NYC Triathlon

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Congratulations to Pierre for a smart and focused race at the NYC International Distance Triathlon. Pierre got a new job at the beginning of May and has had to be focused about training. It’s been quite the learning curve in how to fit it all in but he has managed well. And race day was hot (above mid-80s/above 30 degrees Celsius) but Pierre maintained his cool even with some race day challenges and when the run course was shortened as a result of rising temperatures!

What a day it was last Sunday for the NYC triathlon! I enjoyed every minute of it from my early move to the start line (2 hours before my actual start) to my finish in Central Park.
I had a good feeling throughout the course despite hot temperatures.

1500 Meter Swim: The temperature was 76.4 F so I wore my wet suit. On the positive, I had a good start and a good first half. The Hudson River was not clean and after my goggles got foggy, it was hard to keep my line. The race website notes: “The Hudson River is the cleanest it has been in 30 years and is considered bathing and recreation quality.”

40 K Bike: I felt good at start and I had power in legs. The downside was that I lost my second water bottle + my handlebars got slowly shifted from my front wheel. My mistake and I should have tightened my handlebars more. I am happy with my bike leg overall.

Run: After a quick T2, I had no side stitch and good legs from the start. The temperature was approaching 95 F and the run had to be shortened to 8km because of the heat. With such a crowd in Central Park, it felt amazing. I pushed hard to stay close to 4mn/km but only manage 4mn30s/km. I am happy with my performance with further improvements expected on the run especially. I attach a picture from the race so you can feel how hot it was.

Recover well Pierre!

A Dynamic Warm-up

It’s race season! And if you aren’t racing, you are probably also aiming to get in key workouts.

A proper warm-up is key to a good workout or event. It prepares the muscles and joints in a more sport specific manner. A good warm-up enhances coordination and motor ability as well as revving up the nervous system. Finally, and possibly most importantly, it prepares the mind for the work ahead. Proper mental preparation for any sport is vital and the dynamic warm-up forces athletes to focus and concentrate on the task at hand.

Your starting point should be an easy general cardiovascular warm-up lasting 10 – 15 minutes (or until you have broken a light sweat). This raises the body’s core temperature enough to enhance the elasticity of muscles, tendons, ligaments and overall joint structures and prepare you for the workout ahead. It is a time to focus and concentrate, leaving all outside distractions and stressors behind. It is time to put the phone down!

Dynamic Warm-up

Pendulum: Warms up and stretches the hip flexors, hip extensors, hip adductors, and hip abductors.

Holding onto a stable object, swing leg forward and back. Then swing the leg from side to side.

Hurdles: Warms up and stretches the hip flexors, hip extensors, hip adductors, and hip abductors.

Lift leg as if going over a high object, forward and then backwards.

Hacky sack touches: Warms up and and enhances mobility of all the muscles of hips and adductors.

Lift right leg, sticking the knee out while you bring foot up to touch the left hand. Switch legs. Next, bring right leg up, sticking knee towards the center of your body and touch your right foot with your right hand.

Step back and forward lunge: This exercise demands core stability, hip extension and glute recruitment.

Step back with one leg so you are in a lunge position. Make sure your forward knee is properly aligned over the foot and your hips are squared. Step back your leg (do not push off with back foot, use your glutes to complete this motion) and then step forward for a lunge again. Again, make sure your knee is properly aligned over your foot and your hips are square. Only lunge as far as is comfortable for you. It does not need to be a deep lunge.

Lateral Lunge: Activates the glutes and adductor muscles.

Stand with your feet parallel, hip-width apart. Step to the right, then shift your weight toward the right foot, bending your right knee and pushing your hips back. Your left leg should be as straight as possible. Reach for your right foot with your left hand. Push off with your right foot to return to starting position.

Zombie walk: Enhances hamstring mobility.

Swing your straight leg up to waist height while reaching for your toes with your opposite arm.

Grapevine: This drill loosens hip flexors and glutes and increases hip and leg and gluteal mobility while also using lateral strength required to run with good form.

As you move sideways, cross one leg over the other in front and then behind. Hold your arms out to the side to begin; as you start to get the hang of the drill, use your arms as you would while running.

These are just some of the many warm-up exercises you can do. As Coach has often said, don’t leave your workout in the warm-up! Warm your body up easily and prepare for what is ahead.

 

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Hill Running Tips

Lucky Seattlites! Wherever you run, there is likely to be a hill. However, we know quite a few athletes who tend to limit their running routes to avoid hills. Proper hill running (both up and down) has some great benefits including building strength and teaching pacing. And we hate to break it to you but the secret to hill running is no secret. To be a better hill runner, you need to run hills. Then when you come to a hill in a race and everyone around you groans in horror, you will be ready!

When running up a hill, you are working harder to overcome gravity. Your body is forced to recruit more muscles in your legs to carry you up the slope. That slope also alters your foot strike and biomechanics. It forces you to transition to a mid-foot strike, stretches your calves as your heel goes below your mid-foot and increases the forces in your calves and ankles. That additional force in your calves and ankles can add extra power and elasticity that can lead to an increased ability to use the force to power you uphill. If you have issues in these areas, you should be careful and very mindful of the increased load.

Form Tips for Uphill Running

Many runners tend to lean into the hill when they start running up a hill. Some forward lean is necessary but many people lean far too much and hunch over. Leaning too far forward limits the ability to bring your knee up, limits the ability to push off with your foot and keeps those glute muscles we’ve worked so hard to develop from properly working. You should think of standing tall as you glide up the hill and remind yourself to keep your gaze up.

Stay relaxed and use your arms. As you swing your arms, your legs will follow. Your cadence should be slightly quicker. Mentally, instead of cursing and grumbling about that dang hill, stay focused on quickly and efficiently getting past the top of the hill.

Once you are hitting the crest of the hill, continue the momentum as you coast and start to recover. Many athletes lose focus once to the top of the hill. Instead continue to drive past the crest and let gravity assist you as you start to go back down the hill.

Form tips for Downhill Running

What goes up must go down. Downhill running can be stressful to your body. It’s important to minimize the impact. The tendency is to lean back which acts to slow your speed. Leaning back also forces a heel strike which can put excessive stress on your legs, hips and back.

Lean forward slightly and keep your cadence quick. Running downhill, your stride will cover more ground but still focus on quick, light feet making sure your hips stay over your feet.

Pacing

Running hills well during training and during races can be challenging. Hill running is a great way to develop a better sense of pacing. The biggest mistake we see in running hills is people charging up the hill. Instead of charging up a hill trying to hit a particular time, work to understand what a pace feels like when running on a flat course. Maintain that same effort as you go uphill. You will slow. You’ll make up some of that time (but not all) as you go downhill.

If a hill is particularly steep or for longer ultra distances, it may even be better to walk on the uphill. Reframe walking and realize that you are power hiking! If you find that you are starting to work too hard for pace, you risk blowing up and jeopardizing the rest of your race. Everyone is different with regard to what feels right with effort. If you walk, remember to maintain the same focus and drive and mentally stay focused on moving forward.

Some final notes

Instead of using the same muscles at the same pace, hill running forces you to use different muscles. Use this to stretch and give yourself a form check. As you get tired even when the course is flat, the clues to stand tall, use your arms, relax, pick your cadence up are all valuable form reminders. We also like to pretend that we’ve hooked onto a tow cable going up a ski mountain and visualize the boost.

Uphill Cues IMG_5303.jpgDo this! Coach Lesley has her gaze up, she is standing tall.

IMG_5304Do This! Here you can see Coach Lesley’s arms moving to assist propelling up the hill. She also has good right leg extension which engages the glutes.

IMG_5305Don’t do this! Here Coach Lesley demonstrates a common flaw when running uphill. She is leaning far forward from the hips and has her gaze down.

Downhill Cues

IMG_5308Do This! Coach Lesley has a slight forward lean that brings her hips over her knees and feet.IMG_5306Don’t do this! Coach Lesley demonstrates a common error with hill running. To slow her speed, she leans back. This puts much more stress on the knees, hips and back. And if the ground is very slippery, your leading foot can slip out from under you!

Maratonista!

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Congrats to Rodrigo who completed his first marathon this past weekend in El Salvador.

When I started working with Rodrigo the first thing he told me was that he wanted to become a better runner and do a half marathon (maybe a marathon some day) but most of all he wanted to know if I could help do this while maintaining balance with time for his family, work and life. He did not want a coach if we could not really take into account the time to be a dad. This hit a chord with me considering Balance is one of the words in the CoachLesley.com tag line and this is exactly what I meant when putting it in.

For many athletes it is easy to get so focused on training and the goal that other things in life suffer. The  road to the marathon was not easy but as anyone knows, it never is. Rodrigo did a fantastic job though of asking questions and listening to the answers. He learned about fueling for long runs, rolling on a foam roller, teraderm and body glide for chaffing and a host of other things. He also had some foot pain come on later in the training that made us back off and miss some of his long runs but, this is what allowed him to make it to the start line and run his race. Sure, those long runs might have made the end feel a bit better but if we had not figured out what was causing foot pain, maybe he would not have been at the start.

Rodrigo, I am so proud of you! I am glad you had fun and I can’t wait to see what our next adventure will be. Celebrate your success and recover well.

Coach Lesley

He writes:

Thanks for your support, your tips, training plan, coaching, nutrition assistance and support. Now I’m a “maratonista” although not a fast one (yet!) but I’m one without any doubt!! Even though  I have not met you in person I appreciate your support and commitment to make me a better athlete while also being a better person by helping me to balance training and make it fit in my personal life and work. We are in this together so we did it together!!!

 

 

The Mind Game

We often have the idea that with ideal training and the perfect race that it’ll all come together and be easy during a race.  It can all come together but race pace is always a challenge. Dealing with and managing your brain is a much bigger part of race management than any newbie ever expects. Practicing positive mental cues and mantras during training is a great way to prime yourself to deal with the inevitable mental difficulties that arise during a race.

Here is one athlete’s take on a recent half marathon race. Thanks Lora B!

Wow, 8 am. An hour in, really? Too fast. Hit the half way mark. Six miles. Ugh. Only half way?? I’m tired. Run your race. A few pass me. She’s older than I am. Doesn’t matter. Who cares. Run your race…

I want a shirt that says, “Yes I’m 55, and I’m in front of you.” No I don’t, it’s not about that. Run your race. Everyone is tired, it’s all about being here not who I beat.

Why am I so tired? Because you have run 9 miles already!?

Okay, inventory – what hurts? Feet. Duh, run lighter, tempo, pick up your knees, better.

What else hurts? Knee? I’ll stop and stretch when I get to that sign. Much better, get back up to pace.

What else? My calf – tight but not too bad, I can stretch at next water station.

Good sign- “What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you.” I can’t believe I am doing this again. Change – see myself as an athlete again, find joy in hard work. Yes this is hard but I am doing this!

Down hill stretch – I want to break 2 hours, I see that pace bunny (2:00 hour) ahead, I can get up there. No you don’t, that’s insane. Just finish. Stop looking at the time. I swear I will take off this damn watch. I am looking at my distance, not time, no I’m not. Yes I am.

OMG. This hill is too long…. Have to walk, that’s OKAY, you’re doing it. Keep moving. Shade now, thank Gawd… still incline but let’s hit it, use your butt muscles, push your tempo, and power up those arms!

Stop checking time – watch the mile marker signs instead –count down the clicks. 8k (clicks) to go. Inventory – what hurts? Nothing else, nothing new, very tired, water coming up. Downhill now, find the recovery, hold tempo, this is better… in the shade now.

5 clicks to go, okay, that’s 3 miles, that’s once around Green Lake. Another frigging hill? Seriously. Okay, watch the crowd, hi-five the kids, good signs people. Thank you people for smiling and cowbells, not just standing there watching us idiots run by.

Okay, just 2 clicks, Gawd it’s hot… 2K, that’s just over a mile. Okay, now I’m heading back from an easy run to Sunset park, I do this all the time. Shade please, shade please, don’t stop. 2 clicks. Seriously just 2 clicks left! Why are these people stopping to walk?! Not my problem. Just run my race. I can do this, just run your race, don’t care about time. We are going to run across that damn finish line, no matter how slowly!

Okay, shade on the left, all the way to the finish line – see it, a football field away, no problem. Pick up your feet, tempo, you did it… Clock says 2:14 but is that from first start or our wave? Geez, did I run 2:10? Holy smokes, I think so.  F##k. Done. Give me water. Thank you Lord…

Client Profile: Robert

Robert has been with the CL family for over 18 months. Robert decided to work with a coach as he had been training on his own and was not making any progress. “I needed a coach and a group to help motivate me and show me the way. I have a support network through my coach along with the guidance of someone who has done this before.” Being part of a team, Robert has found a support system that helps keep him motivated and provides accountability to show up at the group workouts.

When asked to describe his first race experience, Robert stated, “My first Triathlon was a weekend of anxiety and anticipation.  I had no idea if I could finish all the events and I had only swam the distance once before.  After I crossed the finish line I had a huge adrenaline high that lasted the whole day.  Being able to conquer that goal was a great feeling.  I knew I wanted to keep moving forward after that race.”

Week after week we have seen Robert’s dedication and desire to go after his goals even while managing the rest of his busy and stressful life. When asked how he balances work, life and training, he reports, “I haven’t found that balance yet!” Regardless, he has been making training priority and the progress has definitely shown, “I can casually say that I ran 7 miles on a Saturday then did a 30 mile bike ride the next day and it feels like that’s normal.” In the last year, Robert has completed Olympic triathlons and his first half marathon.

Way to go Robert! We are excited to be a part of your journey!

A Cow Encounter

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Tony ran a 10k trail run recently and writes:

I was ahead of the pack when I came across a cow that lowered its head and ran at me half way.  I stopped and thought, hmm this isn’t a dog like last time and that cow moved fast.  I wondered was it a bull?… pondering, stepping back slowly.   I waited for the pack to catch up because there is strength in numbers  I hear.  After the pack caught up I was behind in 4th.  I stopped to take a few pics of the scenery and thought whatever, just run.

Anything can happen during a race! On a trail you may encounter wildlife although usually we worry more about encountering a bear or a mountain lion. Safety first!

Congrats to Tony O for a 3rd Overall Male and 1st in Age Group Placement at a 10k Trail run even with a cow encounter!