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Re-Starting: What To Do When Your Luck Runs Out

[If you can't see the video above, please click here to watch it online.]

On Tuesday May 18th, right about 11:30am PST, my bicycle and I decided to part ways at about 20 mph coming down a hill outside of La Honda, CA. When all was said and done, I ended up with a fractured pelvis and clavicle, a 3 day hospital stay, and a serious detour from my planned 2010 agenda. Despite the pain and new daily challenges, the experience has started an incredible personal journey that has really affected who I am.

Post Crash
My first thoughts were with my family. Crashing and getting injured is a risk we all take as cyclists, but nothing makes it hit home more than finding yourself spread eagle on the pavement. I was happy to be coherent, but knew something was up with my hip as standing and transferring to the van with my teammates was seriously painful. Having a doctor in the camp (thanks KB!) was a boon as she was able to rule out most of the serious stuff and keep me focused until the hospital team could care for me.

The Hospital
After a battery of xrays and cat scans, they were able to determine the fractures. Thankfully nothing is displaced — so while it’s painful there’s really nothing they can do. I try walking in the ER and earn an overnight stay in the hospital because I pass out when I try to stand.

The passing out continues for Wednesday, and my body is still in shock. Visits from some local Endurance Nation teammates keep my spirits high, but the reality of my injuries (and lots of swelling!) is setting in: this is serious.

Thursday is spent trying to get out of bed and sitting up a lot. I get a head Cat Scan to rule out a concussion. I eat a lot more hospital food and begin plotting my escape. No walking yet, but I have learned that they won’t keep me either.

Friday comes and I have a frantic PT and OT session to prepare me for my departure. Carrie C comes to pick me up and after taking 20 minutes to get me from the wheelchair to the front seat of the car, I am a free man. Unfit to leave the hospital but unable to stay, Carrie takes me home for what turns out to be a five day stay.

Miracle Turnaround
Within a day of being at Carrie’s house, I am up and walking. Buoyed by her tough PT love and the support of a local army of triathlete friends who watch me 24/7, I quickly learn where I can be self-sufficient and where I need to rely upon others.

Soon I am taking (seated) showers by myself and even cooking breakfast. I can reconnect with folks online and continue to bond with my newly adopted extended NorCal family. Before I can even blink, we’ve booked tickets for Maura to fly out and escort me back home.

My last day is a blur of reconnecting with Maura, saying goodbye to the NorCal crew and getting pumped up for a red-eye flight to Boston from SFO. The flight was pretty uneventful, and by Wednesday midday, I am home in Boston watching my girls take rides in my wheelchair.

A Wake Up Call
The most amazing part of this whole ordeal — all the ups and downs — is the chance I have had to connect with people in my world in an entirely new way. What was initially an inconvenience has turned into an incredible opportunity. I had no choice but to get off the runaway train that is my life as a dad/husband/entrepreneur/triathlete/coach and rely upon others for physical and emotional support.

Man, do I have some kick *** friends and family members.

While other people mourned the loss of my season for me, I was just psyched to relax and hang out with some really cool people. I am not fired up to get running again; I just wanted to get home to my family.

I am simply not scared of the path to recovery, as I know I am not alone.

Next Steps
I am home on the Cape, with PT sessions lined up until the end of the summer. I have exercise homework and a pile of real work. But I am not stressed. It’s good to be back with the family, and as the accident has shown, the core elements of my life are in excellent condition.

While I plan to heal and make a full recovery so I can return to the active lifestyle and sports I love, I also know that I will never be the same person again. The new awareness I have about the importance of family and friends; the significance of caring / giving to those in need (and of accepting that care); even the perspective of understanding what really matters at the end of the day — all of these things have fundamentally changed in me.

While I can never repay all of you for the support and love you have given me — whether in person, over the phone, or via text message — know that I can (and will) pay it forward.

 

Please click on the below link to watch the video

 

http://www.viddler.com/explore/CoachP/videos/188/


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Tomorrow brings the first day of my annual epic cycling trip courtesy of the Tour of California. I have written extensively about the value of a Basic Week plus an intermittent volume pop to build quality endurance fitness. Done properly, you can get fitter and faster without compromising your daily life and meet some of those bigger picture lifestyle goals.

Over the next few days I’ll be outlining the basics of building the ‘right’ type of volume experience, but today I can quickly touch on the history of this trip to give you some perspective.

This is the fourth consecutive year i’ve made this trek, and every year it’s gotten better. Here’s how we fast tracked it:

# We found an annual event (the Tour) to follow so routes were established and proven;

# We recruited a core group of 5 folks so we could fit in one van with bikes, food, etc;

# We split the days into business in the AM (get out the door and get riding ASAP) and fun in the PM (food and wine, etc). This is vacation after all!

# We did the research – and purchased – the right gear for exercising, supporting/fixing the gear, and lots of food.

More coming soon…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What’s your annual pilgramage? How do you schedule your travel with your goals?

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To really make the most of your volume pop, a lot of big things need to come together: family, finances, work, etc. But there’s another huge component to a successful big training week that can’t be overlooked: location, location, location.

First, the destination you pick needs to have the infrastructure to support your undertaking. This means from the environment to the stores all the way down to the people. Your challenge is big enough without needing to add other levels of friction to your day.

Second, the destination has to be accessible, both financially and physically. There are some amazing places to go and train, but we don’t want to stretch you too thin out of the gate. That said, some great locations are financially accessible once you are on the ground…so do the research!

Third, it’s all about the people. The people in the area but also the people you train with. When all else fails, the people you are surrounded with will make things better…or at least manageable. Choose wisely and be absolutely sure to treat people as good as – if not better than – you want to be treated yourself!

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One of the most challenging parts of executing a big training week or weekend is balancing your desire to train with your need to train every day, for several days.

Anyone can be a hero for a day; it takes internal fortitude and a great deal of patience to train properly so as to get in several days’ worth of good work…and reap the benefits. In this third installment we talk about selecting the proper intensity and why spacing your effort out across a week is better for your long-term fitness.

So Excited, You Explode

Summary: Fired up about a new venue, good weather, and the prospect of focusing almost 100% on their sport, most endurance athletes come charging out of the gate. This energy can only last so long, and these early birds quickly go from Day One Hero to Day Two Zero (or worse!).

Advice: Proper pacing for your workouts, and the week itself will allow you to reap the fullest benefits of your training.

  1. Chill Out: Rome, and your fitness, can’t be built in a day. But one day could ruin your whole big week.
  2. Think Big Picture: Remember that the point of your big week is to build off of the consistent work you have been doing in order to take your fitness to the next level. You aren’t out here to prove anything, just to build.
  3. Save Something for the End: Keep a cool ride or big challenge for the second to last (or even last day). This will keep you honest early on and hopefully motivated later when it matters!

Training Stress: Intensity vs Duration

Summary: Even though you might not be riding / running / rowing as fast as you would at home, remember that you aren’t here to do what you did at home. After all, that would defeat the purpose of traveling to train! Instead of leveraging intensity as a time-saver to force fitness adaptations, during your big week your goal is to extend the duration of each and every workout to earn a larger dose of training stress in a more manageable manner.

Advice: Here are two tips you can do to

  1. Set Limits: Keep the intensity down by setting a cap on what you’ll do, whether it’s heart rate or power. Meter your energy appropriately across the week to train to your best.
  2. Review Daily: Check in with your body on a daily basis; what’s easy for you on Day One might not be even close to manageable by Day Three.

Think: Mind and Body

Summary: Long hours are exciting during the planning phase, but not so much when you have to roll out of bed day-after-day to get big workouts done. If you ignore your brain, you run the risk of losing motivation long before you run out of energy to actually train.

Advice: Seek a balance in all your big week activities to stay engaged and on top of your training.

  1. Get Diverse: Mix up your routine, or turn logistical challenges into opportunities. Run to the pool to swim for your workout, for example, is a great training opportunity.
  2. Fake Racing: Set up a time trial or organize an impromptu race with other folks on site.

What other tips do you have? Tell us in the comments below!

———————
As always, I just wanted to thank you for subscribing. This blog is a success because of you and your support. Here’s to your fitness!

Become a Fan of Endurance Lifestyle Design on Facebook to join the conversation and check out my free Fit Life eBook for more insider tips!

Thank you so much!

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11,750 Foot Yoga Moment
Creative Commons License photo credit: a4gpa

One of the biggest changes that I have made in the way that I work in the last year had nothing to do with technology. It is nothing — it is not expensive. But it has radically redefined the way that I both view my work space but interact with my colleagues and then plan my day. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not something you can buy, it’s really something you need to do. It’s as simple as this. Stand up.

Standing is, I strongly believe, the next generation way of working. No, it’s not just a way that your evil corporation or dot com can force more workers into a smaller and smaller space, saving money on square footage — it’s ultimately good for your health. It’s good for the way that you think. And it really forces you to change how you plan your day.

Let’s Get Physical: Active individuals benefit from standing at work for a range of reasons, from posture, to flexibility, to even counting calories!

  • Counting Calories: The top physical benefit to standing up to work is simply that your burning calories while your there. You’re already working because your standing. You’re active, okay. So there’s that for the equation. Let’s add that right there. This alone probably negates your coffee habit or whatever else your drinking during the day…all by simply standing at work.
  • The second element of that physical benefit is for your hips and your glutes. Spending most of your day sitting down really tightens up your hips and shortens those hip flexors. This is the result of the fact that the majority of your time is spent in a docile, unengaged position. After six to eight hours a day of sitting in the car to work, sitting at work, sitting in the car home…sitting when you get home…it all means that you’re really putting your body at a disadvantage. Instead, standing at work means you’re constantly engaging your back, your core, your glutes. If you want to be proactive and geek out, you can do stretches and some exercises to do some strengthening in there. It’s amazingly different.
  • The Ups and Downs of Standing: This can be a pretty radical change, so it’s important to consider what moving to a standing workstation really means for you.

  • The Ups: The upsides of this are this is very simple, very natural just to stand in place and to work. You’re constantly moving. It’s easier to think from being free from the sitting position.
  • The Downs: The downsides of standing at work do exist. Aside from getting ridiculed by your fellow employess, there are some initial limitations that you’ll face. First, it’s not easy to put something next to your computer and read it while you’re typing. If you’re someone who does transcription or if you’re someone who does a lot of multiple reading sources, not just online but paper to online, that becomes challenging and it’s easy to elevate your computer but not so to elevate other items that you might use on a regular basis. Examples include the rolodex (if you still use that), a fax machine, your phone, etc. You may need to get, for example, a hands-free headset or something to make it easier for you to stand in place. I personally work from home, so it’s very easy for me to convert the countertops that we have to a standing workstation just by adding a stool to the top of it for my laptop and I’m done.
  • Changing the How, Not Just the Where: So how does standing change the way that you work? This was the most surprising advantage, aside from the fact that I needed to get healthy, it simply changes the way that I work.

  • Focus: I couldn’t zone out on any particular task. Because you’re standing you’re constantly moving, you’re agile, both physically and mentally. It’s a transition, a connection there, it works together, and as a result I was very focused on a task and able to focus on things for an intense period of time. I can’t zone out on them, it’s not easy for me to sit down and write for two hours. In fact, if I have a project like that I’m more likely to go somewhere where I can sit down and find some quiet and really but it really forces me to be rapid fire, so standing to process my e-mail, for example, is a no-brainer.
  • Multi-Tasking Done Right: Now that I stand, I’m much more likely to walk around while working. I actually prefer to take calls when I’m walking now, which again allows me to incorporate physical activity into my day. Forget talking, taking notes, and reading emails simultaneously — your brain can only do so much. But your brain and body can work in synchronized manner all day long. I can do this with my bluetooth headset, and it really keeps me focused.
  • Equipment for Standing: So what’s required to make this happen? There are obviously work stations you can go out and buy that cost a great deal of money…these elevate your desk and can be infinitely adjustable.

  • The Walking Desk: Some folks have built a work station on top of a treadmill for example, which is off the charts crazy. You can pretty much test this out at work by stacking things on your desk. I use a small footstool on top of my desk that helps me out. I would recommend that you do a hack first to see if this whole set-up is going to work for you and then go ahead and integrate it into your official work space on a bigger level should you find it to be most congruent with how you work, how you want to work, but also for your overall physical well-being.
  • A Paid Solution: Once you have confirmed this is going to work, you can check out if there’s a little money in your budget, definitely invest in a full-on standing work station for yourself. There are some more resource links at the bottom for reading about creating your own standing desk and why you want to do one.
  • Additional Reading / Links:

  • http://www.marksdailyapple.com/standing-at-work/
  • http://37signals.com/svn/posts/1001-standing-versus-sitting
  • http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/14/0015212
  • http://www.emaxhealth.com/1506/standing-work-can-improve-your-health-and-productivity.html
  • http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-build-a-standing-work-table
  • http://wiki.43folders.com/index.php/Working_while_standing
  • http://www.smallbusinessbrief.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10186
  • http://webworkerdaily.com/2008/04/30/are-you-ready-to-stand-while-you-work/
  • Best of luck to you and if you’ve done this before or you’re thinking about doing it, let us know in the comments, I’d love to hear about it.

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    Can Your Run Improve In Just 30 Days?

    I think so..and we are doing something about it over onMarathon Nation.

    Running improvement can be physical, mental and even emotional. Regardless of where you are on the performance curve, you can improve with a renewed focus on the fundamentals. Join the email list before 5/3 and you’ll get one email a day, for thirty days, to help you take your running game to the next level.

    Register via the form on the right, and we’ll be in touch in early May!

    In the meantime, be sure to fan MarathonNation up on Facebookand follow MN on Twitter…thanks!

    30 Run Tips:
    The fun starts on May 3rd!

    188 Views 0 Comments Permalink


    Lake Möcklen December 31

    Creative Commons License photo credit: kajvin

    Swimming is one of the most challenging aspects of being a triathlete. It’s a great way to recover and pile on aerobic training when the biking and running becomes too much, but actually building swimming fitness is another project altogether. Some folks spend a lifetime — or at least the better part of their first 20 years on this planet — striving to reach their potential.

    You, on the other hand, only have a few seasons of triathlon in you to get as good as you can. Inside Endurance Nation, we advise you against setting out to climb the entire mountain of swim fitness, as the sheer amount of time required to improve is outside the realm of possibility. Instead, we advocate you take time off for the winter, investing the extra hours into sleep, home tasks or even active recovery from quality outseason bike and run sessions.

    If you have taken time off from swimming, whether you planned it or not, here’s a road map to getting your swim mojo back.

    Don’t think in terms of X yards per week, but rather X amount of work to be ready.

    #1 — It’s Not About the Yards

    It’s all too easy to fall into a plan that just spits out training sessions and yardage because it gives you something to do. Heck, these plans are crazy easy for coaches to write; all you have to do is add a few parentheses and the workout times/distances double! But the allure of yardage doesn’t necessarily correlate to swim fitness.

    Just counting yards won’t get you ready to race. But getting back in the water will. Place your focus on building technique first, fitness second, and you’ll be on a much improved path.

    On a macro level, this translates to the first 4-6 weeks of your re-entry. During this time, you are swimming 2-3 times a week and the bulk of the work you are doing is drills and mindful swimming (slow, and deliberate).

    On a micro level, this translates to a regular swim warm up that you develop at the beginning of your season. This will become compressed as your focus eventually begins to switch more to fitness (anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks prior to your A race), but the focus points should be the same. This makes it easy to remember and improves the chances that you’ll actually do it.

    In other words, create your own swim workout “ritual.” Think of it as the 6 or 8 or 10 steps you take every time you swim before you are ready to swim. Just like you drive to the pool, find a locker, put on your suit, shower off, pick a lane, etc…you can develop a process for good swimming prepararation. Here’s an example 500 warm up.

    • Swim 100 easy, very slow pace and low effort.
    • Swim 100 as 25 stroke, 25 free.
    • Drill 200 as 4 x 50.
    • Swim 100 easy, very slow pace and low effort.

    #2 — Get Educated / Advised

    Summary: Improving your swim is a serious undertaking. Doing so on your own is downright daunting. Prepare for this challenge by really doing your research; and don’t be afraid to talk to your fellow triathletes…even they have to deal with the swim!

    Advice: First identify what type of “learner” you are. Some folks are highly visual, so watching videos of good swimming is helpful. Others are more hands on and need to be physically manipulated into the right position (and reminded!). Some triathletes are very intellectual and just get better by reading about proper swimming…really. A visually oriented learner could:

    1. Scour the inter-webs and YouTube for free videos.
    2. Shop Amazon for triathlon swimming video resources.
    3. Ask A Friend to Film You, or find a service such as The Athlete Village.
    4. Consider a swim workshop, from Total Immersion to SwimFast, and now even some new swimming membership websites.
    5. You can always go private with a 1:1 swim instructor.

    #3 — Get Race Specific Fast

    Summary: The temptation of many a novice swimmer is to do just what the swimmers do. So you join a masters swim group and end up banging out lots of 50s and 100s, including tons of other strokes. These are very “interesting” workouts, as in you won’t get bored, but they aren’t going to help you get ready for your race.

    Advice: Your goal on race day is to be able to swim as well as you can for as long as you can. Hoping, of course, that the actual course is shorter than your current swim fitness!

    1. Swimming solo is just fine right now; save the adrenaline for race day.
    2. Include one “longer” swim set per session. Yes shorter sets allow you to maintain form, but they also don’t allow you to learn to swim tired. Get the best of both worlds by putting both into any given workout. For a Half Iron athlete, this set could be anywhere from 500-1000 yds of continuous swimming and/or pulling (pull buoy); for an Ironman athletes the distance could go up to 2000 yds.

    Of course, you can also complement your swimming with a Dryland Focus, choosing to master critical skill that you can then take to the pool. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you are consistent and that you resist biting off more than you can chew. Be measured and deliberate in your approach and you’ll see results before you know it!

    +++++++++++++

    Please note the Swim Membership Link above is an affiliate link, so I get some of the proceeds if you do decide to buy something. I definitely recommend this course if you’re looking to change your swimming for the better in 2010. Kevin’s one of the best and his new site is very impressive.

    196 Views 0 Comments Permalink

    Join A Virtual Marathon Relay

    Register to Run and Enter to Win a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate

    I don’t usually spam the blog, but wanted to share this really cool challenge we have going on over at Marathon Nation (www.marathonnation.us). It’s basically a virtual event, were folks can sign up to run a leg of a marathon over the weekend of 5/15 and 5/16.

    It’s entirely free and the prizes are for fun stuff, not speed (as in Best Relay Outfit), so everyone can have a shot at “winning.”

    To learn more about the challenge, please head over to the Marathon Nation blog (here); feel free to pass this on to your friends and training partners!

    If it ain’t fun…it ain’t worth doing!!!

    202 Views 0 Comments Permalink

    Can Your Run Improve In Just 30 Days?

     

    I think so..and we are doing something about it over on Marathon Nation.

     

    Running improvement can be physical, mental and even emotional. Regardless of where you are on the performance curve, you can improve with a renewed focus on the fundamentals. Join the email list before 5/3 and you’ll get one email a day, for thirty days, to help you take your running game to the next level.

     

    Register via the form on the right, and we’ll be in touch in early May!

     

    In the meantime, be sure to fan MarathonNation up on Facebook and follow MN on Twitter…thanks!

    237 Views 0 Comments Permalink

    Lake Möcklen December 31
    Creative Commons License photo credit: kajvin

     

    Swimming is one of the most challenging aspects of being a triathlete. It’s a great way to recover and pile on aerobic training when the biking and running becomes too much, but actually building swimming fitness is another project altogether. Some folks spend a lifetime — or at least the better part of their first 20 years on this planet — striving to reach their potential.

     

    You, on the other hand, only have a few seasons of triathlon in you to get as good as you can. Inside Endurance Nation, we advise you against setting out to climb the entire mountain of swim fitness, as the sheer amount of time required to improve is outside the realm of possibility. Instead, we advocate you take time off for the winter, investing the extra hours into sleep, home tasks or even active recovery from quality outseason bike and run sessions.

     

    If you have taken time off from swimming, whether you planned it or not, here’s a road map to getting your swim mojo back.

     

    Don’t think in terms of X yards per week, but rather X amount of work to be ready.

     

    #1 — It’s Not About the Yards

     

    It’s all too easy to fall into a plan that just spits out training sessions and yardage because it gives you something to do. Heck, these plans are crazy easy for coaches to write; all you have to do is add a few parentheses and the workout times/distances double! But the allure of yardage doesn’t necessarily correlate to swim fitness.

     

    Just counting yards won’t get you ready to race. But getting back in the water will. Place your focus on building technique first, fitness second, and you’ll be on a much improved path.

     

    On a macro level, this translates to the first 4-6 weeks of your re-entry. During this time, you are swimming 2-3 times a week and the bulk of the work you are doing is drills and mindful swimming (slow, and deliberate).

     

    On a micro level, this translates to a regular swim warm up that you develop at the beginning of your season. This will become compressed as your focus eventually begins to switch more to fitness (anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks prior to your A race), but the focus points should be the same. This makes it easy to remember and improves the chances that you’ll actually do it.

     

    In other words, create your own swim workout “ritual.” Think of it as the 6 or 8 or 10 steps you take every time you swim before you are ready to swim. Just like you drive to the pool, find a locker, put on your suit, shower off, pick a lane, etc…you can develop a process for good swimming prepararation. Here’s an example 500 warm up.

     

    • Swim 100 easy, very slow pace and low effort.
    • Swim 100 as 25 stroke, 25 free.
    • Drill 200 as 4 x 50.
    • Swim 100 easy, very slow pace and low effort.

     

    #2 — Get Educated / Advised

     

    Summary: Improving your swim is a serious undertaking. Doing so on your own is downright daunting. Prepare for this challenge by really doing your research; and don’t be afraid to talk to your fellow triathletes…even they have to deal with the swim!

     

    Advice: First identify what type of “learner” you are. Some folks are highly visual, so watching videos of good swimming is helpful. Others are more hands on and need to be physically manipulated into the right position (and reminded!). Some triathletes are very intellectual and just get better by reading about proper swimming…really. A visually oriented learner could:

     

    1. Scour the inter-webs and YouTube for free videos.
    2. Shop Amazon for triathlon swimming video resources.
    3. Ask A Friend to Film You, or find a service such as The Athlete Village.
    4. Consider a swim workshop, from Total Immersion to SwimFast, and now even some new swimming membership websites.
    5. You can always go private with a 1:1 swim instructor.

    #3 — Get Race Specific Fast

     

    Summary: The temptation of many a novice swimmer is to do just what the swimmers do. So you join a masters swim group and end up banging out lots of 50s and 100s, including tons of other strokes. These are very “interesting” workouts, as in you won’t get bored, but they aren’t going to help you get ready for your race.

     

    Advice: Your goal on race day is to be able to swim as well as you can for as long as you can. Hoping, of course, that the actual course is shorter than your current swim fitness!

     

    1. Swimming solo is just fine right now; save the adrenaline for race day.
    2. Include one “longer” swim set per session. Yes shorter sets allow you to maintain form, but they also don’t allow you to learn to swim tired. Get the best of both worlds by putting both into any given workout. For a Half Iron athlete, this set could be anywhere from 500-1000 yds of continuous swimming and/or pulling (pull buoy); for an Ironman athletes the distance could go up to 2000 yds.

     

    Of course, you can also complement your swimming with a Dryland Focus, choosing to master critical skill that you can then take to the pool. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you are consistent and that you resist biting off more than you can chew. Be measured and deliberate in your approach and you’ll see results before you know it!

     

    +++++++++++++

     

    Please note the Swim Membership Link above is an affiliate link, so I get some of the proceeds if you do decide to buy something. I definitely recommend this course if you’re looking to change your swimming for the better in 2010. Kevin’s one of the best and his new site is very impressive.

    332 Views 0 Comments Permalink

    It's Superman!
    Creative Commons License photo credit: Dude Crush

    Improving your efficiency as a swimmer is one of the hardest parts of being a triathlete. Not because swimming is that incredibly hard, but because proper swimming is a skill-oriented exercise. All the fitness in the world won’t help you if only 5% of that strength is contributing to your forward motion in the water.

    For many, learning to swim is the equivalent of learning a foreign language. What comes easily as a child – or perhaps after hundreds of thousands of yards in the pool – simply doesn’t process the same way for adults. Our muscle memory patterns are almost hard-wired, we don’t have the time to dedicate to training and, more often than not, our brains tend to get in the way of what our body wants to do.

     

    We need short cuts, and we need them to be both simple to practice but to implement as well.

    Here are two great exercises you can do to improve your triathlon swimming, and neither one of them requires a trip to the pool! Review and implement them consistently for a few weeks and your in-water experience will most certainly improve!

     

    Swim Catch Drill / Exercise
    The most elusive part of the swim stroke for the adult novice swimmer, the catch can take many years to properly master. Ultimately your goal is to “anchor” your hand and forearm in the water and move your body past that point. Finding this right point takes and incredible amount of patience and self awareness, making this dryland exercise very valuable.

     

    Most beginner swimmers mistake any form of tension for the right thing, and tend to pull massive windmill stokes through the water. This shotgun approach is very ineffective and places a great deal of stress on your shoulder.

     

    Instead, learn to position your body almost perpendicular to the bottom of the pool to “open” your shoulder and forearm for a much easier catch process. Watch the video here:

     

    Swim Cord Drill / Exercise
    Once you have upgraded your catch to “work in progress”, it’s time to add some actual work to the process. This can be achieved by using swim cords.

    Following the same approach as in the first drill, you can position your body to extend at the catch. Then you engage your back muscles / lats and pull through. Be sure to reinforce the initiation of the pull using the (bigger, stronger) back muscles so you can work on bringing that into your pool stroke.

    These cords are typically flexible tubing available from any swim catalog or also found online via medical supply companies (especially good for bulk orders). Watch the video here:

     

    Finally, Fast Track Your Triathlon Swim: My friend Kevin Koskella, one of the best swim coaches for triathletes on the planet, has created a new online learning space where triathletes can improve their swimming through video tutorials, written guidance, coach support and feedback and much more. It’s called TriSwimSecrets, and for the next 14 days, Kevin is opening the doors to a select group of folks. If you want to learn more, or are even considering signing up, simply visit TriSwimSecrets here to see the first video.

     

    This is an affiliate link, so I get some of the proceeds if you do decide to buy something. I definitely recommend this course if you’re looking to change your swimming for the better in 2010. Kevin’s one of the best and his new site is very impressive.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

     

    Continued Learning
    If you’d like to learn more about proper swimming, there are tons of online resources available out there. Each works slightly differently and some might fit you better that others, be sure to do all your research first…and good luck!

     

    See you at the races!

     

    – Patrick

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    The 360-Degree Taper

    Posted by Patrick McCrann Apr 30, 2010

    Where I'd Rather Be....
    Creative Commons License photo credit: WisDoc

    Here’s a simple exercise. Add up all the hours you trained in your biggest week and then divide that by the total number of hours in the entire week (168). The results should be humbling. Even a massive 24 hours of training in a single week is only 14.2% of that week. In other words, you spend 85% of your time doing stuff other than exercise.

     

    Almost every training plan or coach I know includes a taper before the big event. The goal is to recover, absorb fitness, and prepare for a day of super-performance. If all goes well, the athlete will be able to perform at or just above the ability demonstrated in training. But if all we do is cut back on your training load and manage your intensity…ignoring the other 85% of your life…exactly how effective do you think that taper protocol will be?

     

    It’s Not Just About the Training
    From my experience working with athletes, the pre-race period is rife with additional stressors not present in daily life. There’s upcoming travel to the event and the logistics associated with family and equipment. There’s the challenges associated with walking away from our work and personal lives for a few days. There’s the pressure of performance, equally as heavy whether you are a paid professional or a committed age grouper. And let’s not forget the fact that you actually need to race!

     

    Here are a few tips on how I counsel people to manage the taper period. Take what you can use, ignore the rest, and add your own tips via the comments below…thanks!

     

    The Travel Schedule

    Summary: Getting to your event, equipment and family and self intact, is in and of itself an amazing feat. Really. The number of potential roadblocks — from packing to security to food to sleep to directions to money — far outnumber the forces operating on your side. The event itself aside, this is quite possibly the biggest stressor in your season.

     

    Advice: Narrow your focus down to what critically matters. Empower and/or eqiup those traveling with you to take charge of their own situation, and do as much before you leave the house as possible:

     

    1. Do all your critical pre-trip shopping for last-minute gear and travel food the weekend before your race, so you can eliminate last minute dashes to the store.
    2. Pack your equipment about 24 hours before you need it, giving you time to shop / fix any last minute issues so you can travel worry free.
    3. Print your travel itinerary, final directions, and any other key logistical information. Then keep it in a manilla folder with your name on it; or better yet put it on your smart phone (thanks, evernote).

     

    The Work Strategy

    Summary: Fresh off the sting of you leaving for training vacations, your envious colleagues now have to deal with another absence. Better yet, you are only racing for a few hours but need to leave for five days…that’s just not fair! And let’s not forget anxious clients and the inevitable project that just won’t go away. It’s a wonder you’ll be able to do the race without an earpiece in!

     

    Advice: Set expectations as early as possible regarding the importance of your event and what you’ll need to do. This includes for your boss as well as your colleagues; leave no one out of the loop.

     

    1. Give your contact info to those who need it, but stress that your availability is limited.
    2. Set an autoresponder and/or voicemail that leaves explicit instructions on how folks can reach others in your absence who can solve their problem(s).
    3. Do everyone a favor and don’t leave anything until the last minute. At the very least leave everything with a next action step and a date for when you will get to it (upon your return).
    4. Really do your best to get away. It’s actually good for you and your team, and you can repay the favor when someone else in the office is chasing a valued personal goal (reciprocity rules!).

     

    Great Expectations

    Summary: Your harshest critic; your toughest training partner; your arch enemy (at times)…these people all have one thing in common: YOU. The time and energy and money that goes into a proper training cycle for a big event are the “big three” — the things that conspire to put inordinate pressure on you pre-race. Succumb to their pull and risk blowing things before you even start.

     

    Advice: Maintain perspective. This is a hobby. You do this sport for fun; you aren’t getting paid for it! I am not saying don’t try hard, just avoid totally geeking out. After days / weeks / months of doing what you love daily…most likely early, alone and in the dark…you now get to celebrate your passion by competing with hundreds and thousands of other folks just like you. It’s not pressure, this is a party!

     

    1. Know that the only person who really cares how you do is you. Your friends and family just want you to be safe and happy. You owe them that.
    2. Keep a smile on your face all day; you are blessed to be physically and financially able to compete this event. There are many others who couldn’t even dream of being in your shoes their lives are so hard.
    3. Focs externally on the other folks during your week, saying hi to the other athletes and thanking the volunteers and local establishments who make your event possible. It will keep the good karma flowing and keep you in check.
    4. The only time that matters is what the clock says at the end of the day. There will be challenges throughout your endurance day, it’s what’s supposed to happen! You ability to handle them quickly and effectively will ensure you spend less time on the course and get to the finish line faster.

     

    About Those Workouts

    Summary: The entire goal of a taper period for an endurance event can be boiled down to this: getting you rested and ready to race. There really isn’t any “peaking” or last-minute speed gains to speak of…that’s for this super-short, high end events. For most of us, the taper exists to facilitate the absorption of the work we have done and to keep us sane before the event.

     

    Advice: Stop looking for magical workouts; the “work” is officially done. Instead focus on being rested and relaxed; ask yourself daily if you have achieved both, and if not, if your workout will help you towards either goal. If not, then just chill out!

     

    1. Have a schedule in place, but check in with your body daily to see if the workout is the right thing to do.
    2. Be extra vigilant. Riding through your town while your brain is off envisioning your race is a very, very bad place to be. Safety is number one.
    3. Focus on race set up (especially if you have new gear related to the race) and form/technique. These things are conduits for your fitness. Don’t be one of those folks who has a fantastic “engine” ready for race day, but doesn’t have the right “wheels” to make the work happen.
    4. No one has ever said, man, I was just too rested and ready to race today. Strive to be that person.

    ———————
    As always, I just wanted to thank you for subscribing. This blog is a success because of you and your support. Here’s to your fitness!

     

    Become a Fan of Endurance Lifestyle Design on Facebook to join the conversation and check out my free Fit Life eBook for more insider tips!

     

    Thank you so much!

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    How To Taper with Intent

    Posted by Patrick McCrann Apr 23, 2010

    Just let me sleep ten more minutes
    Creative Commons License photo credit: rharrison

    As the early big races of the season are approaching, it’s time to once again consider perhaps the hardest part of your training: the taper. While  almost every triathlete has heard of tapering, very few actually get it right. This article has two goals: to help you understand your personal needs and cues for tapering based on your event, and to give you active steps you can take to implement your taper.
    Before we begin, two caveats:

    1. Those of you looking for number crunching and data-driven analyses will have to go elsewhere. In my experience as a coach, each individual and indeed each specific taper is different — formulas are nothing more than a slightly more specific guideline.
    2. I believe the taper is equal parts physiology and psychology; understanding and incorporating both elements into your pre-race plan is the only way to build the ideal taper for you.

     

    “Not Doing” and the Type A Athlete
    The hardest part about executing a proper paper is understanding when doing more actually yields less. There is a distinct point of diminishing returns, and a true taper begins when you actively stop working to create fatigue. By that I mean you are legitimately focused on what we would call recovery and sharpening. The first phase of your taper is recovering, letting the work that you have most recently done — some of your longest bikes, runs, and swims of the entire year — be absorbed.

    Once your body is well along the path of absorbing that work, only then can you move to sharpening.  This is where you can begin to add a little bit of intensity back into the equation. Perhaps even including some race pace efforts, as these will help to acclimatize your body to where  you want it to be by the time the race day arrives.

     

    Testing Your Fitness
    One of the biggest challenges that endurance athletes face as their key event gets closer is a desire to test their fitness. In many ways a large part of the exercise in preparing for an endurance event involves spending weeks and months building your fitness in preparation for a single day. The nature of the event itself, however, prevents you from actually doing your event in training.

    It’s not like a 5K race for example, where you can go out and do a bunch of 5K racing to get ready to do more 5K races. As a result, when your race day approaches, you really have no sense of where you are in terms of how you’re going to be able to put your race together. The temptation then, as the race gets closer, is to go out and do a couple of key workouts.

    Perhaps, for example, if you’re doing a Half Ironman, you might be tempted to go out and ride 56 miles (or something close to it) at your goal race pace just to make sure you can really do it.

    Or maybe you have a time in mind. You’re going to go out and do whatever it takes to earn that time despite the fact that you’re on a test course in a non-race environment. And you’re not rested. Your body will respond to that call for action. And it will deliverable the goods most of the time. The problem being that now you’ve proven you’ve got the goods means you will now most likely not have the goods by the time you need them to race!

    Trust your plan, trust your taper. Take confidence in the fact that you have done tons of training and that you have a very long day — up to 140.6 miles — to demonstrate how well you have prepared.

     

    Last Minute Speed
    Lastly, there is often a last minute desire to put in some kind of speed work to become a little bit faster.  You’re maybe six to eight weeks out from your race, you’ve done a couple of key workouts, put in a big block of training, and now that you’re starting to taper you’re looking at where you’ve been. You’re looking at what you’ve done. And in looking at where you want to be…there’s a little bit of a gap.

    How can I taper suddenly becomes, “Can I please go out and do some work?” “Can I please go out and put in another block of training, do a little bit more intensity, and then reap those results on race day?”  And the quick answer to that is what you already know: absolutely not.  Any extra work you do now during the taper period is only going to interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the work that you’ve already done.

    It’s very tempting to allow your brain to take over the taper process.  From your brain’s perspective the only workout that really is still on your mind is the one you did just yesterday or the day before. But your body speaks in a much more holistic and long-term manner.  It’s still dealing with workouts you put in the bank three weeks ago and the residual fatigue from that work.

    If your fitness is a lake, each workout then is a giant stone that you drop into the water. The effects of that work are the ripples that spread out across the surface. That’s what happens from each workout, and every additional workout you do is another stone you put in that pond.  More ripples, and ripples upon ripples.  Those add up over time and in some cases, like a miniature butterfly effect, even seemingly unconnected events can have a significant fatigue wave to them.  And if you don’t take the requisite recovery you’re going to be facing a seriously underwhelming race day.

    If you are concerned about getting some last minute speed, there are some things you can do to get that speed.

    Number one, the easiest thing to do is obviously to rest.  The more rest you can get, the better off you will be.

    Number two, body composition.  If you could do anything in the last two to three weeks  to keep the weight down, or perhaps take a little bit of weight off in a sensible way, you will absolutely reap the benefits of that work and you will be fast on race day just by virtue of having to carry less of you around.

    Another option for you of course is to check into your equipment.  Is everything dialed in?  Do you need to put a new wheel set on your bike?  Perhaps new tires.  Perhaps you can lube things up, take care of your bike.  If you’re doing another type of adventure race, maybe you can look into new equipment or just cleaning up and tightening the bolts on all the equipment you do have.  The point being that you can be fast on race day simply by having better equipment and using that equipment better during the race situation.

     

    The Only Two Race Morning Goals That Matter
    The entire point your taper is to get you 100% physically and mentally ready to race.  That’s it. It’s very tempting to think about the need to gain speed, to look for a miracle workout that’s going to prove that you really are ready, but ultimately the goal of the taper is to make sure you are rested.

    After months of training, you now have to focus your attention and energy towards the not doing, towards things that are going to promote your ability to have a full stock of energy when you need it on race day.

    Making that switch is very difficult to do; a lot of people really get confused and really suffer because they are unable to manage that execution and to do the work that’s really required to be as fast as you can be on race day.  There’s so much that it comes down to getting yourself ready.

    So, you need to sit down and really start thinking about what it is that you need to line up from a mental standpoint, as well as a physical standpoint, to be ready to execute on the day.  You can review your training logs to make sure you’ve done the good work.  You can go ahead and review your equipment and feel confident about what you have.  You can go ahead and outline the race plan to make sure that you know what you’re going to do on the day.  You can make sure that your travel arrangements are all lined up, everything’s printed out, all the itineraries, family friends, everyone else knows what they need to do.

    Good luck on race day and remember to smile and have fun!

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    Where does the time go? I can’t even remember the last time I posted here and it’s not because I am slacking. Quite the opposite; 2010 is shaping up to be a pretty awesome year. Endurance Nation is growing steadily (we just shipped over 100 singlets!), my new book on Endurance Lifestyle Design is due out soon (no really it is!), and in just a few days, we’ll be opening the doors to Marathon Nation.

    Since I haven’t really spoken about it in detail here, forgive me for sharing a few more details with you about Marathon Nation.

    ++++++++ BEGIN NOTE ++++++++

    Doors Open Monday, 4/19, for just 26 hours: Get On The List

    If you’ve been around for a while, you know I’ve been very careful and deliberate with the growth of my online businesses. Marathon Nation is no different.

    This is my first comprehensive resource for runners, and I want to be careful about opening it up too broadly at first. Therefore, I’m going to open it for one day only. Just 26 hours (get it?), and then that’s it for at least a month.

    Why the mysterious deadline? I want to work a bit more closely with the first group of members. After the 26-hour window closes, we’ll spend the next four weeks getting everyone integrated and set up in the community and with our plans. There will be several live video chats where we’ll go through every single question in detail — no matter how long it takes.

    After we’ve had a month to get up to speed and improve with the feedback from first group of members, we’ll do another launch to a broader audience. There won’t be as much hand-holding the next time, and the price of membership will probably go up as well.

    I’ve worked on this community for the past few months, and I know it is really going to help people take a big step towards improving their running fitness and experience.

    If you or someone you know wants access, I encourage you to sign up for our Wait List via the Join Page on the Marathon Nation website.

    ++++++++ END NOTE ++++++++

    For everyone else who’s here just waiting for the regularly scheduled goodness, here’s a quick dose and I promise things will be (mostly) back to normal in just over a week!

    My interview this week with Rex Ingram talked a lot about really cool spaces, and Rex actually makes them. Learn more about what he does on his site.

    My nutritional focus guy is holding the first ever “Primal Con” in the next few days out in sunny SoCal. I can’t be there, but it’s worth following for sure.

    Ironman announced new wetsuit rules, sending tons of non-detail oriented triathletes into a blogging, tweeting frenzy.

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    home desk remix
    Creative Commons License photo credit: jm3

    Another crazy week, this one marred by my first serious injury of 2010 (yes, I assume there will be more!) and filled by the crazy work preparing for the launch of Marathon Nation. For those of you not following me on Twitter, somehow I managed to tweak my back putting in a swingset for the kids. A huge win for them and a pretty solid setback for me…but I am being as proactive as I can around taking care of it. Turns out my cats love the foam roller, so everyone is happy!

    The Launch
    We open the doors to 100 Beta Testers on Monday 4/5, which means the better part of the last week has been focused on getting everything ready. If you are a marathon runner, or know one, Marathon Nation is going to change the running game: new training plans, specific guidance and a huge focus on training and racing Return On Investment. There are no more invites, but you can download our race execution resource for an idea of where we are coming from. And if you fan us on Facebook you just might get a special sneek peek before we truly go live later this month. It pays to be a fan!

    Lifestyle
    My personal focus has switched to damage control this week, with my back, and I have been paying a great deal of attention to what young Leigh Boyle has to say about self-care. Here’s a great post on posterior hip, and there’s more if you keep digging.

    Entrepreneur
    If you are a start up type of person or think you might want to be, I encourage you to check out the Art of Non Conformity blog. The author, Chris G, will be launching his “Empire Building Kit” next week. If it’s remotely as good as his prior stuff, it will be a game-changer.

    Have a great weekend!

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