Monday, February 1, 2016

Gordo Byrn

Real World Running Rehab

After two running injuries last fall, I asked our team doc, Jeff Shilt, for a running rehab program. He shared his elite athlete rehab protocol, it was an excellent program:

Functional strength
Gradual ramp of load and intensity

Considering the time commitment required for Jeff's program, I knew there was zero chance that I'd be able to execute it. Rather than fail, I searched for an alternative plan.

The Necessary Obsession

Many years ago (in a country far, far away) Scott Molina told me he felt sorry for the wife of an athlete, who was having a tough time with her hubby's focus on sport. The tail end of the conversation went like this...

Molina: The guy's totally obsessed.
Gordo: And...
Molina: That's tough on a relationship.
Gordo: So...
Molina: Well, it might be nice to go on a picnic some time. Chill out, have some wine.
Gordo: Dude, nobody decent wants to go on a picnic.

Strength Training for Health

With the EC Team, we just finished up our annual Big Steel Challenge, where we play a game to see how much weight we can lift in a month.

I was talking with Justin Daerr about the purpose of triathlon strength training and he noted that his main focus is to “get strong.” I agree with Justin and our best advice to get strong is in my Strength Training for Triathlon article.

Outside of the obsessive focus of a potential Kona Qualifier, most people fail to start a strength program because they overestimate the minimum commitment to benefit.

A Question of Honor

Ask yourself three questions:

  1. What was your goal when you started sport?
  2. Now that you’re experienced, why continue to compete?
  3. For you, what’s elite sport about?

What's Your Minimum?

Think back to 2012. What are the challenges that were faced by friends and teammates?

In my athletic circle, we saw:

  • Clinical depression and thoughts of suicide
  • Marital infidelity and divorce
  • Financial loss and unemployment
  • Head trauma and brain injury
  • Potentially career-ending orthopedic injury

2012 wasn’t a “bad year” -- it was surprisingly normal. Setbacks are the norm and I could create a similar list for most years. The dark days of winter provide an opportunity for self-reflection (apologies to my pals in Oz!).

My Biological Passport

Rather than engaging the willfully blind, I’ve been thinking about how we could tip the scales towards clean athletes. Frankly, it’s made me sad to see that most of the triathlon media have acted to suppress discussion of the history of doping in our sport.

Blown Base

With the year wrapping up and winter rolling in for many of our readers, I thought I’d share my three most memorable base-training errors.

Coaching Lessons 2013

With most everyone’s season winding down, at least in the northern hemisphere, I thought that I’d share three lessons that I picked up from our team in 2012.

A Cautionary Tale

Following Tyler Hamilton’s book, a friend recommend David Millar’s book, Racing Through the Dark. I got a kick out of the book as Millar and I have crossed paths many times without meeting (Hong Kong, Noosa, France).

Endurance sport attracts people, myself included, who become manic on depressants -- the two most common being fatigue and alcohol. Millar shares anecdotes of how he responds to fatigue and booze (my depressants of choice in my 20s and 30s).

If you are prone to feelings of mania then you’re probably at risk for depression.


After reading Dr. Bob’s account of his vasectomy, I was a little nervous heading into my own. I figured if a Vice-Chairman at the Mayo Clinic had an experience that involved grapefruit-sized equipment, I was going to be out of action for quite some time!

This week I’ll share my experience of my vasectomy -- I’m going to be direct so consider yourself warned...

Ultras and Health

I recently finished up Scott Jurek’s autobiography. It brought back memories of many a big day. By way of background, I asked Scott to coach me when I was trying to get myself out of a funk due to overtraining. Probably a good thing that it didn’t work out between us. At that stage of my life, I needed rest more than I needed to run a 100 miles!

Fit Pregnancy Round Up

Seeing as this is going to be the last one for our family, I thought I’d do a round up article for you.

Here’s how the first pregnancy went and an article on Monica’s experience with our son’s pregnancy. Also, we recorded a webinar that included Monica talking about the entire process.

The two most important things we learned this time were:

  1. When you use an epidural, make sure you “press the button” when you start to “feel” things
  2. Get yourself induced before the baby gets close to 10 pounds!

Those made a huge difference with Monica’s comfort for this third round.

Does Crime Pay?

When my wife asked if I was going to read Tyler Hamilton's book, I wasn’t sure. I had a hunch that I’d get seriously pissed off and I like to avoid unnecessary stress.

I read a few reviews and they were generally positive. So I got myself a copy. It wasn’t what I expected.

Crushing Cramping

Most athletes’ cramping strategy consists of “hope in a jar.” Sodium, magnesium, potassium, pickle juice... all have been reported to bring relief from cramps.

While placebos are effective for half the people I coach, I’ve taken a different approach with my own athletics. Today I will offer you practical tips you can take to improve your durability.

Building Athletic Confidence

Recently, a friend shared: "One thing about your writing is that you seem sure of yourself in the moment. Do you ever feel uncertain in your pursuit of excellence and sense of control?"

I suspect that many former elites miss the simplicity that comes from a single-minded focus on a goal of athletic excellence. I consider myself very fortunate to have had a few years to completely devote myself to sport.

Elite athletics taught me that finishing times are the least important results I received from athletics. What truly mattered was clarity, physical power, a sense of freedom and self-confidence. At some stage, I’ll need to let go of those. For now, I’m hangin’ on!

The Hero Taper

Last month, Marilyn shared different taper strategies that you could use to get yourself race ready. Now that I’m optimizing my life, ahead of my athletic performance, I want to share the strategy that I used for Leadville.

In a nutshell, I took my 3-year-old daughter on the road for seven days and placed race day in the middle of the trip. My wife thought I had lost my mind!

Many athletes use sport and work as a socially-acceptable way to spend time away from the kids.

When I was younger, much of the attraction of big training was a willingness to do things that seemed too difficult for others. In considering race week, I realized that my training volume was going to be way down. I figured that building my relationship with my daughter and being a hero with my wife was a good investment.

Racing the Leadville Trail 100 MTB

One of the challenges for an athletic parent is maintaining excellence in the face of the realities presented by a growing family. Some quit competition, others get squirrelly, a few get divorced... I tried a summer of cycling only.

Being in my 40s, even when I have the time, I often can’t recover from what my mind tells me is “proper” training. In preparing for Leadville I dropped my running for the summer (close to zero) and was able to train (on the bike) like my 30s.

Many of us delay the realities of age by changing sports -- pro cyclists coming to ironman, triathletes learning to nordic ski for the Birkie or regular folks trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Becoming a Mountie

by Gordo Byrn

To prepare for the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race, I’ve been riding my Super Fly 100 FS around the mountains of Colorado. The single best advice I’ve received was to ride my mountain bike as much as I can and get out on the Leadville course to learn the descents and turns.

Climbing on a road bike is all about power generation -- in riding a lot of dirt, I’ve found that power transfer is often more important than the absolute watts that I can produce. On steep terrain, in loose terrain and at altitude: the ability to get power to the trail can be more important than the ability to generate watts.

I went with a full suspension bike for the simple reason that Bruce at Fair Wheel Bikes told me that I’d crash less often! As it turned out, I’m quicker on steep, loose, high-altitude climbs with my suspension open and the pro-pedal on my rear suspension means that I’m virtually the same speed going uphill as on a hardtail. Strava is great for benchmarking against other riders on similar segments.

A common error in ironman racing is crazed early pacing, which leads to nutrition and cramping issues late in the day. Reading Leadville race reports and listening to the advice of friends and forum dwellers, this appears to be universal across ultradistance events!

A very smart friend told me that the optimal race strategy for him was 90 minutes all out to start his day. When I asked if he truly went max-effort, he said yes. Well, I went out and did a 53-mile simulation ride on the course and recommend that you show a lot of respect to the route!

Tips and Memories from Italia

I recently wrote about my training trip to Italy and I thought I'd share some further tips based on that adventure. It turns out that week was the biggest week of cycling that I’ve ever done. At 43, these weeks become more and more precious to me.

Spend Time to Save Time

In business, I’m constantly looking for ways to spend time to save time. I spend my time learning how to do repetitive tasks more efficiently. As a consultant, I’m conscious of every shift, click and keystroke. Little changes, multiplied by the millions of shifts, clicks and strokes we will do in our lives, can be powerful.

Will Ride for Gelato

Last year, a buddy went to Riccione, Italy, for a bike camp and had a blast. This year, I joined him and want to share some observations specifically about Italy and camps in general.

Coaching Success

Last month was mental toughness month on EC. Being an athlete that gravitated away from the searing nature of short duration racing, it’s natural that I feel an affinity for competitions that hinge more on execution than pain tolerance. Knowing that I’m somewhat "weak" is one of my strengths as I’ve had to learn other ways to win.

Training in Kauai

I recently returned from Hawaii and wanted to share tips in case you find yourself cycling or training for triathlon on the island of Kauai. The island is a special place with a different vibe than you’ll find on the more crowded islands.

Leadville Mountain Bike - Prep

Following on from my last piece on the Leadville Mountain Bike race, I want to dig deeper into how I’m preparing for the event.

Leadville Mountain Bike - Overview

As you’ll read on my personal blog, I’m navigating a life shift these days. The realities of having a house filled with small children have led me towards reducing my training load. That said, the desire to train and perform remains, so I was stoked when the opportunity to participate in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race appeared.

Belief Systems

In sport, there’s nothing as addictive as our first experiences with looking better or racing faster than we ever thought possible.

In early March, I wrote a personal blog about sources of motivation. If you want to balance satisfaction with sustained performance then understanding your true motivators is essential. If your successes in life leave you feeling unsatisfied, then your efforts may not be directed towards your inner values.

The ABCs of Your Coaching Business

Recently, a successful business owner shared an insight on time management. I’ll paraphrase his opinions to get the ball rolling:

We value ourselves more than we think. We are not all that valuable. We spend a lot of busy work doing just that -- busy work; non-productive.

My first manager had me focus on my time:

A-time is revenue producing. Meeting with clients.
B-time is prospecting, doing seminars, doing prospect interviews.
C-time is admin. Paperwork, analysis, planning.

Have you considered the ABCs of your business? I have.

Be Better

The optimal plan is often suboptimal.
- Dr. Tom Evans, husband, father, multiple Ironman champion

Here at Endurance Corner, our most popular content talks about living optimally. Optimal nutrition, training, race strategy, body fat percentages, pacing -- those are the most popular topics on our site.

How many of us can live optimally?

Survival Tactics

One of my recent articles touched on the overload required to qualify for World Champs. If you want to achieve your very best, the article lays out what’s required for success, particularly at training camps.

For most of us, life is about a lot more than being fast. That said, it is a lot of fun to hang around with fast people. This week, I write about how to train above your fitness level.

How to Blast Yourself

As a follow-up to Alan's article on strength limiters, I thought I’d share my approach to going big in the gym. On our site, you will find a classical approach to strength training for triathlon. That approach works well, but as I age, I’ve needed to adjust my targets so my swim/bike/run training doesn’t tank.

Rather than blasting myself twice per week for a month, I place three or four Big Strength Days into a six-week period. Across the block, I will lift every third or fourth day but I will only blast myself on a limited number of key days. When I go big, I go really big.