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…


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….


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


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…

Re-engaging. A brief Word


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!

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
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 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!

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.

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 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!

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.

“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!

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.

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!

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!

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…