Skip navigation

Blog Posts

Blog Posts

Items per page
1 2 3 4 Previous Next

Question:

Hi Gale,

I've read a few articles by both you, Joel Friel and a few others about training and racing at altitude.  This year I'm racing Leadville and have access to a place in Frisco for training.  My plan is to do all of my higher intensity workouts here in Fort Collins and do longer, steady training rides on the weekends in Breckenridge and up around Leadville.  I've found discussions of benefits for >4 weeks and your suggestions for racing at >8500 ft:

Utilizing Altitude Training for Racing at Altitudes Above 8,500 Feet

  • Live at an     altitude between 5,000 and 8,500 feet for three to four weeks.
  • Drive to higher     altitudes for some training days and consider occasional overnight stays     prior to training days. Keep recovery periods at lower altitudes.
  • Keep power     output high by doing high-intensity work intervals at 5,000 to 8,500 feet     or lower. Or, consider using supplemental oxygen during workouts.

 

But do you get the benefits of living at high altitude by spending weekends at ~9000 ft or is it just not a large enough percentage of time to matter?  I've even dug around on a few Everest web sites that seem to indicate that a couple of extra days at higher camps is enough to help while spending the majority of time at base camp (although that might be too extreme of an example to make sense).

 

Anyway - thanks and I hope to see you at somerides/races this summer,

A.J.

 

Answer:

Hi A.J. ~


First, congrats on your Leadville entry. I am entered in Leadville this year as well, so maybe I’ll see you there – or training on the great trails in Northern Colorado.


For your question, “But do you get the benefits of living at high altitude by spending weekends at ~9000 ft or is it just not a large enough percentage of time to matter? “


In my opinion, yes, you do get benefits from spending weekends or perhaps every three weekends at altitude. I live on the Front Range close to you, as you know from the group ride listing. Here is a blog that I wrote about intermittent altitude exposure. 


I too have access to training around Frisco and I continue to collect one-person data on oxygen saturation. I do a mix of alpine and Nordic skiing through the winter and I’ve found the oxygen saturation data stays consistent. If I can get to Summit County roughly every three weeks, I can maintain higher oxygen saturation levels. Like you, I do most of my training at ~5,000 feet which I believe keeps power output high. I may know more about that (real data) this season.


Hope this helps. See you on the trails (or the road) ~


Gale

************************************************


Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and triathlon plans are found here.

Comments and questions can be added on Facebook or Gale’s website.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

650 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, race, leadville, colorado, mountain_bike, lt100, frisco, 100_miles

Even if you can not (or choose not to) eat wheat, you can still carbo-load!

The following 3,200 calorie high-carbohydrate diet provides about:

--3.5 grams carb per pound for a 150-lb endurance athlete (8 g/kg) .

 

The menu includes adequate protein (1 gram/lb or 1.8 g/kg) to maintain muscles.

 

The only “special” gluten-free food would be gluten-free oatmeal.

(Standard oatmeal can be contaminated with gluten if processed in a factory that processes wheat.)

 

For help creating your own carbo-loading menu using your favorite foods,

go to https://www.supertracker.usda.gov

 

FOOD

 

CALORIES

 

Breakfast

 

 

 

Oatmeal, Gluten-free, 1 cup dry, cooked in

 

300

 

Milk, 1%, 160z (480 ml)

 

200

 

Raisins, 1.5 oz (small box)

 

130

 

Brown sugar, 1 tablespoon

 

55

 

Apple cider, 12 oz (360 ml)

 

170

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch

 

 

 

Potato, large baked, topped with

 

275

 

Cottage cheese, 1%-fat, 1 cup

 

160

 

Baby carrots, 8 dipped in

 

40

 

Hummus, ½ cup

 

200

 

Grape juice, 12-oz (360 ml)

 

220

 

 

 

 

 

Snack

 

 

 

Banana, extra large

 

150

 

Peanut butter, 3 Tablespoons

 

270

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner

 

 

 

Rice, brown, 2 cups cooked

 

430

 

Chicken, 5 oz, sauteed in

 

250

 

Olive oil, 2 tsp

 

80

 

Green beans, 1 cup

 

50

 

 

 

 

 

Dessert

 

 

 

Dried pineapple, ½ cup (2.5 oz.)

 

220

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

3,200

 

 

For more information on carbo-loading:

Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

 

Eat well, run well, and have fun!

 

Best,

Nancy                                                                                                                                                                       

1,705 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marathon, boston_marathon, nancy_clark, food_guide_for_marathoners, carb-load, carbohydrate-load

I recently read a column written by Christopher Solomon about Kilian Jornet. Jornet has a long list of winning accomplishments including setting a dozen speed records, claiming some 16 titles and winning more than 80 races.


His physiology is amazing, with a VO2max measuring 89.5 ml/kg/min – one of the highest on record.


He is light, 5-foot, 6-inches and 125 pounds.


The column noted that “In moderate temperatures, Jornet says, he can run easily for eight hours without drinking water.”


He also completes long runs eating only berries.


He is very in tune with his body.


Certainly he is an anomaly.


What I wonder...is that if he trained his body to do very well performing on such low levels of fluid and fuel, is it possible for people with fewer natural gifts to do the same? Or is it just in his genetics?


The original column is titled Becoming the All-Terrain Human

 

*************************************************

Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with  event-specific running, cycling and triathlon plans are  found here.

Comments and questions can be added onFacebook or Gale’s  website.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans availableon ActiveTrainer.

583 Views 0 Comments Permalink

If you are experiencing amenorrhea and are no longer getting regular menstrual periods, take note. This is abnormal and unhealthy!

 

Amenorrhea commonly happens in women who struggle to balance food and exercise. You are likely eating too few calories, as noted by feeling hungry all the time and thinking about food too much. You can achieve energy balance by exercising a little less (add a rest day) and by eating a little more (add a healthy snack or two).

 

Your goal is to consume about 15 calories per pound of body weight that you do not burn off with exercise. That means, if you weigh 100 pounds, you my need to eat ~1,500 calories to maintain your weight PLUS another 500 to 800 calories to replace the fuel you burned while training. That totals 2,000-2,300 calories for the entire day, a scary amount of food for some women.

 

The most important change required to resume menses includes matching your energy intake with your energy output, so you eat enough to support both exercise and normal body functions. Historically, doctors gave the birth control pill to women with amenorrhea; this forced menstrual bleeding. But taking the birth control pill is a “Band-Aid approach” and does not resolve the underlying problem. 

 

I highly recommend you get a nutrition check-up with a sports dietitian as well as a medical check-up with your doctor or gynecologist. To find a sports dietitian in your area, use the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics referral networks at www.SCANdpg.org or www.eatright.org.

 

For more information: www.FemaleAthleteTriad.org

                               Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

1,894 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: nancy_clark, amenorrhea, female_athlete_triad, women_runners, no_monthly_period

With the Boston Marathon right around the corner, thousands of runners are doing their last long training runs. This is the time to practice your fueling so you know what to eat during the marathon. Here are some tips from guest blogger Sarah Gold.

 

When exercising for more than 60-90 minutes,you want to consume easily digested carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable throughout your run. The following recommendations on what and when to eat during long runs and race day can keep you from hitting the wall.

 

How much to consume?

The amount of carbohydrates needed will vary from person to person (body size, speed, intensity, and training will all effect this), but aim for between 200 to 300 calories of carbohydrates per hour. This can be from a mix of sports drinks like Gatorade and food like Gu, candy, or dried fruit. Worry not about eating sugary candy. We're talking survival, not nutrition! You'll have plenty of time to consume quality calories after the run.

 

What to consume?

The goal is to consume food that is primarily made up of carbohydrates. When running for many hours, such as during the marathon, you will want to vary your food choices to keep you from getting tired of eating the same thing for 4+ hours. It’s easy to get through a half marathon relying only on Gu, candy, or dried fruit, but it’s difficult to keep that up for twice the time. You’re likely to get “sugared out,” meaning your taste buds or stomach may not tolerate the same food for that many hours. Varying both flavor and texture can help you get through the race without feeling like you can’t eat as much as your body needs. So, try out a few different options during your longer training runs to see what your stomach and GI tract tolerate and what gives your body the most energy.

 

Engineered vs. Real Food

The big advantage to engineered food such as Gu, Chomps, Sport Beans, and the like, is convenience. Most come in pre-packaged 100-calorie servings, and they are easy to carry with you. However, real food can work just as well, particularly for slower marathoners who will be pounding the pavement for more than four hours. Here are some common choices among runners:

 

-       Raisins,dates, dried cranberries—or any dried fruit

-       Swedish fish, jelly beans, gummy bears, or other chewy candy

        M&Ms, mini candy bars, Whoppers

-       Pretzels

-       Sugar cookies, energy bars, granola bars

-       Peanut butter and jelly (or honey) wrap*

* If you choose foods that aren’t convenient to carry in your pocket, ask friends or family to stand along your race-day route at points when you know you will need fuel.

 

If you drink Gatorade or other sports drinks, remember that this contributes to your carbohydrate intake. Just pay attention to how much you are consuming so you can adjust your food intake. Diluted fruit juice can work well for some too.

 

When to consume?

Your breakfast will likely get you through the first hour to hour and a half of the race. So, most runners like to start consuming carbohydrates whether it’s from a sports drink or food beginning at 45 minutes to an hour into the race. But, pay attention to how you feel during your long training runs to figure out when is a good time for you to start fueling. Some runners choose to start slightly earlier or later. Earlier signs of hunger (or fuel needs) include thinking about food, reduced energy, mood change, or tired legs.

 

As noted above, plan to consumer 200 to 300 calories per hour.You can spread this out over 15-30 minute intervals, and mix it up between drinks and food.

 

Remember that it’s important to test this out during your long training runs to avoid any race-day surprises!

 

What’s your favorite fuel during your long runs?

 

For more information:

Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions

1,540 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: boston_marathon, nancy_clark, eating_during_exercise, food_for_a_long_run

I know plenty of endurance athletes that stay fit. They do regular workouts and are settled into some type of routine.They log workout data and race data.


This practice is not self-coaching, this is data logging.


The data-logging athlete will sometimes have a good season of racing. It is also not unusual for this athlete to be ill or injured from doing too much volume and/or intensity – mostly because this person enjoys training and perhaps racing. Once he or she is on the road to recovery from an illness or injury, most probably this person will not take the time to rebuild fitness properly. They jump right back to the long swims, rides or runs and the high intensities that their egos enjoy so much.

 

In contrast, the self-coached athlete takes the time to plan workouts that are intended to address fitness limiters. Planning workouts that build on one another, and current fitness, help this athlete achieve higher and higher levels of fitness. Improving fitness limiters helps self-coached athletes achieve racing goals. 


If the self-coached athlete has a setback, he or she takes the time to rebuild lost fitness before ramping the volume or intensity back up to levels that were common prior the setback. They are very rarely in a repeating cycle that includes illness or injury.


Do you know any data loggers that think they are self-coached?

 

*************************************************

Detailed off-season plans for  triathlon and cycling, along with  event-specific running, cycling and triathlon  plans are  found here.

Comments and questions can be added on Facebook or Gale’s  website.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans availableon ActiveTrainer.

659 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlete, runner, cyclist, self-coached

Many of us are fixers. We like to fixthings that are wrong, so we go looking for things to fix.


When evaluating your training, be cautious that you not only look at what needs to be changed – but you take tally of what you are doing right. Avoid the temptation to keep fiddling with every aspect of your training.


Stay the course on what is going right with your training and keep changes minimized.

 

 

*************************************************

Detailed off-season plans for  triathlon and cycling, along with  event-specific running, cycling and triathlon  plans are  found here.

Comments and questions can be added on Facebook or Gale’s  website.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

463 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Each year, I present a workshop series on "Nutrition and Exercise: From Science to Practice” along with exercise physiologist William Evans. We invited members of AND, ACSM, NATA, NSCA, ACE, and NCHEC and offer 10 hours of CEUs. Athletes and fitness exercisers are also welcome to attend!

 

 

The dates and cities for our upcoming Friday-Saturday workshops are:

 

Sept 20-21, 2013 - New York City - Columbia Teacher's College
October 4-5, 2013 - Boston -- Yawkey Specail Olympics Training Center in Marlborough
October 11 (one day only) - Providence -- URI Downtown Campus

 

January 24-25, 2014 - Philadelphia -- LaSalle University
February 7-8, 2014 - Pittsburgh -- Allegheny General Hospital

 

Hope you can come! A good time is had by all.

 

Best,

 

Nancy

www.sportsnutritionworkshop.com

965 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: nancy_clark, sports_nutrition_workshop, workshop, continuing_education, ceus

If you train for a marathon or triathlon, surely your body fat will melt away. Correct?


Wishful thinking. If you are an endurance athlete who complains, “For all the exercise I do, I should be pencil-thin,” take a look at your 24-hour energy expenditure. Do you put most of your energy into exercising, but then tend to be quite sedentary the rest of the day as you recover from your tough workouts?

 

A study with of male endurance athletes who reported a seemingly low calorie intake indicates they did less spontaneous activity than their peers in the non-exercise parts of their day. Yes, it's really easy after a long run to lounge around and eat bon-bons because you "deserve" them...

 

Even when you are marathon training, you need to keep taking the stairs instead of the elevators, and keep moving in non-exercise parts of your day. Again, if weight is an issue, you should eat according to your whole day's activity level, not according to how hard you trained for an hour or two that day.

 

 

Happy training!

 

Nancy

 

For more info:

 

Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions

 

Thompson, J., M. Manore, J. Skinner, E. Ravussin, M. Spraul.Daily energy expenditure in male endurance athletes with differing energy intakes. Med Sci Sports Exerc27::347-54, 1995.

2,332 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: weight, body_fat, nancy_clark, marathon_runner, long-runs, lose_weight_when_running

Q. Hi Gale, I am in week 8 of your 27 week plan for the Half-Ironman training program. I tested this week and have made noticeable gains in both swimming and running (my limiters, so this was a big positive!). However, my T1(5) biketesting ended up with identical #s from my first test 8 weeks ago. Conditions were the same, on an indoor trainer, didn't feel tired, ate well, etc. Avg. watts 277, HR avg. 142, total time of 14:30. Any thoughts as to why or what I should do differently? I have not really skipped any workout to date and have clearly made progress in the other 2 disciplines. Thanks - S. T. 

 

A. Hi S.T.~

 

Thanks for using my training plan to help you succeed - and - congratulations on the swimming and running improvements! You mention those are your limiters so I suspect you are a very strong cyclist.

 

If that is the case, you require higher intensities to make improvements on the bike. But - you may not want to add that level of intensity as I suspect you'll trade swimming and running performance. Since those are your limiting sports, holding cycling steady isn't a bad thing right now.

 

I also suspect that as you progress through the plan and intensity increases, cycling should show some gains. Since you are already strong there, the gains may not be as much as swimming and running though.

 

Let me know if my assumption is true (strong cyclist) and keep me posted to the changes as you make your way through the plan. If you do decide to increase cycling intensity, monitor your fatigue. You may need to just keep cycling in a maintenance mode until you get stronger in the other two sports.

 

Gale

 

 

A. Thanks Gale! Good advice and insight--cycling has been my strong suit. I will hold steady on that for now and let my swim and run 'catch up' before increasing bike intensities. I'll keep you updated; thanks for the plan--it's helped immensely so far. S.T. 

 

 

 

************************************************

Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

Comments can be added on Facebook.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

491 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, triathlon, bike, run, swim, plan, half-ironman, improvement

Top athletes that blog about their personal training schedules tell you precisely what they want you to know.  For example, several athletes I coach (or have coached) hide key workouts on public training sites such as Strava. 


Why?


These athletes don’t want others to know or to duplicate key workouts or workout combinations. One of my athletes discovered one of his followers was duplicating his workouts, lagging by a day or more. Many athletes feel that their training preparation is part of their success weaponry.


I’ve not had one of my athletes tell me they did this, but I have spoken to pro athletes that have told me they exaggerate training volume and intensity levels in their blogs. If their competitors attempt to follow the supposed training plan, they go into races with dead legs from excess volume and/or intensity.


Are some people 100-percent honest when blogging and posting about their training?


Maybe.  


If you’re trying to replicate a top athlete’s training plan – do you know who is telling the 100-percent truth and who isn’t?


The secret about top athletes is they have secrets.

 

************************************************

Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

Comments can be added on Facebook.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

574 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, secrets

For my cyclists that have power meters, I like to use a combination of heart rate and power numbers for some workouts. One reason I do this is to flush out fitness data that would otherwise be hidden. Let me give you an example.


If the assignment is to ride at Zone 2 heart rate (the biological response), the athlete does that workout without regard to power output or speed. This kind of workout has its place in training and I do use it.


If the assignment is to produce Zone 2 power, the athlete completes the workout and typically comments in the feedback section. A comment might be, “Heart rate high (or low) for Zone 2 power.”  Or they might comment, “Workout went well.” In any case I do get information from this workout – and the workout has its place in my mix of workouts.


Sometimes, I use a combination of heart rate and power so the athlete can drive the highest power possible on that day, while limiting the biological cost. Below is a sample workout for an athlete with a current Zone 2 top-end wattage of 135 and top-end Zone 2 heart rate of 136. I wanted an aerobic workout  that produced the highest possible power during specific intervals.

 

The workout

Do a 10-minute warm-up.

The entire workout is 4 repeats of the following:

5 minutes at ~135 watts (Keeping heart rate 136 or below. If you can push higher watts than 135 for a cost of 136 heart rate – do it.)

5 minutes at 120 watts or less (Zone 1 heart rate)

End with easy spinning at Zone 1 heart rate


One of my athletes (power and heart rate data used in the sample above) recently returned from a ski trip in Switzerland. He skied for six days at an altitude of 3000 to 4000 meters. He lives at sea level. Though he was only at altitude for a week, his results for the workout I describe above showed a marked change. He was able to push wattages much greater than 135 while keeping heart rate low. Important to note, his low heart rate felt low and the effort felt easy. (Sometimes athletes note that a low heart rate feels really hard – i.e. Zone 2 heart rate feels like Zone 3.)


You can see his graph below.

Power after altitude 2013_edited.jpg

(You can select the graph to make it larger.)


Did his time at altitude change his ability to push higher wattage for a low - aerobic - cost? Is this result just part of his increased fitness due to the training mix? (It’s important to note I’ve worked with this person for a few years.) Or, was this workout a performance fluke? (He was able to produce more wattage than what is normal, given this heart rate.)


The questions are reasonable and I’ll continue to monitor his performance to see if it is time to make an adjustment to training zones.


If you are a self-coached athlete, it is important to cross-reference training zone data from time to time to be sure you are getting the most benefit from the workouts. You can get some of this data from testing – but – I believe it is important to sample workout data as well.

 

************************************************

Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

Comments can be added on Facebook.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

473 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: altitude, power, heart_rate

Q.  HeyGale ~ I had to skip a workout in your Olympic Distance Triathlon Race Plan, Intermediate: 5.75 to 10.5 hrs/wk and I feel very guilty. Is feeling guilty and remorseful normal? Also, I wanted to make up the workout tomorrow, is that wise? D. B.


A.  Hi D.B. ~ I’ve found that goal-oriented people that have a task list to complete (a training plan is a task list) will often feel guilty, remorseful or sometimes angry when missing a workout. By your description, I suspect you didn’t miss the workout because you didn’t feel like sweating; rather you missed the workout due to a life-scheduling conflict. Don’t worry about missing a workout now and then. Also, don’t try to make the workout up by pushing it into tomorrow’s workout load.  Just pick up the training plan tomorrow with the regularly planned workout(s) and you will be fine. If you can execute the majority of the workouts in the plan, you should be able to complete the event. If you miss several high-speed workouts, your time goals will likely suffer.This may require that you rework your race goals and not be as aggressive with time or race day placement.


For many athletes, triathlon is an excellent sport to help them stay fit and healthy. Pressure often comes from performance goals rather than fitness goals. It is fine to be performance oriented, but don’t allow time goals to take the fun out of sport.

 

************************************************

Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

Comments can be added on Facebook.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

454 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: guilt_skipping_a_workout

   

I’ve received several questions on racingin heat and humidity. I wrote a two-part column that can help you racesuccessfully. Here is an excerpt:


Whether you travel for racing or not, you may find yourself concerned with acclimation to heat and humidity. Consider the following situations:

  • You train in cool fall air and your next     race is in a hot environment.
  • You train in cool spring air and the     first race of the season is in a hot city.
  • You live in a city that is always cool     relative to the locations where you race.
  • You live in a hot, dry environment but     plan to travel to a hot, humid environment for a race.
  • You live and work in an air conditioned     environment but race in a hot and humid environment. 

Take a look at PartI - Acclimating to Heat and Humidity

 

 

************************************************

Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

Comments can be added on Facebook.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

451 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, and, racing, heat, humidity, acclimitization

Q. Hey Gale ~ I just read an article about training like the pros. The column was basically about high volume and high intensity training.  I read another column that emphased high volume and low intensity. Finally, I read another  column about time-crunched athletes doing low volume and very high intensity. I’m so confused. Can you help? I trust your advice because of your long track record of working with all types of athletes. Thanks ~ B. F. 


A. Hello B. F. ~ I’ve used the different types of training formats you describe in your note. The short answer is the type of training you should use depends on your athlete profile which includes sport experience, available time to train, recovery time available and your endurance goals to name a few key areas. The mix of workouts within any training plan should be aimed at achieving your goals – not a random mix of workouts tossed together for fun. That is, unless your primary training goal is fun and variety.


With two to four key or stressful workouts in the mix each week aimed at improving your performance limitors, the remaining workouts need to be recovery and/or technique oriented.


Then you need some patience. Stick with the training strategy for at least three to six weeks to see if you are making progress. If progress is not being made, make plan adjustments. Generally, most people associate plan adjustments with more volume and/or intensity when they really need more recovery.


If you want specific recommendations on your training plan, drop me an email at gale@galebernhardt.com and we can schedule a consulting session.

 

************************************************

Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

Comments can be added on Facebook.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

410 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, triathlon, mountain_bike, different_types_of_training