Archive for Ironman triathlon

045: Butter, Brains, and Better Health and Performance! [Podcast]

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Avocado

Today’s podcast is positively packed with powerful pearls of wisdom that are applicable in team sports, triathlon and life!  Coach Al and Dr. Strecker start off with a discussion of the role of fats in the diet on the heels of the TIME magazine article entitled, “Eat Butter.”  And while fats are often vilified, they play an important part in good nutrition.  Just wander through any grocery store and you’re sure to see product packages boldly emblazoned with the words “LOW FAT” or “FAT FREE!”  We have been programmed to believe that fat is the root of all dietary evil, yet a close look at the hard evidence reveals that this is not the case.

Great training involves more than just good nutrition, of course, and mental preparation is one key to success that can’t be overlooked.  In sport, at work and in life, stuff happens.  That much is certain.  It may be a bad call by a ref, a flat tire on your bike, or an obnoxious driver on the freeway that challenges us, but how we react defines who we are and what we’ll accomplish.  Let’s face it, spending the rest of the day obsessing about the truck driver who cut you off only detracts from your productivity and peace of mind.

Sit back, relax, eat an avocado, and listen in as Coach and Doc take you on a little journey filled with good fats and happy people.  :-)

Thanks for joining us on the podcast! Happy Trails!

~Coach Al and Dr. Strecker

044: More Listener Questions: Comparing Ourselves To Others; The Psychology Of Suffering [Podcast]

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Doc Strecker pushing toward the finish!

In today’s podcast, I jump right into some great questions posed to us by some listeners. As we’ve said before, we really appreciate it when you contact us and ask great questions – keep them coming!

Comparing Ourselves to Others:  We all know and understand that each of us is, and will always be, on an athletic and personal  journey unique to us. Most of us are very comfortable accepting the idea that some athletes might be “ahead” of us on their journey, while others are of course, at a starting point that might be thought of as “behind” us.  Now I suspect that as you’re reading that sentence, you might be thinking, “aren’t you emphasizing comparing ourselves to others by phrasing it that way?”  Yes, and that’s the point. Comparing ourselves to others is rarely ever a good thing, although the nature of competition inevitably puts us smack dab right in the middle of comparisons.

A listener sent in a great question, asking what strategies she could use to not fall into the trap of constantly comparing herself  to other athletes, especially if the athlete that she’s comparing herself to is, in her viewpoint, stronger or faster than she is. To use her words, “sometimes I find that when I hear of others doing more, or progressing faster, my first reaction is that I SUCK.”  That’s a common reaction in our worst moments, so I felt it was a good topic to discuss on the podcast.

The Psychology of Suffering: Training hard and learning how to handle discomfort is certainly a key to improving as an endurance athlete.  A listener wrote in with a great question on the topic. Here it is:

“Yes, I know in my heart that to perform at my best, I need to suck it up when it starts getting hard, whether its in a race or in a workout.  How do I effectively control that voice in my head that is telling me to slow down or go easier? Or just quit?  Also, how often do I need to “go to the well” and suffer in order to learn better how to do it? The weather also always hinders me from accomplishing what I want to, or plan to. I find it easy to use weather as an excuse to do less than my best. How do I over come that?”

I jump in with my thoughts on the matter – important stuff if you DO want to reach your ultimate potential!

Thanks for joining me on the podcast! Happy Trails!

~Coach Al 

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

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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 

Coach Al : Secret #3 – 4 Secrets To Help YOU Explode Your Ultimate Potential (with triathlete Susan Ford)

“The more I read, the more that I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.” – Voltaire
“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
“Belief gets in the way of learning.” – Robert A. Heinlein

Gandi quote

Without question, many different elements need to come together for any athlete to reach their true potential.  In this series, I’m sharing four “secrets” that I believe have separated Susan Ford from many of her peers. Clearly though, the list could contain more than four, so my goal is to go beyond the more obvious aspects (that you might already be aware of as essential for success) and focus on those that might come as a surprise, that you might not have considered, or perhaps most likely, that you yourself have UNDER-estimated.

For example, most are aware that consistency is essential for long term success.  In a recent article on the Training Peaks blog, calling consistency the #1 rule of endurance training, Coach Jim Vance said “the number one most important rule of training, which is often forgotten, is consistency. There is no training program or workout any coach can devise that can make up for a lack of consistency in training. The higher your goals are as an athlete, the more important consistency is.” I might argue that the only way one can be consistent is to be moving well and be durable, but his point is well taken. In a very real way, consistency is an integral part of long term durability and thus success as well.

Another obvious element is being enthusiastic and enjoying the training process. It is impossible to reach your potential when you don’t enjoy the training process. Figuring out more creative ways to bring fun into your training and racing routine is critical for long term success. Susan is definitely enthusiastic and truly enjoys her training. She brings a smile and an eagerness to every training task, many more days than not, and that is saying a lot.

There are many other factors that are important for exploding your potential. Beyond these elements which include being consistent in training and enthusiastic about training lies the next “secret” I’d like to share with you…


Secret #3: To explode your potential, embrace life-long learning.

Don’t look for knowledge, experience, wisdom or speed to trickle down on you like magic pixie dust.  

To truly grow requires you embrace active learning. Active learning requires mindful engagement, experimentation, practice, tenacity and a willingness to make mistakes, all with an enthusiastic smile.

Forster quoteLife Long: From the very first day that I spoke with Susan and began to work with her as her coach, she has shown an insatiable thirst to learn!  And it hasn’t just been her desire to learn that separates her from many others, she has also grown to understand that learning has no beginning and no end, and it isn’t passive. She’s not satisfied with being “exposed to” information, she has always wanted to dig in and rip it apart, seeking to separate the junk from the quality, the marketing hype from the meat.  She’s truly a life-long learner.

Active vs. Passive: She knows the only true path to learning that brings value and will help create the future she wants, is to not only read about it and ask questions about it, but also to try it, experiment with it, engage in it fully, dig deeper into it. In his book, “The Sourcebook for Teaching Science,” author Norman Herr presents two very different models of learning, one active and one passive.  In a passive model, students are simply “expected to record and absorb knowledge,” vs. an active model, in which students are expected to “care deeply about their own education, learn to monitor and discuss their own learning, and collaborate with other students to discover and construct a framework of knowledge that can be applied to new situations.”[1]

Humility: To truly learn requires being humble and open minded. I’ve seen many an athlete who believes they know “all they need to know,” and along the way, use their own “confirmation bias”[2] to shut down any chance to really grow, improve and learn. Susan always approaches a topic she wants to know more about as a beginner. She opens her mind with very little confirmation bias, and from there, opportunity to learn and grow abounds. Above all else, she understands one thing that very few endurance athletes do: the ability to reach our ultimate potential mirrors our desire and ability to learn more.  

Coach Al shares a memory of Susan and her desire to share and learn...

Work smarter, not just harder: As a coach, I’ve seen so many athletes over the years who decided that working “hard” in their “own way” was the best path toward improving.  People who think like this will always under-achieve long term. You’ve all heard the saying, “it’s not just about working harder, it is about working smarter.” Susan has learned over time how to live this philosophy every day.

The true secrets to improving and reaching YOUR potential aren’t about slick aero wheels or a cool lightweight bike. It isn’t about fancy colored shoes. It isn’t about dressing in the latest cool tri-clothing, buying books that collect dust, reading the cool mags, or hanging around with the fastest athletes. Improving and reaching one’s ultimate potential requires an individual commitment to life-long learning and a willingness to block out all the NOISE.  If, like Susan, you can commit to learning something each and every day, and then take that knowledge and work to become the most well read and well-rounded and studied athlete that you can possibly be, you have the opportunity be better than you ever thought possible!

Look for secret #4 soon.  All the best!

~Coach Al

 


[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

Coach Al : Secret #2 – 4 Secrets To Help YOU Explode Your Ultimate Potential (with triathlete Susan Ford)

Secret #2: Seek Clarity and Conviction – Choose Wisely

“Life is fired at us point blank and we must choose. ” – Ortega
“We can have anything we choose, but not everything we want. Our appetites will always exceed our grasp.”  – Philip Humbert

I wake every day affirming that what I do on this day is a choice. Some days it doesn’t exactly feel like it :), but I know this is true. At the same time, I also affirm that what I DON’T do is also a choice.  Every single day, every one of us chooses to do (and think) certain things and not others. And there in lies the challenge: one of the traps we can all fall into is the belief that “we can choose to have it all.” I don’t think that is true, at least not all at the same time.

In order to reach your ultimate potential as an athlete, you must decide that is what you want, and then make clear choices that point you toward that goal. 

There’s something unique about this day and age we live in that leads many of us to believe we can “have it all.” I often speak with athletes who send themselves off in many directions at the same time. For example, in addition to training for ironman, they might also be starting a new job, raising a young family, buying a new home, or working on their Masters! Yes, these folks are super type-A high achievers with the commensurate commitment to make it all happen. But the truth is, doing all of these things well and reaching our true potential on the race course too, is fool’s gold.

Each of us must choose. We must all decide for ourselves what we want to achieve, and then seek clarity and conviction and a singular focus toward that end.

 The problem some have when they read this, hear me speak about it, or glance at Susan’s life from afar, is that they think that they are different. They don’t want to give up certain other aspects of their life while pursuing their racing goals. They “like” dabbling in and pursuing many things all at once.  Some say that racing fast isn’t their only goal. Others believe driving themselves into a hole of deep exhaustion from having so many irons in the fire is something to be proud of. As a society, we love to pat ourselves on the back for being able to “do it all!”

Trying to “do it all” leads to mediocrity.  Hey, if you’re ok with your race results and your overall progression as an athlete, then read no further. However, if you are truly committed to being the best athlete you can be and seeing what you are truly capable of, like Susan is, you’ll have to make THAT your focus and make some sacrifices in other areas of your life, at least for a period of time.

  • Susan narrowed her focus.  She makes sacrifices in other areas of her life in order to be on this journey.
  • She has built up systems including a support group of friends and family, and has created and nurtures an environment that supports this singular focus.

As many have said, ultimately the “winner” is the person who is most happy with their choices. I believe (as I bet Susan does), that happiness comes directly from having clarity.  To quote Philip Humbert, “happiness comes from deciding who we are, what we value, and how we will spend our lives, and that comes from taking time to think clearly, make smart choices, and plan wisely.”

Susan is living life in her own way, according to her values. In this day and age, we often fall into the trap of working harder, doing and buying more, yet not finding the happiness we had hoped to. What we would all benefit from is what Susan has done: choose wisely, create clarity, and live life on our own terms to its fullest.

In the end, each of us is required to accept responsibility for the choices we make and the path we follow. We can’t have it all. What we can have is whatever we choose!

Who knows what lies ahead? Follow YOUR path with clarity and focus and be the very best you can be!

Look for secret #3 soon. Enjoy!

~Coach Al

Coach Al : 4 Secrets To Help YOU Explode Your Ultimate Potential (with triathlete Susan Ford)

4 Secrets To Help You Explode Your Ultimate Potential!

(with Pursuit Athletic Performance triathlete, Susan Ford)

“Short cuts make long delays.”  – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship Of The Ring
“It is not the table – it is the spoon.”  – unknown
Triathlete Susan Ford

Triathlete Susan Ford

 

In four installments over the next few days, I’m going to share with you powerful secrets to help you explode your potential. Today my focus is secret #1. Over the next few days, I will share the remaining three secrets. The inspiration to share these with you comes from one of my coached triathletes and good friends, Tennessean Susan Ford (pictured left).

Listen to this: In 2013 at the age of 48, Susan set a new PR at the 5k, 10k, half marathon, half ironman, marathon, AND ironman distance!  Just this past weekend (now 49 years old), she ran the Cummins Falls half marathon in Jackson County TN, and not only set a new PR (on an extremely challenging and very hilly course), she won the women’s OVERALL title. And that isn’t all. She finished 4th overall among both women AND men, was a mere 17 seconds behind the 3rd place male, and only 6 minutes behind the overall men’s winner! At age 48. Wow.

I can tell you, this is a vastly different experience than any she has ever had in the past. Susan not only hasn’t always won races, going back she often didn’t even finish in the top half of the field. In fact, she has spent many years struggling at the middle of the pack, in various stages of injury and plateau, always wondering whether she’d ever be able to train and race the way she really WANTED to.

When we began working together about five years ago, I had no idea how good she could be (I never know that with anyone I coach – how could I?), but I DID know she had a very long arduous road ahead of her to reach her true ultimate potential (whatever that might be). She was fragile and not moving well, she wasn’t very wise or experienced as an endurance athlete, and was clearly training way over her head.  She had mastered the art of masking minor injury on a daily basis, and routinely dealt with so many aches and pains that I was concerned about her ability to continue to train and race long term. We’ve had many interesting conversations over the time we have worked together about how she doesn’t have the proto-typical endurance athlete’s body (tall, long legged, wirey) or that she never seemed to be blessed with as much natural talent as some other athletes (can any of you relate to that?).  What she clearly had (among many other things which I will share with you in this four-part series), was a strong work ethic and dogged determination.

Fast forward to today. Susan’s amazing success that now has her at the TOP of her Age Group in any race she enters, speaks to just how FAR someone can go when they put the right resources and abilities together and don’t give up or give in.

The path Susan has followed to reach this point is SO powerful that I felt I had to share her secrets to success, not from her viewpoint, but rather, from my perspective as her coach.  She isn’t the only athlete I work with who achieves this level of success or who embraces these four secrets. However, what I will share with you is what separates Susan from many others trying to find their path toward fulfilling their ultimate potential and happiness.

Look for the next three installments of this series over the next few days. I hope you find them helpful. Trust me, this is no B.S.

What I will share with you HAS THE POWER to explode both your results AND your enjoyment of the sport. These secrets can change your life!

 Secret #1:

The Devil Is In The Details.

I could probably re-phrase this secret to there are no short cuts – no easy way. Regardless, this arguably overused cliche, “the devil is in the details,” conveys what is at the very center of this secret for exploding your potential.

Every one of us has heard this idiom at one time or another.  It simply means that if you overlook certain things in a plan or scheme, having overlooked those things might cause problems later on. What I’m talking about isn’t just having a desire to be better or willingness to “work harder,” or even more efficiently. The difference between just going through the motions (or approaching something “mostly” correctly) vs. really focusing and zeroing in on detail is absolutely huge and can’t be overstated.

To reach your true potential, you must embrace every detail associated with your development.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Seeking to perfectly execute any exercise or training session that is programmed.
  • Learning from errors and planning ahead to avoid repeating them.
  • Planning ahead in your daily schedule to ensure you’re not rushing through any aspect of your training and preparation.
  • Taking time to evaluate (or have someone else evaluate) your movement quality on a regular basis.
  • Videotaping yourself to objectively assess what you’re doing routinely.
  • Not rushing through warm up or cool down.
  • Getting enough sleep, eating optimally, and reducing daily stress.
  • Consistently and accurately keeping a training diary for appropriate reflection and monitoring.
  • Communicating clearly and consistently with those mentors who are guiding you.

And what’s more, being truly detail oriented and not looking for short cuts goes way beyond the routine items mentioned here, and in fact, speaks to more holistic and ultimately profound concepts.  For example:   

  • Have you made a conscious choice (after thoughtful deliberation) to completely embrace the training philosophy that you follow? With 100% commitment to the process?  
  • Do you take 100% responsibility for your choices and actions, and approach every aspect of your training to the very best of your ability?
  • Do you haphazardly follow your training program (hitting “most” of the details) or do you execute it to the best of your ability, as closely as you can to how it is laid out for you?
  • Do you see the value in the very subtle difference between doing things “mostly” correct, vs. as correct as is possible for you on that day?
  • Do you take the time to learn about the philosophy behind the training system you follow, or are you content to just have “a plan” and wing it?
  • Do you embrace the mundane grind that is an inevitable part of long term mastery of a skill or ability?
  • Do you pick and choose from a variety of methodologies, thinking you have the expertise to know what is the best mix for you, or do you make a conscious choice to follow a certain path and then stay true to that path?

From day 1, Susan has worked hard to more fully embrace the philosophy of training and the detail presented to her, and then she put 100% of her energy into making the most of that philosophy on a daily basis.  She sees the training laid out in front of her and never looks for a way to make it easier for herself.  She has never changed something on her own believing she knew better than I did when I programmed it for her.

Picture a great artist toiling over tiny detail in a painting, a superb violinist carefully tuning their instrument, or a surgeon carefully washing their hands prior to going into the operating room. Like Susan, they all know the devil truly is in the details.

The greatest thing of all is that the same approach to detail that leads to mastery and improvement is also the thing that will enhance your enjoyment of the process itself AND lead to better long term growth and improvement!

Look for secret #2 soon. Make it a detail oriented day! Enjoy!

~Coach Al

Watch! This “Strong” Ironman Likely to be Walking the Marathon (Video)

Hey Everyone!
We have a quick, yet important video for you to watch. In it, an Ironman athlete completes a 100 lb. clean and jerk in an effort to work on her strength program as she prepares for Ironman Florida. As you know from reading our stuff, strength, coupled with appropriate mobility, stability, and flexibility, is CRUCIAL to optimizing your full potential as a triathlete. So she’s doing all the correct things, right?

Sorry to say, in this case, not at all.

The are huge problems with what she’s doing, and we’d like to walk you through it.

Instead of creating true FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH, the dangerous, incorrect form she demonstrates in this lift is completely counterproductive to her goals.

When doing competitive Olympic lifting, the goal is to get the barbell over your head no matter what. In that kind of competition, judges don’t necessarily care how you get the weight there, or if you blow out your knees or your back doing it.

However, when it comes to performing better as a triathlete, rather than brute strength, what you need to create is true FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH–the kind of strength that will allow you to RUN the marathon distance in an Ironman and finish strong without the wheels coming off. In training functional strength effectively, it’s not IF you get the barbell over your head that matters, but HOW you do it. 

Let’s dissect this example, and focus primarily on the what’s happening at the knee.

When this athlete prepares to clean the weight and move it over head, note the dangerous collapse of the knees inward toward the mid-line. Even though she seems strong on the surface, this inward collapse indicates a lack of adequate and integrated glute and hip strength, and overall core stability and strength. The collapse of her knee under load is not only damaging for her knees, it is TRAINING HER NERVOUS SYSTEM to make that motor pathway a HABIT. That neurological habit is being deeply grooved with every repetition, and will be reproduced any time the knee is under load, and that, of course, includes running.

Over time, with repeated patterns like this, the knee will become damaged, with the risk of serious injury rising steadily.

As a hinge joint, the knee is a slave to everything that happens above and below it.  It is not designed to move sideways under load. Move it sideways toward your mid-line too many times, especially under load, and you’ll get a worn out meniscus, torn cartilage–and much slower running too. In effect, knee collapse during strength training actually teaches the body to do the same when running. The result is exactly the opposite of the desired goal–to have strength training help her to be better on the race course. This athlete is less efficient and absolutely leaking run speed, and she is surely inviting hip and knee pain and injury.

In addition to knee problems, continuing the mechanics this athlete is using in this video also puts her at great risk for a  litany of problems including:

  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
  • Hip and glute pain
  • ACL and meniscus injury
  • Patellofemoral problems
  • Arthritis

The fact is, when it comes to racing Ironman, it doesn’t matter if this athlete has an aerobic engine the size of Chrissie Wellington’s. With mechanics like that, the odds are increased that she may have to walk at some point in the marathon. Why?

Let’s start with the fact that running a mile is the equivalent of approximately 1500 one-leg squat jumps.  That adds up to over 19,000 inward collapses of a single knee during the course of the marathon. Each time the knee moves inward with each foot strike, energy is being lost, and stress is being placed on other tissues to attempt to control or compensate. The “slower” running results from energy leak, much like running in sand or on ice. The repetitive inward movement for thousands of reps results in more pain with each successive foot-strike.

The thing about this that is most distressing to us, is the fact that this athlete–like many of YOU–has the best of intentions, yet is misguided. She understands that strength is important to compete well, and she obviously works hard at it. Brute force and a determination to “be strong,” are not enough, however. It is not about showing that you can forcefully move a weight and get it over head. In the end, it’s ALL about training your nervous system to control your muscles to work with PERFECT FORM when under load, and as fatigue mounts, mile after mile.

Helping YOU to BE GREAT!

Coach Al and Kurt

Join our Online Triathlon Team. Race as you never have before!

 

 

006: Kristofer Behn–From Broken Triathlete to Ironman (Podcast)

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Listen and be inspired!

Pursuit Athletic Performance triathlete Kristofer Behn faced with a VERY serious injury that threatened not only his Ironman, but more importantly, his long term health. Here is his story of how he committed to the PAP training to turn it all around and have a GREAT race at Ironman Lake Placid.

If you are injured, you need to listen! You can be better! You can reach your goals and dreams

Here’s what Coach Al has to say about this interview with Kris and his road to Ironman glory!

Kris had gone through our gait analysis and heard us talk about the importance of functional movement, signed on for coaching, yet as is sometimes typical…. he just DIDN’T fully understand or appreciate the importance of what we were saying….nor did he engage himself in the coach/athlete relationship really, or take seriously any of the strength training work and my demanding ‘perfect form’ from him UNTIL HE WAS FACED with a VERY serious injury that threatened not only his IM and his racing, but even more importantly, his long term health.

Kris went from a lackadaisical “listen and hear about 40% of what we put out for him to absorb and read on how to train,” to someone who is now incredibly detail oriented when it comes to the movement exercises. He refuses to skimp, will always cut short a run or bike in order to complete a proper warm up, and was even laughed at by his training partners when he was down on the floor in Lake Placid on race morning at 3:30 am, doing basic core stability exercises! He went on to have a faster run split than 3 of the 5 of those training partners, even though he had essentially had NO run base going in, only BEGINNING a return to running 3 weeks prior to the race. He ended up with a 5 hr run split and felt GREAT the whole way, running the last 2 miles onto the oval.

To reiterate: 12 wks out from IMLP, he was diagnosed with a herniated disc. He saw a specialist in his local area (on the recommendation and referral from Kurt) who put him on a 4-week program of PT to remove symptoms of sciatica that prevented him from standing, or getting in or out of his car. He was in a serious amount of pain and was debilitated. At the end of those 4 weeks, he came to the lab, where we reviewed his exercise form and changed what he was doing, helping him to become even BETTER with the movements. He was 8 weeks out from the race. At that point, we begin to have him start to ride just a little bit, and swim as well. No running yet. He needed to prove he could ride for 30min, then 1 hour, without discomfort.

 He followed daily with great diligence, constantly working on his exercises, relentlessly.

A week or so later, we began with a run program, starting conservatively with 30sec of running, 1min of walking. His LONGEST run/walk prior to LP was 90min!!!!!

Kris acknowledged that he had always resisted giving up some control, despite him paying me for coaching. He finally decided during this process to STOP THAT, and relinquish control completely to our program and my coaching. He decided he would do exactly what he was told to do, nothing more and nothing less. Empowering to be sure.

The stability and strength he developed in those few weeks literally gave him the ability to do only a few weeks of run/bike/swim training without pain, and that was enough to get him to the Ironman finish line in UNDER 15 hrs. His remarkably fast recovery speaks to his determination and mastery of the movements he was given to recoup his health.

He’s learned lessons he will apply to all phases of his life, and for sure, he’s a smarter better athlete for having gone through this very difficult time.

Be GREAT and Be Inspired!

Coach Al


We hope you enjoy our podcasts and find them useful for your training and racing. Any questions? Hit us up in the comments, or on Facebook. Let us know of any topics you would like us to cover too.

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Coach Al: My Three Takeaways from the Ironman World Championship

Kona Ironman, Coach Al, Pursuit Athletic PerformanceCoach Al here with some further reflection from my time spent at the Ironman World Championship. I have not been to Kona since the last time I raced there eight years ago. I can say, however, that having raced the event several times, and now watching from my perspective as a coach, it is the hardest Ironman triathlon on the planet. Getting to the finish line in Kona is an incredible achievement. Huge congratulations to all the athletes.

In the video below I outline my thoughts about three major things that I think truly impact a successful Ironman race:

Nutrition, salt, and STRENGTH

What is the limiting factor on very long race days like Ironman? It is what happens to your body. Nutrition and salt play a major role, for sure. But it is STRENGTH that also helps the wheels from coming off. The struggle in the Ironman marathon always comes from things like cramping, muscular fatigue, and pain in areas that make it difficult to keep race pace. Keeping a consistent and steady aerobic pace in an Ironman, without breaking down, can bring you to a very high age group placement. The marathon definitely becomes a battle of resisting fatigue, and you need the STRENGTH to keep it all together.

I recommend you Ironman athletes out there have a listen and take these messages to heart. Taking action on your strength issues NOW, can help to insure the wheels stay on in your next long course competition.

Musings from Coach Al — Ali’i Drive: Strength

Hello Everyone!

Coach Al Lyman, Pursuit Athletic Performance, Gait Analysis and Functional Strength Training Expert

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKS

In the video below, Ali’i Drive: Strength, a number of Ironman triathlon champions discuss what they define as strength, where and who they draw it from, and how they apply it in their own lives. I think it is a great video, and the messages are powerful ones.

Without question, there’s a huge mental component to training and competing. We all know it. The athletes in the video believe as much as 70 or 80% of it is mental. Meredith Kessler quips as she points to her head and then to her body, “If the upstairs doesn’t match the downstairs, it’s almost impossible to prevail in a race.” Personally, I’m not sure what the breakdown is of physical vs. mental, but I do know that when we race, the fitness has to be total if we’re going to achieve what we seek to achieve. Sometimes the hardest thing to do “mentally” is to be willing to step back and take a close look at ourselves. Are we truly all we believe we are? Can we be even better? Sometimes the effort to push oneself in training is relatively easy compared to the effort required to look straight into the mirror.

Similarly, there is no question the drive to excel and the fortitude to do the “little things,” as Craig Alexander alludes to, is huge. Learning to handle the discomfort associated with going “to the well,” is very much a mental piece. Embracing that discomfort, as Macca tells us, helps unite us and make us who we are.