Tri Coach Tuesday: How to Stay Fit this Off Season

By: Peter S. Alfino, Level II USAT coach, Owner Mile High Multisport, LLC

 

The off season is where the greatest improvements in your fitness can be gained if you take the correct approach during your off season. What you do and don’t do right now will go a long way in how you race when it counts. My experience has shown that most triathletes don’t make the right decisions at this time of year to help them make improvements down the road. Get adequate rest and a solid preparation phase before beginning your base building phase of training. So how do you know what to work on?

 

REST :

There has to be a period of significant rest between your last key race and your preparation period. I’m not talking taking two days off. If you haven’t given both your body and your mind a period of rest and rejuvenation you will end up injured or flat at some point in the future. How long to rest and recover depends on your tenure in the sport, how long your last season lasted and what was the impact on your body and mind from you last race of the season. Adding that one last race of the season i.e. I just did a full Ironman so I might as well jump into this half two weeks post race or I might as well run that marathon 4 weeks later, is common amongst those people new to the sport. That last race typically pushes you over the edge. Know when to call it a season and avoid the temptation to keep adding races to an already long and rigorous season. Significant rest means 4 weeks at minimum of structured training and possibly more. During this time you can do some light activity such as short 30 minutes swim sessions, hikes or shorter bikes up to an hour. Intensity should be limited and you should spend the majority of your time in zone 1.

 

PREPARATION PHASE :

When you start back with a formal plan you need to allow 4-6 weeks for the muscles to adapt back to a routine. Emphasis should be on lower intensity and form should be emphasized over duration or intensity. Now is the time to really think about range of motion and improving form in all disciplines. It is a great time of year to start working on your limiters.

Strength training: you broke down a lot of muscles during the race season. Time to build strength. Not only will this help you with power but this will aide you in preventing injuries.
Yoga/Pilates: Great time of year to incorporate Yoga or Pilates into your routine. Improved strength, flexibility and symmetry
Pool: Time to focus on improving your stroke, body position, kick and arm turnover. Get videotaped and work with a reputable coach. Join a masters program
Running Drills: Drills and speed skills at this time of year produce improved running economy. Shorter more frequent runs versus fewer longer runs
Cycling Drills: Speed skills such as spin ups, higher cadence work, ILT’s,( Isolated Leg Training) improve your cycling efficiencies. Sessions on the trainer are shorter although if the weather cooperate there is nothing wrong with a long slow ride in zone 2.


So this off season get rest, slow down, analyze your form and incorporate the necessary work to make improvements when you don’t have the pressure of getting fast for an upcoming race. If you can be patient, your chances of making physiological gains next race season have just improved.

Peter S. Alfino is the owner of Mile High Multisport, LLC. He is a level II USAT certified coach based on of Highlands Ranch Colorado. Contact him at Pete@milehighmultisport.com

 

Original posting here

Tri Coach Tuesday: Time to Reflect

As the 2018 race season comes to a close, it is time to reflect upon all things training and racing. Reflection defined means “serious thought or consideration.” Whether you are an age group athlete or a pro, a middle of the packer or you’re just happy to finish, reflection will provide great insight into the next steps of your journey.

Designate a time on your calendar to sit down for 45 minutes and allow yourself time to reflect.  If you are like many athletes, you may need that appointment to be listed on your training plan to add the accountability.  Protect the time and deem it to be as important as any of the training segments that you completed. Take the 5/5/5 approach.  Focus your reflection on 5 celebrations, 5 challenges and 5 goals from your past year.

Read Coach Kim’s full blog post here

 

Tri coach Tuesday: How to Avoid a Stress Fracture

As athletes strive to improve themselves and their performances, they often push themselves to the point of injury.

The inherent cross training by multisport athletes can decrease the number of injuries, but unfortunately it does not eliminate them. Overuse bone injuries occur primarily during the running phase of training and racing and are more common with high running mileage and in individuals training for long course events.

Overuse injuries to bone encompasses a spectrum, from bone inflammation (stress reactions) to small fractures on one side of the bone (stress fractures), to breaks all the way through the bone. Stress fractures are a result of accumulative micro damage to bones from impact, which can lead to small or large breaks.

Bone is dynamic tissue with constant bony absorption and deposition stimulated by bone stress. Micro damage is a normal process that occurs with activity and is correlated with intensity and the amount of impact.

The body usually heals the micro damage before it can accumulate, and during the healing process, the body lays down extra bone to strengthen and prevent future injuries. This process is how athletes can improve their bone density. Unfortunately, there are times when athletes overwhelm their body’s ability to heal the bone stress and the damage accumulates to the point of localized inflammation or fracture.

The factors that are correlated with increased bony damage include: high running mileage, training errors, low bone density, high ridged arches, inappropriate foot wear, leg length discrepancies, and other malalignments. The most common of these factors that I see in the office are training errors, too much too soon, and inadequate recovery time, but all of them need to be considered.

image from realbuzz.com

The most common sites for stress fractures in runners are the shin (tibia) and foot bones (metatarsals and tarsals). Stress fractures typically present gradually but can also start with sudden pain.

Athletes sometimes are confused when a stress fracture presents acutely. Early inflammation and stress reactions can be pain free until the fracture occurs. Localized bony pain and tenderness is the hallmark of stress reactions and stress fractures. The area of pain is typically small and about the size of a half dollar. This localization is in contrast to shin splints, where the pain is over a much broader area such as the size of a dollar bill.

 

Complete USAT post here

Tri Coach Tuesday: How to Handle Steamy Race Days

BY SAGE MAARANEN

After the 2018 Ironman Boulder, the biggest complaint I heard from athletes was the heat and its relation to a high DNF rate. We are all aware that heavy exercise in high temperatures can lead to medical emergencies such as heat stroke, but so many tend to brush this off as something that could happen but certainly won’t happen to them.

So instead of focusing on heat illness, I’d like to discuss a heat-related issue that should catch any athlete’s attention: Yes, if your body overheats, your performance will be diminished and you will not be able to race at your full potential. Consider this athlete’s story.

Ironman Boulder second-timer Andrea Greger hit the start line prepared to annihilate her previous course time. The day started off well with a 15-minute PR on the swim leg, but by mile 30 of the bike, she knew she was in trouble. It was hot, she couldn’t eat and her pace suddenly slowed. After stopping three times to vomit, Andrea considered pulling from the race. With encouragement from teammates, she kept pedaling, finishing well behind her target pace.

As she started the marathon it quickly became clear that running wasn’t an option. No cooling effort could bring her core temperature down, and she vomited five more times. Although the task felt monumental, Andrea was determined not to quit and continued to march her way toward the finish.

“I remember at mile 25 of the run, a lady told me I was almost there, and I wanted to kill her!” she said. “It was another 20 minutes.”

Although it wasn’t the race she expected, Andrea learned a lot that day — about herself, about racing, and about the toll of heat.

Negative Effects of Heat on Performance

First, a quick physiology refresher. One of blood’s primary jobs during exercise is to carry oxygen to muscles. To cool the body, blood flow is shifted from muscles to the skin in an effort to dump heat. This process makes blood more difficult to pump to muscles to perform their work. The metabolic system used for muscle-fueling must then shift from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism, and VO2Max will be reduced.

 

Complete USAT article here

 

Tri Coach Tuesday: Flexibility & Stretching

By Neal Mclaughlin, Mile High Multisport Coach

Not to be indelicate, but none of us is getting any younger, and flexibility tends to decrease with age. As we age flexibility becomes increasingly important for us to be able to continue to pursue the activities we enjoy. For example, orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, and physical therapists all agree that most foot, ankle, and lower leg injuries (like plantar fasciitis) are caused by lack of flexibility. Their remedy…stretch your calf muscles – often.

Stretching is a critical part of any fitness program, but it is important to understand when to stretch and which muscle groups to address. Generally speaking, stretching before a run, ride, swim, or group exercise class is a waste of time. When you stretch, you are effectively switching your muscles off, and telling them “the workout is over”. Also, cold muscles tend to be resistant to stretching. Instead, a dynamic warm up which uses movement to activate the muscles, gets the synovial fluid flowing in the joints, raise core temperature, increase heart rate and respiration rate is a more effective way to start a workout.

It is much more effective to stretch at the end of a workout, when muscles are warm, relaxed, and a bit fatigued. As you perform static stretches, you will hold the stretches for 15 to 30 seconds, and it is important to breathe deeply as you stretch. To assist in mitigating muscular imbalances, it is important to keep in mind that our muscles should be strengthened and stretched in opposition. If you stretch the quadriceps, you also need to stretch the hamstrings.

Depending on the activities you engage in, the following are important muscle groups (and tendons) that require attention:

      Calf muscles (both Gastrocnemius and Soleus)
      Quadriceps 
      Hamstrings
      Glutes
      Iliotibial Band 
      Hip Flexors 
      Back muscles
      Chest
      Shoulders
      Neck

Yoga and Pilates are two very helpful modalities for improving flexibility and balance, and there are many options for both. See your coach to help you learn how to stretch properly.

 

Original article here

Tri Coach Tuesday – Hormones, Muscles, and T Cells

by Coach Cindy Dallow, 2 Doc Tri Coaching

 

Most of you know that you need some kind of recovery drink or snack after a hard workout. However, you may not know why it’s necessary and/or what to eat or drink.

To better understand the need for recovery nutrition, let’s take a look at three things that occur inside your body during vigorous exercise:

Hormones Gone Wild

During high intensity exercise, levels of cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and glucagon surge in a grand effort to supply energy to the working muscle. As blood glucose levels drop, these hormones work together to stimulate glucose production by the liver. Cortisol levels, in particular, stay elevated for 30 to 60 minutes after we stop exercising and continue to catabolize protein and carbs even though we no longer need them for energy. Consuming a recovery drink or snack during this period of time will lessen the degree of protein degradation and depletion of glycogen stores.

Fire in the Muscle

During a hard run or ride, our muscles utilize three “branched-chain amino acids” (BCAA’s) to off-set the protein degradation and damage that naturally occurs with hard exercise. These BCAA’s are broken down in the muscle cell and used to generate ATP, which unbeknownst to most people, continues after exercise stops. To keep your body from having to breakdown more protein to get BCAA’s, you need to take in some “exogenous” protein in the form of food or beverage (aka recovery snack). Taking BCAA’s in supplement form is not as effective as getting them in food with “intact proteins”.

T-Cell Turmoil

Ever run a marathon and then gotten sick afterwards?  That’s because all that running (or any kind of hard exercise) temporarily lowers immune function which increases your susceptibility to infections. This occurs because cortisol and epinephrine suppress type 1 T-cell cytokine production which is vital for a strong immune system. Lowered immune function has been reported in exercise that lasts longer than 1.5 hours that is performed without nutritional intake during and after the exercise bout.

Nutrition can have a big impact on our immune system. For instance, a low intake of macro-nutrients (fat, carbohydrate, protein) or a low intake of specific micronutrients (zinc, selenium, iron, copper) can lower our resistance to infection. Aequate intakes of vitamins A, C, E, and B-6; and folic acid, zinc, iron, and copper help strengthen our ability to fight off illness or infection. These nutrients are found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, eggs, meat, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

So, what is a good recovery snack or beverage?  Anything with a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein from nutrient-dense foods (see below for examples). The carbs will replace the glycogen you just used up and the protein will lessen the need for BCAA’s and help promote muscle synthesis.

Complete original post from 2 Doc Tri Coaching here

Tri Coach Tuesday: Race More

by Billy Edwards

Over the past few years, I have noticed a trend to get hyper-focused on training specifically for one event. To a fault, coaches get hired with the intent or goal of a season ending event like an ironman, half ironman or national or regional championship. Travel time and expenses of the event coupled with the pressure to produce a result by the athlete and sometimes the coach become the focus. The end-state or goal becomes singularly a place or a qualification or a time.

The proverbial journey should outweigh the destination. As a coach and athlete, I have seen the pitfalls of this kind of thinking. There ends up being so much pressure to produce that if the one event does not have achievement, the season is seen as failure. Development of the athlete as a whole should be the focus; results are a nice bonus and achievable if the proper development occurs.

I would implore both coaches and athletes to look to the local race calendar as a supplement to not only the training and skill development but also to have fun along the way. Quite often an athlete and coach get worried about how an additional race can take-away from focused training. However, when scheduled properly, even a local Dash N’ Dine 5k or Stroke n’ Stride can be shuffled into the overall development equation. These kinds of gatherings to be with like-minded people are the best part of our sport.

Goals can be shifted to individual sport effort, pacing, and skill development. A weekend local triathlon does not need to be done on rented race wheels or at peak condition. The athlete and coach can establish individual sport and skill goals that work to develop the athlete as a whole.

-Did the athlete best navigate the swim course?
-Given racing inspires better bike position- is a current fit comfortable?
-Did the athlete stay aero through particularly technical section of course?
-Were run race flats comfortable (without socks)? Was bike nutrition found to be sufficient for a good run?

Note that none of these focuses involved time or place and can be at least qualitatively measured. Plus, they are important for future events and overall athlete development.

Now, that I have made these recommendations, go look at the 303 Race Calendar and sign up for an upcoming triathlon or even swim or aquathon event and get it incorporated into the fun development journey of our sport.

Billy Edwards lives in Niwot and coaches the Collegiate National Champions, US Naval Academy Triathlon Team. Billy focuses on having performance development in sport complement life. USAT Level II and Youth and Junior Elite Coach, USAC Level II @billythekidtri or billy.edwards.mdot@gmail.com or billythekidtriathlete.com

Tri Coach Tuesday: Core & Hip Stability

Getting to the “Core” of the matter is essential to be a durable, faster, injury free athlete.

by Simon Bennett, APEX Coaching

 

As endurance athletes we put in many long hours training for our goal events and one of the biggest concerns is that an injury will pop up or linger impacting our ability to compete. How do most injuries happen? The simple answer is, muscle imbalances! Where do most of these muscle imbalances originate? Our body’s core, which is comprised of many central muscles including transversus abdominus, multifidus, the diaphragm and the pelvic floor.

The core muscles provide your spinal and central muscle systems with stability and also coordinate movement to your extremities. Without a strong core, we will not be able to keep the body standing or moving in the correct aligned position which will put the spine, arms and legs out of position and in a vulnerable stability pattern for movement and the possibility of injury.

A muscle imbalance, which is undetectable with the naked eye, can become a more serious problem causing another muscle group to compensate and leading to injury over time. Injury prevention is not the only benefit of a strong core, it also creates the right pathways for the muscles to fire in the correct patterns and improved core strength and proper muscle firing patterns produce faster training and racing times. One of the biggest benefits to your training and racing will be that the stronger your core, the longer you can hold proper technique and form.

Below are a listing of some of the ideal core and hip stability exercises that every endurance athlete should incorporate into their training at least twice a week for a faster, injury free racing season and beyond. Remember while executing these exercises to remain tall, shoulder down and back, pull your belly button towards your spin and tuck your tailbone under you.

 

Glute Bridge

How to Perform:

  1. Lie on your back on an exercise mat or on the floor, legs bent at the knee with feet flat on the floor.
  2. Raise your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line.
  3. Hold your bridge position for 30-60 seconds

 

Theraband Side Steps

How to Perform:

  1. While standing with feet shoulder width apart, loop theraband around both legs resting at mid calf.
  2. Bend at your knees slightly while stepping out to the side until the band is taut. Repeat with other leg.
  3. Perform 10 steps to the left, before changing direction and performing 10 steps to the right.

 

Side Plank

How to Perform:

  1. Lie on your side with legs out straight and feet together. Position elbow and forearm directly below shoulder.
  2. Raise hips until your body is in a straight line from head to toe while resting top arm on your hip.
  3. Hold your side plank for 15-30 seconds.

Theraband Monster Walk

How to Perform:

  1. While standing with feet shoulder width apart in a partial squat position, loop theraband around both ankles.
  2. In one motion step forward and then out to the side until the band is taut. Repeat with other leg.
  3. Perform a total of 12 steps before repeating.

 

Thera-Band Squat

How to Perform:

  1. While standing with feet shoulder width apart loop theraband around legs and position just above knees.
  2. Bend at the knees while keeping your torso as upright as possible, as if you were going to sit on a chair.
  3. As you lower keep the theraband taut, until thighs are almost parallel to floor. Complete 15.

 

Front Plank 

How to Perform:

  1. Position yourself face down on elbows and knees.
  2. Keep elbows under shoulders with hands clasped together, press up on toes while extending legs out straight. 3. Lower hips until head, shoulders, hips and feet are in a straight line. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

 

Side Plank with Bent Leg

How to Perform:

  1. Lie on your with knees touching and top leg out straight and bottom leg bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Positions elbow and forearm directly over shoulder, raise hips keeping head, hips and knees aligned.
  3. While keeping your body in this raised position, lift your top leg 45 degrees. Hold for 20-30 seconds.

 

Backwards Lunges

How to Perform:

  1. While standing tall with feet side by side, step backwards with one leg keeping torso upright.
  2. With hands on hips, bend back leg at the knee, allowing front leg to follow. Front knee not to extend over toes.
  3. Back knee will almost touch the floor. Repeat by lunge by alternating legs. Complete 15 on each side.

 

Opposite Arm & Leg Raise

How to Perform:

  1. Position yourself on your hands and knees at 90 degrees under your body. your back straight.
  2. While keeping head, shoulders, hips aligned raise your right arm and left leg out straight.
  3. Hold each arm and leg raise for 10 seconds. Repeat with opposite arm and leg. Complete 15 on each side.

 

Thera-Band Hip Clams

How to Perform:

  1. Lie down on your side with knees together and wrap theraband around both legs just above knees.
  2. With knees bent to both feet together with your lower leg remaining on the floor.
  3. Raise upper leg at the knee until the band is taut. Hold each for 5 seconds. Complete 12 on each side.

 

Complete original post here

Tri Coach Tuesday: Sneaky Little Sports Drinks

by Cindy Dallow, 2 Doc Tri Coaching

 

There’s a plethora of sports drinks on the market, and you’d have to be living under a rock not to know it. But are they really necessary? Do they deliver on what they promise? And is it possible to make your own sports drink for a lot less money?

Let’s take those questions one at a time. Are sports drinks necessary? For endurance athletes, yes.

For example, after prolonged exercise (longer than 60 minutes), sports drinks can help replenish electrolytes that the body loses through sweat. The predominant electrolyte we lose when we sweat is sodium, with its anion chloride coming in a close second. Sodium and chloride regulate the amount of fluids throughout your body, which affects blood pressure, blood volume, and cellular function. Thus, sodium chloride or “salt” is the most important ingredient in a sports drink.

If you’re a “salty sweater” – that is, someone with a high sweat rate – it’s especially important that you replenish sodium during and after intense activity. Fortunately, this is fairly easy to do with food as there are many sodium-containing foods in the typical American diet. However, it’s a bit harder to replace sodium while running because it’s hard to eat real food while running.  This is where sport drinks come in handy as it’s easier to drink than eat and for events less than two hours, most athletes can get all the sodium they need from a good sports drink. For longer events, a combination of different products can be utilized to replace the sodium lost in sweat.

It’s also important to make sure the product contains sodium chloride, as chloride is essential for regulating fluid balance. Interestingly, there’s a product on the market called Nuun Active that touts itself as having the “optimal blend of electrolytes for athletic performance”, but upon closer inspection, one finds that Nuun Active contains a combination of sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate that react with citrate to form sodium citrate (instead of sodium chloride). Why is that a problem? Because the primary side effect of sodium citrate is “tetany” or intense muscle spasms. Who needs that during a race? Why not just use sodium chloride since chloride plays a major role in fluid regulation?

So, what about potassium, calcium, and magnesium? Losses of these electrolytes in sweat are negligible so they really don’t need replacing during exercise. But many sport drinks contain them anyway – probably to make you think that you need them – but adding them only drives up the cost of the product.

 

Complete article here and a recipe for your own sports drink here

 

About Coach Cindy 

Cindy came from a running background as well. After finishing her 12th marathon, she realized that she needed some cross-training. At the age of 45, she learned how to swim in a pool and then a few years later, she took the plunge into open water swimming. Fast forward 8 years and she has completed dozens of sprint, Olympic, and 70.3 races, and 4 full Ironman races.

Cindy is a Registered Dietitian with a PhD in nutrition from Colorado State University. She is also a certified USAT triathlon coach and a certified intuitive eating counselor.

Tri Coach Tuesday: Self-Trust and Triathlon

BY Ross Hartley, USAT Coach

The person you talk to the most is not your significant other, not your son or daughter, not your best friend or even your dog — it’s yourself. This self-talk is fueled by your thoughts which then creates your attitude, and your attitude then influences your actions.

Self-Talk, Attitude, Actions.

This is a never-ending cycle that determines how you view the world and the events around you. This self-talk reveals one’s self-trust. Self-trust is belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations, also known as self-confidence and self-efficacy. Self-trust is the secret ingredient that can make or break one’s performance in a variety of situations, including triathlon.

A high level of self-trust is a requirement for success in triathlon. During the conversation one has in their head during training and racing, a belief in one’s self and performance is a necessity. Self-trust can be built, maintained and strengthened through consistent and intentional repetition, otherwise known as purposeful practice. Purposeful practice of self-trust consists of five steps:

1. Begin with the end in mind.

What do you want? To become? To do? Your future first begins as a narrative that your brain tells you. What are you telling yourself? I personally use and advise my athletes to use the goals-targets-outcomes framework. Goals represent items that are completely under your control (I’m going to follow my fueling plan during my IRONMAN). Targets are items that you have a little bit less control over but are directly related to your training and therefore can be predicted very closely (pace and time). Outcomes are items that you have the least control over and are actually an outcome of your goals and targets (qualification and pace).

2. Clarify and define the required process to achieve your previously stated goals.

This could be creating a clearly defined annual training plan that is built around your goals-targets-outcomes. The more clarity with the plan, the more likely they will be achieved. The key being to make the plan unambiguous and right on the edge of your current skills and desired skills — pushing the edge of your current capabilities.

3. Do the required work that your desired outcome requires. 

Quite simply, follow your annual training plan and complete your planned workouts. The not-so-popular secret to success: work as hard as you can for as long as it takes. Every desired outcome in your life has a required response. The bigger the desired outcome, the more difficult and longer it will take to give the required response.

4. Let your success in preparation fuel your self-trust during the race. 

Consistently and repeatedly training to the very best of your ability creates and fuels a courageous mindset. This is called acquired self-confidence. During the race, do what you have repeatedly done — revert back to your training and habits. Don’t prove how good you are, be how good you are.

5. Learn from the race and apply this knowledge for the future. 

The race outcome is feedback on your preparation. If you do not perform how you wanted to, that is the feedback that your preparation was not sufficient. Take this information and begin again more intelligently.

The best way to acquire self-confidence is to do exactly what you are afraid to do. Sometimes you act because you are confident. Your confidence fuels your actions. And sometimes you take action and then build your confidence because you have acted. Confidence is built by action. Both of these require action, you taking the first step to begin the process. Taking action leads to more actions. Opportunities multiply as they are chased.

Original USAT post here