The Importance of Strength Training

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The Importance of Strength Training

I'm a triathlete!! Why do I need strength Training!? Learn the benefits of strength training and how it can increase your performance as a triathlete!

As triathletes, we spend a LOT of time running, biking and swimming but often miss out on a few other extremely important details that directly impact on performance.  Of course, nutrition and sleep play a HUGE role in performance, strength is another component that shouldn't be left out of training.  We will talk more about nutrition and sleep in the upcoming weeks, so this week, we will focus on strength.

Of course, you are probably thinking, I am already so busy spending time on the 3 disciplines you are training for, how could you possibly add more to your schedule?

As with your other training,  strength training should be periodized as well.  What that means is, when your race season is done, it is time to back off the disciplines you have been spending most of your time doing and start back with those that have been put off to the side (or, for some of you, never started in the first place) - strength training.

What are the benefits? 

  • Injury prevention
  • Core strength
  • Additional power
  • You just plain look good! (who doesn't want that, right?!!)

Injury prevention: 

This is big in our book- which is why it is listed first.  After all, injured athletes just aren't able to perform at their peak.   These days, we spend a lot of time sitting around- whether it be on the drive to/from work,  

Core strength:

People get confused about what this means.  Your core includes the entire mid-section of your body - abs, glutes and low back.  This does not mean more sit-ups, abs include your six pack, but, even more important are those small stabilizing muscles that you cannot see, but play the role of keeping your hips and back stable such as the transverse abdominis and gluteus medius.

Power = Force x distance/time:

Strength will increase your force output, making you faster in every single discipline, so long as you are being smart about your workouts.

Of course, when you start strength training, it is important to periodize your strength training as you do your swim, bike and run training.  When you first start, you should spend 6-8 weeks in the anatomical adaptation phase, getting your body ready for more strength/power.

If you have been using the same strength workout for years, it is time to make a change.  If you have questions about where to start, contact me to develop the program that is best for you to keep you injury free, get you more speed and, looking buff when you cross the finish line!

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Make These 5 Run-Focused Training Objectives for February

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Make These 5 Run-Focused Training Objectives for February

Make These 5 Run-Focused Training Objectives for February

No matter what your season goals are for next year, whether to get started in the sport, go longer, or go faster, you will greatly benefit by taking action on these 5 training objectives over the next 2 months.

1.  Determine your weaknesses/form limiters or muscular imbalances during your gait movement:

Ever had an injury, nagging issue, or you simply cannot hold it together on the run like you wish you could? Likely, you have a undesirable movement pattern in your gait that is keeping you from putting it all together. Think about these options to address it.

  • Schedule a time with me to do a personal gait analysis and biomechanical assessment. I will video and review with you on your gait and pick out the most helpful drills to get more efficient with your run. The biomechanical assessment will unveil what is the cause of your imbalances or undesired movement patterns and we can talk about how to address those.
  • If your currently injured, consider one of our hydro run classes on our schedule so you can continue to work on your cardio fitness while you allow the injury to heal. It's no impact, but challenging for the cardio focus. Plus, it will help keep the movement pattern of running fine tuned for yourbody as you are on the injured reserve list.

2.  Determine your training intensities!

Do you know the difference between a recovery run pace and your long run pace? Do you know when you are training aerobically for endurance, or pushing anaerobically and getting winded too easily? Heart rate training has huge benefits and I require my athletes to train via HR if they want to understand how to get better as a runner.

  • At the very least, purchase a heart rate monitor. Learn a little bit about how your body exercises when you train. Monitor the trends with how you felt. Learn how HR is affected by intensity, environment, form, and how to be objective with it.
  • Schedule to get a metabolic VO2 assessment. Knowing exactly where to be on a focused training session, takes a pretty big burden off of the critical athlete. If you want to get faster, you need to know what intensity your body becomes inefficient. Then you should want to train it to get better rather than doing the same intensity every day.

3.  Work on your cadence!

One thing I have learned from coaching many different types of runners and working off of injuries or inexperience, is the critical role stride rate or cadence has on your run form.

  • Aim to get your cadence to 90 strides per minutes or better with one of your feet. (180 for both feet)
  • Find out where your stride rate is. Count your left foot strikes during your run for 20 seconds and see how close you get to 30 foot falls in that time. If you come up short, consider asking me for ways to raising it.
  • Most running related injuries are due to impact from the ground. The other big contributor is overuse related motions. Both can be heavily influenced by a low stride rate which leads to over-striding, harder impacts, and longer time with your feet on the ground rather than propelling you forward.

4.  Get a shoe fitting done or have your current running shoes observed while you run !

The wrong type of shoe for runners can lead to some very uncomfortable training sessions and lead to the nagging issues that occur around the joints or stabilizing muscles near joints.

  • Have your foot type analyzed and work on determining what would be a helpful support level of a shoe to help your foot-strike mechanics. If you haven't already, schedule a time with me to do a personal gait analysis and I will let you know what sort of support you need to look for and provide you with a recommendation for where you will find the best shoes for what you need.  With proper strengthening and biomechanical work, it is possible for your shoe type to change.  If you feel that you have had a change, see me for a gait analysis. 

5.  Accompany your running with strength work, and improving your hip range of motion!

  • Look at circuit, Power Plus, TRX, or Strength Circuit classes on the calendar for the quickest way to address these areas.
  • Look at an upcoming run clinic I offer quite frequently, usually once a month. Here you will learn about stride mechanics, good posture, warm-up routines, stretching practices, and even get a personal run analysis done with video to select areas that are helpful to work on.
  • If the run clinic dates/times don't work well for you, consider just scheduling a personal clinic with me for a time that will work better with your schedule.
  • Again, a biomechanical assessment will identify what strength exercises will address muscular imbalances, or what types of flexibility will give you better control of your movement and reduce the tightnesses.

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How Training Slower Makes You FASTER!

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How Training Slower Makes You FASTER!

How Training Slower Makes You Faster: Understanding periodization training in the off-season for a more effective race season 

We’re heading into what will be the off season for many of you. This is the perfect opportunity to focus on form, technique, low heart rate training, slower rides - some things that just seem counter-intuitive to athletes that want to RACE faster.

Has this ever happened to you? You have the race of your life and all you can think about is, “I have gotten this far, now I want to get even faster.” So, you begin to increase intensity and speed in your workouts. Every workout is harder, every workout you get faster, and then, BAM - you end up injured, sick, or too tired to race well the next race. Then you wonder, "what happened?" Or, if you don’t wonder, you just put your head down and say, "as soon as I get healthy, I need to start training harder."

WRONG! That is absolutely not the right answer, just as training hard now when we don’t have a triathlon for 8 more months is not the right answer. 

We have several energy systems that need to be trained; which is where the periodization comes in. We have the aerobic system (or O2), the anaerobic system, and the ATP-CP. When we race, we typically hit each of these energy systems, but not all of them at once, and certainly not all of them at the same time. Not only that, but if your aerobic system is not built properly, the other two systems become insignificant when racing.

Think about training like building a house. If you don’t have a solid foundation, you can build a house, but the quality will be compromised and eventually the walls crack and the roof caves in. During the off season, you need to build that foundation - that aerobic system so that your body is stronger and more capable of handling the higher training load and racing efforts during the season.

Working lower heart rates right now will teach your body to use fats as your primary energy source. If you skip working low heart rates, you never properly train your body to use those fats, and you will immediately need to begin using carbohydrates and sugar for energy. Yes, we can use carbohydrates and sugars, but the reality is, we have more fat available than carbohydrates and simple sugars in our body. Most of us understand and agree that we have some extra fat that we wouldn’t mind getting “used up,” but this still rings true for even those who have a low percentage of body fat.

And now, back to those low heart rates. Yes, training at low heart rates mean you will be running and riding slower. But again, if we don’t teach your body to use fats as fuels at a lower intensity, we cannot teach your body to use fats as fuels at higher heart rates effectively. If we can teach your body to use fats, then we can lower your heart rate at the higher intensities and get you running and riding even faster. 

So, here is my test for you. Use the next month to play with this. It’s the off season - you have nothing to lose. Get a vO2 test (the Tri Fitness Training Center can help you out with this).  Workout in Z1 (Zone 1) for 1 month. Do the same ride or run route and track what happens to your speed from week to week. No, you do not have to run/ride the same route every day (you can do it just once a week), but your other workouts should also remain in Z1 (or lower). You don’t need us to coach you for this, but once you see the results to this test, you will understand the importance of building the proper foundation.

Author: Vicki Ostendorf

To further contact Vicki, email her at vicki@trifitnesswbl.com. 

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