Guest writer Chris Johnson, PT, returns to Endurance Corner with a new series on common musculoskeletal issues that triathletes face.
To improve performance, triathletes must know thy goats. The bottom line is that once you’ve established a solid fitness base, resorting to increased volume and/or intensity can be a dangerous road when it comes getting faster. Rather, it’s critical to identify and address any musculoskeletal limitations or what I like to refer to as “goats.” While all triathletes have goats, the vast majority of us have not identified nor learned how to properly address them.
This piece will be the first of a three part series centered on the three most common goats that I see among triathletes seeking my services as a physical therapist and triathlon coach. Additionally, I will provide an approach to identify and address each individual goat through video demonstration so you can start tending to them in a safe and effective manner. It is my ultimate goal to help you optimize your training while minimizing your weaknesses.
Two weeks ago, I hit a dog, at speed, while finishing off a ride in Tucson. I’ve had high-speed crashes before but this one was special, as a light tailwind had me flying north on Old Nogales Highway.
This week I was reminded of a fascinating study done earlier this year; the radio show I was listening to emphasized the study as nothing short of astonishing. The paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in April 2011. Its authors found apparent potential bias involved of whether the study’s justices granted parole. They cited “extraneous” factors.
The study, done in Israel, evaluated three decision periods of the day: initial, after first meal break and after second meal break. Parole judges gave a favorable ruling to 65% of applicants first thing in the morning and immediately following both of the daily two food breaks. However, the favorable rulings declined to nearly zero prior to their next food break or the end of the work day. This effect remained constant over 50 decision periods, several judges and was controlled for severity of crime, time served and potential for rehabilitation.
Causality (hunger equals ornery) is not established and other confounding variables might have been at play, but it surely seems as though if you were up for parole, you wanted to be on the docket right after lunch!
Superior athletic performance requires getting your mind out of the way of your body.
One of the shortfalls of a classical approach to sports psychology (goal setting, visualization, self talk, arousal control) is the exercises actively engage the mind.
Athletes seldom have the problem of “thinking too little.” The challenge is our minds are constantly spinning.
How do we free ourselves?
A few years ago, after completing what I would consider my first real season in triathlon, I was faced with the problem of what to do with the remaining time left in the year.
Looking through my collection of books on triathlon training, I discovered that several of the authors suggested an "off season" of two to eight weeks which didn't sit well with me.
As I attempted to rationalize my way out of this, I decided the authors weren't targeting "serious" athletes like me and I immediately dismissed their advice.
One of the most common questions I get asked is about nutrition: "How do I get as lean as I possibly can, live in my hectic life and have the energy I need to train and recover?"
The answer is slightly different for each athlete, but the key points stand true for nearly everyone.
It's all about finding out how you are not being true to yourself.
Fifteen years ago I opened my business. Not long after I opened my first retail store, a national chain decided to open a competing store across the street. Before they opened, I was invited to meet with some of their corporate executives. Their message was direct and simple: sell to us for a paltry sum or we will put you out of business.
I bluffed my way through the meeting with a polite “no thank you” to hide the genuine fear I felt. Everything was riding on my business -- financial health, personal health and my ego.
Experiencing the gut wrenching fear of intense competition was the best thing that could have happened to me.
If a naive observer were to land in Kona during the Ironman world championships, he or she might get the impression of a hard bodied version of a Trekkie convention. There is something vaguely cult-like about the “ironman family”, and it’s no surprise that the IM corporation’s marketing department seems to take some not-so-subtle cues from the church.
I was recently discussing with a patient the distinction between preoccupation and passion. He raised concerns over what he feared was an obsessional focus on a particular pursuit. Are there any triathletes that can relate?
I have a keen interest in how I fool myself and one of my most common rationalizations for excessive exercise is personal health.
I asked our editor for a month focused on health. We tell you how to get fast, how to get ripped, how to manage your time, how to achieve your goals... but we rarely pause to consider the dramatic impact of an integrated approach to personal wellness (body, mind and spirit).
In my life I like to make a big distinction between health and fitness. Fitness for us is how many miles at a decent pace can we put together week after week. Interesting stuff but let’s leave it to one side. I like to define health broadly as feeling good on the inside.
I am currently reading what I consider to be one of the best books on training theory and practice that I have ever put my hands on. If you knew just how many books on these topics that I have put my hands on over the years, this is no small feat! Surprisingly the subject of the book is neither swim, bike nor run training. It is a book on strength training: Practical Programming for Strength Training (Rippetoe and Kilgore).
Now, before you get up on your specificity high horse, hear me out on this one.
How many times have we heard phrases such as, “if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything”? Health is a primary consideration in both longevity and quality of life, and is one of those things which we often don’t miss until it’s gone. But it is also difficult to quantify. How much health is enough?
In part I of this article on compression garments I discussed some of the research on compression and performance/recovery. Here, I’ll cover compression, travel and your heart.
I remember seeing athletic compression garments (CG) for the first time at the expo for the Ironman New Zealand triathlon in 2007. An enthusiastic salesperson wanted to show me a full body compression suit and explain the many benefits for triathletes. I also remember very clearly thinking how silly it all seemed. I’m a skeptic at heart. Now, I’m not so sure. There may well be some benefits. Here’s what I know…
Do you remember being a little kid and sitting glued to the TV or magazines and thinking, “I wanna be just like them when I grow up?”
We all have heroes -- we have people and icons throughout our life that we admire and aspire or dream we could be like. As we grow older these heroes change and help mold who we are. We use those images in our heads to help guide us and motivate us.
The past year has been an amazing year for me as my performance improved dramatically. My training volume was high and challenging. I am pleased that I did so without getting sick or injured.
Often we hear the horror stories of people destroying themselves with too much: too much training and too much intensity. Preparing the 2012 season starts now with a focus on being as healthy as possible for the big weeks of training ahead.
What do I recommend now to be physically and mentally healthy later?
The number one cause of a failed race plan for the age group (or pro) athlete comes from underperforming on the run. The longer the race -- and run leg -- the more you start to see athletes falling apart. I am sure this is no surprise to many of you reading this. The question is: Why does this happen?
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been focusing on what-it-takes. To balance that writing, I want to share thoughts on rejuvenation and recovery.
A big part of coaching success is putting an athlete on a structured training plan and giving visibility to what actually gets done. It’s easy to make most athletes improve by applying those two actions – structure and visibility.
You don’t need to hire anyone to pull that off. Build a week, log what you do, apply the lessons from our site.
The tougher part for the self-coached athlete (and the self-coached coach!) is developing a recovery strategy. My No. 1 piece of advice to you in this regard is Schedule Your Recovery.
I once heard we are all here because we were the best swimmers. Ponder on this for a moment and the light will go on.
If you think qualifying for Kona is hard, imagine the odds you overcame as you were being formed. You needed to be the fastest, strongest, best built and most resilient swimmer of a wave of, oh, let’s say 300-million others. So you beat the entire U.S. population to the swim exit! You rock!
With this as an obtuse preamble I will now deftly segue into the topic of the month: Does triathlon impair the ability of the male to reproduce?
This time last year, I was finishing up my final preparation for Kona but unbeknownst to me, my season was already over and Kona was just an obstacle in the way of much needed recovery.
Don't get me wrong, I was excited to do the race but I lacked the mental strength to finish strong.
The title is one of my all time favorite statements. I believe Plato said it over 2300 years ago. It is the first thing I remember on the bedroom wall that I shared with my brothers as a kid. That was a long time ago. When I left home it came with me. It is now on my office wall. Today I see it more as a goal than an axiom. I believe the closer I can get to both mental and physical fitness at once, the closer I am to my personal potential for long term health.
With Vegas a few weeks ago and Kona less than a week away, athletes that have qualified are preparing for the big day and the athletes that missed out this year are trying to figure out the right formula for 2012.
At EC, our theme for the past few months has centered on what it takes to be a fast age grouper. Last month I focused on time management with techniques on how to find the time to be fast. This month I’m focusing on what to do once you have the time.
In a recent article I looked at some of the differences in training responses that I’ve witnessed for different athletic “types.” I concluded that there are some differences in how quickly various athletes respond to a training stimulus that are related to genetic type. While we can’t do a whole lot to change our genetics, there is another factor that dramatically affects how we respond to training over which we have much greater control.
It’s world-championship season, and no matter what kind of volume we have put in over the summer, no matter how consistent our training has been, much of our success in the final big A race will depend on the execution of our endgame. How is your endgame?
If you are still racing and heading to some of the fall half IMs and IMs you still have some work to do. You've likely been racing for a number of months now and dragging out more long miles may only leave you flat. The months of racing, tapering and long sessions can see you losing some strength by this point in the year.
I recommend focusing your energy on quality for your event and keeping strength and power up. You want to prevent the feeling of "getting slow" from the year worth of long training and hard racing.
Due to geography and my target market, the business that I own is cyclical. Very busy in the fall, not-for-profit over the holidays, very busy in the spring and moderately busy in the summer. When I started my business, the holiday period felt very stressful. After a few years I learned to embrace our slow time as one of recovery and reboot for our staff/business.
The same principle of recovery and reboot applies to our training.
Following on from my first piece on about setting up your life structure to qualify for Kona, AC wrote a great piece on the physiological and training load requirements to position yourself to qualify.
In this article, I’m going to step back from the technical detail and dig a little deeper into my statement that you’re looking at four hours per day, most days, of time commitment.
If you haven’t qualified for Kona then you may have run the numbers on that statement and inferred that I’m talking about a 28-hour training week. That is not the case.
Jan Hugo Svendsen recently finished second in the inaugural Ultraman UK after putting in some unique focused work throughout the year. Here, he shares an overview of his general approach to training and his build into the event. In keeping with our “What it Takes to Be Fast” theme for the month, remember that Jan is an example of the competition at the pointy end of the field.
It took me three years from the first time I raced an ironman to Kona qualification. Before I even began that journey there were five years of training from local 5Ks to national triathlons. That’s eight years to go from couch potato to Hawaii. It took patience and stubbornness to achieve my goals. There were no secrets or tricks to reach them; a week on week commitment to hard work was all that was needed.
What does it take to be a fast age grouper? Let’s define fast as a Kona slot. To put that definition of "fast" into perspective, on a fair course that's around 9:30 for male age-groupers between their late 20s and early 40s. Typical splits work out to a combined time of five minutes for both transitions, a 60-minute swim, a 5:10 bike and a 3:15 run. That is fast.