Posts Tagged ‘Triathlon’

20111219-135842.jpgJust off of an Ironman season… I’m burned out, no motivation, just not feeling the 2012 season… I’ve said in the past, “if it isn’t fun, why do it!?!?”. A time to reflect, why do I do it? What motivates me? What is fun???
I live quite a distance from the mainstream XTERRA events, have put on events to bring it close… It was fun bringing XTERRA to people who had no idea what to expect and watching them have a great time but… I want to race!
2012 I will be planning some off road and XTERRA clinics, small stuff for focused attention. I will post on each one to share the info people are learning and their progress.
Swimming, transitions, Mtn biking, trail running, how to, training, practice, tips and tricks, workouts…



I know some of you have been on one or at least seen one. If you want to try one, in the Buffalo NY area, contact me for a full demo and “try out”.

Training might be a big priority for you, but on a daily basis, you have to make decisions around keeping your training, career and family in balance. Swimming is often the most difficult of the three triathlon disciplines to fit into a time-crunched schedule. Fortunately, there is a great training tool available that you can use when your time is too crunched to complete a full in-water swim session. Say hello to the Vasa Ergometer.

To use the Vasa Ergometer, you lie on your belly on an elevated padded platform that moves forward and backward on a rail. In each hand you hold a swim paddle that is attached to a resistance unit via a cable. As you mimic your swim stroke, the cables provide resistance and ideally the platform should stay stationary.

This training device is so useful because it allows you to complete a sport-specific strength workout in a short period of time. It can also help improve your swim technique. For example, one important part of swim technique is maintaining high elbows during the catch phase of your swim stroke, which puts your hand and forearm in an optimal position for a strong pulling phase. There are ways to work on this and other components of stroke technique in the water, but the necessities of staying at the surface and moving forward sometimes make it difficult to focus intently on one aspect of swim technique. When you’re on the Vasa you aren’t turning your head so frequently, so you can monitor the position of your arms throughout the entire catch phase of each stroke. Keep in mind, however, that because the Vasa Ergometer doesn’t require all of the integrated motions of in-water swimming, it has to be considered a supplement to your pool workouts and not a total replacement. For example, you are not working on your kick or your side-to-side breathing while on the machine.

When it comes to designing individual workouts on this machine, they can vary for each athlete. The unit has the ability to adjust the resistance or load on your arms through a flap door that alters the amount of airflow into the wind-generating fan. You can also change the angle of the rail supporting the sliding platform. It’s important to remember, though, that even on an easy setting, a Vasa workout will be much harder than a comparable in-water workout. For example, if you usually swim 45-60 minutes in the pool, you might only be able to handle 10 to 15 minutes on the Vasa, perhaps less the first time you use the machine. From the perspective of a time-crunched athlete, however, that’s not a bad thing because a high-quality 15-minute workout on the Vasa is better than skipping your swim training altogether.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Vasa with about five to eight minutes of “swimming” to help you determine how your current fitness level translates to time and effort on the machine. Since you’re using the Vasa for more of an endurance swimming workout than a purely strength training workout, you’ll want the angle of the rail to stay almost level, or for more resistance you can raise the front of the rail. Be sure to get in a good two to five minutes of easy swimming on the machine (very light resistance) to warm up your arms before attempting any particular intervals.

We recommend that your first workout be five to 10 x 30-second freestyle intervals with 30 to 45 seconds of passive recovery between intervals. You only want to pull as hard as you can while maintaining perfect form, and there will be resistance on your arms during the recovery phase of the stroke as well. The Vasa places a lot of load on the initial catch phase of the stroke, when your arm is extended in front of you. You want to be conservative on the Vasa because the muscles controlling this portion of the stroke are often somewhat weak, meaning they are easy to overload.

As your fitness and experience with the machine progress, your goal should be to increase the duration of individual intervals while reducing your total number of intervals. In other words, you want to accumulate more total work time and make each work period longer. A typical progression could go from 10 x 30-second intervals, to 5 x 1-minute intervals, to 5 x 90-second intervals, eventually working your way up to repeatable five-minute intervals.

The key is to continue challenging yourself to swim a little longer, but without sacrificing technique in the process. At the end of any series of intervals, cool down with one to three minutes of low-resistance swimming to help facilitate circulation to and from the muscles you’ve been training.

For time-crunched athletes, the Vasa Ergometer can be a great timesaver and a beneficial addition to your swim training. Most importantly, it helps to bridge the gap between missing and completing workouts when training gets kicked off course by your busy life.


So a friend of mine asked me a few weeks ago about getting better in her run.  Great question!  Found this on…

More Miles!:

Running more mileage does more than just increase your performance for the long races. I found that my 5k times improved quite a bit when my weekly mileage climbed into the 40+ range. The long slow distance runs improve your muscle’s efficiency at burning the glycogen and fat stores and can help prolong the on-set of lactic acid build-up. Even if you’re goal race is a middle distance run, you can improve running performance by gradually increasing your mileage. Be conscious of your mileage increases and try not to increase your long run more than 2-3 miles over your previous week’s long run, and make sure that the total weekly increase doesn’t exceed 15-20%.


Hills are tremendous way to build leg strength and ultimately improve running performance. Look at hills like strength-training in disguise. Focus on running form and treat each hill as an interval. By running hills, your legs will are going through the running movements against gravity…which is more efficient and effective than stationary leg lifts and leg curls in a gym. Hill intervals are used by almost all of the world’s elite distance runners as a method to improve their efficiency, strength, and ultimately…their times. Find a good hill that’s 200-400 meters long with a decent upgrade slope. Start with 2-3 intervals based on your fitness level and increase by a repetition or two each week during the strength-building part of your training plan. Make sure that you get a good 1-2 mile warm-up and cool-down jog in before and after any hill interval training to prevent injuries.


Intervals are like a dress rehearsal for your race and they should be the foundation of your plan to improve running performance. Interval distance should vary based on your goal race. For example, ¼-mile intervals are good repetitions for a 5k race, while mile intervals are more suited for a marathon.Like the hill intervals, start with 2-4 repetitions and increase weekly. The interval portion of your training plan is the heart of the schedule and should take you to the taper period (2-3 weeks) prior to your goal race. The goal for your intervals should be 70-85% effort with sufficient rest between each repetition. The pace for your intervals should be slightly faster than your goal pace for your race. For example, if you want to run a 3:10 marathon (7:15 pace), your goal mile intervals should be run at a 6:30-6:45 pace; of if you want to run a sub-20 minute 5k (6:27 mile pace or 1:37 ¼-mile pace), try running your ¼-mile intervals around 1:20 – 1:30.

Strength & Cross Training:

Adding some calisthenics and cross-training to your routine can also improve running performance by strengthening the supporting cast muscles. Strong arms and abs may not win a race for you, but weak ones can help you lose it. The same goes for the muscles on the front of your leg – they may not be the prime movers in running, but they assist, and you’ll want all the assistance you can get when gunning for your PR! Add some basic exercises like squats, bike riding, elliptical, leg lifts, calf raises, toe curls, push ups, pull-ups, and crunches to your repertoire. It’ll be a nice change of pace from running and it’ll increase your performance level.
When you start trying to improve running performance, you’re going to want to cram as much in as you can in the shortest time possible…that’s natural. But if we try to streamline this process and reduce the rest or if we introduce too many hard workouts in a short-period of time, we will become more prone to injury and could set ourselves back many months. So please take the time needed to make gradual improvement and increases in stress – you’ll make out much better in the long run!

sore heal when running

Posted: January 8, 2009 in Triathlon
Tags: , ,

This comes up as a friend of mine was complaining about their heal hurting the day after a longer run.  After asking a few questions we find they have been running on a treadmill with an incline and yesterday was on no incline.  A few more questions and I’m brought back to what I learned from Bobby McGee in a USAT Coaching course.  Think back on when you began to run… did someone show you how to run?  No!  As children we all just run, it is fun.  We have all been taught how to swim and taught how to ride a bike.  They both took, or are taking, practice.  Running also takes practice, practice in the “form” of running.   This person, as many are, is a heal striker.  Your foot strike  should be mid foot, don’t think flat foot or foot slapping but mid foot.  All running should be happening behind you.  If you strike heal first you are actually stopping yourself from forward momentum.  This constant “stopping” is really going against what you are trying to accomplish, moving forward with less energy.  draw an imaginary line from your ear to your shoulder, down thru your hip joint, to your ankle bone.  This line should be straight when your foot strikes the ground.  One way to know you are doing it correctly is have your running partner listen to determine if they can hear you running next to them.  Your strike should be easy on you and quiet to them. 😀