Saturday, October 1, 2011

Maintain Speed During Marathon Training


The message is clear: from strength comes speed. The ability to run short intervals at a given pace doesn’t mean squat if you don’t have the strength to maintain that speed over the course of your goal race distance. While shorter intervals focused on specific speed certainly have their place in a post-marathon training program, it’s the marathon training itself that allows you to reap the benefits of such sessions.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Training Pain Tolerance


While it is seldom talked about, one of the most important objectives of a competitive runner’s training is to increase his or her suffering tolerance. The only way to do that is through familiarization. To resist suffering more successfully, dig deeper into those reserves, and perform better in races, you must first break through limits of suffering tolerance in training. Most runners have only physical rationales behind their toughest workouts. That’s okay, because the best workouts to stimulate physical improvement are more or less the same as the best workouts to teach suffering tolerance.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Top Ten Habits of Highly Effective Coaches

From Sports Coaching Brain

Great coaches realise that success is a moving target and to stay relevant they must be committed to life-long learning, honest personal and professional evaluation and continuous improvement.

Example: A swimming coach realised that two of the athletes in his team had the potential to be world record holders but that he had not coached world record holders previously. He raised some money and invited two world class coaches from other nations to come and honestly review his coaching and his program regularly to ensure his knowledge and skills were also world class. Result: One world record.

Max Heart Rate: Fitter = Lower

From Joe Friel

So as you become more fit in the lead-up to your race you might expect to see lower heart rates at the high end. The reverse of this is also true. As fitness declines MHR increases. The review reported 3% to 7% shifts with training and detraining. So, for example, someone with a MHR of 200 at the start of the Base period may expect to see their MHR decline to 186 to 194 by the time of their first race.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Drop the Garmin

From Running Times

"After I had got over the withdrawal symptoms of being without my monitor I noticed that I was tuning in to my body a lot more. I thought I was already very aware of what was going on, but it became apparent that I had 'delegated' oversight to the monitor. Without an external time/distance read-out I was forced to tune in to my pace, breathing, energy level, how my legs felt -- all of that -- and adjust things minute by minute to stay comfortable. Some days I found I was running very slowly, but it turned out that useful work was still getting done. Previously I would have been looking at the monitor and have been desperately trying to stay out of the so-called 'junk miles' zone."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Train Movement Not Muscles

From IronMaven

"I don't think there is one best way. I guess you could say I follow a 'functional training' mantra and do what I think is best for that athlete, at that time, given her/his needs. My philosophy is based on training movement, not muscles. There are some basic movements: squat, lunge, push, pull, rotate, walk, run, jump, crawl, throw, catch, hit, kick. The goal is to create basic musculoskeletal durability, physical competency and movement literacy in the context of sport and/or life."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why Sprints are Key to Masters

From Running Times

And fast-twitch fiber isn’t just about sprint speed. It’s a primary component (along with hip and knee range of motion) of stride length. Studies over the past 20 years have all come to the same conclusion: As we age, our stride frequency remains the same, but our stride length decreases – an average of 40% by the time we reach our 70s and 80s. Slowing the decrease in stride length through speed training simultaneously slows the decline in our distance race performance. Otherwise, we’d need almost twice the stride frequency to maintain our mile pace from age 40 to age 80.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Maybe You're Already a Triathlete

From Ottawa Outdoors Magazine

Editors Note: I write for magazines from time to time so I thought I'd start posting the articles up here as a way of filing them publicly.

Hammering up the legendary Mill Street climb, the break away of cyclists are hoping they still have enough in the tank to make it to the finish. Off their bikes and onto the run, heavy legs slowly find the goal pace till at last they dive into the cool water and swim towards the raft in the middle of the river. There, the endurance test is complete and these 8 year olds can now enjoy laying around in the sun counting the remaining days of summer vacation.

Many of us share memories such as this. We didn't call ourselves 'Triathletes', we called ourselves 'Kids'. In 1974, some adults in California decided to do the same thing over set distances and click a stop watch at the start. That's when the term 'Tri-athlete' was born.

If you have 3 hours a week for exercise, you can become a triathlete again and relive your childhood. I use the words 'become a triathlete' because, apparently, it holds some kind of cachet in our community or culture. At pre-race talks, tongue firmly in cheek, I always recommend that when the athlete marks their body with their race number in magic marker (part of the strange culture that is triathlon) they put it on dark and thick so that it's still visible at work the next week. When they then tell inquisitive co-workers that they were in a triathlon, their office cred skyrockets because the only association their colleagues have with triathlon is the Hawaii Ironman; they don't know about the shorter stuff. There are triathlons that feature distances as short as a 100m swim, 10km bike and 2.5km walk/run. For some, this is their Ironman, and that is the beauty of the sport. Triathlon offers a suitable challenge for a very wide range of individuals.

Finding the right race distance for you is a simple process. How much time each week do you have available for exercise while maintaining a balanced lifestyle with family, friends, work and other priorities? If you can fit in 360 minutes of exercise a week, a Super Sprint or even sprint triathlon is within your reach, depending on your starting fitness. If you have 10 hours plus available each week, an Ironman is not out of the question. Personally, I have 5 to 6 hours a week for exercise. I have done many Olympic distance triathlons but now find that the shorter Sprint distance is perfect for my balanced lifestyle with a young family, work and community involvement. Life was very different for me back in 1997 though, and my lifestyle at that time supported my Ironman year.

Everyone can enjoy triathlon as part of their balanced lifestyle. To paraphrase a friend: Get in the best shape of your life, but keep your life in good shape at the same time. We did it when we were kids so let's get out and play again this summer.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Finding the Sweet Spot

From Competitor

So, rather than arbitrarily adhering to some fixed number, Lydiard tweaked the prescriptions for his runners based on their recovery abilities. All good coaches do this with their athletes. Rather than adhering to an arbitrary number of miles (from a book or a fellow coach or an excessively detailed training forecast), the intelligent coach takes into account the recovery profile of the athlete when determining how many miles to run.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

An Abstract Look at Anaerobic Threshold

From PubMed

During exercise, the oxygen consumption above which aerobic energy production is supplemented by anaerobic mechanisms, causing a sustained increase in lactate and metabolic acidosis, is termed the anaerobic threshold (AT). The oxygen consumption at the AT depends on factors that affect oxygen delivery to the tissues. It is increased when oxygen flow is enhanced and decreased when oxygen flow is diminished. Its value is quite low in patients with heart disease. The AT is an important functional demarcation since the physiological responses to exercise are different above the AT compared to below the AT. Above the AT, in addition to the development of metabolic acidosis, exercise endurance is reduced, VO2 kinetics are slowed so that a steady state is delayed, and VE increases disproportionately to the metabolic requirement and a progressive tachypnea develops.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Shoes Rarely Cause Injuries, Poor Training Does

From Globe and Mail

In fact, numerous studies have found that training decisions – how far you run, how fast, how much recovery you allow – are far more important than shoes in predicting injuries. Those factors account for about 80 per cent of injury risk, according to one prospective study by Dr. Nigg’s group. So where does that leave runners trying to choose a shoe? “The only thing we have is comfort,” Dr. Nigg says.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Highlights from Running Injury Seminar

From Runblogger

1. Running is good for humans – it has been shown to significantly reduce both mortality and disability risk.
2. Running doesn’t ruin our knees, in fact it might actually benefit knee cartilage over the long term (see this NY Times article for more)
3. Lots of runners get hurt – range is 20-80% depending on the study.
4. Most running injuries are overuse injuries that can be attributed to stubborn and obsessive runners doing too much too soon. In doing this, runners exceed their body’s stress threshold and something gives. The end result is an injury. I write a post largely devoted to the topic of overuse injuries in runners a few months ago.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Maybe Carbo Loading is All in the Head

From Sweat Science

.....carbo-loading makes more carbohydrate available, but it doesn’t seem to change how much carbohydrate (versus fat) is actually burned. A number of other studies have found similar anomalies, which has made some researchers question whether we really understand why carbo-loading works to improve performance:

The essence of this theory, supported by appropriate findings, is that muscle glycogen may have a signalling function that influences pacing strategy. Subjects who start exercise with elevated levels of muscle glycogen would be able to exercise at a higher pace due to signalling between muscle and the brain than when in a glycogen depleted state.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Keeping the Spring in Your Step

From Running Times

Our muscles are never fully relaxed, and maintain a small degree of tension in them at all times. The exact amount of tension kept in a resting muscle can be altered, and plays a large role in running performance. If resting tension in a muscle is too low, then it can't contract as quickly or produce as much force. The end result is that sluggish feeling that impairs performance. If tension is too high, the muscle is less efficient. Fortunately, we can manipulate the resting tension in the muscle through training so that on race day or for your next hard workout, your muscles are primed and ready to go.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ok, one more time, here it is: the secret to success

From Sports Coaching Brain

We all know what the *secret* to success is - it is so obvious it has no right to be even called a *secret* - here it is for free:
Work harder, more consistently than anyone in your sport in the world ensuring that you commit everything you have physically, mentally, technically and tactically to every training, recovery and competition experience.
The best gym in the world will not make an impact on a team with a poor performance culture, who turn up late, who have poor discipline off the field and who are not totally committed to living excellence in training and preparation. Spending thousands of dollars on sports nutrition products do not make up for a poor attitude, a bad technique, a lack of skill and a sloppy recovery program. Yet, in the next 24 hours, tens of thousands of sports people around the world will spend millions of dollars on sports equipment and sports nutrition products seeking a performance advantage which in all reality does not exist -or if it does exist, is a short term solution.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why IM'ers Shouldn't Skimp on Swim Training

From Endurance Corner

Over-swimming will likely lead to decreased ability to fuel and hydrate the bike and run. Being very fit in the water affords us the opportunity to stay competitive on the swim while protecting bike performance (power), the ability to fuel and run fitness. Developing swim strength will save you more than the five minutes you drop from your swim split. Our ability to swim long and strong without generating fatigue is critical in ironman. As stated above, we don't want the swim to materially impact your bike or run splits. You want to come out of the water absent fatigue, seeing appropriate heart rates in transition.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Plyometrics Help Distance Running

From Running Times

An article published just this summer in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning highlighted the importance of plyometrics for improving running economy. In this study, researchers had 35 distance runners, all running the same mileage, subscribe to either a dynamic weight training program or a plyometric exercise regimen. After eight weeks, it was found that the plyos were more effective in improving “energy cost of running,” or running economy, than the weight lifters. Another study showed that just six weeks of plymometrics led to improved running economy. Other research has identified a significant link between anaerobic power and 10K running performance and 5K running performance.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

'Fat Adaptation' Doesn't Work

From Peak Performance

Although fat adaptation increases fat oxidation, thereby conserving stores of carbohydrate, it also seems to reduce the activity of enzymes needed for the release of energy from carbohydrate such as PDH. In other words, yes you’re conserving muscle glycogen, but you’re also preventing your body from utilising that glycogen as efficiently as you would normally. And given that the critical importance of carbohydrate is its ability to rapidly generate large amounts of ATP for muscular contraction with or without oxygen, any theoretical benefits from fat adaptation are soon lost!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Swish, Sip, Eat, Vomit: All the Latest on Carb Absortion

From The Globe and Mail

While this research is still new, brain-scanning studies by Ed Chambers, a colleague of Dr. Jeukendrup’s in Birmingham, suggest that previously undiscovered carbohydrate sensors in the mouth send signals directly to the brain announcing the impending arrival of more fuel. (The sensors work even if the subjects can’t taste the drink.) The brain then signals that you can go faster, even if the carbs never reach your muscles. At the other end of the spectrum, your muscles really do need more carbohydrate during exercise lasting longer than two hours.

How Much Carb You Can Eat vs Actually Use

From Sweat Science

The ingestion rate in some of the studies was as high as 2.4 g/min, which works out to 144 g/hr — pretty much the same as what Josh was doing, and far higher than the 90-100 g/hr thought to be the max. But how much of this intake were they actually burning? The exogenous carb oxidation rate tops out at 1.70 g/min (102 g/hr), in line with expectations. And if you’re just using plain old glucose while stuffing in all those carbs, fully half of them go to waste. So the moral: if you can pack in 150g /hr of carbs while doing an Ironman, you’re blessed with a very strong stomach — but it doesn’t mean you’re using all of it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Joe Friel on Confidence

From Joe Friel

Any time you feel a bit of anxiety about the upcoming race go back and pull one of those vivid success memories out of your account. Relive it. When the little voice in your head says you can’t do it make another withdrawal immediately. When someone expresses doubt about your chances of success make a withdrawal. When you step to the starting line make a withdrawal.

Never deposit the bad things or unwelcome moments in training. Never. Let them go. They’re trash. Stay focused on the positive experiences. Deposit only them in your account. Withdraw only them.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Siri Lindley on Philosophy

From Siri Lindley

We cover every base - training, race planning and strategy, strength, flexibility, mental training, recovery, stress release, injury prevention, etc… But mostly just being consistent with the hard work. Challenging them to face their fears or limiting factors and forge forward with determination and courage.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Ultimate Guide to Recovery

From Running Research News

Programming rest and recovery into your training schedules ensures important benefits. First, you’ll be healthier—which means you’ll have minimal interruptions to your training from illness or injury, thus your training will be more consistent. Second, by adequately recovering from the stress of training, your body’s musculo-skeletal and cardio-respiratory systems will adapt faster making you stronger and aerobically more fit.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Program Design: Art and Science

From Vince Gambetta

Program design is a process that is a blend of art and science tempered with a heavy dose of practical experience. I always want to get it “right,” therefore there is always a degree of fine-tuning both in designing the microcyles and the design and implementation of each training session. Ultimately it comes down to knowing the athlete’s you are working with, how they respond to training, what hey bring to the table.

Paulo On His Coaching Style

From Slowtwitch

I believe the coach should determine the path to success, and be ready to intervene whenever the process deviates from that path. In order for that intervention to be successful, the coach needs to have the “right” relationship with the athlete.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Finding the Right Mix

From Macca

Perfecting three disciplines is difficult, especially when these disciplines work against each other in their development. The A frame of a swimmer, is not good for running. The short hamstrings of cycling and the inward knee action of the pedal stroke, kill running form and shorten hamstrings, the eccentric contractions of running and the muscle damage limit the efficiency in a pedal action. These three sports play against each other, so MIX is everything if you want to be as fast as you can be. Those athletes who come across to this sport and don’t respect this from the onset, always end up injured and humbled. It’s a puzzle of perfection and it takes time and commitment to master.