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!