Archive for goal setting – Page 2

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.

 

 

Is STRAVA The Newest Coaching Tool?

 

I was chatting recently with an athlete I just started working with about an upcoming marathon she had planned to run. I am excited about the opportuity to be working with her; regardless of how talented she might be, she is eager to learn and understands that contrary to popular belief, it doesn't take gobs of talent OR huge sacrifice to pursue our dreams and goals and approach our ultimate potential.  All it really takes are four things:

  1. willingness to be honest with ourselves
  2. a never ending desire to learn
  3. a commitment to relentless, smart work 
  4. the patience to do things the right way and stay the course

As she and I discussed whether she should follow through with her plans to run the marathon, which incidently was only a few weeks away, I decided that reviewing the plan she had been following would give me a sense of her preparation, so I asked her to forward it to me.

As I looked the plan over, I instantly recognized what I believe is the most serious and common flaw of many marathon training plans.  

I have to admit I wasn't that surprised to see it - I've seen it over and over again in many different plans written by many different coaches.

What is that flaw? Simply put, it is completing that last long run too close to race day. 

When I brought up the topic of this all-too-common mistake, she replied: "...all I have to say is, it's really incredible how hard it is to undo mass perception like that!  To be honest, while it makes complete sense, I had never heard that before!  The proliferation of social media and Strava in particular, gave me some insight into how some of my friends train who also race, and they certainly haven't applied this approach." 

I thought to myself, WOW...have we reached a point where Strava, is now not only a place to race for an "FKT" or fastest known time, but is now also a coaching tool?

  • Are you an athlete who decides how you should train by watching what others do (often total strangers) and apply what you see them do, to your training?  
  • Do you assume that because someone might be faster, you should train like them?
  • Do you believe that there is a "one size fits all" when it comes to training?

It seems to me that with the popularity of Strava (and other social media), the inclination for some to follow others or see what they do and use that as coaching guidance, without really understanding how that might be helping OR hurting, is an ever increasing problem.

Who knows why others are doing what they're doing, or whether THEY might go even FASTER if they employed a different approach?

If you've shown up on race day with tired legs and performed below your potential as a result, give this topic some serious consideration. Resist the temptation to blindly trust the plan or the "expert" giving you advice.

Learn. Think. Train smart.

For a much more in-depth review of what I believe is the best overall approach for tapering into your marathon or iron distance triathlon, check out this blog post I wrote prior to last year's Boston Marathon entitled "Old Habits Die Hard." 

Happy trails!

~Coach Al

What Is The ONE THING You Need MOST To Be Successful?

 

Recently I had a conference call with a group of triathletes who were seeking advice. I asked them point blank: as athletes, what was the one thing they needed to do, or pay more attention to, that would help them realize their ultimate potential? Of course this highly competitive group of high achieving type-A athletes, all with big future aspirations for racing, enthusiastically dug right in and started bantering back and forth.

They tossed around lots of ideas including reflecting  on their experiences and what they've learned. We talked about hard work, their desire to learn and the need to be increasingly honest about things like movement quality and maintaining life balance.  They agreed that the stakes have been raised and along with it, the external and internal pressure to go faster or farther and make it look easier, is increasing like never before.  (Are you feeling it?)

One thing they collectively agreed on was that training and racing (while maintaining life balance) are different now and in some ways, more challenging than ever.  The "game" as we might have known it once, has clearly changed.

Athletes and coaches now have access to more information than in the past. There are more "experts" than you can count, and because of the growth (and pervasiveness) of social media, we know more about what each other is doing than ever before. (Is it me, or do you also feel like your Facebook "friends" are running, swimming, or riding faster, easier, and farther than you are?)

Technology (equipment, power meters for bike and run, GPS devices, etc.) continues to advance at an incredible rate of speed, and along with it, the software to analyze what the technology is telling us about how "good" we are.

Still, they all struggled to identify that one thing which would make the biggest difference?

When I sensed that they were getting frustrated, I shared with them what I thought the key was.

From my perspective, more athletes than ever before want IT, NOW, whatever "it" might be at that moment in time. Think of it as instant gratification.

I explained how frustrating it sometimes is when I talk with an athlete and realize that while it is clear they can see what it is they need to do, they rarely perceive or understand. 

What do I mean by that? Because you look at something or think about it, doesn't mean you truly perceive or understand it. Because something is instantly available to your vision doesn't mean that it is instantly available to your consciousness.

Seeing is direct, immediate, uncomplicated. To perceive the details, the order of things, the connectivity and integration, takes time.

And time... is the one thing we just don't afford ourselves of, anymore.

Listen...I know what you're thinking, and I get it.

Life is short, there's little time to waste.  You'd better jump now or your chance might slip away....right?

The problem is, very often in a well intentioned effort to achieve or do more, we end up with a lot less.

images (6)

  • We rush through, refusing to take the time to work on basic and fundamental skills. We're more inclined to just hammer away and attempt more volume, and then wonder why we get injured or never go as fast we would like.  
  • We don't take the time or have the patience to hold our effort in check early on in training sessions, races, or entire seasons, and then wonder why we fatigue more quickly or finish slower than we had hoped, sometimes crashing and burning all together.
  • We "want" things like a kettlebell swing, barbell deadlift, pull up, or good health and movement quality, NOW, so we skip the process that's required to learn and develop these difficult-to-obtain abilities and attributes.
  • When injury happens, we don't have the patience to get to the root cause of it, preferring instead to just treat symptoms so we can rush back as soon as the pain subsides, only to discover that the injury inevitably returns, causing even more frustration. genius-is-eternal-patience-quote-1(In an even worse case scenario, we do something stupid which ends up permanently shortening our athletic lifespan).
  • When it comes to racing, as endurance athletes we think it's normal to go from racing shorter sprint distance to longer distance events almost overnight, disrespecting the longer distance and the time it takes to build the requisite skill and stamina to do well. What often results are much slower performances than we are capable of, and injury (again), accepting either as "the norm. " 
  • Some are now so short of patience, that after a race goes bad or they end up injured (again), they try to justify the poor choices that led to the predicament they're in with self-deprecating and/or self-defeating talk (most often to themselves). a712ca9973609f97a6e93bd92e51697e
  • We never seem to take enough time to work on ourselves or have patience with ourselves, OR take the time to develop a foundational philosophy that reflects our core values and will guide us when things get hard. We just leap from one thing to the next, or look to the next fad, secret sauce, or quick fix, hoping that it will be THE thing that finally leads us to success.

a-man-who-masters-patience-masters-everything-else-quote-1Ironically, in a world that now seems to be speeding by at 1-million miles an hour, the thing that we need most to be successful and reach our ultimate potential, is patience...

...patience to do things the right way and stay the course...patience to perceive, not just see...

...patience to truly enjoy the journey and not just focus on the destination...and patience to embrace the process of learning and growing into the person & athlete that we were truly meant to be...

Happy trails!

~Coach Al

I Don’t Care How “Talented” You Are…

 

We know that each of us is born with our own natural talent and physiological gifts. When it comes to the sports we love like swimming, biking, and running, some are more naturally gifted, having either that huge aerobic "engine" or that powerful and graceful athleticism, or both.

If you're one of those with that big "motor," winning races or your age-group relatively easily, or you're an "adapter," (someone who seems to get faster and faster despite doing relatively little training), I say...good for you.

But honestly, what really excites me as a coach is seeing the athlete who might not necessarily possess those natural gifts, but who combines a long term view and a willingness to work hard, with a relentless pursuit of the smartest training path, often achieving far more than they ever believed was possible.

While winning is great, "achieving" can mean something different and even more profound. Want two examples?

  • How about an athlete who through hard fought experience and humility, finally learns to embrace the process of evolving into the enlightened person and athlete they never knew existed within?
  • Or the person who is able to train gracefully into their 60s, 70s and beyond in their sports of choice (not just the sports they were forced into because of chronic injury)?

I believe that these smart and fortunate few are happier people, experiencing a deeper fullfillment and satisfaction, exploding whatever self-limiting beliefs exist into smithereens!

You know, none of us really ever knows just how good we can become...yet so many of us jump at the first opportunity to place limits upon ourselves. I think it's a sort of "safety net," designed to "make sure" we never disappoint ourselves.

These self-limiting beliefs are not exclusive to the average among us, either. The "adapters" suffer from them too.

For example, earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet an elite ultra-runner. After carefully examining his training routine, despite the fact that he's won some big races, I am convinced he hasn't come anywhere close to his ultimate potential. (Time will tell whether he sees it the same way).

The point is, whatever your level of participation in your chosen sport (novice, elite or somewhere in between), regardless of how much natural talent you might have, it's possible you're achieving far LESS than you are truly capable of.  From my point of view as a coach, that really sucks.

So let me ask you point blank: could it be that your self-limiting beliefs (or a confirmation bias), and not the level of talent you might have, is what's really holding you back?

Happy trails!

~Coach Al

Do You Ever Ask Yourself These Questions?

 

As a coach, people sometimes think I have all the answers...

I don't.

No one does.

The truth is, in order to be successful, sometimes the athlete needs to look in the mirror and ask themselves some questions...

...so let me ask YOU....have you asked yourself any of these questions?


* What can I do better?

* What "tools" do I need to have in my "toolbox" that I DON'T have right now, in order to have my best chance for success on race day?

* What specific challenges does my "A" priority race-course(s) present to me, that I am not yet ready to meet and conquer?

* Am I being honest with myself about my weaknesses and my strengths, and am I addressing them as honestly as I can?

* Am I taking time each day and each succeeding week, to learn and to master skills, accepting and understanding that until I become more skilled and smarter in my training, my opportunities for improvement will be limited?

* Am I remembering to think long term (vs short term) about my overall growth as an athlete and person, with respect to race planning and day to day training?

Am I relaxing when I need to, tensing when I need to, and prioritizing training as I need to?

* Am I staying in the moment, doing my best in each rep, set, and training session, knowing that this might be the single biggest factor to improving over the long term?

* And....most importantly...am I enjoying this journey as fully as I should be and need to be, in order to truly feel great about myself and the sacrifices I have made, when this season is behind me?


I've given you a lot to think about here. I believe these questions can have a powerful impact on your potential for future success.

As I said, I don't have all the answers. However, I am committed to doing my best to help YOU on your quest toward greatness. Onward!

Happy trails!

~Coach Al

From Olivia: Why Self-Shaming May Be Hurting Your Performance

Pursuit Functional Well-being coach, Olivia Syptak

Now that we’re more than half way through the racing season in North America, I’m seeing tons lots of updates via Facebook, email and the Team Pursuit forums highlighting early and mid-season race experiences. There are the thrills of testing fitness built over the long cold winter and spring, the excitement of crossing the first finish lines of 2015, and more often than not, a personal, self-inflicted public shaming.

That’s right. Shaming. You know what I’m talking about. It tends to show up as something like this:

“It wasn’t the time that I was looking for….” or

“I really blew my run…” or “For all the training I did I should be faster on the bike.”

Every time I read or hear statements like this in someone’s race recap I wonder, what constructive and positive purpose is this serving? I also wonder how much more joy and even how much better we might perform if we could be more supportive of ourselves.

For all that we do as athletes, the long training days, time away from family and friends, the strength training, the soreness, the mental and physical fatigue we carry from week to week, not to mention the sheer logistical puzzle of juggling our athletic lives with our work and family commitments, we need to be supportive and acknowledging of ourselves. Disparaging and judgmental comments detract from that.

Think what statements like the above could be cultivating within your mind and body. What you might be hearing yourself say, over and over, could actually be “I’m not good enough,” “I don’t have what it takes,” or worse, “people are going to judge me anyway, so I better put the judgement on myself first.” Yikes! It would be hard to get up in the morning with that going on, much less rock your best race!

You know that saying that if you want to be loved by others you have to love yourself first? What would your training and racing experience be like if you could apply that idea here?

Try making some simple changes in how you think and talk about the work you put in and your performances. Consider replacing thoughts like “I’m not ready for this race,” or “that run is going to suck” with “I deserve to have a great time out there on course and to enjoy testing my fitness.” Look at opportunities to replace insecurities with confidence in your abilities and will. Rather than thinking things like, “I’m nowhere near as fast as I want to be” opt for something like “I’ve trained thoroughly and with focus to the best of my abilities and I will race to my fullest potential today.”

After races, consider how you might document and share your experience in ways that don’t contain a judgement about yourself. Even if you had a not so great race, simply affirming “I can learn a lot from how the day went” rather than, “it wasn’t the time I wanted” stays focused on your continued development as an athlete instead of creating a judgement about yourself

How you think and talk about your training and racing for yourself and in conversation with others can shape what you experience in the future. This is not dissimilar from how you would deliver praise to a child, student, or employee. Focusing on the behavior and the way you have prepared and on your experience of the event could be much more supportive toward your improvement and continued love of sport.

Adopting a mindset and shifting how you evaluate, think about and talk about yourself as an athlete that is honest, non-judgmental, is not minimizing of the effort you put in could be could just be your performance (and enjoyment!) advantage.

~Olivia

Are You Eating In Harmony With Your Goals?

 

Two triathletes recently contacted me to set up nutrition consultations. Both are staring down at upcoming Ironman distance races and neither is satisfied with their training progress to this point. Feeling frustrated and panicking a little, they reached out and asked for help. I'll refer to them as Tom and Sally. (It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I LOVE helping athletes like Tom and Sally who reach out for help - it is my passion!)

In instances like this, the first thing I ask for is a detailed diet log, to better see how an athlete is eating on a daily basis. (Do you ever wonder whether you could adjust or tweak your eating habits to better support your training?)

As it turned out, I quickly learned they are like you, very serious about their training and their goals.

I also learned that despite them training for what was essentially the same race, they were on complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to how they ate.

Sally's daily total caloric intake, despite training 12 or more hours per week (or trying to), was far below what her activity level and training volume demanded, by a wide margin.

What she proudly believed was a "disciplined" approach to eating in order to "get leaner," was actually excessive calorie restriction The end result was chronic exhaustion, constant hunger, and uninspired training. Unfortunately, as is all too common for many athletes like Sally, what she most accomplished was to feel very frustrated!

(I'll admit, I did whisper in her ear that in all likelihood, her body was reacting and performing as though it was being starved. Yep, she sure was shocked and dismayed to hear that!).

On the other hand, Tom was getting enough calories, BUT on an almost daily basis, his diet was littered with simple sugars and junk food. He mistakenly convinced himself that because he was training "like an animal," (his words) he could treat himself a little bit each day.

Tom learned the hard way that his frequent, less than optimal daily choices delivered chronically high insulin levels that led to cravings, energy and mood swings, and more body-fat than he desired. (The key take-away words here are frequent and daily. I don't believe there are any "bad" foods, only bad habits!)

Listen, in the 35 years I've been training, competing, and coaching, I've seen and heard it all, especially as it relates to nutrition.

I always chuckle, shaking my head in amazement (and at times, disgust) as those emails pour into my inbox, boasting of the latest "cutting edge" info on a new nutrition "breakthrough," or a "recently discovered" biohack to a leaner better body, all delivered courtesy of any one of a plethora of internet marketeers (masked as "coaches" and self-proclaimed "experts"). Do you get those kinds of emails, too? You might be smart to delete most of them, I think.

So back to Tom and Sally - with their well intentioned but somewhat "flawed" efforts to improve, what did they learn?

The answer to that question is rooted in a philosophy that can be summarized with these words: BALANCE and MODERATION.

I also told them the same thing I'll say to you now: commit to eating in a way that is in harmony with your goals.

If you're wondering where to start, begin today with the guidelines below.  Remember balance and moderation.

For optimal results and enjoyment, apply them most of the time and especially around key training periods. 

  • Eat a varied and well-balanced diet, containing copius amounts of fruit, veggies, fat (especially those known as "good" fats), and quality protein.
  • Eliminate or minimize processed foods, especially those containing simple junk sugars.
  • Eat an amount that reflects your activity level and training volume (e.g. more calories in the days leading up to big training days, and less on other days).

This simple philosophy will then "set the table" for you to refine and personalize your approach, learning through experimentation and small tweaks.

It isn't about extremes, "biohacking,"or strict adherance to any one particular approach.  It also isn't about a "secret," marketed in a way that hooks you into believing there's an easier way - a magic bullet. There isn't.

It's about sound principles applied daily, combined with smart experimentation and continually dialing it in.

Ok, one more thing, some "food for thought" before I sign off: there is this certain 4-time IRONMAN Age-Group World Champion who is as tough, competitive, and committed as they come, who also happens to love chocolate and red wine!

Reflecting today's message of balance and moderation, I know she would never give up those awesome foods entirely; for her, they add richness and enjoyment to her life and they taste good! However, to her credit she also carefully picks her days to indulge, especially during key training periods, choosing to eat in complete harmony with her goals as an athlete.

Happy Eating!

~Coach Al

ps: Because so many of you have asked, yes.....I'll have more posts in the future on a ton of other nutrition topics, so stay tuned and don't forget to get in touch if I can help.

Are You Having A Crazy Amount Of FUN Doing This?

 

Happy kids in colorful bike helmets holding bikes

Keep the FUN in your training and I guarantee you'll get better, faster, and enjoy the journey more!

I remember when I was a kid how much I looked forward to after school and weekends, when I could ride my bike over to my friend's house. We spent hours playing, working on our take-offs with our "home-made" ramps (made out of whatever scrap wood we could find) and chasing each other around the driveway, exploring the backyard trails and laughing our butts off the entire time! Thinking back, I never got into BMX riding but I sure wish I had.

Do you remember those days? Take a minute and think back.

Riding bikes was so much FUN when we were kids!

Today I'm here to tell you that it can be fun again, and because I know you are the kind of athlete who is serious about your training, trust me that you can also achieve the great workout and fitness boost you want, too! (Would you like to have even MORE hip and core stability, core-glute-leg strength, and even better balance?)

But before I go on...come on now....In this day and age, don't we ALL need more pure, unadulterated (and legal!) FUN in our lives, as well as some child-like joy in our training?

And if we could manage to keep most of our training enjoyable and fun (despite the occasional discomfort that goes with pushing ourselves at times), won't we get better faster, and enjoy the journey more?

From my perspective as a coach, the answer to both of these questions is one million percent, YES!  

(If you are one of those folks who believes that you can only achieve at a high level if training is drudgery and not fun, you are seriously missing out. Life is too short!)

So, the million dollar question for today has got to be, how?

The answer is (drum roll please....) the mountain bike.

Now if you already ride, there's no reason to read on. You're a believerYou get it.

You've smiled, sweated, laughed, gasped for breath, been humbled, scared, euphoric, and even bloodied and bruised. And....you've never been happier while training.

But if you don't ride a mountain bike (yet), please read on!

Exploring forests and trails on a mountain bike is the most fun you will ever have on two wheels.  Ever! There's nothing that makes you feel more like a kid than a flowy, wooded single-track, dotted with rocks, roots, and berms that twist and turn down a slope.

And...conversely, there's nothing that will challenge your strength, focus, balance, power production, movement quality, and mental toughness, than will pushing those pedals up an ever changing landscape to get back up the trail.

Of ALL the many things I do now, riding my mountain bike is without a doubt, the most rewarding, challenging, butt-kicking fun I have as an athlete!

Regardless of where you are right now in your riding or training, consider this note today as simply me encouraging you to get started if you haven't already.

I'll be writing a ton more in the future about this awesome sport, covering topics like skill building, flats vs. clipless, bike/equipment choices, and more.

For today, just in case you're hoping for some basic tips to get you started on the right path, here are a few that will help keep you from getting hurt and also increase the fun factor.

* Riding a mountain bike safely and enjoyably on technical terrain requires good skills. (Doesn't anything worth doing well?) Learning those skills gradually and building upon them will help you have more fun. Why not consider attending a camp / workshop or find a friend or fellow rider who can help you learn what you need to know.

* Take the time to find the right group of fellow riders to learn with who are at, or perhaps slightly above, your skill and experience level. Ride behind someone you trust who is more skilled than you are, and learn by watching how they ride.

* Find trail systems that are appropriate for your skill level. Don't get caught on highly technical or hilly terrain if you're not quite ready for it. Nothing sucks the fun out of riding more than crashing a lot.

* Be patient and persistent. Don't take yourself or the riding too seriously and keep smiling.  You'll improve consistently and have a ton of fun learning along the way!

Now let's go out and play! Happy Trails!

~Coach Al

ps: check out this video from PinkBike Trail Love Episode 4 to get even more jazzed about riding! Here we come, Kingdom Trails!

From Olivia: Stop. Rebuild. Reclaim.

Pursuit Functional Well-being coach, Olivia Syptak

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Well-Being coach, Olivia Syptak

It has been quite a long while since I’ve posted here. A few months of significant overscheduling of work, the holidays, more overscheduling, on-going rehab from surgery a year ago, work related research, and hours of business development work. It completely took me away. It not only took me away from this inspired Team Pursuit world, in reality, it took me away from my “baseline standard” of living.

All that busy-ness, could have been observed (by me or by others) as discipline, dedication, or drive. It could have been labeled as sacrifice for building my dream. What I came to realize was that, in addition to making me really tired, this pattern of living was actually depleting me. It became obvious that by making the choices I was making I was draining myself of perspective and creativity. It was actually life and energy denying rather than life affirming. I was closing myself off from possibility, isolating myself from community, limiting my opportunity to recharge and maintain not only my strength by feeding my needs for connection, support, and collaboration, but also the needs of others. Bottom line:  I was diminishing my potential for fulfillment and success.

In Team Pursuit parlance, I was moving poorly and piling more and more on top of an unstable foundation. More “miles” was not going to make me perform better. Something had to stop.

So, just like what Team Pursuit athletes do when they commit to rebuilding from the ground up, I looked honestly and critically at what needed to change. I looked squarely at that compulsion from outside forces that said, “if you slow down people are going to think you’re not committed.” It was clear that a period of getting back to the fundamentals of effective and efficient “movement” in my life was essential to rebuilding my strength and stability, and to restoring my potential for optimal performance and happiness.

I cut back on the areas of my work that were sapping huge chunks of my time and energy. I reconnected with my friends and family. I recommitted to overcoming the post-hip surgery complications. I got back into my creative energy building space in the kitchen. I got outside. I spent time re-connecting with my vision for success in business, sport, and live at large. All of this was analogous to a break from running piles of miles on a broken body, and a time to rebuild foundational patterns of movement.

So now I’ve emerged! I like to think of this as my figurative “return to running.” In addition to feeling energized, and strong of heart, mind and spirit, I am “moving” so well now that even though I’m again fully busy I am doing so with a new level of consciousness and connection with how easily things can get out of whack if I don’t remain vigilant and committed to my “core.” I can now add “miles” or load knowing that I’m better able to absorb what I throw in. Work is rocking again, my body is running again, my connections are reforming. I am what might be described as “getting’ my groove back!”

We are all susceptible to this kind of thing. The allure of working harder, doing more, and driving ourselves further can get the best of any of us in any aspect of our lives, especially triathlon. But if we’re aware and notice when added stress—physical, mental, emotional—becomes counterproductive, even detrimental to our goals we have the option to stop. We can stop that trajectory, renew our strength and stability, and reclaim our future success.

Who’s with me?!

~Olivia