Startline Coaching

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

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

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.

It’s happening – 4 days to go. Get your shoes on and laces tied for the off season run/strength program. The team will meet at Connecticut Muffin on the corner of Prospect Park West & 15 St. in Brooklyn. On site registration is at 7:30 am or register now so you can sleep in a bit more.

Workout begins at 8:00 am! First work out is 30-40 mins of EZ running interspersed with body weight strength exercises. Come and have some fun in the park!

Off Season training begins in 3 weeks! After a few weeks off from structured training and some well earned rest, it is time to get off the couch and get moving again so not all of your fitness gains from last season are lost.

The fall is a wonderful time of year… The temperatures are cooler and you can introduce focus blocks into your training to improve on personal limiters. During the race season, the focus is on race specific preparation, but the fall allows you to step back, be disciplined and address gaps when you don’t have so many competing priorities.

This year, Startline coaching is offering two off season programs:

11 Week Run/Strength program:

  • Improve your run speed potential – Complete a focused run program with speed work aimed at a higher intensity 10M or 10K. You have to run faster to run fast.
  • Lack flexibility and constantly plagued by niggles & injuries that slow down your season progress. The program focuses on strength development & stretching to improve your durability and range of motion.

11 Week Triathlon Swim program:

  • 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!
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