Thank you Sean for another great season! As my trainer for 15 years, I never stop learning and growing as an athlete and appreciate the investment you have made in my journey. Your knowledge and expertise as a trainer is world class (and I can say that confidently since this was my 10th world championship). I am elated with my 5th place finish at Masters CX World Champs. I believe it is my best Worlds finish yet!
I have to say the finish to the season was a warm (or should I say cold) welcome. In all the years I trained and raced triathlons, I was just starting to build a base at this time of the year (after a few months break) not keep high end speed late January / February.
The transition to CX has been great! It’s a ton of fun and the training and racing works out well now with my lifestyle. Although the training is different, some aspects remain the same. I have learned the value doing those workouts you don’t like to do (or the parts you don’t like) and have seen the benefits in “biting the bullet” and doing them. If there is anything I have learned over the years is to trust you and your advice. As an exercise physiologist and trainer myself, I should know better than to question workouts and schedules because you have not only the short term but the long term vision in mind. The value of consistency is key. You know exactly what needs to be done and when! Although I have been anxious at times, you have always had the right vision and the plan to pull it all together on race day.
Over the years I have seen so many athletes race their way through training only to be exhausted, injured or plain burnt out by the time the big day rolls around. They are defeated before they ever get to the starting line! They don’t have the confidence because they were not able to complete their training schedules. They are burnt out from trying to complete their training schedules that were too aggressive or added too much volume too quickly… or worse yet, injured and are unable to get there! You have always been able to manage just the right amount of training and adjust it to prepare me for the event but still fit into my work and life schedule. I am proud to say in the 15 years of racing I have NEVER been unable to race (or train) due to injury!
I have grown so much as a person through my endeavors as an athlete and I have you to thank for it. I encourage those to trust and be patient! I can attest that some may question the process in the beginning or along the way, but it WILL PAY OFF in the long run (so hang in there!)!
Acute injuries such as strains (tears or over stretching of muscle or tendons), sprains (tears or over stretching to ligaments) and bruises require immediate attention to get you back to training as soon as possible. Apply the RICE principle as soon as possible and be consistent with it’s application.
Right edge, left edge, double pole; I must have been going 40 mph at this point. Then all of a sudden a 10 foot grizzly appeared in the middle of the trail…or I was clamoring up a hill on my skate skis, stumbled to the side of the trail to let others pass and stepped on my pole; causing me to land in a heap, twisting my knee. I’ll leave the caption of the photo at the right up to you.
Whether it is working on a new sport for cross training or the ever changing road and trail conditions, winter training increases your susceptibility to acute injury. Acute injuries are injuries that occur as the result of a single event such as twisting an ankle or a fall. Quick application of the RICE principle will help to reduce inflammation and get you back to training sooner.
What To Do For An Acute Injury
RICE is an effective means to reducing inflammation when such an instance occurs.
- Rest the injured area to allow healing to begin and prevent further injuring it.
- Ice the injured area to reduce swelling. Ice should be applied directly to the surface of the skin with a massaging motion for 10 to 15 minutes. This process should be repeated frequently.
- Compress the injured area with an elastic bandage or similar product to restrict movement and further reduce swelling.
- Elevate the limb of the injury above the heart as frequently as possible. This will prevent blood from pooling and also help to reduce swelling.
Stay on top of this process until the swelling has subsided. And always seek medical attention for serious injuries or if the injury lingers.
I am always up for a good “crash” story. Share yours in the comment section below.
Keep your training on track!
A regularly schedule sub-max test can be used to evaluate gains in fitness as well as your ability to train. Regular testing can help you determine the effectiveness of your training to improve efficiency. The test will give you data that you can track on a seasonal basis to evaluate how efficient you are becoming over time. It can also be used acutely to determine how well you are recovering from previous workouts. The key to using this tool is consistency in its application. You can use it as part of the warm up prior to workouts of high intensity or duration or as a weekly test on a recovery day to determine how you will attack the week ahead.
There are 2 sub-max tests I implemented over the past 20 years, in which I have proven effective in achieving either of the above goals. The Running Sub-Maximal Test is found in Mark Sisson’s book “Training and Racing Biathlons” and the second is an adaptation of the MAF Test, which I learned about through the readings of Dr. Phil Maffetone. I have improved it slightly by reducing the duration to attain the goal of being able to use it as either a warm up or recovery day.
1. Running Sub-Maximal Test
1 mile SubMax Test with Sun Salutation, Functional Exercises, and Drills as a warm up.
- Determining the mile pace: Use 85% of your pace for a recent 5k or 10k race. You can also use 85% of your pace for a current threshold test of duration of roughly 20 minutes.
ex. 10k of 38:00 is 6:07. 6:07 = 367 s / 0.85 = 432 s = 7:12 pace (1:48/400)
- The Test: Run the mile at an even pace, work to hit each 400 within +/- 3 seconds of the appropriate time. Record your heart rate (HR) during the last 100 m of the run.
- Use the Information: The more frequently you use this test the more useful the HR will be to keep you on track.
- +/- 5 beats Reduce intensity or duration.
- +/- 10 beats Reduce workout to active recovery intensity and limit duration to under 40 minutes.
- > +/- 10 beats Rest day
2. Modified MAF Test
- Reducing the MAF Test to a 1 mile run or 3 mile bike allows you to use it on a weekly basis to determine how you are recovering based on your heart rates response to exercise.
- More on how to do the MAF Test.
These versions of Sub-Maximal Tests will give you a quick picture of what how your heart rate is responding to exercise and help you make short-term determinations on exercise overload and reduce risk of overtraining. This is a great tool to use in conjunction with the stress monitor to keep you healthy on the way to improving performance.
I am happy to answer your questions in the comments section below.
Speed and stamina are important for every race and more importantly is how efficient these variables are executed. Maximal aerobic function (MAF) is the foundation of endurance efficiency and it can be measured in order to improve an endurance athlete’s specific mode of exercise.
The purpose of the MAF Test is to objectively measure your improvement in aerobic speed for durations of time such as your annual training periodization. The process of performing the test is simple and is broken down into the following three steps.
STEP 1: Choose a mode of exercise.
Most consistent mode of exercises:
- Resistance trainer for cycling
- Treadmill for running
- Lap pool for swimming
STEP 2: Choose a timing device with lap recorder.
- Heart Rate Monitor
- Timing device with chronograph that tracks laps.
Note: If doing the above tests unassisted, an accurate tool for measuring distance is needed. If doing the tests assisted, someone can palpate your heart rate and record your lap times.
STEP 3: Set your exercise intensity.
The 180 formula: The source I used for the MAF test was Dr. Philip Maffetone, He developed the 180 formula to incorporate the fitness level of the athlete and also studied and correlated the results to the athlete’s respiratory quotient.
I have designed two tools to get you started. One tool is for running and the other is for cycling. I can assist you in implementing and interpreting the data from your results and help you apply the information into your training plan to optimize your endurance efficiency.
Establishing New Year’s resolutions brings an opportunity for new challenges and achievements. One of the challenges people are faced with year after year is maintaining the resolution. Most often, the resolution of becoming fit, is strong in the first few months and gradually fades. An interesting statistic put out by Forbes is that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals. As a coach, I have developed a scientific method to staying fit through my TIER Training System. The System is designed and structured to make your resolution to get fit, a lifestyle change versus a temporary commitment. These are a couple of strategies incorporated in the TIER Training System for setting goals and maintaining your commitment to achieving those goals throughout the year.
- The ultimate result of every goal is to make you happy. No matter the passion behind the desire or the benefit of the reasoning, at the end of journey you want to be able to say that achieving this goals makes me happy. Once you have given the goal plenty of thought and evaluated it’s importance to you, start the planning process.
- Set goals that are realistic and measurable. Your goals should be enough of a challenge that it may take more than one attempt to achieve. It is good to have a “pie in the sky goal” or to “shoot for the moon and catch the stars on the way down” type goal. If this is the case, then you have to plan accordingly and be realistic about how long this will take and be appreciative of the accomplishments you attain along the way. Set no more than three main goals for one year and then break those goals down into a manageable progression of targets or objectives.
Strategies for Maintaining Your Commitment
- Maintaining your commitment is one value that is greatly overlooked when choosing a coaching service over a pre-made plan or book. You are much more likely to be successful when you have someone that holds you accountable and helps guide you when things don’t go as planned on your way to success.
- Employment of the concepts of self-responsibility and self-discipline is helpful to keep you committed to your goals.
- Self-responsibility is recognizing that the actions you take are a matter of choice. Things like how you live your life, how you allocate your time and energy, and how much detail you put into accomplish tasks are all a matter choice.
- Self-discipline ability to honor your intentions and do what you have chosen and prescribed for yourself. Regardless of what avenue you take help you accomplish your goal, the goal itself is yours.
Utilizing a coaching service with degreed professionals at Train Ready brings more than accountability and planning to your resolution, it brings achievement. The use of my TIER Training System creates a pathway to become fit for life by incorporating sound training principles, along with exercise nutrition and sports psychology. This will ensure that your resolution is met while maintaining a healthy and balanced life for many years to come.
The past two training principles, overload and specificity, have provided you with tools to appropriately design and manipulate workouts to increase fitness. What happens at the end of the season during the recovery from training? The last principle of training, reversibility, is as important to long term success as overload and specificity. It allows you time to rejuvenate while minimizing the loss of fitness that you have been so dedicated to building over the last several months.
Reversibility or detraining is the loss of physiological and performance adaptations. This occurs rapidly when a person terminates participation regular exercise. It takes only 1 to 2 weeks for detraining to significantly reduce metabolic and exercise capacity. For this reason it is important to do some type of maintenance and a reconditioning during the off season.
These are some factors that you can evaluate when planning what I call the Transition Period and Preparation Period of your training periodization.
- Determine your goals for the upcoming season. Evaluate what strengths you need to develop to achieve these goals. If it’s your first Ironman then you will have to prepare for a larger volume of training and work on becoming structural sound to prevent injury with the increased mileage.
- Determine your weakness from last season. Evaluate the areas of your peak performance that need to improve. If you focused on International distance triathlon and noticed that hilly courses significantly reduced your average speed or pace compared to flat or rolling courses then developing the appropriate strength for climbing should be your focus.
- Determine your susceptibility to injury. This is the perfect time to focus on specific strength training to reduce the occurrence of chronic injuries such as Iliotibial Band Syndrome and Plantar Fascists. Also if you acquired an acute injury during the season determine if there is a need to address any weaknesses that may have led to it.
- 1 to 3 weeks. Reduce volume and intensity to a minimum.
- Improve flexibility if this is an issue for you.
- Incorporate recovery modalities such as ice bath, foam roller, light stretching and massage.
- Use the extra time that you have from reduced training to evaluate past performances, determine strengths and weaknesses, and set goals for the next season or event.
- The transition period is most often used to start the offseason. It can also be beneficial to incorporate into the season after a significantly taxing race or between seasons.
- 4 to 6 weeks
- Incorporate strength training that focuses on areas that are injured and progress toward preparation of improving weaknesses.
- Start training the energy systems appropriate to your goal event. Cross training or a different sport can be used during this period, the key is to do the activity in a way that begins to build the fitness that you need to achieve your future goal.
The importance of Reversibility is knowing the rate at which it occurs and how to best minimize it’s affects while recovering from the previous season and preparing for the next. This knowledge is one of the many ways having a coach form season to season can improve both long and short term performance.
The next Training Principle that I incorporate is specificity. Specificity of training is how the overload is applied. This refers to the training adaptations of metabolic and physiological functions to specific training stress. It is important when designing a training program that the workouts provide adaptation to the particular demands of the sport. The key categories of variables to examine when determining what workouts will best create this adaptation are bioenergetics and biomechanics. The following will help define these terms as well as give you an example of how to apply the information.
Specificity: Bioenergetics and Biomechanics
- Bioenergetics – the body’s capacity to transfer chemical energy into mechanical work
- Biomechanics – the action of muscle, joint and skeleton to perform a specific movement
Specificity must be viewed in two areas of your training. You must train bioenergetics, the full source that your event requires and biomechanics, the neuromuscular pattern that your of your desired mode of exercise. The appropriate energy systems need to be overloaded in motor pattern that is specific to your event. If you train to achieve a high aerobic capacity in running, you may not see a transfer of this effort in a running event that requires mostly anaerobic energy. A more obvious observation is someone with a VO2max may not see a transfer to another sport such as swimming.
Let’s look at a 40k cycling time trial as an example. For this example we will assume that the cyclist’s goal is to average 25 mph and time trialling is the number one priority for the season or period.
Determine the variables that effect Bioenergetics:
- Duration of the event: The duration will be 1 hour. The duration is important to determining what type of fulling is required during the event. At 1 hour there is little benefit to adding substrates such as carbohydrate. There is also little need for hydration if done properly leading up to the race.
- Energy requirement of the event: The intensity of a 40k time trial is near lactate threshold. This is a very high intensity. This athlete will need to design workouts that will develop the ability to perform at 85 to 95% of VO2max. This demand will require workouts that work both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems.
- Rate of contraction: The cadence for a time trial of this distance should be between 80 and 90 rpm. The cadence for a time trial of this distance can be lower than I would normally recommend for a triathlon or cycling event of greater distance. The lower cadence will allow the cyclist to stay on top of the gear maximize power output.
Determine the variables that effect Biomechanics:
- Body position or technique weakness for the event: An aerodynamic position best suits this event. It is important to plan far enough ahead to get set on a position for the race so that it can trained in during the period of highest intensity. This will ensure the appropriate metabolic efficiency and muscular endurance.
- The rate of contraction: Again the cadence for such an event is between 80 and 90 rpm. The development of muscular endurance at the desired rate of contraction with appropriate pedal stroke is important to successfully accomplishing the goal.
Once you have determined the requirements of your race you can then develop a periodization with the appropriate overload.
Specificity is a vital to developing an effective training plan. Contact me for more information on how I can help you determine your specific needs to accomplish your goals.
The best way to decide on whether or not to adjust your workouts is to monitor a set of variables on a regular basis. You can then use the information to gauge your overall stress and readiness to train on a day to day basis.
I have created this STRESS MONITOR as a starting point to determine your workout adjustments. I suggest to use 10 variables. These variables will make it easy to scale, rate and come up with a score to guide your decision on training for the day. The 10 variables below will monitor and indicate your level of overall stress or wellness. Use a 1 – 10 scale to end with a score out of 100. This makes it easy to determine a range of scores that will give you guidance for each day’s workouts.
10 Recommended Variables
- Resting Heart Rate: Start with a score of 10 and then deduct one for every 2 beats above or below your average. The best way to start here is with a week of collecting data during the off season. Keep track of this throughout the season and reevaluate the average as fitness improves. If you are in the middle of your season you can wait for a recovery week and use the lowest 3 to 4 days for your average resting heart rate.
- Sleep Quality: This variable is objective so be honest with yourself. A great night’s sleep is 10 and work your way down from there.
- Hours of Sleep: It is best to be as consistent as possible with how much sleep you get and when it occurs; though, it may not be the same each day depending on your schedule. Predetermine the amount of sleep you will get the night before and if you achieve that the score is 10; deduct 1 point for every hour above or below this value.
- Fatigue: Similar to sleep quality, fatigue is subjective. With this variable you are evaluating how lethargic or tired you feel. Give yourself a 10 if you wake up feeling energized and ready for the day; deduct points for lower energy levels.
- Stress: This variable looks at levels of anxiety and/or tension. If you wake feeling relaxed and done with the previous day then give yourself a 10. If your teeth hurt from your jaw clenching all night then rate this with a 1.
- Muscle Soreness: This one is self-explanatory. If your muscles feel good then rate as 10, then deduct from there as you notice the stress of the previous days workout.
- Motivation to Train: Give yourself a 10 if you wake up willing to achieve your goals and deduct from there. If you wake up at 4:30 am eager to jump into frigid water…seek professional help. Some things are a challenge no matter your dedication.
- General Wellness: Here you are looking at things like congestion, colds and illness. Rate a 10 if you wake up feeling healthy and deduct depending on the severity of your symptoms.
- Grouchiness: Based on your mood score off of how you feel about others. If you feel tolerant then your score is a 10. If the thought of someone else breathing the same air irritates you then it’s a 1.
- Appetite: Not everyone is hungry first thing in the morning. If this is the case use how you felt the day before. Your appetite should be healthy and moderate. Deduct points if it is insatiable or lacking.
Adjustments To Your Training
- 80 to 100 – Proceed as planned
- 70 to 79 – Reduce workout to 70%
- 60 to 69 – Reduce total duration of workout to 50% and reduce intensity to active recovery (AR)
- Below 60 – Rest until score reaches 90 to 100
The above recommendations may take time to get a handle on. Once you do, the stress monitor is a valuable tool to use when determining whether you should get out the door or hit the snooze and rest. I hope you find this to be a valuable tool. I can further assist you to make variable adjustments to fit your needs and specific lifestyle conditions.
Overload, specificity and reversibility are the training principles that I use most often to allow athletes and fitness enthusiast gain the most out of their training time. When you look at the big picture of a training plan it is the application of these three principles that stimulate a progression of fitness over a period of time. This is usually presented or constructed in a periodization format. The periodization will demonstrate a planned increase in physical stress broken up into several time blocks of varying lengths and focus. They can be applied to any training program from the most basic fitness training progression and the most elaborate and complex race season with multiple cycles of periodization aimed toward peak performance.
The principle of overload is exercising at a level greater than what the individual is currently accustomed to in order for a specific training effect to occur. Once you have defined your goal and determined your starting fitness, you can then begin to plan a systematic progression of training. The progression of stress comes from the manipulation of three variables.
- Intensity: Intensity is the effort that you put into each workout. This seems to be the variable on most minds when considering training; it has zones and data for evaluating. Intensity also provides the most room for error when following instruction on how to complete a specific training intensity.
- Duration: Duration is the length of time or distance of a workout.
- Frequency: Frequency is the last of the three variables and is the number of applications of a stress during a period of training.
An example that best demonstrates the manipulation all three variables is the build of a tempo run workout. A tempo run is a steady state or consistent effort. When you plan to build on a weekly tempo workout toward your key event, determine your weakness and work from out from there.
Example: Let’s say a runner wants to run a 10k in 8:00 pace. The runners furthest race has been a 5k with a PR of 7:40. The runner has the leg speed developed, so from there it is a matter of extending the duration the pace can be held. The second variable to increase is frequency or the number of times per cycle the workout is performed. And finally when the athlete is able to attain a goal duration, the intensity or speed of the workouts can be increased. Notice that each block is 4 weeks in length with 3 weeks of building and one week of recovery.
|Block 1 (4 weeks)
||Tempo 15 min
||Tempo 20 min
||Tempo 25 min
||Tempo 15 min
|Block 2 (4 weeks)
||Tempo 25 min
||Tempo 30 min
||Tempo 35 min
||Tempo 25 min
|Block 3 (4 weeks)
||Tempo 35 min
Tempo 20 min
||Tempo 35 min
Tempo 20 min
||Tempo 20 min
The equation of these variables equal an accomplished goal. Knowing the science is the foundation for your success. Next weeks topic on specificity is a continuation of the training principles. As you continue to follow the science I lay out, you will be able to see the full picture on how the benefits of a trainer can lead to positive results. After applying the knowledge will come the tools offered through my program.