Archive for Dr. Kurt Strecker

053: New Segment: Meet The Team! With Colleen Kelly Alexander and Sean Alexander [Podcast]

Download_iTunes

Play
 

 

 

Sean-ColleenIn today’s Episode 53, we are launching a brand NEW segment (recommended to us by many listeners) in which we will interview and feature different members of Team Pursuit Athletic Performance. We’ll call this segment: Meet The Team!    

We’re honored today to have Colleen Kelly Alexander and her husband, Sean Alexander, as podcast guests.

Many of you reading this are familiar with Colleen’s story.  In today’s podcast visit with “Team Alexander,” you’ll meet them in person and learn about:

  • The events of October 8, 2011: What happened to Colleen and how the world changed forever that day.
  • The various first-responders, medical and fire personnel, and so many other “heros” who were vital to Colleen’s survival and recovery….and the hero that she ended up discovering inside of herself.
  • The critical role Sean played in her recovery.
  • The role that Pursuit Athletic Performance has played in their athletic growth and development.
  • Their individual and collective purpose, passion, and focus, as they move forward with an incredible attitude of gratitude.

If you’d like to learn even more about Colleen’s story of SURVIVAL or would like to have Colleen come and speak to your group, you can contact her directly right through her website here.

We’re very honored to have them both as members of our triathlon team, AND also as personal trainers here at Pursuit Athletic Performance.

And we’re pleased to bring them both to you on the podcast. Enjoy!

1272938_10151598450828247_526285472_o

Colleen with Coach Al!

~Dr. Strecker, and Coach Al 

052: After Your “A” Race: Euphoria, Letdown, or Somewhere In Between? With Functional Wellbeing Coach, Olivia Syptak [Podcast]

Download_iTunes

Play
 

 

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Wellbeing Coach, Olivia Syptak

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Wellbeing Coach, Olivia Syptak

 

If you are like so many endurance athletes everywhere who enjoy toeing the line at a race (be it sprint or iron distance triathlon, running, cycling, or Spartan), it’s quite likely that you have either just completed your “A” priority race for the year or are about to in the next few weeks.

In today’s podcast with Functional Wellbeing Coach Olivia Syptak as our guest, we talk about the vast range of emotion we often face after that “big” A race or event.  We also discuss specific strategies you can employ RIGHT NOW that will help you maintain forward momentum and build on your experience moving forward.

That post-race emotion can range from the immediate euphoria of the finish to the emptiness that can set in in the days that follow, to the depression that can arise in the face of a “DNF” or a result that didn’t align with our target.

Regardless of whether that race was a huge success or a disapointment, the post-race period of time offers the opportunity to spend time with the concepts of awareness (of what we’re feeling at any given time), acceptance and acknowledgment (of those feelings), and recognition (that whatever feelings or thoughts are there, elated or downtrodden, they are all temporary).  At the same time, we will benefit by maintaining and even building and reinforcing a positive and optimistic view that will help us continue to learn and improve.

Thanks for joining us on today’s podcast.  Safe training and happy trails!

~Olivia, Dr. Strecker, and Coach Al 

048: Listener Questions: Becoming a Better Runner, Swim Training and More! [Podcast]

Download_iTunes

Play
 

 

Team PURSUIT triathlete Megan Pennington, on her way to the OVERALL WIN at the Litchfield Hills Triathlon!

Team PURSUIT triathlete Megan Pennington, on her way to the OVERALL WIN at the Litchfield Hills Triathlon!

Today we dig into some great questions sent in to us from listeners.  The first has to do with becoming a BETTER runner, something nearly every triathlete and pure runner has thought about at one time or another (or a few thousand times!) :)

Whether it’s right here in our Pursuit Athletic Performance lab during a gait analysis, or out on the trail or road OR over a beer at the local pub, we always relish the opportunity to talk to anyone about running.  (Anyone who knows Coach, KNOWS how much he can talk, talk, and talk some more about this topic!). No apologies necessary though – running has been a passion of Coach Al’s since first running “Boston” in 1983.

Every so often though, a conversation with a frustrated triathlete turns to a sort of self depricating exchange where they end up telling us (trying to convince us, or themselves, perhaps?) why they CAN’T be as good a runner as they really would “like” to be.  Whether this self-doubt stems from a long period of training struggle or chronic running-related injury, the bottom line is that most triathletes have much more running ability inside of them waiting to get out than they realize! They just don’t know how to GET it out!  In the podcast, we offer some real and practical suggestions to take your running to a new level.

In case you’re one of those who is impatient and curious and can’t wait to listen, here are some hints:

  1. No! It isn’t necessarily about planking, more of it, or doing it differently.
  2. No, it won’t necessarily be “easy.”  While we offer some practical suggestions that you CAN implement tomorrow in your training, the truth is that it generally takes a long time to “get good” as a runner, all things being equal.

Also, we jump in on some questions about all things swim training for the triathlete.

  • Is it REALLY worthwhile to spend time doing kicking sets if I am racing in a wetsuit and generally never kick in a race?
  • Why is the coach writing “hypoxic” sets for us anyway? Is it really valuable, and if so, why?
  • And more!

Thanks for joining us! Make it a great day!

~Coach Al and Dr. Strecker

041: The ONE Thing! [Podcast]

Download_iTunes

Play
 

 

Doc Strecker racing at Rev3 Quassy Olympic Distance and having fun!

Doc Strecker racing at Rev3 Quassy Olympic Distance and having fun!

Hi Everyone! Coach Al here. In today’s podcast, Doc and I delve into a topic we feel is SO important for long term success and fulfillment.  It is simply this: what is that ONE thing, that more than anything else, if you experienced a breakthrough in that area, would have the GREATEST impact on your success and happiness?

We are all an experiment of one: For each of us, the answer to that question will be very different, and that’s the point. We all have a unique “one thing.”

Are you getting the sleep you need? Are you able to be mindful and fully present in your daily activities and training? Do you have an eating habit that is holding you back? What about strength, mobility, flexibility, or a specific sport focus?

Are you HAVING FUN in your training and racing (as Doc clearly does!) and finding the right balance?

Identifying OUR own unique one thing, is often the easy part. What’s much harder is actually TAKING ACTION consistently, to truly make addressing that one thing, a priority. And that’s what we’re really talking about here…

Simplifying, and prioritizing as a means to achieving more, going faster, feeling better, and utlimately being happier.

Sounds “simple,” right? :)

Please listen in as we discuss this fun and important topic!  And have a great weekend too!

~Coach Al 

040: Listener Questions: Downhill Running and Nutrition [Podcast]

Download_iTunes

Play
 

 

Flatten the course!

Flatten the course!

In today’s podcast, we once again respond to some listener questions. We really appreciate it when you contact us and ask great questions – keep them coming!

Going down: The topic of downhill running, both from a technique perspective and also from a pacing perspective, is often glossed over in favor of the opposite, which is running up. A listener sent in a link to an article titled “Efficient Running Up and Downhill in Triathlon,”  (triathlon.competitor.com and the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport), which discussed some research conducted at the University of Connecticut on competitors at this past October’s Ironman World Championship. Specifically, the researchers looked at how “various types of pacing can effect overall performance.”

The author states, “researchers took a random sampling of Hawaii-qualifying athletes and measured their predicted personal pre-race goal time against their finishing time on race day. Using Timex Ironman Global Trainers and TrainingPeaks software, they analyzed nine segments of the bike course and 11 segments of the run course.  Their goal was to determine whether any of the segments predicted performance, and they were surprised at the results—the downhill portions (on both the bike and run) proved to be most influential on overall time. They found that athletes who maintained faster relative speeds on the downhill sections of the course, and who had smaller changes in heart rate between consecutive up and downhills, were more successful relative to their goal times.” 

How you pace your downhills and uphills in a race is critical, and the research, both anecdoatal and scientific, and practical experience, support this.  In today’s ‘cast, we’ve got lots more to share on this topic!  Its a good one.

Also, a listener wrote in with some questions regarding his nutrition planning as he prepares for the Alcatraz Triathlon next weekend. We believe his questions are common and important, so you’ll want to listen in to hear what they are and our responses.

Please tune in and join us for today’s talk, where we discuss these topics and a few more as well.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone!  Thank you to ALL of the men and women in uniform who, through their selfless service, make enjoying our sports possible.

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al and Doc Strecker 

039: More Listener Questions! [Podcast]

Download_iTunes

Play
 

 

Did someone say running shoes?

Did someone say running shoes?

In today’s podcast, we respond to some listener questions on running shoes. This is always a popular topic for discussion regardless of the circle of athletes you’re in. We sure do LOVE OUR SHOES, don’t we? :)

We get a regular stream of questions on shoes, including the merits of certain brands of shoes, when they should be replaced, and whether it’s a good idea to rotate them. And without a doubt, it seems that from one month to the next, there’s always a “hot” shoe amongst certain groups of athletes.

We’ve talked shoes in previous episodes of the podcast. For those of you who haven’t listened, in this episode we told you how to pick the best shoe for YOU.

In this blog post from March of last year, we offered some tips on which ones you should buy.

And in what has been one of the most frequently listened to podcasts we’ve done to date, in this episode we discuss the merits of minimalist/barefoot running and hash out our differences and similarities with our guest, well known coach/athlete Ben Greenfield.

Join us for today’s talk, where we get into the Altras, Hokas, the weather :), whether to rotate (the shoes), what’s the key to knowing WHAT IS the right shoe for you, and much more!

Join us!

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al and Doc Strecker 

 

 

 

035: Open Water Swimming with Alcatraz Legend Gary Emich [Podcast]

Download_iTunes

Play
 

Elite open water swimmer and coach, Gary Emich

Elite open water swimmer and coach, Gary Emich

Today we’re stoked to have Alcatraz swimming legend and triathlon coach, Gary Emich, on our podcast. Gary is most well known for having completed over 1000 Alcatraz swims (without a wetsuit!) and for a host of other impressive open water swimming accomplishments. 

Gary is a Certified Level 1 USA Triathlon Coach specializing in open water swimming and a Certified Level 2 ASCA Coach.  He is co-host and co-producer of the DVD “Lane Lines to Shore Lines:  Your Complete Guide to Open Water Swimming” and co-author of “Open Water Swimming:  Lessons from Alcatraz.”  And, from 1998 through 2009 he was the race director for the “Alcatraz Challenge Aquathlon & Swim.” His open water swimming CV includes the Amazon River replete with piranhas; Peru’s Lake Titicaca; Scotland’s legendary Loch Ness; the Hellespont (a swim from Europe to Asia); and the 20km Rottnest swim at the age of 58.  Relay crossings include the English Channel (2000 and 2011), Catalina, Santa Barbara, Monterey Bay, the Bay of Naples (Italy) and the Strait of Gibraltar as well as relay circumnavigations of Manhattan, Key West and Pennock Island in Ketchikan Alaska.

 

On today’s podcast, Gary and I chat about all things open water swimming related including…

  • Navigation and sighting: What’s the impact of poor sighting? Tips and drills on how to improve this critical skill
  • Wind, waves and current and how to deal most effectively with these challenges
  • How training in the pool can cheat you
  • Safety considerations for swimming in the open water
  • Race starts and finishes
  • Goggles: what are the most important considerations for open water swimming?
  • Triangulation: what is it, and how can it help you in the open water?
  • Are you a bilateral breather?  Is it a worthwhile skill to develop?
  • And much more!

Thanks for joining us! Make your next open water swim a great one!

~Coach Al

ps: Here’s a neat funny which I know you’ll enjoy!

Fraz

034: Is “Minimalist” The Best Way To Train? [Podcast]

Download_iTunes

Play
 

PAP Podcasts Videos Triathlon TrainingOn just about a daily basis, Kurt and I get questions about what we feel are the optimal ways to train if you’re an endurance athlete. Do we believe higher volume training is a necessary component for success over long distances, or do we believe “minimalist” training is the way to go. What we preach and believe is born from a variety of factors: first and foremost, our personal experience gleaned from many years of trial and error, scientific study and research, and our daily work with athletes of every ability level and from every walk of life. What results is a company philosophy and belief system grounded in three things.

1. We believe in training for the betterment of the body (and mind), not to their detriment.

2. We should learn how to establish, develop, and own quality movement first

3. Each of us is unique. We all have individual natural attributes, goals and dreams, and likes and dislikes.  

My own background is a testament to what I personally believe and what I have lived: I ran my marathon PR of 2:39:37 at Boston on a low weekly average of 45miles of running, with a great deal of supplemental stability and strength training added to the mix.  That being said, there ARE a great many factors that go into what might be the best approach for you.   In today’s podcast, we discuss a variety of factors that might help you determine the best path.

  • Intensity and volume represent an inverse relationship: when one goes up, the other should go down, right?
  • What kind of experience do you have as an athlete? Do you have the requisite aerobic “plumbing” necessary for success as an endurance athlete?
  • If you are imbalanced or moving poorly, will a higher intensity minimalist type training program increase your risk of injury?
  • The scientific evidence is irrefutable: Intensity is the prime driver for improving fitness! But its a risk – reward equation. Is higher intensity worth the increased risk of injury?
  • Does your age matter?
  • Amateur athletes training and racing for fun and to enhance the quality of their lives are generally very busy people with many responsibilities that go beyond “just” training. What impact should this have on how you decide to train?
  • What about YOUR unique tendencies? Do you love to run or ride for hours on end, or is a 1 hour session about your limit?
  • And much more…

We hope you enjoy our podcast on this fun and interesting topic.

~Coach Al

033: Food: Facts and Falacies [Podcast]

Download_iTunes

Play
 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

~Coach Al and Dr. Kurt

Doc’s Do’s and Don’ts: 8 Keys to a Fast, Injury-Free Season

Dr. Kurt Strecker

Dr. Kurt Strecker, CP, CCSP

Dr. Kurt Strecker in the house today with 8 Keys to a Fast, Injury-Free Season. Let’s get to it!

1. Warm Up

We recently had an athlete, we’ll call him Xavier, in the PAP clinic with a pulled calf. He explained that he had been training for the past several months without any issues, and in fact, he was running stronger and faster at this point in time than he could recall. He had been focused on a particular road race and was sure he would PR. The problem came soon after mile 1.

Kabang!

There goes the calf.

What happened? I asked X to tell me about a typical training week. He said that an aerobic run would start out nice and easy for the first 10 minutes or so and gradually build from a 9:00/mile pace to a 8:00 min pace. On higher intensity days, he would ride his bike to the local high school track, do a few easy laps with strides and then do his main sets, whatever those might be. Then I asked him to describe race day. That morning he drove to the venue, had a quick jog and couple of stretches, then stood around for about 20 minutes waiting for the race to start. When the gun went off he headed out at his goal race pace of about 7:00 min/mile.

Do you see the problems?

Inadequate warm up and too much time between getting loose and starting the race. Don’t let this happen to you! Have a pre-race warm up routine, USE IT, and be sure to time it so you’re warm when you need to be.


 2. Listen to Your Body

So our old friend X broke another cardinal rule. He didn’t listen to his body. When his calf went ‘pop,’ he didn’t stop. He pressed on and finished the race, which happened to be a trail run of 12 miles. Not the best choice to say the least.

Do you think that made his rehab longer or shorter? Let me help here. The decision to press on cost him several additional weeks of training and one of his ‘A’ races.

Pain exists for a reason. It is a signal that something is wrong. PLEASE listen to your body. And FYI, recovering from an injury is almost always quicker if you treat it when it occurs instead of waiting 3 months and hoping it will go away.


 3. Strength Train Properly

You can’t put an 800HP motor in a rusty VW Bug chassis and expect that it won’t break. Triathletes and runners are very good at making powerful cardiovascular engines, and they are very often lousy at taking care of their frames. Triathlon is NOT cross training, people. You MUST do your strength training. Coach Al has written volumes on this, and you can refresh yourself with our advice on strength training starting here. Heed his warnings or pay homage at the Altar of the Injury Gods!


 4. Muscle Balance

Balance in muscle lengths is very important, but random stretching doesn’t work.

People will often ask me, “Doc, what stretches are good for runners?” The truth is, there are no good stretches for runners, triathletes, baseball players or astronauts. There are, however, appropriate stretches for Mary, Freddy, Sally and Xavier. One’s flexibility and mobility is determined by genetics, occupation, daily activities, and many other factors. The only way to know what muscle groups YOU need to stretch is to evaluate YOUR flexibility and mobility as a whole. You can do that through a gait analysis assessment, a session with a physical therapist, or a carefully-chosen, very skilled trainer.


5. Proper Shoe Gear

pursuit athletic performanceRunners with short calves who over pronate need different shoe gear than those with good ankle mobility and neutral foot mechanics. I refer to “shoe gear” to include shoes and/or orthotics. There are as many biomechanical variations as there are people.

The bottom line is, having the appropriate shoe gear on your feet is like having the proper alignment of your car tire. It makes for better fuel economy, less wear-and-tear on the ball joints, and fewer trips to the mechanic. The more miles you log, the more important this becomes. Click here for a FREE direct download of our  e-book on this topic.


6. Bike Fit

Having a good bike fit is just like having proper shoe gear, plain and simple. This must include a thorough evaluation of the foot/pedal interface. It is a critical part of the fit and it is often overlooked. Wanna make more Watts with less effort and stay out of the Med Tent? Check with Todd and Lis Kenyon at TTBikeFit!


 7. Sleep

The most underutilized and underrated piece of equipment an athlete has may well be the mattress. Sleep is when we repair and restore. It is important for everything from growth hormone to neurotransmitters. Under performing on the race course? Try sleeping more. It’ll keep you from doing the head bob in the car on the way to work, too!


8. Nutrition

Everyone knows nutrition is important, but just how important may be under estimated.

Did you know that the average American consumes nearly 130 pounds of sugar each year? It’s true. We’ve made sugar a real staple in our diets. It feeds inflammation like gas on a fire and it’s loaded with empty calories. Check out Coach Al’s thoughts on fueling for race day and training, and get off the sugar IV! A quick share below, and Coach’s webinar “Smart Training and Racing Nutrition” is yours. (And thanks!)