Tag Archives: fitness

My 5 top insights from coaching new Triathletes

Purpose Road Sign

 

For the past year or so, I’ve had the honor to coach new and beginner triathletes. Some of my athletes made great progress and accomplished fantastic goals. Many of those goals, at the beginning, they thought were not possible. Along the process they have thought me many lessons as well.

Here’s the five most important insights I gleaned from coaching new triathletes. Hopefully, they will speed your progress as a new triathlete.

 

You are more capable than you think you are. 

When I first consult with a new athletes many times they are not confident they can achieve their goal. Putting yourself out there, and trying something new is daunting. Instead of telling yourself, you can’t do something, say “I can’t do it right now”. Many athletes before you have finished the race, PR’d or whatever the goal may be. Why can’t you? Decide you will meet your goal at the beginning of the process, then get to work on achieving it.

Don’t view themselves as athletes.

If you are training and participating in races, guess what? You are an athlete. For you to increase your fitness and reach your potential, you need to view yourself as an athlete. You might say, “great I called myself an athlete, now what?” Viewing yourself as an athlete is a shift in mindset. You will view your overall lifestyle differently, and make better decisions. For example, a normal person just eats, and athletes fuels their body. A normal person goes to the gym to workout, an athlete goes to the gym to train. When you view yourself as an athlete your decisions are made with a purpose. That purpose is to achieve your athletic goals.

Need more focused training.

If you want to try a new restaurant across town and you are unsure how to get there, you open up your map app. The map is going to give the quickest route from A to B. A well planned training plan is a road map to your athletic goal. It needs to start with a clear destination, and give direction along the way. You can start your journey with no map, but it will most likely be a longer and more time consuming route. (metaphor off)

This is the most important point for new athletes. Having a training plan can save you tons of time, energy and injury. The plan can come from a coach, or you can find one on the web. Find a plan that leads you to your goal, and fits your schedule. When each workout has a purpose, you will greatly accelerate your athletic progress.

Consider the long term view.

Aside for a very genetically gifted few, most endurance athletes will need years to reach their potential. It takes years of training and patience to build endurance in the body. Take Mark Allen, 6X Ironman World Champ for example. It took him 6 tries to win his first Kona, and the first attempt he didn’t even finish. Over those first six years he kept working, and the speed and endurance came.

It’s easy to only look week to week during training to measure progress. When a workout or a week of training doesn’t go well, we get discouraged. Sometimes, it’s best to pull back and look at your progress from a longer time line. You may have been progressing for the past six weeks, and you on just on a plateau before your next breakthrough.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Don’t be shy. As a new triathlete there is a ton on information to learn. There are three sports, training, recovery, equipment, etc. Heck, this is the reason I started this blog. Find an athlete who has been racing for a while, and pick their brain. Most people are excited to help out. You can learn from their mistakes and experience, and speed up your progress.

 

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Workout Wednesday – Bike Power Hills

Welcome to Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I  post a new Triathlon specific workout. (for free, What a Country!) If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

A couple weeks ago,  I was racing on the hilly but fun bike course. The sun was out, and t was beautiful morning. My legs were feeling good and pumping out the watts. Two more miles to go to the turn around, I am  crushing it. The hills on the course aren’t so bad. Then right before the turn around, I came up on a pavement wall. Suddenly, I staring up a .25 mile climb at 15%. I switch the the small chain ring, and grind my way up the hill. By the top of the hill, my heart rate was around 1000bpm, and my legs were Jello. Luckily, we turned around and came right back down the hill, so I had time to recover and then crush the rest of the course. (Also, I hit 46 mph on the downhill, waahooo!)

That hill exposed  a weakness in my recent cycling training. I’m lacking in hill power. Power hills are short intense efforts that keep your speed up on a hilly course. Power hills differ from long sustained hills, as they require pure leg strength. Increasing that leg strength requires short intense efforts with adequate rest. Think of it as doing squats on your bike. Working on power hills is also a win-win, as it will make you stronger on the flats.

Now let’s get to work:

Power Hills:

Warm up

  • 5 Minutes easy spin
  • 5 X  @70 Effort 1 min/1 min rest

Main Set

  • 5 X standing 1 min/1 min rest – of each min rep 1st 30 secs @70%/ 2nd 30 secs @85% effort
  • 3 min easy spin
  • 3 X standing 2 min/ 1 min rest – of each 2 min rep 1st min @60%/ 2nd min @80% effort
  • 3 min easy spin
  • 6 X standing 30 secs/ 1 min rest @85%

Cool Down

  • 10 min easy spin

This workout is best done on a trainer or stationary bike. Set the resistance heavy enough to make it challenging, but still be able to maintain a cadence above 60 rpm. Build into each rep, and focus on finishing strong. This workout is great for flatlanders is best done every couple of weeks. Work it into your program and you will be powering up the hills like a freight train.

Fantastic Finish Foto Friday – Capt Jason – From weight loss surgery to Triathlete

Welcome to Fantastic Finish Photo Friday. We want to bask in the awesomeness of your finish photos. A finish photo captures a moment in time, where you overcame the challenges of the race and training, and reached your goal. The feeling of elation as you cross the line is what keeps us pushing our own limits. Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish.

This week’s Foto is from Jason Demars:

First Time Triathlete Jason

Continue reading Fantastic Finish Foto Friday – Capt Jason – From weight loss surgery to Triathlete

Workout Wednesday – Hardest Workout Ever – Rest Day

Welcome to Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I  post a new Triathlon specific workout. (for free, What a Country!) If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

Rest

 

Sorry for the misleading title, but when you think about it, rest is the hardest workout. It instills fear in us that  if we take a day off, we will become fat and slow overnight. In reality is takes up to two weeks of inactivity before you start to lose your fitness.

Two years ago I had a heavy training year for me. When I looked back at my training log at the end of the year. I took three full rest days the entire year. What? That’s not right. I also become over trained twice that year, and was sick more than normal.

Rest is an important part of the training program. Rest days should be treated just like workouts, and performed with the same focus. The benefits of rest and recovery are:

  • Avoiding Overuse Injuries
  • Restoring Glycogen to your muscles
  • Avoiding mental burnout
  • Actually spending time with your friends and family

Here’s the nasty things that come with NO rest or recovery:

  • Over training
  • Inadequate Sleep
  • Colds
  • Slow recovery
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Moodiness

(I’ve experienced all of these, but not all at the same time.)

Unless you are a full time athlete with no other obligations or stressors in your life you will need 1-2 rest days a week.  Ideally one of those days should be complete rest, and the other one can be active recovery.

Active recovery workouts:

  • 30 min jog @ 50% HR
  • Walk with your significant other
  • Bike ride with your kids
  • Light cross training

Inactive workouts:

  • Netflix binge watching marathon
  • Sit on the beach with cool beverage
  • Sleeping in past 5:30am

I can hear the little mental objects swirling in your head. ” But I’m a triathlete and I need to get in all of these workouts.” If you want to improve consistently, and not burnout or have a higher risk of injury, rest has to be a priority as well. Schedule  your training weeks to include the rest days.  If you miss a workout because of a overly busy day, don’t worry about making it up, use it as a rest day. Also, if you are are plateauing in your progress, step back and see if more recovery will help, before piling on more work and intensity.

One last thing. The more outside stress you have in your life the more important the rest and recovery. During times of high stress, listen to your body and try not to just push through. These times are the highest risk for burnout and over training.

 

Motivation Monday – The key to long term results

Merry Monday! Let’s do this! We all could use a bit of motivation to get rolling on Monday. On Mondays, I like to share a Mantra or short inspirational message. If the message resonates with you, use to motivate yourself in training or life. Do you have your own awesome Mantra? Please share it below in the comments.

“Long term consistency trumps short term intensity” – Bruce Lee

I’ve been dealing with some sub par results lately. I was starting to question why I race and train so hard, and don’t always get the results I want. Paging Shawn, pity party table for one. Then I took a step back and looked over a longer time frame. I have been consistently improving year to year. By training purposefully and consistently, I have continued to improve. There have been peaks and valleys, but over all my times have improved. For me the key to improvement is to train consistently, and eventually I will reach my goal. When I start to have doubts because of recent results, I need to step back and look at the long term trend.

Below is a video from six time IM world champ Mark Allen. Mark dnf’d his first IM Kona, and one second place finish sent him to the hospital. In all, it took time seven attempts to win his first IM world championship. Mark is a true example of consistent training and improvement.

Do you have along term goal right now, that is not going as planned? Do you want to quit? Or do you keep taking step forward with consistency until you get where you want to go?

Fantastic Finish Foto Friday – First time triathlete Dan

Welcome to Fantastic Finish Photo Friday. We want to bask in the awesomeness of your finish photos. A finish photo captures a moment in time, where you overcame the challenges of the race and training, and reached your goal. The feeling of elation as you cross the line is what keeps us pushing our own limits. Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish.

This week’s Foto is from Dan Engström:

© & Foto- Fredrik Aremyr - finish_-211
Pic by Fredrik Aremyr

Dan:

My first triathlon finish
 
Last weekend saw the Gothenburg Triathlon event on the west coast of Sweden. I was five weeks away from the IronMan UK race and I still hadn’t done a triathlon. But I was prepared. I had learnt how to front crawl and revisited the marathon (in Stockholm, the week before than the tri event). I bike commute and am perfeclty ready for the 300 km bike race Vätternrundan next weekend. I’d done my brick training. I was so ready for the Gotheburg Triathlon, Olympic distance. So  away to Rådasjön lake. Fourteen degrees water temperature so they shortened the swim leg. This’ll be great, a shorter swim leg and me being used to the cold after a number of open water swims. Though I usually did the breaststroke earlier, but how difficult can the front crawl be in open water? In open, murky water. In open, murky water with  waves. In open, murky water with waves and a side current. In a tight wetsuit. Together with a couple of hundred other people. Right. Stiff upper lip time. Embrace the difficulties. Overcome. Rain during the whole bike leg. Legs like logs during the run, I was only a week out after the marathon after all. Adopt, adapt. I was hard, harder than I thought it would be. But I enjoyed every minute, every step. Give me a week or two in some murky lake around here on my own with my front crawl. Then bring on the IronMan.
 
Dan Engström
Gothenburg, Sweden
Congrats on gutting out that  cold, murky swim. You are an ambitious dude attempting to front crawl for the first time five weeks out from an IM. Best of luck to you on your IM, but for now enjoy that first finish.
Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish. It doesn’t have to be from a triathlon, just any race that has special meaning to you. If you are interested in sharing, please send a message to firsttimetri@gmail.com.

Workout Wednesday – 30 Seconds to Improve Your Aerobic Capacity

Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

Exhausted runner

Have you ever started a easy run and were completely out of breath in the first half mile? I know I have. You are not an out of shape slob, your body is just not ready to breath that deeply. If you spend your days crunched up at a desk in front of the computer all day, you are most likely breathing shallow. When you go to exercise your body has to open up those lungs to get ready to use that extra lung capacity.

Breathing and blinking are the only two systems in the body that are both involuntary and voluntary. Breathing, of course,  is the more powerful one. Your breathing regulates your heart rate, stress and your mood. By doing some simple breathing exercises you can increase your lung capacity, and feel great in the process.

Here’s the workout:

  • Breathe in for a count of 4
  • Hold it for a count of 2
  • Breathe out for a count of 4
  • Repeat 5 times

During in the inhale breathe deeply and fully from your diaphragm. During the exhale forcefully breathe out as much as possible. imagine filling up a balloon completely, and then letting out all of the air. This exercise takes about 30 seconds, and you can do it anywhere. For best results try this exercise 5-6 times through out your day. Its really great to do before a workout to get you lungs ready to work.

Too Fat to Tri?

Me at said 5k This is a personal post. I want to share my thoughts and experiences, as others may relate or benefit from them.

At a 5k a couple of weeks ago, I had a good race and came in 11th overall. After catching my breath, and staving off the dry heaving, I found my family. My wife said to me, “It looks like you had a good race, you were the fastest bigger guy out there.” My heart sunk, and I was not happy with my performance anymore. She said it to be encouraging, and I wasn’t upset with her, but it struck a nerve. I am a bigger endurance athlete, and I struggle with that. Don’t get me wrong as I am big for an endurance athlete, but otherwise very active and healthy.

I train really hard, keep my diet mostly clean, but I can’t achieve the body type of an elite endurance athlete. My issue is most likely a combo of appetite and genetics. Everyone on my father’s side of the family is large framed, and quick to put on weight. I can have a perfectly clean diet for a month and lose three pounds. If I slip and have a bad week I will gain four pounds back. It’s frankly frustrating and pisses me off. It is completely frustrating to watch every calorie, train your ass off, and not see any result.

I should probably choose a different sport that better suits my body type, but I love endurance sports. I train everyday, not out of a sense of obligation, but because I love it. My workouts are my favorite parts of my day. I don’t feel well physically or mentally, if I go too many days without working out. My accomplishments in running and triathlon are some of my proudest moments. I am most alive when I am pushing myself to the limit, and pushing past what I thought was possible.

My size isn’t going to keep me from competing, because racing is what I really enjoy. There is always this nagging voice in my head telling my size is holding me back. I guess it’s insecurity, but when I am racing and all of the other athletes around me are 40-50 pounds lighter, I feel like a cargo ship in a pack of speed boats. I’ve shown up to group workouts, and been the biggest person there by 30 pounds. At that point I feel like, I’m fat Albert, and the rest are the gang. Am I just an impostor in a world of ectomorphs?

My results have steadily improved over the past few years, even though I have stayed the same size. This is a result of consistency and experience, of which I am very proud. Every so often my frustration with my weight and progress makes me want to quit. Or least go and train in solitude, where I am my only frame of reference. These thoughts of quitting only last a couple of days. I’ll find a race I want to do, sign up, and be motivated again.

I’m sharing my thoughts, not just to have a pity party, but because I’m sure others feel the same way. Society already has a bias against larger people. That pressure is even more magnified in the endurance community filled with super fit competitive people. In endurance sports your standing is determined by speed. When light = fast, this can be a losing battle.

I will continue to race and train for triathlon, because I love it. I want to help and encourage others who want to start in triathlon, no matter his/her size. I’m just as inspired to see the elite athletes fly through the course, as I am the person who had to make a major lifestyle change to finish. These athletes may not race at the same speed, but they both had to put in the same dedication and effort.

Will I ever find a diet/training plan that will yield the results I want? Will my body type keep me from reaching my true potential? I’m not sure, but I continue to train hard and work with the cards I am dealt.

Have you had a similar experience? If so, please share your story in the comments.

Fantastic Finish Photo Friday – Son & Father 1st Tri

Welcome to Fantastic Finish Photo Friday. We want to bask in the awesomeness of your finish photos. A finish photo captures a moment in time, where you overcame the challenges of the race and training, and reached your goal. The feeling of elation as you cross the line is what keeps us pushing our own limits. Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish.

This week’s photo is from  Eric Quiroz:

FTT Eric

Eric:

On Sunday April 26, 2015 I competed in my first Triathlon ever, and not only that, I had the great honor of doing it with my Dad. We both completed the event which consisted of running 5K, biking 11 miles, and swimming 150m. Before this I have never even ran a 5K. I had been wanting to do something like this for a long time and up until the moment I signed up I always had a reason why I couldn’t do it. But when the opportunity arose for me to sign up for this is event I suddenly became sick of my own excuses. I couldn’t bear to hear one more reason why I couldn’t do it and in the moment that I committed I was free! I was free to be and do what ever it took to compete in this event and do my absolute best. This is an interesting way to look at it, that in my commitment I experienced freedom. 

I am so grateful I had the opportunity to do this with my Dad, Earl. He is an absolute gift in my life and I feel very fortunate to have this experience with him. The preparation, tuning the bikes the night before the race, spending the night together, waking up race day and driving down to the event. I absolutely loved ever detail that we got to share together. This was a big first for the both of us and a special bonding moment for our relationship.  

I am very proud of my 1:22:48 time.

Fantastic race and photo Eric. Also, congrats to your dad for finishing his first race. Conquering a new challenge is even sweeter when you have good company.

Do you have a friend or family member that will train and race with you? A partner will help with accountability and motivation. Triathlon is an individual sport, but doesn’t have to be done alone.

Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish. It doesn’t have to be from a triathlon, just any race that has special meaning to you. If you are interested in sharing, please send a message to firsttimetri@gmail.com.

Workout Wednesday – The Leg Chiseler

Happy Wednesday! Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (HAHA)

This week’s workout – The Leg Chiseler

Chiseled Legs

There are two factors that determine how fast  you can push on the bike. These are your lungs and your legs. Your legs and lungs work together to produce power, but a weakness in either system will become a limiting factor. I experience this every winter winter when I train for a marathon and neglect  bike training.  When spring comes, and I get out on the road, I have the engine of a Corvette, and legs like a Smart Car. Leg strength is the key to increasing your speed, riding better in headwinds, and climbing. For those of your with some vanity, these workouts will make your go sticks more chiseled.

This workout  consists of on and off bike training designed to increase muscular strength in the legs. While these intervals can be intense, the focus is to get that burning sensation in the legs, not max out heart rate. Load up the tension, so your legs are working harder than your cardio. Aim to keep your cadence around 40-60 RPMs under tension. Ideally, this work should be done on a trainer or spin bike. That way you can control the amount of tension, and there are no interruptions.

On to the workout:

The Leg Chiseler

  • Warm up – 10 mins – easy spin
  • Warm up – 3 X 1 min/30 secs off
  • Main Set – 3 min climb increasing tension every minute (Heavy tension RPM – 40-60)
  • Get off bike and do 20 air squats
  • Easy spin 2 min
  • Repeat Main Set 4-6 times
  • Cool down 10 mins Easy Spin

This workout should be difficult, but know your limits. If you need a bit of extra rest between sets, take it. This type of workout is best scheduled with a rest day or easy day after. Leg strength work scheduled once every week or two, will be enough to see significant improvement. Remember to maintain the best pedal stroke possible. Focus on pushing and pulling the pedals and making circles. For more info on good pedaling mechanics.

Photo Credit: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/17/d5/98/17d598c3d928de6c1cc5b28feb67c10c.jpg