Archive for injury

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.

Blog image

 

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 

 

From Coach Susan Ford: End Of Year Statistics

Coach Susan Ford

Coach Susan Ford

If you have Facebook friends like mine, your newsfeed is filled with end of year stats on number of miles of swimming, biking and running done this year. It’s great! People are active and they are celebrating! There are some folks who target a number and go for it, and some who are squeezing in those last miles at the end of the year to get to a number.

I won’t be posting my totals. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with chasing miles or celebrating numbers. Chasing numbers can be very useful. They can be a carrot when motivation is low; I used them that way this year when I challenged myself to see how many miles I could walk, following a surgery that prevented me from being able to run.

But that being said, there are potential downfalls to chasing numbers:

  1. It can end up detracting from our goals. When you wrote your goals down at the beginning of the year, if you wrote “I will run x miles”, or “I will run more miles than last year”, or “I will start running regularly”, then congratulations! Your mileage reflects your goals! But if you wrote “I will improve my swimming technique”, “I will improve my pace over x distance”, or “I will achieve certain race results”, then purely chasing miles will not get you to your goal, and may hurt the process. How well you achieve your goals at the end of the year will affect how good you feel about your year.
  2. Chasing and posting mileage invites comparisons. I’m not worried about what others think, I’m worried about what goes on in my head. Guess what? I didn’t run as far as my pure runner friends, or bike as far as my pure cyclists friends, and I’m absolutely sure I didn’t swim as far as my pure swimming friends! Does that change how I feel about my year? No! I did what I needed to do to accomplish MY goals.
  3. Chasing miles can lead to injury. The same is true for streaks – running every day for x number of days. Both blunt my ability to respect and honor the needs of my body, and they do not allow for adaptation time that is required for me to reap the benefits of my work.
  4. Numbers do not reflect quality or the true pursose of the session. They are a very one dimensional view of training.

And yes, I totaled my miles this year, because I was curious. It was interesting and fun, and I’m amazed at what happens with the accumulation of daily effort. What do my miles represent? I hope they represent an honest effort every day to accomplish the intent of each workout. Did I do my recovery runs slowly? If not, I failed the workout. My workouts should reflect my goals, and if I have given every workout my best effort with attention to the intent of the workout, the results will lead me toward my dreams and goals.

So, go ahead and total those miles and post them! It’s a strange and amazing thing, the number of miles we cover in the time it takes the earth to circle the sun – both athletes and planets in motion. I like reading the posts and celebrating with you!

But if you didn’t accomplish your goals this year, make sure you aren’t chasing miles for mileage sake. If you did accomplish your goals, but reading all those posts make you wonder if you should do more mileage, remember – you accomplished YOUR goals! That’s worth far more!

~Susan 


Coach Susan Ford lives in Tennesee and coaches runners and triathletes as a Pursuit Athletic Performance coach, in addition to her work as a veterinarian. Her own inspiring journey from an always-injured and frustrated triathlete to one that is strong, durable (and always finishing at the top of her age-group in every race from 5k to ironman) is a remarkable one. To learn more about Susan and her coaching services, go here.

 

From Coach Susan Ford: What DON’T You Want To Do?

Coach Susan Ford

Coach Susan Ford

I’ve noticed a trend in some people who SAY they want to run or bike faster, and say they are willing to do “anything necessary” to get there.

In their minds, “anything necessary” means doing training sessions that are harder than they’ve done before, making bigger sacrifices for their training than they had done before, or become “hard core” in some way. They are absolutely ready to do those things.

Yet despite their proclamations, there is a glaring obstacle in their path, which they don’t see, and/or aren’t willing to address.

For example, I’ve been approached by another athlete about “speedwork,” who is carrying a significant excess of bodyfat. And another with a significant running form issue who wanted to do higher mileage. Neither are willing or able to see what was obvious, and neither are willing to do the one “anything” that IS necessary for them to improve. In their cases, the “hard core” work they needed to do was address diet and get on a true path of improving body composition, and in the other, take time off running to address imbalances and other movement related issues first.

Both continue their paths, doing “anything necessary” for their goals, except the one thing that they could not accept as an essential part of that process.

It makes me wonder if I have similar issues, and what I’m not willing to do.

What am I blind to? What is holding me back from my goals that requires work other than just “hard” training? What am I aware of, but not willing to do?

Food for thought….

~Susan 


Coach Susan Ford lives in Tennesee and coaches runners and triathletes as a Pursuit Athletic Performance coach, in addition to her work as a veterinarian. Her own inspiring journey from an always-injured and frustrated triathlete to one that is strong, durable (and always finishing at the top of her age-group in every race from 5k to ironman) is a remarkable one. To learn more about Susan and her coaching services, go here.

 

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

Runners: Are You Injured? Here’s the Secret Solution You Need!

Don't train through injury and don't think wishing it away will solve your problem!

Don’t train through injury and don’t think wishing it away will solve your problem!

And what IS that secret solution?

(Drum Roll Please………)

The “secret solution” is THE TRUTH….

…..which is something you probably don’t want to hear.  I get it.

Listen up: if you’re injured, you’ve got a real problem.  No, it isn’t life or death…..but because you love to run, it’s a real problem.

And the solution to your problem ISN’T as easy as just “resting and letting it heal.” 

Yes, the words, “I’ll just rest it and let it heal” is, without a doubt, the most common strategic response I hear from injured runners, on how they will solve their injury woes.

Allowing time for your body to rest and heal is hardly ever a bad idea, but it is foolish to believe (or hope, or pray) that simply resting and taking time away from running is all you need to overcome your injury.  Hardly ever works that way, I’m sorry to say.

There is only one way that works, based on my over 30 years of experience as a runner, triathlete, coach, and running biomechanics expert who’s performed hundreds of gait analysis on injured athletes:

Until you determine the reasons WHY the injury occured, and then address that cause at its root level, your injury will likely return once you resume running. 

The choice is always yours. You can keep beating your head against a wall and living with some level of pain on a daily basis. You can keep throwing money away on race entry fees for races you never end up actually doing. The choice is always yours.

Doc and I are here to help, when you’re finally ready to SOLVE your problem and enjoy running for the rest of your life.

Make it a great day!

~Coach Al 

ps:  The 2nd most common response I hear from injured runners is that they’ll go to see their orthopedic doctor. Really?  Remember my friends, while there are many good orthopedists out there, their primary gig is using sharp toys to cut you.  For many, it isn’t on helping you to address the movement oriented issues that are very likely the cause of the injury.  Think about it!

Getting Your Season Started Right!

 

Lis Kenon and Coach Al, Pursuit Athletic Performance

Coach Al with 4x Ironman AG World Champion, Lisbeth Kenyon

Hey Everyone! Coach Al here. :)  If you are like many endurance athletes in the northern hemisphere, the late March marks the time when you really start planning to “get serious” with training and race preparation in anticipation of the upcoming competitive season. Even more, for some athletes this time period marks the time when, after a casual glance at the calendar reveals only a few weeks remain until the first event, a state of shock and absolute panic ensues! ☺

Before you panic and start hammering those high intensity intervals, moving yourself precariously close to either injury or over-training, remember to keep a few important things in mind as you embark upon a fast-track toward improved race readiness.

First, avoid the trap of thinking there is a quick fix, short cut, or easy path toward a true higher level of fitness. Building the stamina and strength that leads to success in endurance sports takes time and patience. However, if you pay close attention to the fundamentals such as skill and technique enhancement and general/functional strength, you CAN make some great inroads over a relatively short period of time that WILL help get you closer to being able to achieve your goals.

Secondly, while there are many facets of your training that will be integral for your success, there are two topics requiring your attention all year long but often don’t get the attention they deserve this time of year.  They are: maximizing your daily NUTRITION and daily RECOVERY from training.  (If you’re at a point in time when you feel you need a “kick-start” to cleaning up your diet, check out our De-tox!)

It goes without saying that if you don’t eat well most of the time and at the right times and don’t recover adequately between individual training sessions and week to week, your training, fitness, and ultimately your race preparation will stagnate or even worsen.

Here are three TIPS to assist in transitioning optimally to the month of April and also help you get your season started right:

  1. Review your current Limiters and then establish some Training Objectives to improve and overcome those Limiters. Limiters are your weaknesses or “race specific” abilities that may hold you back from being successful in your most important events.   Likewise, Training Objectives are measurable training goals that you set for yourself and which may be based on your Limiters, with the goal of improving upon them.

To help in this process, start by asking yourself these questions: 

  • As you review your current Limiters, how well have you progressed in the Off-Season in addressing those?
  • Did you “miss anything” in your Off-Season preparation that you should focus on now?
  • Is there a chance that your Limiters will hold you back from being successful in certain events?
  • Are you aware of your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are you doing anything right now to improve your Limiters and thus your chance for success in your upcoming KEY races?

Even though it IS late March, it is NOT too late to start developing some key workouts to help strengthen your weaknesses. Be patient and persistent, and set measurable goals (training objectives) so that when you line up for your most important event this season, you will have the confidence of knowing you did all you could to prepare for success!

  1. Focus on executing KEY WORKOUTS by differentiating intensity and being purposeful in all of your training: To ensure you continue to improve, one of your primary goals must be to execute key-workouts to the best of your ability, which are those workouts that when recovered from them, will have had a specific and material impact on your race specific fitness.  Avoid falling victim to the “rat race” mentality that has you chronically “running” from one workout to the next without any real focus, which only results in tiredness and higher levels of stress without resulting in improved health OR fitness.
  2. Eat as well as you can, most of the time: Eating the best foods to nurture your health and recovery, most of the time and at the right times, is the best path toward optimizing health and body composition. Too often endurance athletes fall victim to waiting until they are close to their goal races and then trying to get lean and “race ready.” Once you begin to do higher intensity race-specific training sessions, your body will be under greater duress – trying to limit calories at that time can be very stressful and may lead to injury, poor adaptation to training stresses, and basically undoing all of the work you are doing to improve!

To summarize, these three tips come back to one very important but often forgotten concept: listening to your body and trusting your intuition.  I believe your intuition may be the most important tool you have in your toolbox as an endurance athlete, and unfortunately many of us don’t listen to it when we need to the most.

If you are a novice, your intuition might not be as highly developed as your more experienced training partners or friends, but it IS there and is often talking to you! Your “inner voice” might be telling you that you are tired and just don’t feel up to that ride or run that you had planned, or, that what you are eating isn’t optimal to support your training or health.

Your body is smart! If you learn to really listen to it and stay patient and focused on the fundamentals, you will get your season started right and perhaps have your best season ever! Best of luck!

~Coach Al

Are You Listening? Olivia Syptak is.

 Introducing Olivia Syptak as Pursuit Athletic Performance’s

Functional Wellness Coach!

 

Hey Everyone! 

Coach Al here.  With today’s blog post, Doc and I would like to formally introduce Olivia Syptak to you as a new contributing member of our team of coaches here at Pursuit Athletic Performance.  Olivia’s focus with our team will be on Functional Wellness.  Some of you may remember the Podcast we did with Olivia a couple of weeks ago on Training and Life Balance. We are SUPER excited to welcome Olivia and know you all are going to really enjoy and benefit from her contributions moving forward. At Pursuit Athletic Performance, we are passionate about training for the betterment of the body, not to its detriment. Spiritual, emotional, and mental health and fitness are as important as physical health and fitness. With Olivia by our side, we hope to share even more valuable information that will help you create the life that you truly deserve. Welcome Olivia, and thank you for joining us!

Are You Listening?

By Olivia Syptak

 

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Wellness Coach, Olivia Syptak

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Wellness Coach, Olivia Syptak

For today, I’d like to have some fun so let’s do a quick puzzle! It’s a simple jumble. Unscramble the letters below and see what you get. 

ITENSL

What word did you come up with? Or did you find two words?

There are, in fact, two words that are spelled with these letters: SILENT and LISTEN. Cool, right? It’s even cooler if we dig into each word and look at how linked they are in terms of maintaining our forward progress in life, as athletes and otherwise, in a balanced way.

Let’s start with silent. First, let me be clear that this isn’t necessarily about a complete lack of sound, or stark library quiet in our physical environment—although that has its merits. I am talking about a silence derived from stillness, openness, and space in our hearts and minds.

Contrasted to a chattering mind, a defensive and fearful heart, and a cluttered perspective, a still mind, an open heart, and an expansive perspective represent states of being silent that set up the possibility for “hearing.” It is in hearing that we gain the opportunity for listening.

To listen is to attend to, or give focused attention to, that which we hear. Again, this goes beyond what we hear or listen to through our ears. This is about awareness of the things that we may know deeply, but haven’t yet attended to on a surface level. It is about that feeling that something is right (or isn’t). It is about a “wide lens” point of view that doesn’t jump to conclusions or limit options.

As busy athletes with children, significant others, parents, siblings, co-workers, demanding projects, traffic jams, injuries, doubts, hopes, and dreams, developing our ability to listen is critical to our ability to be as great as possible in all of these areas.

We need be in honest touch with our strengths and weaknesses in racing to determine where more training time might be spent to increase that balance in our programs that Coach Al and Doc Strecker have recently discussed. We need to know when training or racing may need to be set aside in order to free us up literally and emotionally to spend a whole weekend with our families. We need to trust that feeling that resting today, rather than getting on the bike is right, and that doing so does not mean we are weak or giving up on our goals. Or maybe, we might feel in our bodies that we are capable of pushing our run pace in training but hold back out of comfortable habit.

There may be things that you know deeply but that you haven’t yet acted upon; something you know in your heart that is right but that you’re not listening to. To really be able listen to the cues or signals that may come rationally, emotionally, or perceptively we may need to carve out some silence in our lives.

What are some potential sources of “noise” in your life that may be limiting what you hear and listen to? Would it be possible to take a minute today to be silent and think about things you may be aware of but not yet be listening to?

You may just find that in these two solutions to this little puzzle, you may unlock some incredible opportunities for growth and performance. Think of the opportunities that you may be missing!

~Olivia 

Stuck In Injury or Poor Performance? Maybe You Need To Get Out of Your Own Way…

Hello Everyone!

confirmation biasA quick thought today on what it sometimes takes to make progress in life and sport…

It always amazes me how so many athletes, especially those who have had success in the past, allow their EGO 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?

Folks, 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. ~Coach Al

003: Rebuilding the Injured Athlete (Podcast)

Play

pursuit athletic performance podcastHi Everyone!

In this podcast, Coach Al Lyman and Dr. Kurt Strecker discuss Reductionist vs. Holistic Approaches to Treatment of An Injured Athlete. That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? It simply means this….

Coach and Kurt discuss treatment of injuries from a holistic, complete body point of view. They explain why treating the site of pain doesn’t usually correct the problem, and why treating the whole person is the key to preventing relapse.

Says Dr. Strecker, “Non-contact or repetitive use injuries are common in athletes. All too frequently, athletes get stuck in a cycle of recurrent injury and frustration despite having sought treatment. The body is an integrated unit and functions as such. Good treatment, rehabilitation and training must incorporate the whole body and not just the injured tissue or the risk of re-injury will be great.”

If you’re hurt or always battling some type of nagging injury, you need to listen.

Be GREAT!

Coach Al and Kurt

 

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