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Showing posts from 2015

Don't call it a comeback

Or why constantly looking for the athlete you were can lead to trouble...

We've all been there - a season or two removed for competion in sports for what ever reason. When it comes time to return to that sport, it's also time for the glorious comeback - reclaiming the speed, power or skill that once defined us athletically. There are plenty of stories of athletes suffering major injuries and then finding themselves at the pinnacle of their sport again. The comebacks happen, but with less frequency among the weekend warriors or life long athletes then the premier elites. One major reason is that many life long athletes don't have the resources of the elites. We don't have the ability to hop in a plane so the top surgeon can work is magic. We are usually stuck with which ever doc the insurance company will pay for. We also usually don't have unlimited access to PTs and world class gyms. It might be 24 visits and rehabbing at 24 hour fitness. So comparing our ability t…

Consistency

After another successful outing at the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow, I took some time to look over the results and the lap times teams were riding. One thing struck me - and it's something I've noticed before in these lap style endurance races. The teams who finished on the podium, especially those on the top step, were not just the fastest. Speed helps, but it was the consistency of the riders as the race progressed that really sealed the deal. Granted, the lap times don't always tell the whole story. Someone who was riding 1:05 laps and all of a sudden has a 1:45 lap might have had a mechanical or such happen out on course. But the trends are still there. If a mechanical was the reason, the next lap usually drops back down.
Looking just at the Coed Duo, which is the class Nick and I race, the combo of speed and consistency was what won the race for us. It's easy to be fast for a few laps, but at what cost? For the top three teams, the men's first lap was all within 3 m…

More then just Training

A lot goes into getting ready for a race of any length. Most of the focus is on the training - long days, intervals and other physically tasking workouts. That's where the majority of the time spent and it's also the easiest to talk about. People understand intervals, track workout, long rides and recovery days. Really, the training is only part of preparation for a race. There are other, less noticeable and glamorous areas that have to be addressed with just as much focus. It's the non-training basics that can make or break any race, from a 5k to a 100 mile running event, a sprint triathlon to an iron distance race, and from a 20 minute short track to a 24 hour race. Along with the training, the pre-race preparation should become part of the schedule. It's not something to ignore until the day comes to leave for the venue.

What are some of the bigger areas of pre-race preparation? Gear is one of the biggest in my mind when something as simple as the wrong socks can r…

Comfort Zones

We all have them - that point where we are happiest, relaxed and just comfortable. It doesn't matter if it's in life or on the bike, we settle into those comfort zones and stay there - either not realizing that we are there or unwilling to make a change. And sometimes, that's okay. There's not always a reason to push the limits or make drastic changes. Until there is. Until there is something that makes us realize that there is a whole world out there, filled with new experiences. Then that comfort zone becomes a barrier holding you back.
On the bike, comfort zones tend to be speed and technically related. "I'm not fast enough to line up with those girls, I'll get my ass kicked." or "That rock garden scares me so I'm not going to sign up for that race." But wait a minute. Re-read those statements. Presented like that, the comfortable sounds like a limiter, doesn't it? Instead of just keeping us safe and happy, it's holding us back…

24 Hour Race Plans

So, you've done all the intervals and training - the long rides and the night rides. The time is approaching,the goal 24 hour race. Once the race starts, how can you ensure that you will have the best and most successful race possible under the conditions given? The answer is simple - a 24 Hour Race Plan. Not a training plan - but a race plan. A template for the race, reducing the stress, worry and possibility of things going wrong at 2:00 AM. A plan based on your goals, designed to help you and your team achieve the most number of laps possible. And this goes for more then just the mountain biking races - even runners at the 24 hour races can benefit from having a solid plan
Thelen Coaching provides something no other coach does - the years of experience in the pits at 24 hour races across the country. From a 24 Hour Solo National Championship to numerous duo podiums, I've proven that having a solid race plan with consistent performance can beat faster riders without a plan. …

Stress and recovery

How many age group athletes look at the intensive training schedules and workouts of elite athletes and think "I could be that fast, if only..." If only I didn't have to work 50 hours a week, I could spend more time training. If I didn't have to deal with family responsibilities as much, I would be able to train more. That's why I'm not as fast as the other athletes I'm racing against. I don't have the time to train as much as everyone else. So we try to replicate the elite schedules the best we can, with pre-dawn swims, lunchtime runs and evening rides on the trainer after dark. Every minute of every day is planned around the workouts. The weekends come and instead of rejuvenation from the stress of the week, more stress is piled on in the form of long rides, long runs and open water swims. And even with all the training and hard workouts, the results aren't there. So instead of going back to the drawing board, the most common "fix" is …

24 Hours in the Sage

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I'm happy to announce that Thelen Coaching is the official coaching partner of 24 Hours in the Sage for the 2015 race. This is one of the best 24 hour races out there, held on August 22/23 at Hartman's Rocks in Gunnison, CO. The race is based out of the Gunnison KOA, which means full access to all the amities of the campground - power for charging lights, warm showers and no pit area is more then a few minutes from the exchange tent. It also means that the entire campground is devoted to the race, with the staff serving up hot meals nearly around the clock. As for the course, it is a small sample of the fun that can be had at Hartman's Rocks. There is really something for everyone - from the technical rocks of Rocky Ridge to the sweeping, flowing fun of Sea of Sage. We've been doing the race since 2008 and it's gotten better every year.

As the official coaching partner of the race, I would like to offer all racers in both the 12 hour and the 24 hour races a discoun…

Treadmill or Dreadmill - snow solutions

Winter time - the bane of most athletes because of the adverse conditions. Snow, ice, sub-freezing temperatures all make getting outside for workouts and training difficult. Cyclists don't seem to mind moving inside onto the trainer when things get sketchy and some triathletes always ride inside. But runners? Treadmills are to be reserved those days when there is no other option and given the photos circulating the internet, that rarely happens. I'll admit to having an adverse reaction to a treadmill as well, trying to avoid playing hamster at all costs. But is that always the correct response? Well, it depends. (There never is an easy answer...) What are the goals of the workout? If there's a specific time pace or interval set that needs to be hit, then perhaps the treadmill is the smartest answer. Another thing to consider is modifying the workout - hills on the trail instead of a speed workout on slick roads. There are still benefits from hills that will carry over into…

Data vs feeling

It might seem contradictory - I've tweeted that every workout should have a purpose and athletes should be aware of the purpose prior to starting. The parameters of the workout should be clearly stated, along with the goals to be accomplished during the workout. That means the athlete needs to keep an eye or distance, pace or heart rate and power output to ensure that the workout achives the desired effect. It also means the athletes need to be aware of falling outside the ranges and when physical status might preclude an effective workout. The gadgets, toys and technology employed by both runners and cyclists now make that real time monitoring easier - and can assist the coach with providing feed back to improve performance. But I've also said that we need to unplug and leave the gadgets behind to reconnect with the world. Without numbers staring you in the face, you learn how you feel during the workout. There are no numerically imposed limitations to performance - just the …

Super Half - Post Race Analysis

After a race, regardless of the outcome, it is time to sit down a look at the training - what went right, what didn't work and what needs adjusting moving forward. It's not the race report from the athlete - it's looking at the performance and how the training affected the ability to execute the plan. I've posted my race report for the Super Half on my blog like any athlete would. This is the coaching analysis - a good hard look, removed from the emotion of the race performance. For running, there are a few key things that I like looking at when reviewing a training plan - volume, intensity and frequency. Overall, the training was spot on for my goals as an athlete, but there are a few issues that will be addressed for the next running event.

Volume - volume or weekly mileage is often considered key when it comes to endurance running. As a coach, building the volume is also one of the trickier aspects. Too fast and the risk of injury greatly increases. Too slow and yo…

Balance

Balance has become a buzz word in the past few years, with everyone going on about "life-work balance" "training balance" and so on. It's easy to get caught up with the fads and the buzz words, but harder to understand what it all means. What part of our identity should we be focused on? The professional aspect, personal aspect or athletic aspect? There's no easy answer to any of those questions, but if you find yourself wondering if you are missing things in any aspect of your life, then the balance is off. If professional quality at work is suffering because of fatigue from training, then the training plan needs to be re-assessed. The same goes if you find yourself missing important family obligations for that last few miles or extra swim session. At the same time, if work responsibilities are impinging upon time with family... That's a harder one to address, but just as important. It's a personal give and take to find the balance for a fullfilli…