Thursday, April 30, 2009

Want to get faster?

Then occasionally train with people faster than you! The key is to 1.) do this occasionally, like once per week in each discipline, and 2.) bust your ass to stay with the faster person or group.

I too often see athletes hook up with a group ride or run, and as the pace ratches up, instead of going with it, they drift off the back and do their own thing. I see this a bunch in cycling with those who aren't confident in their cycling. You'll see four or five triathletes spaced out by 200 meters or so riding along, when they could be in a group, working harder and also developing bike handling skills. Typically, they'll respond that triathlon is a solo sport and that you can't draft in a tri, so why do it in training. However, the real reason they are spread out is that they are either very nervous riding in a group or they don't like to work really hard. Yes, you can't and shouldn't draft in a race, however, if a stronger cyclist is making you work very hard to stay on their wheel, it's more often better training than if you were working it alone. Many will say that they just worked really hard on their own, but it's not the same. The way to find out what you have is to either race or train with someone faster who will really push you.

When I first began training for triathlon, I trained alone in cycling and running. I thought I was extremely fit until I hooked up with a weekly group ride with a bunch of roadies. I showed up in my cotton t-shirt ready to show these roadies a thing or two only to have my ass handed to me and get spit out the back 5 miles into the ride. It was humbling and an eye opener. I showed up the next week and worked at a level I had never reached in training trying to hang on. This time, I made it 10 miles before being left for dead. I showed up each week and did whatever I could to hang on for as long as I could, each time seeing new max heart rates and feeling burn in muscles I didn't know existed (and I was taking anatomy and physiology). A few months later and I was not only able to hang in there, but do more than my fair share of work at the front. In those few months, I saw my cycling fitness make gains that would have taken me more than a year had I gone at it alone.

I rode with an athlete I coach yesterday. We kept the pace strong for the ride, however, I really made her work the last 45 minutes. I could see and hear her pain, yet she stayed tough. She could have ended the pain very easily by just slowing down and drifting off, yet she didn't. And as much as she may have hated it during those 45 minutes, she was grinning and feeling great as we chatted afterwards in the parking lot. I organize a few group training sessions and myself, the group who show, and those I coach out of state are always amazed that very few take advantage of training with a group.



Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Giving Props

There has been a lot of race activity amongst EH athletes the past few weeks.

Alan Starbuck Cyberpunk Neo McDougall kicked it off with an overall win at Brian's Offroad Duathlon. Not bad for an old mf'er! You can read about it on his blog which I'd put a link to here if I knew how to do that or if I were a Starbuck Cyberpunk Neo.

Next in line was the Boston Marathon where Jeff M., Pam, Mike B., and Jeff B. ran and they all ran well. Jeff and Jeff both requalified for next year, and social Pam ran with some friends. She's on the Jeff M. plan as of late running a marathon every week it seems! Mike B. had a huge day. His goal was to run between 3:15 and 3:25. Based on his training feedback, I wrote to him telling him he'd do a 3:10, and that's exactly what he did.

We also have a national champion in the ranks! Greg Pelican, owner of Bethel Bike, went down to the national duathlon championships and blasted it, winning his age group. That's huge! Next big goal now for Greg is a podium at worlds duathlon. Greg's work ethic and determination are always impressive and he more than deserved this.

Rob Straz is back racing again and teamed up for a marathon relay up in MA with two of the Team Psycho guys and they won the overall.

Matt W. raced the Brooklyn Biathlon and finished 4th overall. Not bad for a guy with a bum hip!

Annmarie M. raced St. Anthony's tri, er, duathlon. They cancelled the swim due to winds. This little powerhouse averaged over 21mph on the bike on the windy, twisty course, and ran 7:30's!

Mandy B. has been bike racing a bunch as well as many others, to prep for the tri season and she's riding well, but the big news with her is that she is the race director for the Nutmeg State 1/2 marathon and 10K last week and the race had a huge turnout and went off about as flawless as a race can go.

I know I'm probably missing some results from a few of you and I'll get to them.



Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I admit that's forum can be a huge waste of time, however, every now and then, a discussion presents itself that reveals just how valuable an open forum could be if people used it constructively. In the below link, Dan Emphield poses a question to Dr. Tim Noakes about salt replacement during endurance racing. Dr. Noakes is the author of "Lore of Running" which is a brilliant book.;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;;page=unread#unread

Dave Bunce, the operations commander from ISM Saddles sent me two ISM Adamo saddles to try out and have my athletes try out. I have been riding the same saddles now for over five years, the Fizik Arione. I have them on all my bikes and they work for me. However, I told Dave I'd give the Adamo a try because I was curious and even though it's never really good to fix something that's not broken, it's always fun trying out new things. Mainly though, Dave is a great guy and I love his passion in the industry. So I have now done a few rides on the Adamo racing which I mounted on a TT bike, and I have to say that I'm really impressed thus far. Not only do I find it very comfortable, but I find I've gained some power! Now, I know you think I'm just blowing smoke pumping a product for a friend after that last comment. I mean, how do you gain more power with a different saddle? People will claim anything to sell a product, right? I want to preface right now that Dave never mentioned anything to me about increased power. Here's why I experienced more wattage: I typically ride on the front of the saddle when in an aggressive TT position. Many will say to move the saddle more underneath you instead of sliding to the front, citing that I'm not fitting myself correctly. However, I'm more comfortable and feel more powerful on the nose of the saddle. When you set up the ISM Adamo correctly, it feels as though you are always in this forward, powerful position. The sit bones rest on the two rails and there is really nothing underneath the rest of you - meaning no shifting anything to a side for the guys and no invading for the girls. Anyway, I want to do some longer rides on it before I'm totally sold, but if anyone local would like to try one out, contact me. I will also be bringing these to my camps for athletes to try. I will also be doing a more extensive write up about my experience with this saddle for the sight after getting in some more miles on it.

Mandy is putting on her Nutmeg State 10K and 1/2 marathon races this Sunday morning. Race one - they are on beautiful courses and are great training plus you are supporting a local great race and charity. If you can't race, she needs volunteers - badly! Give back, it's time.



Friday, April 17, 2009

Is this what you've been waiting for?

It was 70 degrees F here in CT today, so for all those that were whining about our weather thus far, quit your bitching! Sorry to be harsh but it seems as though people are more concerned with the weather than the economy presently.

Personally, I have been going well. The last few weeks of training have been challenging, yet fun. I guess the fun is that I've been getting in some solid hours and intensity and it's going well. If it weren't, it wouldn't be much fun, right? I'm at the point were the recovery training is still a bit hard perceived effort wise because I'm beat up from the hard days, even though I'm keeping the heart rate down, yet I'm still moving at a decent clip on these recovery days.

The Hawaii lottery picks took place this week and I have three athletes that I'm working with that were chosen! Congratulations - the amount of triathletes that enter this lottery is staggering, so to get chosen is very exclusive. I also have some that have been playing this lottery for a few years now and have not been chosen. Don't worry, your time will come - and believe in yourselves at your qualifying races this year and make it happen.

Good luck to Jeff M., Pam, Jeff B., Mike, Scott, and anyone else racing Boston this Monday.

I'll try and be better about updating. I actually have a lot of thoughts to post. Just the classic "need more time" excuse is all I've got.



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

You can do it!

Straz wrote a new article on my home page ( ). You should check it out. Because, if you are gonna talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk. Besides, it’s time to get out of your comfort zone. You here me? There is no I in Team. If you give it 110%, and fight like cats and dogs, maybe swing for the fence, then you don’t need to dangle a carrot. Just hang tough, and be patient because there is light at the end of the tunnel. Back to Straz though. Sometimes, I think he needs to wake up and smell the roses, however, he went the whole 9 yards with this one, he took the ball and ran with it. OK, time to go to bed – you know, the early bird gets the worm!



Thursday, April 09, 2009

Get Outside!!!

Enough bitching about the cold weather here in New England (or if you live in a similar seasonal area). It's spring god damn it and that means it's time to get outside. I don't care if it was only 30 degrees this morning, or if there were snow flurries yesterday, it's time to get outside. So quit milking that bike trainer and/or treadmill and go exploring. I watched an episode of The Biggest Loser in which they had to run up this hill and find a key that would open up the gym. There were only two keys and the two people that found them would receive exclusive access to the gym for a week, meaning that no one else could use the gym. The contestants were really bitching and complaining about this. What really blew me away was that the devil looking female (I think) trainer made the biggest stink, whining that she needed her gym and her toys. Meanwhile, they are in southern California and the weather there looks perfect every episode! They have all these outdoor trails right around there premises, and they run indoors on a treadmill!!! In most cases, we begin exercising to gain or regain control of our health, and the safety of being indoors is appealing. Then, we get a bit more adventurous and venture outside and realize that the senses are much more heightened and thus so is the experience. You see and learn a lot more from a one hour run outdoors than you do running in place watching Oprah. One of the highlights of living in a seasonal state is the unpredictability of the weather each day. Today could be sunny and in the 60's and tomorrow could be rainy and in the 40's, and that's cool - It keeps things interesting. I think I'd take the weather for granted if it were 75 and sunny every day. At least that's what I've convinced myself. In any case, the cold and soggy days make you tougher. I'm still blown away by the amount of people that won't RUN in the rain! In any event, suck it up, bundle up, and get outside. It's spring, regardless of what the weather is telling us today. OK, that's enough of a break. I need to get back to my Hip Hop Abs dvd - training is going well.

One other quick thing first: Sunday night, I met the group of runners that are on my training plan for Megan's "Run Like A Mother 5K" at the Ridgefield High track. There were probably 100 women that showed up with maybe two thirds of them on the "Just Want To Finish" and "Beginner" programs, and it was really inspiring. Talking about taking things for granted, I have been training myself and others since the late 80's. I went from being an athlete in college right into triathlon, so I never had to "start up". Working with "starter uppers" is always incredibly motivating for me. Many of these women were way outside of their comfort zone and you know what, they were still chugging away on the track, smiling (for the most part) and enjoying the camaraderie. Megan has created something really, really cool here and it's the little things like being a part of these athletes (that's right women, you are all athletes now, training for an event!) training session and training plan that can motivate a seasoned veteran like myself to work a bit harder and push a bit more in my own training and goals.



Tuesday, April 07, 2009

April EH Update

Spring is here! Well, is it? Seems we get here for a day in CT, and then winter returns for three more days. I can tell that the warmer weather is right around the corner. With this begins the race season, and the more intense training, prepping for key “A” races. Here’s what’s happening:

Group Training (For the locals)

Sunday Long Runs: Ken and I are still running long Sunday mornings, meeting at 7am at the trail parking area in Monroe on the corner of Cutlers Farms Road and Pepper Street. Anyone is welcome. There are lots of running route options including trails, hilly routes, flat routes, … So if you don’t want to run with us, but want to join us for coffee afterwards, you can do your own thing.

Wednesday Night TT Training Ride: I will be hosting a weekly Wednesday night ride geared towards improving time trial strength. We will ride out easily to a course or section of road where we will do some interval training and then ride back easily. If you are interested, please contact me. I plan on beginning these on Wednesday, April 22nd, meeting at the trail parking area in Monroe on the corner of Cutlers Farms Road and Pepper Street at 5:30pm. Bring running shoes and we will do an easy brick afterwards.

Rev 3 Tri Course Training Ride and Run: Saturday, April 25th. Contact me if you are interested and I will get you the time. We will meet at Lake Quassapaug.

Lake Placid Saturday Group Training Rides: I have quite a few of you training for IMLP and many of you would benefit by riding together every other Saturday for your long rides, beginning in May. If you are interested in this, again, contact me and Baker will set it up. Hear that Baker?

2009 CT and LP Camps

There is still room in both of these camps. If you really want to propel your fitness, sign up now! Just ask the Tucson campers what it did for them. One thing for sure, you will have a blast, train your ass off and laugh a lot – I promise. Go to for more information.


We will be updating the home page frequently now that the race season is here. We need race reports and anything else you’d like to contribute! People love to hear from others once in awhile, instead of me just running my mouth. Straz’s articles have been great. Greg Pelican’s tech pieces have been very educational. Maybe this year we’ll get some more words of wisdom from Big Rocks??? Also, if anyone has any ideas for the site, please let myself or Alan ( ) know.



Saturday, April 04, 2009

Seeing Things In Grey

It's been a very solid week! I'm tired and need to be careful in regards to making sure I get the proper sleep, but it's definitely a good tired at the moment. Through March, I was trying to get out once per week on my 29'er mountain bike, riding mostly the rail trail here in Monroe and through Trumbull, a bit of singletrack, and some road. The "cross training" on this bike has been a blast, and it's also been solid training. I went out this Thursday for a bit over two hours and found that it's easy for me to keep my heart rate steady and at a specific effort, and I have to be cautious because I find myself really working it the majority of the ride. I feel that this form of training is great early season strength specific bike training, however, I think I will keep this MTB session in the schedule throughout the year. One of the best things about this session is that there are no cars, except for the maybe 20 minutes I'm on the roads - only on the roads because there are three steady long climbs I want to attack each ride. As much fun as singletrack is, the rail trail simulates the steady grind of a tt effort better. When I was out there Thursday, I was enjoying the ride so much that I kept pushing harder - I still feel I need to feel some pain to signify a quality session. However, I was spent afterwards and my legs were sore the next day - the fun and enjoyment of this ride masks the pain and hard work while in action.

Speaking of pain, Straz has a new article up on my homepage ( ) that you'll definitely want to check out. He touches upon pain and how there are basically two camps; those that focus on the pain and accept it, using it as a sign that they are really cranking, and those who distract their mind through singing, counting, whatever. Straz is approaching his first race of the season tomorrow and he's preparing to feel the pain of an Olympic distance effort. He feels as though he falls into the category of accepting and trying to embrace the pain. In regards to pain, I feel that not all pain is equal by any means, and you can handle certain pain extremely well and yet have a difficult time dealing with other types of pain. Personally, I feel that I handle the pain of extreme exertion very well, and I have had my fair share of accidents including having an ear reattached with no anaesthesia and a tooth drilled without Novocaine. I'm certainly not a marter, these things just happened by luck:) However, I wonder how quick I'd cave if Jack Bauer was using a lamp wire from an outlet on me and gauging my eye out with a ball point pen? That type of pain is the real deal! Back to Straz's argument that there are two camps though - I feel that you can fall into both. In short races, I like to focus on dealing with the extreme "burn" and pain associated with short course racing head on. However, in long races, I definitely like to distract. I like to blank out my mind by counting. I have had the stupid commercial jingle and bad song stuck in my head throughout a race though. One year in Hawaii, I had the never ending audio of a Spice Girls song endlessly and painfully looping through my brain. That will make you want to ride your bike into the next oncoming minivan quickly.

Straz also discusses genetics, and how he and his friend have an ongoing debate over whether genetics play a role in achieving great things in triathlon, Straz's friend arguing that they don't - that purely hard work is the key. Most that feel that your genetic makeup doesn't help out are the ones who have achieved quite a bit because of their own work ethic and feel they don't have any athletic genes. They tend to lump Gordo into this category saying because he went from a 12:30 IM guy to an 8:30 IM guy by training his ass off. Straz gives some great examples of exactly why genetics can play a huge role in a triathletes success. Personally, I side with Straz for the most part. I have been coaching for a very long time and have witnessed newbies starting with the same "base", some train extremely hard and do well, and others train not nearly as hard and do better. Don't for a second think that genetically gifted triathletes who have achieved huge things didn't also train their asses off to achieve their results. You think Craig Alexander isn't genetically gifted? Think he also doesn't train incredibly hard, and instead just sits around eating doughnuts because he's so genetically gifted?

Pain, genetics, and life in general - things aren't so black and white.