XTERRA Partners with PRS Fit on Couch to Trail Training Series

(HONOLULU) – TEAM Unlimited LLC, owner and producer of the XTERRA World Tour, today announced an alliance with PRS Fit to produce XTERRA Couch to Trail training programs.

“Jeffrey Kline, SheriAnne Little, and XTERRA age group world champion Mimi Stockton of PRS Fit have a wealth of experience as both racers and coaches, and we think they’ll do a great job introducing our sport to newcomers around the world,” said Dave Nicholas, XTERRA’s managing director.

In addition to building custom training programs designed for first-timers, the team at PRS Fit will share free, bi-monthly training tips with the XTERRA Tribe focusing on everything from swim safety to one-minute video tips designed just for XTERRA athletes.

“We are proud to be partnering with XTERRA on the Couch to XTERRA training series,” said Little, the head coach at PRS Fit. “XTERRA triathlon and off-road racing is taking off globally, and it’s exciting to be able share our experience and be part of this tremendous growth.”

The XTERRA Couch to Trail tips will rotate with the Middaugh Coaching Corner column, presented by Suunto, providing great training and racing information for both novice, intermediate, and elite competitors every week.  And, just like the Middaugh brothers – Josiah and Yaro – PRS Fit will offer one-on-one online XTERRA coaching services and in-person XTERRA Camps.

“Thrilled to be an official XTERRA coach, and looking forward to a long-term relationship with the Tribe,” said Kline, who has been coaching runners and triathletes for 20 years.

PRS Fit will host its XTERRA training plans on the DailyFitBook.com, offering athletes a place to receive, log, and share their workouts through various social media channels.   They will also work with Suunto to educate XTERRA athletes about their GPS watches and the mapping, training, and community features available at Movescount.com.

“XTERRA has allowed me to push myself to new limits and experience mud, sweat and LOTS of tears,” said Stockton, a 44-year-old mother of three from Michigan who won her 4th XTERRA World Title in Maui last October. “It has taken me to some of the most beautiful places in the world and I’m having so much fun. I want to share this sport with everybody, and perpetuate XTERRA’s Live More lifestyle.”

Learn more and get your XTERRA training jump started at www.xterraplanet.com/training

About PRS Fit

PRS FIT is a community of athletes from all over the world. We are a team. Alone or together, from beginner 5k to Boston Marathon and 100 Miler, XTERRA racing to Kona qualifier, we strive and we conquer. PRS FIT lets you experience what we call Team and social fitness – connecting and motivating each through our one of a kind global team experience. No matter the weather, the circumstance, day after day, we provide a high-quality training experience that produces results. Learn more at http://www.prsfit.com

About XTERRA

TEAM Unlimited LLC, founded in 1988, is the Hawaii-based television, events, and marketing company that brought off-road triathlon and trail running to the world under the brand name XTERRA. From a one-off race held on the most remote island chain in the world XTERRA evolved into an endurance sports lifestyle with worldwide appeal. Over the past 20 years XTERRA transcended its status as ‘just a race’ to become a bona-fide way of life for thousands of intrepid athletes as well as an emerging brand in the outdoor industry. In 2017 XTERRA will offer more than 200 off-road triathlons and trail running events in 35+ countries worldwide and produce 10 adventure television shows for international distribution. Learn more at xterraplanet.com and xterracontent.com.

stockton

XTERRA Couch to Trail – New to XTERRA?

By Mimi Stockton and SheriAnne Little for PRS Fit

Do you love triathlon but want to do something more epic?  Something that challenges you both physically and mentally?  Something that takes you off the roads and into the trees?  Something that inspires you, and tests your limits?  Then come do something extraordinary–step outside the box and do an XTERRA!  But How?  Where?  Why?

The brand new XTERRA Couch to Trail program is designed to help first-timers get into the sport.  We’ll

start by answering some of the first questions that come to most beginners’ minds, and we’ll evolve from there. Every other week PRS Fit and XTERRA will share ideas just for beginners in the Couch to Trail column, and on alternating weeks the Middaugh Coaching Corner column will delve into training ideologies and specifics.  PRS Fit will also provide a 12-week training program that will get you off that couch and into the woods and will end with you at the starting line of an XTERRA race.

First, some of the basics…

Q: I know XTERRA combines swimming, mountain biking, and trail running, but what are the distances?
A:  It varies.  The shortest XTERRA race, our “Xticer” super-sprint race, combines a 200-meter swim with a 10K (6.2-mile) mountain bike ride and a 2K (1.25-mile) trail run.  Our standard championship distance combines a 1.5K swim (1-mile) with a 30K Mtb (18.6-mile) and 10K (6.2-mile) trail run. You will find these at Oak Mountain, Beaver Creek, Utah and Maui (and other championship races throughout the world).

The majority of the America Tour point series races are a bit shorter and usually feature a 1K swim (roughly 1/2 mile) with a 20ishK MTB (12-14 miles) and anywhere between a 7 and 10K run (4-6 miles).  Some races also feature sprint races that are half those distances.  That’s the unique things about XTERRA.  Each venue offers vastly different terrain and thus different race distances.  No two races are alike!

Q: In what bodies of water are the swims generally done?
A: There are XTERRA races with swims in oceans, lakes, and rivers.  I would have to say the majority of our swims are done in lakes.

Q: Are there separate events for people of different skill levels?
A: It depends on the race.  Some races offer a point series race AND a sprint race. Some races offer different wave starts (competitor vs. survivor), while others have one “mass” start where everyone goes off together.  Most, however, have the men starting first, followed by the women a few minutes later.

Q: What conditions would the weather have to be like for the swim to get canceled?
A: Safety is always first, there are a number of scenario’s that can cancel a swim – unhealthy water, freezing water, high water – but it doesn’t happen very often.  In 20 years of XTERRA, there have only been a few notable cancellations. Lightning might delay a race as well, but if the weather clears within a certain amount of time, the race will happen.

Q: What should I do in order to prepare my body? How does the training differ?
A: This is a question we get asked a lot from people who are just starting out in the world of triathlon.  There aren’t that many differences between training for a road triathlon and training for an XTERRA.  The main difference is the biking is now on a mountain bike and the riding is on trails, not roads. The run is also on trails, not the road.  With that said, it is very important to train as much as possible on the mountain bike.  There is no other way to gain the confidence one needs to tackle the different types of terrain.  Some mountain bike trails can be quite technical (tight and twisty, plenty of roots and rocks, lots of uphills and quick descents) and the only way to become confident is to practice, practice and practice. The first couple of times on a mountain bike you should focus not on aerobic drills but on how to safely brake, how to shift and how to find your balance.  The body is a finely tuned machine, and if you don’t take great care of it, it won’t perform optimally.  If you’ve decided to take the plunge and do your first XTERRA, you’re going to have to devote time and energy into training and buy some equipment.

Q: Is it better to train in groups or as an individual?
A: This is a very personal decision.  If you are a person that enjoys group training in general, then by all means, train in groups. Many people agree that group training can make you faster by pushing you to go harder.  For beginner mountain bikers, it is definitely recommended to go out with an experienced mountain biker–one who can teach you skills and help boost your confidence.  Group training is by no means necessary however.  Some people tend to do all of their bike and run training solo. They like this because the workouts are tailored to them specifically and they can do them according to their schedule.

Q: Where do you suggest I start?
A: To be successful at anything you need a PLAN.  Tackling any new sport can be daunting, but tackling three at one time may seem simply overwhelming!  It’s best to not dive in head first and do too much training too quickly or find yourself screaming down a descent at break neck speed the first time on your bike; both are recipes for injury and we don’t want you sidelined before your first XTERRA.  A great place to start is to partner up with a coach and possibly a training group for social and technical support.  There are many places to find a coach (someone that specializes in off-road triathlon is best, but not necessary).  PRS Fit has off-road coaches and has also devised a 12-week plan that is perfect for the beginner and will get you to the starting line injury free and ready to rock and roll.  If you do find a coach and/or club, just ensure that one or both are certified and have sport-specific knowledge.

Q: Is the XTERRA community more social rather than competitive?
A: YES! That’s XTERRA!  This community is very welcoming, and while the racing is competitive the people are widely referred to as the nicest and most laid back in all of triathlon.

Q: What is the hardest leg of the Triathlon?
A: This is different for each person.  Some start doing triathlons after a swimming or running career.  Others have spent significant time bike racing before they start triathlon.  Then, there are some that have experience in all three sports, or some that have no experience at all.  Many might say the hardest leg for them is swimming.  Thank goodness it’s the shortest leg of the race! However, I do think the majority would concur that the mountain bike portion of any race is usually the hardest just by virtue of it being the longest.  Then again, if you hate to run, you might beg to differ and argue that running 4-6 miles on trails after biking is the hardest part.

Q: How prepared do I need to be for terrain obstacles?
A: Since each course is different, you need to be prepared to face anything and everything.  Feeling comfortable tackling obstacles is essential to making yourself feel confident on race day.  There is no other way to gain this confidence than by practicing biking and running on as many different trails as possible.  Of course, it’s great to do long endurance rides on a road bike or trainer, but nothing beats riding a mountain bike off-road to get you ready for race day.  It’s not conducive to try and compare road biking with mountain biking.  The latter requires so much more athleticism, power, momentum and coordination. Again, the only way to feel comfortable and confident on a mountain bike is to practice, practice, practice (I think you get the picture now!).

Q: How much money do I need to get started?
A: There’s no doubt about it, triathlon is an expensive sport and hobby.  How much money you spend really varies.  Certain things are required of course, but how much you spend on those required items is entirely up to you.  A mountain bike is required and is going to be the most costly item. And perhaps a wetsuit.  If you are just starting out, it is recommended that you test ride various bikes to see if you want to go with a full suspension or hardtail.  One option is to buy a used bike or borrow one from a friend.  There are plenty of great used bikes on the market.  We will go into more detail about the gear required in Couch to XTERRA Part 2: The Gear You Need.

Q: Is there a season for this?
A: Year-round!  There may be two-feet of snow on the East Coast right now, but it’s summertime in South Africa so their season is in full swing.  The sport is more conducive to warmer weather, but there are XTERRA races all over the world now.  But in the United States, the season typically runs from April through the end of October.

Q: Is there an off season? Or should I plan to train all year long?
A: There is an off season and most people would consider it to be November and December.  It’s a good idea to take a physical and mental break during these months to recharge and focus on something other than swimming, biking and running.  I think you’ll find that when you start training again in January, your body and mind will thank you for the much needed time off.

Q: What are average times I should shoot for?
A: Since each race is different and the weather can change the trails overnight (and thus the times) it’s very difficult to talk about averages.  Just getting to the start line on time, healthy and happy is a great goal.  Finishing your first XTERRA is the first step to master, and is a super rewarding feeling when you’re just getting started!  You can start worrying about times after you become a seasoned XTERRA Warrior!

Look for Part 2 of the Couch to XTERRA tips in two weeks.  Also, check out www.prsfit.net for the Couch to XTERRA 12-week training plan. If you have any questions, contact us here

Be Healthy, Train Smart, Have Fun

Coach Mimi is a mother of 3 and a 4-time XTERRA World Age Group Champion
Coach SheriAnne is a mother of 3 a 5-time Ironman Podium Finisher and 2 time Kona Qualifier

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XTERRA Couch to Trail – The Gear You’ll Need

XTERRA consists of swim, bike, and run so you’ll need …

GOGGLES
For the swim you’ll want a set of goggles that stick to your face.  You want it to fit similar to a dive mask where the goggle cups can stick for a few seconds without even using the strap.  There are many types and shapes of goggles so take some time to try them on and select a pair that fits your face shape.  Note that many goggles also come with interchangeable nose pieces that allow you to change the distance between the lenses and get your ideal fit.  I like to keep a training pair and a nice pair for races.  Think about when and where you will be training and racing when deciding on tint color.  In the pool I prefer a clear goggle.  For ocean swims here in Hawaii I often wear a tinted goggle that cuts the glare of the sun.  If the water is not very clear, you will want a low or no tint goggle.  If you want more coverage in a goggle, check out Aqua Sphere.  During the race you will need to wear a swim cap for safety so be sure to practice with one.  The cap increases your visibility, helps to retain heat, and keeps the goggles on your head and out of your hair.  Many races also have different cap colors to separate divisions and heats.

WETSUIT
Depending on the water temperature where you are racing and training you may or may not need a wetsuit.  If you need to race in a wetsuit, check out XTERRA Wetsuit rental options in your area and at the race and do some training in the wetsuit.  XTERRA has some great wetsuits and speed suits.  They seem to take the most abuse and still perform.   Try on different wetsuits so you can make a good decision on size and type needed.  Most wetsuits are full body, sleeveless (farmer john), long legged, or “shorty” (short sleeves and legs).  Consider the water temperature, comfort, range of motion, and need when deciding on a wetsuit.  Make sure to read the instructions and care for your wetsuit properly.  If your race and climate does not require a wetsuit, you will want to wear a triathlon suit, and perhaps a speed suit, that reduces drag in the water.  The xterrawetsuits.com website is also a great resource for more info.

MOUNTAIN BIKE
XTERRA is off-road so the next piece of gear you will need is a mountain bike.  Get to know your local bike shop and talk to them about your goals, budget, and what type of races that you will be competing in.  Most bike shops offer rental bikes, maintenance classes, new, and used bikes.  Use this amazing resource and support them!  These are the guys who will be maintaining your bike and keeping you alive.  They will help you get the right fit, the right bike, and point you to where trails and rides are going on.  You get what you pay for, so try to spend as much money as you can comfortably afford to invest.

Bikes come in male and female specific and most range in size from XS-XL or are sized by seat tube height in inches.  The seat tube height is the distance from the center of the bottom bracket (where your crank arms connect to the frame) to the top of the seat tube (where the seat post enters the frame).  Work with the bike shop so they can tell you what size bikes you should demo and whether male or female sizing is best for you. Ladies, I have been racing mountain bikes for over 10 years and have only ridden unisex bikes with no problem so look at your arm and leg length to see which is a better fit.  Women’s specific bikes often have a shorter top tube, narrower handlebars, shorter stems (what connects the handlebar to the bike), shorter cranks (the part connected to the pedals), wider saddles, smaller diameter grips, shorter reach on the brake levers, adjusted fork and shock for the lighter weight rider, and feminine color choices.  Another aspect of sizing is wheel size.  Mountain bikes come in 26, 27.5 and 29 inch wheels.  Mountain bikes started as 26-inch wheel bikes, then jumped to 29 and then some liked them in between with the 27.5.  Bigger wheels roll over terrain easier.  A 29-inch wheel rolls about 6% easier than a 26-inch wheel.  Other advantages of a 29-inch wheel are that you can pedal at the same speed with less effort, you are more stable, and it gives a hardtail some of the advantages of suspension without the additional cost.  Disadvantages would be that they are bigger (10% bigger) and if you are racing a lot of tight corners some find them harder to maneuver.  If you get a 29er, be sure to have a nice light wheel set.  I have raced 26 inch and 29 inch wheels and LOVE the 29er.  I am 5’5” and have no issue maneuvering the beast and love the added “forgiveness” the 29er gives me over terrain when I am tired and my skills are lacking.  For you roadies, remember that a 26-inch wheel is a 650cc wheel and a 29er is a 700cc wheel.  Which do you prefer to ride on your road and triathlon bike?

XTERRA is a cross country race so a cross country (XC) type mountain bike will likely be your best choice.  Cross country bikes come in hardtail and full-suspension.  A hardtail has a front shock and a hard back with no suspension where full suspension bike has a shock on the front and the back.  Suspension on the bike soothes the ride, improves control, aids with braking, and absorbs impact.  Talk to your shop to see what best suits your training and racing area and discuss any medical conditions that you may have.  If you are strapped on cash, a hardtail will likely be less expensive and just as effective at helping you finish your race but if you have a bad back you may need the full suspension.  Whatever suspension you choose, be sure to set it up correctly based on your weight and riding style.  Most riders, like 99%, don’t have their suspension set up correctly so be sure to talk with the shop about how to set up and maintain your suspension.  If you purchase a used bike, search and find set up instructions online.  Most shops sell pumps that will work on most shops.  Manufacturers also restore and reseal shocks.  When folks talk about travel they are talking about the amount that your fork or shock can compress.  Increasing travel slackens the geometry giving you a softer ride.  For XTERRA conditions you want to dial your fork lower so you can have more precise climbing and technical riding. If you have the travel too loose you will lose energy and bounce up the hill as all your work is being lost in the travel.

Now that you have your bike be sure to invest in some tools to help you ride it safely.  Take a maintenance class.  At a minimum you need to have a multi-tool to adjust it, a spare tire kit, a bike pump, chain lube, pedals, and some shoes.  You will maximize your pedal stroke with pedals and clip in shoes.  There are lots of options when it comes to shoes and pedals.  In the beginning it may be smart to get a pedal with more platform.  Get used to your bike without clipping in.  Once you gain confidence on how to move and shift the bike, practice the clip ins by riding in a soft grassy field.  Practice turns, getting clipped and unclipped, and stopping and getting off your bike.  Don’t get discouraged when you fall.  We have all been there.  Part of mountain biking is learning how to fall correctly.  The main injury can be the “endo” where you fly over the handlebars on your shoulder or head. Avoid this by always getting back on your seat when descending steep terrain. Also being cautious with your braking, too much front brake can send you over the handlebars. Feathering both brakes will allow smoother slowing and control. You also want to work on getting your legs out to minimize injury.  Find a friend who has been riding for a while and ask them for some help.  Your local bike shop or club may also have some tips and training available.  Since you will be hopping off and on the bike in off-road triathlon you will want shoes with some tread.  Most racers use cleated shoes.  Almost like a football or soccer cleat with a clip in adapter for your pedal.  Find a pair that will stay comfortably on your feet with a sturdy sole for good power transfer to the pedal.  I also like to find a shoe with good ventilation and something that appears easy to clean.  Mountain bikers get dirty!

Another piece of gear good for mountain biking is a hydration pack.  When you are riding it is hard to reach for a bottle, especially when you are beginning.  Choose a pack that has some room for your tools, treats and a bladder that supports your race distance.  Some hydration packs strap around your waist and others across your back.  I really like the vest type.  I get a hydration pack in the back and pockets in the front for the food I will need to eat along the way.  Try on different backs at your local bike, run, and triathlon shops.  Choose a pack with a removable bladder and replacement pieces so you can keep it clean from mold & mildew.  I like to only put water in my hydration pack and use bottles for other calorie options.  You have to carry this thing and water is heavy.  1 liter of water weighs 1000 grams or 2.2 pounds.  Once you get really good on the bike you can try riding with bottles and choose what best suits you for racing and training.  Now that I have become a better rider, I can use either.  If I am racing at an event like the Leadville 100 where the temperature keeps changing and I need to breathe, sweat, and make costume changes, I prefer bottles.  At something like XTERRA where I barely have time to recover going down the hill before going up another, I like my hydration pack.

Now that you have shoes, a tool, and a pack, get a helmet.  Never ride without a helmet.  Most races will disqualify you if you are riding without a helmet, even from your car to transition.  Protect your melon!  Go for comfort and cooling.  Remember to treat your helmet with care.  Once it is cracked or tossed or part of a crash, it needs to be replaced.  Keep it strapped.  If it is unstrapped, it can’t do its job. A helmet with a sun shield is nice for hot sunny days.

SHOES
Now it is time for the run!  Since you are racing on trails you will want to think about terrain.  Is it loose, hard packed, covered in roots, usually muddy, etc.  Just like you need to pick tires on your bike to match the terrain, you want to think about the tread on your shoes.  Different shoes are good in different conditions so ask around and check the area that you will be racing in.  You may also need to train in a certain type of shoe and race in another.  Most of the professional and seasoned XTERRA racers train in trail shoes and race in racing flats but some prefer trail shoes all the time.  I personally keep a training pair of shoes and a racing pair of shoes.  I use my racing flat for track work and also on at least one long run before the race.  The rest of my training is done in a road shoe or road runs and a trail shoe for challenging trail runs.  Train like you are going to race.  If you want to wear socks on race day, wear socks to train.  If you want to race without socks, train without socks.  Race day is not the time to try anything new. No new shoes, no new nutrition, no new anything.  Train and race with what works.  Also practice running off the bike by doing transition runs for 10-20 minutes immediately off the bike.  You may find that the lighter racing flats help you transition better or you may find you need more support as your legs are wobbling!  Since XTERRA is on the trail you need to be able to see.  You may find that on the trail you need a lighter or even clear lenses for your glasses.  You also want to consider wearing hats and visors backwards.  The rim will restrict your view and you may not see a tree or other obstacle.

AND…
Other great gear to have is a triathlon bag to hold all of your racing and training gear, a race belt, and a triathlon suit.  The backpack can be any bag that you keep all your stuff in.  Please make a bag.  I keep multiple pairs of goggles and caps in my bag.  I have never gone to a race where another racers has not needed my spare pair.  Save your friends!  I also pack a small towel and old bath mat to use in transition to place my gear on and clean my feet.  I also keep an empty water bottle in my bag.  I have forgotten my hydration back before and had the water bottle save me.  Next I make sure I have my bike and running shoes.  A race belt is a belt that your race number snaps on to.  I like to use a belt with a pocket and keep a gel pack and some salt tablets so I am ready for anything.  You also need to think about lubrication for yourself.  Blister shield in your shoes, body glide or coconut oil on all your chafing spots, and sunscreen can really make race day more pleasant!

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Middaugh Coaching Corner – Steady State Interval Training

Presented by Suunto

People want simple answers to complex questions.  Athletes are people.  Athletes want simple answers to complex questions.  The last thing you want to hear is “it depends.”  Either you believe in high volume or high intensity.  More is less or less is more?  Actually, it turns out that more is more and less is less.  Let’s not make it more complicated than it already is.  A sure turnoff is to be told one’s ideal training load is a combination of proper volume and intensity, rest and recovery, undulated and periodized over time, determined by training history, current fitness level, and total life stress, and individual to one’s unique physiology.  Deep breath, let’s start over.

Before my triathlon career I was a mediocre collegiate distance runner.  I noticed I really struggled with a certain type of workout called tempo workouts. I could hang on the long runs and the shorter intervals, but the long intervals were tough.  My VO2 max was high enough to get through the 2-5 minute intervals, and my basic endurance could carry me through a Sunday 15-miler, but set me up with 4 x 2 miles at 10k pace and I couldn’t fake it.  The truth is, I was probably just under-trained.

A staple workout type in my own training and that of our athletes has been Steady-State Interval Training.  When we talk about steady-state intervals, the scientific term we are referring to is “Maximal Lactate Steady State” (MLSS).  Technically it is the highest steady intensity at which blood lactate concentration varies by less than 1 mmol/L during the final 20 minutes of constant workload.  Based on “research,” well-trained endurance athletes can maintain this intensity for about 40-60 minutes.  For an elite runner that might be close to half marathon pace, but for most of us closer to 10k race pace.  For a cyclist, it will be very close to a 40km time trial, or very close to your threshold power.

I think this type of training is challenging and it requires the most focus and discipline, because it is so tempting to back off or quit.  It isn’t interesting, glamourous, or creative.  It’s all about repeatability.  Remember that variety is for the weak-minded (wink wink).  Typically, the intervals are long (8-20 minutes), and the rest is 50% or less of the interval time.  A simple workout to start with might be 3 x 10 minutes with 5-minute active recovery between.  Start with around 30 minutes of total time at MLSS and progress to 40+ minutes depending on your goals and training history.  For running, I would rarely go over 40 min at MLSS, but cycling I will occasionally push it closer to 60 minutes with something like 5 x 12 minutes.  The goal is to maintain the same intensity throughout each effort and from your first to last bout.

A study published in 2004 (Billat, Sirvent, Lepretre, Kortalsztein) studied the effect of 6 weeks of steady-state training.  The subjects of the study were well-trained, veteran distance runners and on average, they initially could run at 7:00 min/mile pace for 44 minutes. After six weeks of training and 12 steady-state exercise sessions, they could run 6:23 min/mile pace for 63 minutes (average).  They not only increased time to exhaustion by 50%, but their speed increased significantly.  Statistically it was a small change in velocity, but for a runner the difference in pace equates to about 4 minutes faster for a 10k and over 8.5 minutes faster for a half marathon!  If only time to exhaustion had increased then I would be more skeptical of the fitness benefit for events under one hour, but the fact that speed at MLSS increased significantly indicates that there would be performance benefits for all common triathlon distances.

Suunto Movescount Example:  CompuTrainer 4 x 9 minutes at 95% FTP, 3 min active recovery

Most lab testing for Maximal Lactate Steady State takes multiple days of testing to properly determine, but a good estimate can be determined by simple field tests found here.

http://middaughcoaching.com/swim-bike-and-run-benchmark-protocols-2/

Be a little conservative because field testing can slightly over-estimate MLSS, so use about 95% of your functional threshold speed or power.  Also, don’t call in your testing numbers with your 10k PR from 15 years ago on that point-to-point downhill course of questionable length.  Do a field test and get some honest current numbers to work with.  Once you have your field testing results, plug them into the calculator here:

http://middaughcoaching.com/running-heart-rate-and-pace-training-zones/

http://middaughcoaching.com/heart-rate-and-power-training-zones/

Now get out there and train!

Reference

Billat, V., Sirvent, P., Lepretetre, P., & Koralsztein, J. (2004). Pflügers Archiv – European Journal of Physiology. Training effect on performance, substrate balance and blood lactate concentration at maximal lactate steady state in master endurance-runners, (447), 875-883. doi:10.1007/s00424-003-1215-8

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA Pan America Champion and 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro also has a master’s degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for a decade. Learn more about their coaching programs at www.middaughcoaching.com.

About Suunto

Suunto was born in 1936 when Finnish orienteer and engineer Tuomas Vohlonen invented the mass production method for the liquid-filled compass. Since then, Suunto has been at the forefront of design and innovation for sports watches, dive computers and sports instruments used by adventurers all over the globe. From the highest mountains to the deepest oceans, Suunto physically and mentally equips outdoor adventurers to conquer new territory.

Learn more at www.suunto.com.

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Middaugh Coaching Corner – Consistency is King

Presented by Suunto

There are so many different facets to a training program that determine whether an athlete is successful or not. However, when looking back at an athlete’s training log the single biggest indicator of improvement is consistency. Were they able to follow their plan in big chunks of consistent training throughout the year. But as we all know, it not that easy. Below are some guidelines to help you be a little more consistent as you get in your crucial blocks of training:

Put travel dates on your calendar before you build your training blocks

Planning big blocks of training only to realize you have a family reunion or a week-long cruise to Belize right in the middle can greatly impede improvement and consistency. If you know where these things are before you plan your blocks you can easily maneuver around them. Make that business trip a rest week, or a run focus block if you will only be able to run.

Make sure your training matches your fitness level

When coming up with your training program on your own or with your coach, you need to keep in mind your current level of fitness and start out at that level. If you start too far below, you are wasting your time and if you start too far above you are risking injury or overtraining. Don’t start where you left off in the fall and expect to be able to complete your workouts at the same pace, power or volume. I often have athletes start logging their workouts a month before we start their official training schedule so that I can see exactly what they have been doing. If you start your program and feel like you are doing too much, tell your coach or reevaluate on your own before you get injured.

Your volume and intensity must be realistic

A 12 hour per week training schedule will not work when you only have 8 hours to train. A well planned 8-hour week is much better than a 12-hour planned week that you just can’t manage. Athletes often allot training time based on the best-case scenario. Don’t! Make conservative estimates of your time. You will be able to get more of your workouts completed without cutting them short.

Incorporate a strength routine

One of the keys to staying consistent is avoiding injury. A strength routine that focuses on imbalances often found in triathletes can help ensure that you miss fewer chunks of time throughout the season trying to rehab injuries.

Don’t stack missed workouts

In general, if you miss a workout, move on to the next workout. Do not try to stack multiple days into one. This only leads to increased fatigue and chance of injury. It also usually sabotages the workouts for the rest of the week because you are too tired to properly execute them. If you know the workout you missed was a key workout for the week see if it can replace another workout later in the week, but don’t do both.

Training should be a priority, but not your top priority

Unless you are a single professional triathlete, training is not going to be your top priority. You have your family, career, etc. which need to be properly taken care of first before you can think about your training and racing. Plan your training around these more important items. If your family and career are in a good place, you will feel much better about getting in your training time.

Become an expert at time management

The athletes that consistently get in their training are those that know what day and what time they are doing their workouts each week. Without a schedule, it is much easier for something to come up that takes the place of your workout. I have also found that having planned days and times for each workout leads to far fewer excuses for missed workouts. For example, if you know what time you plan to swim you will not plan a conference call during that time if possible. Schedule your workouts just as you would an important meeting.

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA Pan America Champion and 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro also has a master’s degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for a decade. Read past training articles at http://www.xterraplanet.com/training/middaugh-coaching-corner and learn more about their coaching programs at www.middaughcoaching.com.

About Suunto

Suunto was born in 1936 when Finnish orienteer and engineer Tuomas Vohlonen invented the mass production method for the liquid-filled compass. Since then, Suunto has been at the forefront of design and innovation for sports watches, dive computers and sports instruments used by adventurers all over the globe. From the highest mountains to the deepest oceans, Suunto physically and mentally equips outdoor adventurers to conquer new territory.

Learn more at www.suunto.com.

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Middaugh Coaching Corner – Performing a Force Cycling Workout

Presented by Suunto

Essentially, a high-force pedaling workout consists of long bouts of pedaling with a slow cadence and moderate to high force.  These workouts might also be called muscle tension intervals, or simply big-gear pedaling.  The intent of a high-force workout is to recruit more muscle fibers per pedal stroke by pushing against a higher force than a typical endurance workout.  These workouts are sometimes referred to as strength training on the bike, or as a way to transfer strength training gains to the bike.  Done correctly, you can pedal with heart rate or power in an aerobic heart rate zone, while pushing a force greater than your threshold power.  Let me explain.

Power is a product of Force X Velocity (pedal speed).  If power stays the same, force and pedaling cadence have an inverse relationship.  Suppose you are pedaling on a flat road at 20 mph.  You can achieve that speed with a high cadence and an easy gear (low force), or a low cadence and a hard gear (high force).  In both cases, assuming all other variables are the same, you have the same power output with the proper gear ratio paired with a certain cadence.  Alternatively, if you want to achieve a force similar to your threshold power without working as hard energetically (think of threshold power as your one-hour race pace, or Olympic distance triathlon bike power).  Keeping it simple, let’s pretend your threshold power is 270 watts and you typically race with your cadence at 90 rpms.  To achieve a similar force at 70 rpms, you would only need to pedal at 210 watts.

Graph from Suunto Movescount (http://www.movescount.com/)

 

A force workout can be performed with cadence anywhere from 50-70 rpms.  Since the risk of knee pain goes up with such high force, I like the 60-70 rpm range for most people.  On the CompuTrainer, you also need to be careful not to pedal below 60 rpms for risk of overheating the load generator.  Outside on a long, consistent climb, it might feel better in the 50-60 rpm range, assuming pedaling mechanics are sound.  If you live in a flat area, then it works well to pedal a big gear into a headwind. Think of each pedal stroke as an individual rep and drop the heel as you press down to recruit the glutes to lessen patellofemoral stress.  Start with a workout such as 5 x 5 min high force pedaling, and build up the duration of your bouts until you are completing 40+ minutes of total time under muscle tension.  I like to use about 85-90% of threshold power for the force workouts.

The winter is a good time to work on your cycling force and it is easy to control indoors.  One option is to pair force workout with a strength workout.  If you do, it is better to perform the strength training first and then the cycling workout.  The high force pedaling might feel like a big load on the legs, but it is probably only about 40% of your 1 rep max strength.  So, in the weight room you might be doing reps of 10 with 75-80% of 1 rep max, so the strength training has a higher neurological demand.  If your power suffers too much, then you should separate your strength workouts from your force pedaling workouts.

Keep in mind that your overall goal is to increase threshold power, so if you adopt a much slower cadence to all of your cycling, then it will require a significant amount more force to get to threshold power.  It is good to be able to pedal at a range of cadences, so you may want to include some pedaling skills workouts or just be conscious of a faster cadence on your recovery bouts and pedaling at a range of cadences during your endurance rides.

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA Pan America Champion and 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro also has a master’s degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for a decade. Learn more about their coaching programs at www.middaughcoaching.com.

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Middaugh Coaching Corner – Winter Cross Training

We all remember Bo Jackson and his epic cross training commercials from the 90s, and if you don’t you better ask somebody. He was touted as the greatest all-around athlete, and all he needed was one pair of shoes. You don’t need those shoes, but in today’s age of specificity does cross training still make sense for triathletes? The principles of specificity of training tend to show that greater improvements are made in running, cycling, and swimming by primarily spending your time in those disciplines. There are very few studies that actually show performance gains made through cross training in these individual sports especially in highly trained triathletes.  So why in the world would you want to do it?

We came up with a few reasons:

The weather

This time of year means snow, ice, sleet and cold for much of the country. This means you’re stuck on a trainer or treadmill more often than not. It is, however, the perfect time of year for other activities such as Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, Pilates and yoga. Substitute a few of each discipline with activities that are ideal for your region this time of year.  Ideally, try to substitute like for like.

Strengthen imbalances and promote recovery

If you read our last article on off-season strength training, we listed exercises to help correct imbalances often caused by swimming, biking and running. A cross-training routine that focuses on your imbalances could help improve performance and help prevent injuries. Choosing low impact exercises such as Nordic skiing, skinning or the elliptical machine allow your body to recover from all the pounding it took this season.

Keep your competitive edge

There’s nothing worse than hopping in your first meaningful XTERRA of the season only to realize you forgot how to suffer. Winter events can really help you keep your competitive edge without the stress of under-performing or racing below a certain standard you have set for yourself. If I race a 10k or half marathon, I have a time in the back of my head I want to achieve even if I say it doesn’t matter. However, if I do an event where it’s hard to compare times such as snowshoe, mountain/fat bike, trail running, obstacle course, Nordic, or SUP events I can compete without having a standard time in the back of my mind. You still get to suffer and compete, but without the extra pressure.

Refresh the mind

You’ve been doing the same three disciplines for months on end.  Keeping up 3+ swims, bikes and runs per week all indoors, can lead to staleness before the season starts. You don’t want to lose all your fitness, but you want to cut back and keep your sanity. Take advantage of your winter environment by performing at least a couple outdoor activities each week.

Have fun

Cross training can be fun and social. Find local groups that are doing the cross-training activities you want to do or learn something new. Hop in local events put on by your local running, cycling and Nordic clubs. This is a great way to meet people in your area that are as crazy as you are!

Gain fitness

We are not saying that you will become a faster swimmer, biker or runner by incorporating cross training, but you can build a bigger engine that can be translated to sports specific speed later.  Conquering challenging terrain on snowshoes, pushing against the resistance of a fat bike, or reaping the aerobic benefits of Nordic skiing can all help make you a stronger endurance athlete as long as you are maintaining some specificity of training in swim, bike and run.

Josiah’s take

I have often welcomed the winter months because of the cross-training opportunities around Vail. Living in the mountains in Colorado, I have been fortunate that there are so many ways to get a good aerobic workout with less impact than pounding pavement.  My go-to cross training modes are snowshoeing/microspiking, Nordic skiing, fat biking, and occasionally skinning.  Many know that I spend a lot of structured time on the CompuTrainer, but I also like the balance of getting outside with some sort of vertical component.  The cardiovascular benefits of snow-running up mountains in the winter are huge.  Often I perform net elevation gain runs by downloading chairlifts to get all of the aerobic benefit without the eccentric downhill.  On groomed snow I wear Kahtoola Microspikes and for the trails and softer snow I wear Northern Lites snowshoes.  I try to get out once a week on skate skis and/or once a week on the fat bike.  For all of these modes, my perception is that it feels much easier to get my heart rate up for a sustained amount of time, therefore achieving a similar aerobic benefit without the intense focus sometimes required indoors.  I believe winter cross training has helped add to the longevity of my endurance racing career for many of the physical benefits mentioned above and also the psychological aspect.

Cross Training Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Gradually introduce your cross-training activities
  • Substitute cross training in place of existing workouts
  • Choose low impact activities that limit pounding

Don’t:

  • Add more than 2-3 cross training sessions per week or 50% of weekly training volume
  • Replace your long run with a cross training session
  • Overdue activities that require a lot of lateral and stop and go movements such as basketball and soccer.
  • Add cross training activities on top of existing workouts

A Few Recommended Cross Training Activities (depending on where you live)

  • Nordic Skiing
  • Elliptical Machine
  • Snowshoeing
  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Fat Biking
  • A strength routine that focuses on your imbalances
  • Obstacle Course Training
  • CycloCross

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA Pan America Champion and 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro also has a master’s degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for a decade. Read past training articles at http://www.xterraplanet.com/training/middaugh-coaching-corner and learn more about their coaching programs at www.middaughcoaching.com.

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Middaugh Coaching Corner – Strengthening for Injury Prevention

A strength-training program for an endurance athlete should accomplish two goals; increase performance and decrease likelihood of injury.  With these goals in mind, some of the exercises selected should mimic the sport itself while others are termed corrective exercises, which promote muscle balance, posture, and joint mobility.

Corrective Exercise

A resistance-training program designed to improve performance must also take into account the repetitive nature of endurance training and address movement impairments.  Cycling and running are sagittal-plane (front-back) dominant activities, although stabilization must occur in every plane.  Swimming is often thought of as a restorative activity, but swimming predominantly freestyle involves very repetitive movements such as internal shoulder rotation.  Due to the repetitive nature of these activities, endurance athletes are predisposed to muscle imbalances and resulting overuse injuries.  Swimmers stereotypically present forward head and rounded shoulders, which can lead to shoulder injury (Lynch, 2009).  Cyclists spend an inordinate amount of time in a biomechanically compromised position.  Hip flexors are shortened and muscles function almost exclusively in the sagittal plane.  Low-back pain and knee-pain are frequently reported in cyclists.  Runners also perform most of their motion in the sagittal plane, but it is the muscles that stabilize in the frontal plane (side-side), such as the gluteus medius, that prevent many lower extremity injuries (Willson, 2005).  In fact, approximately 20% of the energy cost of running is spent stabilizing side-to-side motion in the frontal plane.

The strengthening goal of a corrective exercise program should be to target underactive muscles such as the gluteus medius, transversus abdominus, anterior tibialis, lower trapezius, deep cervical flexors, rotator-cuff and can be specific to the athletes needs.  For example, a distance runner with pronation distortion syndrome might perform hip abduction exercises, single leg squats, ankle dorsiflexion + inversion, glute bridging, plank/side planks, and a single leg tip over.  A cyclist with low back pain might do more core stabilization such as the bird dog exercise, isometric abdominal exercises, side planks, and simple posterior chain exercises such as glute bridges.  A swimmer with shoulder impingement would have more of an upper body focus that would actually look similar to exercises prescribed for a sedentary desk worker or an overhead-throwing athlete with a focus on deep cervical flexors, lower traps, rotator cuff, and serratus anterior.  Exercises I like for swimmers include the Ball Y-T-Cobra, Prone scapular protraction, and chin tucks.

Then complex movements that integrate these muscles into correct movement patterns in a functional exercise can be included, such as a squat + overhead press, cable chop, single leg tip-over + cable row, or kettle-bell swings.  Perhaps the most important advice for corrective exercises is to make sure you are doing each exercise correctly or you are defeating the purpose and reinforcing incorrect movement patterns.  Consider hiring a qualified personal trainer or a physical therapist, even if it is just for a few sessions.

Here is a sampling of corrective exercises for the triathlete:

Swimming correction:

Ball Y-T-Cobra
Prone scapular protraction

Cycling correction:

Bird dog
Glute bridge

Running correction:

Band side steps
Single leg tip-over

Integration

Squat + overhead press
Tip-over + cable row

References

Lynch, S., Thigpen, C., Mihalik, J., Prentice, W., & Padua, D.      (2009). The effects of an exercise intervention on forward head and rounded shoulder postures in elite swimmers. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 44, 376-381.

Willson, J., Dougherty, C., Ireland, M., & Davis, I. (2005). Core stability and its relationship to lower extremity function and injury. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 13, 316-325.

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA Pan America Champion and 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro also has a master’s degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for a decade. Read past training articles at http://www.xterraplanet.com/training/middaugh-coaching-corner and learn more about their coaching programs at www.middaughcoaching.com.

Middaugh Coaching Corner – ‘Tis the Season for a Run Focus

 

In our last article, we talked about the transition period or the chunk of time after your last race of the season before your “offseason” program begins. At this point, you are probably nearing a month from your last race of the season or gearing up for the final race of the year. Either way you are trying to figure out what to do with your offseason program and juggle the busy obligations that often come with this time of year.

Evaluate your season and set new goals

This could be an entire article by itself, but for now sit down and evaluate your season. What were your strengths and weaknesses? Look at your performances and compare your results to your peers. What will it take for you to move up against your competition next year? This can be done on your own or with your coach. Take this information and set new goals for next year. Write them down!

Focus on a limiter

Take your limiter/s from this season and focus on them during your offseason. Many of us want to improve all three disciplines, but there are one or two that really stick out in comparison to our peers. Pick one mode to focus on for your offseason training and shoot for maintenance in the other two disciplines. If running is one of those limiters we highly recommend that you start with a run focus.

Why start with running

This time of year is extremely busy. We have guests coming to town for the holidays or we are planning trips to visit family. Pools are often closed for big chunks of time or you simply can’t find one while traveling, and your better half thinks the Pack ‘n Play is more important on your holiday travels than your bike. Psst…unfortunately he or she is probably right. Running is the one thing you can squeeze in just about anywhere and offers more bang for your buck. Running has the biggest fitness returns and the highest transfer of training for the amount of time you put in.  A run focus block can accomplish a lot with 4-6 hours per week and you do not have to worry about bike routes or pool schedules.

Run focus example

In general, we recommend a block that is about 8 weeks long.  The plan we detail, follows a 4-week mesocycle with 3 build weeks and one recovery/regeneration week.  Volume is tracked by time rather than distance to accommodate different running speeds.  Run volume ranges from 4 hr 10 min in week 1 to 5 hrs 35 min during week 7.  So, fast runners averaging 7:30 min/mi might be completing 32-44 miles per week, whereas a runner averaging 10 min/mi will complete 25-33 miles per week.

The program starts with a running field test found on our Middaugh Coaching website:

http://middaughcoaching.com/running-heart-rate-and-pace-training-zones/

And descriptions on performing benchmark protocols is found here:

http://middaughcoaching.com/swim-bike-and-run-benchmark-protocols-2/

The first 4-week block of training is focused on endurance with key workouts in the Tempo zone as described in the zones spreadsheet.  The second 4-week block moves into threshold training at and around 10k race intensity.  Long runs progress from 80 minutes to the longest run at 2 hours.

Swim and bike workouts are also included with two days/wk in each discipline as well as run-specific strength training.

Set a goal

It is important to plan a test or race of some sort at the end of the block to measure your run gains and to keep you motivated. A 10k, half marathon, or trail race are great options.  If this is not possible because of weather, you could plan a snowshoe race, or competitive group run that ends at a local brewery or coffee shop to reward yourself for the hard work and keep you motivated.

Middaugh Coaching 8 week run focus program on Training Peaks:

https://home.trainingpeaks.com/products/trainingplans/plans/8-week-run-focus-intermediate

*Contact us through our website for a code that will give you 50% off!

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA Pan America Champion and 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro also has a master’s degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for a decade. Read past training articles at http://www.xterraplanet.com/training/middaugh-coaching-corner and learn more about their coaching programs at www.middaughcoaching.com.