Archive for Ironman

Are you helping or hurting your chance for a great race with your pre-race meal?

I've seen it happen so often over the years - you've trained hard for weeks and months, doing everything you can to be ready to have a great race. And then your stomach goes south - at the worst possible time during the race.  It sucks when that happens. There's nothing more frustrating.

Gastrointestinal intestinal (GI) distress has ruined more than a few race days for some otherwise very fit, very prepared athletes. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how fit you are...if you are having GI issues, you know? You can't race to the max if you're sick, nauseous, or vomiting.

The first step in fixing problems is to accept that most races are, first and foremost, "eating and drinking contests."


It matters what you eat before a race...

I shot a 10-minute video (with a somewhat gross demo - sorry!) to discuss what I see is perhaps the most common mistake a triathlete or runner can make with their pre-race meal. Click on my picture to the left to check it out.

What are some of the important take home messages?

* Eat your pre-race meal at least 3 hours before race start.
* Make sure you eat simple, easily digestible foods which you've practiced eating prior to training sessions.
* Avoid taking in any calories between the meal and the start of the race. (Do continue to hydrate).
* Less is more - be kind to your stomach.

If you're racing this weekend, good luck and have fun! (And eat early and light!) 🙂

    Train (and eat) smart!

    To your success,
    ~Al

    Triathletes: Have We Needlessly Overcomplicated Training Intensity?

    "K.I.S.S."  - Just about every experienced smart person ever 

    Back in the late 90s, in my very early days as a triathlete, I worked with Coach Troy Jacobson. Troy taught me a lot about how to train. One of my earliest “lessons” came when I went to one of his (well-known at the time) weekend triathlon workshops in Baltimore. The weekend began with a Friday evening gathering. It started out friendly enough - you know, the usual (slightly forced) smiles, hand shakes, and nervous chatter.

    Not long into our evening however, things started to get serious. “Up on the wall,” he said - for a winner take all, wall-sit. His intent was clear: to find out who was REALLY serious about improving - who was willing to suffer and hang on until no one else was left.  (I managed to be the last one "sitting" that night on the wall. Somehow. I mean, you know….he didn't know me. And since I’d recently hired him as a coach, I wasn’t about to give in or give up. He needed to see I was ready to get to work to do whatever it was going to take).

    The fun got even more serious the next day when Troy led our group out to a rather “famous” hill (to his previous campers and the local riders) for some all-out, no holds barred, bike hill repeats. It was a massively steep hill that was about 200-300 yards long. It’s all a little bit of a blur as I look back, but I have vivid memories of three things (beyond that I suffered immeasurably):

    The first was Troy speaking to the group beforehand with a very serious tone – everyone was nervously staring as he said “your goal today is to go as hard as you can up the hill, in the biggest gear you can turn, and then turn around and get down as fast as possible so you can do it again. Keep going until you can’t go anymore.” Naturally there were a lot of nervous laughs in the group – everyone knew ahead of time what was in store. There was no hiding.

    The second thing I remember was him riding alongside of me up the hill literally screaming at the top of his lungs for me to go harder. And I mean screaming. No mercy. He spent his time during the repeats, circling up and down the hill encouraging all of the riders. (It’s worth noting that at the time, Troy was the top amateur at Ironman Hawaii and one of the best long course triathletes in the country; he'd soon become the half-iron national champ. And his strength as a triathlete was cycling. Bottom line, the guy was fit and could ride!).

    Not that it matters to this blog post, but I was the last one left that day.

    So what was the third thing I remember? He gathered the group together afterward and congratulated everyone, then looked at me with a grin and said, “well, Al, I guess there are some hills up in Connecticut, huh?”


    Learning How To Train

    That weekend taught me a lot about what it meant to go HARD. But that’s not all I learned. It also taught me about what it meant to go very easy, too.

    You see, Troy had 28+ mph half-iron bike speed in his legs, but despite that bike strength, he’d also be very comfortable in an easy ride situation averaging 15 mph or so. On a flat road no less. We had the occasion every so often to do these kinds of rides together in those early years, during which we discussed how important it was to keep it easy in those kinds of situations. In other words, he knew when it was time to keep it EASY and was very willing to do it.  He didn't let ego lure him into a too hard effort. And similarly he also knew when it was time to go HARD. He taught me the difference between the two, in real time.

    The same lessons were emphasized in running. And in the pool.

    Differentiating intensity. Making sure easy was easy. And making sure hard was….well…VERY hard.  Not just giving the concept lip service, but actually putting it into action on a daily basis.

    Of course, I’d learned the value of differentiating intensity and effort from my competitive running years much earlier. The difference with triathlon is important though – with a higher overall workload with more training hours and more skills to develop, the risk of training at the wrong intensity carries with it greater consequences: Over-training, staleness, injury, and sub-par race day performances, to name a few. All of which leads me to the title of this post:

    Have we made training intensity too complicated? 

    Troy had a very simple system for setting up heart rate and RPE based training zones. He used the simplest possible approach, using basic colors we're all familiar with to represent THREE different intensities.

    • Blue was aerobic (which is easier than most endurance athletes think!).
    • Red was HARD (which I’d guess many have never really experienced in the way I did on that hill).
    • Gray was the dreaded "no-go" zone in between the two.

    You're Getting Tired, But Are You Improving?

    He and I discussed this gray zone quite a bit. This is the intensity you generally want to avoid like the plague. It’s the intensity that will tire you out and that feeds your ego, giving a short-term ego boost, but in the long run (no pun intended), isn't likely to help you reach a new, higher level of fitness and performance.

    Here's a couple of examples:  (You'll have to adjust pace based on your own fitness level right now - regardless, I hope you get the point).

    • How about going out and running a 5k race and averaging a 7-minute per mile pace. Then going out in training and doing the majority of your “aerobic” running at around 8:30 pace.  Assuming that 7-min average was on a fair course and your best effort, your true z2 pace is much closer to 9:00 (or slower), than to 8:30.
    • What about going out for a group ride on a course you know you could honestly ride at ~16 to 17mph average speed and have it be truly, comfortably “aerobic,” yet the group you join has some stronger riders with egos (doesn’t every group?) so you work hard to hang on the back of the group and end up averaging 18 or 19mph for the ride. Sounds like you’d improve from that, right? I mean, you worked very hard, right?

    I think it's fair to say you deserve some kudos for hanging on. You certainly went hard enough to tire yourself out. But the really important question to ask in my opinion is, did you go hard enough to truly lift your fitness to a new level after some recovery? I'd bet my wallet that Troy would say no. And I’d agree with him.

    So what are a few of the most common training errors I see that are related?

    • You could guess this one: turning “aerobic” z2, into semi “tempo” or moderately hard.  (Ego, ego, blah, blah)
    • Not making easy z1, easy enough.
    • Not taking time to warm up into sessions from the start. Your first mile should be your slowest, most of the time. (The exception might be a “race specific” session where you’re working on a specific skill or ability that dictates you go harder from the beginning).
    • Letting ego or your training group dictate how you train.
    • Not running or pedaling or stroking easily enough during "recovery" intervals that separate "work" intervals.

    Most folks will read this and nod their heads. “Yup, I guess that makes sense.” But very honestly, most will only give it lip service in the heat of the moment, because egos are powerful! 😊


    Troy was one of the best triathletes in the country at the time I worked with him and he ended up giving me my start as a coach when he created the Triathlon Academy. He's one of so many that have taught me so much along the way.

    Above all else though, he reinforced in me a concept that I’ve repeated a thousand times to others as a coach:

    The hard days should be easy, and the easy days should be hard.

    In other words, when you train easily on the days you should, you’re actively resting and preparing for the next hard effort, when you’ll be ready to go, precisely BECAUSE you didn’t go semi-hard the day before.

    Similarly, after a truly hard day (like it was for me on that hill), you’ll be forced to go easily the day after. And because of the effort you expended, that “easy” session will actually feel hard. You’ll run “slow,” pedal “slow” and feel like you’re moving through molasses.

    All you need is some smart recovery and you’re ready to get back after it, bringing everything you’ve got and getting every ounce of benefit out of the session in the process.


    Sometimes Simpler IS Better

    Despite all the cutting-edge graphics and charts on platforms like Training Peaks and others, all of the discussion among coaches and athletes about TSS (Training Stress Score) and the detailed zones courtesy of Andy Coggan et all, the reality is...some things don't change as much as we might thing, as time goes on. And sometimes, simpler is better.

    Blue is blue. Red is red. Gray is gray.

    The take home? Spend most of your time being blue. When you are red, you should be ready to rock, so don't hold back. And, avoid the gray as much as you can.

    Train smart!

    To your success,
    ~Al

    Triathletes and Runners: Strength Doesn’t Equal Stability

     

    "Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." - John 8:32


    Without a doubt, endurance athletes are finally coming around to understanding and believing in the importance of strength training. Even though it's taken a while, it's great to see.  The kinds of "functional" strength work I was experimenting with in the late 1980s to help increase my durability, endurance and speed (while logging a lot less miles than most of my training buddies and competitors), is almost becoming routine now among many competitive triathletes and runners.

    Along the same lines, it almost "normal" now to sit in the middle of a group of runners or triathletes and hear folks talk about "hitting the gym," or getting in their "leg (or arm) day." That was unheard of even just 10 years ago. Today, smart athletes KNOW that strength work has to be a part of their routine. As a "bonus," the strength trained runner or triathlete looks better. After all, who doesn't want a better physique to go along with our already highly developed cardiovascular fitness?

    Part of the reason for this gradual shift is likely because baby boomers (like me) are aging. Ack! In addition to their race results or the next ironman, more and more are thinking about their longevity and how well (and gracefully) they'll age. That's a smart thing.

    On the topic of strength and maintaining it, I've shared a few links recently that speak to the obvious and profound connections between muscle wasting (sarcopenia) and aging more gracefully.  THIS TedTalk called "Muscle Matters," and THIS article from OutsideOnline titled "To Delay Death, Lift Weights," are two examples of what I mean. Definitely take the time to read and listen!

    So what's the problem?

    Listen, there's absolutely no doubt that strength training is important for every athlete, regardless of your gender or age or experience level. As the above article and TedTalk discuss, there is NO substitute for being strong. In my opinion, every single person ought to put getting stronger at the TOP of their priority list.

    But at the same time, as someone who works with injured athletes every day, I have to point out the BIG MYTH that exists in so many athlete's minds -- that ALL you need to do is hit the gym and work your arms, abs, back and legs, and you're set.

    You may think you're doing all you need to do to avoid injury and perform your best, but unfortunately that's not the case.

    How "ripped" or muscular you are - how much weight you lifted in that gym session last night - none of it has anything at all to do with how durable or injury resistant you are or will be down the road.

    Not sure what I mean?

    Here's an example. And yes, in case you're wondering, I see this week in and week out - athletes who can't for the life of them understand why they are so often injured, despite religiously going to the gym to lift weights and get strong.


    The triathlete pictured here in these two photos contacted me recently to inquire about coaching. He's got talent and as you can see, he's a pretty strong guy. What's his goal? Qualifying for Kona - which is no easy task.

    So what's the issue?

    In one of his first attempts to qualify, he came really close to getting his slot, proving to himself that he had what it took!  However, ever since then his results have tumbled...and NOW, he's dealing with hip pain that has him in physical therapy and making multiple visits to his orthopedic surgeon to try and learn what is going on. To say he's frustrated is an understatement!

    How does an obviously talented, goal-oriented, hard working triathlete like this, who as you can see is strong, end up with hip pain and suffering from increasingly worse race results? (There are many examples of athletes like this guy - strong and yet frustrated! Are you one of them?)

    There are certainly a variety of things in both his movement quality and in his training and recovery that could explain his frustrations. One of the potential answers to that question became very obvious to me as soon as I saw some video of him on the treadmill as part of his Virtual Gait Analysis with me, something I do with EVERY SINGLE athlete I coach.
    These two images, which I clipped from his run video at mid-stance (or shortly thereafter) of the gait cycle, show an excessive amount of  instability of his core and hip girdle, specifically measured here from the back as "lateral pelvic drop." As you can see in the picture, I measured 9 degrees of "drop" on the left leg and 7 degrees of "drop" on the right.

    To say the amount of instability on a single leg here is significant is an understatement: 2 degrees or less would be considered "ideal" for this athlete. He's at 9 and 7 degrees respectively! Yikes.

    One thing most don't realize is that this instability has very little to do with the strength of an individual muscle. Or the strength of his body. Or how "ripped" he might be. It has a LOT to do with his nervous system - and the timing of muscle firing. The kind of training that will fix these issues begins in the brain, with basics and fundamentals.

    If you'd like to know MORE about this topic, you're in luck. I've written lots about it over the years.

    Start by going to THIS post, where I discuss why mechanics are so important for race-day performance and injury resistance. Or THIS post, discussing the truth about why runners become injured. Or THIS one, which discusses the often misunderstood relationship between strength and stability. In fact, use that search function there to dig into many similar kinds of posts. There's much to learn.

    Luckily, this athlete came to the right place. I'm confident that as he follows my guidance and the process unfolds, we'll see a gradual improvement in his stability.  And along with that, his durability and his performance.

    As soon as possible, he wants to be back out on the roads so he can take advantage of his strength and determination to succeed, and finally reach his goal of qualifying for Kona!

    So what are YOUR goals? Better yet, how can I help you get past YOUR movement related frustrations so you can go out and reach them?

    To your success,

    ~Coach Al

     

    060: MORE on Mindsets for Optimal Performance with Stanford Researcher, Omid Fotuhi [Podcast]

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    Dr. Omid Fotuhi

    Dr. Omid Fotuhi

    Hey everyone! Coach Al here.

    Today I am once again honored and pleased to welcome back onto the podcast, Dr. Omid Fotuhi, runner, triathlete, and project manager for the Stanford University Interventions Lab. It has been almost a year since we last had Omid on the podcast; I've personally been anxious to get him back on so we all could continue to learn from him and his research team.

    Without a doubt, that first podcast we did together (Episode 58, which you can listen to by going HERE) was one of our most popular ever.

    In Part 1 of our chat (Part 2 coming soon), we discussed what he's learned about how we all can better use the power of our mind to explode our potential!  Such as...

    • The important interplay between our own belief systems and effective goal setting.
    • The three types of goals / goal setting, and how they work individually and collectively to empower us to greater achievement and self actualization.
    • Fixed and growth mindsets: Which is more likely to lead to reaching one's potential?
    • The most effective strategies for reaching beyond our fears and achieving more than we ever thought we could!
    • And much more!

    Thanks everyone for joining us and tuning in, we appreciate it. I am already looking forward to sharing Part 2 of our discussion soon!

    Happy Trails!

    ~Coach Al 

    059: “Slipped Away,” with Special Guests Jean Mellano and Ron Hurtado [Podcast]

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    SteveT

    I'm honored to have two special guests on the podcast today: Jean Mellano, author of the memoir Slipped Away, and veteran, founding member, and executive director of the Airborne TriTeam, Ron Hurtado.

    Some background: I first met Steve Tarpinian in 1996 after deciding to attend his "Swim Power" clinic at the Nassau County Aquatic Center in Long Island, NY.

    I was hoping to learn how to overcome my fear of the water and how to swim. If you're thinking that's not exactly an easy task for a 36-year-old having experienced a near drowning as a 10-year-old kid, you'd be right.

    I arrived as a anxious newbie, wondering what the day would bring. When I left at the end of the day, I had made a friend for life and also come to know one of the best teachers, coaches and men I'll ever know.

    Sadly, on March 15, 2015, that great teacher, coach, mentor...lost his war on depression, and took his own life.

    SlippedAwayFast forward a short time later, Steve's soulmate and partner of 35 years, Jean Mellano, after reading all of the heartfelt remembrences of Steve on the popular Slowtwitch.com forum, decided to write a memoir to honor Steve's legacy and bring more awareness to mental illness, specifically depression.  She titled it Slipped Away.

    In Jean's words,"there is still so much stigma and embarassment attached to depression, which further adds to the suffering of those afflicted. Mental illness is where Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs, and cancer were many years ago in terms of no one wanting to talk about it."   

    In today's podcast, Ron, Jean and I discuss many things including Steve's legacy, such as:

    • Why and how the book, Slipped Away, came to be.
    • Project9line, a Long Island based non-profit organization that supports veterans suffering from PTSD and depression, and which receives the majority of the proceeds from the sale of the book.
    • The Airborne TriTeam, another Long Island based non-profit organization started by Ron, specifically created for mentally and physically challenged war veterans. The team has a unique and strong connection to Steve and his legacy.
    • What we can all do to help those suffering from PTSD and other forms of mental illness.
    Depression is like an iceberg...

    Depression is like an iceberg...

    In Jean's words: "To many people who knew him, Steve had it all and appeared to be on top of the world. Hindsight is 20/20; we now know things weren't always as they seemed. In many instances, people who suffer from depression and mental illness hide it very well.  If someone close to you has a pattern of "going dark" (not returning phone calls or emails, etc.), it could be more than just them being busy or forgetful.  When this happens too often, perhaps a little more compassion and understanding for that person may be in order."   

    Jean believes Steve's true legacy and how he should be remembered isn't as a great coach, race-director or athlete who took his own life, but rather, as a human being who did his very best to make people feel good about themselves and who inspired them to accomplish things they never thought they could do.  I couldn't agree more.

    Thank you Jean and Ron, and everyone who joined to listen in to this podcast.

    To learn even more about the memoir and about Steve, or to purchase a copy, visit the website HERE.  It's also available on Amazon.  You might also want to visit the Slipped Away Facebook page HERE.

    ~Coach Al 

    PS: Jean wrote a wonderful article for the online magazine, The Mighty. In it she shares some of what she has learned about grief since Steve's passing. I highly recommend it.

    058: Mindsets for Optimal Performance with Stanford Researcher, Omid Fotuhi [Podcast]

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    Dr. Omid Fotuhi

    Dr. Omid Fotuhi

    Today I am really psyched to welcome onto the podcast, Dr. Omid Fotuhi, triathlete and project manager for the Stanford University Interventions Lab. I truly believe the topics we discuss on the podcast today will have a profound impact on anyone listening in. The group of researchers led by Dr. Fotuhi are doing absolutely state-of-the-art research on mindset and performance!

    Dr. Fotuhi and his colleagues at the Interventions Lab describe their research as "focused on identifying psychological barriers that impede performance and well-being, and leveraging those insights to create theory-driven interventions that target those barriers." Here's a link to a short video that provides a brief look at the work they do.

    In this podcast, Dr. Fotuhi shares his experience and research on topics such as:

    • What are some of the most common patterns of beliefs and thoughts that we all have, and how do those correlate with our performance?
    • Do seemingly inconsequential events have an impact on how we see ourselves and therefore how we perform in races?
    • How is our own motivation to train and race to our ultimate potential impacted by how we see ourselves and the world?
    • Having a fixed or growth mindset: Which is more likely to lead to reaching one's potential?
    • What can we do to improve our ability to persist in the face of adversity, to experience less negativity and perform better at our races?
    • And much more!

    I personally found our discussion incredibly valuable, especially from a coaching perspective. I learned a lot and encourage everyone to listen in. This is powerful stuff!

    Happy Trails!

    ~Coach Al 

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

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    Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Wellbeing Coach, Olivia Syptak

    Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Wellbeing Coach, Olivia Syptak

     

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

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

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

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

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

    ~Olivia, Dr. Strecker, and Coach Al 

    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!

    051: Talent, Training and Exploding Your Potential [Podcast]

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    Searching For Talents - Recruitment ConceptWhere does talent, in all its many forms, come from? Are we born with our own unique talents or can we develop them over time? And if we can “grow” and develop talent, how does that happen?

    Thinking about it a bit differently, does intelligence measured through aptitude tests always correlate with success? Certainly, we all know world-class athletic or musical talent when we see it in another person, don’t we?

    If you’re the inquisitive type like we are, you’ve thought about these questions more than once. It is the old “nature vs. nurture” discussion made even more interesting as we learn more from science about how our brains function, and how skills are developed.  Hot best-selling books like Dan Coyle’s “The Talent Code,” and Malcom Gladwell’s “Outliers” offer even more interesting clues.

    It isn’t uncommon for endurance athletes to wonder about talent.  When we show up at the local group workout or race, it is hard to avoid comparing ourselves to others and wondering just how much talent we have and what our limits truly are.

    Are you one of those who was “fast and strong” from the get-go, OR is it taking more time for you to develop and reach your goals than you would really like it to?

    What does it REALLY take to develop a high level of skill, proficiency, and ultimately speed?

    What are the true limits of our own potential? Is that potential limited by our innate talent or are our limits, truly “limitless,” IF we are willing to work harder and longer?  How much does stick-to-it-iveness and relentless drive determine our ultimate success?  How good can we really be?

    In today’s podcast, we discuss all of those questions and more, including:

    • Different forms of talent; what is nature vs. nurture and its impact on your own growth and development as an athlete.
    • What the latest scientific research says about whether you must be “born with it,” or whether you can develop it.
    • What is the single biggest talent-related factor that prevents most people from realizing their true potential?
    • What is deliberate practice and how might it impact your own talent and development?
    • How YOU might be able to develop your own talent to explode your true potential!
    • And more!

    Thanks for joining us on today's podcast. We hope you'll share your reaction after listening to our discussion. Let us know what you think.  Happy Trails!

    ~Coach Al and Dr. Strecker 


    Make it happen! Believe in you!

    If you're going to MAKE IT HAPPEN, you can't give in or give up too soon! When it gets hard, buckle down and get to work!

    Addendum from Coach Al: I have a strong personal belief that MOST people give up too soon, or become complacent at the first sign of a plateau in their quest to improve, and achieve.  And I think that "giving up" is sometimes due to boredom and much of the time, might simply be due to the idea that we've reached some level of acceptable skill and then "settle" at that point.

    I think writer Mikhail Klassen, said it best in his own take on where talent comes from:

    "Suppose you wanted to learn how to play the piano. You know that practice is involved. You might practice for a little bit each day, getting better and better. Your initial progress will start to plateau, however, after you’ve reached a modest degree of skill. At this point, you have to make a choice: either continue to “practice” each day, playing the same pieces over and over again, polishing things up a little here and there, doing the same exercises that you’ve already mastered…

    -or-

    ...you can begin deliberate practice. You were probably already doing deliberate practice right when you started. Learning new pieces was hard! Learning difficult scales was boring. Getting the mood and dynamics of a piece right took time. You stopped doing these things once you got reasonably good at them. You stopped practising deliberately."

     More: In a research paper published in 2009 by K. Anders Ericsson et al, in describing deliberate practice, they say (and I concur):

    "In contrast to play, deliberate practice is a highly structured activity, the explicit goal of which is to improve performance. Specific tasks are invented to overcome weaknesses, and performance is carefully monitored to provide cues for ways to improve it further."

    Note the emphasis on "tasks being invented to overcome weaknesses," or that performance is "carefully monitored."

    These are facets which were an important part of my own development as a musician AND as an athlete and coach. And they are a integral part of our philosophy and mission here at Pursuit Athletic Performance.

    My personal "take home" message for all of you who truly want to be the best you can?

    • Never stop learning!
    • Avoid gathering more "information" (especially from internet experts or frauds), but instead, work with true experts who can give you the objective feedback you need, and help you avoid needless trial and error.
    • Never give in or give up, especially when it gets particularly hard!  When you're bored, or feel you've done "enough," that's just the time to dig in deeper and keep at it.
    • Keep tweaking, keep challenging, keep reviewing and assessing. Look for ways to blast plateaus and progress to the next level!
    • Surround yourself with like-minded friends and training partners.
    • Be creative and develop ways to keep the fire burning! Motivation and inspiration, in part, comes from digging deeper and learning more. Keep the fire alive!
    • Believe it's possible, and then do the work that will continually reinforce the belief!

     

    050: An Interview With Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler, D.P.M., Ph.D. [Podcast]

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    Dr. Tamera Hew

    Tamera Hew-Butler D.P.M., Ph.D.

    Hi Everyone! Today I am honored and pleased to welcome Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler as a guest on our podcast. Let me say this right up front: In my opinion, this is a MUST LISTEN podcast for every endurance athlete who has ever wondered what the science really says about hydration and sodium/salt intake during exercise. What a fitting way to celebrate our 50th episode! 🙂

    An award winning assistant professor of Exercise Science in the School of Health Sciences at Oakland University, Dr. Hew is recognized around the world as an expert researcher and scientist. A runner who enjoys training and competing, she has authored 50 scientific papers in such peer-reviewed journals as the Journal of Neuroscience, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, and Sports Medicine, among others.  A bonus for us, is that Dr. Hew is a really nice, down-to-earth science "geek" (her words), who truly enjoys sharing what she knows with others, and as she puts it, "helping her family of runners" around the globe.

    I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Hew present at the "Medicine and Science in Ultra Endurance Sports" conference on June 24th in Squaw Valley, CA., in the week leading up to the Western States 100 Endurance Run. In the conference Dr. Hew presented on the "Spectrum of Exercise Associated Hyponetremia."  

    In this podcast, we enjoyed discussing so many things very important to every athlete. Whether you're a runner doing an occasional 5k or marathon, or a triathlete doing multiple ironman distance events, or an ultra runner training for 50mile up to 100mile events, you will WANT TO TUNE in to this podcast to hear what Dr. Hew has to say.

    Among the topics and questions we discuss are:

    • Hyponetremia: What is it and what are the risk factors (exercise induced) to be aware of?
    • Dehydration: What does it mean to be dehydrated? What can I do to ensure I don't become either dehydrated or OVER hydrated during exercise?
    • What is the role of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) / arginine vasopressin (AVP) during exericse and how does that impact how much we should drink?
    • Sodium balance and salt intake during extreme exercise: Do you need to take in salt/sodium during long events? If so, how much and how would you know?
    • Some companies looking to sell their products espouse the importance of the perfect electrolyte blend: Does such a thing exist? Do you really need a "balanced spectrum" of electrolyes during extreme exercise or is sodium alone adequate?
    • How reliable are our own body's signals to either drink OR take in salt, when we're training and racing?
    • What does it mean when we feel the desire or need to urinate during exercise? Is peeing a reliable indicator of hydration or electrolyte status?
    • And much more, including briefly touching on protein intake during exercise.

    There are so many companies marketing to us and so much anecdotal evidence and personal opinion from internet experts. It is refreshing to hear a true expert share her thoughts on these topics, gleaned from many years of study, research, and experience.

    I'd like to convey my sincerest thanks to Dr. Hew for joining me today. I know you will learn a great deal from listening, so tune in and enjoy! Happy Trails!

    ~Coach Al