After years of studying and coaching IRONMAN athletes a common fatigue theme is clear and it is called many things by different people and this plague and nuisance manifests itself as a shorter stride length. So what you say, well so what indeed, but who wants a shorter stride or even a stride that gradually gets reduced as the race progresses into the night. Is this a problem for the professionals, well I hope not as they have the time to resolve this issue but many age groupers might not, or so they think! But how important is this really and is it the only problem? Of course there are other issues associated with IRONMAN racing such as mindset, overall fatigue, gut problems, hydration, sunburn, altitude to name a few and we should look into all of these as we develop prescriptions for anyone wishing to race well. But back to the shorter stride length and current ideas which have most recently been concerned with higher cadence running as it is considered by some to be the answer, the holy grail of running fast, but lets look at sprinters for a while, is it higher cadence that wins Olympic gold, not likely, it is rather deceleration rate ie whoever cannot maintain top speed will lose. As speed is directly related to stride length and cadence of course it is true that speed is a product of the two, but what generates stride length or cadence; muscular strength and strength endurance is the answer. How to develop this specific strength is the question and when?
Which muscles do we need specifically tho, well all of them probably need to be as strong as we can make them. But your hip flexors are key to stride length and these tire and tighten easily without correct strengthening. So during the post-season, pre-season and even pre-competition you should flex those hips! Simple – run steep 200m hills, perform Knee Drives with ankle weights or band/cable machine attached and you will see amazing results very fast. Of course for the marathon and IRONMAN you will need to do lots of them and keep doing them increasing resistance over time as you get stronger and then when it comes to race day, your hip flexors wont give out and thus your stride length wont end up with the “Ironman shuffle” with a 6″ stride length. So get them done, early and often.
Cable (or Band) Knee Drives. 3 sets of 10 reps. Using a low cable pulley and an ankle cuff attachment, stand so that the cable has pressure, but not enough to whip you backwards. Drive your knee explosively up to your chest. Keep the movement controlled as you lower. Using band will give a different feel, and thus you’ll have to really accelerate the initial explosive movement. Make sure the upper body stays tall and this will work your core as well. HIP FLEXORS
So we should start as always with a hypothesis: finishing the @IRONMAN within the cutoff time. It is achievable for anyone with the right approach, but to be successful (defined as perhaps podium in AG), a more determined and thorough approach is needed. So how did I get to shave one leg? Well let’s take a leaf from “Team Sky” where all the small things are said to add up to a big thing… and Froomy did win after all. I will first do some experiments to test the small things. Starting with the right calf or truly speaking the back of the right calf, it had to be shaved to determine if it would itch. So far 3 weeks later no itch – the secret, you might well ask? The aim is to reduce drag and improve aerodynamics so removing the hair is necessary and the beard trimmer is the easiest way to do this. Experiment 1 done! Let’s move on. Some say that alkaline water (pH 7+) is better for you than acidic VB City water (pH 6-) but what is the best water to use while training to help with holistic stress reduction? Your thoughts please! I used @Evian water after much personal testing and have loved it. But what of the legs and shaving you might still ask, well we completed the experiment on the Thursday before the @IRONMAN in Lake Placid as we determined that 3 days before the race was optimal so we held a
shave down for speed party! Wine and local Adirondack beer with a great dinner and then the razors were out! Enough hair for a blanket! After 55 years to see bare naked legs, wow something else. And with the beard trimmer, no itch…in 3 days just enough growth for perfect racing conditions, we will see and if it didn’t work we will never know.
Oh as an aside all the guys had beards so they had to go too, the longest beard over 6″ of winter-spring-summer growth is no more, condemned to the waste bin and for the rest of us, neat trims to stubble; indeed a strange looking group. And the ladies, well they had no beards! Next thing toenails haha, short and pedicured. Must be close to race time. Lets get it done.
Goal setting: How do you set a goal and what are the criteria for goals? Should they be “reach for the sky” and maybe you make it or fall short, or should they be less ambitious and maybe less exciting? One thing’s for sure if YOUR GOAL is not clearly understood by you then you will never reach it. I say IT on purpose, as having more than one goal at a time leads to confusion and inefficient training. To reach your goal, your training needs to be specific, personal, appropriate, progressive, comprehensive and of course based on YOUR belief in what you can reach for and achieve – the goal. In any racing season you can create several goals that run sequentially so you reach one and move right on to the next one. It’s even better if they compliment each other. For example a Half Marathon PR and then an IRONMAN triathlon work well together.
To be successful you need to follow your plan and do your training. That doesn’t mean you can’t train with groups and sometimes compromise a little for the added benefits of the group support. Group training has added benefits like accountability and observant coaches watching you and letting you know when you are overreaching or over training and risking injury or illness. Having a good coach can of course provide personal oversight and direction to stay on track with adjustments to your training program and plans. And finally having a comprehensive approach to your training so that it is balanced and fits in with life (partner, kids, work, deployments, travel, and vacations). This balance is essential for success and ensures you end your racing season wanting more, not a post-season break as recommended by your coach! #EATTOTRAIN check our blog on eating well to train well – Relative Energy Deficiency Syndrome – RED-S
An experiment in recovery and the use of probiotics as a way to support immune system degradation post race or post @IRONMAN.But what do these “bugs” do for you and how many should you consume for great or optimal health and especially recovery? A good daily does seems to be around 80-100 billion live viable organisms with a variety of cultures as different bugs work for different people. But the question is will it help your immune system to repair after very hard or extreme training?
plural noun: probiotic
a probiotic substance or preparation. a microorganism introduced into the body for its beneficial qualities.
Ultimate Flora gut care delivers 200 billion viable organisms for a 7 day rebuild program that is designed for repair to the gut and immune system after illness or even after extensive use of anti-biotics (which literally means – life killing!) The over use of anti biotics is well documented and has led to several health problems but they have their uses clearly for health and reduction of certain diseases. Recent studies support the idea of use for recovery also a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed evidence of reduced upper respiratory illness following use of specific probiotics.
So we shall see as I will take a lot of probiotics of various strains following an @IRONMAN race this weekend in Lake Placid, New York. And then will let you know 🙂 have fun friends and eat to live!
Training for distance, stamina and endurance means eating enough while eating the right foods AND drinking right as well. But…. what does this mean translated into real advice and then real meals made from real food. And what about salt eh, how can we make sure to get enough salts (sodium mostly, magnesium, potassium, chloride)? The answer lies not in processed food which although filled with salt is often cheaply processed salt rather than high quality mineral salts, and I do believe than many of us athletes are depleted in salts and this causes us problems with mineral balance, cramping, loss of muscle/nerve function and as a result poor performance and chronic inadequacies lead to longer term problems with nerve damage and muscle weakness. So go get those minerals, from where you might ask! Greens, meats, vegetables and fruits. Of course you can top up mineral and vitamin consumption with drinks such as @NUUN and @SKRATCH and many others too numerous to mention. Coming back to the idea of #overtraining, I think “too much training too soon” is really the problem combined with not enough food and drink ie good quality nutrition. As we stress the mind and body we have to support the mind and body with quality nutrition. So going to the question of too much training, that’s a hard one to sell when you think about it. People have walked, swum, hikes, ridden for days or weeks in training or racing I mean consider the DECAMAN https://goo.gl/r6Lgul a 10 day 10 Ironman triathlon race, people survive and thrive because of their hard, long training and excellent nutrition. Go figure! So EAT, DRINK, and BE MERRY!
Too often @IRONMAN is seen as the destination, the “end” of the journey resulting in success or failure, victory or defeat, happy or sad. But why is that the predominant view? Surely IRONMAN is a journey to discover something great about yourself, new strengths, weaknesses to be defeated and new processes and skills to learn and teach. Seeing races as end-states and not thorough planning and execution means you have that binary choice at the “end” – success or not, but if you see the process and delight in new skills and new opportunities for great and good then there is only one outcome and that must be pleasure through the pain and suffering and no matter how you measure it, you will have grown through it, learned from it and acquired new skills because of it: It being the race, the training, the fun, the aches, pains and pleasures. How many times did you see the sun rise and marvel once again at something so routine but something most people don’t see? How often a beautiful sunset witnessed during a sublime run or even witnessing the chirp of dolphins as you swim in the sea. Truly this is the best IRONMAN experience you can have. Live through your experiences and love every minute with a great smile. Smiling you know releases endorphins which make you feel good and happy, less stressed, so as part of training, dont forget to practice your smile! In a few weeks or months your IRONMAN will be done but you will be greater for it and stronger, more resilient and ready to lead the rest fo your life fitter, happier and just greater. Go for greatness, keep training because “Excellence is Inside YOU”.
Racing or completing that is the question and the answer determines the approach most likely to succeed for you or me the athlete @IRONMAN. Having the wrong mindset will likely end in more suffering than necessary and there is already plenty of that to go round! Deciding to race or compete happy is the choice that needs to be made early so that training is arranged to suit your goal, so that you finish happy and dont overacheive 🙂 But don’t think it’s all training: Nutrition and hydration are key for great health and great health equals a higher chance of success. But what is great nutrition and how much should you drink? Well we will cover these aspects in a later discussion as there is much that can help and much to go wrong. A great example is the risk of under-eating and cellular dehydration. Not getting enough is going to hurt your training and race prep, so “eat well, eat right“! So with 2 weeks to go to our event in the beautiful Lake Placid, NY. It is time to eat and drink to optimal levels, no plate unturned, no glass left full. But how about alcohol in these final weeks – minimise is the best advice. Tough I know when a man loves his Guinness and red wine, white wine…. you get the drift, just keep it down. Stress we know is the big killer both of goals and life itself so plan the details well, dont sweat what you can’t control and leave the rest to the execution. Remember no plan survives contact, so be ready to adjust, adapt and be smart. See you all soon.