Archive for January, 2018

5 Tips For Getting the Most Out of your Coaching Experience this Season

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It’s a new year, and your first race will be here before you know it. You have signed up for that big event, and even hired a coach to help you meet your training and race goals. Now what?

Endurance coaching can be expensive, and for most might even be considered a luxury. If you’re putting your hard earned cash down for a coach, how do you ensure you get the very best from your coaching experience?

Here are five things to do to make sure you are getting the most out of the investment you’ve made in your racing season.

Communication is key

Communicating with your coach. It sounds easy, right?  But the truth is, lack of communication between the athlete and coach is likely the number one reason that athletes don’t fully benefit from coaching.

Before coaching ever begins, there will likely be an initial meeting or phone call with your new coach.  This contact is the first and best opportunity to set some expectations around what you will need as an athlete.

As a coach, I always ask this question at every first contact:  “What would a successful coaching experience look like for you?”  Be prepared to communicate the answer to this question.

The first contact is also an opportunity to communicate your expectations, not only around coaching, but also your race goals and any limitations to your training, such as family, job, injuries, etc. We all have them, and being upfront with them will help your coach craft a training plan that is both realistic and attentive to your abilities and your available time.

Online or “virtual coaching” has become the new norm, so location doesn’t have to be a limitation in having a quality coaching experience.  A majority of the coach-athlete interaction will take place through e-mail, telephone calls, text messaging, and through TrainingPeaks.

Be clear with your coach regarding what you prefer in the area of communication frequency and method. Do you prefer to be texted in addition to receiving post-workout comments through TrainingPeaks?

Otherwise, he or she may assume everything is going fine and you have no questions and feel you’re getting the attention you need. Just make sure you let your coach know what you need, and make use of all available technology such as Skype or Face time.

Follow your coach’s plan

Following the plan is critical.  As life sometimes gets in the way, we all have to miss or cut a workout short from time to time. But do your very best to put in the work and follow the training plan set by your coach.

This includes time, distance and intensity. Many coaches customize your workouts specific to you and your races.  So it is important to do the workouts as prescribed—especially the key workouts.

But if you aren’t able to get in that workout, or have to cut a workout short, don’t sweat it!  Let your coach know and they should be able to guide you on what to do next. Often the best thing to do is just move forward with your schedule as planned.

Upload your workouts

We all want to get credit for our hard work, right?  Most coaches these days are using available online coaching software such as TrainingPeaks.  It cannot be over-emphasized how important it is to upload and log in your workouts regularly, and to leave your coach “post workout” comments as well.

This lets your coach know what you are doing, how your body is responding to the training load, and how you are progressing with your program. I use TrainingPeaks, and when one of my athletes completes and uploads a workout, it generates an e-mail to me.  This gives me an opportunity to review the workout file and give feedback in an extremely timely manner.

Share your successes with your coach!

Tell your coach when you’ve had a great training session or race. Your coach wants to hear from you! On the training side, shoot your coach an email to let them know how the session went, and why you felt it was a success.

This will also give your coach clues on how to set you up for great sessions in the future.  If your coach isn’t able to make it to your races, make sure to let them know right away how you felt the race went.

And it is also helpful to schedule a phone call in the weeks following the event to debrief. Lastly, I always recommend athletes write a race report for their most important events. While these do take some time, I find that it is a great way for the athlete to reflect on the race, and if you post these online, it can help other athletes who might be preparing for that same event in the future.

What equipment do I need to begin?

For triathlon coaching, your coach will assume you already have all of the basics like a bike, as well as swim, bike, and run gear. Triathletes will also need access to a swimming pool and a safe place to ride and run.

And while not absolutely necessary, you may want to consider a good GPS device for your sport, and some coaches might even require a heart rate monitor and power meter.

Outside of that, here are a few other items that may improve your training and coaching experience:

Bike trainer (for indoor riding)
Power meter for your bike
Bike cadence sensor
Swim pull paddles and buoy
Swim fins

Dollar for dollar, hiring a coach can be one of the best things you can do to progress in your sport, more than any piece of equipment or electronic gadget. But here’s the deal—you pay a coach for guidance, support and accountability. The accountability is shared. We all have a part to play to make it work.

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How to Find The Best Indoor Training Setup For You

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Indoor training is a very efficient way to train and it’s popularity grows not only with professional athletes, but with endurance athletes of all levels.

The benefits of indoor training are numerous, and go beyond just being able to workout regardless of the weather. Your indoor workouts are no longer dependent on daylight, whether you are an early bird or a night owl. Let it be cold and wet wintery days or mid-afternoon sweltery summertime, your training can still go on (not to mention the safety factor of not having to worry about cars).

If you need to manage your time efficiently, having all necessary equipment at hand, in your home or basement for example, is a great advantage, and will give you more freedom to conduct your workout around the time most convenient to you.

At Trivolution-Training, we use a “reverse periodization” training methodology with all of our professional and age-group athletes. That means that we work with very short but high intensive sessions on the bike, on the run and in the pool early in the season and get longer and more race-specific during the months leading up to race season.

Speed comes first, and we want you to get faster at shorter distances before we develop your big engine which, of course, is what’s necessary to complete a 70.3 or long-distance triathlon.

If you are an age-group athlete who has only a limited time for his or her training, “reverse periodization” can be the key to unlock your hidden potential. For these types of workouts, a dedicated indoor training space can help you maximize your training time and really dial-in to the speed and power efforts required to see real improvements come race season.

But how to properly set up an indoor training space? Below are three different versions of and indoor training setup for the beginner, the intermediate and the advanced indoor training athlete.

The beginner indoor set up

The first step in indoor training is riding your own bike indoors at home. To do that you only need a cheap indoor trainer and perhaps a TV or music to make it a little bit more entertaining. One of the major benefits is that you have the possibility to ride on your own bike and that you will get used to riding the in aero bars and in your optimal aero position.

Beginner

The intermediate indoor training set up

If you want to maximize the positive effects of your training time, you should use a smart trainer with the option of using an ERG mode (load restricted) option. ERG modes are helpful for hitting specific power targets, for example during intervals, however, I don’t recommend to use the ERG mode all the time.

You can also simply use an indoor trainer with a power meter on your bike. You or your coach can use the TrainingPeaks structured workout builder to quickly and easily create structured workouts based on distance or duration and intensity using power.

If you want to make your training even more entertaining, you can use one of the following indoor cycling apps, like Zwift® or TrainerRoad®, explained here in detail.

Intermediate

The advanced set up

Riding your bike indoors is great, but if you have the possibility to get a good treadmill as well it makes your indoor training space truly professional. You are no longer bound to daylight or weather conditions for your bike and run workouts, and you don’t even have to leave your house to do a highly effective workout session, which is particularly great for the time-crunched athlete.

The addition of a treadmill even makes multiple brick sessions possible and you can practice quick and efficient transitions as well.

If you find space in your apartment or house to fix a suspension trainer, you can even do all your strength and core workouts inside.  If your budget allows,  you also have the possibility today to use a counter current system, such as an Endless Pool, like fellow pro triathlete Lionel Sanders who does the vast majority of his training indoors.

Advanced

Build your indoor set up over time

If your budget is a consideration, simply start with a simple trainer and build your indoor space as time and money allow. Even a simple trainer is a wise investment to help you conduct more effective, intensity-focused sessions that don’t depend on weather, daylight or traffic concerns.

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4 Tips for Growing Your Coaching Business Using Social Media

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For some coaches, the words “social media” can be scary. I get it, the thought of creating and maintaining social media accounts can be daunting. Posting every day? Multiple outlets? Sourcing content? No thanks! However you may feel about building your social media presence, the benefits of an engaged (and free) follower base are undeniable.

Allocating just a small amount of time to your social channels each day is really all it takes. The following tips can help you make the most of the time you spend on social media and help you find new athletes and retain the ones you have.

Post engaging content.

Across all platforms, pictures rule. Generally, pictures will incite a better response so always try to find a picture that relates to the message you want to broadcast.

When deciding what to post, follow the 80/20 rule—about 80 percent of the content you post should not be self-serving. Most of your posts should focus on your athletes or your sport.You can post race updates or a training breakthrough from your athletes. Share a recent article about training with power that you found interesting, etc.

The other 20 percent should be promoting yourself and your coaching services. What’s different about your coaching approach? Share training tips! Paint a picture of what working with you and your coaching company looks like. Encourage athlete to get in touch and start a conversation.

Make friends!

On any social media platform, it’s important to engage with accounts that align with your coaching business. You can do this by liking, commenting, and following others on various channels.

On Instagram and Twitter especially it’s important to build relationships. Follow like-minded accounts and engage with their content. In return you’ll receive likes, comments and follows back!

After you have established yourself a bit you can explore utilizing influencer marketing. This can begin with your own athletes. Make it part of your onboarding process to follow your athlete’s social channels and see if they are willing to tag and mention you in their posts (if relevant).

If necessary, offer free or discounted services in exchange for social media promotion from the right person.

Schedule your posts and be consistent.

Being consistent with your social media can be very challenging. Posting content, responding to content and engaging with others is time consuming and easy to push aside when things get busy. Scheduling tools can be a huge help.

Products like Hootsuite and Sprout Social allow you to schedule posts to go live automatically weeks in advance. These tools feature a dashboard where you can manage all your social channels in one convenient place so you’re not switching apps and wasting time.

Keep in mind that posting every day is great, but only if you have the content for it. Decide how often you’ll be posting and make sure you’re creating and sharing fresh content that is relevant to who you are trying to engage with.

Find what works and run (or ride, or swim) with it.

In a perfect world where you have a bunch of extra time you could post every day and spend hours engaging with people on social media. Since it’s not a perfect world, many of us struggle to find the time to do anything with social media.

If you only have time for one social channel, that’s okay! Pick one and be the best at it. Experiment with different kinds of content to see what your audience responds best to. When you find what works for you and your audience, put more effort behind it.

It can also be helpful to peruse other coach accounts on social media to get a sense for what works and what doesn’t.

Good luck!

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Top 3 Strength Training Mistakes by Cyclists

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Strength training for cyclists has been the early season norm for many decades and for good reason too. Hitting the weight room increases core strength, stability and balances the muscular system, preventing overuse and injury.

Exercise routines vary greatly from one rider to the next. Some riders believe in body weight exercises only, others in Olympic lifts, gym machines or systems like the TRX. The truth is, any strength exercise that engages your core is a good exercise, however, when focusing on what’s best for cycling, there are some common mistakes made.

Lifting Max Loads With Few Repetitions

Olympic lifts with heavy loads in the 1-5 repetition range for cyclists does have its benefits but the window to work these is short and very early in the off-season. Lifting these loads for too long can have its drawbacks.

Heavy lifting has always been a hotly debated subject for endurance athletes because it does provide benefits, such as recruiting more muscle fibers, developing stronger ligaments, tendons and a very strong core.

The main drawback is the focus on anaerobic energy systems. Even the shortest of cycling races are mainly aerobic. Anaerobic efforts are a part of cycling, but that strength needs to be developed on the bike. Lifting in the gym is not the same as pedaling a bike, therefore only some of the gains made will transfer.

When performing exercises like squats and deadlifts with heavy loads, you are powering the weight upward with both feet flat on the ground, for a few repetitions. With cycling, all your weight is on the front of the foot as you spin the pedals 80 to 100 times a minute, for hours.

Strength training aerobically will create a system that is more resistant to fatigue and clears waste products faster. If your core, arms and shoulders fatigue faster than your legs in a race, you will slow down. Focus the majority of your base training on higher repetitions, ranging from 15 reps per set up to 25 reps per set for two to four sets.

Non Sport-specific Exercises

Maximizing your time in the gym means working the most effective exercises for your sport. Dumbbell curls and lat pull downs are good exercises, but they are just not specific to cycling. A renegade row for example, is a more sport specific way to work your arms and back and at the same time.

In the pre-season or off-season it is okay to be less sport specific, working a variety of exercises, but as you get into your base period, being more sport specific is wise. Cycling happens one leg at a time, with all the pressure placed on the metatarsals of the foot. Single leg exercises such as lunges and single leg deadlifts are a great way to be more specific to cycling. Single leg exercises also help correct leg strength imbalances.

fig1

Sport-specific Exercise Examples
Running steps

This exercise is very sports specific. Running steps requires you to propel from one step to the next off the front of the foot. It is also very aerobic. Light weight can be added to increase the difficulty.

Split squat jumps

Start in a lunge with rear knee off the ground, using your arms to help you propel upward, jump from the lunge position, switching legs in the air and landing on the opposite side. Repeat immediately, spending as little time on the ground as possible.

Step ups

Using a platform/box that should be high enough that when stepping onto it, it creates a 90 degree angle at the knee, approximately 10 to 20-inches high. Place one foot firmly onto the platform and using that leg, lift both feet onto the platform. Repeat this, working one side at a time.

Push-ups/mountain climbers on dumbbells

Grasping the dumbbell will simulate holding the handlebar. Use dumbbells that will not roll for an easier version. Perform push-ups and mountain climbers this way.

Other sport specific exercises include lunges, bicycle kicks and bent over rows.

Too Frequent Strength Training

Too much strength training and you leave your legs and body sore and tired for the bike. Consistently training with low power output is going to train you to produce low power. You need days where you are fresh and strong on the bike, because the more often you can train at a high level of output, the more gains in cycling-specific strength you will make.

Two or three days a week is ideal for strength training, spacing them with days off between. Spend one day, preferably early in the week, on a hard workout and the other days shorter and easier, focusing more on maintenance and flexibility. If you are looking to increase the difficulty of your strength training, instead of doing more, combine a strength day with a day on the bike, before and or after the ride.

Targeting your strength training for the bike will motivate you more while in the gym. If you know that certain exercises are going to help you feel stronger on the bike, it’s motivating to want to complete those exercises. Keep the mistakes to a minimum, watch your form and listen to your body. More importantly, listen to how you feel on the bike to know that what you’re doing is working.

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5 Foods To Incorporate Into Your Diet For Better Performance and Health

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It’s time to set your healthy eating and performance goals for the new year. While the holidays were filled with joy and indulgence, the side effects of poor nutrition and inactivity can make it hard to ramp up your training in the best way.

I would like to show you five foods that are relatively easy to find and to incorporate into your regular diet. When ingested regularly, these foods will supplement the body with the necessary enzymes, minerals and trace elements we often lose during training and during our day-to-day lives.

By ingesting these minerals and superfoods in their organic and natural form instead of through pills, you can maximize their use for your body and help ensure you are seeing the training gains you need in order to reach your performance goals.

1. Traditional ume vinegar

Ume vinegar is not vinegar in the exact sense. It is the juice produced by the long fermentation process of Japanese apricots. It is, according to my many years of experience, the richest source of minerals, trace elements and enzymes. It is the secret weapon among super foods. Perfectly suited for salads. Is also very good for flavoring meals, or just to drink with water.  It removes inflammation, speeds regeneration and healing of microtraumas—especially important as your training begins to ramp up after the off-season is over.

2. Millet

Millet is very important among the cereals for its alkaline benefits. During Christmas, we often drink alcohol and eat a lot of sugar. Similar to vinegar, the millet grains equalize the pH level in our body. There are numerous ways to prepare and serve millet: salads, mash, burgers, soups—although I prefer to prepare a millet sweet porridge or millet dumplings. During the preparation of the millet porridge, I recommend that the millet cook for a long time. Approximately 40 and 60 minutes. They have the ability to hold large amounts of water and help keep the body hydrated for a long time.

3. Pickles (and other fermented vegetables)

Fermented vegetables are another great way to supplement the body with a lot of enzymes and minerals. You can prepare pickles yourself or buy them at stores or at various farmer markets.

We have been preparing pickles for years with my dad. We always have jars of pickles in the kitchen in large bottles ready to eat after every meal to help optimize digestion.

4. Maca root powder

There have been numerous articles written about the benefits of maca root. It’s an immensely nutritious dietary supplement that can complement the body with what it loses when consuming more sugar or animal products, during hard workouts, and also during the cold winter, when temperatureschanges very often and the body has to compensate for these changes by using more energy.

I usually use maca powder after training like shakes with pea vegan protein, rice syrup, and soy milk. Of course, you can choose your favorite smoothie flavors and mix it with some maca powder with a limited effect on the taste. Try experimenting with peanut powder, mesquite powder, cacao powder, dates, maple syrup, chia and flaxseeds for optimal nutrition in every glass.

5. Rice syrup

Rice syrup is a great substitute for plain sugar. It consists of glucose, maltose, dimaltose and trimaltose. Gradually, the body uses the glucose and energizes continuously. Consider replacing your morning sugar hit with rice syrup in foods like coffee, yogurt or oatmeal for lasting energy.

Finally, it’s important to remember not to restrict yourself too much with your diet. By making some simple changes and incorporating more whole foods, vegetables and lean proteins into your daily diet rather than pills and powders, you can ensure you have the energy for your demanding training (while still earning a treat here and there).

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