The 2016 race season is approaching so it is time to start focusing on increasing my fitness and training volume. In the past, I always got by with self-coaching and building my own training plan using the principles in Joe Friel’s book The Triathlete Training Bible. However, since my ultimate dream goal is a Kona Qualification, which will require significant performance improvement, it is time to admit that I need help from an expert. A good coach should provide an objective viewpoint that a self-coached athlete would never get and help across all aspects of racing (race planning, training, nutrition, technique, gear, etc.).
Additionally, I wanted to get a Functional Movement Screen (FMS). Having the ability to go through a full range of movement and the stability to control that movement is paramount to avoiding injury. A FMS is basically a series of seven movements to identify limitations and asymmetries in movement patterns. A score of zero to three is given for each movement. This score is then used to identify the best corrective exercises to restore optimal movement patterns. As I noted in a previous post, I don’t exactly have the best mobility (being tall and lanky isn’t so helpful in this area) so I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any major mobility issues before ramping up training volume. I’m in this for the long game and don’t want to be suffering overuse injuries in the future.
I knew straight away who I wanted as a coach, Tawnee Prazak, endurance coach extraordinaire and host of my favorite podcast, Endurance Planet. She also has a great blog at tritawn.com. I love her holistic approach and focus on overall health vs. just athletic performance. She is based in SoCal so when we moved to San Diego I had to see if she would be willing to meet with me. I couldn’t believe it when she responded to my email and agreed to a consult because she is essentially a celebrity trainer in the endurance world.
It was about an hour drive to the Laguna Beach area where her gym is located. I was actually pretty nervous to meet her, which didn’t turn out to be a problem because she was super welcoming and we got straight down to business. We discussed my goals, why I raced, my previous training history and results, why now was a good time to get back into racing, and lifestyle factors that went way beyond just training and racing (family, diet, stress, career, etc.). It was an amazing conversation that lasted nearly an hour but felt more like 5 minutes. After our conversation she took me through a FMS which taught me a lot about my body. For an added bonus, I got to meet her mom on the way out!
About a week later Tawnee sent me the result of my FMS. I scored a 12, not great but better than I expected. A “passing” score is 15 or greater with no scoring imbalances between the right and left side and no scores of 1 on a movement. I had imbalances in my shoulder mobility (lingering high school football injury) and got a 1 on the deep squat and inline lunge.
She also sent me a list of corrective exercises, where to focus my training, and a suggested weekly training schedule. One thing I like about Tawnee’s coaching philosophy is that she won’t just build someone a training plan for the season to blindly follow. She is either going to be your full-time coach or just help provide direction through a consult, which is what I did. I still like to think I know enough about training and nutrition that I don’t need a full-time coach (yet).
The following are some of the key takeaways and things she told me to work on:
- Relationships need to come first
- Training volume needs to be at least 10 hours per week (this can include walking).
- Increasing running volume is the primary objective (especially with my upcoming marathon) with a focus on aerobic training by keeping my heart rate below MAF (essentially 180 minus your age). No intensity until I feel stronger and fitter.
- At least three run sessions per week with a key long run session that should progressively build to three hours (not including a walking warm-up and cool-down)
- Some weeks should include Triple Runs (30-60 min morning run, 30-60 min evening run, and another 30-60 min morning run)
- Mobility work should be done everyday using a list of exercises she gave me based on my FMS results.
- Two days a week of cross training: strength training, swimming, biking, or weighted hiking. I’ve primarily been doing strength training with a focus on stability exercises using another list of exercises based on my FMS results.
- Two days a week are open and should focus on active recovery and fun: yoga, focused mobility, easy swimming/cycling, paddle boarding, etc.
I’ve been following this program for about two weeks now and I feel phenomenal! I haven’t been tracking my workout results because I’m just trying to focus on workout consistency to start but I can already feel improvement. I don’t have a heart rate monitor yet so I’ve been relying on perceived exertion on my runs vs. my actual heart rate. That is soon going to change because I just ordered a Timex heart rate monitor for less than $50. A heart rate monitor will also open the door to fitness testing to track training effectiveness and results.
i gotta say…this coaching consult was well worth the investment! I’ll definitely be scheduling another one soon.