Sunday, June 1, 2014

3 Bike Trainer Warm Ups For Specific Efforts

Don't overlook a solid warm up!  Athletes', who are widely strapped for time, often like to skip right into a workout.  Sometimes, coaches and pre-defined workout plans are too vague in outlining exactly what a good warmup is.  The warmup is an important part of the workout and, done right, will improve the quality of the work to come. Without a good warm up you could find your legs feeling flat during your workout, and sometimes have trouble holding higher cadences.  Starting a workout feeling this way can take a till mentally, and inhibit the quality of your workout. 

A good warm up will:
1.  Heat up your muscles, and get the blood flowing to them, preparing them for the work ahead. Possibly, even helping minimize risk of injury. 
2. Prepare your joints and muscles for proper cadence and effort during your workout. 
3. Wake you up mentally, and give you an idea of how you are feeling for today's workout. 
4. Sometimes, if your not feeling quite fresh, a good warm up can work the soreness out of your legs, and wake them up even if you didn't think it was possible. 

In planning a solid warm up, remember to make it relevant to the elements of the workout ahead. For example, if your workout today will include climbing drills, you should incorporate some short climbs in your warm up. If you are doing intervals at Lactate Threshold, you should include a warmup with short intervals slightly above LT. If you are testing FTP, or going to be doing intervals above FTP, you should include some of those short efforts in your warm ups.  Those short efforts will help you get the benefits, we discussed above, out of your warm up. 

So here are 3 of my go to warm ups for specific bike trainer efforts. 

1. Warm up for hill climbing
2' soft pedal
30" soft pedal 100+ cadence
1' soft pedal
1' soft pedal 100+ cadence
30" soft pedal
5' build 60-80% FTP 85-95 cadence
1' 80% FTP 60 cadence
1' soft pedal
2' 80% FTP 60 cadence
1' soft pedal
4' 80% FTP 60 cadence
1' FTP 60 cadence
5' soft pedal 

2. Warm up for LT efforts (most steady state workouts)
2' soft pedal
30" soft pedal 100+ cadence
1' soft pedal
1' soft pedal 100+ cadence
30" soft pedal
5' 70% FTP
5' 80% FTP
20" FTP
40" soft pedal
30" FTP 
30" soft pedal
30" FTP
30" soft pedal
30" FTP
30" soft pedal
30" FTP
5:30 soft pedal

3.  Warm up for FTP or efforts that will include intervals above FTP
2' soft pedal
30" soft pedal 100+ cadence
1' soft pedal
1' soft pedal 100+ cadence
30" soft pedal
5' 70% FTP
5' 80% FTP
20" FTP
40" soft pedal
30" FTP 
30" soft pedal
30" FTP
30" soft pedal
20" FTP
10" 110% FTP
30" soft pedal
10" 110% FTP
5:20 soft pedal

Coach Meulen

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Vibram USA $3.75 million Settlement...

So... my last post was about my come back from running injury. I took a bit of flack for my stance on run form, and soon after my blog post it came to light that Vibram USA had settled a lawsuit against them. In the settlement Vibram agreed to escrow $3.75 million dollars to refund people for shoes, and they also agreed to quit making claims that their shoes prevented run injuries. In light of the settlement I wanted to clear a few things I think I may have left open in my last post. 

First of all, I need to mention "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!"  What I mean by that is if an athlete is running pain free in current form, and their form isn't inhibiting any progression of performance, it doesn't make sense to fix it. 

Secondly, I want to make the point that changing run form is risky. The risk needs to be worth the reward. In my case, my run form lead to multiple injuries. It was worth the risk changing my run form to prevent further injuries. Being Vibram USA is not making comment on this, for legal reasons, I think a lot of people are forgetting the risk involved in changing run form. Unfortunately, it was probably inevitable that people switching to the Vibram shoes were probably going to make changes to abruptly, and add to injury problems. After all, we have been running with more and more support ever since Nike and Mr Bowman started making shoes to alter natural run form. Not to mention, the general population if runners is experiencing more injury than ever anyway.  Making the change back to abruptly was certain to cause problems for some people. 

Thirdly, I want to be clear I'm not promoting Vribrams in any way. In fact, I don't think it's even wise for myself to run in them at this point in my recovery. My objective was to move more toward the natural run form the company and it's products promote. 

Lastly, I want you to remember things aren't always as they appear. At face value, the settlement by Vibram USA seems to discredit the company and in turn, debunk the whole idea of returning to a natural run form. Being my full time job is in the financial industry, I believe I have a more in depth understanding of these things. Vibram is a private company and not a whole lot of financial information is available. However, during their lawsuit against counterfeits it was brought to light that 2010 revenue was $125 million. To put that in perspective, the settlement in dollars was only 3% of annual revenue. Their marketing plan, including making claims of lessening run injuries, was getting old and run has probably run its course. My guess is Vibram was ready to move on for that strategy anyway. So it was probably simply a business decision to make the easy settlement, move on, and find another strategy to sell shoes. Vibram stands firm that it was not an admission of guilt. 

In conclusion, I want you to remember that sometimes business decisions can take away from what's really best for the consumer. If it's not broke, don't fix it. However, don't be afraid to move toward a more natural run form if that's what you need to do to put a stop to recurring injuries. Don't let Corporate America fool you. As always, act under the guidance if your doctor, a therapist, and or a coach. Change is risk that needs to be balanced, and it's best to do it with the help of professionals. 

Coach Meulen

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Searching for that perfect run form

I've been doing a LOT of soul searching in this area lately!  Running was something I thought I was good at. Before I started training and racing I turned to running in order to lose weight. It was the easiest and most convenient thing to do....or so I thought. 

After I lost some weight, and discovered triathlon, it was time for me to run again. I was never a fast runner. When I played basketball and baseball in High School my friends used to make fun of how slow I was. It was kind of a joke how I "chugged" along looking like I was putting in a big effort, but was going no where. It wasn't till recently till I figured out running should be more effortless than that!

As I continued with my triathlons I actually started to enjoy running. The lighter me was faster. I finished my first marathon at 3:44 and eventually ran a half marathon at 1:34. While not the fastest guy, I was consistently running top tens in my age group with most my running efforts. 

Then my world came crashing down. After I broke my collar bone in a mountain bike mishap, I was at a physical therapist. In doing his job he asked me if anything else hurt, or was bothering me. I mentioned how I was fine, but getting old and my feet hurt when I got out if bed in the morning. Little did I know that it wasn't me getting old at all!  It was the injury all runners/endurance athletes dread...plantar fasciitis!

I continued going to therapy for the PF and took a little break from running. I religiously did all the exercises and treatments I was supposed to do. It seemed to be getting better. But, when I started running again it came back. I took a break and kept doing the therapy more, but it came back again!  It also reared it's ugly head in my other foot. So then I had it in both!

Every year countless runners get the dreaded PF. Many sources say it's the most common run injury. Recently, it's come more to light with athletes in basketball and baseball as well. Why?....we can speculate all we want, but the simple fact is that nobody teaches us how to run correctly. To make matters worse, the shoe manufactures market products to is that prohibit proper run form, and reinforce bad habits. But wait! It gets worse. They've been doing this for years!  So are feet are weak to begin with and keep getting weaker. 

So what do we do?  First off, see a doctor and get it properly diagnosed. They will likely give you orthotics that will even further support your feet and limit proper movement. But that's ok. Once you have PF you need the rest. Really bad cases can take more than a year and sometimes even hurt when cycling. With the orthotics and after your cleared to run again is where you need to start. 

Change that running form. Learn to stand tall, look forward, drive your knees and balance your hips. Lean forward and shorten your stride, raising your cadence. Running should seem effortless. You shouldn't hear your feet banging on the ground. Loosen up those shoulders and relax. Let your mid foot strike the ground first, and roll the foot forward pushing off with the toes. 

Start small!  Don't be afraid to run a couple miles a few times a week to start. Use the 10 percent rule, and error on the conservative side. Stay away from speed work for a while, and just run and enjoy for a while while your body gets used to it. Take 3-4 weeks of this before you start ramping up volume for training. 

Here are a couple of articles out there that really help with run form. READ THEM! And get that correct form down. You'll likely be really sore in the calves for a while so don't forget to start slow!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Training Camp Revelations 2014

First, I have to thank my coach Tony Zamora for another great training camp. For information on training camps by TZcoaching you can check here .  First, I'm blessed to have the opportunity to get away for a week, and travel somewhere nice to get a lot of good riding in. I can't say enough about the TZcoaching camp in Monterey, CA. Second, I have to thank Chris Burnham, at Burnham Coaching, and Frank, at Bay Bikes. Chris, for the helpful seminar on mobility, and Frank for the bike support all week. Lastly, I want to thank Tony's wife Michelle, and my wife Anne for all the SAG support, and for putting up with a bunch of cyclists like us for a week on our rides. 

There's a lot of debate about the necessities of training camps. I always hear a lot of athletes grumble that they can accomplish the same things in their own training at home. Possibly.....but will they?  Especially this year, with the nasty cold Chicago weather we had, and extremely limited times to get outside and ride, I know I wouldn't have had the opportunity to get on my bike this early and this often. Not to mention the opportunities you have to train and talk with coaches about anything you need, and have support for extra long or hard rides. Being that I struggle with overuse use injuries myself, I especially enjoyed working with Tony and Chris on mobility during our down time. Besides those things, it was just great to get out of my normal environment, and train some place that had mountains and hills worth mentioning. 

What specifically do training camps do for my training? 

Well, last year I came back from camp a much stronger rider. The mountains in California made the little rollers in Illinois seem like nothing. It gave me something to train for during the winter, and keep me motivated to get in those long trainer rides leading up to camp. It challenged me at the perfect time of year to climb harder and go faster than I normally would. It put a perfect training peak in my training periodization schedule. Putting me out there with other cyclists and coaches also pushed me harder than I would have mentally been capable of on the trainer at home. There was one ride I physically put out an average power output only a few watts shy of my previous functional threshold power for more than 4 hours!  Being out on the road and challenging myself to keep up with others at the camp made that possible. Lastly, talk to me in a few weeks!  I'm exhausted! as I should be!  The benefits of my efforts should be appearant in a few weeks as I recover from camp. I'll expect to start the riding season with a higher FTP and improved aerobic endurance. 

What did I learn from training camp this year?  

First, I learn a lot about myself and how far I can push myself. As I mentioned before, just being here with other riders and the competitive spirit pushes you. I have the power data to record and learn from those efforts. But I was also pushed by the different terrain/environment. Our Fremont Peak ride was so much climbing, and so steep, that the last two years I've tested up it I put out more than 10% more power than I tested at on the trainer during the winter leading up to it.  The quest to the peak, and constant need to crank the pedals over to keep moving forward, forces you mentally to show yourself what you are capable of. 

Second, I always learn about nutrition and fuel for long efforts at camp. It's a perfect opportunity to dial in your nutrition, and if you have questions there are coaches there to ask. 

Third, I learned about my diet off the bike!  Going out to eat with the other riders didn't workout so well for my stomach. About mid week I started having some stomach issues. I'm sure it was due to the fact I was eating things my body is not used to eating. I learned I need to do a better job with my food choices, while I'm away from home, to keep up with my own well being. 

Fourthly, I learned a lot about mobility and nutrition from Tony and Chris at Chris's new studio at Bay Bikes. Chris started the day with a talk about foam rolling, and other devices, to help us recover and break up adhesions we create with all our hard training. I knew the importance of this before, however, it was great to get some new ideas for recovery and rolling routines, see the latest devices out there, get Chris's suggestions on how to use them, as well as have Tony/Chris show me what I should be doing for myself on a daily basis to stay supple. 

Lastly, I learned to love training a little bit more again. Let's face it, it's been a long hard winter for most of the country this year. And for myself, life has gotten in the way of my own training this off season. TZcoaching training camp was just what I needed to come back home fresh and full of ideas for my own training, and for clients'. As I write this on the plane ride home I've already gone through and jotted down tons of thoughts for making this year better for myself, for TZcoaching athletes, and Lifetime Fitness athletes' coming out on our weekend training rides this year, and for potential private clients. I can't wait to get home and start a new year of training!

Questions?  Feel free to comment or email me at

I'll leave you with a few pics from camp. But stay tuned to for more pics. We have tons of pics to go through this year and I'm sure Tony will share some soon. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

If You're Not Moving....Get Moving!

This one is for all you office workers out there!  

Most of us aren't lucky enough to be full time athletes. Although, we dream about it, and sometimes think we are.  The truth is a lot of us are weekend warriors, or part time athletes. Our jobs are important, and allow us the privilege to be athletes on the side. 

As a result, some of us spend long hours sitting at a desk, or in other sedentary states. As athletes, we workout hard at night, or on the weekend. Then, we sit in a desk all day at work. Besides the possibility of poor posture and posterior chain issues, sitting at the desk also cuts off circulation and tightens up the muscles. This can inhibit proper recovery from workouts, contribute to loss of flexibility, and lead to injuries. 

So what do we do?  Try to sneak away for a minute or two every once in a while. Do something!  There are countless simple exercises you can do in an empty office, in a stair well, or on your cubicle floor while no one is looking. Personally, I try my best to get away once every hour and climb some stairs, do crunches, planks, Hindu squats, push-ups, etc.  

Honestly, it doesn't happen every hour. There are always meetings, or more pressing matters that come up, and 1 hour turns into 2 or 3!  But, if you try your best and get in these movements the best you can you will see a difference. You'll notice more flexibility, easier movement, and better recovery from workouts. You might even find yourself burning more calories during the day and getting leaner!  So make that commitment and get moving!

Coach Meulen

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Quick and easy Salmon dinner

I'm not going to spend a lot of time explaining this one because our lives are busy, and the instructions are on the package!  

Go pick yourself up some Kirkland Salmon at your local Costco. Bake according to instructions. Add some fresh spinach and a slice of lemon. (Thanks Honey!!!) 


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Race Day Nutrition

There are some exciting things happening here!  Including, getting my USA Cycling Coaching Certification. As a result I may switch direction of the blog posts relating to cycling and training. I'll still be doing some stuff related to nutrition as well though. Today, I want to make a smooth transition and talk about Race Day Nutrition. 

I get asked this question a lot. "How many calories should I take in during my race?"  There's no easy answer here. The best I can do is say "it depends". What it depends on is a lot of things. So I'll try to give a better answer, but bare in mind these things need to be practiced in training. Don't experiment with them on race day! Or just do what someone else said worked for them. 

Let's address the first important part of this answer. Your nutrition before the race is just as important as during and after.  You've all heard of carbo-loading before a race, and I'm pretty sure it's become widely known that it's a myth. So I won't go into that. What is important is your valuable glycogen stores, or carbohydrates. Your body stores around 90 minutes worth of carbs. Endurance athletes are always training and burning through these stores. So it's important, in your daily diet to replace these stores. One of the best ways is to use some sort of recovery drink or food/drink that contains the majic 4:1 carb to protein ration within 30-45 minutes after workouts. There are numerous drinks on the market, but chocolate milk and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches work too. The Protein is important too, as it helps repair muscle.  Make sure your getting some good whole grains in your daily diet also. Oatmeal, nuts, and fruit is a great combination. Other good foods are brown rice and whole wheat pastas. Be careful of overrating some of these things, and try to stay away from processed carbs. 

I have a theory of processed foods. They contain preservatives. My theory is that foods designed to be preserved outside the body are also preserved inside the body. If they are designed to "preserve" how can your body metabolize them efficiently?  I believe everyone is different when it comes to this, and some people can't metabolize these foods as well as clean wholesome foods. 

So now that you're eating properly daily, let's address the pre-race meal. Don't eat anything out if the ordinary!  Go back to the oatmeal recommendation in your daily diet. Eat 2-4 hours before the race. If you start feeling hungry between that time nibble on a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter or your favorite energy bar. I emphasize "nibble" because too much in your stomach as you start the race can lead to GI issues. 

During the race is the hard part. Everyone is a little different here. Again, I suggest experimenting with this in training so you know coming into the race what the best plan for you is. Speaking of plan, make one!  Pre plan all your nutrition, and make certain it is easily accessible as well as securely fastened!  Also, have a backup plan!  If something happens in a race that makes you take a lot more time be ready for that. If something, unexpectedly, makes your stomach upset be ready for that too. Know the course and what the venue will have to offer so you know how much you need to take with you, and how much you can depend on the course for nutrition. 

When it comes to the plan, you should take in somewhere between 120-240 calories per hour. Where you fall in that range depends on the kind of race and your own tolerance. One of the biggest mistakes new athletes make is to take in too much. You'll know you've taken too much when your having GI issues. Too little and you will get grumpy, tired, a little loopy and eventually bonk. Obviously, for shorter races this won't be an issue because you don't need much, if anything. However, for longer races, you need to nail this down ahead if time. Personally, I start around 200 calories an hour and work for there. Make sure you are hydrating, and be careful with your timing and mix of different products. For example, most people need to wash down gels with pure water. Mixing with sports drinks and gels can lead to GI issues. Also, consider the type of race you are doing. You may tolerate more solid food and more calories on the bike than you do running. You can't really take in any calories swimming. So in a triathlon, you may be able to take in more calories on the bike to prep for the run.  In a marathon you may take in less calories per hour than a road race because of the extra sloshing around things do in your stomach while running.  Once you nail all this down in training you can transfer it right over to race day. 

Don't forget your after race nutrition!  Remember that 30-60 minute window and replace that glycogen after the race so you can start the recovery process. 

Coach Meulen

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Good Coach!

A good coach is priceless IMO!  Over my years of bike racing, running and triathlon I've really learned to enjoy having a professional coach. I tried to do it on my own at first. I even had some success on my own. But, I could never have learned as much about endurance sports as I have without Tony at !

Most coaches aren't registered nutritionist or dietitians, but they do get what it takes to fuel your body for endurance sports. Some of them have years of experience themselves, and may have even had their own struggles with weight management. They can point you in the right direction in getting your diet on track. (You should always check with your doctor if your coaches suggestions are ok for you)

This week I took the plunge myself, and applied to be a USA Cyclung coach. 

In the process, I learned that coaches take a lot of time learning about the science so you don't have to. Believe it or not, there's a lot more to it than just prescribing workouts and ramping up volume to prepare for races. There are so many reasons to hire a coach if you have the means. 

A coach will plan your "big picture". He/She will sit with you to plan your entire year. Whether you have ten races or one, your coach will plan the workouts to keep you injury free and get you to peak fitness for all your important races. 

Your coach will guide you through tough times. You may just need a little extra encouragement, or you may need to work through an illness or injury.  But, your coach will be there to guide you through. 

Coaches take a lot of time to plan your workouts so you don't have too!  Think of all the extra time you'll have to train if you don't have to research how to structure your own workouts. 

There's no more guessing!  If you have a question, you have someone to ask.  If your coach doesn't know chances are they know where to find out. Most coaches have been into endurance sports for a long time, and have a long list of people to tap for information. 

Coaches can see you from the outside!  Let's face it. You may think your rockin' the best form on your squats, or running with perfect form. But you never know unless you have someone to watch you. They can recognize those little things you'll miss or deny in your self assessments, and have the little fixes to put you on track. It could mean the difference between constant injury or pain free enjoyment in your training. 

Finally, your coach will be there to nurture and inspire your love for endurance sports. Mine has become a good friend, and inspired me to become a coach myself. You never know, sometimes, what get out of trying something new. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Scale obsession

Man, I've sure spent some time being obsessed with my bathroom scale!  I've noticed others, as well, seem to develop an obsession when they jump on the diet bandwagon too. 

As with a lot of things pertaining to nutrition, I like to think the best policy with the scale's ok in moderation. Don't run to the bathroom and jump on the scale every chance you get. I've seen a lot of people get disappointed that way. Maybe, they just did an epic workout and the number on the scale wasn't what they expected. Maybe, you've spent a week eating perfectly according to plan and didn't lose as much as you thought. 

Relax!  There are a lot of factors to your body weight at any given point in time. Your body weight can fluctuate during the course of the day as you eat, drink, excersize, sweat, etc..  So after that epic workout your weight may not be comparable to when you weighed in earlier in the day due to hydration or food storage. At the end of a pefect week you may not have the weight loss you wanted for many different reasons, but you may have set up for a very good surprise the week after. 

It's a good idea to pick a consistent time to weigh yourself in. It's not necessary to weigh in every day either. I like to think of the diet/weight correlation longer term.  So weighing in once a week or every two weeks is more than enough. You need to think of your mental health too!  Watching those daily fluctuations might drive you crazy, and might even lead to dissapointment and ultimate failure. 

During my own weight loss journey. These are the things that I noticed that made me think staring at the scale too much was a bad idea. 

1.  It takes a calorie deficit of 3500 to lose one pound of fat. So 500 deficit per day for a week equals a pound. A 1000 per day deficit will net you less a pound in 3 days. Any more than that is uncomfortable and normally not recommended for long term sustainable weight loss. So if it takes 3 days minimum to lose a pound, and with all the other fluctuations in body weight going on, it may be hard to see anything meaningful on the scale three times a day!  It may just be confusing!

2.  For me personally, and you may find this too, there seems to be a lag on weight loss. So, if I executed the perfect plan during week one, I usually don't see the results till the following week. I've theorized this is due what I've found to be true that all calories are not created equal. I believe all the processing and preservatives don't process through some if our bodies like clean foods do. So when I start a diet I think it takes a week to work through the contamination of bad foods I ate the week before and I won't see results that first week. 

3. Obsessing over the scale is a lot of work!  With diet and exercise we already log and obsess over a lot of numbers!  There's enough opportunity for dissapointment!

4. I could lose a couple pounds on a long workout only to gain them back again as I re-hydrate. So why run to the scale?  Just to see that lower number for a minute and dissapointment yourself again  in the morning?

5. Even during the day my weight can fluctate around 5 pounds. After a night of sleep you can be a little dehydrated. As you hydrate during the day and consume food that sits in your stomach your weight can go up by the end of the day. There's a lot of variables there. 

So what did I learn?  Consistency is key. Find that time you can weigh in and take a peak once a week at most!  It will save you some frustration and the headache of trying to compute all the variables. Don't be upset by small disappointments. Think more long term about diet success because it just takes time. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

What is "too skinny"?

There's been a lot of controversy lately about Rachel Fredrickson's 105lbs weight loss on tv's The Biggest Loser. People can't stop talking about it. The general consensus seems to be that she is "too skinny", and there's lots of speculation as far as the health of her weight loss. 

As endurance athletes, some of us are familiar with criticism of our weight. So I felt this was an important topic to address. 

Last season, before my destination race, and training camp in California, I got down to 165lbs. That was roughly 50lbs from my peak weight, and I'm a 6 foot tall man. It was around 175lbs where I started getting some criticism. My mom, especially, was concerned for my health and I even had a friend ask me if I had cancer. There's a popular saying in the world of triathlon about weight. 

"Lose weight till people start telling you you're too skinny, then lose 10 more LBS."

I don't know where that originated, but I've heard this a number of times from triathletes, and on numerous message boards on the topic. It seems to be a pretty good generalized measure, and a reference to the inflated view of acceptable weight in our society. 

Let's get back to Rachel Fredrickson though for a minute. I want to break this down for readers. What did people see when she stood there, weighed in, and we had a comparison photo of her previous self. 

What the media and general public saw:
1.  She's Too skinny. 
2.  She must of developed some kind of eating disorder. 
3.  That can't be healthy. 
4.  She must be obsessed!

Here's what I see:
1.  She had a huge smile!  Her new body must have been an incredibly happy moment. 
2.  What HUGE accomplishment!  It must have been a lot of work to get there. 
3. All that hard work!  She must be so fit and healthy now. 
4. Holy cow, the haters are going to be so jealous!

I'm not Rachel's trainer. So I can't possibly know if she's obsessed, or she lost weight in some unhealthy way. What I do know is that smile on her face tells me how happy she is. So where do we draw the line?  Where does weight loss stop being productive and start being unhealthy?

As endurance athletes we have different standards. The rest of the world doesn't see things the way we do. In our sports, extra body fat only inhibits our efforts.  Really, any visible body fat is worthless extra weight we carry through a race course and holds us back. However, we want the muscle!  So there is where the line is drawn. The point at which we are sacrificing muscle to lose weight is where weight loss starts to be inhibitive to our body. This can be challenging because when you are at optimal weight for endurance sports you are walking a fine line. 

Most of us, especially me!, struggle with getting to this point. I started to get close was last season when I reached 165lbs. 

If you take anything away from all this, let it be this.  The important question to keep asking yourself is "how do you feel?"  If your to the point where you're miserable and your progress is going backwards, in the big picture of things, that's when you've gone too far with weight loss. 

I don't think society understands this at all. The media is in attack mode on Rachel Fredrickson. I laughed the other night when they made a BIG deal about her admission to working out sometimes six hours a day, and limiting her calorie intake to 1600. I really don't see anything wrong with this!  To be honest, I've had 6 hour days myself, and it's extremely hard to net 1600 calories when you've burned so many in a six hour workout. That doesn't mean there's anything unhealthy about it. 

Let's not forget what body fat really is.  Fat is a bi-product of too much calorie intake. Our bodies are not designed to carry too much body fat. In fact, even if you have no visible body fat, your body has plenty of fat ready to burn for energy. Plenty of skinny people are healthy enough to complete Ironman, Leadville, marathons and ultras. 

Imagine if you were in prehistoric times. You had to hunt and gather your food. You couldn't drive to a grocery store down the street and come home to eat on the couch. Life was hard!  Getting nourishment was difficult. Only the strong survived. What people perceive as "average", in today's terms, would not get you your next meal in pre historic times. The fast, the lean, the strong were the best hunters!  Why are those people perceived as "too skinny" today?  It drives me crazy. We call Rachel Fredickson "too skinny" yet people who are supposed to be within "normal" weight standards today are riddled with health issues that are related to having too much body fat. Extra weight can take a toll on joints, and put extra strain on your heart. The Mayo Clinic has written pieces that say any belly fat on men puts them at extra risk for heart disease. Why then is it so unacceptable to be thin?

I think it really just comes down to jealousy, envy, and resentment. Our society has made it too easy to be overweight. Processed food, sugary drinks and fast food companies have replaced natural foods and eliminated the hunt.  So the bellies of society have expanded. When being overweight became the norm it alienated those fit, lean and strong people.  Society has made it easy to be overweight. Most animals in nature take the easiest path presented to them by instinct. It's hard not to. So society takes the easy path, but they still desire to look like they are that pre-historic ultimate hunter. It's obvious we idolize that body type. Hollywood has made a multi-billion dollar industry out of it. So what we are left is envy. That's why people criticize when someone like Rachel Fredrickson comes along and puts in the work, effort and dedication to do what it takes to look  like she could be a track star, Ironman, or the ultimate pre-historic hunter. It really is a shame. 

Shame on you society!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nutrition and Injury

Typically, we don't think of these things mutually. But, in my experience, there is some kind of relation between nutrition and injury. 

If you knew me, and some of you do, you'd know that my triathlon and MTB racing career has been riddled with bumps, bruises, broken bones and over use injuries. So looking back at those injuries I can put some sort of pattern to them.  

One of the most frustrating times for me was when I first started with fitness after years of battering my body with terrible comsumption habits and a sedentary lifestyle. I found myself buying new clothes, year after year, as my waste line expanded. At some point I decided to put a stop to that. I decided to try and start running. Admittedly, I had some knee problems in my youth, however, running, this time around, proved very challenging. My knees were always swollen and sore when I finished a run, and I could forget about putting 2 days running back to back. Eventually, I got fed up, and quit running. I had to move to the bike for a while and concentrate on losing some weight so my body could take the pounding if running. So there is the first time I related nutrition and injury....

1. Solid nutrition will keep you at a healthy weight and make the pounding of certain exercises in your joints a lot less impactful and reduce the chances of injury. 

After a while I lost a considerable amount of weight. One of my MTB buddies was into triathlons, and he convinced me to give one a try. So I gave running a try once again. With the weight loss it was much less painful, and injury ridden. I was able to string back to back days. I stepped it up!  Running was more enjoyable for me, and eventually, I ran a marathon. 

Through all that I still struggled with injuries. So, I looked back to see some commonality. While I can't say for sure some bike crashes or missed steps were due to loose rocks, other riders, or just stupid moves.  I can see some commonality in the timing of injuries. The majority are deep into long days when the body is tired and the mind is struggling to stay focused. There was the second relation between nutrition and injury.

2. While fitness, and the general rules of working out within your endurance limits applies, solid nutrition around and during workouts and races keeps your energy levels higher, and your focus up.  Allowing for better decision making and less mistakes!

Another thing I've observed was getting injuries during the recovery process. After my first marathon I ended up with some foot issues. I had more than likely stress fractured a bone in my foot training for it, and ran through that during the race. So my recovery from it was crucial to continue my plan for other races. I'm pretty sure it was then when I developed a dreaded issue that continues to haunt me today, planter faciitis. I'm not positive proper nutrition would have helped me avoid that injury, but again, it comes back to focus energy and partially the nutrition to sustain that.  At that time I tended to reward myself with food after big races or accomplishments. I was more than likely eating garbage and had no regard for proper recovery nutrition. I remember it taking me much longer than it should have to feel like I was 100% right again after that race. So just maybe, proper nutrition could have helped me recover better from that race, and keep me injury free as I recovered and started training for my next race. There was my last link between nutrition injury. 

3. Proper nutrition will help you in the process of recovery, stave off injury during your recoveries, and help get you ready for that next race safely. 

Obviously, nutrition isn't the only factor in keeping you injury free as you train. But, I can't help observe some of these links. So in addition to my three points above I'll leave you with some other things that I've found, and my coach has given me to help keep the injuries to a minimum. 

   -Proper warmup and cool downs from workouts
   -incorporating adequate rest days
   -staying within your limits, and especially running, respect proper volume building 
   -staying on top of old injuries with stretching and keeping up with therapy exercises
   -a good recovery day routine like the one found here
   -a good bike fit! I happen to know a good bike fitter that is also my coach, you can find info here
   -properly fitting running shoes with appropriate support and keeping them cycled out between 300-400 miles
   -listening to your body and knowing when and how to back off

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Eat Dis, Not Dat! Vol. 1

So being, admittedly OCD, I get into a lot of habitual eating. In the past a lot of that eating wasn't the best food/drinks for me. A lot of things, I even thought were "healthy", really weren't. So I've learned to swap out some these foods for more healthy choices. I'd like to share some of those with you. 

Eat dis, not dat!

I'm really busy at work, and work lots of hours. So something easy like cereal was great for me. But most cereals are full of bad things. A lot of them are just a bunch of processed carbs and sugar. Some cereals claim to be "healthy" and some even have whole grains in them, which isn't terrible. But then we add milk from cows pumped full of steroids, and all sorts of un-natural things. Even with organic milk, cereal and milk together is probably more carbs than most people need in a day. We can, certainly, say the same for pancakes, doughnuts, or whatever else bad you're eating in the mornings. 

Swap that cereal out for some eggs and some fruit!  Eggs can be prepared numerous ways and have been referred to as a "superfood". Fruits contain natural sugars and lots of vitamins and minerals you need. Together, they are very filling yet low in calories and full of things your body needs!  Don't be afraid to add some meats in there. Morning is a perfect time to load up in protein.  

Don't eat dat!  While an occasional sandwich with whole wheat bread, organic meat, and some greens are fine.  Most sandwiches are packed with empty calories and preservatives from processes lunch meats and breads. 

Make yourself a salad, or cook up some chicken breasts for the week to take to work with you.  Trust me, most people get more than enough carbs  anyway. You don't need that sandwich. 

3-chips/salty snacks
These things contain almost nothing natural and a whole lot of calories, preservatives, and sodium you don't need. 

Cut yourself up some cucumbers, eat some sugar snap peas, some carrots, or some broccoli quickly steamed in a cup in the microwave with a little water in the bottom and a touch of garlic salt. If you still crave the salt try some dried pork rinds or some beef jerky. 

4-Cookies/ sugary snacks
I don't even have to mention how bad this stuff is.  No, oatmeal raisin is not good for you! Lol

Try a scoop of natural peanut butter or a small square of dark chocolate to get past them sugar cravings. Just don't go overboard. Another good alternative is nuts. Personally, I like to keep a bag of raw almonds in my desk at work for snacks. 

5-Soda/ sugary drinks 
These are so tempting and in your face all the time. Diet soda may even be worse than regular, who knows!  They really don't know a lot about the chemicals in those drinks. Sugary drinks can really add up for calories, and when trying to lose weight almost all processed sugar really is a set back. For me this includes coffee. Because, quite honestly, I am more addicted to the cream and sugar than I am the caffeine!

Tea, water, black coffee, are all good replacements for those sugary drinks. Add a touch of pure honey in your tea to get you past those bad cravings for sugary drinks, or add some low sugar vanilla casin protein powder to help keep you full longer too. Slice up some lemons or cucumbers to put into a pitcher of water for some flavor if you need it. I know other people have thrown in limes or even some fruits for taste. 

Thise are my suggestions to get you out iof those bad habits, and on your way to a healthier way of eating choices.  Make yourself some positive changes!  I made this Vol 1 because as I think I more I'll be sure to share them here. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stuff You Should Eat!

I have to admit I'm extremely simple when it comes to my diet. I'm perfectly fine with eating the same boring things day after day. But I realize some people need variety. So I recruited some help when it came to recipes. Quite frankly, mine are just too boring!  For the first great recipe I asked Tony from to help us out. I paid a visit to Tony, and his Lovely wife Michelle, this weekend and ate this for myself. It was just wonderful!  I want to thank Tony and Michelle so much for the wonderful dinner, and the great write up for the recipe. I even stole the title from Tony on this one!  Thanks again!

From our friend Tony Zamora at
Stuff you should eat – Stuffed Bell Peppers

This time of year, most of my athletes and I are going through our winter preparatory diet phase, in which we are training our bodies to become more metabolically efficient for our spring and summer racing seasons.  To learn more about diet periodization, be sure to read some of Brian’s previous posts. 

During this season, the focus of the diet is to consume as little amount of carbs as possible (I shoot for about 150g a day, or about 1.7g per kilo body weight).  
What I hear a lot form clients during this time is, “how can I make food more appetizing?!”. The standard grilled chicken breast or steak with steamed veggies can get a bit old (although those are still staples in my diet!), so this stuffed bell pepper recipe is basically the same – veggies and meat – just prepared a little differently. 

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 30min 
Ingredients (good for 2 people)
   1lb lean ground beef (we prefer grass fed)
   4 medium green bell peppers
   ½ medium yellow onion
   2 roma tomatoes 
   ½ cup shredded cheese
   Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Heat a large frying pan, adding in the garlic to begin to brown
Chop up the onions, add to the garlic to begin to caramelize
Add in the ground beef, mixing well and adding salt and pepper as preferred (I like a lot of pepper)
Once the meat starts browning, add in the chopped tomatoes
Cut the tops of the green peppers and scoop out the insides
Once the tomatoes get soft, you can turn off the frying pan
Scoop the filling mixture into the bell peppers until they are full 
Once all the peppers are full, put the tray into the oven for about 20 minutes, until the peppers get soft
Sprinkle cheese over each pepper, and leave in the oven another 5-10 minutes until the cheese melts

Once the cheese has melted, it’s ready to be served!  Just scoop a pepper onto the plate, and add in an optional side dish.  Here we had an easy dark salad with cucumber and avocado on top. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Successful Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is difficult for most of us.  A lot of us can relate right now, especially, just after the holidays. Looking back we always regret our choices. So I'm going to outline some of my best tips to stay in the healthy eating groove. 

1.  You have to decide this is what you want to do. If you're reading this, you're doing this because you want to be a stronger athlete, lose the extra weight holding you back, and maybe even look good at the beach! 😀  So, it helps to remember that. Get up every morning, look in the bathroom mirror, and tell yourself!  Tell yourself that today you are going make good food choices, and then tell yourself why. 

2.  Hold yourself accountable. If your trying to lose weight, get on the scale once a week, log your meals, and set some goals for yourself.  When you're faced with temptation, you can think of having to face that scale later. It also helps to realize the results that your choices are having whether you are trying to lose weight, or maintain. 

3. Keep busy!  For some of us, boredom is our worst enemy. Stay on top of those workouts, keep up on your projects and hobbies, and/or add a walk or yoga class into your schedule. The point is, keep your time filled so your not sitting in front if the tv eating things you shouldn't. If you don't want to come to head with temptation, stay away from it by doing something else more constructive and keep your mind off of it!

4. Drink your fluids!  Stay away from the sugary and chemical drinks, but stay hydrated. There's been lots of studies around about how staying hydrated and drinking fluids with meals will keep you feeling full. Some studies suggest that warm fluids help you from feeling hungry even more. So go get yourself some tea!

5. Go to sleep!  Sleep helps you in many ways. It's in the sleep cycle that the body kicks off processes to burn fat. It also kicks off processes to recover from the days workouts so you can get back at it again tomorrow. If you don't sleep enough these processes don't kick off. I also find that if you stay up late your more likely to get those cravings for bad foods and take in extra calories. So go to bed before you reach for the cookies while sitting up watching tv!

6.  The last tip for you is PREPARATION! This, IMO, is the most important thing you can do. A lot of us don't have time to prepare healthy meals like we should. So plan these things out!  Have lots of healthy options around so you don't grab the bad things. If you look in my pantry right now you'll see several bags of beef jerky, natural peanut butter, and protein powder. These things, for me, are good for a snack when I'm feeling like I got the munchies.  Peanut Butter can especially satisfy my sweet tooth, and it's full of healthy fats and oils your body needs. All comply with the winter diet.  Having lots of veggies and meats to cook for dinners instead of that microwave meal also helps. Every Sunday night I also like to cook chicken breasts, and put them in the fridge so I have them for lunches all week. A little work now saves me a lot of trouble during the week. Have some hard boiled eggs around for meals and snacks as well.  Personally, I eat about 6 eggs a day!  They help keep me feeling full, and are packed with nutritional value. If you know your going out to eat get online and check the menu. Find something you can eat before you go. If your going to friends for a party call and ask what they are having. If they aren't having anything you can eat, bring something!  It's all about being prepared. 

These are my 6 best tips for successful healthy eating.  These are especially helpful during the winter phase of the periodization plan.  Here's an example of a meal plan outline that I use to keep me on track. Most if these things I cook a head if time, or have in hand ready to stay prepared for the week ahead. 

Breakfast:  3 eggs, a piece if fruit and tea with a touch of honey. 

Snack:  handful of nuts or almonds, maybe some tea with vanilla casin protein powder if I'm still feeling hungry. 

Lunch:  pre-prepared chicken breast, veges, an egg and a spoonful of natural peanut butter. 

Snack:  tea with vanilla casin protein and a handful if nuts or almonds

Pre-workout Snack(at least 2 hours before):  2 eggs and a piece of fruit

Dinner:  whey protein in fruit smoothie, and some beef jerky. (if I'm working out late)
             (If I have time to cook dinner I'll steam some veges and grill some meat.)

Lots of these things can be changed up for variety. Sometimes, I still run out of time, and have to go somewhere to get food. Plan that out too. Know what's around you so you can find something healthy. Again, it all comes down to being prepared.