Well, as an endurance athlete you will come across plenty of opportunities to “make yourself better” through websites, TV infomercials, gyms, personal trainers, doctors, and a whole bunch of gimmicks. In reality it’s always what ends up working for you, however, that doesn’t mean you need to spend hours of online research and $$$ bouncing from trainer to trainer and gym to gym. Start out first by looking for local Tri Clubs through your local run and bike shops. They usually have web or Facebook pages too. They will always have the best insider information on local coaches specific to your needs. Now, let’s say you have a coach, doctor, trainer, team, etc., but you’re looking for another perspective or a way to get that extra edge. What I would suggest is looking on TriFind to see if there are any training camps or expos coming up. They usually happen in the winter and spring as endurance athletes are starting to build for race season. Two weeks ago I was at the Endurance Sports Expo to see stuff, check out available services, demo new products, and listen in to top athletes and experts in the field. That’s all fine and dandy, but it wasn’t an experience tailored to me. These training camps and survival guides are usually a hands on experience with feedback based on recorded quantitative and qualitative data.
Last weekend I attended just such an event. It as held at Kinetic Physical Therapy in Collegeville, PA. This was a free event that I just had to sign up for certain time slots allotted for swim, bike, and run analysis. The thing is, I have a coach and he already takes care of my run and bike analysis, but it’s always good to have a second opinion. My Doctor/Coach has a cycling team and speed skating coach professional sports background, and he’s an amateur triathlete and runner by nature. The people at Kinetic were all ex-collegiate champions and pro’s in their respective fields of running, swimming, and biking. Today they are Olympic coaches, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Well, before a did any video analysis, I had a strength and mobility test done on me to record and pain, weakness, or imbalances in my body. I was shown a few. Some I knew of, others I didn’t. After that came the swim analysis. This was awesome because it is something I think every gym/pt office should have. They used an indoor Endless Pool and underwater video camera setup to record my swimming. They also had a mirror on the bottom so I could actually see myself as well. The pool was awesome and I’m completely sold on getting one in my next house. Now, where can I sell a kidney? Anyway, I did the swim in my wetsuit, speed suit, and normal tri suit. Afterwards the coach gave me a few things to change and focus on. She was actually kind of surprised of how strong I swam without any training what so ever, but I was missing a few key basics in body position and swimming mechanics to conserve energy and be more natural with my technique. We then talked for a few minutes about some things to change. We then did the video analysis again, and it was like night and day. I was swimming smoother, faster, and being overall much more efficient instantly. She then gave me a few pool workouts to incorporate into my training and burned a DVD of my swimming. At the end of this post I’m gonna try and imbed some video of before and after. Next came a run analysis on the treadmill in my racing flats and training shoes. My diagnosis was that I have good form for a short course triathlete and to keep doing what I’m doing. After that I had a bike analysis done and once again everything came back groovy. I was told to shrink my Q-Factor a little with my cleat position, but that’s it. Lastly, a strength and conditioning coach spoke with everybody that tested me and he came up with a quick routine for building more stability and power. How much did this all cost again? Oh yeah…..FREE.
Moral of the story, go look for any local training expos or camps and sign up. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been training for years or this is your first 5K coming up. You’ll be glad you did. Also, after everything was said and done I drove over to Valley Forge and rode some awesome bike trails for about 1 1/2 hours with beautiful sunshine. Great day all around and I’m gonna be even better come race time!