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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
Foundation-Training-Athletes-199x300

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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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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Triathlon

My last season ended with racing at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Champs in Zell am See in Austria! What an amazing experience and a great way to finish off my first season of long course triathlon racing,

Overall it has been a fantastic year of training, racing and learning. After my big set back in February 2014, when I was hit by a car that left me with a broken shoulder and out of training for almost 6 months, I have worked my way back through hard and consistent training! Considering the circumstances I am more than happy with my achievements and the progress I have made so far. I also know there is plenty of room to improve and work on.

As I have progressed through the year I have learned a lot about myself, my body and how to connect with it to unlock your potential. Although I haven’t found the perfect approach yet,  I am surprised of what we are capable of doing and what mental boundaries and challenges we face. I think one of the most important things I have learned last season is the importance of the mental aspect in the sport of triathlon. As it is well know, mental strength is as important as physical strength when it comes to endurance sports.

Before you go into a race you set expectations and goals (usually a target race time or ranking). I think it is important to have specific goals when it comes to triathlons or life in general. On the one hand a goal can be a driving force that motivates and keeps you focused and on track. On the other hand a goal or expectation can also limit you or work against you during a race when things don’t go according to plan and you need to rethink and adjust your mindset.

When I was racing at the World Champs I faced that situation. I went into the race with high expectations of what I wanted to achieve. And I was well on track until the last part of the race – the crucial run that makes the difference. Until this point I felt really good, despite the though conditions on that day. I had no major problems but as soon as I started my run I knew immediately that it’s not going to work out as planned. That was a massive hit on my confidence, I lost trust in my capabilities, was mentally stressed and started to develop negative thoughts. The pain, tiredness, heavy legs, the heat all the negative things hit on me. I wasn’t mentally ready to deal with that and overcome these doubts and stay in the moment and develop positive thoughts!
My reaction at that point was, ” OK that’s it, your race is over, you can’t reach your goal, now just finish the run and get on with it. You at least own this to your supporters”

Pete Jacobs once wrote the following: “If you are putting expectations on yourself and during the race you don’t feel you are achieving them, there is only one way you’ll go, and that’s backwards. Staying mentally strong during a race means a clear mind free from stress, and that’s what keeps your body functioning at its best”. 

I think that’s exactly what I experienced. My mind wasn’t clear, I wasn’t in the moment and too stressed about my expectations. I am a big believer that only a clear and focused mind will allow you to perform at your very best!
After my initial disappointment, I am now very glad that I could experience that situation, I will learn from it, grow stronger and will deal with it in a better way the next time. If I face a similar situation (and I am pretty sure I will at some point) I hope that I am prepared to react in a better way.

So I am looking ahead to a very exciting next season. After a short break, I will settle my mind for the next goal, which is IRONMAN Austria in June 2016. I guess racing an Ironman distance will require even more mental focus and the right mindset to master such a race. I am very excited to take on this journey. I had a great last 12 months, with a lot of highs, great moments and important lessons learned. I can’t wait to get on my next journey, full of excitement of what is ahead of me. Keep an eye on my journal to find out more about my preparation for this race.

Be present in the moment, be mindful, relaxed and focused.

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Training

After finishing my last race end of August I decided to take a few weeks off training for a mental and physical break before I go into the next season. I wouldn’t call it an off season, as I still keep active and don’t turn into a coach potato or cookie monster eating junk food all day. It’s actually a very good time to reset your body and shift your mind a little bit away from swim, bike and run

The first 2 weeks after the race I cut back on physical training but spent some time reflecting how the season and the races went. I also started to make decisions in preparation for the upcoming new season and the races I want to do. Reflecting is definitely a good way to overcome post-race depression.

The hardest thing for sure is to let go of your peak fitness. After spending so much time and effort to reach your peak fitness it is a hard thing to do. But a few weeks of rest won’t do you any harm in the long run and the fitness will come back in no time after you start into the new training season fully recovered and rested.

To make sure I am able to gain back my fitness pretty quickly I put focus on the following things:

Strengthening the body – I do a lot of yoga and start to hit the weight room more often than usual. I use this time to improve my flexibility, balance and strength. For me this is fundamental to prevent injuries and to keep my body in good shape. I also get some massages to loosen up any stiffness or go and see a physio or chiropractitioner for a general check-up.

Nutrition – I keep fueling my body with rich and nutrient dense food. I make sure to get enough vitamins and minerals into my body. Due to the lack of physical activity gaining a bit of extra weight is normal and not of a big deal. I also use this time to get some blood tests done to see if I have any deficiencies that I need to be aware off.

Light physical activities – Apart from yoga and weight training I engage in some very light jogging and swimming once a week. This has to be very light and without any time or pace constrains. I  leave my watch and heart rate monitor at home and go out for a nice and easy jog after work, followed by a swim in the ocean. Any other light activities such as walking, riding the bike along the beach or playing golf are good too. The main thing is to move your body and get the blood flowing.

The preparation block
After a couple of weeks off from regular training, I start my preparation block which lasts for another few weeks. This is where I gradually get back into normal but easy training. The training in this block will be short and not very demanding. The aim is to start developing your aerobic endurance and speed skills again and to focus on weight training and injury prevention.

It’s also a good time to do some field tests for swim, bike and run to work out your heart rate zones and your LT (lactate threshold) which I use for setting up my workouts in the following weeks of training.

Once the Preparation block is over, I am back into full swing training where the heaving lifting starts to build a strong base fitness level.

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