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Sunday, July 25, 2010

3. Fatigued Focus on the Run

New research shows lowest O2 usage (highest efficiency) when focusing on the running experience or sensation itself; simply competing or running. Staying in this less than fully conscious flow state can easily be interrupted by fatigue or any other loss of focus. When teaching runners to stay most efficient I have always advised them to focus on mood words in the beginning – words like strong, relaxed, fit, capable, ready, racer, smooth, relaxed, fun, racing, etc. Once fatigue sets in & they start to lose rhythm & their mechanics become disrupted & uncoordinated, (as they most often are right off the bike in triathlon), then flow & that type of ideal focus is lost & the runner must resort to a new tactic. That tactic is focusing on process. Focusing on fatigue or performance, especially outcome, is dissociative & has been shown to be the least efficient. Focusing on process can often return rhythm & flow. The skilled look for that beat of foot strike. A set of skills, like shortening the stride to return or maintain rhythm, can be taught/learned & can be ways back into the run.
So in summary: Focusing on anything other than that which can propel you forward faster during fatigued running can be called lost focus. Focusing on fatigue, or trying to think dissociatively, i.e. of something else to get your mind off the task at hand, when racing or running hard, leads to reduced access to fitness & ability. Focusing on how you are running (the mechanical movements) is also ineffectual, as this is a cognitive process that occurs so much slower (it is chemical), than the natural (electrical) flow of a reflex (unconscious) action. Thoughts on getting limbs & body into optimal position to gain maximum benefit from power application & elastic return are excellent ways to focus. Focusing on a feeling or image is also very powerful, especially when fresh. At the start of an endurance race, focus on mood words like, easy, smooth, powerful, relaxed, will help you to not interfere cognitively with your body’s natural ability to perform. In triathlon this would be relevant mostly in the swim & on the bike if a draft legal event. However, when fatigue sets in, it becomes useful to think objectively about what to do, especially if your form has deteriorated.

Bobby McGee – Bobby McGee Endurance Sports

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How to Lay it on the Line when it Counts

On the 30th of July as an added part of my regular sport psychology & run mechanics & run training lectures to USA Triathlon level 1 candidate coaches, I will be presenting a mental skills training CEU. This time it takes place in New Jersey. These are designed for USAT coaches to keep up with what’s relevant to triathlon today & remain current with their coaching certification. These are also open to any triathlete, triathlon coach or interested party.

Unlike my (& most others) lecture in the course, this 3 hour event is designed to be highly practical & as individualized as a group setting will allow. The majority of the session is participatory & I have received very positive feedback in terms of the workshop’s effectiveness.

Most triathletes know that effective mental skills like self confidence & dealing with the sensations of effort are essential for race performances to match fitness expectations. The reason why triathletes do little about it though may be due in some large part to the lack of access to practice. There are a number of GREAT books out there, but we all know how hard it is putting good ideas on paper into practice, especially under the pressures of competition! One-on-one work with a skilled teacher of mental skills for triathlon are few & far between & expensive – I get about 1 client requesting mental skills training to every 7 that want training or run mechanical skills training.

If you live in that part of the world & could use some extra mojo, here’s an opportunity. If not, then remind yourself, as an athlete, that self confidence & full access to fitness under pressure are skills that can be learned & this may be the edge you have been looking for.

Click here to sign up & get more info:

Below is a copy of the letter that goes out to participants in the CEU. Use it as a guideline to set some of the details as you prepare for your next race. Are you considering all these & would it be useful to do so?

Stay or get mentally strong! It’s how you show up fully on D Day!

Bobby McGee

PS: Remember my book, Magical Running, A Unique Path to Running Fulfillment, is all about mental skills training & is set up as a workbook to support you as you habituate a killer mindset for race day. Available from

Dear Participant

I would like to extend the opportunity once again to make this Mental Skills CEU as practical & as customized as possible. With this email, to you as registrant (thank you), I am including 4 questionnaires:

1. Creating the Perfect Race
2. Mental Skills Assessment
3. Psychological Performance Inventory – please note that the spreadsheets have multiple tabs
4. Sport Psychological Training Evaluation – please note that the spreadsheets have multiple tabs

Feel free to make copies of these & have athletes that you work with, or yourself, complete them. If you are using them with athletes, I strongly advise you to number them & have the corresponding name kept confidential. Of course this implies a confidentiality agreement between you & your athlete that would imply a desire to participate in such exercises.

Bring the completed forms along to the seminar & we will spend time creating effective strategies to enhance the performance of these athletes.

Please bring along a hard copy, (or have it electronically), of the relevant course maps that either you or your athletes will be peaking for as key events coming up.

I look forward to working with you.

Best wishes,

Bobby McGee

Friday, July 16, 2010

2. Dynamic Warm up Drills: How to give you your best shot at an optimal event

In my previous post I spoke about the deleterious effects of passive stretching before exercise. So what are you supposed to do before exercise or competition? The answer is a series of progressively more intense activities that bring the body to a point where it is ready for peak performance. These activities include:
1. Mobility exercises – these increase the range of motion of a joint, so that it can manage the requirements of the activity safely & effectively. An example of such an activity are increasingly aggressive arm circles for a swimmer
2. Facilitation exercises – these exercises mimic the activity about to be performed in an ever increasing range of motion & intensity. An example of this might be a high knee drill before a quality run work out
3. Recruitment exercises – these exercises are careful repetitions of the movement required in an overloaded fashion. This ensures that enough muscle fibers are recruited to not only perform safely, but competitively. An example of this might be swinging a baseball bat with a weighted doughnut attached prior to batting practice
Attached is a picture of Shelia Burrell, world championship bronze medalist heptathlete & 4th in Olympics, performing a dynamic warm up drill. Below is a video of Carrie Messner-Vickers, world champs steeplechase finalist & US record holder performing a grapevine or karaoke dynamic warm up drill.
Some examples of effective dynamic warm up procedures can be found in Run Workouts for Runners & Triathletes, or The DVD, Triathlon, The Run, both by Bobby McGee. Available from

Thursday, July 8, 2010

1. Passive stretching before training & racing slows you down

The purpose of stretching is to allow muscles to recover by “switching off “& allow nutrients to “enter “the tissue. Muscles require downtime to metabolize the effects of hard work & repair/grow stronger. Tests have shown that passive stretching actually slows down muscle speed (sequential firing) & recruitment (the number of muscle fibers available to do the work required). Passive stretching may even destabilize certain joints, like the hip joint, & lead to injury during the training session that follows the stretching session. Studies have shown that people who stretch passively are more likely to get injured than those who don’t! In later blogs I will explain how a Dynamic Warm Up Procedure is a far better way to go to gain optimal results from your fitness. So if you want to stretch passively, do so after training & even here, I recommend that you actively stretch for a far better result, i.e. allow the muscle being released to primarily control the activity.
In a recent study with collegiate cross country runners, those with the shortest hamstrings were the best runners in every case!
To my mind the muscle groups that need to be “released” & returned or set at optimal “loadability” levels after training as far as running is concerned are the hip flexors, the soleus & the quads.
Bobby McGee – Bobby McGee Endurance Sports

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Become a Runner - with Jarrod Shoemaker

Olympian & uber triathlon runner, Jarrod Shoemaker & myself are doing a webinar with USAT tomorrow at 6PM Mountain Time. Register at

We are going to explore how one can run better off the bike by working on the run in a more organic fashion. We'll focus on training ideas, mindsets, drills & a number of issues pertinent to accessing all the runner you can be.

It's the 1st time we are trying this format with athlete & coach on the same presentation - should be fun & hopefully super informative.

Could this be the secret recipe for your run that you have been looking for.

Please join us

Bobby McGee