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This week has simply flown by…returning from Austin and getting back to basics with the family was awesome, but simultaneously amazingly hard. We have held a Women’s Open House for Endurance Nation and I have launched a new marathon focused site: Marathon Nation (but more on that later).

 

Multisport World Expo on Saturday 3/20


This is going to be a great event, although it could be sabotaged by the great weather we are having. Coach P will be there all day just inside the entrance at the EN table. Stop by to say Hi, represent EN, come to his talk @ 10:45 AM or watch him suffer at the indoor TT @ 12:15. Maybe you’d prefer to wait until 4pm to meet him at the Asgard for a beer? That’s okay too…see you soon!

 

Lifestyle


Lots of writing but very little to show for it. I will have some new articles soon, but in the meantime please get ready for my Fit Life eBook (Free). It will be released this weekend and I think you’ll like it a lot. If you pay attention to my blog you’ll find it popping up there shortly.

 

Entrepreneur


Two points on the entrepreneurial front, this week. First it was totally inspirational to be at the conference last week in Minneapolis. In very short order the participants took a bunch of ideas and built a (relatively) viable business. Very cool to meet such smart folks and rub elbows with them. I want to give big props to my good friend Dan Socie whose new line of embrocation products via Soigneur is just awesome. I also would like to thank Linda Patch who has really been a great mentor over the last few weeks / months as I consider what it means to be an entrepreneur and to help others.

 

Finally, an update on my latest project: Marathon Nation. Here’s the official lingo:

Inside Marathon Nation, we all work together to help every single one of us realize our running potential. What binds us together is a desire to train hard and smart. We want to be part of a supportive community that cares about each other in sport and in life, a community that provides opportunities to grow both personally and athletically. At the end of the day, the cutting edge plans and multimedia resources we use are only a small part of what makes the Marathon Nation experience so powerful. We are a brand new online community of runners who will redefine what it means to be on a Team.

If you are a marathon runner, or know one, Marathon Nation is going to rock your world. New training plans, specific guidance and a huge focus on training and racing Return On Investment. We are in the pre-launch phase right now, but we do have 100 beta invites and a race execution resource you can download right now.

 

Marathon Nation is also live on Facebook! If you are interested in making the most of your training time and think there’s more to life than just training (gasp!), you’ll find resources and camaraderie over here. Please Fan Us and tell your friends…maybe even consider following MN on Twitter!

Have a great weekend!

 

~ Patrick

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Si quieres ir rápido, tienes que ir solo ... // If you want to go fast, you have to go alone ...


Creative Commons License photo credit: Todo-Juanjo


Make a quiet place and run within yourself.

 

 

The challenge of improving run speed falls primarily to two main physical derivatives: your cadence and the length of your stride. And, either increasing your cadence or increasing the length of your stride — both of those will, or a combination of the two — will lead to an improved overall run speed. But becoming a better runner is more than just improving the speed at which you run.

 

It is also about improving comfort and your ability to sustain any given pace for a longer period of time. This is where technique can have a role in your running. While there are many different things you can do to improve your technique, here are my top three.

 

The first one is to improve that cadence. You can go out right now, start running, and get up your cadence between 90 and 92 foot strikes per minute (or RPMs). If you have a GPS device with a cadence sensor, your work is practically already done. If you don’t have a cadence sensor, you can use your stopwatch, and every 15 seconds just count the number of times one foot hits the ground. You want to strike the ground between 22 and 23 times every 15 seconds. Once you get that cadence up between 90 and 92 rpms your body begins to assume a lot of the proper positioning. You are not inclined to over-stride; you are forced to have a slightly more efficient gait. And you can do that right now as you lace up your shoes and walk out the door.

 

Number two, you can learn to breath from your belly. A lot of people tend to run at a low Zone 3 or moderate tempo pace. This is just hard enough that you need to change how you breathe, but not hard enough to really induce any specific fitness adaptation. One of the characteristics of this level of intensity is what I call “tension” of breath. It’s a subtle tensing, part of what makes us feel like we are “working,” and it happens in your upper chest. What I want you to do on your next run is to move that breath down. Relax your diaphragm — just below the front of your rib cage and just above your belly button — and really try and do your best to get your breath to naturally come from that space. Let the diaphragm do its own work without forcing it (as you do when breathing within your chest). That relaxation process is going to translate to an overall relaxed posture throughout the body, enabling you to become much more comfortable at your given pace.

 

The number three thing you can do to start improving your running technique today is to take off the watch. Remove the watch, put it on the table and slowly back away. Stop focusing on time; stop benchmarking yourself in every single run you do. Take a period of time to get back to the basics: it could be two or three days, maybe you need a week. Discover why you enjoy running. Find some new places to run. As you do this, focus on your cadence and focus on that relaxed breathing.

 

Some combination of these three elements can help you create the conditions in which you can improve your running technique…and the best part is you can start today.

 

Good luck!

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This Is Me...
...Looking At You!

It’s been a while since I put up my weekly training summary, and I wanted to quickly update all of you who have been poking me to find out what’s going on. Bottom line is things are just crazy busy and while I am training, I have had minimal time to log it all in…sound familiar?

 

In retrospect I was very pleased with my Half Marathon time — it put my vDOT back up to 56 or where I was for most of last year, and it was a 3.5 minute improvement over essentially the same course less than 9 months ago. I took some down time and have been staying as consistent as possible on the bike given the need to run more with Boston Marathon right around the corner (will you be there? if so, let me know). I put in a 17 miler on Monday at about 7:20 pace, which felt good but I was still fatigued from the race the weekend before.

 

This week I have been on the road to consult in Minneapolis and now down to Austin to train. I have been active, but not on the OutSeason schedule and a bit lighter knowing I have some good training to do this weekend. Without a doubt I have not been training to the volume standards of previous years — as limited as those years were. But the benchmarks are there.

 

This is the basic strategy known as raising the left and filling in the right. For users of WKO+, you are familiar with the mean maximal power curve. The shorter the time frame the higher the power…the longer the efforts become the lower the power goes (i.e. my 30-second power is much higher then my 3 hour power). Now that I have raised the left to levels consistent with what I was able to put out two years ago in my Ironman prime (10:04 at IM CDA and Kona) I am breaking to do some filling in of the right. I will put in three solid days of big aerobic training and then return to Boston for similarly focused work through the Boston marathon. Then it will be time to go hard again for 4 weeks before heading out to the Tour of California for a slightly longer endurance block.

 

Of course, planning is one thing, execution is another. I want to crush myself this weekend, but there are many potential conflicts (new town, new weather, rented bike). Whatever plays out, I know it will be fun and I will be shelled. I can’t wait.

 

If you’d like to follow my training exploits, please find me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/pmccrann). If you are in Austin and want to meet up we are doing so on Friday night from 5-7pm, just hit me on Twitter for last minute info.

 

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

 

Before I forget, some quick notes on what’s on my radar this week. I wanted to thank the folks who participated in the consulting project I attended – you all brought your A-game and it showed. In particular Sally McKenzie (@mckenziesa, Michael Silberman at EchoDitto (blog), and Dan Cramer at grassrootssolutions.com).  I haven’t read it yet, but plan to get a copy of ReWork by 37signals as soon as I can — these guys simply transformed the way I work about two years ago and I have never looked back. Someone just showed me the TaxiMagic app for my iPhone that lets me order — and pay! — for cabs in certain cities right from my phone. I am halfway through The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Taleb, a birthday book that is really a mental mouthful, I love it. What are you up to and, more importantly, what should I be checking out???

 

have been consistent

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Austin Day One Report

Posted by Patrick McCrann Mar 15, 2010
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My Ride

With my late arrival from Minneapolis on Thursday night, I knew my early AM plans were already in jeopardy. Surprisingly though, I was up by 4:30 and managed to get some work done before heading off to the pool. I ended up choosing Big Stacy as the pool, and it was awesome. The pool is 100 feet long, but there was an open lane and it was a gorgeous day. Given the length I couldn’t really do the math, so I just swam steady. I put in about 3000 yds in just over 45 minutes.

 

A quick change at the car saw me head out to Lady Bird Lake, running on the “east” side. I did a total of 6.25 miles. It was a bit urban at the start, but then I got to the lake with a great path and so much more. Joy!

 

It was time for a work break at Starbucks, and a coffee+scone later I was off to Jack and Adams Bike Shop. These guys hooked me up big time, putting me on a sweet Felt. I was amazed at how busy the shop was…a great experience without being overwhelming. I headed out on the “Dam Loop” and put in 65 hilly and windy miles over some great terrain.

 

Daily Totals: 5 hours, 3k swim, 6.25 run, 65 bike.

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Austin Day Two Report

Posted by Patrick McCrann Mar 15, 2010
Where'd the Road Go???

 

Day Two found me just a little bit tired from the Friday afternoon bike ride…dowh! I got up early and got in a quick 4 miles + 100 pushups + Crunches. Some quick coffee and it was off to Fitzburgh Road. Some of the Austin Sleeper Cell let me know it was good, and Margot was kind enough to lead me out. Barely any traffic, plenty of hills and great scenery — this was awesome!

 

Beautiful

 

The road was a simple out and back, 30 miles each way. There was a slight headwind on the way out (got worse on lap two!) but it made for a faster ride home each time. I really enjoyed the terrain, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I rode considering I haven’t ridden longer than 20 miles in months (save for yesterday when I did 65). Just a great overall ride!

 

Day Two Totals: 4 miles run and 120 miles bike.
Totals Thus far: 3k swim, 10.25 miles run and 185 miles on the bike

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Austin Day Three Report

Posted by Patrick McCrann Mar 15, 2010

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I didn’t take this picture…

Sunday morning came, and I woke up with cement legs. I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised, given the riding yesterday, but still it hurt. I fired up the coffee and searched the room for my motivation, but it was hiding out big time. After two cups of coffee and resetting all the clocks (losing an hour!), I got into the car to drive to the Town Lake.

 

It’s a gorgeous running path that circles the lake. I put in 1.5 loops and some random turns to log a nice 19 miler. I actually felt really good, running about 7:25/mile, but I was mentally done. Seeing all the families coming out for a nice walk made me seriously homesick. Forget cramps, homesickness is definitely worse!

 

My totals for the three days: 3k swim, 185 bike, 29.25 run in about 14.5 hours.

 

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s about twice what I have been doing in a single week. :) Once again showing that volume is totally overrated. About the only thing you need to go longer is a lot more food, some serious mental strength, and maybe some music (needed mine).

 

Time to recover for one last night here at SXSW, then off to an early flight. Gonna be fun!

 

Be well,

Patrick

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Let’s Meet & Get Hydrated!

 

 

It’s that time of year again when I get to hit the road. While it’s no Tour of California, it’s still part work / part fun. You can help make it even cooler by checking your schedule to see if you can meet up while I am on the road.

 

First Stop, Minneapolis (Work)
I am speaking / facilitating at a workshop on building communities based on the experience of building EN into a real, viable, paid online business. I’ll be on a panel with some real heavy hitters (day 1) and then we all hit the ground to do some serious brainstorming for the client on how they can implement similar strategies in their niche (day 2).

 

Having done a great deal of training during my days in the Peace Corps and then again in Azerbaijan, I am just psyched to get to wear this hat again. I am a bit daunted about being asked to explain Endurance Nation (I think the members are what have built it, not us) but I look forward to being able to share what we have grown together and hope it inspires similarly-minded people to build something cool.

 

More on the overall project when it’s done, but I hope this will prove to be just the first step towards doing some legitimate consulting. Several readers have asked for help in building a paid niche community, and I am working on how we could do this in a way that we all win. If you want more info on this project, please contact me here.

 

Second Stop, Austin (Fun)
I am then headed to Austin for 3 full days of epic training. I have a bike rented from Jack & Adams and a bunch of maps, some chamois cream, and ton of energy bars. Three days isn’t a lot of time, but I plan on trying to do as much damage as possible. You’ll be able to follow those updates on Twitter.

 

I also plan on making it to part of SXSW to check in on some of the social media rockstars that I stalk via Google Reader. If you are going to be there for the conference, or you live near Austin, let me know or or RSVP so we can set a good place for that Friday!

 

The RSVP Stuff

Minneapolis Meet Up
Wednesday, March 10 @ 8pm
Kieran’s Irish Pub
RSVP on Facebook, or tell me via the Blog

 

Austin Meet Up
Friday, March 12 @ 8pm
Location TBD
RSVP via my Blog and I’ll update you re the final location!

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A menthol-scented, mojo-filled Friday link collection…powered by Soigneur!

 

This week has been a wild one, bouncing back from my half marathon (race report) and prepping for my upcoming work / training trip(s) through Minneapolis and Austin (more on those soon). Really looking forward to some plane & hotel time to get some quality work done…now I just have to remember to sleep!

Lifestyle reading has been interesting this week. Picked up a few new blogs to follow, including Smart Passive Income (sounds cheesy, but he really talks about running a small business) and the Indispensable Guide to Time Management. Over on Muselife, the two guys had a great video interview series with Sam Carpenter of Work The System fame (also very follow-worthy).

 

Two points on the entrepreneurial front, this week. First, I got my first can of embrocation from the good folks at Soigneur. I am super stoked to try it out this weekend when the temps are due to hit Spring-like levels. Thanks!! Second, I just gave my Cycling 2.0 — Training & Racing with Power talk at TriFitLab in RI. The facility has computrainer set up and enough bike get-fast geekery to make your head spin. If you have to check out Todd online, do that here, but if you can get to the lab…you just gotta! And for those of you looking to start your own gig, Chris over at Art of Nonconformity has a great guest post with Tsilli Pines, who has started her own ketubah (wedding contract) business — talk about niche!

 

On the technology front, I had to upgrade to a new iPhone 3Gs after two years on one of the original ones. I love it, especially the new camera. Amazing difference. I also have a new backup drive from the folks at Lacie, after my original one died. I now have total redundancy between that and my online Mozy.com backup…here’s to not losing another few years of pictures and memories!

 

Finally, an update on my own projects…

 

New Endurance Lifestyle Design page is live on Facebook! If you are interested in making the most of your training time and think there’s more to life than just training (gasp!), you’ll find resources and camaraderie over here. Please Fan Us and tell your friends, thanks!

 

The Triathlon Answers website now has a weekly summary email that you can subscribe to…see all the questions and then reply to the ones you want. Great for coaches and people with specific interests. Visit the site and subscribe here. Social butterflies can simply follow TA via Twitter!

 

Have a great weekend!

 

~ Patrick

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In the seventh installment from my new book on Endurance Lifestyle Design, I put my jedi mind trick powers to work in an attempt to convince you that you are already well on your way to building your Endurance Lifestyle.

 

If you want to get these excerpts and my other regular posts via email just click here to sign up. You can also subscribe to the RSS Feed or follow me on Twitter for updates.

 

++++++++++++BEGIN EXCERPT+++++++++++++++

What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

By now you should have a pretty good sense of where this book is headed. Depending on where you are right now, in your life, the following chapters will either: (A) fit nicely with your world view or (B) seriously change how you think about everything from racing, to planning, to eating and more. History has shown, however, that what I have written isn’t as important as whether or not you’ll actually do any of it.

 

Do You Really Have Any Other Choice?
I found myself at a crossroads of my life. My training time was maxed out, work was suffering and we were about to start a family. With my back to the virtual wall, the path out became extremely clear . I took those first few steps and have never looked back. But what if you aren’t in the same place and don’t have that same sense of urgency?

 

If you are reading this book, chances are you are in the same place…even if you haven’t fully grasped it…yet. Understand that time is your most valuable resource, not money. Odds are that your current training approach is nothing more than a black hole that sucks up all the time you have that you aren’t sleeping, eating, or working. This leaves you with precious little time to do the other things that matter to you. In other words, you are already paying for the decision to place your training above everything else, even though you might not realize it.

 

Understanding the Resistance You Have to Change…So You Can Change.
The biggest challenge of the new Endurance Lifestyle isn’t the intervals. It isn’t the schedule. The biggest sticking point is change. Inertia is simple, easy, and convenient. Change is hard, even though at the end of the day we are trying to make your life easier by bringing your training in sync with everything else that matters to you.

 

Your current endurance worldview holds that more hours/time/miles equals a higher probability of success. Take away the hours and it’s easy to see how one might think the odds of success have also shrunk commensurately. Not to mention that we are creatures of habit, and we typically lead very full lives. Shifting things around is understandably a little disconcerting, and not only because it means a bit more work over the short-term.

 

Defining the Worst Case Scenario
If you have all these nightmare visions of what changing your training might do to your fitness, wellness, results, etc., then you need to step back for a second. Remember that this is all just a game; you play a sport and you do it because it’s fun. Many folks lose that perspective as they become progressively more wrapped up in their sport, unconsciously defining themselves by what they are training for instead of by who they are, what they like, where they work, etc. Sport is important, for sure, but it’s not the be all end all. Make it so at your own risk.

 

For a second let’s say you take the advice outlined here and you do revamp your training. What’s the worst that could happen? You cut back your hours and now you are sleeping more. You are more focused at work. You have picked up a new hobby or reconnected with some old friends or are content just spending more time with the important people in your life. Race day comes and you have a miserable day despite following the guidance of this book to the letter. After you dissect your race, curse me out in a nasty letter, and sulk for a few weeks, you wake up and realize that you can still go back to the old school way. Maybe you lost six to nine months, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s little more than a drop in the bucket.

 

Besides, it might just sink in that while you didn’t hit your goals…you actually did relatively well on half as much training and you still managed to lead a pretty full life. Imagine that.

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More Goosebumps

Posted by Patrick McCrann Feb 26, 2010
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This Man Gives Goosebumps

 

Watching the Winter Olympics has been a really inspirational experience for me. Sure the events range from the exciting to the (apparently) mundane, but regardless of whether people are racing through the air or exploring the limits of their physical potential, one thing is clear: this is the event of their lives, the world is watching, and they have only one shot.

 

There is something incredibly powerful about watching people in their defined moment that is electric. Despite years of practice and analysis and probably a good measure of luck, it all comes down to one event. One race against the clock. One shot in front of the judges. One chance to let what we do define who we are.

 

It’s powerful precisely because everyone else is also in a similar position at the same time. Some of the best never make it to the finish line because of a fluke, because they pushed too hard, or perhaps because of equipment failure. That uncertainty is part of what makes living in that moment so powerful — the outcome is up in the air.

Of course these athletes compete at the highest levels all year long, dedicating their lives to the pursuit of Olympic glory. But there is no law limiting heart, dedication, drive, focus, or compassion to the Olympics…these are personal choices.

 

I think we compete in endurance sports because we have a chance to do the same. To train for a moment, a defined day, a place and time where we can put our preparation, body and mind to the test against the course…the elements…the competition. While the world might not be watching, it still means the world to us.

 

All of our hard work and focus builds up to one point in time. To that moment, standing on the starting line waiting for the gun to go off. You are nervous, alive. Full of anticipation. You have goosebumps everywhere possible. The countdown begins and your event is about to start…are you ready?

 

……

 

Of course, it’s February and your key event is probably a long way off. But being able to capture that moment and stay focused on it as you train, can be incredibly powerful. Get that starting line visual lined up and leverage it for your motivation. Know that there is a point in time this year when you will not be able to do anymore work; there will be no more time to prepare, only to act. That time can be yours for the taking if you are prepared. Get to it!

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Bike: The Return Trip

I have been a coach for a long time. Well, at least a long time in the game of triathlon. While I by no means have all the answers, I have seen enough to have built my own “sense” of how things work for the athletes I work with. Rather, how my approach to training affects the folks who follow it.

 

It’s simply part of how I put you, the individual, into the context of my coaching world. And for the first three years of coaching, I got it wrong every…single…time. Let me tell you why so you can fix your game too.

 

I had masterful plans. Season plans. Multiseason plans. Plans for plans…which I planned for. But the one thing I always glossed over was the individual athletes plan. The intake process was more of a formality than a discovery process; and it wasn’t until I had a client really put her foot down that I realized my mistake: I put my ideal schedule before their real one.

 

I needed to know not just when they usually swam (say Tues/Thurs) but a much deeper understanding of all their commitments. When do they work? Who knew they volunteered on Wednesday nights? And look at all that time on Friday.

 

Instituting this simple formality gave me a great deal more useful information than a family history or reviewing last year’s results. We aren’t talking rocket science here. No charts and darts. Just a much better understanding of the athletes schedule.

 

What about those all of those early athletes? Thankfully, most of them saw improvement simply by following a consistent program. The change was enough from the typical workouts they subjected themselves to, and the build across a season, while not perfect, did the job.

 

Please download your copy of the Weekly Time Sheet here.

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Patrick McCrann

Patrick McCrann

Member since: Jan 18, 2008

Marathon training information and insights from elite coach Patrick McCrann. Find your ultimate Marathon Training Schedule online here: http://www.marathonnation.us/

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