Archive for coach al

058: Mindsets for Optimal Performance with Stanford Researcher, Omid Fotuhi [Podcast]

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Dr. Omid Fotuhi

Dr. Omid Fotuhi

Today I am really psyched to welcome onto the podcast, Dr. Omid Fotuhi, triathlete and project manager for the Stanford University Interventions Lab. I truly believe the topics we discuss on the podcast today will have a profound impact on anyone listening in. The group of researchers led by Dr. Fotuhi are doing absolutely state-of-the-art research on mindset and performance!

Dr. Fotuhi and his colleagues at the Interventions Lab describe their research as "focused on identifying psychological barriers that impede performance and well-being, and leveraging those insights to create theory-driven interventions that target those barriers." Here's a link to a short video that provides a brief look at the work they do.

In this podcast, Dr. Fotuhi shares his experience and research on topics such as:

  • What are some of the most common patterns of beliefs and thoughts that we all have, and how do those correlate with our performance?
  • Do seemingly inconsequential events have an impact on how we see ourselves and therefore how we perform in races?
  • How is our own motivation to train and race to our ultimate potential impacted by how we see ourselves and the world?
  • Having a fixed or growth mindset: Which is more likely to lead to reaching one's potential?
  • What can we do to improve our ability to persist in the face of adversity, to experience less negativity and perform better at our races?
  • And much more!

I personally found our discussion incredibly valuable, especially from a coaching perspective. I learned a lot and encourage everyone to listen in. This is powerful stuff!

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al 

057: All Things Trail Running with Ethan Veneklasen and Deborah Livingston [Podcast]

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UltraRunnerPodcast co-host, Ethan Veneklasen

UltraRunnerPodcast co-host, Ethan Veneklasen

Deb and Coach Al, at their Cedar Lake Trail Camp and Retreat this past weekend!

Deb and Coach Al, at their Cedar Lake Trail Camp and Retreat this past weekend!

Today I am excited to welcome Ethan Veneklasen and Debbie Livingston to the podcast. Without a doubt, this was one of my favorite podcasts to date!

I had the opportunity to connect with Ethan after this year's Miwok 100k. All three of us were there to race. Miwok is one of those old classic races in the ultra-running world. Held on May 2nd in the Marin Headlands outside of San Francisco, Debbie and Ethan ran a little bit of the course together that day.

Ethan is one of those great guys who seems to know everyone in the ultra-running world! Besides being a co-host of the ever popular ultra runner podcast (over 150k downloads per month!), he's also a Hoka One One and VFuel ambassador.

As for "Deb," anyone who listens to this podcast knows who she is.  Mom and wife, elite ultra-runner, coach, yoga teacher and steward of all things mother-nature and the environment, she was last on the podcast with me when we visited with James Varner and the Trail Running Film Festival back in February.

In June of last year, I did an interview with Debbie for the podcast. It's a fantastic chat where she shares some of her secrets to success, as well as discussing those things (like trail running, ultra-running, caring for the environment, her family) that are most important to her! She's one of the best!

In this podcast, we have a really informative and fun discussion on topics such as:

  • How far the unique sport of ultra-running has come in such a short period of time.
  • Why they feel trail running is special, unique, and so very different from road running.
  • Their "story" and some of the important things that have changed their lives and brought them to this point in time. Ethan has a unique one - you can read more about it here.
  • Miwok 100k: This was Ethan's 2nd try, after a DNF last year. Debbie ended up as 4th woman! What makes this race so amazing and special?!
  • Tips for those who want to get started in the sport. You CAN do it! :)
  • And much more!

I'd like both of them for joining me today. I sincerely hope you enjoy the chat and are inspired to get out there and hit the trails! All the best!

~Coach Al 

056: Visiting with Podiatrist Rebecca Rushton [Podcast]

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Rebecca Rushton BSC, author of the Advanced Guide to Blister Prevention

Rebecca Rushton, BSc, author of the Advanced Guide to Blister Prevention

Today I am pleased to welcome podiatrist Rebecca Rushton of Esperance Podiatry in Esperance, Australia, to the podcast. Without a doubt, Rebecca is one of the world's foremost experts on blisters!

Now if you've never struggled with a blister, then the information she has to share might not seem all that important. I believe however, that at some point in the future, each and every runner or endurance athlete will experience a blister, and probably at the worst possible time. What we can all learn from Rebecca could make the difference between a painful struggle to the finish line, or busting a new PR with a smile.

Some of the things we discuss in this podcast:

  • What are the most pervasive myths surrounding blisters? There are plenty!
  • What's the difference between rubbing and shearing and why does it matter?
  • Are certain folks more prone to blisters?
  • What about shoe fit and lacing options?
  • Do lubricants like vaseline or powders work to reduce blister risk, or are you actually making things worse by using them? (Hint: I unfortunately discovered this during my last race, a 50 mile trail race in Florida a little over two weeks ago! Not good). :)
  • And much more!

Rebecca has created a terrific FREE online resource called The Advanced Guide to Blister Prevention. If you want one single resource that will be your go-to for all things blisters, this is definitely it.

For more resources from Rebecca on how to take the mystery out of blisters, go to her website.

I'd like to thank Rebecca for joining me today. I sincerely hope this short 25 minute podcast makes a difference for someone out there who, at some point in the future will be able to avoid a blister, rather than struggle with one. Happy Trails everyone!

~Coach Al 

Do Your Calves Ever Cramp When Swimming? Here’s Why!

1794548_678702325506808_505115595_nThere's nothing like a painful calf cramp to ruin an otherwise enjoyable swim, ya know? :(  They seem to happen at the worst times and very often, they'll happen in our most important races. Frustrating!

So what's going on? Why do so many triathletes struggle with this issue during swimming?

Ridding yourself of the cramping calves will often lead to exactly what you want when you swim, which is a nice compact kicking motion which is both streamlined and also relaxed.

Here's a question I received from one of our athletes, that might sound familiar?:

"Sometimes I get a cramp in one of my calves while swimming. It can happen in the beginning, middle, or near the end of a workout, and only occasionally - not every time I swim. It may happen just after pushing off the wall, or it may start in the middle of a lap. I don't feel like I'm kicking very hard when I'm swimming. It has never happened in a race, just while training in a pool. I figure I swallow enough pool water during my swims that hydration shouldn't be the issue. Any suggestions on how to prevent them?"

Calf cramps while swimming can be quite common actually, especially for triathletes in particular...and there's a very good reason why....and its got nothing to do with hydration or electrolytes....

The reasons usually come from two things:

1. Trying to point the toes during kicking, which is active "plantar flexion" and creates tension in the calves. DON'T do this!* DO NOT try to point the toes while you kick.

2. The other thing which is somewhat related, is that there is OFTEN simply too much TENSION in the lower legs, period. [Remember what a cramp is: its simply a "hyper"chronic contraction of a muscle. That is, activity within the muscle (tension) is heightened and rises to the point where the contraction hits overdrive - and then, bingo, cramp!]

Why all that tension? (this relates to why it happens to triathletes more than swimmers).

You're running, and with all of that running is more tension in the calves, simply because they're so active during running (and walking), etc.

What can add to the tension is the often colder temperatures you'll find in some competitive pools. With colder temps, tension rises. (which is why I love jacuzzis!) 

So, what to do?** Two things:

1. First, the most important thing: RELAX YOUR FEET AND LEGS.

The term I use to describe how to kick correctly (while reducing the risk of cramping in the process) is FLOPPY ANKLES. *

More: Really good "kickers" have very mobile,*floppy ankles. In fact, great backstrokers can lie on their backs on the floor and easily touch their toes to the floor as they point their ankle. Most triathletes can't come close to doing that. Limited ankle mobility means tension when kicking.

So what we must do as we are swimming down the lane: think and visualize FLOPPY ANKLES. That's right, just let the feet just flop at the ankle. Relax and release them completely.

As you relax your feet and JUST LET THEM FLOP, you'll reduce all of that tension in the calves that leads to cramping.

Now, of course, relaxing the feet and letting them flop, DOES NOT give you permission to also flop your knees or relax them.

In fact, what I've found works best is if you keep that knee straight and at the same time, flop the ankles, you'll get exactly what you're looking for, which is a nice compact kicking motion which is both streamlined and also relaxed.

When I say "straight knee," I am really saying to keep it straight - locked out. What will most likely happen is that your knees won't actually "lock," but they will bend less....which is a good thing.

From my experience videotaping dozens of triathletes: those with the worst kicks will bend their knees a LOT, and their ankles a little. That looks ugly on video.

Great kicking comes primarily from floppy ankles. Just check any backstroker (where kicking makes up a great majority of their propulsion).

2. Second, and really importantly: make sure you keep those calves stretched out and nice and long. They will tighten up from running and over time, shortness in that area raises risk of running injury, and also leads to increased risk of cramping.

To avoid cramping in the calves while swimming, keep the calves LONG, and relax those feet and think: FLOPPY ANKLES.

And lastly, do all of your swimming in the JACUZZI!

Happy Swimming!

~Coach Al

ps: got additional swimming questions or anything training related? Jump onto our FACEBOOK page and ask away!

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 

054: Presenting The Trail Running Film Festival [Podcast]

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Click on the image to see all of the upcoming dates for the Spring 2015 East Coast tour!

Click on the image to see all of the upcoming dates for the Spring 2015 East Coast tour!

In today's Episode 54, we are psyched to welcome race director and trail running junkie, James Varner of Rainshadow Running and The Trail Running Film Festival. Also joining us is our own ultra runner extraordinaire and coach, Debbie Livingston.

The Trail Running Film Festival is coming to the east coast this spring, highlighted by a local showing on Wednesday, March 4th, in Hartford, Conn.  (For tickets to this show and others, as well as more information, go here).

In our conversation with James, we talk about...

  • How the Trail Running Film Festival got started and how the events are structured. (Can you say lots of community, food, fun, and a little beer too? Woo!)
  • Rainshadow Races: Where and what they're all about. As their motto says, "why run anywhere else?"
  • A little bit of history of trail films, and why James and Rainshadow (as well as those of us at Pursuit) are so passionate about sharing these films and bringing them to the world for all to enjoy.
  • Which specific films are featured in the Trail Running Film Festival, as well as additional dates and locations.
  • Practical tips and tricks for those of you who might be new to trail running or would like to learn more and enjoy it more!
  • Our upcoming Pursuit Athletic Performance Cedar Lake Trail Running Camp and Retreat, from Friday, May 29 to Sunday, May 31, 2015.  (Come join us!)

**James ALSO did a podcast with the Ultrarunnerpodcast back in 2014 where he talks about the film festival and other cool topics. To listen to that interview, go here.

**To check out the Trail Running Film Festival on Facebook, go here.

TrailFilmFest2And finally, to learn more about all of the great events in the Pacific Northwest put on by Rainshadow Running, go here.

Safe and happy trails everyone!

~Coach Al 

Triathletes: Swim Technique – The Two MOST Common Mistakes…

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

- Albert Einstein


Coach Al along with elite swim coach and Masters World Champion, Karlyn Pipes

Coach Al along with elite swim coach and Masters World Champion, Karlyn Pipes

Hi Everyone! Coach Al here. I've got a quickie for you today, talking swim technique and common mistakes I see in developing triathletes.

As many of you know, for novices (and even for those who have experience) the swim portion of a triathlon is often THE segment of the race that creates the most amount of anxiety and nervousness. As a result, many triathletes spend countless hours doing drills up and down the pool to improve their technique, hoping that the changes they learn and practice WILL make the swim portion of the race easier come race day.

The problem becomes, what if you're not working on the right skills or worse, grooving less-than-optimal form, in your attempts to improve?

In my experience, there are two mistakes that I see over and over again, that are arguably the most common mistakes. Today I shot a quick video so you can see for yourself.

Ironically, the 2nd mistake I point out is very likely one of the reasons why the 1st mistake is often happening and therefore difficult to correct.

To summarize, if you roll excessively to the side, not much else matters! Why? Because there really is no way you can get into a good catch from an "all-of-the-way-onto-your-side" position, without first returning or rolling back to a more prone position.  And, rather than feeling fast or stable, you may actually feel the exact opposite.

Want to learn more? Check out this great video from Vasa (and elite swim coach Karlyn Pipes) on Better Freestyle Body Rotation. 

And here's another: In this video, Karlyn discusses fingertip orientation. Check it out.

Go other questions? Hit me up on our Pursuit Athletic Performance Facebook page!

Happy Swimming!

~Coach Al

ps: if you'd like to learn more about Karlyn and the services she offers designed to help you improve, go to her website here!

pss: we are HUGE fans of the Vasa Ergometer here at Pursuit Athletic Performance. Very few swim training tools offer a larger bang-for-your-buck than the Vasa. Check them out if you want to take your swim to the next level.

It Is Time To Take Action: How To Diagnose Your Running Injury

Marathoner_Knee_Brace_med

If you "google" any common (or even the most UNcommon) running injury, you'll get page upon page of information on how to self diagnose your injury. As you start to read through the articles and pages you find, very often a calm will come over you; you're finally finding the information to the problem and hopefully a cure is around the next page, right?

Well, in my experience of over 30 years as a coach and athlete, I've learned that unfortunately, self diagnosis is hardly ever truly accurate, and most importantly, rarely ever results in a CURE for the root cause of the issue that's causing your pain.

When you're injured, the SITE of the pain is rarely the SOURCE of the pain. And the root cause of an injury is often quite simple and foundational in nature.

TIME, MONEY, AND FRUSTRATION

 If you've read this far, chances are this topic is resonating with you. Keep reading!

Let me ask you this question: How many courses of physical therapy have you gone through to fix an injury in a specific area only to have it crop up again? We hear that story from athletes from every sport, young and old, every day. Here's how it often plays out in a vexing triad of money, time, and confusion.

Let's say an athlete has recurring bouts of Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). Here's a calculation of the costs:

3 bouts of ITBS x 12 weeks of physical therapy + 2 x-rays + 4 pairs of different running shoes + 2 knee braces + 1 MRI = $1,318.20 = a whole lot of TIME, MONEY, AND FRUSTRATION!

The athlete is often left asking, "Why isn't this injury completely better? Why is it always coming back?"

I repeat: in the absence of direct trauma, the site of the pain is rarely the site of the problem. In typical treatment, the sole focus is on a single area of injury, with exercises selected to rehab only that isolated area. In contrast, looking at injury through the lens that a whole body gait analysis reveals, pain is a glaring indicator of serious problems in your overall movement quality. These compensations MUST be addressed and treated from a whole body perspective.

If you're frustrated and ready to finally resolve your injury issues, start TODAY with our FREE VIDEO INJURY PREVENTION SERIES.   Click HERE.

There is absolutely no cost to you. All you will receive is real and valuable information that works!

It IS finally time to fix the problem once and for all, isn't it?

All the best,

~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

 

Why Do So Many Runners Get Injured?

Capsule_Truth

Hey Everyone! Coach Al here. So, are you ready for an awful and shocking truth? 70% of all runners will be injured this year. 7 out of 10. That's nearly three fourths of all runners, including triathletes. 3/4ths! And for many of those folks, the injury they experience will be devastating and frustrating beyond words. The statistics are crazy and shocking, and also sad. It honestly doesn't have to be that way.

WHY do so many runners get injured? There are many reasons, but let's start with the simple fact that running is just plain HARD on your body. For example, have you ever stopped to think that when you run ONE mile, you do the equivalent of approximately 1500 one-leg-squat jumps? That's just ONE mile. Working against the forces of gravity and ground reaction, your body had better be resilient, strong and mobile enough to hold up as the miles add up. And most bodies aren't. Especially those just starting out hoping to use running to lose weight or get fit.

Through no fault of your own, triathletes and runners have not been told the full story of what it takes to stay healthy and become faster too. The marketing machine surrounding shoe sales and races (get your latest cool colors or latch onto the latest fad: minimalist anyone?) diverts the average runner's attention. Add that together with uninformed trainers and coaches who don't know any better, and what you have is what you have.

So what's the real story? And most importantly, what can YOU do about it?

In a nutshell, movement quality is the story, that's what.  (Keep reading, trust me, you need to know this!)

How your body moves and functions is the alpha and the omega of your ultimate athletic potential. Movement quality is the difference between an athlete who rocks it year after year, able to perform at peak potential vs. an athlete stuck in plateaus of sub-par performance or, worse, deals with vicious cycles of injury.

As gait analysis experts, we can use our knowledge of this incredibly powerful tool to provide a clear way to explain what you need to know, what you need to examine, and why you need to fix your imbalances.

Most people think gait analysis is:

a) only about how you walk or run

b) only about your feet and your shoes

c) something you get done in a running shoe store

Many think gait analysis is all about--and ONLY about--someone looking at you as you walk or run while evaluating your feet and your shoes.

BeforeAndAfter_Text

A sample BEFORE / AFTER video analysis taken in our Pursuit Athletic Performance "Fast" Lab

How many of you have done the following? A clerk in your local running store watches you jog, and suggests a pair of shoes that are more stable, or more neutral, or more cushioned, or are the type that "forces" you to land midfoot. Voila! Your biomechanical problems are solved. This is what most people know--and have come to accept--as gait analysis.

We are here to tell you that a shoe store gait analysis is about as far from the real deal as you can get. In fact, true gait analysis is not a generic exercise, but is a scientifically-based and technically precise process. It is highly individualized, and reveals much about how you will hold up to training and, ultimately, perform.

When conducting a gait analysis, the feet are only one small piece of your biomechanical puzzle.

What happens at the feet is merely a part of a holistic, whole body, integrated MOVEMENT pattern. Running, like most other whole body activities (such as swimming or playing many field sports), is essentially a unique way of moving. When we analyze a client statically, dynamically, and then running on the treadmill during a gait analysis, it serves to provide a unique, personal movement "map." That "map" reveals the programming of everything happening within the body--from kinesthetic awareness and habit, to individual levels of mobility, stability, flexibility, and functional strength. The analysis of all of these different elements taken together is what creates a complete picture of a person's gait.

In essence, what we do isn't "gait" analysis at all, it is true "movement" analysis. Gait analysis uncovers precisely how YOUR body is moving.

Every activity, even standing still, represents a unique movement pattern. That pattern is bred from your habits and lifestyle, as well as your body's mobility, stability, flexibility and strength. Every action you take--running stride, pedal stroke, swim stroke, etc.--represents a unique movement pattern. If your movement patterns include compensations (and they likely do), we can pinpoint the areas in the body where these losses of efficiency, or compensation, originate.

Where athletes get into trouble is when major compensation, which often leads to true dysfunction, continues for extended periods of time.

What typically happens is this....

Compensations in the body lead to imbalances and instability around joints. The larger prime movers (hamstrings, glutes, quads, etc.) are often forced to help create stability or on the flip side, become less active, and end up contributing less than their fair share of the work in moving us around.

The smaller/tiny stabilizers are forced to step in (compensate) and do the work of the larger, more powerful prime movers. The stabilizers are taxed day in and day out, mile after mile. Over time they end up, in a word, fried. Shredded. The wear and tear on the stabilizers greatly compromises recovery and your ability to train consistently.

In short, this scenario is an injury waiting to happen. We see it over and over again.

Discovering the inefficiencies and compensation unique to YOU is the power of what true gait analysis can reveal. Once uncovered, you can then begin to address inefficient and costly "energy leaks" that rob you of power and free speed (*the speed you get without having to pay a "price" to get it!).

We can't say it enough--improper, unbalanced movement limits your ultimate potential and puts you at an exponentially-increased risk of injury.

In short, gait analysis is about YOU, and your personal and very unique way of moving. Unless the underlying causes of your dysfunctional movement patterns are addressed, your patterns won't change, and, thus, the risk of injury won't improve. Gait analysis is about looking at your entire body as a holistic organism--a single amazing unit.

It goes far beyond an untrained eye watching you jog in a pair of sneakers.

So what to do?

First, to learn more about what you can do NOW to avoid or recover from injury, check out our series on how to SOLVE the three most common running injuries NOW! 

Want to learn more about our state-of-the-art Virtual Gait Analysis , to see if it might be right for you? Click here. You won't be disappointed, that's for sure.

If you have any questions at all on the above, hit us up on Facebook or drop us an email at: info@pursuitathleticperformance.com

All the best!

~Coach Al