Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nice abs. Do you do core?

If you are looking for training advice, the Internet is full of very confident people advocating very concrete answers on anything you'd like to know.  If there is a certain bent to your thinking, you'll be able to confirm it by looking it the right place.  Stretching?  Diet?  Training intensity?  Good luck!  Always be wary when the advice is tied to a product or service for sale. Perhaps we could even start a new fad diet.... All you need is one snickers bar per day, First Endurance EFS during training, and as much coffee as you'd like.  I swear it works and I can send you the details for only $19.99!
Eat Snickers and go FAST!
One of the more contentious topics out there is the need for athletes to spend time focused on core work.  Time is in almost always a limiting factor for most triathletes, so it makes sense to cut back on everything but the basics.  Swim/Bike/Run a lot if you want to go faster.  Your body will adapt to the training and it will be ready to perform on race day if you just give it a bit of rest...  Your core is engaged during everything you do so why spend more time?

Like most things in life, your core isn't an issue until it becomes one.  Improper movement patterns and instability are major culprits in creating injuries and having a solid core can remedy that.  Do you have lower back issues from being hunched over the bike or have knee problems from bad run form? Many athletes lose efficiency when they fatigue and can't figure out why they can't keep the pace... A solid core may not be the answer, but it could be!  If you've showed up to a race with an injury, you know that all that training really didn't work when it counted!

I'm not going to delve into the specifics of training or even advocate for the need for core training.  I personally do it and believe it is valuable, but in reality most people can improve their performance by paying attention to what you're doing when you NOT doing their core training.  If you spend 30 minutes with intense focus on creating perfect abs then spend 8 hours with poor posture, I have a feeling you're not going to see the benefit.  If you have laser focus on your core during specified times but then go for a run with sloppy form and poor posture, you have wasted any time you spent in that plank position.

Here are my recommendations:  Get a bike fit and learn how to ride with good form and proper ergonomics.  Thank you to Dave Luscan for helping me with this.  Learn how to swim correctly and for god's sake keep your head down.  Pay attention to how you are running and have someone take a look at your stride.  A good book is 'The Running Revolution' for you to develop some idea of what you should be doing.  If you are checking all of the technique boxes and using the correct muscles to move you through the various sports, then you can go ahead and spend some time really focusing on developing those beautiful abs.

In closing, major improvements and injury prevention can be accomplished simply by being aware of  your body during the day...  In reality, you can say you should be working on your core every waking hour of the day!

Happy Training!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Why I Don't Always Win in Training

I'm a professional triathlete.  My job is to race at the highest level with the hope of making money.  If I do my job well, I end the year with a few good results and a few cents in my pocket...

You could say I'm at the pointy end of the field for most races that I enter, but for some reason I am continually beaten during workouts.  One local guy in particular seems to have my number.  For someone who is supposed to be at the top of my game, why am I not crushing dreams every time I train with the group?  I could come up with a million excuses (10 good ones are listed below), but the reality is I'm not always on my 'A' game.  In fact, you could say that I'm rarely on my A game.  When the plan is to go easy, I go easy and let the boys go.  Even when the plan is to go hard and I'm not up to the challenge, I sometimes have to swallow my pride and absorb a bad day.

When I was a swimmer, I would at times struggle to pace 100's at my goal mile time... sometimes even in the warm up for the meet!  It's not the most confidence-inspiring thing, but I eventually learned to be confident in my preparation and my ability to put it together when it counted.  Tapered races are almost mythical events when when your body is firing on all cylinders and that can't happen day in and day out.  One of my favorite readings talks about the nebulous link between training and racing.  I tend to read it anytime my training is going through a rough patch.

Jeff Kostoff Letter to Stanford Team

The trick is to develop the skill and ability in training to make the results show up on race day.  That takes a lot of hard work and discipline, but it also takes a lot of resilience and faith in the process.  I get beat when I'm tired and I get beat when I feel fantastic, but if I do my job I don't get beat when it counts.  I think, at times, people can look at athletes on the podium and imagine that they are impeccable in training and constantly untouchable.  I can assure you, at least in my case, it's far from true.  I may get beat often, but I'm always working towards those glorious days that I don't!

My Top 10 Excuses
1.  Sidney kept me up/got me sick/ruined my training.
2.  I'm too sore from my 8 (10, 12?) hours of workouts yesterday.
3.  I haven't had my coffee yet.
4.  I've had too much bulletproof coffee (beware of disaster pants).
5.  My second nap got interrupted yesterday and now I'm tired.
6.  I'm just working on technique today (this is a whole other blog post coming...)
7.  I haven't had my weekly massage yet.
8.  I don't know the route and need to follow someone.
9.  I need to take it easy today for tomorrow's hard workout (usually TRUE. yet another post coming)
10.  When in doubt the other guy cheated.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Posts!

I'm not a fan of New Year's resolutions because if it's truly important, you'd already be doing it... But I've decided to make a more serious attempt at posting on my blog a bit more regularly for the coming year.  My goal is to share some of the knowledge I've gained through the years of training, coaching, and racing.  Hopefully my posts are both enjoyable and insightful.  I'd like to develop a bit more value as a pro triathlete and create a bit more exposure for my sponsors.

I've put together a few topics to write about, but if you are reading this and have any suggestions, feel free to shoot me an email and let me know.

Upcoming topics include:
1.  Why I get beat regularly in training.
2.  My top 10 excuses for #1.
3.  Core work...who needs it?
4.  Swimming 101
5.  Elite AG or low level pro?
6.  What goes into planning a season.
7.  Range of motion training.
8.  Mental training and race performance
9.  Training and racing with a newborn
10. Fueling your training and racing.

My goal is to put out a post per week and push out Twitter/Facebook updates whenever I post new content.  Stay Tuned.

Obligatory Sidney Pictures Below: