Brooklyn Marathon’s Champs Race Report

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kelly bk finish

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Wanna know what its like to win a marathon two weeks after cracking the top 100 at the worlds biggest most baller event, the NYC Marathon? CREW Athlete Kelly Gillian’s (coached by me(for info on my coaching and to join the squad for 2015 click here ) with nutrition by Christine Lynch (http://liveandeatbetter.com) race report is here:

pre-race nutrition: the usual routine, minimize veggie intake the day before, brown rice pasta with red sauce and a little bit of chicken the night before, bagel with peanut butter the morning of the race.
i won this race in 2011, and this was my first time coming back to defend a title. there were no other previous winners there, but i still felt some pressure. my main goal for this race was to work on pacing. i went out way too fast in nyc and i wanted to correct that mistake by running a negative split. also, since i just ran a marathon 2 weeks ago, i knew i really couldn’t afford to go out too fast — the consequences could be BAD. i was tested right from the gun when 2 girls went out FAST. i watched them speed off, and thought, “if they’re that fast, good for them, or they’ll crash and burn as soon as we start the hills. it’s a long race.” so, i stuck to my plan, and kept my pace at ~7-7:05 min/mile.
sure enough, the hills got to them. i passed one girl to move into 2nd place around mile 8, just 1 mile after we crested the first hill. around mile 13, sam told me that the first place girl was about 3 minutes ahead. as i passed other runners, i heard one say to the other “she’ll definitely catch up to the girl in first”. i was still feeling really good but knew it would be a challenge to make up that much time without crashing later on. i maintained my pace, heard from sam that i was reeling her in, and got some encouragement from other runners (“she’s just ahead, go get her, you got it!”). i passed her around mile 17. as i passed her, i said “good job, way to run” and she muttered something that was barely coherent, so i knew if i could keep up my pace, i’d be good. so, i picked it up a tiny bit, ran a negative split, and won. i had no idea how far ahead i was, so i kept pushing the pace. turns out i was safe, as the second place female was 15 minutes behind me.
during the race, i felt good, not ecstatic like i was in the beginning of nyc, but really really solid and under control. my posture/stride/core felt good, i stayed upright, and heard from a number of people that i looked… good. i was cold, but thankfully there wasn’t a whole lot of wind. since i was so cold, i didn’t take a lot of liquids and didn’t feel like ingesting anything, but that didn’t seem to adversely affect me. i took in fewer calories than in normally do — i nursed my first gel for about 3 or 4 miles, and then had half a package of sport beans. i just couldn’t stomach the thought of taking in a lot more food.
overall: an amazing way to end a season. i achieved my goal of controlling my pace, and ended up winning, and feeling REALLY good doing it. fabulous race, an attentive and professional RD, awesome volunteers, hilarious spectators. this made up for my negative energy from nyc.

This was an 8 minute course PR for me (last ran the race in 2011 in 3:14). i like the direction things are headed.

 

5 Tips For Strength Training

 

 

 

 

 

“People are made of clay; I am waiting for the punishment I know is on it’s way.” slipknoT

 

For most athletes the start of preparation for 2015 is now. If it’s not now, it’s soon. For a lot of athletes they would benefit from some strength work and cross training. Here are some common problems triathletes face when trying to go to the gym.

 

1) own the gym! Walk around and piss on stuff. Push people around and tell them you own this place. Scream and beat your chest. (As a criminal lawyer I strong suggest you don’t do this). But seriously, be comfortable in the gym as your space. YOU ARE AN ATHLETE! Most people in gyms are working out, your a REAL athlete. You have more of a right to this place then anyone else. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t be shy. Walk up to some random huge guy and bury your finger in his chest and say “what are you training for? Nothing? I am training for_______ (fill in your race).” Ok don’t do that. But my point is you are an athlete this is your place. Own it. Bring swagger and be mentally ready to do work.

 

2) know WHY you are hitting the gym. Are you weak and have trouble putting out watts? Do you struggle on hills? Do you have good swim form but can’t get faster? Are you over 33 and losing muscle mass? Does your form and posture fade later in events? Are you injury prone or want to prevent injuries? Do you want to built strength now but not burn out during a long season? If you know WHY your doing strength training, you will be motivated because you will see the work you do as purposeful. Also it will make the work you do targeted. Not all strength workouts are the same and it’s not one size fits all. Be purposeful in your gym work and you will be more motivated because you will know your addressing something you want to improve.

 

3) know what you are doing. Don’t go into the gym without a workout. You need a plan. The plan should be what you are doing that day. That week. Next week. Etc. You wouldn’t go to the pool and splash around in the hope that you get faster at swimming so going to the gym walking around doing a few random machines  won’t make you stronger. You need a focused workout; you need to stay on track and be purposeful there. One big knock on cross fit is that it doesn’t focus on a sport, but it at least keeps people moving and working. Ideally you want and need both; a series of exercises for tri (or running or cycling) AND to be focused on getting it done.

 

4) DO WORK. The other tips also help with this, but ultimately it’s up to you to be mentally ready to do work! Gym work in the early season is THE workout to focus on for any athletes and you need to come to this really to THROW DOWN. This is the workout you fear and focus on all week. This is the place you come to push yourself hard. Kill the gym. Slay the gym. Make that special murders play list and get in there with malice and bad intentions in your heart. Endurance sports athletes go to the gym like agnostics go to church. You need to go in there like sinners heading towards hell fire.

 

5) Learn the movements. Be patient and start slow. Besides the obvious which is if you don’t you will hurt your self you idiot, the confidence of knowing the exercises will make the experience better. More over starting slower and learning will built confidence so your more comfortable in the gym and be consistent with it.

 

 

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Need a coach? I am accepting athletes for 2015 starting now. 100% custom plans, unlimited contact and support and including strength training blended into the SBR you need to do to meet your goals. Use the comment section or email me: evilracingcult (at) gmail (dot) com

5 Common Mistakes That Lead to Disasters At Iron Racing

As I enter my 13th year as a pro and 14th as a coach I have a lot of case studies about common mistakes people make at the full/iron distance. Here as some of the most common.
Lacking BIG DAYS: Every athlete with a job is strapped for time. But they still need to find a way for a few key big days. Pros have these weekly, hell, I have them several times a week and sometimes day after day for a month like when in Spain at www.Stronglikebulltrainingcamp.com but unless you have a van and driver, coaches, a chef, a bike mechanic, and a group of athletes to push you, that kind of training isn’t possible. What is possible is spending some relationship or job capital to get several big days at key points in your prep from the race. A good coach can tell you how to do more with less and exactly which those days should be. You don’t need to be a pro, you just need to train like one a few critical days a year.

Swim form: working on swim form, is critical for a proper swim and to not be a start the bike and the rest of the long day in an energy hole. Sometimes swim form isn’t even about a faster swim split, its about just saving energy both mentally, and physically. Athletes feel guilty if they don’t suffer in their workouts but sometimes less pain and more focus on form results in more gain.

Race planning: Athletes often make race schedules up based on factors that don’t line up very well. “Well my BFF is running this marathon, and my dad is doing this ultra, and I always wanted to get drunk in New Orleans and puke those awesome donuts so I am doing that 70.3, and I signed up for 3 ironman races in 8 weeks. What do you think?” Building your race schedule is an art form and a science. If you want to have a great IM/full you need to focus on it and that means building a schedule that contributes to that event, not one that leaves you smashed for it.

Race execution: This is more than just “pacing”. Its about setting goals, and doing the work to achieve them. Want to get to Kona? OK, but be honest about the work that it will take and then execute that kind of race. Your race execution should reflect the work you did and be a humble and conservative estimation of your training. IM/Full distance racing punishes those that try to race above their heads. You earn your time, so make sure the pace and effort you race at is realistic. Even then it might all go sideways, but you are SURE to find out just how long a 26.2 mile walk is if you race above your fitness and thats an ego issue as much as anything else. A coach is their to be objective and give you feed back, athletes (including myself when I race) are often to emotionally vested to be objective.

Life Management. I know a lot of athletes that waste a lot of time. The ones that don’t go a lot faster. Plan your life out, plan your day out and ABT: always be training. Of course when you aren’t don’t be. Be a fully present parent, partner, employee, hobo, whatever. But if your surfing the net, watching TV, or procrastating, your wasting time and time is critical for us. Time is the one thing, every Full/IM athlete needs more of.

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Photo: Me doing some hand on coaching at a workout with some of great athletes I had in 2014. (in this photo is are some of my athletes including a NYC Marathon Elite runner, an ironman finisher, my self, and the two time American Zofingen champion.)

I Have several spots for my 2015 team. If you would like me to coach you read about it below or email me: evilracingcult (at) gmail (dot) com

A chat about 100 mile week with my elite runner

I am working with Kelly Gillian, 2Nds place at the VT Marathon, and sub 3 hour runner who contacted me about taking that next step. This was our exchange after finishing up one of her bigger weeks that I designed

Hi John,

Somewhere around wednesday morning, i was convinced that you hated me. i was 3 miles into my 12 mile morning run and thought, “he must hate me. why else would be do this to me?” my quads were tired and i still had another 9 miles to go just to finish my first workout of the day.

i was tired. i felt like i was running underwater, i thought i must have been doing 9 minute miles. i kept looking down at my watch and it was reading 7:39, 7:40, 7:43, 7:34 and swore it was broken. i thought, “this cannot be true. i can’t be running this fast while feeling this shitty.” it was amazing. in a good way.

i’m not through with the week just yet, but i’ve learned these past few days that getting in all these miles is so much more mental than i realized — to me, it’s analogous to your first 20 mile run. it’s not that much more than an 18 or 19 mile run, but psychologically, it’s s huge hurdle to overcome. that’s how i feel about hitting 100 in a week.

also, in my consult with christine on thursday, we spoke about taking better care of myself and recovering harder — i feel like i’ve been putting in some decent runs, but all that won’t mean much if i don’t take better care of myself. so i’m working on that, too.

thanks again for your guidance and for kicking my butt!
kelly

———

kelly,

First; yes I hate you too. Hahahahah feel free to hate me All you want! Hahahah

Second: congrats! 100 miles is insane and a real mile stone for getting better.

Third: when training from now on, it’s the only thing you can really do. The rest of your life you just keep afloat until after the marathon . Make sure Sam in cool with and maybe even on board but you can’t do this and much else. It’s all stressors. You have a stress breaking point and running 100 miles a week will push you 99 percent of the way to it. When people say they want to give it their all, they have no idea what that really means. How deep you can really go. What total focus and purpose looks like. What sacrifice is. You can take a life break after the race and catch up on what you neglect for the next 5 weeks.

Fourth: time not training is not free time. It’s recovery. It’s about not adding stressors to you life. It’s about healing and making sure you are ready for the next workout. Never skip sleep. Don’t eat crap. Don’t plan social events. Your an athlete 24 hours a day.

You asked me what being an elite is like; this is it. You get to live it for 5 weeks. Do it. Do it with everything you have in you; you will have no regrets.

John

Athlete-Professionals NOT Professional Athletes

“I am doing this for the thrill of it, killing it. Chasing the things I want.” -Lorde

I have watched an listened to the debate about pros, and the industry of our sport, and think there has been a great deal of value in the discussion and I don’t want to rehash that debate. However I think there is something missing in the basic understanding of one party that is involved; that of the pro athletes.

People on all sides keep assuming that “pro tri-athletes” are pros first. That they act like rational business people. That they make rational economic decisions about races, purses, careers, and themselves as any professional business person would. People discuss what pros are worth, and even drop capitalistic jargon like ROI (return on investment, which is you shorten into ROI makes you sound super awesomely-corporate).

The problem is that pro athletes are athletes first. We simply don’t value money, business, or our place in the industry like other professionals such as lawyers, or investment bankers do. I can’t imagine most big law firm lawyers waking up and saying “I don’t care how much money I make today, I just can’t wait to defend a tobacco company! LETS DO THIS!” But that is what athletes do daily. We focus on the sport, not the business. Think of us like you do artists and musicians, not business people. We do because we driven by a passion, something deep inside us, that all athletes can relate too. We just happen to have the talent to go fast enough to be pros.

This wasn’t a big problem when the sport was run by people who also loved the sport first and saw it as a business second. When Gram Frazier built ironman he did it with the love of the sport in mind, and profits second, (which it turns out is a great business mode). Pros and Ironman the company had a common cause, common respect and things were lovely.

Then the WTC got sold and sold again and now the WTC is run by capitalist that see the sport like any other business and pros are at a lose to battle them or stand up for themselves because that is just not how they are wired. Athletes like Olympians in countless sports, will toil in poverty for years, work harder than nearly all humans on earth, just to compete once in the Games. That is how athletes are wired.

But here is the thing: YOU want that. you GET that. That reflects your experience as an athlete too, pro or not. Would you want your musicians to write songs that “sell” or do you want them to make art? Do you want people in your sport drive, focused and passionate about the sport you are driven, focused and passionate about? there is a reason commercial jingles suck, and good art is made by freaks.

When pro triathlete make seemingly irrational decisions like racing races they love (like IMLP) or chase Kona points, it makes sense only if you think of them as athletes first and pros second. They want to do IMLP for the same reasons you do, its a great race and they want the experience. They want to race in Kona the same way you do, because they set goals and go after them and want to race the best. Its why they put up with insane exploitation by the WTC, because they love triathlon, its not just a cash grab.

And yes, we sometimes see the light and pick awesome events like Savageman. Sometimes we get so sick of being exploited we leave what we love and know and race elsewhere and often find that its worth it, because its great to be untied with people that feel the same as we do like how I felt with Rev3 and now Challenge.

So I say this to you: pros and age groupers are the same in this. We do it for love. Support us, we are on the same side.

Got Coaching

Got a Coach ?

I am accepting a limited number of new athletes for 2015 starting now. Never though you could afford a pro level coach? I am ONLY 95 bucks a month! Why? because I was a dirt poor punk pro who thinks this sport isn’t only for the super rich. I am far more interested in working with people with a good work ethic and great attitude than someone with deep pockets.

My coaching a program includes:

1) An hour long meeting, call or skype to assess you as an athlete; to discuss goals, plans, strengths and weaknesses.

2) A 100 percent custom plan to help you meet you goals and built around your life and other commitments.

3) unlimited contact via phone, email, text, and instant messenger.

4) A free nutritional assessment with Christine Lynch, A certified holistic health counselor and sports nutritional consultant to countless pros and elite athletes as well as people looking for meaningful heath changes.

5) discounts on the CREW’s many sponsors.

Email me at evilracingcult (at) Gmail (dot) com or drop me a line in the comments section.

“If you are not afraid of getting hurt; then I am not afraid of how much I will hurt you.” – Marylyn Manson

 

 

Savageman

This race is awesome but also awesomely hard. I had peaked for Challenge Atlantic City on. 6/28/14 and instead of taking a break I just kept racing. I knew what I was doing, all my favorite races were in the summer and I wanted to do them rather than try to peak late in the fall. Also I am likely racing in Israel in January and so racing now then taking a break was a better idea for that race too.

My results had gone from 1st, to 2nd to 3rd heading into this. The downward projection of a post peak athlete. But I had to try, Savageman is one of THE races. It’s got it all. Brutal boarding on insane climbing on the bike. A picture perfect venue and swim. Top race organization and the vibe and feel of people who love the sport. And fan. Oh my gods the fans! They line the “wall” half like Tour de France fans looking to cheer you up the hill and half like Nascar fans looking for a crash. They get more crashes as only a hand full make it up the “wall” a 30+ percent climb that starts the 8 miles of misery to the top of Savage Mountain. It’s so insane that if you get over it they put your name on a brick at the top.

All that and they treat pros well. And we rolled deep to this event. John Kenny of the US Pro Tri Team took the swim out like he was a fish-man. The day before he was hanging at the pro house in USA Swim gear. Dead giveaway that he would win the swim. I tried to go with him for 100m then realized if I wanted to race beyond 150m I should let him and the other super swimmer that was with go. Tom Wood, winner of Beach 2 Battleship came by me and he new the course which was thankful because there was smoke on the water and fire in the sky? Ok, bit of light fog. Nevertheless he swam and sighted well and we came in together. I beat him out of t1 and was in 3rd. By the Wall which comes at mile 19 I had been passed by Andrew Fast, and Kelly the two time defending champ and maybe one other.

As the wall approaches you head the crowd. The noise. Both sides lines with people. The wall was hard and spiked my heart rate and making matters worse the road surface at the steepest section is really rough so I had to pick my line perfectly. People who aren’t in the pointy end of the race would be wise to not follow too closely to anyone as they may get taken out by toppling athletes or get forced to take a crappy line which could also force you to not make it.

I road the rest of the race solo. It was sublime. It was stunning. It was peaceful and pretty. I suffered like a dog and tried my best to really push the ups and bomb the downs. With 7000 feet of climbing it had bunches of both. A nice cheer section was on “killer miller” which is near the end and has 22 percent grade. I got a split that I was 5 minutes back from the next guy and realized the racing part of the day was over but I wanted to go hard and not truly stroll it in.

The run is woods and a mix of road trail and camp grounds and I loved it so I just ran for me and kept a pace that was respectable but took no risks of a DNF. I clearly didn’t have it mentally or physically to move up in the field. I was spent from a long season but was inspired to just keep running and ultimately finished inside the top 10 beating some great athletes that I had admired in the past.

So now it’s time for a break. Then back to work for 2015, and a very early start of the season in Eilat Israel. Anyone wanting to join me should let me know as I am looking for travel buddies.

 

Tuckahoe Tri

Tuckahoe Tri

“We see how it plays out, Exeter the ring and go for blood.” – lorde

I love sprint triathlons. I also don’t do a ton of them, they aren’t something I train for with speed work etc, in fact they are speed work to me. But for that they are perfect, a great swim, bike and run interval. So even if your iron distance focused, its a great and fun way to mix some intensity into your training and this was about get the best out of me.

The race is on he NJ coast, my new favorite place after having a great race and time at Challenge AC. The drive from the city was 2 hours but well worth it and relaxing as I sipped a Red Bull and watched the sunrise spinning some good tunes. Drive like that are made better by the company you keep and I had the best with me.

The swim was .25 and I got a great start and had one person on my feet but clean water ahead. I put in a surge to drop him, “no free rides!” I came out of the water first (thanks Xterra Wetsuits!) had a good transition and was out in the Valdora bike first.

The 20k ride was generally flat with some false flats and a few power climbs. At the half way I saw two other guys within a minute and just kept the hammer down. One guy mixed in with me with 1k to go so I sprinted into T2 doing a bike racer style attack to try to get a gap.

Out of T2 I put in a big first half of the run and tried to maintain the gap I had built but my shadow became two and I could hear his breathing. We ran hard together and he couldn’t drop me.

I didn’t like my odds of a true sprint finish so with 1500m to go I attacked. He matched. With 1000m to go I attacked, he matched. With 500m to go he attacked and I blew up. I was running as hard as I could but it wasn’t enough and 3 steps became 3 meters became 10 and just like that I was looking over my shoulder and realized I could stroll the last 200m. What an exciting race! So much fun!

Thanks to Www.citytri.com for another awesome event!

Photo: CarbBOOM gels! Love these! Made with real food, because I am a real person.

Gonna do it all again this weekend at Heightstown tri, reg is still open so if you wanna come out and race do it!

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Lessons from Challenge AC 2014

“We let our battles choose us.” – Lorde

I set a PR on what was not the fastest course I have ever raced and for sure not fast on that day. I bet it’s Not even the second or third fastest course. With heat and wind it was average for an ironman frankly making my PR feel legit.

I made a lot of changes heading into the race and I think it’s worth noting what I changed and what worked and what things I can do and didn’t.

The first thing was a serious commitment to strength straining. Not just in the off season. Not just going to the gym and hoping by looking at weights I would cause me to absorb their magical powers. I went into the gym like an MMA fighter and got rowdy. I made the gym my key workouts for much of the year and left hobbled. I did work. I went in there will malice and ill intentions to hurt myself. At the height of my strength training it was a non stop 90 minutes of functional strength work and my heart rate never dropped below 140 and hit 180-190 often. It was a crazy productive gym session. I puked, I cried I got stronger and stronger. I think most triathletes I know train at the gym like gym dudes train on a track. They show up and hope without intentional focused motivated work they will get fitted. You get out what you put in. Or you you get out what you put out ( in terms of effort).

I also raced less and kept the strength work right into my taper. In years past I dropped the gym work in Spain and never got back to it. This time I lifted in Spain and right up until 10 days out. I would not lift Bc I was doing early season races and this I skipped those and the excuses they generated in terms of avoiding the strength work.

I also did core core core and strength training up to and during the taper. Looking at the pics from the race I had my best run form. Run strong and you will run fast.

I also cut my final prep down from 21 to 16 days. At my age I don’t think I can do 21 days straight of hardcore training. I did a hard half iron 6 weeks out then took 6 days easier (but lifted twice!) and then did my final prep which was full on.

I also did more speed in final prep with intervals in my race simulators rather than race effort work. Going above and below race effort and pace was good as it gave me a bit more speed on race day.

Don’t think I skipped base! In fact I did one of my longest rides a mountainous 135 mile bike ride on Saturday then a 20 mile run Sunday for a big iron-base weekend 5 weeks out.

I made a few nutritional changes. First I went with real food in the form of Carb BOOM, which is like if nature made a gel. I also switched to caffeine pills during the race.

I also did a full and meaningful caffeine detox and was off the sauce 5 days out which made the pills work that much better. I did have decaf a few times, but it’s decaf and I didn’t over due it.

A meaningful change was also how little I races coming into this one. I did only two half irons and one of those was my race-simulator 6 weeks out so it did double duty. That’s and the LA tri Championships was my prep races. I love racing but my gun only holds so many bullets…like 2.

I also boosted my hematocrit levels from 42 to 46 using an altitude tent. I didn’t feel different but the science is there and it seems to show that that extra 4 points is meaningful. It’s the same effect (though not as strong, but has the added bonus of being ethical and legal) as taking EPO which sadly works. Amazingly you only need to sleep at altitude for a short period of time to have to work. If you want to rent mine this fall let me know.

Lastly I focused hard on my head. I spent a lot of time seeking motivation. I am going to post about this in a separate post but it was a big part of my taper.

HERE ARE THE THINGS I DIDNT NAIL:

My bike was a disaster coming into the event. I spent the day prior frantically trying to get stuff fixed. That’s so rookie.

I need to eat more on the bike. I think now that I have found Carb BOOM I will be able to get down a lot more calories. AC was the first time with them because they are on course and I loved them but I think I need 2 x the amount I used.

While I need to eat more race day I need to eat less in the months leading up! I was 2-3kg over my ideal race weight heading in makings miserable for my taper.
It also cost me a better Wild Flower. I need to get to race weight in April if not March.

I failed to race my bike enough. Nothing makes me strong like bike races and while I raced some I need more. I also need more ITT races. I did one and it was perfect. I need more of that! All the motivation and effort of bike racing but on my awesome Valdora Tri bike!

I need to spend more time on my tri bike doing big gear strength intervals too. I was comfy on my TT bike and road a PR but need more strength work which I skipped. I did ride huge mountains in Spain which helps a ton. But as soon as I come back I need to jump on my Valdora TT bold and help transfer those gains at SLB to flat land TT riding. AC is a flat course.

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