Coach Mel: Sport Specific Technique and Strength Part I

Now that January is in full swing, it is time to start thinking about a bit more sport-specificity. However, for most of us, the weather is, if not worse, not much better than the past couple months. During the winter, sports that are more winter-enjoyable can fill our activity plate, but since the season sneaks up on us quickly it is time to narrow our focus a little bit. While we continue the staples of indoor training I have some ideas on how we can build a bit more cycling work into the program without plugging in yet another movie and mindlessly spinning on the trainer.

I think that strength training should continue through January and February, but I like to make the training more sport specific by doing some of the strength work on the bike, adding little workouts to increase the amount of cycling volume I am doing and turning my routine for core and limb strength into a circuit routine. I will give you some ideas in two parts that will allow you to continue to work on your technique for cycling and still address muscle imbalances that you might be targeting, while at the same time building some volume on the bike. The good thing about these workouts is that they also will improve your technique. I think a lot of people overlook how beneficial a nice, smooth pedal stroke and quiet upper body can be for your cycling.

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Coach Mel: Preparation for a Successful Season

Winter, for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, is the time of year to reconnect with your non-racing friends, reflect on the past season, and build some enthusiasm for the upcoming year. At the same time, you want to give your body a break. Since this time last year you will have completed hundreds of hours of training and racing, so it is important to take some time off to regenerate not only your muscles, but also your nervous system. You need a mental and a physical break in order to be at your peak training potential.

Since our Xterra season does not end until the end of October, I think it is beneficial to take at least two weeks completely off, meaning NO training. Sometimes this needs to be even longer, depending on your level of burnout. I usually go by feel. If I really don’t FEEL like training, I don’t do it. I wait until I really want to go to a workout or for a ride and until then I drink coffee, hang out and do yoga. This period of time varies from year to year and will vary from one person to another. I think that during this break is a good time to start thinking about what your goals are going to be for the next season.

During this training break, create two lists of goals. The first list should be your Outcome Goals, i.e. what are the results you would like to get (what place in a certain race or what time for a 10km). The second list should be your Process Goals, i.e. how you are going to achieve those goals (what skills do you need to develop, injuries to clear up, muscle imbalances to correct, techniques to improve). For example, one of my goals for 2006 is to defend my world title. In order to do this, I have three process goals. The first is to lower my race weight, the second is to improve my swim technique and the third is to work on my technical skills on my mountain bike in the winter. I invite you guys to share your goals on the forum so that you can all inspire each other next season and help each other achieve that success!

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In Her Words: Melanie McQuaid On Rivalry

This report filed August 25, 2005 on http://www.insidetri.com

(Jamie Whitmore and Melanie McQuaid have waged a seesaw war over the past three years of Xterra – Whitmore capturing the world championship on the strength of her run in 2004 and McQuaid using her vicious bike skills to take the world title in 2003. Who will prevail in Maui, at the 2005 world championships on October 23rd? Here, Melanie writes about how a strong rivalry can force competitors to improve beyond perceived limits.)

A rivalry exists when one strives to obtain something simultaneously with another – something which only one can possess. In sport, there can be only one winner, which is why sport inspires some of the greatest rivalries in history. A great rivalry is something quite special. It allows competing athletes to create a history in the sport beyond themselves. It allows their actions, their efforts, and their heart to be permanently recorded with the spirit of sportsmanship and competitiveness. I can think of some great rivalries which will forever be linked with that sport: Armstrong v. Ullrich (cycling); Evert v. Navratilova (tennis); Allan v. Scott (triathlon). The story of their competition remains vivid beyond the victories, and I feel proud that within the sport of Xterra for the last three years I have participated in my own rivalry, McQuaid vs. Whitmore. Having close competition can be one of the greatest ways to explore your own ability as an athlete, and it can make even your losses become some of the best races of your career.

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I Thought I Would Be Faster ???

Okay, the mystery of a fast bike split has just been solved by me? train specific!!! Well, knowing that sounds really lame, the solution really is that simple. Just because you consider yourself a strong cyclist does not mean you will blaze the bike split at any triathlon. How many incredible roadies never quite made it in mountain bike? How many rock star triathletes have not lived up to potential at Xterra? These aren’t indications of lack of talent, just lack of specificity. So for all of you mountain bikers in the audience wanting to time trial better, I have learned some things which may help you?.. Continue reading “I Thought I Would Be Faster ???”

The Never Ending Cold?

Nothing makes an athlete more grumpy than a cold. Taking time off to lay in bed feeling miserable is not quality rest, it is pure torture. Especially while you watch your training partners out training, getting fitter and winning races while you struggle to even turn the pedals. This spring, I had two MONTHS of alternating sick in bed a few days, feeling miserable a few days, a few days of crappy training, then one positive training day, only to find myself back in bed sick. It has been a nightmare. Lots of people I know have told stories about themselves or co-workers dealing with nightmarish flu bugs and allergies this season, but this experience has been something altogether new for me. Now, two months after my first symptoms of a cold, I am finally on antibiotics, but hopefully this is the last step to getting healthy. Continue reading “The Never Ending Cold?”

Running, Running, and not going anywhere??

I have a history of being a swimmer, then a runner, then a cyclist, and finally a triathlete. Years of training have added up to good fitness for a triathlete, but along the way I lost some of my form as a runner. Without good technique for any sport, you will be less successful, thus, in the interest of better technique and efficiency, I added treadmill training to my regimen? Continue reading “Running, Running, and not going anywhere??”

Spring has Sprung….

The beginning of February.. it is so foreign to me that I still basically have three months at home before I am leaving for racing. Last year I was getting ready to go win the NOVA cross country in Arizona? this year I am getting ready to go run the Cedar 12km. Yes, some big changes in the training program this year. Instead of blazing a path through the spring cycling classics, I am getting my butt handed to me by the incredibly talented Vancouver Island running community. Loving every minute of it! Continue reading “Spring has Sprung….”

An apple a day keeps the naturopath away….

This season, I finally decided to consult a nutrition expert to see if my diet was really as fabulous as I believed it was. I did this for two reasons. The first was to see if I was squeezing every food-related training advantage I could out of my diet. The second was the desire to lose some weight, and not just for vanity’s sake, I would benefit from an improved power to weight ratio. It is much easier to alter this ratio by reducing weight than busting ass to try and increase power, which at my level can take years to alter by a miniscule amount. Everyone knows that food affects not only our weight, but also our body’s ability to grow and repair muscle, and our immunity. The highest quality diet should be on all of our to-do lists, but somehow this to-do list is completely eclipsed by our want-to-do list, and the former list is often not as fun or desirable as the latter. I was concerned with improving my health, but was a naturopathic doctor going to be the answer? Continue reading “An apple a day keeps the naturopath away….”