Periodization Basics: Base Training

The Base Training phase is a perfect time to focus on one's weaknesses within the sport of triathlon.

The Base Training phase is a perfect time to focus on one’s weaknesses within the sport of triathlon.

Periodization is generally broken into 4-5 phases or mesocycles: base building (general preparatory), strength, speed, racing & maintenance (competition phase) and recovery (off-season).

Base building is one of the most important phases of an athlete’s annual training plan because the base phase sets the stage for the year. The major goals of this phase are:

  • Build cardiovascular and muscular endurance
  • Improve VO2max
  • Build base mileage and distance of long workouts

Joe Friel once said “As much as 80% of race-day fitness comes from the base period.” (Ch 25; Triathlon Science)

The amount of time spent in the base phase can vary depending on the athlete’s goals and fitness, but generally lasts between 12 to 16 weeks in duration. The base phase is mainly about training for time and mileage to build cardiovascular fitness, but not for speed.

The first and most important step for any athlete in the base phase is to assess their “limiting factors,” i.e. their weaknesses within the sport. Perhaps the triathlete is a weak swimmer or lacks power on the bike. What ever the athlete’s weakness may be, the base phase is the perfect time to focus on those weaknesses.

Once weaknesses are determined and goals are set, the coach and/or triathlete must determine how much time in the athlete’s life can reasonably be devoted to training.

SWIM BASE

Most triathletes tend to be weakest at swimming because swimming is very technical. For athletes looking to improve in swimming, frequency of swimming becomes arguably the most important aspect of training. Usually a minimum of three 60-minute sessions per week is recommended for skilled swimmers. Novice swimmers might need shorter and more frequent sessions to see improvements.

The energy systems that the coach and/athlete choose to focus on during the base phase are unique to the individual needs of the athlete. However, they generally include improving the aerobic capacity, developing anaerobic power, maintaining aerobic and anaerobic endurance, and improving stroke technique and mechanics.

BIKE BASE

The intensity and duration for a large majority of base phase training can be described as relatively low intensity with increasing duration. It is important early in the base training phase to determine proper intensity through field or laboratory-based testing. Field testing is most often utilized for the everyday athlete. Athletes who train with a power meter should undergo a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test to determine proper power zones while athletes training with a Heart Rate (HR) monitor should undergo a HR test to determine proper HR zones.

During the base training phase, triathletes should spend about 50% of their total weekly training volume (hours) on the bike. This normally translates to about 3-5 workouts per week. One to two workouts will be steady-state endurance, one workout will address power and/or neuromuscular development, and then one or two workouts will focus on race-specific demands.

Steady-State Training – Generally longer rides performed nearly exclusively at the aerobic base intensity that is defined as 55-75% of FTP (power-based training) or 60-70% of maximum HR (HR-based training)

Neuromuscular Development – This type of development is generally achieved through either sprinting or big-gear work. Neuromuscular training in cycling is all about recruiting the maximum number of muscle fibers to produce peak force and power.

Race-Specific Demands – Each race an athlete competes in has certain features that make it unique, such as big hills, long windy flats, etc. Athletes should focus on training for these conditions. Also, distance is important, such as Ironman vs. sprint distance.

RUN BASE

The classic base training protocol for running is to perform low intensity, high mileage; however, exercise physiology research is still debating if this method is best for athletic performance. Some newer research has suggested that athletes should spend 80% of their training at or below aerobic threshold and 20% of their training at higher intensity. Most triathletes train using HR for running. A widely accepted training concept for run base training is designed around running in the aerobic endurance zone, which is generally defined as 60-70% of maximum HR. Phil Maffetone, a legendary endurance sport coach, suggests subtracting your age from 180 and using that number as your maximum HR during base training. For example, if you are 40, your maximum aerobic HR would be 140bpm. Over time, your running speed will increase at the same HR because your cardiovascular fitness has improved. Another age old training protocol is increasing training load (volume – either time or mileage) by no more than 10% each week. Science has yet to support this concept, but incorporating rest or recovery weeks is key to a good periodized training plan to reduce injury potential.

BASE TRAINING KEY POINTS:

  • Builds cardiovascular and endurance fitness
  • Improves VO2max
  • Intensity is generally performed at low intensity (55-75% of FTP and/or 60-70% of  Max HR)
  • A good time to focus on weaknesses in each or one particular sport

~ Happy Training!

Launch Party Specials!

In honor of the official launch of Big Sky Multisport Coaching & Personal Training I am offering a few discounts to new clients! The offers are good through the end of the month! So check them out and contact me through the “Contact Form” below. I hope to hear from some of you! 🙂

launchspecials

~ Happy Training!

Big Sky Multisport Coaching: The Official Launch!

As you have probably seen and I have mentioned a few times before, my blog/website has grown and changed over the past few months and I’m finally excited to say…

I am officially launching my personal training and endurance sport coaching business!

Launch

I’ve been working behind the scenes to dot my “I’s” and cross my “T’s” to get everything in order to make this little dream of mine into reality.

First, I would like to give a big shout-out to my very talented cousin, Chris, at Blue Planet Graphics for designing my awesome logo for me! If you’re in the market for a logo, graphic design, or car wrapping then check out his business at Blue Planet Graphics.

Currently I am offering the following services:

  • Triathlon Coaching
    • Monthly Coaching at two different levels to meet your athletic goals while being wallet friendly
    • Pre-built plans for various distance races
  • Single-Sport Coaching (monthly or pre-built)
    • Cycling
    • Running
  • Personal Training
    • At home, your gym, or anywhere you like
    • At Zone 3 Fitness
    • Online structured monthly programs
  • Fitness Class Instruction
    • I currently teach a Spin & Core class Tuesday nights at 5:45 at Zone 3 Fitness
    • Small group training and/or boot-camp classes
  • Writing
    • Freelance writing in fitness, health, and/or science

As always, I will continue to write weekly in my blog on topics ranging from my own personal training stories to exercise physiology and fitness to travel and everything in between. If you ever have any blog post suggestions please feel free to contact me using the “Contact Me” tab in the above Main Menu.

You can connect with me through the following social media platforms:

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Bloglovin

So please check out what I offer and share with your friends, families and co-workers! Fitness and endurance sports are my passion and I love helping others achieve their goals. So let me help you reach your goals in 2014! 🙂

Thank you all for the wonderful support!

~ Happy Training!

Periodization Basics

If you have a coach or are following a solid, structured training plan then you may be familiar with the term periodization. Not only is (and should) periodization be part of endurance training, but also strength training programs as well.

Periodization can be defined as training for specific physiological benefits, such as cardiovascular endurance, strength, speed, and power. Periodization began its roots with Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) model, which describes the body’s biological response to stress. Leo Metveyev and Tudor Bompa are considered the modern-day fathers of periodization.

Periodization is divided into three cycles:

  1. Macrocycle – The overall phase of your training plan. This generally tends to be a 12-month time frame, but could be 3-5 years depending on an athlete’s goals, i.e. competing at the Olympics.
  2. Mesocycle – The mesocycle is the number of continuous weeks of specific training that emphasizes a type of physical adaptation, i.e. strength or speed.
  3. Microcycle – The microcycle is typically a one or two-week cycle that includes daily variations in your training plan.

In order to fully understand the concept of periodization, one must understand the six basic principles of exercise physiology:

  1. Stress – In order to build endurance, strength, speed, and/or power, you must stress each of these physiological systems in order to grow and adapt in these areas.
  2. Adaptation – Your body will adapt to physiological stress over time. This is how the body becomes fitter, stronger, and faster. Adaptation in a nutshell is the body’s response to physical stress.
  3. Progression – Over time the body will adapt to its current training and thus in order for your body to continue to improve, you must increase and change stresses.
  4. Specificity – Training should be specific. If you want to build more power on the bike, then you must train for power on the bike!
  5. Individualization – Every person is unique and responses differently to training stress. Training plans should be specific to an individual to maximize the outcome.
  6. Reversibility – Rest is critical, especially a few weeks of unstructured training at the end of the season. Training gains will reverse when extended breaks are taken, so try to be active throughout the year so you don’t lose too much fitness over time.

The body has several physiological  energy systems that it utilizes to produce energy for movement. Here is a brief overview of each:

  • ATP-PC system (phosphagen system) – This system is utilized first by the body because it requires no oxygen. However, it can only provide energy for about 8-10 seconds. This system is used most during short sprints and strength training.
  • Glycolysis – This system starts after the ATP-PC system ends. No oxygen is required to break down glucose or glycogen to pyruvic acid. It generally lasts for a couple minutes at most. Glycosis is often referred to as the anaerobic system.
  • Aerobic System – The aerobic system begins after about 2 minutes and requires oxygen to produce ATP (fuel source of the body). As long as your body has oxygen then the aerobic system will produce energy.

When a coach builds an athlete’s Annual Training Plan (ATP) or macrocycle training plan, they will break down the plan into mesocycles or blocks. An ATP usually breaks down into the following training blocks:

  • Base Building – A majority of athletes will spend most of their training cycle time in base building. Base building generally lasts between 12-16 weeks, depending on race schedule and goals. This block is focused on developing aerobic endurance and building mileage.
  • Strength Building – The focus of this block is building muscular strength. This block generally lasts between 6-8 weeks.
  • Speed Building – The focus of this block is on developing neuromuscular movement and building speed. This block generally lasts between 6-8 weeks.
  • Racing & Maintenance – This period focuses on racing and resting between races. This time period varies depending on the athlete’s season and goals.
  • Recovery – The focus of this block is to recover and rest from a long season. Training is generally unstructured and easy. This block lasts usually between 2-4 weeks.

The above information is just a basic introduction to periodization and training plans. As a coach I love creating training plans based on the periodization concept and the individual athlete. As an athlete, I am a strong believer that the concept works. Over the next few months I plan to provide a more in-depth overview of each training block or mesocycle to help you understand your own training plans. Stay tuned! 🙂

~ Happy Training!

2014 Goals: A Year of Adventure, Stability, and Growth

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This year I decided to pick three words that I hope will describe the upcoming 365 days in 2014. Adventure. Stability. Growth. These three words have multiple meanings to me, but in summary the words are synonymous to the goals that I will work towards achieving this year.

2013 started off a bit rough, but as the months passed on, I started to move my life in the right direction – where I wanted to go. You can read my 2013 recaps HERE and HERE if you missed them last week.

2014 Goals:

Professional:

  • Grow in my job – I have been in my current job for just over 3 months now and I really love it thus far. Throughout my public health graduate studies, I would have never thought that I would find a job in healthcare technology. It was a topic that never really interested me; however, now that I work in the field, I love it. Not only is healthcare technology important in the United States, but globally, where my heart lies in global health and international development. My job is challenging and rewarding. Each week I am learning new skills that will only improve my work quality and also aid in my future career development. In 2014 I look forward to working hard, learning new skills, and furthering my future career path.
  • Grow my business – If you have read my blog for a while you have probably noticed the changes over the past couple of months. I plan to officially launch my new business in a couple of weeks. I started my own coaching and personal training business because it is my passion and I find great satisfaction in helping people achieve their goals. I don’t plan to make a million dollars in my business, but a few extra dollars to help pay my student loans would be nice. I have some interesting plans and opportunities in the future so stay tuned for future developments! 🙂
  • Learn French – This has been one of my goals from early fall 2013. I want a future career in global public health and international development, thus I need to become bilingual, or at least competent at a second language. I’ve been slowly practicing my language skills via software programs, but I will continue in 2014 with french lessons at The Language Exchange in Portland. I don’t naturally pick up language quickly, so this is going to be a tough goal, but it is necessary and important for my future career goals.

Personal:

  • Become more financially stable – The last couple of years have been a bit tough financially. Last year I took a risk with my career and it did not pan out as well as I hoped. The last couple of years were also riddled with unexpected purchases, i.e. lots of car repairs and health bills. My graduate student loans also kicked in and I quickly realized that about a third of my monthly income goes directly to SallieMae and Nelnet. Awesome. With my new job I received an increase in pay from my old one. I need to buy a new car some point this coming year and thus I have begun to put some cash away for that big-ticket item. I’m still driving my little car until it dies for good (or is going to cost me a zillion dollars to fix). I also plan to stash some money away again into my emergency fund since it became low due to said expensive car repairs. For the past few months I have created budgets and reviewed my spending habits to determine where I can cut back. Going into 2014 I feel pretty comfortable with my monthly budget and I have been researching ways to live more frugally. Stay tuned for that journey.
  • Travel – It’s ironic that one of my main goals is to save more money and live frugally, but I also seek adventure outside the US. I haven’t been to a new country in a couple of years and thus, 2014 is the year I discover a new part of the world. My mind has gone crazy with ideas, but I yet to commit to anything yet. I may travel to South America with a friend, go on a medical mission to a developing country, or take a solo trip to Southeast Asia or Europe. I love daydreaming about traveling the world and I know this year will be the year of an adventure. Anyone looking for a travel buddy? 🙂
  • Volunteer more – This past fall I joined the Junior League of Portland, Maine and have met some pretty fabulous and inspiring women. The organization is built on giving back to the community, which is one of the main reasons I joined. I look forward to volunteering around the community with the JLP, but I also hope to give back to my community in other ways. I have been researching various organizations related to my career interests and will be making contact soon so hopefully I can help in any way needed.
  • Read a book once a month (or more) – I love to read and you periodically will have book reviews on my blog. For a collection of old book reviews click HERE. I’m an avid reader and I usually read daily, whether job related papers or pleasure reading. My goal in 2014 is to finish a book at least once a month; however, I would like to read more than just 12 books a month. Heck, in the past 5 days I have almost finished all three Hunger Games books. 🙂 I have a stack of half-finished books so I will start my reading list there.

 

Health & Athletic:

 

  • Injury Prevention – I plan to focus a lot this year on injury prevention and prehab. I was struck with a lot of hip/knee/IT-band issues last triathlon season and I don’t want a repeat this year. Now that I’m confident that my chiropractor and I have identified the underlying cause of my chronic right hip issue, I know where to target my prehab exercises. Much of my issues are fascia-related, which often take 12-18 months to fully heal and thus it will be a long-term goal to return to normal human movement patterns.
  • Weight – I’ve mentioned before that I’ve struggled with disorder eating in the past. I still have relapses often and thus I need to focus on living healthy and forgive myself when I make mistakes. I’m so use to negative talk about my body image that sometimes it is often tough to shake a stick at it. I’m slowly accepting my body and learning to create a healthy body image through exercise and a “diet” that works for my body. I’ve played with different “diets” (note: I use the term diet to refer to food in general, not your typical diet to lose wieght) over the past couple of years and have discovered what works and doesn’t work for me. I will continue on this journey over the next 12 months.
  • Triathlon – I announced my tentative 2014 race schedule about a month ago. You can view it HERE. My “A” race is Timberman 70.3 in August with a few local races spattered in between. I tried to keep my race schedule light this year to save money (racing is expensive!), making sure I keep my body healthy, and also to enjoy other fun things in Maine, like hiking, rock climbing, and go to the beach with friends just for fun (apparently brining your wetsuit to swim is frown upon with “normal” people). I would love to qualify for Age Group Nationals. If I qualify for this coming season then I won’t go because Timberman is so close, but I would consider 2015 depending on the locale. My very, very far-reaching goal who be to qualify for 70.3 Worlds at Timberman but the chances of that happening would be that of me winning the lottery (and I would actually have to purchase a lottery ticket to do so)!
     

 

So what are your 2014 goals? Anything fun and exciting? Want to travel together?

~ Happy Training!

 

A Year in Review: 2013 – Part II

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Yesterday I reviewed 2013 by month in photos. If you missed it then check it out HERE. I recently reviewed my Year in Review posts from 2012 (here and here) and have realized that I have come a long way personally and professionally. 2012 was a good and rough year for me. In reality, the past couple of years have really been BIG growing years for me as a person.

I’ve always felt that I aged a decade or two after losing my mom at 22. Losing your mother at a young age can definitely do that to a person. I learned quickly to enjoy the moments with your loved ones and live life to the fullest because you never know how long you may have left on Earth. I know it sounds super cliché and I honestly hate clichés, but it is true.

2012 gave me an incredible triathlon and athletic achievement year, but personally it was not such a good year. I learned important lessons about myself as a person, which allowed me to grow further as a person in 2013. I finished my master’s degree in December 2012, which was huge accomplishment that I had worked for 2.5 years to complete while working fulltime. Finishing my degree also meant looking for a job in 2013; a process that was ultimately very stressful and difficult because the economy and public health job market was not yet recovered.

First, I’ll begin with a review of my 2013 goals:

1. Become an Ironman! Check!

2. Learn to piss on my bicycle! Nope, still failed! 2014 maybe?

3. Increase my bike fitness and finally achieve the perfect VI so I can get an A from my coach! Epic fail here! I did well on the VI aspect in that I learned to pace myself well at long-course events. I rode strongly at IMLP. However, my bike fitness and functional threshold power suffered greatly due to my 2012 fall running (and subsequent bike) hiatus from injury. It was my own fault in that I let my aerobic fitness suffer over the fall months. Training for an Ironman also did not help my case in improving my FTP on the bike.

4. Focus on doing at least 10-15 minutes a day dedicated to mobility, soft tissue work, and core strength. Kinda. I would do well with this for a stretch and then would fail miserably for a while. I certainly did much better with this after my IT-band/knee issues began in April and lasted throughout my Ironman training.

5. Continue learning and seeking out knowledge and advice from the leading health and fitness professionals so I can continue helping my clients and athletes reach their health and athletic goals. I definitely met and surpassed this goal. I am constantly reading and researching exercise physiology and training techniques.

6. Continue working on achieving a healthy body composition through proper nutrition and training. Yes and no. I never got down to race weight this year and I believe it was because I did not train well in the proper HR zones at the beginning on the season. Also, I did not starve myself like previous years and thus that is a small victory in itself. My 2013 aerobic fitness was not the same as my 2012 aerobic fitness. I learned a lot of lessons because of this.

Now, for a greater, more philosophical review of my year:

Athletic/Triathlon – Overall, I am disappointed with my 2013 season. I had such a solid 2012 that I was hoping it would continue into 2013. I met my main goal and that was to complete my first Ironman. However, I do find this year a blessing in disguise. I find that I am the type of person that learns best from her mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes this year and I have learned what not to do in the future for myself personally and the athletes/clients that I coach. I would often have to tell my clients to do what I say and not what I do. That’s truly a bad business motto and thus I will focus on not making stupid decisions and mistakes in 2014. Athletically I suffered a lot in the beginning months of base training because I was super stressed from my work situation, working three jobs, and being sick for several weeks on end. That was critical time I needed to build my aerobic base in running, cycling, and swimming. I did the best that I could, but in retrospect, it was not enough. In April I began to have IT-band/knee issues, due to my chronic right hip issues. I was devastated with the diagnosis and I worried that I would not be able to toe the start line at IMLP. I had several people tell me not to do it. Umm… would you not do an Ironman after you stood in line for 3+ hours and paid $700 the year before to do it? I realized that many people thought that I was crazy to attempt such an event and I found myself having to defend my sport and desire to compete long-course events. Despite my reluctance to give up on my dream of becoming an Ironman in 2013, I knew that if my injury was not going to heal then I would have accepted the DNS. I’m not that stupid.

Health – I was under constant stress at work for a large majority of the year, which took a huge toll on my health both physically and mentally. I never really talked about the situation at my old job and I still am not going to because it’s in the past, but I was put into a really shitty situation and I just wasn’t able to deal with the stress of it well. My immune system took a major hit, which lead to a major cold that turned into a sinus infection and then later developed into a fever of 102. Being constantly sick and stressed led to my poor aerobic fitness in the early season that I was just never able to regain and build later in the season. Because I had a bad aerobic base, and the fact that I did not prioritize strength training enough in the early base phase, I developed painful IT-band/knee issues that succeeded to plague me throughout my Ironman training and made me re-evaluate my goals for IMLP. A lot of the stress and injury prevention could have been prevented from the start. It was my own fault and I own up to it. However, when I returned to running again in the later summer/early fall I developed some serious right hip issues. Working with my brilliant chiropractor I think we finally nailed down what is wrong with my hips and why I continuously get chronic overuse injuries. Going into 2014 I feel confident that I have all the knowledge and tools I need to “fix” my hip issues and hopefully prevent any serious injuries and lingering issues in 2014.

Professional – I finished my MPH degree in December 2012 and began my “big girl” job search. As I have mentioned above, I was put into a shitty situation at my job and dealt with a lot of stress from that. I was also working part-time at a gym training clients. I loved that job, but quickly realized that I did not enjoy working in the traditional gym environment. I left my gym job in July to pursue my interest in starting my own endurance sport coaching and personal training business, and thus Big Sky Multisport Coaching and Personal Training was born. I interviewed for my “dream job” in June, but was second choice due to my lack of supervisor experience. I was genuinely heartbroken, but I realized that I was going to have to work harder to find my next job. At this point I began to realize where and what I really wanted to do as a career. I really enjoyed personal training and nutrition, but I knew that it was not my future career. I love doing it on the side as my passion. Through a lot of reading, researching, and evaluating my personality and passions, I discovered that my true career goals lie in international development and health care systems. I was lucky in August to find a few job advertisements in the state of Maine that were related to health care systems and health care reform. I quickly applied for the jobs and had several interviews. Once again I was second choice for a few of them, which left me disappointed. But, at the end of the day I was offered a fabulous job at a non-profit that I have come to love quickly. The job environment is about 1000 times less stressful and I am really enjoying the work that I am doing. It is the perfect “first career” job and I look forward to working here for a few years before heading back to school for my PhD. It was a long bumpy ride professionally in 2013, but at the end of the day, everything worked out for the better. The bumps in the road made me a stronger person today.

Personal – I have evolved and grown immensely as a human being this year. My graduate education has led me down a road that I never predicted and I have researched and discovered new views on life and the world. I’ve always loved travelling and experiencing new cultures, but I was unable to do so this past year. Thus, 2014 has some big travel plans! As I grew as a person, I became more aware of the crowds of people I associate with in the past and present. I have some amazing friends. Some I see often, while others not as much. I’ve come to realize that some people in my life are toxic and I need to let go of them, while I need more contact with the good people. I accepted the mistakes I have made in past friendships and I hope not to repeat them in the future. I realized that I’d rather have a few good friends that I can count on then a bunch of friends that will be available only at certain times. I have branched out and formed new friendships that will hopefully last for a lifetime. I have discovered my strengths and my weaknesses and work towards accepting the things I can change about myself and the ones that I cannot. I have learned to speak my opinions despite what others may think. I have learned to accept the negative things that happen and find the lesson and the good in each to grow as a human being. I have learned to live a life of love, happiness and passion for oneself and others.

2013 was a growing year and I have accepted the mistakes I have made and only hope to grow further as human being. Bring on 2014!

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~ Happy Training!

A Year in Review: 2013 – Part I

Since today is the last day of 2013 I should probably start my Year in Review posts. Hmm… I’ll keep this one to more of the highlights and photos. But, 2013 was a good year. It started off a bit rough, but ended with many good things happening. I can’t complain.

January

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January was a month of ups and downs. I just finished my MPH degree in December and began my job search. Some decisions made by my boss at work made me extremely stressed since I wasn’t sure I was going to have a job. This caused me become sick often, which hindered a lot of my tri training, which began on the 1st of the year. Things at the gym were also unusually slow so professionally and financially I was stressed. However, I got my degree in the mail so it made things more real!

February

Picking the pace up!

Picking the pace up!

I ran the annual Mid-Winter Classic 10-Miler again. It went way better than my disaster of 2012 race where I ran sick and came really close to DNFing. However, I still treated the day more of a training run than anything because I was learning I lost all my running aerobic fitness over my Fall running hiatus due to plantar fasciitis. I also learned important lessons in time management. Working three jobs and training for an Ironman is not fun or easy to do.

March

My mother, my sister and I (1989)

My mother, my sister and I (1989)

Azul and I celebrated our One Year anniversary. I love that bike! I also celebrated the 4 year anniversary of my mother passing, which is never easy to do. I miss her everyday.

April

Done!

Done!

I started April off with a bang! I ran the Race the Runways Half-Marathon again, this time as a training run. It was insanely cold and windy, but I had great company throughout the race. The next day I developed a 102 fever and was out for a couple of days. Go figure! Towards the end of the month I began to develop a bit of a twinge in my right knee. I also went to the USAT Level One Coaching clinic and became a certified coach!

May

Tammy, Myself, Marisa, and Beth - all taking home hardware after a great race!

Tammy, Myself, Marisa, and Beth – all taking home hardware after a great race!

That twinge in my right knee developed into full-fledge IT-Band issues that plagued me for the rest of the summer. I managed to race the PolarBear Tri… barely. Miraculously, I placed 3rd in my age group.

June

Okay, not from my rides this week... but from the Patriot Hald Aquabike

Patriot Half Aquabike

My run training was extremely limited. I saw my chiropractor at least once a week to help heal my IT-Band issues. I dropped down from the Half-Ironman to the Half Aqua Bike at the Patriot Half. I had a good day, pacing myself like I would at Lake Placid. However, I almost ran over both turkeys and geese on the bike.

 July

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I became an Ironman! I celebrated yet another epic 4th of July with my favorite family and began my final build to the big day. My Ironman day went as planned. My knee held out to mile 18ish of the run before I was forced to walk the rest of the way, but I finished my goal, and that was to become an Ironman.

August

Enjoying a day at the beach

Enjoying a day at the beach

August was a recovery month. I spent a lot of time with friends and family. Towards the end of the month I began running again slowly just to rebuild my horrible running fitness. I had several promising job interviews. I also left my job at the gym I was working at to go off on my own to start my own business.

September

An example of pubis symphysis seperation - clearly an extreme case (Source)

An example of pubis symphysis separation – clearly an extreme case (Source)

I finally got offered a job! A great deal of stress was lifted off of me. I continued running easily until my pelvis decided to twist itself again. Awesome. I then began another running hiatus and began my yoga addiction.

October

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Hot Yoga Time!

I became addicted to hot yoga and it was fabulous. I saw my chiropractor at least once a week to convince my pelvis not to split into two. I was happy as a clam at my new job and I joined the Junior League of Portland, Maine.

November

One of my favorite quotes of the year!

One of my favorite quotes of the year!

I continued with my yoga binge, loving every minute of it. I was slowly cleared to return to “normal” training. I mostly rode my bike, but ran a few times. It hurt.

December

Skiing at Shawnee Peak

Skiing at Shawnee Peak

I skied for the first time since my mother died almost five years ago with a friend. More to come of this in the next week or so. I’ve slowly been building my aerobic base again, mostly through cycling.

~ Happy Training and Happy 2014!!

How to Find a Triathlon Coach

So, you’re thinking about hiring a coach to help you reach your endurance sport goals. But, where do you start? Finding and hiring a coach can be a difficult or easy process depending on who you know and what you need and want in a coach. I like to think that searching for the right coach for you is like dating. There are a lot of good coaches out there, but you need to find the one that works for you. Below is a guide to help you along your journey to finding the right coach for you.

  1. Determine your goals – Do you want to race an Ironman or a sprint tri? Do you need swim-focused training? Are you trying to qualify for Kona or the USA team? Figuring out your short-term and long-term athletic goals is important in identifying the right coach for you. Plus, every coach will ask you what your goals are so it’s best to be prepared anyway. Some coaches specialize in long-course athletes, while others work with short-course athletes. Some love working with beginner athletes and developing their potential from the start, while others prefer to work with athletes that are a bit more experienced. Some coaches have strong backgrounds in one particular sport and thus maybe you need their expertise in that one sport to turn your weakness into your strength. Determining your goals not only helps you figure out what you need and want in a coach, but will help your future coach determine your training plan.
  2. Determine location and communication needs – Do you need to work with a coach in-person? Or can you work with a “virtual” coach through TrainingPeaks and email? Working with a coach in-person is probably relatively rare in the triathlon world, but it can definitely happen depending where you live and what the availability and what services are offered by the coach. This option is most likely more expensive than a “virtual” coach. A large majority of coaches use training software, such as TrainingPeaks, to deliver training plans to their athletes. It allows athletes to upload their training technology devices and provide feedback on each training session to the coach. At this point it is important to consider what level of communication you need from your coach. Are you the type of person that needs to talk to your coach on a daily basis? Do you want access to your coach via email, phone, text, smoke signal, etc.? Every coach will let you know how much access you will be able to have from them. It is important to remember that each coach has a life too and may not be at your becking call 24/7.
  3. Determine the type of personality you can work with best – This is the part that I equate with dating. You need to find a coach that you get along with well. At this point I would suggest creating a pros and cons list of traits that you want and need in a coach. Are you the type of person that needs to be praised after every workout? Do need extra guidance for certain workouts? Do you prefer a coach that will tell you like it is even if it’s bad? Every coach has a unique personality. You might find that you want the same coach your friend is using because of his or hers reputation, but then you may realize you two don’t get along well. Once you figure out your pros and cons list, go through and star the traits that you need in a coach. The rest are the wants that you can live without if you have to, but still try and find someone that meets at least some of those traits. Reach out and have a conversation with a few coaches and see how well you hit it off with each of them. Remember that most coaches will want to keep your relationship professional. There are a few coaches that do become friends with their clients, so keep this in the back of your head when looking for a coach.
  4. Determine cost and affordability – Cost is probably the biggest factor in people choosing to hire a coach or not. Personally, I believe it’s the best investment I have made in my triathlon career. I first hired a coach in 2012 and it was by far the best decision I made because she truly formed me into the athlete I am today and also inspired me to become a coach myself to give back to other athletes looking to reach the next level in their triathlon careers. Determine what you can afford each month for a coach and then search around for coaches that are within your budget. Most coaches are in the range of $150-250 a month depending on their education and athletic and coaching background. It doesn’t hurt to ask a coach too if perhaps you could work out a deal if they are really out of your price range. However, they may not agree so don’t get your hopes up too much.

Now that you have determined what you need and want in a coach, where do you find a coach? A great way is through word-of-mouth. Ask your tri buddies who they use and what they like and dislike about their coach. And, as a reminder, just because your bestie loves their coach, doesn’t mean their coach is the best fit for you. Also you can use the coach finder tool through TrainingPeaks or google triathlon coaches to find other coaches.

Here are some other thoughts that you should consider:

  • Does education matter to you? Most coaches are USAT certified coaches. There are varying levels ranging from Level I (entry level) to Level III. A coach that is USAT certified must pass a test to be certified after attending a two-day seminar and complete CEU courses to remain certified. They also have coaching insurance. Some coaches may have additional certifications in cycling, swimming, personal training, etc. Few coaches also may have degrees in exercise science. Chances are the more educated the coach, the more expensive they will be.
  • Is your coach a top competitive athlete? Many people seem to pick their coach based on the coach’s athletic achievements. Oh, they qualified for Kona? They must be a rockstar coach! Just because your coach is a rockstar athlete does not mean they are a rockstar coach. Chances are they have their own coach that has helped them reach their achievements. Is it important that your coach be active in racing? Are they racing at a high level? If they are, they may not have a lot of time to devote to you and your training needs. Of course, you probably do want a coach that has or is currently competing in the sport (I know I would). There are numerous awesome coaches out there that may not be competing at the upper levels of the sport that are amazing coaches. Look at Chrissie Wellington’s old coach, Brett Sutton. Sutton was not a strong swimmer, but was an amazing coach (he coached the 2000 Australian Olympic swim team with a great deal of controversy though) and has coached many world champion triathletes. (Side note: Sutton is a controversial coach, but he does know how to produce champions)
  • What is their roster size? Some coaches run their businesses as their full-time gig, others do it part-time. What is their athlete roster size? Do they coach 5 athletes or do they coach 25 athletes? How much time will they devote to you? Is this important to you? This question ties in with some of the other factors mentioned above, such as communication needs.
  • Do you want extra benefits like a tri kit and/or clothing? Some coaches have “race teams” and thus have tri kits for their athletes. Do you want to wear a tri kit from your coach? Some people want to feel like they are part of a team and want to represent their coach’s brand. There is nothing wrong with this because I have seen some pretty sweet team kits out there, but is this important to you? Do you want extra benefits?

Don’t be afraid to approach perspective coaches to pick their brains to determine if they are right for you. Most athletes tend to work with a coach for about two years and then will switch to a different coach to try something new. Coaching may be an expensive investment, but I find it has the best return on investment in helping you reach your goals!

Now, for a shameless plug for myself, since I can, I am still accepting athletes for 2014 so contact me above through the “contact me” tab and we can see if we are a good fit for each other.

~ Happy Training!

2013 Triathlete Gift Giving Guide

triathletegift

Perhaps you’re a last minute shopper like me? Yes, I generally wait until December 24th to do my holiday shopping. Nothing like a little procrastination, right? I think grad school taught me that…

Triathletes are usually pretty easy to shop for since we typically like the latest and greatest technology that will make us fitter, stronger, and faster. Many triathletes have no problem shelling out $10,000 for the top of the line tri bike. I wish I had that problem…

However, sometimes it may be hard to shop for a triathlete because we tend to buy the newest technology as it comes out. If a triathlete has been in the sport for several years they may also have just about all the core equipment and some of the bells and whistles already, so what do you buy them?

Here is a list of items of various price tags to meet anyone’s budget and the needs of the triathlete in your life:

  1. Coaching – Perhaps your triathlete already has a coach or is thinking about hiring a coach in the New Year to help them meet their triathlon goals. Hint, hint – I’m still accepting athletes for 2014! Coaching is a great investment that any triathlete will see huge rewards from. Consider paying their coaching fees for a month or two or even the whole year!
  2. Race Entry Fee – Race entries can be expensive for any triathlete, especially if they are racing multiple events in a season. Ironman races can cost up to $700, while even the smaller local races can still cost about $100. Paying a race entry fee for your athlete will sure make them happier and more driven to do well in that race, just for you of course!
  3. Gift Certificate for a Bike Tune-up – Regular bike cleaning and tune ups are part of every bike owner’s yearly maintenance. Unfortunately, many of us tend to skip these very important things in favor of buying gear. A bike tune up several weeks before a big race can ensure that the triathlete’s bike is in working order and can make them faster! Who doesn’t love free speed!?
  4. New Tires – Bike tires are like car tires – they need to be changed when they become too worn out. If you live in an area where in snows a lot then chances are the triathlete in your life has to spend countless hours on the trainer riding to nowhere. Some triathletes buy special trainer tires (which are a great holiday gift idea too!) or just use their regular tire, which will be completely worn by the beginning of spring. They would love a new set of tires for race season! Make sure you check their current tires on their bike to ensure you buy the correct ones.
  5. Swim Pass or Swim Lessons – Little known fact… swimming is expensive! Living in Maine, I personally don’t have a lot of options for indoor swimming pools. I would estimate that we have about 15 pools across the entire state. For those of you living in Boston or New York, you probably have 15 pools in one block! Lap swimming adds up quickly! Most pools in the Greater Portland area average $3-$5 a pop and if you swim 3 times a week that’s about $60 a month! Consider buying your triathlete a swim pass at their local swimming hole and/or swimming lessons. Even the most advanced swimmers can gain something from a swim coach.
  6. Gift Certificate to a Running Store – Support your local running store by getting your triathlete a gift certificate! That way your athlete can pick out their favorite running shoes, winter running clothes, or even stock up on sports nutrition. Win, win for everyone!
  7. Race Wheels – Every triathlete dreams of having fancy race wheels, myself included! Race wheels are expensive, hence why I don’t have any. If you don’t have $2000 to purchase your favorite triathlete some new wheels then consider paying their race wheel rental fee at their big race this season. TriBike Transport, Rev3, and many bike shops offer race wheel rentals on the big day for a fraction of the cost of purchasing a set.
  8. Body Glide – Every triathlete needs some Body Glide! It’s a tough job squeezing into your wetsuit on race day. Body Glide makes the perfect stocking stuffer!
  9. IronWar – Matt Fitzgerald’s book on the 1989 Ironman World Championships tells the grueling story of the battle between the world’s two best athletes – Mark Allen and Dave Scott. This book is an epic page-turner and your favorite triathlete won’t want to put it down until it’s done!
  10. Massage – Triathletes often spend too much money on buying the best gear and technology and not enough on the stuff that matters the most – proper recovery! Massage is a great and proven effective recovery tool. Consider buying your triathlete a gift certificate to their favorite sports massage therapist. Your triathlete will thank you later!

~ Happy Training & Happy Holidays!  

Year in Triathlon – 2013

I always enjoy writing yearly recaps. It think it’s fun to look back and see what I have or have not accomplished over the year. I plan to do a longer and more involved post next week about my year, since some pretty big life events occurred. In the meantime, here is a fun running/triathlon related year review questionnaire from Miss Zippy.

Best race experience?

IMLPfinishline

Hands down, it was Ironman Lake Placid. Even though my race day expectations weren’t quite as I imagined at the beginning of 2013 (thank you IT Band/knee!), I went into the day with the goal of just finishing and enjoying the day. You can catch up on my race reports and reflections here:

IMLP Race Report I

IMLP Race Report II

Ironman Lake Placid: The Why, The Data, and The Photo I Carried

Lesson from Yoga: Just Breathe…

Best run?

This one is hard to pick since I wasn’t able to run a lot due to my IT Band problems all year. The one I remember the most was the 3 mile run of the PolarBear Tri in May. My IT Band/knee went right before the race so I honestly went into the race expecting to DNF. I hobbled out on T2 with intense pain in my right knee, but somehow managed to ignore the pain and run through it to finish 3rd in my age group. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have run and just taken the DNF, but my ego got the best of me.

Race Report: PolarBear Tri

My best runs probably occurred the end of August into September where I was finally able to resume running relatively pain-free. I just focused on slow, steady HR-based runs to regain my aerobic fitness, then my hip decided to revolt and I was laid up with hip issues again. Overall, not the year for running for me!

Best Bike?

Okay, not from my rides this week... but from the Patriot Hald Aquabike

Patriot Half Aquabike

Hmmm… once again, none really stand out to me this year. I did log a lot of miles on my bike this year. There was one 3+ hour ride the first weekend of June, where it was 90+ degrees, and I succeed to get a nasty sunburn on my back. Ouch! The bike leg of the Patriot Half AquaBike was a fun course and I really nailed my race plan for IMLP. I also got attacked by turkeys and geese in the middle of the road!

Race Report: Patriot Half AquaBike

I rode to New Hampshire one day for an 90+ mile ride. It’s always fun to say that I rode to another state. My first 100+ mile training ride was another decent ride. I rode from my house in Gorham up the coast to Bath and back. I think I went through at least 7-8 water bottles that day.

Oh yea, I rode my bike 109 miles on Sunday...

Oh yea, I rode my bike 109 miles on Sunday…

Best swim?

I think my IMLP swim was my best swim of the year. I swam conservatively and outside the cable line in attempt to not get punched and/or swam over. It caused me to swim a little extra distance, but I met my goals and was comfortable the entire time. Plus, I got to swim with my closet 3000 friends! 🙂

Excited to swim in Sebago Lake

Excited to swim in Sebago Lake

Best new piece of gear?

My Garmin 910XT! I still suck at using it during races. Hello 112 mile T1! Ha! But, in all seriousness, I really love it, especially the swim function.

Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me!

Best piece of running advice you received?

The best piece of advice I received this year was just prior to IMLP when a friend told me to enjoy the moment. You only get one first Ironman and it worth it to step back and suck the moment in. I wrote about that experience HERE.

Most inspirational runner?

I read Kilian Jornet’s book this year and he is a remarkable runner and adventurer. You can read my book review here on Run or Die. I am also a big fan of Lauren Fleshmen. Not only is she a superfast runner, a new mom, wife to pro triathlete Jesse Thomas, but she wrote this awesome piece on bodyweight perception and the media in her piece called Keeping it Real.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Accomplishing, challenging, and thought-provoking

How was your 2013? Did you meet all your goals? What was the most memorable moment for you?

~ Happy Training!