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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kudos to the Coach

A large part of my professional life entails coach education. The nature of the beast is that I spend way too much time educating & way too little time learning. Granted, every class or individual I teach challenges me on some aspect or another & I gain by going more extensively into that aspect & learning a great deal. I also have a number of resources from which I gain great gobbets of useful information on almost a daily basis. Gone are the days where I would have access to a mentor coach on a regular basis, who could guide my thought process & challenge me to come up with creative solutions to my coaching challenges. Of course there are also my athletes, old & young, fast & not so fast, who are constant sources of learning for me.
However, once in a while I come across an individual who blows me away with their level of expertise, their ability to apply the science creatively, & at the same time have that unfathomable depth of patience, creativity & compassion for the human condition that they can take them lovingly through the hellish process of self-flagellation so that they come out the other end masters of their craft & masters of themselves within their chosen endurance event.
Such a man is my friend Roberto Solano from Costa Rica (; genius, savant, compassionate teacher & uber coach. With little in the way of big buck support, in an economically challenged community, with great vision, resourcefulness, personal investment & drive he has produced 4 Olympians for the London Olympics in 2 different sports (triathlon & marathon) from 3 different countries!!
Roberto I have learned SO much from you & believe that Olympic & World Championship medals for your athletes require only a matter of time. Thank you for all you do for the athletes, our community & for me in my coaching journey.
"¡Felicitaciones por tu √©xito y que √©xito sea tuyo siempre mi amigo!" "Congratulations on your success and may success be yours always my friend"  - I believe & hope  that’s right.
Roberto is a great example to follow – he started with a vision, prepared with extensive formal international training, apprenticed with one of the greatest minds in exercise science, Gre’goire Millet & then dove in practically with athletes in running, cycling, soccer & his 1st love, triathlon, (these are the sports of which I know!). His success is hardly overnight – he has worked hard producing high level junior football (soccer) players, & is managing the coaching & racing of cycling teams also.
Triathlon thanks you Roberto – & I am sure your athletes do also. Keep up the great work & keep showing the world what’s possible.
Thank you also from me – it is an honor & great pleasure to know you & share your journey
Bobby McGee

Monday, April 30, 2012

You can run better

It's early season here in the USA I have started the crazy travel schedule again. My thanks to Adam Zucco & his TrainingBible Coaching crew for hosting me again in Chicago - they do a great job. I do an evening lecture for them & then a compact 90min session with groups of six long course athletes. Below is a note I received to my website this morning:

"Hi Bobby, I just wanted to thank you for coming out to Chicago for a great couple of days. I applied what you spoke to me about after the clinic, and saw immediate results... I can't wait to see the changes in the long term as I apply and practice. Specifically, I ran a 2 mile run off a difficult 4 hour effort on the bike... I kept my HR in Zone 2, but dropped my pace by over a minute! 4 days before, during my long run (on full rest) with the same HR restrictions, I was over a min slower on pace. I look forward to the long term journey in making these changes feel more effortless and "natural"... basically undoing years of crap form! ha Thanks again, and have a great week"

It is immensely gratifying to see all levels of triathlete gain benefit from assessing their run form & taking on the process of tweaking it to gain performance benefits.

So keep working on upping the stride rate safely & go fast!

Bobby McGee

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Some thoughts on warming up for the endurance athlete

I've been missing in action, but no excuses this time! I've been luckily & happily involved in plying my trade all over the country & globe!

Recently a coach & athlete asked me if a "more scientific" warm up, that included "endless lunges" was better than the "old school" method of a jog & some strides.

This was my reply:

Warm up is a tricky one; here’s what I see about warm-up nowadays:

1.     Old school – we felt it was a fixed set of rules

2.     Theoretical – learned from lectures, research & non-human resources (often applied by clever, theoretically trained individuals without ruts in their foreheads from being trackside for 30 years!

3.     Practical – based on the following principles:

a.     What combinations of applied science & experience give the athlete a best chance at success

b.     Individualized, based on athlete type: power-type - plenty of recruitment or endurance type - prolonged aerobic build-up, etc.

c.      Event – shorter the event, the more prolonged the warm up & vice versa

d.     Fitness level – the fitter the athlete is, the longer & more specific the warm-up required

4.     All this being said, make sure that the central system is brought up evenly to operating temp (1*C raise in core temp – therefore longer WU when cold). By even I mean it must be slow enough to ensure that local muscle beds – like quads & calves, do not develop local anaerobic discomfort/thickness. Breathing must get to steady state without a bypass – i.e. heavy breathing then settling, but rather gradually go up aerobically. HR must do the same – i.e. rise steadily, not up, over & then back down. All this done top ensure athlete's best fast-component VO2 kinetics.
5.  Peripherally, once core temp is up, movement must be facilitated & muscle recruited – this includes progressive range of motion activities, (no passive stretching!) & then move up to movements that load beyond the repeated load that is expected in competition – hence the lunges, bounds, hops, strides, etc. This to recruit muscle for efficiency (over & above minimum for safe execution). Then rhythm needs to be established, which is sequential coordinated movement that is reflexive – all this serves to “activate” & potentiate the running motion. Warm up should also include error-proofing drills, like connecting chest to pelvis & with triathletes, overriding the shadow of the other 2 events on the run, like heel walks & crawling

6.       Finally a warm-up is JUST as much mental/emotional, as physical – it should connect the athlete to his body & bring him from whatever other activity & mindset he was in, to one that is optimal for racing this race; a feeling of self-efficacy on every level. A warm up creates focus, optimal arousal & a readiness to deliver a performance commensurate with current fitness & ability or even beyond

Hope this helps – developing the specifics for the individual requires some work, but a walk, a progressive run, some dynamic drills, strides & a prime run are the basic gist of a good pre-race warm up

Bobby McGee