Archive for coach al lyman

Don’t Forsake Long Term Improvement for Short Term Gain

Coach Al sharing his positive vibe!

Coach Al sharing his positive vibe!

Happy Friday!

One of the benefits of having been a coach for so many years, is recognizing certain trends that are typical for developing triathletes, whether they are the first-timer, or the seasoned weekend warrior, or even the experienced age grouper trying to get onto the podium.

One of the most common trends I see in many developing triathletes (and I think it’s probably human nature to some degree) is the tendency to self-sabotage their ultimate chance for potential massive long term improvements in order to reach some short term gains.  

The best example of this is giving up on perfecting stroke technique in the water too early, by logging yards and yards (in the pool or open water) in order to build swimming “fitness.”

One thing I’ve said repeatedly to novices who asked (so many times it has made my head spin): Once you KNOW you can finish a swim (especially with the aid of your wetsuit), why not put all of your energy and focus into setting up your long term gain in swimming ability by working on skills relentlessly.

While many nod their heads in agreement, when push comes to shove, most forsake that advice and that approach and just go swim, mile upon mile, grooving poor skills and trashing their shoulders in the process. When they finally decide in the years to come, that their abilities are subpar and they want to go faster, they’ll be faced with the fact that they’ve now hard-wired that poor form to the point where change is nearly impossible to achieve.

What are some other examples?

  • Building running mileage with the primary goal being to make that running log look impressive (from a mileage point of view, because that’s how you get better, right?), without first identifying imbalances and weaknesses in the body and addressing them head-on.
  • Signing up for long course races (70.3 or 140.6) without first developing a solid foundation of fundamental skills and experience at the shorter distances.
  • Spending $5,000 or more on a state-of-the-art triathlon bike before even owning a road or mountain bike. And getting that “cool bike” without even possessing basic bike handling skills or experience.

There's a lot of reasons why so many athletes tend to approach things this way. Some feel they need more confidence to just "complete" the distance, and others, fired up by their newfound enthusiasm for the sport, think they can jump on the "fast track" to improvements in durability and speed. I am willing to bet that many folks just plain downplay their own potential for improvement, or sell themselves very short when it comes to how good they can actually be!

Do you REALLY know how good you can be? NO, you don't.

Truly GREAT performances (YOUR best possible potential, no one elses) are built upon a solid foundation and mastery of the basics and fundamentals.  

It takes a long time to truly get good.  And that's one reason why I encourage folks to really embrace the process and enjoy the journey.

Of course, I’m often reminded that I don’t think the way that most people think.

I guess that is true.

The thing is, most people who achieve LONG TERM success and absolutely explode their potential, going much further and getting much better and faster than they ever dreamed was possible, do it because they think like I think.

So who do you want to be?

Do you want easily achieved short term “confidence” building, or true, long term, massive gains in performance potential?

It’s up to you.

Have a great weekend everyone!
~Coach Al

 

Are You Doing The Right Race Specific Training?

 

Now that spring has arrived here in the northeast (snow flurries yesterday not withstanding!), it is time for you to start looking closely at the specific demands of your upcoming races.

A smart training progression does build from more general fitness elements, to very specific race demands. Preparing in the right way can make the difference between a disappointing finish or a new PR!

 

 

Have a great weekend everyone!
~Coach Al


ps: do you have questions on how YOU could better prepare for your upcoming events? Ping me on our Facebook page.

pss: don't forget our upcoming Trail Camp and Retreat with Debbie Livingston! There are still a few spots left.

cedarlakecamp

 

Guest Blog from Triathlete Paul Scholz

Team PAP_CLTeam Pursuit Athletic Performance – the virtual key to unlocking anybody and everybody's potential.

I really don't want you to read any further … because I am going to tell you the secrets.

This information will make the competition more intense and allow more people to compete and complete any triathlon or running race in the US.

Let me tell you about our team, our coach/doc combo, my teammates, and my short story.

Team PAP

Our team philosophy is focused around building a solid foundation of Mobility, Flexibility, and Stability before moving on to the Functional Strength and Sport-specific Training.  This very individualized approach to uncovering areas to work on makes the virtual nature of the team and team coaching work very well.

Coach Al Lyman and Doc Kurt Strecker

These two professionals specialize in assessing each individual who contacts them and through a series of questionnaires and on-line discussions, Skype sessions, and/or talking on the phone they help you find your first step. Improvement is about making one step at a time and ensuring that your next step/choice/decision is a good one. Through authentic and honest feedback and individual thought and response they will help every single individual uncover their particular weaknesses and guide you through a process of working on them. A series of small incremental steps can make huge gains in a very short period of time – for anyone and everyone.

Team Pursuit Athletic Performance Members

We all have very different backgrounds, live all over the US and Europe, have different types of jobs, and very different skills.

What we have in common are the following three things:

  1. A passion for sport as a lifelong part of our lives.
  2. A commitment for growing every day, one step at a time.
  3. A need to address some weakness (usually related to running) and/or fear (usually related to the swimming leg).

I don't know how I know these three things to be facts, because honestly I don't really even know my teammates very well. We do communicate through an on-line forum and Facebook and even occasionally race together when we hit them at the same time.

What I do know, is they are true.

Here’s a representative snapshot of our team:

  • We have a nationally ranked elite woman’s ultra-runner, mother of two, and business woman
  • We have a 5 or 6–time (we lost count) female Iroman age-group World Champion who has three small children and she helps run a small business
  • We have first time runners
  • We have first time triathletes
  • We have male and female Ironman and Half-Ironman age groupers who have qualified for and competed in both Ironman and Half-Ironman World Championships
  • We have people who are learning to swim AND nationally ranked former collegiate swimmers
  • We have former competitive bike racers and people who have not ridden a bike since they were a kid

My short story – one example of how Coach Al and Doc Strecker have impacted me:

I found "PAP" in July of 2012, after a physical breakdown while trying to complete Ironman Coeur D'Alene in 2012.  I had done over 120 triathlons over almost 27 years by that point in my career. That next spring I had a 30 minute "PR" in my first half ironman race nine months after starting with PAP.  But this note is not about my story, rather about how Coach Al and Doc have changed my life in triathlon and work.

Life happens to all of us, and my story of transformative change started early on a Sunday morning July 27th 2014, click on the short video story of my journey since then and the impact Al and Kurt have had on my life.

So what I want you to know, is that regardless of whether you live in Timbuktu, Kansas, Maine, Florida, Europe or anywhere else -- or if you want to be world champion, a weekend warrior, compete into your 70's, or just complete a 10K, triathlon of any distance, or an ultra-marathon -- check out the Pursuit Athletic Performance website or contact Coach Al Lyman or Doc Kurt Strecker.

Get started NOW on transforming your racing, training, and your life.

Have a great week everyone!
~Paul Scholz (teammate, triathlete, father, husband, and change agent)

 

Can You Be Better Than Your Best?

Coach Al sharing his positive vibe!

Coach Al sharing his positive vibe!

Happy Friday! I thought I'd share a tidbit with all of you this morning, that has drawn some interest on Facebook...

An ironman triathlete I coach, in her unending quest to be a better athlete and achieve her (for now) ultimate goal of qualifying for Hawaii, asked a question on her Facebook wall, hoping that all of her friends might chime in with a "golden nugget" or two of wisdom, that would help her answer THE question.  And what was it that she posted?

"I am looking for a way to be better than my best."

Ironically, we had discussed this topic in an email exchange prior to her posting this, but she was looking for more!  Yes, she is determined!  And I love that!

So, to get to the point, I read through a litany of responses from her friends, and was amused to read all of the things that had been posted, such as "try P90x," or "dig deeper," and even "let me know when you find the answer."  At the end of a long string of responses, I posted a single word: "interesting"....

Of course, this athlete posted something which in hindsight, I should have expected: "Give me your thoughts, Coach!"

Since she had reached out and asked for more thoughts, I chimed in. Here's what I posted on her wall; I hope you all find what I had to say valuable AND interesting, and I hope you find something which applies, as you ALL embark on your own hero's journey....
---------
I found all of the comments your friends left, as quite interesting, that's all. You work very hard, certainly as hard or harder than many athletes out there whom you're competing with for a coveted Hawaii slot. "Digging deeper," or trying some fad training program that is sold to the gullible masses, not as a way to "train" smarter as an athlete, but as some kind of magical "workout," designed to carve a "six pack" and make you like yourself more when you look in the mirror, is NOT the answer. In my humble opinion, what you are looking for is a way to short circuit the "grind." The process. And in my experience, that rarely - ever - works.

What it DOES often do, however, is cause us to be impatient, and look for an easier, or in your case, "better" way.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it) it takes a long time to get good in this sport, and we ALL have our own unique adaptive abilities, which we aren't in control of, as hard as that is to accept sometimes. Rather than look for ways to press on the gas pedal HARDER, why don't you step back, and with respect to your LIFE, take your foot off the brake.

In other words, try to see if there is a way to enjoy the process, the grind, more, by not looking beyond the task at hand.

Look for more ways to balance your life away from the sport, and then what might be the hardest thing of all - accept that IF YOU continue to train smart, work hard, recover harder, and stay the course, that you will get where you want to go......because you will.

The "problem," is that you don't get to hand pick when that will be. Life isn't like that.

Mental toughness isn't just about gritting your teeth and hammering more.....it's also about being focused on the task at hand, and not looking for any specific result from the process, EXCEPT for the process itself.

Smell the roses. Enjoy the grind. Be present. Learn every day, about yourself and about the sport. Accept that you CAN'T control much of the results of what you do, despite your desire to. And while you are working very hard, and recovering as hard as you work, just let everything else take care of itself..."
---------
Have a great weekend 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 coachal@pursuitfitness.com.

Have a great day!

~Coach Al

 

In Training, Be Purposeful!

"For purposes of action nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will."

--Henri Frederic Amiel, 1821-1881, Swiss Philosopher, Poet, Critic

 

"It is a psychological fact that you can influence your environment and thoughts. If you do so consciously and with high purpose, you can change your habits and attitudes for the better."

 --source unknown

 "Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one's aim." 

--John D. Rockefeller, 1839-1937, American Industrialist, Philanthropist, Founder Exxon And last but not least!:

"Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary."

 --Sir Cecil Beaton, 1904-1980, British-born American Photographer

shadow-ornament
Read More→

Monday Excuse Busters!

 

10153250_10203154876609771_265784320_nHello everyone. Coach Al here! In a relentless effort to inspire and motivate you to reach your true potential, I've put down some common thoughts that many of us naturally have from time to time, and I follow with my reaction. Do any of the below 'themes' or excuses sound familiar?  Read on...

 

"I not sure I have what it takes to finish an Ironman or"...."You see, I could never"...
-------------

Why not? What do you mean, "I could never"? Of course you could. You could indeed. If it can be done, you can do it. Finishing an IM or even an Olympic distance race has been done the "first" time by many before you, who are just LIKE you.  You've got to want it, of course. And if you want it enough, you'll do it. "I could never" is usually said wistfully, meaning "I wish I could, but I can't." That's preposterous. You can if you really want to. Free yourself from your own limitations. What do you want to do? What will fulfill the enormous potential of your life? Certainly not hiding behind "I could never." You are capable of truly extraordinary accomplishments. You can do whatever you decide you're going to do. You can find a way. Have the courage to live your possibilities.

 

"I'm overwhelmed with too many responsibilties and I"...

--------------
Sometimes you're just so overwhelmed, you feel like throwing up your hands or crawling into a hole and curling up in the fetal position. WRONG!  That's exactly what you must not do. When you're overwhelmed, that's all the more reason to start taking the actions that will rectify your situation. When you're overwhelmed is when you're the most frustrated and the most motivated. Now is your chance to really take action with dedication and commitment. Don't blow the opportunity. The frustration you feel is good, solid positive energy waiting to be released. If it is not released in a positive direction, there is a very big danger that it will become destructive energy. Use that frustration to your advantage. You're overwhelmed?  GREAT! Do something about it right now. Quit complaining and start taking positive action. If you're overwhelmed it means that there are plenty of things which can be done, things which will most likely make a difference very quickly. Pick something and start doing it right now. As soon as you get busy your frustration will start pushing you forward.

 

"I'm just an average athlete and not very experienced, and I don't know if I really deserve to succeed"...

------------------------------
You are just as good, just as worthy, just as valuable as anyone. No one can intimidate you, no matter what kind of car they drive, or what their business card says, or how big their house is, or what their "personal best" time for an Ironman is. No one is better than you. You are the best there is. Inside you is the potential to do, or be, or have anything you desire. No one has more than that. Some may have progressed farther down the path at this moment, but that doesn't make them any better than you. If you start to take action right now, you will be working your way down that same path. No matter what anyone says, or does, no matter what your situation -- personal, financial, social or otherwise -- you can choose to live your life in your own way. And there is no greater success than that. But you must be the one to achieve your success. Though no one can hold you back if you're determined enough, by the same token no one can do it for you. You've got to step up to the challenge, believe in yourself, and do what it takes. Right now is a great time to start. You deserve the best that life has to offer. Do whatever needs to be done to make it happen.

 

"It's just too hard"...

------------------------------
Anything worth having, or doing, or being, requires effort. What if you could have whatever you wanted, again and again, just by snapping your fingers? And what if everyone else could, as well? How much would you value and appreciate the things you had? What would you do with your life, if there was no need for effort? Where would you find meaning, what would give you satisfaction?  The value of effort is not only in what it produces, but also in what it demands of you. The greatest opportunity in life is not for a free ride. The greatest opportunity is to be fully challenged, and to meet challenge with effective effort. The things we value are the things to which, and for which, we give of ourselves. There is no way around that. Some of the hardest working people are those who are wealthy enough that they don't need the money. Some of the most dedicated athletes who constantly strive to get better are also the most talented.  However, both of these types of people know they do need the effort, and the accomplishment, and the challenge. We all do. Without it, life is shallow and empty. Make the effort. Do it now. Start today to meet the challenge.  Remember, if it was easy to do what 'we' do, then everyone would do it.  But that's what makes that finish line such a special place............

 

"I'm just really too tired"...
-----------
What are you tired of? Doing nothing can be just as tiring as taking action. If you're physically tired, then go to bed and get a good night's rest. Then get up in the morning and get started. Whatever you do today, you'll be tired tonight. You can be tired after a day of effective effort and accomplishment, or you can be tired after a day of getting nowhere.  The choice is yours. If you're going to be tired anyway, it makes sense to get something out of it. To put forth your best effort, to move in the direction of your goals, to make a difference, to make a life of excellence for yourself and the world around you. Take action toward an exciting goal, and instead of being tired you'll be exhilarated.

 

"It won't matter anyway"...
-----------
What you do, matters. You can make a difference if you choose to do so. If there's something that needs to be done, doing it will make a difference.  You know that. Thinking that is won't matter is just a petty rationalization. Of course it matters. If it doesn't then find something else that does. You are a creative, effective person who is full of possibilities. The job at hand or your most immediate racing goals may not be the most important thing in the history of the world, but if it gets you into action, then it matters very much. Because no matter how small the effort or consequence, it is a start. It revs up the momentum of the intelligent, creative, productive, and energetic person that you are. And once you get going, there's no telling how much you can accomplish. It all starts with taking action. Don't hide behind the thinking that it won't matter. Jump in and get started. It does matter. Do it now.

 

"I'm afraid I might fail"...

-----------
You can never fail -- if you just show up you will always succeed in producing results. If you don't like the results you are producing, then you can learn from your mistakes and change your strategy. By taking action, you will not fail. In fact, the only way to fail is to not take action. By taking action you always achieve a result. The result could very well be the achievement of your goal, or it could be a learning experience that will eventually bring you to the goal you desire. But you never fail. After Thomas Edison had tried 9,999 times to perfect the light bulb, and had not succeeded, someone asked him if he was going to have 10,000 failures. Edison replied that he had not failed -- that he had just discovered another way not to invent the electric light. Failure is simply not an option. Everything you do has a result and eventually those results will lead you to the achievement of whatever you desire.

 

"I'm too busy"...

----------
What are you accomplishing with all that busy-ness? Simply being "busy" gets you nowhere. Stop being busy, evaluate your priorities, and start taking focused, directed action. Anyone can be busy, but so what? Accomplish requires more than just burning up time. Accomplishment demands action and results. Stop being busy and start doing something today.  Remember, thousands of athletes just like you have daily responsibilities, and all of them manage to get the job done.  Refine your priority list, throw out the garbage, and focus on that which will bring the results you desire.....................

 

"I can always try "it" later"...

----------
Yes, that's right. You can always try it later. And when it's later, you'll probably say the same thing. Nothing gets done by putting it off until later. The fact is, you are alive and making decisions right now. Right now is the period of time over which you have control. Right now is the time that's available for you to take action. Action that is not taken now, doesn't get taken. As you're reading this, try to do something next week. Really put out all the effort you can to get something done next
week. Were you able to do it? Of course not. Because next week isn't here, and it never will be. It is always now, and now is the time to act. Do it now and it will get done.

 

"I've already tried that"...

----------
Trying is not enough. The only way to accomplish something is to do it, to do whatever it takes, to keep making the effort until the goal is reached. If at first you don't succeed, you've still learned something valuable about how to proceed. If you've already tried, that's fine. Keep going. Make use of that experience. You've got a valuable perspective on what works and what doesn't. Stop trying and start taking whatever action is necessary to reach the goal. Learn from the mistakes and appointments. Keep going. Start right now to really make it happen.

 

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST!.....drum roll please!  :)

"But why not"...
----------
Whatever you wish to accomplish, there's no reason why you cannot start right now. When you're truly committed to reaching your goal, there will always be something that can be done right away, to get started. Action will get you where you want to go. Excuses will hold you back. The choice is yours. What are you waiting for?

Make it a great day!

~Coach Al

Baby Steps: A Runners Guide to Feet, Shoes and Dating (FREE Ebook)

pursuit athletic performanceThis little piggy...hurts! We know how it is. Feet can often be a source of big trouble for runners. Here is a direct download link for Baby Steps: A Runners Guide to Feet, Shoes and Dating, our free (somewhat humorous) guide to your feet, how they work, and how to--finally--pick the running shoe that's right for YOU.

Orthotics? We cover that. Dating? Well, really, not so much! 😎

Here's an excerpt:

Pick up any running or triathlon magazine and you won't read too many pages before a bold advertisement displays the shoes you really need if you truly want to be your best. Some claim to make you faster or prevent injury, others tout the benefits of "running more naturally." One thing's for sure, all of them look cool. And they come in the flashiest colors. And there's some (paid) uber-athlete sporting said (complimentary) foot gear. You know the one. She just posted a new course record at IM Antarctica. She is sweaty and sexy and appears to have been chiseled from a solid block of marble. Not some cheap, domestic marble, mind you, the expensive Italian kind.

You, too, could look like this, race like this and maybe even get a date on Friday night if you wore these shoes.

Then we get serious, and take you on a tour of your foot function, foot form, and mechanics, leading you to figure out how to pick the right running shoe. Hit us up with comments or questions here in the blog or on our Facebook page. Enjoy and let us know what you think!

Coach Al Asks: Fast Athletes, Where Is The Speed Coming From?

pursuit athletic performanceLet's talk today about fast athletes. They are the speediest competitors who wow many of us with their superior athletic performances--triathletes who race Ironman in 10 hours or less, runners who break 40 minutes in a local 10K, and marathoners who complete the distance in well under 3 hours. These athletes are gifted, no doubt. Much of that gift lies in winning a genetic lottery that endowed them with a Mack truck like engine that is often housed in a Volkswagen body.

In my work as a coach and as a movement and strength expert, I look at these fast competitors a little differently. And I have some questions. The first among them is...

Where is the speed coming from?

What do I mean?

If a very fast athlete is relying solely on their genetic gift of being able to consume tons of oxygen and race very quickly because of that engine, but they ARE NOT MOVING WELL, are not strong, and present with some level of dysfunction and compensation, I contend they are NOT PERFORMING AT THEIR ULTIMATE POTENTIAL.

That's right. If a nine hour Ironman finisher comes into out gait analysis lab and presents with dysfunction and compensation in their movement patterns, has little demonstrable functional strength, I say that same athlete can go A LOT FASTER. I would bet they could go 8:30, maybe even faster! But without a frame that is truly functionally strong and built under the umbrella of quality movement, the chassis of this gifted athlete will absolutely break down. Top performers often compensate better and can perform with dysfunction for longer than athletes with fewer natural gifts, but injury is in the offing. Once the chassis is in pieces, the athlete's enormous engine will no longer be able to apply the same force to the ground or the pedal stroke. When that inevitably happens, what you see is those fast times ebb, plateaus begin to set in, and predictable injuries start to creep in, first as a minor "tweak" or niggle, and soon as outright pain. Longevity in the sport rapidly declines. Athletes of all abilities seem to accept this as inevitable and normal. It is neither.

By contrast, if an athlete with a much smaller engine and much less innate natural speed and talent moves well and stays on top of that quality movement to eliminate dysfunction and compensation while becoming more functionally strong, stable, and balanced, that athlete can get better and better over the track of many years. The fast athlete can do the same, but often feel they are already at the pointy edge of their ability when, in fact, there is room for continued significant improvement.

Of course there is a limit to how fast any athlete can go. Improvement is never infinite. But I believe most athletes, even the most gifted among us, sell themselves short. At the end of the day, what I ask to myself is, how much faster can that athlete be?

So to all athletes--including the fastest among us--I say this...

Take the time to learn what it takes to unlock true speed and powerful performance. You can begin your study with our free ebook, Unleash Your Potential 101. Invest in a gait analysis by a reputable provider, then commit to their prescription for better movement quality and functional strength development. Understand worn out, destructive training paradigms. Find a coach who will properly design progressive, challenging, and effective training--but with a focus on health, durability, and results over the long term.

By taking the steps outlined above ANY athlete--whether Kona bound or at the back of the pack--can experience the thrill of athletic triumph far longer than they ever dreamed possible.

Ask Coach Al: Nutrition Made Simple

Hello Everyone!

Coach Al Lyman, Pursuit Athletic Performance, Gait Analysis and Functional Strength Training Expert

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKS

Coach Al here with a post inspired by a conversation a couple of my athletes were having regarding nutrition. Their talk began as a lament about how confusing it is to navigate all the conflicting information about how to eat well and fuel for performance.

There is no doubt that nutrition can SEEM complicated with all of the information "out there." My advice always is to simplify as much as possible. With that thought in mind, let's let's look at some of the topics my athletes were confused about and distill things down to the basics.

The basics of good nutrition and healthy eating are simple:

a. Avoid processed, packaged, and sugary foods as much as possible.

b. The great majority of what you eat should be fruits and veggies.

c. Good fats are not only good, they're great. Has anyone ever asked you how much "fat" you ate today? They should. It is essential to get in good fats.

d. Eat more calories earlier in the day, and less as the days goes on (king, queen, pauper).

e. If you're an endurance athlete, you NEED carbohydrates! Perhaps as much as 60-70% of calories, mostly from fruits and vegetables.

Paleo
My thoughts on Paleo? If eating a Paleo diet means you're eating more fruits and veggies, and less junk and starch, then yes, it is a good thing.

Is Gluten Bad?

If you experiment and eliminate gluten from your diet and you feel better, then it, perhaps, may be "bad" for you. If you consume it on occasion and you don't notice adverse effects, it is likely perfectly fine for you to eat.

Is Rice Good?

YOU NEED carbs, and rice can be a good source of carbohydrate. Sports physiologist Allen Lim wants the cyclists he works with to be fully glycogen loaded when training, prompting him to recommend a source of concentrated calories from carbs as a staple in the diet. Rice fills that bill perfectly.

Dairy?

It is my personal opinion that it is not normal to drink the milk of another animal. Let me reiterate--that is my point of view. As with gluten, if you eliminate it from your diet and and you feel better, there is your answer. We don't necessarily NEED dairy to get enough in the way of minerals and protein. Much of our needs for those things can come from fruits and veggies--leafy greens especially.

Bread?

It's about balance. In moderate quantities, whole-grain breads can be a good source of carbs. Sometimes we can go overboard and eat way too much carbohydrate in this form. A couple of slices with a sandwich? No harm in that.

Protein?

In this day and age, athletes have become more aware of their protein intake than ever before. I would venture to say we have been "sold" on the benefits of a high-protein diet, both by the companies selling us protein powders of every description, as well as from the diet companies selling us on the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet. My opinion is that we may be over doing our intake of protein, and maybe sacrificing the carbohydrates necessary for energy, as well as the good fats necessary for optimal health

Quality proteins, which can be found in many whole foods as part of a balanced healthy diet, should make up no more than about 25% of total daily calories for the typical hard training athlete. Individual needs may vary, of course. Excessive protein intake WILL NOT make you recover faster, or get "ripped" more easily, despite what the bodybuilding world would have you believe. Great recovery from training happens for many reasons, including making sure not to deplete carbohydrate completely (glycogen saturation). Recovery is also greatly enhanced by having a strong, stable body that moves well so you're not routinely shredding smaller muscles as they try to do the job of larger ones. Sleep is hugely important, as is a smart training progression. All of these things, and more, add up to great recovery. It is not about pounding large amounts of protein powders, seeking the magic bullet for fast results!

Inflammation

It seems clear to me that ANY kind of food that increases inflammation and/or increases the acidity of the body--starches, processed foods, sugars, and "bad" fats--is to be avoided as much as possible.

Keeping It Simple

We could go in depth for days on any one of the topics outlined above. But the purpose of this post is to help you keep it simple, and, therefore, executable in your life. The keys are:

  • Eat fruits and veggies of all varieties and in copious amounts.
  • Don't overdo protein intake at the expense of good carbohydrates.
  • Get plenty of good fats from nuts, seeds, fish, etc.
  • Time your meals to limit insulin and maximize fat burning.

Pretty simple.

Easy? Not always.

Shopping for fresh foods is work, and most quality foods are more expensive. Breaking habits and sticking to a plan, even if you know it is best for you, can be a challenge. Experimenting to find what works best for YOU, is also sometimes a chore.

Is this all worth it in the end?

WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT.

In my opinion, we really are what we eat. What we eat matters more than what kind of exercise take part in when considering long term health and longevity.

Hope this helps. Coming soon, I will be posting more in-depth information about the issue of good fats in the diet.

Get strong, train smart, eat well!

-Coach Al