Coach or No Coach for Training

When it comes to training and the desire to improve your performance most athlete inevitably have to face a certain question at some point: Train with a coach or train myself??!!

Our answer is simple – Train with a coach – but the way to get there is not an easy one and you have to watch out for certain pitfalls.

Over the last couple of years I’ve tried it both and at the beginning training for yourself without a coach worked pretty fine. When getting into a new sport it is fairly easy to improve but it’s also very easy to make mistakes. The result was an overall improvement in performance while sacrificing numerous races and season highlights due too colds, injuries and overtraining.

I finally decided to work with a coach but soon had to realize – I might just be impossible to coach me. I always knew better cause hey: I read my stuff. Right? I read magazines and books and without trying had made up my mind about certain ways of training already. Sound familiar? I moved on to the next coach in the hope to find somebody who works better for me. Yet I hadn’t realized that the coach wasn’t the issue – it was my mindset. I slowly started to understand this and decided: With coach number 3 it’s all going to be different. I am going to follow the plan and listen 100%. Well, that didn’t work either. The coach didn’t really get me and my health background and when I finally got to the point to tell him, that I my body was not able to hold up with his regimen, it was already too late. I had to quit a half marathon about 5k into the race because my pace drastically dropped below the slowest training sessions I ever ran. After telling him he agreed to take it easier only to send me out for a 10mile interval run 2 days after the miserable drop-out in the half marathon. Well, that was the end of our partnership.

The Coach in Action - Foto by Flemming Gernyx

Coach number 4 and my current coach Susanne Buckenlei from Professional Endurance Team finally got me – and I finally got the point of what it means to be working with a coach. She’s the kinda coach that is tough enough so you don’t even dare just messing around and doing your own thing but she’s also the kind of coach that is interested in and understands each athletes personal background, work schedule, history of health related issues and so on. At the same time she teaches you and encourages you to listen to your body and cut short a session when needed. There is no good reason to push through a session when your feeling like sh…

After working with her for a good solid 6 months I’ve learned many things but one of the most important lessons is: A coach who’s interested in the sport and the athlete and actually holds a degree in what he’s doing is worth gold. No matter how much you read, learn and think to know – a good coach is a professional in his line of work and get’s you a lot better than you think.

Just as a little example: After a really good and solid week of training during which I felt good in every single training session I felt like hammering it out the following week and her only comment was. That was a great week – you definitely need an easy week next week. I was like: Hold it coach – i said I felt fantastic in every session and even now I am full of energy. Let’s rock it. What can I say 2 days into the easy week I really felt my body working and adjusting to the good week of training I just had and I know from experience now: Had I put in another day or two with the volume I felt like doing – I would have ended up in sick in bed and would have missed 7-9 days of good training. Sound familiar? 🙂

Think about it if a coach might just be the right thing for you to take your training and racing to the next level.

Rock on,

Tillster

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The Importance of Mid-Season Core Strength

We had this post up a long time ago but it’s still very important to get used to the idea of incorporating more core strength workouts into your routine – especially once the race season is upon us! So get used to the idea early in the season! Put your mind to it!

Mid/Late-Season Core Strength Training

Most of us know the benefits of strength training.  Not only does this contribute to over all strength, it improves joint stability by increasing the strength of the tendons, ligaments and smaller muscles around the joint.  Strength training can also improve performance and movement efficiency and aids you by supporting longer work intervals, which can translate to faster times.

In endurance training, there are three stages of strength training: a 8-10 week phase focusing on flexibility and stability that lays the foundation for all the training to come; a slightly longer 10-12 week strength and power phase; and a maintenance phase supporting sport specific training and competition that usually lasts about 20 weeks or through your competitive season

Because of the time demands of mid-season training and racing, many of us begin to neglect the maintenance phase of strength training later in our seasons.  This can result in a de-training effect.  Coupled with the affects of the repetitive sport specific movements of competition (degenerative posture, injuries and loss of range of movement), you could be experiencing poorer performance.

To combat this mid-season phenomenon with an eye to the demands on a mid-season schedule, re-focus on your core.  By adding a few core exercises back into your routine you can reverse the negative de-training effect.  2-3 workouts of 20-30 minutes a week is all it takes.  Here are a few exercises you can do:

•    Standard Crunches
•    Knee-up Crunches
•    Hip Lifts
•    Oblique Crunches
•    Side Plank Dips
•    Oblique Leg Extensions
•    Supermans
•    Bridged Leg Lifts
•    Push-ups
•    Heel Touches
•    Bicycle Crunches
•    Half-up twists

Here’s a link to a website that has a series of photos that demonstrate each of these exercises http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/cms/Article-detail.asp?Articleid=486.

6 Post Workout Steps to Great Recovery

We’ve all “know” what to do to recover after a good training session. We’ve read it somewhere, a friend told us something about it or that annoying dude who keeps catching up with you on your favorite training run and just can’t shut up and enjoy the beauty of the run…

…still so many of us struggle to incorporate it into our routine. Quick refuel, stretching, icing, resting, eating, drinking – we all know it but when, in which order and how quickly after a run is the often overwhelming question.

If you are like me, you will most likely be be annoyed with all the options and especially after a training session you don’t want to “think”. Overwhelmed as we are we instead opt for not doing any of the things or maybe one and just forget about the others…until the next training session for which we feel tired, sluggish, stiff – it just doesn’t feel right.

Reality though is – it is really simple, doesn’t take a lot of time and it takes 2-3 training sessions and you’ll have the rhythm down.

It is only 6 steps to great recovery, better training benefits and greater motivation for the next session.

The 1 hour after run time table:

5-7 minutes after – Hydration and Quick Food: about 12 ounces Electrolyte or Sports Drink and a hand full of raisins for quick sugar if there aren’t any in your sports drink
5-10 minutes after – Clothes: Get out of your wet training clothes and put something fresh on to prevent your body from cooling down too much
15-20 minutes after – Food: Provide your body with a mix of protein and carbs to reload and to help muscle recover
30-45 minutes after – Stretching: Stretch your body gently to boost recovery, muscle growth and flexibility thus preventing muscle soreness and injuries.
45-60 minutes after – Ice baby Ice: This is the time for the infamous ice bath to prevent soreness. About 5 minutes should do the trick.
60- 90 minutes after – Relaxation: If possible take 15 minutes to lay down and relax your body a little

Try to incorporate this routine into your after training schedule and you will see great improvement in your recovery.

Good training!

Treating Sore Achilles Tendon

When surfing the net and several endurance forums it becomes very apparent that there is a lot of issues out there with achilles tendon problems.

There are many different ways of approaching treatment and there are several potential causes for the problem. Causes can range from prior injuries to muscular dysbalances, from overtraining to wrong footwear and so on. In today’s blog we want to focus a little more on what to do once you find the cause. What to do in order to get back into running, cycling or even just walking again asap.

The Personal Experience
This blog is based on personal experience I had with a severely sore achilles after crashing my bike and yanking my hip (which at this point I wasn’t aware off). After the crash I went back into running and cycling and only when cycling I could tell that something was off. It felt like I was leaning a little to the left on the bike. Then within 2 days I went from not feeling anything to not being able to walk properly anymore.

The ‘You wanna kill me?’ treatment
I went to see a doctor and walked out with a prescription for Voltaren to treat inflammation. After 3 weeks popping the pills and no improvement at all I went to see the physio who prescribed 20 sessions of physio therapy – according to him that was the minimum we needed to get me back on track. Another doctor visit and more Voltaren but still no help. Luckily my insurance couldn’t quite decided if they would cover the physio or not and that’s how I came across the Core Endurance book by Mark Versteegen.

Treating the cause
I simply followed the stretching rules of this book and after about 2-3 weeks my body started to feel ‘straight’ and upright again. Even the achilles got a little better – so obviously I had found and treated the cause. Yet, after putting a lot of stress on the achilles for so long it had gotten so sore – Voltaren didn’t help jack! Not even after taking it for over a month now (and let me tell you – the docs in the US had already prescribed me 3x the daily dose you would get from a German doctor – my stomach did not like it at all).

Here is how I finally treated the symptoms and got back into running
I stopped taking the Voltaren and went on for another 2 weeks – by now I had the achilles problem for over 2 months now – no running, no cycling and I even had to stop working for a week or so when a friend recommended a holistic doctor – Dr. Joshi who conveniently spends 2 weeks a month in New York – to me. I went to see the doc and he started treating me with cupping and acupuncture as well as a few massages and within sessions I started massaging at home with the help of The Stick. Within 3 sessions and roughly 2-3 weeks all problems had disappeared and I was back into running. No more than 2 weeks after getting back into training with the New York Road Runners I ran a personal half marathon best by almost 3 minutes!

(For our German readers – you can find The Stick here: THE STICK )

There are several ways to treat achilles tendon problems – stretching sessions, home massages, massages, cupping, acupuncture, natural remedies such colostrum based products, common horsetail and so on.

What I am trying to say is – don’t be afraid to find your own solution – don’t be afraid to try something different that western medicine. One of the main reasons achilles tendon problems are so hard to treat is the extremely low blood flow around the achilles tendon. This is stopping the ‘little helpers’ and nutrients to properly reach the achilles but also makes it much harder for the body to get rid of the toxins, etc in the achilles area. Accupuncture, cupping and massages all increase the blood flow in this area – supplement with some natural remedies to reduce inflammation and you’ll be back within a blink!

Have own experience with achilles tendon problems and great ways to treat it – let us and our readers know about it. You might just help another fellow athlete to get back on track!

Feel free to comment away!

Rock on!

Running in Winter – Let the Snow be your Friend

We talked about the 10 Top Tips for winter running before – but why run during winter at all is the question?!

Not all of us but a lot have the opportunity during winter to enjoy the benefits of snow….Some of you might be thinking ‘Benefits, what on earth is this guy talking about?’ but snow has indeed a lot of benefits for runners.

Despite its beauty, running in the snow has similar effect to running in sand. Your foot has to work a lot more muscles to maintain a good stride, it trains you to be alert for a long period of time and overall it trains your coordination, strength and endurance.

Of course it is always a wise idea to run carefully on snow and often it helps to run on the side of a path where nobody walked or ran before as fresh snow provides a better grip.

Watch out for the top 10 winter training recommendations from running enthusiast Ironbrandon to turn winter running into a real joy!

So go out and take advantage of the winter months and be a stronger and better runner when the season starts.

Training Tip 1 – Swim Strength

For 2011 we’ve prepared a training tip for each week of the year – ok, we are running a little late with tip 1 (thanks to the season planning) but therefore you’re getting 2 tips this week.

Each tip is designed to make you a faster, stronger and less injured athlete in 2011 and in the long run.


Training Tip 1 – Swim Strength (with the help of an old bicycle tube)
Strength & Endurance are a ‘must have’ when training for a triathlon. You want to be able to swim the fastest you can with the least level fatigue and you wanna be able to keep this pace up for the entire swim. To do so, you need to train your arms, core, chest, shoulders and back.

A very popular tool to gain this strength is training with paddles (the yellow things in the picture above) – we recommend the flat TYR ones. An added benefit comes with the use of a pull buoy. By using the pull buoy you are using your legs less while maintaining a streamline position in the water. This will not only allow you to focus more on your arms but it also forces your arms, shoulders, back and chest to work harder to keep you from sinking.

For us the ultimate strength endurance improves by adding a rubber band around your feet when using paddles and pull buoy. You will be surprised to see how much you are still using your feet to balance the body in the water and to help the forward movement, when using paddles and pull buoy alone. Add a tight rubber band around your feet and we are talking about a whole new ball game. Now you are asking the most of your upper body and you will gain the most with each session.

We are using an old bicycle tube, cut it short, tie the ends together and sling it around our feet. It works best if you are twisting it once in the middle so it looks like an 8 before putting it around your feet. This way it will really keep the feet together! (see picture below)


Now there is a gazillion different ideas as to what the ideal amount of paddle training is. Some say train as much as you can, others say no more than 10% of the overall session. In order to get used to paddles try to do no more than the 10 % – once you are used to them you can increase up to 20 – 25% but we would recommend not do go beyond 800 meters overall in a swim session.

If you have questions or would like to add your own ideas and experience to this session – feel free to comment on this article. We are happy to answer all your questions.

Rock on!

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10 Tips for Winter Running!

Here is a great blog from our mate Ironbrandon in New York City about winter training, how to prep yourself for it and how to stay on top of your health:

  1. It’s not necessarily the cold, it’s the wind! Get yourself a good windproof layer. It’s amazing how cold 30° F can feel when it’s backed up by a 15 mph wind! Try something like the Firewall 220 Zip and the Firewall 220 Tights from Sugoi. Not only are these built for the cold, but the Firewall fabric keeps the winds at bay.
  2. Layer! One of the many advantages of all the high-tech fabrics on the market today is that they address the constant issue of weight and bulk. Layering, especially with form fitting layers, is going to keep your body temperature comfortable while sealing out the cold. Many tops also have zippers which allow for ventilation should things get unexpectedly toasty.
  3. Hydrate! This is a huge point and one that I had to learn about the hard way. We all take hydration into consideration in the warmer months, but often we forget when it’s cold outside. Just because it’s cold does NOT mean we stop sweating and losing water! Here in NYC a lot of the water fountains are turned off for the winter to prevent cracked pipes, so I either use a hydration belt or my HPL #20 hydration vest from Nathan Sports.
  4. Gloves.  I’ve found that once I warm up, my hands get very warm, even in the coldest of temperatures. So, the gloves I wear are always very minimal and light so they can be held or out in a pocket. Usually I end up wearing only one glove at a time which allows me to only bring one glove. Again, the glove thing (for me anyway) is more about the wind than anything else.
  5. Heat regulation. Believe it or not, many people get very hot…TOO hot running when it’s cold out. This is likely because we’ve done such a great job of layering and trying to stay warm that we’re overheating. Try cooling down by removing one glove. I’ve found that my fingers act like the fins on a radiator, dispersing heat and cooling me down as I go. As I mentioned in point 2 above, many tops have zippers that will allow for full or partial unzipping to let in some much needed ventilation.
  6. Headwear. This is kind of a carry over from the last point, but I think it needs its own paragraph. Be flexible and smart about your headwear. I have a headband that I wear when it’s appropriately cool to keep my huge ears warm but still allow the top of my head to be cool. When it gets cold, I usually don a full stocking cap. One of my favorites of late is the Chase Beanie from Icebreaker. It’s made from Merino wool and is very warm yet it’s extremely lightweight and thin allowing for plenty of ventilation. When it’s super cold out, you have to be very aware of icing. That’s right, the sweat coming through your hat can for what amounts to a shell over your entire head. Since ice is such a fantastic insulator, this can wind up making you overheat, so think about carrying an extra, dry hat.
  7. Your “junk” (ladies, feel free to skip this one) When I discovered to awesomeness that is tights, I thought the thermal nature of them would take care of the cold all over. Since I wear compression shorts under my tights, I also figured that this would be added protection against the elements. WRONG. All that wind I wrote about earlier cut right through what is one of the sweatiest places on your body, the groin. Without going into specifics…ouch. So, guys, get some windproof undies. The ZEROx Gunde Boxer from Craft has a windproof front panel that will help keep all the bits and pieces in working order.
  8. Watch you skin! I’ve been out running in the cold before and found myself completely comfortable and able to go on and on with one exception…my face. Unless I’m wearing a balaclava, which is not that often, my face is almost always exposed. So, protect your skin! Even something as simple as Vasaline or as high-tech as Long-Lasting Anti-Chafe Balm from Mission Skincare will protect any exposed skin.
  9. Watch for ice! Unless you’re wearing actual spiked shoes like the Icebug olx shoes will ALL slip on ice (and frozen over snow). I won’t go on a tangent about technique right now, but rather I’ll just give a couple of links to help for running on the ice. There is always the venerable YakTrax to keep you grounded, but another great option is the Hobnail from La Sportiva. Either way, be safe!
  10. Get dry. After your run, fight the urge to jump into a steaming hot shower. Rather, get out of all your sweat-soaked layers and get on a nice, dry sweatshirt and pants. Getting in the shower right away will only be an uncomfortable shock to your system. Once your body has gotten temperature regulated again, then jump in the shower.

Those are 10 great tips from Brandon – we do have a slightly different choice in equipment but overall that sums it up – follow those guidelines and you are in for some great training this winter!

Check back for our article on winter nutrition and how to keep your body on track from the inside for all the winter training!

Rock on!

What is Natural Running?

Natural running – what is that? Is it a revelation, is it getting back to the roots, is it a genius marketing idea? I believe it all depends on the way you look at it!

The questions has to be: How natural does natural running have to be? According to ‘thefreedictionairy’ part of the defintion is: Not altered, treated, or disguised.Isn’t the simple fact of putting shoes on a disquise or altering our feet and our appearance? So is running barefeet the solution to being a natural runner? Not sure: If natural running means we can’t alter our appearance it would basically say – only a naked runner is a natural runner! Taking that into consideration we might wanna define a ‘modern natural running’ – so all of you who just stripped of their clothes and ran right out the door – get them back on!

If we look at a modern version of natural running there is many concepts that promise better form, faster run splits, less injuries and some even a happier life and personality.

Newton running – from their website: ”Landing on your midfoot/forefoot is the most natural way to run. It is also the fastest and most efficient way to run. Newton Running shoes are the only shoes that were developed specifically for Natural Running.” – I totally love the last sentence. REALLY??? The only shoes that were specifically developed for natural running…hm….

VibramFiveFingers – from their website: Vibram® FiveFingers® is different than any other footwear on the planet. Not only do they bring you closer to your environment, FiveFingers® deliver a number of positive health benefits–by leveraging all of the body’s natural biomechanics, so you can move as nature intended. – sounds to me like they were developed for natural running as well…now I am confused!

Similar claims are made for Ecco Biom, Leguano, New Balance and many other producers.

Yet most natural running shoe producers offer stability shoes – which in my opinion is taking away from your foots natural ability to strengthen and return to a natural and healthy state/foot position!

So the question remains: Big revelation or marketing genius?!!! What’ya think?

Swimming for Triathletes Part I – by Adam Molnar

Swimming for triathletes (Series of 4 Parts)

Part I.

The difference in „pool” and open water swimming.

1st of all when we talk about swimming in triathlon, we have to split it into POOL and OPEN water category. Very often I see athletes hammering out super fast times in the pool and yet they totally underperform in the open water and get dropped early in the swim. If they manage to keep up with the fast group they often got nothing left in the tank for bike and run later in the race..

Let’s examine regulations behind this phenomenon.

Of course we have to make a difference depending on the target group: begginners, practicing athletes, pros.

And yet I think there are 2 ways to train an athlete for open water swimming

1)     Teach propper technique and drills in the pool first and once it’s ’sunk in’ and automized turn towards more open water drills and adjust the pool sessions accordingly

2)     when it is a beginner start everything with open water swim emphasized swimming sessions and drills.

Adam Molnar

The mainstream idea about triathlon swimming is that we need high crawl cadence and propulsion mainly comes from arm-work. Thus we need to strengthen our arms and shoulders with exact swim drills or specific way of working out int he pool ( pull-bouy, band, paddle). This is important for several reasons: we need to navigate (raise head, check happenings in front, targeting directions: bouys, exit gate), need to change swimming directions fast (passing slower swimmers, following „leg-water” while someone blocks us), need to accelerate whenever it is required to catch a „leg-water”…etc, or just being able to fight your position in a big group of swimmers.

No matter what your approach – always remember – a good coache’s eye catches more than you might think you can catch yourself from time to time. Proper technique needs to be tailored to your individual needs – a drill that works for the guy on the lane next to you might just be useless to yourself and your needs.

Why swimming technique is so important? I think just because moving in water is 10 times harder than moving in air. Little details examining someone’s swimming technique and solving these „little” problems could save him/her minutes during a race.

The swim leg is a very crucial – if not the most crucial part of a triathlon, as it affects bike, run combination a lot! That is why I mentioned before: you may exit water with the dreamed group of fast swimmers, but for a „strange” reason do not performe any close to your biking and/ or running ability.

Details and further thoughts on this topic going to come in part 2-4

Adam Molnar (Special3 Se, www.special-se.com )

pro athlete, and swimming/triathlon coach

First out of the water Challenge Kraichgau, first out of the water Ironman 70.3 Austria

Health Issues

For a while I wasn’t sure what to think after the docs finally figured out what’s wrong. I knew for years that I wasn’t myself ever since I had glandular fever (Eppstein Bar Virus) in 1999 – 2000. It had indeed struck me fairly bad with 3 infections leading up to the actual breakdown, 3 months recovery in bed, several infections the year after, 4 years until I was able to run for more than 15 minutes at a time without having a day long migrane like headache and so on and on.

Over the years I guess I learned to live with the fact that I couldn’t train to my potential. Every time intensitiy and volume increased I was able to keep it up for a couple of weeks before catching a bad cold or some form of energy loss. Sometimes it took 3-4 weeks to recover from a simple cold and unfortunately – most of the time – it caught up with me shortly before a race. Good for the race organizers whom I spent hundreds or most likely thousands of Dollars on – bad for me who had to cancel such races as Cologne Marathon, Ironman Switzerland, Berlin Marathon amongst others.

After racing the half distance race at the Challenge in Kraichgau it took a long time for me to recover – even longer than usually and I never really got back on track. Then, about 2 months ago I caught another cold and no matter what I and the doctors did, it wouldn’t go away. 3 weeks went by and I went back to the doctors office. Blood- Urin- and other tests revealed nothing but the fact that I had to fire my doc. Well, it wasn’t really the results of the blood test rather than the fact how she answered my question : ‘honestly doc, something has to wrong with me. It can’t be that I get a cold 4-5 times a year and each of them takes 2-3 weeks to pass by when it takes 4-5 days for other people. And then there is those unexplainable energy losses during which I can hardly walk up my door steps at home’ Her answer was: ‘Well, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you – there is different types of people you know. Some have the runs 2-3 times a year and you simply have severe colds 4-5 times a year. It’s your type. You have to deal with it’. Well, I’d rather not repeat what was going through my mind at that point as I don’t want my future kids to read those words but let’s say I disagreed.

It just happend that thanks to a family recommendation I came accross a doctor with a very bad immune system herself during a trip down South Germany, just shortly after ‘quitting’ my doc. She immediately squeezed me into her busy schedule, did test no other doc had done before during my 10 years of complaining and she found out a lot of stuff. Stuff I first thought I’d rather not know but now I am confident I can deal with it, repair my body and come back stronger than I have been in the last 10 years.

It takes a lot of change but after just a week I started getting used to it and now after 3 weeks I really enjoy my new way of living. There is home cooking about 28 days a month, no gluten, no dairy, lots of potatoes, vegetables, fruit, no sweets at all, no alcohol, plenty of home squeezed fruit and veggie juices and it’s getting a little more natural every day.Fair enough, I am also getting infusions and have to do ugly ass cleanses but hey – it’s worth it.

I started seeing positive side effects after about a week. Mental allertness, body fat loss, much more relaxed and so on. Now after 3 weeks it is getting better every day and I even have the energy to squeeze in 3 short 30 minute runs each week.

Two days ago we started getting into baking our own energy bars and energy gels and today I am researching how to preserve them in a natural or as healthy as possible way.

I’ll post the recipe of yesterday’s baking session tonight when I am back home and can take a picture of the bars.

Rock on folks and even though I am not vegan, not vegeratian, fruitarian or anything like it (most certainly no breatharian :-)) I am telling you – chaning your diet around is gonna have a much bigger positive impact on your life than you ever thought.

Shoot me an email to till@trinited.com if you wanna exchange ideas about healthy nutrition, natural ways of suplementing, products I am using and so on!!!

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Till!!

 

P.s. the picture is from last winter – this year no snow running for me. Need to watch out for the immune system 🙂