As many of you are well aware, the core of our mission at Pursuit Athletic Performance is to get each individual athlete the FASTEST they can be, performing to their ultimate potential with far less risk of injury. So, how do we do that? In addition to smart, progressive training, we train each athlete to be as functionally strong, stable, and mobile in the way they, personally, need to be. Hand-in-hand with that goal, is our work re-educating athletes about the importance of strength training as it relates to PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT. And, believe me, it does relate.
In this audio post I talk about strength training and its value. Here are just two reasons why this issue is important to understand:
1. If you are muscularly balanced,stable, and functionally strong you will be far more durable, be much more resistant to fatigue, leak less energy, and be able to create power and speed. You absolutely will BE FASTER as a result—AND be more durable and able to resist fatigue.
2. If you take the time to understand and learn, you will execute a strength program more precisely, be more committed, and enjoy the process more!
I think there is lots of valuable learning here. Hope you find it helpful, and let me know if you have any questions.
I spoke with a triathlete recently who was experiencing a loss of motivation–the winter training doldrums. I know for sure she is not alone, so I want to take a few moments to express my perspective on this common phenomenon.
When you find yourself in a bit of a training funk…first and foremost…be kind to yourself! Seriously, so much of the time we, as type-A, goal-oriented athletes, get down on ourselves when we have these little funks. Most of the time we forget that it’s actually very NORMAL for motivation ebb and flow. My advice is, don’t get down. Instead, simply acknowledge where you are at at this moment in time, smile, and recommit to trying again. When you accept that its normal to feel a little unmotivated at times, a paradox kicks in–the acceptance begins to fan the flames of a mindset of success and motivation.
Next, with every new day, focus on small successes…take it one step at a time. “Baby steps” really work. Break your workouts down into smaller pieces. Even a little bit of productive training is better than nothing at all. So take that ONE STEP, and keep going. Build on that success, and feel good about every little success you have!
Every single athlete I know, from the novice to world champions goes, through the doldrums. We are creatures of habit. To quote Newton’s Law of Motion, “a body in motion stays in motion, a body at rest stays at rest.” Strive to get a little “motion” into your daily routine. And please remember, it is cold and dark in January in many places. That can surely sap the training soul. Warmer weather, good times, and better days where motivation is easier, are right ahead of you!
Keep smiling…take baby steps if you need to…make every day the best you can. Rock on.
In our triathlon team forums, we have been discussing the issue of forward knee drive in running. It is, in fact, an important element of great running. Once you understand what forward knee drive is, I bet you will instantly create a picture in your mind of what that looks like. Every elite runner has it, and we’ve all seen it. It’s worth taking the time to read through this post and understand what forward knee drive is, and how to create it in your own running.
Forward driving knee is an action of the knee that is, in fact, very much a PASSIVE reactionary movement/response to the amount of force being applied to the ground during the mid-stance phase of the stride. It is very much like the “bouncy ball” analogy I use a lot with runners and triathletes we train. That is, the harder I throw a bouncy ball to the ground, the faster that ball comes back at you, and the higher into the air it will go. Your body is the exact same way.
So, my point here is simply this: the STRONGER you are, the more force you are able to apply to the ground with each foot strike during that mid-stance phase. Assuming adequate length in the calf (and, thus, dorsiflexion of the foot), the tissues along the backside of your body will then be able to create a big STRETCH. This stretch results in that leg swinging forward very rapidly and, assuming appropriate mobility of the hips and good strong glutes (resulting in a more neutral pelvic position), the knee will continue to drive forward…..in what, to reiterate, is a largely passive response to the action of applying that force.
Reading through this, what I hope you’re getting, is that there are a number of factors and elements that need to be in place, and are important, in order for all of this to happen as it should.
You must have the following:
Muscular balance. This balance creates better pelvic position and appropriate strength/length around the key joints, especially the hip and ankle.
Appropriate mobility of the hips and ankle, and length in the calf.
STRONG GLUTES and posterior chain as a whole, which is responsible for improved force production into the ground.
All of the elements above are engaged at a higher level as speed increases. In other words, at slower rates of speed, there is less overall dynamic application of force and loads, thus less evidence of these elements in action. To put it more simply….a “survival” shuffle has been called this for a reason….with slow running comes more of a shuffle, vs. a very fast running action.
There are even more elements in place beyond these I’ve mentioned, especially when considering the holistic elements of fascia and the nervous system.
My goal here ISN’T to complicate this at all! My goal is, simply, to say that all of you …
You MUST focus first on GETTING FUNCTIONALLY STRONGER, and then focus on learning how to gradually run FASTER. If you do those two things and stay the course, the knee drive will HAPPEN passively, WITHOUT YOU having to consciously think about it or control it.
There are drills to help with these skills also, but they are “frosting” on the cake, not the cake itself.
The cake is:
strength, strength, strength
balance in the body
appropriate mobility of the key joints
patience and persistence in learning, or “re-learning” how to run fast!
On Saturday, February 2, Coach Al will be presenting a symposium and workshop at the fifth annual Fit Werx New England Triathlon Symposium! The symposium will be held at Fitchburg State University in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
The Symposium is a day of seminars, workshops, and clinics led by expert coaches. In the morning from 9-10 am, Coach Al is presenting The Fab 5: The Best Strength Exercises for Triathletes. His discussion will center on:
The universal principle of authentic movement that can be applied to all sports
Movement quality first
How to integrate strength training into a triathlon training plan
The Fab 5: basic to advanced progressions
Integration: whole body strength development
In the afternoon session, Coach Al will take participants into the weight room and guide proper execution and teach how to progress the strength work as an athlete gets stronger.
To read the full schedule of presentations and to sign up, visit the symposium page at Active.com. Hope to see you!
I got a great question from one of our triathlon team members. He asked why I prescribe standing sets in bike workouts when triathletes are best down in the aero position during races.
Here is the answer.
How we might train on the bike in order to lift fitness and create more ability as a cyclist is different than how we might race on the bike to maximize efficiency for a better overall racing result (including the run).
Sure, all things being equal, it is best that you stay seated during the triathlon bike leg for the majority of time. It does help keep effort and HR lower, and you are certainly more aerodynamic when seated vs standing. To put it another way, it IS generally more efficient than is standing.
However, when we’re training, especially in earlier phases of training that are not race-specific training, THE GOAL IS NOT to do things as you might do them on the race course. The goal is to work on certain skills, abilities, and lift fitness, so you will be better prepared to embark on that race-specific training, and, ultimately, race more efficiently and faster.
When it comes to cycling in particular, I’m a BIG FAN of doing whatever we can do to INCREASE the amount and variety of “tools” we have in our cycling “tool box.”
What do I mean?
I tell folks to ride a mountain bike and road bike some of the time, because being on THOSE machines challenges us in a different way than a tri-bike. They help develop different “tools” like handling, balance, short power production, riding in a group, etc. We might not develop these skills if we ONLY rode our tri bikes.
Standing is exactly the same thing. When we train our bodies to be able to stand on occasion–for short periods especially–to be able to generate power and speed (and mix up muscle usage as a side benefit), we add a new and beneficial tool to our cycling tool box.
Standing is a great way to get over short very steep hills without losing speed, for example. If you don’t TRAIN that, you will never be able to do it with any efficiency in either training OR racing. Train it, though, it you’re now able to do it, when you need to, whenever its appropriate.
How many times have you come to a short steep hill, and stayed in the saddle, only to see your speed fall to nearly zero as a result? If you were able to stand to generate speed and power over that short hill, you would be maintaining more speed over the top, which makes it easier to keep speed going on the other side…less loss of momentum. And as I like to say in this regard, “the faster you go, the faster you go.”
In other words, when you’re losing speed because you’re welded to the saddle, you end up going slower up that hill which slows your overall time on the bike, and may also create more fatigue.
One other MAJOR benefit of standing is that you’re using MORE glute and hamstring. Those are large muscles that will help, if you let them.
The key? You must train it. You must practice it.
Great racing is about having as many tools in your overall athletic toolbox, as possible. The more tools you have, the better you’re able to meet any challenge you face out there…
Stand, sit, repeat. Be a better rider. Use more glute.
Coach Al here with ultrarunning champ Debbie Livingston. We put together a great Q&A session to give you additional information about our ultrarunning camp scheduled for Thursday, April 4 through Sunday, April 7 in Quechee, VT. If you have interested in attending, this video will give you an overview of what you will experience. We see this “retreat and camp” as an integrated educational, inspirational, training and learning experience designed to help you develop as a COMPLETE ultrarunner.
To learn more and to register, please click here–Ultrarunning Camp. If you have questions, we have a form for you to use to ask anything you need to before you sign up.
NOTE: Sign up with a friend by February 1 for extra savings on the double occupancy package. Registration closes on March 21.
Fire away with questions if you have them. Looking forward to running with your in beautiful Quechee, Vermont!
As many of you know, the bridge is one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen the glutes. The hip hinge pattern coupled with what we call the anterior-posterior force vector makes this movement extremely effective.
But, let’s say you’ve been working the bridge for a while and need to progress it. How do you add load to make it continuously more challenging as you gain strength? Here, I show you here exactly how you can do that, allowing you to add as much resistance as you would like to or need to.
To laugh is to risk appearing a fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out for another is to risk exposing your true self. To place your ideas, your dreams, before the crowd is to risk their loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair. To try is to risk failure. But risks need to be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live. Chained by his beliefs, he is a slave; he has forfeited freedom. Only a person who risks is free. –Unknown
Hi everyone! I’d like to take a few minutes if you’ll indulge me, to share some thoughts with all
of you as we sit here on the eve of this New Year, 2013! (Where, oh where has the time gone?).
My thoughts and message today are multifaceted – a mix of gratitude and hope, and my desire
to really CHALLENGE YOU to dream bigger, reach farther and higher, and be better than ever
this coming year! Consider this a gift; for if you are receiving this, you are an important part of
my life and because of that, I want to share these thoughts with you.
First, thank you for all that you have given me and shared with me, each and every one of you.
Cicero once said, Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
Please accept my heartfelt thanks for the opportunity you might have given me to play a small
role in the myriad of successes that YOU experience in your daily lives, or out on the race
“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” — Pamela Vaull Starr
As we approach the start of 2013, I feel more blessed, honored, and humbled than I could have
ever possibly imagined I could feel. Whether a client, friend, or partner, I want you to know that
working with you and beside you has continued to be a source of great strength and joy for me,
as well as being tremendously fulfilling and challenging! Ben Stein once said, “Personal
relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real
life grows.” I couldn’t agree more.
“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” — Unknown
At this time of year, as we all get ready to turn the page on the calendar and look toward a new
year of challenges, surprises, outcomes, and so many unknowns, I spend a great deal of time in
thought. I ponder my goals and my dreams, and the possibilities for the future. (Don’t we all?) I
ask myself these important questions: what am I willing to do to make my dreams and the
dreams of those I care for, come true? Along the same line, as I continue to work alongside two
amazing partners, building our business and working to reach out to others in a sincere effort to
make a difference in their lives, I ask myself: have I clearly identified my vision for the future and
shared that with those I hope to bring into our circle?
“Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.” — Belva Davis
As you look at 2013 and beyond, what do you really WANT for your life? What’s the REAL
story? As you look inside yourself and imagine your best YOU, who do you see? In the context
of sport, what are you doing with your training and racing and how is THAT going to impact your
life and those around you that you love and cherish so much? THAT is the question I challenge
you to consider in the days ahead.
In those areas where a small step is all you need, that’s fine. As you all know, I’m a huge fan of
taking little steps at a time toward where you want to be. Keep things simple and if that’s all you
need, awesome! However, small adjustments can also be the things that keep us trapped. As
we come close to hitting our goals, these small victories become the “golden handcuffs” that
trap us in our routine. They keep us “thinking small” so that while we’re winning the daily training
battles, we end up a little frustrated (or even confused) because our training and our lives may
not have the meaning we had hoped for. (Has this happened to you, or am I the only one?).
This year, dream bigger. Be willing to risk changing how you think. Don’t just follow the crowd.
Ask the fundamental questions about who you really are, what you really want, and how you
really want to live. Where are you going with all of this? Think bigger, aim higher, go further. You
may not get “there” in one year or two or five, but make sure you’re headed in the right direction.
Make sure you’re on a path that is worth walking.
Lastly, never forget that ALL of it is YOUR CHOICE. Every single day we choose how we think,
how we act, how we REact, and our choices determine our outcomes. Choose wisely, and in
YOUR best interest! I am here, NOT to determine where you are going or what you should do
or what is in your best interest. I’m your partner and friend, who’s goal it is to help you SEE the
very best that is in each of you – to help you set the path toward a vision of YOU, that is better
and greater than you ever thought possible.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller
A smart man once said, Leadership is all about painting the Vision, giving people something
worthwhile to follow. I am committed to painting a clearer vision in this New Year, and giving
everyone I work with a sense of what it means to be a part of the Team Pursuit Athletic
Performance family. This vision IS about you, it isn’t about us. The great lessons of sport and
life are here for all of us, to be learned and enjoyed by everyone. Excellence, effort, persistence,
come-backs, belief in oneself, attitude, self esteem, integrity, hope; these words are part of the
vision that will shape my life (and our business) and I hope, yours as well.
The combination of our traditional celebrations and the start of a New Year make this a natural
time to review the past and preview the future. After all, even the sun is coming back!
(woohooo!!) Through the year, we work hard. We are busy and we have so much “stuff” to do
that it is easy to lose our way, to take loved ones for granted and neglect our values in the rush
to pay our bills and get through the day. We need the holidays to make us slow down, share
time with loved ones, and remember our roots. (I sometimes think wintertime viruses are
nature’s way of slowing us down, too!). We need time to renew and to remember and to re-align
with our most important values. Sometimes, we get down on ourselves for getting caught up in
life and make the mistake of using a word like “failure,” just because we are so challenged with
balancing our daily life and our athletic pursuits that we sometimes fall short of our goals. That
sort of self-judgment is not only a waste of time, its flat out wrong. Worse, it can become a way
to avoid starting again, moving in the direction you truly want and need to go. Start again.
“Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.” — Napoleon Hill
At this time of year, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have an amazing partner like Kurt (and
so many other awesome friends and colleagues!). We didn’t do as much sailing together this
past year as I’m hoping we do in 2013, yet at the same time, since being around Kurt every day
and seeing his amazing resilience and hopeful, gregarious laughter, I’m reminded of something
that both astounds me and encourages me. (I was reminded of this too, during a one day
adventure in the Grand Canyon – thank you Tim and Jon!).
The reality is that ships and boats (and sometimes runners!) are off-course much of the time
they are traveling to their destination. Wind and currents and human failures and countless
other “little things” toss them off-course. Like sailors, we all have a destination; we have values,
a plan, and desires, and we (hopefully) know our ultimate goals, but much of the time we are
tossed by the winds and current of life and end up slightly off course.
We happen to be swamped with a project at work, or an illness at home or some other normal
life stressor. Or perhaps we get caught up in a workout that doesn’t go exactly as planned, or
forget to say “I love you” or “thank you” as much as we should. That’s not good, of course, but I
think it is real life. We are simply ships or boats, doing the best we can and being tossed around
a bit. The difference is that sailors are never surprised or discouraged or “lost,” because a gust
of wind knocks them off course. They simply adjust and keep right on going…..and almost every
ship does eventually find the right harbor. We need to learn from that.
On this eve of the New Year, as many of you know, I continue to be in the midst of personal life
changes and a ton of growth, both personally and professionally. I am constantly taking time to
review and affirm my course in life, and I hope wherever you are right now, that you also do the
same. A wise person once said, If you don’t know where you are going, any path will do.
“For most of the champions, their great accomplishment was not the end of their greatness; rather it was the beginning of greater things to come.” –Dan Green
I, like many of you, need more than ever to take a minute every day to be thankful for all of the
blessings that have been bestowed upon me this year. Newtown reminded us of this, didn’t it?
Yes, I must do the “stuff” that needs doing because its important, but in the midst of the hoopla,
I need to re-commit to sitting down with a pen and paper to review and remember my roots, my
loved ones, and my values. I hope you do too.
Like me, I hope you take a moment to review and re-affirm your goals and chart a new course. If
you’ve wandered a bit off-course, so what? If you’ve been tossed around and challenged with
something unexpected, note that fact, hunker down, plot a NEW course and get back to work. A
New Year is about to begin, and the sun is coming back! Start over, start again. Even nature
says it’s a time for new beginnings.
The triumphs will be sweet and the regrets will sting. Take it all in, whatever it may be, and
move on steadily ahead. Whatever experience life may bring your way, find in it something to
value. Take that value and make the most of it as you apply it in a positive, purposeful
direction. Concern yourself not with what is wrong, but with how you can make it better.
Concern yourself not with what might have been, but what could be. Take pleasure not in what
you have, but in what it can enable you to do.
Let go of any envy, anger, or despair. Hold on to the love, the joy, and the hope. In each ending,
find the new beginning that is surely there. With every finish line, there is another starting line
not far ahead. In each setback, find the will to go forward, and use each success to create value
that goes far beyond yourself.
Appreciate every moment, whatever that moment may bring. And from those moments will
come a remarkable year and a remarkable life.
From the bottom of my heart, I wish you and yours all the very best in 2013!
It is the way that creates the warrior. – Dan Millman
It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. – John Wooden
You have to go into the jungle, find the lion, and spit in his face…then shoot him. You guys are not good enough to win on talent alone…you have to want it.” – Herbie Brooks- coach of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team
Starting this post with a few quotes I really like as a way to begin sharing thoughts about overcoming limitations and obstacles.
It seems that every single day, we are bombarded with news about our differences, NOT our similarities. While we ARE all unique, we are also the same in that we all are faced with certain limitations and many challenges every single day. Over these past days, I’ve come to better understand that we do not necessarily have to rid ourselves of our limitations in order to get around them.
Sure, our limitations and daily challenges might slow us down, but they don’t have to stop us completely. In fact, I believe that we must all consciously decide to REFUSE to see any limitation as an excuse for failure (where failure is simply not showing up and doing our best!). Rather, I say…we should see our limiters as motivators to move forward inspiring us to succeed.
Very often the benefits of age allow us to look back at how successfully we’ve gotten around challenges and obstacles in the past. Everything you’ve ever accomplished has been done in spite of the limitations you faced at the time. As athletes, you have done all accomplished some amazing things!!! I’m here to say, right now, that you and I can do it again, and this time we can do it better.
Don’t wait for the limitations or the challenges to disappear. Some of them will always be with you. Move on ahead in spite of them. Decide to do your best, be great, and find a way around them.
Bottom line folks: Every single person who has ever achieved anything worthwhile has at one time looked head-on at certain limitations that seemed, for a moment, insurmountable. Many people achieve stunning success even though they are burdened with severe limitations. In the end, those limitations do not matter. What matters is the determination and the desire to make things happen.
Our ultimate goal when faced with a tough situation or challenge or limitation is to stop and muster the focus to find a real, meaningful reason to move forward. Be strong, gather support around you, be creative, and work around those challenges to find a new level of success and fulfillment!
It’s the off-season, and now’s the time to get ready for you best triathlon season ever! Join me for what is sure to be a jam-packed discussion on how you can get strong, get powerful, and get FAST in order to UNLEASH in 2013! A short video below gives you an overview of what I’ll be discussing.
Click the image below, or this link, and sign up through our “FREE TRI WEBINAR” tab on Facebook! As soon as you claim your seat, we’ll get you all the details and the private link to our Spreecast.