body need a break from the efforts/focus the day before, secondly if you look at the energy burned (kj) and training stress, 6 hrs easy, on feel, burns the same energy and stresses the body the same as 3-4 on intervals and focused numbers.  So – at the end of the day the body still had the same energy load, but the brain and body got a break from pushing it to the edge again.

Plus – when we just ride on a big ole ride, its seems less easy those last few hours since the body is tired anyways…so the brain and body get to a similar point just on time alone.  Mitochondria is nicely stimulated in this the of ride, and often that means one needs to ride easier than you think!!

The constant triathlete mantra SHOULD be – but is often forgotten:  train hard on focused interval and speed days, train easy on easy days.  It allows your peaks (stimulus) to kick in stronger, since your valleys (active recovery/rest days) are well absorbed.  Too many do the good ole triathlete misstep:  train a tick too hard on easy days, and not hard/focused enough on the hard days…  IF you stack it right – the body will respond better and better to the stimulus…and that is our entire goal right?

So often coaches (like me) look at the athletes training plan and we wonder why the athlete can’t execute the training as written (data/testing/races all provide the validation that the intervals SHOULD be doable), but because the easy days were not quite easy enough..the body was just not ready/available..OR the athlete get sick/injured after a few weeks of this “just a tick too hard” on easy days…because the fatigue causes a crack in the armor…and gradually the body breaks…all because of that incremental “tick too hard”…

If you wonder if you are going easy enough….go easier…then you are getting close…and watch the fast days crank up!

Great day today: a little over 100 miles, 6500ft of climbing, good company, and steady, relaxed, aerobic legs all day.  Never went over the wattage I held yesterday for 77 miles…despite climbing 15 miles today…all low watts.

For me..tomorrow quality again – 20 min intervals climbing, strength work, and a 45 min race pace run.

 

Day 16 – Race Simulation – because it presented itself perfectly.

The temps started heating up in Bend today – day 16 of this awesome stretch in August.  After a solid recovery day it was time to really push a focused workout that had race sensations and focus written into it.  We had a 3 hr bike planned with an hour run off the bike at race pace/feel.  We started mid morning (9:15am) so the temps were quickly coming up in the high desert out towards Prineville, OR.  A very flat – fast – steady course allowed for some good interval work followed by some steady IM watts.  Of a 77 mile ride, 60-63 were non stop head down aero bars.  Temps worked there way into the 90s and it was really (really) dry.  Forest fires in the area added a little haze and seemed like they keep the heat captured in the valley…

The goal today was mental, in combination with the watts.  We are all familiar with training days where visually everything keeps us engaged, as well as smooth pavement, cool conditions, we are topped off, with fuel and hydration..: well today was NOT that.  Hot & dry, headwind, little water, visually not that exciting as it is all dry grass, rocks and bushes…the fires even stole our views of the mountains surrounding us.  It is on days like these where dropping down in the bars and just doing the work, the watts, staying somewhat smooth, drinking hot water and remaining relaxed while the body is achy holding position on a crappy chip seal road – that taxes you.  We all knew it riding…no talking – just getting through miles and miles of flat – dry – windy roads..keep the watts – do the work – get it done.  It was actually the perfect Kona prep..no stop (signs or lights) for 30 miles – quick turn – then again for 15 miles etc.  Dry hot – and mentally fatiguing…but awesome…so perfect.  Again – a rare opportunity to simulate and work the brain and body at the same time.  77 miles, 3:22 of riding..

Run off the bike was beautiful given it was 95 degrees and dry..we ran on trail just next to the Deschutes River – but where it is canaled through a tighter section and therefore flows strong with white water and speedy drop offs.  Running in the heat – cotton mouth and drinking hot water in a water bottle you carry – while the ice cold Deschutes is splashing next to you – is again – a fun mental game…60 minutes at 10-12 sec faster than IM pace off the bike…Check!  Might have pushed the last 2 miles a bit harder…but it was a solid day and I wanted to close it out with good form, fast turnover..

DONE – Race sim – complete – hydrate – eat – pick up kids from camp – then out to Worthy Brewing Company for a fun group dinner….

Day 15: Recovery Day

Day 15 was a recovery day.  Up very early for a swim, only to get to the pool to see it crazy crowded!  5:45am: packed!  Bend, I tell ya.  But we got in a nice 3600m.  Breakfast sweets at Sparrow Bakery with a perfect coffee and home to the kids for a day of camps, skating, playing, pool, and a bunch of training plans and emails!  But was still nice to have an afternoon trail run before picking my son up at outdoor survival and adventure camp.

Again:  easy on feel is so nice:  no Hr or pace, just running..

Best part of an easy day in the midst of a lot of training?  EATING ALL DAY LONG!

Day 14: Sunday Sunday Sunday!

What an epic day.  Early morning start in order to beat traffic as well as get the day going as the previous day we spent all day out doing the Bend triathlon.  Makes it hard when you leave your kids al day with your friends.

37 and clear made for a chilly start but the beauty of riding uphill to Mt Bachelor from the first pedal stroke made this a lot more manageable.  We had 75 miles planned with a one hour transition run.  Quickly an athlete of mine asked about wattage and how to ride today’s training…and most heard me say: just ride …but what HR?…just ride…but what watts?…just ride…but how do you want me to just ride?…just ride!   I know that may seem short, and not like a good coach answer…but I tell most of my athletes that when out on the road, whether for work or play, that new roads, especially in epic places…just ride, just run, just go on feel.  There are a few benefits to this:

  1. Chill out!  We are so technology driven in this sport, that just going by feel or how the body WANTS to that day is a very important ingredient in a good training plan.  If you are wound that tight that you can’t enjoy a beautiful ride in one of the most scenic spots in the country (Cascade Lakes Scenic Highway), then I am concerned more about your approach to the incredible fitness and health you have, and not enjoying it for what it’s worth.  I ride quite often just on feel, with no devices, and there is still a great training benefit as well as I am able to soak in the surroundings and my environment.
  2. If your devices go out or don’t work on race day…uh oh.  You have no idea what to feel…plenty of stories and examples out there if devices being stolen, not working or just malfunctioning on your BIG day…no biggie if you have also trained plenty on feel.
  3. Even if all your computers are working, there are race days when the HR is just not doable or the watts are way too forced.  So many things can favor into that, whether outside environment or internal stresses.  But riding and running on feel allows you to find you natural feel and cadence for the day, and often the watts/HR settle in after, but you allowed your body to dictate the day, vs. dictating a forced number to your body.  At every Tour de France you see riders get spit off the back, but once they settle into their own rhythm and feel, they often regain their placing or stay quite close!  It’s all about practicing YOUR Feel.
  4. When we are home is when it is ideal to do intervals.  Sure – I have been on the road for 3 out of 4 weeks now…and I need to get in some intervals…BUT – usually I say – when you are at home – in your usual, measured and familiar environment – that is a great time to do the focused interval work.  But when out on the road – for work or for play – it is important to not force intervals in where you don’t know the route (frustrating!) – and to not try and look for great results as often too many variables come into play.
  5. So, off we rode:  I told that athlete to put his computer in his pocket and look at it after, see how he rode on feel!

    A great ride with 5800 feet of steady grade climbing in 75 miles. Beautiful crater lakes, mountain vistas and great roads.

    After a gorgeous, and I mean incredible, run along the Deschutes river trail:  white water rushing amongst lava rock and through some beautiful forest landscapes.  As one of my athletes said: she felt like she could run forever on the soft dirt, pine needles and the amazing visual stimulation.

    Another 5 hrs of training in the books!  Rest day tomorrow!

Day 13 – Bend Triathlon

After a long day of driving with the kids from SF to Bend (taught class in SF in the morning, ended the day at dinner in Bend) – I wasn’t sure how I would feel today for our triathlon training day – 1 hr swim – 3.5 hr bike – 45 min run.

Started with a morning Long Course swim – outdoors, here in Bend. 3000m, long – stretched out and effective.  Then a quick transfer onto the bike for a 75 mile flatter – rolling ride to Sisters and back.  Close it out with a 6 mile run at Shelving Park (where we parked for the bike).  I am looking forward to this week of training.  The guys all seem to be ready to train – very little complaining, quick transitions today and overall the group was prepared for whatever the day brought.  I was impressed.

Riding up here in Bend is also unique – from horse farms to high desert plateaus – to mountain passes or even 40-50 mile flat roads, its all here.  We go a nice taste of all today.  The group might have started a bit aggressive, but that will only show itself in a few days after we layer this training for some big miles…

Observation today – after a week of training on HR in Park City – the response to wattages on the TT bike today was well aligned to what I had been seeing last week.  I feel good that the HR last week was at the right wattages, and feel even better that the HR training last week kept things more natural and tempered in this big block.  Wattages always pull you into a bigger number – if it feels good – you tend to drift higher…if it feels hard, you keep trying to re-engage into getting back onto a decent number.  You end up pushing, grinding a number that is not ideal for form, efficiency and aerobic – relaxed, sound technique riding.  Today, seeing wattages that were really good AND feeling good about the technique – form and relaxed aero position, validated last weeks training to me again.

13 days in, just under 50 hrs over training.  Another 6 to go tomorrow!  A beautiful scenic 5 hr bike via Cascade Lakes Highway and Mt Bachelor.  Then an hour run on the Deschutes River trail..

Good night – 8hrs to go…

Day 12: Driving to Bend

While the day had little training – just a morning class – and although I felt really good – one can push through 90 minutes of intervals quite nicely. BUT – while driving north 8 hrs. to Bend, OR – I was thinking how well the training is going and why I felt so good through this big block. Some things became very clear to me:

  1. I have been getting good sleep – always around 8hrs per night. Some nights a little over 7, but still good quality sleep.
  2. I have been drinking a lot of water – looking at 3-4 32oz Nalgene’s per day – when not training. A gallon of water helps.
  3. I have been eating a ton. I always eat a lot – but I have been reminding myself to keep eating…Never stop eating…always be eating..and the right foods. It becomes quite habit forming to time the food right.. its training, big training, not a weight loss plan. If I come out of these three weeks weighing the same – perfect. I am not looking to be that much lighter for Kona, I want to be fitter and stronger.
  4. The recovery between workouts has been focused. While working, I am constantly drinking water – eating well, and have my legs up or resting.

It seems so basic – but sleep often doesn’t stay this consistent…remaining on top of the fluids is often overlooked…and the food isn’t as good for fueling…Mix them all together right and it seems to work for me.

Day 11 – Halfway home?

Closing out a quick stay at home today in Marin.  Gorgeous day at home today – mid 80s and clear coast.

The day started with a fun swim.  Always a good reminder of what swimming used to be like when swimming with all the high school kids currently.  We did a set of 200s and the are holding 1:55s and pushing 1:50 on the faster ones.  Interval 2:10…I remember those days…but 25 yrs is a long time ago!  Instead I swim 2:10 and roll on a 2:25 interval…humbling, fun, and very worthwhile!  Solid 4000 yards in just over an hour.

Quick turnaround to a 5 hr bike.  Or so the plan, but a flat and buying more tubes at Pt Reyes Bike shop (Black Mountain Cyclery) delayed me, and kids were waiting at camp, so it was 4:45 instead.  But – beautiful day at the coast today (see pics below) and while it took me a while to settle in, I still go in my 2×15 min intervals and another 4×10 min.  80 miles in Marin – 4300ft of climbing via Marshall Wall (where I got my flat…) – 3.5 bottles at 28oz per bottle – all water.  2 Cliff and 1x Chomps.  (Stoked by the way that GU is introducing energy bars ‘sticks’…)

No real observations today – just work!  But another solid 6 hrs of training – layer upon layer….

 

Tomorrow:  Class in the morning and then drive to Bend, OR – training week in Bend and training heaven location #3 for the past 4 weeks.  Tahoe, Park City, now Bend is next…

Day 10: Air doping

Wow – that was all I could say today…After a light day of travel, swim and catching up on work, I got to be early for a good 8+ hrs of sleep in my own bed heading into today.  4:30am wake up call for Indoor Cycling class.  Great group in attendance which always makes it fun to wake up to and train effectively.

Back on my road bike with the proper fit and a good night sleep – I immediately felt good on the bike.  I hadn’t ridden since Sunday – so I was not that surprised about feeling good on the bike.  But once we got into the intervals (see below) the legs felt great.  Closing out the steady state pieces I kept adjusting the watts since my usual watts were too easy… some catching up with clients and bike fit work, then off to run…and THIS is where it got astonishing.

Sure, a beautiful morning on the SF waterfront.  Ferry Building, ATT Park, Hunters Point – just spectacular sights and weather (clear and sunny 70s at 8am!) – but when looking down at relaxed 6.40 pace, I knew it was going to be a great run.  2×2 miles inserted at Half IM pace was a controlled 6.15, it was harder to slow from that pace than to hold.  Pure – rich – moist – thick sea level air.  Coming down from 7000-9000 ft to the Bay Area was powerful.  I could have run faster or forever…

I experienced altitude training differently in the past.  1) for swimming we stayed at altitude longer – meaning we went through a full cycle of training until we were fully acclimated at 9-10,0000 ft (Flagstaff or Toluca, MX) and then returned for the full benefits in the pool.  The key there was getting acclimated at altitude in the pool takes 2-3 weeks.  It was hard, painful, and really boring!!  2) For some reason Tahoe area training never really kicked in like this.  I cannot say for certain that the extra 1000 ft make a difference (PC is at 6800-7200 ft vs Tahoe at 5800-6200) – and we did a lot of riding at 8000-9500 ft, which we don’t do in Tahoe…but this time was significant.  I don’t feel it as much in the pool on Tuesday since I went from the plane to the pool on a short night of sleep..

The afternoon strength & stability session was a bit lethargic to start – but then felt solid in the 640 StretchCordz (on my way to 1000) and core/stability, jumprope was dead on the usual.  Little soreness will kick in tomorrow during swim practice!

 

Observations:

I like oxygen rich air!  Considering another PC window in September – but will want to see how the next few days feel – if just a short window, then might not be worth it…If it last for a a week or more, then might time it just right..Bend will have another nice effect next week as it is at 3600ft with plenty of training at 5500-6000 ft.  And – throw in Boulder later this month…

When running opposite direction in a bike lane in SF…they don’t like you.  Or – at least some agro cyclist take their real estate seriously – as one guy spit at me! Running on the sidewalk is not always ideal (concrete sucks and Hunters Point really stinks for sidewalks) – this Hipster thought my running on the side, mostly out of the bike lane – was somehow not cool, I’m the loser.  Oh well, I just confirmed my mantra I have on a T-shirt:  Don’t feed the Hipsters..we might have too many of them…If you are that upset to spit on someone while riding with your skinny jeans rolled up on one leg (they are skinny jeans, why roll them up??) – one of those funky back-encompassing recycled rubber backpacks – no helmet with perfectly groomed (greased) hair and beard – and you own the bike lane to spit at me?  Then you might just be a bit too lame to enjoy the privilege of SF city cycling with its wide bike lanes and plenty of respectful cars, runners, pedestrians…I’d invite you (that guy) to join me some time, back country hunting for chukar on a ridge up in Susanville – where your backpack and DocMartins might not fly, either out there or in the local watering hole..Spitting on someone…Please..

Tomorrow – Day 11:  4000yrd swim and 5 hr bike with some TT intervals.

2x thru:

  • 7-5-3-1 – all with 1 min rest
  • 7 is 4/3 low Z3/upper Z3
  • 5 is 3/2 upper Z3/low Z4
  • 3 is 2/1 low Z3/upper Z4
  • 1 is max watts
  • then 5 min steady smooth, efficient, relaxed and focused mid Z3/T1

Day 9 – Moving Day: PC to OAK to Marin

Waking up at 4:30 this morning was sort of uneventful.  Quick drive to SLC airport and a flight home to Oakland.  Took a while to get bag, so drive home was rushed in order to get to swim practice on time.  Long – stretched out – relaxed 3700 yards back home in sunny Marin.  Settled in at home by 11am and a full day of work to dig into.  A full recovery day with only a swim.

As is important for any recovery day in big training phases…I eat…all…day…long.  Yoghurt and granola, fruit, 2 ham sandwiches on wheat, quinoa chips, more fruit, salad and pasta for dinner with Udo’s Oil and lemons. Some sea salt dark chocolate for dessert and now I’m ready to hit the hay.  Oh, and 2 beers, Little Sumtin and a Summer Solstice…

Tomorrow is quality and power:  90 min class with some longer build intervals (2×25 min with the last 5 min of the interval at tempo) – 10 mile speed run with 2×2 miles built in at 6.30 pace – Stretch Cordz, Core and jump rope in the afternoon.  I am confident a good night sleep – and some rest today will set up a strong day tomorrow.

Word.

Day 8: Looks doable …but sucked

Ouch!  Early rise again in order to be in SLC for meetings and office time.  Late night with early rise after a 30 hr training week hurts!  But once the coffee went down the hatch and the shower kicked in – it felt ok.  Only a banana for breakfast as I was looking to just get some energy until later in the morning, then the plan was to rehydrate and fuel for a 2 hr trail run…up in PC again.  Well, meetings lasted longer, lunch was smaller – and while driving back up to PC I was busy with calls, no food/hydration either…the problem becomes aware to me 30 min into a 15 mile trail run in….the…middle…of…nowhere.  no water, food, shelter or even dwellings out here.  while beautiful and perfect for a focused trail run….not idea on a light/empty stomach…But I committed to a) doing this run aerobic with a focus on light – relaxed form – light feet – quick & light turnover…b) I own my mistakes for the lead up to this run – so I will focus on making it through while still getting the training effect.  15 miles in 2 hrs (1 bottle of water – thats it – stupid!).  Positive split by 2 min.  Not the run I wanted, but I will return to this canyon and execute the run right, strong, and smarter some time between today and Kona…

Observations – I do NOT like running in the afternoon.  Actually – I don’t like training in the afternoon.  One feels lethargic, sleepy, hot, slow and flat.  While there are plenty days where this is just unavoidable…I still can say I don’t like it…Running on a big open trail run – when tired – make everything feel longer.  When you can see the trail on the horizon, knowing you need to run there – ugh…and when tired the legs – work – form really require some focus as they just want to plod.  Lastly – dunking your head in a cool creek and getting soaking wet is a saving grace, but don’t let your mind wander to drinking that water (as I was contemplating) – as the 4 weeks of ghiardhia following the run would be awful.

Quick trip to Whole Foods to get protein drink, and a big sandwich…refuel and rehydrate…back to normal and able to join a fun close out BBQ with friends before an early 6am flight back home to the Bay area.  Park City is truly heaven to train, love the area, love the town, love the vibe, and love my friends there…surely not my last visit over the next few months.

Home: off to swim a quick 4000 yds and take the dogs on a nice chill 45 min trail run – no watch – no HR – no pace…

 

Day 7: Over the mountains and through the woods, to Hanna we go…

This had been the one I was really looking forward to.  While it is on the back end of a solid (!) week of training – the body had been holding up well and we had an epic ride planned.  Early morning rise into a swim is always hard – that first wake up movement is always a but achy and stiff (yes – even when 27 yrs old vs. 45) – and while the coffee kicked in well, the 7am swim is what will really wake you up.   2700 yrs of some speed and aerobic work, and quickly out of the pool to get some breakfast.  Note to self:  swimming at 7000ft in a pool with turns and breathing patterns is different than a lake a 7000ft…harder!  And – all of us noted together that after swimming the body feels looser and more refreshed – ready for 6 hrs on the bike!

Quick bagel breakfast (3 bagel with eggs, sausage and cheese as well as bacon – need fuel and fat for the day!  – and off to pack bikes, gear for the day.

Driving out to the bike start we review the course – the terrain and how we want the day to go – whether not getting dropped too quickly – or how to get picked up at a certain spot – we were ready for a long 15 mile climb over Summit Pass and turning around in a tiny Utah town of Hanna.  Myself I knew I want to climb smart – be conservative early to get a feel for the terrain and then ride the return knowing how I’ll work in different sections.  What an epic ride!  Not only do we ride by beautiful ranches with horses and buffalo (!) – but also a spectacular canyon with fly fishing streams and a big open pass that displays the grandeur of the Uinta Mountain Range.  Steep – aggressive climbing from the one side – but after 6 miles of solid 8-10% climbing we roll over the summit – 9500ft – and descend into the next valley.  Pictures below…

Once in Hanna (temperatures quickly rising into the 80s) we stop for fuel and water.  But this fuel was a bit different as we sat for a full 75 min lunch with pizza and ham sandwiches.  While this might not be your usual refuel stop on a long ride – today was a long casual ride – we did our work and interval for the week, we did the load until now – today was just about riding…so a long lunch and then turn around and ride back over this spectacular pass….and while I was well fueled, the food sat low in the belly – which meant the restart was somewhat uncomfortable…gradually – 12 miles into the return climb the legs and stomach had recovered and we crested the pass with some great TT and steady work on the return.  Quick turnaround at the car and I rolled out to pull/guide the lost puppy Florida based rider back to the rendezvous point of out finish.

An epic day ended with a great dinner and fun at High West Distillery & Restaurant in old town Park City.

84 miles of cycling – 6000ft of climbing (all at once) – 5 hrs.  7 bottles of water (24oz each) – 1x ClifBar – 2 slices of cheese pizza – 1 ham and cheese sandwich with tortilla chips and pickle – no idea how to apply those calories…!

Observations:  riding at that altitude is not an issue for me – controlled breathing and nothing too sudden allowed for HR to stabilize and the riding to be steady – climbing front side was higher wattages but due to grade – not effort/riding style.  Back side of climb was longer, lesser incline so the steady climbing cadence was more fluid at times and allowed for higher watts longer, not as spikey.  Also – need to be careful to drink and – in racing – to pour water on me for the descents as one feels quite lethargic restarting after a long 10 mile descent.  Lastly – pizza is not a good fuel for cycling (or running I assume).

Day 6: Tour of Utah

This is where the training plan for the month of August started lining with some great training.  Park City is that – great training, great community, great location.  Perfect day today – beautiful cool temps after late night thunderstorms here in Park City.  Clear mountain air, cool temps in the low 50s, sunny and everything is flushed out from a solid rain.

Roll out at 8am – with local friends as well as those who flew in.  70 miles of beautiful countryside and perfect 4-8% grades for 20 min climbs..rollers, dirt roads, canyons, fly fishing streams next to the road, country stores, and overall perfect riding roads & conditions..

Home at noon – quick fueling stop – then off to run 6 miles, steady with race sensations.  While the food in my stomach limited any type of light feet, the engine still felt good, and the focus was more keeping the HR under control vs. pushing a tick too hard.  BIG day of riding tomorrow.

Riding on someone else’s bike is always different – but this one felt great all day.  Never an issue and the fit was mighty close to perfect.

Observations:  riding at 7000ft requires smart timing on food.  If you eat while climbing or out of breath – it takes a while to have the HR catch up to the breathing again – I should say gasping vs. breathing… I am also told the the dry buggers go away once you live up here (good to know!)…HR while elevated, still settles in and once you find your sweet spot – you can actually ride quite well at altitude.  I pushed some intervals today – and while the watts were dead on, the HR actually settled in only 2-3 beats higher than normal.

70 miles on the bike – 2 bars, , banana.  4x24oz water.  While the food was a bit low – ate 2000cals for breakfast before push off, so that carried me 2 hrs into the bike, which then means 300 cals per hour was dead on big training caloric needs.  (Breakfast 3x english muffin with jam and butter, 1x egg & heirloom tomato sandwich on wheat bread, banana, 2 cups coffee, 1x peanut butter and honey sandwich)

25 hours of training into the epic August so far, 21:30 this week, the 6+ hrs tomorrow ought to add just the punch in the gut to leave me tired…

Below some pictures from todays tour…plenty of dirt roads & climbs.

Tomorrow – 6 hrs on the bike – 10,000ft of climbing is planned.  But we’ll start with a morning (early morning) swim – and then finish our ride in time to see the final stage of the Tour of Utah coming into PC..

Day 5 of 21: Travel day

Early rise today for class as well as packing, getting kids to camp – and getting on a flight to Salt Lake to head up to Park City.  Today could not have gone smoother.  Felt great in class – with plenty of upper Zone 4 work, and a good mix of steady state tempo intervals built in (Intervals below).  Race home, pack for 5 days of training in PC, but luckily no bike.  Using an Orbea from a friend locally.  Get kids off to camp, home, prep house for being away, exercise the dogs, and off to Oakland Airport.

Talk about an easy trip – in truck at 10, boarded and in the air by 11:45…land in SLC at 2:20, in PC by 3pm.  4 hrs door to door!  Although funny was that I had to check my bags because….the chamoix creme for this trip was too big of a tube allowable for carry on!  You know you are training big when you travel with the BIG tube…

I got a ride from SLC because my friends flew in from Boulder and Florida in a similar window.  Off we go:  quick lunch in PC, then 90 minutes on the trails:  perfect 20 min loop:  since I want to negative split this run I plan to run a minute faster each round….for 4 rounds with a longer warm down.  Glad to hold 7:15 pace for 12 miles at 6800ft.

Its nice to train in new terrain but I find it quite important to be conservative.  New roads, terrain, climbs and trails require patience as we can quickly shell the legs for the next 4+ days.  Its also nice to train with good friends.  Its starting to become a fun group that we are meeting up all over the West Coast in 2015.  These guys did the Coast Ride in January with me, a training week in Marin in early May, IM CDA, Vineman, now PC, then Bend, then Boulder.  Training with true training friends is a rare privilege – especially when this sign was waiting for me at the airport after I walked out to baggage claim…(see below):  Nothing like a solid ribbing to not only give me grief, but also a gentle reminder of what we are doing here.  Although they meant nothing other than a good laugh at my expense…

Up and at ‘em tomorrow:  3.5 hrs on the bike with a solid 1 hr transition run.  Goals tomorrow – good ride intervals, plenty of hydration (drink lots of water) – eat well, and run great off the bike… nothing but good sensations..


10 min easy
7 min mid Z2
5 min upper Z2/low Z3
3 min mid Z3
1 min upper Z3/low Z4

(50)
5 min low Z3
3x (1:40 at 120%/upper Z4 high cadence + 40 sec easy/rest/recovery) +1 min after round
4 min mid Z3
3x (1:40 at 120%/upper Z4 high cadence + 40 sec easy/rest/recovery) +1 min after round
3 min upper Z3
3x (1:40 at 120%/upper Z4 high cadence + 40 sec easy/rest/recovery) +1 min after round
2min lower Z4
3x (1:40 at 120%/upper Z4 high cadence + 40 sec easy/rest/recovery) +1 min after round
1 min mid Z4
3x (1:40 at 120%/upper Z4 high cadence + 40 sec easy/rest/recovery) +1 min after round

Day 4 of 21: Early Bird

Quick post today – since the workouts were quick..

Slept solid into my 5:20 alarm, then did the typical morning mind game: can I swim later?, maybe I just run first, then swim?…maybe I can run this afternoon and swim at 9:30am, maybe, maybe, maybe…but after 23 yrs of swimming and getting up for morning practices, I know that a) the sleep after that first wake up and mind games is never that good – its compromised by guilt…b) you always regret not just getting it done early…end up trying to fit in the workouts vs. really doing them as planned.

Up and on my cruiser bike by 5:35…in water at 5:50 (yes – I live close to pool) – 4000 yrds, felt decent, not great – as some fatigue from StretchCordz and days prior creeping in.  But some fun IM mixed into distance freestyle set was just right.  Also was nice to swim with a good friend of many years.  He pushed me a tick harder than I would have on my own…

home – quick coffee and bagel, then out the door for a trail run.  Ran with dogs – early enough that it wasn’t too hot for them yet.  10 miles of single track rolling trails back in the Redwoods of Baltimore Canyon.  Aerobic run.  Just looking to layer these days well as the work begins tomorrow:  Morning class with lots of intensity – then off to Park City – with an afternoon neg split 90 min run.  Not sure if it will be trails, but either way – neg. split focus, fast feet, light finish.

Home – bigger breaky – more coffee – and pack it up to head to Berkeley Skatepark!

My morning mind game reminded me of what this training (and coaching) is all about.  The way we perform come race day is the result of a lot of small decisions/choices over time.  We tend to fall into a line of thinking that how we race when it counts is because of one large, meaningful focus, change, commitment.  Actually its about all the accumulation of the little choices that make the greatest impact…especially in a past life where your focus is 3-4 years away, its easy to ‘pass’ on the occasional workout, drylands, sleep, nutritional focus…These smaller choices look small in the short-term, and when looked at individually, they appear to have little impact…but as time creeps along (and it does on some of these long training days or in a 4 year Olympic cycle!) these choices, this awareness, this ‘paying attention” begins to add up.

One morning sleeping in – pushing the workouts to later in the day, but not feeling that good, or being as focused, might not create much of a gap between me and my desired finish line time/result, but a season’s worth of the occasional compromised workout, lack of focus, or slip ups will quickly create a very noticeable (and regrettable) gap between my result and desired outcome.  Too often after the race it’s “what could I have done better”?  Unfortunately we then focus on those bigger things:  different training, losing weight, bigger base, changing coaches, new bike (!)…but its those little battle that add up to feeling good about your result – no matter what that result is!  I did what I needed to do in order to have the best outcome today:..focused on technique..reflected/took accountability of my training…won the small battles by focusing on today…did something a bit better today than yesterday…

Friday Funday tomorrow!

Day 3 of 21: Short but sweet!

Early rise today.  4:30 wake up, prep for class I teach.  90 min on Computrainers, 20 bikes, fun class with music and TVs.

I like class.  It’s focused quality and intensity.  Dial up a wattage, do the work, then rest.  Same environment, same machine, very replicable training and therefore valid to measure results.  Temps always about the same, so HR vs. watts is a valid indicator of being fresh (?) – fatigued (!) – or dehydrated, etc.  lots of inputs when one can replicate 2x a week, in the exact same environment.

Solid class and despite a slow start (lighter warm up) – the workloads at Z3, Z4 and above felt good, as well as a lot of high cadence pieces.  Plenty of hard work, but good intensity and 90 minutes is not that intimidating.  Class protocol we did today is listed below.

After class on Wednesdays I get my kids back, so home, cook breakfast (we are a breakfast bunch with bacon and sausage and eggs etc.) – and the day got busy.  Fit in my Stretch Cordz (10×50) alternating with 200 jump rope skips and some core work.  Why do I do Stretch Cordz (Red resistance in case you are curious)? – mainly to provide some extra strength to my swimming (upper body has disappeared with triathlon years) – as well as that strength works well in open water where I often feel I need to muscle some stretches of an open water lake or ocean swim.  So much of the training in triathlon is below the chest – that some arm resistance bands with clean pulling lines is quite helpful for me.  Core is a no brainer – and jump rope keep the light feet focus, single skips – fast feet.  I’ve been a jump rope junky for many decades now (!?) and I really like it after long runs (bring back cadence and light feet – sorta like rollers after a long ride).  But working them as quick stations:  50 pulls, 200 skips, some solid core reps – then rest – 10x through for some stability and strength – effective 45 minutes!

Run – 45 minutes felt ok – light – relaxed – no pace – no HR – just a watch.  While daughter was at her riding lessons, and son is at his skateboard lesson, I have a great hour to kill in a great trail marsh that has water fountains and marked miles.  Might have been fast, might have been slow.  Might have been suppressed HR – might have been elevated…no idea.  Just a run on a hot afternoon:  86 and sunny with some NorCal fires mixed into the air..the jump rope left me light and bouncy – felt good – but no numbers always feels good!

Tomorrow – early rise for a 4000 yard swim and a 1:20 aerobic trail run.  Then off to Berkeley Skatepark with the kids and some afternoon beach time with the dogs.  Park City Utah bound on Friday!

 

Shift – 8.5.2015

10 min warm up spin
5 min build to Z4


6×2 min:  alternating mid Z2 (80%) – and 120% – continuous.


(60)

3×15 minutes with 2 min rest/easy

  • 30 sec high cadence spin + 4 min steady + 30 sec high cadence spin. (high cadence is always T1/mid Z3) +1 min full rest
  • 30 sec high cadence spin + 3 min steady + 30 sec high cadence spin.+1 min full rest
  • 30 sec high cadence spin + 2 min steady + 30 sec high cadence spin.+1 min full rest
  • 30 sec high cadence spin + 1 min steady + 30 sec high cadence spin.+1 min full rest
  • 30 sec high cadence spin + 30 sec high cadence spin.

Round 1: add watts each round 90-T1-110-120% in the middle minutes

Round 2: 80/120% equal split of the middle minutes.

Round 3: add watts and 120% equal split 2nd half.  (4 min example: 2 min 90%/2 min 120%) // 3 min is 1.5 min T1/1.5 min 120% etc.

 

Day 2 of 21: A cool day in August

Rare to have cool temps here in August – actually might have been the first real cloudy day here in 2015!  But it did allow for a day with limited sunscreen and perfect training temps in the low 70s.

Today the plan called for a swim, long aerobic bike and a choice run off the bike.  I knew early on that I would not be running today – I wanted to give the running legs a break:  3 days of running in a row, along with some speedwork on Sunday meant that today needed to be an off day for that discipline.

A late night yesterday meant a late start today.  A fun dinner in SF at The Progress meant my morning started at 6:30am instead of my usual 4:30 or 5am.

GOAL today was focused swim with some good efforts but nothing too deep.  Then a solid aerobic ride with limited stops and a focus on watts above 230, but never really over 280.  Build the ride in the middle 4 hrs, so that the second half is a bit higher watts and throw in a ‘feel’ interval at mile 70 to test how the legs feel vs. wattage vs. HR. I also knew based on riding 5 hrs today in Marin that I would need to ride with a ‘race power’ approach:  this means that I coast the downhills, back off the effort when pedaling would just be wasted energy.  I am not looking for a ‘chain tension’ ride today, which would have meant limited coasting and constant pedal focus/pressure.

In the pool at 9:30 – a solid 4000 yards in just over an hour as well as some humble pie with all the college kids home and in the lanes next to me.  Out of the pool – home – quick transition and on my bike by 11am.  Solid 93 mile ride in 5 hrs, with 5700 ft of climbing (typical Marin). 6hrs and 7 minutes of training today.

Some observations:

  • Late evening along with a few good beers (CaliCoast Kölsch and a Fort Point IPA) also meant my HR was a few beats higher than usual on the bike.
  • Knowing I have so many days in a row to ’stack’ this training, wattages are not that important.  This does not mean I don’t pay attention to the Rx for the day.  It means I allow the wattages and legs to settle in and come to me.  Today this happened about 50 min. into my ride. It often requires some climbing or a solid interval to ‘wake’ the legs.
  • I felt very efficient in the aero position today.  Dropped down and off I rode.  Felt more comfortable aero today than sitting up.
  • 6 bottles: 5 water + 1x GU Roctane.  950 calories in 3 CliffBars, 1x Gu Chomps.  Little light on cals.  Should have had about 200 cals more.  But came into morning with a big 2000 calorie breakfast.
  • Late interval worked well, need to be careful to not push this but truly ride on feel as in race miles 70-85 etc.
  • Was able to ride second half of ride 12 watts higher.

And finally – this greeted me at the swim this morning:

swim-sign

While not all applies to my day – it hit home in the last 4 lines….technique ALWAYS trumps speed.  Especially us endurance athletes.  Speed will wane, technique will keep you efficient.

Training tomorrow:

  • 90 min cycling class + 45 min strength & core + 45 min easy run

 

August is gonna hurt

I don’t do blogs…

But here I go.  Why?  Its August 3 and I have 10 weeks to Kona 2015.  Been here before – many times, but this will be my last one for a while.  So why a blog?  Couple of reasons:

I have an epic August lined up with training.  Not on purpose, it just sorta settled into place like this…78 hours of training in the next 20 days.  Park City, Bend and Boulder in the next 28 days.  It’ll hurt, it’ll suck, but might as well document it for some future read.  I’ll get into why this is my last Kona for a while in some future blog.

Also, some day, I’d like to look back on this window of life, the training, the long days, the fatigue, the depths of hard training…and I’d like to read it and smile, with a little twinkle in my eyes…remembering how fun it was – how alive I felt and how good friends, family and loved ones set up a successful window in time like this.  A training partner – way back – from Sweden once said to me in his broken English: “you won’t remember the easy days of training, so you might as well stay on the couch and rest those days…what you will remember are the hard days” – And when he said hard days, he meant it – for him by definition that meant anything under a 300w ride might as well be a day on the couch…I missed doing this type of diary for my swimming days.  I have so many stories – experiences – events – friendships but I never captured a window in time with a diary…or in today’s world – a blog.

Another reason is accountability.  Writing about my training, my days, my life the next month, helps keep me accountable to this, the blog, the diary, the snapshot into a fun window of life.  Accountability also in thinking that someone, somewhere – even if it is my kids some day – might read this.  This will be Kona number 13 for me – not sure if that is lucky or not – but the point here is I know what the training leading up to October is like…how hard it gets, how tired, how flat at times, how solitary, how stressful on schedule, life, kids, family etc.  I have done all the different approaches: gone away to train.  Stay home to train.  Train big, train fast, train aerobic, train lots of simulation, train alone, train with pros, train at altitude, train low.  Geez, just writing this makes it exhausting.  So – writing about it – sharing it – being accountable – even if it adds that little extra ounce of consistency, motivation…then it is already worth it…

Sort of a bigger commitment.  Writing every day of the 20-30 days…and sort of pompous, narcissistic…to think that someone will want to read…well maybe read one day, but then not ever again…but I do have a few athletes that have mentioned that they would love to get an insight into my training, how I prepare, how I get tired, cranky, and balance this training, life, family work thing…And – if it helps in coaching, if it helps in connecting with some of my athletes, if it raises the right dialogue and questions, even better!

Not all entries will be this long. I figure a little bit of background…then down to the simple daily inputs/observations/training comments and diary:  Hey – it looks as though I am doing my own Training Log updates…the ones I request from so many of my athletes…ugh.

Thank you in advance to Mike Radogna for posting these every day for me and keeping the website up to date.  No way I could do that…!

Monday – August 3rd.. Training Plan?  I’ve just come off a solid recovery week.  I’ve had my kids for the past 8 days, we did some awesome adventures, so training is always a recovery week when I have them for longer periods of time.  Last week was an easy 16hrs of training – and July was a little of a mix&match month of training…After IM CDA I just trained on feel into Vineman, then used a week up in Tahoe to get my aerobic legs back under me.  So that was a big week of training (26hrs) at the back end of July, last week 16hrs of easy recovery and it begins today:

  • 3 hours on the bike with 1×15 min at HIM race watts – and later in the ride 4×4 min at threshold (LT/Zone 4) with 2 min recovery.  After that – settle into the aeros and let the legs dictate the watts – focus is aero, efficient and relaxed.  
  • 30 min run off the bike – 10 min easy at IM pace – 10 min Fast on Feel (FoF as I like to call it) – 10 min easy again.  

Today I wanted to be real careful – easy when not ON an interval, smart training – big block ahead.  Tons of fluids – to stay on top of hydration.  Good calories and an overall awareness of getting my sh*t together in mindset, nutrition, focus and prep for every day over the next 21 days.

3 hrs was good – intervals were all in line but the 4 min intervals were a little ‘hot’…need to err on the side of a bit easier.  Run:  4 miles, 28 min: 10 min 7:14 pace – 10 min 6.34 pace – 8 min 7:10 pace – avg HR 136

4 bottles: 3x water 1x GU Roctane drink.  2 Clif Bars. 

Also – my some serious commitments:  I will not compromise form for speed, pace or watts over the next few weeks.  I will not sabotage the training over the next few weeks:  I won’t force it, I won’t go too hard on easy days, I will not justify going easier because of some voice telling me I have permission.  I will focus only on getting today done…right, to the best of my ability

Tomorrow – swim 4000 yards, bike 5 hrs aerobic, short transition run….

IM CDA Race and nutrition plan

IMCDAPre days (as of Thursday) – arrive midday Thursday (early rise on Thursday AM – but then well hydrated and good eats while driving) – upon arrival get settled/organized in order to register and go to store for food, fuel and hydration for the next 3 days. Food will be bland – but lots of it.

Friday – logistics day – swim in the morning – finalize anything needed for race, work through details – be done by noon with logistics/registration etc. Lots of hydration and clean foods today.

Pre race day Saturday– simple breakfast – then snacking lightly until big afternoon meal around 3-4pm. Sweet Potatoes, some salad, brown rice, pasta & chicken are all part of the selection. A combo of all along with good bread. Also add some Udo’s Oil (travel with it). Another snack, more simple bland foods around 7pm. To bed early but might be watching a movie, reading, watching TV. 9pm lights out usually.

Race day Sunday– Wake at 4am. Coffee – choices are bagel with butter and jam – bagel or whole wheat waffles with almond butter and banana – pancakes with jam or also some almond butter. Can also eat oatmeal with peanut butter, honey and bananas. All successfully tested choices.
Sip water – then electrolytes – then water again – all while going to race and transition etc. If hungry – eat small bites of simple white bread bagel
Depending on conditions expected – Osmo PreLoad.
Before swim have choices of a chew – some bar – or some simple drink.

Swim – no food or drink. Simple 2 loops course. Long and strong first loop after a fast start, then maintain energy and feel for stroke 2nd loop. Be alert for exit and entry after 1st loop to keep HR in balance – not go too hard or exert myself too much to elevate HR while running. Once HR goes up like that, takes too long swimming to allow it to recover.

Bike – wattages will be determined by temps and weather. If hot it might require earlier push in watts, then backing off to a solid floor number. If cool, then holding a steady wattage might be the strategy. Rolling course – will require balanced energy output: on ups keeping it controlled, but on the quick downs also keeping wattage up. This will burn legs differently – FYI.

  • Drink: water first bottle – start flushing mouth after swim and then finishing bottle 1 by 1 hour. Then alternating GU Roctane and water at a steady rate of 20-24oz per hour. If hotter then 24-30oz per hour (total cals in drink 400 but I count as 50%-200cals) – NO GATORADE ENDURANCE FOR ME
  • Fuel: no food until 30 min in: then 225-250 per hour. ClifBars to begin (250 per bar): carry 2 on bike and 2 in special needs (as well as extra different flavors) – on course are chomps and gels so no need to carry. Typical IM total kJ burned is 4400-4600, so I look to replenish 30% minimum, but closer to 1500 cals (vs. 1350 at 30%). Bars + Chomps + Gels (in that order) = 1300 cals + drink 200 cals.
  • No Salt on bike – plenty in Roctane
  • Special needs bag has back ups of all: Roctane, food and chews.

Run – off bike and relaxed, see what legs settle in at. Course is very familiar – so the goal is first to get out of neighborhoods and out onto Coeur D’Alene Lake Drive. The start paying attention to pace and turnover out on Lake Dr and back (6.8 miles). Once back into town and neighborhoods, the goal is managing body and fuel to get back out onto Lake Drive. Then 11 miles to go – push out and back. 4 sections total.

  • Drink – water every aid station, occasional splash of Gatorade but try to avoid. Depending on weather might run with own drink bottle, as well as grab a special needs. Water bottle (throw away) out of T2 in order to be topped off, flushed out and hydrated.
  • Fuel – hopefully smart calories on bike, then gel at miles 3-6-9-12-16-20 with Coke as needed mixed in at times. Always have back up of Gels I like in special needs for change in flavor etc.
  • Run is all set up by drink and fuel on bike. If good on bike then run can extend out cals and drink a bit. If not, then manage drink and food early to settle into an effective second half of run…

GEAR for the ride:

  • Swim – full wetsuit – one cap.
  • Bike – Disc with a bladed Xentis front wheel. Powermeter/Garmin
  • Run – no pace, no HR, just stop watch. Will know splits and pace based off mileage in my head

Portland to SF Coast Ride | July 18-24, 2015

DATES:  July 18 – July 24.  Arrival Friday PM, the 17th as we push early Saturday morning the 18th.  We will have a fantastic group dinner to start on Friday evening in Portland.  You arrive in SF/Bay area Friday midday, July 24

ROUTE:  750 miles in 7 days.  Daily anywhere from 125 to 95 miles.  Approx 40,000 ft. of climbing, whereby most of the climbing is day 4-6.

  • Day 1 – 93 miles into Newport OR
  • Day 2 – 125 miles into Bandon, OR
  • Day 3 – 111 miles into Crescent City, CA
  • Day 4 – 106 miles into Fortuna, CA
  • Day 5 – 125 miles to Fort Bragg, CA – HARDEST DAY – 10k ft. of climbing
  • Day 6 – 110 miles into Bodega Bay/Occidental, CA
  • Day 7 – 75 miles over the GGB into SF!

PLANS:  We will only be taking 25 riders on this first tour.  We will be taking deposits in March to get riders confirmed.  Email me now to be on the early list.  It will fill!

PRICING:  This will be similar to the California Coast Ride, but with the mobile kitchen/dinner as well as extra SAG staff for this challenging route, approx. $40 more per day.

If seriously considering, please email Chris now to reserve a spot until deposits are needed.

ROKA wetsuit demo and OW swim clinic. Sunday, March 15th

AshleighGentleROKA

On Sunday, March 15th, up at the IVC pool, we will be offering a ROKA open water swim clinic and opportunity to demo these industry leading wetsuits.  Along with our usual weekly swim practice…

  • We will have plenty of ROKA wetsuits and demos to choose from with many different sizes.
  • We will simulate some open water swimming with no lanes lines and buoy swims (8-9am).
  • We will offer a longer – steady – open water ‘like’ swim practice while you are waiting to demo your suits.
  • We will have plenty of open water tips, instruction and a forum to ask plenty of triathlon swim questions.
  • Bring your own wetsuit to compare, also learn some tips on how you wetsuit should fit, how to get in and out quickly etc.

Time:  8-11am – but based on your interest to try the demos, we have the pool all morning into the afternoon. Arrive early as we will have the lane lines out and open water demo with buoy swim from 8-9am.

Discounts: There will be a specific discount code to purchase any of the ROKA suits if you attend the clinic & demo.

Who?  Anyone can attend or join – please feel free to share this.

Where: IVC is the Indian Valley, College of Marin Campus.  At the end of Ignacio Blvd. in Novato.  Outdoor 50m pool.

Cost?  $10 for the drop in to swim, demo, learn etc.  We offer this organized swim every week with 2 coaches on deck etc., so $10 gets you this and the entire swim clinic & demo day!

Feel free to email me any questions!

Coast Ride Observation

As I was riding the Coast last week I had plenty of time to myself, to think. I was riding sweep for a group of 28 cyclists, 495 miles down the CA coast from SF to Santa Monica.  In past years I used this ride for many different approaches to my training.  Last year it was my last prep aerobically for my 100 mile running race 12 days later – less pounding on the legs, but still 8 hrs a day of time in a HR zone.  Other years I have used it to go from out-of-shape cycling to in-shape cycling – BAM – in a matter of a week!  And, of course, there are the years where I have been fit and hammer with the front groups….key words being “already fit”…so I had my base miles in me.  After 17 years of riding a January Coast Ride, I figured it out pretty well on how it works best for me, and, I’d like to say for my athletes.  And, it keeps coming back to the same concepts…you can’t escape the base miles…

This year I finally made the decision to depart a day ahead of a bigger Coast Ride group that comes together every year.  That ride has gone from what the original Coast Ride was back in the early 90s to a mini race down the Coast.  Roadies and weekend warriors putting their fitness on the line to thump their chest that they had a solid Coast Ride….in January…!   Originally a bunch of very accomplished pro and elite triathletes started this in order to force themselves into 600 miles of easy aerobic riding back to San Diego.  It was on the Monday after SuperBowl Sunday every year, and since the 49ers seemed to be in it a lot back then, San Francisco was a fun place to be.  Besides many injuries, broken collar bones and road rash, the faster Coast Ride accomplishes very little other than going deeply anaerobic repeatedly for a couple of hours every day for 3 days (they only go to Santa Barbara, 370 miles).  That’s great when I’m preparing to race. In the winter, however, my training purpose is not race fitness; it’s base fitness. You don’t establish base fitness by going deeply anaerobic repeatedly for a couple of hours.

My notion of a base ride is a long, steady workout with heart rate mostly in zone 2. This is roughly a well-conditioned athlete’s aerobic threshold. Riding two or more hours at this effort challenges the body to make some improvements. One is to become better at using fat for fuel while sparing muscle glycogen stores. The longer your races are, the more important this shift is. The other critical shift has to do with increasing the capillary bed in the working muscles. The more capillaries you have the easier it is to get fuel and oxygen to the muscle. There are other benefits also, but for now we’ll focus on these.

The problem with this base workout is that it seems too easy at first so the athlete is tempted to abandon zone 2 and start riding variably paced with hard and easy efforts – fartlek intervals, essentially. And by so doing reduces the aerobic benefits of the day’s workout.

The aerobic threshold ride is sort of like Chinese water torture. What at first seems easily manageable eventually becomes challenging. One has to have the patience to hang in there to see what I mean. (This is one of the numerous reasons why I so often say that patience is necessary to be a good endurance athlete.) Ride for three, four, five, six hours at this effort and you soon learn what the aerobic system is all about.

Doing such a workout with a group presents problems, however. The greatest is that not everyone’s Zone 2 HR produces the same power or speed. The highly fit, usually young riders are talking easily while riding in zone 2 – as they should be. The slower, usually older riders who try to keep up are often well out of zone 2 but determined to hang on. While this workout is best done alone, if in a group the best option is for the group to split up into smaller groups of like ability – which I noticed many did during the Coast Ride – but not well enough I suspect…

The best way to do this ride is to have a power meter onboard in addition to your heart rate monitor. While in the base period I like to have athletes use their heart rate monitors to set the effort, what happens to power is the real story. The best way to explain this is to use graphics.

decoupling-01 decoupling-02
Example 1: 1% decoupling Example 2: 11% decoupling

Here you see two examples (double click for a larger view) of riders doing a steady, multi-hour, zone-2 ride. In both cases they are doing an excellent job of maintaining a steady heart rate as evidenced by the red line staying almost flat on both charts. But notice what happens to power (black line). In example 1 power closely parallels heart rate. That’s good. It says that the rider is staying “strong” throughout the ride. There is no fading of power (or slowing down, if you will, even though that’s not a very precise way to measure output on a bike). I call this separation of heart rate and power ‘decoupling.’ In fact, the graph shows us that in example 1 there was only 1% of decoupling. In other words, power declined only 1% over the course of two hours of riding.

For the rider in example 2, however, the decoupling is 11%. He is fading significantly as the ride progresses. From these two examples I can tell you unequivocally that rider #1 is in much better aerobic condition than rider #2. If all they had were heart rate monitors we wouldn’t know this. Heart rate is only effective when we can compare it with something else. By itself it tells us nothing about aerobic fitness.

So does this mean that if you don’t have a power meter you shouldn’t do this workout? No, not at all. It’s still beneficial to your aerobic system. You just can’t measure your progress or know for certain when you’ve achieved good aerobic fitness. What you can do is maintain a steady HR on a familiar loop, and watch how your avg speed drops off later in the ride (decoupling) vs. past rides where you might have been fitter – or monitor for future rides on this loop that at same constant low HR you are holding on to your avg speed better, late in the ride.  What you can always do in this case is to pay close attention to how you feel. If in good aerobic condition you should be able to finish the ride strongly, albeit tired. If you’re totally wiped after four hours and are struggling just to limp home although heart rate remains in the 2 zone, your aerobic fitness probably needs a lot of work.

 

Understanding the Pre-Season – 2014/2015 version

I wrote a similar Weekly Word last year – but I wanted to add some more insight, a new version, some new angles.

As we enter the dark months – or so I call them – the focus for training and the next event becomes difficult.  Some of us line up some winter events to keep us engaged, others lighten the load, and others take time off completely.  I have never been a fan of taking time of completely.  You work for months, sometimes even a year or more, to get to this level of fitness and being ‘in tune’ with your body, just to stop?  Yes, the brain needs a break – you can’t always be ON.  Yes, life around us needs some attention.  Yes, the body requires some rebuilding.  All of this can be achieved without being completely OFF.  And here are some reasons – some being repetitive from previous years, others being newer – for not taking off:

  1. You have all heard me say this before – why take time to get really fit, just to repeat the cycle again?  Taking time off (and this also includes the occasional run or bike or swim) puts you back to where you started, and it becomes even more frustrating retuning to fitness.  Why?  Because you have a sense & feel for what fitness feels like, so your return takes short cuts – you want it back.  If you want to progress, get ahead of yourself and your past results, you need to be ahead of your past training self.  Like they say – just focus on being a bit better each day – each week – each month.  A bit better is measured in many ways; it can be in any aspect of yourself or the sports we are training.
  2. Have you ever learned how to drive a car with stick shifting?  Those of you that have know what is like to let go of the clutch too quickly – you jump forward and stall.  Stopping and starting training is like popping the clutch.  You briefly jump, go, pop…but then you stop and stall.  Only now you are injured.  The body prefers to be training – since that allows for consistent adaptations and it helps you avoid injury.  Accelerating into a quick training build will most likely have you popping the clutch on your body.
  3. Training for endurance sports is like partying.  We used to be able to go out until 2am, sleep a few hours and be fine – maybe even do it again the next night. But as we got older, we no longer can do it.  You need & want sleep; otherwise you are wrecked for days.  Two nights in a row?  Talk to me in a week.  Our endurance training is the same.  As we get older we can no longer just put together a quick training build for the season.  We need more and more time to reach outstanding fitness.  We used to just hit it hard for 8 weeks and boom: ready to go!  Now, it requires bodywork, focus, consistency and a lot longer than 8 weeks to be ready for an endurance event!  We just need longer, gradual training builds, and too much time off just makes this all too hard to achieve without…injury.
  4. Remain attached.  It is ridiculous to think we can train at a high level year round.  The beer just tastes better when you’re not worried about getting up in the morning for a big training day or the pre-dawn run.  But, knowing you are 3-5 weeks away from ‘it’ – that feeling of being fit, fast and progressing – is what it means to remain attached.  This way, when talking about not being able to build as quickly as years past, you are not that far off at any point in time.  Remaining attached means you are fit enough to understand, feel and see (mirror/scale etc.) that if you needed to get going, you could be on your high level training within 3-5 weeks.
  5. This all said, we want a balanced season.  We want a healthy body; we want to avoid injury, as well as mental burnout.  This is the time of year to surely let go.  No powermeter, Garmin, nada.  Just listen to your body, your breathing, take in the sights and sounds of your training loops and rides.  Work on technique (light feet/land-lever-lift), cadence, relaxed feet in shoes, swim technique (send your coach videos of you swimming and swimming catch up!) – all the little items you did not feel you ‘wanted’ to address during the heart of the season.  Ride the routes you usually can’t, run the trails!  Get to know a Masters swim program.  Dial in all the training plans (track, groups etc.) so that come THE training time, you are ready.
  6. Mentally if you don’t feel it today… don’t do it.  Yes, you want your mind to have a break too, from forcing it to engage and remain ‘in the moment’, focused on your goals.  A day here or there is ok.  A week here or there is not… Exhale.  Introduce yourself to your life around you.  Sure – you might be still training, but this is the time of year to let your friends and loved ones know that you CAN be flexible…careful here though.  Just because I CAN vacuum the house, doesn’t mean I want people to know I’m good at it, and therefore have to do it all the time….

All of this of course does not apply if you are less that 32 weeks out from you’re ‘A’ race.  That would mean you are IN season, and therefore need to get on it!  32 weeks from now? late June…

 

IM Hawaii 2014 – Race Report

2014 marked a return to Kona for me. It’s been since 2011 that I raced, and quite honestly – I missed it. I like racing IM – and I surely liked racing Kona. While I can get my endurance giggles out at IMs around the world, Kona has the appeal of being the World Champs, and I have discovered I like competing – racing. The last few years have been somewhat of a transformative time for me, and without going into too much mushy detail, one of the things I discovered about myself: I like racing – I like competition. I am goal oriented and so having a goal of winning my AG in Kona works for me. Not because of the prize, but because of the sacrifice being worth the result: why do this? To be the best I can be. And to me (that mirror I look at) that means I compete WITH the best in the world in my AG and around that AG. I am not shy to compete – and get beat if it was a fair, honest, clean competition…

My training for 2014 has been great. Running Rocky Raccoon 100 miler in Feb set up a great endurance platform not only for running – but the time out there doing something endurance based for 16-20 hrs. I carried a lot of fitness into IM Texas, which surprised me with an 8:59. It gave me confidence that fitness gains were there – NOW the goal became two-fold: 1) not get injured into Kona – 2) not burn out mentally until Kona.

The summer unfolded well. Training was great – body was holding up – kids were not compromised with this selfish sport. Mind and body were dancing the Kona two-step build well. As many of you can relate – balancing life’s priorities with the training and the sense of urgency in each, becomes quite a challenge. Yet it remained harmonious this summer.

October came and I was healthy, motivated and grateful for all that 2014 had brought so far. I knew Kona was going to go well, since there were no questions. I had mentioned to some folks that there was a sense of calm going to the Big Island knowing I did everything I possibly could for this race. I trained all I needed/wanted/could, I executed, stayed present throughout. I saw the times in training knowing the pace and strength was there.

Race week was incredible. Not because it was race week, but instead I managed to stay as far away from the race as logistically possible. Bringing my daughter Ruby made this great. Snorkeling, surfing, beach days, swimming with turtles, dolphins and whatever else came around on our daily trips around the Big Island. Body still felt great and come race morning all was primed for a memorable Kona.

Swim: I made one strategic mistake in my planning for the race. I got so beat up and annoyed by past Kona starts that this day I committed to starting back a few people and not swimming hard off the start. BIG mistake – I was way too comfortable early on and was able to just roll into my inside the buoy line track with relaxed freestyle. Never settled into a good speed and rhythm – and while inside that buoy line I came across WAY more surfboards and paddlers than past years – and when I say inside buoy line, I mean I am basically swimming ON the line but passing each buoy on the right – besides the turn buoys. BAM – I get smacked hard in the head – an SUP guy was backing up from others swimmers ahead and brought the paddle directly on the top of my head. Dazed and surprised I swam a few breaststrokes and gradually put myself back into race mode. It wasn’t long until I started feeling a bit nauseous – I attribute that to swallowing some seawater when getting bonked or while getting myself going from awkward breaststroke to freestyle again. The swim then just happens – I don’t feel much – remember much – I just swim. I do notice I am swimming somewhat solo – no groups around me, and know that its not because I am that far ahead…. Out of the water in an underwhelming 56 minutes.

Bike: Once out on the bike I settle in ok. The 7.5 miles in town go well, very relaxed with watts dead on where they need to be. But out on the Queen K I quickly notice that things are off: headache and some more nausea. I don’t think it has anything to do with the paddle bonk, more that I might have swallowed too much salt water. I hold off on eating and drinking to allow the nausea pass. I am confident it will. In this window though I notice huge groups of draft packs riding by…like 20-30 guys riding in big groups, sitting up. I pass penalty tents with 25-30 cyclists backed up. Yet only 5 stopwatches to hold, so people are just signing in and off they go – no 4 minutes. Riders ride past me laughing about how ridiculous it is – having conversations! I am disheartened – I am distracted – I lose focus and confidence. Not in my ability but instead where I am in the race (placing) and question my desire to push back to the front. I am feeling better now – have started eating, hydrating but am distracted by the single column of riders up to Hawi – most, practically all – riding too close, constantly looking over their shoulder to see if the motorcycle is coming. It’s a joke.

I get to Hawi and I start snapping out of it. I will make the best of this day. I will make it respectable. I let go of any visions of placing well, but I will enjoy Kona, I will honor all the training I have done leading up to this. I will get back and run a solid marathon – see Ruby – and enjoy having her here in Kona with me on the course.

I ride home with higher watts than the 60 miles prior – rising wattage ride as many of you know from my coaching. I know I can run off that – I have done it plenty in training. The course has emptied out a bit, but still see bigger single file groups riding way too close. But now I don’t care – I have resigned to this being Kona. I actually ride past two guys – big guys – look at them and say “really? – you are just going to keep cheating like this?” – and ride on. Well, Head referee Jimmy Riccitello rolls up and gives them both penalties – good.

5:12 bike – my slowest split in 8 years. Darn. But roll into T2 feeling present – good – relaxed and enjoying the race!

Run: I have one goal – run well. Not hard, instead well. Well means steady – relaxed – present – soaking it all in. Not easy, instead I want to see how it all shakes out. I actually have a tiny voice in my head that thinks I can run a PR in Kona. That would be 3:06 or better. The first few miles feel great and relaxed – as they should, I only really rode 2.5 hrs at race watts of the 5 I was supposed to! Quickly the miles start ticking off and before I know it I have run the out and back on Alii (9miles). At no point do I think of placing. I don’t ask anybody – I am really not concerned as I am committed to running well, and having a respectable finish.

NOTE: we ALWAYS regret missing time on the run. I would be lying to say I did not look at my bike time/race time and shake my head in frustration. Even the 5-7 minutes I could have pushed up to Hawi from Kuahai would have made for a better time (not result since I am not thinking result at this point). In past years I have ridden up to Hawi in 52-57 minutes, this year a solid 1:07…ugh….My thinking here is “if I run 3:06-3:10 my time is XX, but had I gotten my head out of my a$$ earlier, it would now be 9:15-9:19 which sounds nicer than 9:20+”….

I hit 10 miles in 1:09, hit 13 miles in 1:30 something…Of course I know the hard part of the course remains ahead – but I feel good about the pace & effort balance. Queen K on the way to Energy Lab becomes a steady run – with a few other guys we are just in a zombie run: emotionless, in synch, running along this desolate stretch. In the corner of my eye I notice the sign at mile 13 “no bikes, scooters, motor vehicles or spectators past this point” – they shut down the road at this point, as in past years it would become this huge entourage next to the race leaders. I think to myself: well, this is it – from here on out it is whatever result you are in – nobody is out there to tell you, help you know any different…and I am, again, fine with that. I have no idea anyways who is where or what that means anyways!

I hit energy lab, and sure enough – there is my first difficult stretch – hit a bit of a side stitch – which seems to be something common at mile 16-18. I stop and stretch it –to no avail – I get to the RedBull tent and stop to exhale a bit, grab some Red Bull and give myself 60 sec to get it sorted. Well, Caitlin Snow comes by, I grab Red Bull and a big bottle of water and off we go to run. I know the water is too much for me – so I pour half the bottle on her – get my act together again and carefully run again. As you all know with sidestitch, if you carefully, gradually allow yourself to exhale, run, relax, and shorten your stride, it slowly works itself out. By mile 19 I am back in stride. The stop and RedBull tent cost me about 2 min.

Now, usually, this is where in past Konas I have been able to push another gear. Not because of fitness, or smelling the barn. No, its usually because I am chasing someone – I have seen them on the turn and know what I am trying to catch. This year I try to push a bit, but soon I run out of ‘push’. Not desire because I keep running solid, but just not the pushing, snot blowing, grunting, driving hard effort running. I just stay steady. I even get to the top of Palani, with the last 1.2 miles downhill and flat, yet don’t crush myself on the down. I say “don’t ruin your legs, you wanna have fun tomorrow with Ruby”. I roll onto Alii Drive, Nick with Ruby are there – we take pictures, even a selfie – and I run in it into finish. I feel fine – I walk through finish area – grab my water, Tshirt, medal and head out to see Ruby…

SO – what did I learn? Where does this leave me 2 weeks out of Kona? As many of you always hear from me, I like to wait 2 weeks after IM to allow emotions to settle down, in order to take a more pragmatic approach to this all-consuming sport. I have concluded I had a variety of issues on race day:

Positioning – I usually do not see the race from this perspective. I swim off the front and can count the people in my age group (or all age groups for that matter) that pass me. I see if there is anybody out of the swim ahead of me. This was not possible in Kona this year. I lost touch with the groups ahead of me on the swim, and then the draft packs did not allow me to count the race number range of my age group. I was racing blind. Or, for that matter, I was reliant on outside information in order to know where I stand in the AG race.

Distraction – I let the race distract me. With the draft packs rolling up, and their nonchalant attitude towards cheating I was annoyed, disgusted, demoralized by the sport. I allowed my emotions of the moment to dictate my racing. Because of this I paced my day instead of raced my day.

Strategy – While drafters are always in the race, usually I am ahead of them and although they approach, catch up, even pass me – their back half is usually slower (which it was here in Kona too as I rode the fastest back half in the AG) and it puts me right back to, or at least close to, where I need to be for the run. Can you say to always just race hard? Yes, but Kona is a different animal and the depth of the field usually does not allow blind racing in order to have a top result. This applies to the pro field too – those that race hard and blind get strategically outmaneuvered by the strong runners either way.

Poor planning – while this is not something I beat myself up for, I should have had the conversation on an update with Nick, or Jordan, or Dougy T – or even Ruby. Or Taylor, Ryanne or or or. Plenty of people I knew on the course, I just never – in all my 32 IMs – have ever not known my general place and where I need to be/get to in order to have my result. And although Ironmanlive was down for a bit, and even though there are stretches where the updates are not allowed, HAD I known at mile 9, 10, 11 or 12 where I stand, the 3-4-5 minutes could have easily been found. The argument here is why not just run your hardest/best? Because there is always another gear for me when ‘racing’ vs. in your own world, head, place…

Trust – I did not trust in my strength, fitness, knowledge, and experience. I was going to Kona with the goal of winning my AG. If that is the case, I should have believed that despite things going wrong, despite falling back and the day unwinding differently, that I would not be THAT far off. I swam comfortably; I rode Z2 HR/watts the first 3 hrs. I should have trusted that despite those bike numbers and swim time I would still be near the top of the AG. I did not think with logic – I thought with emotion.

Do I regret my day in Kona? No way. I got 3rd on a comfortable day, I know that HAD I lined up against the top 2 in my AG that day – head to head or the top 10, I would have beaten them in an open competition without drafting. I had a wonderful week with Ruby, I had friends there that reinforced our friendship. I was healthy, I enjoyed the race, I smiled, I helped others, I was relaxed and did not take myself too seriously (which has happened in the past). I actually enjoyed a race day in Kona, soaking in the people and the environment. The only thing I look back upon and wonder is HAD I had the opportunity to race, to dig deep, to really push, to chase or even run scared (if I were up front) – what would that day have felt like?

In training I go through a lot of visualization, I save parts of my mind for race day in order to envision where I will be and how to be in the moment. I like to run that course in Kona with stretches of allowing my mind to go to other places (home, long training day, places I have had hard yet effective training days, etc.) in order to really push. I enjoy that process: to close my eyes in Kona and go to the Silverado trail, to go to the Pacific Crest in Tahoe, to go to my 100 miler in February. Because of my issues mentioned above – I never got into the moment of that fun process. That is part of racing. Competition. I regret not having the opportunity to dig in, to go ‘there’, to go to that dark place where you can only get to when r-a-c-i-n-g… In the moment of that day 2 weeks ago, I was ok with not being there because I was certain my placing was not significant, and therefore I should only focus on the opportunity of the day, the privilege and the fun of Kona – a perspective and view I rarely get to take in when racing the day hard instead…Don’t worry; there is a big enough voice in my head saying “excuses, excuses dude…”

With the paddle incident, and my first 2 hours recovering, it would be easy to look for the 144 seconds to 1st place there. But, there were plenty of minutes on the bike and run to have been found with the issues listed above. No excuses. 2 weeks after the race, I actually look at the paddle incident as something that could have worked to my advantage, as a blessing in disguise. Yet I did not take advantage of my day, the real estate remaining. Its hard to recognize this in the moment, but it was there – the opportunity was presented to run myself to the front, a storybook ending to win an AG. This will remain with me – that rare chance to do something special like that. If ever again, I will script it differently.

As this email went out last year after Tahoe and what I need to focus on, here too, I see the lessons learned from this day. I know what needs to be done, where the blind spots are (as always – we never stop learning). But now I need to decide whether I go back or accept that Ironman is in the business of selling emotions, not really about racing world championships like other true sporting events. This might read that I am bitter, but I am actually relieved to have gained this perspective on our sport: that it is fiction, an event created as a challenge/dare, that now has moved on to being a business. While some may argue the Olympics are a business too, the underlying sports are structured differently. You have federations, validated distances, officials that are professionals in monitoring the performances of the sport. They have been officials at national and international competitions for years, and then a rare few are chosen to be at the World Champs or Olympics. You don’t have volunteers and part time racers deciding the outcome of the world championships on the back of a motorcycle. You have an opportunity to race in your sport – to compete – not just see how the day ‘shakes out’.

Understanding all this, and having this years’ perspective, I know how to approach the race next year. Or not. But as a close friend told me the other day: “maybe Ironman isn’t done with you yet. Maybe it wants you to come back – to continue to be a part of it as a racer vs. just a coach”.

Initial thoughts from Kona 2014

Thank you for the many well wishes and congrats after the race. It was not what I thought the day would bring. Early in the swim I got smacked pretty hard in the head by a paddle board oar. I doubt it was on purpose. But it left me dazed and light headed. After some breastroke, I continued the swim. On the bike I could not really get anything going with a headache and dry heaving a bit. I came around about 2 hrs into the bike, but I was way back in these HUGE draft packs, and quite honestly, got demoralized. Little food in me, seeing all the cheating, and knowing tons of riders have passed me. I ask if I should just enjoy my last Kona in a while…but in Hawi I snap out of it and get back on my watts, ride back way stronger and get my head somewhat together. Problem is now I have no idea where I am for the day, I figure I get off the bike in 18-20 place. I start running with a focus on just running, allowing the run to be fun, relaxed and feeling good about running a decent marathon. At no point do I know placing, where I am or what day is unfolding in front of me. I walk a few minutes in energy lab – don’t force it since I know I am in no hurry, surely that bike and swim have me way back still. I get past my sidestitch after a mile of walk and working through it, and get going again. Just steady. I finish the last mile down hill and onto Alii just chillin and talking with Ruby. I want to enjoy it. Even once through finish chute, another AG guy behind me say he thinks we might be podium, I laugh, say nooo…only to find out it was right there. Had I known I was running down first, my run would have been different. As you can imagine, I am not happy, frustrated by no updates for anyone on IM Live, its the WORLD champs, why don’t we get to compete and race the competition ahead of us? No updates, too much drafting. Its a sad result to this race, for me and for the race. As you can imagine – I am quite frustrated…

It is the worst case scenario: too close to walk away from Kona, knowing those ahead of me might be drafters (as on the run they were going backwards) and having my day in my grasp had I only known my placing and where I was.

Way more to follow with a longer update and race report, but I wanted to share my initial thoughts, frustration and disappointment.

Tahoe Training Camp Recap

First of all – THANK YOU for joining the AIMP Tahoe Training camp – in its 14th edition!  While the camp has changed over the years (from free – to fee – back to free) the format has stayed the same for 1.5 decades!!  That said, the faces have changed, I’ve gotten older – but the fun, the adventures and the character always remains great.  I plan to do it again next year – even if I am training for something different.

Some highlights of this week…:

MONDAY – the week started off sorta crazy with cold, blustery rain and a really gnarly day.  After a rain immune swim in Donner, we had people get lost, stop, crash and freeze!  It was an ominous start.  But nonetheless all persevered AND actually stayed for Day 2!

TUESDAY was actually the ideal day.  Swim in the rain and a cloudy, cool long trail run.  An out and back, who could get lost??

WEDNESDAY the weather started to turn and we had a great 100 mile ride around Lake Tahoe under sunny skies.  Most got their day done before too much traffic showed up and we were all ‘mostly’ done before an afternoon thunderstorm came rolling in.

THURSDAY was our recovery day – for most.  We swam 3.1 miles across Donner Lake with a full day off as of 8:30am…or 9:30.

FRIDAY was our epic day.  Most rode anywhere from 100-136 miles with a few 144 milers and a solo 150 mile ‘navigationally’ challenged rider.  7-11 hrs of cycling with plenty of climbing over Yuba Pass and Gold Lakes kept everyones ride honest.  As usual the Canadian in our group lost her sunscreen.

SATURDAY had another swim and a gorgeous trail run/hike for a couple of hours up on the Pacific Crest Trail.  All above 7000ft altitude, the views and the terrain was a great finish to the Training Camp.

Hope you all made it home safe – are eating well, hydrating and recovering…from a big training week, or in terms of our Camper of the week, Byron…42 hrs of training in 7 days!

tahoe-campI must say – I was quite impressed with all of your training this week.  Some of you ran 6 hrs, some of you rode your bike for 150 miles, and some actually swam for 2.5 hrs!!  As some of you might have heard, I don’t always do this ‘rendition’ of camp.  Often the Friday ride starts and ends in Sierraville.  Rarely do we go that long/far on the Pacific Crest.  And  most of the years not so many in the group persevere like y’all did.  It made the week fun for me too, watching you do it all!

I hope you all learned a little bit here and there, feel good about your training load and can look back on your next hard training day or race with a little smirk…

As always – please do not hesitate to send me any questions.  Stay healthy!

Oh – and Camper of the Week, Byron?  You’ll be getting something helpful from ROKA soon.  You don’t need any help biking or running….

Thanks!

 

Understanding Z2 – Part II

After the mini camp this past weekend, I wanted to take an opportunity to go into more depth about Z2 aerobic training and how it might help if I showed you my data.  This might provide some color and clarity on how to do it – why we do it – why it is so important and how, if done right – it will make you fitter, stronger and faster than ever before.

This past weekend we did an approx. 100 mile ride in Napa.  While it is quite flat by our standards in NorCal – it still had 3500ft of climbing and a bit of a nasty headwind on the last 15 miles.  So an honest 99.5 miles.  Temps reached mid 90s.

Below you see the attached ride I did.  Plenty of details in here that I will go over but first some insight:

  • It was a solid Z2 ride for me.  Not in my zone, but on steady cadence and aero position.  This is the type of ride I like to do weekly, or maybe every 10 days to remain efficient in my cycling form and work on my relaxed aero position.
  • You might think based on zones and threshold this ride was too easy for me, but it matches almost identical to this ride I did 10 days out of IM Texas.  Last 15 miles are the same watts, same cadence, same conditions of temps and wind too.  I’ll take this on the back end of a 100, and relaxed focus aero riding.  I am not looking for POWER or SPEED – I am looking to be relaxed – efficient and economical because I have a 7 mile run off the bike in a few minutes.
  • We (I) came in with 17hrs of training already this week.  I had done my quality on intervals in classes (on the trainer) and was looking for a steady, energy efficient and balanced ride.  I think you can see mission accomplished.  I averaged 5 watts more on the front 50 miles than the back
  • I had a 7 mile run after.  It was based on feel, no interest in taking Garmin with me.  But I wanted to feel light and relaxed (listened to Germany vs. Ghana 2nd half, was not as relaxed as I wanted!).  Mission was accomplished since now, 22hrs into the week, I ran a comfortable 7.20 pace (I know the distances there all by vineyards) – avg HR 133

Now that you know how it was for me – lets look at the data.  Below are three charts.  Then entire ride on watts only, the first half of ride with watts and HR, and finally, the 2nd half of ride with watts and HR although I sent this to show my HR monitor went screwy – not to hide what my HR did the 2nd half.

Entire-ride-watts-only

Chart 1: The entire ride, watts only

ride-firsthalf

Chart 2: First half of ride, watts and HR

ride-secondhalf

Chart 3: Second half of ride, watts and HR

  1. My T1 (aerobic threshold) is 300w, my threshold (LT – T2) is only 330w (goes to show how little time I spend in Z4!)
  2. This ride averaged 205 but normalized 220w.  NOTE:  that is 25-30% BELOW my T1
  3. My HR the first 50 miles never leaves 120.  Almost a flat line.  No decoupling from the watts – which means they stay very aligned throughout.
  4. There is one bigger climb in this ride – yet it is quite hard to see/find AND I never leave my Zone 2 (220-260w)
  5. Cadence is steady in the 80s throughout.

Why am a writing you all this?  Here goes:

Aerobic platform training is about letting go, about using watts, HR and pace as a secondary means of seeing what you are doing.  The main driver is your ability to train the volume efficiently and repetitively.  My ability to do this training day, again, and again, and again…in the following days, is set up by doing this day correctly.  Could I have gone harder?  Absolutely.  But for what?  I have plenty of training ahead that I want to layer upon this day and many days ahead.

This ride was 25% below my T1 – and also below my Zone 2 watts.  Those of you that have tested – think about your T1, and take 25-30% off that number – how often have you done 100 mile rides that relaxed and easy?

I did not care about my avg watts for this ride – nor do I care for avg speed.  Its all USELESS if not relaxed, efficient and economical for the run after as well as training days after.

I receive emails and texts frequently after workouts – but also from those doing this ride:  They feel great a few days later:  YOU SHOULD!  If you went the right effort, every day is like this!  It should not tax you for more than a good nights sleep and some fluids and fueling can’t rebuild.

People in the community of triathlon also call me a ‘volume coach’.  Yes I am – but it is a crazy effective volume IF DONE right.  As you can imagine, a day like this – relative to your watts, HR and pace – will leave you ready to do it again, and again and again.  IF you ride a tick too hard, and keep questioning, pushing the Z2 effort, you WILL be flat, tired, and quite often, injured.  The volume only works in a delicate balance.

Many of you are in the heart of your training for the A races coming up.  The key to all this is your ability to stay fit, healthy and absorbing the training throughout.  Remember – what I base my ENTIRE coaching on:

Your ability to train effectively enough to stimulate the appropriate adaptation

This ride for me hit all that:  Effective enough because I can compare it to previous rides and IM prep and see I am dead on where I want to be.  Effective enough because I had a solid run after as well as a good training day Sunday and another 5 hr bike with some work yesterday.  Effective because I am not shelled, injury free.  It stimulated the appropriate adaptation since I am 16 weeks from Kona and want to gradually build my fitness past where I was for IM Texas.

Does this all apply to your training?  Are you looking for numbers, wattages, avg speed and running paces?  The more you force it, the longer it will take.  The more you force it, the more frustrating it becomes.  The more you force it, you play on a delicate edge of injury or fatigue.

Example:  I could have ridden that at 220-260w and had my HR sit a bit higher.  Still Z2 – but more forced into numbers and at a greater cost.  I know my training days ahead.  So what was the appropriate adaptation for me?  After 17 hrs of training so far that week?  It was this ride.  I relaxed – spun steady – and still rode an efficient 100 miles in under 5 hrs.  I let it come to me.

As you are training – and see your week ahead, days ahead, consider your approach.  How are you setting up a successful week.  YOUR training, not what someone else is doing.  YOUR best week.  YOUR best adaptation.  Not past numbers, not wattages or running paces. YOUR adaptation.

Also – please keep in mind – this ride and training is effective because I nailed the intensity workouts correctly too.  In this past week I hit all the workouts as designed in the following format of STRESS:

S – Strength – hills on bike and run as well as in classes on intervals.

T– Technique – plenty of that in this ride – in classes and running with relaxed form and focus.

R – Recovery – sleep – eat and an easy day or two with active recovery swimming only or OFF

E – endurance – did this here in Napa and the day prior with a 5 hr bike and 30 min run.

S – Speed – intervals in class and tempo intervals running

Specific – This day was about as specific as I can get for IM – 100 miles + 7 mile run – all steady aerobic at same HR.

There should be plenty of conversation with me about this – please send me any of your thoughts.

*I do this ride 1x a month until IM.  It is a way for me to measure how – in a relaxed, but NOT RESTED, state I can ride a clean 100 and run 7-10 miles off the bike.  It is important for me to have bad days on this ride – mentally challenging ones.  That way I know to relax – just focus on pedal circles and let go of any data (KEY is to continue to fuel and hydrate well).  If properly tired and mentally taxed, that section of bad sensations and focused only on feel will net me a wattage.  That is my ‘bad day’ wattage.  I also want that to go up over the next 16 weeks.  Why?  Because then I know at IM, that even on a bad day, I can hold THAT number.  And THAT number becomes my floor.  By then I’ll have done it plenty – so I’ll feel good about THAT number being a realistic floor.  

Creating an aerobic platform
Race Report IM Texas – May 17, 2014

Its interesting – I get more texts and emails when I DNF (IM Tahoe) vs. when I race an IM that met my expectations (IM Texas)….maybe your expectations are higher than mine?? This one went well. I know I don’t have many more sub 9 IMs in me – so I’ll take it.

I share my race report with you since I do get feedback that you learn from my actions and mistakes (plenty!) – its also what I like about coaching: being out there applying what I want you all – at any level – to train and execute.

I know some of you will shake your head and roll your eyes – but this race was completely aerobic for 95% of the 140.6 – and it is exactly what I try to coach in all of you, my athletes: That there is an aerobic, Zone 2, low HR pace that can get you to the finish line of an Ironman or Half Ironman – having gone plenty fast.

Sure, in every race there are a few sections where you go harder (swim start, bike sections to avoid draft packs catching you, acceleration on the run to get around folks) – but overall the HR line, wattage line and RPE line of this day was completely flat.

One of my key takeaways from my DNF in Tahoe last September was that I jumped ahead of my Zone 2 aerobic training. Injuries, confusion, expectations all got in the way of a successful race. Even more interesting is that because of this, I was wound way too tight the final weeks into Tahoe; why? Because not having trained my way left me wondering what the day might bring vs. knowing what is surely will bring.

This past winter I was not about to let that happen. I ran the 100-miler in February with specific goals:

  • Improve my aerobic platform running
  • Improve my mental game when it comes to running the marathon at IM
  • Improve my running economy (oxygen uptake ability while running efficiently)

Jumping ahead of aerobic fitness has not only left me injured in the past, it also has left me flat in training, with little confidence in racing. I see it daily in my coaching: athletes want to jump ahead in their fitness, want to find their old numbers, want to return to running their pace they think they can hold. They apply old training mantras (gotta train fast to race fast) or even ignore the training altogether. And while they can execute a fast workout here and there, it still leaves you wondering if you have that gear, that ability, that pace on race day. In contrast, there is no guessing if you know your aerobic platform – you have seen it weekly, if not daily in training. No big variances, no big fluctuations in performance.

I know I preach this stuff plenty (the base of the pyramid, the rebuilding of your engine to perform better etc.) – but I also got to apply it to myself again for IM Texas.

Training and racing for Ironman keeps me connected – not only on how it feels – but to the mistakes we can easily make on a daily basis. 2014 so far has been a great reminder for me of my coaching philosophy and why it has such staying power: it helps us prevent injury, remain motivated, and most importantly, allows us to repeat our training effectively, day in and day out – for weeks and months. THEN fitness can take over.

There were numerous days these last 2-3 months in training where I wanted to push harder cycling – or find a pace running – “how am I going race an IM on this pace/wattage??” or “if this feels like work, how will IM feel racing at a higher number/pace?”… but… I slowed, I focused on cleaner, better form. I always deferred to easier and cleaner/more efficient than numbers or paces.

Here some more context:

Running the 100-mile race in February kept me well aligned for my 2014 objectives. I also came out of that race healthy and hungry to train for IM Texas, triathlon in general. I got everything out of ultra running this winter mentally and physically I wanted. But it also left me running 8-9 min/miles at Zone 2: a long ways from the 6:55s-7:10s I like to run at IM…At no point did I push myself into those numbers – I used every run I had, to gradually increase turnover, remain focused on form, pavement techniques and ensuring I am not pressing since otherwise I would not recover into the next workout. Pace came down just nicely in time for IM.

Looking back, bike training for IM Texas had gone well too. I had very few data points coming into this training phase, nor had I ever started training for an IM 14 weeks out like this. But, I also knew I had a LOT of aerobic run training. I tested on the bike in early March and my numbers clearly showed I spent a winter with limited cycling miles. Ugly numbers I had not seen in years. But, I also knew the engine was there as I just ran for 18 hrs straight, so aerobically something was working… I also knew that this was setting up perfect for my ideal 2014. I did not want to be too fit in May, it burnt me out in 2011 as I came into Kona flat, tired, mentally exhausted.

Instead this year the plan is different – build up a huge aerobic platform (Z2 training) – and sprinkle in frequent race simulations (90/9 being my staple) – and go into Texas fit, not fast and ready to execute a real steady day. Lastly – I was not looking to do anything special: just qualify and race a real steady, confident, familiar race.

In the 9 weeks between tests (March 9 to May 9) I rode 2100 miles, of which 90% much have been in Zone 2. Even classes had a cap. Testing the Monday prior to IM, sure enough, the numbers looked way better – back to my old self. But – I also knew I have not trained with these numbers – so they were only a validation of the training so far, as well as a good idea of the watts I knew I could hold in Texas.

The Race Details:

Race day approached with bland foods and plenty of hydration. Dinner prior to the race was nice and boring: pasta, no sauce, just some chicken, and broccoli – boring & bland. As was lunch earlier in the day with salad, rice, sweet potatoes and chicken.

I had slept well the nights before – 9-10 hrs per night – so going into race night, getting 6ish would be plenty. Wake up 4:15am, some wheat bread with almond butter, banana, yoghurt and granila as well as PreLoad (Osmo) and plenty of water. Thought I would want some coffee – but half cup was it.

Went to square away my bike and special needs, back in room for some relax time – sunscreen! And down to swim start. Easy. Gun goes off at 7am

Swim was decent – but as many of you know – I never like to swim that hard. There is so much ‘day’ ahead; that extra effort and focus is not something I care about. For me it is all about getting to T1, solid swim, but little energy used/wasted/applied. The swim actually gets boring after a while!

Through T1 – off to bike: what a course this was. I would describe it as a mix of Kentucky with horse farms and little towns and Florida with it being quite flat and steady. A few turns here and there, some changes in scenery, but otherwise this bike course only changed with wind: headwind, tailwind or side wind. The power came nice and easily, smack dab in the middle of my zone 2 watts. Got a little annoyed with a group of drafters (cheaters) coming up so I spent some time riding a bit above my planned zone, but nothing dramatic and nothing to interrupt my day too much. Actually felt better and more settled the second half of the bike. Once back towards the Woodlands, things were looking like a decent bike split, but again – today was about being steady, remaining controlled and comfortable. After 100 miles the body always becomes uncomfortable on the bike, especially in the aero position, so what you think might be fatigue is actually just inefficient riding, too much shifting around and becoming impatient for the ride to end!

  • 3x Cliff Bar (750)
  • 2x GU Chomps (360)
  • 2x GU Roctane (200)
  • 2x 28oz Osmo (100)
  • 3x water (48oz)

=1410 cals

Rolling into T2 I could see the race time was just about 6 hrs, but that was the pro start time – but I never paid attention to when they left: 15 minutes before us? 10? 20? No idea – too early to consider this anyways.

Out to the run. The Texas run is three loops. First loop to settle in and see what your legs are giving you, 2nd loop to maintain feel, effort, pace, as well as not letting your day slip away. 3rd loop is key – push, hold on – see how the run time lines up and get after whatever you need to get after.

Although the first loop felt great – aerobic – relaxed – I was starving. I ate about 300 calories too little on the bike. So now I need to manage calories for energy, while balancing fear of stomach issues…I get in a gel at T2, as well as at mile 3, but I can tell I am on the hunger edge. I try to manage a few more gels, but now they taste awful. Mile 14 I start coca cola…but that too is just maintaining the slightly dizzy and nauseous feeling. Darn, I know better. 2nd loop is now complete and the traffic begins to add up on the 3rd loop. I was perfectly content with staying at pace/steady/survival mode until I realize that there is a chance to break 9 hrs at mile 20ish. At that point it was time to get uncomfortable.
Luckily I was able to find an extra gear home and finish just under 9 hrs. But I remain annoyed with the lack of calories I set myself up with. One of my goals this season was to get a better handle on my nutrition late in the marathon: now I go into Kona not knowing if it would have worked or I was just so empty that I didn’t have stomach issues!

  • 5 gels
  • Coke as of Mile 14
  • Osmo Flask with 100 cals.
  • Water at every aid station (20×2-3oz = 50oz)

So what is it with Z2 aerobic racing? As many of you have heard me say before, our goal with this fitness is to get to a point where we KNOW what time we will race. Because of our aerobic fitness – holding wattages, running pace, cycling speeds on typical routes, swim intervals, there are soo many ways to measure where we are currently at with our fitness – there is no reason to go into a race not knowing quite well what we can execute. But the training needs to be based on this – on the CURRENT you – and the investment YOU want to make into your season, your training and your results.

There are so many different training approaches out there, but I always wonder why athletes pass up on a sure thing? For example, if you see plenty of 8’s in your marathon run training, week after week, in simulations, when tired, on the back end of a track workout running home, don’t you know that you can run 8s for a marathon? It might not be what your goal time is, but would you not rather just work on the gap between those two numbers (goal and training pace), vs. the occasional 7s run that you can maybe hold for the rested ‘feel good’ workout – but not consistently? Do the 7s and how or when you can hold them become a sure thing or more of a question? Do those 7s leave you sore; leave you too tired to follow up with a great next session? Are you staying injury free? Would you not prefer to run 8s easy…and then 7.45s easy…and then eventually 7.30s etc…all at the same low HR cost to your body? While maintaining good efficient form and cadence?

In my IM Texas lead in, I knew a pace I could swim, I knew a wattage I could hold, I knew a pace I could run. I had done plenty of 90/9 simulations, plenty of long days that I felt quite good after or the next day. I finished a 32 hour training week feeling good, healthy, absorbing and ready to do the next week. There were no blind spots, no concerns, no injuries! You might not do these hours, but you can achieve all the same outcomes in your training. You need an aerobic platform. And then keep building on it…and building…

All I had to do was put it all together well enough on race day. And so can ANY of you. Create the floor, create the confidence in a certain time that you know you can achieve – even in training (I will gladly add more simulations for any of you) – and then build on that, piece by fitness piece. And what we begin to realize is that even our tired, ‘straight outta training’ practice sessions are getting faster. Even the ones that don’t feel great, they are faster than weeks’ prior. THAT is building from the ground up.

Whether running, swimming, biking, ultra running or triathlon – the concepts are all the same. Create a fitness floor and keep raising it. As we keep raising it, we remain focused on efficiency, technique and economy. You keep getting faster, just watch.

You can’t pull up a floor you are standing on. Get under it and push up…

2014 Rocky Raccoon Race Report

“…in this age, which believes that there is a short cut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest”

Henry Miller

I’ve never done a 100 miler…I tried once – but I went about my training wrong. I pushed too hard, racked up the miles too quickly. Sure enough, about 5 weeks prior to Leadville a few years back, I pulled out of ultrarunning since I could feel the stress fracture in my foot coming along. It might have already been there – but when I broke my collarbone a few weeks later at Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, I got 6 weeks of forced rest anyways! So – this time I went about it differently. I had two primary goals with my prep for Rocky Raccoon.

First – I was going to build up to a healthy avg. weekly running volume and hold that – it would be my base. Secondly – within that weekly volume I would build up one long run per week. What did this look like in practice? First – I gradually built my running volume from 40-45 miles per week in early October to 70ish miles per week, although my avg for most of December and early January was 65 miles per week. Then, once absorbing a decent weekly volume (55-65 miles), I started inserting a longer run into that standard base week. That means in addition to that 55 miles I ran a 4, then 5, then 6, then 7 hour run 1x that week. Of course this kicked up my weekly totals, but my ‘fall back’ week was always the trending avg weekly miles. Finally – over New Years it was time to test the big volume: I ran 24miles on the 30th next morning (New Years eve) I ran 44 miles, and finally the next morning (Happy New Year!) ran another 25 miles. That gave me approx. 93 miles in 48 hrs. If I can do that – hopefully I can do 100 rested…in 16-18 hrs…and while I knew my training was going well (felt great at NorthFace 50 miler although DNF’ed at mile 44) 100 miles felt quite daunting. 8 hrs of running is different than 16-20 hrs! In hindsight, I probably could have been more rested. Riding a Coast Ride to San Diego (550 miles in 5 days), albeit easy, still left me somewhat flat. I was hoping to feel better on my final 50k prep run the Friday, 8 days prior to the race. Add to that a calf tightening during that run, I was thinking “this could be a really long day”…

Rocky Raccoon also served another purpose. I still had a bitter taste in my mouth from DNFing in Tahoe. I was looking for something hard, monotonous and mentally challenging: 5×20 mile loops should be just the ticket. Not punishment, instead an opportunity to develop a stronger mind for racing. So there it is: 5×20 mile loops, 6am start – rolling course – nothing too steep at any point, see it in the dark, sunrise, during the day, and then see only a headlamp tunnel for the following evenings’ darkness.

rocky

The first loop was OK. Didn’t feel as easy, fresh, natural, quick as I wanted (see tired and flat above!). Was actually already sort of laborious. But kept shutting off the mind and listened to podcasts as I knew I would need the mind later on. Approx 3:08 – I made a commitment that I would not rush my 20 mile aid stations, so I always used that for my crew stop. Food, drink, logistics, updates etc.

Second loop – here we go – now I know the course, know where I am each step of the way. Podcasts go to music. Eating a bit too little, drinking plenty. Perfect weather for me: overcast, 60s, humid. Approx 3:08 again. Was actually hoping the first loop would be quicker on ‘free speed’ – but know that in ultrarunning (for me at least) there is one…speed..all …the time…

Third loop – just focus on getting to half way. At 43 I start feeling not so good – the remaining distance seems daunting given I have been running for 7 hours so far. I start thinking how I am now moving into the longest run I have done this season…and start drifting mentally. Luckily, having prepared for this, I was ready to slog through these miles. Not because they were hard physically, but because it is such a dead space in terms of 100 miles..Not getting to 50miles quick enough, and feeling the slowness of the day in the brain, since I can now project how long the second 50 miles might take! But luckily as of mile 52 I snap out of it – grab some ibuprofen – and move on to 60 miles where I now can run with friends as pacers. But that part of the 20 mile loop seems to have an effect on me – it is the longest piece without aid, as well as closed course – so nobody there…3rd eat whole wheat bagel with cream cheese, turkey and bunch of pretzels. Also have some Roctane gels, and a 5hrs energy drink shot.

Fourth loop! Over half way… and no longer running solo. I am ready to talk someone’s ear off! While saying 4th more miles! I tell the crew, let’s figure 8 more hours and get this done before midnight! JINXED! 3 miles into the 4th are screaming, with the occasional cold numbing shooting pain down my left leg with it…The type that if you recruit wrong, you buckle, and catch yourself from falling. Walking – fast walking, quickly try to engage..nada…couple jogging shuffle steps, cold pain…walking…darn darn darn..40 miles of WALKING?? Are you kidding me…this will be booooring. It will be done – but boring and..heck, load up the iPod and I’ll watch a movie while walking…3 to 4 to 5 miles walking – stretch occasionally..nada. But, I do apply Ironman knowledge here: am I doing EVERYTHING now, so that if I can run again later on, I am ready…hydrated? Check….Food? Check…Clothing, gear, rest of body? Check..just waiting (better said, walking) – I reengage at mile 70..the shuffle can be held longer. I know a flat section, with no roots or anything is coming…(a dam trail) and sure enough can shuffle it…shuffle it up to aid station at mile 72..4 ibuprofen, and within 90 sec I am running, feel good and drop my pacer…Pick up new Pacer at mile 75 aid station, off I go to 80 mile crew stop…4:30 (approx.)…ugh but 2 things: curiously enough the pain was in the same section as my previous loops dead zone…and secondly…if out of a 100, I walk, hike 7 miles, I’ll take it.

Final loop! Don’t want to stop long, since anything tightening up might mean walking again…Some calories, some more ibuprofen and some clothes in case its cold. The 4th loop was already half in the dark, so all I am doing now is staring at a 4 ft x 4ft light window in front of me on the trails. That’s my world. The roots, trail, branches and dirt of that window of light is all I see. It’s the last loop – all good. Each step is the loop in 3:27..lose about 20 minutes in that difficult ‘place’…I sit – last time I’ll be doing this loop, but its so vague because in the dark it doesn’t matter. I might as well be in Marin, some forest in Europe, or on the Appalachian trail (which is what staring into that light reminded me of – different story…). Aid at 83, cool….aid at 85, more ibuprofen….6 miles death zone? bring it…aid at mile 92, ibuprofen (!)…aid at 95…ibuprofen…feeling good – steady – actually have a great conversation with my pacer, AIMP athlete # 2 btw…, and the loop sorta flies by.

5th loop is easier then 3rd. Mile 98…ugh, ready for this to be over, my legs are getting tired…100 miles – done! Approx 3:50. Total time 18:24. Yes, I got passed by 1st honestly, that felt good because a) I didn’t even know there was an AG race/ranking… 2) my sole purpose for this race was to finish feeling good. Which, ironically, this 99th was the ONLY mile I felt awful… It was fun. Yes, fun. Trail running is different – and while the next 100 miler (?!) might not be as fun, since now I have a number in my mind and how I would train, and what I would do differently yada yada yada…this one was good ole 1st with friends. You get to eat and drink and be merry at any aid station…You only do one thing…for a lot of hours..! And although the sport has changed over the years since it has become more technical and some agro folks are rolling over from triathlon, it still has a very different vibe.

Did I get out of it what I was looking for? Not sure yet. Stronger mind? Won’t know until IM Texas. Better runner? Doubt that since running 10s doesn’t relate to running 7s in my stride. Was it challenging? Yes. Was I more anxious than it turned out I needed to be? Yes – but that was the fun part of this 100 miler. The unknown, the curiosity, the challenge. Did I ever hit that deep, lost, ‘

had to search my soul’ place? No…not even close. Maybe next time….yes. I’ll do another. Those Belt Buckles are cool…

Data:

2x Clif Bar – 1x PowerBar – 9/10 Gels (mix of Roctane and Salty Caramel) – 1 PBJ on

white – 1x bagel Turkey CC – 1x whole wheat PBJ – 250 cal pretzels – 2x 5hr energy –

25-30 pb filled pretzels – bits of banana/M&M/

Approx 4000cal (220/hr)

4x Osmo – 2x Preload – 16x water (20oz) – 12 oz Gatorade – sip of coke.

Approx 24 oz of fluid per hr.

Issues: 7 mile walk was hip flexor and quad attachment. No calf issue until mile 95.

Switch 3 pairs of shoes: mile 40 and mile 80. Shoes switch good – no blisters, same

socks for 100 miles.

Coach’s Word Mindfulness – 01.31.14

Hi all. I know it has been a while, but nothing like a plane flight to get some uninterrupted writing time.

Mindfulness: the skill of racing and training right here, right now.

In my prep for this upcoming 100 mile run, I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks, podcasts and the occasional music playlist. One article by Maria Gonzalez I listened to stuck with me. It talked of mindful leadership and how we can decrease stress by controlling not only our mind, but also the multiple circumstances that arise daily where we can use better judgment.

As a coach, I wondered how we can apply these management practices and observations to endurance training & racing – and how it can benefit all of us.

As many of you have heard me often say: a lot can go wrong on race day, so we want to focus on the things we CAN control vs. those that are out of our control. Especially given that our events are anywhere from 2-24 hours, that leaves a LOT of room for things to go wrong! Even in shorter events – a minor circumstance can quickly mean minutes!

Surely outstanding fitness helps us deal with the circumstances of race day, but training the skill of mindfulness will magnify that benefit of outstanding fitness.

Dealing with the stress of race day…

First off we want to focus simplifying the stress: as we go into the race, we want to decrease stress, not just manage it. This will help us be better prepared for the situations that WILL come up that are somewhat unexpected. I say somewhat since many of the situations that arise on race day are not unfamiliar – we just don’t prepare or want to realize they can happen to us!

Decreasing stress also means we can assess the situation and seeing what stress we can eliminate. Weather? Temperature? Course? Competitors? Nothing we can do to change those, so instead we focus on how better to deal with them: taking action.

Next we want a constant theme for the day: control the mind vs. letting it control you. When the mind controls us, emotions and judgment are in play. When we control the mind, we can start dealing with that stress, that circumstance. It’s about not wasting energy on how to change the circumstance, instead on how to deal with it, accept it. When something is going wrong in a race and you get upset/stressed (no water at an aid station, you dropped your food on the bike, powermeter/garmin not working, feeling flat watching competitors whiz by you) – you are in your head! You are judging that situation (while it may be correct!) vs. applying clarity, awareness of surroundings, and being right here, right now. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down with feelings/emotions of the circumstance; instead we want a state of being present – aware – conscious…Mindfulness!

Mindfulness is a skill that can be learned. It is training the mind to be secular. Training the mind on how it CAN deal with stress. Being in the moment, being present (right here – right now) ties into three interlocking components:

1) Concentration.
2) Clarity
3) Equanimity

• Concentration is a skill learned to stay in the moment, be present for as long as you wish.
• Clarity comes with that concentration: clarity of thought, good judgment, seeing things for what they are vs. our own judgment that clouds situations.
• Equanimity – this one I find most important since it allows us to truly control our stress and mindfulness: it means going with the flow. Asking yourself; “can I change this situation, circumstance”? If I can’t alter, therefore I won’t let myself be swept away by the moment since it alters my judgment. Instead I am taking action. Practice acceptance, not anxiety!

Mindfulness is the skill of being fully present and fully aware – not looking to change the circumstance (react) – instead being aware of what is…simply what is…balance.

As with any skill – there are ways to practice this skill of mindfulness. Some of you have heard me talk of a system check, a check in with our body during the race. Part of this means we take a deep breath and ready ourselves for the task ahead. In all my pre-race talks I mention that moment in T2 where you just want to sit for a moment – inhale, exhale and check in with yourself. To be right here, right now, to get yourself ready to concentrate on the run ahead, with clarity & acceptance. In my 100 miler this weekend I plan to do this every 20 miles (5×20 mile loops!) – a sort of mini meditation. The author of the article talks of the para-sympathic nervous system being activated, which has an immediate calming impact. I’d like to get better at it – maybe at each aid station during the Ironman bike? Every aid station on the run? The more we can be in the state of mindfulness for our event – the better! A psychological mechanism to create calmness? I’ll take it.

In order to be better prepared for race day (its called coaching right?), we all can use triggers that come up multiple times in our training days – but especially on long race simulation days. A trigger to do a check in with yourself, to find that place of clarity, concentration and being present in the moment. For me a good trigger has been when I eat. These are frequent enough moments for me to take a breath – do a systems check, remain focused on the task at hand for the training and why I am doing it (execution to the best of our abilities). 

Our mind gets agitated with too much noise. Instead, we can control our mind, moment by moment and with it decrease blood pressure, control our heart rate and work towards having our day.

Coach Chris Hauth : Weekly Word 12/10

Hi all –

First off, Happy Holidays. We are heading into crunch time at this hectic time of year, therefore you being able to find some balance with training is pretty remarkable. I know family, work and life seem to get quite overwhelming so keep on your training. It might need to be abbreviated but at least stick to the usual AIMP motto: a little something every day….

Tucson 2014. In approximately 2 months is the AIMP Spring Training camp in Tucson, AZ. I have been coaching there for 8 years now and it is a great long weekend of training and feedback. I am working with some coaches on site to make some changes this year – so please email me ASAP if you plan to join. We will be renting houses and SAG Monkey will be cooking again, just this year way closer to our rides and easier for us to be together. Cost remains about the same as the past 5 years: aprox. $1195 for the 5 days, 4 nights all inclusive with food, housing, SAG, transport etc. So far we are 8 people. I’d like to cap it again around 12. That seems to be a sweet spot for coaching and camaraderie.

As many of you have seen, we are approximately 37 for the Coast Ride next month. Should be a great trip down the coast to San Diego!

Lastly, my weekly word:

Last weekend, during my 50 miler, I needed to make a brief, but difficult decision that I wanted to share with you. I had to pull out at mile 44, but it was not a DNF, it was a DNC. For me there is a difference between these two acronyms, and as a coach, it is valuable to share this with all of you.

We all know what a DNF stands for. But DNC? Did Not Complete. I apply DNC to an event when a bigger picture is in play. Could I have finished the 50 miler on Saturday? Yes. But with a 100 miler in 8 weeks, I wanted to be very careful on my recovery and ability to train the appropriate adaptation over the next 6 weeks. My right leg was getting quite sore (VMO – Vastus Medialis) from all the downhill running (10,000 ft of climbing on this 50 mile course) and knowing that I need it to recovery fairly quickly, I stopped at mile 44.

My training has been progressing well in that I recognized two things from Saturday: first, my progressions have been healthy. I have run 5, 6 and now 7 hrs at a time. I feel great throughout and have recovered quickly. Jumping from 6 hrs to 8 hrs in a a shorter window (2weeks) along with my usual weekly volume (approx 60 miles) would risk a bit much. Therefore stopping at 7 hrs Saturday, walking another 30 minutes down the mtn to the crew stop was a healthy decision. Secondly, my recovery has been remarkably quick. I am not sore from running 50k, 36 miles, even Saturdays 42 miles. Of course there is a deeper fatigue of sleep and hunger, but muscularly I feel nothing. No hip flexors, calves, glutes, not even IT bands are bad at all. To me this means my fitness is in line with my muscular endurance (This btw is a big factor for all of our endurance training: is your fitness in line with your muscular and skeletal fitness/endurance? More to this some other time)

Back to DNC’s – in this case they are quite important for all of us to understand. Many times in your training or racing you have opportunities to ‘open it up’, to push because it feels good, to throw caution to the wind and blow it out. While there are surely times for this, always keep your goals in mind. “Am what I am doing today jeopardizing my ability to train tomorrow or this coming week/month?”…If so – a DNC might be a better call. This applies to when we are sick (do I do the training or should I consider how this delays me getting back to full health/strength?) – or stress/life/work in general as we train. Sometimes going through the motions with the brain off, or stopping a workout early, is the best action in order to have a better tomorrow. Especially in racing this is a hard decision, since you don’t really know the answer until your A race some time in the future! In my case, I know it was good since I was able to run the days after for another 7 & 10 miles respectively.

While I am never a big fan of not ‘racing’ a race, there are surely exceptions (injury!). Would I have rather finished the 50 miler and then still do the follow up runs the next days? Absolutely. But risking a week off with a sore/hurt VMO, vs. being conservative and keeping the damage to a minimum – I am pleased with the outcome so far. More importantly I was able to move forward with my progression (6 to 7hrs at a time of continuous running) and maintain the training loads I have planned over the next 6 weeks.

I hope this helps you all in the coming season on making the best choices to have the best results possible. As always, please let me know of any questions.

Have a great week!

Weekly Word: The Coaching Syllabus

Every year when athletes inquire with me on being coached, I get a typical question: how do you go about your coaching? Can you give me training samples or what a typical week looks like? After coaching for 15 years now, I do think a lot of it is based on feel, intangibles and learning from previous years, plans, personal experience. BUT – I also strongly believe that coaches are educators – we help you learn, understand, embrace the training and plan that should lead you towards your goals. I have also come to learn that every teacher needs a syllabus for their school year – some basic principles by which they can format their teaching with. I have started this with my coaching over the past few years.

Many athletes might think that this means the same format year after year. But as most of my long term athletes can tell you – my coaching plans and training approach never repeats itself. The concepts of adaptation and stimulus might, but not the specific training needed to bring about the adaptation. Every year is different, but the road map rarely changes.

Let me remind you of my core mission as a coach to you: I am looking to coach you with a plan that allows you to train effectively enough (time available) to stimulate the appropriate adaptation (progression applicable to you towards your goals). Key words: enough and appropriate

Important is to also understand that this is a very general road map, but it allows me to time your season properly, stay within the phases, and build mini training plans within each phase. It also allows me to take your feedback, races and testing data and keep them in line with our timing towards that ‘A’ race. Sometimes its too late to address a specific need, so we place that need into the next syllabus…

The Road Map: We basically need 25 weeks. If you had all the flexibility of time without work, family, personal life as well as health and recovery getting in the way: 25 weeks is ideal. It follows a simple pyramid growth:

a. 8 weeks to apply the correct Z2 platform of aerobic base with 2 recovery weeks built in
b. 6 weeks to start incorporating Z3 and tempo work with 2 recovery weeks built in
c. 4 weeks for race specific steady state and race pace interval work with 1 recovery week built in
d. 2 weeks to taper and sharpen the blade

Looks quite simple right? Lets break it down a bit more:

Z2 platform: important is to come in with a solid base and the proper testing to truly apply 8 great weeks in a very tight range of watts/HR in order to maximize the Z2 aerobic platform. This is the first piece where individuality comes in: some need more weeks than others PRIOR to these 8 weeks. Those of you working with me for a season or two usually hit this within 4 weeks. Newer athletes usually require 6 weeks just to shift their energy systems to feel and understand Z2 aerobic work. Its hard to give me the feedback needed in the logs without knowing what Z2 aerobic training actually should feel like. Again: 8 weeks of aerobic Z2 work in order to stimulate the appropriate adaptation. What is enough coming in varies for all of you.

Z3 and tempo: Here is where things really become individual: The testing validates how much Z3/tempo work we will want to sprinkle in and your personal limiters help determine which discipline requires some extra attention: swimming, biking or running? Where to focus more time – what is our limiter in races? How much Z3 work, what format (cadence vs. muscular power?) – what is your appropriate adaptation – do you historically respond better to quality or quantity? The syllabus calls for about 60% still Z2 aerobic work in this phase – and 40% at Z3 tempo. So on a 16hr training week, that means 6.5 hrs of your week are Z3 tempo intervals or paces! Solid training!

Race Specific steady state and race pace intervals: even more individual training plans here: IM, HIM? Oly distance? Ultra running? Race course dynamics or profile? Temperatures (6-8 weeks out is when you want to start heat or altitude work etc.) – Depending on distance and limiters – now the ratios also change: 50% Z2? 50% Z3+ Z4? Or still 60/40? Or for IM, maybe 70/30 but the testing and your fitness gains make the aerobic work quite hard due to volume etc.

And finally resting/tapering: what works for you? How do you absorb the last phase as well as can you hold form until race day? How do we keep you sharp yet not tired?

As you can see – as your season advances, your plan becomes so much more individual and specific to you. Yet the most important ingredient for this entire syllabus is missing: your input and feedback. As we move through the season, your insights, observations, feedback, notes, and complaints are vital to make this plan effective. In order to train effectively enough to stimulate the appropriate adaptation, I need to hear from you, I need to validate our training with testing, and we need to apply in the real world of racing. This constant exchange of coaching and feedback keeps the syllabus applicable to you and allows for true progression: am I better today than yesterday? Why? Because the coach/athlete feedback loop is constantly being applied to tomorrows training plan.

And finally – what makes this syllabus change year over year, from athlete to athlete, is what I call Wedge Weeks. If we follow the weeks listed in the syllabus above, then the season starts about 30 weeks out from the A race (4-5 weeks to enter with the right platform plus the 25 weeks listed). Wedge weeks are what makes this training plan a realistic one: Wedge weeks are weeks inserted into those 30 weeks at any point in time due to injury, sickness, extra rest needed or life/family events. Any one of these reasons might require the plan to be delayed for a week or two. Work travel or a project overwhelming? Wedge Week…Sickness? Wedge Week. Family overwhelmed or Holidays? Wedge Week. Friend getting married in Bora Bora? Wedge Week.

Most of us went Pro in something other than the sport were are training for, which means we have plenty of Wedge Weeks (Pros have Wedge Weeks too!). On average I see about 6 a season…Now, the plan is 36 weeks…That means if you start this next week, your ‘A’ race is the first week of August…

Ready…?

Understanding the 2014 PreSeason

Here we are again – the Fall.  An easy time of year to chill out – relax, drink – eat and be merry.  We trained well, we sacrificed a lot, now its time to chill out a bit and do all those things we wanted to do many of those weekends while out training.  Some of you might have accomplished some great goals, some of you might still have an A race ahead, but in general the Fall is typically known as the off season in these here parts of the country.  Temperatures do not dictate this time of year (although they sure facilitate taking a break), the race calendar does.  While in the past there were very few races from Thanksgiving until Easter, the sport has grown to allow for a decent racing season even in the winter.  But, the majority of you race between April and November, so now is what many call the off season.

Many of you know I call this time of year the PreSeason.  I wanted to follow up with all of you on why:

This sport continues to mature.  Gone are the days that participating in this sport allows you to achieve some remarkable results.  It has grown in numbers, it has some incredible depth to it – meaning that your result in the AG gradually falls off if you remain doing the same times:  more participants and faster times = more competitive fields, with many more fast, gifted athletes squeezed into those competitive time ranges.

You could look at any other sport, but marathons give us some comparable insight.  Back when the marathon participation craze began (jogging/Nike?), everyone was stoked to complete a marathon.  Then the sport began to mature and times got faster, more competitive.  Qualifying standards were added to Boston in the 1980s and just recently this standard became even more competitive with qualification times being readjusted in 2011.  Today you are stoked to just qualify for Boston, let alone participate (that is its own logistical nightmare due to speed of that marathon filling up).

Similar in triathlon participants were stoked to finish an Ironman in the beginning.  The sport matured to the point that the Kona Ironman needed qualifying slots, and those now have become crazy competitive:  more participants, more depth of incredibly talented athletes flowing into the sport…and LESS slots due to more races being added around the world (although I believe this will soon change to Age Group rankings).

The World Championships are truly becoming a World Championship.  While this might spur a lot of debate on Slowtwitch and other triathlon forums, it’s a normal (and healthy) progression for a sport.  With the marathon example, none of us look to take part in the IAAF World Championships, nor the IAAF World Marathon Cup, or if we are over 35 (!), the World Masters Athletics Championships….yet Ironman Hawaii carries this cache that anything is possible.

What am I trying to say?  That the typical focus in this sport on qualifying for Kona is no longer just achieved by walking in and giving it a whirl.  It takes a methodical, focused, multi year plan to make an attempt at qualifying.  As in other sports (running, biking, swimming, team sports, heck, ANY sport) it requires continuous progression and building ability, fitness, technique, strength 12 months out of the year.  While I am not willing to say 10k hours like many coaches in developing younger athletes claim, it is surely something in between taking an OFF season, and those 10,000hrs.

If Kona is your goal – then we need to sit down and have serious planning session and discussion.  Can we – how will we – when can we expect this to unfold.  And what do the years in between look like?

For many of you Kona or an Ironman might not be the goal.  But you have goals of progress, improvement and results that mean something to you.  If you were not attached to some sort of achievement, some goal, some finish line, you would not be receiving this, since you would not be coached by me.  You took that step to work with me so that we can achieve something together.  To feel that finish line today, and every day in your training.  Finishing is what you define it to be – the emotions you want to feel at that point in time: marathon, Half marathon, Olympic distance, 100 miler, 50k, Ironman, Half Ironman, Ultraman, open water swims…all of them have a finish line.  Those finish lines are always filled with emotions.  What do you want to feel?  Pride or questions?  Satisfaction, a deep sense of accomplishment, or wondering what you could have done?

This is not about hours of training.  This is not about how hard or easy you train.  The emotions of the finish line are yours, and they are defined by your every days actions towards that finish line.  As I have recently written:  did you do your best today to feel the desired emotions of your finish line?  This is an applicable question to all of you:  since our life circumstances, our families, career, health and progression are YOUR best…not someone else’s definition in hours trained per week etc.  YOUR best is given your life, your circumstances, your abilities in the now.  And it is YOUR finish line:  your finish line explains what that means: winning?  Time?  Percentage in the age group?  YOUR personal best? Finishing? You define both input and result.

Now that we have defined this value, lets take a closer look at the concept of an off season.  A time to take off from training and focus on other things?  A time to just exercise, not really train?  A time to be unstructured and train on feel?

How does any of this help you achieve your finish line?  Every year, the majority of participants in this sport take time off, then spend 12-16 weeks to get back the fitness they let go of for this ‘off season’:  they let go of feeling incredibly fit.  They let go of truly feeling fitness which allows you to identify where the shortcomings might be – what needs to be worked on, the blind spots, the technique, the missing strength/core/stability work.  Take 8 weeks off, spend 12 weeks getting that fitness & feel back, now how many weeks remain to get stronger, fitter, better prepared for your next goal, for that progression. We have yet worked on race specific fitness and new, uncharted phases of your training.  And trust me: there is always a progression….

How does the marathon World Record fall?  How did Michael Phelps get faster?  Many of you ask what makes the Elite in our sport so different?  Not as much the training as it is the attention to detail and the daily focus on progression towards their long term (!) goal.  How many future Olympic swimmers are now prepping for a goal almost 3 years away?  Progression towards a long term goal – THAT is the key ingredient – to stay focused today on what you want to achieve many tomorrows from now.  That is what creates the 10k hours theory, that is what sets a really talented athlete apart from other talented athletes: the willingness to focus now on what will make them a better athlete many months, even years from now.  Long term vision.  Often this means slowing your progression, but you know where you are going and why.  That is athletic maturity and wisdom: the ability to see your results in the future in your training today!

So, as you approach this concept of ‘off season’, understand that no matter your goals, there is always something long term to look at, to train for, to invest yourself into.  It might not be a finish line or result, it might also be health, well being and the ability to do things later in life you never thought possible – that too takes an investment today!  I am a big believer in being prepared, fit and healthy for life’s future endeavors.  You might not even know what they are yet – but it is sure good to know you can take them on, that you are never far away with your fitness, health and ability to consider these exciting opportunities.

In my coaching I often get inquiries on what I am doing, how I am approaching training phases or prep for A races.  What am I focusing on this PreSeason? Since I just recently raced an Ironman, it allows for a crisp and specific plan:

  • My mental approach to the sport: I seem to have lost something that allows me to push myself in racing.  Physically everything points to a solid performance, but my mind is getting in the way.
  • Running: while my running is still my strength, I want to improve maintaining race pace later into the IM run, especially miles 14-20.
  • Strength training: my body has some gaping blind spots in strength.  Not only for injury prevention, but to use the strength I have more effectively – especially on the bike.
  • Technical details: for racing I need to improve nutrition.  Not as much what I am eating, but how much.  Racing at my size and my output/speed will requires more energy/calories. I need to spend time testing this in training and racing – which also means more racing.  My gear is also in need for upgrades.

My next race is not until next season, most likely some time in May or June – but I am already working on all 4 of these points.  Training, reading, planning, experimenting etc.  All this requires time, observation, preparation as well as repeated trial & error.  There is no off season for this.  This requires fitness to properly test, apply and incorporate.

I took 2 weeks off since Ironman Lake Tahoe.  The 2014 season has begun.  Are you ready for your 2014 PreSeason?  I’d be glad to sit down with any of you to determine your PreSeason plan.  We all have one.

IM Lake Tahoe Race Report 2013

Many of you have asked about my race in Tahoe – at IM Lake Tahoe.  Its been over 2 weeks and I always tell my athletes that they should create some space from the emotions of the race before writing up their race reports.  These can either be crazy high emotions (signing up right away for more IM’s) – or some serious lows (beating themselves up about the race or the DNF etc.).  Returning to our daily lives, the routine, our family, work and the void we left by training for this IM often helps give us a better perspective on looking back on a very meaningful & powerful day for most of us.

I have been coaching triathlon for 14 years.  I really enjoy coaching the lessons that this sport carries with it.  The incredible sacrifices of time in order to train.  Discipline to get the training done.  Communication and balance to have family, friends and loved ones still support you but also carry the slack in that void you created.  I could go on and on with this list, because it remains very current with me.  I respect the work my athletes do so much, the time they find to train, the kids activities they still attend, the families they still nurture and the jobs they still carry – travel – responsibility; today most are so overworked, overstressed – adding this sport into that mix can make this stress even worse.  I hope though in some ways this sport makes it easier for you…that exhale, the invigorating rides, that beautiful run leaving you feeling like you can run forever, that swim where you finally feel some synch with your stroke…all this hopefully allows you to be a better father, co worker, leader, husband, boss or friend.  That time to yourself, that journey ventured, that challenge of a training session accepted.

All of this no longer applies to me – and I have been recognizing this in my training.  As many of you say, its less about the race, its about the journey to the race.  Well, if you didn’t have that journey, would you enjoy the race the same way?  Would you even race?  If Ironman were not about sacrifice, would you still do it?  If there were not physical or mental aspects to overcome – would Ironman still be as appealing?  Unfortunately that is what has come to my attention this summer.

I no longer need to sacrifice time to train; I no longer have anybody I need to balance this sport with.  My work does not cause stress; actually much of the training for an IM is partially my work.  I observe and apply a lot of the concepts of my coaching while out training.  Physically there is little in the training that challenges me, nor am I really looking to take things to the ‘next’ level since I have already been there – not only in this sport, but another sport.  Mentally the challenges of race day are no longer a mystery, the mind games to get through a race are no longer working.  I know what to train, I know how to feel prior to a race, I know what numbers or pace or times I need to see in order to have a solid day.  The fire within to do well is no longer burning as hot, I have flipped the switch in the wrong way:  I understand that life on the other side of these races goes on, that your result has nothing to do with that life, and that Ironman is just another athletic event.  Sure, the congratulatory emails ‘feel’ good, but they are not what impacts your day to day once back into that rhythm of life on the other side of an Ironman day.

I said the other day that I knew Ironman was not going to be the right place for me as I go through divorce.  Many people have used this event as a getaway, something to fill your time with, escape, an outlet to channel emotions from the every day punch in the gut that divorce is – For me this escape was not going to be applicable – since it was already what I did as a partial profession the past years:  some may argue that Triathlon is what drives divorce – this sport is so ‘selfish” and requires such a commitment.  I vehemently disagree, but that is a different topic.

Yes – I have been injured – and I had already worked my mind around not racing IM Lake Tahoe back in late July when visiting some close friends.  I could not get into what was causing my injury, and re-engaging into running left me timid.  But with some help from physical therapists and some rest (all of July) I was gradually getting better – and while it was still showing up occasionally – it was better – it was good enough for 26.2, most likely with some pain or suffering the last 6-10 miles.  But IM marathons always have some pain and suffering.

So what happened?  In my swimming days we used to say “my performance is a perfect mirror of my self image” – We used this statement back then for positive affirmation – to create a mental link between positive self image and performance.  I have come to realize it is a key ingredient in any athletic performance – good or bad.

I started taking IM racing – actually, all racing – for granted.  I figured I could just ‘do’ an IM, just ‘participate’ and be fine – have a good enough result that I can feel decent about.  I actually already felt this at IM Los Cabos this past March: decent.  But decent is not enough to enjoy this sport.  Decent actually leaves you feeling empty, quite unsatisfied.  And it surely doesn’t motivate you to train – properly – progressively.  No – just participating is not good enough.  I have been incredibly fortunate that my talent has allowed me to do quite well at IM Triathlon.  But this past 18 months also showed me everything I am trying to teach my kids:  resting your accolades on talent alone is not good enough, nor very rewarding.  Combine talent with hard work, focus and discipline; that leads to world-class results. Every – EVERY sport is littered with talented athletes that could not handle the hard work & discipline needed to bring that world-class talent up to a world class, elite level.   And here I am – doing exactly that.  Sure – many can argue:  why?  You have done plenty – you have nothing left to prove.  I am 43 years old, single dad with two awesome kids.  I have totally deserved to just participate, to enjoy all the years of focused training and soak up the pure fun of endurance racing.  THAT is exactly the excuse that creates this internal dilemma: if I was looking to prove anything (!), then I was in sports for the wrong reason anyways.  Athletics are not to prove anything (and a bigger topic on what is wrong with athletics and all sport these days) – it’s about personal excellence, an internal belief system of commitment, follow-through and to ALWAYS do your best.  And there is what happened:  IM Lake Tahoe I did not do my best.  I did not prepare like that, I did not race like that.  I did not have the mind set for excellence.  I went through the motions thinking that the finish line will be rewarding enough.  I believe that is why I truly DNF’ed: because I realized on the course that this approach is not good enough.  That going through the motions is not good enough.  That accepting a decent, mediocre performance is not worth a finish, a result. No excuses, finishing an Ironman is about more than I was doing.

It was a mirror of my current self-image: decent, average, not doing my best.  Good enough to not be disappointed, not good enough to be happy.

Therefore it is time to challenge myself into a new avenue of this sport.  It’s time to give back, to race for a bigger cause, something I am not personally accountable for, but instead representing for either those that can’t, or raising awareness for those that can!  I have some ideas for this; have been speaking to some of you how this might unfold.

Health, fitness and the privilege of doing these events are something to be thankful for.  The training, the time, the ability, and the financial flexibility: all of it is not something to be taken for granted.  In my years of coaching I have come across plenty of athletes that just want to see what a marathon or Iron distance triathlon is like.  Once they finish, they check that box of completion and move on.  But then there are those that stick to this sport and see the lifestyle it creates.  Health, fitness, spiritual balance and mental strength that permeates throughout our daily lives.  And yes – this lifestyle is a very sharp blade:  take it too serious and it cuts through every aspect of your life, leaving you with nothing but yourself.  Take it too lightly and the fulfillment of this lifestyle gently dulls.

How do I sharpen my blade again?  It comes with an understanding that it cannot be taken for granted, not for me as an individual, and surely not for a greater purpose, cause, support group.  Its time to challenge my own process and to work toward a shared vision, not just my own.

Willpower, discipline and resolve are about mastering the tension of not getting what you want in the moment….

 

AIMP Camps Updates

Hi all –

I am trying to gauge interest in the 2 remaining camps this season. As you can imagine, this allows for better planning & smarter logistics. PLEASE email if you plan to attend! Also feel free to share with anyone you know that might benefit from these camps for their race season.

TAHOE CAMP: August 18-25

Our usual weeklong camp (year 12!) with plenty of swimming, trail runs and lots of cycling NOT on IM Lake Tahoe course. This camp is free of cost again, with only tips for any SAG Monkey services that might be needed. Here is the typical breakdown and plenty of you might need some adjustment:

SUN: arrival day. easy 3 hr bike, short run off bike.
MON: swim + bigger bike up around Gold Lakes & Sierraville + short run off bike
TUES: swim + longer trail run
WED: Long bike around Lake Tahoe
THURS: swim + trail run
FRI: Medium bike + ez run around Donner Lake
SAT: Swim
SUN: Lake Tahoe Half IM race

PALM SPRINGS Fall Camp: October 17-20

This is a new camp for IM FL, IM AZ, IM Cozumel, IM West. Australia folks, as well as HITS series. Great weather, great pools, track, cycling routes and we’ll include some fun dining etc. This camp is Thursday to early Sunday, allowing for Sunday return home. Due to the logistics of the location, this camp will cost some $$ and depends on numbers: house rental or hotels. The plan would be to rent a bigger house in order to have all meals & recovery time in one location. $$ would cover house, meals, SAG and possible bike transport if needed. ARRIVAL would be Wednesday evening.

THURS: Bigger bike + short Trun
FRI: Swim + Run
SAT: long bike + afternoon stretch out swim
SUN: Short swim + longer run

Thank you!

Coach’s Weekly Word: Building Trust

Building Trust.

One major problem many athletes face is trusting a coach – one who they are willing to grow a relationship with, in order to then, in turn, get even better individual coaching.  There are many examples for why athletes don’t trust their coaches – and by trust I mean opening up, sharing, providing the insight needed in order for the coach to have a real opportunity to effectively….coach.  As many of my athletes have heard me say:  A good coach ‘coaches’ the person, and only ‘trains’ them for their event.  There is a big difference between coaching and training.

There is a persistent image out there that having a coach will lead to instant success (gratification).  This is simply not true.  In order to effectively reach your potential, it takes time.  Any coach that promises quick success or that has quick results (making it look easy) eventually fades away.  Since we all know that coaching is about your ability to train effectively enough to stimulate the appropriate adaptation.  The appropriate adaptation takes time in learning who you are, what is the appropriate adaptation for you…and through time and training – seeing if the adaptation is taking place.

There are plenty of success stories in coaching, all sports, where one would quickly point to great coaching for the athlete to have such quick success.  Well, again, the change in approach and coaches might have stimulated the appropriate short term adaptation.  But unless that coach can repeat success with you for many seasons (progress), then it was just that: ” a change in scenery”.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about how to better trust your coach in order to build that successful relationship as well as provide your coach with the ‘color’ and insight needed to bring forth the appropriate adaptation via your training plan.  How to analyze them in order for you to extend that trust?

1) What would their motivation be to not have a good result with coaching me?

If you can think of any reason why your coach would not want the best possible result from you, to help you achieve all your goals, then that is a big red flag.  Other athletes more important?  Not on board with your goals?  Plans?  Understand why.  Then communicate that without this trust, it’s hard to provide the insight that he/she needs for your successful training plan and coaching.

2) What risks are you taking in trusting your coach?

Extending trust makes you vulnerable.  Vulnerability is not a bad thing however.  In most coaching cases, vulnerability is necessary in order to achieve what you want or need to succeed.  Having your coach understand you, what makes you tick, what you care about, and how much your goals mean to you is a good thing.  Now it is on your coach to help you achieve them – with you.

3) What are the possible outcomes from this coaching relationship?

Your trust is a valuable thing, so treat it like that.  If you are completely trusting in your coaching relationship and not getting the individualized return, then you may want to reconsider the relationship.  Your coaching relationship, along with your trust, should yield a return called success.

4) How credible is the Coach I am trusting?

Credibility is key in any coaching relationship.  Know your coach, their story, their approach.  If you don’t, ask…since you want to be cautious with that trust you are extending.  It also takes energy switching coaches, re-starting, and rebuilding a good coaching relationship, so do the necessary prep work prior to diving in too far.

5) How accountable is your coach?

Accountable people always follow through on their commitments.  If problems arise – they figure out a new path – approach.  It is really that simple.  Accountable coaches are also quite busy with athletes: they are in demand – since accountable people are easy to work with.  Be certain your coach carries accountability and takes ownership of YOUR results.  *Disclaimer* – if you are not following the plan that the coach is giving you – then this point is mute.

Building a trusting relationship with your coach is a key ingredient in your success.  You put a lot of time and energy into your training, racing and gear.  All of this can be tempered by a coaching relationship that is not really ‘coaching’, instead only training for events….

 

Feedback // Review Of November Rail Wheels

Feedback // Review Of November Rail 52 Carbon Clincher wheels:

Recently I rode the California Coast on some brand new November Bikes Rail 52 Carbon Clincher wheels.  They were sent for me to test.  By coincidence I was doing a Coast Ride with 20 clients from San Francisco to Santa Monica CA.  The is 470 miles of cycling in 4 days, starting with 135 miles the first day, then 125 miles, 117 miles and finally, 95 miles into Santa Monica.  The terrain varies anywhere from pancake flat through the strawberry fields of central California to the constant climbing and descending along the spectacular Big Sur coast.  Basically, the ideal spot to test some new wheels.  Wind, terrain, temperatures and road types:  all different and all offered.
To describe the wheels?  Compared in the wind tunnel to the Zipp 404s (which I have owned for years, 3 different versions) these are very similar in design.  The profile gets wider like the Firecrest, and almost hides the 23, even 25 tires, within the carbon of where the tire & carbon connect.  This means when riding you often look down to your tire and barely see a tire!  I experienced the same with both the Zipp 101s as well as the 404s.   All black with a great looking logo makes these wheels look fast and garners some curious looks as they look covert.  Black hubs – black spokes – black tires.  So, first of all they look plain cool!

Rail_02

How did they ride?  Besides looking cool we also want them to ride pretty darn good.  Well these wheels ride pretty darn good!  Immediately they felt stiff when I pushed off from Mill Vally CA.  I rode them with my Pinarello Paris – which with different wheels can actually feel soft.  But these wheels immediately made my bike stiffer and therefore more responsive.  Solid acceleration, great momentum can be maintained.  Steady spin the first day through the strawberry fields to Monterey.  Plenty of tailwind, great zip in these wheels.  By the second day I was already a fan, but throw in 7800 ft of climbing in the first 76 miles down the Big Sur coast, I was truly in awe.  Great response to climbing, standing.  Great descending around some tight coastal hairpin turns with only a stone wall between you and the ocean 600 ft below.  They hugged the road within my bike frame – no problem.  And as the winds shifted in and out of theses deep ravines and coastal coves, crosswinds had little effect on these deeper wheels.  They remained very stable, very solid, whether sudden gusts or a constant crossing wind.  Sure, you have to pay attention, but nothing that would make a rider nervous or catch them off guard.  Add in some super smooth pavement – great momentum.  Even as we rode on some chip-seal for 30-40 miles, with plenty of deeper gravel and rivets in the road – these wheels, while stiff, were still somewhat forgiving.  Part 2, they ride great too!
By the way – you might wonder if it is the bike or the wheels that provide a lot of the feedback I mention above.  I road the exact same Coast Ride with a different set of clients just 3 weeks earlier.  Same bike, same tires, just different wheels.  Its the wheels that were clearly different.  I could feel it.  Sure, carbon vs my usual Mavic training wheels, but it still gives a good comparison.
Why a good comparison?  Because these wheels, as good as they are, cost about as much as a set of training wheels!!  This is the final piece that makes this such a great set of wheels.  Sure, when comparing to Zipp and Hed and all the other big name wheel builders out there, they might be hard to distinguish.  I’m not sure if I can tell in a blind test which wheels are which.  BUT, at half the price of the Zipps…this is an easy choice.  Easy.  Part 3, great pricing…

Coach Chris Hauth : Weekly Word 5/22

Riding down the Coast for days, one has many hours to think & plan. But more importantly as a coach, you have time to observe – many hours – a handful of athletes. This got me thinking about an article I recently read. It talked about what motivates people in different business environments. Observing the different athletes on the coast, having some longer discussions with them, combined with knowing how they race, left me with the following:

Do you race to win? Or not to lose? 

This might seem like a loaded question (and it is) – many may think one approach is better than the other. Instead think of it this as a question that revolves around motivation, and understanding how there are two types of motivation.

Motivation is defined in many circles as approaching pleasure and avoiding pain. If you look at motivation like this, what type of motivation works for you?

The first type is the one we are most familiar with: Charging opportunities. With this it is about the pleasure of making progress, advancing, making significant gains. The pain lies in the failure to do these things: failure to advance – remain stagnant – no progress.

The second type of motivation (and one we often overlook) is maintaining a satisfactory state, one that we are ok & pleased with. The pleasure here revolves around the peace of mind & security this creates, the satisfaction. The pain lies in a failure to remain here – or to make mistakes, to lose this state of satisfaction/peace of mind, being at peace.

Therefore – back to the question: do you race to win (charge opportunities, push the envelope) or do you race NOT to lose…the placing you hold, the gains you’ve made in training and past racing.

Your athletic motivation type might be very different from your work one, or your family/personal life one…Do you know what you feel most ocomfortable with in racing? Understanding this motivation allows you to prepare for a better outcome. How do we together approach the pleasure of racing and avoid the pain in racing…? Knowing this helps us manage your race day a lot more effectively.

I can use myself as a good example. As a swimmer off the front in most races, and specializing in long distance events, it is ALL about preventing my day, my result that I have envisioned and prepared for in my mind, from slipping away. So I race not to lose since I am off the front. To maintain where I am, to be at peace with a solid effort, but not risk too much, maintain my day, and allow fitness and experience to play out. As I get fitter, the time at the end of this ‘maintaining day’ also got faster. I prevented things from going wrong. Or, as so many of you have heard me write and say: I didn’t slow down.

I coach plenty of athletes that are not like this. They enjoy throwing caution to the wind a bit, to charge oppportunities, like the risk they take to blow up because it might just be enough to get them an unknown new result, gain, progress & accomplishment. They are willing to risk a lot to gain a lot.

Are you avoiding losses? Or looking to make gains? 

Both have the same PERSONAL result. A race is successful as YOU define it. Having raced well, not made mistakes, is often all you need to have an amazing PR. Many of you have heard me say you have a certain time ‘in you’ by just racing steady, and this time is often a LOT faster than you have been racing…. Others have heard me say its about breaking though to the other side, to suffer and push, to find out what you are capable of. A PR is also waiting for you because you went after it, charged the course when it called for it, risked a lot and broke through to a new PR…

Both results feel the same: you achieved your goals either by avoiding errors, or by charging ahead. Both feel good because success is defined by reaching your goals.

We all have a more dominant type of motivation in us. Therefore the coaching question becomes are you not risking ENOUGH or are your risking TOO MUCH? Being too preventative (not losing) might not be fast enough. Being too promotive (Charging opportunities) might cause unnecessary risks. Balancing these two motivations according to YOUR needs is part of this thought process.

Do you race to win? Or not to lose?

Qualifier: We all know that coaching masters athletes (most of you) is different than coaching grade school, high school or college athletes (they all must attend or are told to train). It is surely different than coaching professionals! Therefore when talking about motivation (and most of my coaching approach), I try to relate everything I observe to the masters athlete: The athlete that competes & participates in this sport by choice, for lifestyle and health purposes. The masters athlete, while still very serious (sometimes too serious!) and motivated, still has another career, family or life responsibilities to deal with other than sports. AND the masters athlete has often not had dramatic athletic success earlier in their lives. Therefore my approach and discussions come from a different perspective than those doing this for a living, or those that are required to participate.

Email # 3: May Coast Ride 2013

Hi all –

This is the FINAL group email.  Most of you that have said you are interested in joining have already signed up – so we are almost there.  Just wanted to let you all know that there will no more bigger email going out other than to the participants.
So far we are 13 riders with about 8 on the fence.  We have all levels, so no worries of being intimidated.  We also have a few riders that will be taking advantage of SAG since they are recovering from injury or need to watch their mileage.
There have been some inquiries about riding on to LA/Santa Monica – we can do this too based on your demand/needs.  I can help you with the route this last day, and possibly join you.  This does NOT change that the main SAG Monkey bus is driving home on Sunday afternoon to get most of you home.
SO, please email if you plan to join (if you haven’t already).  We want to start organizing hotels for you, meals and some fun gear…
Thanks!

Email # 2: May Coast Ride 2013

Hi all –

We have a solid group heading down the Coast for 3 days on May 17, 18, 19.  Here is another email reminder/check in to join us if you like.  All the details are below in either this email or previous posted email.
DEPART: Friday morning, May 17 from SF/Southern Marin.  130 miles to Marina, CA, just outside of Monterey.
DAY 2: Marina to Morro Bay….125 miles of beauty along the Big Sur coast.
Day 3: Morro Bay to Santa Barbara…120 miles of clean up to close out a good coast ride.
Day 3 PM – we head home: Sunday pm, May 19, we are back in the Bay Area.  For your planning:  we are usually done around 3:30 on this 3rd day.
Dinner is provided on night 1 and 2 (Natural Cafe on way home night 3).  SAG Monkey will be providing support on the rides and during our chill recovery time.
Bikes can be transported back for you.  We are also providing the return trip in the pricing as the Monkey 2 has room for 16.
Pricing is about $175 per day which includes SAG support, food and trip home.  As many of you know I break out the costs if you are not needing a trip home, or joining partial days etc.
We are capping this ride at 14 riders.  There will be some transition runs too for those interested.  Lastly – for those coming into town:  I can organize a swim on Friday morning, as well as Thursday pm.
Let me know if you are in.
Thanks!

2013 Ironman Cabo San Lucas Race Report

…“Sometimes you know the story. Sometimes you make it up as you go along and have
no idea how it will come out”….E. Hemingway

That is the perfect description of IM Los Cabos this past weekend. Some may think
Ironman becomes a routine, especially after determining just this week it was my 29 th. I
was even asked just this morning what keeps me motivated, focused… Its exactly that
no Ironman is ever the same. The challenges come from different angles every time.
Whether external (weather or conditions) – internal (mind and sprit) – physical (injury
or a healthy body) – the distance is just too far to have a control number (sample sizing)
in order to gauge fitness, prep and overall race readiness. Sure, there is an outcome I
can project, but that is not worth training or racing for. I race for the challenge of not
knowing what the day will bring. The challenge of unadorned suffering and living on my
personal edge. I read just the other day that a man rediscovers & fine-tunes his purpose
either in solitude or in challenging situations. Well – last Sunday was a solid personal
challenge.

Of course I was somewhat fit and prepared to race. But I also observed over the past few
weeks (3) that my cycling legs were gone. Missing. Not available. How do I determine
this? Besides that the wattages riding were off, I couldn’t even stay comfortable in my
seat. There was zero rhythm to my cycling, no smooth cadence and everything was
forced or tight. Of course we become more aware with a race approaching, but having
done 28 other IMs, I would like to say I know what it should feel like.

But this is where we enter the challenge situation. Swimming was good, running was
good (although this piece you never really know until 14ish miles into an IM marathon).
How will the day go given a big piece missing in the middle of a triathlon. Add to this
equation a course that caught me off guard (as well as my athletes as I might not have
been well informed about the course!) – it was hillier and harder (potential winds and
temps) that I had planned for. Throw in that it is March, and I have never done an IM
this early in the year.

For those of you around me pre IM, I don’t get nervous. So the days prior and the
morning of are quite fun, I actually enjoy helping my athletes or others in keeping the
mood light. We do this because we enjoy this sport, remember? Seeing soo many
worried, fearful faces makes me wonder at times. Morning check in – and off we go to
the swim start.

Beach Start! How fun. The gun goes off and approx. 1300 competitors surge towards
the Sea of Cortez. A guy does a full face plant next to me. Bummer! Off I go – the
usual 400-500 yrds faster to break from the group – carry a few folks with me – then
lengthen out and settle in. I swim with one guy on my feet the entire way – he enjoyed
the rhythm of tapping my toes apparently. We get out together, 52 min swim. Pretty
decent for March. Through T1 and out on the road I go – amongst some lady pros that
started 17 minutes prior (y’all need to get some swim lessons).

We are always curious what those first few pedal strokes bring in an IM – is there some
magical feeling that just takes over and all the cycling concerns just disappear? It can
happen..but not today. Quickly the watts start dropping off and I am pedaling into a
headwind, and shifting all over my seat. Ugh – long day ahead – I just hit mile 5.

…”Sometimes you make it up as you go along”…No bike legs and a solid course. By
solid I mean headwind, rollers, hills, heat and very few momentum sections. Its all work
(maybe that is a March sensation?). OK, I commit to working harder than I feel like
until 10am – 2hrs. It feels completely unnatural. 263 avg – 257 avg – 253 avg watts –
gradually falling. Ok, so be it – no reason to force this – relax, stay out of the wind, and
click off some miles.

My challenge is that since I started this Ironman ‘thing’, I have 1300-2300 athletes
chasing me. So, it gets a little weird, when you have no other result for your bike leg
other than staying 1st, or getting passed. I knew I wasn’t staying 1st today….and here
they come.

Next I focus on the second loop. I can tell the first loop has been a doozy. I catch Hillary
Biscay and we briefly exchange profanity about how long this bike leg will take today.
I actually spent the next 5 miles smiling on how she easily out-cussed me. Just when
I begin to get serious again (thinking I am going to try and catch my watts for a decent
2nd loop) – one of my athletes catches up to me – gives me a little pinch – and smiles
from ear to ear. Sweet! If I am not going to have a great day, this is the best possible
alternative: and it helps wake me up – since now I have someone to focus on (and he
says with some pity “come on coach, let’s go ride”) – it helps that second loop go by way
quicker, less pity party for me, and more focus on a run that I was planning to nail.

Bike: 5:19 – avg: 240watts (while pedaling squares) – 2 ProBars – 1 Odwalla Bar – 1
ClifBar – 5 gels – 3×20 oz Osmo Active hydration 5×20 oz water. 1750 cals./approx.
300/hr – which is slightly more than usual (March – winter layer?)

Rich and I roll into T2 and off we go through the chute. Well organized transitions for
a new race. Yes, the rules apply to me too: “I aint from Russia – so don’t be rushin’
through transition” – quote from my daughter that always gets me.

Out on the run I go – Feel like I can run right away and now we are back in the comfort
zone. 2 goals for the run: Start off a bit hotter than usual since I have no idea where
fitness will carry me as of mile 16 (longest training run was 16) and to beat certain
someone who bet me she can run a faster IM marathon than me (my AG should give me
a few minutes handicap). Feel great right away, work my way through the first 8.75 mile
loop efficiently but with plenty of energy to spare. 2nd loops feels decent (given it is 13+
miles into an IM marathon) – and although there was some walking, stretching, shuffling
for about 3 miles, things settled in for a decent marathon day.

Run: 3:11 – out in 1:33, back in 1:37…although the Gel Gut bomb was my own fault. 5
gels on the run, which was a no no for me (back to Chomps or Bloks for me) but goal
fitness was there. As to the 2nd goal…I lost that by 76 seconds.

Which brings me back to the day itself. Racing with uncertainty prepares you for the
days ahead where things might click a lot better. I am NOT saying I didn’t try, but I had
to quickly shift my race strategy to a different day. When you are having a good day,
having the race maturity of past “not so good” races allows you to reach even further into
your potential epic day/result/time. No experience or observation is ever wasted when
doing an ultra-endurance event like this.

Lastly – there is another observation from last Sunday. It is that no matter how you feel
on the bike, Age Group Ironman racing comes down to the run. Plenty of guys and gals
were faster than me on the bike, and while my swim does help me, it’s a balanced attack
to the entire day that gets you to the finish line with a decent result. Unless they change
the rules, there is nothing at T2 to win. That marathon shows your strategy, patience
and diligence better than any swim or bike leg can…oh, and that if you are not paying
attention, you can get chicked.

Weekly Word: Coaching with Color

Another good week of input and observations. As some of you have been doing, send me questions or topics you might want to see addressed in the Word.

This week a topic that is a constant in the coaching profession, but my communicating this to you, the athlete, hopefully makes a difference for some of you.

Coaching has become lost in all the technology from today. With all the gadgets out there – from Garmin to Powermeters, to swimming watches, the ability to LOG information is easy, but that is not very important for coaching. As a coach, I don’t care that you ran a certain pace, averaged a certain mph or even swam on a certain interval. As any good coach will tell you – THAT is all noise. Tell me how it felt, what you observed, what you learned, how it went relative to last time you did this set. Tell me abut your breathing, your mechanics, your form & feel, your technique. Tell me how hard that running pace felt vs. what the running pace was. Tell me what cadence you rode up that hill, and how confortable you were on your bike vs. how quickly you did it. Tell me that your distance per stroke feels better or that you had a great feel for the water today while holding a certain sendoff – tell me it felt light, fast, effortless. Don’t tell that you rode today’s ride 3 minutes faster than 2 weeks ago, or that your run turnaround was 100 ft further, or that you got the swim workout completed in 1:15 instead of 1:20.

Being coached is not an excuse to be lazy. Sure, its nice not thinking about what the training is, but you DO need to pay attention once you ARE doing the workout. Being coached is a responsibility to communicate effectively with your coach. If you can’t explain your sensations, then you are ‘uncoachable’. It doesn’t mean you can’t still have a great result, but it is not truly being coached: its being told what to do and I am willing to argue that you can’t reach your full potential…No Garmin or Powermeter or swimwatch will help you with that. Strava, TrainingPeaks, heck, a training binder…All won’t help if you reach that potential if you are just recording data vs. observations.

Coaching is already difficult enough. Many of you might roll your eyes – but it is a profession that is a lose/lose equation. If you, the athlete does well, it was your hard work, tenacity and grit. If the athlete does not perform, it is the coach’s fault.

I go through athletes every month, throughout the year, that quit coaching because they upload huge amounts of data into the logs, whether TrainingPeaks, Workoutlog or even Strava – but yet do not write more than 3 words when describing the workout. As soon as I hold them accountable, ask them for more color to their data, they balk. “But I uploaded all the data and interval times and and and”…..Dont tell me WHAT you did – tell me how it felt!

I wrote the workout – I don’t really need to know THAT you did it (its your finish line, you ought to be doing the training…otherwise you are overpaying for coaching) or how fast you did it (usually not a good thing that you did it faster) or what you did for the intervals (again – I wrote the workout)…tell me how it FELT, what you observed, why you think you felt good, what felt different week over week…

Don’t get me wrong: there is a need for data. There is a time for data. But those field tests, race simulations or key workouts all mean very little without the continuous color the athlete provides along the way OR during/after that key workout. Great, your field test shows you held higher watts on the bike: but if that was at a 53 cadence, and a ridiculous cost, is it really an improvement? Was that mile repeat faster but with flailing form and smoked legs for the next 3-5 days? Everything is relative, but your color paints a better picture of what is going.

Athletes seem to think Coaches can just read minds on how the athlete is feeling. The coaching profession is based upon false expectations that we are sitting on a sideline, pool deck or riding alongside your activity. That is what we all know from watching TV or how we grew up with a coaching understanding. But the rates for that are a wee bit higher…

I know this sounds like a rant in what I need as the coach. “Make it work coach, that is what we pay you for”. But that is not coaching: that is called giving you a plan that a coach feels MIGHT work well for you and hoping for the best. Sure – you can validate this with testing and races along the way – but then how does the plan progress? Or – how does this plan work if the athlete cannot fulfill the plan as written? Or, more importantly, would you not like to hold your coach accountable for the information provided? If you have not only provided data AND color, then what can a coach do with your potential?

Have a great week logging workouts!

Quick Word: Nutrition for Endurance Sports

In reading this publication I was again reminded that we must keep it simple and that you all need to have this individual nutrition and hydration plan worked out – with with me or without – but know what you are doing. And it underlines some KEY CONCEPTS and things you have all heard me say before:

1) Your fitness & race strategy can carry you through the race but your hydration & nutrition are your BIGGEST limiters on race day to achieve YOUR goals.

2) No reason to Carbo Load any more – that ended in the 1990s

AND HERE THE MAIN POINT:

3) GI issues arise from too caloric/carb drink (CARBO PRO!! or Super Bottles!!) and no need for PROTEIN DURING!! Keep it simple and I can discuss with you PLENTY…

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21916794

Re-engaging. A brief Word

Re-engaging.

Often we overlook a very valuable training method called re-engaging. What is re-engaging? It is puling back from the current effort, speed, pace in order to re-engage with the body in a clean, efficient, effective motion focused on good technique. Once we feel the proper technique and form, we gradually dial up the speed, pace, cadence again in order to return to the effort we were previously holding. The key though is that we are now doing it more efficiently, relaxed and usually faster!

Re-engaging take practice and patience. The ability to smoothly correct your form or technique, or to activate a certain muscle groups is not easily done. Therefore it takes practice in order to transition gradually from pace to form back to pace. It also requires a lot of patience. Why? Because you are giving up speed, pace, momentum now in order for you to have more of it later in your workout. You are giving up speed & pace now in order to swim, ride or run more effectively later on down the road (pool). This takes patience and practice.

Lastly, know that this is extremely effective for racing. In racing we often need to re-engage in different ways, but also with technique, form and efficiency. Investing in a slow down at mile 5 on the run in order to run the remainder of the race faster, cleaner and more efficiently is worth practicing and understanding re-engaging. Slowing down in order to drink or eat something more effectively (absorbing) and then re-engaging to the pace/effort carries obvious enormous benefits. Backing off the power on the bike to ensure you are in a relaxed, efficient and maintainable aero position is vital to having not only a good bike split, but being prepared for a solid run.

Re-engaging. It’s a choice you make to invest in your finish line, not your current speed, effort or placing. Practice it and realize you actually give up nothing in speed or pace come the end of your workout or the finish line.

Coach’s Weekly Word 2.10.13

Wow – I received a lot of topics this last week from all of you – good ones. Let’s not waste words or time. This week in the Word:

1) Work Travel and how to adjust training
2) Running after swimming
3) Fast vs. Hard

Many of us travel for work. Whether weekly or the occasional bigger trip, it always disrupts training plans as well as routines. And, as a dad, lets not overlook those days where life, kids or responsibilities just got in the way. It feels awful – but these days happen. We all have it in our mind how we want the travel days to go, but then things go completely sideways. Meetings take longer, meals are not ideal for training, or even the travel itself left us with no opportunity to train. Bottom line is that it is stressful, we get frustrated and short tempered. I know, been there, lived it and still do. What to do?
1) We go back to the first rule of training: a little something every day. If that is 30 minutes – great. If that is 20 minutes, ok. The point is to get something in to exhale – to let the legs stretch themselves. 20 minutes is enough to stimulate enough, fire all the neuromuscular signals and loosen up the joints & more. This does not mean hard, it means a ‘go on feel’, relaxing, exhale window of exercise.
2) That 20 minutes has also passed? Relax – nothing to do. Can’t get back past time: instead – drink some water – eat well, go to bed earlier – get a good nights sleep and train the next day. NOT making up what was on the plan the previous day: jump right back into the proper schedule. I tell many of my clients: When on the road it is a great time to catch up on sleep, relax, not overthink the training. We do THAT plenty at home in the routine. Sleep and good nutrition on the road can make a huge difference. Again – what am I doing today to help prepare me for the best possible string of upcoming workouts? In this case it might just be rest, sleep and good nutrition.
3) Overworked AND on a trip AND no training? If you can’t do anything and you are working crazy hours (or your child is sick and at home all day with you…) please relax. THIS is why we train year round. THIS is why we are fit and focused year round. THIS is why I push you to remain with the training when life is more flexible. We can always catch up to the fitness. Now just focus on getting though this stretch. You have all heard me say: the training and sport should not be an additional stressor in our already busy lives. Instead, push through this time, know that we’ll get fit and focused soon again, and relax to a point where you can focus on the work or challenges in the NOW, vs. also stressing about the missed training. AIMP has always meant outstanding fitness. With outstanding fitness comes the ability to withstand these curveballs that life’s schedule throws at you.
Bottom line here is to choose your battles with life’s schedule carefully: we all have gone pro in something other than triathlon. So, choose your windows of opportunity well. Send me an email when things are too tight, but ALSO send me that email when things open up a bit to add some training load….stress-free, relaxed and in focused, good spirits! Then you’ll really absorb the training….as well as be ready for another trip!

Many wonder why I am such a fan of runs post swimming. Swimming is a full body exercise that requires not only muscular power throughout, but hypoxic power (limited, timed breathing). Combining these two makes swimming one of the best workouts there is. Even better is that swimming is in water which has limited wear and tear on the legs (unless you are doing something totally crazy) and also most of the body. The principle here is that 3-4k into your swimming, 1-1.5 hrs into your training, you have spared you legs but are still equally fatigued, maybe even more. So add a 60-90 min run post a swim (5-10 minutes after) and you have a similar effect on the energy systems of your body like a 2-3+ hr workout without the pounding on pavement for all of it. For ex. a 1:15 swim and then a 90 min run with some speed built in, translates closely to 2.5 hr-3 hr run but without losing form and focus that last hour where we are often just slugging away to get in ‘volume’ or the distance. The goal? further into your training adaptation with less wear & tear on your body. You can remain focused on technique and footwork but feel equally tired. Bingo.

Finally – there is always some confusion with my terms FAST vs. HARD. When we increase our pace or effort, too often we lose technique, tighten up and force it. Going fast means we are relaxed, powerful, on top of our technique and in complete control of the effort we are putting forth. Hard means forced effort, no rhythm, bad form, and also not absorbing the work! The challenge of interval training is the gradual yet intentional movement in and out of the designated effort…Forcing ourselves into a number, pace or speed no only limits potential, it’s also a waste of time. Next time – when you are doing an interval – observe how relaxed you are, how ‘in control’ your motions are, how well you are breathing, how in-synch you are with your bodies signals and movements…THAT is fast…not hard…Let’s take the word hard (negative) out of the vocabulary for training. Fast = positive.

Have a great week!

May Coast Ride!

Hi all –

Just an FYI – SAG Monkey and I are planning another Coast Ride – this May 17-19 only to Santa Barbara.  Hold the date?
DATES:  Friday May 17th until Sunday May 19th.
DAYS: Depart FRIDAY morning from Mill Valley/SF – arrive Sunday afternoon in Santa Barbara.  Return home THAT evening Sunday night.
DISTANCES: avg is 125 miles per day.
SKILL LEVEL:  All
WHO: Anybody and please feel free to share with other athletes or coaches or TriClubs
HOW:  SAG Monkey and AIMP will be hosting, cooking, and organizing all the details.
WHY?  Great for IM Lake Placid, IM Mt Treblanc, IM Whistler, IM Lou…mid summer IM?  This is the ideal timing.
Questions?  Email me: chris@aimpcoaching.com
If you KNOW you are in, email me.  Otherwise no hurry yet.
Thank you.

2013 Begins!

Hi all –

I am back from a week vacation with close friends and my kids.  Sorry to be off the grid somewhat last week as well as the week prior – first Xmas solo.
That said – I am back excited for a new beginning in 2013 working with all of you on the best possible fitness, results, progression and achieving all your goals.  That starts with individual plans for all of you.  But that also means more narrative in all your training plans and more explanation of what I am looking for.  My goal for 2013 is staying focused on the core principles of my AIMP Coaching for you:
1) That I am doing the same training as you.  I also train the workouts you do – make the same observations and – race with all of you.  Whether triathlons, marathons or ultras – I do them all and continue to coach based on myself ‘doing it too’. With that it is my responsibility to educate and explain to you what the training means.
2) Your coaching is individual:  in order for you to get the best possible individual coaching, I need to understand you – with that I need feedback from you on what you observe in the training, not WHAT you did – but HOW it felt and what progression you are observing.  Our communication, teamwork and growth with this exchange of information, will hopefully continuously show you that you made a good coaching choice.  If we are only going one way (me delivering you workouts and you NOT giving me daily training feedback) – then we are not tapping into what I believe we can do together – nor are you getting all out of the coaching you are paying for.
3) Continue to deliver good coaching at a decent price.  I know my coaching is a lot cheaper than most elite coaches out there.  Very few other coaches have been out coaching as long as I have, while remaining solo (no assistant coaches or staff) and delivering the results:  whether at the Elite level (97 athletes to Kona in 10 years, 47 first timers) or many ultra finishers, marathon PRs, first time finishes in all distances of triathlon, ultra running, ultra triathlons like Ultraman or Triple Ironman, ultra-swimming etc. Of course I could charge more, but I want the value of my coaching to always exceed the price you pay.
I look forward to a great year with all of you.
Chris Hauth
AIMP Coaching Services
Twitter: AIMPCoach

Training Through the Holidays

Holiday training focus – Minimize the damage.

As we enter this final Holiday season push, I wanted to go over the mindset that might be helpful in your training during these harder weeks. Harder means in motivation, temptations to not work out, or even from a weight/nutrition perspective. The Holiday cookies, eggnog, boiled custard, all that good home cooked food, heavy beers and red wine can be tempting.

The goal as an athlete to get through a window of time like this is simple: to kick out on the other side with a decent amount of fitness in order to train effectively again. Whether the Holidays, a big push at work, life’s schedule or even being limited due to a injury, the goal should never be to fight the limited training time. Instead, map out a strategy that allows you to kick out the other side of this stretch with some remaining fitness. No, you won’t at a peak fitness level. No – you won’t be a lean training machine. But you won’t out of shape! You are able to go through the 3-5 disciplines of our sport (I am including some strength/core work and stretch cordz/jump rope etc. as the extra disciplines) without getting too sore or tired. You can ride effectively, run somewhat light, and swim decently. I often say this: if you come out of the holidays fit enough to be 2 good training weeks away from feeling normal and prepared for training again, great!

Its all about the platform I talk to you all about. We want to have a platform of fitness we can work from. From that platform we can dial it up and still absorb the bigger training effectively. We can also dial it back from that platform and go with the flow for 2-3 weeks without losing too much. In both aspects we don’t go over board. We don’t up the training from this platform by too much in order to be shelled for 2 weeks, nor do we completely slow down too dramatically to fall out of shape. Its all a gentle adjustment. No matter what the scenario, I guarantee a level of training in the future where you will have completely forgotten about feeling out of shape or unfit – whether 10 days prior or 4 weeks prior. So be smart now, don’t burn the bridges (you all know what I am talking about!) and keep the platform somewhat within reach.

Or to write it out differently? Chill out! Go with the Holiday flow! Ask yourself, how do I get through these next 2-3 weeks without giving up too much but not stressing out about training and diet during a fun, chill and harmonious time of year. Don’t be THAT person that sits in the corner without any Holiday sweets, drinking water and passing on all the hors d’oeuvres because you are worried how you’ll look in a swimsuit coming back to swim practice …If you think that way, you ARE the athlete in those Ironman YouTube parodies. Or Zumba vs. Crossfit etc. and then you need to go to bed anyways for your morning long bike ride….

How do I get through these next 2-3 weeks without my family thinking I am a dud, and my friends vowing to never go out with me for beers and bourbon again? Get in some training, get in the work you CAN get in without adding stress to an already busy and stressful time of year. If that means cutting the swim short or running instead because you don’t need to drive to a pool, great! If that means taking a 1 hr spin class with some espresso doped instructor at your in-laws local ‘club’, so be it. You are doing a little something every day. Ideally 60-90 minutes per day, but minimum 45-60 minutes. If you are in a scenario where you can train more, awesome. Or if there is an occasional longer training window on a given day, sweet. Otherwise, minimize the damage that these 2-3 weeks can do…

That is the key. Don’t think of this time as getting fitter, think of it as holding on to some fitness. And if life gets in the way, minimize the damage. Kick out the other side knowing you are 10-14 days of consistent training away from feeling 100% healthy and fit again. Then you can drink your wheatgrass detox smoothie while snacking on rice cakes all you want. But for now – just go with the flow, and plan to get your life back in 2-3 weeks. Your family & friends will thank you!

2013 Coast Ride Update!

Hi all –

We are getting close to the final emails!  As usual – all the emails I have sent out so far are attached below – this way all the info remains on this email.
In 5 weeks we will be leaving down the Coast.  I have heard from MOST of you on confirmation as well as return plans etc.  There are still A LOT of you I have not heard from.
We are 65 people so far that have said they want to join.  We are 38 confirmed on their return plans.
1) I need to know if you are riding to Santa Barbara or Santa Monica. Those of you NOT CONFIRMED or that have not told me where they are riding to are listed below: Your name means I don’t know if you are coming.
2) Deposits are due Jan 4th.  $100 per head.  Simple.  PayPal me (chrishauth@mac.com) but be certain that it is a private transaction, otherwise I will charge you for the fees they charge.  Check in the mail (250 Camoni Alto – Suite 140 – Mill Valley CA 949410 – give me $$ when you see me…no credit card for the deposit…You can pay the balance of the Coast Ride after with CC for sure, but not deposits (too many fees)..

NO DEPOSIT = NO FOOD – NO SAG – NO RIDE
3) Many of you are flying in:  we are coordinating some airport runs.  Try to be midday or normal arrival hours for this.  Otherwise there is an easy airporter from SFO to Mill Valley ($20) – You can ship your bike to our local bike shop(s) or our office – address is listed with the check address above.
4) I will organize a group dinner for Friday pm, 6pm, in Mill Valley for all of us.  Join by sending me an email.

CONFIRMED? WHERE ARE YOU RIDING TO?
Matt Minton
Chris Brodeur
Pia Scaroni – Eric?
Nancy Vallance
Gary Willey
Nick Johanson
Falk Gottlob
Steve Dark
Darren Wald
Rachel Main
Laura Vartain
Phil Maskiewicz
Will Arnot
Eric Connell
Kenny King
Meghan Newcomer
Taylor Dudley
Matt Campbell
George Suter
Roger Friedman
Dora Jih
Ted Neu
Thanks!
Chris Hauth
AIMP Coaching Services

Lactate Buffering

I wanted to follow up with all of you on why we did that test set this morning in class.  Understanding why would do a workout like that will hopefully motivate you to want to see that improvement in 6 weeks.
We did a few things this morning:
We rode 5×5 minutes at 120% of aerobic threshold.  Which in many cases is your Lactate threshold.
We did not rest – instead we rode at 80% – this is a significant difference.
We rode it in the small chain ring and in a VERY hot room.
So, why this set.  Of course, it is challenging and we want to see how much we can improve upon this workload in the next 6 weeks.  Will it be easier?  Will my threshold go up by the next time we do this set again.  Either way – both results are a great sign of FUNCTIONAL fitness for cycling.  Your ability to withstand a specific workload, repeat with limited rest, is all part of a fitness profile we all want to build.  We also want to improve our lactate buffering.  For most of us in triathlon, whether short course, long course or Ironman, would like the ability to surge away from the drafting packs, smoothly pedal over hills or dial up a higher power/effort for a few minutes when the course profile allows.  Lactate buffering allows us to do this while still being able to fall back to our race pace/wattage/target heart rate.  Spending some time over threshold is only helpful if you can absorb/handle it, and then settle right back into YOUR race.  Having the fitness to pop these surges is a huge confidence builder as well as great sign of progression.
You also suffered through a very hot, humid and difficult environment.  These temperatures in class elevate heart rate dramatically and usually require a significant reduction in power.  5 minutes allowed us to remain right on that edge but also avoided our core from crossing over into the overheated state.  Once overheated, it will take more than the remainder of class to return to regular power numbers.  But this hot room affects blood volume, and cardiovascular efficiency, all in order to prep you for a better race day.
Why no complete rest?  If we are buffering lactate, the purpose is to settle back into a more sustainable/realistic pace.  Full rest would not help in that preparation.  Yet falling back into 90% or T1 compromises the 120% intervals and the recovery too much.  We want to execute the interval AND recover effectively.  Full rest would call for ‘max’ intervals at 130+%.
The small chain rings sets up a harder pedal stroke.  While the resistance remains the same on the rear tire, the lbs per sq. inch are harder to push without any momentum – you can see this on the speed of the CT:  22-28mph vs 14-18 feels and is different.  The resistance has more force to slow down your momentum at a slower speed.  So, again.  Good work and requires a higher cadence.
Lastly – 5×5′ at those numbers help your mental toughness too.  Its just long enough to require letting go of the pain, to settle into the unknown of what could happen (blow up?) later in the set.  That focus of staying within the interval, within the moment, mile, time, zone is great to build on – given our training towards staying within your day and within your race throughout all distances.
Next steps and out comes:  If the class was too easy – it might be time to test.  It should have been quite challenging, but nothing crazy (unachievable) hard.  Otherwise over the next few weeks we are moving from pre-season work to longer lactate buffering sets in order to prep for that early February 5×5′ test.  By then we have either tested and moved that LT up significantly or it will feel a lot easier because you are ‘buffering’ lactate much more efficiently.  Of course a cooler room would change all these sensations, so we will need to recreate that – which is quite easy in that classroom.  Ideally you make a few notes on what you felt today, what you observed, note the HRs and wattages.  That way your next test you have some subjective and objective data to compare to.
Hope all this helps – you knowing why will – WILL – make you a better athlete.
For those of you that didn’t do that test set this morning.  Let me know if you want to do – I can apply on the road, solo trainers, HR etc.
See you soon in classes.
Thanks!

2013 AIMP Spring Training Camp

Hi all –

its that time of year again to start thinking and planning for the Tucson Training Camp.  As many of you are familiar with – we spend Presidents Day every year in warm & sunny Tucson.  It sets up ideally for the spring racing season, and it refreshes & recharges the body after a cold long winter for most of us.
WHY is Tucson such a valuable trip?  It allows for a change in scenery with great rides, outdoor swimming and some fun running.  It also gives you the first opportunity to have a big training week geared towards triathlon in 2013.
WHEN?  We arrive Thursday PM.  For many this means they can either just work half day on the West Coast, as well as many on the East Coast if you dial in your flights.  Monday is a Holiday for most, as Presidents Day.  That means with a Thursday PM arrival you have 4 great days of training in the desert.  (Feb 14-Feb 19)
HOW?  Depending on numbers this year, we might rent a large – VERY large house instead.  It worked really well last year in Utah for the St. George Camp.  It allowed for community and home cooked SAG Monkey meals as well as a better start to our training days.  As you can imagine this goes away with more than 10-12 people.  If not we will stay in our usual group hotel, the Towne Place Suites.
SCHEDULE:  We typically swim and ride long on day 1.  Day 2 we ride very long and add a short run.  Day 3 we swim long and add a longer run, and Day 4 we climb Mt. Lemmon with morning swim.  As you can see – we focus on cycling and swimming in the warmer environment as the running is easier in the colder, wetter climates.
NEXT?  Please send me your interest.  If you feel or plan on coming, please let me know.  If this is something you are not even contemplating, then no need to respond.  Given the interest levels I will be able to dial in the housing more effectively.
Thanks!
chris@aimpcoaching.com

Coach’s Weekly Word 11.30.12

Weekly Word 11/30

Bad weather training
Training Hard days
Coaching referrals

As a solid winter storm passes through the Bay area I have gotten the first emails of the winter asking for alternative training and how/if to ride in the rain. It all depends on what your goals are for 2013 and when they are. For most of us the racing season does not begin in earnest until mid spring, with most A races in early or mid summer. This does not mean we are not fully engaged in our training now. As I mentioned a few weeks past, if you want to take a step forward in 2013, not just get back to par, you need to train through your past breaks and come into the season with a better platform to work from. What this time of year means is flexibility. If the weather means you need to run more, swim more and work on the other aspects of training (core, stability, strength, stretch cordz, jump rope etc.), then shifting things around in the schedule makes total sense. If you fall somewhat short on your cycling hours on bad weather weeks, so be it – we have time to catch up on those miles when the weather is friendlier and the roads are safer. Ask me to help you shift the training focus in your log. You can now see why accurate logs become key. Your weekly totals in each discipline help me look at what is needed going forward. I won’t remember that the weather was bad, but I can see that we may need more cycling miles based on past volume (and that the running volume is clearly getting good!).

If you have an upcoming A race or focus, well then we need to get through it. Of course the occasional day and shifting can work, but not weeks of missing the necessary adaptations. These days the clothing and gear allows for some of the most extreme training conditions, enjoy!

When looking at the training, think of good combinations. A 90 minute indoor class with a 3 hr ride after works great. It means you are only exposed to the elements for 3 hrs – but that 4.5 hrs of training will have done quite the trick for adaptation. Again, ask me for alternatives.

I have also been reading on some blogs lately about how hard to train and that suffering is necessary in prep for racing. I want to make sure all of you know what my thoughts are to this: I am a big believer in training not only some serious volume at times, but also digging deep and suffering when it is prescribed/needed. That does not mean it needs to be part of a regular training routine. One thing I want you all to avoid is going through the motions. If you are not absorbing the training, there is not really that much sense in training! I know many of you might be confused by this: as many times we are quite tired in training and I throw in a 16 mile run late on a weekend. BUT, as many of you know, there is a big difference to just going through the motions vs. getting late into a week via aerobic accumulation. The reason I have many of you train tired at the end of the week is because you 1) accumulated that fatigue gradually throughout the week 2) Need to hit a healthy fatigued state in order to run or even bike at a “go all day” pace – that sensation helps you for ultra endurance events. How else can we prepare for Ultra endurance without actually racing/training the event distances themselves?

How does this tie into the “suffering” topic I mention? Don’t just train to train – go through the motions. If you are not absorbing the training, benefitting, hitting the numbers and targets – there is no point to go into a suffering state just to do it. Instead, either back off your day and reengage another day (might just be ‘off’ that day) or stop altogether and rest. I WELCOME the emails from you that say you are flat, tired and need rest. That would be great – then we are onto something. The concepts we apply are still achievable in a few days, vs. just going through bad, negative, draining training. This is why I am now a big believer in training windows of 3-5 days. Again, if not absorbing, why not rest in order to quickly progress to absorbing/adapting again?

When is suffering good? When you are a good ways into an interval and it calls for an extra gear but you body is screaming no…THEN suffer. When you have nailed a great training week and you only need to get through a run or a swim or a bike to close it out…THEN suffer as we did not get this far into the week to let the body fall off or waste the effective training accumulation.

When is it bad to suffer? Weekend group rides where you know you are riding too hard. When you are looking to post a new Strava time that helps you NOTHING in a race. When you are swimming in a masters workout lane that is too fast for you and your send off is too short and your stroke is too awful. When you are running at the track and keeping up times and speeds that you know have nothing to do with the workout but you want to suffer. And, finally, when you are too tired! Too tired = going through the motions. Don’t do it!

Alright – plenty of writing for now. As always – send me any questions or thoughts on these topics.

Lastly – I wanted to remind all of you of the referral plan I work by. Some of you have mentioned you were not aware. If you refer me a client, I discount your coaching by $25/month. It goes as low as $200/month for coaching. Its basically like a month free in the yearly plan. And please send me referrals, I’d like to keep my roster full of athletes YOU feel are a good match vs. those that are brand new to me and my ‘challenging & stubborn’ coaching style. I am not easy on anybody, much less myself. Thats why we all race together!

Word.

Coach’s Weekly Word 10.30.12

Hi all –

As we enter the ‘darker months’ of training, I wanted to go over something.

Do not overlook the continuity of our training. Many of you have big goals in triathlon – whether to improve by a fair amount in time – or to qualify for a world championship. Keep in mind, as many of you have heard me say plenty of times before, in no other sport is there an off season where there are world championships as a focus. If you were to look at any amateur sport, at the elite level, there is no off time. Swimming, cycling, running – I don’t see too many swimmers taking 3 months off in order to make nationals – or olympic trials the next season. Cycling? 2 weeks after World Champs they have team training camps to reacquaint the riders and work on team building as well as base miles. Running? Sure – a few weeks of lighter running, but not 2-3 months ‘doing other things’. Bottom line – if you want to be Elite – there is no off season. No – don’t think qualifying for Kona, or Vegas, or Nationals, or anything is getting easier. But your goals remain the same…Curious as to how that will happen if in January you decide to add structure again.

So, what should we be doing at this time? Building our race plans for 2013. Reviewing what worked and what didn’t work in our training from 2012. Understanding what our strength in the sport are (can we utilize them better?) and identifying our blind spots or weaknesses (can they be improved in 2013?). With this, its a question of strength of our body: core? strength? flexibility? Are we setting it up better for the full rigors of the upcoming season? Will we start the heavier training healthy and injury free? And what is it sport specific I can do now to ensure that. All three sports have some great challenges that can be added at this time of year. Through all this though, we need to train. Imagine entering 2013 with a platform, a healthy & fit platform, to do the Coast Ride not only to GET in shape, but to absorb that and catapult you to a new level of fitness? Imagine starting your 2013 season as fit as you were 3 weeks out of your A race this past season? I received an email yesterday from an athletes: his goal from now until the race season begins is to start next season at the highest T1 (aerobic threshold) that he has ever had – at any point in the past season. Why? Because if the heavy training season begins, and he is already at his goal number – he knows the specific training will only help him start from an new – higher – fitter – stronger plateau. Or entering 2013 swimming faster than you do in the MIDDLE of your season. Or having the endurance to run 2-3 hrs on trails coming into 2013, so that the 1.5hr tempo run with some pacing instructions feels strong, controlled and ready to be absorbed..

What are your goal for ENTERING 2013…? If you have serious goals in this evolved sport, you need to train like the sport it now is: a fully grown amateur sport where the competition is only getting stronger and faster, where the elite results are only getting more competitive, and there is no longer an opportunity to participate at the world championship level unless you train like a world class elite athlete. Its really become THAT in THIS sport.

Let me know if you want me to help you determine some clear, measurable & achievable goals going INTO 2013 or FOR 2013.

Some quick hit items for this this weeks Word:

PowerBeams for sale. One of my athletes has a few indoor trainers available that measure power. Simpler than the Computrainer. Wireless. He has an indoor cycling studio, but the wireless was causing too much interference when you put 20 of them in a small room, so he had to sell most of them. They retail around $1200 (look em up if you like at cycleops.com – under trainers – he has em for about $625. Its what I use in my garage…

AutoPay options. Many of you are already using this, but for those of you whose cards are charged manually every month, PayPal has an auto pay function. You set it up on the specific day every month you would like to be charged and it saves you any fees that PayPal charges me for Merchant Credit Card fees. Let me know if you want to set up this option.

Also – lately as the groups have spread out a bit, let me know if you would like me to connect all the AIMP athletes doing a specific A race. It might be helpful in your training to know who is doing and you can plan better training weekends etc. For example: IM Los Cabos will have a few of us prepping together through the wet, cold, dark winter months. Including me (and five others so far…)

As an FYI for any of you, here are some AIMP Dates for 2013:::

Coast Ride: MLK Weekend, January 19-23 from SF to Santa Monica.

Tucson Spring training camp will again be Presidents Day weekend 2013, February 15-19.

April we’ll have another shorter Spring Training Camp down at Wildflower. Dates TBD (weather and logistics)

June. July and August will each have mini camps in Tahoe in prep for IM Lake Tahoe – these are short, 2.5 day mini camps training specifically for the Tahoe race but also good all around training in prep for Whistler IM Canada.

July I will also host another IM Louisville mini camp (in LOU) as well as the 5 day Brewery Tour in Norther California that we just previewed last month.

Late August I am planning another Coast Ride – for those of you racing into September, October and November.

Thanks and I’ll talk to you in November. Good luck to those racing IM FL and La Ruta this weekend, and especially those running NYC Marathon!

Coast Ride 2013 – Hold the date!

Hi all –

Just a simple heads up and check in:  Coast Ride 2013 is coming up soon.  Most of you are quite familiar with one of the most beautiful, exciting and challenging events we do all year.  But the memories last all the way until the next Coast Ride.
DATES:  January 19-22.
DAYS:  Depart Saturday January 19, return either Monday night, Jan 21 (MLK Holiday) from Santa Barbara – or Jan 22 from Santa Monica.
DISTANCES:  avg. is 125 miles per day.  Last day is a wee bit shorter.
SKILL LEVEL:  All
WHO:  anybody and please pass on to friends etc if you think they might enjoy.
HOW:  SAG Monkey and moi.  Enough said.
HOW: Catered, supported and simple:  you ride, we take care of you.
More to follow – but this is just for so many of you who have emailed wondering…when we ride again.
If you KNOW you are in, go ahead an email me.
Otherwise no hurry…yet.

Ironman Louisville 2012 Race Report

Become fully engaged In whatever it is you’re doing, whenever you’re doing it. You will find value in this experience…

Given what this summer has been, I was not sure if racing an Ironman was such a good idea.  I left Honu feeling good about my training for a Half, but taking on an IM is always a different story.  As most of you know, riding 2-3 hrs vs riding 4-6 hrs makes a big difference on the life schedule.  Throw in the longer runs and the additional swimming needed for an Ironman, it takes a toll.  Not a toll as much on the body as it is towards the summer schedule with kids out of school.  Add to this that being a single dad for the first time, well, you get the idea:  Ironman might not be in the cards.

Gradually the summer started presenting itself to me.  Mini camps, training camps and some fun weekends (Occidental training camp at SAG Monkey World Headquarters!) started to fill the calendar, and the math of volume with recovery looked pretty good.  The kids, when I did have them, presented a great recovery window – no training.  Next step: 6 weeks of focused work.  Not just figuring it out, but either training or no training.  Either the switch is on, or it is off.

The one things I was going to commit to from the days after Honu:  aerobic miles were going to be easier than past years.  I am not going to carry fatigue into spending time with my children, so the volume might be high, but the aerobic miles were going back to being easier.  How easy?  cycling miles @ 60% of LT.  1x quality session per week on the bike and in the pool.  No running quality at all.

I have been coaching for 13 years now, and I have worked with many athletes that were going through some personal turmoil.  Ironman seemed like a good way to focus on personal health, growth and time for these athletes.  Well, in my personal turmoil, I knew that Ironman would NOT be this for me.  It’s been my job in the past, its my daily work now, it doesn’t carry that escape for me.  I was also not looking for that.  I have always enjoyed the training, the fear and discovery it creates – towards the next race or the next training plan for my athletes.  The nice part of training for Ironman this summer:  it validates that I can trust who I am.  I don’t need to justify my love for family, friends and life.  You can either receive, understand and appreciate that, or not.  Whatever path we take, its our path, and it is just as meaningful of a path than any other path out there: the main thing is to have a path, and feel confident & good about taking it.  It doesn’t matter what other people think about your path, still your path.  And if I change paths, or turn around, its still my path.

Become fully engaged In whatever it is you’re doing, whenever you’re doing it. You will find value in this experience…

Final Race prep observations:

  • Lead up to the race race continued in the new format:  due to the divorce and the kids time with it, I remained on 3ish big days of training, then 2 days ish off or just swim or just a cycling class etc.  With all the turmoil trading kids time for training time was not an option.
  • training hours were decent.  Nothing crazy, plenty of bigger weeks but nothing too big besides the Tahoe Training Camp.  Even that week started on a Wednesday and therefore didn’t get as big as past years.
  • Swimming: volume was good with Masters and the frequency was there.  I lacked the bigger swims in Tahoe, but it was plenty as is.  Felt the speed of masters, but not the steady state.  Included stretch cordz as I built to 300ish but not frequently enough to build up to the usual 500-600 prior to a solid swim workout.
  • Cycling: decent volume, actually had a 1000 mile month in July, that always creates the platform.  Felt fresh in training, good balance between low HR/watts and intensity in class.  Did notice that low HR built a healthier platform, but curious if a second class per week for ‘work’ would have provided a better top end.
  • Running:  hard to track the volume and training as I just went out and ran. Little planning or thought, went more by repeating weekly schedule.  But this did not have an impact on race as speed was there.
  • IM Lou mini camp was incredibly helpful for fitness & race day knowledge.  Again validates that Mini Camps on race site are a huge ingredient for success on race day.
  • Hardest workout:  90/9.  Barely survived that.  But it was a kick in the ass 3 weeks out of race day.
  • Taper felt fine, 2-3 weeks out was still pretty big, but all possible with lack of run quality as well as limited cycling quality.

Once in Louisville: chill days, plenty of sleep, simple and fun.  Arrived early enough, made it even lower stress.  Decent meals, went bland as possible/realiity 24hrs, but for sure 18hrs. out.  race dinner was bland pasta and bread, no meat or veggies. Lunch was huge salad, sweet potatoes, brown rice, chicken, and plenty of salt.  Osmo PRELOAD the night before with cranberry juice.

Race morning: woke up at 4, oatmeal with pb at 4:30am, some coffee, kashi 7 grain waffles with pb.  Powerbar right before start.  30oz water. 1x preload serving with water.  With the unusual TT start in Louisville, the logistics were a bit different, but actually turned out very relaxed and fun.  Thanks to some funny Dynamo Multisport athletes that we stood in line with, the time passed quickly.

Swim: decent 51+. Started off fast with a gradual drop off.  Again, different with no huge pack/gun start – so you just drift into your pace and swim.  Basically stayed a tick faster than aerobic, included one section of effort, but nothing dramatic.  Didn’t want to overheat or work too hard in 84+ degree water.  2nd out behind Matt Rose who swam 40 sec faster, and should since he is one of my athletes…!

T1 just not paying attention, missed bike, running all around. Slow & goofin around too much if it were a serious day.  All good with supplies and needs, just forgot to wear race belt (oops).

Bike: cooler temps and decent legs the first 90 minutes so the goal was to push a bit at this time of day.  Not much there to force and legs actually felt tired, but I also never challenged them or opened them up.  Would have been interesting to find out, but also was committed to going quite easy all day.  Ended up with a lot of 250-270w time early but as of 2hrs into bike shut it down to mainly riding on feel.  That made it quickly look like at lot of 220s, late a lot of 200s.  Lowest watts of any IM ever done with watts, but went totally on feel and easy based on wanting to run.  Avg wattage early was 256, then 246, ended with 240. Loops were dead on planned time – felt good for most of this ride besides a lull from mile 45-60, but then recovered and felt quite relaxed the remainder of ride with no pressure of watts or effort.  It was awesome from having done mini camp knowing exactly where to be a the time checks on the course.

Food: Probar, 2xClifbar, 1x Powerbar, 6 chomps pieces,  2x Osmo, 2xroctane drink lightened = approx 1450cals, 300/hr

T2: slow as I took my time to cool off a ton.  Totally wet and relaxed, waited and got situated.

Run: felt great from the first step.  No lethargy, no aches, nothing, felt great, hard to keep it controlled since I knew the hard miles were coming.  Felt great until mile 8/9, then gradually got heavier and felt pavement.  Bored yet observant until mile 12, then some hard miles 12-15.  Grabbed Advil at special needs and roctane.  Took Advil and stopped, doused with 20 cups of water and drank a fair amount at once.  Felt ok running for about a mile, quickly regained feet and speed, thought the Advil was doing its trick, but then side stitch punched me, stopped, tried to stretch a few times, worked it out very gradually, but took some small steps miles and slight hunch to keep contained. Duh on drinking a few big gulps at once a mile back!  Then gradually went away and could regain form focus.  Form was not light, but back to tired, form focus that allowed usual tired stride.  Had to apologize to Bree for leaving her for 3 miles, she said she was ‘ok’ with it.  Good timing as it was time for her to take a rabbit and go win her first IM.  Went to coke once side stitch happened so late in the run now was feeling low on energy.  Half was 1:31, return was 1:39, but that included walking so I think when running was always in low 7s.  Overall ran completely on aerobic, ‘what legs give me’ feel.  But was also pushing carefully.  Never out of control, always based on what my legs gave me and carried me.  Hence why run fitness was good or bike effort dead on since I ran 26 miles on aerobic pacing.  Not easy, but also not hard. 3:10

Had I known I was 20 sec. from 4th place things would have shaken out differently, but 11 minutes (pro start was 10 minutes prior to TT start, then I started about a minute after the gun) was hard to see on the course, so somewhat bummed to not have found 20 sec.  Also – not having done IM this year and Kona being a walk for a lot of the miles, I was weary to run strategically: its been a long time since I was in good enough shape or feeling in control enough during the marathon to actually let ‘er rip.

Food: roctane at 1-5-8-11 then coke after 2 Advil.  One sip of perform. 2 salt early in run

Ran first 10 miles with FuelBelt. Felt good to have water to wash down go when I wanted it.  Mentos holder was perfect for salt and advil.

1st AG, 1st overal amateur, 5th overall.  9:21

Become fully engaged In whatever it is you’re doing, whenever you’re doing it. You will find value in this experience… I did…and hence no Kona this year.  I would compromise being a dad, being a coach, being an athlete by continuing on with training & racing into Kona.  6 weeks into training for IM I knew there would be no Kona.  I knew I could carry fitness, fun and experience into another 6 weeks, but not another 13 weeks. Either the switch is on, or off.

Now I need to find a bike sponsor.

Bikes & Brews: Biketoberfest

Hi all –

I wanted to invite you all to a weekend of fun that ties into everything I enjoy:  Ride my bike and drink some good beers.
In honor of the 2012 Oktoberfest in Munich (the official wooden keg tapping at noon, Sept. 22nd, until Oct. 7th – when the traditional gun salute closes the ‘festivities’) – I was planning to ride to a few local breweries and taste the beers.
When:  Sept. 28th in the afternoon until Sunday, Sept. 30th midday.  Smack dab in the middle of the 2 weeks Oktoberfest festivities.
Where:  Day 1 we head to Lagunitas, Day 2 we head via the Hopmonk Biergarten to Russian River Brewing Co., Day 3 on to Bear Republic in Healdsburg.
How:  We ride our bike to each brewery.  Hotels/accommodations will be organized but you will book/pay.  SAG support and bike tech support with us all the way.  Hotels will depend on the size of our group.  Smaller will be inns and B&Bs, larger group will require a hotel.
Who:  ANYBODY can join.  I just need numbers soon in order to organize tasting rooms (when available) and tables for dinners etc.  Please forward if you like!
Why:  no need to answer this.
EMAIL ME ASAP IF INTERESTED.  I WILL SEND OUT AN EMAIL NEXT WEEK ON NEXT STEPS, LOGISTICS AND NUMBERS.
How will this really work?:
Day 1 – we meet in the early afternoon at Lucas Valley Parking lot.  Bags and needs are dropped with SAG Monkey for transport.  We ride via Cheese Factory to Petaluma and to the wonderful Lagunitas Brewery.  Here we enjoy our evening.  Bags are delivered to the local hotel, and all support/SAG is along the way for us.  Approx 40 miles.
Day 2 – we ride via Hopmonk to Santa Rosa with our final destination of Russian River Brewery.  This ride will be via the beautiful Bodega Highway, Valley Ford, Freestone, Occidental and into Sebastopol for our Biergarten visit.  Again – SAG support, bag transfer – full bike tech support etc.  That evening a good meal and some quality beer at Russian River Brewing Co.  Approx 45 miles
Day 3 – we ride to Healdsburg, with a few different route options based on your interest of riding, what time you awake, and how your morning goes.  We have a lunch appointment at the Bear Republic Brewery in Healdsburg. Post lunch we will have rides & transport organized for all to be returned to their cars or homes that afternoon.  Approx 30-60 miles however your morning ‘flows’.
Cost:  besides you paying your own food, beverage and hotel, not really anything.  SAG support and bag transfer will avg to about $50 per day per person (avg. because this number depends on number of people participating) – since we need cover gas, mileage and SAG support time.
Seriously – anybody can join. If you have friends that might enjoy this – please pass on.  This is all about fun, friends, meeting new people and enjoying some fun beers and good food!  The cycling is not hard – and not that far as we have plenty of time and support.  
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Coach’s Weekly Word- 07.12.12

The ‘not so’ Weekly Word:

Hi all – it has been a few weeks since my last Word. We can catch up on many open items listed below. I appreciate your patience with many delays on multiple items these past few weeks. I am still getting used to the new schedule of my life.

This week Word:
Aerobic pacing
Technique takes priority over endurance
Swim clinic
Run pacing

Quick hits:
Post IM Coaching strategy
FRS discount code
Intervals and Swims on aimpcoaching.com
Kits
Austin 70.3 group race and bike transport

Aerobic pacing – as many of you are hitting the heart of the season, keep in mind what got you this fit – steady aerobic work. Often times with races approaching we start pressing for the workouts to tell us something about what our race form is. This compromises not only your training, it compromises your upcoming race! How does this unfold? We push a bit too hard in the workout……”The watts feel good, how about I push just a bit more? Still feels manageable but I am pround of my effort to push a few watts higher – I am getting fitter!” Training is about being in control of your effort, output. In most workouts you could go faster, harder, more powerful…but that is not the stimulus we are looking for. It is more about how well you are absorbing the good training, recovering effectively, and able to repeat it! Stringing together 6-7, even 10 good workouts has more impact on your fitness and racing than the occasional fast training day. Everybody’s aerobic pacing is different of course – but the common theme is your ability to maintain control of your effort, knowing you have plenty of extra gears to push. An example may be riding 3ish hours whereby you hold steady upper Z2/low Z3 effort. Sure, you can creep higher into Z3, and it might even feel better there, but you don’t: instead good cadence, a good pedal stroke, relaxed position, and the ability to stay at this effort level uninterrupted for the majority of your ride. Now, you get off the bike, and while you could pop 7’/miles, instead you run 7.15’s longer, cleaner and more confidently – focusing on the form aspects you specifically might need to work on. Aerobic pacing: Not about what you CAN do…its about what you SHOULD be doing.

Which brings me to my next point: technique in training takes priority over endurance. If you can’t do it clean, effectively, with good form and technique – you are not ‘really’ doing it…sure we can keep riding while pedaling squares. We can keep running with heavy feet and hips falling on each step..or even swim with rubber arms, no real pull through. But if you can maintain form and technique WHILE going fast, while holding watts, pace or an interval, you know it feels right and you are getting stronger, fitter as well as building a capacity to maintain longer in races. Now, this does not mean break off workouts these next few weeks as soon as your form falls apart. The ability to know when form & technique fall off, and to re-engage a few times in your workout, will have a huge impact. Over the next few weeks try to notice when this happens and try to stick to technique first, not endurance, watts, speed, or an interval. You are better off stopping the interval or shortening until the next one if the form and technique fall off too dramatically. But you first need to be aware and feel this!

Swim Clinic – On July 22 I have the IVC pool rented for 4 hrs. Not only will we have our usual solid swim workout for all, but I would like to spend time with anyone of you going over technique. I will limit the ‘clinic’ spots to 10 participants. This will include stretch cord instruction, video taping, wetsuit tips and strategy, open water technique and more. We will start with a swim workout, and then swim clinic participants stay the additional time for us to work on your swimming. Lastly we will go to lunch after to go over any other items and questions for swimming in triathlon that you may have. Pricing will be $75 for all 4 hrs for AIMPers, $100 for non-coached atheltes that may want to join.

Run Pacing: I often read notes of athletes running too hard off the bike or even early on in their solo runs. I wonder why these athletes run 7:15s off the bike but are 1:45 Half IM runners. Or some even hit low 6’s yet do not crack the 1:30 mark for a Half. As mentioned above: if technique and form, as well as effort are in control, and we are still clicking out that pace, then you are racing too slow! But otherwise, try to run at a pace that is slightly faster than your GOAL RACE PACE (neg. split later on in the run is FINE!!). If you plan to break 1:40 at your next 70.3 run, then practice pacing a tight 7.20-7.40 pace, not 6.50s! Save the free speed for the races! Understand how it feels with all your body signals: tired, fresh, off the bike, stand alone. You start clicking slightly faster than goal pace at ANY time – then you will be able to confidently go into a race knowing you have prepped for all scenarios.

Quick hits:

Many of you wonder why I wait 1-2 weeks after your IM race to review your race write ups. IM is a very time consuming sport, we invest a lot of emotion, we sacrifice a lot of time. Therefore, how we feel immediately after an A race is not an accurate assessment of our race day. I like to always give you 10-14 days off, reflect on the day, your training and performance relative to each other, what the next steps might be according to your observations. It’s not that I am ignoring you!
FRS has sent us a generous discount code. Please use TriFrs30 for 30% off and free shipping.
Please remember if you need a swim practice or intervals for your own training – I post weekly on the aimpcoaching.com website. Under the athletes tab.
Kits: you have all seen them on Facebook. We finally have AIMP jerseys, vests and arm warmers. For now this is all I plan to do. I would like to get a good feel for how it went. Then we’ll look into race tops and more items. I did not do bibs because they are so specific in comfort and design to so many people. Please email Yi for any order questions, orders, sizing etc.
Austin 70.3 – so far we have 12 AIMPers racing. I would like to turn this into a season ending AIMP race. Nick and I will bring your bikes, and I will race too. I think it will be fun to have so many of us at a race, late in the season. A great town, a good race and plenty of fun to be had after our morning race!

Have a great week – hope to check in later next week again with some observations and lessons from the AIMP Mini Camp here in the Lou!

Tahoe Camp 2012 Update

Hi all –

AIMP Coaching and SAG Monkey is excited to remind you all of AIMP Coaching’s 12th annual Tahoe Summer training camp!  I can’t believe its been 12 years.
Tahoe training camp has always been designed to prepare you for the second half of the season.  Whether an IM or a Half IM, it is a great week of bigger training and beautiful training opportunities.
HOW will it work this year?  Most of you have your own housing opportunities up in Tahoe.  Therefore Nick (SAG Monkey) and I will rent only one bigger house that will serve as headquarters for the week.  BBQ’s, post race relax time, bike mechanical work, dinners, breakfasts when organized, etc. at the house.  We will also meet there and coordinate training rides, runs and just have it as a general camp house.  I am looking for a house ON Donner Lake.
A few people can stay with us in that house – but mainly I am counting on you all finding your own housing – or having your own housing organized.
MEALS: Some meals will be organized.  It depends on what all of the camp attendees would like.  Nick can prep some great meals and BBQ’s.
TRAINING:  The training will be big.  Mainly aerobic – big miles – and I can go into more detail what this means and how important aerobic is when doing a big training week, but this is a big week of training.  We will swim practically every morning, we will be riding plenty long miles, and lots of transition runs and longer trail runs.
MASSAGE can be organized – depends on you and your needs.  If we have enough demand – might be worth bringing someone up.
WHO:  anyone can join.  Friends, other athletes.  It is open.  Please feel free to share this with your training partners etc.  It’s supposed to be a fun, unique and SOLID training week.  Also – if you or anyone is planning IM Tahoe next year – this might not be a bad idea to find out what you got yourself into.
SAG:  special this year is the SAG Monkey.  All our rides and a few runs will be SAGged.  Having the support of the Monkey Mobile along with his helping hand will allow for a better and unique camp experience.
WHEN:  Camp is from July 29 – August 5th.  Join for the week or just a few days, or just a weekend.
COSTS:  We will divide the costs of all into the daily participants.  So, for example:  if we have 12 people taking part early in the camp, those days the costs of SAG, house, and support, or dinners and whatever we decide, will be decided by 12.  If only 6 participants, divided by 6.  As many past participants remember, it is a simple non profit camp.
SCHEDULE:  as we get closer to the event, I will send out a schedule for the week.  As many of you know, the schedule is flexible as it depends on the training load, weather and overall group dynamics etc.  But it will give you an opportunity to review which days (or all) you want to attend.
Please let me know if you plan to attend.  More details to come – but for now just want to get a sense on who will join and prep with housing/camp logistics.
Thanks!

Ironman Hawaii 70.3 Race Report

Ironman Hawaii/Honu 70.3

Chris Hauth Race Report

June 2nd, 2012

Coming into Honu 2012 I was uncertain as to where my fitness would be.  I have had a spring of inconsistent training – but some of this might have been planned.  As I mentioned in a previous update/RR, Kona 2011 left me flat – not from the race, but I entered the race flat emotionally and physically.  Emotionally there were some personal weight I was carrying, and physically as I carried of training & peaking too early into October.  I made a commitment back in the fall to do less training and try to focus more on my personal matters.  But as I run a coaching business, I also knew that I have a solid safety net of training in my everyday life:  whether indoor cycling classes 1-2x a week, the weekly swim practice at 5:45am, and the mandatory running with my dogs on the trails of Mt. Tam.  While this is not nearly the volume I load in the late winter/early spring, those 8-10hrs per week of training kept me in decent enough shape to do my training camps:  starting with Tucson in February, then Utah in March, a Coast Ride in April… you can see the bigger picture:  sprinkle the occasional big volume week in with minimum training hours.  All the while using the training shell of 8-10hrs per week as high quality when I can and the body permits.  This means if the run with the dog does not permit quality, oh well.  If an indoor cycling class is cancelled due to lack of numbers, oh well.  Or if life/family didn’t allow for the 5:45am swim, oh well again.

I knew I was ‘in shape’ – but I was not confident.  Although the last 4-6 weeks all my training runs and the Coast Ride gave me the right indicators, swimming was the only discipline I was confident in.  Weekly swimming volume of 12-13k will have an impact for me – combined with re-introducing stretch cordz – I was confident that Honu would be a good swim.  But the cycling: I haven’t ridden much more than 90 minutes indoors, let alone only 3x over 2 hrs outside since the Coast Ride in April.  Mix in that my running might be good, but nothing consistently over 10 miles (which I insisted was always tempo, speed play or progression).   So – there the state of affairs coming into Honu…physically.

My personal affairs are not resolved, and therefore this was the bigger question for me come race day:  would I be able to compartmentalize and focus on the task at hand to race well.  Honu carries a lot of meaning for me:  my first 70.3 overall win, an epic race vs. Macca in 2006, and some very deep emotional scars from an athlete of mine being in a life threatening, and to this day, life altering medical situation at that race.  So – this race, the Island and how life somehow converges timing and placement to open the door to new challenges, all factored into the starting line on Saturday morning.

Of course there is a lot of posturing and deflection when one is not as confident.  Coming into my first race of 2012, after getting thoroughly whooped in October, combined with lack familiar fitness, add a dash of missing self confidence, the spoken race plan was: “we’ll see – I am just going to relax, have fun, let the day take me to however I am feeling”….

The gun went off for the Pros that started 3 minutes earlier (another Lance effect?) – and as I was floating in the water waiting to start, I made up my mind to swim all out – not just to the first buoy, but through the turn and surely back the long straightaway into an expected windy chop.  Don’t you dare get comfortable – swim – and keep kicking and pulling.  The gun goes off with no heads up – leaving about 25% of the field surprised – and I had clear sailing off the front and tight on the inside.  A Kayaker had just told me the current would pull us out on the return leg, so this means I will swim high until the first buoy.  Within 5-7 minutes, I am in the womens pro field, kicking hard, pulling hard, and working my way through.  Turn the first buoy and head further out to sea – right onto the feet of some slower pro guys.  We turn the second buoy, and bingo: into the sun, full wind chop – no visibility.  I decide to swim with the pro guy next to me (I could read his kit said Smith) and let him lead me: why?  He had a SUPaddler with him..and he was going to show me my line.  Bummer is my strategy didn’t work as well as planned:  he started pulling away (the SUPaddler) and he was wearing red…same color as the buoys..all of them.  So I am fighting to see him, or a buoy and they all look the same.  Finally round the far buoy on the course, and punch it.  No chop, you can see the bottom (therefore line up your swim line perfectly) and I accelerate to the rocks – I know Justin Smith remains on my feet – I round the bouy that turns you in, kick it into the beach, get out…only to find a race marshall stopping me: “You skipped a buoy, you need to get back in and go swim around it”…What?  Umm no, I had a paddler with me AND you are letting the Pro (Justin) through…Seriously?  Luckily the race director, Diana Bertsch is right there “Diana – seriously?  What are you doing?  Chris, we have everyone missing buoys, did you swim around the far buoy?… Diana, I have done this race for 7 years, I know the course, I had a paddler with me…and you KNOW I can swim…!  OK, go – but we’ll check your time….”  Wow…now I am upset!  I have been in this situation before, but I knew 100% I hit the far buoy, 100% that Justin did too.  I had also stopped enough, looked around, and never lost view of the Paddler nor the red buoy.  So, instead of getting out and heading to my bike, here I get stopped, accused of cutting the course and sorta embarrassed…I run up to my bike shaking my head – what was THAT all about…why would she accuse me of that??!!  I find out later that behind me there was mayhem – buoys had floated off, swimmers couldn’t see the course, and paddlers didn’t lead them/corral them – instead just watched swimmers make the wrong turns.  What a bummer.

Well, being pissed off did one thing: it snapped my head out of any funk, and cleared into pure focus:  If you are going to accuse me of cheating, I am going to win this race by more than enough of a margin to make any swim time irrelevant.  Easier said than done, but I was at least not going to let up..I ride my bike harder than planned.  I was looking to ride conservative originally, and then try to lay down a solid run time.  But now I was off, irritated, and throwing caution somewhat to the wind.  Ride feels good…windy, challenging at times with some crazy cross winds..but overall few lulls.  Of course – a few lulls – wanting to back off – but luckily I was able to practice what I preach:  stay in the moment, focus on the process, not the result – keep turning ’em over and wait a few minutes to come out of this mental valley…BIKE: avg watts: 296, cad. 91 – Food: 1x ClifBar, 2x Roctane, 1/2 Chomp serving, 2x bottles of Scratch, 1x bottle of water.  700 cals.

I got passed on the bike by an awesome AGer.  He looked super powerful and really smooth on the bike.  I saw him coming, but knew he was working.  I got off the bike knowing I was about 3 minutes down.  Into tent – calf sleeves take 30 sec longer – and off I go,  I feel pretty good running right away.  I know I had a good bike, and I was not feeling any heavy legs in the last few miles of the bike.  I set out on the run with no HR monitor, no watch, my plan was to just run.  SImple.  A watch will not tell me to run faster, if so, then I was running the incorrect strategy anyways.  Just run – fast, good form focus – drive with the knees – keep the arms engaged but loose…and when you get tired, fall more and more into your stride.  I quickly catch up to Lindsey Corbin, we exchange a few brief pleasantries, and I am off: hunting.  I am looking for my rabbit.  I finally find him at mile 2.5 – one of the many fingers on this course.  I back off a bit: I will control my effort, I know there is a lot of real estate and running the back six is important on this course.  And – I can see the trees blowing sideways ahead.  I pass through 3.5, he knows I am coming – and a decide to relax into a brutal headwind:  I lose my hat, I can’t hear myself think with the wind blowing in my face.  I feel guilt dropping water cups as they blow out into no mans land immediately.  Aid stations are a mess – so much wind is blowing over the cups that were pre-poured…ugh.  Relax into the headwind, drill it with a tailwind…

By mile 6 I take over the lead, by mile 9 I am looking forward to the pit – not because I am enjoying – but because it is the last hard section.  Headwind down, tailwind out…phew:  other way around would have been awful.  Push it home and cross the line with a fire in my belly.  Luckily Greg Welch had the microphone off, and he was able to quickly distract my conversation to the bike and run.  The race director is waiting for me at the finish line:  uh oh – here we go again.  Instead, a very sweet, and genuine conversation, apology explaining the confusion, and that we (us AGers) all looked the same under the cap and goggles.  We clear the air, I now feel sorta bad that I was so irritated the entire day – how could she know who was coming out of the water?  She was just doing her job and being fair.  Well, maybe no need to say “Chris, we’ll check your time..”

Run was 3x Roctane, plenty of water, some Perform and just an overall light stomach.

8th Overall / 1st Amateur.  23:36 – 2:23 – 1:23 = 4:16

Coach’s Weekly Word – 5.21.12

Good afternoon all – its been a few weeks since my last word, sorry for this gap – a lot has been going on, including IM St. G, a Coast Ride, the Wildflower Training Camp and now IM Texas this past weekend. But here we go:

This weeks topics:

1) Rest Days
2) Nutrition / 18hr food rule
3) Upcoming Camps
4) AIMP discount code and kits
5) Eating in Transitions
6) Swimming with a wetsuit clinic.

Many of you struggle with rest days. All of you know the benefits, this is not about that. It’s about how to manage them. Rest days often leave you grumpy and irritated. Recognize the factors playing into this: fatigue often shows in our mood, and being grumpy or short tempered is the perfect example for this. It’s totally normal, but the key is to accept it. It is NOT because you are not working out, it is because how much you have been working out. Rest days usually come on the back end of some good work, so do not mistake this with thinking you didn’t get a chance to blow off steam that day or have a mental escape. This might be the case after a week off, but not one day! Also, rest days need to be managed well. Take the 1-3 hrs that you usually work out and consider getting the errands done you have to set aside on other days. One of my clients has a grocery, dry cleaning, errands list built up that she can knock out on those rest days. Its a routine for her that she now looks forward to and likes to relieve the pressure on the family by slotting that day to get this done: they know that it will get done that day and she is getting crazy efficient on what she needs to get done that day.
For some of you I have recommended a personal day – after work or during your day – spend that training time on YOU time: massage, sauna, steam room, hot tub, stretching, yoga, manicure etc. It feels really good to return the favor to your body that is busy delivering for you on the other days of the week. Deposits & withdrawals! Same with family and loved ones! Recovery days and weeks are great to plan something with the family/kids/wife/significant others – they go through a lot for this sport. Just a life observation….

One of our biggest challenges in triathlon remains nutrition. This remains the holy grail in the sport and a constantly evolving science & approach. While I do not pretend to have the answers to most of this, I do know that there is a LOT of confusion out there. One thing you constantly hear me saying and commenting on is that we should drink our hydration, and eat our calories. I saw a lot of this again this past weekend at a hot IM Texas. Attached you find Allen Lim’s You Tube example to prove this point. He sorta knows what he is talking about – way more than me. Also keep in mind that ONLY triathlon has created this industry of drinking calories. No other sport does this – for sure no other ultra sport – combines calories into super bottles and different concoctions. Whether Pro Cyclist that ride longer stages than we do, to ultra runners, to marathon runners, to ultra swimmers, to anything!! If you have stomach issues during a race, it is often something else going on and adding this stress to the equation does not help. Our stomachs like it simple – help it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NNRpxBTpk8&feature=youtu.be

Camps: I have 2 camps that are on the immediate schedule. Depending on our group and its needs, there might be another one later in the summer in prep for Kona. For now we have IM LOUISVILLE & NYC camp in Louisville July 12-15 and our 11th annual summer Tahoe Training week (July 28-August 5). LOU and NYC camp is in Louisville in order to prep both racers for the intense heat and conditions of an August race on the East Coast. This will be in mini camp format and means we train Fri/Sat/Sun on site. If you are given the chance to race in cooler temps on IM day, you will be pleasantly surprised how much easier than mini camp your race was! Tahoe training week is our usual format with the added twist this year: the SAG Monkey will join us. I will again rent a house for base camp that any of you can join in too. We will massage and BBQ/stage out of their every day – but you can do your own housing of course and just join every day. As usual – join for a few days, all days – whatever fits your schedule. We will just divide up whatever you did and joined and took part in equally for the time you were there, by the people that were there. If you plan on LOUISVILLE, please let me know ASAP as we are prepping again with Matt Rose and his Dynamo group for a fun weekend.

AIMP discounts: I am often getting questions on what we as AIMPers get discounts on. Well, we got a GREAT discount code from TYR, for 40% off everything and multiple use! So order away at tyr.com with the code I’ll send you if you are looking to order. We also get GU Sport discounts, FRS discounts and FuelBelt. Again – please email me if you are looking to order some product. And yes – after 12 years of doing this coaching thing we have kits coming. So far I only plan jerseys and vests, possibly arm warmers (need to test them) – but as an FYI to y’all. I am think ing we will have them by mid summer. After 12 years I figure there is no urgency. BUT I also felt you all want to do your own shorts/bibs etc, so I was not planning on designing/ordering them. This can obviously change based on your feedback (or if you like the kits!)

Quick hits – some short notes and comments on observations from emails this past week(s)

Eating in transitions: please only do this when MOVING. for any of you to use that hectic time to get down some calories is crazy. Eat while rolling on the bike or while jogging the first mile or so of the run. Stopping at any point during a race is not ideal, and to do it when alternatively you could be moving closer to the finish line is not the best use of your hard work leading up to the race.

18 hour food rule: go bland – very bland – on your food 18 hours prior to you event. While this is critical for IM, it is helpful at a Half IM and less too. At higher intensities the stomach burns differently anyways, so keep this in mind. Going bland allows your stomach to go neutral and for you to clear out anything that can add to the stress of race day. 18hrs seems to be a really good cutoff for all to be digested. And when I say bland – I mean REALLY bland.

SAG Monkey Bike transport – some of you had the opportunity to experience his service for IM SG. Not only delivered to your hotel/house/stay at the race site, but also personal pickup, tuning, and a clean & shiny bike when you got home! No more nasty bike returns or something not working! Next events are IM CDA and IM AZ. We might throw some events in there based on demand. Remember to please share this with any of your Bay Area friends as Nick continues to grow that business!

Swimming in a wetsuit – I am planning a clinic on this in the next few weeks for those of you local. For those of you not local, I will have the short clinic recorded and posted on the aimpcoaching site. I have read too many race reports and gotten too many question about this. There are some easy pointers to really help. Any other ideas?

Thanks and have a great week!

Swim workouts

Hi All-

Swim workouts are not posted for AIMP Athletes.

http://www.aimpcoaching.com/aimp-athletes/swim-workouts/

On that note, there will be a swim this Sunday from 9am -11am at IVC.

Thanks!

Coach’s Weekly Word 3.28.12

AIMP Coaching weekly update on training observations, training log notes, and general rumblings in our training group.

In this ‘Word’:
1) Cold, wet weather training
2) Rest day focus
3) Swimming smarter
4) Live your own lessons!

As wet winter weather has finally settled into Norther California in the past few weeks, I wanted to highlight some observations from the training logs. For those of you that have been riding outside, you might have noticed the caloric needs are dramatically different vs. warmer, moderate weather. Your body is not only working for the load of training that you are doing, but also to keep you warm. Therefore your burn rate in calories is higher and you need to feed it more – significantly more – like up to 30% more. You might also notice that it requires a lot more energy to train in this colder, wetter weather too. Your post-training sensations might be more fatigue that usual. Again – your body needs to work harder in this weather in order to keep warm while still delivering performance in training. Eat and dress warm and you will find your body will bounce back quicker.

I have also noticed that some of you don’t really know how to ‘rest’ properly. A rest day is still ‘training’, since you are resting to get ready for the next training load. For some this is extra sleep: maybe an extra 60-90 minutes in the morning, or going to bed earlier that evening. For others it might mean body work or just a focused ‘me’ hour or two. This could be an afternoon nap, some yoga or meditation, etc. I used to enjoy going to the club I belonged to, spending time on helping my body rebuild: steam room, hot tub but having the jets gently work on my tight IT bands. In the summer months I would just go to the infield of the local track, sit in the sun and stretch. Rest days are about recovery and using the time to help rebuild you for the coming load. Many coaches want you to square away work or errands that you usually don’t have time for – I disagree, since then you are just as exhausted that evening. Spend some time on yourself on recovery days, even if just an hour or two.

Swimming Masters this morning I noticed that triathletes are not very good at understanding pacing. They spend all the $$ in the world on training tools to help them pace their ride and runs better, yet their ability to evenly pace a swim is awful. Next time you have a big set in swim practice, one where you go 2-3 rounds of 800-1500 yrds, try starting behind some swimmers that you usually swim ahead of. Nothing dramatic, but one lane mate back, or even a lane down. Then, lead the lane on the second round, or move up at least. Watching swimmers implode in swim practice just highlights their implosion on loop 2 of the IM swim or the back half of the 1.2 mile swim. If you usually swim alone, be certain that you swim a 1000-1200 yard set faster later in a workout 1x a week. Most of my workouts have this, if not, add an 800 late in a swim practice. Having that strength available after practicing for 6-8 weeks will show itself dramatically on race day!

And finally – I read an article/blog this morning about how less is more, about how scaling back can be beneficial, how we need to rationalize our training volume with life’s demands. I could not disagree more. While you all have sought out my coaching as a way to help you maximize your training, plan out your season, help you determine what training needs to be implemented at what phase of your training etc., I firmly believe that we are all different in our circumstances, our past, our genetics, our ability, our talent, our determination and focus, our background and our current life situation. So – with that – I feel we should all find out for ourselves what we are capable of. Don’t let others tell you what you can’t do – within the realm of reason & sanity! Especially in ultra endurance events like IM triathlon, it is important to make your own mistakes. I have made plenty – and it has made me a better coach, but surely a better athlete. Sure – I will want to help you avoid them, but I also can only guide you…YOU need to make your own decisions and fail at times. Only then can we progress to knowing what DOESN’T work. Combine this with the fact we are all in different chapters of our life. Maybe you have more time than most? Maybe you have years of endurance training in you? Maybe you are the type of person that loves to test personal limits? In any circumstance – enjoy the process! Half the fun with doing ultra endurance events, whether IM triathlon, marathons, ultra marathons etc. is to venture down YOUR own path – and the adventure of the unknown for you. To find out that running 30 miles on a Sunday morning is possible…that riding 3 days of 120+ miles per day down the coast is possible…that swimming twice the length of Lake Tahoe (44 miles) is possible..Live it! Find out! You all have an adventure within you that is an incredible accomplishment. Don’t let anyone tell you ‘less is more’ – or that they trained to a PR on 1 hr of training per day…Boring! The point in sport is to push limits – and you are all athletes in sport! Want to play it safe? Read on the internet or in books/magazines for guidance on how to do it…without excitement – adventure – vanilla! Half the fun on the fitness I am trying to build for you all is being able to get lost on a bike ride and find a climb you have never done…to take a trail you have never run…or – like a group of my athletes did last year: all just decide one weekend to run Rim 2 Rim in the Grand Canyon – just on Ironman triathlon fitness – nothing else! Plenty of my athletes have asked me over the years to add more – do more. And while I might add my opinion of health, injury and performance, I also believe that your goals are YOUR goals – and I should help you achieve them. Good communication, good coaching and good athlete engagement will allow for anything to be achieved!

Am I saying that we shouldn’t follow the training plan? No, the training plan is based on the goals YOU gave me. But as we build this fitness and feel alive from the training, maybe new goals and adventures need to be added/adjusted? But even within the training plan there are adventures to be lived. Epic rides with friends, big training weekends, travel etc. Just don’t ask me why less is more! Unless you are recovering or resting for a race…let’s push YOUR limits.

April Coast Ride Update

Hi all –

We are 6 weeks out of the April Coast Ride.  I wanted to start finalizing the size of the group, not down to a number or two, but if we will be 15 or 30!
Please remember to make your hotel reservations:
Hotels:  Night 1 in Marina – Holiday Inn Express // Night 2 in Morro Bay – Ascott Suites // Night 3 in Goleta/Santa Barbara – Pacific Suites 
We are on the road a 4th day into Santa Monica, so please know you need a reservation on night 3.
DATES:  Push off the morning of April 26, return back to Bay Area on Sunday evening April 29.
We will again have minivans rented for the ride home from SM – since that 4th day is shorter, we will be home early Sunday evening.  Bikes go in the SAG Monkey trailer.
Again:  SAG Monkey will be supporting us, so food is covered on the 3 afternoons/evenings on the road.  They will also have mechanics and supplies along.  All we do is divide the expenses of SAG and group expenses by the number of riders – and done!
I will surely be riding this Cost Ride if you are curious.
All of you on this email are familiar with the Coast Ride, so details are not needed to the group.  Please email me with any questions.
For now:  PLEASE let me know if you are still locked in for attendance.
Thanks!

Coach’s Weekly Word 03.12.12

Hi all –

Before I head out to Utah St. George Mini Camp – just some input from last weeks training, logs and general observations.

Some of you have asked for a good example out Workoutlog on what I am looking for in the comments section. Here is an example from last week:

The Workout:
1) 3x 5-minute hard tempo/Z3-Z4 efforts – at 80, 90, 95-100 rpms respectively -with 3-minute recovery and
2) 5x 2-minute intervals where you alternate between 10-seconds HARD fast spinning and 10-seconds easy with 2-minutes easy between intervals

The Comments:
Good bike workout.Z2 the first 30 minutes – The three by 5min Z3-Z4 were good. As my cadence went up, I noticed I had to drop the wattage by 10w… 80rpm I was at 300… by 100rpm I was down to 270ish or 280ish..The 10sec spinups were hard as shit… but I attacked and went as fast as I could… I hit 160 a few times. By the end, I was pretty tired. – Spun out the last 12…

What does this tell me? 1) he did the workout correctly as these are the right sensations…he added some insight on what he observed….he gave me corresponding data….he showed me how the cadence had his watts drop off….he properly attacked the spin ups….he was worked by the end which helps me read how he bounces back (or not) the next workout.

The key on comments in the logs are what you observed, how they felt. Your observations show me you engaged in the workout – that you were paying attention, not just going through the motions. How you felt shows me where you are with your training – too hard? Absorbing? Doable? Impossible? Too easy? Fun? All these adjectives help me see what the outcome of the workout was and how you are responding to the ‘load’…

Some of you “just don’t have the time” to fill out your log. I call BS on that. NONE of you are training less than 12 hrs a week, and yet you can’t carve out another 10 minutes every few days to fill out your log? But – here is an example of a great summary…although not a log, its better than nothing AND this athlete actually checks in with me on text.

COMMENTS
“So looking at next week…

* Sim Brick on Sat…hold 7s, leave on 7’30
* Sunday: Do the 13.1 or not? I moved that from this past week to Sunday. Your call. I will do anything at this point because it’s WORKING!

This Week…

* Summary -> Great week…swim is best it’s been in 2 years / bike is best it’s ever been / run is in a good, stable place
* 23+ hours mostly coming from the 130 mile extravaganza on Saturday…
* HIM @ 30’ was able to “comfortably” hold 6’25s…it’s clean and requires focus but doable
* Have noticed my HR start to drop at mid z2ish intensities on the PB…220-230w is actually starting to FEEL like 190-200 used to feel. It’s nice and comfy.
* In my head, I’m starting to approach 280-290w as the “new 260″…mental approach to being able to go these outputs at z3

Again – this tells me he is looking ahead on how to execute a good week. No questions, just planning and THINKING. His training is going well, limited negative observations (which is NOT good since we tend to forget the ugly moments when we just write a summary), Key workouts and observations there on each sport. He basically is telling me which markers he is hitting, which, now allows me to start writing more detailed workouts for him: Swimming I can push him further, Running I see what pace I can work around progressions or speedwork, and cycling he gave me HR data and/combined with Power data. If I can’t write good plan for him – then I should not be a coach!

Lastly – some of you are starting to see – and many of you are still going to see – my AEIOU write up requests…I have started to request a short writeup on key workouts from you. I am basically asking you to grade yourself and the workout. As we repeat many of our workouts, it allows you and I to look back on your grading and see where you have improved and what areas remain to be worked on. We used to do this in swimming, every 4th year in prep for the ‘big show’ season. Its a very valuable exercise in understanding why you train the way you do.

A= attitude – how was it for my training session?
E= effort – was I honest in my efforts to execute the training and intervals correctly?
I = Interest – was I engaged – focused – did I understand what I wanted to accomplish and did I?
O = Opportunity – did I use the workout as an opportunity to learn, improve, become more aware of my ability or lack thereof?
U = Urgency – one day closer to MY finish line, MY result, MY success…did I embrace it?

I know – it’s a lot – but as we go through some key workouts – try it – let me know. Remember, I am a coach…here to help you succeed.

Have a great week!

Wildflower Training Camp Update

Hi all –

I wanted to get a sense who is looking to join me in the Wildflower Training weekend.
When?  I will arrive April 12, Thursday – for some afternoon training & to set up camp.  I will depart Monday midday.  5 potential good days of training.
What?  Daily swims in lake, some sweet, epic bike rides that are crazy challenging but sorta fun.  And tons of trail running and a little pavement running too.
Why?  Good WF prep 3 weeks out.  Great IM St G prep 3 weeks out (last bigger weekend).  Great Texas training for maximum suffering.  And to find any remaining Easter eggs from the previous weekend.
How?  We can camp – we can stay in hotels – we can do whatever the group would like.  SAG Monkey can help us with our meals and support.  Just gotta know how many are playing.
Cost?  Again – none.  I gotta stop being like this.  We divide expenses of food, SAG – that’s it.  BBQ’s galore!
Just an FYI.  So, please let me know if you plan to attend.  I will be there  ANYWAYS for a swim clinic for Silicon Valley Tri Club, sponsored by TYR.  So we can demo a few suits too!
Thanks!

Coach’s Weekly Word 03.07.12

Weekly Word – 3/1

I read a really good quote this week:….”it’s not the daily increase but the daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential”…. Bruce Lee.

I really think this applies really well to our training. Many of you like to add training time, or insert some extra disciplines (TRX, Core, Pilates, Yoga, etc.) and while it looks good on paper, are we sure this is the best use of your limited time? Smarter training is all about doing the training to the best of your ability, and then allowing your body and mind to recover properly for the next workout. Adding other activities surely limit your recovery, most often sleep, and other stresses come up (workload, family, social life, personal life). So we need to make real smart choices: what is the best use of my limited training time? And – often more importantly: is this extra activity necessary for maintaining a good balance with my training and the rest of my daily life? For me? I know Yoga and more strength training would be helpful – actually beneficial, but given my time and my daily commitments to other things in my life, I can’t make it work. Sure – could I run around constantly trying to fit something in? Yes. But then my stress levels and anxiety increase elsewhere: my time with family, coaching and social life becomes compromised with mediocracy. “Its not the daily increase, but the daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential”.

Why am I bringing up a ‘deep’ topic like this? Because many of you voice your concerns on how to get it all in. Yet I read in your logs and hear in other ways how much other stuff you are adding into your training life. Part of being a serious athlete is knowing how to tune out the noise and distractions and focus on a given task (the workouts) really well. If you do all the training – and only the training, as prescribed – you will be fit and prepared for your best performance. Start adding to the mix – and not only will I not know how to balance your training load effectively, but your training performance will begin to suffer. If you think you are on of those people that CAN fit it ALL in, then it is usually too late: something is being compromised, you just don’t know it yet.

Train smarter – not more. Many of you know the big training weeks still lie ahead, so your additions and extras now burn into valuable family, work, and social goodwill balances. Invest now, in order to ask for the extra time when we need it. It’s coming, don’t burn through that balance in March!

“It’s not the daily increase but the daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential” – the best part I hear at training camps – and I heard again in Tucson a few weeks ago – is that athletes love the training without any distractions and just the single focus of training during the camp. This CAN be replicated at home – mainly because we don’t train those hours at home like at a training camp – but also by planning and thinking through how we want to execute the workouts. Come into the workouts prepared, with a good, positive mindset, and nail ’em. Then – quickly take care of your post training routine and re-integrate into your daily life. Embrace the training/life balance. But then also be fair to yourself to not fill it with too much extra ‘noise’ and ‘stuff’.

If you are just too busy to make it work, then we need to re-position, realign your goals. As you have heard me say before – that is totally fine, let’s have realistic goals and ones that are achievable in your current life scenario. One thing I am looking to avoid with ALL of you: pro, elite, beginner, runner only, swimmers, ultra runners…it is slogging through training to just get to the start line, and then, even worse, finish feeling awful, flat, depleted and unhappy. This is a choice, a lifestyle and it should excite you and keep you motivated. You ALL sacrifice too much to not get the enjoyment from this that you deserve!

Have a great week!

FYI- testing – if its been 3 months since your last test, then it’s time to schedule again.

Sharing A Good Read

A few of you have sent this to me, so I figured I’d share with all.

I wouldn’t say ‘outstanding’, but some solid points.  I will share this opinion though:  Not every athlete needs a Peak:  many athletes can have their BEST performance just off a build and then some rest.  A peak brings about a lot of risk factors that endurance events might not need.  This is individual to all.  I’d rather you build a huge diesel engine and keep it motoring vs. constantly shifting the “2 Fast 2 Furious”  Honda Civic and run out of RPM’s!

Have a great hump day!

Coach’s Weekly Word 03.06.12

Hi all –

Below are 2x YouTube videos for swimming illustration.  I know the first is animated – but it highlights the 10 things I work on with swimming.  I hope it is helpful to describe what I yap about Sundays at the pool.

The second is Ian Thorpe:  It is to show you that the things are applied in the real world – notice head position (not down) – notice feet kicking only up and down – notice the DOWN pressure in the front of his stroke (why we do head up drills) – notice the extensions just below the water surface (for untouched, bubbleless water) – notice the semi-circle side angle pull through (albeit shorter for him) – NOTICE his hips are low too (why do triathletes want to LIFT their hips all the time?) – Notice he is DONE with his stroke at the hips (all front quadrant!) – notice his breathing looking somewhat ahead – notice his hand adjustments to the current post entry.

Enjoy your homework!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zJ2WR-Sbt8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv_sDYHYzFw&feature=related

1) Hand enters (the mailbox) – extends to untouched water – wrist anchors the pull – and the pull through is a semi circle I so often talk about. 

2) Hip rotation as they mention is great – but notice the feet are pointed and the entire kicking motion is based on counteracting the hip rotation WHILE propelling forward too. 

3) Feet are always pointed – but trying to kick DOWN, never to the side. 

4) Notice the head position:  he is looking somewhat forward – 3-5 yards – softball between chest and chin.  Water never fully flows over his head

5) His pull through ends at the hip – then he is just pulling out.   AND the hand from ANCHOR – to Pull out is all about pushing water back.  

6) Notice the semi circle of the pull – from entry it goes down and half circle all the way to the pull through. – NOT a straight line like so many of you are trying for.

7) Hand enters away from head – not directly at 12 o’clock above it.

8)  Pull through is deep and never crosses under the body (too much….) – feet are always kicking down!

9) 11 and 1 o’clock alignment of entry:  shoulder width!

10) He balances his pull through with adjusting thumb or pinky lead!

Let me know of questions!

Oceanside 70.3 & IM St. George Bike Transport!

Hi all –

As you all know SAG Monkey and his incredible service in the meantime, Nick has also agreed to bring bikes to Oceanside and IM St. George (instead of me!).  With both events he will also be offering Valet service, meaning he will drop off at your location in Oceanside area or St. George area respectively.  If you are staying in a hotel, house or with friends – SAG Monkey will drop off at any location at the race location.  He will also be offering pick up/drop off here in the Bay Area if you so desire.
1) Bike transport for either event is $175.  This includes NO WAIT time drop off or pick up:  both Oceanside and St. George:  drop off your bike 72 hrs prior to event!  SAG Monkey will coordinate YOUR specific  bike drop off spot prior to the event so it is convenient for you.
2) Valet service is an additional $60 (total for both pickup & drop off) – availability is based on pick up location (in Bay Area), but most any option is available at race site.
3) AIMP athletes & friends of AIMP and ‘early adopters’ get free bag transport.  Which means everyone on this email!
4) Race site tune up and pre race tune ups available.  Please just send note saying you want this service.  Depending on need, either $60 or $95.
5) Forward this email to ANY of your friends, triclubs, indoor cycling members etc.  Cheaper, faster and better than any other transport company out there.  And NO NEED for ANY changes to bike!
6)  Anyone using this email or initial update gets this rate, so no worries on saving this email.  Just email Nick or I…
7) If you are a tri club manager or know of a larger team:  email Nick or I for a package/group rate as well as a group pickup/drop off etc.
Feel free to send us any questions!
Thanks!

Coach’s Weekly Word 2/14/2012

Happy Valentines Day!

After a busy week last week I am catching up on the weekly word again. Some of the topics I wanted to go over:

1) Supplements
2) Avg. Speed on the bike
3) Swimming tight
4) Log details
5) Nutrition & Hydration during your training

I received a bunch of questions the last 2 weeks about supplements during our training & in our general diet. Let’s not forget, supplements mean exactly that: they are designed to ‘supplement’ our regular diet! They are not some magical power-boosting pill that will make your HR lower and your watts higher (yes – this is what some claim!…) Supplements are designed to fill in a blind spot of your current dietary needs. Remember – a good, well planned and thorough diet requires very little supplementation. This is a general guideline but quite effective and healthy for most of you. Of course, you all need to know your body well enough to know if you are low on any minerals…so if you are wondering, get tested. You will quickly get a good idea from your Dr. if you need to supplement your diet with anything – like iron, vitamin D, selenium etc. If so – then of course you supplement accordingly! Now, if you are getting into your main racing phase, and you want to supplement with some PROVEN ergogenic aids, then please talk to me – I might be able to provide some valuable insight – otherwise, please don’t fall prey to the usual $$ spent on advertising to convince you that product X ‘increases VO2Max and lowers your HR by 17%’…. Wanna supplement? Try some Beet Juice or increase your beta alanine by eating a healthy portion of fish – but then again this is already part of your regular healthy, well though thru diet…right?

Many of you share with me you average speed on the bike. Please know that this is the most arbitrary number in the sport of cycling. It means completely nothing! If your avg speed meant something, try riding 75 miles in Marin County, or Martin County in FL…or in Boulder…or in San Diego…Get my point? Please don’t base any of your training (and surely not racing!) on avg. speed. Terrain, weather, temps, wind, roads..everything mess with that value. Therefore it is not a value. Instead, tell me your HR you were observing, your watts, your cadences and general things you noticed, learned, thought of during your ride.

The past few weekends I have been coaching swim practices again and noticed that many of you are swimming too tight. Swimming is a very relaxed motion…same as in cycling you relax during your pedal stroke at some point, in running your stride loosens…then why would you pull through so tight under water and also stay tight during the recovery..? No wonder some of you are exhausted when swimming – relax! Bring the arms forward in a very relaxed motion: its because your other arm is currently pulling and the dropped shoulder & rotation of that pulling arm is automatically bringing your other arm forward in a relaxed way…right? Plop that hand back into the mailbox, and then begins the powerful pull through…

The log for many of you remains something so hard to embrace. Many of you still just tell me WHAT you trained. I know what you trained…I put it in there! Tell me how it felt! If you all saw how many comments I read that say: “did it”…”done”…or even tell me the intervals were “completed”…well that is nice…but how did the FEEL?

And finally – nutrition and hydration. I know many of you have heard this plenty: don’t fall into the “I gotta eat a lot” trap of the triathlon industry! here some clear points on nutrition and hydration:
YES – you need to eat and drink on the bike. But eat when hungry, drink when thirsty.
YES – this might catch you short or bonky at times – but make note of what you ate and drank and slightly adjust – observe, learn, apply, repeat!
NO – there is no magical formula – it is different for all of you but a good starting point is 150 cals/hour for ladies while training and 200 cals/hour for guys
DRINK – approx 16-20oz of fluids per hour. Water or electrolyte drinks.
EAT your calories – DRINK your fluids…try not to combine. We have been doing that for a couple 100,000 yrs and since we have been born. Why change while training?
WATCH: if you wait until your hungry to eat, most of you can eat solids…or chomps or chews…Why? Cause your hungry…
WATCH: if you eat just to meet some sorta calorie count per hour, i.e. stuff food in your mouth if not hungry yet or because you ‘feel you should be eating’ – you WILL get sick from solids!
WATCH: if you drink when thirsty, you won’t get bloated or burpy. Its sorta cool, but our body knows how to send the right signals!
TELL me what you observe. Train it, observe it, and let’s work through a strategy that works for YOU, and only YOU!
IF it doesn’t work in training, it surely won’t work in racing at higher HR’s.
If you have a powermeter: start at 30% of kJ burned (E for Energy on some meters) – and adjust from that! You’ll be surprised how good that feels!
EAT about 45 minutes after you start your ride. Most of you are working off breaky or food still in that time. If starting on an empty stomach, start a bit earlier, but remember – when hungry!

I leave for Tucson and our AIMP Spring Training Camp tomorrow. Have a great week, I’ll send plenty of updates via Twitter.

Have a great Holiday weekend. As always – send those questions my way!

Coach’s Weekly Word – 2/3/2012

This week I wanted to talk about training when sick. It seems there are a few different bugs out there that have many of you sick. Whether sick, exhausted, under the weather, let’s talk a bit about why training when sick or run down is not effective.

The whole point of us training is to go through a training build, where we increase the load, strain the body, and then do our best to absorb that load. The better we train in the load phase, the greater the demands we can place on our physiology, the more effective our absorption is and therefore, the better the NEXT load phase can be. Strain, absorb, repeat.

This also applies in our day to day training, not just in the bigger picture of phases. Load today, eat and sleep well, reload tomorrow etc. The better we can train the next day, by recovering from today – whether an easy workout or a hard one – the better our training can be. All the individual effective training days add up to a successful macro phase..

Why are there performance enhancing drugs in cycling, running and swimming? Not for race day performance, but for a more effective training phase. Doping, HGH, transfusions are all about the ability to recover quicker and to train better the next day. Keep repeating this cycle and your phases will be enormously effective and your performance gains in racing will be remarkable.

So you can see the concepts at play here. Our goal by NOT cheating is to effectively load, recover, reload etc. Our performance gains will come naturally and in a healthy, uninjured, fair, consistent manner. A well timed diet, good sleep and smart training will set all this up.

IF SICK, not only can you NOT train the individual workout effectively, you can’t recover effectively! The workout itself is compromised as zones are knocked out of whack (HR) and wattages can’t be held effectively (fatigue/exhaustion/

dehydration etc.). The recovery is compromised as your body is not only trying to rebuild from the workout, but also from being sick. Asking a sick body with a weak immune system, to train effectively is not possible. You can’t place a load on a weak body, it just doesn’t work. Instead, you remain sick, training remains ineffective and you become frustrated!

Instead, think about it this way: don’t waste your time training ineffectively. When sick, even going through the motions is not a good use of your time – not even Z2! You mindset should shift to what it takes to recover to 100% health as effectively and quickly as possible. This usually means rest, sleep, healthy eating.

Do the math. If it takes 3 days to get 100% healthy again, you are back on a good load phase within 5ish days. Instead, many choose to train while sick, and therefore carry 75% health for 6-10 days. Therefore we are looking at 12-14 days before jumping back on a good load phase.

I know it is extremely boring and frustrating to do nothing. But it is less frustrating than being ineffective with training for 2-3 weeks! Use this time to clean your bike, get your gear in order and to line up life, work and health for when the training is back ON again…

GO GIANTS!

Mini Camp IM St. George

Hi all –

I will again head to St. George Utah in prep for IM St. George in May.  Although I am not racing it this year – this is my 4th training/racing weekend there – and there is plenty of wisdom to gain from training on the course prior to the race.
WHAT is a mini camp?  You arrive Thursday PM.  We train on the course Friday, Saturday and Half of Sunday.  You fly back mid day Sunday.
HOW:  Friday we will swim and bike the course.  Swim is in a really good local pool, bike we’ll do 2x loops of the main part of the course (70ish miles).  Saturday we swim again briefly (pools are closed on Sundays), ride the course from the swim and 1x loop (60 miles) and run the NEW run course (1 loop of the four).  Sunday morning we will run the course 2-3 loops.  Done by 12 or 1pm.
WHEN: March 16-18.  Arrive the 15th pm, depart the 18th pm – both from Las Vegas I recommend.
COST:  zero – all we do is divide expenses.  You pay plane, hotel, meals etc.  All you pay for is bike transport (I bring your bike for you) and my gas etc. to get it there…and my coaching expenses…
NUMBERS:  Mini camps are small numbers, I don’t want more than 8-10 people there.  It is supposed to be more focused and specific than a regular training camp.
NEXT:  let me know if you are going to be interested.  Then I will line up which hotel we’ll stay at ideal for the training/course.
WHO: For sure anybody doing IMSG. If you have friends, teammates etc. who want to join, great. BUT we will need to limit the mini camp to 10 people. Why smaller numbers? Because this is a very focused weekend with LOTS of communication, strategy, race planning, input and coaching. IF we bring another coach (highly likely), we could expand to 12.
Thanks!

01.25.12- Weekly Word (formerly Coaching Update)

Hi all –

Back in town from a Coast Ride that was fantastic. Just in time to see the Giants go to the SuperBowl.

This week I want to touch on a few things: a new training camp, 3 coaching slots – but mainly your mindset for 2012 and how you will train to succeed.

4 days in a minivan gave me plenty of time to think while watching 48 cyclists ride down the Coast….

As we are now moving in the serious part of the 2012 season, I would like you to keep your 2012 goals in front of you. Basically ask yourself the question: What do I want my 2012 season to look like? When December next year rolls around, what is it in your results, training & progress that will feel good to you about the past season? Once you can identify what it is: a result? A time goal? A qualification? A healthy season of no injuries? A finish? Then start thinking today and EVERY day about what you are doing TODAY to help you achieve that goal? It does not have to be much, and maybe you don’t have time for the entire planned workout, but are you doing something, anything, towards those identified goals/feeling/markers for the 2012 season?

Important in this exercise is the attainability of your goals. Are they realistic? Can you do the training and commit the time/resources to meet that goal? If not, you have 2 choices. Either lengthen the time frame to achieve that goal, or modify the goal to something more attainable. Many of you have big intentions for 2012, but as we get into the day to day training and toiling of monotonous swimming, biking and running, it might not be as realistic as we envisioned. Modifying a goal is NOT giving up. It is taking what you have to work with and taking steps forward. You might not achieve your goals, but you will surely be a LOT closer by making a smart adjustment to what you can be successful in.

For those of you, whose goal it is to qualify for world champs, national champs etc., but even for those of you looking to move into the top 10 of your AG: what are you doing to leapfrog soo many talented and hard working athletes vying for the same spots? What are you doing to leap AHEAD of those athletes that are already in that place/spot/on that podium? It sounds like a daunting task, but the ONLY way to get there is to remain focused on your goal and take one step at a time. Soo many want to climb that ladder to reach that goal, podium, result, yet the only way to get up there is climbing one step at a time. What are you doing TODAY to continue to climb that ladder?

Lastly regarding this mindset for 2012, do not forget to challenge yourselves and recognize the incredible personal growth from that. If you all were already Kona qualifiers, AG winners or even winning Pros, then you would not be working with me. We started this coaching relationship in order for you to IMPROVE, to LEARN, to DEVELOP your talent. I am here to help you with that. If you continue to do things as you have in the past, whether it be train too hard, or not hard enough, or train too little, or too much – let’s get OUT of that fixed mindset and grow: let’s stretch your comfort zone (like try Zone 2 aerobic training?)…let’s get comfortable with the struggle of having to work REALLY focused toward your goals. The reason you are so dedicated to this sport and show such passion, is BECAUSE it is soo hard to be successful! Focus on the process, not the outcome. The outcome is a fixed aspect in the future. Only via the process (training) can you effect the outcome, so focus on the process…. As we start leaving the pre-season behind, and enter into the heart of the season, many of you will have more and more quality training sessions in your plan. It becomes even MORE important to share your training observations in the log with me. We need to keep you healthy, uninjured, and from overreaching, so please be diligent about the log. My BEST coaching can happen if I can see what you observed in the training, where you might grow and become stronger for the next time you do that kind of training. How can I help you become more successful in your training (process) and therefore make you faster (outcome)? – By seeing how well you executed the training & the roadblocks you might have encountered within them. Coaching is ONLY Value Add if I can help you grow and develop your talent.

WILDFLOWER TRAINING CAMP: I also wanted to let you all know about the AIMP Wildflower Training weekend. I will be down there from April 12 to April 16. We will be swimming, biking and running plenty every day. SAG Monkey will be support once again and we will make this a fun weekend of great training, good eats, fun times. Come for a night, 2 nights or all 4 nights. However you want. You can camp, rent a a cabin, or even stay within 25 minutes in town which has a solid hotel and great BBQ restaurant. No cost, just the usual division of expenses for food (SAG Monkey) and SAG Services (SAG Monkey)…Hoping to do the EPIC ride to the Coast and back again after a 5 year hiatus…

3 COACHING SLOTS OPENED UP: Unfortunately 3 clients needed to take a break from AIMP Coaching (no, I didn’t kick anybody out!) – so I have 3 remaining spots. We were full, but not any more. Just an FYI.. Sorry for the longer “word” this week, but January allows for some sports psychology, not just physiology!

Have a wonderful week!

IM CA 70.3 Oceanside Bike Transport

Hi all –

Just wanted to remind/give you a heads up that I will be driving to IM 70.3 California and taking bikes.  As you all have seen, I rent a trailer and will bring your bikes and bags to the race.  I am there coaching, might as well bring your bikes too.
Feel free to pass this along to anybody who you feel might benefit from a faster, more personal service.
Since its a CA race, its only $175 and bags are $25 – no limit on the bags.
I will be on site to deliver bikes in Oceanside – so if you coordinate place, I can bring to hotel/house/condo or transition on Friday morning.
I will return to South Bay, SF, and Marin on return.
You can drop off Wednesday, March (Marin) or morning of Thursday, March 29 (SF – at class).  South Bay can be coordinated that morning for pickup.
Bike will be on site that evening, Thursday, in Oceanside.
Return of bikes will be Monday, April 2 – but South Bay we can coordinate Sunday on my return drive.
Getting bikes back to me after race is wherever we want to coordinate: outside of transition, hotel, etc.  your choice.
Simple.
Other races Planned this season?  I plan to drive to:
IM CDA – IM St. G – IM Tx – IM AZ
70.3 Worlds – 70.3 Boise – 70.3 Lake Stevens – Rev 3 Portland
chris@aimpcoaching.com

Coach’s Weekly 01.10.12

Hi all –

Welcome to 2012. I look forward to such an exciting year in coaching you all towards your goals, as well as being on those race sidelines with you. It’s an Olympic year – which is always special in my world as I only ‘age’ based on the olympiad clock…

Despite us not having a winter here in California (yet?) – we are still in the preseason in most cases. Please remember some important principles in the preseason: form & efficiency.

Form at this time year is so important as we don’t have the time needed once we are getting closer to our events to work on the fine details of form. Whether swimming, biking or running – use this time of year to focus on a few (3) things that you might want to improve upon. These are not necessarily changes, these are subtle adjustments that we know will make us faster or more efficient. Form starts at slower motions and gradually gets incorporated in faster efforts etc.

Suggestions may be in Swimming: reaching further for untouched water, better kick with pointed toes, a faster above-water recovery or even something as simple as learning how to use the pace clock at the pool, NOT YOUR WRISTWATCH…! For Biking: what about those pedal circles and how you are pulling the one leg up vs. pushing the other leg down, or ensuring your toes are relaxed while cycling (not bunched up in the front of your shoes), or how your cadence is climbing, on flats and how to make adjustments to gain speed! For running: light on the feet? What about that footspeed at 88-92? Relaxed shoulders vs. recruiting too much arm swing? Or have you tried ‘falling’ into your running stride – does it make you faster?

So, slow down, and become more aware of what you are doing and how you are moving, recruiting, engaging etc. Can there be some free speed in those easy adjustments? Now that you have found some free speed, try to get more efficient at it – apply at all different speeds, apply in different scenarios and repeat, repeat, repeat. Start with specific time intervals in applying the changes, and increase that time as it becomes easier and your feel better about holding longer.

For many of you the regular season training is quickly approaching. We are only 17 weeks out from IM St. George, 12 weeks from Oceanside, and 19 from IM Texas. So those June IMs are almost within the 20 week window – this is when the training must shift to a more focused, specific and aggressive goal oriented plan. Why is 20 weeks out so important? Because with a 3-4 week cycle build around recovery weeks (individual for most of you) we only have 3-4 rotations to work through – then its time to rest!

Therefore – you should have tested by now. You need that for your indoor trainer workouts, your Z2 work and the 20 week window to go. You should have sent me your 2012 goals by now. Please be specific with them: is your goal measurable? Attainable? Realistic? Time specific? Many of you have heard the SMART criteria at work, it works really well in sports!

NOW is also when the log becomes important – is is always important. But – you just telling me you did the workout is NOT enough. And saying: felt good, did it, complete..that is also not enough. Want good coaching? Fill out the log with some detail and like you care about your performance. My coaching is only as good as your log. Want generic, boring, repetitive workouts? Keep putting into your log “did it, done” or nothing at all. My job of being a coach, as described in the coaching agreement, states I will deliver the workouts, but the ‘unlimited program adjustments and email feedback’ only happens if you fill out a thoughtful and detailed log.

With the Coast Ride this weekend, I wanted to remind you all that there are 2 ‘non-profit’ events on the AIMP training camp calendar each year: The Coast Ride and the Donner Tahoe Training camp. This year again Tahoe will be the first week of August, hopefully just as many can join then as this weeks Coast Ride!

Upcoming AIMP events:
This weekend: Coast Ride 2012
Feb. 16-22 – AIMP Spring Training Camp – Tucson, AZ
March 16-18 – IM St. G Mini Camp – St. George Utah

Lastly: please let me know your progress towards 1000/250. All of you should know how close you are to completing this aerobic platform, too much time and sacrifice towards this training & upcoming season to NOT know where you are at this point. Next comes a really high quality/high intensity/high risk training phase for most of you, so we need to know where we are with a healthy platform.

Thanks! Talk to you all next week – from the Coast Ride.

Tucson Spring Training Camp- Update #2

I wanted to follow up with you all in the new year for the AIMP Spring Training Camp in Tucson.  18 of you have already responded that you would like to attend.  I need to finalize rooms and suites by the 16th of January, so things are moving quickly.
I will open up to non AIMPers in the next few days, but wanted to finalize our coached group first.  I would like to hit 25 people since we have 2-3 coaches, and some more help (many of you will meet Shanks at the Coast Ride and most of you know Ben, if he is willing to help again….:-)
More details to follow on the rooms and singles vs. suites etc. but for now – just let me know if you plan to attend this long weekend of great training, great camaraderie, great food and great fun.
RUNNERS:  yes – there is a running only option (Thanks to Kara) so the runners will have their own van for epic trail runs and some active recovery swim & water running.
Thank you, and as always – questions can be sent my way!