Buy my Book! Available now on Amazon!


Buy My Book! Faster as a Master, Breaking Down Barriers, Journeying Toward Wholeness. Available now on Amazon in print and kindle versions.

Happy Birthday to my wife Maripat.  Seven years ago today we met when you fell in my lap on the United company bus and I flew you from Chicago to Hong Kong.  Faster as a Master is dedicated to you and sharing this fantastic journey. Chapter 5 is the story of how we met.

Follow this link to Amazon and order the print on demand version or download the digital version.  For my international friends I would reccomend Amazon so you can get the best options and deals on shipping.

Description:

Bruce Conner is faster as a speed skater now, at age 57, than he was as a teenager. The commonly held belief about getting slower as we age has been blown completely out of the water by Bruce, breaking down that barrier. Getting better and going faster is more about intentions and choices than age. “We all want to be great. As I get older, I want to be great again. Happy, loved, healthy–those are the qualities I aspire to be. To be whole in body, mind, and spirit is the reward. We are more capable of attaining those things than we give ourselves credit for.” –Bruce ConnerBruce is also a United B-747 captain, even though he was told when he got his first pair of glasses at age 16 that he would never fly airplanes for a living. Bruce competed as a youngster from age 12 till 19, competing as a long track ice speed skater at the local, state, national, and international levels. He was on the U.S. national team from 1974 through 1976, barely missing making the 1976 Olympic team.

Returning after 20 plus years away from the sport, he had some unfinished business. How fast could he go if he trained as hard as a youth but was smarter about it? Making it back to the Olympic trials again at age 49 was his goal. To be in the elite group of the top skaters in this country was the prize. Was it possible? He had to find out.Bruce has now qualified for four US Olympic trials, at age 19, 49, 53, and 57. Find out how Bruce was able to compete at the elite level and, in the process, journey toward wholeness and heal old wounds. Follow Bruce to break down your barriers to an unlimited life!

I will have copies available to personalize later this week and will announce how to buy them directly from me.  I will be helping Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr. at the Masters Long Track Clinic at the Pettit Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin later this week and will have copies for purchase (save shipping).

I will be announcing soon how to purchase on iTunes and Nook digital versions.

This has been an amazing four and a half year journey getting this book wriiten and published, thanks for your support!

Next week I will pick up the discussion about “Mental Training”.

Faster as a Master

Faster as a Master

 

 

Training Principles Part 6: Stretching


Training Principles Part 6: Stretching

Book update:  I am anticipating printing of the paperback and shipping to me arriving by 9/24.  Electronic versions may be available sooner.  I will update again soon.

Stretching, or you can call it mobility, has three uses for me, warm-up, cool down, and a separate yoga workout.

The first is during my warm-up process.  I have a repeatable routine so that I remember all of my stretches.  Creat one that works for you and modify it as you see fit.

I never stretch cold muscles, ligaments, or tendons. I bring my body up to a warm temperature by jogging, biking, or fast walking, then I stretch to get full range of motion of my joints. I like to think of my muscles as rubber bands. If I stretch a cold rubber band, it might break; a warm one is more flexible. When stretching for range of motion, I will hold a pose for about 10 seconds.

The second aspect of my stretching is after my cool down. The same routine but this time I will hold my poses for 30 seconds. The purpose of this kind of stretch is to increase flexibility, promote recovery, and prevent injury.

The third and last component is a workout designed just around stretching. Yoga is a great tool for me, so I try to do it weekly. Spending a whole hour stretching has benefits that go far beyond just flexibility, injury prevention, and range of motion. Yoga can help me open up the connection from my head to my heart, help me be mind-full and calm, and get re-charged and re-centered.  When I look forward to yoga and miss it when I can’t seem to fit it in , then I know its benefits are beyond the obvious.

I also have a daily appiontment with my “stick” roller.  By using my stick or some type of roller I can get to specific problem areas and work out soreness, promote circulation that helps recovery and increase flexibility immediately adjacent to joints.  There is some new proof that “rolling” is better than stretching for increased flexibility.  I am disciplined about doing all the above and it clearly works for me.

Next week is mental training.

Yoga pose

Yoga pose

Training Principles Part 5: Periodization


Training Principles Part 5: Periodization

As a side note my book “Faster as a Master” will be available electronically (Amazon Kindle, iTunes) in a few days.  The print version in a couple of weeks.  I will announce here and on my website when you can order the print version from me or when downloads will be available.  Thank you for your patience, this process is longer than I imagined.

Periodization is like a flight of stairs. The first level—which can be equated to any workload and any exercise—is the first step. Let’s take the example of sit-ups. I can start out by doing so many of a certain type. Let’s say that I am doing sit-ups twice a week. I keep track of the type of sit-ups and how many. The next week I increase the sit-ups. I can increase the sit-ups by a number of ways: I can increase the number I do by adding to a set or adding another set; I can decrease the rest time between sets; I can change the difficulty of sit-up to one that is inclined or one that incorporates weights. The important thing is to increase each week.

At a certain point we reach a plateau. Then it is important to change. I need rest and have to back off the intensity and volume for a couple of weeks. By just going through the motions for about a week, we are healing from the intense work. Then I can start to increase again. Now I can start up again just below where I took the break. By repeating this process of increasing, then easy, then increasing again, I become better and stronger overall in the long run and less prone to burnout and injury.

The concept of periodization also applies to the larger training cycle of a season and peak performance for a race. I train very hard so that I break down and rebuild stronger. This cycle can be used to achieve peak performance for a certain event. Approaching the important competition, I will cut down the volume of my work but maintain the intensity. By doing a lot more recovery and rest, I can approach the starting line rested and ready to push at maximum capacity. The length of the tapering of volume prior to the competition is usually in direct relation to the length of hard training leading up to the competition. I have found it is better to have too long a rest than not enough.

The concept of tapering training volume and intensity was foreign to me when I was young. That was why I burned out at age 19 and was unable to compete at the level I had trained and prepared for. I believed that the person who trained the hardest would win. I put everything I had into training all the way up to the competition with no rest. I was so tired that my technique suffered and my muscles were worn out, so I could not skate well at all. Now I know very well what the concept of tapering is and how to use it. Now I use the periodization process and tapering, and I plan my training to the utmost benefit.

Age is also a variable where tapering is concerned. My ability to recover is not as fast as that of younger skaters, so my taper must be a little longer. As I age, I have realized I can keep up with the younger skaters if I give myself a longer rest.

The whole idea of tapering for a major competition is that I should approach the starting line feeling totally rested and ready to go. In fact, compared to the training volume and intensity I maintained as a young man, I should feel like I am lazy and out of shape. That is when I race my fastest. A great deal of science supports all of this, and my own experience bears it out.

Steps to the goals

Steps to the goals

Training Principles Part 4: Cardiovascular


Training Principles Part 4: Cardiovascular

Anytime I move, my heart starts raising its rate to keep up with my workload. Virtually, all of my training has a cardiovascular component to it. A couple of times a week, I do some pure cardio work to train my heart and lungs. When I am on the ice, I can consider it a strength and cardio workout. Even skating slow laps requires a great deal of strength, and my heart rate increases to a high level before long.

I do two types of cardio work, mostly on a stationary bike sometimes on the ice or slideboard . One type of workout is interval training. The other is extensive tempo. The difference is that interval training is of a higher intensity but with rest between the efforts. The extensive tempo training is doing something at a lower intensity but continuously for a longer time frame. An example of an interval workout would be running 400 meters pretty hard so that you are breathing heavily at the end, then resting by jogging 200 meters, then repeating. This was the workout we did when I was in high school as a freshman running cross country, and we repeated this cycle about 12 times or more in a workout. It takes about an hour to do this part of the workout. An extensive tempo workout would be running for the same hour or longer but at a slower pace continuously.

Both types of workouts have benefits for your heart and lungs. To get the full benefits of cardio training, you should use both methods each week. Many times, my coach schedules an extensive tempo bike workout in the evening after an intense morning workout on the ice to help flush out the byproducts that built up earlier. This way I get the benefit of the flush as well as the cardio training for my heart. Swimming is also a great non-weight-bearing exercise that can help with heart and lung capacity. I can do tempo, intervals, or recovery work by swimming.

Next week I will talk about the concept of periodization.

Here is a video of the end of an interval workout on my stationary bike that I sent to my coach Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr who was in Germany at the time.

 

 

 

 

Training Principles Part 3 : Strength Training


Training Principles Part 3 : Strength Training

Strength training is essential. Many books have been written and studies have been done on the benefits. For a speed skater, strength is essential. The benefits are numerous. I train very hard at developing my strength, which produces huge benefits. As a young man, I did weight training, but not as much as I do now. Strength training enhances and improves everything. One benefit is that I am a better runner because I am stronger; I run with better economy and efficiency, I play tennis better, swing a golf club better, etc.

Because of strength, I am able to apply my leg strength to the ice through a very strong core without compromising my lower back or being prone to injury. Strength and weight training has also helped me develop stronger connective tissue and bones. This helps to prevent injuries.

My strength work is one weight workout per week. I do about a dozen different exercises. I do three for my legs. Leg press, squeeze (adduction) and hamstrings for my legs and that is a leg press machine. The rest is for core and upper body. I no longer use free weights. The chance of injury is high, and the benefit from free weights is negligible. I use machines that have a cam system that distributes constant stress through the full range of motion of the joint I am working. I do one set of 6 reps to failure. For example, on the leg press, I will extend up from the starting position of a 90-degree knee bend to almost straight in 10 seconds, then 10 seconds back down to 90 degrees again. I never fully extend or rest the weight so I am constantly under load. It takes 2 minutes to do 6 repetitions. Then I do three jumps to a bench about knee height two times and walk around for a couple of minutes before going onto the next machine. This exhausts the slow, medium, medium fast and fast twitch muscle fibers all at the same time. It takes about a week to recover. I keep track of what I have done and increase the next week. I make progress every week and I am stronger than ever.

Next week I will cover cardiovascular work.

Photo by Jerry Search

Photo by Jerry Search

Training Principles Part 2


Training Principles Part 2.

To recap my training regimen has eight parts.

Practicing the sport
Warm-up, cool-down, volume, and intensity
Strength work
Cardiovascular work
Periodization
Stretching
Mental training
Rest

The first part is to practice my craft—in this case, speed skating. I can skate on the ice (when available), rollerblade, do imitation skating on dry land, or use a slide-board. The second part is the related principles of warm-up, cool-down, volume, and intensity. The third part is to build strength by weight training. The fourth part is building the cardiovascular component to supply my muscles with oxygen and nutrients. I can build my heart and lung capacity by running, cycling, swimming, etc. The fifth part is the principle of periodization in managing the training load through the training season. The sixth part is stretching. I can do yoga or any type of dynamic and static stretching. I like to use yoga as a separate workout to promote flexibility and mind-fullness. The seventh part is the mental training aspect, which is a separate exercise using visualization and rehearsal as well as an active application during my training. The last part is rest, active as well as passive. Active rest is necessary to promote recovery. Passive is just like it sounds, stopping and doing nothing, physically and mentally.

By applying the general principles of athletic training to anything that requires commitment, dedication, perseverance, and discipline, you can achieve extraordinary results.

Practicing my sport

When I started skating as a youngster, what attracted me was the sport itself and the joy of doing it. We must all remember our roots and our early motivation to get us through the hard work of training. When I skate and race, I put everything together: strength, endurance, technique, cardio work, mental training, everything. This is my toughest test as well as my best barometer of progress. Here is where the skate meets the ice.

There is nothing natural about speed skating. It is a purely learned activity that requires a fair amount of strength. Because of the strength required, skaters do not have the luxury of a lot of repetition. In order to skate technically well, a skater cannot be too tired. When I get tired, my technique suffers and thereby my speed.

In the United States, we have long track ice at two indoor 400-meter ovals about six months of the year from September through March. In Olympic years, we might have ice a month or so longer. It is important to skate, but it is also important to do off-ice imitation skating in the form of inline skating, dry-land training, and slide-board. I am constantly refining my technique to get the maximum speed. When I skate, I have several types of workouts. One workout is endurance skating: many laps at low intensity concentrating on technique and efficiency. Another workout is at race pace for short distances, typically 400 to 600 meters. We have several types of interval workouts as well, which intersperse hard skating with periodic rests. Then we have sprint workouts where we go all out hard for very short distances, interspersed with long rests. The goal is to refine our technique on the ice, since there is no true substitute, while simulating the different parts of racing. My coach is usually on hand for these sessions to direct and modify training as I go, as well as help to refine technique.

In whatever sport you are engaged in, you must learn to apply some amount of technique. Even something as seemingly simple as cycling can benefit because you can learn more efficient ways of pedaling. In speed skating, technique is extremely important. The faster I want to go, the better I must skate technically. This means striving for great body positioning and the most efficient way to push into the ice. If I have poor technique, I will skate slowly. When I improve my ability to apply my motor to the ice, I go faster and longer with the same effort.

 

Training Principles Part 1


Training Priciples Part 1

One of my early memories of growing up is doing crazy things. Little did I know that this kind of play was the beginning of my training. Bart and I were probably about 6 and 8 years old at the time. We had skateboards, the kind that were about 2 feet long with metal roller skating wheels bolted to the bottom. Our driveway from the house to the sidewalk was sloped slightly, so we could get a little speed rolling downhill, maybe a fast walking speed. After mastering the skateboard on the driveway, we tried some other stuff. Bart liked hanging upside down on the monkey bars across the street in the park. When we started to go down the driveway on the skateboard in a handstand, it seemed like a logical progression from our other activities. This helped both of us to develop strength and balance early. Certainly, it helped Bart in his gymnastics career, and it also helped me in my balance for skating.

Making time to put in the work can be hard. I was asked the other day about how I find the time to train at this level. My answer was that I don’t find the time, I make the time. This goes back to setting goals and priorities. Following through with a training plan is easier when I make the time. It has taken years to put myself into a job that allows blocks of time off to pursue my other passions. By carefully looking at our schedules, we can figure out ways to make time to pursue our goals and keep our priorities straight. We all have unexpected things come up in our lives that require us to put us off our training schedules. Adaptation with balance is the key to making progress.

Athletic training, in general, has two major parts: building the motor (strength, endurance, cardio), and then developing the technique to apply it. My knowledge and expertise has been developed by trial and error and by talking to other athletes on similar paths. The lessons I’ve learned in training may be actively applied to other parts of life. My training regimen has eight parts.

Practicing the sport
Warm-up, cool-down, volume, and intensity
Strength work
Cardiovascular work
Periodization
Stretching
Mental training
Rest

Next week I will expand on general training principles and start taliking about the eight parts above.

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