Archive for coach al lyman

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. And....you'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!

It ISN’T About The Plan.

 

Recently, at a race where I was volunteering, I was chatting with a fellow runner. A week earlier he had finished his second 100-mile ultra.  He was feeling very good about having finished, and why not? Much like finishing an Ironman, getting to the FINISH line at a race of that magnitude is awesome and always worth celebrating! Despite his glow at having finished, I sensed there was something else bugging him...

As we talked, I began to understand why he was frowning. He acknowledged that yes, he really struggled during the race - his finish time was far slower than he was capable of. The primary reason, he felt, was an injury that had plagued him for most of the winter and spring, which prevented him from training as he had hoped or wanted.

His mood seemed to lift as he excitedly told me that in order to rectify things, he had already begun work on developing what he felt would be his perfect training week.  With a childlike grin, he described this "new" training routine as having the ideal blend of hill work, speed work, and long runs.

I chuckled to myself as I listened because I wasn't surprised. This was the same old blah-blah BS from a recently injured runner who, while well intentioned, was on the completely wrong path.

I said something to myself I often say in these situations: he simply doesn't know what he doesn't know.  

Now don't get me wrong. This is a smart guy who has been running for only a few years, and it is clear he has talent. Unfortunately, he's unknowingly missing THE most important elements which will help him truly reach his potential.  And he's not looking in the right places to get the answers he needs either. Training plans don't cause injury, nor do they lead directly to success. Both injury and success are essentially up to us.

What he doesn't know that I DO...and what I want to share with you today, is the secret to reaching your potential has very little to do with "the plan."  In fact, it has everything to do with the "little things" that most athletes don't pay much attention to.   

Honestly, of the dozens of things I speak about daily with the athletes I coach, depending upon their experience and where they are on their training journey, only a small percentage have to do with "the plan."

So, what are those "little things" that this runner might want to consider beyond obvious (to me) things like patience, recovery, daily nutrition, mindfulness, focus, and life balance/stress, to name a few?

Perhaps the most important is movement quality.

What do I mean?

Why not start by learning what the root-cause of the injury was. Only then can you get rid of it once and for all.   

Many athletes and sports medicine professionals alike mistakenly believe that rest cures all. That's just wrong. Just because you rest, the root-cause doesn't magically disappear.

Many struggle chronically with the same recurring injury, often from one year to the next, because they never learn the root-cause! That's just dumb.

It was clear this runner had no clue as to the root-cause of his injury. Here's some of what he should have considered:

  • Has he lacked muscle balance, appropriate mobility/flexibility, or core stability?
  • Had prior injuries set his body on a path of increasing compensation which ultimately led to this injury?
  • What about his foot mechanics - is he wearing the most appropriate running shoe for his unique needs?
  • Did he simply need to be functionally stronger in order to handle the training load?

My advice to him, had he asked me (he didn't), would have been to start by resisting the urge to only treat the symptoms. Instead, get smarter and learn what the cause actually is.

So here's the deal folks: Yes, a well-conceived, progressive, personalized training plan is an important part of an overall training program, but it is not the most important part.

When some of the important elements mentioned above, including arguably THE most important (movement quality) are in place and are monitored carefully and regularly, THEN and only then, is it time to worry about "the plan." But not before.

Live and learn.

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al

Do Skills Really Matter?

Happy Monday!

So listen, I know you work hard every day, but I have to ask, is all that hard work you are doing, actually working?

For example, do you consider the training you do "practice" with the goal of improving your skills, or do you simply want to get in a "workout"?

Do you consistently and objectively assess your individual skill level in the training and racing you do, and consider how those skills or lack thereof, might be helping or hindering your ability to reach your ultimate potential?

Have you ever considered the idea that your skill-set might be one reason why you're frequently injured, or simply NOT improving as you had hoped?

The fact is, if you're just hammering away every day seeking to improve  your "fitness" with only a superficial regard for skills, the only thing you'll improve is your ability to struggle.

One of my early mentors in swimming was Haydn Wooley from Future Dreams Swimming. Haydn once said something to me that so resonated with me, I made it a central theme in all I do as a coach and athlete: "skill sets the upper limit for how far your fitness will take you."  

Looking back on my years working in a gait analysis lab and studying human movement, I feel confident going even further than Haydn did, and will say that poor skills not only limit fitness growth potential, poor skills also wear out joints, cause compensation and imbalance which inevitably leads to injury, and even sucks some of the joy out of training.

Think about it folks: Virtually every single thing you do as an athlete, physical and mental, is a skill.  Every. Single. Thing.

Most of the athletes who read this are way too impatient to take the time, use the brain power, or get the objective feedback that's needed to truly and consistently improve their skill set. Anxious to "get a workout in," they groove bad habits and reinforce less-efficient neural engrams with poor practice. In the process, they teach their body and mind how to struggle a little better, and sadly, limit their ultimate potential for growth.

Now you may say, "I'm not really that good anyway - I am not as talented as those at the front of the race."

To me, that is the worst kind of thinking.

The truth of the matter is, none of us really knows just how good we can become.

Sure, it is safer to tell yourself you "can't be that good," and settle into that more comfortable mediocrity.

For me and for the athletes I work with, I'd much rather choose the path where there are no limits to my potential.

I encourage you to do the same!

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al

ps: in future posts, I'll have more specific tips on improving skills, especially in areas that you never thought were skills! Stay tuned.

pss: Yes, in case you were wondering, Haydn is a GREAT coach. Among the very best in the biz - highly recommended!

What Is Your MOST Important Tool For Recovery?

My short post yesterday on 1 day of scheduled rest each week really got many of you thinking, at least based upon the feedback I received.

(Yes, I love hearing from you, so keep your replies and emails coming!)

As time goes on, I'll share lots more about both recovery and rest. After all, assuming the training is done, isn't recovery the most important element to ensure you improve?

Today I want to get right to it and talk about the ONE most important tool in your arsenal to ensure you recover quickly and effectively.

I'm sure you all have your favorite tool, right?

So, is it your foam roller?

What about regular massage?

How about more sleep or better nutrition?

A secret supplement perhaps?

............

Nope, the MOST important tool isn't ANY of those.  

Sure, a foam roller can help on a peripheral level with superficial myofascial release. And yes, without a doubt sleep is important; we all get too little of it. And massage? I think it's incredibly valuable, especially as you age and the miles pile up (lots more on that in future posts).

As much as you might be in love with your foam roller or your massage therapist, none are your MOST IMPORTANT tool for recovery.

So, I know you're asking.....what is?

The answer is....

YOU.  

That is, it is your own body - how your own body "moves" - it is your individual movement quality.

If you don't think of your own movement quality as a tool for recovery, you're missing out on the most important element to helping you stay young and recover faster!

Simply put:

If you are imbalanced or unstable, you're likely shredding smaller muscles as they attempt to do the work designed for the larger prime movers. 

If you lack the mobility or flexibility you need, you're pushing the end range of muscles and tearing them up, causing excessive micro-trauma with each step or pedal stroke. And you're likely not attenuating ground-reaction-forces or gravity very effectively, increasing the "pounding" you experience with each step you run.

In my experience, the athletes with poor movement quality are in love with their foam roller because they beat themselves up so much in each and every workout! (Not good!)

They also never seem to fully recover or reach their potential, and also tend to end up injured.

Your most important recovery "tool" is you and your own individual movement quality. 

Think about that the next time you're dying to foam roll or wondering why it takes you days to return to quality training after a hard effort.

Or if you're struggling with chronic injury despite using that darn foam roller every day!

Have a great weekend everyone!

~Coach Al

Are You Getting Enough Rest?

So let me ask....

Are you training 7-days a week, thinking that you need to hit-it every day in order to improve?

Do you feel you get enough rest in between training sessions, or that a complete day of rest is only for novices?

Does training every day make you feel "tough"?

If any of the above describes you, beware. Worst case, you may be slowly drilling yourself into a hole that you'll have a difficult time getting out of. Best case, you're probably not recovering enough to be able to put the maximum amount of effort into your most important training sessions, which are ultimately what lifts your fitness to a higher level.

In my book, 1 full rest day each and every week is absolutely mandatory, regardless of your level of experience or what races you may be training for. The mental and physical break can help make your other training days more productive and ultimately help you lift fitness and boost recovery beyond a level it might have other wise been at.  And it might help you stay free from injury too!

Remember, your next training session is only as good as your last recovery.

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al

 

What Is Your Margin Of Error?

Whether we like it or not, when it comes to things like movement quality (mobility, flexibility, stability), running shoe choice, and training volume or intensity, to name a few, each of us has our own "margin of error."

That margin tends to lessen as we get older, as the miles pile up, or if we'd had a previous injury.

What does it mean for you?

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition I'm referring to is: If you have little or no margin for / of error, it means that you need to be very careful not to make mistakes. If you have a greater margin for/of error, you can be less careful.

The principles are the same for everyone. Violate one of those principles, and you'll end up injured, sick, or over-trained. And frustrated.

One lesson I learned the hard way and am often reminded of, is...

...it's when we feel most bulletproof and resilient that we are, in fact, most vulnerable.

Vulnerable to something as frustrating as an injury or tweak at the worst possible time (such as right before an important race), or worse, long lasting irreparable damage to our body...

Do YOU KNOW what your margin of error is?

~Coach Al

 

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