11/28/12

Pure Fit Where Results Matter

Triathlon training consists of swim, bike, and running… and lots of it.  But how many of us consider doing any strength training during the off-season two or three times per week and continue it through the spring/summer about once a week.  And those of us that do strength training, how effective is it?  Do you find yourself doing the same two or three boring routine every time you decide to hit the weights.

I’m just as guilty as the large majority of triathletes out there.  I never really took time to strength training seriously.  In high school, I loved lifting weights, but I burned out from it… and found myself bored with it and unchallenged.  The only competition I had in the weight room was the football players.  Their mentality for weight lifting was much different than what I should have been doing as a cross country runner and swimmer.

Ever since I started doing triathlons at 17 years old, I hardly every touch a weight.  The thought of doing weight training crossed my mind several times, but each time I went to the gym or started doing a workout in the basement, I struggled getting into the mindset of pushing myself to my limit as I do in my other training.  I wouldn’t go to the point of failure… I would often stop just as it started to hurt, not allowing my body to get any real benefit.

This off-season, after my first (partial) season as professional triathlete, I knew that if I wanted to make the gains I wanted (and needed) to do to start being more competitive, I would have to make a real effort on my strength training.

I found out of Pure Fit through a guy name Mike Jett, a professor (and co-owner of Pure Fit) at University of and is at least in charge in some degree of the Louisville’s Human Performance Lab.  I wanted to get a lactate threshold test on the bike to redefine my training zones for the bike so I could train more effectively in preparation for the 2013 season.  I didn’t expect him to offer me some help with my strength training at his gym by attending some of the boot camps a couple times per week.  I jumped at the opportunity.

So far I’ve attended the Pure Fit boot camp class for about 3 or 4 weeks about twice a week.  If I have time in my schedule, I do some of my own strength training on my own another day of the week where I focus more on my core strength than anything else.

They offer classes Monday through Friday every evening and M, W, F mornings.  The also offer a mid morning class on Saturdays.   So far the only thing that has been consistent in the class is the starting and finishing times.  One thing I absolutely love about Pure Fit is that no class is ever the same.  The muscle confusion that I experience in the classes I’ve attended are already starting to pay off, which I will get to later.

The start of the class usually has some forms of light cardio to get the heart pumping and blood moving, some dynamic stretching, and light resistance with therapy bands. Once that is complete (about 10 minutes worth), we head to the glass room.  The instructor, either Mike Jett or Wendy Wormal, and one of the Pure Fit personal trainers/employees will demonstrate the exercises at each station.  There typically is about 8-10 stations depending on the size of the group that shows up.  Some of the stations may be inside the glass room, while some of them are out in the hallway if extra space is needed.

Typically each station involves a combination of cardio, core, and strength training.  Often times, each exercise targets at least two of these categories, which is great for triathletes, because we are always trying to multitask!  It also is much more functional than going to a gym and only working one muscle group.  Can you tell me one thing in athletics (or everyday life) that only involves using one muscle group?  (the answer is no!).  So, if we want to be more physically fit and better at the sport we do, it would make sense to train this way too.

Shortly after going to Pure Fit, I came down with Achilles Tendinitis for the second time since moving to Louisville.  I still decided that going to class would be a wise thing, but would have to know my limits and not push my Achilles too much.  When I showed up to the class, I simply approached one of the instructors for the class, let them know my injury, and if something would aggravate it (i.e. jumping exercises) they would come over to me and tell me something to do instead to allow me to still get a workout, but not further injure my Achilles.  The knowledge of the staff to work around someone’s injuries or limitations is phenomenal.  I’m confident that no matter what injury someone would present with, they could figure out a way to tailor the workout to your specific needs.

My perception of strength training from high school has been shaken dramatically since starting to go to Pure Fit.  I now enjoy it, and actually look forward to going to class.  I’m starting to meet some of the people that attend the classes and making some new friends, which is always a bonus.  Every time I go to class, I leave with a sense of accomplishment, sore/tired muscles, and the chance to meet someone new.  Everyone that I’ve met there has been very welcoming.  Pure Fitness has people of all ages and abilities… and that’s the beauty of it!  I know I’m the strongest or fastest there, and probably never will be, but one thing I do know is only after a few short weeks of training my butt off in a totally different way, I’m seeing gains already being made.

 

Today I completed an aerobic set in the pool and finished up with some 100 meters on my base interval.  I noticed that I was consistently coming to the wall with the same amount of effort just under 2 seconds faster… and my muscles were sore from the previous training at Pure Fit.  Two seconds doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but consider two seconds over the course of 2.4 miles (the swim distance in an Ironman triathlon).  That’s a time savings of about 1:15… not to mention the fatigue rate would be less, and would probably be closer to a times savings of about 1:45 to 2:00.

Unfortunately, I don’t have many other numbers since my power meter is getting changed over from a BB30 to a GXP to fit my new ride for next year (Scott Plasma Premium), and my Achilles is just starting to allow my to run again.  But I’m confident that there would be gains in these areas too.  I plan on testing my LT again in January at the U of L Human Performance Lab to see what my training zones are again.  Last time, my LT was 338 watts (4.62 watts/kg).  I would be thrilled if I was able to push 345-350 watts after I have three months of strength training at Pure Fit.

I truly believe that many people could benefit from participating in the boot camps at Pure Fit, whether your sport is an endurance event, or more traditional sports, such as basketball or football.  Or, even it your goal is just to drop a little bit of weight, or keep those Christmas calories from catching up to you… Pure Fit can help you with all your goals.  They will meet you where you’re at, and get you to where you want to be (and more than likely, further than you expected).

The staff at Pure Fit

11/25/12

Swim Testing for Triathletes


The days are getting shorter and colder in my home state of Kentucky.  But there is one place that I can count on to always be sunny and temps in the 80’s:  Mary T Meagher Aquatic Center.  It’s  about the only place I consistently get myself out of bed when needing to do an early morning workout before heading to work at my real job.  I don’t mind when its dark, or when its cold… but when its both, the sum of the two is much greater than the separate parts!

I don’t think I’m alone in the world with this mental problem of getting outside in the early morning for a run workout.  The winter also presents other challenges with slick road conditions and crazy drivers heading to Wal-mart to save money on buying all the things people don’t need for Christmas to only mention a few.  So why not spend more time in the pool perfecting your stroke, give your legs a break for a few months from the high mileage we abuse them with during the spring through fall, and getting a little faster for the first leg of the race that is often disregarded since it is typically such a small percentage of the race.  People will say you can’t win the race in the water (which is probably true), but the race can definitely be lost in the water.

But how does someone get faster in the water?  Aside from swimming more consistently and becoming more efficiently, the most important thing you can do is figure out what your limiter is in the water.  Are you more aerobic or do you lean toward the anaerobic side of spectrum?  There are several tests out there to help determine this, but my favorite is the following:

 

Test Set – 200/800

After doing an adequate warm up of about 700-1000 meters/yards with a few 50’s at race pace effort swim a 200 all out from the wall for time.  Get you 200 time and rest for one minute.  At the end of that minute, do an 800 swim at all out effort for time.

The 200 simulates that start of the race where you start out fast to find your place in the pack and hopefully find someone’s feet to swim behind.  The 800 simulates the remainder of the swim.

The 200 x 4 shouldn’t be equal to your 800 time.  The difference between the 200 x 4 and the 800 is what you are looking for to determine your strength/weakness.

 

 

Interpreting the Data:

Less than 8% Gap
If the swimmers estimated 800 split and actual 800 splits have a gap of less than 8%, this indicates the 200 segment of this test is weaker than the 800 segment. This points towards a lower anaerobic capacity, anaerobic power and/or low swim-specific strength
If the stroke rate is close, within 2-3 strokes from the first 50 and the last 50, it is an indication of low anaerobic capacity and/or power. If the stroke count drops off by 4-5 or more stokes, that points more towards a lower level of swim-specific strength.

Greater than 8% Gap
If the swimmers estimated 800 split and actual 800 splits have a gap of greater than 8%, this indicates the 200 segment of this test is stronger than the 800 segment. This points towards low aerobic conditioning, muscular endurance and/or a poor pacing strategy.
Looking at the stroke count again for more insight. If the stroke count is close, within 2-3 strokes, it could be an indication of muscular endurance (the ability to hold a pace for a long period of time) or possibly a poor pacing strategy.

 

Once you know what your limiter is, it should be relatively simple to do figure out workouts you need to do to work on your limiter in the water.  At the end of the day, however, triathlon is an aerobic sport and we shouldn’t neglect the aerobic side of training if that is your limiter.  By focusing on one side of the spectrum (anaerobic or aerobic) it will negatively effect the other… so balance is key.

11/15/12

Bullitt County FCA

This week I had another opportunity to speak about triathlon.  However, this time it was a totally different crowd than I had ever talked to previously.  Before today I had only talked in church settings and to other triathletes that have at least a slight grasp of what triathlon is in my life.  This week I was speaking to high school students at Bullitt Central that are involved in FCA.

I knew from my dabbling in FCA while I was in high school that many of the students probably weren’t Christians.  I also knew that at least a good number of them wouldn’t even be athletes.  So basically all that was left in common for the students is the “F” in FCA (Fellowship).

A good friend of mine that I met during my first summer in Louisville, Mallory Reid, is a teacher involved in FCA and asked me to speak to the students.  I agreed to do so thinking that I could maybe use the talents that God had given me to maybe inspire some of the students to be more bold for Christ at school and on the sport team, pursue their dreams, and maybe even pick up some form of endurance sports later on down the road.

I started with an abbreviated version of my story of how I got involved in racing.  If you haven’t heard my story, click here.  I could tell that some of them were a little shocked from certain parts of the story, but without the background given, my involvement in triathlon would have no backbone or any significance to FCA.

Once I finished the story, I showed the a video on youtube that would help give a visual of what a triathlon is and an idea of what people wear during the race.  Thankfully, we were able to locate a projector so the whole group, about 60 to 75 in number, could see it.

I then talked about how I believe God has given me the ability to race and do what I love to reach a very unique subculture and challenged them to look in the areas of their lives where they could possibly be the only one able to reach a certain person or people group.

I talked a little bit about my training… not going into too much detail so I wouldn’t bore them to death.  After all, talking about swimming, biking, and running to most people tends to get blank stares.  From there we entered a Q & A.

I was prepared for pretty much any question, since I think I’ve been asked most every question several times in the past.  However, the one that I was hoping someone would ask came towards the end of the Q & A:  “What do you do if you have to go to the bathroom?”

I told them I just pee while moving… by choice.  That got a good response.  Some people started laughing, others grimaced, and others, I’m sure, didn’t believe me.  It sparked a lot of conversation between friends in the crowd of students.

To wrap things up, one of the teachers did a little devotional and a prayer.  On the way out, several students thanked me for coming and a few talked to me afterwards for a few more questions.  I have to admit, I didn’t expect the kids to act so well.  Let’s just say that I’ve heard several horror stories from teachers in both Jefferson and Bullitt County school districts… and I feared the worst!  Some times surprises are good!

I hope to have more opportunity like this in the future; reaching people that are athletes (but not always endurance athletes), talking to youth to inspire them about the future, and hopefully bringing glory to God, which is much more meaningful than swimming, biking, and running as fast as I can.  Ultimately, no sport, experience, and adventures in life will fill the void that many are trying to fill.

 

 

 

 

 

11/9/12

Treating Achilles Tendinitis and Plantar Fasciitis

Endurance athletes and injuries… they seem to go hand-in-hand.  Typically it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.  During the 8+ years I’ve been doing  triathlons, I’ve had to 3 or 4 injuries that have made me take some time off from training.  Mentally, it’s a huge set back.  And depending on how long it knocks an athlete out for, the physical fitness may be minimal or he/

she may need to start over from scratch.

My most recent injury occurred over the course of the last weekend and the first few days of this week.  I began noticing it Tuesday afternoon/evening while warming up for a strength session.  I knew I had to stop doing anything that aggravated it ASAP and focus on resting it.  I had this injury about 2 years ago while training for what was going to be my first ultramarathon.  I ignored the problem until I couldn’t even stand without it hurting.  I learned my lesson, and this time am taking a very conservative approach to letting it heal.

Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis are treated the same.  The point of this article is not to walk through the day by day journey of my injury, but rather to help athletes overcome these injuries quickly and naturally without spending a ton of money on visits to

take a pill at morning and night to reduce inflammation naturally

the doctor or the physical therapist.  Below a few ideas on how to treat it:

1.  Natural anti-inflammatory – There are several different ways to help reduce the inflammation that can be found at any pharmacy.  However, a lot of these medications have side effects.  For example, Ibuprofen, if taken longer than 10-14 days, can start doing damage to the kidneys.  There are a few different natural anti-inflammatory out there.  Ginger and turmeric are two choices that I would recommend.  No harmful side effects and offer other benefits as well.  These can be taken in pill form and by adding them liberally to the foods you eat.  If you want the pills, they can be found at any local health food store.

2. Home made splint – Many people have heard of KT tape, or have seen people walking around with it on to help the body not use a certain muscle, tendon, or ligament as much as normal.  However, I’ve found that silk tape works better.  It sticks longer, doesn’t stretch and can withstand a little moisture better than KT tape.  Below are some pictures on how to tape your foot to help reduce how much the inflamed area can be used.  Thus, allowing for it to rest and heal faster:

Step two – keep the foot dorsa-flexed and tape up the calf. Split the tape in half and secure to each side of the calf muscle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3 – take a piece of tape and wrap around the bottom of the foot to keep the first piece in place better

 

Step 4 – wrap a piece just above the top of the foot around the ankle for additional support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Glucosamine – this is a pill that you can take that helps with soft tissue repair and healing.  It’s hard to say if this does a lot based on my trial and error… but it won’t hurt to take it.

 

4.  Splinting at night – One of the best things I’ve found is to splint the foot at night to keep the foot from “dropping” while sleeping.  You can easily add a couple extra pieces of tape to the steps shown above to prevent this from happening.  The idea is to keep the achilles (or fascia) stretched overnight to allow more blood flow along with keeping it from shortening over night and being more sore.  Personally, I found this to be the most helpful.  Both times I tweaked my achilles, this practice seemed to help the most.  Below are two more steps:

 

 

Step one – take a piece of tape and attach to one side of the leg, go under the balls of the feet and attach to the other side of the leg. It is very important that the foot is dorsa-flexed as much as possible.

 

 

11/5/12

Chinese Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef/turkey
  • 2 cans Chinese veggies
  • 1 can cr. Mush soup
  • 1 can cr. Chic soup
  • 1/2 cup soy or teriyaki sauce
  • 2 cup brown rice (uncooked)
  • 4 cups water

 

Preparation:

Brown meat and combine all ingredients. Bake covered at 350 for 2.5 hours.  Uncover and bake it towards end if still watery.  Serve over Lo Mein noodles.

11/5/12

Vegetable Cashew Saute

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package whole wheat rotini pasta
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark sesame oil
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1.5 cups chopped unsalted cashew nuts

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the rotini 10 to 12 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar.
  3. Heat the 1/4 cup sesame oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the broccoli, carrots, red bell pepper, mushrooms, shelled edamame, and cashews. Mix in the sesame oil sauce. Cover skillet, and cook 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but crisp. Serve over the cooked pasta.

 

11/4/12

Louisville Sports Commission Half-Marathon Race Report

This weekend (11/3/2012) I ran the Louisville Sports Commission mini-marathon.  I had signed up for it with the mindset to use it as a training day to get  some good numbers to work with to help guide my training through the winter as I prepare for 70.3 Panama the beginning of February.  I had no intentions of tapering for the race.

Race morning was a bit brisk with temperatures in the mid to upper 30’s.  If you know anything about me, you know I hate the cold and thrive in the heat.  I got down to the race early so I wouldn’t have to fight for parking and killed some time before the race chatting with some friends that were also doing the 13.1 mile run through downtown Louisville and Cherokee Park.  Everyone seemed to be excited for the day.  As the sun rose over the horizon, the temperature seemed to rise as well.  I made some last minute apparel changes to what I was planning to run in and worked my way to the front of the start line for a few last minute stride outs.

Mike Hermanson’s bib number for 2012 LSC mini-marathon

 

The count down for the race started and the gun went off.  I found myself leading the pack for about the first mile or so, but I knew there were faster runners here.  I quickly surrendered the lead to two guys that were wearing matching uniforms.  By the second mile, I found myself in 5th place, but the other 4 guys were less than 10 yards in front of me.  I wasn’t concerned about it, because I had a feeling that at least two of them were going out too fast.

We hit Lexington Road for the long gradual up hill climb for about 2 miles to Cherokee Park.  As I was running up that 2 mile stretch I passed 4th and 5th place.  The  guy in 4th place was pacing off of me, running either beside me or just behind.  I took notice of his breathing and could tell that he was running above threshold and wouldn’t be able to hold this pace for longer than a couple miles at best.  I looked at my HR monitor.  My HR was about 170-171… right at or just under threshold by a couple BPM.  I figured I would just let this guy wear himself out on the hardest part of the course as we entered Cherokee Park for miles 4 through 7.

About half way through the park, it started hailing/sleeting/freezing rain for just a few minutes.  I thought to myself that it would have been nice to have those extra clothes I ditched before the race… but it stopped after a couple minutes, leaving the road a bit slick.  Me and the other guy started running up the back side of hill leading up to Hogan’s Fountain.  If I remember right, he was a few meters in front of me at the base of the hill.  I pushed the hill to just above threshold to catch him and put distance on him during the hill.  I love running hills.  Once I got to the top, instead of relaxing a bit to recover, I wanted to put the nail in coffin on this guy and mentally beat him by keeping the pace on the flats and use the down hill section to put more distance on him.  By the time I got to the bottom of the hill about a half mile later, he was several meters behind.  I thought to myself… I shouldn’t see him again if I can hold it together.

However, the other guy I passed first on my way up Lexington Road wasn’t about to give up so easily.  He made his presence known as he picked up the pace to catch me on the long climb on Grinstead.  By the time we reached Cherokee Road, we were running stride for stride and continued to do so for about a mile.  I checked my HR.  Still about 170 BPM… just under threshold.

When we reached the down hill section leading to Liberty Street, I picked up my cadence and leaned forward even more to use gravity to carry me down the hill.  Once I hit Liberty, he dropped back several meters.  I knew that the rest of the race was basically flat and would have to maintain good form if I wanted to keep him from catching me.  I focused on the forward lean, landing on my forefoot, kissing the ground with my heel to let my calf muscle relax briefly, and running with my arms high but with relaxed shoulders.

Over the last 5 miles of the race, I would occasionally look over my shoulder to see if he was making any ground on me.  Best I could tell, he was slowly fading.  We ran all the way down to 25th street (I think) took a right hand turn and another on Main and had about 1.5 miles of straight road until the finish line.  I started picking up the pace a little bit.

With about 1/2 to 3/4 mile left to go, my friend Ryan Althaus escorted me on his bike.  He encouraged me to pick up the pace, get on my toes and kick it in.  My legs and chest were hurting as I kicked it in.  I gave on last glance over my shoulder to see where 4th place was and figured he was about 30 seconds behind.  I was on my way to a 3rd place finish, and crossed the finish line in 1:15:28.

My goal for the race was to finish between 1:15 and 1:16.  Place didn’t really matter to me so much.  I was racing the clock and trying to get some good data to train with over the winter months.  So, it was a successful day.

After reviewing my Garmin, my average HR was 169, and my first and second half of the race were almost equal in time.  This tells me that my endurance is good, but still have need to work on speed.  Realistically, I need to get my stand-alone half marathons down to about 1:10 so that my 13.1 mile run at the end of a 70.3 is about 1:15.

Thanks to my coach, Justin Trolle, for helping make such huge gains in the last 15 months of working together.  Thanks to my friends that cheered for me along the race and my sponsors that help make my dreams a reality.

My medal is now hangs from my rear view mirror… a nice alternative to fuzzy dice!