Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Just a few benefits of using the Vasa Ergometer

I was going to write about swim training this week, but I came across a great post, first in a 3 part series that Cortney Martin wrote for VASA Inc that I thought you should read.  

Here is the link titled When the pool is not an option

Make it a great week of training,
Coach Eric

Monday, July 22, 2013

Medley Monday add's some variety

The Italian's love their cycling 

When I was swimming, I used to love doing IM workouts on Monday's and coined the phrase: "Medley Monday".  This was followed by "Turbo Tuesday", Wacky Wednesday", Thrasher Thursday", "Fun Friday", and "Super Saturday".  As triathletes we compete using the freestyle stroke, but that does not mean we should ignore the other strokes.  I feel it is important to train all the strokes to enhance ones feel for the water, help with injury prevention and add some variety to the training session.  Now you don't have to be turning out 400 IM's like Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, but if you do decide to embrace the other strokes, put backstroke at the top of the list.  It is the one stroke that lets you unwind your arms a bit and real easy to work a few strokes in during any race to just loosen up before rolling back onto your stomach.  Plus you can see who has been smacking your feet!

Taking the "Medley Monday" approach a bit further, one can apply it to running and cycling very easily.  Mix up training routes into A) flat, B) rolling, C) hills, or D all of the above.  
Mix up training intensity into A) easy, B) moderate, C) hard, D all of the above
Now, I am not saying you should vary your training all the time, but during different times of the year, you most certainly should include a good mix of both training routes and intensities.     This will enable you to become a more balanced athlete in the 3 disciplines of triathlon and allow you some time to work on your weakest sport while maintaining fitness in you strongest.  

Training for triathlon should never be boring as there are so many different ways to string workouts together and still achieve your training objective for the day.  One of my favorites is a 10 minute session on the Vasa Ergometer working on technique and a few short bursts of power.  Then hit the road on the TT bike for 55-60 minutes that includes 3 x 10 minutes @ tempo pace with 1 minute recovery between and finish up with a 30 minute run mixing in drills to work on foot speed.

I would enjoy hearing about your favorite go to workout or a creative workout you have done in the past, so please leave a comment below.

Make it a great week of training,
Coach Eric

Monday, July 15, 2013

Stand up to better health

Now we all know that exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, along with balanced nutrition and adequate sleep.  But recent research is showing that we are spending more and more time sitting on our bum and too much sitting may shorten your life up to 2 years.  So, whether you are exercising 5 hours a week or 15 hours, be mindful of any prolonged time spent in a seated position.  Here are some simple things to incorporate into your workday or any part of the day for that matter to help break up time sitting.

In the office

  • On the phone, stand up from time to time.
  • Instead of sending e-mail to co-worker, if possible walk over and talk to them
  • Set a timer to go off every 30 minutes as a reminder to stand up. The key to this one is placing away from your desk so you have to get up to turn it off and reset it.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

What to do when you stand up

  • Raise your arms over your head for an easy stretch
  • Roll your neck in counter and counter clockwise direction
  • 5 deep breaths keep shoulders relaxed
  • Balance on 1 leg, then the other
  • Short walk break 30-60 seconds

Anytime during your day

  • Walk, run or ride a bike instead of driving the car for errands close to home
  • Short walk after any meal 
  • Park you car far from the door at the store
  • Walk backwards
  • Swing one arm backward, then the other, then both at the same time
  • Stretch any muscles that may be experiencing tightness
  • Walk in place lifting knees high

I encourage you to incorporate any one of these suggestions during the next 7 days and see if it makes a difference in how you feel both mentally and physically.  Sometimes just the smallest change can have a big impact on your day.

Make it a great week and stand up for your health!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Good notes, smarter training, faster racing!

This morning I had a track session comprised of 200's and 400's after an easy ride to warm up the legs.
Before I hopped on my cruiser bike for the ride to the track, I did something that I have found helpful over the years before starting a workout,  I reviewed my training journal.

I would encourage any athlete to keep a training journal.  Some of you may prefer to write in an actual paper journal, others may find it easier to update one on the computer.  Either is fine, it just depends what works best for you and gets you taking notes on your workouts.

How detailed should the journal/notes be?  Well, that is up to you but here is what I would call my top 10

Type of workout (swim, bike, run, etc...)
Drills/Technique work
Any data you collected (HR, Power, lap splits, etc...)
Nutrition during
Morning resting HR
How much sleep
Energy level both physical and mental
Weather conditions

By reviewing my notes in the journal, I knew what I had done the previous week.  So, the goal this week was to see if I could repeat the performance from the prior week (hold same times) and see if it felt just a little bit easier.  Fortunately, things worked out well and the workout was a success.  One of the things I noted from the previous week was that I had a good warm up that included some drills to finish it off.  This left me feeling good and warmed up, ready to start the main part of the session.

Keeping good notes allows you to see if the training you are doing is helping you to improve.  Also, very helpful if an injury pops up, you can review what you have been doing in previous workouts to see if overtraining is an issue.  

Good notes allow you (and your coach if you have one) to better plan future workouts.  This leads to smarter training and for those that race, going FASTER!

Finally, once you have determined how you will record your training, determine when you are most likely to do so (right after the workout or later in the day) and get in the habit of doing it consistently.

Make it a great week of training,
Coach Eric

Monday, July 1, 2013

Injury prevention = Improved performance

This holds true for all athletes and that area would be "Injuries" 

Recently I had the opportunity to speak about swimming biomechanics at a local triathlon seminar here in Fort Collins.  One of the speakers, Craig Depperschmidt from Rebound Sports and Physical Therapy http://www.reboundsportspt.com/ spoke about injury prevention and I have posted some of the key points from the talk below.

1. Overuse injuries typically have a cause, a biomechanical issue causing abnormal stress elsewhere.  You must resolve the "fire" (the biomechanicaal issue) to turn of the "alarm" (the pain or symptom)

2. Biomechanical problems usually arise from a combination of 3 areas: 
1) Muscle imbalance from working too much in one plane of motion. 
2) Neuromuscular inhibition or over-activation.  Muscles are working not enough, too much, or at the wrong time.
3)  Natural human asymmetry.  Humans are not symmetrical, yet we participate in activities requiring equal amounts of left and right activities.  This often leads to common, predictable patterns of compensation.

3. Do's: 
1) Strengthen and feel glutes. 
2) Make sure muscle strength and activation is symmetrical. 
3) Utilize shoulder exercises that integrate the abdominal musculature and respiration.

4. Dont's 
1) Overstretch hamstrings.  This can lead to pelvic imbalance and instability. 
2) Overwork back muscles.  Back muscles area often overworked in triahtletes and can be "overactive" leading to pain and abnormal muscle firing in the pelvis. 
3) Just stretch.  Our muscles are made to operate in a specific range of motion.  If they are too stretched out they will not work like we want them to during our endurance activities.

5. Self test can be utilized if an athlete is at risk for an overuse injury.  Exercises can then be completed to prevent and minimize risk of injury.

I believe that one can only swim, bike and run so much.  In in addition to rest, one of the keys to improving your performance once you have maximized your training time will be the attention to injury prevention exercises that will best balance your body.

Make it a great week of training.
Coach Eric