Archive for run

043: So, You Had a “Bad” Race? [Podcast]



"Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement."  - C.S. Lewis
"Our best successes often come after our greatest dissapointments." - Henry Ward Beecher
"Reflect, learn, go again." - Ben Reyna



10153250_10203154876609771_265784320_nEvery athlete, regardless of the sport (runner, triathlete, cyclist, adventure racer, or?) will, at some point in time, feel the frustration and disappointment that comes from a race that doesn't go as well as planned or hoped for.  Sometimes it just feels "harder" than it should. Sometimes you struggle at a point in time where you didn't expect. And sometimes, the finish time is slower than what you felt you were capable of. What do they say about "best laid plans?"  🙂

As the C.S. Lewis quote above conveys, I truly believe that "failure" really IS one step on the path toward your ultimate potential.  Though it can be hard to accept and embrace, the truth is, none of us can truly know success until we've "failed" many times.

In today's podcast, I look back on my own experience as coach and athlete to share some thoughts on how best to turn a "bad" race into a positive learning experience that moves you forward toward your ultimate potential and success!

~Coach Al 

042: Interview with Pursuit Ultra-Runner Debbie Livingston [Podcast]




Ultra-runner, mom, wife, and coach extraordinaire, Debbie Livingston

Ultra-runner, mom, wife, and coach extraordinaire, Debbie Livingston

Hi Everyone. Coach Al here.  Today I'm thrilled to share an interview I did with elite ultra-runner Debbie Livingston. Debbie and I have worked together for a few years as coach/athlete. She's well known in local circles as an elite ultra-runner, yoga and pilates teacher, personal trainer, and even as a race director (the Soapstone Mountain trail race sponsored by the Shenipset Striders).

Debbie combines her love of running and racing at a very high level on the trail, with her various roles including mom, wife, citizen, and also as one of our newly appointed coaches here at Pursuit Athletic Performance. We are super excited to have her on board, as she has so much to offer and share with others.

In today's podcast, we get into all manner of topics that we know you'll find interesting.

  • Debbie's racing season - what she's done to this point (overall wins at Traprock and Peak 50!), as well as what is coming up (Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in July, among others).
  • Debbie's year long journey to find just the right race fuel balance - what she's tried and how it has come together for her.
  • Her experience with our Comprehensive Metabolic Profile and how learning about her unique issues with dysbiosis and certain food allergies allowed her to heal her gut and improve her overall health AND performance.  (If you missed episode #9 of our podcast, where we discuss the Comprehensive Metabolic Profile in detail, you can listen to it here.)
  • How her movement/strength training is progressing and how she considers this an essential component to her success at the ultra-distance.
  • Her new role as a coach with Team Pursuit Athletic Performance - what caused her to say "yes" to coaching, and what the future holds for her with our team.
  • Her trip out to the Western States 100 next week to help support and pace one of her friends, competitor Larrisa Dannis, as she competes in Western States.  (I'll be out there as well, first to attend the "Medicine and Science in Ultra-Endurance Sports" Conference, and then to volunteer on race day. Really excited!)
  • And much more!

Thank you Debbie for joining me. I had a blast chatting with you!  I'm looking forward to seeing you out in Squaw Valley!

~Coach Al 

018: The Secret To Running Technique No One Is Telling You (Podcast)


Hey Everyone!

Want to know the secret to running technique no one is telling you? (Hint: It has nothing to do with shoes or drills.)

Boston_MenWhen it comes to running, we tend to put the cart before the horse. Browse the web and you're sure to find plenty of coaches and trainers eager to help you improve your running form. And there's certainly no shortage of shoe companies who will tell you that their shoes are, in fact, the magic bullet you've been looking for.

Strap on a pair of those babies and you'll run faster and injury-free.

Um, not so much.

The truth is, our running technique is a product of the way we move.

It is the sum total of our flexibility, mobility, strength, stability and biomechanics. We see evidence of this in our Fast Lab everyday. When athletes restore balance in muscle length, achieve appropriate mobility in the joints, and develop strong, stable cores, the way in which they run is transformed.

Small tweaks can be made to things like posture, cadence and arm carriage, but these are not central. They are the "frosting on the cake." A particular shoe or the latest method can neither create core stability nor compensate for short hip flexors.

The way that we run is derived from the inside out, not the outside in.

To ignore this is to invite injury and deny yourself your true potential.

Don't settle for broken and slow. Choose healthy and fast!

Helping YOU Be Great!

Coach Al and Kurt


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

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Baby Steps: A Runners Guide to Feet, Shoes and Dating (FREE Ebook)

pursuit athletic performanceThis little piggy...hurts! We know how it is. Feet can often be a source of big trouble for runners. Here is a direct download link for Baby Steps: A Runners Guide to Feet, Shoes and Dating, our free (somewhat humorous) guide to your feet, how they work, and how to--finally--pick the running shoe that's right for YOU.

Orthotics? We cover that. Dating? Well, really, not so much! 😎

Here's an excerpt:

Pick up any running or triathlon magazine and you won't read too many pages before a bold advertisement displays the shoes you really need if you truly want to be your best. Some claim to make you faster or prevent injury, others tout the benefits of "running more naturally." One thing's for sure, all of them look cool. And they come in the flashiest colors. And there's some (paid) uber-athlete sporting said (complimentary) foot gear. You know the one. She just posted a new course record at IM Antarctica. She is sweaty and sexy and appears to have been chiseled from a solid block of marble. Not some cheap, domestic marble, mind you, the expensive Italian kind.

You, too, could look like this, race like this and maybe even get a date on Friday night if you wore these shoes.

Then we get serious, and take you on a tour of your foot function, foot form, and mechanics, leading you to figure out how to pick the right running shoe. Hit us up with comments or questions here in the blog or on our Facebook page. Enjoy and let us know what you think!

Valley Runners to Honor Newtown Victims on Saturday, December 22 at Group Run

Hello Everyone,

We thought this information was worth sharing, as Rebecca Stephenson, the Event Director of Kids Who Tri Succeed Triathlon is a good friend of ours. We'll present the information in her words.

Dear Coach,

Could you lease post for us that this weekend's Valley Runners' group run is going to be dedicated to the Newtown tragedy victims and their families. We are meeting at 9 a.m. this Saturday (12/22) at the bike path parking lot at the corner of New Britain and Oakridge Roads in Unionville, CT. Before the start of the run we are going to pray for the families of those who have been separated from a loved one by the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre.

This past August I had the privilege of meeting, Chase Kowalski, one of the little boys who was killed, and of chatting with his Dad, who was so proud of his son. The entire conversation was about how the boy had found TRIATHLONS on the internet and decided he wanted to do "lots of triathlons," starting with the one I organize for children. The Kids Who Tri Succeed triathlon, which he participated in so excitedly this year (winning the 4- to 6- year-old age group) was his first and last triathlon. Chase had also already run road races -

My heart bleeds for the families and over the fact that life as we know it ended so tragically for each of the victims. We are going to run in honor of each of the Newtown individuals who was murdered.

All runners are welcome to join us.

Rebecca Stephenson

Event Director

Kids Who Tri Succeed Triathlon

Certified USA Triathlon coach

Ask Coach Al: Do You Have 57 Degrees of Dorsiflexion? If You Run, You Should….

Hey Everyone--

Coach Al here with a short, illustrative video on the importance of dorsiflexion when running.

The majority of athletes who come into our gait analysis lab are looking for more speed and power when running. What we often find is inadequate ankle mobility and insufficient length in the calf, which impedes dorsiflexion.

Take a look at the run form of Boston Marathon elite runners in the video. You will see that they have an amazing 57? of dorsiflexion in the mid-stance phase of the stride. That's what you need if you want to run fast, and be at a much lower risk of calf injury. Our blog post on the stretches we most often recommend, can help you with that! Just a quick tip for today!

Runner, Once Frustrated, Learns How to Refine His Form

One of our great clients, Glen Elliot, does a terrific job explaining the frustration most runners face when trying to improve their form. He tried to work on every cue in the book while running--cadence, land on forefoot, good posture, etc.--and came to the conclusion, "this just isn't working." A few weeks after his gait analysis and subsequent training with us, Glen returns to the lab for a tune up. What you will hear is his "lightbulb moment."

Great job, Glen! You are really fitting together all the pieces of the puzzle!

Training for an Ironman? Read This

Coach Al Lyman, Pursuit Athletic Performance, Discusses Brick Run in Triathlon Training

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

I think you will find interesting a current situation I am working through with one of the triathletes I coach. He is having a crisis in confidence about his run preparedness for Ironman Coeur d'Alene coming up in June. This athlete has been at the triathlon game for a while, but--like so many of you--has experienced repetitive cycles of running injury. Before we started working together, he had not been able to run with any consistency--or at all--for a year.

His current injury cycle came on the heels of his last round of Ironman training two years ago. He trained for that race with a mass coaching program that strongly stresses the "train more" philosophy with punishing levels of intensity day in and day out, week in and week out. And while this program touts it is "the way" to train for faster race times, in the end it robbed this athlete (and many others) of ANY ability to train or race at all.

As a long-time and experienced coach, I know one thing for sure--the "just train more" message is very seductive to triathletes. In a very real way, the mindset of "just train more" or "no pain, no gain" pervades much of our sport, and is almost like a drug. Many of us joke about it, but the fact is it seems to tap into a primal need to test ourselves and prove we can handle pain and not wilt under pressure. Once we drink that Kool Aid, it's hard to turn back. Many don't know any other way once exposed to it, and are often led further down the path by coaches who flat out don't know what they are doing. The bottom line is, my triathlete's concerns about run preparedness come from old, worn out training tapes replaying in his head. He has been duped into believing that you need to do week upon grueling week of long, hard running in order to be "ready" to run a marathon off of the bike.

That's simply not true. Not on any level.

Here's what is true--and this is where athletes find the place of phenomenal power, authentic fulfillment, and, yes, truly outstanding race day results.

IF you are functionally strong, TRULY healthy, and are building run and overall fitness steadily throughout training, that creates the conditions for an outstanding race. Then you must SHOW UP on race day, be TRULY healthy and rested, race smart, and be mentally ready to go after it. Put the two pieces together and it is then that you have the best opportunity for a GREAT race, especially off the bike--which is where it matters the most. Sounds too simple, and not "hard enough"?

Any coach can react to an athlete's nervousness and write an overly aggressive run "build" phase. I always tell my athletes the easiest thing I can do is write harder plans. After all, I only have to type! Many knucklehead coaches, however, take pride in making stuff "hard" because their own egos are their biggest concern, not the athlete's health and well being. As a responsible and experienced coach, I know that when an athlete returns to running after injury, the first few weeks absolutely DRIVE what happens, good or bad, with all the run training to follow for this race, this season--and beyond!

For example, if my triathlete is running slightly beyond his true functional capability due to an aggressive build designed to "get him there," odds are he will fall back into old dysfunctional and compensated movement patterns. Remember, it is those same patterns that created injury in the first place. Also, he will be building TIREDNESS, instead of true run FITNESS. That means as he gets closer to the race, he will be thinking and believing he's ready to race, when, in truth, he has been moving backwards on a number of levels--not the least of which is inching closer to re-injury.

I can guarantee that if my triathlete is FULLY PRESENT on race day with strong mental fortitude and toughness, AND a completely healthy, rested and ready body, he will surprise the heck out of himself with a run to be proud of--and a run that reflects his true potential. And the beauty is, this Ironman will be the start--NOT the end--of a training period. By ensuring true run health, athletes find a deep well of resiliency they never thought they had. They are able to dig deeper and find a resolve they always thought had to come through "force," and a "train-more-and-suck-it-up" philosophy. Truly healthy athletes RECOVER, and come back to train and race year after year. Instead of beating the body to a pulp, Ironman becomes the beginning of a long period of steady improvement in strength, durability, and speed.

Most importantly, finishing this Ironman healthily and well will allow my triathlete to MANIFEST the power of the accomplishment in his everyday life, not simply adopt a persona. His personal reasons for undertaking the challenge will be with him with every breath he takes after the race. It's what Mark Allen referred to as a "raw reality." My triathlete will be authentically healthy, authentically athletic, authentically positive. He will be an IRONMAN, in the truest sense of what finishing the distance is supposed to mean. He will live it, and in his own mind, he will know he did it right.

I wish this same sense of peace, accomplishment, and good health for every single triathlete I coach. It is the place where true fulfillment and satisfaction are born. Believe it, and make the decision to BE IT.


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To Each His Own. Why Do You Train?

Dr. Kurt Strecker, Pursuit Athletic Performance

Dr. Kurt Strecker

Several years ago, I noticed that my good friend Todd had become a little... er... soft around the middle, for lack of a better description. I was trying to encourage him to get in shape, but it wasn't until my loving wife, Susan, very kindly told him there was no way he could run a 5-mile race that he decided to take up the challenge. He finished that race and we signed up to do a half marathon that fall. By the following summer, we had both registered for our first half Ironman. Each year since then, Todd and I make it our mission to "drag someone off the couch" and get them exercising.

Our plan is simple: we register our "mark" for the Hartford half marathon and shame them into training. All in good fun. One year it was our high school friend, Dan. Last year it was Todd's two older brothers, David and Bob. We plodded around the 13.1 mile course in about 2 1/2 hours, I think, but we smiled and laughed and enjoyed every minute of it. The greatest part is that everyone we've talked into coming outside to play with us has continued to exercise.

This past St. Paddy's Day weekend, Todd and I went to Virginia Beach to join David for the Shamrock 2012 Yuengling Marathon. I guess David figured we owed him one. We broke no speed records, and we only got medals because they give them to everyone who finishes. David's son, Keegan, rode his bike alongside his father the whole way around, just as he had done for all of the longer training runs. At the finish, David hugged Keegan with a tear in his eye and thanked him for being part of his achievement. What better gift could a father and son give each other? A great time was had by all.

The point of my story is this: We all exercise for different reasons. For me, there are many. First, I come from a family with a long history of heart disease, so I want to say healthy for myself, my wife and my kids. Second, I want to set a good example for my kids and make exercise a part of their lives. Finally, I enjoy training with my friends. There's no better way to stay fit than biking through the hills in Old Lyme, running the beach loop in Old Saybrook, or swimming in Lake N'ski at sunrise with close friends and family. It's good for the heart, the head and the soul.

Not everyone yearns to be on the podium, but there is something important that the 5-minute-milers and the 15-minute-milers have in common. Whether you compete or participate, train or exercise, race or run, you must move well. 5-K or marathon, sprint tri or Ironman, gardening or Bocce, it makes no difference.

Put plainly, good movement minimizes wear-and-tear on joints, muscles and bones and enables us to do whatever it is we want to do physically without breaking. And don't be too disappointed if you move a little quicker as well. 😉

Good movement. It's not just for elite athletes.


Dr. Kurt Strecker, Pursuit Athletic Performance

Dr. Kurt Strecker, DC, CCSP

Dr. Kurt Strecker here. My blog post today has a direct, lay-it-on-the-line tone. The urgency comes from a deep caring and concern for the athletes we see every day in the lab and in the clinic. Serious injuries are often created when small aches and pains are ignored. Athletes frequently exacerbate problems because they are obsessed with exercise. Creating serious trauma in the name of fitness just makes no sense, yet we see it every day. The real crime is, most of these injuries are actually preventable.

Over the last three weeks, three different runners have come into the lab with knee pain. Here's the scenario:

  • All of them continued to run after the initial onset of pain
  • Not only did they finish the run they were doing when pain first presented, but they ran on subsequent days!

With all three runners, I had clinical suspicion of meniscus tear. Unfortunately, I was correct in all cases:

  • MRI revealed torn medial menisci in the first two runners
  • The MRI for the third runner revealed not only a torn medial meniscus, but also included a completely ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)

What did all three runners have in common?

  • An obsessive desire to run
  • Very poor stability in the frontal plane


Exercise is for the benefit of the body, not its detriment! There is no sense whatsoever in building great cardiovascular fitness if it means you may, eventually, lose your ability to simply WALK.

In the case of each of these three runners, their severe injuries were totally PREVENTABLE. What got in the way? Here's what we heard:

  • "I have to keep going. I HAVE to run."
  • "I signed up for a race. I HAVE to train."

Really, people? Why are so many of you willing to risk serious and possible long-term damage to your body, AND possibly lose the ability to participate in the sports you profess to love? Actually, what each of these runners signed up for is surgery, rehabilitation, the possibility of no running ever again, and early-onset osteoarthritis.

70% of all runners are injured in a calendar year. 70%! If you are a runner reading this, it is likely you have been one of them. Is it hopeless? Absolutely NOT!

  • What it will take is a commitment from YOU to become educated about how to become a stronger, more stable, and durable athlete. And that does not mean "just train more."
  • You need to be to be proactive and build a solid frame BEFORE you rev the motor.
  • You must take preventative measures to develop muscular balance in your chassis to avoid injury.
  • You must develop proper functional strength, stability, and mobility in order to protect your body to then be able to train effectively.
  • Finally, you need to continue these productive practices over the long term so that you can train, race, and recover with resiliency year in and year out. It CAN be done!

So how do you do what I've outlined above? You can begin your re-education about what true athleticism entails right here by reading our blog and our website. We also invite you to get in touch with us--we can help you put it all together.

My final takeaway is this:

STOP RUNNING THROUGH PAIN! Pain is a signal that something is wrong. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. You cannot accomplish any goal or fulfill any dream with a body that is unstable, unbalanced, weak, and broken.