Archive for Authentic Movement

You’re Surviving But Are You Thriving?


Some days I find myself having to defend my philosophy that we ought to move well and have a handle on some basic skills, first, before we load up on more miles or intensity, or sign-up for that first Ironman or ultra-run.  In those discussions I often say something like this: "Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't make the rules, but I'm forced to follow them just like everyone else."

Now truthfully, movement quality doesn't have to be perfect. The human body IS amazing and the variability and capacity inherent in its ability to compensate in a good way, keeps many in the game.  The younger among us or those with a lot fewer miles on the chassis, have an even larger margin of error.

There is no perfect, one-size-fits-all template for how to develop as an athlete, but there are rules that can't be broken without consequences...

To start with, in ANY sport, we must have a balance of mobility and stability, and depending upon the activity we're engaged in, the price we have to pay if we don't possess that balance could be severe...

Have you ever stopped to think about how comfortable your life is today? As noted movement expert, Gray Cook says, "We've gotten way past our needs (as a society) and have been in our wants for (a long time)!"

We've got back problems because we can slouch any time we want to, especially when we sit and stare at our phones. We're only a few steps from anything we need at any time (including the remote), we never pick anything up unless it has a handle, and at the gym we've been taught to sit down on our butts to push and pull to get stronger.  Even some of the most "fit" among us would rather use that cho-pat strap or brace on our knee vs. actually owning our core stability.  And those are just for starters.

Why, in this day and age, have we become comfortable with the fact that the exercise and training we do to "get fit" or "finish that race" must come with negative side effects, just like the prescription drugs we take?

My inspiration for coaching and taking the time to write is that I want you to not just survive your training and racing, but actually thrive from it.

I want you to not only be able to go as fast or as far as you possibly can, but also age gracefully, maintaining or even improving your ability to have fun playing, until the day you leave this earth due to natural causes. (If you're too young to understand what I mean by that, trust me, it will become painfully more obvious as the miles and gray hairs, pile up).

The way I look at it is, if  I'm going to do something that is very important to me, I'm going to do it as well as I can - with integrity, beginning with the basics and fundamentals. It's that simple.

Perhaps the only difference between you and I is that I've exposed myself to a lot of opportunities to make mistakes, learning (often the hard way) the real difference between surviving and thriving.

So how about you - are you just surviving, or are you thriving?

Happy trails!

~Coach Al

Are You Having A Crazy Amount Of FUN Doing This?


Happy kids in colorful bike helmets holding bikes

Keep the FUN in your training and I guarantee you'll get better, faster, and enjoy the journey more!

I remember when I was a kid how much I looked forward to after school and weekends, when I could ride my bike over to my friend's house. We spent hours playing, working on our take-offs with our "home-made" ramps (made out of whatever scrap wood we could find) and chasing each other around the driveway, exploring the backyard trails and laughing our butts off the entire time! Thinking back, I never got into BMX riding but I sure wish I had.

Do you remember those days? Take a minute and think back.

Riding bikes was so much FUN when we were kids!

Today I'm here to tell you that it can be fun again, and because I know you are the kind of athlete who is serious about your training, trust me that you can also achieve the great workout and fitness boost you want, too! (Would you like to have even MORE hip and core stability, core-glute-leg strength, and even better balance?)

But before I go on...come on now....In this day and age, don't we ALL need more pure, unadulterated (and legal!) FUN in our lives, as well as some child-like joy in our training?

And if we could manage to keep most of our training enjoyable and fun (despite the occasional discomfort that goes with pushing ourselves at times), won't we get better faster, and enjoy the journey more?

From my perspective as a coach, the answer to both of these questions is one million percent, YES!  

(If you are one of those folks who believes that you can only achieve at a high level if training is drudgery and not fun, you are seriously missing out. Life is too short!)

So, the million dollar question for today has got to be, how?

The answer is (drum roll please....) the mountain bike.

Now if you already ride, there's no reason to read on. You're a believerYou get it.

You've smiled, sweated, laughed, gasped for breath, been humbled, scared, euphoric, and even bloodied and bruised.'ve never been happier while training.

But if you don't ride a mountain bike (yet), please read on!

Exploring forests and trails on a mountain bike is the most fun you will ever have on two wheels.  Ever! There's nothing that makes you feel more like a kid than a flowy, wooded single-track, dotted with rocks, roots, and berms that twist and turn down a slope.

And...conversely, there's nothing that will challenge your strength, focus, balance, power production, movement quality, and mental toughness, than will pushing those pedals up an ever changing landscape to get back up the trail.

Of ALL the many things I do now, riding my mountain bike is without a doubt, the most rewarding, challenging, butt-kicking fun I have as an athlete!

Regardless of where you are right now in your riding or training, consider this note today as simply me encouraging you to get started if you haven't already.

I'll be writing a ton more in the future about this awesome sport, covering topics like skill building, flats vs. clipless, bike/equipment choices, and more.

For today, just in case you're hoping for some basic tips to get you started on the right path, here are a few that will help keep you from getting hurt and also increase the fun factor.

* Riding a mountain bike safely and enjoyably on technical terrain requires good skills. (Doesn't anything worth doing well?) Learning those skills gradually and building upon them will help you have more fun. Why not consider attending a camp / workshop or find a friend or fellow rider who can help you learn what you need to know.

* Take the time to find the right group of fellow riders to learn with who are at, or perhaps slightly above, your skill and experience level. Ride behind someone you trust who is more skilled than you are, and learn by watching how they ride.

* Find trail systems that are appropriate for your skill level. Don't get caught on highly technical or hilly terrain if you're not quite ready for it. Nothing sucks the fun out of riding more than crashing a lot.

* Be patient and persistent. Don't take yourself or the riding too seriously and keep smiling.  You'll improve consistently and have a ton of fun learning along the way!

Now let's go out and play! Happy Trails!

~Coach Al

ps: check out this video from PinkBike Trail Love Episode 4 to get even more jazzed about riding! Here we come, Kingdom Trails!

055: Visiting with Troy Anderson of Anderson Training Systems [Podcast]




"Outlaw" Kettlebell coach, Troy Anderson

"Outlaw" Kettlebell coach, Troy Anderson

Today I am pleased to welcome Troy M. Anderson of Anderson Training Systems as a guest on our podcast.

Troy is an RKC Kettlebell Instructor, a DVRT Master Instructor, and most importantly perhaps, is a self described "farm kid driven to spread the good word of the ACCESSIBILITY of kettlebells, sandbags, bodyweight training, and UN-Apologetic Living."

Because I'm a believer in the value of the kettlebell as an awesome training tool to get stronger AND improve movement quality, and because I've had the opportunity to see some of the great work Troy is doing out in his training space in Tempe, Arizona and also online, I thought it would be beneficial to bring him onto the podcast and have him share some of his insights with all of you.

Among the topics we discuss:

  • Strength Training: A plethora of strength related info, such as his philosophy, his favorite training tools and toys, and some of the valuable and hard earned lessons he's learned along the way.
  • Getting leaner: What works and what doesn't to really drop unwanted body fat.
  • Why he looks at training with the kettlebell a bit differently than most trainers (and the benefits which can be gained by taking a different approach).
  • What you can learn from his experience as someone who lifted very heavy weights at one time (the day he lifted the most weight ever, was also the last day he tried to).
  • His passion for making the "bell" and other tools like the sandbag, "accessible" for every person, regardless of age, size, or talent!

If you'd like to read more:

I'd like to convey my sincerest thanks to Troy for joining me today.  Even though most of you reading this are endurance athletes who sometimes can find yourself shying away from big strong dudes like Troy, I know you will learn a great deal, so tune in and enjoy! Happy Trails everyone!

~Coach Al 

Triathlon in 2015: The Challenge of Changing Beliefs and Perceptions

Coach Al on the run at the 2004 Hawaii Ironman World Championship

Coach Al on the run at the 2004 Hawaii Ironman World Championship

Hey Everyone. Coach Al here. Thanks for joining me today.

I want to to share with you today some thoughts on the challenge of changing beliefs and perceptions in athletes. It's a view from my side of the fence, the perspective of a long-time coach who has dedicated many, many years, not only to studying movement and the powerful roles strength, stability, mobility, and flexibility play in unlocking ultimate athletic potential, but simply put, on what it takes to stay healthy and go FAST on the race course.

Let's start with this: Are the bullets below, true or false?

  • Pain in the joints or muscles when training is normal.
  • Being "tough" and training through pain or injury is sometimes necessary, and should be considered a source of pride.
  • Strength training is a luxury, and not really "necessary" for runners or triathletes.
  • Stretching has not been proven to be beneficial, so why do it?
  • Stretching has been proven to be beneficial.  However, to receive the benefits and remain healthy from stretching, one must stretch the whole body.
  • The way to get faster and improve future performance potential is to focus on continually increasing volume and intensity.
  • The way we move ultimately has no bearing on training or performance.

There is no doubt that some of you reading the statements above think many, or all of them, might be "true." In fact, from my point of view--and the view of renowned athletic movement experts--NONE of them are true. They are but a few examples of harmful and erroneous notions that have deep roots in the minds of many athletes, even in 2015!

At Pursuit Athletic Performance, we face the challenge of helping athletes discard commonly-held beliefs about training that are injurious and destructive. We ask athletes to open their minds, and let go of outdated and disproved ideas about what it takes to excel in sport.

Our message is a simple one, and it is this:

If you want to perform better, get faster, avoid or recover from injury, have longevity in sport, and have a healthier quality of life you must FIRST restore or develop MUSCULAR BALANCE, and THEN GET MOBILE, STABLE AND STRONG. Period. You MUST make your body MOVE like a champion athlete. That quality movement MUST COME FIRST before serious sport-specific training can then take you to the zenith of your potential.

One thing I know for certain: movement patterns filled with compensations lead to dysfunction, and dysfunction absolutely destroys the potential to train and race fast. I have dedicated my coaching career to helping athletes learn this life-altering truth, and break free from perceptions that undermine their true abilities and push attainable goals out of reach. It's not easy to change or upend the beliefs most consider gospel. It demands a paradigm shift. Some get it, some don't.

IF YOU ARE BATTLING injury and want to finally turn things around for you can have your best season ever, why not begin anew and start by checking out our new VIDEO series on avoiding and recovering from the most common running injuries. You won't be disapointed, that is for sure!

If you are not injured and want to stay that way, or you're a seasoned triathlete but frustrated because you aren't improving or getting faster, then get in touch with us and we will show you how to achieve your dreams!

Got questions? Fire away on Facebook or email me directly at

Have a great day!

~Coach Al


Stuck In Injury? Now Is The Time To Do Something About It!

Woman and men running during sunset

It is now mid-February. Whether or not it feels like it (can you say 70+ inches of snow and counting, if you live in the northeast!), spring is right around the corner, and with it, the events you have planned that you are also HOPING will make you feel good about yourself AND about the year 2015, when looking back on it.

The problem for many, especially those who have had success in the past, is allowing their EGO (along with some wishing and hoping) to get in the way of forward progress.

Why do we allow our own "confirmation bias" or our need to always be "right" to drag us down and keep us stuck in a place of injury, plateau, or worse?

If you can't get out of your own way long enough to leave behind the wishful thinking and see things (even for a brief moment) for how they REALLY are, then you know what? You will reap exactly what you sow. You will remain stuck in a place where injury or poor performance becomes your new normal.

If I've learned anything over the years, it is how important it remains to embrace humility. I have also learned that I NEED to get out of my own way and reach out to others with a beginner's mindset, so that I may move fully forward and reach my greatest personal potential! Not always easy, incredibly important and powerful.

Why not join me and a long list of others and finally put the injury and plateau bug behind you!

Check out our NEW INJURY PREVENTION series and get started now addressing those issues, so 2015 turns out the way you hope it will!

All my best,

~Coach Al

TIPS For The “Roadie” Who Wants To Hit The Trail More (And Not Get Hurt Doing It!)

Coach Al with elite ultra-runner, Debbie Livingston

Coach Al with elite ultra-runner (and trail runner extraordinaire), Debbie Livingston

If you are one of the many runners or triathletes who routinely run on the roads because the trail isn't comfortable or intimidates you, or is a place you tend to get hurt or frustrated, read on. I used to feel that way too!

First, anyone who routinely reads our blog knows I'm a big fan of getting OFF the road and onto the trail, even if most of your racing is on the road, and especially at this time of year. (That's YOU, triathlete!)

Getting off-road can drive your run fitness and health up by introducing varied, often hilly terrain that simultaneously strengthens your hips, legs, AND heart. The problem is, the trail (especially a technical rock strewn trail) presents its own series of challenges that often make the intimidation factor even larger.

For instance, do any of these scenarios sound even remotely familiar to you?

  • You've just climbed a steep hill and you're standing at the top, looking straight down the other side at a technical, very steep descent that is littered with rocks, roots and ice-like leaves. You hesitate for a moment, visualizing yourself slipping and falling or going headfirst into a tree. You decide to go for it, taking off slowly, cautiously, nervously tip-toeing, and praying you don't slip and fall or roll your ankle.
  • You're running along and see a very technical rock "scramble" and a stream, and gaze nervously because you aren't sure where to put your feet down OR how you'll possibly avoid rolling your ankle. You decide it's better to be safe rather than sorry so you walk (rather than run) through the scramble, staring down nervously the entire way.
  • You decide to take the advice in this article and venture off-road for your next run. Alas, 10 minutes into the run and you've fallen twice, rolling your ankle. It hurts, you're frustrated (and angry) and immediately look for the nearest exit back to your safe haven - the asphalt!

To help you not only avoid the above scenarios (and many others just like them), here are some TIPS that I've learned the hard way. My mistakes will save you trial and error (and injury I hope), making you a true LOVER of the trail as I am now.

  1. Make like a duck: Whenever you approach a technical rocky downhill, try turning your feet outward into a duck-like stance.  Doing this may feel strange at first, but it actually helps improve stability and will reduce the chance of you rolling your ankle. When the dreaded ankle-roll happens, our foot will usually roll laterally, or inward. Turning your feet out will make this much less likely. You'll learn to descend with much more confidence.
  2. Tread lightly: Good trail runners are highly skilled and light on their feet. Through many miles of practice, they've learned how to instantly unweight their feet when stepping onto an unstable surface, or when they can't see what is below the leaves or brush. When running on asphalt we typically don't give any thought to how hard we land. If you take that same approach on the trail, your risk of an ankle sprain increases dramatically. Learn how to instantly and skillfully unweight your foot. Practice it routinely and it will soon become second nature.
  3. Fly like a bird: Runners who usually run on the roads typically keep their arms close to their bodies. However, when you're out on the trail, spreading your arms out wide (picture a bird or an airplane) will help you maintain better balance, improving your ability to move laterally as the trail changes in front of you. Your flow and rhythm will improve, not only helping you to more easily handle whatever the trail might throw your way, but improving the fun factor too!

As you practice more and spend more of your running time on the trail, your skills will improve!  In addition to the above...

  • You'll learn how to confidently gaze farther ahead, rather than looking down.
  • You'll use the rocks you approach on the trail as stepping stones (keeping you out of the stuff you CAN'T see).
  • You'll learn to pick your feet up instead of dragging them along the ground, AND most importantly....
  • You'll learn to relax and enjoy it more!

Now get out there and have at it!

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al

cedarlakecampIf you'd like to learn more skills and increase the fun factor, becoming a better, faster, happier trail runner, click HERE for more information on our upcoming Cedar Lake Trail Running Camp and Retreat from May 29-31, led by Debbie Livingston and Coach Al. It is for all levels and abilities, even newbie trail runners. We'd love to have you join us for the fun, comraderie, and learning!

From Coach Susan Ford: What DON’T You Want To Do?

Coach Susan Ford

Coach Susan Ford

I've noticed a trend in some people who SAY they want to run or bike faster, and say they are willing to do "anything necessary" to get there.

In their minds, "anything necessary" means doing training sessions that are harder than they've done before, making bigger sacrifices for their training than they had done before, or become "hard core" in some way. They are absolutely ready to do those things.

Yet despite their proclamations, there is a glaring obstacle in their path, which they don't see, and/or aren't willing to address.

For example, I've been approached by another athlete about "speedwork," who is carrying a significant excess of bodyfat. And another with a significant running form issue who wanted to do higher mileage. Neither are willing or able to see what was obvious, and neither are willing to do the one "anything" that IS necessary for them to improve. In their cases, the "hard core" work they needed to do was address diet and get on a true path of improving body composition, and in the other, take time off running to address imbalances and other movement related issues first.

Both continue their paths, doing "anything necessary" for their goals, except the one thing that they could not accept as an essential part of that process.

It makes me wonder if I have similar issues, and what I'm not willing to do.

What am I blind to? What is holding me back from my goals that requires work other than just "hard" training? What am I aware of, but not willing to do?

Food for thought....


Coach Susan Ford lives in Tennesee and coaches runners and triathletes as a Pursuit Athletic Performance coach, in addition to her work as a veterinarian. Her own inspiring journey from an always-injured and frustrated triathlete to one that is strong, durable (and always finishing at the top of her age-group in every race from 5k to ironman) is a remarkable one. To learn more about Susan and her coaching services, go here.


Meet Our Trainers: Zack Kraft-Shinn, Our Yoga Dragon

Pursuit Athletic Performance trainer and teacher, Zack Kraft-Shinn

Pursuit Athletic Performance trainer and teacher, Zack Kraft-Shinn

Here at Pursuit Athletic Performance, we are really proud of the awesome staff of trainers and coaches we have to help YOU improve!

Today we introduce our own "Yoga Dragon," Zack Kraft-Shinn. Zack teaches our very popular kid's bootcamp and kid's yoga, adult yoga and martial arts, and is also a personal trainer.  To learn more about Zack, check out his bio on our site here. 

Zack is an amazing teacher who is passionate about teaching and sharing his gifts with young and old alike. Zack says, "I believe that knowledge is food for your brain, and as a member of Team Pursuit, my hope is to share weekly motivational and educational thoughts." To that end, enjoy!



I wanted to start off strong with something “neurologically nutritious”, so I present this for your consideration:  Life's a battle. It's like a daily knife fight. An ever present struggle of balancing will and choice on a hairline edge.

I always ask myself, "How can I bring forth all of my energy to give my genetic gift and serve; while also making sure I take care of myself and my basic needs?” Every day is different. Some days I train more, so on those days I make sure to give myself a little extra time to stretch so my body doesn't break. I eat larger portions those days so my body can stay fueled rather than feed on itself. I make sure to drink extra water those days to aid in the recovery of my torn muscles so that they can repair themselves more efficiently. And I make sure I get adequate rest, which involves much more than just the time I lay my head down.  Just as important is the environment I rest in. Are the lights on? If so I shut them off as that will affect the quality of my rest. I do little things to make sure that when I wake up the following morning at 4am....I jump outta bed healed and ready to attack the day. Ready to read, train my yoga then head off to my first job…to make the morning muffins. (And in case you were wondering...YES…I am the muffin master as well!)

photo 2I know that if I don’t take care of myself, is I start to slip...It's much like taking that cut in the “daily life” knife fight. Yeah, it may not be a big deal right now, but man, I'm gonna feel that later. Say, for instance, I get home at 12:30 am and I’m starving because I forgot to pack a cliff bar or a banana. I open the fridge to see what my options are. There's some lasagna my mom made, a delicious piece of chocolate cake and some leftovers of the mouth-watering sub I got from JAMSS. (Kidding on the last one, I never have any leftovers from JAMSS! The plate is usually licked clean to be perfectly honest!) So I heat up the lasagna and eat it, then wash it down with the cake. Tastes great!  BUT, because I ate right before bed, my body can't heal itself! Instead of focusing on healing, it's using those essential calories to break down all that food. Plus, because my body is so used to breaking down food while in a standing position, it’s now working almost twice as hard to do so lying down. What did I do?  I set myself up for failure. When I wake up, I feel it instantly. Instead of jumping out of bed, it's a slow zombie crawl approach to the day! So instead I make a better choice…understanding that I'm placing want over need, I close the fridge and chug some water.

Making good choices is one thing, but there is another kind of blade that life can use to cut me.  The stuff that I have no control over. The unexpected. The variables I never saw. The family tragedy. The loss of a loved one or a career. The relationships that leave scars or weren’t destined to be a part of my path. But the experienced knife fighter understands that almost always in a knife fight, you’re gonna have to take a minor cut to give a better one. Sometimes losing the opportunity for a new job or some love fantasy we feel would make our lives better or enrich it in some way, is actually a blessing in disguise. From my experience, I know a lot of good is lost looking for something better. By thinking of all I've lost, I miss out on the present. My mind is caught in an endless cycle of despair and should've, would’ve, could’ve scenarios. Because my mind is in pain my body follows. My negative thoughts manifest themselves through discomfort in the body, starting with bad posture.   Because I'm hunched over, looking down, putting unwanted pressure on my neck and lower breathing is then changed. I've created less space in my body for air, my lungs aren't working as cohesively with my heart to pump all those much needed hard working, freshly oxygenated blood cells to the vital organs, muscles 1

Luckily, at some point in this process I’ll realize what’s happening. I understand that I'm not present, and I will find my focus by saying a mantra of some kind. (Mantra's are words or groups of words we can say verbally or in our heads to promote clarity.) My favorite is from the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna is being counselled on the cusp of a battle that will tear the very fabric of reality. Krishna says to Arjuna, "If you bring forth what lies in your inner most self, what you bring forth will save you and it will save a piece of the world. If you do not bring forth what lies in your inner most self, what you do not bring forth will destroy you and it will destroy a piece of the world."

Cool, huh?? But hey, no pressure!  J   However, I challenge you! Ask yourself not “HOW can I change the world”, but instead “how AM I changing the world today?" Cause every thought you have manifests itself into reality. Not only actions, every thought you have changes the world!  Choose to be non- judgmental to a passerby. Give a smile, high five or a hug to someone you feel could really use it. (It will usually be met with a rather contagious case of the giggles that in turn leads to an outbreak!) OR GO BIG! Get involved with your local community! Pick up trash, offer help to those in need, sign up for a walk that has a cause that doesn't affect you or anyone you know... It's all good! So please, I encourage you to take care of yourself, because you have to change the world today.... Love, light and happiness, The Yoga Dragon, OSS

Also, special shout out to my two new good friends for helping me in my Pursuit of perfection. Sensei Doc and Shifu Coach. Love you guys!

P.s. Special shout out to Mark and Ange at J.A.M.S.S. catering in Old Saybrook, Ct for hooking me up with the sponsorship! I can't thank you enough for all the culinary masterpieces you both make for me daily! Love you guys!

Ps.s. Also huge shout out to my friend and brother Tim Seabre for helping me with my new Yoga Dragon Tukano Gi's! I can’t wait to rock those on a daily basis! Many tribes, one root!

Minimum Standards: Can You Hit “X” Of Something To Ensure “Y” Result?

Team Pursuit triathletes reviewing some basic skills at our fall 2014 "Re-Set Camp."

Team Pursuit triathletes reviewing some basic skills at our fall 2014 "Re-Set Camp."

Hi Everyone! Coach Al here.

On the heels of our "Team Pursuit" Re-Set Camp this past weekend, a team member emailed me and asked about some proclamations I had apparently made with regard to minimum standards, that you, as an athlete, ought to be shooting for prior to embarking on hard(er), more challenging training.

When answering the email, I didn't recall exactly what those minimum standards he was referring to might be, so I responded in the email to him the way that Kurt and I typically do, by saying that the "gold standard" for assessing when any athlete is ready to train hard with little to no obvious risk of injury, is to have 2 degrees or less of lateral pelvic drop at 5k race effort. I wasn't entirely sure that this response would satisfy or answer this athlete's question, but as I said, it IS a pretty good minimum standard to aim at.

The athlete responded to me with this: "You had a lot more proclamations than that. It is hard as athletes to know we are hitting that, where knowing a list of accomplishments that support that will be far more productive (plank for X min, 10 pushups, etc)."

I completely understand that knowing on your own how much pelvic drop is occuring at any time is difficult. (To know for certainty, come on in to our gait analysis lab in the Pursuit Training Center, and see what IS actually happening when you run.)

However, from my point of view, while it might be neat and tidy to have a LIST of "x" minimum standards to meet, the truth is that training progression and "readiness" for more progressive, harder, more challenging training, isn't QUITE as black or white as we might like it to be.

And perhaps more to the point, in my mind, one of the fundamental questions that comes out of this discussion is, how strong or stable is "strong or stable ENOUGH?"

Taken at face value, that is a very iffy question with no real rock solid answer that applies to every person. And its complicated by the fact that it isn't really pure strength we're after, its work capacity (and perhaps resilience or resistance to fatigue), as Gray Cook alludes to in this article called: Strength?

I love this quote from the article, where Gray speaks about the phrase he prefers to use when describing strength: work capacity.

He says, and I quote: "Let me simplify work capacity. If we are talking about repetitions: Any repetition with integrity should get you an A or a B on the qualitative strength-grading scale. Any repetition without integrity should get you a D or an F on the strength scale. If you can't decide on integrity, you are stuck at a C.

How many imperfect reps do you have time to do today? If you don't have an integrity gauge or a quantity-against-quality gauge, you will never be able to truly value work capacity."

This is a very powerful concept because it points out that as we move forward on the progression continuum (making things harder, or to do more challenging exercises, or to add more load to our existing exercises), we're also fighting that constant battle to maintain that movement integrity - to keep the ratio ofquality vs. quantity as it should be. For anyone who has pushed themselves to do more, lift more, run faster, or pedal harder, you KNOW that form starts to deteriorate as fatigue rises. Simply put, the more tired you get, the harder it is to do it well.

So if I were to offer you a simple and straight forward minimum standard of "do X reps and you'll get Y result," and you didn't get that result you were seeking even though you hit that minimum, you'd be looking back at me and wondering why. And likely holding me accountable to it.

This athlete said it's "hard to know as athletes" where you are and whether you're hitting what you need to.

I get it.

But what if, in your quest to hit some theoretical "minimum standard," you gave up quality in favor of quantity to hit the standard?

What if the standard itself ended up having very little to do with YOUR specific issue, or the limiters that are most holding you back from reaching the next level of performance?

The truth is, there are VERY few, engraved-in-stone, "if you do this, then you get that" scenarios within the progressive training process.

And along with that, there are certainly NO guarantees that any athlete is "enough" of anything, especially when that anything has to do with stability, work capacity, or mobility/flexibility.

My suggestions?

  1. Keep trying to be better. Not perfect, just better. 
  2. Embrace the process - immerse yourself in it. It might be cliche' to say enjoy the journey, but it really IS paramount for long-term success and exploding your true potential. 
  3. Seek solutions within AND outside yourself for your weak links, weak patterns, your imbalances.
  4. Go enthusiastically after those patterns, exercises, or skills that you don't do quite as easily or quite as well as others. Clean them up!
  5. Always come back to the movement quality basics and fundamentals as your baseline. 

The objective real-time video assessment that we do as a part of our gait analysis really IS THE ONLY way to know for sure, exactly where you are at. Other than that, the process that includes increasing training stress or load, doesn't always have hard margins and may not even have a finish point. To believe that there are those minimum standards, in order to make it easy to know where you're at, is really fools gold.

That is NOT to say that you shouldn't keep trying to be BETTER. That's really the ultimate goal. Wake every day with a commitment to be better.

WillSmithQuoteKeep laying bricks perfectly, as Will Smith said, and soon you'll have a wall.

Seek the paths that lead you ultimately toward improved body balance, improved mobility and stability, and work capacity, and then reinforce ALL OF THOSE elements (capabilities) with smart, progressive, patient, persistent training.

And, keep it fun along the way of course!

Happy trails!

~Coach Al

Meet Our Trainers: Christine Kopcha


Pursuit Athletic Performance personal trainer, Chris Kopcha

Pursuit Athletic Performance personal trainer, Chris Kopcha

Here at Pursuit Athletic Performance, we are really proud of the awesome staff of trainers and coaches we have to help YOU improve!

Today we introduce Chris Kopcha, who teaches yoga, bootcamp, and fitness classes at our new space in Chester, Connecticut: the Pursuit Training Center.  To learn more about Chris, check out her bio on our site here. 

Chris is passionate about teaching and helping others to get stronger and improve. She hopes YOU will come out and take some of her classes and learn what she and we have to offer first hand.

To that end, Chris shares her thoughts on yoga including TEN REASONS why YOU should join her in her "tree house" for class.

Our "tree house" yoga room at the Pursuit Training Center.

Our "tree house" yoga room at the Pursuit Training Center.

One of the misconceptions of yoga is that it is only for skinny 20-something girls in spandex who can twist themselves into a pretzel. Or vegan hippies that sit around chanting and meditating. While you do find some of these scenarios in yoga studios, yoga is for everyone and the benefits go much farther than being able to tie yourself in a very uncomfortable knot.
1. CORE: We all know that a stable, strong core is important in keeping you injury free. But your core consists of more than just your abs. It includes everything other than your head, arms and legs and incorporates almost every movement in the human body. Yoga works your core in 360 degrees! Flexibility and balance stem from your core.

2. FLEXIBILITY: Who doesn't want to increase their comfortable range of motion? How many people do you know can't reach down to tie their shoes or have a hard time reaching for their seat belt?  Flexibility is one attribute we associate with being and feeling younger.

3. BODY BALANCE: As we move into our later years this is important in keeping us active. Even tasks as simple as walking.....the ability to stand on one foot at a time while propelling yourself forward requires a great deal of balance.

4. TRAINING BALANCE: Every good exercise program needs to include aerobic training, strength work, and stretching! Many athletes tend to hit two out of three of these genres, keeping them from reaching their full potential!

5. SPEED: By learning about your body and how it moves, you can work with what you've got allowing you to become faster.

6. LOW IMPACT: Yoga is it! Which means it's great for seniors and anyone who has joint trouble.

7. LOWERS STRESS: By encouraging relaxation, focusing on your body and breathing, it reduces the effects of stress by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and improving digestion.

8. THE BREATH: Yoga practice teaches us to take slower, deeper, healthier breaths, improving lung function and increasing the amount of oxygen available to the body.

9. CLEARS THE MIND: Yoga helps us un-clutter our mind. It allows us to be still in a world full of chaos.

10. JUMPSTART A HEALHTHIER YOU: Yoga can be the jump start you need toward a healthier lifestyle. It can be your first step on a path away from unhealthy stress and poor eating habits, toward healthier habits that lead to long term health and happiness.

11. BONUS: And if you are interested, you can ALSO learn some really cool party tricks like headstands, handstands, splits, and arm balances.

These work for me – what about YOU?

Hope to see you in the tree house AND on the mat soon!