Sunday, February 28, 2010

Setbacks suck. Being sick sucks. Getting sick is a part of life, and for most non-athletes, being sick means missing a few days of work while they recover by resting. For athletes however, getting sick can have a huge negative impact on training progress,momentum and competitive goal achievement.

Early last week, my youngest developed a case of pink eye and a cough. It seems that when the pre-schoolers get sick, the parents do too. I've had flu-like symptoms now, going on four days. Sore throat, coughing, night sweats (and day sweats), 'achy' muscles and dizziness are just a few of my problems. Training this week has been next to nothing as I try to rest enough to kick this bug. I'm not one to go to see the doctor unless I absolutely have to , but it looks like I might be making a visit soon to get some medication. Ugh... put me out of misery!

I'm curious to know how others handle illness and training?

I have always taken the approach that rest is key, because you want to bounce back to 100% health asap. Training at all when sick, if it's even possible, seems to prolong the illness, unless you have a simple head cold and you keep your intensity/volume low. When it's time to return to training, using a sensible approach is important. The first couple of days back should be light aerobic and fairly low volume. My experience is that it takes a day or two to get your groove back. The worst thing to do is try and 'catch up' for lost training volume as this could lead to another set back like an overuse injury or even getting sick again.

Getting sick around the time of an important race is a REAL bummer. I've tried to 'race through' an illness before and it's always had negative results. It's probably a wise decision to scratch if you are ill a few days before a race. After all, you race to perform your best and when sick, you're never at 100%. Worst yet, you can dig yourself into an even deeper hole as the intensity and effort on race day can seriously compromise your immune system even further - especially long course racing!

So, I'm hoping to bounce back in a couple of days and get my mojo back. Until that time, please stay healthy and keep your training momentum.

- Coach Troy

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Back in the Groove & Spinervals 100.0?

Getting back in the groove after my trip to Louisiana for the Strength & Conditioning conference and tri clinic. It was a great time ... I really enjoy giving clinics for small groups and interacting with athletes from different parts of the country. I've been conducting workshops, camps and clinics since 1995 and I can say with certainty that endurance athletes, as a whole, are the nicest people. Most everyone is energetic, focused and motivated to 'raise the bar' and achieve personal goals. Very cool!

Speaking of achieving personal goals, we recently released three new Spinervals workouts in the competition series... numbers 33, 34 and 35.0. One of my personal goals is to reach 50.0 over the next three or so years and 100.0 over the next 15 years! Another goal is to produce 'community' spinervals workouts in each region of the country. So far, we've done a ton in the Mid-Atlantic and upper Mid West, featuring athletes from those regions. I hope to broaden our scope over the next couple of years, hitting the south west and north east regions, as well as others.

As for training, the past 5 days have been pretty low key due to travel and other obligations. I hope to boost my training volumes this week, especially on the bike. Swimming? Well, to be honest, I have not been in the pool for quite some time... several weeks now in fact. On the bright side, I have been using my stretch cords for dryland swim training 4-5 days/week and feel myself getting stronger, so all is not lost. I know... get my butt in the pool! :)

Train Smart,
Coach Troy

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Strength Conference & ideas for training when "On the Road"

Just getting back from a great weekend at the Strength and Conditioning Summit at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. This event, brought to reality by the faculty and staff at the University and spearheaded by Dr. Lisa Colvin (a top age group triathlete at the Olympic distance and former athlete of mine) brought in the top Strength and Conditioning Coaches in the country to present on various topics and the latest research in the field. NFL luminaries we're all over the place including several coaches with Super Bowl victories. Coach Dan Reeves, formerly a coach with the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos was the keynote speaker on Friday night and Chris Mortensen of ESPN was the speaker yesterday at a luncheon. My role was to talk about multisport training plan development concepts and ideas, and then to run a short cycling and swimming clinic on Saturday morning. It was a great event and an honor to be invited to present. Oh, and the jambalaya was incredible!!

As any of you who travel for work can attest, traveling makes it hard to focus on your training. Obligations for work, restaurant food, time in the airport and getting from one place to another, flight delays, busted or overcrowded treadmills at the hotel gym, etc. make the best conceived plans to train consistently go the wayside at times. I've learned to live with the uncertainty of if - or when I'll get my training done when I'm traveling for work, but sometimes it can be frustrating.

I have a few strategies that do seem to work I'll share with you:
1. Get the training done early in the morning before the workday begins. Evening obligations with co-workers and/or clients usually prevent any late day workouts from happening.

2. Plan in advance. Try to call ahead to make sure the hotel has a decent workout facility or if there's one nearby. Many hotels will have a relationship with a nearby health club, like a Life Time Fitness.

3. Bring stretch cords. I do some dryland training in the hotel room with my cords to take the place of swimming.

4. Run, run, run. Running is my focus when I travel. I try to rack up some good run volume on the 3-4 days I'm on the road, and then focus on the bike before and after the trip for a few days.

5. Stationary bikes. Where there is a good stationary bike, I focus on short workouts and using big gears / low cadence for strength maintenance. (Example: w/up 5 minutes, 10 minutes of 'grindn' it out' at 60-70 rpms, 5 min cooldown).

6. Eat 'healthy'. It's so easy to overdo the calorie intake when on the road. Breakfast for me will include a bagel / cream cheese and perhaps a little bit of egg at the hotel breakfast bar. I'll snack on an energy bar, like a Clif bar or other organic product. Lunch will include a sandwich, fruit and maybe a salad. Dinners can be difficult depending on where and who you eat with, but I try to keep it simple with a piece of chicken, fish or steak and a plain baked potato (that's it!).... oh, and an adult beverage or two. I find that a simple diet plan keeps me going until I can get home and back into my normal eating routine.

So, traveling makes training for competition a challenge... but it's all part of the game for so many of us! Just have a plan to shift your workouts accordingly, do what you can do, be flexible and try not to get frustrated if your plans don't pan out.

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Indoor Training: The Road to Nowhere?

It seems that the weather this winter has been on the 'extreme' side throughout the country. In my old home state of Maryland, over 20 inches of snow fell in blizzard conditions over the past few days. In my new home state of Arizona and city of Tucson, we experienced unusually cold temperatures a few weeks ago with intense rains and tons of snow in the higher elevations. Even today , as easterners dig out from the blizzard, we're experiencing chilly temperatures and strong rain fall here in the desert.

It's a good thing that endurance athletes have the ability to train indoors! From state of the art treadmills, to swim benches to computer based bike trainers to training dvds (Spinervals anyone?), there are lots of great ways to 'pass the time' and maintain or gain fitness while in the comfort of your own home.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of indoor training. Funny to hear from a guy who makes his living in that part of the exercise industry, huh? It's just that I prefer being outdoors most of the time and hitting the roads and trails... one of key reasons I migrated to the southwest. With that said, I strongly believe that indoor training, minute for minute, is more effective and efficient than training outdoors... not to mention safer and more convenient.

Many coaches believe that you can produce 20-30% more 'work' in a given period indoors v. outdoors. In other words, you are that much more efficient with your time when it comes to 'work output' due to the elimination of so many variables (i.e. road signs, stop lights, traffic, wind, etc.). Add onto that the time it takes to prepare for a road ride, especially in the colder climates (i.e. adding layers, booties, etc.), you see how hopping on the trainer can be a real time saver. Also, just the focused effort you can achieve on the trainer when using a power meter or HR monitor is great as you're able to really 'dial it in' and maximize that training session.

On the other hand, indoor training is B O R I N G in most cases. Many of us enjoy outdoor endurance sports training because it gets us outside, allowing us to socialize, be part of nature and feel the cool breeze. What would you rather do... ride Mt. Lemmon in the Tucson Training Rides DVD or actually ride Mt. Lemmon 'live' and enjoy the incredible vistas as you descend at 40 mph under a clear blue sky in shorts? Exactly!

I do like treadmill running and sometimes opt for it over outdoor running, even when the weather permits running on the trail or roads. I feel there's a great training benefit from treadmill running while not opening oneself up to overuse injuries common among competitive runners. It's also nice to catch up on the news, or to watch a game or a movie while slogging away on the tread (aka 'dreadmill'). And again, you can really 'dial in' your pace for steady state running or even speedwork.

I guess the bottom line is that having to train indoors is both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look at it. For many people, it's a part of life if they wish to be competitive... hours on the trainer is a prerequisite for success when the summer races roll around.

Any way, if you're forced to be indoors today, I hope you have a great workout. It looks like the rain is slowing down here so I might try to get out on the roads. :)

Train Smart,
- Coach Troy

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nutrition Secrets: Brown Rice, Ben & Jerry's and IPA's?

Training for endurance sport competition requires special attention to one's diet. I am the last person to claim to have a 'perfect' diet, but when I start training more, I tend to try and eat for performance, focusing on eating foods that give me more energy for my training and recovery.

One of my favorite things to eat during higher volume training are starchy carbs like rice and pastas. I have a pretty high metabolism and that, combined with 12+ hours a week of additional calorie burn through exercise really tends to keep me lean, hovering at a 'race weight' between 167-172 lbs. I crave carbs and eat a fair amount of them daily. I tend to be a 'grazer' during the day and like a larger full meal at night.

A coffee drinker, I like to start the day with a pot of coffee (JUST KIDDING!!!). A few cups usually suffice, and we like the Trader Joes French roast or Pete's Major Dickason's roast. I also have a Bruegger's 'unlimited coffee' card that allows me to hit my local Brueggers Bagel shop for 'free' (not really, the card cost me around $120). I also like having bagels with cream cheese for breakfast, oatmeal, breakfast sandwiches (egg, cheese, etc.) and scrambled eggs. No... not all at once usually, unless I'm REALLY hungry and it's going to be a LONG day of training! :)

The rest of the day, I graze. I like snacking on nuts and dried cranberries (almonds, cashews, etc... another Trader Joe's item), energy bars, apples and perhaps an Amy's Organic Enchilada meal around lunch time. I also love chocolate, so a few pieces of some 'fine' chocolate are usually around the house somewhere... that with a glass of whole milk - the secret to riding your bike faster! (just kidding!)

For dinner, and after the training for the day is over, I'm usually very hungry. My wife is a great cook , so several nights a week she prepares dinner for me and the little ones. She does some great stuff with pasta and salad. A big pot of cold whole grain brown rice is often in the fridge for addition 'carb loading' ... I like the Lundberg brand. And on some nights, my favorite, steak (medium) with a plain baked potato is on the menu! Ahh, the simple pleasures of life. I forgot to mention the 'occasional' IPA or glass (or two) of red wine with dinner, but I'll refrain from telling more as I don't want to be accused of condoning the use of alcohol by competitive endurance athletes over the age of 21. :)

Oh yes, I DO take in some calories during longer training efforts, just in case any Sports Nutritionists out there were ready to pounce on me. :) Do the Cherry Twizzlers and Starbursts count as ergogenic aids?

When the night is over and before bed, especially when my training volumes are large and weight is hard to keep on my 6 ft frame, I like to eat some Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. New York Super Fudge Chunk is my favorite, but I'm not too picky and have been known to 'slum it' for Phishfood or Chocolate Fudge Brownie. :)

Finally, I'm always mindful of my overall hydration levels when training loads are high. I try to hydrate throughout the day and 'top it off' at night with that IPA... er, I mean, an extra glass of water! :)

Train smart and eat well,
Coach Troy

Monday, February 1, 2010

Awesome Multisport Expo in Wisconsin!

This weekend, we at Spinervals Cycling sponsored the Great Lakes Multisport Cycling and Running Expo in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was there to be part of and support this second year event. I must say, I was very happy with the event organization and overall experience as an exhibitor and a fan of multisport!

It was estimated that over 4000 people came to the Wisconsin Fairgrounds to attend the expo. A few dozen vendors were there, including wetsuit and race wheel brands, local retailers, various manufacturers and others. Seminars were offered throughout by various coaches and other experts on everything from proper bike fit concepts to swim training technique. On Sunday morning, there was a 5K road race that took athletes over the 1 mile race track at the fairgrounds. I highly recommend you attend in 2011 if you live in the upper mid-west region... it'll really boost your motivation for the new season.

Personally, I really like attending these expos. It's hard work and requires a lot of time away from home (which I hate), but it really lets me 'connect' with our customers by getting some face time, shaking hands and by giving me an opportunity to say 'thank you for using my products', in person. I greatly enjoy meeting folks who use my videos and come up to tell me stories about their training and racing. I also get a kick out of athletes who want me to autograph their DVDs or cycling jerseys... or want to get pictures with me. I'll never take it for granted that my DVDs have had such a positive influence on so many different people for a decade and a half now... it's humbling. Of course, it's also fun when people make fun of my various hair styles and clothing choices over the many years of doing these videos.... NOT!!! :)

I'll personally be at several expos in spring/summer 2010 including:
- April, NYC Multisport World Expo
- June, World Spinning Conference, Miami
- June, Eagleman 70.3
- July, Life Time Fitness Tri, MN
- August, Chicago Triathlon
- October, Dallas Triathlon

I hope that you'll stop by the booth and say 'hi'. Please, just don't make fun of the shorts I wore in Spinervals 6.0... after all, they were in fashion then! :)

Train smart,
Coach Troy