Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Year's Resolutions...Do a Tri!

If your New Year's resolutions include 'getting in better shape,' 'losing X amount of pounds,' 'fitting into a wedding dress,' and/or 'completing/competing (in) your first multi-sport event' then you should sign up for my 7 week triathlon training course at the Downtown Minneapolis Y(MCA)!

Starting on Monday January 10th, I will be teaching a class that covers the basics for triathlon training and preparation. Although the class has a swim-focus to it, there will be comprehensive triathlon overview education. If you are a member of The Y or not, you are welcome to sign up for this great class which will cover swimming in open water principles, swim-to-bike transitions, open water spotting, video analysis, swim specific strength, technique drills, breathing technique, equipment involved, general training principles, and a mini-triathlon.

There are class offerings on Monday nights and Wednesday mornings. Sign up at the Downtown YMCA-30 South 9th Street, Minneapolis. Registration forms can be found on The Y's website:
(click here).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Healthy Holiday Habits

My wife and I just returned from visiting her family in Indianapolis for a brief but needed Thanksgiving vacation. We had a marvelous time and managed to keep things sane. Her family is wonderful hospitality and her mother in particular is such a welcoming woman. One thing I appreciate about my mother-in-law's hospitality is her health-conscious cooking. She truly takes homemaking and mothering as a professional job, and it's one she has mastered. Stewarding fresh veggies and whole grains, she crafts excellent cuisine that is simple, fresh, and wholesome.

Although her approach to cooking includes adjectives that could-I should say
ought to- be descriptors of our life in general I think life often isn't so. I wonder if many athletes and the sedative lot as a whole wish that Christmas season had a bit more love and joy and less havoc and mayhem.

The ladies (and a guy) that I work with at the Y are a joyful bunch to say the least. While they already incorporate many healthy lifestyle traits into their daily grind, I decided to submit a bit of a challenge to them. I made a charge for Healthy Holiday Habits (H3). Below is a description and outline for the process. If you are interested in joining the challenge-IT'S FREE, and you can email me to join.

Although the winter holiday season is one of the craziest times of year for many Americans, Paul McCartney coined it as "simply happy, wonderful time of year" in his Wonderful Christmastime song. Many people have a hard time seeing it as so.

In our goal to maintaining healthy 'Spirit, Mind and Body for all' at the Y, we are going to have a friendly competition. Healthy Holiday Habits (H3) is going to be our charge for the weeks of December 1st to January 1st.

Our goal is not quantitative per se, so don't go jumping on your scale or measuring your waist-line. Our goal is balanced life-filled with healthy eating, healthy exercise, and low-stress, energy producing activities!

On a weekly basis you will tabulate your points total using the list of included activities below, and submit them to me at A total points list will be kept in the aquatics area with everyone's running totals-names will be secret names! Have fun, be healthy, and enjoy the Season!

  1. Attend Holidazzle Parade (7 points), if you bring a friend with (10 points)
  2. Park at the back of the parking lot when grocery shopping (1 point)
  3. Attend Water X! (5 points)
  4. Attend a Group Fitness Class other than Water X (4 points)
  5. Eat all 3-5 recommended servings of veggies in one day-points can be each day [1]you meet this goal (2 points)
  6. Exercise for at least 1 hour (3 points)
  7. Take the bus instead of driving (1 point)
  8. Call a family member you don't talk to often, and have a meaningful conversation (3 points)
  9. Abstain from alcohol for 2 consecutive days (1 point)
  10. Abstain from eating sweets 2 consecutive days (2 points)
  11. Drink 2 liters of water-each day counts as completion (2 points)
  12. Get someone to exercise with you for 30 minutes or more (3 points)
  13. Bring a homemade lunch to work instead of eating out (2 points)
  14. Go XC skiing (8 points), if you bring a friend with you (12 points)
  15. Attend a holiday concert with a friend or family member (5 points)
  16. Exercise at the YMCA on a Saturday or Sunday (3 points)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fitness Appeal and Other Vain Pursuits

I admit there are days of a year gone by, that I sought to cultivate a sexy appearance in my fitness regime and I am glad to say those ideals are a thing of the past. I do hope that in my pursuit of being a great age-group triathlete that my physique is appealing to my (in the words of Ricky Bobby, 'smok'n hot wife') wife but, I hope that my primary ambitions of being fit, being healthy and being balanced in life it foremost.

I teach swim lessons, coach triathletes, and teach water aerobics at the local downtown health club. This health club has gotten local reviews for its reputation of being a top hook-up venue. While I won't make comment on this reputation, I was struck by a scene today that I should like to make reflection on.

At noon, a group of master's swimmers meet at the pool to endure an hour of grueling training that is prescribed by the national master's swimming association. Many of these guys are in their prime of fitness, while they are past their prime of, what most people would call prime of, age. In their late 30's, 40's and 50's, these guys are as buff as a physical specimen can come! They guys swim 5 days a week for 1 hour and they have every right to boast for their accomplishments athletically, but their fitness level and level of healthy lifestyle is unparalleled. It is a marvel to me that these guys are some of the least vain people I know! They are not the types to stand in front of the mirrors and check-out their muscular appeal, or strut about in pompous display of their physical superiority-no, these guys are down-to-earth real type guys that enjoy being athletically active and being good stewards of their bodies. While many an on-lookers there were admiring their appearance, that was not an ambition that they sought.

Thinking about my own ambitions for fitness, health and wellness, I was convicted in comparing myself to these guys. I think this is a pitfall of many endurance athletes-no all athletes. While we pursue 1st place, a top 10 finish, or just the completion of our first triathlon, we all have periphery aspirations of weight-loss, a trimmer mid-section, or a more 'cut' physique.

November and December can be two of the most fatty-food, high-calorie, sweet-infested months! Being of Scandinavian heritage, this is especially the case with foods like Rømmegrøt, Lefse, oyster stew, and pickled herring. Although I won't abstain from the indulgences of the norkse heritage, I will challenge myself and my athletes with this charge-moderation the admonition and not complete abstinence of good foods. Eating one piece of lefse, one bowl of rommegrot, or one bowl of oysters stew will not be the ticket to sure weight gain and poor base-season training effects, but too many of any will be.

I realize that for many fitness, a good race result or a personal best are not the goal...vanity, appearance and accolades of friends as being prettiest, skinniest, or fittest is the only acceptable reward for hard work, regimented training, and healthy diet...but each of those fleeting pursuits will be as a vapor, and the day will be gone. Seize the day. Live for a healthy and balanced life. Put fleeting vanity aside and enjoy good food, training, and family through the holidays!
~Coach K

Wednesday, October 13, 2010



1. to compose and perform or deliver without previous preparation; extemporize: to improvise anacceptance speech.

to compose, play, recite, or sing (verse, music, etc.) on the spur of the moment.

to make, provide, or arrange from whatever materials are readily available: We improvised a dinner from yesterday's leftovers.

Using the third definition of Improvise, I adapted a work-out this morning. The materials that were available were: time, before Bambino would go down for her nap; stroller, mode of transportation for bringing Bambino with for the exercise duration; exercise resistance band, a way to modify what should have been a roller-ski effort to a modified run-strength ski exercise; amazingly beautiful day, what more could be ideal!

Although I had hoped to get a rollerski in today, I was forced to work with what I had. Unforunately we don't own a Chariot with a ski attachment yet-and well, there's no snow anyway!!!

Lessons learned: make plans-plans are good; realize plans must be changed at times; realize fun can be had and goals accomplished when the plan isn't executed exactly as designed!

See you on the trails, Coach K

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A New Season and Some Changes

With fall colors on the trees (in some parts they're gone!) and the cool smell of winter lingering in the breeze, it's time to prepare for a changing of seasons-even as we are currently experiencing changes all around us. Last weekend my wife and I headed over to Theodore Wirth park to watch part of a cyclocross race with our little Bambino. The race was a blast to watch and we saw many a familiar face including folks from Freewheel Bike, and even a neighbor of ours that we'd only recently met. Trampsing through the leaves and kicking a bit of dirt up as we strove to our destination, I felt that race-atmosphere in the air. One of my co-workers came riding down a hill we were ascending, and didn't even notice us-his game face was on! All shapes and sizes of riders were present. Some had donned advertisment-laden duds and others had dirt-stained training outfits. A few riders had bikes that would likely pay double a down payment on my house, and others had make-shift cyclocross bikes, or better yet-mountain bikes. Cyclocross, for those that are not familiar with it, is a sort of off-road derby type bicycling style. Racers ride on a road bike style set-up with slightly knobby tires and more beefy brakes...riding on an off-road mountainbike couse and hopping off their bicycles to hop over 12 inch-hurdles that are set-up at various places throughout the course as obstacles. A hodge-podge of road racing, mountain bicycling, and duathlon-tendency could be a fair assessment of the discipline. All this to say, even our endurance sport community is in a changing of seasons and somewhat confused whether to cling to the few last days of warm or to embrace head-on the shivers of the pending cold. I am choosing to do a bit of both.

I have been approached by several athletes recently, asking about coaching services for the 2010-2011 triathlon season... I am delightfully surprised at how many people realize that now is the time to start making plans for next spring and summer. If it takes 30 days or some say 6 weeks to establish a habit, then now is a great time of year to start experimenting with what kinds of habits ones' life will accomodate, and which types of habits one needs to incorporate to shed pound, tone-up, or manage dietary proclivities.
I recently started experimenting with some habits myself. I have started to exercise in a very systematic way.

Secrets aside, I am training for the Birkebiener ski race which is some time in late February. Although I trained and competed as an elite skier when I was in high school, I imagine there will be some things that might take a while to come back to me. Either way, I have rekindled my winter sport to try and look at the "off season" from a different vantage point. The way I have been getting back into ski shape is through 1 hour of training before noon, Monday-Friday. This typically takes the form of calisthenics 2-3 days a week and circuits and some lite endurance work 2-3 days a week. The endurance work includes running (road), trail running, trail hiking, nordic walking, cycling, spinning, swimming, and some rollerskiing. The calisthenics are somewhat complex and include TRX-style strength, pull-ups, dips, sit-ups, some xc ski dryland drills, and other related things.
I have been able to stick with my new routine-roughly-for about a month now, and I have hopes that it's gonna stay.

The goal I have for this intermediate transition/dryland season is to keep the HR low, build a solid strength base, trim up my body to handle larger distance and intensity loads, and to work on ski-specific technique drills. I welcome all to join me on this new adventure through the autumn/winter months. I hope to start some group training sessions at Theo Wirth park sometime in the next month. For more info about group training or small group training sessions contact us at triathloncoachk (at) gmail .com

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What I am reading...

Truth be told, I am somewhat of an information-education junkie. Although I don't classify myself as a traditional "student" I am a bit of a nerd at heart and am a self-professing 'life-long learner.' That said, it should come as no surprise that the book I am currently reading is the American College of Sports Medicine's Resources for the Personal Trainer, the textbook for their professional personal training certification course, which I am training for.

Currently I coach many of my triathletes at the Downtown YMCA. At the YMCA I primarily coach athlete's swim leg, and don't focus on triathlon as holistically, because of the limitations for which I am allowed to prescribe based on my job description there. At a Lifetime Fitness, LA Fitness, or another gym I would be a fully accredited Personal Trainer/Coach, with my USA Triathlon coaching certification, this is not the case at the, no harm done, I am pursuing a more "official" education and getting my Personal Trainer certification.

The course is very thorough, and the book has a great wealth of information, including references to some additionally helpful resources and materials. While I feel very confident prescribing triathlon training plans, weekly workouts, and periodization charts for my athletes, I can honestly say that this course is growing my exercise physiology, kinesiology, and anatomy knowledge exponentially! While the book focuses primarily on the assessment, prescription and maintenance of a personal trianing regimen, the book offers additional information on managing a business, networking with allied health and medical professionals, and tracking development within a program.

There are some great nuggets that I am learning in this book, that anyone would profit from. I hope that while I finish up this program, that my athletes will benefit and my coaching practice will be improved through the investment I have made reading and studying for this accredidation and certification.

~Coach K

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Free Late Season Race Strategy Session

Please contact me if you are interested in designing a last race of the season, race strategy. I am happy and willing to do so at no charge and I am confident that I can save you time and hassles.
~Coach K

Monday, August 9, 2010

Heart Rate Zone Training

Most athletes will admit that from time to time it is hard to monitor and maintain a specific intensity in their training. Many tools and technologies have been harnessed to gauge the level of intensity that the athlete trains at. Some of these tools or physiological metrics are more scientific than others. Some of these tools require very expensive machinery and laboratory tests. A metric tool that I have found to be very helpful in my own training, and a useful tool in the training of the athletes I coach is heart rate zone training.

Mark Allen, a several time winner of the Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii is an evangelist for the heart rate training. He has authored numerous articles and books about the subject area of heart rate and training zones, and could be considered one of the foremost experts in this area. Most of the methodology that I use when designing a training program is the very same philosophy that Allen teaches in his own coaching and writing. I found an article that was written pretty recently by Mark, discussing the topic of heart rate zone training.

Let me put a disclaimer on this article, in that heart rate can be variable considering ones age, health condition, level of athleticism, and wellness (sick or ill). Heart rate can also vary by sex, week of menstral cycle, weather conditions, and other implications. Heart rate monitoring must be conducted within the framework of safe medical clearance as well as consideration for any extenuating circumstances. I hope you enjoy this article. Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments.
All the best,
Coach K

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mid-Season Assessment

For many athletes, mid-season can be a frightening and frustrating time of reflection and hopefulness. For the typical triathlete, the first race is under the belt and still a few triathlons remain in the summer schedule. At this point many triathletes have a clear idea of what they did right and what they did wrong, in their pre-season preparation. Although you may be regretting having skimped on your base training, or those hell-ish anaerobic threshold workouts your coach had on your training plan back in May, you may still have what it takes to pull off a good race by season's end. Here are three ways to keep your fitness strong to the end this summer's endurance racing season.

1.) Make sure that regardless of your training load you are allowing yourself ample recovery and rest (sleep!!!). One misconception among novice endurance athletes and masters alike, is the idea that the harder one trains the faster and stronger a racer one will be. Althoug this has some merit, it is in the recovery phase that one's body recharges and rebuilds itself from hard effort and thus becomes stronger and fitter. I can remember being an elite junior cross country skier...and seeing all of these 30 and 40-somthings thrashing their way around the trail system at the local regional park for hours and hours. We used to have a running joke about these people amogst us junior olympic development athetes: 'they trained to race, but they raced in their training!' Somehow these middle-agers would beat their bodies and then when the competition came, they were beat and had nothing left. Don't be one of those fools! It's not what's left on the trails or road in your training set, it's the one who leaves the fastest time on the clock on competition day.

2.) Nutrition is the way you allow your body to perform in the way it was made to. Our bodies are complex and magnificent machines, but like all machines they need the right fuel and groomings to work at top shape. Simple elements to a complete nutritional regimen include consuption of a balanced meal with all parts of the food pyramid. More specifically, one should be concious of how many vitamins and minerals they are consuming and making sure to properly hydrate before, during and after training sessions. Here in Minnesota we often get a sterotype for having unbearable winters, but to those not-native or unfamiliar to Minnesota climate, it may come as great surprise to know that we can get some exceptionally hot summer days. This past week we had several days with heat indexes close to 100 degrees (F). Making sure to have not only proper amounts of hydration, but also a good electrolyte balance is key to making sure that the hydration will keep your body using the water and minerals properly. In addition to hydration one can also improve training effectiveness and efficiency by consuming a healthy amount of free-radical fighting anti-oxidants and also a good amount of Omega-3's. Top coaches and nutritionists for elite and olympic triathletes focus on a complete diet with balance of healthy foods like veggies and complex carbos, healthy fats, fibers, and moderation in sweets.

3.) Although it is a perannial ideology of my coaching practice, I can't stress enough, the importance of balance in lifestyel and training for endurance sport! There are only short seasons to enjoy, such as children that grow-up quickly, early stages of relationships, and helping those in need. Make sure that to keep a out-look on life that isn't too narcissistic in nature, just focusing on oneself, the training regemin, and making sure to stay on course towards fitness; life is about so much more than having a top 5 age-group finish at Heart of the Lakes Triathlon or beating your neighbor at the next 5Km road race. Keep balanced! If you think you might be losing perspective on things, ask those around you that know you and are closest to you. What are they saying?

Well, not all seasons are alike. Although things may have turned out much different that you'd expected-maybe amazingly well for the better, and maybe not so much, have hope, keep perspective in mind, and keep a focus on these three simple elements to the rest of your season. May it be one filled with fun, family and friends!
-Coach K

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New:Mayo Clinic Strength Training Videos

The Mayo Clinic has just released a web collection of strength training videos. From the pioneers in innovative medicine comes a collection of videos to show you how to do every move correctly. Click here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Conquering the Swim: 5 Essentials

1. Get in the pool early and often. Many people wait until the last few weeks before their big event. This is not so wise. One of the most common comments that I get from my athletes, pertaining to swim training, is the more often they are in the pool, the more comfortable they feel in their race. If you can get in the pool 2-4 times per week. Three sessions per week is a great start. I often have my athletes dedicate one workout to mostly intensity, one workout to mostly technique and distance, and one workout to follow a strength routine-I will explain later. Getting in the pool earlier in the season helps you maintain a relaxed training regimen. At the pool that I coach at, I will typically see an increase in out-of-shape middle aged men doing some combination/medley of freestyle, doggy paddle, breast stroke in the pool around the mid to late weeks of May…Hmmm maybe untrained duathletes hoping to make it in their "first triathlon." Save the stress, save the pain, and save the anxiety of nearly drowning in the open water-get in the pool and do the yards earlier in the season!

2. Have a swim/triathlon coach critique your stroke. Triathletes can be very meticulous people, but that doesn't mean they can always self-analyze your stroke. Get another pair of eyes to watch your stroke, or better yet, have a triathlon coach take a look at your swimming. My athletes get video analysis with the coaching that I provide them so that they can hear what I am telling them to do, but then they can also see what I am referring to; in doing this, my athletes not only improve their own stroke, but they become more educated athletes as well.

3. Design and implement a swim-specific strength routine. Most triathletes come to the sport with a deficient in the swim. Resultantly many of these athletes either have insufficient upper body strength or they have a disproportionate amount of upper body strength. Several of the athletes I have worked with come from running and bicycling backgrounds. Their upper body strength is minimal. Focusing on a swim-specific strength routine that targets the right muscles can help them adapt to the swim much quicker. Setting up a strength routine is not rocket-science, but it can help to have some guidance. Back to the strength-then-swim workout I mentioned above-due to the muscular strength insufficiencies, I find it very helpful to do a strength session and then immediately follow it with a short low intensity swim set. This could be as easy as a 500-1000 free swim with a bit of technique work. Anything to get those muscles stretched out some so that the blood can deliver the needed nutrients for muscle recovery. PLEASE NOTE: I have a couple athletes (all men) that are too bulky on top. This is due to long hours "pumping iron" and other manly things like that. Just remember if you are built like a brick you will likely slide through the water as such! Keep away from the 'roids and remember this isn't a Mr. Universe pageant!

4. Get out in the open-water; no flip-turns in triathlon! Many athletes work tirelessly in the pool throughout the prep, base, and build phases of their season, but neglect to get out in the open water and practice their newly found fins in the murky weed infested aquatic environment known as "lakes." Swimming in open water can cause many novice swimmers to panic and stress-out. Many triathlons competitions are hosted on lakes with murky, weedy, and smelly water bodies. Although it may seem weird, I advise my athletes get in the lake you will be competing in and actually taste, smell, and look at the water you will be swimming in. All of these senses will be engaged when you are racing and it is better to know what the water tastes like in practice than when a wave unexpectedly washes over your head and you cannot breath; better to smell the water in practice than when you get a nose full of water in the race…and so on. Sometimes these sensations can cause panic and paralysis for the beginner or quasi-phobic swimmer.

5. Lastly but most importantly: swim safe. Don't be an idiot and go swimming for your first open water practice swim on a lake with no one around and no form of flotation. Swim at a pool with a lifeguard-if the pool doesn't have a lifeguard don't swim in it. There are several fitness facilities in Minneapolis (I won't name names) that do not staff lifeguards to watch the pool during low-traffic times of the day; not only is this unsafe, but it's also a display of how much they care for their members! You aren't Michael Phelps, we both know this, and seriously who plans when they are going to have some kind of life-threatening emergency anyway!

Have fun, swim fast, and if you don't know how to swim contact me and we'll get an appointment set-up!

~Coach K

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cadence & Cycling

First off, I want to apologize for not publishing the article I had promised a few of you about 5 Tips to Conquer the Swim I assure you that it will be on the blog soon; there are a couple videos that I hope to include and I am having some difficulty in finding.

I wrote a workout for an athlete of mine and had specified that I wanted her to ride at a " high cadence. " I didn't go into any further details-oops! I got a call from her, as she is a very dedicated and thorough athlete, and realized that I had not specified what I meant by " high cadence." In saying this, I want to give a brief history of where the sport of cycling (and triathlon) has come over the past 20 years, and then give you a link to an article written by a cycling-specific coach, who gives a great deal of verbiage, and might I say -great information, on the topic of cadence and cycling. I have also included research associated with this topic.

Over the past 20 or so years the cycling community and it's currators have altered their views on the cadence at which a rider should pedal to gain maximum power and efficiency. This change has occurred mostly in part to the scientific research that physiologists have been able to conduct with new technologies and procedures, not available to physiologists decades ago. Several studies including those reported by the European Journal of Applied Physiology and The International Journal of Sport Medicine. Studies have found that for most athletes, maintenance of a slightly higher cadence (95-105 rpm) will yield greater overall returns in power over the duration of an endurance workout, with less overall muscle fatigue to the muscles utilized.

Although these studies are not applicable to all athletes, taking into consideration different physiques, length of legs, body mass index and other factors, this trend can be seen in the likes of Lance Armstrong, and many elite triathletes competing at the World Cup level. Be sure to talk with your coach or trainer about changes you are making to your technique in any discipline. Happy spinning, and hope to see you on the road soon!
-Coach K

Coach Levi article
Cadence on Cycling Time-Trial Performance. By: Watson, G.; Swensen, T.. International Journal of Sports Medicine, Apr2006, Vol. 27 Issue 4, p296-300, 5p, 1 chart; (AN 34610365)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What I am reading...

I am adding a semi-regular column to my blog called "What I am reading" for those of you who are book worms or those of you who ought to be book worms and need ideas for books one should start with!

The book I am reviewing/reading this month is called Strength Training for Triathletes by Patrick Hagerman Ed D, published by VeloPress, a division of Competitor Group, Inc. The book boasts over 75 exercises to build muscular endurance and power, and the sub title of the book is 'A sport-specific program that will improve efficiency and performance in just 3 weekly workouts.' The book is divided into three parts that focus on the scientific background and premise for philosophy of training, how to prepare for the program, and the exercises themselves.

In the first section Hagerman discusses the difference between strength training and endurance training. He juxtaposes the admonition and purpose of training for a bodybuilder vs. Olympic lifter vs. specific-sport strength builder. Hagerman also discusses the difference in format of a training session and how a specific-sport strength workout will look in comparison to other strength routines. Lastly he discusses the way that the specific-sport strength routine progresses.

In the second section the author outlines the components and preparation necessary for designing and implementing a strength program. This includes equipment and tools, the format of the individual strength session, how to choose the right exercises and a variety of sample training programs.

The last section of the book outlines the various exercises that a triathlete would use in her strength training regimen to target muscle groups that are utilized in the sport. Most of the exercises are non-machine exercises that can be performed with little more than a fit-ball, a weighted medicine ball, and some light dumbbells. This is especially brilliant for those athletes that do not want the added expense of a gym membership in their budget.

What I like best about the book, aside from the excellent content and tremendous ideas, is the authors tone and writing style. Dr. Hagerman writes in a very easy to read, smooth tone, and gives wonderful analogies and anecdotes to explain the principles and concepts he includes. The book retails for $21.95 (USD) but can typically be found for far less on or other online book sellers.