Archive for Dr. Kurt Strecker

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



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!


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



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]



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.


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!)

Guided Detox for Athletes Info Sheet :: Order Kit By January 28 :: Start on February 4


Detox Dates: February 4-17, 2013
Order Your Detox Kit By January 28
to Ensure Delivery

Dr. Kurt Strecker, CP, CCSP
Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

Designs For Health
Designs for Health is an outstanding brand that we have worked with for many years. A professional brand, it is offered exclusively to health care professionals and their patients through referral.

You can read about the Designs for Health philosophy and all of their products at their website.

How Can I Join the Detox?
We wanted to make the detox available to as many athletes as possible. If you are not on our triathlon training team, here is what we set up for you:

  • You can order securely through our store right on our Facebook page. Click here. Open this link in a browser, not a mobile device. Facebook does not open these apps on mobile from some frustrating reason.
  • We have developed a web page for the program that you can visit here for more information and to order.
  • On a mobile phone? Here’s our mobile app link.
  • Or you can order right on our web site.

How Will You Guide Me:

Spreecast and Private Facebook Group
Once we receive your order, we will send you information about our detox Spreecast scheduled for Thursday, January 31 at 7 pm. We will answer all you questions and get some mojo flowing. Please like our Facebook page so we can include you in a private Facebook group. We will check in with the group daily to keep you on track for the 14 days.

Can You Offer a Discount?
Designs for Health does not allow discounts. They say, “As a true professional line of nutritional supplements, Designs for Health does not allow discounting its products.”

Why Do the Detox Now?
Says Coach Al: Unless you’re training for a race right now, there’s absolutely no reason that I can think of, not to do this. Many of you are stuck on eating the same 8-10 different foods, every day. You need some change. Many of you could benefit from losing a bit of body fat, and now is the best time during the year to do that. Many of you would learn a ton about your own food tolerances and learn many other things too. Please get in on the Detox. You won’t regret it.

Also, You Can Look Forward To:

  • Breaking out of your nutritional rut
  • Finding out which foods cause the most negative reactions
  • Learning to try new foods and discover some new favorites
  • Dropping a few unwanted pounds of fat without going hungry or starving yourself
  • Giving your motivation and discipline a little kick start, in preparation for the upcoming year
  • Watching energy levels skyrocket and learn just how certain foods really do have a ‘stressful’ affect on your body

Is This a Colon Cleanse?
This is NOT a colon cleanse or freaky fad thing. This is about eating good, wholesome, clean food and supplementing the liver with the raw materials it needs to “get caught up” in the housekeeping.

What Will I Eat?
You will be drinking two shakes per day as meal replacements. These are not some canned goo. You’ll be making them fresh with ingredients like your favorite frozen berries, almond or coconut milk, maybe ginger or cinnamon with some pea protein and PaleoCleanse powder. They’re delicious. (Good enough that Dr. Strecker’s little kids drink them.)

Twice per day you’ll be taking some AminoDetox capsules and plant-based digestive enzymes also in capsule form.

Your third meal will be something like wild salmon, buffalo burger, free-range chicken or turkey plus veggies. You will snack on almonds, pistachios, avocado, fruit, celery with almond butter… things like that. There is NO calorie restriction, so you won’t be hungry.

What Will I Give Up?

  • Sugar and sweeteners
  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Processed crap
  • Fried foods
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Peanuts

Outstanding Results
Says Dr. Strecker: I will also tell you, and some of you will think I’m flat lying here, that over the past few years I’ve ordered pre- and post-detox blood work on 7 people. (They did the 28-day version of the detox.) Five had elevated cholesterol. After the detox, four of them had normal cholesterol numbers with improved ratios. Here’s the crazy part:Two of them dropped about 100 points off their LDL. I am not making this up. The first time I tested a person, I thought it was a mistake. All of those tested were male, between 30-45 years of age, and overweight. All lost between 7-12 pounds. Yes, blood lipid profiles typically improve with diminishing waist line, but I’ve not seen anything so dramatic.

How Bad Will It Be To Give Up Caffeine?
Triathlon Team Member Paul S who undertook the cleanse last year had this to say:

Regarding caffeine and the impact–I had for almost 30 years been a TWO POT a day coffee drinker, and also usually had 2-3 diet cokes in the afternoon. I can tell you that the headache for days 2-5 was hard. It is Doc that convinced me to stick it out. After five days it subsided and I noticed a total leveling, and “high” level of energy and consistency across the day without afternoon lulls. I did the 30-day detox and had such a change in my daily energy stayed high, that I stuck with many of the components.

I started drinking green tea only after the detox due to the antioxidants. While there is some caffeine (although an order of magnitude less per cup), the energy swings did not come back. I have had only 3 Diet Cokes since August 2nd and don’t even like the taste any more. While I have had an occasional cup of decaf coffee (as I missed the taste), I have not had more than 1 cup a day. Over the holidays I also let slip in a cup occasionally and since new years have been doing a cup of half-caff once a day too. I am doing this detox to get all the way back off coffee.

The truth is, you can do it. And you’ll have a group of people right along side you in the group providing support and motivation every step of the way.

Can I Train?
Yes, unless you are deep into Ironman-type training, you can continue your normal regimen. A number of our athletes report high energy levels and PRs during the cleanse period.

This is a good thing to do for yourself! Join us!

Dr. Kurt Strecker and Coach Al Lyman

Guided 14-Day Detox for Athletes, February 4-17. You Know You Need To!

Hey Everyone!

Kurt_DetoxDr. Kurt Strecker here with a great opportunity to jump start your nutrition before the 2013 season gets in full swing. We are offering, through our Facebook page, a 14-day guided detox program to help you:

  • Get Energized
  • Stop Eating The Junk
  • Lose Some Weight
  • Break Bad Eating Habits
  • Get Your Eating Mindset in Place for the Best Year Yet!

Not only are we known for extracting the best athletic performance from our athletes, but we guideDFH_Kit their nutrition closely too. For the detox, we carefully selected a kit by the best company we can recommend–Designs for Health (DFH). For 14 days we will guide you on a methodical, step-by-step plan. We assure you, the DFH program is nothing radical or depleting. Rather, it’s a way for you to replenish and restore balance, and get you on the path to better eating and better performance over the long term.

We wanted to make this available to as many athletes as possible, and the most efficient way to do that is through Facebook. Here are the steps:

1. Please visit our page and give us a like.

2. Then click the above photo of Dr. Strecker on our Facebook page. That will take you to a video, additional information, and the order form. You can order your kit securely right on the detox site within Facebook.

Just how will we guide you?

  • Pre-detox, we will offer a live Spreecast on Thursday, January 31 at 7pm to answer questions, and get some mojo flowing!
  • We’ll all start together on Monday, February 4. So eat those spicy wings watching the Super Bowl, and then get down to business.
  • You will be invited to join a private Facebook group where we will check in daily to offer support and information.
  • Download our Pursuit Detox document for additional information, Q&A, testimonials, and motivation.


Place your order securely right through our Facebook page by January 25 to insure delivery in the lower forty-eight through standard shipping. You can read more about the detox package on the order form on Facebook, as well.

Once you order, we will be in touch with how to join the group and the Spreecast details.

NOW is the time of year to do this! Join us to eat better, feel better, train better. Win-Win-Win!

Questions? Hit us up on Facebook!

Baby Steps: A Runners Guide to Feet, Shoes and Dating (FREE Ebook)

pursuit athletic performanceThis little piggy…hurts! We know how it is. Feet can often be a source of big trouble for runners. Here is a direct download link for Baby Steps: A Runners Guide to Feet, Shoes and Dating, our free (somewhat humorous) guide to your feet, how they work, and how to–finally–pick the running shoe that’s right for YOU.

Orthotics? We cover that. Dating? Well, really, not so much! 8-)

Here’s an excerpt:

Pick up any running or triathlon magazine and you won’t read too many pages before a bold advertisement displays the shoes you really need if you truly want to be your best. Some claim to make you faster or prevent injury, others tout the benefits of “running more naturally.” One thing’s for sure, all of them look cool. And they come in the flashiest colors. And there’s some (paid) uber-athlete sporting said (complimentary) foot gear. You know the one. She just posted a new course record at IM Antarctica. She is sweaty and sexy and appears to have been chiseled from a solid block of marble. Not some cheap, domestic marble, mind you, the expensive Italian kind.

You, too, could look like this, race like this and maybe even get a date on Friday night if you wore these shoes.

Then we get serious, and take you on a tour of your foot function, foot form, and mechanics, leading you to figure out how to pick the right running shoe. Hit us up with comments or questions here in the blog or on our Facebook page. Enjoy and let us know what you think!

Dr. Kurt Strecker: The Off Season’s #1 Goal? Get Healthy!

Hi Folks!

Dr. Kurt Strecker, Pursuit Athletic Performance

Dr. Kurt Strecker

Now is the time of year to begin the conversation about goals for the off season. Coach Al is busy building plans, and together we’re strategizing the final details for our launch of an online triathlon training team. Stay tuned. Lots of exciting stuff coming up!

We are launching the team within the next few months specifically to take advantage of this crucial time between seasons. This year we will be able to to help athletes make a plan to get truly healthy and lay the foundation for your best racing season ever!

You know what your #1 goal should be in the off season?

You have to get healthy!

Here are some words of advice.

Musings from the Med Tent With Dr. Kurt Strecker: The Agony of the Feet–Plantar Fasciitis

Dr. Kurt Strecker, Pursuit Athletic Performance

Dr. Kurt Strecker, DC, CCSP

Dr. Kurt Strecker checking in from the Med Tent to talk to you today about a common, and often debilitating injury, plantar fasciitis. I can almost hear a collective groan from all of you who have endured, or continue to suffer from, this painful affliction. It truly is the agony of the feet.

Plantar Faciitis is an injury that plagues many runners, and a host of other athletes including football, baseball, soccer and basketball players. In this video, I discuss the cause of this misery, which many do not understand. Most importantly, the “small foot exercise” I recommend can go a very long way to helping cure the problem–and PREVENT it from occurring in the first place.

Any questions? Fire away!

~Dr. Kurt Strecker

Musings from the Med Tent With Dr. Kurt Strecker: A (Metaphorical) Pebble in Your Shoe

Hello Everyone!

Dr. Kurt Strecker, Pursuit Athletic Performance

Dr. Kurt Strecker, DC, CCSP

Dr. Kurt Strecker checking in from the Med Tent again today with a few words about how physical movement is impacted and altered when you are injured–particularly when you are dealing with injury over a period of time. Here’s some imagery I like to use to bring the point to life.

Have you ever gotten a pebble in your shoe? If you leave it there for a short time–no harm, no foul. If you ignore it during a five-mile road race, your foot will likely be sore for a few days, but no permanent damage will be done. IF, however, you leave the pebble in your shoe for months on end, you will learn to move differently to avoid the pain and discomfort.

Now, what happens if you take that pebble out after a few months? That’s right, you will still move differently than you did before the rock was in your shoe. You will continue to have altered movement patterns that negatively affect the tissue around the site, as well as other areas of the body. Compensation and dysfunctional movement is exactly what you create when you are hurt, and it has big implications for your athletic performance, and ongoing risk of injury.

In the video below I go into a bit more detail about all of this, as well as why rehab–GOOD rehab–not only focuses on healing tissue, but works to restore authentic movement. Even subtle changes in how you move due to injury have profound effects on your body, your performance, and overall health.

Be well! Move Strong!

Dr. Kurt Strecker