Improving Running Economy

Improving running economy is a goal of every coach. There are two primary ways to achieve these gains. First, through bio-mechanical efficiency, and second via physiological improvements.

So, how does one begin to find these improvements? Video analysis of running mechanics is the first step. 

Using the video analysis program and tools of choice, you and your coach can look to ensure a number that a number of things are occuring:

  • Foot strike is under the center mass of the body
  • Good foot plant / contact - mid foot strike ideally.
  • No over-stride
  • Good shin angle and knee flexion
  • Running cadence of around 180-200
  • Minimal bounce and hip drop
  • Ensuring the “Three C’s”:
  1. Body is compact and linear.
  2. All appendages are connected
  3. An effective cadence in stride is in place

Once the limiters of your athletes run mechanics have been determined, you would begin to incorporate drills to remediate the flaws in running form. For example, working on the bio-energetics & functional range of motion of your athlete, while focusing on a under center mass foot strike, using harness & tire pull work.

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The end goal here is to allow the athlete to be able to run, all out, without compromising form. Depending on the limiters in question, your coach can assist with the drills to incorporate to ensure that your run is as bio-mechanically sound as possible.

Once your run mechanics are dialed, and mechanical economy is gained, you can then shift focus on to the physiological side of economy improvement:

First, begin to employ fractionalization in speed training. 

By this I mean a break up of the overall training distance to shorter efforts of higher intensity - sometimes up to race pace - with enough recovery between these efforts to maintain that intensity.  By incorporating varying prescriptions to work on all of the energy systems (aerobic, anaerobic, to VO2), one can facilitate the improvement of threshold HR and pace, lactic acid tolerance, and the ability to improve VO2 pace.

Then, by slowly increasing the distances covered at higher intensities and HR, we can then improve the overall anaerobic endurance and improve your race day pace.

Working on energy systems is massively important once the physical mechanics have been dialed in. Without working all aspects physiologically your pace will never increase along with your ability to hold faster efforts over longer distances. There are many ways to ensure that the energy systems are being worked properly. Including workouts such as tempo runs, speed-work at the track, "K-Pump" (Potassium ion) training theory, and many other types of higher quality workouts is key. And this includes recovery runs. Speed work and anaerobic sessions are important, but without proper recovery the body physiologically will not adapt to the work that is being placed upon it. If that doesn't happen, improvements may cease, or move in the opposite direction.

Obviously this is a complicated subject and is something that requires time, effort, and structured training prescriptions to achieve desired improvements. The types of workouts that can and should be implemented many. But depending on you needs and ability, a structured plan can be implemented to ensure that improvements come sooner rather than later.

Questions? Contact Dave to schedule up a free 30 minute consultation on the subject!

Recovery Smoothie

What better way to recovery after a long ride, or run, than with a protein and good-carb laden smoothie. It's sweet, refreshing, and helps you kick-start your post-workout recovery regime. Great whole-grains, potassium, and quality protein make this our go-to recovery shake or meal replacement. Thanks to JL Fields from the Colorado Springs Vegan Cooking Academy for assisting with all of our upcoming recipes!

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Training and Nutrition

As individuals are now deep into base-building phases, moving on to race-specific training, or in some cases are already beginning their racing season, nutrition is a topic that shouldn't be overlooked in regards to successful triathlon training. Not just race-day nutrition, but your overall nutritional plan.

I'm talking about properly fueling your body to train, recover, and race.  Triathlon training is not a diet. In order to perform at your highest possible level, and reduce the risk of injury, proper nutrition is key.

I hear far too many athletes talk about losing weight, cutting carbs and calories, in an attempt to get to their "race weight". Spoiler alert: I used to be one of them. My worst race of my career was when I weighed the least.  My best race? About 7-8 pounds heavier than what I thought I needed to be. Ah, what a little education can do.

Chances are, as a triathlete (or swimmer, or cyclist) you need more calories than you think each day. A balanced and well thought-out diet includes proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Yes, fats and carbs - don't be afraid of eating healthy fats and good quality whole grain carbohydrates. The percentages of each macro-nutrient will of course change throughout the year as you progress from off-season, to pre-season, and through your race season, but you need all of these macro-nutrients to ensure that you're maximizing the impact of your training and staying healthy.

My education as a triathlon coach, as well as my education in sports and performance nutrition, has really opened my eyes to what a proper pre-season, race-season, and off-season, diet can and should look like. Incorporating a well balanced, whole-food based, nutritionally sound diet during your training is critical. You'll train and recover better, and you'll race better as well.

Questions? I'm happy to help. Jump down to the comments and ask away.

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Tis the season - for over indulgence! Yep, the holidays are fast approaching. And I get it. Thanksgiving is such a great time to be with friends and family. It becomes pretty easy to have that extra glass of wine, and have seconds of your favorite dish. But it's simple to make some smart decisions on your food that day. So get yourself in the kitchen!

Whether you're hosting Thanksgiving, or attending a feast elsewhere, there are some great dishes you can make to ensure you're eating well and not feeling like you're depriving yourself.

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The Off-Season

It's almost upon us. The off-season. And unfortunately a lot of athletes don't know what they should be doing between their final "A" race of the season, and when they need to pick themselves up and start serious training again. 

I've written about the off-season before. You can read that blog post here. But I'll summarize, and add to it, today. So, what should you do when your season is over?

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