Tuesday, December 13, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #9 Hill Repeats on Amsterdam Ave!

Do I like running hills?  HILL YES! 

As I spent the second half of 2011 training for the ZOOMAAtlanta Half Marathon, I found myself seeking out every hill possible so I would be prepared for the race on Saturday, November 26th.  All I kept hearing from others who did the race last year was how many hills were on the course!  I took their words of caution seriously and decided to take on the challenge!

One of my favorite places to practice hill repeats is Amsterdam Ave.  Amsterdam Ave. stretches from Monroe Drive in Midtown near Piedmont Park, through Virginia-Highlands to Rosedale Road near Emory’s Briarcliff Campus.   There is a short steep section from Rosedale Road to Lanier Blvd, then there is a long, gradual uphill section from Lanier Blvd to N. Highland Ave.  But wait, it gets better!  I like to make this even more fun by continuing on Amsterdam, past N. Highland Ave, and turning around just before it curves around to Monroe Dr.  Then, I like to head back up Amsterdam Ave. for a longer, uphill stretch!  Then, I like to do it all over again and again! 

Over the years, I’ve learned that hills are a great way to build strength, speed and endurance.  When I was a participant with Team in Training back in 2003 and training for my first triathlon, one of the Coaches gave me tons of tips on running hills.   He said things like, “Shorten your stride”, “Pump your arms”, “Be okay with the fact that your heart rate is high…It will come back down when you start to run downhill”, “Don’t look down”, “Keep up the short strides and arm pumping until you get all the way over the hill”.  His voice still echoes inside me to this day when I’m running hills!

As ZOOMA race day approached, I knew I was ready!  I had a plan: 1st 10 miles, take it easy and run in Zone 2 near a 10 minute mile pace.  Last 3.1 miles, kick it in to high gear and attack each hill.  Like all well laid plans, this one changed a bit along the way.  Here is how my race actually went: 1st 6 miles, I took it pretty easy and stayed in Zone 2.  I fluctuated between a 9:45 and a 10:30 minute mile pace.  After the halfway point, I decided to pick it up by staying faster than a 10 minute mile pace, regardless of my heart rate.  The hills kept coming and coming.  I didn’t let them intimidate me!  I really tried to capitalize on the downhills because, “What goes UP, must come DOWN”!  Also, it helped to see some familiar faces from Tri-Kids at the short, steep uphill that was the 12-Mile Mark!  Woo Hoo!  I was stoked and I took off like a kid who just stole the last Wonka bar with the Golden Ticket!  As I rounded the end of the course at Chateau Elan, the finish line was in sight.  I turned the corner and booked up the FINAL HILL to cross the line at 2:08:12, which was a PR!  HOLY MOLY that was a tough race!  But so rewarding!   Not only was it a PR, but it was really fun to share the experience with a bunch of fantastic, tough, fast, motivated women!  You know who you are!   <wink>

Training for and completing this race reiterated my belief that hills are my friends!  Not everyone agrees and that’s okay.  There are plenty of flat race courses out there.  Me?  I’ll run for the hills in a heartbeat! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #8 Running in Atlanta Memorial Park!

Two weeks ago, running at the Active Oval at Piedmont Park was the focus of my blog.  Today, I want to let everyone know about Atlanta Memorial Park.  Most of us refer to it as simply, “Memorial Park”.  This is a location I keep in my back pocket for days when I need to do a Tempo run, but am feeling a bit unmotivated.  Why?  Because once I pull this park out of my pocket, I remember how beautiful and doable it is. 

I love doing Tempo runs at this park because it is actually a fairly flat course.  The course I’m referring to consists of Woodward Way, Northside Drive, Wesley Drive, Howell Mill Road, Peachtree Battle Avenue, back to Woodward Way, which equals 1.8 miles.  I like to park for free on Woodward Way near Peachtree Battle.

My Tempo workout at Memorial Park consists of running the first loop easy, the second loop in Zone 4 and the third loop easy for a nice 5.4 mile workout.  To me, this is a very doable Tempo run especially when I’m not feeling like getting out there!

After a bit of research, I discovered that Memorial Park once saw part of the bloody 1864 Civil War Battle of Peachtree Creek, as Confederate forces tried to keep the Union troops from closing in on Atlanta. Historic markers are located throughout the park for you to enjoy. 

The park land was a gift to Atlanta in 1929 from former Sen. Hoke Smith, J.W. Bedell and the Howell family, for whose ancestors Howell Mill Road was named. Development of the park began in 1933 which coincided with the bicentennial of the founding of the state of Georgia in 1733. Its original design envisioned it as a memorial forest, and many of the specimen trees originally planted still provide shade for the park.

Right now, the trees are gorgeous with the different shades of the leaves.  You better hurry if you want to experience this park in the Fall because Winter is drawing near!  Whatever the season in Atlanta, Memorial Park is an excellent place for a run!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #7 Running in Piedmont Park!

There are so many reasons why Piedmont Park is a great place to train in Atlanta!  I won't bore you with all the crazy workouts I’ve done at the park and just highlight one location in particular: The Gravel Track surrounding The Active Oval! 

The Active Oval is host to lots of activities for those who live in Atlanta including softball and kickball, however I prefer to stick to the track.  It’s not that I’m not a team player, I just lean toward individual sports.

The surface of the track is packed gravel which gives your legs a break from the pounding of concrete and asphalt.  The distance around the track is .52 miles which is marked by the marble obelisque, donated by The Atlanta Track Club in 2006.  Each 200 meters is marked with a marble plate on the ground.  It’s always nice to find a place to run that is measured.

Over the past few years, I’ve been diligent about adding interval workouts to my training routine.  Also, these types of workouts are often prescribed to the athletes I coach.  The gravel track is a great place to knock out this type of training.  The track is twice the size of a regulation track of 400 meters and I believe it is less intimidating than a regulation track.  As a Coach, it is fun to practice and share different workouts that aren’t as strict with the intervals.  For example, here is one of my favorite workouts:

Warm-Up: 2 Loops at a Comfortable Pace

Set: 6 x 1 Loop Builds with 2 minute and 30 second recovery jog between each Loop Build.

Loop Builds: For each loop, start off easy and progressively get faster at each of the quarter loop marks around the track where the last quarter loop is a sprint.

Cool-Down: 1 Loop at a Comfortable Pace

The gravel track is an excellent location for beginners to run, not to mention those who are coming back from an injury or illness.  All levels of runners and walkers can be found on the track on any given day.    

Another fantastic reason to visit the track is the scenery!  Right now, the fall leaves are beautiful!  It is so picturesque to see the backdrop of Midtown and Downtown against the bright blue sky! 

Check out the gravel track at Piedmont Park for you next workout!  You will enjoy the forgiving surface, the scenery and the variety athletes around you!

If you enjoy Piedmont Park, consider joining the Piedmont Park Conservancy.  They are the nonprofit organization, working with the City of Atlanta for the preservation of historic Piedmont Park.  Over the past 20 years, the Conservancy has successfully transformed the once dilapidated Park into the most visited in green space in Atlanta. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #6 Swimming at MLK Natatorium!

“This is no time for apathy and complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

I started coming to the Martin Luther King Jr. Natatorium back in 2008 when I was coaching a group of athletes who wanted help with their swimming. It was a great place to swim because they had recently remodeled the facility, it was open to the public and it was only $2 per visit. Things have changed a bit over the years. They no longer allow me to provide swimming lessons (they have their own instructors), they are closed on Fridays and they now charge $4 per visit. Regardless, it is still a great place to swim in Atlanta! I especially enjoy swimming at MLK in the morning. The floor-to-ceiling windows give a wonderful view of the sunrise!

The pool is located at 70 Boulevard NE near Auburn Ave. The parking lot at the natatorium is closed. Parking is free and the lot is located on John Wesley Dobbs Ave NE off of Boulevard near Jackson St. NE. It is always a pleasure walking from the parking lot to the natatorium and reading the plaques on the sidewalk with the names of the “soldiers of justice” who promoted equality for all. This is known as the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame and includes names such as Rosa Parks, President Jimmy Carter, Justice Thurgood Marshall, President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mayor Maynard Jackson, just to name a few.

The natatorium is open for lap swimming Monday through Thursday, starting at 6:00am and goes until 5:00pm. They are also open in the evening, starting at 6:30pm until 8:00pm. There are several activities happening on Saturdays, however I have usually been able to swim between 10:00 – 11:00am. The pool is closed on Fridays and Sundays. Be sure to call the folks at MLK at 404-658-7330 if you have any doubt about when they are open for lap swimming.

The indoor pool has six 25-yard lanes. The temperature of pool varies, however it is usually set around 80 degrees. There are locker rooms and showers on the bottom level, along with a workout room that is also open to the public.

I would definitely recommend purchasing a City of Atlanta Office of Recreation Aquatic annual pass for $110. This pass will allow you to swim at all the city pools, including Chastain Park and Grant Park. All you need is documentation that you are a resident of the City of Atlanta and a money order. Take these two items to MLK and they will provide you with the pass after you finish your swim workout!

I will be heading to the pool at MLK more often now that summer is winding down and the outdoor pools will be closing. I hope you all keep up your training over the Fall and Winter! The Spring races will be here before you know it!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #5 Trail Running at East Palisades Indian Trail!

After spending this past weekend in the mountains with my husband, I was reminded how much I love trail running after hiking at the Black Rock Mountain State Park in Clayton, Georgia! After arriving home on Sunday, I woke up Monday morning, laced up my La Sportivas and headed to East Palisades Indian Trail, the group of trails that are part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Most people don’t realize these trails are ITP (Inside the Perimeter)!

The entrance to the park is just off of Northside Drive and Indian Trail in Northwest Atlanta. There is a short drive to the end of Indian Trail where you are greeted by the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area sign leading you along a gravel road to the parking lot. The park is open from dawn to dusk. Parking is $3 unless you have an annual pass which is $25. Annual passes can be purchased online. Mark your calendar for National Public Lands Day which is September 24th. The parking fee is waived for visitors in observance of this day!

The main trail is easily located from the parking lot. Once on the trail, runners will follow the blue blazes as they are led down to the river. Be careful! The trail is rather steep in a few areas. At the bottom, the trail levels out as runners approach the Chattahoochee River. Since the trail follows beside the river, runners are treated to beautiful views of the river through the trees. After following the river, the trail turns to head back up. There are spots along the trail that wind around trees and there are several hairpin turns. Again, there are many steep sections as runners head up this part of the trail. At the top of the trail, runners are lead to the gravel road. Make a right turn to head back to the parking lot. The trail is approximately 2.4 miles. This past Monday morning I decided to do the loop two times for a nice 5.8 mile run. I encountered three other hikers on the trail, two of which had their dogs on a leash. The times I have visited this trail, there have been just a few others along the way, however I have encountered runners and hikers who do not leash their dogs. Be sure to stay alert and keep your eyes open for any obstacles.

All runners are encouraged to check out East Palisades Indian Trail as a place to train in Atlanta! If you are new to trail running, this is a great place to get started due to the fact that the trail is short! If you are planning on participating in Vision Trek 10K Trail Run benefitting Georgia Eye Bank, scheduled for Saturday, March 3, 2012, this is a wonderful location to practice your hill climbing skills! If you want to beat the Atlanta heat, you will stay a lot cooler running on this trail since the trees offer a ton of shade.

I hope to see you on the trail! Enjoy your training!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #4 Swimming at Chastain Park Pool!

As the dog days of summer are winding down, I am taking every opportunity to swim outdoors. One of my favorite places to swim has always been the Chastain Park Pool. The pool is clean, refreshing and open to the public!

The pool is run by the Chastain Park Athletic Club (CPAC). CPAC was founded in 2002 as a Georgia 501c3 non-profit corporation and was organized and at all times shall be operated exclusively for public charitable and educational uses and purposes.

Chastain Park Pool is located at the intersection of West Wieuca Road and Elliott Galloway Way (formerly Pool Road). There is free parking on both West Wieuca Road and Elliott Galloway Way. The pool boasts (8) 25 yard lanes, which are only crowded during the hours of swim team practice. The hours are as follows:

Monday – Friday: 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM free public swim time, 12:30 - 5:00 PM paid public swim time $1/children (5 yrs and under), $2/child (6 yrs - 16), $4/adult (17 yrs - 64), $2/senior (65 yrs and up) and 5:00 - 8:00 PM Chastain Pool members only (Fridays till 9:00 PM).

Saturday & Sunday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM $1/children (5 yrs and under), $2/child (6 yrs - 16) , $4/adult (17 yrs - 64), $2/senior (65 yrs and up) and 5:00 - 8:00 PM Chastain Pool members only.

Chastain Park Pool is a wonderful, outdoor pool to use for “getting your swim on”. You better hurry! The gate to the pool will close at the end of the day on Sunday, September 11th.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #3 Running in Virginia Highlands/Emory/Morningside!

Matt Cole, CEO and Founder of Podium Multisport, introduced me to running in the Virginia Highlands/Emory/Morningside area, which is conveniently located to his store on Zonolite Place. I instantly fell in love with this area. Why? Three reasons: 1.) The beauty of the homes in the area, 2.) The hills, and 3.) The hospitality provided by everyone at Podium Multisport!

The homes around Virginia Highlands, Emory and Morningside are old, quaint and well maintained. Many of the homes show off their well manicured lawns, lush trees, bushes and flowers. It is so much fun to pick a new “favorite home” during each run!

The hills on this course are nothing to sneeze at! They are large and plentiful. A good workout will be had by all. Enough said!

Every Thursday Podium Multisport hosts a Group Run of 5.5 miles, starting at 7:00pm. Not only do they provide maps, they also provide ice-cold Ironman Perform sports drink by PowerBar for everyone to enjoy before and after the run! After dreaming about living in one of the homes in the neighborhood and sweating up and down all the hills, I’m usually ready for a cold beverage!

Anyone who lives in the area is encouraged to check out the Group Run on Thursday evenings. All runners and triathletes are welcome! I hope you enjoy the neighborhoods, the hills and the hospitality as much as I do!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #2 Riding in Buckhead!

I have been encouraging fellow triathletes to ride in Buckhead for their triathlon training for years! I’m not talking about the busy streets of Peachtree Road and Northside Drive, I’m talking about the neighborhoods surrounding these streets. The scenery is beautiful with all the lovely old homes and their pristine landscaping. The terrain is challenging with plenty of hills, stop signs and stop lights.

This past Saturday, a group of us from Peachtree Tri Club rode a 40 mile route through Buckhead, affectionately known as the “Buckhead Butt Buster Ride”. I’ll admit it was a tough ride. In fact, it took us a little over four hours to complete the course! We took some rest breaks along the way to refuel and catch our breath. It was worth spending the time that morning because I felt great after that workout and I got a chance to know one of the club members better because we rode the course together!

In addition to the 40 mile route, there are routes for 24 miles, 21 miles and 13 miles. The 24 and 13 mile routes are known as the “Buckhead Bellyache” and the route is marked on the road with a white “B” and an arrow pointing at each of the turns. The 21 mile route is marked with a yellow lightning bolt pointed at each of the turns. The 40 mile route was previously marked with two orange beakers pointing at each of the turns. Some of the marks are faded and a few have disappeared with the recent paving of the roads. Click here for a cue sheet that has turn-by-turn instructions along with notes about the route.

If you live near Buckhead, Midtown, Sandy Springs or anywhere in town, check out one of the Buckhead bike routes! It is a nice change of pace from the flats of Columns Drive and the Silver Comet Trail. You won’t have to drive for an extended period of time like you would to get to Cartersville and Silk Sheets. In my opinion, the scenery is much better than Stone Mountain.

Enjoy your bike training this summer!

Friday, July 22, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #1 Grant Park Swimming Pool!

I truly love the city of Atlanta, especially in the summer! Yes. It is hot and humid. Yes. Our air quality is not good. Yes. Traffic can be annoying at times. Yes. Gas prices are high. Regardless of the negatives, I am glad to be an Atlantan! Furthermore, I am glad to be an athlete and a coach living in Atlanta. There are so many fantastic places for me and my athletes to train! I will spend the next several weeks highlighting these places for you!

Attention Triathletes and Swimmers: If you are looking for a 50 meter pool in which to swim, look no further than the Grant Park Swimming Pool!

I arrived at the pool this morning at 10am to meet one of my swimmers from Vizsla Swim Team. We were pleased to find no one in the two lanes they had roped off for lap swimming. The water temperature was a refreshing 78 degrees. We jumped in and started our workout!

Since it has been quite awhile since I have practiced in a 50 meter pool, it took some time to get my rhythm. After I got used to the longer lane, I was as happy as a clam only having to encounter the wall half the number of times as usual. A few other swimmers arrived as the morning went on. By the time we left, there were five folks swimming in the lap area.

Please note, this is not a typical lap swimming pool. There are no clocks at each end, nor are there flags hanging overhead to indicate when you are getting close to the wall. The lane lines at the bottom of the pool are a bit confusing. In my opinion, these factors are not a big deal. The staff is helpful. The locker rooms and pool area are very clean. The pool is very family friendly, which was evident when kids, parents and babysitters trickled in throughout the morning. Overall, it is a great place to get in a good workout!

The Grant Park Swimming pool is a City of Atlanta facility. The Friends of Grant Park Pool is a sub-committee of the Grant Park Neighborhood Association Parks & Recreation committee. They are a group of local residents volunteering their time to help make the pool a better place for everyone.

The Grant Park Swimming Pool is located in Grant Park at 625 Park Avenue SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30312 at the intersection of Berne and Park Avenue, one block west of Boulevard. There is free parking on the streets. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for kids and seniors and $1 for kids under the age of five. Admission is FREE from 1:30pm – 4:00pm, Monday through Friday. My suggestion is to buy an annual pass for $110 which provides admission to all the pools that are a part of the City of Atlanta including Chastain Park, Garden Hills and the Martin Luther King Jr. Natatorium. The pool is open Saturday and Sunday from 12pm - 8:00pm and Monday - Friday from 10am - 7:30pm. Their phone number is 404.622.3044. The pool will close for the season after Labor Day (September 5, 2011).

I will definitely be back to the Grant Park Swimming Pool as much as possible this summer! It was so wonderful to be able to swim outside in a 50 meter pool with the blue sky and sun shining down on us! I would encourage anyone who is a triathlete or swimmer to visit the pool for a workout.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Swim with Confidence by Testing Yourself with a Broken Set!

As a Professional Triathlon Coach and Swim Coach for Vizsla Swim Team, I like having variety in the workouts I give my athletes. On the other hand, I like to regularly test them to determine their improvement. One way I like to do this in the pool is by having the swimmers perform a Broken Set of (10) 100 meters each month. This is a great way to track their speed on a regular basis.

A Broken Set divides a fixed distance (ex. 1,000 meters) into shorter segments (ex. 100 meters) with a short rest (ex. 10 seconds) between each. The goal is to swim each interval at a faster pace than could be maintained over the entire distance. The entire fixed distance is timed. After completing the entire swim, the time taken for rest should be subtracted to determine the pace for each segment.

One of the swimmers in my group performed this workout earlier this month. She swam the (10) 100s as fast as she could with 10 seconds of rest after each 100. She finished the entire 1,000 in 19 minutes and 50 seconds. After subtracting 90 seconds for her rest, her pace was 1 minute and 50 seconds for each 100. When this swimmer started with our group back in March, her pace was 1 minute and 55 seconds. This is an excellent example of the improvement she has made over the past three months.

Below is an example of a Broken Set that can be done on your own:

Warm Up:

5 x 100 (75 Easy Swim, 25 Kicking on Side)

5 x 100 Build w/ :10 Rest


10 x 100 w/ :10 Rest (Go as hard as you can maintain for each of the 100s. Record your time for the entire 1,000, subtract :90 of rest and figure your 100 pace.)

Cool Down:

2 x 100 (75 Easy Swim, 25 Kicking on Side)

Total: 2,200

This workout is an extremely motivating method of training, especially when it is done in a group environment. It simulates the stress of competition while resulting in a swim time that may be faster than racing time for an actual event. Once you start incorporating this type of workout in your schedule on a regular basis, you should notice your speed improving which will result in confidence as a swimmer and a triathlete!

If you want more help with your swimming in a group atmosphere, please consider joining Vizsla Swim Team! We meet on Monday and Wednesday mornings at 6am at Agnes Scott College in Decatur for a one hour coached workout. I am also available for private lessons at the City Club of Buckhead located inside the Atlanta Financial Center. Visit my website or contact me (coach@vizslacoaching.com or 404.667.0817) for more information.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Swim with Confidence by Lowering Your Swimming Golf Score!

As a Professional Triathlon Coach and Swim Coach for Vizsla Swim Team, I occasionally challenge my swimmers to figure out what will make them faster. For some swimmers, it is gliding through the water. For others, it is kicking harder. One way to figure out what technique is best for them is to practice workouts in which the goal is to lower their swimming golf score.

The swimming golf score is calculated by adding the number of strokes they take for 50 meters and add it to the time it takes to swim 50 meters. For example, if a swimmer takes 36 strokes for 50 meters and it takes them 45 seconds to swim the 50 meters, their swimming golf score is 81 (36 + 45).

In order to lower their swimming golf score, I ask them to practice concentrating on 1.) gliding/streamlining, also known as DPS (Distance Per Stroke), in which they take few strokes, but can maintain a fast time or 2.) kicking harder, which should result in the swimming faster. I want the swimmers to determine which technique is best for them to improve their speed. Then, I ask them to practice that technique (ex. kicking harder) for their speed sets. When swimmers know what it takes to make them faster, they become more confident which will translate to faster swim times.

Below is a recent swimming golf workout the swimmers on the team completed:

Warm Up:

100 Easy Swim, 50 Stroke, 100 Easy Swim, 50 Stroke


3 x 300 Descending w/ :30 RI

Swimming Golf (Score = # of Strokes + Time):

3 x 50 w/ :20 Rest (Record your scores. Try to lower your score for each of the 50s.)

3 x 50 w/ :20 Rest (Focus on kicking hard. Record your scores. Try to lower your score.)

3 x 50 w/ :20 Rest (Focus on distance per stroke. Record your scores. Try to lower your score.)

3 x 50 w/ :20 Rest (Use what helped to you to lower your score (ex. Kicking hard, Distance per stroke or a combination of the two). Record your scores. Try to lower your score.)

Cool Down:

50 Easy Swim, 50 Stroke, 50 Easy Swim

Total: 1,950

Practice this workout and others that focus on isolating a technique to help improve your speed and confidence as a swimmer and a triathlete!

If you want more help with your swimming in a group atmosphere, please consider joining Vizsla Swim Team! We meet on Monday and Wednesday mornings at 6am at Agnes Scott College in Decatur for a one hour coached workout. I am also available for private lessons at the City Club of Buckhead located inside the Atlanta Financial Center. Visit my website or contact me (coach@vizslacoaching.com or 404.667.0817) for more information.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Swim with Confidence by Practicing Hypoxic Breathing!

As a Professional Triathlon Coach and Swim Coach for Vizsla Swim Team, I often ask my athletes to perform workouts in which they practice hypoxic breathing. When athletes practice these workouts in the pool, they are restricting the amount of oxygen they are using. This may sound strange to any athletes who have never tried this, however there are benefits to these types of workouts.

Like flip turns, swimmers who practice hypoxic breathing will take fewer breaths which will build lung capacity. This is extremely helpful during a race. As I mentioned in last week’s post, there might be a time when an athlete will be on the swim leg of a triathlon, he/she will turn their head to breathe, but are unable to take that breath. The reason might be because either a wave is in the athlete’s face or another athlete’s hand, arm or leg is in the way. When you build lung capacity by practicing hypoxic breathing, you will be confident enough to put your face back in the water and breathe at a later time.

Below is a recent workout the swimmers on the team completed:

Warm Up:

100 (75 Easy Swim, 25 Drill: One Arm L)

100 (75 Easy Swim, 25 Drill: One Arm R)

100 (75 Easy Swim, 25 Drill: Fist)



6 x 200 Moderate (3, 5, 7, 3, 5, 7)* w/ :20 RI

*These are the number of strokes you will take per breath for each of the 200s

200 Build w/ :20 RI

2 x 100 Hard w/ :20 RI

Cool Down:

100 (75 Easy Swim, 25 Drill: One Arm L)

100 (75 Easy Swim, 25 Drill: One Arm R)

100 (75 Easy Swim, 25 Drill: Fist)

Total: 2,500

Practice this workout and others that focus on hypoxic breathing to help build lung capacity which will in turn build your confidence as a swimmer and a triathlete!

If you want more help with your swimming in a group atmosphere, please consider joining Vizsla Swim Team! We meet on Monday and Wednesday mornings at 6am at Agnes Scott College in Decatur for a one hour coached workout. I am also available for private lessons at the City Club of Buckhead located inside the Atlanta Financial Center. Visit my website or contact me at coach@vizslacoaching.com or at 404.667.0817 for more information.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Swim with Confidence by Executing Flip Turns!

As a Professional Triathlon Coach and Swim Coach for Vizsla Swim Team, I am often asked why I encourage athletes to perform flip turns when they don’t do them in a triathlon. There are three reasons why flip turns are beneficial for triathletes. First of all, athletes will build endurance. Secondly, athletes will build lung capacity. Third, athletes will swim like swimmers!

When executing flip turns in the pool, athletes are not taking the break at the wall. Flip turns resemble continuous swimming, like in a triathlon, and athletes will build endurance.

Swimmers will take fewer breaths as they are performing flip turns. When swimmers take fewer breaths, they are building lung capacity.

Ask yourself this question: Have you have been swimming in a triathlon, you turn your head to breathe and you cannot take that breath? The reason might be because either water is in your face from a wave or someone is right on top of you. When you build lung capacity, you will be confident enough to put your face back in the water and breathe at a later time without panicking.

I once heard someone say, "If you want to be a better swimmer, you should swim like a swimmer!" I thought that simple statement made a lot of sense. Swimmers do flip turns!

If you are not sure how to execute a flip turn, click here and take a look at this video. It does an excellent job of breaking it down.

I want to encourage all triathletes to practice flip turns in the pool! If you are just starting to practice flip turns, just let your lane-mates know what you are doing and I'm sure they will be understanding and even encouraging!

If you want more help with your swimming a group atmosphere, please consider joining Vizsla Swim Team! We meet on Monday and Wednesday mornings at 6am at Agnes Scott College in Decatur for a one hour coached workout. Your first visit is free of charge!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Swim with Confidence!

As a Professional Triathlon Coach and Coach of Vizsla Swim Team, I often see athletes who are fantastic swimmers during practice in the pool, but encounter trouble on race day. One reason they might experience difficulty may be due to lack of confidence.

As described by Peter Haberl, Ed. D., senior sport psychologist for the United States Olympic Committee, in the USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach Certification Manual, there are four Cs that play a huge role when it comes to balancing the stress of racing.

1. Confidence

2. Concentration

3. Commitment

4. Composure

Confidence is believing in yourself, your skills and your ability to handle whatever comes your way.

Concentration is staying focused on the task at hand.

Commitment is willingness to train hard, to sacrifice, to persevere when things are not going well.

Composure is managing your emotions. Be in charge of yourself because there are many things out of your control.

Athletes can achieve a higher degree of performance and turn negative stress into a helpful challenge when they improve aspects of the four Cs.

Because nothing happens without confidence, my next series of blogs for the month of June will address ways for athletes to swim with confidence!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do You Have the Money to Take on the Challenge of the Ironman?

In my last two blogs, I provided guidelines about the base fitness and time commitment athletes should consider before taking on the challenge of the Ironman (2.4-Mile Swim, 112-Mile Bike, 26.2-Mile Run). Next, I want to shed some light on the financial side of preparing for this event.

The current entry fee for the Ford Ironman St. George, scheduled for May 5, 2012, is $600. This is just the beginning of the costs associated with training for an Ironman. Athletes could spend $5,000 from the time they register for the event until the Finisher Merchandise tent closes the day after the race.

  • Race registration – As previously mentioned, the current entry fee is $600 for Ironman sanctioned events, not including the fee associated with Active.com.
  • Gym and/or pool membership – Unless you live in an area with a mild climate year-round, and can do open water swimming, biking and running outside, a gym is almost a necessity. Six-month gym memberships can cost approximately $240.
  • Coaching services – This is not a requirement, but it helps to have someone with experience who can guide you through this journey. Six months of coaching can cost $1,050.
  • Bike equipment – With the added mileage associated with Ironman training, you will find yourself purchasing more tires, tubes, bar tape, chains and cables. You may even be tempted to upgrade your current bike. Athletes should plan to spend at least $150 in bike equipment.
  • Running shoes –Depending on the mileage athletes are running, shoes may be replaced every four months. My favorite Pearl Izumi running shoes are currently $125.
  • Physical Therapy – It is common for athletes to suffer minor injuries during training. A good PT is invaluable! I just finished treatment for a minor injury and all $375 went toward the deductible.
  • Nutrition – Athletes will need to factor in training nutrition, as well as additional groceries for daily nutrition. As training increases, the need to consume more calories increases as well. Plan to spend at least an additional $240 on extra groceries and training nutrition over six months.
  • Gas – Unless you are can step out your front door to swim, bike and run, athletes will probably be traveling by car to different locations for training. Factor in an extra $15 per week in gas while you are training, depending on where you live and how far you are traveling for each workout.
  • Massage Therapy – Monthly massage is recommended for athletes who are performing the rigorous training involved with getting ready for an Ironman. Massages start at $65 per hour.
  • Accommodations at the race venue – Many of the hotels near race venues have minimum stay requirements (ex. 3 nights, 4 nights, 5 nights). A four-night stay in St. George, Utah will be approximately $780.
  • Travel to the race venue – More than likely, athletes will fly or drive to the race destination. If athletes do not have frequent flyer miles, they should plan to spend at least $300 in airfare.
  • Bike transportation to race venue – TriBike Transport charges $325 for round-trip bike and bag transportation to certain race venues. Athletes may choose to pack their bike and take it to the race with the rest of their luggage. There is also the option of shipping your bike to the race venue.
  • Official Finisher Merchandise – After crossing the finish line of an Ironman, most athletes want to get their official finisher gear to let the world know what they just accomplished! Budget accordingly, because the “M dot Finisher” merchandise tends to be slightly overpriced. Sporty jackets cost $150. Bike jerseys run $125. Long sleeve running shirts are $90.

Of course, there are ways to do Ironman on a budget. That may be the subject of a future blog!

Now that you have explored the fitness, time and financial components of preparing for an Ironman, are you ready to start your journey? If you would like to discuss your Ironman race plans, please contact me at coach@vizslacoaching.com to schedule a free phone consultation!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do You Have the Time to Take on the Challenge of the Ironman?

As another installment in my series of Ironman related posts, I want to address the time component.

The athletes that I work with often want to know much time they should plan to spend as they are preparing for an Ironman.

If you are contemplating signing up for your first Ironman, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I truly have the time to devote to properly train for an Ironman?
  • Do I have a job that enables me to work flexible or regular hours?
  • Am I willing to sacrifice spending time with family and friends?

Athletes who possess the fitness prerequisites outlined in my post on May 11th should plan to spend approximately six months specifically training for the Ironman. These six months will consist of five or six days per week consisting of one or two workouts each day. The last three months of the training plan will have the most serious time commitments, especially on the weekends for athletes who work a full-time job, Monday through Friday.

For most athletes, working a full-time job is a reality, especially to pay for all the costs associated with this rather expensive sport. The athletes with the most flexible full-time jobs or jobs with predictable hours (ex. 40 per week) will find it much easier to fit in the training for the Ironman. Athletes who travel frequently for their job need to find a place to swim, bike, run and perform strength workouts. Athletes who never know when they will be able to leave the office each day will need to commit to working out in the morning. Those athletes with crazy work schedules can still fulfill their Ironman quest, it just takes a bit more planning and creativity.

Throughout the six months of training and especially during the last three months of training, athletes will have greater success if they are completing their workouts, getting enough sleep, practicing good nutrition, and taking time to properly recover. This might mean athletes will have to forego many late-night gatherings and traveling for special events.

Athletes should talk to their families before taking on the challenge of the Ironman. Athletes will need to explain the time commitment involved with training for such a long-distance event. All members of the family should be willing to accept the sacrifices associated with training for the race. When everyone in the household can be on the same page, there is a much greater degree of success for the athlete to complete his or her goal of the Ironman.

Now that you know the fitness component (see my blog post on May 11th) and the time commitment suggested for the Ironman, you might be thinking you are one step closer to feeling ready to take on the challenge of the Ironman. If you want to discuss your situation with me to better understand if you have the time to commit to training for the Ironman, please contact me at coach@vizslacoaching.com to schedule a free phone consultation!

There is another aspect to consider. Do you have the money associated with the cost of preparing for the Ironman? This will be addressed in my next blog post.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Do You Have the Fitness to Take on the Challenge of the Ironman?

As a follow up to my post on May 4th, I wanted to dig a little bit deeper and address the fitness component of taking on the challenge of the Ironman.

Many of the athletes I work with wonder how much base fitness one needs to begin training for an Ironman distance triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run). When I first started my first Ironman journey back in 2005, I received a ton of advice. I appreciated the advice I received from a book written by Paul Huddle and Roch Frey of Multisports.com. The book’s title is Start to Finish: Ironman Training 24 Weeks to an Endurance Triathlon. In this book, the writers provide fantastic advice on how much base fitness athletes need before they consider taking on the challenge of the Ironman.

The fact is athletes should have a strong foundation of fitness. Huddle and Frey recommend at least one year of experience training and racing different triathlon distances. I would tend to agree, however I heard of an athlete who finished an Ironman as his first triathlon. You can read about this athlete’s experience, along with several others’ experiences in the book, Becoming an Ironman: First Encounters with the Ultimate Endurance Event by Kara Douglass Thom.

As a foundation, athletes should be able to comfortably swim at least two times per week for approximately one hour each workout.

Huddle and Frey recommend having a base of three bike workouts per week which consist of one long ride of approximately three hours and two rides of approximately one hour each. Cycling at 90 RPMs (Revolutions per Minute) should be easy.

For those athletes who start Ironman training with a solid running background, athletes should have comfortably built up to a long run of 90 minutes with two additional 45 – 60 minute runs per week.

For those who are coming from a cycling or swimming background with little running experience, athletes will need time to adjust to the physical demands of running.

Having strong core muscles will be extremely important for successful Ironman training and avoiding injuries. A solid core strength training program should be an integral part of every triathletes’ training plan.

These basic guidelines are a starting point when assessing the physical aspect of beginning your Ironman journey. If you want to talk in more detail about whether or not your base fitness is where it should be for the Ironman, please contact me at coach@vizslacoaching.com to schedule a free phone consultation!

Of course, there are several other aspects of accepting the challenge of the Ironman to consider. Can you commit the time needed to train for an Ironman? Do you have the money it takes to prepare for an Ironman? Keep an eye out for future posts as I address each of these components.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Question: Are You Ready to Take on the Challenge of the Ironman?

Answer: Yes! If you have the fitness, time and money!

As a Professional Triathlon Coach and the Coach of the location triathlon club in metro Atlanta, I am often asked about the Ironman. Completing an Ironman distance triathlon is an important rite of passage for several triathletes, however the Ironman is not for everyone.

The Ironman distance triathlon has been known as the “ultimate test of fitness”. An Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. An Ironman sanctioned race requires athletes to complete the event within 17 hours on the same day. The races typically start at 7:00am and athletes must finish by midnight to obtain an official time and the right to be referred to as an “Ironman”.

Three important components that should be considered when contemplating signing up for an Ironman are fitness, time and money.

Athletes will need to have solid fitness foundation. Typically, one year of experience training and racing different triathlon distances is good to have under your belt.

Athletes with a good fitness base should plan to spend approximately six months specifically training for the race with the bulk of the training in the last three months. The serious time commitment will be on the weekends, if you work a typical full-time job, Monday through Friday.

Athletes should expect to spend a significant amount of money while preparing for the Ironman. The $575 entry fee is just the beginning of the expenses athletes will face. In addition to the race registration fee, athletes may need to pay for a gym or pool membership, coaching services, massage, additional equipment and travel expenses associated with the race venue.

If you are an athlete that has the base fitness to start training for an Ironman, the time available to commit to training and the funds to afford the high price of getting ready for an Ironman, you are probably ready to take on the Ironman.

If you determine you are ready, good luck! Enjoy the journey and savor the reward when you cross the finish line!

Do you want guidance along the way to your Ironman goal? Contact me at coach@vizslacoaching.com to schedule a free phone consultation!