For all those racing Ironman St. George 70.3 this coming weekend, you may all be wondering the same thing.... How hard should I push myself in a race?
Q: How do I know how hard to push during a race? I want to give everything I have but still make it to the finish line in one piece.
A: That is the million-dollar question and a tough one to answer. It takes athletes years of racing to find the balance between leaving it all out on the course and going so hard that they blow up before the finish. The short answer is experience. Consider that a pro might race 10 to 20 times per year for 10 years; that’s a lot of chances to get it right or wrong. And everyone gets it wrong at one point. If you race long enough, you will have a day that gets ugly and ends with a long walk home, or worse, a trip to the med tent. Those races definitely make for tough days, but they can be valuable learning experiences. So how to learn where the edge is without wasting a key race? Try it out in training or at a low-key, shorter race. Go out a little harder than you think is wise and try to pinpoint your personal limits.
A test set in training can act as an indicator of fitness and give some good guidelines for where your effort should be in a race. Go to the track and run 10x1K at goal pace for Olympic-distance race training or head out for a timed 20-miler to see if that marathon pace is possible. (The goal is to reach failure, so if you don’t make it through the set it just means you did it right.) Now you have an indicator of what is realistic. On the bike, wattage can be a very helpful tool. I train with an SRM to give me constant feedback of what kind of power I can sustain over different distances. Get used to the feel of each effort during training and you can be a good judge of pace and power in races.
On race day you should be rested and fueled properly, so ideally you should be able to sustain a slightly higher maximal effort than in training. This is where a time trial or a low-key road race in your training can be helpful. Compete in a local 10K or 40K bike TT and be prepared to go a little harder than you think is wise. Push yourself to sustain the pace as long as possible and note where the wheels come off. These barrier-breaking workouts will help you discover where your absolute limit is—it is probably higher than you might have thought. They can also help you identify what type of athlete you are: speed- or endurance-oriented. Typically, men seem to have higher power and speed and need to work on endurance; they may find they go out too hard early on and have to slow down considerably. Women tend to be more naturally suited to endurance events and maintain a more even pace, but they often find they reach the finish line with energy to spare. By using these smaller races and test sets we can figure out our strengths and what we need to work on, whether it is starting off more moderately and saving some juice for the second half, or getting on it right away and pushing hard throughout the whole event. I fall into the second category: I need to go as hard as I can straight from the gun otherwise I naturally settle into a pace that is too slow. In my best races I have hit a point where I think the effort is way too hard and I won’t be able to sustain it. Then I just keep hanging on (and it hurts like hell) but surprise myself at the end with a new PR.
The goal in a race should be to measure your energy throughout so you cross the finish line using the absolute last drop of gas in the tank. This takes time, experience and practice. And just remember: No true athletic career is complete without one epic blowup story to tell around the campfire.
Wishing all of our patients good luck racing St. George this weekend, from Dr. Tom Fletcher's office in Murray, Utah.
Don’t let training take its toll on your body—four things to do after every workout so you’re ready to take on your next tough effort. Rub It
As if you needed another excuse to get a massage, here’s one more: Experts say that rubbing down muscles after exercise is as effective in preventing soreness than aspirin or other pain medicine. In a recent report in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, Calif., write that massage slows production of chemicals in the body linked to swelling, soreness and inflammation. Not only that, a good rub down increases blood flow and promotes the formation of mitochondria, which our body needs to create energy. So go ahead, book some time on the table after your next hard effort (or just grab your foam roller and self-massage). Your muscles will thank you.
New marketing has launched coconut water into to the mainstream, but it’s actually been around for ages as a way to rehydrate rapidly. “In World War II, they used coconut water instead when they ran out of IV fluids,” says Alan Kipping-Ruane, a USAT coach and official. Reaching for this thirst-quencher post-workout can restore electrolytes, potassium, and sodium lost through sweating. Zico Coconut water—which packs more potassium than a banana in every bottle; 15 times more than the average sports drink—has recently started sponsoring triathletes including Greg Bennett, and Laurel and Rebeccah Wassner. Not crazy about coconuts? Chocolate milk is another idea recovery drink.
Dipping yourself into a tub full of frigid water may be the last thing you want to do after a chilly run or ride, but an ice bath is a proven method of preventing injury. In fact, one new study says cold therapy can reduce soreness by up to 20 percent when compared with passive post-exercise rest. Just can’t do the dip? Have hope: The cryosauna may be coming soon to a spa or PT office near you. Currently used by elite athletes like distance runner Dathan Ritzenhein, this is a chamber that works to reduce the skin’s surface temperature to 30°F in just seconds, which then sends a message to the brain to increase blood and oxygen flow to your core. When you step back into normal temperatures, blood vessels expand, resulting in an instant energy boost, skin rejuvenation and quick muscle recovery—without the pain of an ice bath.
Active recovery is as important as your hard workouts. So even if you wake up completely spent from that interval session the day before, peel yourself off the couch and hit the gym. “I’ll do some very light movement to help speed recovery,” says pro triathlete Ryan Bates. “A five-minute spin on the bike, or a few laps of breast-stroke in the pool just to get the joints moving.” Agrees Kipping-Ruane, “I recommend doing a spinning workout or walking on a treadmill at a high incline (like 15 percent grade at 3-4 mph) for 10 to 20 minutes. It’s tough, but it gets the legs going.”
The single most important head to toe exercise for triathletes is arguably the deadlift. The deadlift is second to none for enhancing performance and becoming a bulletproof triathlete. The deadlift strengthens the posterior chain, requires adequate flexibility and joint mobility, demands proper spinal mechanics, and augments shoulder blade strength and stability. If you are not currently deadlifting, it’s time to make a change. I am confident that by the time you are done reading this piece, you will better understand why the deadlift should be a mainstay in every triathlete’s training program beyond the swim, bike,
The benefits of the deadlift became readily apparent to me after focusing on this exercise in preparation for the 2011 triathlon season. I managed to add 30 watts to my one-hour time trial effort without making any other drastic changes in my program. Keep in mind that I was not using inordinate amounts of weight either. While I always knew the deadlift was an important compound movement, I never fully appreciated that adding this one exercise would have such profound effects. Given the fact that most triathletes are wary of the deadlift for fear of low back injury and/or putting on excessive mass, I’m here to tell you that it could be the missing link in your training and what stands between you and a PR or even the podium.
Before simply going to the gym and hammering out a bunch of deadlifts, there are several key considerations worthy of discussion relating to equipment and technique. Let’s first discuss equipment needs associated with the deadlift. The first piece of equipment you’ll need is a thin-soled pair of shoes with a minimal (<6-8mm) heel to toe differential, if one at all. Some strength and conditioning specialists even suggest going barefoot to enhance proprioception since the sole of the foot is heavily populated with mechanoreceptors. Needless to say, however, extreme caution should be exercised to avoid dropping the bar or weights on your feet. Other options include racing flats, wrestling shoes, and Chuck Taylors. The second piece of equipment is a trap bar (AKA hex bar). This bar is important when first learning the deadlift, as it’s more forgiving relative to a straight bar, used during a conventional deadlift. This is particularly relevant for middle aged and older triathletes, who often lack ankle dorsiflexion (ability to progress the leg over the foot) from years of running. The trap bar is also ideal for those with limited flexibility and longer femurs because it helps to minimize unwanted and potentially injurious compensatory motions such as spinal shearing.
Once the necessary equipment has been secured, the deadlift, like any compound movement, is all about technique. It has been my experience that most triathletes shy away from deadlifting as part of their strength and conditioning program for fear of injury or because they have never received proper instruction on deadlift technique. In an effort to avoid embarrassment in a public gym setting, most triathletes consequently stick to what they know while excluding the deadlift altogether.
Let’s work from the ground up. Once you step into the trap bar or hex bar during the initial setup, you should position your feet roughly shoulder width apart while keeping them straight. Avoid going too wide because otherwise your knees will contact the bar during the lift. By assuming the proper stance width, you’ll be able to adopt the appropriate “knees out” position during the lift, thereby creating greater torque and stability at the hips. Now that you’re in a good position, you’re ready to descend to grasp the bar. During the descent, your hips should flex such that your bottom moves in a backward direction or towards an imaginary wall about a foot behind you. (This is one of the most important cues in coaching the deadlift because it is imperative to realize that the deadlift is not a squat, but rather a pulling exercise.) You should think about your hips moving back and forth rather than up and down. During the early part of the descent, anchor your knees outward as your hips flex and your bottom moves back. Take in a big gasp of air before or during the descent to pressurize the lower abdominal region and increase spinal stability. Once you secures the bar in your hands while maintaining a neutral spine with your elbows locked out, you’re almost ready to draw the weight off the floor. One way to ensure that the elbows are taut, facilitating a “chest up” position, is to think of someone asking you to show them the logo on your shirt. During the ascent, don’t simply think of pulling the weight but also about putting force into the ground. The hips and knees should both extend at the same time. As you approach the top of the range you should think of fully extending your hips while avoiding overarching the low back. One of the most common cues is to think about pinching something between your butt cheeks. Don’t forget to not forget to firmly draw the shoulders into a down and back position to maximize recruitment of the scapular stabilizers.
In terms of frequency, load, sets, and reps, everyone will have different needs based on a slew of factors. Rather than elaborate on this topic, triathletes are encouraged to seek out the help of a certified strength and conditioning specialist, who has experience in working with endurance athletes. It should be mentioned, however, that I am deadlifting throughout the year to varying degrees. I also incorporate “speed deadlifts” into my routine as I approach the competitive season rather than focus on heavier loads.
In closing, triathletes who take the time to understand and master the deadlift will reap great benefits from this compound movement. The deadlift is arguably one of the most important exercises to enhance athletic performance despite being perceived as an inappropriate exercise for endurance athletes. Always strive to emphasize form and technique over resistance to avoid unnecessary injury. I am confident that this exercise in and of itself will allow you to find that extra gear, which you always knew you had but were previously unable to harness. As always, wishing you purposeful and mindful training. See you on the road.
Symptoms - Pain in the back of the heel, the tendon just above it, or possibly up to where the calf muscles form a "V" on the back of the leg. The pain can be mild to debilitating.
What is Happening - The Achilles is a thick, ropelike tendon about four inches long connecting muscles in the lower leg to their insertion points at the heel bone. The most common injury location is the muscle-tendon junction, where the muscles converge into the tendon. The most serious Achilles injury is to the tendon itself. Inflammation of the tendon, called tendinitis, and chronic inflammation with fluid build up, called tendinosis, are the most common of this type.
Prevention - The best way to prevent Achilles Tendinitis in the first place is by building limber lower legs. This involves flexibility and strength. An underlying lack of flexibility, especially in your calf muscles, can be a primary cause of Achilles injuries.
Employ dynamic rest - With Achilles injuries, swimming and biking are good options, if the exercise is pain free. Running is likely to aggravate the injury and slow recovery.
Ice it - Applying ice to the area for 15 minutes four to six times a day can help reduce inflammation and swelling.
Stretch it - If you can stretch without pain, stretch the area and your other muscles in your legs.
Strengthen it - A tendon like the Achilles starts to hurt because of the load put on it. If you want to reduce the loading force, build up the muscles affecting the load, so they can take the brunt of it. Exercises like calf raises, squats, lunges, and so on are good exercises.
Another treatment option is Active Release Technique or ART by Dr. Tom Fletcher in Murray, Utah. ART can get you back on your training schedule fast
Shin splints are among the most frustrating injuries because they make a basic act, running, impossible. The term "shin splint" denotes more than one lower-leg ailment, but let's focus on the more common bone-related shin pain.
Symptoms - Pain in the bony part of the shin, along the tibia, during and after exercise. It can also be a tightening pain in the soft, outside, muscular part of the shin, usually bad enough that running becomes impossible, and then subsides when you stop running.
What is Happening - Bone-related shin pain, can range from a stress injury, irritation of the bone, to a stress fracture, which is an actual crack in the bone. It is generally the result of body mechanics, amount of activity, activity intensity, and bone density.
Treatment - See a doctor for proper diagnosis. Stress injuries can become stress fractures, which can sideline you for a long time. Dr. Tom Fletcher at Wasatch Health Solutions can diagnose and treat shin splints. You can also employ dynamic rest. Find another activity that doesn't load your legs, swimming and cycling are good choices.
Try switching to a shoe that limits pronation, gives arch support, and/or gives some cushion from the impact.
If bone density is a problem, try upping your calcium and vitamin D intake, about 1300 milligrams of calcium and 400 micrograms of D per day.
When increasing running mileage, follow the 10 percent rule. Never up your weekly running mileage by more than 10 percent of what you have been running.
Strengthening your hips and core will improve stability while running. This will help you improve body mechanics and foot strike. You could also attend a run clinic to help improve running form and body mechanics.
Remember that Dr. Tom is an ART specialist in Murray, Utah. Athletes are a
An ankle sprain occurs when too much stress is put on the ligaments in the ankle, which causes them to stretch or tear. Lateral ankle sprains, the most common variety, occur when the foot rolls inward. Medial ankle sprains, in which the foot rolls outward, are less common, but can result in a fracture because the ankle joint does not allow for much medial mobility.
Ankle Sprains, if not taken care of properly, can keep runners benched for several weeks or months and severely impact training.
Treatment - Most of the swelling following a sprain occurs within the first 24 hours. With any type of ankle sprain, it is important to take care of it right away by using the RICE Method (rest, ice, compression, elevation).
Rest the ankle by stopping your activity and taking care of your injury.
Ice the sprained ankle as soon as possible to help control swelling and alleviate pain. Ice for 15 minutes every two hours.
Compression can be accomplished using an elastic bandage, compression socks, or a compression sleeve.
Elevation of the ankle joint will help your fight against gravity. Elevating above your heart will decrease swelling and pain in the ankle.
Cross training exercises - Avoid running until you can run without limping or favoring the ankle. The following exercises are good ways to keep your fitness while not being able to run:
Most sprains can be treated at home, but come see Dr. Tom Fletcher in Murray, Utah if one or more of the following exists:
Injury rehab isn't the only thing runners are interested in. It would also be nice to speed up recovery periods between hard workouts. After all, the more often you have to delay a hard tempo run or track workout because you're not quite recovered from the previous one, the fewer key workouts you can do.
Training, nutrition and recovery are the big three determinants of performance, says Gilad Jacobs, vice-president of athlete technologies at NormaTec Sports, which makes an inflatable recovery "boot" that Whitfield uses in his quest to minimize his between workout down time.
Training and nutrition have long been explored by coaches and athletes. It's recovery that's the vast, unexplored country. "Everyone is running in the same gear," Jacobs says. "Everybody is eating more or less the same thing, putting in the same miles. Recovery is coming up as the number one difference-maker."
It's not something you can run in. Or even walk. Imagine hip-waders, connected to an air pump and a control box about the size of a toaster. The pump cycles air through five chambers that compress in rhythm to move venous blood and lymphatic fluid from the foot to the calf, then to the knee, etc., until it's squeezed all the way out of the leg. The cuffs don't just force spent blood and lymphatic fluids heartwards. They also relax in the right sequence to allow fresh, arterial blood to rush back.
“My body deals with a lot of aches and pains over the course of a 162 game season. Using the DMS Stimulator on a regular basis speeds up my recovery time and helps with the flexibility and mobility I need to perform at the highest level. DMS gives me the comfort of knowing that my body will feel refreshed even after a long day at the ballpark or a tough workout in the gym. DMS is quick and easy to use and I would recommend it to any athlete looking to perform at their best.”
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
If you are also looking to perform your best at baseball, swimming, running, cycling, golf, triathlon, or any other sport, come see Dr. Tom Fletcher to speed up recovery. Dr. Tom is located in Murray, Utah and is also .
Dr. Tom Fletcher carries a useful tool for injury treatment for runners, cyclists, swimmers, crossfiters, and some auto accident cases. This tool is The Deep Muscle Stimulator or DMS.
What Does The DMS Do? - Much of muscle pain stems from various conditions, strain, lactic acid build up, scar tissue, etc… The DMS uses percussion, mechanical vibrations that reach deep into the muscle tissue to stimulate proprioceptive functions. No other device on the market matches the effectiveness of the DMS.
The DMS provides deep muscle tissue with kinetic forms of percussion and concussion vibration, which in turn facilitates the patient or athlete with the benefits of:
The Deep Muscle Stimulator is known to increase the circulation of blood and flow of lymph. The direct mechanical effect of rhythmical pressure and movement used in DMS can dramatically increase the rate of blood flow. The stimulation of nerve receptors causes the blood vessels to dilate, which also facilitates blood flow.
DMS can help loosen contracted, shortened muscles and can stimulate weak, flaccid muscles. This muscle “balancing” can help posture and promote more efficient movement. DMS is also being used for Integrated Manual Therapy and Musculoskeletal Dysfunction.
It is possible to do more exercise and training, which in the long run strengthens muscle and improves conditioning. DMS also provides a gentle stretching action to both the muscles and connective tissues that surround and support the muscles and many other parts of the body, which helps keep these tissues elastic.
DMS also aids recovery from soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains. This is possible because the growth and repair of tissue are accelerataed by efficient circulation in the injured areas and appropriate stimulation of the healing tissues.
Who Uses the DMS? Dr. Pivaroff developed the DMS to be used in all physical therapy clinics, chiropractic offices, hospital rehabilitation, sports trainers and massage therapists. The DMS can be used on trigger points or you can isolate a specific muscle group. The DMS is used to treat the entire body. It is an excellent tool to be used pre and post rehabilitation and workouts.
As a reminder, Dr. Tom Fletcher is in Murray, Utah. He treats auto accident cases and athletic injuries for those of you training for events like the Regional Crossfit Games coming up
Fix small mistakes before they cause big problems.
There is more than meets the eye to running training. Ensure that you aren't taking shortcuts on the efforts into training for your events. Below is a list of a few common mistakes that are made.
Slipping Off Still Tied Running Shoes - You may be tied after that long run or set of intense intervals, but don't work your shoes off while they are still tied. Doing it multiple times per week, those ankle twists add up and can damage ligaments and tendons in your ankle. Try toggle or stretch laces, or untie your shoes for easy on and off.
Hand Carrying a Water Bottle - Holding a water bottle in one hand may cause imbalance while running. This imbalance may change your stride or run form and lead to injury. Try wearing a fuel belt, which puts the weight near your center of gravity, making it less likely to alter your gait.
Overstretching Hamstrings - You may think that stretching should be uncomfortable or should be done by stretching your muscles to the maximum, but this may cause a tear in the area you are stretching. Try stretching muscles gently, never force a stretch or hold it to the point of discomfort. You can also try easy dynamic stretches.
Skipping the Squats - Runners often have leg muscle imbalances that only targeted strength work can correct. Strength training can also improve stabilizing muscles to help prevent injury. If you are short on time, try combination moves to work your upper body and lower body at once, such as a thruster.
Giving Blood Before a Big Event - It can take four to eight weeks for red blood cell counts to return to normal. You may not notice it on casual runs, but it may hurt your performance if your are trying for a personal record. Make sure to give yourself an eight week window to fully recover before racing.
Wearing Bad Casual Shoes - Unsupportive or worn-out non-running shoes can strain the plantar faciae. High heels tend to tighten the calf muscles and Achilles tendons. Look at your shoes from behind and from the bottom, if the soles lean in or out, or if the soles are worn down, get rid of them. Choose comfortable shoes with good arch support and avoid high
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