I’ve had several of my professional colleagues who have expressed a desire to improve their level of fitness.  We all do it for different reasons.  Some of us want to feel  better and have more energy, some would like to look in the mirror and get a “hey, I haven’t looked this good since college” thought, and some just need a new and exciting challenge or goal.  For whatever reason, it is easy for me to say that triathlon and the associated sports will change their lives if they simply commit to a goal and plan.

My triplet brother came to me a little over a year ago and said that he would do an Ironman.  I thought, “Yeah right!”  You see, my brother was the computer type of us triplets.  When we were out being active, he was playing around with networks or talking geek talk.  We shared many friends, so I got it, but if you asked me 10 years ago if he would be an Ironman, I would have responded with a witty hell is frozen comment.

He ponied up the cash, and in spite of some emotional and logistics barriers, he did it.  And he finished his first Ironman in style, at Chattanooga 2016 where, due to the heat, there was approximately a 40% DNS/DNF rate.  I’d like to say it was my amazing coaching, but he did the work.  I simply provided the plan, advice, and a lot of support.  I met with him a few weeks ago for dinner and I was amazed by how confident and composed he was.  It was like my brother had been transformed!  The reality is that he set a goal and achieved it.  His wife is now swimming with him and his kids want to run with him and participate as well.  This sport changes lives.  And not just the athlete’s, but the whole family’s.

You may wonder why I am willing to load free training plans for anyone who has set a goal, paid for it, and has the desire.  It’s because it changes lives and I love being part of that.  My day job pays the bills, being a coach fulfills me.

Where to start:

I hate to start by talking about getting fast.  The reality is that being fast is so encompassing, that it’s a great way to describe it.  There are 3 ways to get fast:

  1. Get Fit – My definition of fitness, for the purpose of this post, is aerobic and endurance type fitness.  This requires a concentrated effort to exercise consistently, with the proper mechanics, the right equipment, and a solid plan.
  2. Become Stronger – Strength plays a big role in improvement.  Whether it’s core strength, general strength, or sport specific strength, strength plays a big role in speed gains.
  3. Get Lean – Losing weight is typically a byproduct to exercise and nutrition.  Each pound of weight is equivalent to 2 seconds per minute on the run, or 3 watts of power on the hill.  I recently took 11th overall in a half marathon I picked up to run and support my wife’s first marathon.  I had gained about 7 lbs for a variety of reasons.  Really no bid deal as it is the off season, but if I would’ve kept off that weight, I could’ve been on the podium.  I wasn’t in it for the glory, but it is interesting to think that weight can make a difference.

Fitness + Strength + Lean = Fast

Image result for kona winners

The Path to Fast

It’s also interesting that every athlete has a different path toward achieving their goals.  Some already have a good base level of fitness, others are reawakening some past fitness earned in their early years, others, like my brother, are completely new to the athletic realm.  While the paths are all unique, the result is always amazing and fascinating to watch.

Fitness

Image result for fitness

I’ve repeated many principles in some of my posts, but, the reality is, that there is no rocket science involved.  The science is cool, don’t get me wrong, but the principles to building fitness are simple.

  • Exercise Consistently – It takes roughly 14 days to realize the benefit from any workout.  Fitness can also be lost fairly quickly.  Especially aerobic fitness.  Consistency is key.
  • Exercise Appropriately – Fitness gains are planned.  You can’t go out and run a marathon with little to no specific training.  Appropriate training is just as critical as the training itself.

Strength

Image result for strength

Strength is some of my favorite work to do because it’s tough and quick.  I can get some pretty good strength gains in 10 minutes a day.  When paired with some protein (10-20g) within 30 minutes and preferably 30 minutes before bed so that you can reap the benefits of the night time increased metabolism and the HCG (growth hormone) release and sleep benefits.  Some of my favorite strength workouts are:

  • Planks and Back Rolls
  • 8 Minute Abs
  • Tabata/Total Body Workouts
  • Muscle Specific Circuits

Lean

Image result for lean body

Losing weight, in the end, is a calorie deficit equation.  1-2 lbs of weight loss a week is healthy and gains are very specific to the athlete.  3200 calories equates to a pound.  Just like with fitness gains, consistency is key.  Some key principles of leaning out are:

  • Protein and Fiber – I focus on .6-.8g per lb of protein daily and 20-30 grams of fiber daily along with carb intake 30-60 minutes after exercise.  That carb intake should be around 50% of the calories you burned during the work out for proper recover and glycogen replenishment.  Carb intake should be around 4g per lb of lean body mass.
  • Focus on at least Two Healthy/Protein Dedicated Meals a Day – My strategy is to set up two meals daily that get me 80% of the way to my daily goals.  I focus breakfast and lunch on protein and fiber, then let the dinner my wife prepares be what it may.  I find success in protein shakes and healthy cereals for breakfast and meat loaded, whole wheat bread sandwiches for lunch.  I also focus on that 10-20g of protein after my strength workout 30 min before bed
  • Don’t Drink Calories – The exceptions are during workout, and drinks that help achieve protein and fiber goals.  Empty carb drinks outside of training nutrition should be the exception rather than the rule.
  • Healthy Snacks – Protein bars, fruit, nuts are all good.  Again, snack with purpose.

Not Easy – Worth It

This isn’t easy stuff.  But it’s worth it!  Consistency is difficult to maintain.  There will always be distractions, travel, alternatives, fatigue, and temptation.  I try to keep it simple and establish healthy routines so that the lifestyle associated with the routine follows.  The way I follow these maxims has changed over the past 5 years, but the building blocks have remained the same.  I continue to fine tune all of the above because I learn more about myself as I experience the ups and downs of life and training.  You will also do the same as you progress in your journey.  Hopefully, you’ll also inspire others to do the same because that is the true joy in all of this.

Pay it forward! :)