Thursday, January 28, 2010


Right now our basement is under consruction. We decided right before Christmas to finish it off. Our basement is big, so a huge portion is going to be a tv/game room and the other portion a workout room. Once its done it is going perfect for kids, games, and yes...indoor training. In the meantime, it has been challenging living with things upside down. All the Christmas stuff is boxed and piled up in the dining room, complete with fake Christams tree still standing (grrrr). The TM is out of commission for right now with all the work being done and the trainers...have come up stairs into the family room for riding! Decisions on paint, carpet, lights etc. is time consuming. Have you ever seen so many selections of carpet, and paint? So, you see my patience has been tested, but when its all done, it will be a bomb of a t.v and training room.

"Good things come to those who wait", We've heard this a million times and its true. The quick fixes, easy way outs, cutting corners..don't usually pay off with good return. Or if it does, it is usually short lived.

Recovering from injury take patience. I see it every day. Too often athletes who are injured want a quick fix just to make the pain go away and try all sorts of crazy things rather than really addressing the problem of why they might be injured. Working on tightness, or weakness takes time. Results aren't seen right away. It takes patience.

Getting faster takes patience, qualifying for Kona takes patience, getting stronger takes patience. Often athletes want these results in the first 3 months of being coached, or working towards a goal. It takes time and hard work. I read once that Kara Goucher was injured for 6 years at the start of her pro career!. Wow now look at her. She had to have a great deal of patience to overcome all those injuries and doubts.

So follow the plan, and don't cut corners just to check it off the list. Have patience and you will see the result you want.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Don't Be Afraid!

Kids are Fearless
Cyclocross State Champs, No Fear!

Fear can be what holds you back from reaching your potential, or achieving your goals. Fear of failing, not measuring up, not performing, or letting someone else down can all stop an athlete from making there way to the top. Instead of facing that fear head on, often athletes avoid those things they are afraid of. Things that may help them in the long run become a fitter, faster, and fully reach their potential.

I can remember as a new triathlete many years ago (I won't mention the year), I used to be afraid of going to swim practice. I played college volleyball, and had not ever been on a swim team. This was WAY before there were so many great masters programs... and well before Naperville Waves, and definitely before triathlon coaching programs evolved, Internet with you-tube videos, swim clinics etc. What was I afraid of? I was never afraid of the water, I loved the water, but I was afraid of looking foolish, not being fast enough, not knowing how to flip turn, people laughing, and how awful the burning lungs felt. But I wanted to become a triathlete bad enough that I eventually overcame this fear to kept going. I kept improving, got faster, learned how to flip turn and eventually that fear went away. Now I may only have swim fear if I find myself at a MSM kids practice or in Adam's lane at masters. And then its just fear of possibly throwing up in the lane. (ha ha, j/k)!

Cyclocross was new to me this year. I love riding the bike hard and love showing up to Colonial Rides with the guys, but to race off road and jump over barriers, and race through mud, sand, or off camber tight turns was enough to make me a little nervous for the first race or 2. The unknown of bike racing, and if I would be able to control my bike and still go fast created some fear. But that fear turned into adrenaline each week which helped push me along. By the time the state champs rolled around, there wasn't any fear (other than the joyous pain that comes with all out efforts), just the good nerves that can make you go fast.

The fear of failing or not meeting expectations is enough to stop some athletes in their tracks. One of the best tools I can use as a coach is a test set or field test to measure or mark fitness. But so often this scares athletes off and there often seems to be a glich with their power taps, or garmin, HR monitor etc. or something comes up and the test can't be done. These little tests are nothing to be afraid of. They are not World Championships, or Olympics. Life and death or your ability to breathe doesn't depend on these tests, but, they do help the coach write better workouts, and help mark fitness. And, as an athlete it only helps you build confidence and see your progression in fitness. So don't be afraid! Don't' be afraid of the numbers, or results, or not being fast enough.

Often fear stops us from working on what limits us. What limits you as an athlete? Biking aggressively? Like...really racing the bike? How about hurting on the run and racing someone down near the end of the race. If you're training partner starts coming up behind you in a race...what are you going to do? ease up and let them go? or...race. What if strength is your limiter because you can produce no power, but the thought of showing up to the weight room sends you into a panic attic. Will you avoid the session with metal or pump some iron to get some muscles. To face these fears in practice type settings, little races, group rides, test sets only helps you handle the fear. Toeing the line in practice type settings only increases the ability to handle that fear and to face it head on, look it straight in the eye and go for it. Then when its time for the real deal, ... you will be confident and ready!

Much of what I've learned about fear came initially from my father who is a great coach and motivator, plenty years of experience at racing, and also Cheryl Hart who is a wonderful sports psychologist who has spoken at Trainingbible clinics, and some Life Coaching stuff from Simon Thompson!

So many athletes and people I meet along the way have such big goals and dreams which is wonderful! Dream big and go for it, but think about what you're afraid of or could be holding you back, then face it head on! Don't be afraid!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Joys of Winter Training

The Holidays are done, and its a start of a new decade, a new year and a new month.....and the motivation is running high among athletes, myself included. Along with the big gear up towards more training has come more snow and frigid cold making training interesting. My coach has loaded me up with some good training hours and workouts. He is "down under" right now where they are having a heat wave which must have gotten to him when he wrote my schedule...(ha j/k), so I have been using my creativity getting the training in. This is not my favorite time of year. I don't mind snow but despite frigid cold, and no the sun being out doesn't help, when it negative 20 out. But I'm not going to whine about the cold and living in Chicago in the winter this time., in no particular order are a few of the good things about winter training while living in the Midwest.

Indoor biking: you won't be burned out on the usual "bike routes" by the time your first race comes around. Months of riding indoors will give you a break from the outdoor scene and you will have the joy of that first outdoor ride to look forward to.

Tempo runs on the treadmill: when the tempo run appears on the schedule and the roads are covered with snow/ice and its -15 out, the treadmill is not a bad option. I am not a treadmill lover, I'd rather be outside any day, but reverting to the treadmill does allow you to set a pace higher than you would out in the snow and cold. The treadmill is also good for foot speed, and turnover, which may slow down when outside in the cold

The long run: the day the long run shows up on the schedule and it is again, -20, and snow and ice are down, this is an even tougher choice. What option can I come up with here to make this the best workout possible. This is way to long on the treadmill, just to go easy. My option this past week was snow shoe running along the trail. It is wooded and more sheltered from the cold. Plus it is hard. I went off the trail, and around the Campton cyclocross course, plowing my own way through shin deep snow...yes still running. I wasn't sure I would last the duration of my scheduled long run, but was having so much fun the time flew by. When I was done, I felt like I had run through the mountains of Colorado, because my legs were so tired.

Swimming: this one is good for those with swim limiters! No excuses, because the pool temp is always the same no matter what its like outside, and if your cold going to and from the pool, there is always the hot tub and sauna to help. Splish, Speedo and TYR also get to cash in keeping me going to the pool when its cold. New suits always make it more fun to swim!

New music: I listen to my ipod more than usual while during during the winter months. In the summer and outside, biking and running I seem to forget about it, but I am not a t.v. watcher when training indoors, so coming up with new and motivating songs to keep me going for several hours can be fun. My playlists have old forgotten and new never heard of music of all different categories to make the time go by.

More likely to make it to end of season in 1 piece: training outside year round might lead to more burnout and injury, while cold and nasty weather might keep you under control through part of the season and keep you from over training. Midwesterners might not be in top form at the first race of the season, but potentially less burned out and less injured come the late season races.

Destination training: living in the cold gives you the excuse to plan some get away camps and training trips to escape the cold. Traveling to Arizona, California, or wherever the warm spot may be is a motivation in itself to keep the winter training going. Knowing you will be climbing Mt. Lemmon one day soon can keep you on the taininer a little longer. Plus, while away, you are for the most part able to focus more on training and recovery when there are, with fewer distractions of work and day to day chores that face you at home.

Stay Warm!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hello 2010!

Last year's clinic; we were 2x as busy this year!

Welcome 2010, I am ready for you! As we say goodbye to 2009, I have no regrets. In fact it was a pretty incredible year for me in a ton of ways, beyond just triathlon My racing and training was good, I got myself into some pretty decent shape, on some short volume but sweet quality workouts. But getting a grip on what works for ME in order to make everything else work around the Zucco house and my life is what came out on top in 2009. Beyond that, I rarely like to look back, only forward!

2010 started out with an awesome dinner downtown with a couple of new clients we had never met before. At first I was stewing a bit about having to "work" on NY day, but a nice dinner in the city always helps! There's always an unknown to make dinner plans with a couple in the city you've never met before, however it was quite the opposite and we had a very awesome time with a very cool couple from IN who will be starting with us for coaching.

Jan 2. Trainingbible hosted a Tri-Clinic at Delnor Health and Wellness Center. This was an all inclusive/ comprehensive day in which athletes get to come get poked/ prodded/ and evaluated in the pool, on their bikes, running on the treadmill, hear some good talks, and given a physical therapy screen. Many of Trainingbible's great coaches were out spreading and sharing their knowledge. It was a long day, but I met some great athletes with great ambition for doing all they can to work towards reaching their goals. My job was to screen the athletes flexiblity, strength and foot mechanics. Yes, I was fried by the end of the day. We had double the amount of athletes as our inaugural event last year. But I made some interesting observations. Things I know well and preach consistently to the injured runners/ triathletes who come in for therapy, but it was so very obvious when checking out triathletes one after another.

Flexibility: poor in triathletes mostly in those who had been in the sport a while....hmmmm, take note everyone, get to stretching. Trust me it can help. You don't have to become a yogi guru and put your leg behind your head, but I challenged the athletes Sat. to stretch effectively (more than just a second or 2 against the wall, or pulling their foot back) Try it 3 -4 x a week for a month, and see if they felt any better in their workouts, or even just getting out of bed in the morning. If anything, you'll stand up taller!

Strength: weak glutes....medius to be exact. I see this and preach it constantly to the injured who come into the clinic with hip flexor, piriformis, ITB problems, or really...any biomechanical fault. When your butt is weak, you compensate, and can make anything down the chain unhappy.

Shoes: overkill with gigantic stability shoes and orthotics. This is not always necessary, especially if you keep your core strong, and muscles loose. Add to it some proper run form, and there is no need for the big shoes.

I'm still finalizing my race schedule for 2010. My plan is to keep it much the same as last year with maybe a few fun fillers!

Happy 2010 training, start now working towards your goal!