my mentor houshang amiri

Choosing a coach

Choosing a coach

Choosing a triathlon coach is a process similar to a job interview. Finding the right triathlon coach is an important first step in working toward your goals.  If an athlete and a coach are well matched, it is certain that athlete can go on to reach potential.  However, even the greatest athletes and coaches can be mismatched and find their results together aren’t optimal. Knowing what you should ask potential coaches will help you find the right fit.

my mentor houshang amiri

I have learned a lot about coaching and training from Houshang Amiri, a brilliant cycling coach based in Victoria, BC and owner of Pacific Cycling Center.

Questions to ask when looking for a triathlon coach

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Managing your mind to nail taper week.

How To Nail Taper Week

How to nail taper week and avoid common mistakes.

It is race week and all through Canada athletes are getting excited about one of their key races for the season.  Time to nail taper week.

Taper week brings with it some mental challenges that can lead to bad decision making before race day. Managing your body’s recovery, nutrition, and mental state before the race is the key to a good race.  There is no more actual work to be done.  I outline how to spot pitfalls of taper week that can derail your race.

Tapering for a big event comes with some good feelings, some bad feelings, and some challenges to your confidence.  There is a saying, “Athletics is 90% mental and the rest is in your head.”  That is true.  Let’s go over how to manage yourself during a taper so you arrive to the start line ready to express your best possible fitness. Read more

Voodoo Flossing for Ankle Range of Motion

Voodoo flossing to increase range of motion in my ankle

I visited Colin Beattie, BKin, MPt, CAFCI at Synergy Wellness Center in Victoria, BC to try out a therapy called voodoo flossing.  Voodoo Flossing is a method using neurological modulation to help loosen and relax muscles to create greater range of motion in the body.  I did some non-scientific Google research and it appears Voodoo Flossing is popular in the Crossfit community.  I believe it has merit in treating the injuries common in triathlon.

I am very impressed with how it worked for my shin and ankle.  Now that I am healing scar tissue in my ankle from a trimalleolar fracture, this technique is useful to create good range of motion in my ankle as I return to sport.

The actual “Voodoo” is created using a long elastic band which is like a common physiotherapy theraband, only thicker.  After some gentle Graston scraping on the area, the band is tied tightly, but not painfully, around my leg.  Despite my skepticism, I can’t deny that immediately my calf and ankle had a huge increase in range of motion.  Read more for the full story… Read more

XTERRA Maui race gear photo

Comparing Road Triathlon to Off Road Triathlon Gear

Triathlon Gear List: Off Road vs On Road

What gear do I need to race off road triathlon?

 

In this article I compare road triathlon to off-road triathlon gear.  Athletes trying off-road triathlon (or ‘cross triathlon’ as the discipline is now defined) for the first time often find they need some new gear to start competing.

This is the typical pre-race gear organization photo for an Ironman event:

Here I am with my stuff before the World Champs in Maui:

Melanie McQuaid compares road triathlon with offroad triathlon equipment XTERRA Maui 2014

This is me with all of my pre race gear before XTERRA Maui 2014

You can see that racing an Ironman road event and racing an XTERRA off-road event requires very different gear.  I made this list so athletes coming from any distance of road triathlon can figure out what they need to get to start racing in the dirt.  Read more

Broken Ankle Healing Using RICE and MEAT Therapy

Promoting Broken Ankle Healing Using the RICE and MEAT Therapy Protocols

RICE is an acronym for REST, ICE, COMPRESSION and ELEVATION.  This mnemonic dates back to the 1970s when a doctor came up with this prescription for healing that became the standard protocol to treat acute injuries.

RICE is an acronym for REST, ICE, COMPRESSION and ELEVATION and MEAT is an acronym for MOVEMENT, EXERCISE, ANALGESICS and THERAPY

More recent medical opinions suggest that both rest and ice can delay healing rather than promote it.  Icing can reduce inflammation, and rest can promote joint rigidity, so movement without ice is suggested. The MEAT (MOVEMENT, EXERCISE, ANALGESICS and THERAPY) approach is considered particularly beneficial for ligament and tendon injuries.  This all gets confusing when you deal with a trimalleolar fracture that compromises both bones and ligaments.  What is the best approach if you have a combination of issues to resolve? Read more

Kid takes part in triathlon

Being a mom and a kickass athlete

This story is about Jackie Burt, a wicked pro I coached from Gunnison, Colorado.  There are a lot of truths in the article about balancing being a mom and being a kickass athlete.  I love this story.

 

By Brian Metzler

Gunnison mom balances competitive drive and life with kids
Special to The Denver Post

April 17, 2006

Gunnison – Jackie Burt is a stay-at-home mom. Sort of.

Not long after she drops off her children at school, she can often be found at the gym grinding her way through a 90-minute cycling class. Then she might swing by the pool for an hour of swimming. Lately, her typical week has also included alpine skiing, running, weight lifting, skate skiing and even ice hockey.

It’s not that the 34-year-old Gunnison resident doesn’t enjoy a little peace and quiet, but this mom is on a mission.

She’s training like a fiend so she can earn professional status as an off-road triathlete by midsummer and have a chance to shoot for top-10 finishes at the sport’s U.S. and world championships in October.

Most of the events in the Xterra off-road triathlon circuit consist of a roughly 1-mile swim, 25 miles of mountain biking and about 6 miles of running. The pros finish in about 2 1/2 hours. Burt is a reluctant but improving swimmer, an expert mountain biker and a very good runner.

Based on her fierce determination, rapid improvement in recent years and the fact her children – 9-year-old daughter Emma and 7-year-old son Sam – are in school all day for the first time, Burt, who picked up the sport six years ago, appears poised for her best season of racing yet. She also has retained Xterra women’s world champion Melanie McQuaid to coach her this season to make sure no stone is left unturned. Burt’s first race is April 23.

“I’ve always been competitive, and it’s really nice as an old-lady mother to be able to dig that out and use that,” she said. “There are challenges, but at the same time, I don’t know how I could survive the balance of motherhood without competition. It’s my very own, and it’s a great way to stay focused in life.”

It certainly helps that her husband, Ashley, is a dedicated amateur Xterra triathlete and her biggest supporter, and that they’ve been able to share their love of sports and the outdoors by involving the children in their training and long race weekends. In the summer, the Burts will do running workouts while Emma and Sam ride their mountain bikes on the same trails. In the winter months, the family often goes alpine or cross country skiing together and then returns home to watch a movie on TV as Jackie and Ashley spin on indoor bike trainers.

But with the kids involved in a variety of sports ranging from triathlon to hockey to gymnastics, scheduling can sometimes be tricky. On one occasion last summer, Jackie finished a race near Bailey and then had to scurry to braid Emma’s hair and quickly drive her to Longmont for a gymnastics meet.

“It’s been a fun challenge,” said Ashley Burt, 38, who is the president of the Gunnison Bank and Trust and race director for the fourth annual Crested Butte Bank Trails Triathlon on July 30. “I think, more than anything, the kids are growing up in a household where Mom and Dad are athletes who train a lot, and that seems normal to them. And when it strikes your kids as the norm, they don’t really question it, and they actually enjoy it.”

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Shoulder Prehabilitation Strength Exercises For Triathlon

 I wrote this article for www.triathlonmagazine.ca

‘Shoulder prehabilitation’ means strengthening the shoulder’s resistance to injury – thus PRE-rehabilitation.  These shoulder strength exercises prepare the shoulder muscles that are the most vulnpool swimming with paddles trainingerable to injury from everyday swimming repetitive movement.  Strengthening these muscles improves your posture and body alignment.  For swimmers, and triathletes by extension, the most common injuries occur in shoulder rotators so these are the muscles we are focused on.
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Practicing Raceday Nutrition

Practicing Hydration and Nutrition During Indoor sessions – an article which was featured at www.triathlonmagazine.ca

Practicing race nutrition during indoor training sessions

Indoor training sessions designed to practice race-day triathlon nutrition are a great way to help athletes prepare to execute their plan in races – but in easier, more controlled conditions.  The objective of these sessions is to get training benefit from appropriate pacing and to nail your race day hydration and fueling strategy.  Although indoor training is missing some of the elements (literally) encountered in outdoor training, there is a lot of valuable information to be gained indoors where the variables are easier to control.

Lab-monitored “sweat tests” are available that can help you determine how much sweat you lose at effort and what the composition of your sweat is.  A lab test is the most scientific version of the generalized effort I am going to outline.  Knowing the exact composition of your sweat under the lab conditions may be useful but nothing is as valuable as practicing with numerous sessions under a variety of conditions to help gain knowledge on what works best for you.  These tips will be a good starting point to gather information on your own body.

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A Core Activation Exercise Series for Before Training

A Video To Demonstrate a Pre Training Core Activation Routine

This video will show you the exercises that I use to activate and prepare my core muscles for training. Without adequate warmup and activation of the core, your biomechanics will not be optimized in training.

This routine does not take a lot of time so it is very easy for me to do it frequently. This is the first thing I do every morning. I implemented this routine when I was suffering from a hip injury and since then I have had not issues with my hip or low back. However, if I don’t do the routine I am aware that my range of motion through the hips for swimming and running is not as good.

This short, simple set of exercises is EFFECTIVE.

You can do this routine in less than five minutes on the pool deck before swimming so try it at your next training session. You may find that even these simple exercises are somewhat difficult which would indicate your neuromuscular recruitment needs work. Over time you will feel stronger and you will experience better results from training – particularly early morning training. Let me know what you think!

Restarting training after a winter break

taking a break

Restart Your Training After a Winter Break

After the last race of the season, many athletes enjoy a training break.  For anywhere from four to eight weeks, athletes might incorporate complete rest with cross training or unstructured triathlon training.  It is a good idea to take a real break from the sport and allow your body to rest.

Some athletes avoid complete rest as they believe it will be very difficult to get back to their previous level of fitness, but this fear is unfounded.  Taking a break will result in some detraining but aerobic fitness declines slowly.  Underlying fatigue from the previous season is more likely to delay improvement than a break from training.  The number one priority after every season must be rest, particularly for athletes who race Ironman and can accumulate a lot of residual fatigue, low grade injury and general overload.  The minimum post season break should be four weeks and longer if there is injury to resolve.  After that time it is good to get back in action.

Here are five tips to have a strong start to your training build after a break:

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