Archive for the ‘Training Information’ Category

There are plenty of choices you can make every day of the year that will help you be a better athlete. None of us are perfect and some days will be better than others. However, if you consistently make more good choices than poor choices, you will consistently perform better than worse. This advice holds true no matter what walk of life we’re talking about. From an endurance athlete standpoint, here are ten points (no particular order) to consider as you start the new year. May it be your best yet!

  1. Go to sleep early and sleep eight hours or close to it each night. Turn off the TV, the random internet surfing, the mindless dithering – just pack it in and hit the sack. You need sleep to perform well, stay sharp, and feel good.
  2. Train with partners and friends. Nothing motivates us like avoiding the disapproving phone call we might receive after missing a session with a buddy. Friends are also more fun to talk to than the voices in your head.
  3. Choose better meals. Some of you have a great breadth of knowledge when it comes to nutrition; others don’t have a clue about micronutrients and good vs bad fats. A little education goes a long way here, but in general if you are eating out, choose lean meat (chicken, fish) over fatty meats (burgers), healthier sides (steamed veggies or sweet potato fries) over less healthy sides (french fries, buttery mashed potatoes).
  4. Train on a set schedule. A ten day periodized plan is fine for a professional athlete, but most of us need to adhere to a realistic seven day program. The easiest way to stay on track is to create a mostly set plan that repeats each week (the intensity and duration can change). Re: Monday swim, Tuesday run, Wednesday ride, and so on.
  5. Choose your races to suit your strengths. If you hate hills, don’t make a hilly race your big event for the season. That is setting yourself up for failure.
  6. Pick at least one key workout each week where you will really put some hard work in. For you younger than ~35 YO pick two or three. (If you are starting from zero, do at least a month or two of easy-moderate training before starting higher intensity.)
  7. Keep up with your strength training and core conditioning. This will help you avoid injury, and in your later years will help maintain power (pedal stroke, swim pull, and run pushoff).
  8. Keep up with your physical therapy exercises and stretching in general. If you have been diagnosed by a PT or Ortho-doc with some imbalances or other localized weakness, it means you need to do these exercises forever to eliminate the weakness.
  9. Hire a good coach for a consult or ongoing coaching. A good coach is both a taskmaster and an educator.
  10. Prioritize your races within your life. If racing is just a way for you to stay fit and have fun, don’t spend too much time worrying about race results. If you want to be competitive, you need to move the training and racing up a notch in your order of importance.

You can read more in-depth thoughts on most of these topics on the article page at

Marty Gaal, CSCS, has been coaching endurance athletes for eleven seasons. He is the co-founder of One Step Beyond.

Many triathletes are all really hard on themselves.  This is endemic to our somewhat OCD / Type-A sport.  It is a demanding and unforgiving sport when you boil things down, with lots of techniques, disciplines, and gear, and you are surrounded by equally motivated and self-demanding/achieving types.  There is nothing wrong with this.  However, your self-criticism must be balanced with a recognition of what you have done & continue to do well in, and what you excel in.

Not every race (or workout) is going to go perfectly, especially if it is not your big “A” race of the season.  You will probably be under-rested and a little beat up in most circumstances.  Take a moment to view your race day performances in terms of what went well first as well as what could be improved second.  Some of you view this in reverse – what went poorly with a negative self-assessment, followed by an after-thought of what went well, sometimes with prompting from outside.

Of course, as coaches want to know where you feel you could improve.  That is part of the racing and training process.

A positive attitude really makes a difference in how you view racing and training, and in my biased view it should be holistic – applicable across all aspects of sport. It is OK to be critical but it has to be balanced by a realistic view of your successful achievements in any given endeavor.

Bri and I have both raced at reasonably competitive levels, and personally nothing annoys me more than to have a person who finished ahead of me (or improved a lot, or won their division) start droning on about how they felt lousy or didn’t run well or missed a turn or whatever.  Give me and you a break.  Save it and revel in your victory or personal success.  Relax and enjoy the moment for Pete’s sake.  It is OK to enjoy personal success!

No matter where you are in your personal quest for fitness and competitive success, there is someone who is working very hard to get to where you are right now.  You can always look up and work to go up, but don’t forget to look down and back sometimes.  Some of you couldn’t swim a lick a year or two ago, or never rode a bike.  Now where are you?

Sometimes races will not go well, period, no matter your attitude or training. The great philosopher Forrest Gump sums it up well. (Warning: mild-bad language)

As coaches we work to create realistic training plans, adjusting things as situations change, as well as help you develop mental toughness and positive attitudes, which are big parts of race & workout performance.  Negative feedback loops quickly detract from performance, as quickly as dehydration or poor pacing can.

What I am trying to write is to stop and smell the roses once in a while.

Just not during the race. 🙂

Marty Gaal, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon and USA Track and Field certified coach and owner of OSB Multisport Coaching

Le Hilly An-Amháin
(A Very Hilly One)

A bit different that the one we did last April and about a mile longer! Cue sheets will be available.
Lystra, Bynum Ridge, Gum Springs, HWY 42 East, Ball Road

Date: Saturday June 11, 2011
(Move to Sunday if it’s raining on Saturday)
Time: 9 AM – Clip in and ready roll
Start: The Bicycle Chain in Apex
Distance: 102 miles
Pace: 17-18 MPH
Planned Store Stops @ 45 and 79 Miles

Route Details:
View the Route Map
Cue Sheet To Come…


Questions or to be added to the email list: Email


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Looking for a solid season of swim training in the Triangle area?  Join the TAC-OSB Cary Masters swim team at the Triangle Aquatic Center (TAC) in Cary, North Carolina.  All workouts take place at TAC.

This is a year-round program open to all 18+ athletes.

Practice times are:

  • Monday 545-715 AM distance
  • Monday 730-845 PM distance
  • Tuesday 545-700 AM core strength and technique
  • Wednesday 545-700 AM mixed stroke
  • Wednesday 730-845 PM mixed stroke
  • New Thursday 600-700 AM distance and mid-distance
  • Friday 6-7AM speed & anaerobic endurance
  • Some Saturdays 7-830 AM coaches choice

The fees:
$52.50 per month for all swim workout times, or $6.50 per session.

Click here for all the details.

One Step Beyond and FS Series present a mid-week summer swim-run series to the Triangle area.

Each Aquathon will take place on the first Wednesday of each month in June, July, and August at 6:30 PM.

Dates and locations:

Season pass sign up by May 29!

June 1 – Harris Lake County Park: 800m swim – 3 mile run

July 6 – Vista Point @ Jordan Lake – 300m swim – 1mile run done 3 times (5 transitions).

August 3 – Harris Lake County Park: 400m swim  – 3 mile run – 400m swim.

These events are low-cost and a great way to check your fitness against your local training partners!  Bring some grub and hang out after.

Entry into all 3 races is $50, or $20 per event.
2-person relays are welcome for $60 for the series or $25 per event.

Read all the details at

This high school season I had my athletes practice visualization techniques both as a group and individually.  Visualization is a powerful mental training tool that  enhances an athlete’s ability to overcome obstacles and perform at their highest potential.

Visualization – as far as athletics go – is the practice of imagining your competitive scenario and ‘seeing’ the outcome in the most positive manner for yourself.  It can help improve confidence, improve reactions to adverse conditions, and reduce performance anxiety.

Like every other technique you work on, it takes practice to calm the mind and see this vision from start to finish.  The best time to do this varies.  The key is to approach the visualization process with a quiet, calm mind.

A few quick steps:

  • Find a quiet spot, comfortable position, and focus on your breathing.  Empty your mind.
  • Imagine yourself at the start of your race.  Try to feel your muscles and hear the sounds of the race.  Imagine that you feel fully rested and powerful/strong.
  • Start the race.  You may want to imagine different scenarios, or focus strictly on the best scenario.  Personally I like to run through a best scenario, and in later sessions see a few where I overcome various obstacles (flat tire, slow start, and so on).
  • Feel the effort level during the event.  Imagine everything is working perfectly, smoothly, ‘effortlessly’.
  • Watch your competitors unable to maintain your pace.  You accelerate alone or with only 1-2 still with you.
  • Cross the finish line with a surge and a win.

Savor your mental performance and make it part of your experiences going forward.  The mind is a powerful tool, and the memory of a visualized performance can feel just as real to the mind as the memory of a real physical performance.

Confidence in your own abilities is a huge part of peak performance.  By huge, I mean, gigantic.  It can help to have a coach guide this process.  But after a few sessions you should be able to do it on your own.

You can read more at the following links:

Effect of Mental Imagery on Sports Performance  – A Plessinger
Visualization for Sport Performance  – E. Quinn
Mental Imagery – B. Mac

Marty Gaal, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon and USA Track and Field certified coach and co-owner of OSB Multisport Coaching

As spring and summer quickly approach, it is time to be more serious about hydrating during workouts and rehydrating after.

Quoted from this article on Human Kinetics online:
Fatigue toward the end of a prolonged sporting event may result as much from dehydration as from fuel substrate depletion. Exercise performance is impaired when an individual is dehydrated by as little as 2% of body weight. Losses in excess of 5% of body weight can decrease the capacity for work by about 30% (Armstrong et al. 1985; Craig and Cummings 1966; Maughan 1991; Sawka and Pandolf 1990).

And another initial quote from this abstract on PubMed:
Dehydration refers both to hypohydration (dehydration induced prior to exercise) and to exercise-induced dehydration (dehydration that develops during exercise).

What does all that mean to you as endurance athletes?  It means, simply, that being dehydrated before and during endurance exercise will negatively affect your performance!  

Just a bit of dehydration prior to working out will lead to a less-than-stellar workout.  And you want every workout to count.  Any impairment to your performance could result in a variety of issues, including at a minimum a less-than-great workout, and at worst, an injury.

A few simple tips to keeping yourself hydrated as we enter the hotter part of the year:
•    Have a glass of water when you wake up
•    Have another full glass with breakfast, especially if you are a coffee or caffeinated tea drinker, as caffeine is a diuretic
•    Keep water or sports drink available to sip on during the day
•    Have some more before working out
•    Have some while working out, especially on hot days or if you are training for longer races
•    Drink another full glass or two after every training session
•    Have a full glass with every meal
•    Your urine should be clear most of the time; light yellow = mild dehydration, dark or bright yellow = severe dehydration

For busy people like yourselves, every workout counts.  Don’t let a simple thing like being dehydrated stop you from making the most of every session.

Marty Gaal, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon and USA Track and Field certified coach and co-owner of OSB Multisport

If you want to become a better triathlete or runner, you have to have a willingness to suffer. The word suffer does not need to have a negative connotation. Although the official definition is to undergo or feel pain or distress,  it can also mean allowing yourself to push beyond your comfort level. Our comfort level is just that – comfortable. It’s working hard, but not hurting too much. It’s breathing hard, but not uneasily so. Willing to suffer can help you break through those barriers.

But how do you do it?

Train yourself to suffer

You have to suffer in training. There is no way around it. We all have goals for the season (at least, I hope we all have goals for the season), and these goals need to be at the forefront of your mind when you need to make it hurt. Training with others can also help push you past places you haven’t been, or don’t usually go by yourself – the hurt locker.

Every training session should not be a suffer-fest. Key training sessions, breakthrough workouts, and workouts that your coach marks “Do not miss this one!” are the ones where you need to focus and be willing to suffer.

Growing up, there was a very well known high school running coach in my area. I remember reading an article about one of his best athletes who had just had an amazing race. When asked how she had such a breakthrough performance she said, “Coach told me I needed to run with PAT today. Pain, Agony and Torture.” Now that seems a bit extreme, but the idea of it has never left me. Be open and embrace the discomfort – yeah, okay PAT, I’m ready to run with you today.

Suffering takes experience

Experience is needed to know how and how much to suffer. Everyone’s perceived pain tolerance is different. I was once told that if something hurt, that was your body’s way of telling you to slow down. I was completely baffled by this idea – how will you ever make any athletic gains if you don’t ever allow your body to hurt? But my hurt and your hurt may be completely different. Training at different effort levels, at different paces and heart rate zones can all help us develop our own internal guide. All of this will help when you get to your races, but pure racing experience is tough to simulate. So get out there and sign up for some races!

Suffering in races

Suffering in racing can be easier for some folks, but here’s the thing – you can’t expect to show up to a race and put up with racing discomfort when you have never put yourself in that type of discomfort in your training. Magic doesn’t just ‘happen’ on race day. You wouldn’t show up to a race and expect to swim fast if you haven’t swum fast in training, right? Aha – caught some of you. It’s time to go throw in some really hard intervals on short rest in the pool! 😉

As mentioned above, every race does not need to be a suffer-fest. This can lead to burnout very quickly. That’s why it’s good to have ‘B’ and ‘C’ races where you may be dialing down the effort, working on something specific, or just not worrying about your finish and simply having fun. When you toe the line for your ‘A’ race, though, you’ll be ready to go to that proverbial well.

Check your ego

This is an interesting quote:  “Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily…” I can relate this quote to many aspects of training, but it also resonates with racing. Have you ever gotten close to the end of the race and seen another competitor up ahead? You can dig really deep and try and beat them to the line. It’s going to hurt and, and – gasp – what if you fail?! It would be so much easier to just sit back here in this comfortable position and finish. But, so what if you don’t catch them? You have shown yourself that you’re not done racing until you cross that line, no matter what the outcome may be.  And of all the outcomes that could happen…failing to try your best is definitely NOT going to be one of them.

Mental Tricks

There are many different ways to handle suffering other than just telling yourself to suck it up. If fact, telling yourself, “suck it up,” is so intangible it may not help at all.
Remove yourself from the situation. I don’t mean in a way that causes you to lose focus on the task at hand, but in a way that you can put some of the discomfort your feeling toward the back of your mind.

I remember reading that when Shalane Flanagan won the bronze medal in the 10K at the Beijing Olympics, she imagined she was doing one of her hard runs on the Tobacco Trail. There she was, vying for a medal in arguably one of the most important races of her life and she’s mentally putting herself on a trail where she knows she’s had fantastic runs and can stay relaxed, rather than getting wrapped up in the high pressure moment.

Focus on specific form cues. Having short mantras you can repeat can get your mind focused on something that will enhance your race, while also alleviating negative self talk. Here are couple of examples I will use. During the swim: “Reach…and pull” During the run: “Quick feet, elbows in.”

Develop some of your own form cues to concentrate on

Come up with small goals. Sometimes you may need to resort to bargaining with yourself: you can walk at the next aid station, or, run 3 more light poles, walk 1, run 3 more. These little goals can help break the race and/or training down into doable parts when you’re having a particularly rough time.

Draw confidence from some of your hard training sessions. “I got through that horrible bike workout where coach had me do multiple 20min rounds at Z4…I can get through this!” or “Remember those mile repeats you nailed? You were strong then and you can be strong now.”
Run with PAT.

Finally, I need to stress that when I’m talking about suffering and pain, I’m referring to workout discomfort, NOT injury pain. There is a big difference between pushing your body to make physical gains and knowing when to stop because you’re going to hurt yourself. As an endurance athlete it is extremely important to understand when to say when…and when to not say when. Sometimes this only comes through experience, but often times it comes from listening to your body and responding appropriately.

Coach Bri Gaal of One Step Beyond is certified with USA Triathlon and USA Track and Field.  She has suffered a lot over her athletic career, in a good way.

Master’s Swim Instructional Programs:

PR Coaching is offering a range of swim programs during the month of March and April at Triangle Aquatic Center.  All programs consist of 4 x 60 minute sessions starting on March 22nd and running until April 14th. You can choose from three unique programs, tailored to your individual needs.  Whether you would like to learn how to swim or are looking for ways to swim faster, one of these programs will work for you. The learning begins in the pool but doesn’t stop there. Each swimmer is provided with a swim workout to practice on your own during the week (via email). The swim workout is intended to support the work you did during each coached session. In addition, you have unlimited access to me should you have any questions or issues that need to be explored.

After deciding which program suits your needs, please bring a pair of goggles and a swim cap (to protect your hair from the chemicals – although swimmers with very short hair can go without the cap) to the coached sessions. Men should wear jammers or a tighter fitting suit (no board shorts please- they create a lot of drag and slow down your learning).  Tri shorts are also acceptable, but be aware that the chlorine breaks down the fabric quickly. The cost of each program for one session/week is $80.  If you wish to attend two sessions/week the cost is $150.  Drop in fees are $25.  Swimmers must be 16 years or older.  Exceptions can be made.

Beginner Program:
This swim program is designed for the true beginner in mind. If you have always wanted to learn how to swim for fitness or triathlon but never learned how, this program is for you. Participants in this program are typically not able to swim the length of the pool when they begin.

Start Date: March 23
Session Times:  Wednesday  11-12 am.

Advanced Beginner Program:
This program benefits the swimmer who is capable of making it across the pool without stopping but still has some fear and breathing issues that are mostly due to a less efficient swim stroke.  Swimmers in this program will learn how to become more comfortable in the water and be provided specific drills to help promote a better ‘feel’ for the water.

*Start Date: March 23, or March 24
Session Times:  Wednesday 12-1, Thursday 6-7am
*Please choose on session, or you register for both

Intermediate Swimmers:
This program has the swimmer who can complete 100 yards in about 1:50-2:15.   This swimmer has been working at his or her stroke for a while but can’t seem to make any improvements.  Each swimmer will get individualized drills to key in on stroke inefficiencies that might be slowing progress.

*Start Date:  March 22 or March 24
Session Times:  Tuesdays 6-7am, Thursday 7-8am.
*Please choose one session or you register for both

Advanced Intermediate Swimmers:
This program has is for the swimmer who can swim 100 yards in 1:30-1:50 and is looking for ways to become faster.  This program runs at the same time as the In
Intermediate Swim Program.

*Start Date: March 22 or March 24
Session Times:  Tuesday’s 6-7, Thursday’s 7-8
*Please choose one session or you register for both

Please copy and paste the Registration Form below into another document and fill in the information.  You can email your document to or send it in the mail with your check to PR COACHING, 305 Palace Green, Cary NC, 27581.  Please also include your Informed Consent which is attached to this email.  Space is limited – registration is first come first serve basis.

PR Coaching Instructional Master’s Programs Registration
Contact Phone:
Emergency Contact:
Session Start date:
Session Time Slot:
Total Amount Enclosed:

Bodywork Connections and Brit Fit Personal Training are offering a “Partner Stretching” class on March 12, 2011 9:00 am – 11:00 am.  This class will provide detailed information on Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching (PNF)  and Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) both done with a partner.

Bring your spouse, friend, kids, workout partner, or someone that will help you in your stretching program.  This is open to anyone, at any age. This is a great time to train your kids in proper stretching. Please share this email with neighbors, friends or anyone that you think might be interested. Injuries are generally from OVER stretching (or the inability of the muscle to stretch thereby ‘tearing’.)

Flexibility is the key to Injury Prevention. Cost is $30.00 per pair, refreshments & educational materials provided. Class will be at our 1100 Holly Springs Road Suite 100 location. Wear Comfortable clothing, yoga mats encouraged. Call to register for the class: 919-567-5371.

Also, March 20, 2011, Bodywork Connections will be helping Athletic Edge Sports Massage at the American Tobacco Trail Marathon. We know many of you will be out there running so make sure & drop by to say “hi” or jump on the table for some cool down work. Have fun!!!
Welcome Spring with open arms!!

Bodywork Connections: Sara, Donna and Theresa
Brit Fit: Jackie Miller
Schedule Now!

Bodywork Connections
1100 Holly Springs Rd Suite 100
P.O. Box 184
Holly Springs, North Carolina