Saturday, August 28, 2010

Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

I am always amazed when I talk to potentially new clients that are training for triathlons or marathons and they tell me they have never done strength training. It is never too late to start strength training. If you currently don't lift weights, then it is not too late to start now! It has been a part of my training for at least 25 years! I have never thought about not doing it except once when I started training for my first marathon. If you have read past blog posts you can read how big of a mistake that was. I will always lift weights until I die or cant physically do it anymore. I am here to tell you I do it and NO it is not my favorite thing to do. I would much rather be running! I know the importance of it so I make time for it.
Endurance athletes think that all they have to do is swim, bike and run. I am here to tell you strength and flexibility will help you in all areas of your training. If you want to get faster on the run and you do speed work and don't do strength training, you are not going to get as fast as you could. If you want to be a faster swimmer, and only do short, fast intervals then you are not going to be as fast as you could be. Strength training is also good for bone health. This becomes especially important in women with an increase in osteoporosis in the United States. The best part of building muscle is that it is a fat burning furnace. So what are you waiting for?
So what do you do in the gym? Well I would love it if everyone came to train with me in the gym but I know that isn't going to happen! However if you have never lifted weights, you should hire a trainer to get comfortable doing the exercises right. You may only need to work with a trainer for a few months. Then you will have an idea of what to do and how to do it right. Most endurance athletes I have worked with are pretty self motivated to workout. They just don't know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. There are also lots of great resources out there. There are good books that cover sport specific strength training and the Internet is another good resource.
So don't wait another day! Get into the gym and start lifting weights. It may be sacrificing a run, bike, or swim but I guarantee it will be worth it in the end.
When doing strength training for endurance athletes you don't need to lift heavy weights. Lower weight and more repetitions is suggested for endurance athletes. If you have long runs or bike rides coming up then it is advisable to take it easier on the legs a few days before those workouts.
Areas to focus on are core, hips, hamstrings, and shoulders. Core strength is so essential in swimming, biking and running. It is very easy to identify someone running or swimming with a weak core. Strengthening shoulders becomes important in running and swimming. Typically cyclists have very strong quads. The hamstrings are the weaker of the two so they should be trained.
I will coach anyone training for a marathon or triathlon for FREE if you do strength training with me in the gym! See my website for the details.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Supplements and Training

The supplement world can be so confusing. Let me make it simple and easy for you. I worked in the supplement industry for almost 20 years. There are a few really important supplements you will want to take. There are hundreds of supplements that are worthless and a waste of money.
Fall is coming and a lot of you are in the peak of your race season. The last thing you want is to be sidelined by a cold or flu. The following supplements are a MUST all year around to keep you healthy and feeling good:

  • A good multiple vitamin. Not one that you can get at Costco, Wal-Mart or your local grocery store. I personally like the Alive by Natures Way. Another great one is Life Extensions Mix. The problem with Life Extension is that you have to take 9 pills a day. Most people will not do this. That is why Alive is the best choice for the average person. Men should buy the no-iron formula because they usually don't need additional iron. Too much iron in men can actually be harmful.
  • CoQ10 is the big daddy of antioxidants. In my opinion the best one to take. Make sure you buy a quality product. Don't buy it at Costco, Wal-Mart or your local grocery store. When it comes to supplements you need to get a quality product. You pay for what you get! There are several forms of COQ10. The best and most absorbable is the Ubiquinol form. I recommend for endurance athletes 100-200 mg a day. COQ10 is an antioxidant and it also helps with cellular energy. It makes you feel better and have sustained energy throughout the day. When you workout you create lots of free radicals in your body. I am sure you thought working out was good for you and believe me it is. However, it does cause a few negative things. You need to take action to protect your body. Antioxidants fight free radicals (free radicals cause cell damage) and that in turn will keep you healthier. That is a really simple explanation of a very complex process.
  • Vitamin C - yes the basic of basic supplements. As I said before working out does cause a few negative things to happen in your body. Sometimes it does lower your immune system. Have you ever noticed when you begin a new exercise program you suddenly become sick? It is so common. Your immune system is weakened by the additional stress of working out. This makes you more susceptible when you are exposed to viruses. Taking extra vitamin c will help boost your immune system and protect you from these viruses.
  • Iron for women can be important. I would only take iron if you know for sure you are anemic. You can get a blood test to check for sure. It is very common for women to have low iron levels. It is even more common in women athletes. I take an iron supplement everyday. Take your iron supplement with your Vitamin C. Vitamin C increases the amount of iron you will absorb. Calcium and Vitamin D are also important for women and bone health.
  • Oil Of Oregano is my go to product when I get the first symptoms of any kind of sickness. Keep in mind the first sign of a sickness may only be fatigue. Oil of Oregano is great to kill most anything! You may not eliminate your sickness but you can cut the duration of it by taking this supplement. What could have sidelined you for weeks might only stick around a few days if you start taking Oil of Oregano right away! Make sure when you take Oil of Oregano you also take Acidophilis.

There are some very important things to keep in mind when taking supplements. I have known women who are iron deficient and they were actually taking iron supplements. They were deficient because they were not absorbing the iron. Why? Well this can happen with any nutrient you take if your intestinal flora is not balanced. How do you know? You can test your PH with PH sticks everyday. Which is kind of a pain. I tell people to ensure they are absorbing their nutrients take a good probiotic everyday. I like Natures Way Kyodophilis. I would not recommend a liquid. I would get it in a shelf stable, heat resistant, capsule form.

Some other great supplements for endurance athletes:

  • Inflammation can be very problematic in athletes and non-athletes. It comes from repetitive training, poor diet, and injury. Eating partially hydrogenated oils can cause chronic inflammation. Training again as good as it is for you causes inflammation. Injury is usually accompanied by inflammation. My favorite product to help reduce inflammation (no its not Advil) is by New Chapter and called Zyflamend. I take 2 a day to stay healthy and feel good. If I notice something is hurting then I will take up to 6 a day.
  • Recovox or the new name Proliftin is a great product when you are training for a long event. I have told several people about this amazing product. Most people end up finding it to be very helpful in their training. I have said several other times, training is great for you but it does have some negative affects. It produced a "bad" hormone called cortisol. Cortisol does have a function in the body, but it is only needed in very small amounts. Too much cortisol can cause, fatigue, loss of muscle, increase belly fat, and difficulty sleeping. If you are training for an Ironman or Marathon this product is a MUST. It keeps cortisol levels down.
  • Mezotrace is a great multi mineral formula if you tend to cramp or sweat alot in training.

Keep in mind no supplement in the world can replace any of the following

  • not getting enough sleep
  • not eating a healthy well balanced diet
  • not drinking enough water everyday
  • not training enough or training too much

I could go on and on about supplements but I wanted to keep this one short and simple. You can hear more from me in an upcoming seminar.

I will be talking more about supplements on August 25th, 6pm at Biomechanics of Las Vegas. Everyone is welcome and The Vitamin Shoppe will be handing out goodie bags for everyone!