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...No idea where I'm headed in 2018/2019, but I can't wait to get there...

So you've landed here on my iWillNotBonk.com Triathlon Training Blog and you're probably wondering who the hell this Tavis guy is and what iWillNotBonk is all about.

I'm just an average age-grouper / weekend warrior blogging about Ironman Triathlon Training and this complex puzzle of juggling life, having fun and reporting on my various feats of strength and endurance adventures!

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2018!? Starting from Square 1!

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Endurance Nation Training PLans

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Over the last five years, we’ve seen the mainstream endurance world do a complete 180-degree turn related to the use of strength training for performance. This is a huge step in the right direction, and as we, a sporting culture, are beginning to better discern the bad information from the quality information, we should expect large strides in unlocking a whole new level of performance for the average cyclist and triathlete.

Recently, I had the pleasure and privilege to present at the USA Cycling Coaching Summit. It was a fantastic opportunity to help coaches and athletes get started on the right foot in the realm of strength training.

I also realized in my time at the conference, that there is a big focus in the cycling world on “specificity of movements” such as those we already use tens-of-thousands of times every ride. While the intention is to employ the S.A.I.D. Principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands), we might actually be missing the target high and wide.

So what should we be concentrating on instead?

When it comes to the general population, there is a focus on building bigger, stronger muscles, and much of the schooling for new personal trainers is geared towards this group. But, when it comes to training endurance athletes, we should actually have different intentions: performance and longevity.

To reach those outcomes, we can break things down into three primary goals:

Keeping the body in balance
Injury prevention
Increase performance

The order of these goals is incredibly important as focusing on keeping the body in balance will help us prevent injury and increase performance. Shuffle these around and you can quickly find yourself fighting unplanned battles that you simply don’t have the time or energy to win.

Taking these rules into consideration, we can begin to see how a limited strength training plan, which concentrates only on exercises like squats, lunges, hamstring curls, leg presses, and front planks, puts these goals at risk. Eventually, such a plan may lead to massive muscle imbalances and overuse of specifics muscles and joints resulting in a subsequent decrease in performance.

But, these exercises still have a place in strength training for cyclists. There is just far more that must be included in a well-rounded plan, especially for the upper body.

Incorporating the “Fundamental 5+1” movements

In order to see the most positive results, we have to think about working the body in ways that will help keep the joints in balanced positions. Doing so will will help the muscles function properly; this is quite literally “functional training”.

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That’s where the “Fundamental 5+1” movements come in. Every well-balanced strength training program should include all of the movements in order to build a better, more injury-resistant athlete:

Rotary Stability

Notice anything? Only two of these movements are lower body dominant, and a third requires the upper and lower body to work together. That’s why a training plan that only concentrates on the lower body can ultimately be detrimental to an endurance athlete in the long term.

There are hundreds of exercises you can choose from for your athlete, and the most challenging part is to figure out which tool is best for that athlete at that time. My challenge to you is to build more well-rounded strength programs and make sure every exercise is leading to a more balanced athlete.

How are you planning to incorporate balanced exercises into your strength plans this year?

The post Where Endurance Strength Training Programs Often Go Wrong appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

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All too often, athletes and coaches are strapped for time and looking for new training methods to get the most our of their workouts. If you are familiar with polarized training, you already know that a smart mix of high- and low-intensity workouts might be the perfect solution. But, are you actually approaching polarized training all wrong?

Dave Schell and Cody Stephenson sat down with renowned academic Stephen Seiler to discuss his research, how he applies it in his own training, and why you might be overcomplicating polarization.



Stephen Seiler Twitter
Stephen Seiler ResearchGate
2018 Endurance Coaching Summit featuring Keynote Speaker Stephen Seiler (use coupon code CoachCastECS20 for 20 percent off)

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It’s that time of year again when it’s chilly outside and race season seems far off in the distance. Off-season has officially arrived. It’s the time when motivation dips and you can’t seem to get into your usual training groove. It seems like just about everybody can find an excuse to get out of a workout these days. We’ve all done it—and we all regret it.

To avoid the excuses from the start, set yourself up for success by working with a coach to develop a custom training plan just for you. Having a plan, even in these low months can be extremely motivating. Take the time to learn from your coach, ask questions to help you understand why certain workouts are incorporated into your schedule, and the purpose of each in your overall goals for the year. Knowing how that particular workout affects the others and what role it plays in ultimately meeting your goals is a huge motivator in and of itself.

For the times when that’s not enough and you still find yourself offering excuses, well now’s the time to start anticipating them and crafting your plan of attack. Here are some common off-season training excuses and solutions to get you back out there:

Excuse: I had a bad day at the office and I’m mentally and physically drained.

Solution: Move your workouts to early mornings. Not only will the cool air feel good, but now you will feel energized the rest of the day and have the evening to relax and prepare for your next workout.

Excuse: I have to watch my kids.

Solution: Investing in a running stroller, putting your bike on the trainer at home, or having the kids help keep your splits at the track are all great ways to get the family involved in your training. The kids will have a great time helping keep you on pace.

Excuse: I get injured when I workout. What’s the point?

Solution: First off, talk to your doctor to make sure you are clear to run before you start your comeback. Then, right away have your running form analyzed by a professional to make sure you are wearing the proper shoes. A number of running related pains and injuries are a direct result of running in the wrong shoes. Also be sure to incorporate cross training and strength conditioning to build a strong core and lower body strength.

Excuse: It’s too dark before and after work to train.

Solution: Get some more gear! There are great headlamps out on the market right now with progressive lighting that are powerful and lightweight. Invest in a reflective vest and warm, layered clothing to be sure you’re seen out there on the dark road and you’re toasty while you’re doing it.

Excuse: I’m too tired.

Solution: You likely need more sleep. Go to bed early. Give yourself time to relax in the evenings before going to bed to help ensure a better night’s rest. Shut off the electronics an hour before bedtime, read a book and drink some chamomile tea. Sleep is a valuable, and often overlooked, aspect of recovery.

Excuse: It’s too cold.

Solution: It very well may be cold out there. But that’s just another reason to dress for your workout. People train in all types of weather just fine using some smart preparation before they head out the door. And once you start moving the cold air usually starts to feel good. If it’s truly too cold outside, then simply head indoors.  These indoor training workouts are great ways to stay on top of your fitness no matter what it looks like outside.

Don’t worry if you fall victim to one or two of these excuses during the off season. It happens to us all. Now is the best time to set yourself up mentally for a strong year and if hitting the snooze button once or twice helps, think of it as your reward for the amazing season you are starting to dream about.

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“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
-Albert Einstein

Triathlon season 2018 is now over. The evenings are getting darker and as we move into the holiday season, thoughts turn to new goals and plans for 2019. But before you get on to the fun bit of goal setting, it is worth taking some time to reflect on the past race season to see what it can tell us about how you improve in 2019. This is something a lot of athletes neglect, and as a result, tend to end up repeating the same mistakes or not pushing onto the next level they could achieve.

Maybe you reached dizzying new heights in 2018, or maybe nothing worked out the way you planned, but examining how your season played out can be a real game changer, helping you avoid old pitfalls and build on your strengths for better performances next year.

The areas to critically evaluate include:
Goal setting and race selection
Training session execution
Rest and recovery
Time management
Race preparation/execution

By simply being honest and systematic in your review, you should gain a much clearer picture of where you should focus your limited energy and resources. Then you need to drill down to why some things worked, and others did not, to understand how best to plan for next year. This approach (if done correctly) should help you identify and map changes you need to implement to minimize the risk of repeating the same limiter in the next season. For example, a good end of season review might look like this:

What I did well:

Goal setting and race selection: I stuck to the agreed race schedule and goals (achieved 100% of A goals and 50% of B goals)
Base training execution: I successfully hit 90% of sessions in the plan

What I did poorly and possible reasons why:

Nutrition: I missed a lot of my weight goals. I didn’t track my intake and I ate too many takeaways and ready meals mid-week due to time pressures and lack of planning after late training sessions.
Mindset: I found myself mentally quitting during hard sessions as persuaded myself it was okay, I found this repeated in some races
Rest and recovery: I constantly felt tired in Build and ended up injured in May. I didn’t track my sleep and felt I was over-committed both with work and socially.

What I need to change in 2019:

Nutrition: I need to focus on nutrition particularly in training. I need to track calories better, and use better planning (e.g. batch cook more healthy meals) to ensure I am fuelling my body appropriately.
Mindset: I need to research better ways to remain focused during hard sessions/races e.g. visualization? View hard sessions as learning ground for hard races in the calendar?
Rest and recovery: Need to track sleep and rest periods and plan for some extra naps and rest where possible. I need to ensure I adhere to recovery cycles and rest days, book sports massage on rest days

We are all looking for that elusive PB, improved placing, etc., and we can be too quick to dive into the next season hoping that everything will fall into place. Surely a better approach is to take stock of what we know happened and base our plans for 2019 on what we know we should improve. Remember when reviewing last year’s performance, it’s important to be both really honest with yourself and also to look at your performances without judgement. You can’t change what has happened, but you can learn from your past behavior to improve the way you do things.

Ready to get real insight into your performances? Drop me a note to subscribe to my newsletter, and receive access to my free new season review tool!

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Perhaps one of the most important conditions that differentiate male and female athletes is susceptibility to the Female Athlete Triad, or “the triad.” The triad consists of three main symptoms including low energy availability, menstrual dysfunction and decreased bone mineral density.

For females, loss of a menstrual cycle (amenorrhea) is the major red flag for this syndrome, though subclinical menstrual disorders were found to be extremely common in long distance runners, to the tune of 80% of all athletes in one study. (Subclinical disorders are only detected by measuring hormone concentrations). The problem with amenorrhea is that it causes a lowering of estrogen, which (among other symptoms) increases the rate of bone resorption. This reduces bone mass and increases the risk of fracture. Worst of all, bone loss over time can become irreversible, so those stress fractures can manifest as osteoporosis later in life.

However, studies show that exercise has no suppressive effect on reproductive function, apart from the impact of its energy cost on energy availability. That means that energy availability (EA) is the cornerstone of the triad. EA equals the amount of dietary energy (fuel) remaining after exercise for normal physiological processes (like breathing, digestion, movement etc.) A reduced availability of energy, coupled with high volume or intensity of exercise will kick off a cascade of negative hormonal responses associated with the female athlete triad.

It is important to note that low EA can be inadvertent (reduced appetite or food availability/time) or may be associated with disordered eating patterns. Disordered eating includes clinical eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia) but also subclinical manifestations that involve intentional caloric restrictions. Unfortunately athletes of all genders are at risk for low EA as they aim for ‘race weight.’ Being lighter certainly has benefits for many endurance athletes including cyclists, runners and triathletes—and the prevalence of this thinking is backed up by a review of studies, which mark disordered eating in 28-62% of the female athlete population.

In study after study, simply increasing dietary intake has been enough to move the athlete back to healthy status. However due to the requirements of many sports, as well as disordered eating patterns, it is not uncommon for female athletes to fear gaining weight, which can cause difficulty in increasing energy intake or even reducing exercise energy expenditure. It’s very important to understand the risk of these behaviors on short and long-term health as well as to recognize that being thin is far from the most important factor in becoming faster. Getting to the “perfect” weight is never worthy of reducing caloric intake enough to trigger negative hormonal responses, which can threaten both short and long-term health.

Keep in mind, “before female athletes are athletes, they are female” (Burke and Decon, Clinical Sports Nutrition). Worldwide about twice as many young women as young men (at every segment of the Body Mass Index) perceive themselves to be overweight, and the numbers of men and women actively trying to lose weight are even more disproportionate. (Wardle et al. 2006).

Symptoms to watch in yourself or your athlete include:

Unusual high fatigue level
Weight loss
Stress fractures
Chronic injury
Absence of normal menstruation
Chronic fasting or limited food intake
Sensitivity to cold
Mood swings or changes
Obsessive thoughts about food
Dissatisfaction with body image

A condensation of research has led to the recommendation that physically active women have an EA of at least 188kJ (45k/cal)/kg/FFM/d to ensure adequate energy for all physiological functions (DeSouza et al. 2014). When weight loss is desired, it should not be approached with an excess of calorie or nutrient restriction, but rather with a planned, periodized nutritional strategy.

Thankfully, “strong is the new skinny” is trending and we can thank powerhouse female role models who are standing up and pointing out that everyone has a different healthy body type. Many great female athletes are seeing that their strength, however it manifests in their body shape, is what matters. Hopefully, the growing awareness of the female athlete triad and its symptoms will help move everyone towards good health, strong bodies and positive long-term athletic performance.

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