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Blog, Training

In the first part of this serie I talked about the concept behind Foundation Training and why it’s useful in particular for triathletes. If you haven’t read the article please go ahead and check it out first before you continue reading – Founadtion Training for triathletes – Part 1

In this part I would like to talk about how I personally use Foundation Training in my daily routine. I am a big fan of daily routines and the Foundation Training excercises are great as a morning kick start routine. I keep the excercises short, as I don’t want them to consume too much of my time in the morning. 

The reason why I’d like to do these excercises in the morning after I wake up is to loosen up those muscles in my lower back. It’s also a breathing excercise at the same time, so I can combine some muscle strengthing and activation with some deep breathing. 

It’s important before you begin doing the excercises to properly study and learn them. They are not difficult but it needs a bit of training first to make sure you do them correctly. The right posture is very important to get the most out of the excerise. 

I have purchased the Foundation Training Videos from their website. You can download them for $59 from hereThey teach you every single excercise in a very simple and easy to understand way. If you don’t want to purchase the videos I recommend to check out some youtube videos or visit the website www.vancesimpson.com where you’ll find good introduction materials.

My morning routine

To keep things simple, I basically run the following 6 sequences in the morning. Each sequence takes about 1-2 minutes. I stay in each position for 3 slow deep breaths. 

After I finished the sequences I usually engage in some more deep breathing excercises and some medidation. I find these excercises to be really helpful in strenghtening my back, in particular the lumbar area. I noticed some improvements already after doing the excercises for a few weeks.

Does it translate to better performance in triathlon? Well I can’t answer this question yet but as I get stronger in my back it has definitelly helped in my cycling where I sometimes experienced some lower back tightness on those longer rides. I feel my overall posture has improved as well. 

As I will continue with Foundation Training I will keep you updated how it goes and provide some more insights in my next post of this serie. 

If you have already used Foundation Training and have some personal impressions, please feel free to share them with me, as I am curious how other people go with this training. 

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Blog, Training

In this 3 part series I want to talk a little bit about my experience with Foundation Training and how I use it to help me with injury prevention and to increase performance. I just came across the foundation training method while listening to one of Ben Greenfield’s podcasts where he was talking about it and how it can help athletes and everyday people.

Get more grounded and become a more resilient and injury free athlete
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The main idea behind Foundation Training is to live pain free, restore movement patterns and improve performance if you are an athlete. It’s a safe and effective excercise program to help you change the movement patterns that are hurting you. The excericses are simple and desigend in a way to naturally heal back pain. You do not need any special equipment and it can be easily added to your daily life. What I instantly liked about the concept was that it’s easy and short in duration and can be added to your existing training program. It only takes a few minutes of your time every day, either in the morning, during your work break or before you go out to do your training. I find it as a good addition to Yoga as well. Foundation Training is all about your core, basically anything that connects to your pevlis, including your hamstrings, glutes and adductor muscles. It teaches all those muscles to work together through specific full body movements and breathing patterns. In times like these where a lot of people suffer from back pain issues and sitting all day infront of a desk, this training addresses all these issues and helps you banish back pain and to restore nerve and lower back function to be able to live pain free. It basically trains your shoulders, back, butt and legs – the large posterior chain muscle groups. The creator of this training, Dr. Eric Goodman, explains on his website that the Foundation Training is:

“(an) innovative movement improvement program designed specifically to help you roll back the damage done and, more importantly, to help you become that pain-free and more powerful person we all aspire to be.”

 

A quick briefing on Foundation Training

For a further good introduction to Foundation Training, check out the video below with Dr. Eric Goodman

What’s in for you as a triathlete

We all know that “core” work is important and should be incorporated into your strength training routine. Very often when we think of “the core” we just think about the abs. Yes they are part of it but they are just one of many muscle groups that define the core. For endurance athletes a strong core contributes to better athletic performance and strengthing the muscles that surround the spine needs special attention. The Foundation Training does help here with activating and strengthening of the primary muscle groups that are important for triathletes. In the next part I will share some of the excercise routines that I use before training and in the morning. If you want to learn more in the meantime about Foundation Training, here are some good links for some follow up reading and watching.

 

https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2016/07/what-is-foundation-training/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZcZenvWBlg&feature=youtu.be

http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2014/01/03/updated-foundation-training.aspx

https://www.amazon.de/True-Form-Foundation-Training-Sustained/dp/0062315315/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470741250&sr=8-1&keywords=foundation+training

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Journey, Training

I am now well and truly in the middle of my Pre-Season training phase and training has started to “feel real”. I have been cruising through the first phase but I now things are getting tougher each week.

As I progress through each week my training volume and intensity has started to go up gradually. Each week the sessions progress from the previous week and I start feeling some level of fatigue creeping in. The focus has started to shift towards “real” endurance, strength and some high power work. I have started to hit some progressive mechanical endurance sessions on the bike, heavy big gear work, coupled with some heavy strength-endurance tempo hill repetitions in the run. Swimming has become very challenging and requires me to stay truly focused in the sessions to make sure I execute the sessions as prescribed. It’s very challenging especially when you have to do these sessions by yourself.

Functional strength training has also progressed and more load has been introduced. The exercises have started to become more “complete” which means you have to engage your whole body to execute certain movements. The foundation and technique is set, so now it’s time to add load and some explosive power movements into your routine.

With the increase in load and volume, it’s critical to monitor the level of fatigue and make sure I don’t accumulate not too much. It’s a fine balancing act. So far all good. I am still staying on top of things.

The other big challenge is to stay on top of your nutrition. It requires good planning to make sure you have nutrition available after each session. Skipping a meal is not an option. Discipline and planning is key.

I have decided to skip a few of my early season races. I have found that they distract me too much from training and add additional stress without adding much benefit to my overall training goals.

My last race here in Australia will be next month on the 19th of March. I am really looking forward to this race and it’s going to be a first “checkpoint” for me to see where I am at with my fitness.

From March onwards I can fully focus on my training as work will take a back seat. I will have to prepare a few things for my move back to Europe. Beside from training I will start to work on a sideline project that will keep me busy for a while and fill the gap between the training. Once back in Europe, I will spend a month in Majorca. I have heard it’s a pretty neat spot for triathlon training 😉

Other than that I will enjoy my last weeks here in Perth, soak in the beautiful weather, the beach, go on a road trip and catch up with friends. Can’t believe that the time is drawing to an end here :-((

Thanks for reading.

Cheers Andy

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Journey, Training

I will post more regular updates on how my training is going in preparation for the IRONMAN race in June. This is part of my fundraising challenge as well, so I want to keep everyone who is interested in my journey up to date on how everything is going.

I am now 13 weeks into my new coaching program and last week was the end of the 1st training block (post season).
I am now transitioning into the next block of training which will last for another 3 months (pre season).

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I follow a periodization training approach which I explain in more detail in one of my previous posts, Periodization – How to plan your training seasonSo far I have to say I am making good progress and my body is adapting to the new style of training. It took me a few weeks to get used to it but I can see already some benefits and improvements. It’s a gradual progress and the goal is to prepare your body to adapt to the training load, volume and intensity to get you in race shape. I really enjoy what’s been throwing at me so far haha. Also the education that I receive as part of the coaching is such a big value! And it’s fun overall as well!

The training so far has been fairly “light” and not too challenging. The main challenge was to get used to the new training methods. Especially with swimming where I have started to use a lot of tools to help me working on my body position and to become more streamlined and efficient with my strokes.

On the bike the focus has been on neuromuscular recruitment, making the connection between my brain talking to my body, by doing high and low cadence work, with most of the work in the lower end of the training zones (Z1 and Z2).

The running has been similar to the bike – neuromuscular recruitment, building up those muscle fibres to get used to more running. I have found that it’s frequency and quality over distance and volume. My longest run so far, was a 2hr trail run. Looking at the training ahead I don’t think I will be doing too many long runs. That’s an interesting approach and I am keen to see how my body will adapt to this to get me ready to run a full marathon.

I can see some good improvements in my swimming and cycling already. Very happy with that. Overall I feel very good, I am not too fatigue, recover quickly and haven’t had any injuries.

In the next months it’s all about getting really FIT!!! It’s going to get more challenging, more workouts, more sessions, more intensity and also a ramp up in the volume. The focus is definitely on swimming and functional strength work over the next weeks and months. There will be some very challenging sessions for me in the pool. For the running part I will start adding more strength and speed work and I will see more HIIT workouts for both the bike and run.

For anyone who is interested here are a few statistics from my post season training block

Post season stats

 

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Blog, Recovery

Quite often when people hear the word recovery in sports, they jump to the conclusion that it’s just an excuse to make training easier.
In fact, recovery is not a shortcut to improve your performance in any way and it’s not making your journey to become a better athlete any easier. What I have learned is that recovery is an enabler to train more consistently and harder. Consistent and hard training is the fundamental element for better performance, so recovery is your key to unlock that door.

There are different elements that make up recovery in your training.

The first one is your training plan and how it incorporates recovery. A smart training plan will allow enough room to integrate recovery on a weekly, monthly and whole season basis.

Another important element is your lifestyle. Some things are out of your control to change or influence so you want to look at two aspects that you can control. Sleep and nutrition. They are key elements and should never be neglected. Get enough and good quality sleep, make it a priority and make sure you eat enough and healthy.

The next one are recovery modalities that we can use on a regular basis and incorporate into our training program.

Here is a list of my preferred methods that I use on a regular basis.

  • Massages: Get a massage on a regular basis. I prefer frequency over duration. So once every 2 weeks. Try different ones such as remedial deep tissue, trigger point, thai, sports massage etc…
  • Acupuncture: A good alternative to a massage, good for pain relief and also good to clear energy blockages.
  • Hot and Cold therapies: Big fan of this, I use both quite regularly. Having cold showers on a daily basis and sitting in a hot dry sauna after a workout. Great way to wind down.
  • Compression gear: I use it after a big workout, usually not during racing. Always a must wear when travelling on a plane.
  • Foam rolling: I use foam rolling rather than stretching to release muscle tension. At least once a week I do a longer foam rolling session.
  • Trigger point balls: Mainly use it to treat specific areas such as glutes, upper back and neck to release stiffness and knots
  • Kinesiotape: Good in combination with compression gear post workout to increase the blood flow and reduce inflammation
  • Massage stick rollers: A very handy tool to have in your bag when travelling. Can’t get as deep as a foam roller but good for calves, forearms, necks and hips.
  • Yoga and meditation: Both are great ways for stress relief. Should be part of every training program or life in general 🙂

If you are serious about endurance sports and performance, recovery should be high up on your list and not just an add-on to your regular training. Make it a priority!

There is a lot of good information out there on the web and for me personally it’s a lot of trial and error. You need to find out what work best for you. A very good resource that I refer to quite often when I want to try out new things and geek out a little bit is Ben Greenfield’s Recovery guide. It’s worth checking out as it gives a very broad overview of recovery methods, even though some of the methods described might be a bit too extraordinary or simply too expensive to afford.

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Coaching, Journey

I took some time to think about how I want to approach my next triathlon season. So far I have been self coached with support from local coaches from my triathlon club and swim squads in Perth. With success, they all helped me to achieve my goals last season. At this point I have a solid foundation, a bit of experience and I am now in a good position to take the next steps forward.

The following things are important to me when it comes to coaching and training:

  • Have a training program that is tailored to my needs, allows flexibility and fits into my life rather than sit on top of it
  • Have a pool of coaches around me that I can ask for advice
  • Education: I want to learn and gain more knowledge in the field of endurance sports
  • A social network: I’d like to be able to train with other people, join squad sessions and exchange ideas with fellow athletes

I decided to join the PurplePatch coaching program which is run by Matt Dixon and his team in. I am very excited about that! I first learned about Matt Dixon’s training methods after reading his book The well build triathleteI have already adapted some of his methods in my training which have worked out well and which make absolutely sense to me. Apart from the personalized coaching and customized training program I receive, I get access to the purplepatch athlete community, training materials, weekly chats and an education program.

Matt’s training philosophy is a little bit different which I really like. The focus here is on Endurance, Strength, Nutrition and Recovery and he puts a lot of emphasis on education as well. He wants his athletes to learn more about the science behind his methods and to gain more knowledge in the sport. That resonates a lot with my philosophy, so I am looking forward to take on the journey with Matt and his team.

Another important aspect for me is to stay connected with my local coaches and squads and to integrate some of their sessions into my training program. I think it’s great to have a team around you but at the same time have your own training program that is tailored to your needs. I am pleased to be part of the Stadium Triathlon Club here in Perth. They offer a great training environment and quality coached sessions, as well as a strong social network that helps to connect with fellow triathletes. It’s a great place to meet people and make friends while training.

Swimming has always been a limiter for me but after I have started to train with former Olympian Gold Medalist Neil Brooks and his squad at Team Brooks this year, I have not only improved my swimming but also gained more confidence in the water. This has also improved my cycling and running at the same time. Being part of a strong swim squad with the right coach is very important if you want to improve your swimming. Also, it’s way more fun to get through a tough swim session with your mates rather than battling through the pool lane on your own!

Another new addition to support my training, in particular my running, are the guys from the Front Runners team lead by Rafael Baugh. These guys are the experts when it comes to running and it’s nice to train with the best runners in town. They are specialized in coaching, education, movement analysis and rehabilitation of runners. They are also physiotherapists, biomechanics experts and sports scientists. So I will be in good hands when it comes to my running.

For me triathlon goes beyond swim-bike-run and a good emphasis is put on strength conditioning training, increasing my flexibility, movement patterns and training the mind. Hence I am glad I’ve found an awesome Yoga teacher in David Laidlaw (the Phoenix) who helps me to control my body and mind. Yoga has become an integral part in my every day life.

I am confident in my coaching network and looking forward to take on my next season, with the big goal of racing my first Ironman next year in June!

Stay tuned, I will keep posting updates as I progress through my season.

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