Friday, November 1, 2019

Post Season: Time to build new habits

Now that your race season is in your rear view mirror, it's time to focus on building a solid foundation for your next season of racing.  What you choose to focus on in the "off season" will directly influence your next season.  Many people approach the off season with goals of improving something in regards to their swimming, biking and running.  This usually takes the form of many hours spent doing drills, working on skills or building strength in the gym.  All of those things are important but they are only part of the picture.

What many people don't think about focusing on are the small daily habits that support your training efforts.  Things like sleep, prioritizing recovery and mobility.  These are the first things to fall to the wayside once training volume starts to ramp up.  I am 100% guilty of this, especially with mobility work.  I've made a promise to myself to make this a priority in my off season with the goal of developing this into a habit.  Here are some of my tips on tackling it all.


Utilize your down time

The biggest stumbling block people face is thinking they need to do an entire routine all at once.  That was where I struggled.  Now, I break it down.  I will do 5 minutes in the morning, then another 5 minutes at lunch.  Or, if I don't get the opportunity to do that, I will do it after dinner while watching a bit of TV.  There is absolutely no reason you can't foam roll and stretch while watching TV.  

Integrate it into another activity 

This was one of the best suggestions I've heard.   Add 5 minutes of mobility work to a dynamic warm up before a run or a ride and include some more in your post workout stretching.  Are you starting a strength program?  Doing a short mobility routine BEFORE you start lifting will help to prepare the body for additional load and will enhance movement function and overall performance.  It also helps to reinforce neuromuscular connections.  I will be working on two mobility routines, one for upper body days and one for lower body days that I will do before I lift any sort of weight at the gym.



So many people treat recovery as something secondary.  The older you get, the more important recovery becomes.  I'm not just talking about taking a rest day.  I'm talking about post workout routines.  What you do / eat immediately after a workout directly affects your recovery and ability to perform your next workout.  

Many of us skip stretching.  I'm guilty of that from time to time.  Now I make sure I do at least 5 minutes of stretching post run BEFORE I even go into the house.  Because the minute I go inside, I will focus on something else.  Sometimes I will break my stretching out into chunks throughout the day.  If I know I'm going to be spending several hours sitting, I will make a point of getting up every hour to stretch for 5 minutes or so.  The most effective time I've found to stretch is actually in the evening before I go to bed.  Stretching before bed helps your body enter a relaxed state more quickly and stay in a deeper sleep for longer periods of time (  And we all know that a good night's sleep is one of the most important keys to recovery.   

Once again, you can do this on the floor in front of the TV so there is no excuse.  You can find a great series of stretches here


This is the one I struggle with the most.  I can go for hours without drinking any fluids.  When I worked in an office, I used to have a pitcher of water I'd keep on my desk and make a concerted effort to go through that pitcher twice during the day.  Now I'm not always sitting down at a desk so my hydration has become much more sporadic.  But guess what?  There's an app for that.  Just like food tracking apps, there are water tracking apps.  I'm using Water Reminder but there are SO many options available.  I like the graphics, simplicity of use and the fact that it tracks ALL your beverages, not just water.  There is also a hydration tracker on Garmin Connect but I haven't figured how to use it yet.  By using this daily, my goal is to stay on top of my fluid intake.


Post season / off season may seem like an ok time to be a little lax with your sleep habits but I would argue that it's even MORE important to make sure you're getting quality sleep.  Weeks of poor sleep leading up to when you resume a regular training routine will leave you feeling flat and fatigued before you even get started.  

Sleep is an area that many people struggle with.  Life stress and environmental stress can play a huge role in the quality of your sleep.  All too often we are glued to our phones right up until we go to bed.  And we even sleep with them beside our bed.  More often than not, we have TV's in our bedrooms, which is another source of stimulation.  Sometimes our bedrooms become dumping grounds for laundry that's been folded but you didn't have the energy to put away so it's still sitting in a pile on a chair or on your dresser.  This mess can also create feelings of stress.  

There several things you can do to promote better sleeping hygiene which should ideally result in a better night's sleep.

1.  Ditch the phone and all electronics at least 30 minutes but ideally 1 hour before bed.  

2.  Use a proper alarm clock vs. your phone.  Keep your phone in a separate room.  I plug mine in the bathroom overnight.  

3.  Turn your bedroom into a sleep cave.  Cover up or remove any lights from electronics.  Buy black out curtains or use a sleep mask.

4.  Keep your bedroom free of clutter.  If your room is clutter free, you are less likely to be stressed by the piles of stuff lying around as you try to fall asleep.  A cluttered room can effectively clutter your thoughts.  

5.  Turn the temperature down.  Turning the temperature down in your bedroom helps to facilitate sleep.  Your body temperature naturally decreases as you get ready to go to sleep so making sure your room is on the cooler side helps speed up that process.  The ideal temperature is anywhere between 15 and 22 degrees celsius for adults.  

6.  Keep your bedtime consistent.  As with anything in life, consistency is key if you want to see improvement.  Our bodies like routine so create a bedtime routine and do your best to stick to it.

I've been making a concerted effort to cut out my screen time at least an hour before bed.  We already keep the temperature low and the bedroom dark which has helped immensely.  My bedtime is fairly consistent as well.  The other thing I've been doing before I go to bed is mixing a scoop of magnesium bisglycinate (I use Metagenics Cenitol) in a half a cup of ice cold tart cherry juice.  Magnesium is supposed to help you relax. Tart cherries are naturally rich in melatonin and they also contain good amounts of tryptophan.  The combination of the two has been so beneficial to my sleep, especially with my reduced training volume.

Off season is the ideal time to start working on the smaller things that can lead to big gains when you start to ramp up your training again.  The best way to create a new habit is to choose one thing and work on it daily until it just becomes a part of what you do.  I've found that scheduling it into my day made all the difference for me.  Once you've mastered that one small thing, move on to the next.   It won't happen overnight.  Changes, much like training effect, take time to produce results.  Stay consistent, be patient and the results will come.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

6 Tips to Planning Your Next Race Season

Fall is here and for most people in the northern hemisphere that means triathlon season is over.  Some of you may opt carry that fitness into late season half or full marathon, others have chosen to take some time off from structured training to chill out and enjoy moving for the fun of it.

This is also the time of year that many people start planning their 2020 race season.  Early bird pricing for many races means most people commit to races well in advance without giving too much thought to how to structure their training in terms of building and recovery between races.  This can result in lacklustre performances in key races, which results in an unhappy athlete.  

How do you avoid this?

1.  Race Selection.  When you sit down to plan out your season, pick your goal race.  I have some tips on how to do that here

2.  Where to start?  Figure out where your fitness level is currently at.  Be honest with yourself.  Did you spend the last 3 months after your last goal race sitting on the couch and binge watching Netflix?  Or did you give yourself a bit of recovery time and then resume some easy training?  If you are starting from square one, then you're going to need a longer build than if you kept up some activity post race.

3.  Work Backwards.  Once you've chosen your A race and you've figured out how long you think you'll need to build towards it, work backwards to figure out your start date.

4. Other races. Most of us like to do more than one race per season.  The key here is not to "over race".  You have to allow for sufficient recovery between events.  The shorter the distance, the less recovery necessary.   Here are some examples of recovery times for various distance triathlons:

* Sprint:  1 week

* Olympic:  2 weeks

* 70.3:  up to 5 weeks

* Ironman:  roughly 8 weeks

If you're a runner:

* 5 km:  up to 5 days

* 10 km:  up to 5 days

* Half marathon:  up to a week

* Marathon:  up to three weeks

This can vary depending on age, gender and time in the sport.  Men tend to recover faster than women and the younger you are the faster you recover.   If you are newer in the sport, it will take you longer to recover than someone who has been in the sport for longer.

5.  Test early and test often.  Do some testing to figure out where you are at fitness wise.  If you're a runner, sign up for a 5 km race, plug your race time into an online calculator to figure out your current training paces and go from there.  If you're a triathlete, you'll need to test swimming and cycling as well.  For swimming, you can do a 1000 meter time trial or a CSS test.  On the bike you can do either a ramp test or an FTP test.

6.  Make your plan and stick to it.  If you are an athlete that doesn't need the one on one guidance a coach can provide, there are plenty of great resources for online training programs.  Online training platforms, Training Peaks and Final Surge have stores that you can purchase plans from a variety of coaches.  There are also a ton of fantastic books out there.  The Triathlete's Training Bible by Joel Friel and Matt Fitzgerald's 80/20 Triathlon are a couple that I've read.

You invest a lot of time and money into racing so taking the time to map out your season before it starts will give you the best of chance of success.  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  If you're not sure where to start or you don't want to think about planning, I will have 3 spots for my one on one coaching opening up November 1st.  If you're interested and want to know more, shoot me an email

Do you plan your race year out in advance or do you wing it?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What I've Tried: Brubeck Body Guard 3D Pro

As someone who pretty much lives in spandex, I've become quite particular about what I wear when I'm working out.  Gear has to be comfortable, functional and it has to look good.  Look good, feel good, go fast, right?

I recently had the opportunity to test out some products from Brubeck Body Guard.  Brubeck is a Polish company and their production facility is located in a town called Wola, that is historically known in the textile industry.  The production chain is located in the European Union and they control 100% of the process and quality.  Nothing gets outsourced outside the EU.  They also manage to recycle 80% of their waste products.  To top it off, all of their products are REACH and Oeko-Tex 100 certified which means that their products are free of harmful substances.  I think if we took a good look at what most of our workout wear was made with, we'd probably be surprised at what was in there.

Brubeck offers a several different types of active wear, including merino wool base layers, which I hope to test out when the weather gets colder.  This time around,  I tested a running top from the 3D pro line as well as their cycling shorts.  

The first product I tried were the cycling shorts.  When I opened the box to check out the shorts, I was surprised that they weren't constructed the same way as traditional cycling shorts.  They were made out of a knit fabric vs. lycra.  They were also almost totally seamless, including the waistband, which I found interesting.  The chamois seemed thinner than a normal cycling chamois.  It was also grooved.  The legs had a network of silicone grippers along inside of the hem at the front of the shorts, which is a feature that I prefer on my cycling shorts.  I am not a fan of the elastic gripper that makes your legs look like sausages.  

I figured I'd jump right in and test them out on a super hot, 3 hour ride.  I was immediately struck by the fit.  I have to be honest, I prefer bib shorts to regular shorts so I was a bit skeptical that I'd like these.  I don't like things digging into my waist when I'm riding.  The fact that these are made of knitwear and are seamless meant that they didn't have a traditional waistband so they didn't dig into my waist.  They felt like bib shorts but without the hassle of straps.  And they stayed put when I was riding because they are high waisted.  WINNING!  

Despite the humid weather, I didn't feel sweaty and gross by the time we hit the coffee shop post ride.  The seamless knitwear allows the skin to breathe because there are two layers.  The inner layer wicks moisture away from the skin and there are 3D zones on the thighs that form air circulation channels to help keep you cool.  I distinctly remember sitting on my bike and feeling the sun on my legs but not feeling hot, even though I was wearing black shorts.  

Where these shorts really shine is the chamois.  The high density open cell foam does a great job at offering good padding, but it's the grooves in the chamois that help keep it from bunching and allow for some good airflow as well.  I found these to be exceptionally comfortable.  I could have easily ridden more than 3 hours in them and I'm pretty sure there wouldn't have been any shifting around on the saddle.  After I'm done with all my structured training, I'm looking forward to taking them out on a really long ride to see how they fare.

The second piece I tried out was the 3D Pro running top.  The 3D pro technology is a "spatial yarn design based on a 3D mesh fabric.  It has superior moisture absorption and enhances the air circulation inside the garment structure" (as per the website).  I have a tough time regulating my body temperature these days (thank you hormones) so on hot days I tend to wear super light and loose tank tops so I don't have much touching my skin.  The 3D pro line are snug fitting, almost seamless tops.  The top I got was a t-shirt style and I thought Oh boy, I'm going to be a big sweaty mess in this.   I wore it on some of the hottest days we've had and I can honestly say that while it felt hot out, I didn't feel hot.  Not at all.  I was sweating for sure, but I wasn't soaked.  I never felt like I was overheating either.  When I came back from one of my hotter runs, I touched my back to see if the top was actually wet because I didn't feel wet.  Sure enough, I was wet but the 3D pro technology kept me feeling dry.  I was pretty darn impressed.  And the top is a beautiful blue colour that I absolutely love.

I am very impressed with this gear.  The fit is great and the functionality is even better.  I still have a long sleeve base layer to test out as well so watch for that review when the weather gets colder.  Brubeck has an extensive line of clothing over in Europe so I'm really hoping to see even more of this fantastic product here in Canada.

Disclaimer:  I was given this product in exchange for an open and honest review. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Clermont 2020 Camps

I know it's only the middle of July and it's hard to wrap your head around the fact that winter is 6 months away.  But it will be here before we know it.  Which is why we wanted to get this out there now.    I also know that many of you have been waiting for dates and details on this so you can start planning your out your 2020 trips / season.    

What am I talking about?  For those of you that are new to this blog, I’m talking about our Clermont Training Camps. Eric D’Arcy and I have been hosting these camps since 2018 and they’ve sold out every year.  Clermont is located in Lake County, Florida and is a hotbed for triathlon training.  It’s not uncommon to see pros training at the National Training Centre (NTC) or running along the Waterfront Trail.  Clermont offers great cycling options, open water swimming, trail running as well as a top notch training facility at the NTC.  It’s the perfect place to escape winter and get in some early season volume.

After some great suggestions from our campers this year, we have decided to do things a bit differently in 2020.  We will be doing two weeks again but the format has changed slightly.  These are the offerings and dates for next year:

February 2 to February 8th:  The Fierce Females Camp.  This camp is geared towards the beginner or middle of the pack female triathlete.  If you've ever wanted to experience a triathlon camp but felt intimidated by the thought, then this camp is for you.   The focus of this week will be skill development and confidence building, in addition to volume.  I promise you, it will be a transformative week.

Getting ready to run on the infamous Clay Trail

 We will cover everything from nutrition, strength & mobility to goal setting.  We limit camps to 8 athletes so we keep the coach to athlete ratio low.  This year we are implementing some pacing guidelines for cycling so we can keep the groups closer together.   Your average speed on the bike for a 2 hour ride should be between 22 to 25 kph.  

 February 16th to February 22nd:  The Open Season Camp.  This camp is geared towards athletes that are at the intermediate level and are looking for a high volume, informative week of training.  The focus of this week will be skill refinement in all three sports in addition to volume.  

Swim skills with ex pro triathlete, Sara McClarty

We will cover everything from nutrition, strength & mobility to goal setting.  Once again, space is limited to 8 athletes so we can keep the coach to athlete ratio low.  Pacing guidelines for a 2 hour ride would be 26 to 29 kph.  

New for this year, we will be including food for lunches + some snacks, in addition to breakfast foods.  Coach Eric and I will once again be cooking dinners for the week so you can all focus on recovery.   This is YOUR week to train and relax. 

We will also be including downloadable maps for all the rides.  You will have to have either a Strava or Ride with GPS account. 

For full details and itinerary click here

Big Day on the VanFleet Trail

Open water swimming at Waterfront Park

Happy Campers!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

6 Tips for Getting your Coaching Business Started.

Those of you that have been reading this blog from the beginning probably already know the story. The question has come up several times in the last several months so I thought I'd tell the story again and offer up some tips to people looking to get into the coaching world.

This blog was really how I ended up getting my start in coaching.  In the early days of this blog I documented my goal of running a sub 1:40 half marathon the year I turned 40.  I talked about my training, my diet, things I loved.  It was essentially an online diary.   I crushed that sub 1:40 goal and ran a 1:35.  That was in 2011.  In 2012, I had a very successful year of racing, either winning my AG, or the overall masters title at several different races.  I was a self coached athlete at the time and I had put a lot of focus on strength training and speed work.  I talked about this often in the blog and on Instagram.  I did a lot of research into structuring a running plan and how to build strength work into it.  I firmly believe it was all those early successful races that opened the door to coaching.

I didn't come from an elite level sport background.  I played soccer during high school and not at any sort of high level.  That was it.  Everything I knew about running, I learned through trial and error, reading and talking to other runners.  The same with triathlon.  I am a student of the sports I love.  Plain and simple.  At first I had friends ask if I would coach them.  So I said sure.  It seemed like a natural fit for me.  I loved helping people work towards a goal with a solid plan.  And that's how it all started.

Before I quit my full time job to pursue coaching full time, there were a few things I did.

1.  Get certified.  There are plenty of certifications out there, look at one that makes the most sense for  you in terms of your goals as a coach.  Personally I felt having a certification made me more credible.  Certifications also make sure you stay on top of your education and growth as a coach.

2.  Figure out what your niche is.  Is there something in your sport that you have a lot of experience with or have done a lot of research on?  Do people come to you for advice on that particular thing?  If so, consider that your niche.  Put it out there when you start marketing.

3.  Determine your worth.  Research other coaches in your area and see what they are offering for what they are charging.  I started off a little lower than the going rate in Toronto simply because I was new to the industry.  I knew that as my business grew and I learned more, I would bring myself up to the going rate in my area.

4.  Utilize social media to get the word out.  If you have a blog, blog about it.  If you are on Instagram, post about it.  I did both things BEFORE I left my full time job so people were aware that I'd be accepting new athletes.  Set the stage so people know when you'll be open for business.

5.  Build your brand.  In the age of social media, this is so important.  The internet is filled with potential clients.   How will you get them to hire you?  Think about ways you can engage with people and share your knowledge.  If you are offering something of value, people will follow and potentially become clients.

6.  Approach local clubs and see if you can work with them.  I coached cycling with the Toronto Triathlon Club for two years.  That was additional income over and above my private coaching clients.  It got me out of the house and in front of potential new clients.  It also helped me get outside my comfort zone and work with a group, which in turn added another piece of knowledge and experience to my coaching.

I can honestly say that getting into coaching was the best career decision I've ever made.  I am a "helper" and I always have been.  It just took me 45 years to figure out where I was happiest helping and this is it.

If you have any other questions related to coaching that I haven't answered here, don't hesitate to comment or email me.  I'm always happy to chat!

Keep on chasing those dreams!

~ Coach PK 

photo courtesy of Edison Yao

Monday, January 28, 2019

Look out 2019!

Happy very belated New Year! 

It’s been a while since I’ve sat myself down and typed an update.  It always seemed very hard to find the time.    When you’ve got 20 hours to kill in a car and you don’t want to use up all your data, you’ve got nothing BUT time.  So here we are.

There has been a lot that’s happened in the last few months.   I’ve hired a coach (Sarah Russell at Sustainable Athlete Endurance), I’ve gotten back to regular running and, the biggest news, I’ve taken a position as the Head Coach at BlackToe Running.  That was a giant step outside my comfort zone but it has been such a fun and rewarding experience in the few months I’ve been there, I’m so glad I accepted the position.

photo:  Edison Yao 
I closed out 2018 feeling ready to put my nose to the grindstone and really put in the work both personally and professionally in 2019.  Going into year three of PKPC I certainly didn’t envision I’d be where I am now.  That being said, I never really had a specific vision when I started my coaching business. I just knew that I wanted to help athletes get across the finish line happy and healthy.  

I won’t say it’s impossible to grow a business without a plan but it certainly helps to have some sense of direction in terms of where you want things to go.  It’s very much like training for a race.   You should have a plan and be willing to put in the work if you want to see results.   I have struggled with that over the last year, probably because I always felt like I had the time and then I’d put things off or I’d forget about things because something else came up that demanded my attention.   My focus was always shifting.  

Which is why I’ve chosen the word FOCUS as my word for 2019.    It is a reminder that goals don’t magically happen.  They require focus and dedication to achieve them.   I’ve got big goals this year, especially racing wise, so once again I will be sharing my trials and tribulations.   Speaking of racing, I’ve flushed out the majority of my 2019 race schedule.  The only thing that is undecided is whether or not I run a fall half marathon and try to qualify for the 2020 New York City Marathon. 

This is where you will find me in 2019:

Great Clermont Triathlon (Olympic) March 16th
Florida 70.3 – April 14th
The Diva Half Marathon – June 9th(racing with the BlackToe Team!)
Muskoka 70.3 – July 7th,
70.3 World Championships – September 7th, Nice, France

The Diva Half marathon with be the first stand alone running race I’ve done in 2 years.  TWO YEARS.   That’s saying a lot about where my relationship with running has been over the last little while.  But I’m finally feeling strong and healthy and running is actually starting to feel better so I’m excited to toe the line at stand alone running event.  Especially since it will be with my BlackToe ladies. 

This is a step up in number of races compared to last year as well.  I think it’s pretty much perfect, although I have a feeling I will probably struggle a bit mentally in August.  One more reason for me to have a coach to make sure I stay focused on the task at hand.

I put a call out on Instagram stories asking what people wanted me to write or talk about and the overwhelming response was strength training, followed by nutrition.  So I will work on getting some posts out on those topics.   If you have any other topics you want me to talk or write about don’t hesitate to email me or DM me on Instagram.

Happy Monday! 

Monday, December 10, 2018

4 Tips to Picking Your Goal Race

As a coach, this is the time of year I have athletes coming to me to help them plan out their seasons.  Some athletes have already chosen and registered for a goal race.   Others know they want to step up to a longer distance but aren’t sure what would be a suitable first race.   Others are looking to qualify for world championships.   So how do you go about picking races?

Michael Liberzon, a fellow Toronto based triathlon coach, posted a funny flow chart in his blog a few weeks ago that actually inspired this post.  

Many athletes will end up registering for races that their friends or training partners are doing. Especially if these athletes are members of a triathlon club.  I see this all the time with the Toronto Triathlon Club.  I think this is great as it really fosters the feeling of community, as well as providing training and traveling partners.  If you don’t have this sort of network, or choose to do your own thing, here are a few things you should consider when picking your goal race.

Terrain:   If you live the Prairies, then picking a race like Mont Tremblant or Muskoka might not be the best choice if you’re not used to climbing. Yes, it’s possible to train for this sort of terrain inside on a trainer but, I know I would find that to be really boring.  And for me, boring = a loss of motivation to train.  

Ocean, Lake or River: If you’re a confident swimmer, then any body of water will probably be fine.  If you’re less confident then a river swim might be a better option.  My first and second 70.3 swims were in rivers and that really helped alleviate stress about being “far away” from shore in case something happened.  Think about what’s available to you to train in and go from there.

Flying or Driving: How far you’re willing to go to race will either limit your possibilities or make the possibilities endless.   Flying to a race will present a whole different set of variables that you probably won’t have to deal with if you’re driving. Driving to a race allows you to bring extra of pretty much everything whereas with flying, you are a bit more limited in what you can bring with you.  If you are an athlete that likes to control as much as possible heading into a race, then driving may be a better option for you. 

Goals:  If you are looking to snag a qualifying spot for either Kona or the 70.3 World Champs then you’re going to want to be more strategic about picking your goal race.  If Kona is your goal then find a race that plays to your strengths as an athlete and then hope that you’re the fastest in your AG on the day.  70.3 WC spots are a little easier to come by as the destination changes every year.  When the WC came to Tremblant in 2014, I raced Luxembourg 70.3 and they were pretty much giving away spots.  The guys we were sitting with at the awards said that most Europeans won’t travel to do the 70.3 WC, they only really care about Kona.  I know at Lake Placid 70.3 the spot in my AG rolled down to 20thfor the WC in South Africa.  I think spots to this years WC will be in high demand in North America as well as Europe.  So if that is your goal and you don’t want to travel to the other side of the world to try to get a spot, once again, pick a race that plays to your strengths and crush it.  

What races are you registered for in 2019?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Off Season Strength Training - Part One

If you’re in the northern hemisphere, chances are your triathlon season is done, or very close to being so.   Your weekly training volume should be decreasing as should the intensity of your workouts.    This lighter load in training volume is the perfect time to either increase your strength sessions, or, if you’re like the majority of triathletes I know, add it back into your routine.  

As I coach and personal trainer, I program strength work into all my athletes training plans.  I know when schedules get tight, it’s almost always the first thing to go but I cannot stress enough how important it is to maintain some kind of routine over the course of your entire season.  Done with proper technique, weight training will help keep you injury free, and will help improve strength, power and muscular endurance.  

Much like a triathlon training plan, strength work should also be periodized.  Off season is the time to start working on building strength for your following race season.  Once your build phase starts, your strength training plan should change again to allow for the additional training load.  And of course, during your race season, your plan should change again with a focus on maintenance.    I will delve into how to structure a periodized strength training plan in a future post.  For now, I’m going to focus on some of my favourite exercises.


Since running and cycling are essentially single leg exercises, it makes sense to do some of your off season training that way.    This way you work both of your legs individually and can focus on building strength equally.  When doing things like squats, you may think you’re working both your legs equally but I guarantee you that one of your legs will be working slightly harder than the other.  This is why single leg training is an integral part of a strength routine.   When I'm just getting back into the gym, I start with unilateral exercises to work on fixing any imbalances that I may have developed.  From there I will build into heavier lifting.

Form is SO important with all of these exercises.  As is mind muscle connection.   We often just go through the motion of the exercise without focusing on feeling the muscle work.   This is why I suggest doing all of these lower body exercises with body weight first so you understand the movement and can focus on feeling the muscles you are using.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to lifting weights but these exercises are my favourites for developing strength.  

Step up

These are a simple exercise that can be done on a box or a bench.    The surface should be stable and big enough for you to stand on.   You can do these laterally as well to change up your plane of movement.   I like these because they really help you focus on the push up / off.   I also like to add a knee drive on the opposite leg to mimic running stride.

Split Squat 

I used to do these with my foot elevated on a bench but was recently shown an alternate way that I find so much more effective and comfortable.  Instead of using a bench,  you use a Smith machine, lower the bar to just below knee height, grab the squat bar pad, wrap the bar and rest the top of your foot on that.  Doing that avoids the awkward twisting of your foot and toes that usually happens when you use a bench.  

Note:  Don't look at the ground when doing this, look ahead!

Lateral lunge  / Reverse lunge

Strength training provides the perfect opportunity to change up how we move.   I think it’s so important to include movement in alternate planes, especially in off season strength work, which is why I love lateral and reverse lunges.   Everything we do is done in the sagittal plane so moving in alternate planes challenges other muscles that we don't normally use.

Single leg deadlift (RDL’s) + traditional deadlift

The single leg RDL is a great exercise to work on balance and stability as well as targeting your posterior chain.  I do these without weight to start and gradually add weight as my form improves.  I would be remiss if I didn't include barbell deadlifts as well.  When done correctly, they are fantastic for working your entire posterior chain.

Single leg squat + barbell squat 

A quick search on You Tube will bring up a million different variations of single leg squats.  My suggestion is find one that you can do with proper form and do it.   The same goes for barbell squats.  Your ankle and hip mobility will dictate what you're able to do.


Swimming isn’t the only activity that requires upper body strength.  Think about how much time you’ll spend hunched over in your aerobars in an Ironman. What does your form look like at the 20 mile mark of a marathon? If you’re like the majority of the population, your shoulders are slumped over and your form has gone to shit.   This is why training your upper body is just as important as training your lower body.  

And just like your lower body, you will probably find that you have imbalances in your upper body as well so working on building strength with single arm exercises is a good way to start your strength training program.  

Again, proper form is crucial.   Always focus on good posture.   Keep your shoulders back and your chest lifted.   That way your core will also stay engaged.

Single Arm Row (cable or dumbbell)

Personally I prefer using a cable machine for these as I feel I have better control of the time under tension than with a dumbbell.

Single Arm pull down (cable)

This is a fantastic exercise for your lats.  If you do this correctly, it should mimic the pull phase of your swim stroke.  

Push Press

This is an explosive, compound movement that works both upper and lower body.  It's definitely one that should be perfected at a lighter weight before progressing to a heavier weight.   

Chest Press (single arm dumbbell) 

Doing a single arm dumbbell chest press really allows you to feel the engagement in your core because of the imbalance it creates.  It's as much about training your core as it is about training your chest.   The great thing about doing these unilaterally is that you end up working both sides of your body.   If you're pressing with your right arm, your left obliques will fire to help stabilize your torso.

Once you've managed to develop fairly equal amounts of strength on both sides of your body, you can progress to more traditional lifting like deadlifts, back / front squats & bench press.

If you're new to strength training, I would strongly suggest hiring a good personal trainer / strength and conditioning coach so you have someone watching and correcting your form.  Because if you're not doing these right, then you defeat the purpose of the exercise and, you may even get injured.

Now that you have some ideas as to what to do in the gym, stay tuned for my next post in the series:  Periodizing your strength plan.

Question:  Do you strength train throughout your race season?  If not, why?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

4 Reasons Triathletes need a Road Bike

I'm of the belief that you can never have too many bikes.  A quick look around our garage is evidence of that.   If you are familiar with The Rules, then you know the correct number of bikes one should own is always n+1.  If we had more room, I think there's a good chance we'd have more bikes.

When I started in multi-sport back in 2003, I bought a $500 used road bike.  It didn't quite fit me but it did the trick.  After a few races, I knew I wanted a triathlon bike (aka a TT bike).  Especially since I was planning on doing Ironman.  So after my first season of racing, I sold my $500 road bike and bought myself my first triathlon bike.  Ironically I didn't end up using that bike for my first Ironman, I ended up using a road bike with aerobars because I was totally freaked out about not having enough power to climb on my TT bike (I did Ironman Lake Placid).  Yup, after I bought that fancy new TT bike, I ended up buying ANOTHER road bike about 6 months later.   Do you see a pattern here?

I kept that road bike until 2015 when I sold it.  I put a LOT of kms on that bike.  I looked forward to riding it at the end of every triathlon season.  It signified riding for the sake of enjoyment vs. having to ride with a specific purpose.  I purchased another road bike just before I sold that one.  It may surprise you to know that I do about 70% of all my riding on that bike.   Yup, 70%.   I'm chalking that up to riding with a cycling club, although I've done a fair bit of indoor riding on it as well.

So, why do I think you need to hang on to that road bike?

1.  Position.  The geometry on a road bike is much more upright than a TT bike.  Spending all that time in aero (forward flexion) isn't always the best if you have any sort of lower back or neck issues.  

2.  Bike handling skills.  Yes, TT bikes are meant to go fast in a straight line but that doesn't mean you should neglect learning how to ride a bike.  In my experience, better bike handling skills generally equals more confidence on the bike.  This can translate to faster bike times simply because you're not afraid to descend, or you don't need to unclip to turn around a pylon in a race.  Road bike geometry allows for much better handling across the board from cornering to climbing.

3.  Develop better all around leg strength.   TT bikes put you in a more aggressive, forward position.  So you are situated on the nose of your saddle vs. sitting ON your saddle.  This changes the angle of your hips into a more quad dominant position.  That's not to say that you're not using your hamstrings BUT, one of the important things on a TT bike (aside from aerodynamics) is to help save your legs for the run.  By utilizing your quads more, you "save" your hamstrings for the work they're going to have to do on the run.  On a road bike, because you're in a more seated position and your hip angle isn't as closed in, you will effectively use more of your leg muscles while riding.

4.  Safer to ride in groups.  See #2.   Because road bikes handle better and lack aerobars, they are much better suited to group riding.  And when I say group riding, I mean riding in a pack.  I know most triathletes don't ride in a pack but we do ride in groups, especially in the off season.  Have you ever tried drafting off someone in a group ride on a TT bike?  I did once and it was terrifying.  on my road bike, I can ride beside someone comfortably and not feel like I'm going to swerve into them if I take my hands off my handle bars.  There is a reason most cycling clubs don't allow TT bikes on club rides.

So all of you folks that are thinking about getting rid of your road bike when you upgrade to a TT bike, you may want to think twice.  Your trusty road bike deserves just as much love as your shiny new TT bike.

~ Coach PK

Friday, September 7, 2018

Clermont Camp 2019


I know there are a bunch of you that have been waiting for this announcement since Eric and I first posted about it a few weeks ago.  Here it is.  Clermont Camps 2019.  Notice I said CAMPS.  Last year was so much fun we've decided to offer two weeks for people to choose from.

Week 1 is February 10-16th and week 2 is February 17-23.  The Family Day weekend is in there so you will either have a day to recover when you come back or, you have one less day of vacation that you need to take.  And, it's not March Break so flights will be less and you won't have to deal with hordes of screaming kids when you land in Orlando.  Win win if you ask me.

A few things have changed this year.  We are staying in a different house, one that we think is much nicer, AND, the coaches are going to cook dinner for you.  Yup.  You read that correctly.   All you guys need to do is show up, do the work and practice recovering properly after your workouts.   Let us worry about making dinner.  Breakfast foods will be provided so campers will have everything they need.  Lunches will be your responsibility.

Camp Costs

$1100  Early Bird (October 31st)
$1300  November 1 - January 31st)

Accommodation is as follows:

1 - Queen + Ensuite $400
1 - Queen, no ensuite $350
6 - Singles, shared room - $300 per person

Camp will start at 2:00 pm on each Sunday.  We will be doing one airport pick up on each Sunday.

Expect approximately 8000-12,000m of swimming 350-500km of riding and 3-5 hours of running during the week.

We are working on adding some more fun stuff this time around as well as bringing in a special guest for our NTC swim sessions.  WOOHOO.  Keep your eyes peeled to this space for the itineraries!

If you are interested, follow the link to reserve your spot.  If you have questions, please contact either Eric or myself.  Space is limited as we are looking to keep the coach to athlete ratio small, just like last year.


Getting ready to run the Clay Trail

Swim session at the NTC

Big day on the Van Fleet Trail