Middaugh Coaching Corner – 24hrs Until the Cannon

It’s 24 hours before an important race, the hay is in the barn, but there are still some details that can make or break your race.

  1. Don’t sabotage your race with that final workout or pre-ride.  With XTERRA it is important to be familiar with the race course but not at the expense of your race performance.  Typically we don’t recommend riding much more than an hour, so consider riding just a portion of the course at easy to moderate intensities.  If your race week is on track and you have arrived tapered, you may benefit from some potentiation reps the day before the race, which consist of just a few short efforts at race intensity (but hold back, not all out!).  Beware not to try to ride with your strong buddy the day before. Let him go and do your thing!
  2. Although there will be a lot of variation here, there are some things to keep in mind the day before the race. In a hot/humid environment, hydration is important and should have started in the days before.  However, we are not just talking about water, make sure that you drink consistently throughout the day and include some electrolytes in your drink and/or in your food. Stick with familiar foods and search for a variety of carbohydrate sources with each meal to top off your muscle and liver glycogen.  This will be your primary fuel source during the race and compared to a low carb diet, someone in a carbo-loaded state can store almost twice as much carbohydrate which can double your time to exhaustion at race intensity.
  3. Bike set up. The day before your race is not the time to take your bike in for a full tune up, but you should go through and double check that all nuts and bolts are tight. Because XTERRA athletes are always out pre-riding the course, there often is last minute maintenance that needs to be done. Learn to do some basic maintenance yourself, and always figure out where the closest bike shop is so that you can make a last second visit if needed. Be patient and bring them a coffee the next time you stop in. They will remember you!
  4. Mental imagery. Setting aside time to visualize what you plan to do is often an overlooked aspect of racing. Go through the entire race, including transitions. Visualize how you want your race to go, and be specific. Throw a couple scenarios in there that could occur. How will you handle them? I like to use association as a mental strategy rather than disassociation.  This means that I visualize the feelings and sensations that I will feel during the race including the discomfort.  The focus is on your own physical state so that you are not surprised when you get into the race and it feels hard.
  5. Race plan. We often hear athletes say that they don’t like to go into a race with a plan because every race is different and can be hard to predict. It can be hard to establish clear goals since XTERRA racing depends a lot on other people and times are less relevant, but you can still put together some goals for pacing and nutrition. Plan your effort and plan your nutrition either based on time or distance.
  6. Race morning. Again, stick with familiar pre-race foods that you know you can digest.  For a 9:00 start try to consume your pre-race “meal” around 6:00-6:30am.  Avoid high fat or high protein foods, but it is ok to include some to help lower the glycemic index of your meal and give it some staying power.  The goal is just to top off your glycogen stores.  The same goes for fluids—you don’t need to guzzle down large amounts of water, but fill up a bottle when you wake up and sip on it up until the race.  Finally, a strategy that can work well for races lasting over 90 minutes is to take a carbohydrate gel 15 minutes before the start.  The theory is that you won’t have time for the insulin response and the calories will be used as they are assimilated so you are not pulling from your glycogen stores.
  7. Transition bag checklist. Use a checklist! Athletes often run around the night before a race and race morning with no focus. They start setting up their transition and then get distracted and start doing something else. Use your checklist to ensure you have everything and try to pack it in the same place each time. This repetition will make race morning much less stressful and your significant other will also appreciate it.


Goggles, spare goggles
Swim Cap
Body glide
Bike helmet
Cycling shoes
Bike gloves
Rubber bands
Baby powder
Running shoes
Running hat/visor
Nutrition (energy drink, gels, recovery drink)
Transition towel
Bike pump
Number belt
Duct tape/ electrical tape
Timing chip, race numbers

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning 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 the two and their coaching programs at www.middaughcoaching.com.

Josiah Middaugh

Middaugh Coaching Corner – XTERRA Racing Tips

XTERRA Racing Tips

Many of you have already raced your first XTERRA of the season or it is right around the corner. We thought this would be a good time to give you a few racing tips.

  1. Keep Fighting
    XTERRA can be grueling. You can get kicked in the face and lose your goggles during the swim, crash or get a flat on the bike, roll your ankle or maybe even slip and crash into a log at full speed on the run. Despite all this you can still do well, and possibly even reach your goal for the race. At the XTERRA World Championships last year Josiah crashed on the bike twice and decided to take a log on with his chest in the run rather than jump over it like everyone else. That didn’t work by the way, but he did win the race. One of the most amazing things about XTERRA is that it is a battle and things rarely go as planned, but you never know what can happen if you don’t stop fighting!
  2. Know the Course
    XTERRA is known for their epic courses that traverse all sorts of challenging terrain. No two courses are the same. Organizers do their very best to mark these courses in a way that is easy to follow so that each racer can focus on the race, but things happen. Someone may do an endo and take out an arrow, or an arrow or course tape may simply fall down despite an organizer’s best efforts. Your job is to know the course. Don’t train for months for a race and then show up on race day with no knowledge of the course and miss a turn. You will either end up disqualified or add a bunch of extra mileage and blow any chance of a good result.
  3. Buy New Goggles
    I can’t believe how many people tell me they were swimming great, but their goggles fogged up and they couldn’t see where they were going. You are riding a $2,000+ mountain bike. Spend $15 dollars so that you can see where you’re going in the swim!
  4. Plan and Scrap, but Don’t Panic
    Know the course, race to your strengths, come up with a plan and rehearse it in your mind so that you are prepared for race day, but be ready to scrap it if things don’t go as planned. Just the process of coming up with your plan allows you to go over many different scenarios that could occur during the race. When something new is thrown at you in the race you will be much more equipped to handle it. Keep the pressure on, but whatever you do don’t panic!
  5. Let ‘em by, but don’t let ‘em go
    Everyone in an XTERRA is out there to perform their very best. If someone comes up behind you on the bike or run, let them go by. Obviously they are going faster than you and may be stronger or just know the course better. Think of it as an opportunity to actually move up yourself. Let them go by and see if you can stick with them. Perhaps they know the course and following them will actually allow you to move up.
  6. Practice your Race
    Practice your race in training with as close to race conditions as possible. This includes gear! Everyone knows not to try anything new on race day, and if not, now you do! But what we often forget is to also make sure our race gear is ready to go. Try on your wetsuit, throw your race wheels on for a ride, wear your race shoes without socks, break out that new speed suit, and adjust your new goggles before race morning!! If you build it into your training it will happen. If not, you’ll probably have some sort of unwelcome surprise race morning.
  7. Fuel Early and Often
    You just finished wailing the water as hard as you could for 20+ minutes in the swim and for some reason you are surprised your legs don’t seem to work right on the bike. Use this time to start fueling for the rest of your race. Do not get half way through the bike and decide it’s time to start fueling only to find your water bottle ejected during that last rocky section leaving you without hydration or nutrition for the entire swim and bike. Remember you want to take in 200-300 calories per hour. The bike is the easiest place to ensure this happens.
  8. No Chafe Lotion is Your Friend
    If you’ve raced already this season you probably found a few spots on your body that just rubbed the wrong way. It may have been your neck from your wetsuit, heel or toes during the run, saddle sores on the bike, your armpits from your tri jersey, or maybe some super odd place you never would have thought could chafe. There’s nothing worse than having to take an extra rest day or two because you can’t sit on your bike or put your shoes on from chafing. Body glide and other no chafe lotions aren’t the key to a great race, but boy does it help, and it might just allow you to walk a little more normal to the post party and maybe even throw down a dance move or two.
  9. Transitions are not a Picnic
    Get in and get out! This does not mean that you race through the transition area so fast you forget your helmet or race belt. You need to practice your transitions and be as efficient and fast as possible. You should know what you need from transition and have it laid out the same way every time so that it becomes automatic and you’re not scrambling to find items. Get rid of anything you do not need. It should not look like a convenience store shelf that you stand in front of reading labels trying to figure out what looks best for the next leg. They are actually free speed. Use it!
  10. Stay Focused
    How many of you have ridden the most technical part of a mountain bike course completely clean only to trip over a rock or root that was in plain view during the run, or been in contact with a group in the swim or bike only to lose them at the very end costing you valuable seconds or even minutes? You lost focus. When you come up with your race plan and preview the course also think about what it will take to stay focused. Everyone is different, but you need to figure out when you often lose time and focus and build in reminders for yourself.
  11. Stay Calm and Swim On
    The swim is usually the leg where triathletes tend to panic. Come up with a strategy for your swim and practice it in open water with others whenever possible. If you are a slower swimmer do not start on the front line. Instead start back and on the outside to avoid the masses at the first buoy. Remember, just because the cannon goes off, doesn’t mean you have to dive in and swim as hard as you can. Stop and count to 3-5 and then dive in. Athletes often get so caught up in the moment that they sprint the first 200 of the swim as hard as they can, forget to breathe and swim the next 400 in panic mode trying to calm themselves down. If this is you, go out hard, but back it off quickly and concentrate on your breathing. If you do feel panic coming on focus on getting a good breath and blowing bubbles at a steady rate. Don’t stop swimming because you will only get run over by everyone else behind you making your panic worse. Stay calm and swim on. Hopping in small local triathlons can be a good place to get some practice if you do not have a group to swim with.
  12. Warm Up
    You need to warm up well for every XTERRA. The more you don’t feel like it, the more you probably need it. Many do all three disciplines for short durations in reverse order, some bike and then swim, others run and then swim and then there are those that do nothing but swing their arms. Get your heart elevated with a few minutes easy and a few short intervals in whichever discipline that gets you ready to do work. At the very least swim for 6-10 minutes with a few short bursts to get you ready for the start. Don’t stand there and swing your arms and expect to have a great race.

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning 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 atwww.middaughcoaching.com.


Middaugh Coaching Corner – Interval Training

For years interval training has been considered the most potent form of training for an endurance athlete. Thanks to early running legends such as Paavo Nurmi, the flying Finn, and Emil Zatopek, the Czechoslovakian locomotive.  They weren’t the first to implement interval training, but their straightforward approaches shaped modern distance running. Put simply, in order to race fast, you need to train fast.

In modern times, interval training is a fundamental way to train endurance performance. I overheard my 10 year-old telling his brother, “the best way to get faster is to do intervals, that’s what my gym teacher said.”  For the general public, any intervals will do, but for the highly trained endurance athlete we need to get a little more scientific.

The basic premise of interval training is that you are able to swim, bike, or run at a higher intensity if your training is intermittent versus continuous. A 5k runner, for example, could head out the door and cover 3.1 miles as fast as possible a couple times a week, but would have a hard time holding their goal pace for much more than one mile. Instead, if the training was broken into half mile intervals, a race-pace could be achieved with every 800 meter bout as long as recovery was adequate.  With each repeated bout there is a cumulative effect, up to a certain point, to stimulate adaptation. Beyond a certain point, maladaptation can occur.

Types of Intervals

In an effort to simplify we will focus our discussion on the most potent type of intervals known as VO2 max intervals. VO2 max is defined as an individual’s highest rate of oxygen consumption (milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute). A common misconception is that interval training is strictly anaerobic. These types of intervals do have a big anaerobic component, but by definition have you operating near your peak oxygen consumption, which is the key.  Most athletes can work at VO2 max for only about 5 to 9 minutes, so intervals at VO2 max need to be shorter than that.  If the interval is too short, then the anaerobic contribution is big, but there is not enough time to actually get to VO2 max. Personally I like 2-3 minutes ON with about equal recovery.

Pacing Strategy

Pacing is critical. Suppose you are running those 800 meter bouts and you start out by sprinting the first 200 meters and then have a gradual slow-down for the next 600 meters.  Your average pace might be on target, but you have failed to reach VO2 max since you started with this huge anaerobic effort and then settled into a pace slower than your VO2 max intensity.

There is something called a slow-component to VO2 max.  This means that for any pace above lactate threshold, you will eventually reach VO2 max if the exercise is continued. So you do want to go fast, but to spend the most amount of time near VO2 max, you want a pace you can sustain for 2-3 minutes. If performed correctly your oxygen consumption will approach VO2 max about half-way through each hard effort.  So if your workout is 6 x 2.5 minutes, you might in reality only spend a total of 7.5 minutes at VO2 max, which is fine.  If performed poorly you may only spend a few seconds of each interval at VO2 max or none at all.


Poor pacing strategy with high power output at the start of each bout and power dropping on each bout. Also note the furthest distance achieved on the first effort.


Better pacing strategy here. In this case, power within each bout was very consistent, but there was still a drop off in power for the last 3 bouts.


Power fairly consistent throughout hard efforts.   Notice peak heart rate is not achieved until the 6th bout. Different athletes, different software.

Work:Rest Ratios

An ideal range for work portion is about 1.5 to 4 minutes. We like the 2-3 minute range the best with a few exceptions. Work to rest ratios are usually around 1:1.  The rest interval can be adjusted to increase or decrease the intensity of the workout. If you are having a hard time keeping pace, try adding 30 seconds rest. If you are completing the workout with energy to spare, try 30 seconds less rest the next time out.

How Intense?

Pace or power are your best guides for this type of training. Heart rate lags so far behind that it is not the best indicator and you don’t want to try to spike your heart rate to start each effort.

If you have power on the bike, I like to use 110% FTP for 3 minute bouts, and 115% FTP for 2 minute bouts.  To find Functional Threshold power on the bike go here (http://middaughcoaching.com/heart-rate-and-power-training-zones/).

For running, a 5k race pace or slightly faster will get you there. A 15 minute 5k runner can just use their 5k pace, but a 25 minute 5k runner might need to increase the pace slightly. If you use our spreadsheet, then use your pace for the top of zone 4, beginning of zone 5. (http://middaughcoaching.com/running-heart-rate-and-pace-training-zones/)

If you are performing intervals uphill and don’t have power or pace to guide you, try this approach. Warm up to the base of consistent climb.   On your first bout, hold back a fraction and note your distance at 1 minute and 2 minutes. Make a mark in the dirt.  Recover on the downhill and repeat the same section of the hill attempting to at least reach the same finishing mark or go slightly further. Try to do this without going any further for that first minute.

How Much?

I mentioned earlier that this is the most potent form of training. So your goal is to be able to maintain the quality for the entire workout. For most people this means 15-21 minutes of total hard work.  So that is 8-10 bouts of 2 minutes, or 5-7 bouts of 3 minutes. Keep it simple.   Shoot for a very similar intensity every time and if you start to slow down you have done too much.

How Often?

A little bit can go a long way. I try to space out this type of training more than any other.  For most people that means two quality sessions per week with one on the bike and one on the run.   Training becomes more polarized during a VO2 max cycle with recovery and endurance workouts separating VO2 max bouts.  Total training volume is reduced and avoid excessively long workouts during this time.

Soon Ripe, Soon Rotten

With this type of training, most people will plateau in about 6 weeks.  I like to sprinkle in this type of training as key races are approaching and save heavy blocks of VO2 max interval training for the most important races of the season.


Middaugh Coaching Corner – Undulating Your Training

A few years ago I wrote a research paper titled “Achieving Expertise in Triathlon.”  While researching, I came across a few good nuggets that I think can apply to anyone who exercises.  One key difference between elites and non-elites, was that elites tend to undulate their training more.  I see two main mistakes I think many people can relate to.  One mistake is to do the exact same routine each week with little change in volume or intensity, which is great for maintenance, but not good for making a positive change.  The other mistake is to try to progress your training linearly.  That approach is too artificial and eventually leads to maladaptation because it is not sustainable and that is not how organisms adapt.  Non-linear periodization is an important component to long-term triathlon success.

A notion we all need to dispose of is that “if a little is good, then more must be better.”  When I council athletes after a poor performance, their solution is almost always to train more and harder, when the reality might be that they did plenty of training but not enough recovery to realize their abilities.

To understand this, we need to go back to the basics on how an organism adapts to stress, called the General Adaptation Syndrome. Exercise stresses many of the body’s systems and when the stimulus is the proper dose and at the proper frequency, super-compensation can result. The three-stage response to training includes shock, adaptation, and staleness. It is during the recovery cycles that the body achieves a higher level of homeostasis and a higher level of performance. When heavy training is carried out week after week, there is a summation of the training stimulus that creates a large amount of cumulative fatigue and can lead to staleness. If you never back it off from that linear progression, there will never be a realization of improved performance.

Most people do a pretty good job of undulating training within a week and they understand the concept of easy days and hard days. But if every week looks the same, then how can gains be made beyond a certain plateau?

The solution is to undulate your training regularly within mesocycles.  A microcycle can be thought of as a single week of training and a block of several weeks is considered a mesocycle. Many athletes undulate training unintentionally and unsuccessfully with unplanned setbacks due to overtraining, injury, or life circumstances.  A better, more effective, and more proactive approach is to plan a lighter week of training at least once a month if not more frequently.  Plan to train purposefully for a 2 or 3-week block, and then drop your training volume by 30-50% for one week.  Think of it as a short time period to let some training adaptations set in.  You will refresh your body and mind for the next cycle of training.  This principle applies to both strength/power athletes and endurance athletes.  Undulation of training should occur from day to day with harder and easier days, but it should also occur with short, restorative cycles every few weeks.  Often this can be timed with a competition or a field test occurring at the end of one of these recovery weeks.

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning 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 Swim

Middaugh Coaching Corner – Early Season Racing

With XTERRA World Champion Josiah Middaugh fresh off a runner-up showing at the XTERRA Pan America Tour season-opener in Costa Rica on Sunday, it seems an appropriate time to talk about why jumping into a race early in the season is a good idea.  To give the champ a break as he travels from CR to Argentina in preparation for stop No. 2 on the PanAm Tour, his brother Yaro brings us this week’s column…

Nine Reasons to Sign Up for an Early Season Race…or Two

Well, it’s that time of year when races are starting to pop up on the calendar. You’re coming off a solid winter of training or maybe you’re not. Either way, you have a rough idea of where your fitness is, and you have clearly mapped out your “A” races for the season. So why would you consider doing an early season race that you’re not specifically training for? We have come up with nine reasons to jump in some early season races:

  1. Test fitness: Testing fitness is always a goal for any early season race. If you’ve done the benchmark testing sessions we talked about in our blogs then you have an idea of where you are at on paper. Now it’s time to see if it translates to race day. Improving your FTP from 240 watts to 260 watts is a solid jump, but will you see the difference in your results? You should, but in XTERRA you also need to have the mountain biking skills in order to take advantage of the extra power.
  2. Remind yourself how to suffer and compete: This is a big one. If you haven’t raced in a while, it takes some time to remind yourself how to suffer even if you’ve gotten in some solid interval sessions throughout the winter. Just about any race can help with this. I love early season mountain bike races because they start so hard and have so many effort changes. It is a great reminder of what it means to suffer and compete. A few of these before my first XTERRA or at least before my “A” races and I feel much more confident attacking each bike course.
  3. Gear check: For those of you in the Northern states, your mountain bike has probably sat all winter. If you’re lucky you were able to get on it a few times with intermittent thaws. A few people I know are just now pulling their bike out of their travel bag from their last race of the 2015 season. An early season race usually pushes us to make sure our bike and other gear are in working order. The week before my first race, I pull out the bike, ride it around a few times and then drag it to the race. The earlier the race is in the season, the sooner I get my it ready for the season. There have been years when my first race of the season was Pelham. Two years ago, I pulled my bike out that week, rode it around the block a few times and showed up in Pelham only to realize I needed a new bottom bracket two days before the race. Don’t be me!
  4. Evaluate goals: Hopefully, you have your goals set for the season and posted so that you can see them every day. On paper you are on track. Early season races can help you make sure you are where you need to be. Finding a sprint, Olympic, or half ironman in April or May will help you evaluate where you are at, and can be a form of benchmark test. I personally like the Olympic or Half Ironman distances. Each leg of the race is an indicator of whether or not I am on pace to hit my goals for the season. Depending on where I am at in my training, and how far away my priority races are determines what I do with the results. Goals can be modified if needed.
  5. Drive future training: Analyze your results. What did you do well? What did you do poorly? What will I do with this data going forward? If you performed exactly as hoped, continue with your current plan. If not, adjust your plan to address your current needs. Maybe you need an eight-week bike focus to boost your power on the bike or maybe you need to stop skipping those swim sessions because you are not as strong as you had expected to be. If you take the time to look over your results, you will find an area to fine tune for your next race, and yes, transitions count!!
  6. Dial in pre-race and race day nutrition: First you practice your nutrition during key workouts, but to know if it truly works for you, you need to implement your nutrition plan for an actual race. Early season races are the time when you can afford to make mistakes with nutrition. Try the nutrition plan that you read about or your coach recommended under race conditions. It’s no fun fighting the urge to hurl the entire bike because your sports drink doesn’t agree with you in your most important race of the year.
  7. Try race strategies: Often we go into races with time goals we want to meet, but we don’t always have actual race strategies in mind. Try something you wouldn’t ordinarily try in an early season race. Perhaps, you have always started on the far outside for your swim because you want your space and don’t want to drown at the first buoy. What would happen if you started on the inside and sprinted for the first 200 yards? Would this allow you to swim with one group ahead of your usual group? You don’t know unless you try. Maybe you want to try attacking every climb on the bike course, but you are afraid you won’t be able to run if you do. Practice it, and then get out and go for it in an early season race!
  8. Execute an entire race plan: Write out a race plan, and then try to execute it. This includes pre-race and race nutrition, the swim, bike, and run legs and transitions. Again, this does not just mean goal times. If you want to catch a group and swim the entire swim with a group rather than on your own in no man’s land, make that part of your swim plan. Go through each aspect of the race and how you plan to handle various scenarios. Race plans rarely turn out exactly as written, but the more prepared you are the better you handle unexpected situations.
  9. Motivation: Those early morning trainer, run, and swim sessions can be brutal. Especially, in the dead of winter when just walking the dog can be tough. I’ve hit my snooze button more than I’d like to admit. Signing up for an early season race can help keep you motivated. Here in Florida, I like to sign up for trail and road races as early as February or March just to help with motivation. Josiah does snowshoe, and fat bike races in the mountains. You need to do whatever is available in your area. Definitely don’t overdue it, but staying motivated during the offseason is vital to a successful season.

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning 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 the two and their coaching programs at www.middaughcoaching.com.



Middaugh Coaching Corner – Working Out With a World Champ

Our last article described the 12 strength training guidelines for endurance athletes and now we will give some examples to give you a better idea of what a strength training workout should look like.

Watch the video

Keep in mind that strength training is supplemental and your specific needs may be different to someone else due to age, previous injury, muscle imbalances, or strengths and weaknesses.

This workout consists of 13 exercises, but that was just to give you a wide range of exercises and a typical workout might only consist of 6 or 8 of these.  It starts with glute activation and an integration balance exercise. Then we prioritize with the highest intensity exercises, move to general strength exercises, and finish with core exercises.

During an initial adaptation period I might start with only 2 sets per exercise and then if I really want to focus in on some strength or power development I might pick 2-4 key exercises and perform 4 or 5 sets.  Two strength sessions per week is usually enough for most athletes unless it is during an off-season period where total volume is much lower.  Remember to replace a portion of your endurance training with the strength workouts for better adaptation.  For strength maintenance during the competitive season as little as 1 set per exercise can be performed and only one day per week.

Here is a list of our sample exercises:

  1.  Band side step:  The target muscle is the gluteus medius.  Be careful to keep your feet pointed straight ahead and stay upright.  If the toes angle out then you start to compensate with the TFL and Hip Flexors.
  2.  Band kick backs:  Starting to pull the other gluteal muscles into it.  Perform with a 2 second pause when you kick back and clench the glutes.
  3.  Windmill Toe-Touch:  Glutes are the prime mover here, but you should feel the hamstrings assisting.  Focus on the balance and maintaining a long spine.  Hinge from the hip and also focus on maintaining a plumb line with the hip/knee/ankle of the standing leg.
  4.  Reactive Box Jump:  This is a true plyometric exercise specific to running with the short ground contact time and short amortization phase.  Intensity level can be adjusted by the height of the box.
  5.  Explosive Step-up:  This has a longer amortization phase (change of direction) and longer ground contact time so it also applies well to cycling.  Think of triple extenstion (hip, knee, and ankle extends).
  6.  Scissor Jump:  This is very similar to the explosive step up so I recommend choosing one or the other.  This will make you much more sore the first time so be caution with range of motion and number of reps.
  7.  Kettlebell Swing:  A great precursor to Olympic lifts or as an alternative.  The main focus here is the hip hinge and a powerful motion.  Momentum is your friend so don’t try to slow the way down with your arms.  The motion is more back-to-front and less up-and-down.
  8.  Single-leg Step-down:  Essentially this is a single leg squat with a tap to the floor.  Keep your heel down and get equal angles and the hip and knee by sticking your butt back and chest forward.  Watch the plumb line of the hip/knee/ankle in a mirror.  The main compensations I see are the knee collapsing in and the heel lifting up.
  9.  Plank Press-up:  Assume a push-up position with your feet about shoulder width.  In addition to working your arms you should feel a lot of work in the core while you maintain stability side to side and keep the sway out of your low back.
  10.  Renegade Row:  Start with a similar push-up position and feet shoulder width.  You will have to work harder to keep your body from rotating side-to-side.
  11.  Pull-ups:  Start with some assistance either with a machine or with a workout partner.  Try to use the pronated grip for better Lat recruitment.
  12.  Ball Y-T-Cobra:  This is a great exercise for the forward head, rounded shoulder posture.  Keep your thumbs up towards the sky and pause 2 seconds in each position.  Feel the shoulder blades rotate down and together as you move from the Y to the T to the Cobra.
  13.  Mason Twist with Bounce:  Be a little careful with the amount of rotation you get since the main focus is stability. Another option is a partner ball toss.

Watch the video

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning 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. 

Amy Eck

XTERRA Couch to Trail: Training Starts Now!

It’s time to get off the couch!

In the last two weeks XTERRA guru and Camp Bennett coach Amy Eck has answered some of the basic beginner questions and talked about some of the gear you’ll need to do an XTERRA.

This week she unveils an actual couch-to-trail program that will get your sticky fingers off the remote, out the door, and on your way to your first XTERRA.

The first step, which starts Monday, is literally the first step.

“There is absolutely no intimidation factor here,” explains Eck, who has helped hundreds of athletes get started and get better at all sorts of physical activity over the years, specifically in triathlon.

“Our target audience for this is the guy or girl that hasn’t done much and isn’t sure where to start.  With this plan just follow along, go day-by-day, and you’ll find yourself in much better health and spirit in no time.”

Eck loaded the first two weeks of the FREE program on trainingpeaks.com, and it’s filled with fun videos and easy to follow directions.

Check it out and get started! The time is now.  Live More!

Go here: http://home.trainingpeaks.com/

Click the Login link at the upper right of the website and enter Username: xterracoucher
Password: Hawaii50.


Middaugh Coaching Corner – 12 Strength Training Guidelines

In this third installment of the Middaugh Coaching Corner the World Champ tackles the tricky subject of endurance athletes and their relationship with strength training.

“For me, triathlon training started as a way to cross train for distance running,” said Middaugh. “I realized early on that I was not as durable as some of the other collegiate runners and strength training, swimming, and biking brought some balance and allowed me to continue training through injuries and multiple knee surgeries.  Swimming and biking are great low impact activities, but all triathlon disciplines are incredibly repetitive and can lead to some specific imbalances.  Strength training, when performed properly can improve mechanics, resist injury, and improve performance.  Personally I shoot for 12-16 weeks of consistent strength training starting in the off season then shift to strength maintenance during the competitive season.  Sometimes I will revisit a strengthening focus during a mid-season break.”

Ultimately, Middaugh explains, the goal of strength training should be two-fold: injury prevention, and a positive transfer of strength, power, muscular endurance, and movement efficiency to the sports themselves.

“Since movement patterns of swimming, biking, and running are extremely repetitive it is important to address movement impairments with targeted strengthening of under-active muscle groups to prevent injury. For performance, the exercises need to be very specific in terms of movement patterns and velocity. Properly periodized programs move from general to specific and in the case of endurance sports they need to start as specific and move to more specific to avoid conflicting peripheral adaptations. For swimming, cycling, and running, this means eventually performing a portion of the resistance training within the targeted sports.”

Middaugh went on to say the timing of your strength training is important as well…

“Although strength training has been demonstrated effective in all phases of an annual plan, it makes the most sense to start strength training during the off-season to avoid overtraining. If you can put in a solid 12-16 weeks of structured strength training now, there is a “Long Lasting Training Effect” and a “Long-Term Delayed Training Effect” of special strength preparation that can yield great results during the competitive season. What this means is that you might not see the benefit initially, and in some cases performance can decline a little, but long term it can be very beneficial. Here are some real guidelines to help you develop an off season strength routine.”

Read the full article:

Josiah’s 12 strength training guidelines every endurance athlete needs to know


Josiah Middaugh is the reigning 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. 


XTERRA Couch to Trail: The Gear You’ll Need

In this second part of the XTERRA Couch to Trail series  designed to help first-timers get into the sport our fearless leader Amy Eck (who once did XTERRA Worlds in an above-elbow arm cast) talks about the basic gear you’ll need to get into it…

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Good luck on your gear search. Once you’ve got it come on back and we’ll get started on some training plans.  It’s a good time to check out the XTERRA calendar and find a race in your area or maybe even do a destination race as a goal, and we will put together some training plans to help you get ready for an XTERRA event this summer.