Archive for Dr. Kurt Strecker

Stuck In Injury? Now Is The Time To Do Something About It!

Woman and men running during sunset

It is now mid-February. Whether or not it feels like it (can you say 70+ inches of snow and counting, if you live in the northeast!), spring is right around the corner, and with it, the events you have planned that you are also HOPING will make you feel good about yourself AND about the year 2015, when looking back on it.

The problem for many, especially those who have had success in the past, is allowing their EGO (along with some wishing and hoping) to get in the way of forward progress.

Why do we allow our own "confirmation bias" or our need to always be "right" to drag us down and keep us stuck in a place of injury, plateau, or worse?

If you can't get out of your own way long enough to leave behind the wishful thinking and see things (even for a brief moment) for how they REALLY are, then you know what? You will reap exactly what you sow. You will remain stuck in a place where injury or poor performance becomes your new normal.

If I've learned anything over the years, it is how important it remains to embrace humility. I have also learned that I NEED to get out of my own way and reach out to others with a beginner's mindset, so that I may move fully forward and reach my greatest personal potential! Not always easy, incredibly important and powerful.

Why not join me and a long list of others and finally put the injury and plateau bug behind you!

Check out our NEW INJURY PREVENTION series and get started now addressing those issues, so 2015 turns out the way you hope it will!

All my best,

~Coach Al

Musings From Coach Al: Are You Ready?

"If people can make permanent decisions in their life regarding their choice of mate, religion, or political party, then they are equally capable of making permanent decisions regarding their food choices, fitness commitments, and goals. (The human species is not biologically weakwilled, though you'd never know it if you observed typical human behavior.) Making sweeping, definitive, all-encompassing, and enduring commitments is an incredibly powerful and liberating experience, both in the making and the living up to them." --  Chris Kostman, Race Director of the Badwater Ultramarathon


Today I received an email from an athlete I coach, with a hyperlink to a blog post from another coach.

The post resonated with me because I could really relate to what the author, Coach Taylor, was ranting about.

Many of you remember the podcast I did with Coach Pat Flynn, on the challenge inherent in being a "truth-telling" coach and teacher.

Perhaps you remember my blog post from Ironman Hawaii in 2012 on truth and honesty.

Well, here's another piece on the topic that I believe is worth a few minutes of your time to read.

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But only if you want results.

And are willing to look in the mirror and hear the truth.

And aren't easily offended.

Are you ready??

~Coach Al 

 

Team Pursuit Athletic Performance: It’s Been A Banner Year!

TEAM Pursuit Athletes at the 2013 Timberman Half Ironman triathlon!

TEAM Pursuit triathletes at the Timberman Half Ironman triathlon!

2014 was a banner year for Team Pursuit Athletic Performance.

It isn't just that we have expanded into a new training space on the top of Inspiration lane in Chester, Connecticut (with a completely new offering of classes and clinics for kids and adults in many different sports) OR that our team has grown at an unprecendented rate of speed. No, it's a lot more than just about a new training center or the numbers.

So what has made 2014 such a banner year?

Simply put, it has been the heart and soul of our team and our company, it is the people.

From novice to elite (and regardless of the sport), the person who finds a home as a member of Team Pursuit is friendly, supportive, humble, smart, compassionate, fun-loving and hard working. Our trainers and coaches are the same!

The start of the new year is a great time to reflect on why we are so proud of the work we do AND the athletes who make up our team.

So why should you choose Team Pursuit Athletic Performance?  Here are five reasons why....

  1. Fun, comraderie, sharing, hard work and achievement - together. Some teams or groups exist solely for the betterment of its leaders or to help someone else profit. Team Pursuit exists primarily to help make a real difference and empower ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things, amidst a genuine spirit of sharing, humility, fun, and comraderie.  
  2. Training for the betterment of the body, not to its detriment. Team Pursuit athletes believe that the ultimate 'goal' is to be in the game for the long term. They don't believe that any short term goal is worth sacrificing their body and damaging it for the long term. Some see training through injury as a sign of toughness, but not Team Pursuit. Many of our present day team members were once consistently injured and grew tired of it. You can read about their stories of redemption to a new better way to live and train. There really IS a better way. You CAN go faster than ever and be truly healthy too!
  3. Balance in all things. Family, sport, work, friends, community...they ALL matter and all are important for any person to lead a satisfying, rewarding, happy life. Balance might be the most over used cliche' word ever written, yet Team Pursuit athletes don't just give lip service to it. We preach it when it comes to our body and we LIVE it when it comes to how we reach higher and seek to explode our potential, on AND off the race course. Our own first-of-its-kind "Functional Well-Being" coaching program is just one example.
  4. Learning. Team Pursuit athletes might be defined most by this single concept: they love to learn! Life long learners achieve more, enjoy the training process more, and ultimately go faster too.
  5. Our staff of coaches, trainers, and sports medicine professionals is the very best available, anywhere. Rarely will you ever find the very best sports medicine advice AND professional coaching and racing expertise all under one roof. Combine those with a staff of dedicated professional coaches and trainers, and a team full of people who cherish the opportunity to reach out to each other and help, and you truly have a winning combination that is hard to beat.

2015 is going to be one amazing year!  We invite you to consider joining us on the journey!

Happy New Year to all!

 

Musings From Coach Al: What It Really Takes To Be Successful

"What a pity that so many people would rather believe their doubts and doubt their beliefts. Why don't we just decide to have no doubts, and believe our beliefs! Fear and worry are just the misuse of the creative powers we originally got to dream." --  Jannie Putter

There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less. -- Kurt Hahn


Coach Al speaking with ultra-runner and coach Debbie Livingston as she runs on the TrueForm Runner

Coach Al speaking with ultra-runner Debbie Livingston as she runs on the TrueForm Runner inside the Pursuit Training Center.

Every day I speak with athletes who are hoping to up their game to a new higher level.  They want more speed, more strength, less injury, and faster finish times. Every so often an athlete will walk into our Pursuit Training Center looking for a quick fix for a chronic injury, or the secrets to getting faster. For those who are willing to learn and work hard, they have found a home to build their "best" possible self. For others who don't find the quick fix, we often never see them again. At least for the moment, they lack what it takes to truly reach their potential.

In this society in which we now live, it seems that everywhere we look around us, we are encouraged to look for that quick fix, "instant" cure, or some kind of special secret to success. Take a pill, walk into the right gym, or meet the right person, and all of a sudden your life is better and you're faster and stronger, right?

Wrong. It doesn't work that way, not now and not ever, despite what you read or who you believe.

The great Jim Rohn once said: "Success is the predictable result of doing the right things, in the right way, at the right time."

John Gardner once said: "Excellence is doing ordinary things, extraordinarily well."

Athletes who are able to achieve long-term success and who reach their ultimate potential aren't born that way, in the same way that most people who are rich didn't just stumble upon a large plastic bag filled with hundred dollar bills.

Long term success happens to those who embrace the idea that it is a growth process that requires focus, determination, hard work, a little humility, and perhaps most of all, a willingness to do the things you often least want to do.

Emphasis ought to be placed on the humility and willingness to do the things you don't want to, as in my experience, they very often have a greater impact on long term success than many other factors. Humility means accepting you don't know-it-all and are willing to listen, hear the truth, and commit to life-long learning. It also means seeing supposed "failures" as not failures at all, but rather, as one more stepping stone that moves you closer to success - and to your ultimate potential.

Here at Pursuit Athletic Performance, we preach fanatically about the importance of doing things in the right way, as Jim Rohn said. My partner Doc Strecker is often heard saying that you can do virtually any exercise 95% correctly and get very little benefit from it.  To get the full benefit of any endeavor, exercise, or training progression, there's one best way - the right way.

Are you doing the right things, in the right way, at the right time, in your own training?

Are you doing the ordinary things, extraordinarily well?

There's no substitute for hard work and determination, that is true. It is equally true that there's is also no substitute for doing the right things, in the right way, at the right time.

  • Skill building: start immediately learning and building proper skills and mechanics, all of which will ultimately set the limit for how far you can raise your fitness level.
  • Fundamentals first: address foundational and fundamental movement quality elements first, before moving on to more advanced fitness oriented exercises and activities.
  • Get out of that injury cycle: fix that chronic injury once and for all so you can get out of constant pain and into a state of growth. (If you're frustrated and not sure WHAT to do, then contact me and I'll help you get the results you desire!)
  • Team building: who will help you achieve your ultimate potential? No one does it alone. Build a support team of family, friends, coaches, and training partners, who are healthy, like-minded, patient, life-long learners.
  • As hard as it is sometimes, be willing to take a good look in the mirror: Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? YES. The truth WILL set you free. It is only with honest and objective feedback of where you are, right now, can you truly move forward in a positive way toward meaningful lasting success and happiness.

Our future success and happiness isn't dictated or limited by our DNA, our parents, where we grew up, or who we know.

Far greater achievement, statisfaction, and fullfillment are available to each and every one of us, regardless of our background, talent level, or gender.

Start with the above quotes and live by them on a daily basis, and you'll be well on your way to making 2015 your best year ever!

~Coach Al 

 

Be Careful WHO You Get Your Running Advice From…

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

"Caveat Emptor" - Latin for let the buyer beware


Hi Everyone! Coach Al here.

Today I'm jumping up onto my soapbox.  I guess I'm a little tired of looking around me (and online as well) at coaches and trainers who call themselves "experts" or who dish out a pile of crappy advice (and who don't walk the talk) when marketing to unsuspecting potential athletes/clients, and so I just figured it was time to vent a little bit.

And perhaps offer a little advice, too. :)

So if you're a runner or multi-sport athlete who truly wants to be better, faster and improve consistently, OR a fitness enthusiast who simply wants to be able to work out and stay healthy, read on. If you're offended by hearing the truth, then stop reading now.

My advice today starts with this: Be very careful about who you're taking your running (and training) advice from. 

In this day and age, anyone can post a video on youtube and become an "expert."

Anyone can open a gym or fitness studio and talk about "doing it right," without really knowing what "right" is or actually doing what they say you should do.

As you move forward and work toward achieving YOUR goals in 2015 and beyond, ask yourself some simple questions:

  • Has the person you're taking advice from EVER demonstrated the ability to remain injury free while doing progressively more challenging training?

Many coaches and trainers right around you, are injured themselves while they lecture to YOU about what you need to do to stay injury free! Beware of frauds and internet "experts".

  • Have they demonstrated the ability to train progressively and improve their performance consistently, moving from a novice to a higher level of performance?

Many coaches and trainers out there preach like they've "been there and done that," yet have never ever trained from a novice level to a higher level of performance!  I'm not talking about finishing a half-marathon or marathon, I'm talking about raising performance to a higher level.

If you are going to take advice about how to get faster or stronger, shouldn't you take it from someone who has actually demonstrated an ability to do it? Beware of a trainer who always has an excuse for their sub-par performance or some reason why they are always satisfied with mediocrity.

  • Have they worked with others who have been injured or in a long-term cycle of injury and helped them get OUT of that injury cycle to rise to a higher level of performance?

If a trainer or coach IS injured themselves, can they honestly speak to what it takes to remain injury free? (Other than traumatic injury, in nearly every instance the answer is no!)

No, I AM NOT saying a coach has to have gone "fast" to be a good coach, or done the ironman to be considered a triathlete.

What I am saying is that there are way too many frauds out there pretending to be "expert" trainers and coaches, using the internet and unsuspecting consumers to profit.

  • Take a good look at who you're training with:
    • Are they injured?
    • Are they dismissing things like movement quality and are they recommending you do the same?
    • Are they practicing what they preach?
    • Are they, or have they, demonstrated the ability to do what they say you should do?

Be smart. Caveat emptor.

You're worth it.

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al

Pursuit Athletic Performance Announces Grand Opening and Open House

The grand opening and open house will celebrate our relocation and expansion to the new Pursuit Training Center on the top of Inspiration Lane!


On the heels of our recently held "Team Pursuit" open house (see all of the pictures below from that awesome event!), all of us at Pursuit Athletic Performance are excited to announce our upcoming open house and grand opening of the Pursuit Training Center on Wednesday, November 12 from 6pm to 8pm.

All are invited to meet the staff and tour our 7,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility located at 8 Inspiration Lane in Chester, Conn. As many of you know, we were previously located in a smaller space in Old Saybrook, Conn.

We are very excited about our expansion which allows us the opportunity to bring kids’ injury prevention boot-camp classes, adult fitness classes, yoga, strength and conditioning, and our unique advanced gait analysis process, to the entire Middlesex county region.

Join us and check out some of our unique equipment designed to help you get stronger and faster, including the awesome TrueForm Runner non-motorized treadmills, Vasa Swim Ergometers, and our own special Computrainer studio, appropriately nicknamed the "pain cave."

If you are unable to join us for this open house on November 12th, feel free to stop in any time and tour the space. We hope to see you soon!

Happy Training!

-Coach and Doc

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four TIPS For The Aging Endurance Athlete (Hint: Yes, You Can Still Keep Playing!)

Coach Al (showing his back-side) at a Pisgah Mountain 50k aid station. Keeping it young!

Coach Al (showing his back-side) at a Pisgah Mountain 50k trail race aid station. Keeping it young!

Some of the readers of this blog know I raced this past weekend at the Pisgah Mountain 50k trail race up in New Hampshire (I finished 2nd  in my age-group and 26th overall), and will again be racing THIS coming weekend, tackling the very challenging Vermont 50 mountain bike race.  These events are just a small sample of what I’ve got planned for myself over the next few months and into 2015!

Today, more than ever, athletes are performing at a high level well into their 50s, 60s, and beyond! How are they doing it?  How do I (a nearly 55 year-old endurance athlete/coach with 35+ years of training and racing in the legs) maintain the ability to keep “playing” even as I’m aging well into my 50s?

To help YOU maintain the ability to keep playing, here are FOUR tips for the aging athlete. These could be YOUR secrets to success! (I’ve learned much of this through trial and error - take advantage of my mistakes and get started now).

  1. Maintain Your Mobility and Flexibility: The single thing we lose most as we age is the ability for our joints to move FREELY. Freedom of movement is what we associate with being young, isn’t it? Flexibility is related and is also something we lose as we age. Mobility and flexibility suffer as the miles pile up, too, so if you’ve been running or training for a few years, its likely you’ve lost some of that freedom of movement.

When you lose mobility:

  • Your body loses its ability to absorb pounding and attenuate forces that work on it while you're moving, such as gravity and ground reaction.
  • Your stride shortens and you feel every “bump” in the road that much more.
  • You enjoy your training less because it becomes more of a struggle to do simple things such as bend over or step up.
  • Your risk of injury sky rockets!

To avoid these, first seek to find out where you’re tight or imbalanced, and then get started on a specific targeted program to address these restrictions.  This is absolutely your #1 priority as you get older.

A Helpful Video: One common area of unwanted tightness as we age is in our hamstrings.  Hamstring tightness can develop for a number of different reasons (including dysfunction of the glute region or extreme tightness of the hip flexor region). However, very often it develops simply from the overall loss of flexiblity as we age (or from too much sitting in a chair!).

Try this effective and safe movement (stretch) for the hamstrings demonstrated by our own Doc Strecker.

 

(To learn more about WHY mobility is so vital to your success, listen to Doc Strecker and I discuss the importance of this element of human movement!)

  1. Get Stronger: Like mobility, strength (as well as the pre-requisite to developing true functional strength, which is basic core stability) often decline as we age and the miles pile up. Along with staying mobile, the key to maintaining YOUR ability to play comes down to getting stronger!

Many athletes aren’t familiar with the difference between strength and stability. Its important for sure, and something you will want to KNOW as you age. To learn more, check out this blog post we did on the topic.

So what is the best way to get stronger?

There are as many programs and exercises as there are stars in the sky, or so it would seem. I like to keep things simple at first, by going straight at bodyweight exercises. After all, what is better than a pull up or push up to develop trunk strength? Not too much!

(If you’re unable to do a single pull up, start by doing “hangs” and then doing “negatives” as part of your progression!)

Whether it’s a kettlebell, floor based exercises, suspension training, or simply lifting and moving rocks or flipping tires, the best path to optimal strength development and good health is to start with simpler, more foundational movements and progress to more complex as you improve and gain strength.

One last thing: don’t get INJURED trying to get stronger. That happens all too often. Start at a smart level, and progress intelligently.

  1. Get Massage: With increasing age (and more miles along with chronic injuries) come the development of micro trauma in the muscle, which leads to the development of scar tissue and a loss of elasticity. Scar tissue, which forms in response to that micro trauma and tearing of the muscle fiber, reduces elasticity and leads to weaker and shorter, more injury prone muscle.

One key to overcoming the long term negative impact of scar tissue development (and keeping muscle healthy and young), is massage, from a qualified competent massage therapist of course.

Yes, your foam roller used routinely, can help.  But your foam roller can’t do the same things the sensitive and educated human hands of a qualified professional can, digging deeply into the muscle to strip it down and help the tissue remodel. Massage can literally be THE secret for the aging athlete whose goal it is to maintain healthy tissue.

(One additional tip about massage: In my experience, if you have been battling injury or know you have a significant amount of scar tissue or have lost flexibility, getting massage only occasionally won’t do the trick.  You need to commit to successive sessions where the same therapist can work progressively to restore tissue health. With repeated sessions, the therapist will learn more about your body and be able to address YOUR specific issues more effectively).

  1. Get Off Road: When it comes to staying young and fighting father time as a runner or cyclist, nothing beats getting off road! Trails offer variable terrain that challenges the mobility, flexibility and strength you’re working to retain, while also minimizing the repetitive stress that comes from road running and riding.
  • Mountain biking and trail running (and hiking) require very specific skills which keep you young!
    • Glute and hip strength, balance, handling, and leg strength all improve when you ride off road.
    • Agility and balance, elasticity, and leg and hip strength all improve when you run off road.
    • And since every footstrike is different and the surfaces are softer than asphalt, your risk of repetitive injury goes way down!
  • Best of all, you get to PLAY in the woods and keep it fun! Trail running and riding is just plain fun!

Even if you’re not quite as old as I am, you will be sooner than you realize! You'd be smart to start NOW to begin following the recommendations I’ve shared today. The same things that keep you young will also help the younger athlete stay healthier, perform better, and go faster.

 

~Coach Al 

ps: Do you have questions, comments or feedback about these four tips to help you stay younger? Or your own tips to add? Leave your thoughts below or on our FACEBOOK page. 

Come on out to our NEW facility in Chester to check out our new Trueform runners - the BEST treadmill on the planet because YOU have to do the work!

Come to our NEW facility in Chester to check out our Trueform Runners - the BEST treadmill (non-motorized) on the planet for staying younger as a runner, because YOU have to do the work!

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

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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!

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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]

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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]

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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