Archive for the ‘Training Information’ Category

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


An Afternoon
with Dr. Jack Daniels
May 1, 2011
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

@ Human Performance Consulting Athletic Lab
1823 NW Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27513

  • Ingredients of Success
  • Principles of Training
  • Aerobic Profiles
  • Planning a Training Season

Dr. Jack Daniels has been called the “world’s best coach,” by Runner’s World magazine. He is currently the head coach of cross country and track at Brevard College in Brevard, NC. Dr. Daniels has been named the National Coach of the Year by the NCAA, which also honored him as the Division III Women’s Coach of the Century.

During his 35-year coaching career, Daniels has coached 30 individual NCAA Division III National Champions, eight NCAA championship teams, and 130 All-Americans. Daniels has also coached five Olympians in men’s and women’s distance events and two sub-2:10 marathoners. Among the runners he’s worked with are Jim Ryun, Alberto Salazar, and Joan Benoit Samuelson.

An accomplished author, he has written four books, the most recent being the 2nd edition of the popular Daniels’ Running Formula. He has also written more than 50 articles published in scientific journals and frequently contributes running stories to popular magazines.

Before Brevard, Daniels was the head distance running coach at the Centre for High Altitude Training at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Throughout his career he has been a featured speaker at coaches’ clinics, running camps and symposia.

One of his special interests is the effect of altitude on training and racing. In 1968, he served as the altitude consultant to the U.S. Olympic Track & Field team for the Mexico City Olympics.

Daniels came to coaching after achieving greatness as an athlete himself. In the modern pentathlon, he was a member of the Olympic silver and bronze medal teams in 1956 and 1960.

Registration: General Public: $50 until April 17 $75 after April 17 USA Triathlon Coaches (with 5 CEU credits): $75 until April 17 $100 after April 17 Seating is limited. Early Registrants will be eligible for a drawing for a free pair of shoes. (4 pairs to be given away courtesy of Raleigh Running Outfitters.)

Payment @ Payment @ or Jack Daniels Coaching Clinic Or mail check to: AA Elite Coaching Ltd. 77 Lily McCoy Lane, Pittsboro NC 27312 Include Name, Address, Email, Phone and USAT # if applicable.

For More Information: Contact Andrew Allden @ or 919-619-3426

Two fundamental concepts for improvement in endurance racing and training involve:

– Increasing your aerobic endurance

– Improving your lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR)

The first is accomplished by completing workouts involving aerobic exercises (swimming, biking, running, rowing, cross-country skiing, and so on) at an easy to moderate effort level.

Over time, your ability to continue the exercise will improve through phsyiological adaptations to the specific exercise.

For example, if you are currently untrained or out of shape, a 30 minute bike ride may be challenging and near the limit of your ability. If you go and ride 20-30 minutes three times per week for a few weeks, your body will adapt by; increasing blood flow to the muscles being used; increasing muscle size (hypertrophy) and strength; improving blood flow through a process called capillarization (tiny veins to the muscles); increased mitochondrial density (aerobic enzymes) in the muscles; and a few other geeky details.

All these result in the ability to use oxygen as the main exercise energy source more efficiently, meaning you can now ride longer and not be tired at 30 minutes.

The second, improving lactate threshold, is accomplished by completing easier training sessions like the above, plus including more challenging workouts that raise your heart rate.

Lactate threshold is the point in exercise where your body produces more blood lactate than it can reabsorb (and manage other lactate by-products – look up “hydrogen & lactate & exercise” if you want some exciting reading) on a continuous basis. Well trained athletes can usually continue exercise at just below lactate threshold for about an hour. Go over lactate threshold though, and that time drops to 5-6 minutes.

For most people, the lactate threshold is about 20 heart beats per minute above the steady aerobic threshold. Any aerobic exercise, generally speaking, will help both points go a bit higher. But there is a point of diminishing returns.

If you don’t also include workouts that challenge your system by going just below to above your current lactate threshold, you will not maximize your ability in short distance to long distance events. The secret or goal with lactate threshold training is to raise your threshold point to as close as possible to your maximum heart rate, and improve your ability to withstand that discomfort (if it was easy everyone would do it).

If you never do harder workouts, then your lactate threshold will always remain below your possible maximum lactate threshold. Raising your lactate threshold point, for the most part, will bring your steady aerobic threshold point up with it (as the 20 bpm relationship is fairly constant).

So. If you’re training for an Ironman, from a specificity standpoint you want to train that steady aerobic threshold because that is more or less your race pace. But. You should include some LT training as well to raise that point a bit higher.

If, you are training for a sprint or olympic distance race, from a specificity standpoint you want to work more on that 2nd threshold. But. You shoud include quite a bit of aerobic steady training as that provides your ‘foundation.’ Blah blah blah, how do I find my threshold and what are some workouts ideas!!?

Finding it: Warm up 15-20 minutes then 30 minutes “race effort”. As hard as you can go for 30 minutes. Take your heart rate average for the last 20 minutes. Bingo. = LTHR. Biking: 2 x 20 minutes just below lactate threshold with 5 minutes easy between 5 x 5 minutes at lactate threshold with 3 minutes easy in between 5 x 3 minutes over lactate threshold with 3-5 minutes easy in between 8 x 1 minute well over lactate threshold with 2-3 minutes easy between Running: 2 x 10 to 15 minutes (1 to 2 miles) just below threshold with 5 minutes easy between 4 or 5 x 4 minutes (800-1200m) at threshold with 2-3 minutes easy between 5 to 6 x 3 minutes (600-800m) over threshold with 3 minutes easy between 8 x 1 minute over threshold with 1 minute easy between *generally speaking, running causes more breakdown so total “hard” training volume should not be more than 10-15% of weekly mileage.Swimming: 4 x 400s just below threshold with 1-2 minute between each 12 to 16 x 100s at threshold with 10-15 seconds rest between each 8 x 50 over threshold with 30 seconds to 1 minute rest between each.

There are plenty of other workouts, but the theme here is: sub-threshold workouts take 10-25% interval rest at-threshold workouts take 50-75% interval rest over-threshold workouts take 100-200% interval rest. Advanced athletes can do more repetitions and/or take less rest; beginner athletes should do less repetitions and take more rest.

Marty Gaal, NSCA certified strength and conditioning specialist, is a USA Triathlon and USA Track and Field Coach. He works with amateur athletes spanning the range of athletic experience and age.


2011 Britfit Training camp

BritFit Training and Coaching (Jackie Miller) and Trijinx, LLC (Melinda Yelton) are inviting YOU to a training camp in the NC Mountains May 4 – May 8!!  Come train with folks who think just like you – that suffering (and laughing!) is the key to racing faster!

Coaches Jackie Miller and Melinda Yelton will host this training camp set within the beautiful NC Mountains.  Our base for camp will be at ZAP Fitness Training Center. Located just outside Blowing Rock NC, ZAP was built to provide a permanent training facility for its elite runners.  With easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Moses Cone Park, ZAP provides a lodge house with rooms, all meals, a cool creek for soaking tired legs and a hot tub for comfort and relaxation!

This is the PERFECT opportunity for quality spring training for triathletes planning on a half or full Ironman event in 2011.  Spots are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis and will fill fast!

    Check in late afternoon, Wednesday May 4th; concluding by 1pm, Sunday May 8th
    4 nights lodging at ZAP Fitness Center
    All meals from breakfast Thursday through breakfast Sunday
    Coach and SAG-supported bike rides of various distances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
    Optional runs after the bike; group run Sunday
    Educational lecture from Zap Fitness Elite Running coach Pete Rea
    Cost is $425 for current BritFit and Trijinx clients; $500 for non-clients
    $100 deposit will hold your spot, remaining balance due by April 1st

Contact Jackie Miller at or Melinda Yelton at for reservations or for more information.

Any competitive running schedule is based on a few main premises.  Volume and intensity comprise the overall themes, while individualization for your age, experience, and goals make up the variables to work around.

However, the components of a good run training plan come down to four (and a half) key types of workouts:
•    fast/speed or intensity workouts done at or over lactate threshold effort
•    tempo or moderate hard workouts done at a sub-threshold effort
•    long runs at an aerobic pace
•    drills sessions

•    Core/strength training

Training zones/paces
There are two main methods to discovering your appropriate training paces.  The first is to use a running pace calculator like Jack Daniels VDOT method.  In this you take a recent race result and plug it into a calculator, which computes your training paces.  The VDOT method is very useful and find yours here.

The second method is to find your lactate threshold heart rate for running and then run based upon heart rate training zones.  Lactate threshold is the effort that a fit athlete can hold for roughly an hour.  Untrained athletes can’t hold this pace quite as long.  The easiest way to find LTHR is to run a 30 minute time trial, take the average of the last 20 minutes, and then use a calculator to discover HR zones.  There are other methods but this is the one we advocate.  A good HR calculator is here.

Note we are not affiliated with either linked site, they are just useful resources.

Fast workouts
Fast workouts are appropriate for all running distances up to the marathon.  These are also the most demanding.  An example speed workout (speed in this article is relative – we’re not talking about the 100 meter dash but 5k and above) would be 4 x 1200s at 5k pace with 200-400 meter jog recovery.  Another common set is 8 to 12 x 400s at 3k pace with 200 jog.  The number of repetitions and recovery intervals are adjusted for experience levels and current fitness.  Older athletes will almost always require more rest after an interval session than younger athletes.  That’s just nature.

Tempo runs
Tempo runs and tempo intervals are run at a sub-threshold effort.  These are not quite as demanding so they don’t require as much recovery post-workout.  All runners will benefit from tempo runs, but they are most useful for 10k and above distances.  A common workout is to warm up and then 20-30 minutes at tempo pace.  Another is to warm up and then run 4-6 x 1 mile with 1-2 minutes rest between each.  (Always cool down at least 5 minutes if not more). This is in heart rate zone 3 if you are using heart rate and the pace is slightly faster than Daniels marathon pace.  Daniels does not advocate running in this ‘grey’ zone, but many runners will run 10k to half-marathon at this pace, so it is a good idea to train at the pace you will race at.  This is the principle of specificity.

Long aerobic runs
Long easy to steady aerobic runs are intended to improve your aerobic ability.  Many motivated runners run too fast on these.  Your pace and effort should not be difficult.  The challenge of these is the duration.  Recreational 5k runners should build up to at least a 6-8 mile run, and marathoners will often go up to 22-24 miles in a pre-marathon build up.

Drills sessions
Running drills (like high knee drill, skips, bounds, and strides) and a number of plyometric exercises (like box jumps or jump rope) are all meant to improve your ability to minimize ground contact time – bounciness in other words.  Running consists of concentric and eccentric muscle contractions.  When you lift your leg to stride forward, your hamstrings shorten in a concentric muscle contraction.  When your foot lands, your quad muscles undergo an eccentric muscle contraction.  Essentially, with every step forward your muscles have to fight the downward force of gravity; your muscles briefly elongate while you exert force to begin the upward contraction to step forward again.  This eccentric contraction is why your quads are so sore after downhill runs.  These sessions are not overly taxing on the aerobic or anaerobic system but can result in a good deal of post-workout muscle soreness, especially in less experienced athletes.   You can view a few running drills here.

Core/strength training
Efficient movement patterns and power transfer are dependent on having a stable base to operate from.  If your legs are strong but your back/hip and trunk muscles are weak, a lot of the effort you put into running will dissipate through your body rather than transfer to the ground.  Some runners develop good core strength strictly through run training, but most of us can benefit from supplementary strength training.  Simple examples that you can do anywhere include planks, sit-ups, and bodyweight-only squats.

Generally speaking, most training mini-cycles (like a week) will include all of these in some shape or form, except in very early base building or transition (post race season).  Experienced runners might do a few drills within each training session.

Marathoners will also include a number of longish running sessions with several miles at goal marathon pace (MP).  This pace is not as fast as tempo but faster than easy/long.

Marty Gaal, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon coach and recently completed the USA track and field level 1 coaching clinic.  He has been a runner for twenty years.