More Great Stuff from the F4 Coaching Staff

5 08 2009

From TRI Coach Heidi Smith’s Weekly Group E-mail:

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend and are enjoying our recovery week!  After we have finished our hard work from weeks past it is time to taper and restore our bodies for the upcoming race. During a taper period our bodies and minds can do all sorts of things.  We may expect to feel energized and itchy to race as the week go on, and although sometime we do, it is quite common to feel sluggish.  In the article on tapering for an IM, Mark Allen points out how many athletes tend to feel during taper time and tells tells us to Give yourself the luxury of this less-than-stellar feeling. It is just a signal that your body is repairing itself and getting ready for a big effort.” Read more below:

Taper is tricky because of what is happening internally when our bodies try to recover. When athletes start to give themselves rest, the system in the body that responds to stress (which is the system that allows you to get up for big workouts) starts to shut down. It is like working on the engine of your car. You cannot have the engine running at the same time that you are giving it an overhaul. You have to shut the engine off.

The same is true for our bodies. You have to shut the “engine” off for it to recover and charge up in the way that it needs to be ready for the big race. And when you do this, you will probably feel like you are out of energy, sluggish, and getting out of shape. THIS IS NORMAL.

Give yourself the luxury of this less-than-stellar feeling. It is just a signal that your body is repairing itself and getting ready for a big effort. We do this naturally each night when we sleep. We get a mini-taper. You sleep and you recover. You are not working out when you are sleeping.

But during the taper, a lot of the recovery is going to happen in the day when you are used to working out. This will require a readjustment of mindset. Allow yourself to feel lousy, out of energy, and sluggish. This is what a taper is for. Resist the temptation to go out and test your fitness just to make sure you are not losing it. As best as you can stick to the planned reduction in volume and overall intensity. This is the toughest part of a taper – the rest. …

For full article:

This article can be true; I know for me this is often the case.  One other article stated that 50% of people who were tapering felt sluggish while the other 50% were energized. There is no right way to feel.  The important things is to look back on hard work you have done and know that you will cash it in for a solid journey on Sunday.  Your job now is to rest, recover, stretch, pamper yourself…

For some of you this is your first Half and I am so excited for you!  I am tempted to say this may be my favorite distance.  The thing I love about the Half Ironman is that it is more like a journey than a “race.”  the Half is not something you just go guts out but you set a sustainable pace, and keep clippin away. When you think you’re feeling tried you’ll get a second wind.  If you keep your eyes open you’ll make a couple friends along the way.  We have worked on strategy for fueling and hydration as well as our mental training throughout the season.  We have invested in challenging workouts and races that have boosted our fitness.  Yes, you said it, you are pre-recorded for success!

I look forward to sharing the journey with you on Sunday weather you will be on the race course, volunteering (thank you!! you guys are awesome!!!!) or there in spirit.  I will be thinking and rooting for you!


From RUN Coach Anna’s Weekly Group E-mail:
Happy Recovery Week!
Some things to remember about recovery weeks:

1. It is helping even if you can’t feel anything.  As I was saying at the end of the run today.  Recovery is actually what makes us stronger.  Every time we workout, we tear down our muscles a little bit, and it is during recovery that the muscle repairs itself and gets a chance to grow back stronger.  So of course we all remember that from 8th grade health.  But the part to keep in mind is that although the 24 hours in between workouts during a normal week of training is important, it is also crucial to have slight longer recovery periods every so often as well.  Like this week!  Sometimes, our body does not a get a chance to repair everything back to 100% after each workout and some fatigue and deep tissue damage can linger. This week your body will get a chance to do not just the day to day repairs but a basic system over-haul if you will.  This will give it a chance to go in and actually repair any lingering damage that needed a little extra time and attention – stuff we often are not even aware is there!

2. Feed and take care of yourself just like you would on a pretty demanding week – give your body what it needs to do that repair work! Eat really well, try to get some extra sleep, and definitely hydrate.  Remember the gas tank analogy from today – don’t use all your fuel for the running, keep it for recovery purposes this week!

3. Use the extra time wisely.  Sometimes recovery weeks can make us antsy.  So try to be deliberate about how you spend some of your free time and extra energy.  Maybe look up new recipes for good running fuel meals, maybe make your own granola bars you can freeze and use for running snacks in the next couple of weeks, when you don’t have time and are tempted to grab something less healthy.  Maybe catch up on your training log, which has been neglected (hint, hint) or fill out that health form that you were supposed to give to your F4 running coach weeks ago! 😉  Maybe actually do your exercises for those shin splints and ice three times a day!  Buy new running shoes cuz you know they are old, and old sneakers can cause over-use injuries….Ah! how I could go on!  My point is, don’t sit around feeling antsy, if you feel the need to do something, do something fun that motivates you for your training even more!!

4.  If you are having trouble deciding whether to go harder or easier on a given workout this week, definitely go with easier.  Give yourself some extra walk-breaks if you feel tired, if you have had an injury that has been nagging take one of your X-train days as an extra rest day and stretch, roll and ice that injury.  If you are not sure how fast to be running, slow down!   Don’t worry what you will gain from the recovery far out weighs any fitness you think you are losing (which you aren’t by the way)  you will come back even stronger for it!

5. Talk to me! If you are having trouble taking it easy, talk to me! I will give you permission, and sometimes that makes it easier, so if you are waffling about whether to take an extra day off this week, or whether or not to go slower or shorter, send me an e-mail and I will be very willing to encourage you to take it easy! 🙂

Lastly, in case you did not catch the not so subtle hints earlier, this week would be a perfect chance to fill out that health form so you can get it to me next week, or buy new shoes, because I am going to start checking foot gear!

Some Thoughts also on Fuel/sports drink/weight gain or loss

1.  If you are feeling weak, light-headed, dizzy after a race – there is a good chance you need some water, electrolytes, food or all three.  Some ways to prevent this yucky feeling is to hydrate and fuel in advance of an extra long, or hard workout – I am not saying go to town three days beforehand on whatever looks or sounds good. but actually pay attention to the food you are eating and make sure it is nutritious and make sure you have a water bottle with you and you are hydrating beforehand.
After the run is a good time to keep drinking water, sports drink, and have a snack immediately, followed by a pretty nutritious healthy meal almost as soon as you can stomach it.  if you are trying to lose weight, this is NOT the right time to cut calories, you can be healthy, but make sure you give your body what it needs (more on this later)
2. What to eat/drink when/how…good questions and unfortunately, you are the only one who can answer those questions for you.  Some GENERAL guidelines are have some sports drink and/or goos and/or shot blocks or other fuel once your run exceeds an hour. Aim for a sports drink that has something in it other than sugar.  Try some of the samples Scott brings for us in the truck!  Just sugar will give you highs and lows which can sort of mess with your run or race.  Now the rest is up to you.  Try different drinks and see what you can stand – the point is to consume it, so if you hate it, and don’t drink it, I don’t care how much it cost it is doing you no good! So find something you like.  decide for yourself at what point you feel better having a sports drink as opposed to just water – maybe it is an hour, maybe it is only 30 minutes -each of us is going to vary a bit on WHEN a sports drink is a good idea. Also figure out what sort of food fuel you like, and when it starts being a good idea – maybe if you are running for an hour and a half or more you will need fuel.  Remember the point is to give your body what it needs before it actually needs it, so if you know you need a sports drink for anything over an hour, you start sipping that sports drink within the first 10 minutes of the run, so by the end of the run you are still going strong, you don’t just drink it after an hour has passed, same thing with food, if you know you will need fuel on the run, figure out at what interval works for eating and start eating when it works – that could be 20 minutes in to a 2 hour workout – but you know you will need that fuel later and need to get it started….Try lots of stuff, see what tastes and feels good, and please ask if you have questions!
3.  Weight loss and fueling for success.  I want to say right way I am not a nutritionist.  If you are serious about wanting to learn more about nutrition and training, I can recommend books and nutritionists are great to talk to!! But some basics:
a. Don’t skimp as a method to lose weight.  This doesn’t work for a number of reasons.  first our body is sensitive to not getting enough food, if it senses it is not getting what it needs, it slows down your metabolism, which makes you sleep and lazy and basically prepares to conserve energy and fuel.  Our fat stores are viewed as very important to the body and it will not give them up easily -especially if it is afraid you are starving.  So DON’T cut back on healthy amounts of healthy foods you know you should be eating…If you feed your body regularly healthy stuff, it will allow any speeding of your metabolism to happen naturally, which will burn more calories and will allow you to lose a few pounds if that is a healthy decision.
b.  Make sure you fuel properly for longer and harder workouts especially.  Again, don’t skimp, as these workouts will go less well if your body is lacking nutrition, you will not get the fitness benefit you were looking for, you will be more prone to injury and it won’t be fun! Know that after a workout like this your metabolism can stay elevated for hours! So if you are healthy you will burn plenty of calories without starving your body during the workout.
c.  A calorie is a calorie.  I know there is a lot of discussion out there as to what pace burns the fat and what pace burns carbs.  Yes there is some truth to that, but the easiest thing to remember is a calorie is a calorie, try to make as many of your calories good ones and you will feed good, and know that almost anything excess you put in can and will be converted into fat and stored regardless, so the balance is burn about as many calories as you consume or burn A FEW (and only a few) more then you consume each day to lose weight.  Yes, you might be running in the carb burning zone for a given workout, but the harder you run, overall the harder it is on your body and the more fuel it will burn, which means calories are being burned regardless, who cares where it comes from, it is burned! Plus those harder workouts keep your metabolism up for several hours like we talked about, so even if you are burning carbs in the moment, your body will probably resort to burning fat again after you cool down.
As always, let me know if you have questions!

Coach Adam’s Leadville Silver Rush 50

21 07 2008

Until yesterday I had never run 50 miles at once, let alone 50 miles of difficult trails betweeen 10,000 and 12,000 feet above sea level!

I had big aspirations heading into my first ultramarathon. My training went really well and I finished all of my long runs feeling really strong and ready for more. I had my fueling strategy dialed in (or so I thought), I had my shoes and gear spot on. I had an excellent taper with some shorter, faster workouts and felt all around awesome in the days leading up to the race. I camped with my wife, dogs, and 2 friends who were also running the race. We spent Saturday lounging in some comfy folding camp chairs with our feet up by Turquoise Lake while Alison did a training Xterra triathlon. I did a short jog (20 minutes) with some strides and accelerations and felt great.

Race morning arrived, it started early with a 4am wake up (the race started at 6am). I had a typical breakfast of instant oatmeal, however I made the decision to have 3 packets instead of 2 (I’m not sure how much of a role this played in my suffering but I can’t discount it fully, it just illustrates the point: DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING ON RACE MORNING!!!) I also didn’t end up eating until 4:30 by the time the camp stove boiled the water. I put on a thorough layer of sunblock, some body glide in those key areas, and my favortie shirt, shorts, socks, and shoes. I filled my bottles with my calorie filled drink of choice. I packed up a bag to be dropped at the halfway turnaround containing some more food and drink, a change of socks and shoes, and a fresh hat. We got to the race start half an hour early to scope it out and use the port-o-potties. It was about 45 degrees (chilly) with a few clouds in the sky. The race day high was about 75 degrees, much more comfortable than Boulder was I hear.

The race starts with a 250 meter dash up a steep sledding/alpine ski hill before turning onto the jeep/4WD roads that make up the course. There was a prize for the first man and woman to the top, an ounce of pure silver. I didn’t seriously think about going for it but I found myself in the hunt at the top of the climb (and still in Zone 1). I was in 5th at the top of the climb, but only the first place guy kept running, the others slowed to a walk and I found myself in 2nd place (quite higher than I expected to be. I focused on running smoothly and staying in zone 1 (I wore my heart rate monitor to assist me with this endeavor). At the first aid station 7 miles into the race I was in about 5th place and running strong, however I was having severe stomach cramps (I’d already thrown up what was left of breakfast and was having trouble holding down my drink, let alone the Shot Blocks I was planning to eat. After the first aid station is a big climb followed by a 4 mile gradual downhill on a dirt road. Once I started downhill my stomach got even worse, I was dry heaving and spitting up bile every time I tried to run at a decent pace. I slowed my pace and drank water only in an effort to let my stomach settle. I knew that without calories I wouldn’t last long. Your body stores about 2500 calories in the form of carbohydrate and a couple hundred thousand as fat. Walking might be about 70% fat/30%carb for me, but running is more like 60/40 or 50/50 (more carbs used as I go faster). At the 14 mile mark I was in 7th place with a time of 2:14 with 4 other guys. I was orignially hoping to finish in under 10 hours and in the top 5 or 10 overall. I was pleased with the position, but knew that I get stronger towards the end of long runs. If I could just control my stomach and get some food down I could pick it up and still meet my goals.

My stomach didn’t get any better over the next few miles. I lived for the uphills because my stomach didn’t jostle as much as on the dreaded downhills. The guys I was with at the 1/4 mark left me but no one else caught me before the next aid station, in fact there was a guy just ahead of me in my sights. We came into the 3rd aid station (20 miles) together. My stomach didn’t feel great, but I couldn’t skimp calories anymore so I tried to choke down some food. After the aid station is a brutal climb up to over 12,000 feet and then a brutal descent, followed by another brutal climb, then an even more brutal descent to the turnaround at mile 25. I was in 10th place with a time of 4:12 (still ahead of my goal pace) at the turnaround, very pleased with my effort given the circumstances. I changed my shoes and socks, put on a dry hat, refilled my Camelback with cold water, and switched my empty drink belt for a full one. My stomach still wasn’t right, so I thought I’d just continue choking down calories whatever it took and hope for the best. It is quite discouraging to be doing alright but know that you could be doing much much better at the same time.

Heading out from the turnaround things went downhill fast (although the course was going uphill). The climb, descent, climb, descent between miles 25 and 30 was brutal. I felt a bonk coming on, not surprising considering I’d consumed less than 800 calories and burned around 5000. A few people passed me but I held on to 14th place until the aid station (20 miles to go). Just after the aid station 3 people passed me on the descent. I tried to stay tough and run the downhills at least despite the sour taste and sloshing stomach. 2 more people passed me on the way to the aid station at mile 37. The last guy to pass me told me there was no one behind us and to tough it out to the finish. This was encouraging, until I got to the aid station (6:31 18th place) and a guy caught me. I thought to myself, he must’ve come from way back, I must be going really slow. I ate some pretzels and some watermelon because I was sick of puking up everything else, I decided to drop my drink belt and go on with my camelback and some shot bloks alone. The guy who caught me walked with me for a few miles. He was great company but I felt bad slowing him down. He left me and another guy paseed me on the difficult 4 mile gradual climb that earlier in the day was the difficult gradual 4 mile downhill that had been my initial demise. I was walking now, not even hiking, just walking, just trying to finish. I was nauseous, I was light headed, I was dizzy. Thoughts of heat stroke, hyponatremia, and rhabdomyolosis entered my head. I thought of quitting, I was scared. I would walkd for a few minutes, then stop with hands on knees to dry heave and suck some air. I kept walking. People passed me. Old men, young men, old women, young women. Everyone passed me and asked me if I was alright, or if I needed something. I could hardly respond that I was fine. I wasn’t fine, but I knew nothing they could offer would help. I felt myself slipping from 2nd place at the one mile mark, to what must have been a finish in the 40s or 50s. I decided I would do whatever it takes to finish. Every finisher gets a silver bracelet, I wanted that bracelet bad! I got to the final aid station (it took me over 2 hours to go 7 miles from mile 36 to mile 43. I was in a bad state and the wonderful aid station volunteers knew it. I sat on a chair in the shade of the tent and the brought me food and drink and refilled my Camelback. I decided that I would take a break, 20 minutes, half an hour, as long as it took to get some calories down, take in some salt, and feel up to finishing. My goal was 10 hours, but I had 15 hours to finish and get my bracelet. For 20 minutes I ate salted watermelon, pretzels, and choked down some caffienated Shot Bloks. I drank PowerAde (which is gross) and water. More people passed me as I sat there. After my break I got back on my feet and started walking again.

The last 7 miles are gradual downhill or flats. The next mile or so was more of the same, feeling lousy. Then something happened, I caught someone. I was feeling like death, I walked for 20 miles, and I caught someone. We walked together for a while and he mentioned he was shooting for 10 hours too and that we had 54 minutes to make it to the finish. I suggested we try jogging. We jogged a little, he couldn’t go for long. I felt surprisingly good. I said good-bye to my brother in bonking and took off. I RAN the last 5 miles fast. My legs felt like jelly, my feet felt like lead, but I was running. My stomach issues were gone. I was flying, I passed 4 guys before the finish and crossed the line in 9:58. Those last 5 miles were the fastest and best I’d run all day. I felt victorious, finally something positive to take from the race. I finished the race, got my finishers medal and silver bracelet and haven’t taken them off since (except while sleeping).

I learned a lot in Leadville. I learned that even the best laid plans don’t go according to plan. I know that no matter how prepared you are, sometimes you have to change those plans based on conditions outside your control (or inside). You must constantly adjust your goals based on circumstances. I learned what it feels like to bonk hard, and what it feels like to keep moving forward in a hypoglycemic haze. Most importantly I learned to not give up, sometimes just finishing is reward enough. I have a few things to change for next time, and an overall positive experience to build on. Hopefully my next ultramarathon will be more running and less walking.

Things to change for next time:

1) Eat a smaller breakfast longer before start time

2) Fix my unsettled stomach, I’m not sure why my stomach was so bad, but I don’t think I could finish another ultra with my stomach holding out on me like it did in Leadville

3) Take in more salt throughout the race, this may have played a role in my discomfort, as well

4) Some more long training runs at high altitude might have helped too

Good things:

1) I ran the last 5 or 6 miles really fast, the fastest miles of the whole day, and felt awesome, if only I’d stopped earlier to solve those GI issues…

2) I made the right gear choices, socks, shoes, shorts, Camelback, waist belt, no chafing, sun burn, or blisters to speak of

3) My legs/body held up well

4) I was fit enough and fast enough to compete

5) I was under 10 hours (which was my initial goal)

Practical Nutrition Tips for Training and Racing This Summer

25 06 2008

Posted by FastForward TRI Coach Michael Kelly

Nutrition is easily one of the most individual aspects of training and racing.  Every person has a different likes and dislikes, every race distance / intensity is different, and even weather can change your nutrition.  The key to success is understanding your baseline nutrition needs, practicing your nutrition intake religiously, and sticking to your plan on race day.  This is a long post, so I’ve provided a summary for those short on time to read:

1/2 Half Ironman targets (per hour): 200-300 calories, 30oz of fluids, 600mg of salt
Olympic targets (per hour): 150-250 calories, 25oz of fluids, 500mg of salt
Sprint targets (per hour): 100-200 calories, 20oz of fluids, 500mg of salt

Practice these nutrition targets on longer training rides and see what works for you.

If you’re interested to learn how it all works, here goes:

Bloated? Sloshy belly? Nausea? All may be symptoms of insufficient salt while racing. Without enough sodium your stomach loses the ability to absorb anything – water or calories. Everyone is different in this regard, but most people need MORE THAN 500mg of sodium per hour. Heavy salty sweaters may need 1000mg of sodium per hour or more. It doesn’t particularly matter how you get the salt – you can use salt tablets or even plain old table salt mixed in with your sports drink of choice. Your sports drink has surprisingly little sodium, check the label and supplement as necessary. You’ll find that the rest of your nutrition will be so much easier! Food will digest better, drinks will go down easier, and when you’re well hydrated and fueled, you’ll feel like a rock star!

Most of you are well aware of the need to take in some form of liquid while exercising. A good guideline is 24-28oz of liquid per hour, but it will depend on the conditions, with hotter days requiring more. Weigh yourself (w/o clothes) before and after a long workout. Multiply the number of pounds lost by 16. You should aim to increase your fluid intake by that many fluid ounces on your next workout. You’ll also need to increase your salt intake too!

You need two things to power your muscles: glycogen and fat. You can easily store over 50,000 cals of fat, but at most about 2,000 calories of glycogen. To ensure you start with 2,000 cals of glycogen, eat a good breakfast, and snack or sip on something until the race starts. While running or riding, you’re burning around 800 calories/hour, about 600 of which is glycogen (the rest fat). If you run out of glycogen, you bonk. Your stomach can convert about 300 calories/hour of food into glycogen. As intensity rises, your stomach can convert fewer calories. You can never convert as many calories as you are burning, but you can hold off bonking long enough to finish the race.

It doesn’t particularly matter what form calories come in: solid (Clif Bar), semi-solid (Clif Blok), semi-liquid (Clif Shot), or liquid (sports drink of your choice). Generally speaking, the more liquid the nutrition the easier it is to digest (convert), but everyone’s stomach is different and some people need something solid or semi-solid at some point during a long day to help settle the stomach. Use whatever works best for you, but stick to the general calorie guidelines above to get the most out of your workout. Talk to lots of people and try different strategies to find the winning combination that will become your race plan.

Practicing Race Nutrition
The best place to practice race nutrition is on your long rides and runs. Whenever possible, try to eat and drink what you plan to race with. There are so many variables (intensity, duration, weather, etc.) that it pays to practice under as many different conditions as possible to learn how your body reacts to nutrition and what works best for you. Before your race, try to spend some of your workout time at your intended race intensity because something that goes down well while you’re riding in Z1 may not go down as well in Z3. Finally, pay attention to how your body feels after your workout. Many of your workouts will be shorter than your race, so if you’re bloated (not enough salt?) or nauseated (too many undigested calories?), you may not do as well near the end of the race. Dial in your nutrition plan and take it for another test drive on your next workout.

Sticking to the Plan
When it comes to race day, you need to be disciplined. The excitement of racing leads many athletes to forget all about the plan until it’s far too late and they’ve already started to suffer the effects of malnutrition or dehydration or hyponatremia (too much water and not enough sodium). Make a plan, practice it, and stick to it on race day. Only if something starts to go wrong nutritionally on race day should you deviate from the plan. If that should happen, put on your troubleshooting hat and try to figure out, based on all your nutrition practice, what might be going wrong. Have I been eating enough? Drinking enough? Did I get enough salt? How does my body feel right now and what can I do to make it feel better? Especially in a long race, back off the pace for a little while and often your stomach will come around, start processing again, and you’ll be feeling like a rock star in no time.

Final Words
Nutrition is different for everyone. I’ve tried to lay out some general guidelines to serve as a starting point for you, but you may find that some (or all) of this advice doesn’t apply to you for one reason or another. That’s fine! Talk to other athletes, talk to other coaches, or talk to Bob Seebohar (Fast Forward’s nutrition partner) to get ideas about what might work well for you. Everyone has a different strategy, and by hearing lots of different ideas you’ll find the one that works best for you.

Eat Smart!

The Science and Art of Running

10 04 2008

Written by F4 Coach Scott Gurst (on his Birthday):

Once upon a time, there were no watches. No Garmins. No VO2 max or lactate threshold tests, no Zones 1 through 4, time trials or races. Our caveman and cavewoman ancestors didn’t know how fast they were running or what zone they were in when they were chasing down food that could still run away, or dodging the occasional saber-tooth tiger or wooly mammoth.

When you were a kid, and the doors opened for recess, you weren’t concerned as to whether you were going out too slow or too fast. You didn’t monitor your pace or heart rate. All you knew was that the swing set only had six swings, and if you wanted one, you had to beat a lot of other kids to the playground.

For much of your life, you ran purely on feel. You ran hard when you felt good, slowed down when you didn’t. And you probably didn’t spend too much time in evaluating yourself, and judging whether or not you had done a good job. You liked the feeling of running, playing games, being involved in sports. In fact, the only time you didn’t like running was when you had to run a mandated distance, with a whistle-bound gym teacher recording your time, which of course would never measure up to those classmates blessed by nature with that fascinating but elusive gift called athleticism.

But at some point, you got older, and your goals changed. (That’s not a bad thing at all. After all, you would look silly sprinting for the swing set these days.) In addition, technology changed, along with the knowledge base about the science of running and the physiology of the human body. Suddenly, there were a lot more tools available to collect data, and a lot more knowledge about how to use that data to get faster, improve your running, and be able to run smarter, and more efficiently.

Your watch now helps you keep accurate split times, monitor your heart rate, and set off alarms if you are out of the proper zone for your workout. Your Garmin wrist-top computer tells you exactly how fast and how far you are running, tracks the elevation profile for easy download to your computer, and can even generate a virtual running partner that you can compete against on your runs. Your iPod can by synchronized so that it interrupts your pre-programmed motivational run music to tell you how far you have gone, or how much running you have left. Treadmills can be programmed to run at certain paces for certain distances at certain percentages of hill grade. Lactate threshold tests can tell you the heart rate at which you stop processing lactic acid efficiently, and generate a spreadsheet of zones for the most efficient use of your training time.

All of these great advancements in technology and knowledge can indeed help you to become a fitter, faster, smarter, and more efficient runner. But if you pay too much attention to the science, if it stops becoming an aid, and starts becoming the main focus, you risk losing something extremely valuable. You risk losing the art of running.

As much as we might surround ourselves with technology, all of the gimzos, gadgets, and spreadsheets can not replace one of the most important pieces of data we can have when running, which is, “How are you feeling?” There is no substitute for that, no piece of data or instrument that can tell you precisely how you are feeling at any given moment. How can a watch know if you’re having a good day? How can a Garmin know how you will react to the weather and course conditions? How can a spreadsheet know how tough you are?

What happens if all the data shows that you should be running at a 10 minute pace on a particular day, but for some reason (which you may not know), you feel great. Maybe the weather is perfect. Maybe you’re really well rested. Maybe you’re confident, energized and excited by a workout the previous week. Perhaps the data isn’t completely accurate because you had an off day at the time trial or LT test. If you run at a 10 minute per mile pace simply because the data says that you should, you’ll be missing a great opportunity, and not really gaining as much benefit as you could from the workout. What if you really are capable of running faster, but hold yourself back, just because your Garmin said so?

Conversely, suppose you feel like total crap. Would it make sense to push yourself to a certain pace if it wasn’t the right pace for your body or the conditions on that day?

The fact is that while data is good, it is not the gospel, and doesn’t tell the whole story. Heart rates rise and fall depending on the temperature, humidity, stress levels, time of the month, etc. Mile pacing targets are good on flat ground, but become inaccurate if the course is hilly, or the wind is blowing. As you become more fit in your training, the data you got a few weeks ago might become dated. Unless we test you every morning, the you’ll never be exactly sure where your Zone 2 ends, and your Zone 3 begins. If all you do is structure your runs by watching the device on your wrist the whole time, you might be missing out. The only way you can really know is to gain the ability to feel it. And like anything else, that takes practice.

In reality, that’s what the data is for. It provides an estimate, enough to get you close, so that you can practice what it feels like to run at different paces, in different zones. If you’ve never trained before, the data is invaluable. But over the long term, one of the goals of collecting data is to get you to the point where you don’t need it all the time. Wouldn’t it be great of you could tell how fast you were running without having to look every ten seconds? Wouldn’t it be great if you ran a race where the mile markers were placed incorrectly, and you intuitively knew that were the case, because you could trust what you were feeling more than the people who carelessly set up the course?

Alan Culpepper says that some of his best runs come when he’s not paying attention to how fast he’s running. If that’s the case for an elite athlete who competes at an Olympic level, might it also be possible for us? Sometimes, there’s only one way to find out. Every once in a while, leave your watch, Garmin, heart rate monitor, and iPod at home, and just go run. Remove the clutter and absorb yourself in the experience.

Recovery Based Training

9 01 2008

Written by FastForward- Denver Coach Brian Snow

The Recovery based programs of today are designed to give your body the ability to maximize its efficiency by building up and then resting.  Picture a mountain climber.  At first he/she will get to a certain point in the climb (a level) and then need to rest.  Next he/she will make camp (downtime) and then plan for the next ascent (moving up to a harder level).  Once they reach a “Base” they then move to the next level and so on….  By the time you have climbed the mountain you have taken the time to build up and rest and then descend on the back side!!  

Why am I telling you this?

Let me relate to you my story: When I first started getting back into the swing of things I thought that running more miles, like my old cross country and track days taught me, would make me stronger and faster.  I was always running the distances and long mile runs with a routine structure and I thought that I was doing my body good.   I simply thought:  

More miles would make me better! NOT SO!


Like a “Mountain Climber”, the trick to improving is to allow for your body to recover (go from one base level to the next).  You will notice that most marathoners and/or distance runners will train for a period of time (roughly 20 weeks) towards a race and then take time off. During this time they are actually doing a variety of distance and track workouts (this breaks up the routine which is important) with planned recovery (usually every 3 to 4 weeks).  In other words, they start off easier, just like a mountain climber would up to the first base of a mountain.  Then the workouts will increase in the intensity  during the middle part of the program and again you will notice that about every 3 to 4 weeks the program has built into it a recovery period (where you would make camp and then rest a bit before moving on to the next level).  Then about the last 4 weeks of the training before the race (again this is just a general statement of time) the program DESCENDS with about a 3 to 4 week taper/ recovery. This is a HUGE factor with running that will allow your body to catch up and repair.  It is vital and is really the MAIN focus of a recovery based program.   SO, my suggestion is simply to start out with doing the program like it is designed.  If you feel that you want to add a little more to it then I suggest adding no more than about 10% more to the workout or chat with your coach.


Here is what I usually see.  Runners who are self guided or self taught or have never been part of a professionally designed program often will train themselves into:

1) THE ROUTINE RUT – Continuing to do the same thing.  Which means runners will train within their means because it is familiar and comfortable. Doing what you have always done will generally NET you the same results every time.  As a coach, I know this when a runner will say to me, “I always seem to run the same pace every time” or “I don’t get it!  I put in the mileage and don’t seem to get faster or feel stronger.  Usually it is because too much of the same thing has become routine and they train the body to run WITHIN their means (a comfort zone).

2) RUNNERS FORGET TO MIX IT UP – Tempo Runs, Fartlek, and all the interval training stuff…. I wanted to elaborate on these future concepts; however they cross over into our conversation here.  So let me take a brief moment to talk about these concepts.   INTERVAL training is where you will make MONUMENTAL gains with regards to endurance and times.  I discussed earlier that when I was getting back into shape that I was putting in the “miles” and I thought that this was the best thing.  However, I was really “enlightened” during a simple “2” mile race in downtown Boulder!! What was really happening:  I WAS DYING!!!!  I went from SNOWMAN (cool, calm and collected) to BURNING -UP -SUPER- NOVA, WISH I WAS DEAD MAN, in about 10 seconds flat!!!   It is because I never worked on pushing my threshold with the shorter track workouts, tempos or fartlek and taking the proper DOWNTIME that my body needed.  I just did what I always did. The Variety is important!!! Many runners, who stick with a routine, primarily putting in numerous miles, will only be able to train to a certain level and they will then they PLATEAU out.   With a recovery based program you will actually be able to break through these plateaus or rather “glass ceilings” on your way to a better performance.  

In the end you may feel that you are not putting in the miles and you may feel that it is not enough, but with the combination of workouts, rest and breaking out of the routine you will have greater success in the long-term!



12 11 2007

FastForward Sports Head Coach, Scott Fliegelman, Turns 40!


Today, November 12, 2007, we, your family, friends, fans and one trusted loyal employee wish you the very best as you turn 40! You have achieved such greatness and we cannot wait to see what the next 40+ years bring you! But for now let us see how it all started…

Philadelphia cheered the day you were born, mostly because the Eagles, with QB Norm Snead, actually won a game beating the Los Angeles Rams. Your dad thanks you for waiting to arrive until the game was over!


Your drive and competitive nature to excel started at age 3, when you rode your first two-wheeler into the mail box. (Now that was some single speed cyclocross action!) Although you hurt your shoulder and scared your mother to death, you got right back up on that two-wheeler and kept going…a philosophy you practice and preach today.

We are happy that you traded in going to sleep at night with your toy “Johnny” for your loving wife Liz, who we are sure keeps you safe from any bad dreams. But for those really scary nights; your parents still have your Dennis the Menace doll.

Were your hamsters Pete and Repeat as well behaved as your dog Tali?

You and Basketball? At age 8 you started to play on a basketball team coached by your dad. By age 12 or 13 you were clearly the best player on the team but a slight “height impairment” would soon have you giving up your hoop dreams to become an Ace on the tennis court!

Choosing tennis over basketball proved to be a smart move for you. Even though you cried all the way home when you lost your first open tournament at age 13 (6-0 6-0), you came back with a vengeance two years later, played the same kid in the finals of another tournament with the same score in your favor! Before long you won the 16 and under tournament in the state of Delaware.

Your love of tennis led you to be captain of both your high school and college (Rider University) tennis teams, playing #1 singles. It also helped you to win your wife an iPod in the first and only Wild Oats Tennis Tournament.

Do you remember your first lesson in salesmanship? It came when you were shopping for your first car. You and your dad went to a dealer who was insistent on selling the car for $16,000. Your dad told the salesman “forget about it!” and left the dealership. Devastated, you arrived at the second dealer to buy the same car but for less. This time, you drove off the lot with a 1984 red Honda CRX. Your dad taught you the key was to shut up, because the first guy to speak usually loses!


In college you were president of your fraternity. This love of leadership and the group environment has continued throughout your life and is apparent to all who know you and especially to the members of FastForward Sports who are exposed on a daily basis.

Lastly, your great sense of humor must be influenced by the movies “Airplane”, “My Cousin Vinny”, and “Elf” which you have seen countless times.


· Philadelphia Flyers returned to the “City of Brotherly Love” as an expansion team.

· Led by Wilt Chamberlin, the 76er’s won the title ending the Boston Celtics string of 8 consecutive championships. The Sixers beat the San Francisco Warriors in six games and posted a record 68 win.

· Playing in Connie Mack Stadium the Phillies went 82-80 finishing 5th in the National League

· The “King”, Richard Petty, won his 3rd NASCAR championship.

· Billie Jean King defeated A. Jones (6-3, 6-4) at Wimbledon.

· Movies of 1967:

The Graduate

Bonnie and Clyde

Cool Hand Luke

The Jungle Book

You Only Live Twice

· Song of the Year


· Record of the Year

Stranger in the Night-Frank Sinatra

· Topping the chart the day you were born

Daydream Believer– Monkees

· Famous People who share your birthday:

Joseph Coors (’17)

Nadia Comaneci (’61)

Tonya Harding (’70)

Charles Manson (’34)

Grace Kelly (’28) (also born in Philly)

Sammy Sosa (’68)

David Schwimmer (’68)

Neil Young (’45)

So on this day we wish you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY and thank you for being our friend, coach, leader, mentor, husband and son! You have blessed each of our lives!

A beautiful Day for a Race!

15 10 2007

Written by FastForward Coach Adam St. Pierre following the 2007 Denver Marathon.

I woke up Friday morning feeling awesome! I went for a tune-up with Tyler at Mountain Acupuncture and she made me feel even better. I knew Sunday’s race would be something special… then I checked the weather report. Sunday’s forecast looked like a runner’s worst fear, cold and rainy. Cold and dry I can deal with, warm and rainy is OK, but cold and rainy is not fun. When you can’t stay dry you can’t stay warm. The weather forecast made me rethink my apparel choices. I was going to wear a singlet, shorts, gloves, and hat but with the addition of rain to the cold I decided to switch it up.


Saturday I woke up feeling great, rode my bike with the F4 runners doing Moab or MCM out by the Rez, home for a nap, and then to Denver to pick up my bib, chip, and registration package. At the expo I decided I needed to wear tights to keep my legs warm during the race. Unfortunately Pearl Izumi was out of tights in my size. I decided to wear a pair that I’ve run in quite a bit but don’t really like because they are too big. With bib and chip in hand I went home and put my bib on my race number belt and my chip on my racing shoes. I like the race number belt because it gives you flexibility to change clothing without having to worry about moving your bib from article to article. Ate a great dinner of roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, carrots, and spinach. Yummy, I was sure to eat as much as possible.


I woke up at 4:45 Sunday morning to conditions as described 40 degrees and rain. (Oh ya, I stayed up way too late Saturday night watching the Red Sox) I ate some oatmeal and a glass of OJ. I took a hot shower to wake up/warm up (today is the first day all year we’ve turned on the heat in the house), then got dressed, tights, long sleeve polypro shirt with singlet over top. I checked yet again. That my race day essentials were in one bag, a dry change of clothes was in another. At 6:10am Alison (my wife, super fan, and one woman support crew) and I left Boulder to go down. We found parking 2 blocks from the Adams Mark Hotel, which was 2 blocks from the start/finish area. A bathroom stop at the hotel lobby (a very gracious host to thousands of cold wet runners), and on to find F4 for group warm-ups. I found the tent, but no familiar faces. Eventually I met up with Scott who informed me they moved shop to a bigger, warmer tent and had already left for warm-ups. I jogged for 5 minutes on my own, did my dynamics, 5 more minutes of jogging then to the Adams Mark to get off warm-ups and go to the bathroom once more. I got to the start line at 7:45 am and hopped in by the 7 minute mile pace sign. The celebrity charity runners left on their 2-mile run at 7:53, then the wheelchair racers at 7:57. At 7:59 I bumped into Brian Klink of F4 Denver and a few other F4 runners, Kevin is the only name I remember. Brian was going to pace Kevin to 3:10 so I decided to run with them, as did a friendly guy named Jake who was standing nearby. At 8:00am the gun went off and it was off to the races.


It was great running with Brian and the group in the early miles; Brian kept us running at about a 7:10 pace, with some variation on ups and downs. We measured our pace with good old mathematics and a footpod as Brian’s GPS wouldn’t work due to the heavy cloud cover (don’t be too reliant on these finicky machines on race day, if you can’t feel your pace at all you are in trouble when your battery dies or the clouds/tall buildings/trees roll in). We stuck together, and picked up some new runners including Laura who was running for TNT, for about 6 miles averaging around a 7:12 pace. I felt awesome!!! I was happy with my apparel options, had gotten Gatorade at each aid station, and was chomping at the bit. I decided to pick it up a little bit. I had a Hammer Gel, drank some water, and picked it up a hair. I quickly caught and passed many folks and got a boost from the F4 Funkstation (thank you so much to you hardy volunteers braving the cold and rain to support your fellow runners (does volunteering for races in awful weather fill up your race-karma bank double, I think so!!!))

I caught up with Jake and ran with him for a while, but I think we were all going a little too fast. Jake dropped away and I went on alone. I crossed the halfway point in 1:33. Around Mile 16 I realized I too had been going too fast. I slowed down a little bit on a long gradual uphill to try to recover some so I could still make my goal time of 3:10. Eventually Coach Sunni caught me and dropped me. A few minutes later Coach Brian caught me, but Kevin had dropped off the pace. Jake caught back up too at this point. We ran together around and through Wash Park until mile 19 or 20 when Laura and Jake picked it up a little leaving just Brian and I to finish the race. I must say the miles of running with wet numb feet and hands took its toll. Around mile 20-21 I really wanted to stop, walk, borrow a bike, hitch a ride, anything but keep running. With 5k to go I checked and saw that I had 20 minutes to finish to make my goal of 3:10, I picked it up, leaving Brian behind. I caught back up with Jake and left him behind at around mile 24. I picked off a few more runners in the next few miles. At the 25 mile mark I checked my watch and saw that I had 1.2 miles to go and 7 and a half minutes to do it in, difficult but not impossible. I gave it a shot and sprinted to the finish despite seeing the finish clock reading 3:11 already. I crossed the line in 3:11:55 or so, 3:12 a 5-minute marathon PR.


Now the real fun began, I kept walking through the shoot, got my finisher’s medal, let the volunteers take the chip off my shoe, got a bagel and a bag of food and met up with Alison. Based on the amount of shivering I was doing we decided to neglect the post race festivities, including my free hot dog and Coors Light, and go to the Adams Mark to put on dry clothes. With dry clothes on we went to the car and headed home, eating and drinking the whole way. I was a little disappointed that I missed qualifying for Boston by 2 minutes, just 5 seconds per mile faster. But I know that I did almost everything right. I don’t think my mistakes cost me any time in the end. I’ll just have to keep on running and get faster for the next marathon I do, although at this point half marathons sound a lot more enjoyable! Given the conditions I feel very happy with my effort today. When we got home I curled up in my sleeping bag in my favorite reclining chair with my feet up. I catnapped, and ate soup, and drank tea, and shivered until I was warm and toasty.


That’s my race recap, I hope you can learn from my mistakes and the things I did right.

Things I did right:

  • Good clothing choices
  • Comfortable pace for miles 1-6
  • Picked it up for last 5k
  • Hydrated/ate early, backed off when I started to stomach cramp, good energy throughout
  • Mistakes
  • Too fast miles 7-16
  • Up late night before (damn baseball game)