Welcome to April’s Blog.
Racing season is upon us! Had a whole bunch of athletes start their seasons off with a big bang- they have been training hard and consistently and it has all paid off. So exciting to be a part of that!
While there are a lot of you who receive this newsletter/blog who are working with me currently, there are plenty of you who are not working with a coach. What are some of the things you should consider to help you with your training? There are 4 principles of training that guide how I write my athletes’ plans: individuality,
specificity, overload and reversibility and you should consider these too.
Individuality: we are all different! If you are training with your buddies and just tagging along for their workouts, then you are missing some of the fundamentals in training. You might be the same age and be doing the same races as your best buddy, but that is where the similarities probably end. How quickly you adapt, what your HR, power and pace zones are, how much rest you need, how much time you can devote to training, and what your strengths and weaknesses are will all affect the type of training you should do. Often I get athletes who say, “so and so is doing a group ride 3 or 4 times a week and getting stronger and he never takes a rest week, so why can’t I train like that”. My answer to that is, “imagine how much stronger so and so would be with some targeted training and appropriate rest!” DON’T just do what your friends are doing. Do what YOU need to do to get better. Consider your strengths and weaknesses and how those relate to your target race. (Often a strength or weakness does not apply when you consider the race. If I am lousy at hills but my target race is on the flats, then my weakness for climbing is no longer a liability. Or if I am an excellent swimmer, but my target race is in a current assisted river
with a time trial start, then I will have lost some of my advantage as everyone will have a better swim). Study yourself, keep a training log, and figure out what you need to do to get better.
Specificity: is vital when training for races. What is the duration, terrain, weather, and other specifics of your target race? If you are doing an ironman then a bunch of VO2 workouts won’t have a lot of application for a race that is done at a mostly low aerobic intensity. Training exclusively on flat terrain when your target race is hilly will leave
you in trouble on race day. Hydration and nutrition needs to be tailored to both the intensity you will be racing at and the weather: the harder you race and the hotter the weather, the less tolerant your stomach will be too foods and fluids. You have to practice specifically for race day.
Overload: this is how you get fitter! We have to apply a stimulus that is greater than what we can already handle in order to get stronger. That can be in terms of volume or intensity. It is the constant application of overload (and appropriate rest) that allows us to become stronger. I remember when I first started running and signed up for a marathon. On week one I found a 5 mile run rather challenging, but with the constant and consistent
overload provided by the weekly long runs and increasing training volume I was able to run 26.2 easily at the end of 4 months of training. Several of my clients have had superb increases in the FTPs with the use of the principle overload: we build the duration of time at FTP and voila – a bigger, fatter FTP ensues. We have to push ourselves past our current tolerances to get stronger. But we also have to target those efforts, based on where our fitness is currently. Time trials allow us to establish paces, power and HR zones so that we know how hard to make the training sessions. If you don’t base your training on that data, the overload might be too low or too high. The first one will lead to stagnation and the second one can lead to injury, overtraining or burnout.
Reversibility: Use it or lose it. After time off, we will have lost some fitness, and the amount we lose depends on the amount of time off we had. If you have a forced lay off from training, don’t come back and assume your fitness will be right where it was when you stopped training. Start easy and re-build the base (interestingly, we lose our aerobic adaptations faster than we lose our anaerobic conditioning), and then progress onto the more advanced workouts (tempo, threshold, anaerobic work). We have to train consistently to maintain our fitness. On again and off again training will not result in increased fitness and makes you more susceptible to injury. So keep at it! Besides, we love this stuff, so why would we stop?
If you are coaching yourself this year, keep all of this in mind! Good luck at the races!
Athlete Race Update:
Kristy: Nautica! Great race- 6th fastest swim, 2nd fastest bike and a strong return to running after only being back to it for 7 weeks!
Sue: yet another PR at Corral Springs half mary!
Nadia: PR’s at both NYC and Corral Springs Half Marys!!
Colin: podium finish at Bradenton Oly and a blazing 5:07 at his first half Ironman (Texas). Way to go!
Rich and Sean did corporate 5k’s in the midst of some busy scheduling and put in good times.
Adam got a PR on his corporate 5k!
Cicily and Jason are racing at FAU and maybe Sue too!
Bonnie, Franny and Nathan are all doing the Boston Marathon- whoo hoo!
Cicily and Colin are doing St. Anthonys- always fun
Kristy is doing HIM in St. Croix!
Cat and Sean are doing Clermont HIM!
Sandy and Liz have a 10k in venice beach
Bernie is doing the Deefield beach sprint.
Born to be a trail runner
10 Ways Yoga Boosts Your Endurance Training
It starts with an in-breath and ends with a longer stride. Here are some simple ways the right stretching will get you across the finish line.
Joshua Berman for Men’s Health Magazine.
Marathoners, ultra-race trainers, and yoga instructors agree to a T — regular practice of Hatha yoga breathing exercises and asanas, or poses, should be an integral part of any endurance race training regimen. Why? Well, the benefits are mental, physical, emotional—and undeniable to those who have tried it. So whether you’re training
for the Leadville 100 or the Marathon des Sables in north Africa (a six-day, 156-mile ultramarathon, equivalent to six regular marathons!), the message is clear: start stretching now. Here are 10 reasons why.
Breathing practice is essential to Hatha yoga, some would say even defined by it. Practitioners use a back-of-throat nose breathing called ujayi pranayam, or “breath of the victorious warrior,” which lengthens inhalations and increases lung capacity. This, in turn, delivers more oxygen to the body and helps with overall performance and efficiency. (See numbers 4, 5, and 6 for other benefits.)
To cover more ground with fewer steps, you need loose hip flexors, lubricated joints, greater hip flexion, and properly stretched hamstrings — all of which are common results from regular Hatha yoga practice. Many asanas cover these areas, which help develop a longer natural stride and smoother, steadier pace.
“At the end of a marathon, the body is totally spent and depleted of fuel,” says Jai Sugrim, Certified Jivamukti Yoga teacher and host of Yoga Sutra Now. “It is the mind that brings you home to the finish line,” Endurance requires equal parts physical and mental strength, and yoga (in addition to fitness) helps with concentration. During the final stretch of a race, you can use meditative techniques to push negative thoughts aside and focus on getting your butt across the finish line.
Abdominal strengthening, says Boston-based yoga teacher, Karen Fabian, founder of Bare Bones Yoga, “is one of the most important things to keeping a body strong, centered, and powerful.” Most Hatha yoga series include such core strengthening poses, which do more than just hone your six-pack. A strong core supports the body from the inside out, improving running posture and protecting your back and hips.
5 . Mental toughness
Holding a yoga pose for a long time — especially a core-trembling, quad-shaking position like “warrior” or “chair” pose — not only strengthens muscles, but it also builds confidence, quiets the mind, and translates directly to race day, says Scott Rodwin, founder of Radiance Yoga in Boulder, Colorado. “Over time,” he says, “the practice of
simply holding the pose teaches you that you are stronger than you think. The asana asks you to overcome self-limiting thoughts and the fear of pain. It requires discipline and commitment.”
Athletes who are out there on long, solo training runs already know about developing an inward, mindful state of being, a.k.a. “the zone.” Staying mindful of your breath helps achieve this, says personal trainer Carrie Jesse, allowing athletes to stay in the moment and “even match the rhythmic breathing to their footfalls.”
Tight hamstrings, calves, glutes, and lower back muscles are all common side effects of many endurance race regimens. “Hatha Yoga helps immensely in releasing tight muscles and restoring full mobility to the body’s joints,” says Alexander Cortes, a strength and conditioning coach at a UFC gym in California. “Often times endurance racers will unknowingly develop bad movement patterns due to tight muscles. Mobilizing and realigning the body [with yoga practice] can restore proper patterns and prevent avoidable injuries.”
The restorative power of yoga counters the constant pounding on your legs and spine, while also helping develop and maintain a sense of space in the hips and lower back. In addition, the increased oxygen coursing through a yoga-enhanced athlete’s body means less soreness and quicker tissue repair after you push it.
9. Injury prevention
Yoga promotes a constant awareness of what is going on in your body and mind. Many classes begin with a reminder to honor your body’s particular needs and limits on that particular day. “Yoga helps with your ability to discern between discomfort and pain,” says Sage Rountree, author of The Runner’s Guide to Yoga. “This is an important distinction as the hours and miles wear on your body.”
Yoga uses your own bodyweight as resistance to build strength. “People don’t realize yoga is work, it’s a physical practice,” says Taj Harris, endurance runner, yoga teacher, and Crunch Group Fitness Coordinator. Poses require strength as well as balance, she says. “Honestly I’m rarely on the weight floor in the gym. I use yoga to strengthen.
Past history of sports participation: I grew up swimming, from the age of 12 through two years of college. I was a middle distance freestyler and swam well, but never at a national level. About 7 years ago, I ran my first half marathon. Prior to this point, my attitude was “I don’t/can’t run.” Not only did I find that I actually liked running, I liked
hanging out with other runners and people who raced as adults. It was a lot more interesting to me than joining a company softball league.
What made you want to compete in triathlons? When my wife and I first moved to Florida two years ago, I thought a lot about the life I wanted to have in our new location. With the beautiful year round training weather and easy access to the water, triathlons seemed like an excellent way to get out and enjoy our new home, especially since I could swim and run already. How hard could biking be? It took me another year until I learned one of my colleagues was training for a half-Ironman and saw how interesting it could be. Then I did the unthinkable: I signed up for a half-Iron without having any idea of how I was going to get to the starting line.
What was your first tri & what did you learn? My first tri was the Escape to Miami olympic distance race last September. The most important thing I learned was not to wear my wedding band when I swim in open water! My “starter” band is now sitting at the bottom of Biscayne Bay. (Reward if found) I also learned how much of this sport is mental. You have to find the things that keep moving you forward, whether you’re tired, upset, in pain, or sick. And you have to know when to chuck your race plan and adapt.
What surprised you most about how it made you feel about yourself? It wasn’t the triathlon, it was picking up my race packet for my first marathon in February. When I
first started running, the people that trained for the full marathon were the “crazy ones” that trained way too much every week. Who had time for that? When I picked up my bib and saw all the other half marathon bibs out there, it struck me that I had crossed over and was now one of the “crazy ones.” The change happened gradually, but that was the first time I realized I was doing something very different than almost everyone I knew.
Do you think that training for triathlon has affected other areas of your life?
How? Absolutely! I’ve certainly become much more disciplined in my daily schedule and found more energy from the early morning workouts. I never thought I ‘d be the kind of person that wakes up at 4:30 to pull off a brick workout before work, or plans my day around making it to the pool in the evening. When I was swimming in college, I always had trouble making it to morning practice. Now I feel lazy if I miss a single workout.
What are you most looking forward to this year in terms of training and racing/events year? I’m looking forward to the Florida Challenge 70.3 in a few weeks as my first A race of the year. My wife and I are expecting our first child at the end of May, so I’ll be cutting back the amount of time I spend training while we have a new baby girl. Focusing on speed and power should pay off when I return to longer races later this year. I hope to find my way back into those big races once the dust settles.
What has endurance training and racing taught you? There’s something really powerful about setting a goal that you don’t know you can attain at the start. It helped me remember how to dream big again and take risks. It’s easy to focus on the daily small
improvements in your life or set goals that aren’t really inspiring. But big risks lead to big results.
How do you mentally approach a race? Races are the big event, the culmination of months of training. I get excited, nervous, scared, brave, and obsessed with my races, especially as they get close. But it’s not about the finish time, at least not yet for me. Being a new triathlete, I’m very focused on getting to the starting line and crossing the finish line. It’s the excitement and energy of racing that really stay with me after the race, as well as that feeling of accomplishment when you find a way to make it through a really tough race. I try to take it all in when I race and store those memories and feelings for later.
Favorite racing and/or training tip (what would you tell a newbie, and not necessarily something Dara told you!) You have to run your own race. Find the things that you love about this sport and focus on those, even if they’re silly. After all, it’s pretty unlikely that we’re going to race in the Olympics or angle for a podium position at Kona. You have to create your own podiums and your own records. And when you conquer
those, make more.
A favorite “Dara-ism(s)” I think my favorite is when Dara asks how my “leglettes” are doing, which reminds me of piglets. I’m 6’3″ and 205 lbs. There’s really nothing cute or little about my legs, but it does make me smile.
Do you suffer from cramping calves?
Thanks to Colin Goldsmith for finding this article to include this month.
A feel-good story to keep us going
Vegetable Tofu Scrambler
Tofu is high in protein and calcium, low in fat and sodium, and cholesterol-free.
1/2 medium onion, 4 – 5 mushrooms-sliced, splash of olive oil, 12-ounce pkg firm tofu, crumbled 1-2 tsp curry powder, pepper (to taste), salsa (to taste), 2 stalks green onions
1. In a large saucepan, add the onions and mushrooms to a splash of oil and saute on medium-high heat until the onions are translucent. Crumble tofu and add to saucepan. Add the curry and pepper. Sauté 10-12 minutes until moisture has evaporated. Add salsa and green onions and scramble on high heat for 2 to 4 minutes.
Note: you could also add any other veggies you have kicking around.
Makes 3 servings (approx 4 oz each.)
This is your brain on exercise:
Five commandments of Time Trialing: