My Guest Blog Post on rundamentalist.com


Bruce Conner is an inspirational athlete, who has now qualified for four US Olympic trials at the age 19, 49, 53 and 57. He is breaking down the age barrier in the competitive sport of speed skating and he is faster now than when he was a teenager…whilst also excelling in his career as a 747. Bruce Conner is an inspirational athlete, who has now qualified for four US Olympic trials at the age 19, 49, 53 and 57. He is breaking down the age barrier in the competitive sport of speed skating and he is faster now than when he was a teenager…whilst also excelling in his career as a 747 pilot! I had the pleasure to meet Bruce recently and he has kindly agreed to share an excerpt from his excellent book ‘Faster as a Master’ with Rundamentalists followers… .. http://www.rundamentalists.com/2015/03/15/how-to-bring-your-a-game-every-time/

Photo by Steve Penland

Photo by Steve Penland

Intuitive Training Revisited


The 15 months since my last US Olympic trials at age 57 has been very different for me.

I am not focused on a goal.  I have tried to be sensitive to what my mind, body, and spirit are telling me.

For those of you who are driven by goals this may be foreign to you, it was to me at first.  For those of you who do not set distinct goals you may be able to relate better.

Here is where I am and what I have learned.

I am healthier than ever before, stronger than ever, better rested, and my spirit is calmer.

Since I have not been training in such a goal oriented driven way I have allowed my mind, body and spirit to guide me in what to do.

When I feel like moving, I do.  When I feel the need to rest, I rest.  When I feel like pushing hard, I push.  When I need to have fun, I keep it light.

Some of my training helps with sleep management because of my 3-4 trips to asia per month.

Building a luge track in the snow for my grandkids was a blast, a workout, and a memorable.

Shoveling snow was not a chore but a way to move and be productive.

Playing cardio tennis helped me to reconnect to a fun way to move.

Skating a few times this year in Milwaukee helps me to reconnect to my love of skating, my skating family, and humbles me every time as to how hard skating fast really is.

Weight training at the gym is fun because I can push hard if I want to or not.  It is pretty cool that I found that I like to push just for the sake of pushing.

This intuitive training wisdom comes from within, I must be sensitive and pay attention.

The result will allow me to create a future of health, happiness, balance, and grace.

I have the ability to create my own future of health and well being and I take responsibilty for it.  My best is yet to come, so is yours!  Break down your self limiting beliefs, journey towards wholeness, and have fun!

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Cardiovascular Training


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 specific 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. If you are not in very good condition you must remember to increase your volume and intensity very slowly!  Otherwise, you will get injured and have to stop or scale back your training.  Even if you are in great shape, increase slowly!

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.

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.

General Training Principles: Part 2 of 2


General Training Principles Part 2 of 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

Today I will talk about the first part, practicing my sport—in this case, speed skating. Many of you can do your sport daily, like running or cycling.  I can skate on the ice (when available), rollerblade, do imitation skating on dry land, or use a slide-board.

Recently I learned about a high school cross country progarm that was consistently winning over many decades.  They did not run everyday.  They ran hard about 3 days a week and in-between, they would do recovery work on a bike and swimming.  So even when pratcticing your sport like running everyday is not necessary or even desirable.

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. If the rink is outdoor the season is even shorter. In Olympic years, we might have ice indoors 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.

By getting some coaching or going to a clinic for your sport will enhance your experience.

The benefits are worth it, you are worth it!

Your best is yet to come!

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 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