Startline Coaching

Announcements

It goes without saying that much has changed in the past 2 weeks. Life is topsy turvy, with movement restricted, social connection broken, and much of life’s normal ebb & flow disturbed. It is all very disorienting and stress inducing.

For some, we have loved ones at risk either as essential workers or simply prone to the worst of outcomes of COVID-19. Others are taking on the challenge of working remotely in a sub optimal environment, working with unfamiliar technology, or losing their employment altogether. Simply going to get groceries is stress inducing with either fear of coming in contact with the virus or of being the agent of passing it around.

As athletes we are all driven to prepare for races and much of this feels like it has all gone up in smoke. Races are cancelled, pools and gyms are shuttered, and even a solo run in the park can feel congested. Combine this with all the other real life stress around you and it is easy to get into a bit of a death spiral of low motivation, watching the news a little too much, and just overall working yourself up into a state. Finally, I hate to say it, fear of not living up to your coach’s expectations of performance and diligence also adds stress.

It is time for a little self care and to let go of some of your should’s an ought’s. First, I suggest you ask less of yourself. Scale back on output and focus on a bit more sleep, showing love for others, and simply moving a little vs. a lot. Some thoughts:

  • Sleep a lot – The body repairs and the mind works through the stresses of the day when you sleep. Get off those screens and get to bed early.
  • Love more – Showing care and love will make you feel so much better. Take a little time to care for others. When working, spend some time making sure you listen more and engage and show you care. Less content and more connection.
  • Move a little – Exercise should be a joy. I do it because it make me feel like a kid – when life was about bombing around and not about the workout. Reconnect to your joyful reason. Too often athletes feel they much complete the entire workout or not do it all. Just do as much as feels fun right now. The simple act of moving will make you feel better and motivate you for next time.

These 3 simple steps will boost the release of the key neurotransmitters Serotonin, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine, boosting your mood, motivation, energy, and concentration and building your resilience in this stressful time.

Let me know how it goes. Your coach wants you healthy, and happy first.

I’m off for a short walk in the sun with my love (while maintaining social distance of course).

Coach Peter

A week ago, Startline Coaching athletes ran the Run the Blue Point Brewery 10 miler. This year, 16 athletes completed the race on long Island, NY and celebrated with a morning beer. The Blue Point Brewery always puts on a good show, with great food, a band, a warm tent and, yes, great beer. My thanks to #GLIRC for as always running a great race. This is the 10th year of the race and 6th time Startline Coaching athletes have been to the race.

This race is a team favorite capping off a 12 week run/strength training block before we move into triathlon training. We were 16/16 on completing the race with negative splits and many with significant improvements over the prior year. Developing speed and pacing control was a central theme over these past 12 weeks. You should all feel so pleased with your results.

Way to execute!

Coach Peter

All athletes, at some point during their career, come to grapple with optimizing nutrition to boost recovery, and athletic performance. Whether your concern is body composition, recovery, power production, or workout/race fueling, it is always best to work with a specialist in the field.

A good time to start is at the beginning of your training cycle. Obtain a benchmark on your metabolic efficiency, discuss current nutrition practices and receive a program that is forward looking and can impact your race result.

Three years ago, I consulted with Nicci Schock of Elevate Performance Services to understand CHO/hour fueling requirements at various paces & power levels. The aim was to fine tune my fueling plan for Ironman Lake Placid with a clear understanding of what is required to meet racing requirements relative to what I might consider/have tested as a tolerable race fueling plan.

The results were that I could pull back to a more tolerable 200 calories per hour for the Ironman and know I was meeting my CHO needs. This fueling plan was the cornerstone of race preparation workouts, and 40 minute Ironman PR. Information is power.

Nicci offers a broad range of services to athletes:

  1. Blood Monitoring for Performance
  2. Sports Nutrition
  3. Sweat Sodium Testing
  4. Metabolic Efficiency Testing
  5. Genomic Testing
  6. Massage Therapy

#startline athletes receive discounted rates for #elevate services.

Photo Credit: Larry Rosa photography

Looking for a breakthrough on the bike? Looking to get away from the northern winter? Come to southern Spain this coming Feb-March. The views are breathtaking, rides are challenging, food is outstanding, and camaraderie will leave you with memories and friends for a lifetime. Last year, I had the pleasure of joining 4 Startline Coaching athletes at Strong Like Bull. We were all blown away by the experience.

Operating for over 14 years, Strong Like Bull camps give cyclists the ultimate multi-day tour experience.

The team of John Hirsch & Sean Langford bring you to the peaks of Pico de Veleta (Sierra Nevada) and El Torcal de Antequerra (Sierra del Torcal) among many others.

Every ride is a guided non drop ride with multiple pace groups. No ride is repeated and every ride brings with it substantial climbing and 60-70 miles of riding. A SAG wagon supports every ride should you feel you need to take a break but the views and riding variety have a way of just pushing you on.

Kerstin Barr of Soulshine Kitchen provides delicious food that caters to the dietary and fueling needs of all campers.

Campers stay in a farm house together with many bedrooms, and space to spread out. Campers can expect to share rooms with another camper. The farmhouse also has a lovely pool that is wonderfully therapeutic after a day in the saddle.

Larry Rosa of Larry Rosa photography captures every athlete at their absolute best, and drives the SAG wagon.

Triathletes looking to get in a run or two or a swim will be able to do so as well. The local pool (Piscina Cubierta) is a wonderful facility 8 * 25 m facility. Catch a swim in the morning before heading out on the bike or take a run right out of the door of the farmhouse.

To cap it all off, each camp includes a one day trip to a historical site. Last year’s camps visited world heritage sites, the Alhambra Granada and the Mezquita Cordoba, plus a day in town to shop, see the sites and enjoy a night on the town together.

In sum, Strong Like Bull camps are shouldn’t be missed experience for any cyclist. Come away transformed.

Coach Peter

Photo Credit: Larry Rosa photography

Startline Coaching will be offering two 10 session swim development programs this winter. Two days per week are offered: Wednesday or Friday mornings from 6:30 am – 7:30 am. Starting Jan 24, and ending April 10

  • Struggling with your swim form – Complete a swim progression focused on technique, endurance, & pacing control. Increase both the frequency & yardage that you swim, and receive specific form correction from a coach in a small group setting. Hold your best form for longer!
  • Intermediate swimmer looking for a breakthrough – Complete a swim progression focused on technique, power, and endurance development. Increase the tempo and rhythm of your stroke while refining technique under coach direction in a small group setting.

Startline Coaching is also offering a 22 week triathlon group training program suited to triathletes training to complete a May/June Sprint, Olympic or Half Ironman distance race. Meet twice a week as a group in Prospect Park. Execute prescribed solo workouts the rest of the week. Professional coaching guidance throughout your entire journey. Go into the season fit & race ready!

I am often asked by athletes about breathing technique for running. I’d like to address this with a three part answer:

  1. Principally breathe in and out through your mouth. During exercise, we are most concerned with Oxygen delivery to the lungs and blood stream and Carbon Dioxide expulsion from the lung and blood stream. Your nose can certainly participate, but the most effective method is to enable the biggest airway. Solely nose breathing is restrictive and decreases O2/C02 exchange. You have a big hole in the front of your head to draw in & expel air, you should use it!
  2. Belly Breathe. Chest breathing is also restrictive and does not make full use of the capacity of your lungs. Breathe in and out using your diaphragm vs. top of your chest. Your belly will expand along with your lungs enabling greater lung capacity.
  3. Adopt a 2-2 breath pattern. Most runners seek to achieve 180 steps/minute cadence as they run. A 2 steps inhale 2 steps exhale pattern has the benefit of enabling the greatest amount of O2/CO2 exchange and works well for paces up from EZ/Endurance runs to 10k/5K. Only during the finishing kick would you find yourself breathing with the more extreme 2-1 or 1-2 breath pattern. Note: For long EZ/Endurance runs, you should also periodically try a 3-3 breath pattern. This is not because a 3-3 breath is optimal, but because if you cannot hold a 3-3 pattern you are running too hard for the purpose of an EZ/Endurance workout.

Enjoy your running and check in on your breath as you run. I personally advocate running without music or other distractions. Yes! I can hear the whining and complaining from here, but this approach will allow you to stay in tune with your body and its physiological responses to exercise stress, and also toughen you mentally for racing. Your breath is a key physiological indicator and guide for pacing control. Listen to your breath and don’t shut it out. Your breath is a fully redundant pacing feedback system and, if you are in touch with it, it will no longer matter if your Garmin malfunctions or the battery dies – not that this ever happens.

Coach Peter.

Last year, I had the great pleasure of attending a three-day Swim Camp with five  #StartlineCoaching athletes in St. Petersburg, Florida. The swim camp, hosted by my long time coach, mentor, and friend Coach Earl Walton of #TailwindEndurance was an incredible experience.

Apart from the joys of swimming outside in February, each of us came away with substantial improvement in swim form and speed that we can focus on as the training season progresses. Nothing beats being totally immersed in a single sport for an entire weekend. So much progress can be made. A number of the athletes came away with a 10+ secs/100 yd improvement in their swim time trial pace, which is huge.

This year, Tailwind Endurance together with Startline Coaching is offering a February swim camp in Florida once again.

Come join us & transform your swim!

Camp Details

Price:

$450*

Location & Dates:

  • Location: North Shore Aquatics Complex – 901 North Shore Dr NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
  • Start: Jan 31, 2020, Arrive by 3 PM on Friday
  • End: Feb 2, 2020, Camp closes at 12 Noon on Sunday
    • Fri Evening Swim and group dinner
    • Sat Morning and Late afternoon Swims
    • Sun Morning Swim

Program:

  • Dry land training
  • Low coach to athlete ratio
  • Underwater video analysis & individualized feedback
  • Basic and advanced workouts
  • Open water (should temperatures allow)

*Early bird pricing. Price increases on Dec 15th! Price does not include travel and accommodation.

Few things strike fear into the hearts of athletes than the dreaded run time trail that a coach has placed onto athletes training calendar. There is no question that these efforts are really very tough. They are also extremely valuable by providing insight into each athletes speed potential & athletic improvement. It is direct feedback to both coach & athlete on improvement. Moreover, they allow more accurate setting of training zones so training can be targeted more effectively.

This week, Startline athletes face their first Run TT test session of the training year. It is a preliminary test to capture where they stand today so that base training begins on a firm footing. Here is guidance for them and others undertaking these tests.

The test is simple. After a good 20 min warm-up and some pre-race facilitation drills and dynamic stretches, run as quickly as you can for 30 minutes. The goal is to cover as much ground as possible. Here are some key tips:

  1. Time trials are your fastest sustainable effort without injury. This is not the be all and end all run effort you will ever do. No good is ever done by running past your ability to absorb the effort. While the test is to see how fast you can run, it makes little sense to do yourself a mischief.
  2. Go out a little slower than you think you can run. A time trail does not really start to reveal itself in terms of perceived exertion until 4-5 mins into the run. Too often I have seen athletes fade about 4-5 minutes out. It is better to negative split and learn from that for next time. An overly explosive start followed by a fade is much less meaningful. Close hard is my best advice, just as in races.
  3. Use the same time, protocol, and route every time. To create meaningful data that shows progress over time, you need to do your level best to replicate your time trails. Be sure to be fairly well rested. If done in the morning, always do them in the morning. If evening, stick with that. Follow the same warm up routine. I like to use the same routine for races as well. If you intend to race with a wrist based HRM, then use that in the time trail. Finally, run the same route. Of course, there are many variables you cannot control that will vary between TT efforts, but by minimizing variation you will be able to see change in performance more clearly.
  4. You get better at this over time. Just like racing, time trials take practice and, with time, become increasingly manageable. Focus on the process, and understand the relationship between perceived effort, pace and duration vs. the absolute performance. This is especially true if you are new to doing these kinds of tests. Focus on mastery and if you have a bad test, move on. Trust me another test is coming in 4-6 weeks. Over time, you do learn to suffer and as every athlete will tell you, your ability to manage suffering is central to every race effort.
  5. Repeat, repeat, repeat. The old adage that which gets measured improves does apply here. You must continually reassess for two reasons 1) to ensure training zones are reflective of your fitness and performance and 2) to ensure that your training is delivering results. While performance improvement is not linear, a regular TT ensures that both you and your coach have time to reflect and be purposeful about next steps. I like to retest athletes every 4-6 weeks.

For more details on setting heart rate & pace training based upon run time trial efforts checkout this article from Joe Friel at Training Peaks.

Coach Peter

Photo Credit: Larry Rosa photography

The weather is starting to turn frigid and Thanksgiving it is going be well below freezing for Turkey Trots in much of the northern latitudes of the US.

There is nothing more exhilarating than being outside in the cold, feeling the clear air and bright sun on your cheeks all while feeling toasty warm in your outfit. The key is of course how to stay toasty warm.

Here are some basic guidelines for exercising in the cold:

  1. Head – Much of your body heat is lost through the head, so a quick way to minimize the loss is through a head protection – Hat or balaclava on very cold days. If you are working hard & over heating, the quickest way to vent that heat is to rip off your hat & stuff it in your pocket. Bring a dry second hat for after workout so as you cool down, you can put it on and stay warm.
  2. Hands – Gloves always – As you cool, blood is drawn away from the periphery to warm the core. Your hands are quite sensitive to cooling, and don’t retain heat well. On very cold days with high wind, the risk of frost nip is high. Keep them covered even if you are shedding layers elsewhere. On the bike, gloves must be wind-proof.
  3. Base layers – A high quality base layer that is snug against the core of the body is essential. Never use cotton. There are many technical long sleeve garments for the cold, but basic camping long underwear tops are cheaper and quite serviceable for running as well. Still have & still use them after all these years.
  4. Tights – For the run, mid weight & for the bike windproof and heavier weight.
  5. Mid layer – Personally, I am a fan of fleece vests. They allow venting from the pits while focusing on retaining heat near the core. Keep the core warm and blood to the periphery. Unless you are running hard, I would wear a mid layer always even if it feels a bit hot. Too hot is uncomfortable. Too cold is miserable.
  6. Outerwear – Priority #1 is something windproof. From there, there are two considerations: 1) Outerwear for the run must allow substantial venting; and 2) Outerwear for the bike is best when it traps the heat more effectively.
  7. Shoes: It goes without saying running shoes are what you need to run. Your choice is based upon terrain and type of runner you are. For the bike, good quality fully windproof booties to cover your bike shoes will deliver good service until the temperatures drop below freezing. When it gets really cold, I wear a full cycling boot.
Coach Peter’s winter run kit
  • Castelli Skull Cap and/or Sugoi balaclava and/or Running Buff
  • Craft Base Layer or SwartWool base layer or REI camping base layer
  • Generic Fleece vest
  • Pearl Izumi – running jacket with detachable arms
  • Sugoi Midzero running tights
  • Coach Peter’s winter cycling kit
Coach Peter’s winter cycling kit
  • Castelli Skull Cap and/or Sugoi balaclava and/or Running Buff
  • Craft Base Layer or SwartWool base layer or REI camping base layer
  • Castelli Long Sleeve Cycling Jersey (Optional)
  • Castelli Pro Cycling Jacket
  • Showers Pass Crosspoint Wind Glove (late fall)
  • Pearl Izumi PRO AmFib lobster glove (winter)
  • Pearl Izumi Amfib Cycling Tights
  • Castelli Bib Shorts
  • Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB MTB Shoe Cover (late fall)
  • Lake MXZ 303 Winter Boot (winter)

Comment back with any suggestions you might have on fall/winter gear. Would love to hear your suggestions.

Keep running & riding. Go to spectacular places! Be like this Startline athlete and go above the snow line.

Photo Credit: Larry Rosa photographyStrong like bull camp 2018

This weekend’s NYC Marathon was quite windy and blustery. The impact of the wind is easy to under estimate. Studies have shown that the energy cost differential of running outside (even on a still day) vs. indoors on the treadmill is significant. This is because you are developing a headwind outdoors vs. running in still air on the treadmill. This leads to the scientifically supported recommendation from coaches to increase the treadmill to a 1% incline to simulate outdoor running.

That said, if you have a blustery day like yesterday the impact is even more significant. At points, runners would have faced 8+ mph winds, add in an average pace of 6-7 mph and everyone is pushing into a 14 mph headwind. If your day yesterday was tough, this may be a very good reason. The energy cost differential, while perceived as sustainable early in the race, will cost you dearly toward the end of the race unless you account for it in your race strategy.

All cyclists know the advantages of slippery bike shapes, deep section wheels, and reduction of frontal surface area on race performance and cycling economy. Moreover, at higher speeds the wind resistance impact curve gets steeper and steeper. It is not a linear relationship. Finally, a vertical runner in loose running clothing is far from an optimized aerodynamic shape.

So what does this mean? Hide in the lee of the pack as much as possible to reduce the impact of a windy day and get used to running closer to others in training. Channel the cyclist in you and be tactical about where you are in the group throughout your race. Hide behind the tall runners, make moves when the wind is with you and not against you and preserve your energy for when you most need it, which is at the end of the race. It’s fun and engages your mind throughout the race as well.

Run fast, run smart.

Coach Peter

Such a fun day for the first group training session. Weather was cool, sun was out. The key focus early in training is to strengthen connective tissue, build muscle, and do some aerobic conditioning.

The aerobic system can be developed fundamentally by time on your feet. This can be done very effectively at 60% of HR Max. To maintain & develop your aerobic engine, the bulk of your training plan should be relatively easy in effort. In addition, at easy levels of effort, the strain on your connectivity tissue is reduced and recovery is substantially easier, which reduces overall injury risk.

Squats, lunges, planks & bridges introduce load to the musculature and connective tissue. Over a course of 4-6 weeks, consistent body weight strength work will make you a stronger and injury resistant athlete.

Combine 4 short, 10-min runs with multiple sets of strength work and now you have a formidable, time-efficient workout that works everything you need to begin to set your running base and improve your durability as an athlete.

Be efficient with your time, stay out of the gym at least for now, and enjoy the fall weather. Bask in the glory of being outside during the changing seasons with your friends.

I had the pleasure of meeting & listening to the legendary running coach Dr. Jack Daniels PhD at the #BrooklynRunCo this morning. It was particularly fitting on the eve of the #NYCMarathon.

As endurance athletes, we must meter out the energy we have, specifically glycogen, across the entire duration of the race. The energy consumption curve at higher paces/intensities is significantly steeper and grows steeper as we increase pace. The result is that all too often marathoners burn out in the later miles, struggle to complete, and positive split.

Dr. Daniels’s sage advice is to hold back in the early miles no matter how good you feel. Conserve your energy reserves, and reduce the fatigue impact of the race. This strategy sets you up for a strong close and negative split even when the back of the race has more challenging terrain. The world’s best marathoners all negative split because, even at the ferocious paces that they run, they are all going out easier than they can run and intend to run.

Race well marathoners!

Coach Peter

Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

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