Archive for Nutrition

Is It Possible You’re Dehydrated?

 

I'm coming at you today with a short piece on all things hydration. (I know what you're thinking, not another article about water and how much I should drink!) 🙂

In all seriousness, I decided to write this up today for one primary reason: despite the plethora of information and research on this topic, I still find that more than a few athletes end up coming up short with their water intake during training and racing, and it often dramatically (and negatively) impacts how they feel and perform.

So with the introduction of Timothy Noake's book "Waterlogged," a few years ago, or this article published last August in the New York Times, the message that is being sent out to endurance athletes is clear:

They'd have us believe (I'm paraphrasing) it's a myth to think the average person needs to drink eight, 8 oz glasses of water daily. As for the endurance athlete out there training in a variety of conditions, your risk of drinking TOO much water is actually much greater than is being dehydrated.

But are these statements 100% true, for every one of us?

I would argue that no, they're not.

Your hydration needs are largely determined by the temperature and humidity where you live and train, and your acclimation to those conditions. When it is very hot and humid, your hydration needs rise, often dramatically.

As a coach, I find that many of the athletes I work with fail to meet their minimum hydration needs during their regular day in, day out training sessions, especially when it comes to the hottest training days of the year. (Like right now!)

For what it's worth, I also find that sometimes the biggest mistake an endurance athlete makes is not adjusting their hydration "plan" based upon the conditions on the day. For example, let's say race day turns out much colder and windier than you were expecting or that you trained in. Don't make the mistake of taking in the same amount of water as you did during your very hot training days.

The Conservation Mindset

  • Do you typically head out on "only" a 45 minute or 1 hour run without water, thinking you don't need it or can catch up later?
  • What about a 3 or 5 hour bike ride with only 3 or 4 bottles of water?

One of the problems that often arises, is when we venture out into a run or bike ride carrying a limited number of water bottles (and therefore, fluid). Because many abhore stopping at a store and can often get caught failing to plan ahead, the result is what I call a "conservation" mindset during that training session that says, "you'd better meter out that water because it's all you have."

I've experienced this myself a few times, and with others that I work with. This kind of thinking can set you up for dehydration. Bottom line, during hot weather training, you must drink enough water to meet your needs, without fear of running "out."

Avoid trying to "catch up" by simply taking enough water along or planning ahead and taking the time to place bottles out at distant locations where you may be passing by to have enough to cover your basic needs.

Your Fascial (Water) Net

We are all familiar with how water is truly essential for basic functioning - for life itself. But what most athletes aren't as familiar with is how much your hydration levels impact how easily, efficiently, and fast you are able to run (or perform any other activity).

What do I mean?

A bouncing water balloon mirrors how our fascial net, combined with adequate hydration, helps us move forward!

A bouncing water balloon mirrors how our fascial net, combined with adequate hydration levels, helps us move forward!

Think of a water balloon. (Check out the slow motion video by clicking on the image to the left!). When you run, your body is a lot like this balloon filled with water.

The skin of the balloon is just like the fascial net that surrounds and supports your internal organs, soft tissue, muscles, and bones. What is important to know is, most of the elasticity that moves you forward comes largely from that fascial net, NOT other tissues.

 

Fascia is a water filled membrane. To use an analogy, when you dehydrate even slightly, your fascia and fascial system begin to act more like dried out (dehydrated!) beef jerky, and less like juicy, succulent prime rib. When you're dehydrated (even the tiniest bit) that fascial net can no longer help you bounce along (again, think of that water balloon).

9d6401e2-69ae-4fec-b05a-b7d841d180e8With increasing water losses, you're required to muscle every step. Similarly, that fascial net provides much of your overall stability. Your balance, coordination, and ultimately your speed, suffer.

Drink To Thirst?

In this podcast I did with Dr. Tamera Hew, one of the world's leading researchers and experts on hyponetremia (low blood sodium), she recommended drinking according to your thirst. (**If you haven't listened to this great interview loaded with golden nuggets related to hydration and hyponetremia, and you have a "thirst" for knowledge, go listen HERE!)

There's no doubt that this basic recommendation is a good one. The problem can be, based upon my experience as a coach, that quite a few of us are NOT as in tune with our thirst as we might hope, especially as the hours add up, and fatigue and energy challenges increase.

This is one reason why it's imperative to have a basic plan of attack in place that is based upon the conditions and your own practice and experience.

  • Start with a basic plan for 25-35 oz of water per hour and adjust accordingly depending upon conditions!
  • When it is very hot or you're not fully acclimated to the environment you're in, you'll need more. When it's cooler, you'll need less. Be flexible with your plan and adjust as you go.
  • Consider performing a sweat test on yourself to find out your own individual needs depending upon environmental conditions.
  • Go listen to that podcast I did with Dr. Hew, she rocks!
  • Learn about YOUR body and your needs as you train, and then listen to it! 🙂

Happy trails!
~Coach Al

PS: If you'd like to receive more information and tips right in your inbox, click HERE to sign up and I'll be in touch!

PSS: One last thing: if you end up in a situation in a hot race where you know you're dehydrated, you have to have the confidence in your training and STOP long enough to fix the problem! That might mean a few extra minutes at an aid station, or sitting down to drink a liter of water to fix the issue. Don't assume that you'll be able to still soldier on to the finish. Stop, fix it, then resume, feeling much better and able to maintain your goal race pace as a result!

 

Are You Eating In Harmony With Your Goals?

 

Two triathletes recently contacted me to set up nutrition consultations. Both are staring down at upcoming Ironman distance races and neither is satisfied with their training progress to this point. Feeling frustrated and panicking a little, they reached out and asked for help. I'll refer to them as Tom and Sally. (It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I LOVE helping athletes like Tom and Sally who reach out for help - it is my passion!)

In instances like this, the first thing I ask for is a detailed diet log, to better see how an athlete is eating on a daily basis. (Do you ever wonder whether you could adjust or tweak your eating habits to better support your training?)

As it turned out, I quickly learned they are like you, very serious about their training and their goals.

I also learned that despite them training for what was essentially the same race, they were on complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to how they ate.

Sally's daily total caloric intake, despite training 12 or more hours per week (or trying to), was far below what her activity level and training volume demanded, by a wide margin.

What she proudly believed was a "disciplined" approach to eating in order to "get leaner," was actually excessive calorie restriction.  The end result was chronic exhaustion, constant hunger, and uninspired training. Unfortunately, as is all too common for many athletes like Sally, what she most accomplished was to feel very frustrated!

(I'll admit, I did whisper in her ear that in all likelihood, her body was reacting and performing as though it was being starved. Yep, she sure was shocked and dismayed to hear that!).

On the other hand, Tom was getting enough calories, BUT on an almost daily basis, his diet was littered with simple sugars and junk food. He mistakenly convinced himself that because he was training "like an animal," (his words) he could treat himself a little bit each day.

Tom learned the hard way that his frequent, less than optimal daily choices delivered chronically high insulin levels that led to cravings, energy and mood swings, and more body-fat than he desired. (The key take-away words here are frequent and daily. I don't believe there are any "bad" foods, only bad habits!)

Listen, in the 35 years I've been training, competing, and coaching, I've seen and heard it all, especially as it relates to nutrition.

I always chuckle, shaking my head in amazement (and at times, disgust) as those emails pour into my inbox, boasting of the latest "cutting edge" info on a new nutrition "breakthrough," or a "recently discovered" biohack to a leaner better body, all delivered courtesy of any one of a plethora of internet marketeers (masked as "coaches" and self-proclaimed "experts"). Do you get those kinds of emails, too? You might be smart to delete most of them, I think.

So back to Tom and Sally - with their well intentioned but somewhat "flawed" efforts to improve, what did they learn?

The answer to that question is rooted in a philosophy that can be summarized with these words: BALANCE and MODERATION.

I also told them the same thing I'll say to you now: commit to eating in a way that is in harmony with your goals.

If you're wondering where to start, begin today with the guidelines below.  Remember balance and moderation.

For optimal results and enjoyment, apply them most of the time and especially around key training periods. 

  • Eat a varied and well-balanced diet, containing copius amounts of fruit, veggies, fat (especially those known as "good" fats), and quality protein.
  • Eliminate or minimize processed foods, especially those containing simple junk sugars.
  • Eat an amount that reflects your activity level and training volume (e.g. more calories in the days leading up to big training days, and less on other days).

This simple philosophy will then "set the table" for you to refine and personalize your approach, learning through experimentation and small tweaks.

It isn't about extremes, "biohacking,"or strict adherance to any one particular approach.  It also isn't about a "secret," marketed in a way that hooks you into believing there's an easier way - a magic bullet. There isn't.

It's about sound principles applied daily, combined with smart experimentation and continually dialing it in.

Ok, one more thing, some "food for thought" before I sign off: there is this certain 4-time IRONMAN Age-Group World Champion who is as tough, competitive, and committed as they come, who also happens to love chocolate and red wine!

Reflecting today's message of balance and moderation, I know she would never give up those awesome foods entirely; for her, they add richness and enjoyment to her life and they taste good! However, to her credit she also carefully picks her days to indulge, especially during key training periods, choosing to eat in complete harmony with her goals as an athlete.

Happy Eating!

~Coach Al

ps: Because so many of you have asked, yes.....I'll have more posts in the future on a ton of other nutrition topics, so stay tuned and don't forget to get in touch if I can help.

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

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"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 

Are You Addicted To Sugar?

 

Americans on average consume an incredible amount of sugar.  Studies suggest that the average person consumes over 130 pounds of added sugar (much of it hidden) annually!  Believe it or not, the average endurance athlete isn’t any different when it comes to eating (and relying upon) too much sugar. Yes, it is true that sugar stored as glycogen in your muscles is your body’s preferred first source of fuel for training and racing. And yes, that stored glycogen also DOES fuel higher intensity efforts comparatively speaking.  However, if you want to go FASTER over LONGER distances, while being LEANER and HEALTHIER, your ultimate preferred fuel should be STORED BODY FAT, not sugar.

Before you can become that lean and mean, superb fat burning machine you want to be, you need to first reduce how much sugar you're eating on a daily basis. It really is that simple. The million dollar question becomes, how do you GET OFF the sugar drip, and TURN ON fat burning? Let's start with some questions first. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Are you “hungry” first thing in the morning when you wake? (You shouldn’t necessarily be hungry upon wakening, but if you ate late or eat too much sugar, you are sure to wake feeling hungry!)
  • Do you experience cravings throughout the day for sugary foods (or mood swings)?  (A craving isn’t true hunger!)
  • Do you have a hard time stopping once you start eating sweets?
  • Do you find yourself needing something sweet as a “pick me up” during the day? (Blood sugar fluctuations mean your energy ebbs and flows, up and down. The need for a “pick me up” is common as a result).
  • Do you find you need some “calories” during training if you’ve been out for an hour or more? (True endurance is defined as your body’s ability to burn fat as a fuel. You ought to be able to exercise at a moderate intensity for many hours before “needing” additional calories!)

If you answered yes to any of these, you are NOT alone. If you want to get LEANER and stay HEALTHIER (and who doesn’t?), and become a BETTER fat burner, there are two things you MUST do:

1. Get off the sugar drip now: Your health AND your performance would greatly benefit from a firm commitment to completely QUIT sugar for at least two weeks (if not more).  It isn’t just the processed foods containing sugar (soda for example), it is also those natural forms of sugar (honey and maple syrup as an example), as well as all starches which are easily and rapidly converted into sugar.

2. Train to burn fat, not sugar: master your endurance nutrition: Learning how to become a better FAT burner isn't JUST about reducing your intake of sugar. How you approach your training nutrition and training also plays a role.

To learn what steps you need to take, watch our very popular Spreecast (webinar) called Master Your Endurance Nutrition, where we teach you step by step, everything you need to train better, blast bodyfat and improve your true endurance.

Also, consider our 14-day detox program: The easiest path to getting OFF the sugar drip is to have the nutritional and motivational support we provide with our own 14-day Detox program! Back by popular demand, this unique program from Designs for Health, has been hugely successful for hundreds of athletes just like you! We’re launching it on the 29th.

NOW IS THE TIME to make the changes you need, to be better than ever.

Listen, we all have a love/hate relationship with sugar.  What most people don’t know is that human beings are hard wired (evolution) to eat it.  After all, while sugary foods were in short supply and hard to come by at one time (picture yourself foraging through impossibly thick brush to get some berries or climbing a tree to get to a bee’s nest), sugar is now obviously easily accessible and ubiquitous. Detoxing from sugar and adopting a long-term, low-sugar lifestyle isn’t just important to get leaner and go further and faster, it’s absolutely essential to prevent chronic disease and stay healthy. A high sugar diet


  • Makes you fat.
  • Promotes inflammation throughout the body.
  • Is closely correlated with every single chronic disease.
  • Speeds up the aging process.
  • Increases your risk of cancer and heart disease.
  • Limits your true endurance and speed.

If you want to be faster, stronger, leaner and feel younger, you need to get OFF the sugar drip right now.   Get in touch if we can help in any way. And don’t forget our detox program, which could be just the thing you need to break old bad habits and make the permanent changes that will set you on the path that will make 2015 and beyond, the best years of your life!

~Coach Al 

Ps:

How about a DETOX BONUS!? **The first 10 people who read this and sign up for our detox  will get a FREE 20 minute consultation with me, Coach Al, to discuss any training or nutrition related topic they would like! SIGN UP NOW, and get YOUR FREE consult!  Let's talk training and nutrition!

How to get this special bonus? Easy! 1. Sign up for the detox! 2. Send me an email at info@pursuitathleticperformance.com.  If you're among the first 10, we'll schedule our appointment!

DETOX DOUBLE BONUS: **Any one who reads this and sends me an email, we will send you a LINK to our special spreecast entitled LOW CARB, HIGH FAT FUELING: A Better Way?  We did this webinar for our team - it can be yours to view NOW.  Just email!

050: An Interview With Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler, D.P.M., Ph.D. [Podcast]

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Dr. Tamera Hew

Tamera Hew-Butler D.P.M., Ph.D.

Hi Everyone! Today I am honored and pleased to welcome Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler as a guest on our podcast. Let me say this right up front: In my opinion, this is a MUST LISTEN podcast for every endurance athlete who has ever wondered what the science really says about hydration and sodium/salt intake during exercise. What a fitting way to celebrate our 50th episode! 🙂

An award winning assistant professor of Exercise Science in the School of Health Sciences at Oakland University, Dr. Hew is recognized around the world as an expert researcher and scientist. A runner who enjoys training and competing, she has authored 50 scientific papers in such peer-reviewed journals as the Journal of Neuroscience, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, and Sports Medicine, among others.  A bonus for us, is that Dr. Hew is a really nice, down-to-earth science "geek" (her words), who truly enjoys sharing what she knows with others, and as she puts it, "helping her family of runners" around the globe.

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Hew present at the "Medicine and Science in Ultra Endurance Sports" conference on June 24th in Squaw Valley, CA., in the week leading up to the Western States 100 Endurance Run. In the conference Dr. Hew presented on the "Spectrum of Exercise Associated Hyponetremia."  

In this podcast, we enjoyed discussing so many things very important to every athlete. Whether you're a runner doing an occasional 5k or marathon, or a triathlete doing multiple ironman distance events, or an ultra runner training for 50mile up to 100mile events, you will WANT TO TUNE in to this podcast to hear what Dr. Hew has to say.

Among the topics and questions we discuss are:

  • Hyponetremia: What is it and what are the risk factors (exercise induced) to be aware of?
  • Dehydration: What does it mean to be dehydrated? What can I do to ensure I don't become either dehydrated or OVER hydrated during exercise?
  • What is the role of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) / arginine vasopressin (AVP) during exericse and how does that impact how much we should drink?
  • Sodium balance and salt intake during extreme exercise: Do you need to take in salt/sodium during long events? If so, how much and how would you know?
  • Some companies looking to sell their products espouse the importance of the perfect electrolyte blend: Does such a thing exist? Do you really need a "balanced spectrum" of electrolyes during extreme exercise or is sodium alone adequate?
  • How reliable are our own body's signals to either drink OR take in salt, when we're training and racing?
  • What does it mean when we feel the desire or need to urinate during exercise? Is peeing a reliable indicator of hydration or electrolyte status?
  • And much more, including briefly touching on protein intake during exercise.

There are so many companies marketing to us and so much anecdotal evidence and personal opinion from internet experts. It is refreshing to hear a true expert share her thoughts on these topics, gleaned from many years of study, research, and experience.

I'd like to convey my sincerest thanks to Dr. Hew for joining me today. I know you will learn a great deal from listening, so tune in and enjoy! Happy Trails!

~Coach Al 

038: Supplementing With Amino Acids: A Smart Choice? [Podcast]

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Jan Roos, Director of Business Development at Vitality Sciences, LLC

Jan Roos, Director of Business Development at Vitality Sciences, LLC

Today we sit down with the Director of Business Development for Vitality Sciences, LLC, a leading company in the production of supplements for athletes, to discuss one of the hottest topics in endurance sports nutrition today: supplementing with Amino Acids to enhance energy and recovery, before, during, and after training.

For those of you who listen to our podcast regularly, you may remember we touched on this topic in an earlier podcast, delving into the pros and cons of supplementing with MAP (Master Amino Acid Pattern).  We believe one of the first and most important things to know when looking at ANY supplement, is what is actually in it! We had our issues with MAP for that reason; they don't tell you their "unique" and apparently "special" formula. That certainly raises some eyebrows.

Jan and I met at the TRI-MANIA Expo and Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, back in March of this year. I spent some time at the Vitality Sciences booth talking with Jan and his father about some of the topics we delve into today on the podcast.

Should you add this supplement or one like it to your daily nutrition regimen? We hope this podcast will help you answer that question.

Thanks to Jan Roos for joining us on the call!   Have a great weekend everyone!

   ~Coach Al

 

037: More Listener Questions! [Podcast]

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Coach Al and Dr. Strecker

Dr. Strecker and Coach Al Lyman

Today's podcast brings Coach Al and Doc Strecker back together again to discuss and answer some listener's questions. (Thank you everyone for sending in your questions - we appreciate it!)

Among the topics we delve into in today's episode are Crossfit and the merits of supplementation.

* Crossfit is incredibly popular across this land of ours.  So, let's throw it out there - what are our feelings about the merits of Crossfit?  (You might be surprised to hear what we have to say!)

* Every "expert" out there has an opinion on the merits of taking supplements vs. eating real food only. Should you get all of the nutrients you need from real food, or is a nutrition strategy that includes supplements a smart way to go?  If you do choose to supplement, how do you know which to use? Its hard to know who to trust in this area as so many are selling first, and speaking honestly second. Who do you trust? (We touch on the "Comprehensive Metabolic Profile" test also).

* And more, including what "F-F-F"  is and why it is important.

Have a great weekend everyone!

~Coach Al and Dr. Kurt Strecker

 

033: Food: Facts and Falacies [Podcast]

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Pollen quoteWith every passing day, it seems there is a new research study, article from an "expert," or training partner, telling us we HAVE to eat more of this food or that food, or avoid some kind of food altogether.  The old saying about the pendulum swinging from one extreme to another sure applies when it comes to modern day eating and nutrition. (Many of those "experts" are trying to get you to buy something from them, which doesn't help!)  

As an athlete, you are probably even more confused trying to figure out the best way to "fuel" for optimal training and racing.  Should you go high-carb low-fat, low-carb high-fat, paleo, vegan, or some mix of all of these? Is there a "secret" food or fuel that will propel you to faster racing and a PR? So many questions, and lots of confusion!  

Our view on eating here at Pursuit Athletic Performance is simple:

We believe a daily diet that leads to optimal health, longevity, and fast racing, is largely about BALANCE and MODERATION, and should be comprised mostly of a variety of whole foods, very few if any processed foods, foods balanced in macro-nutrients, plenty of rich sources of fat (especially good fat), and foods lower on the glycemic index. This quote says it all: “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food!” There’s a lot of truth to that!


The best way for each of us to eat is largely personal. We all need to find what will work best for us individually. Some do better on higher carbohydrate diets and others feel better on lower carbohydrate diets. If there IS one recommendation we could stand firm on, it is that good daily eating starts with removing unwanted sugar, processed junk foods, and artificial stimulants from our diet, not by adding more stuff, particularly junk.

Eating Well: Our friends at Tri-Hard Sports Conditioning wrote a great article entitled "Eating Well."  In that piece, they shared these thoughts:  "When was the last time you really enjoyed eating? Do you often rush through meals so you can get to the next thing? Are you preoccupied with whether a food is good for you or not? It’s time to bring the fun back into eating and we’re here to help. Picture this. You’re at the counter chopping up some fresh vegetables you picked up a few days before at your local farmers’ market. Your best friend is rubbing some spices on a few pieces of fish. You can smell the grill heating up as you listen to your favorite music. You share great conversation as you prepare and soon sit down to this delicious meal. You enjoy every bite and feel nourished by the experience. This is eating well! This is in contrast to grabbing something on your way out the door or obsessing over every detail of nutrition. Eating well is a concept that blends “good nutrition” with the simple act of eating great meals with your family and friends. Eating well empowers you to get past means-to-end thinking and returns eating to its rightful place as one of life’s simple pleasures. Rest assured, when you eat well you get all of the benefits of “good nutrition”, and even more, since you are free of the food neuroses that make eating stressful and spoil the fun."  That's great advice, don't you think?  So, in summary, here are some general bullets to guide you.

  • Eat real food, not processed food.
  • Eat amounts appropriate given your training volume and intensity.
  • Avoid seeing food as stress relief or a way to cope emotionally.
  • Everything in moderation.
  • Experiment, keep an open mind, and learn.
  • When it comes to meal timing, experiment to find what works best for you.
  • Keep a diary to learn more about your habits.
  • Begin hydrating when you first wake up by drinking at least 1 full glass of water.
  • Drink as much water as you can reasonably stomach before going to bed.
  • Make good food choices as often as possible, vs. avoiding certain foods.
  • Be flexible each day, and don’t beat yourself up if you make an occasional poor choice.
  • Get the majority of your nutrition from fresh vegetables, whole fruits, and quality lean protein.
  • Limit starch and sugar intake to those time periods during and /or immediately after long rides and runs.
  • Consume a minimum of 3-4 grams a day of Omega-3 fats from fatty fish or a quality supplement.

We hope our chat today on the podcast about all things food and falacies, is helpful. Have a great day everyone and enjoy eating well!

~Coach Al and Dr. Kurt

Getting Your Season Started Right!

 

Lis Kenon and Coach Al, Pursuit Athletic Performance

Coach Al with 4x Ironman AG World Champion, Lisbeth Kenyon

Hey Everyone! Coach Al here. 🙂  If you are like many endurance athletes in the northern hemisphere, the late March marks the time when you really start planning to “get serious” with training and race preparation in anticipation of the upcoming competitive season. Even more, for some athletes this time period marks the time when, after a casual glance at the calendar reveals only a few weeks remain until the first event, a state of shock and absolute panic ensues! â˜ș

Before you panic and start hammering those high intensity intervals, moving yourself precariously close to either injury or over-training, remember to keep a few important things in mind as you embark upon a fast-track toward improved race readiness.

First, avoid the trap of thinking there is a quick fix, short cut, or easy path toward a true higher level of fitness. Building the stamina and strength that leads to success in endurance sports takes time and patience. However, if you pay close attention to the fundamentals such as skill and technique enhancement and general/functional strength, you CAN make some great inroads over a relatively short period of time that WILL help get you closer to being able to achieve your goals.

Secondly, while there are many facets of your training that will be integral for your success, there are two topics requiring your attention all year long but often don't get the attention they deserve this time of year.  They are: maximizing your daily NUTRITION and daily RECOVERY from training.  (If you're at a point in time when you feel you need a "kick-start" to cleaning up your diet, check out our De-tox!)

It goes without saying that if you don’t eat well most of the time and at the right times and don’t recover adequately between individual training sessions and week to week, your training, fitness, and ultimately your race preparation will stagnate or even worsen.

Here are three TIPS to assist in transitioning optimally to the month of April and also help you get your season started right:

  1. Review your current Limiters and then establish some Training Objectives to improve and overcome those Limiters. Limiters are your weaknesses or “race specific” abilities that may hold you back from being successful in your most important events.   Likewise, Training Objectives are measurable training goals that you set for yourself and which may be based on your Limiters, with the goal of improving upon them.

To help in this process, start by asking yourself these questions: 

  • As you review your current Limiters, how well have you progressed in the Off-Season in addressing those?
  • Did you “miss anything” in your Off-Season preparation that you should focus on now?
  • Is there a chance that your Limiters will hold you back from being successful in certain events?
  • Are you aware of your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are you doing anything right now to improve your Limiters and thus your chance for success in your upcoming KEY races?

Even though it IS late March, it is NOT too late to start developing some key workouts to help strengthen your weaknesses. Be patient and persistent, and set measurable goals (training objectives) so that when you line up for your most important event this season, you will have the confidence of knowing you did all you could to prepare for success!

  1. Focus on executing KEY WORKOUTS by differentiating intensity and being purposeful in all of your training: To ensure you continue to improve, one of your primary goals must be to execute key-workouts to the best of your ability, which are those workouts that when recovered from them, will have had a specific and material impact on your race specific fitness.  Avoid falling victim to the “rat race” mentality that has you chronically “running” from one workout to the next without any real focus, which only results in tiredness and higher levels of stress without resulting in improved health OR fitness.
  2. Eat as well as you can, most of the time: Eating the best foods to nurture your health and recovery, most of the time and at the right times, is the best path toward optimizing health and body composition. Too often endurance athletes fall victim to waiting until they are close to their goal races and then trying to get lean and “race ready.” Once you begin to do higher intensity race-specific training sessions, your body will be under greater duress – trying to limit calories at that time can be very stressful and may lead to injury, poor adaptation to training stresses, and basically undoing all of the work you are doing to improve!

To summarize, these three tips come back to one very important but often forgotten concept: listening to your body and trusting your intuition.  I believe your intuition may be the most important tool you have in your toolbox as an endurance athlete, and unfortunately many of us don’t listen to it when we need to the most.

If you are a novice, your intuition might not be as highly developed as your more experienced training partners or friends, but it IS there and is often talking to you! Your "inner voice" might be telling you that you are tired and just don't feel up to that ride or run that you had planned, or, that what you are eating isn’t optimal to support your training or health.

Your body is smart! If you learn to really listen to it and stay patient and focused on the fundamentals, you will get your season started right and perhaps have your best season ever! Best of luck!

~Coach Al

010: Training Truth Over BS with Pat Flynn and Coach Al (podcast)

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 Hey Everyone!

LasPat Flynn, Chronicles of Strengtht week I was inspired by a blog post by Pat Flynn of The Chronicles of Strength to write on the issue of being a truth-telling coach. Pat's words about cutting through the training bunk out there to present the TRUTH about what works in training resonated very deeply with me. You can read that post here.

This week, I actually sat down with Pat to do a podcast on the topic of truth-telling, and what happened in the conversation is an amazing, deep discussion of so many dimensions of training! Our talk ranges from how to lose body fat, to how best to build true strength, power, and speed. I think you will really enjoy the exchange, and, no doubt, you will learn a LOT.

What makes the conversation so interesting is that while Pat and I have a lot in common, we are very different. It's what mCoach Al Lyman akes the world go round, right?

I'm primarily an endurance sports coach, while he is first and foremost a strength coach. Our commonalities do link us in really cool ways, however, and you'll hear that we think the same where it matters the most:

  • We value the truth over marketing BS and false promises. We are committed to building true health and fitness our athletes can build upon year in and year out vs. building false fitness on a facade of wishing, hoping, and poor program design.
  • We both have a musical background, which, to me, means we understand the value of quality repetition, skill building, and delayed gratification—all of which are crucial for long term success in ANY endeavor.
  • We favor simple time-proven strategies to improve mastery of the basics.
  • We care deeply about the athletes we work with, and are passionate about helping others. We are all-in committed to the long-term health and success of those we coach.

Our podcast focuses on three main areas of discussion:

1. Minimalism In Training
Minimalism, NOT as it relates to shoe wear, but as it relates to improving effectiveness and efficiency in training! "The right things in the right way." A quote Pat shared: "The elite aren't the people who move away from the basics, they are the people who move deeper into them." We talk about doing the right things, and doing the least to get the job done. This doesn't mean "easy," or less "work," but it does mean paring training down to the essentials and mastering those elements! We also get into:

  • Effectiveness and efficiency: Is the Crossfit ideology flawed? (Short answer...yes it is.)
  • Metabolic training vs. power training and power generation
  • The importance of the nervous system and training skill vs. just working "harder."

2. Fasting
We dive into some of the benefits of altering how often we eat and what we eat. Should we eat less often? Or more? What is fasting? We get into the key points and methods associated with this important, cutting-edge, and popular topic. Other nutrition-related topics we cover:

  • TRUE hunger vs. cravings
  • Are you addicted to sugar?
  • Is post exercise feeding and refueling as important as we have been told?

3. Honesty and Truth in Coaching
Ask yourself, do you want a coach to tell you you're "great," or do you want to hear the truth? Which kind of feedback will help you GROW more? We discuss the real TRUTH about the best ways to grow, improve, and truly unleash! And thus enjoy training more!

Many thanks to Pat for taking the time to do this podcast. It was super valuable and great fun. Check out his The Chronicles of Strength web site, and like Pat's Facebook page for daily tips and great info. You can follow him on Twitter too.

Coach Al

 

We hope you enjoy our podcasts and find them useful for your training and racing. Any questions? Hit us up in the comments, or on Facebook. Let us know of any topics you would like us to cover too.

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