What I develop in order for triathletes to become better:
Most triathletes just go out and swim, bike and run and then go out and swin, bike and run some more without much thought of what they are doing. In order to move quickly and efficiently there needs to be perfect symmetry between your brain and the appropriate muscles so your body can move quickly and with as little energy expenditure as possible. If this doesn’t happen, you will never reach your full potential. In order to become the best triathlete you can be six separate components need to be developed.
Unfortunately, most people only employ cardiovascular workouts when training and then wonder why they cannot achieve the results for which they are striving. Yes, cardiovascular training is important but in order to reach your peak cardiovascular abilities, you need to do it within your individual heart rate zones as determined by your individual anaerobic threshold (AT). All this needs to take place at the right time of your training as determined by a periodized training plan. Many triathletes don’t know their AT and, therefore, do not train within the heart rate zones necessary to improve their threshold and VO2 max. Since a large part of a person’s VO2 max coefficient is genetic, pure cardiovascular training – no matter how long or intense – reaches a point where pure volume will not equate to greater speed. When this happens, no matter how much time you spend running trying to improve your cardiovascular system; your speed does not improve. Have you hit that wall? If you have, you may be lacking in one or more of the other five components.
Good bio-mechanics is one of the most important of the six components. Without good mechanics, not only will you not be able to go fast but injuries are inevitable. Improper mechanics means your body is working against itself and creating excessive stress in one or more areas of the body. Would you drive your car for a long distance at a high rate of speed if you knew the wheels were out of alignment, of course you wouldn't but that is what many triathletes do when they swim, bike and run with improper bio-mechanics. With every movement you make, you expose your joints to much more force than it would normally be exposed to. If you employ proper mechanics this stress is minimized and dissipated in the various body parts so you can quickly and effortlessly move quickly. If something is out of alignment, however, you are a “running time bomb” just waiting for one or more parts of the body to develop an overuse injury. Poor mechanics is not limited to your lower extremities. Improper head position and/or movement, shoulder and arm position, and too much torso rotation all can contribute to poor mechanics and diminished performance.
Strength conditioning is critically important for triathletes. Most triathletes would rather go to the dentist than the weight room and therefore proper strength work is often neglected. Triathletes also often believe that lifting weights will cause them to “bulk up,” gain weight and reduce their performance. A proper weight lifting routine will not cause them to gain weight but will cause them to get stronger. This is important because the stronger your muscles are the less the muscles need to work. The less the muscles are working, the less lactic acid and other waste byproducts are produced in the muscles allowing the triathlete to go farther, faster and minimize recovery time between workouts. But an even more important reason for strength training is that the stronger the muscles are the stronger the ligaments and tendons will be. As we all have no doubt experienced the hard way, it is in the ligaments and tendons where most of the serious injuries occur. In addition att athletes are subject to muscular imbalances due to the fact that certain non-sport specific muscles groups are too weak. Strength training should be initiated during the off-season so that as the training miles increase, the arms and legs are prepared for the volume and intensity. Strength training should include not only the obvious leg muscles but also the ankles, core and upper body which all contribute to stability. Remember, as the upper body gets fatigued, the shoulders start to droop and balance and lung capacity diminishes.
Balance is one of those little things that can make the difference between being on the podium and just finishing, or between even being at the starting line ready to race rather than sitting at home nursing an injury. How many of you incorporate balance into your training schedule? I would bet not many. As a trainer and coach I have all my clients practice many forms of balance as part of their training routines for swimming, biking and running. The reason balance is so important is not only will it will allow you to have faster swim, bike and run times but more importantly, it could be the key to avoiding over-use injuries such as stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, ITB syndrome and shin splints.
Think about it, at any instant when you are running, you are balanced on one foot. The better your balance, the more quickly and efficiently you can transfer your weight from one foot to the other foot. This not only affects your speed but more importantly injury prevention. During the process of running, the ankle and leg may experience excessive sway due to imbalance. If this happens, the runner is clearly going to experience too much uncontrolled foot and ankle movement when the foot strikes the ground. This can lead to overactive shin muscles, such as tibialis posterior, which can cause excessive pulling of the muscle and lead to shin symptoms. Excessive leg sway and imbalance is also a contributing cause of common ITB issues. The ITB is crucial to stabilizing the knee during running so the more un-stable you are while you run, the more stress you put onto the ITB.
I have been stressing balance as it relates to running because running is a weight bearing activity and poor balance is a major contributor to overuse injuries. But poor balance also affects your biking and swimming. How many times have you seen a person swimming with an exaggerated kick as they rotate from one side to the other? The reason they do this is at least partially due to poor core stability and balance. To compensate for this instability, they must splay one leg or the other out to the side to compensate for poor balance. This creates an inefficient kick and enlarges your frontal area which slows you down. In a lot of cases, inefficient arm movement is also due to core instability which forces inefficient bio-mechanics.
Similarly, balance is important while cycling because the rider must be in control of their bike and bike-body dynamic at all times. If a rider on your right suddenly turns into you and you need to move to your left quickly to avoid a crash, you will not be able to make the necessary evasive move quick enough to avoid an accident if you were already leaning to the right as an aspect of your normal bike positioning. Not only is poor bike balance a safety issue but it can affect your race results. Can you stay down in the aero position while eating and drinking? Can you take a windbreaker out and put it on while riding with no hands or grab a bar or gel out of your bento box? The ability to have good balance on the bike can save you time and possibly an accident.
In order to run faster, a runner needs to be able to move his or her legs faster. This sounds like a “no brainer” but the ability to move the legs faster can be affected by a number of external and internal factors. The most important of these factors might be the person’s neuromuscular capacity to have the muscles contract in rapid succession. Fartlek and track workouts have traditionally been the only methods runners employed to improve their leg speed. These methods are effective to a point but track work is one of the most stressful workouts a runner can do and places the runner at risk of injury. Fartlek and track workouts are also limited in their ability to promote excessive leg speed by other factors such as strength, balance and bio-mechanics. The ability to develop neuromuscular capabilities to move the legs quickly must be developed separate from the other limiting factors like strength, bio-mechanics, balance and cardio, much like a swimmer practices individual drills to perfect their swim stroke. There are other ways a runner can improve leg speed which are less stressful on the body.
I know that stretching and to a lesser degree self-myofascial release techniques (SMRT) is a hotly debated subject. Many triathletes train their whole lives without stretching while others stretch both before and after working out. You can pick up one magazine and read an article saying that stretching is not necessary and the next month read another article claiming that stretching is the greatest thing since sliced bread. All of my training, race experience and education have convinced me that every triathlete needs to incorporate stretching and SMRT into their training routine. There is a whole chapter in my personal training manual explaining the importance of flexibility. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that a flexible joint has the ability to move through a greater range of motion and requires less energy to do so. This decreases the resistance in tissue structures making it less likely to become injured by exceeding tissue elasticity. Static stretching and especially SMRT also helps reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
Going fast is the result of a complex of factors. Ignoring any one of these aspects puts the triathlete at greater risk of injury and greater “risk” of missing out on achieving their goals.
* Operates a Fitness club
* Run Coach for Newton
* Cycling Coach
* Endurance Sports Coach
* Certified Personal Trainer
* Endurance Sports Coach
* Natural Running Run Coach
* USAT (Level 1) triathlon coach I
* ITCA (International Triathlon Coaching Association) triathlon coach
* ASCA (American Swim Coaches Association) swim coach
* NESTA Certified personal trainer
I have used my knowledge of strength training, cardiovascular conditioning and nutrition to improve the abilities of many people in their chosen sports. A few of my professional accomplishments include:
* Helped "Newbe" triathletes far exceed their goals; Example: No triathlon experience to finishing 2nd in AG at a half-Ironman in one year / No triathlon experience to Ironman finisher in one year
* Coached 2nd overall female finisher at Great Floridian Ironman Triathlon
* Taught people who could not swim to finish 2.4 mile open water swim
* Coached all levels of runners: Beginners: training for their first 5K – Experienced: qualifying for the Boston Marathon – Elite Runners: achieve PR’s at the Boston Marathon – Ultra: training for 100 mile trail runs.
* Trained cyclists for century rides.
* Worked as a Fitness advisor to the Voorhees High School Girl’s Cross Country Team,
* Developed and taught a Speed and Agility Program for the Girl’s T-10
Traveling Lacrosse Team
* Taught a Dry Land fitness program to the Somerset Hills YMCA swim team
* Taught a Master’s Swim program at Lifetime Fitness
* Improved the general strength and stamina of individuals from 14 year olds to 82 year olds