Archive for goal setting

Rock Your Wall!

 

 

I love the analogy of building a wall when it comes to how we should build our fitness, don't you?

In some important ways, our body is a lot like a house...

If you're going to age gracefully and remain durable as you prepare for your races this coming season, you'd be smart to remember that you need to build your own "athletic" foundation, similar to your home's foundation.

Think about it...if you're driving down the road and you see a house that is leaning off to the side with a crumbling foundation, you sure wouldn't want to buy that house, would you?

Even though you and I would desperately LIKE to be able to, we can't build true ironman, marathon, or ultra-running fitness by just saying it, OR by taking it ALL in one bite. Just as Will said, we need to start by laying that brick, one at a time, as perfectly as we can, day after day after day.

If we do it right, soon we'll have that great foundation - one that is stable and straight and strong and that will support OUR "house" in any kind of wind, or more specifically, as the weeks, months, and miles add up!

Which brings me to the main message in today's blog post:

Any smart season-long training plan and progression BEGINS by:

  1. Restoring health and balance and fundamental movement quality, and then...
  2. Establishing a solid foundation that will support all the training that is to come. 

At Pursuit Athletic Performance, we call this first training phase, Restoration and Foundation.

So what's YOUR story?

During this time period, it's about learning as much as you can about your body - it's about self-discovery, from a movement point of view - learning your "story" as an athlete. That might sound a little strange but as a coach, I can't express just how important it is.

Try on some of these questions to get to the heart of who you are as an athlete:

  • Where do you feel tight? Why?
  • Where do you feel weak? Why?
  • Are you routinely fighting some kind of virus? If so, why?
  • Do you struggle frequently with constant nagging pain or injuries? If so, why?
  • Are you a strong, fatigue-resistant swimmer or a weak, slow swimmer? If you're a weaker swimmer, why?
  • Are you a strong cyclist who can climb with ease, or do you struggle to push a larger gear? If you struggle to push that larger gear, why?
  • Are you a strong, durable runner or would you consider yourself injury prone? If you're not durable, then why?
  • When you get tired out on the race course or during long training sessions, do you struggle to maintain efficient form?

Now if your house is about to blow over in the wind, or if that foundation is crumbling and starting to show some cracks...well then, the color of your window shades doesn't matter very much, ya know?

Your body and your fitness are the exact same thing

Get started NOW. Answer the questions and take action, and you'll be on your way to building the biggest, baddest, greatest, fitness "wall" that has ever been built!  It won't happen any other way.

As always, if you have questions, leave a comment of email me directly and let me know. I'm here to help.

To your success!
~Coach Al

 

The Coaching Advice I Give Most Often

 

Endurance athletes pride themselves on pushing through the most challenging, gut-busting workouts. Anyone who is on Facebook sees those "inspirational" memes where the message is always to push-push-push! We like to think of ourselves as tough and willing to push hard and do that little bit extra, even if that "extra" results in some pain that just might be an impending injury.

We love to share our toughness on social media too. Hell, thinking about it - isn't this really why Strava and Facebook exist? So we could prove to those athletes around us that we're a little tougher (and faster) than they are!?  Come on, admit it! 🙂

Hey, listen...I get it. I've been there. 🙂 Improving and racing long aren't easy. Sometimes you gotta dig deep, push yourself harder, put in that extra effort if you want to get better, right?

But let me ask you a question. Is there a point where that never-ever-quit mindset can be detrimental?

The answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES.

You've got to put in some extra work and be willing to do some things that most wouldn't. But at the same time, the mindset of "never-quit-no-matter-what" can sometimes do a lot more harm than good.

Let me just come right out and say it straight: You're never going to be as sorry for the workouts or sets you didn't do, as much as the ones you DID do that you shouldn't have.

In other words, if in doubt, leave it out.

A few weeks ago I sent an email to my mailing list, discussing what I believe might possibly be the world's dumbest exercise? (In case you missed that email and post and you'd like to read it, hit me up via email and I'll send it on to you).

My friend Amy replied (as did a lot of folks with similar stories) sharing with me her story that speaks to this very same idea. I clipped a portion of her email and underlined some of it. Check it out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, Amy's email says it all. If only she had stopped one set earlier or when she started to really feel her form falling apart.

 

The Best Kept Secret To Avoiding Injury and Improving Consistently

Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I'm passionate about helping athletes improve, get faster and stronger, and of course avoid injury along the way.  What many people don't know, is that the secret to improving and avoiding injury aren't those mobility or stability exercises I continually program.

So what is?

Most injuries occur, not because your core is unstable or you're tight. They happen most often, because of dumb training mistakes. You know, the mistakes you make that at the outset, look like you're being "tough." Going the extra mile. Doing that extra rep or set or workout.

Just like Amy did. 

Sometimes, the best thing you can do to ensure you'll keep improving is to leave something OUT or stop short, just when it might seem like you could go on forever.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I've said, "it's at the moment in time when we feel the most bulletproof, that we're actually the most vulnerable."  Not popular to hear, I know. Because hey...we love our toughness and never-say-quit mentality.

So, a couple of months ago I did a talk for some locals here on the sun-coast that was titled "Train Smart: What Is It? How To Do It!"  Goes right along with this theme, ya know?

I've got 24 slides from the talk that I'd be happy to share with you.

I guarantee there's some TIPS in there that just might help down the road to avoiding all of the mistakes I have personally made over the years! That's the thing, I think, that makes me a good coach. I've made ALL of the mistakes so you don't have to!  🙂

To Your Success!
~Coach Al

Are You Wasting Your Time Doing This Dumb Exercise?

 

So here we are, it's already mid April. Did it seem to you that the first three months of the year have just flown by?

Let me ask you two straight forward, honest questions:

1. Would you be interested if I said I could show you one simple (but not necessarily easy) exercise that could (nearly) instantly, give you a STABLE core? No BS here - I'm very serious. Done well, this particular exercise works almost like "magic."

2. And what if I could also save you valuable time and energy by showing you one popular exercise you're probably doing that is a serious waste of your training time and effort?

I'm going to assume if you've read this far, the answer is YES to both of those. So let me start with question #2, the exercise that is A WASTE. What is it you ask?

planksIt is the basic 4-point, front (aka prone) plank.  

Now listen, I know a lot of athletes love this one because you get that "burn" in your abs (yes, I do occasionally use this plank to transition between right and left SIDE planks), and it does make you feel mentally "tough" to gut out long planks, BUT... if your mission is to avoid injury and run faster, this version of a plank just won't do it for you. 

To learn more about the "WHY," take time to listen to this podcast where Doc Strecker and I go into great detail (and hopefully set the record straight) about this exercise.

Now to question #1, if you REALLY want a more stable and strong core, that'll help you get faster and go farther, the Half Front Plank with a reach, IS IT.

Now you might be thinking, this is much "easier" than a full front plank and certainly, something that "simple" can't possibly make a difference. But you would be wrong on both counts.

 

A Simple (But Seriously NOT Easy) Plank To Get Stable

 

Don't believe me?

I challenge you to TRY IT exactly as Dr. Strecker describes it (and demonstrates it) in the 3.5 minute video (click on the image to the left) and then let me know how it goes for you.

In fact, I challenge you to videotape yourself doing it and send it to me. I guarantee I will get back to you with a critique, and offer some tips on how you can improve.

Listen, I know your time is valuable and mine is too. I've been at this way too long to waste time. I'm giving you the straight scoop here, it's up to you to see if I'm right.

Try it. Video yourself and then email me to let me know you're sending video. (Dropbox is best to send video. Note that I will NOT open it unless I hear from you first via email).

Trust me, it may look easy but to do it well, is NOT easy.

It's up to you. You can get REAL results, or you can choose to waste your time doing dumb, pointless exercises like the basic 4-point front plank.

But if you ask me, life is too short to waste time on useless exercises.  As I said before, this year is flying by!

Happy trails!
~Coach Al

PS: If you're interested in digging into this Half Front Plank with a Reach a bit more, I shot a video for my coached athletes where I get into more detail with a ton of tips on how to make it better. You can check that video out HERE.

PSS: Let's face it, one of the ONLY real paths for anyone who wants to be proactive and make sure they are doing all they can to age gracefully and get rid of chronic injury once and for all, is to get to the heart of how they're "moving" and determine definitively where they're unstable, weak, or imbalanced. 

So, because I want to help YOU, for a very limited time only (5 days-this opportunity is gone at the end of the day on Friday) and for a limited number of athletes (only 5), I am offering YOU a solution!

That solution is our unique Pursuit Athletic Performance Virtual Gait Analysis at 20% off the normal price of $299.00. That's right, 20% off!

4 days only; 5 athletes only. Will one of them be you?

 

The Virtual Gait Analysis Is For You IF:

  • You're tired of nagging pain and you're frustrated that you can't run as you'd like to.
  • You want answers NOW on what to do to finally resolve the issue forever.
  • You aren't lazy, and are willing to do the work that is required, once you know WHAT to do and HOW to do it.
  • You love life and want to keep running for as long as you're alive!
  • You're a nice person.

The Virtual Gait Analysis Is NOT For You IF:

  • You don't think you need any help determining the cause of the injury. You know it all and might even have the certification to prove it! 🙂
  • You a) got advice from a running friend, or b) now have a foam roller you can use, or c) believe running with pain is the price you have to pay to be "good."
  • You believe with a little rest, you'll be good to go.
  • You believe the answer is to run more miles!
  • You're not a nice person.

 

How Does Our Virtual Gait Analysis Work?

  1. Go HERE and hit the "Get A Virtual Gait Analysis" Button. During check out, USE THIS COUPON: VGASAVE20 to get 20% off of the normal $299.00 price, but ONLY if you act immediately because it goes away after 5 have been purchased! Coupon code: VGASAVE20
  2. After you complete the purchase, you'll receive an instant downloadable PDF with detailed instructions on every single step you need to take, which includes submitting pictures and video to us. It is an easy-to-follow process that works!
  3. I'll be in contact with you to help you through every step of the process of submitting what we need to conduct the analysis, should you need us.
  4. I'll take all of the information provided and conduct the analysis.
  5. When I'm done (normally about 4-5 days from the time you have submitted ALL of the information to us), we set up a SKYPE video call with you at a mutually convenient time, where we review everything we learned with you. At that time we will answer any questions you may have. Also included is a complete VGA report that includes a detailed, individualized exercise prescription for addressing YOUR specific issues, as well as all supporting pictures and documentation.
  6. And then, because you NEED TO KNOW what to do to fix your issue (and how to do it!), we will give you instant access to our website and all of the instructional videos and documents.

You'll know WHAT to do, HOW to do it, and will be able to contact me directly should you have any questions along the way!

It's time to stop the insanity.

I want to help YOU! However, I can only help if you take action NOW!

You ARE worth the time, expense and effort. Let me help you return to the healthy, vibrant, happy runner you want to be!

 

There is NO Tomorrow.

 

Today's post is important - I hope you can take a minute to read it. It's important for one simple reason - because as the subject line says, there is no tomorrow. 

Now that might sound extreme or fatalistic, but ya know (and as you'll learn as you read further), when it comes to setting goals, taking care of those "niggling" injuries (that seem to get worse as we get older), and being able to do the things that make us smile (like run!), I've learned that the only path that works long term, is to take action like there is NO tomorrow.

Now... before I tell you what kind of action I recommend you take, let me share a quick story with you...

That's me with Life Breath owner, Linda Jaros, and our friend (and coached athlete) Kristin Wilkes-White.

Last week I traveled up to the great state of Rhode Island to perform a series on 1 on 1 movement assessments at the Life Breath Wellness Center and Studio, with an absolutely awesome group of people, most of whom are just like you.

They are all hard working athletes who are unfortunately dealing with a variety of nagging injuries and the resultant pain and dysfunction. They all simply wanted to know what they need to do to feel better so they can go live life and enjoy it on THEIR terms!

I don't think that's unreasonable, yet it is a situation so many athletes find themselves in.  Can you relate at all?

When it comes to protecting and healing your body and making sure you can run (or hike, bike, or anything else) for as long as you would like (how about for as long as you live), there is no tomorrow.

The ONLY path for anyone who wants to be proactive and make sure they are doing all they can to age gracefully and get rid of chronic injury once and for all, is to get to the heart of how they're "moving" and determine definitively where they're unstable, weak, imbalanced, or asymmetrical. 

So, because I want to help YOU, for a very limited time only (5 days-this opportunity is gone at the end of the day on Monday!) and for a limited number of athletes (only 5), I am offering YOU a solution!

That solution is our unique Pursuit Athletic Performance Virtual Gait Analysis at 20% off the normal price of $299.00. That's right, 20% off!

4 days only; 5 athletes only. Will one of them be you?

 

The Virtual Gait Analysis Is For You IF:

  • You're tired of nagging pain and you're frustrated that you can't run as you'd like to.
  • You want answers NOW on what to do to finally resolve the issue forever.
  • You aren't lazy, and are willing to do the work that is required, once you know WHAT to do and HOW to do it.
  • You love life and want to keep running for as long as you're alive!
  • You're a nice person.

The Virtual Gait Analysis Is NOT For You IF:

  • You don't think you need any help determining the cause of the injury. You know it all and might even have the certification to prove it! 🙂
  • You a) got advice from a running friend, or b) now have a foam roller you can use, or c) believe running with pain is the price you have to pay to be "good."
  • You believe with a little rest, you'll be good to go.
  • You believe the answer is to run more miles!
  • You're not a nice person.

 

How Does Our Virtual Gait Analysis Work?

  1. Go HERE and hit the "Get A Virtual Gait Analysis" Button. During check out, USE THIS COUPON: VGASAVE20 to get 20% off of the normal $299.00 price, but ONLY if you act immediately because it goes away after 5 have been purchased! Coupon code: VGASAVE20
  2. After you complete the purchase, you'll receive an instant downloadable PDF with detailed instructions on every single step you need to take, which includes submitting pictures and video to us. It is an easy-to-follow process that works!
  3. I'll be in contact with you to help you through every step of the process of submitting what we need to conduct the analysis, should you need us.
  4. I'll take all of the information provided and conduct the analysis.
  5. When I'm done (normally about 4-5 days from the time you have submitted ALL of the information to us), we set up a SKYPE video call with you at a mutually convenient time, where we review everything we learned with you. At that time we will answer any questions you may have. Also included is a complete VGA report that includes a detailed, individualized exercise prescription for addressing YOUR specific issues, as well as all supporting pictures and documentation.
  6. And then, because you NEED TO KNOW what to do to fix your issue (and how to do it!), we will give you instant access to our website and all of the instructional videos and documents.

You'll know WHAT to do, HOW to do it, and will be able to contact me directly should you have any questions along the way!

It's time to stop the insanity.

I want to help YOU! However, I can only help if you take action NOW!

You ARE worth the time, expense and effort. Let me help you return to the healthy, vibrant, happy runner you want to be!

To Your Success!
~Coach Al

PS: Still doubt it works? Why not speak with any other athlete who has gone through it. Send me an email (coachal@pursuitfitness.com) and I'll give you contact information so you may find out for yourself.  Or, jump on to our Pursuit Athletic Performance Facebook page and ask for input.

PSS: Remember, for 5 days ONLY and for 5 runners ONLY! 20% off!! No exceptions! Act now! This is gone by the start of next week!

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

Woman and men running during sunset

Believe it or not, we're approaching mid-January. The sub-freezing temperatures have settled on the northeast and Midwest, and the snow is piling up.

Whether or not it feels like it (can you say 15+ inches of snow and counting yesterday, if you live in the northeast!), spring is right around the corner, and with it, the events you have planned that you are also HOPING will make you feel good about yourself AND about the year 2018, when looking back on it.

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

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

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

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

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

Get in touch with me by email to see if there might be a way I can help you with a consult, or even a Virtual Gait Analysis. Take the first step now toward becoming the better, more durable athlete you know exists inside, so that 2018 turns out the way you hope it will!

All my best,

~Coach Al

There is NO Tomorrow.

 

Hi Everyone...Happy 2016!

Ok, so in my humble opinion, today's post is important - I hope you can take a minute to read it. It's important for one simple reason - because as the subject line says, there is no tomorrow. 

Now that might sound extreme or fatalistic, but ya know (and as you'll learn as you read further), when it comes to setting goals, taking care of those "niggling" injuries (that seem to get worse as we get older), and being able to do the things that make us smile (like run!), I've learned that the only path that works long term, is to take action like there is NO tomorrow.

Now... before I tell you what kind of action I recommend you take, let me ask you a question:

Do you usually begin the new year with a "plunge" on New Year's Day? You know, the kind of ocean "plunge" where you strip down to your trunks and jump feet first into icy-cold water, with a bunch of other crazy fun-loving friends? 🙂

New Year's Day PlungeI think I did my first official New Year's Day "plunge" around 1985. I haven't done it every year since, because I'm not a big fan of streaks; it seems whenever I get any kind of streak going, I inevitably end up doing something my intuition tells me isn't smart. 🙂 But from that first time in 1985, I thought it was a great way to start the year anew.

...lots of laughing at myself and others, yelping and general carrying on like kids! I love the feeling of "drowning" those mistakes from the past year and looking forward optimistically! (The pic on the left is me getting rid of my socks before jumping in!)

So as is typical when I do plunge, I joined up with some friends for some mountain biking, and then with a run group that slow jogged from the John J. Kelley statue in downtown Mystic, Connecticut, all the way to the shoreline a few miles down the road.

So how does this all relate to what I want to share with you today?

As it happened, because so many folks from all over the area showed up to jog and then plunge, I bumped into a bunch of guys I had trained with, raced against, and become good friends with over the last 30+ years.

It was great to catch up, but honestly, what really blew me away was how few of them are actually running anymore. I mean, seriously, I met up with three different guys who were there to plunge, but told me that for all intents and purposes, their running days are over.

Not surprising to me, chronic knee and hip injuries that left a permanent mark on the joints seemed to be the prevailing theme.

I was saddened because in all three instances, we had a conversation about their injuries some time over the last few years. I told them what I thought they should do, and offered to help.

Listen, there's a truism in our business of helping athletes avoid injury and extend their athletic "lives" and it is this: See me now or see me later, but at some point, you are going to see me.

When it comes to protecting your body and making sure you can run for as long as you would like (how about for as long as you live), there is no tomorrow.

Check out Apollo in the video below - no one says it better. Believe it!

No Tomorrow

 

The ONLY path for anyone who wants to be proactive and make sure they are doing all they can to age gracefully, is to get to the heart of how they're "moving" and determine definitively where they're unstable, weak, imbalanced, or asymmetrical. Until that happens, it is only a matter of time.

So, because I want to help YOU, for a very limited time only (4 days-this opportunity is gone at the end of the day on Friday!) and for a limited number of runners (only 5), I am offering YOU a solution!

That solution is our unique Pursuit Athletic Performance Virtual Gait Analysis at $100 off the normal price of $299.00. That's right, $100.00 off!

4 days only; 5 athletes only. Will one of them be you?

 

The Virtual Gait Analysis Is For You IF:

  • You're tired of nagging pain and you're frustrated that you can't run as you'd like to.
  • You want answers NOW on what to do to finally resolve the issue forever.
  • You aren't lazy, and are willing to do the work that is required, once you know WHAT to do and HOW to do it.
  • You love life and want to keep running for as long as you're alive!
  • You're a nice person.

The Virtual Gait Analysis Is NOT For You IF:

  • You don't think you need any help determining the cause of the injury. You know it all and might even have the certification to prove it! 🙂
  • You a) got advice from a running friend, or b) now have a foam roller you can use, or c) believe running with pain is the price you have to pay to be "good."
  • You believe with a little rest, you'll be good to go.
  • You believe the answer is to run more miles!
  • You're not a nice person.

 

How Does Our Virtual Gait Analysis Work?

  1. Go HERE and hit the "Get A Virtual Gait Analysis" Button. During check out, USE THIS COUPON: VGA100 to get $100.00 off of the normal $299.00 price, but ONLY if you act immediately because it goes away after 5 have been purchased! Coupon code: VGA100
  2. After you complete the purchase, you'll receive an instant downloadable PDF with detailed instructions on every single step you need to take, which includes submitting pictures and video to us. It is an easy-to-follow process that works!
  3. We will be in contact with you to help you through every step of the process of submitting what we need to conduct the analysis, should you need us.
  4. We then take all of the information provided and conduct the analysis in our labs.
  5. When we are done (normally about 4-5 days from the time you have submitted ALL of the information to us), we set up a SKYPE video call with you at a mutually convenient time, where we review everything we learned with you. At that time we will answer any questions you may have. Also included is a complete VGA report that includes a detailed, individualized exercise prescription for addressing YOUR specific issues, as well as all supporting pictures and documentation.
  6. And then, because you NEED TO KNOW what to do to fix your issue (and how to do it!), we will give you instant access to our website and all of the instructional videos and documents. You'll know WHAT to do, HOW to do it, and will be able to contact us should you have any questions along the way!

It's time to stop the insanity.

I want to help YOU! However, I can only help if you take action NOW!

You ARE worth the time, expense and effort. Let me help you return to the healthy, vibrant, happy runner you want to be!

Happy trails!
~Coach Al

PS: Still not sure, or doubt some of what I've said? Why not jump onto our Pursuit Facebook Group and ask any question you'd like of the athletes that are there. They'll give you the straight scoop! It is an open group, so just ask to come in. You can post any question on our company Facebook page HERE also.

PSS: Still doubt it works? Why not speak with any other athlete who has gone through it. Reply to this email and I'll give you contact information.

PSSS: Remember, for 4 days ONLY and for 5 runners ONLY! $100 off!! No exceptions! Act now! This is gone by the end of the week!

 

FIVE Years – 22 Minutes

 

Hi Everyone...Coach Al here. I've got an important message for you today, one that is hopeful and empowering and will help you be happier and better in 2017 and beyond!

Back on October 7th of last year, I was at an Entrepreneur Magazine conference in NYC and had the good fortune of hearing some great presentations including one by writer, James Clear. (His articles on behavioral psychology, habit formation, and performance improvement are awesome - check them out!)

Mr. Clear has developed quite a following online because of his often profound and always concise writing.

James Clear articleHe wrote an article recently entitled "You're Not Good Enough To Be Disappointed."

The article resonated with me and with many others, including some colleagues in the coaching community and some smart introspective athletes I coach. If you missed it, click on the image to the left and read it.

I get frustrated, but that's just me.

The article from Mr. Clear reminded me that one of the things that has always frustrated me, whether it was teaching percussion privately back in the day, or today as a coach, is how quickly people get impatient or discouraged whenever something is "hard" for them, or when they don't get instant results from a little bit of training or work.

I'm also frustrated whenever athletes want to brush over the learning process (essential to improvement and growth, and for me, FUN), so that that they can get to the "really" good stuff, whatever that is.

Now if that sounds harsh or hits home and makes you a bit uncomfortable to read, then you have a choice. You can close the page and check out for now, or you can keep reading and see if there's something here that's worth thinking about. I hope you keep reading.

Now listen, this ISN'T about me, it's about you. I'm here to help you get better.

But at the same time, I have to be honest...

Like every one of you, when I think about how a thing might help me, I go back and relate it to my own experiences. In this case, for me it's my development as a runner. So let's start there:

I ran my first Boston marathon in 1983 as an unofficial runner (aka "back of the packer"), finishing in around 4-hours. The picture you see is from that day, hanging out with some friends right before the start. What an amazing day it was!

I finished, absolutely IN LOVE with running AND with the Boston Marathon. I wanted to come back as a qualified runner, not one that jumped in the back and ran as a scab.

So, I made a huge decision that day, vowing NOT to run another marathon until I was ready to run fast enough to qualify. (No small feat since the men's open qualifying time then was 2:50!).

Four years went by.

Injuries, miles, a lot of reading and study and research, more injuries, and dozens of road races and track sessions later, the time arrived when I believed I was ready to give qualifying a shot. I signed up for the Marine Corp Marathon as my first "official" marathon. Luckily for me, the qualifying standard had been lowered from 2:50 to 3 hours! My 3:01:20 that day in 1987, starting behind 11,000 runners, got me in.

So let me ask, would you or any of your friends take four years, F-O-U-R years... to train and improve, between their first and second marathons?

(Many runners and triathletes are so anxious and impatient, they sign up for their second marathon (or ironman) before the ink is dry on the finisher certificate from the first, without considering what it really will take to improve!).

 

FIVE YEARS - 22 minutes.

My first "official" Boston (and 2nd official marathon) followed in April, 1988. The image to the left and below is from that race. (Gotta love the fancy painters hat, right?) 🙂

1988 Boston Marathon

I will admit that when it came to training, my entire focus as a runner was on one thing: How I could run the marathon faster, and the Boston Marathon in particular.

So it was more racing, more injuries, more humbling mistakes and "learning" opportunities. Hell, the things I write about and share today with the athletes I work with, I learned the hard way over those years and the ones that followed.

I trained for 5 years before running the 2:39 at Boston in 1992 that stands today as my PR for the distance.

5 years to improve by 22 minutes.

F-I-V-E years. Twenty-two minutes.

Have you or any of your friends worked relentlessly for 5 straight years, with a laser beam focus on one race, one distance?

Some of the athletes I've worked with look back and like to say I have more talent than they do. I don't believe that. (Do you remember this? "I Don't Care How Talented You Are,")

I have no more talent than you do, but as soon as I crossed the line in Boston in 1983, I knew what I wanted - I LOVED training with a very specific goal. And I LOVE the process. I always have, and I'm sure it comes in part from my life as a musician.

If you're going to reach your true potential, you have to be willing to listen, learn, and work really hard for as long as it takes. And you have to try to avoid being frustrated, mad, or disappointed. It's that simple.

As James Clear (and Dan John) pointed out, the fact is, you haven't worked long enough to be disappointed, frustrated, or discouraged.

It's time to embrace the process and enjoy the journey, my friends.

Just keep learning and working hard. Every day's a new day.

Happy trails!
~Coach Al

No One Wants To See How The Sausage Is Made

 

"That which is easy to do, is also easy not to do." - Jim Rohn


If I've become known for one thing more than any other, it's speaking the truth.  No, I'm not always right, but I do care. And because of that, I'm always going to be straight with you and tell it as I see it. Like it or hate it, it's what you get from me.

Now listen, I know that's not popular these days. People don't want to hear the truth, especially when it comes to building that fitness "wall" one brick at a time, or mastering the basics and fundamentals first.

No one wants to see how the sausage is made... 

Folks want cheering and applause, pats on the back, smiles and rah-rah.

Now that's all fine, don't get me wrong.  When it's truly deserved, that is. When it's EARNED.

Are You Bored?

I went to a National Strength and Conditioning Association coach's clinic last weekend. During a panel discussion, a presenter chimed in and said something that did NOT go over well with the group. I found it fascinating.

The guy who spoke up is a successful trainer. He was talking about how he’s recently had to change the way he does things. He said he's been forced to cave-in to the wishes of many of his clients, taking them beyond what they're really ready for at any given point in time. His words: "More of them are now routinely scouring Youtube videos - if I don't give them what they want, they get bored and move on."

All I can say to that is...wow.

No one wants to see how the sausage is made... 

 

Are You Self Sabotaging?

A benefit of having been a long time coach is recognizing trends that are typical for developing athletes, whether they are the novice, weekend warrior, or experienced pro.

One of the most common things I see (is it human nature?) is the tendency to self-sabotage the potential for massive long-term improvement in order to reach short term gain.  

A perfect example is the triathlete who fails to really focus on technique, instead choosing to log more yardage in order to build swim “fitness.”  Once you know you can FINISH the swim leg (especially with the aid of your wetsuit), why not decide to work relentlessly on the one thing that will make the greatest impact on how good you can be?  (Which is skill and technique!)

Whether you're nodding your head in agreement or not, if you're like most, you'll forsake that advice and just go swim, mile upon mile, grooving poor skills and trashing your shoulders in the process.

And if you're like many others, when you finally do decide that your skills are subpar, you’ll be faced with the fact that you’ve now hard-wired that poor form to the point where change is nearly impossible to achieve. 

No one wants to see how the sausage is made...

Want some other examples of how impatient athletes short circuit their potential for massive long term gains?

  • Building running mileage with the primary goal being an impressive running log, without first identifying imbalances and weaknesses in the body and addressing them head-on.
  • Signing up for long course races (70.3 or 140.6) without first developing a solid foundation of fundamental skills and experience at the shorter distances.
  • Spending $5,000 or more on a state-of-the-art triathlon bike before even owning a road or mountain bike or possessing any basic bike handling skills.

I know, I know..there are a lot of "reasons" why many athletes approach things this way. I've heard most of them.

Some feel they need more confidence to just "complete" the distance. Some are fired up by their newfound enthusiasm for the sport, and think they can jump on the "fast track" to improvements in durability and speed.

I think many take the easy way out by downplaying their own potential for improvement, or sell themselves very short when it comes to how good they can actually be.

No one wants to see how the sausage is made...

No one wants to hear the truth...

So let me ask you, do you REALLY know how good you can be? (Hint: NO, you don't).

Whether you like it or not, the truth is that YOUR greatest possibilities are built upon a solid foundation, AND mastery of the basics and fundamentals. It takes a long time to truly get good, which is one reason why I encourage folks to really embrace the process and enjoy the journey.

So who do you want to be? The athlete logging miles to get some additional "confidence,” or the one who is willing to pay their dues to achieve true, long term, massive gains in performance potential?

It’s up to you.

Happy trails!
~Coach Al

PS: If you aren't one of our email friends, you're missing out. We share a lot of awesome discounts and training information, so sign up if you haven't. Click HERE and as a bonus, you'll get instant access to my 5 TIPS for upgrading your off season NOW!

Rock Your Wall!

 

I hope your Tuesday has started off great!

I sent out an note to our email friends last week that included a reference to a fun Will Smith video. In the email, I shared my SSQ and how important it is to review this past season before moving on to the upcoming season. If you missed that email, here's a link so you can read it in your browser. Check it out - it's VERY cool!

That email got me thinking about something else Will said that I absolutely love, and that is central to my coaching philosophy. One reason I love it so much? It's one of those quotes that isn't just about training, it has as much value for life in general.

I love the analogy of building a wall when it comes to how we should build our fitness, don't you?

Your body is a lot like a house...

It also reminds me of an analogy my partner, Dr. Strecker, refers to when discussing how we need to build our OWN "athletic" foundation. He says,"if you're driving down the road and you see a house that is leaning off to the side with a crumbling foundation, you sure wouldn't want to buy that house, would you? One big gust of wind and the house might blow right over."

Even though you and I would desperately LIKE to be able to, we can't build true ironman, marathon, or ultra-running fitness by just saying it, OR by taking it ALL in one bite. Just as Will said, we need to start by laying that brick, one at a time, as perfectly as we can, day after day after day.

If we do it right, soon we'll have that great foundation - one that is stable and straight and strong and that will support OUR "house" in any kind of wind, or more specifically, as the weeks, months, and miles add up!

Which brings me to the main message in today's email:

Any smart season-long training plan and progression BEGINS by:

  1. Restoring health and balance and fundamental movement quality, and then...
  2. Establishing a solid foundation that will support all the training that is to come. 

At Pursuit Athletic Performance, we call this first training phase, Restoration and Foundation.

So what's YOUR story?

During this time period, it's about learning as much as you can about your body - it's about self-discovery, from a movement point of view - learning your "story" as an athlete. That might sound unattainable, but I can't express just how important it is!

Try on some of these questions to get to the heart of who you are as an athlete:

  • Where are you tight? Why?
  • Where are you weak? Why?
  • Are you often sick? If so, why?
  • Do you struggle frequently with nagging pain or injuries? If so, why?
  • Are you a strong, fatigue-resistant swimmer or a weak, slow swimmer? If you're a weaker swimmer, why?
  • Are you a strong cyclist who can climb with ease, or do you struggle to push a larger gear? If you struggle to push that larger gear, why?
  • Are you a strong, durable runner or are you injury prone? If you're not durable, then why?
  • When you get tired out on the race course or during long training sessions, do you struggle to maintain efficient form?

Now if your house is about to blow over in the wind, or if that foundation is crumbling and starting to show some cracks, the color of your window shades doesn't matter very much, ya know?

Your body and your fitness are the exact same thing

Get started NOW. Answer the questions and take action, and you'll be on your way to building the biggest, baddest, greatest, fitness "wall" that has ever been built!  It won't happen any other way.

(One more thing, if you haven't yet checked out this blog series "Learn How You Move" we did a while back, take a look - it'll be worth your time, trust me).

As always, if you have questions, leave a comment of email me directly and let me know. I'm here to help.

Happy trails!
~Coach Al

PS: If you aren't one of our email friends, you're missing out. We share a lot of awesome discounts and training information, so sign up if you haven't. Click HERE and as a bonus, you'll get instant access to my 5 TIPS for upgrading your off season NOW!

PSS: I almost forgot to mention, I just had two coaching slots open up for working with me one on one. If you're interested in learning more, reply to this email and I'll get you some information and a questionnaire. Rock on!

Should You Take A Break?

 

Shortly after the 2012 London Olympics, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal outlining how some elite marathoners were planning to take an extended complete break from any kind of training after the race. (A complete break...really?). In that article, one of the world's fastest runners, Bernard Lagat, was quoted as believing that "inactivity was one of the reasons for his success." He said he always "takes the time to be lazy."

That doesn't sound like the kind of relentless intensity and focus we would expect from a world class runner, does it?

Does Bernard know something we don't, or is the fact that he is an elite the reason he feels a break is justified?

What is the right approach for the average age-group athlete who has a job and many other demanding responsibilities on top of training?

It depends...

My initial response when an athlete asks me if they should take a break is usually the same: It depends.

Yes, I know that sounds like the classic "side-step," but honestly, there are a lot of factors that each of us need to consider as we decide how to approach this time of year.  We really are all an experiment of one, and the consequences of our choices will have a huge impact on what's to come.

 

Be honest: did you drill yourself into exhaustion or are you truly feeling good?

Recovery and rejuvenation come in many forms and is different for each of us. Stress comes in many forms, too, and depending on our lifestyle, work, and training goals, it can take a huge toll. Some of that stress is good, and some of it isn't so good.

The serious consequences of week-in, week-out, 3 (or 4) sport training for months on end, combined with busy, high stress lifestyles (and too little sleep) is a deep level of fatigue that for many borders on exhaustion, and in some cases, can paradoxically become addictive.

 

Consistency matters...

Even though Bernard Lagat preferred a complete break, I've traditionally believed that for the majority, a simple change from the normal training routine can be a good approach.  At the same time, as I've gotten older I'm reminded that there are few things as important as training consistency, especially as we age.  Like many things training related, there's always many viewpoints.

  • Is a "complete" break from training the best approach for short and long term mental and physical rejuvenation? If so, how "complete" is complete?
  • Could a simpler primarily unstructured approach be best, where we just go "how we feel?"
  • Is it better to turn to other activities that aren't typical for us in order to maintain some "fitness" while getting away from the sports we most often train in?
  • If we take a break, do we risk losing hard-earned fitness gains that will be difficult to regain?

Deciding in which direction to go and discussing these aspects can often generate as many questions as answers! Here are some additional things to consider as you ponder whether a break is the right choice for you...

  1. If all else fails, trust your intuition. If your gut feeling is you "need" that break, you probably do!
  2. If you have been nursing an injury, STOP now and do what is needed to determine the root cause. NOW is the ideal time to resolve injuries once and for all.
  3. The harder and longer your races, the greater the likelihood you'll benefit from some extended recovery and rejuvenation.
  4. The older you are, the smaller the margin of error you may have for taking complete time off.  To put it another way, as we age, we need more than ever to keep moving. Don't "stop" and rest just for the sake of it.
  5. The best "break" may simply be a change in training routine. For example, if you are usually on your tri-bike, put that away and get on your mountain bike or cruiser instead. If you're usually running on the roads, get off road and onto a trail. Ease off on the pace and re-establish your aerobic base at a conversational training intensity. If in doubt, try a relaxing hike, ski, roller-blade, or simply sleep in!
  6. If you're like many and could use to improve skills in some areas, now might be the perfect time. Lower intensity, and technique focused!

Whether YOU need a complete break from structured training or not depends upon you - how healthy and durable you are, what you've done over the recent past, and what your upcoming goals are.

 

Plan for recovery year round...

Planning regular periods for recovery throughout the year is arguably more important, especially as one training phase builds to the next.

Whether you're an elite (like Bernard), a weekend warrior, or a competitive age-grouper, if you've recently established some training consistency and feel mentally energized and motivated, AND you aren't carrying deep fatigue from a long season of racing and training, there is absolutely no reason to stop now simply because of the calender.

Happy trails!
~Coach Al

PS: In a series of future posts, I'm going to lay out my philosophy for how to build fitness progressively in the off season. Stay tuned.