30 January 2011

Competitor Radio Interview with THE TERMINATOR

January 29

This is the link from ITunes to get to the Competitor Radio podcasts.
I just listened to the interview I did with them on my ride today and can now say it came out OK!
Babbitt and Huddle have a great show and I listen to every single interview they do.
The one with Clayton Treska was absolutely brilliant.  I was in the bike rack right next to his in Kona in October.  He's the first living Terminal case (diagnosed as such) that I've ever met and he's a big unit!  Damn impressive dude.

The two other podcasts I listen to regularly are:  a) Aussie radio personalities Hamish and Andy who always crack me up and b) IMTalk - Christchurch's own John Newsom and Bevan James Eyles.

Cheers, Scott


26 January 2011

Big Steel Challenge

January 25
Some thoughts on the gym and what to expect if you endeavor to really challenge yourself in there.
As I've mentioned previously I've always considered myself somewhat of a gym rat even though I raced most of my pro career at 70-73kgs (154-160 lbs.). At 6ft. tall that's not exactly a bundle of muscle. This process started in my teens as a swimmer when I weighed in at approx. 62kgs at the same height! No wonder I spent many hours in the pool freezing my ass off - I was one scrawny dude.
Anyway, through the years I've learned to change the quality, volume and emphasis of my gym work to make it suit the period of training or racing I was in. I always believed there was a place to do some strength training at each point of the year even though many times that just meant a little maintenance work.
As a coach I've tried to get the athletes I work with to understand how they can benefit from doing some strength work in the gym and get them to buy into the idea of making it a high priority in their training.
Here's the main idea that I feel is important here - EVERY athlete has something to gain in there whether it be strengthening a specific movement pattern, improving muscle firing sequence, specific weakness or just speeding up metabolism.
In support of that idea - most athletes have a certain tolerance for the tedium of s/b/r training and that's a real factor in determining their optimal training load in any of the 3 parts of triathlon. We can add significant training load in the gym which can help add stimulus without threatening burn-out. As a coach I've found that continually asking people to just suck it up and find a way to adapt to longer or more strenuous training isn't the best approach.

When under-taking a challenging strength training program its logical and appropriate to adjust the training load of the s/b/r components to allow the athlete to have enough time and energy to adapt to and make the most of the gym work.
We simply cannot s/b/r as much, as hard or as good as normal when we're thrashed from strength training. Its a case of taking a step back in order to take 2-10 steps forward.
  What I do and usually recommend others do is to stick to a general pattern of hard day/easy day or hard day/1-3 easy days.  I view strength work as a way to make a hard day harder so generally put any other hard lower body work-outs on the same day or even back to back with the gym session.
I'm lucky enough to train at fitness complexes that have gyms and pools so I can do them together.
Many people who live in real winter climates probably train at facilities that have everything they need for s/b/r/gym training.

A good pattern to use if you have the option to train at a great fitness complex like this is to set up your week like this:
Monday - upper body strength training + solid swim
Tuesday - lower body strength training + quality bike or run or both
Wednesday - easy day or longish aerobic session with no significant muscular force required
Thursday - like Monday
Friday - like Tuesday or wait until tomorrow
Saturday  - like Tuesday or longer session(s)
Sunday - easy day or long aerobic day

The athletes I work with will see a very familiar pattern here!
Obviously there's a lot of scope within that pattern to cater to all abilities and periods of emphasis.
But it does include 4 trips to the gym which for many people just isn't realistic.  2 trips to the gym per week can be very effective and doing something is usually a hell of a lot better than nothing.

I've read various opinions and studies over the years that conclude strength training isn't advantageous to endurance athletes. I read the forums, I listen to other coaches give their thoughts on this topic (more on Brett Sutton later....... ).
This absolutely doesn't jive with my experience as an athlete or a coach or with the coaches that I respect and use as a sounding board. Going back to my post on genetics influence on training - yes, I do acknowledge that there is a large range of response to strength training. The key is to find what works for any given individual.

As I go through this month of trying to really load up on the total resistance I'm hammering my body with in the gym I find I'm s/b/r 'ing slower. I'm as sore and tired as I can remember! Even when I was racing the length of New Zealand at last year's Epic Camp I don't think I ever got quite this sore and certainly I haven't felt this tight in recent memory.
But I expected that and welcome those sensations. At age 50 its extremely difficult to put on any significant muscle but I'm trying. Its as easy as anything to lose muscle though, and I don't want to get to my 60's and 70's and look like something the cat drug in.

The goal is to get to "Fridge Magnet" status!   The guy I have a photo of on my fridge has lived there for over 10 years and inspires me every time I see him.  When I actually get my body to the point where I feel it's "Fridge Magnet" status I will commence to get some made and will commence taking orders!
Until then I'll just keep hammering away.



17 January 2011

Challenge Wanaka

January 17

Well ........ after having resisted the temptation to watch an IM up to this point in my life I finally made the choice to try and enjoy the sport from the sidelines.
Not as easy as it sounds.
Up until October I've always felt that if I'm going to go to an IM then I'm going to be out there taking part with my people and taking on the challenge myself. During the marathon in Kona that all changed! As stubborn as I am I've come to accept that I can't do every race I'd like to do despite my best intentions. Things are wearing out!

Some observations from Wanaka........
We drove down on Friday and it was a magic day. Almost windless, sunny and a high temp of 27C.
Everyone would have loved to race on a magic day like that.
That evening there was an elite, drafting sprint race to watch and the setting and viewing from the waterfront restaurants/bars has to be one of the best venues for Triathlon watching on the planet. The men's race didn't start until 8:15pm and it got dark around 9:45pm. Perfect.

When I woke at 6am on Saturday the wind was already quite strong and whipping up some white-caps on the lake. It was going to be a brutal day!
From there the wind just built up to near gale force in places and made riding just miserable. Everyone else was struggling too - there were traffic management and aid station volunteers who had trouble just standing in place out on the course. We had to shelter behind huge clumps of bushes just to watch the race.
Even the run would have been severely affected by the wind - it was that strong all day.

Respect to everyone who took part including the volunteers who also had to put up with the super tough conditions.
Special kudos to Belinda Granger who flew over at the last minute to pump up the women's field even though her husband is in hospital recovering from complications from a bike crash. What a true journeyman pro and a pleasure to watch.
Also a special mention to gritty kiwi Belinda Harper who was one of the pre-race favorites based on her outstanding effort in Kona. She had a nasty crash yet soldiered on to finish despite being torn to shreds.
There must be lots of great stories to come from a day like that.



12 January 2011

Genetics Influence

January 13
Here's an article that discusses a topic a lot of us don't want to know about -
The influence of genetics on training response.

The harsh reality of individual response to training is that we all respond differently.
The upside of that is that we can rely on most of the population (the competition) to stick to standard training protocols whether they are optimal for their own personal profile or not. Most people are too conventional or too stubborn to think outside the square and apply non-conventional training techniques.

Though the study sited here uses strength training to test the hypothesis we know from the experience with our own peer group that some people seem to improve dis-proportionate to their workload.
I'd like to take this a step further and suggest that even an individual's response to swim, bike or run training will vary quite a bit - they may improve in one area fairly easily and not in another.
I've worked with plenty of athletes who've had that experience and they've tested me as a coach! For example some people respond best in their swim training when given quite a bit of anaerobic work and high-powered efforts yet respond best to run training that is over 95% easy.

If you've been at this sport for a few years and have been on a plateau for more than 2 seasons in one area or another then it pays to consider trying something different. I'm certainly not an advocate of jumping from one of the latest fads in training to another, but a long-term plateau can kill the spirit of any athlete so necessitates a change of approach.

This sport presents a million challenges in every direction. That's what makes it worth doing. Keep at it.
Cheers, Scott


11 January 2011

IM time in NZ

IM is alive and well in NZ.
Both of the IM distance events here during our summer are thriving.
Challenge Wanaka is taking place this week-end and I'll be heading down to cheer on friends and folks I'm working with.
This will be a first for me. I've never actually been a spectator at an IM! If I'm there (historically) then I'm taking part. I'm crap at sitting on the sidelines.
The decision to change that history once and for all took place out on the Queen K in October during the marathon. I decided I'd rather be watching. :-)
If you're in a winter climate and need some content to help you get through some time on the trainer this week-end then following the race will help.

I'm sending out special vibes out to my young protege from the UK Jo Carritt (Epic Camper Extraordinaire!) who is doing her 7th IM in a year (IM NZ, IM Lanzarote, IM France, IM UK, Kona, IM W.A., Challenge Wanaka). PHEW! Just typing it all out makes me tired. She also does a marathon here and there just to keep from getting too bored........... You can what see I'm up against as a coach!!
Go after it Jo. You're ready.

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10 January 2011

5 Exercises in the gym you should NOT! do


Over at Gordo's endurancecorner.com he's set up "The Big Steel Challenge" for January.
Very simple concept - see how much steel you can lift in a month. Nothing like a little competition to get people to completely annihilate themselves!
The link above is a good one to read. Every time I'm in a public gym I see people doing things that are detrimental. Most of that comes from doing exercises that have historically been done by most gym rats. But we've learned a lot in the last 100 years!
I do love Swiss Ball twisting crunches as they are very effective and not harmful if you only minimally round your lumbar spine. That's not contradictory to what they say in the article, just clarifies it.
Varying your training is nice as its good to keep things fresh and stimulating, but in the gym its best to stick with the safe, proven exercises in sets and rep ranges that are within the norm.
Focus on good range of motion and continuous tension on the muscles you're intending to work and you'll make good progress with minimal setbacks.
Keep the fluff time to a minimum by keeping your work rate high.
And remember that muscle = metabolism. Very important concept. More on that some other time.
Cheers, Scott

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08 January 2011

getting accurate info

January 8


If you check out this link you'll find an example of the style of writing I hope to emulate.
Its good, accurate information.
The guys at T-Nation give you the straight scoop.
Its humorous, and they don't write any PC B.S. that leaves you with questions.
If they have an opinion they give it, not a watered-down version of it.
Its one of my favorite sites and I go to it almost daily.
I'll put up links from their site regularly when I come across info that pertains to endurance athletes. This article came up today.
Most of the site content is pure muscle-head stuff (which I am!) that isn't totally relevant to people aiming to race 2 hours or more as their main athletic endeavor, but a lot of the content is 100% relevant to what we do.
A lot of times info that comes initially from the muscle-head fraternity is dismissed immediately due to the source. That's a mistake. A lot of what that area of fitness/health/sport is cutting edge and always has been.
There's a lot of drug info on the site and they do a good job of dealing with that part of the muscle-head culture. It _is_ out there and rather than deny it they do their best to give accurate info to let the reader decide for themselves about that whole area.

A little context might be useful here ...........
When I retired from professional tri's I was a personal trainer and swim coach for 9 years as I moved into internet-based tri coaching. During 6 of those years I managed my own gym. I also had my own gym at home while I was a pro so have spent a lot of time under the bar in my life. I've also been seeking info on how to get stronger since I was a teen-ager, so I'm a lot more comfortable with the gym environment than most endurance folks.

They do sell supplements on the site so there is a bit of hype in that department, but they are all good, worthwhile supplements, so I'm fine with that part of the site content.
I'm also fine with the photos of hot babes they put up on the site! :-) All in good taste and work-friendly stuff you can use as screen savers if you choose to..........
Cheers, Scott


07 January 2011

Reasons to Blog

January 7, 2011

Time to change the way I feel about putting my thoughts on record.
3 main reasons for this Blog.
1) Previous to this year I have worked on the general theme that I'll keep my thoughts to myself unless specifically asked to share them. That pertains to all of my thoughts, not just the ones related to coaching or triathlon.
The main problem with this belief I've had is that I have no definitive record of my ideas related to my coaching work. My competitive history is on record, but my working life after competition has very little record other than my poor neglected website and what other people have written about me.
If I were to get hit by a truck tomorrow I'd be rotting in hell pissed off for an eternity that I didn't leave something concrete to help define me as a coach.
2) Another main reason to get this blog going again is I've watched my fellow coaches build their businesses by offering useful information through blogs and their websites. There are a lot of great coaches out there and its ludicrous for me to sit here (often referred to as a hermit!) in NZ and expect to attract new business only through word of mouth for the remainder of my working days.
To me it seems a worthwhile trade to offer some useful or motivating (or at least amusing - my specialty!) info in exchange for traffic to my site and potential business.
The best model for me is my buddy Gordo Byrn. He's been a leader in our area of web-based triathlon coaching for years and the info he provides for free has not only helped his business grow, its helped thousands of people become better athletes.
While I don't have the working capacity to come anywhere near Gordo's prolific publishing, I hope to do better than I have which is close to nothing! I've always enjoyed writing the Epic Camp blogs as they are close to my heart and help me to remember good times, places and especially people.

3) 3rd reason for not blogging is my often-held belief that every thought I could possibly convey has most likely already been thought many times and probably published many times. What I do as a coach really isn't ground-breaking or earth-shattering.
What I do have that is unique; and the reason someone might want to read what I write; is a slightly different context from my experiences to help frame conventional ideas.

While I'm too lazy to ever contemplate writing a book I do enjoy sharing stories of my contemporaries and would like the view of them and the things we did in the sport to be seen through my lens. So this blog will include quite a few trips down memory lane.