Archive for triathlon – Page 2

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

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

Gandi quote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look for secret #4 soon.  All the best!

~Coach Al



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

Secret #2: Seek Clarity and Conviction - Choose Wisely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look for secret #3 soon. Enjoy!

~Coach Al

029: Break Out Of Your Winter Rut! [Podcast]


 Break Out Of Your Winter Rut!

Coach Al shares some TIPS on how to find your motivation!

 Work involves whatever a body is obliged to do, and play involves whatever a body is NOT obliged to do.” – unknown

Motivation is the fuel and propulsion behind everything you do. For me, it’s an emotion that is built and maintained through clear planning, repetition and a very disciplined approach to ensuring my actions are always congruent with my destination.  Although, I think the primary motivators should be internal, there is nothing wrong with adding external motivators to the mix as well. You can never have too many sources of motivation. Feed that fire daily to build a bridge to your results.  - Ken Blackburn
Keep On Keeping On!

Keep On Keeping On!

Motivation.  Hmmmm....if you're anything like me at this time of year, you're impatiently waiting for the warm weather, and struggling at times with finding that daily motivation to do the things you know you NEED to do to become the person and athlete you want to become. The cold dark mornings and races that still seem far off conspire to have us crawling back under the covers at the wee hours of the morning.

Motivation is an interesting thing, isn't it? I think we all know it when we have it, but the truth is that only a few can really define it.

So what is motivation?

  • Is it a feeling? (I think not - feelings are primal responses to a stimulus and a pattern of thought).
  • Is it something you either have or you don’t? 🙂

Wikipedia defines it as an "inner drive to behave or act in a certain manner."  Experts on motivation would likely say that it is a “cognitive comparison between outcomes.” In other words, our motivation is driven by our brain making a comparison between the cost of an action vs. the potential benefit of that action. Think of it this way: what do you lose if you don't do something? And what do you gain if you do?

We know that motivation is usually specific to a task, e.g. you can be very motivated in one area of your life and not in another.  Think about the difference in your motivation between setting the alarm for an early wakeup call when it is to catch a flight for a vacation, vs. going off to some unpleasant task. In both instances, we are motivated to get up, but with one (going on vacation), we’re a lot more enthusiastic! Many people aren’t exactly in love with the idea of getting up at 5AM to go to work, but the cost of not doing it (we all need to eat and a place to sleep!) is motivation enough to set that alarm, right?

As a coach, the key for me is to help athletes find that one thing they can think of that would be unbearable to not have or to lose. When you know what that ONE THING is, you can use it and remind yourself of it daily, especially when you have the tendency to want to sleep in. Part of what motivates me to get up early and train is my desire to be able to continue to “walk the talk.” No one really wants to listen to a coach who is overweight and out of shape, right? 🙂

To help you find a bit more of that inner drive to keep on keeping on, today I’d like to share a special podcast with all of you on the topic of motivation. I recorded this audio a couple of years ago for some coached athletes. As a result, you’ll hear me reference my work with them occasionally. Don’t worry though, what I have to share is going to be well worth you listening.

Mark Twain is known for having said that the "secret to getting ahead is to get started," so let's get to it!

Keep on keeping on!

~Coach Al

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

4 Secrets To Help You Explode Your Ultimate Potential!

(with Pursuit Athletic Performance triathlete, Susan Ford)

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

Triathlete Susan Ford


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Secret #1:

The Devil Is In The Details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Coach Al

028: Training and Life Balance: Have We Lost The Personal Connection? [Podcast]


Coach Al with today's guest author and team member, Olvia Syptak

Coach Al with today's guest, PAP Triathlon team member, Olivia Syptak


Training and Life Balance:

Have We Lost The Personal Connection?

Hi Everyone!

Coach Al here. For today's podcast, we welcome a NEW guest, Pursuit Athletic Performance Triathlon team member, Olivia Syptak. Olivia is a Denver, Colorado based life-coach who works with clients to develop the fullest, happiest life possible—on the race course, at home, at work, and at play. She is an accomplished triathlete and trail runner who emphasizes what she’s overcome in training and racing over finish times and rankings. Welcome Olivia!

I had the good fortune to spend some time a few weeks ago with Olivia while I was in Colorado for a conference. What an awesome visit it was! Among other things, Olivia and I discovered our mutual desire to seek a deeper process-oriented, personal connection between who we are as people, and our goals and the training we do to achieve those goals. In today's podcast, Olivia joins us for a fun and enlightening discussion on this important topic.

Here are some thoughts Olivia wanted to share on the topic:  "We high achieving, goal driven age group triathletes have a tendency to struggle with allowing ourselves to sink into, accept, and identify with the training and development process itself. Our tendency to focus on goal finish times, bike splits, even transition times all the way through the training cycle seems to cause us to lose a personal connection to the process of our growth and long term success.

Many of you likely can relate to the intoxicating rush of fear and nervous excitement you felt just as a result of signing up for that first big race. You can also probably attest to feeling immense personal satisfaction at various times during the buildup to your event. With each week you may have run farther or faster than you had previously thought you could, or that you were feeling stronger and more comfortable in the pool. Those intense, very personal feelings of confidence and pride felt with each small gain demonstrate that we have the capacity to derive real joy of achievement from the process steps themselves independent of their contribution to the long term objective.

Somewhere along the way though, as we gain experience and results in subsequent events, something shifts. We lose touch with the benefits--mental and physical--of the process components. Each workout becomes an opportunity to measure ourselves against our previous workouts. We become obsessed with data to divine some manner of proof that we are tracking to beat our previous PR. We then share training progress with friends, training partners, or all of Facebook. The process focus becomes lost.

As a result, what started out as a very personal and intrinsic goal to push one's physical limits or to satisfy an inner desire for achievement somehow becomes very public. Our drive then becomes distorted. Before we know it we are unwittingly focused on things that may not actually meet our true objective. We are no longer in touch with what we are doing and the genuine or pure intent for doing it. Instead, that which is most readily observed externally and publicly reigns.

While big, aggressive goals are incredible motivators, they have a way of burying process goals if we let them. Yet it is often in those forgotten personal, process goals where our greatest potential may lie.

Take some time this week to think about your intent. What steps can you take to refocus at a personal level with the training process? Would it be possible to set yourself free from a distant expected outcome in favor of focus on near term goals that you might achieve and celebrate every day? What can you focus on today, in this moment rather than in the future?

Consider targeting form improvements in your strength routine, greater awareness of your nutritional needs immediately after a hard run, or better balance in the water. Seemingly little goals like this that grow from your personal drive for excellence could lead to more satisfying training and in the end more impressive performance in that next big race."

We hope you enjoy the discussion. We look forward to having Olivia on board to contribute to our blog and podcast in the future!

~Coach Al

Transitions: 5 Essential Tips For Getting FAST In The Fourth Sport of Triathlon

Hi Everyone!


TransitionCoach Al here with a few words about triathlon transitions.  I can sum it up very succinctly.




 A number of years ago, I used to do a lot of triathlon 2-day workshops.  One of the things we'd always focus on during the workshop was transitions.  TRANSITIONS ARE A SKILL, and the best way to get better at a skill, is to practice it—over and over, the same way every time.


Here's how to approach it in five sensible steps:


  • Collect all of your necessary gear, and create our own transition zones. The key here is to keep it SIMPLE. The less items you have, the better. Remove anything that isn't absolutely necessary.


  • Put your helmet on top of your aerobars
    Place glasses inside helmet
    Transition belt goes next to shoes
    If you wear socks roll them so you can put them on faster.


    The key here ISN'T the order per se, but repeating it exactly the same way each time.


  • I prefer to have people always put their helmets on FIRST, and take them off LAST (when coming in to transition). The reason is simple: the helmet is something you can easily forget when you rush, and you do NOT want to forget it, as you'll be required to go back or get DQ'd (or worse, put yourself at risk of serious injury).


  • Once you have the order of things settled in your mind, rehearse it at a very slow rate of speed. Then go through the process a bit more quickly, to help groove the habits. Your first practice transitions should be be walk-throughs. Not rushed or quick, but simply to practice slow, methodical, smooth, relaxed—no mistakes!


  • As you feel more comfortable, practice complete run-throughs at full speed! By the time you get to that point, you will find you have own "routine" down pat. You'll be flying through your transitions.


There's no real magic here, and no "perfect" way to do it. But you do NEED a routine that makes sense to you to keep things simple and less cluttered. Then PRACTICE that routine until it becomes second nature.


Use your BRICK workouts to set up your garage, and do 5-10 transitions as part of your workout.




How cool is that?


I hope that helps...


Be Great!

Coach Al

Click here for a quick way to tweet this to your tri friends!

Coach Al: Triathlon Training Without A Plan–The Pros and Cons


Coach Al Lyman, gait analysis and functional movement expert, Pursuit Athletic Performance

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

In my recent post Is Your Training Plan Really Working For You?, I offered tips on how best to select the right plan.


In this post, I want to focus on the athlete who, for whatever reason, does not use a plan and chooses to go by the “seat of his/her pants.”


I want to discuss the two sides of that coin. We'll focus on how the proverbial “go with the flow,” "taking each day as it comes" can end up short circuiting your potential for success, while at other times, it can be a very smart thing to do.


There’s an old saying that goes: “You either get better or you get worse; you never remain the same.”  In my experience, truer words have never been said.


I repeated this phrase often to myself in my younger years as a musician whenever I was hesitating about going into the practice room. I would remind myself that in some other place musicians WERE practicing. If I slacked off and became the slightest bit complacent, I would be doing more stepping back than stepping forward in my musicianship.


And so it is true with most things in life!


So how do we keep the train moving forward with an eye toward continual improvement?


Structure and Progression.


Whether we all want to admit it or not, human beings thrive on structure. Without a system or a “plan” that includes some semblance of structure we are at risk of rolling along in a no-man’s land of stagnation and plateaus. When this happens, what typically follows is that we end up falling short of our intended goals, expectations, or desires.


Certainly from a training perspective, structure gives us a framework to build gradually advancing levels of fitness.That is usually always a good thing, IF we truly want to improve and be better.


But what if you’re the self-coached type of athlete who likes to study training protocols on your own and put together the best plan for you?


Well, if you really have the time and the inclination to put together your own plan and you have the ability to be objective, then you are in the minority. Good on ya!


Most of us don’t, and can’t, for good reason. Trying to be truly honest and objective about oneself, while having no real accountability to someone or something else, rarely leads to success.


HOWEVER, there are times when going with the flow, or determining at the last minute what you will do in training, can be a good thing. That usually comes during those instances when you’re very tired or feeling like you haven’t recovered enough to put more training stress into your body.


Very experienced athletes can often sense what is best for them on any given day. That inner wisdom and intuition, serves them well much of the time. I do believe that one of my primary roles as a coach is to help every athlete I work with have better intuition about their own training. They should need me LESS as time goes on, not more—at least when it comes to that intuitive sense.


Whether you are one of those self-coached folks who likes to pick up some tips or a training plan from a magazine, or if you're the type of athlete who enjoys working with a coach, this is the bottom line....


You need to be sure that the approach you use IS THE RIGHT approach to help you reach your goals and dreams. Notice I said, not the easiest or most comfortable, but the RIGHT approach.


Here are four bullet points that summarize my thoughts on the topic.


  • Accountability: Going with the flow removes any accountability, either to YOURSELF, or to the plan or to a coach. If you aren’t following a plan, then you can’t be held accountable for NOT executing that plan. Sounds, in a way, like a cop out, doesn’t it?
  • Take home: Being accountable to someone or something else often feels very uncomfortable and puts us on edge, which is one reason why it is often exactly what we need!


  • Trusting Your Intuition: There are days when the “perfect” plan, is anything but that. That is, there are days for every athlete when the best decision they can make is to alter the plan laid out. These are moments when we display true training wisdom.
  • Take home: If you do follow a plan or have a coach who writes training programs for you, always remember YOU know your body better than anyone. Be willing to stray from the plan when your gut tells you it’s the right thing. A plan should NEVER make you feel like your imprisoned inside cold, hard structure – it should support your goals, help you feel more at ease, and help you improve!


  • Steady Progress: Without a plan to keep us honest to a true progression, any gains in fitness (if they do come) may be serendipitous to some degree. I am NOT saying you can’t progress if you are going by the seat of your pants. I am saying that your progression isn’t likely to be the best you’re capable of.
  • Take home: The best plans or training programs should surprise you with improved fitness when you least expect it. Those gains often come from improvements in skill and strength, and are almost always a function of a smart, well-conceived progression of training load.


  • Experience counts: If you are a newbie, it is probably even more important for you to use a plan and abide by some structure in your training. Similarly, if you’re a very experienced “been-at-it-for-years” kind of athlete, there’s less need for you to be following a plan on a routine basis. You probably know your body well and may feel you know what’s best on a daily basis. That being said, if you ARE one of those more experienced athletes, don’t let your ego get in the way of truly improving or restoring past glory. Almost all of us do better with some objective guidance and feedback in order to keep us moving forward.
  • Take home: Be willing to change and adapt. Understand that at any moment in your life who you are at that moment is a function of the choices you’ve made to get you to that point.


If your goal is to improve and be the best you can be, you have to commit to being better every day. You must refuse to delude yourself into thinking that without the commitment to progress you can keep your performance the same over time. That just isn’t going to happen.


If you’re a self-coached athlete, use the prior blog post to select the right plan to help you go to the next level. If you’re already following a plan, perhaps give yourself permission to occasionally stray from the plan in order to optimize recovery or reduce risk of injury, two very good reasons to stray.


Be willing to change and get OUT of your comfort zone. In either case, these things usually result in positive improvements, and that’s what it is all about!

Be Great!

Coach Al

Click here for a super easy way to tweet this info to your athlete friends!

Disappointed In Your Triathlon Season? Coach Al Weighs In

 Hey triathlete peeps!


Disappointed_banner_textCoach Al here with a mid-season check in! are things going for you?


After all of the off- and early season hopes and dreams, are you achieving your goals at this point in the season?


Are you truly feeling strong, injury free, and ready to tackle the most important events that are coming up for you?


If you’re even a little bit disappointed so far this season, then read on!


Even though it is mid-season, I'm going to ask you to turn your thoughts to looking ahead to 2014, and let me share some thoughts on how that one can be your best season ever!


You know, the athletes at Pursuit Athletic Performance, coached by me and my partner Dr. Kurt Strecker, do things differently.


We consider the athletes we work with on our team and in our lab, enlightened.


By enlightened, I mean:

• They don’t seek to display “toughness” by pushing stupidly through injury. They listen and respect that little voice inside their head telling them how dumb and short sighted that is.


• They don’t add hard repetitive training to their bodies without first looking at their movement quality. They understand that being strong, stable, and mobile ensures the hard work they do actually lifts fitness and results in true, long-lasting improvement.


• They embrace the fact that—finally—an age of enlightened, smart training is here. They understand that as endurance athletes they no longer have to think of getting stronger (functional strength training) and going longer (endurance training) as opposing or dueling training concepts.


• They understand that smart, holistic, and effective triathlon training bridges gaps between the strength world and the endurance world to create happier, healthier, FASTER athlete. Their progression and results provide that living proof.


 Biologist J.B.S. Haldane noted that “there are four stages of acceptance":

1. this is worthless nonsense
2. this is an interesting but perverse point of view
3. this is true, but quite unimportant
4. I always said so


In my opinion, this succinctly sums up the way every other coach and triathlon team in the world will eventually react and respond to what we at Pursuit Athletic Performance are doing NOW!


As I look to the future, I am 100% confident that other smarter triathlon coaches will be saying what I have been saying since I first started coaching in 1999:


• They will be recommending that you take the time to LEARN HOW YOU MOVE, before you begin to train your ass off.


• They will be waxing poetically about things like “balance in the body,” “getting compensation and dysfunction out of the body,” and “addressing your individual movement quality first” before getting on with race-specific training.

To be an enlightened, smart, healthier athlete in it for the long haul, and someone who might be a good fit for our triathlon team, you will have to be comfortable with one thing.


One very important thing.



Kurt and I are 100%, completely honest with our athletes.


You won’t ever get any BS from us.


We value your trust, money, and health and care about you as people, not just athletes. We won't waste your time—or ours—by giving you an “easy button,” or some simple training plans designed to destroy you, and thus, make you “feel” tough.


Yes, we are direct and our MISSION is to help athletes be the best they can be.


But...we don’t work with people who seek easy solutions, a quick fix, or the latest fad to try and get faster. If that's your profile, you're not a fit for our coaching or our team. It's as simple as that.


If you choose to join our team or come to us for a gait analysis, you will be asked to look at yourself honestly. We will challenge you to look at and act on the reality, not fantasy, when it comes to how your body is working to handle the rigors of training.


You’ll be tasked with smart work to address the obstacles preventing you from exploding your potential.


You are going to be doing hard work, and plenty of it!


Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m as passionate as any coach on the planet about helping others to succeed and reach their goals and dreams in this sport!


If you come to see us (or see us virtually by using our Virtual Gait Analysis) or join our triathlon team, you won’t find fluff, filler, or BS. We won’t try to “sell” you on anything, except to believe that the best is locked within you, and if you are willing to look closely and do the work you can be better than ever.


Take a look at our team. Ask the folks who are already members about their success.


If you like what you see and want to learn more, get on our wait list by signing up below. Be in touch and ask questions. GET STARTED ON BEING BETTER THAN EVER!


The future is bright. Get enlightened, make it happen!


All my best,

Coach Al

Coach Al: Your Next Workout Is Only As Good As Your Last Recovery

Hello Everyone!

RestDay2One of the athletes I coach pointed me to an interview with triathlete Sami Inkinen in Inside Triathlon. Sami gained quite a bit of attention after his sub-nine hour performance (8:58:59) at the Ironman World Championship in Kona--a result achieved on very low training volume.

It's a great article, and I encourage you to read it. Once you do, here is what I like all of you to take away from the piece:

First and foremost is Sami's focus on RECOVERY:

What I've been super-conscious about this year is this idea that if I don't improve in almost every single workout, it's not because I haven't trained, but because I haven't rested. Literally, that's been my thinking," said Sami. In other words, he rejects the notion that you have to train through months of hard, exhausting workouts to improve. Instead, he followed the principle that he should literally get stronger and faster every week, if not every day, and that his numbers should improve during every intense workout.

I coach Lis Kenyon, Ironman World Champion and reigning age group record holder (45-49). Lis tells me all the time that my words that stick with her and help guide her are: "Your next workout is only as good as your last recovery."

Sami Inkinen uses RestWise to track his recovery. My opinion on this tool reflects my view on just about any training device. If you use it, and it increases YOUR OWN awareness of how you are recovering, then it could be a good tool.

I do not think RestWise is absolutely necessary to gauge how you are recovering. Each of you can do it with increased awareness, and honesty with yourself. I believe it all begins and ends with being truthful, and engaging in quality, open communication with your coach.

Ask yourself: Are you improving week to week, and even day to day?

Let's face it, very few of us have Sami's innate talent. BUT, as a long-time coach and competitor, I do think there is a great deal of value in this mindset about both recovery and improvement.

Spreecast Replay: Roadmap to Success Off-Season Triathlon Training (Video)

Coach Al and Dr. Strecker were in fine form on a Spreecast discussing off-season training for triathletes! A lot of give and take with the athletes, and a TON of info you're just not going to get anywhere else. If you missed it, here's the replay. Have questions, hit us up on Facebook. Enjoy!