Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cadence Drill

I'm going to sound like a broken record. Sometimes the simpliest things, are the most useful. Recent research done by the top running coaches in the world has shown that the variable that holds the highest correlation with performance is cadence or stride rate. Bio-mechanics are extremely important, but when one breaks down the film on the top performers in the sport of running, the one element that consistently has the highest relevance is stride rate. When one stops and actually thinks about it, it makes perfect sense. There's a self-fullfilling prophecy about proper stride rate. One is forced to have better bio-mechanics and form in order to maintain the proper stride rate. The general rule of thumb for stride rate is that 94 individual strikes per minute is optimal. That's either right or left foot strikes for every 60 seconds.
The wonderful element of this simple drill is that it can be incorporated into almost any run. I do it on treadmill runs, tempo runs, and general long base runs. I find that when I really focus on the proper cadence that I tend to float over the ground. At first the drill can be much more aerobically challenging. However, over time, the benefits start to sink in and the efforts become much more fluid. It's less muscularly taxing to be running properly then literally putting the brakes on every foot strike. Unfortunately, so many of us have developed the loping run stride, that is a classic over-stride. This type of stride creates more work and literally slows us down every time our feet make contact with the ground.
A visual que that one can use while running is that you never want to see you foot in front of your knee. If you can see your foot out in front of your knee, then you are overstriding.
Keep training and keep it fun.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why it's Important to always be working on Form

You always hear and read about focusing on technique in order to improve. It all seems to make sense. However, it can get a little discouraging as you work tirelessly trying to perfect technique, only to see minor gains in improved performance.
It is so important to stay the course and be as consistent as possible. Recent research has shown that it takes 20,000-50,000 repetitions of proper movement in order to correct an inefficiency and instill the good form. It's very hard for most of us Type A personalities, that want instant gratification, to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. One has to be willing to put in the time and trust the process. However, it's critical that the drills and technique work are being practiced properly. The old saying perfect practice makes perfect needs to be the constant mantra. If possible, having knowledgeable, experienced support around to reinforce or correct technique is extremely important. At the end of the day, one needs to remember that it's all about the journey. Enjoy the ride.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Core Training

I love watching the on-line coverage of the Hawaii Ironman. There was a lot of chatter this year in regards to the core training that Craig Alexander and Chrissy Wellington put in under the supervision of Dave Scott. Craig and Chrissy were both looking super lean.
I'm a huge believer in proper core training. I, finally, started incorporating core training into my weekly regime, this year. The added body awareness and strength from core training is tremendous. The key is to learn how to perform exercises properly. As the body adjusts to frequent core training, one's bio-mechanics naturally become better. As I like to tell my personal training clients, everything starts with the core. If one's core is weak, the odds of injury go up dramatically. I encourage everyone to build core training into their training programs. In addition, working with a personal trainer that is qualified and knowledgeable on core training is very effective and will help to reinforce proper form and technique. Good luck training.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Benefits of making a list before heading to races

This is my tenth year racing triathlons, yet I continue to make some classic rookie mistakes. I have traveled quite a bit this year to race. During this travel, I seem to think that I've got my routine down. However, almost every trip I have forgotten at least one critical item for my trip. The simple answer to this is to have a LIST. Everyone should have a race item list written down. Everytime that one travels to a race, every item on the list should be checked off. It's a very simple concept, yet so many of us constantly forget things.
Here are a few of my omissions this year:
1. REV3 1/2 IM: morning of the race, I left all of my calories in my refrigerator
2. 70.3 Calgary - my heart rate monitor battery was dead and useless, however I didn't realize this until I got onto the bike during the race
3. 70.3 Timberman - my powermeter needed to be recalibrated and had some crazy, useless readings. I did not realize this until I got onto the bike
4. Best of the US - my skinsuit ripped the morning of the race. I should have checked it more thoroughly before I left
5. Best of the US - I forgot my powermeter computer at home and didn't realize until I was out in California
Here is the most classic omission I've ever heard of from a friend:
1. IM Lake Placid - a friend of mine forget his running shoes! He didn't realize this until he got to T2. He borrowed a pair from a volunteer that were 2 sizes to big and had a horrendous run. (OUCH!)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

BOUS Race Report - Racing against the young guns

This was my third year racing the Best of the US olympic distance triathlon.
The race, one man one woman from each state, has been run for 5 years. Friend and Timex teammate Cindi Bannink has competed in all 5 events. She rocked it again this year with a third place result. Each year that I've competed in this race, I've been so impressed with the organization and quality of the field. The event has seen 5 different locations over the years and this year's race was held in Mission Viejo, CA in conjuction with the Orange County Triathlon. As teammate Bruce Genarri can attest, Mission Viejo is one beautiful place. The course is extraordinary and very fair. The bike course has some decent climbs and decents. Neither are too steep, but good to break things up. The run starts out pretty flat for the first two miles, but then rises up to some nasty hills for miles 3-5.

The water temp on race morning was a little over 80 degrees which meant the wetsuit stayed packed away in my bike box (ugh). The conditions were perfect race morning. In fact, the entire race seemed to go very smoothly as the volunteers were well prepared and had tons of positive energy. I had a decent non-wetsuit swim, but found myself in the middle of the pack coming out of the water. The bike seemed to go a bit better, but it was hard to tell where I stood in the placings. As I came off the bike, someone yelled "2.5 minutes down" from the leader. I saw 5 bikes in transition and I quickly realized I had some serious ground to try to make up. I hit the first two miles pretty good (5:12 and 5:30), but I still couldn't see anyone. Then the course went off road and the terrain changed to a wood chip trail. I had flashbacks to my highschool cross-country days. It was fun to run on the different terrain. Finally, as I was heading up a REALLY big hill around the 4 mile mark, I spotted one athlete in front of me about 100 yards up the road. I closed out the run well and I managed to pass that one athlete, but three others had stayed out in front for the duration. In fact, they not only stayed out in front but put a serious beating down. I learned after crossing the finish line that the top two were 21 years old! Ouch, that hurts. I had a great time racing and it was a privilege to meet so many unique individuals at the event.