April’s Featured Athlete

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Beginning this month, we will be featuring a YSL athlete on a monthly basis. This month’s feature highlights Becky Koze. As a member of the YSL team she has been training hard to prepare for the 2014 season. She is a reliable source of wit and humor at our computraining sessions, strength training, and on our group runs.

Q: How many triathlons have you participated in?

A:  I’ve done 9.  2014 will be my 3rd season.  I did 3 tris in 2012, and 6 in 2013.


Q. What has been your favorite experience with this sport?

A:  Finding that I like swimming again.  I was a swimmer turned runner.  For years you couldn’t pay me to get in the pool, I was just done with the sport.  But when running was leading to injuries I knew I had to start cross training, that lead me back to the pool, and to triathlon. 


Q: In your opinion, what prepares you the most for races?

A:  Doing more races.  So much of competing in endurance sports is mental.  Race after race you become more confident on race day and learn how training will lead you to reaching your goals.


Q.: Do you have any strange practices or traditions associated with race day?

A:  It’s probably pretty common, but I lay out everything I’m going to race in the night before.  The week before a race I like to do a run in what I’m going to wear on race day to make sure everything is just right.


Q: How do you make sure you have enough energy during endurance rides/runs?

A:  Pre race breakfast is usually a banana and an English muffin with peanut butter.  During a running race I do Gu Chomps (preferably orange flavor).   I don’t like the energy spike of a Gu Gel, with Chomps I can eat one or two every few miles to keep energy a little more even.  During a tri, on the bike I might do a Honey Stinger Waffle.  I haven’t found an energy drink I like, so I stick with plain old water.


Q: What is your favorite leg of the triathlon? Swimming, biking, or running?

A:  Running is my favorite, the swim is my strongest, and the bike….well I tolerate the bike.


Q: Considering you are basically a vegetarian, how do you get enough protein for all of the hard work you do?

A:  I’ve gotten this type of question a lot, not necessarily specific to training, but generally how do I get enough protein.  I can honestly say I’ve never noticed a lack of energy from not eating meat, from lack of sleep yes, but not eating meat, not so much. 


Q: What is something you couldn’t live without on race day?

A:  Post race brunch.  I race to have fun and without a celebratory meal and cocktail with friends after a good race, well that’s just no fun.


Q: What are you most excited for this season?

A:  I wouldn’t say there is any one thing I’m most excited for.  I love the process of training and racing, so I’m just excited to get out there.


Q: In ten years, do you see yourself training?

A:  I sure hope so, as long as injury doesn’t stop me.  I know my fastest days are behind me but I look for decade PRs now.


Q: How has YSL improved your game?

A:  Training consistency and having a good group of people to train with.

Need proof of her great sense of humor? See her finishing the very competitive and much anticipated Tricycle time trial below :)


Coach’s Corner: YSL Season Opener

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As an endurance and life coach, I am always impressed by what motivates each athlete and general fitness client that I have the good fortune to work with.

The weather may have been incredibly challenging, but today was still an amazing day for Team YSL.

John Ciccone set a 1/2 Marathon PR by running a 1:23:20 (6:21 pace). He shattered his 2013 pace, @ Broad Street, by improving his pace by 11 seconds per mile. Excellent job John!! I look forward to your Ironman training ;-)

Sarah Radcliffe set a new 1/2 Marathon PR by running a 1:38:44 (7:31 pace). She destroyed her 2011 Philly Half, by improving her pace by 1:09 per mile. Sarah has an incredible work ethic and drive that impresses all who have the opportunity to train and interact with her.

Now it’s getting redundant…in a good way ;-)
Willa Deitch also set a new PR today. At the 2013 Philadelphia Rock n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon, Willa ran a 1:54:59 (8:46). Today she ran a 1:48:22 (8:15)!!  Excellent work Willa!
Andrea Caniglia is very new to the world of running and exercise and dropped 20 minutes from the Philly Half Marathon to the Love Run. Keep up the excellent work Andrea!! I can’t wait to see your next Half time.
Jennifer Barnhart & Lauren Overton own the motivational story line of the day. These two women have been friends for over 10 years and that was very clear today. Lauren and I have been working together for over a year and she has become a real role model for many other YSL teammates. She brings positive energy where ever she goes ;-) Jen started working with me in September and has lost a significant amount of weight. Lauren is more than capable of running 13.1 miles, but opted to walk with her good friend Jen. Jen completed her first Half Marathon with the will of a true competitor. Excellent team work Jen and Lauren!! FTR, I am sure I heard Lauren say she was going to run the Rock n’ Roll Half in September ;-)
Congrats to veteran runners Becky Koze and Lauren Brown McTigue for their completion today!!

Swim Tip – How to Avoid Hypoxia

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We all know that the triathlon swim start looks like 100s – 1000s of frogs in a blender. Many refer to triathlon race starts as “The Washing Machine”. Everyone wants the buoy line so the first 200 meters is generally a sprint. Once we hit that 200 meter mark, the seasoned and well-trained / prepared athletes settle in, while the masses stay in oxygen debt. I’ve never enjoyed this state and I know some athletes who never did another race again for this reason.

To ensure you’re prepared for swim starts, try incorporating the following activities into your workouts:
1) If you swim every stroke, breathe every third, fifth or seventh stroke. Alternatively, if you breath every third, fourth or fifth stroke, increase the number of strokes to ensure hypoxia (deprived of an insufficient amount of oxygen). Note: Triathletes should be swimming bilaterally to ensure the best sighting (of people, buoys and avoid wave and current problems…I actually saw someone swim into a Coast Guard boat at the NYC IM You get the idea.
2) Practice longer sets by swimming the first 25 yards with barely any breathing, then going hypoxic for the next 50-75 yards, before settling into your normal breathing for the rest of the set. This is very uncomfortable, but I can assure you that it works.
3) Attempt to do an entire length completely underwater (at the bottom of the pool works best) with fins, zoomers or nothing without coming up for air. Doing 4 x 25 of this drill will help you immensely.

The point, you ask:
- The goal is to hold your breath longer than usual to teach yourself to swim while hypoxic.
- These drills will also reduce or eliminate race day anxiety that several athletes suffer from based on poor swim and swim start preparation.

The Perfect Pedal Stroke & Bike Drill

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Since this is the first bike tip on my page, there are some pieces of information that may, or may not, be helpful to this audience.

In an effort to provide readers with a point of reference, picture the 12 numbers on a clock when thinking of ‘The Perfect Pedal Stroke’.

The pedal stroke is comprised of three distinct movements:
1) Down Stroke – CLOCK POSITION: 12:00-4:00
*The most powerful aspect of the pedal stroke.
*A large percentage of power should be generated by your gluteus maximus and quadriceps muscles during this phase of the pedal stroke.
*There are other muscles involved, but they are not primary and should not fatigue and become limiting factors during this phase of the pedal stroke.

2) Back Stroke – CLOCK POSITION: 4:00-7:00/8:00
*This phase in the pedal stroke is where most people either don’t know, forget or have weak or compromised hamstrings.
*The end result is zero to little engagement and the beginning of the dreaded “dead zone”.
*The back stroke phase of the pedal stroke is critical to productive hill climbing.
*Keep in mind that neither leg is engaged in the ‘down stroke’ when your pedals are positioned at 6:00 and 12:00 (aka The Dead Zone) so you must create some momentum to carry you to the next down stroke.
*Power production is the result of active hamstring engagement because only knee flexion provides power in this range. NOTE: The up stroke phase of the pedal stroke enables the hamstring to relax which prevents fatigue and hamstring over-use.

3) Up Stroke – CLOCK POSITION: 7:00/8:00-12:00
*The focus of this this phase of your pedal stroke is lifting the ‘knee’ and not the heal or foot.
*Visualize the upstroke as ‘diagonally upward’ (forward movement). This places the emphasis on the hip flexors (not the hamstrings as they should be relaxing during this phase of the pedal stroke to avoid over-use).
*Cyclists should actively lift their leg to keep or build their momentum on the pedal.
*When your pedal reaches the 7:00 position, think of driving the knee up toward the handlebar

The Single Leg Drill is best performed on an indoor trainer.
1) You will pedal using one leg per effort.
2) My apologies for stating the obvious, but this drill requires that the leg doing the work is clipped into your pedal.
3) The leg at rest should be unclipped from the pedal and on the back of the trainer (chair, box, etc). NOTE: Pedals and crank arms leave impressive bumps and bruises so keep your resting leg out of the way 
4) Use a relatively light gear / little resistance and do not
try to pedal too fast. If your hips and butt are rocking, bouncing and/or your upper body is moving all over the place, there is an excellent chance your RPMs are too high and your resistance is too light. If your using a CompuTrainer, Tacx or any device that displays RPMS, select a gear ratio that enables you to maintain 85-90 RPMS (to start).

This week try to incorporate the single-leg drill sets into two of your training sessions.
-4-6 (sets on each leg) x 30 seconds right & left leg
-The Details: Alternate between your right and left leg with a 30 second recovery consisting of pedaling with 2 legs equally. As you become more proficient increase the duration of you sets to 90 seconds (SLOWLY).

One last thing about drills: Drills are an excellent way to improve your overall form, but consider varying the placement of your drills.
* Placing drills at the beginning of your training session increases your chances of maintaining good form throughout your training session.
* Placing drills in the middle of your training session encourages good form as fatigue sets in-over time.
* Placing drills at the end of your training session enables athletes to end with good form and practice good form while fatigued.