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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.

1,035 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.

744 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.





1,209 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!




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.

2,820 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.





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.

903 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. 


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?


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.

933 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.

790 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.

676 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.

735 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 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.

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

Thanks to our BETA calendar users' feedback, we were able to determine the top features that will enhance the scheduling and calendar experience for all eteamz users.  The new calendar will launch this Wednesday, February 20th with all these features integrated for your use!

Check out the cool new eteamz calendar— the interface is more modern and intuitive than the old calendar options, with a lot more functionality.

Here are some highlights of what you can do with it:

  • Easily navigate around
  • Drag and drop events
  • Cancel events
  • Import and export events, games and practices
  • Share events across leagues and teams
  • Set up recurring events
  • View by month, week, day and list


Don’t worry, no functionality has been removed—you can still access all of your games, events and practices separately.  It’s now just easier to manage and share all of those important dates your membership needs to know about. 


calendar eteamz.jpg

7,312 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Hey Gale~

My 15-year-old just got his first road bike and is already a good swimmer. He’s swam competitively for five years and will swim on the high school team. He's a good, strong rider too. He beat me last year in a mountain bike race.

What tips/suggestions would you have for a teen triathlete?  I've never done one as I suck at running. ~ A.S.



Hi A.S. ~

I'm working with a 14-year-old right now. My main goal is to make "workouts" as fun as possible.

Your son has an advantage with swim team and track in his back pocket. When he is doing his primary sport for school, minimize or eliminate the other two sports. Any time spent doing other sports during the competitive season of his school sport, should be completely aerobic and relatively short. Foundation technique skills and drills is always a good pick during this time.

When he's out of his school sport responsibilities you can add the other sports back into the mix. For the fellow I’m coaching, I had him do two workouts in each sport each week and he had good results. I rotated which sport had intervals or higher intensity segments and generally all the intervals were well under 5 minutes. If he did longer intensity segments, it was usually related to a hill climb and learning about pacing.

Hope that helps ~ Gale



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.

638 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: teen_tri

Often, I get the question “Is alpine (downhill) skiing aerobicor is it all anaerobic?”

The answer depends on the skier, ability, type of runs skied and intensity of skiing. I’ll show you a file from a recent day of skiing. You can find it here.

I decided to carry my Garmin on this particular day of skiing. I did forget to start the unit early in the day, so I’m missing some data. I estimate I’m missing about 2062 elevation gain and 1125 elevation loss making the total loss 16,971 feet.

If I use my aerobic cycling zones, my estimated time in Zones 1-2 is roughly 1:10. The time I spent at Zone 3+ is some 10 to 20 minutes. I estimate actual skiing time (subtracting lift “moving” time out of total moving time of ~3 hours) to be around 2 hours. That leaves some 30 minutes just under Zone 1 low end.

The entire day’s outing was 5:50 (again estimating lost data). The lunch stop ended up being around 1:30 as I met some friends.

For me, it was a big day of skiing. It was my first day this season. Before lunch, on many of the runs I tried to ski a steady pace top to bottom with no (or minimal) stops. These runs were mostly aerobic.

When I went into bumpy terrain, I did stop more to recover from the higher intensity efforts.

On this day, with the type of skiing I did my effort while skiing was mostly aerobic. There were some anaerobic sections as well.


So the short answer to the question is, “both”.






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.

628 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: skiing, anaerobic, downhill, aerobic, alpine

This is the season when folks training for the Boston Marathon start to ramp up their runs. Having just talked this morning to a Team in Training group, I know that many runners have questions about how to best recover after runs that last longer than 12 miles.  Hence,I am reposting this blog that a student of mine wrote last year at this time.


Boston Marathon Bound - Recovery foods

What to eat or drink after a long run is a hot topic among runners. What you do or don’t consume can effect how you feel later in the day, as well as at your next workout.



After a long run, your biggest priority should be to replace fluids lost from sweat. Hopefully you drank some water or sports drink on your run, but you will still need to replace some fluid. The best way to determine how much to drink is to weigh yourself before and after your run (without clothes). For every pound lost, drink at least 16 oz of water; better yet, 24 ounces. At this point, there is little need for sports drinks, as long as you’re planning to eat something shortly. Your next meal or snack will replenish the lost sodium and glucose. However, sports drinks can be a good option if your stomach isn’t ready for food. Chicken broth, cola, or gingerale are other popular options that may help settle a queasy stomach.

Remember to continue to drink fluids throughout the day to continue to stay hydrated. You can monitor your hydration by the color and amount of your urine. When properly hydrated your urine will be a pale yellow (unless you take supplements, in which case, the color may be brighter), and you will urinate every 2-3 hours.



In addition to properly hydrating, you will want to eat shortly after a long run to replenish your glycogen stores. Make sure this meal or snack is a mix of carbohydrates (to refuel) with a little protein (to repair). While many runners strive for a ratio of 4 to 1 or 3 to 1 carbohydrates to protein, the exact ratio isn’t mandatory. Just be sure you fill-up with more carbs than protein. That is, don't have just a protein shake!


Some easy to prepare carb-protein recovery meals include:

-       Fruit smoothie made with yogurt or milk

-       Turkey sandwich with a piece of fruit

-       Yogurt with berries and granola

-       Bowl of beany soup such a minestrone, with whole grain crackers and low fat cheese

-       Oatmeal with milk, raisins, and slivered almonds

-       Peanut butter (or other nut butter) and banana sandwich

-       Vegetable omelet with toast


If you aren’t ready for a meal after your run, make a small snack such as a glass of chocolate milk, a bowl of cereal with milk, or an apple with peanut butter.


Rapidly refueling by eating immediately after a run is most important for people who will be running again in the next 4 to 6 hours. Most of us can simply eat within an hour after running and will recover well. Yet, a benefit to eating shortly after your run is to keep the cookie monster from showing up!


Even if your stomach doesn’t feel hungry post-run, your muscles want fuel. Feed them! Signs of hunger include irritability and fatigue. Eating even just a small snack post-run and then your meal a few hours later can keep you from becoming ravenous and overeating later in the day. You will also likely feel more energized and recover faster.


Happy eating and running!


Written by guest blogger Sarah Gold.


For more information:

Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions

2,621 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: boston_marathon, nancy_clark, long_runs, recovery_foods, what_to_eat_after_a_long_run

I assigned a power-based workout to an athlete. It is a standard workout that I use for several of my cyclists and triathletes. When I modified the power goals for her, I inadvertently put in a range that was above her current tested goal range.

She tried the workout and was able to achieve the power numbers on the first three-minute interval, but her heart rate was higher than her threshold values that I was looking for. (I use a combination of heart rate and power to build fitness for athletes that have power meters.)

When she decided that I really wanted her to be at her threshold power values (tested within the last few weeks), she dropped the power down to the range we had previously used. That range produced less of a biological response (heart rate lower than threshold heart rate) than was intended for the workout.

The result?

We adjusted the power range up and now she is pushing higher power numbers and getting the heart rate response we want. Her good power performance wasn’t a one-time fluke workout.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a similar situation occur with an athlete. Though I do like time trial tests to determine power or pace ranges, those tests are not infallible. Sometimes fatigue, dehydration or other factors cause the test values to be too low.

Use your training zones (power, pace or heart rate) with a grain of salt. Be sure you are achieving the power output for the cost (heart rate) that you’re looking to achieve - or vice versa. Watch for trends and make small adjustments. Examine the results and change – or don’t change – training zones accordingly.



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.

547 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, power, zones