Friday, October 5, 2012

Riding Just for the Fun of Riding

I'm sitting here in my Killington, VT home looking out at the beautiful fall foliage colors that have taken over the Green Mountains. Yesterday was a major, long work day on a project that I emailed out at 9:45 last night. Today! A reward for the long day...a ride through these beautiful mountains. Problem is, like a dog in a meat locker, I don't know which direction to go in first. Each direction that I look in is more beautiful than the last.

For those who have trained with me, you know that this time of year, unless you are training for a late Fall marathon, I tell you to get off the "schedule" and ride "for the love of riding". No target pace. No minimum (or maximum) distance. No structure. Just enjoy being in the saddle and loving life.That's what I'm going to do today.

I hope you all are able to take advantage of the weather and enjoy the Fall season over this Columbus Day Weekend.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beautiful Day in Lake Placid

Here's wishing the very best to the 2500+ anxious athletes racing at the Ironman in Lake Placid this weekend! They're apparently going to have a super day weather-wise with temperatures ranging from 60-80 degrees and clear skies. Water temperature in Mirror Lake is in the high 60's and perfect as well for a good race day.

One of the most important rules of racing (and of Life in general): Some factors you can't control, so focus on those you can!. One of the major uncontrollable factors (weather) looks to be really favorable, so what's left is to go out with the right mental attitude and get to the task that you've been training for.

Special Shout out:
Rich Kiser- You're going to have a great day! Welcome back to Lake Placid. It's a bit different from Colorado Springs and coming from an elevation of about 6,000 feet should help, although your commitment to training will pay big dividends and your experience on the course from Training Camp will be a huge advantage

Joe Bordieri- You've shown a great consistency in training; following the schedule meticulously and making some huge progress. You've got your game plan in place, your fueling strategy has been tried and tested and conditions are aligning themselves to provide a really great experience for you!

So the overall theme: the work is behind you. Sunday will be about the celebration of having completed that work and having gotten yourself to the best fitness level of your life. Focus on enjoying the day. You'll be on one of the most beautiful Ironman courses in the world so why not immerse yourself in the surroundings.

To all of the athletes: Have a great day on Sunday! I'll look forward to watching the day unfold for you and will be at the finish line listening to Mike Reilly shouting over and over again: "You are an Ironman"!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chuck Graziano's Blog: A New Meaning to "Going Camping"

Chuck Graziano's Blog: A New Meaning to "Going Camping": It's that time of year again! Making plans for our Triathlon Training Camp at Lake Placid and feeling all of the anticipation and excitement...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A New Meaning to "Going Camping"

It's that time of year again! Making plans for our Triathlon Training Camp at Lake Placid and feeling all of the anticipation and excitement growing around the 2012 race season. So, I wonder what percentage of Triathletes attend a training camp. I wonder if they see the value of getting out of their normal environment for a few days to live a great, healthful life of training and building friendships with a whole new group of people who share the common love for the multisports lifestyle.

Our camp is a three day experience. Just long enough to build some momentum in your training, but not so long that you need to build in a recovery day in the middle. We include workshop/clinics during camp to help people understand the "why's" of training and not just the "what's". Yes, we all know we have to build endurance, and we know we need to do intervals to increase our ability to handle higher pacing for longer periods, but why do we do, say, 10 x 30 seconds all out sprinting over the course of a long ride. How much recovery time should we allow and what's the benefit of doing one type of set versus another?

We also have some fun. Last year, we had a night of Triathlon Jeopardy with some pretty good prizes provided by our sponsors. This year, you just might anticipate some questions on our Jeopardy Game that revolve around the impending Olympic Games in London! So, knowing who is on the US Mens Team might be useful. Or knowing how many slots we have on the Men's and Women's Team.

Camps are a great opportunity to have some fun, get in some quality training and meet some new people. I love training camps for these qualities and always come back with my batteries charged up for the season.

To those who will be joining us this year, I look forward to meeting you. To those coming back again (about 1/3 of our campers), it's going to be great to see  you again. To those not yet registered, we have a few spots left, but not many.If you'd like to join the fun, visit our link to Camp Information by clicking here

Thursday, April 12, 2012

One of my favorite quotes

Saw this one the other day and it reminded me that it's one of my favorites:
“A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, who has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”
Tom Landry

In working both with executive business leaders and athletes, I find this to be one of the most relevant definitions I've ever seen!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Are you Wasting Training Time?

I monitor the metrics of my athletes pretty closely, so I know if/when they're not getting the most bang for their training-time buck. For many people, the object of their training is to "just do it", or to just go out to run a little further this week than last, or ride a little harder (maybe on a hillier course than last week). Will this get them to their training goal? Maybe, and in many cases, I suspect yes, when their goal is just to finish, or to just finish a bit faster than their last year's time. The problem is that this kind of training takes more hours and delivers a lower ROI (return on investment) than when you go out to train with a specific purpose in mind.

Given that if you're reading this blog you are at the very least "aware" of periodization and the importance of first developing an endurance base early in the year, followed by working on some intensity or pace work, followed by some time that is very race specific to your "A" race goal. Here's some quick tips on what I recommend:
  1. Make sure that your training and racing season at a minimum has a broad brush "annual training plan" that is written. Print out a calendar and mark down the weeks that will be for for base building, pace and speed work and pre-race preparation.
  2. Given where we are in the year right now, you are likely ready to start building your ability to go faster now that you've established your ability to go far. Going out and riding "faster than usual" will likely improve your performance, but you'll achieve greater improvement in fewer hours by following a good routine of intervals. In my last newsletter, I outlined some recommendations and some of the reasons why you should follow some general parameters for your interval work. The bottom line is that if you want to improve your body's ability to burn Fat as fuel and more effectively utilize your "Type II" muscle fiber during aerobic events (which all triathlons are), you have to get your heart rate up to the appropriate level (80-120% of Heart Rate at VO2 Max) and accumulate a minimum amount of time at this level among several intervals in order to achieve the benefit. 
  3. You've heard this before: avoid "junk miles". Just riding or running to log the hours is not productive and can certainly be counter productive. Doing a "recovery run" or "recovery ride" is okay, but staying low on the intensity scale, keeping it short and spinning at a high cadence is crucial.
  4. You get stronger when you're resting, not when you're working. During your recovery days (and weeks built into your schedule) your body has a chance to rebuild itself, much like scar tissue that builds an injury back up to be stronger than it was before so that the injury does not recur. Imagine continuing to aggravate a cut and not allowing it time to heal! Alternate your hard days and easy days and monitor your metrics (daily resting heart rate for a very simple check, and your performance management chart for a longer term monitoring of fatigue.
As the saying goes: Train Smarter, not Harder!
Enjoy the Spring training season!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Do you care what your max heart rate is?

What is your maximum heart rate? Are you using the "220- your age" formula, or the Karvonen formula to estimate? Do you really care what it is? After all, what does max heart rate have to do with your training zones? Very little, actually.

 The first thing to bear in mind is that estimating your max heart rate using one of the two conventional methods mentioned above can be off by 15-20%. That's a lot! And once you get that number, what do you do with it? Many coaches estimate that your Lactate Threshold (if you're a trained athlete) will be around 85% of your maximum heart rate. That's another "estimate" that can be way off, so now how far off the mark can you be?

If you really want to dial in to your training zones, find a local college that has an exercise physiology program and see if they'll use you as a guinea pig and do a blood borne ramp test. They'll get you on a treadmill and increase the incline every couple of minutes and take a blood sample from a prick in your finger. That test will be pretty spot on. If you don't have access to such testing, you can do a ramp test at home that will get you pretty close.

For a good estimate of your Lactate Threshold on the bike, warm up well on your indoor trainer. Then start a 30 minute time trial at the maximum effort you can sustain for the 30 minutes. When you get 10 minutes into the test, hit the lap button on your heart rate monitor and continue on. At the end of the test, find the average heart rate for that last 20 minutes (the final lap). That will be the estimate of your lactate threshold. From there you can calculate your training zones:

Zone 1 Less than 81% of LTHR
Zone 2 81% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 93% of LTHR
Zone 4 94% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

For running, you can add 7 to the Lactate Threshold HR that you got from this test or do the same ramp test above, but running and calculate your zones as follows:
Zone 1 Less than 85% of LTHR
Zone 2 85% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 94% of LTHR
Zone 4 95% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

Either way, it seems to me that maximum heart rate has little to do with effective training. Your Lactate Threshold (or the point at which your ability to continue on in your race is impacted) is more of an important metric to measure and train by.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

When your Execution doesn't Match your Plan

I frequently run into this issue with both business leaders that I coach as their business coach and with athletes that I coach at all levels: You start out doing everything right: Set your goals, hire a coach or otherwise get on a structured plan, put together a support structure and start out with 100% commitment to following through. Then, life Happens! You get sick, you have an unanticipated business change (Perhaps you're traveling more, commuting further, working longer days, etc.), family commitments take you away from your training, or maybe an injury puts you on the sideline for awhile. For whatever reason,  you realize that you are no longer in synch with your plan. There's a sunken, lost feeling that sometimes goes along with this realization! So what can you do to get yourself back on track?

A few things that are required for every major goal in life:
  • Commitment- If you took the initial steps I described above, it has to be assumed that you were, at least at one point, committed to your goal. You are now in a situation where you need to re-commit to that goal, including making a pledge to yourself to doing what's necessary to accomplish it.
  • Support Structure- Your support structure includes your family, co-workers and employer, your coach and your friends and training partners. You need to communicate with them so that they can fulfill their roles as your support team. Tell them what's going on and what's gotten you stopped. Let them help you figure out how to get moving again.
  • Flexibility- I can't remember ever seeing a plan for a significant goal that has been accomplished without some bumps in the road. You have to be willing to acknowledge the barrier, recognize it for what it is and make adjustments to your plan.
Now, specific to athletes, making adjustments to your  plan is particularly important because it is very important that you look at whether or not it's appropriate for you to just jump back on the plan or if you have to make adjustments to the plan and starting again.

For younger athletes, you de-train more slowly than older athletes, so if you're just off the plan for a few days, it's likely that you can just pick up the plan from where you are. Do not try to make up the training days that you missed. The most you should do is look to see if there are any key workouts that you missed that you may want to replace the current days plan with. Take a hard look a this and if you have a coach, speak to your coach about it. Sometimes doing this will throw your coming week's training off balance. For older athletes, who de-train faster, and for everyone who may have fallen off their plan for more than a few days, you'll need to make adjustments in order to safely re-enter your training.

Work with your coach if you have one. If not take a look at the following:
  • Are you still able to dedicate the same number of hours per week to training as you initially thought? Be realistic. You may have been overly optimistic at the beginning, or perhaps your circumstances have changed. Much of your training can be done on the weekends, or days off, with shorter training days during work days. You should plan a minimum of 5 days per week to train at the iron or half iron distance level (assuming your goal is to finish the event with a respectable time) and 4 days per week for sprint or Olympic distances. How many hours can you devote each day?
  • Use the time available wisely. My strong recommendation is to not just go out to swim, ride or run, but to have a specific purpose for each workout. Doing this will help minimize the number of hours you need to train. Just going out to cycle 4 times a week may help build your endurance base, but you'll use a whole lot more hours doing so. Using the appropriate drills for skills development and intervals for base building will get you to your goal in fewer hours.
  • Did you just not get your plan started on target and at this point are lost trying to figure out how to catch up? Again, your coach will help you reshuffle the schedule to get you back on track. But if you're doing it yourself, start at where you left off and build a structure from there. Perhaps you can ramp up your volume a bit faster than your initial plan called for in order to catch up (but be very careful with this to monitor how you're body is responding to avoid injury or illness). Be sure to allow for sufficient rest and recovery (you get stronger when you're resting, not when you're working hard)
  • Finally, bear your limiters in mind. If swimming is your weakest event, be sure to reshuffle your training plan in a way that doesn't eliminate swim training. If cycling hills is your weakness, focus on power and hill climbing. Your weakness is where you want to concentrate as you rebuild your plan!
Don't despair if you fall off of your plan. It happens to everyone sooner or later. Success is something that's achieved from your ability to get back on track and re-commit to your goal quickly. Remember that "a goal without action is just a dream". And another favorite quote from a famous boxer, "It's not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up that counts".

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Here's an inspiring video about swimmng and life

Thank you to my friend, Sue, for sending me the link to this inspiring video by Diana Nyad, the 61 year old swimmer who attempted to swim from the US to Cuba last year. It's definitely worth watching to understand the obstacles that she has had to overcome and how they have affected her thoughts on life, not to mention the different perspective we'll get on our own "open water swimming".

Click below to view the video:
Diana Nyad Video

Friday, January 13, 2012

January To-Do List

January “To-Do” List!

Notwithstanding New Year’s Resolutions, it’s tough to get off to the right start in January. Here are a few things I find bulletproof for ramping up training and getting stoked for the coming year. They’re simple and in some respects obvious when you look at them individually, but if each is an ingredient to a recipe, then the recipe produces motivation! 

Develop Focus- What’s the point of training? A key race? A breakthrough in personal fitness or accomplishment? Write down the vision. Keep copies in key places (at your desk, in your car, with your workout bag, etc.). When starting my training year, what gave me motivation was to write down the splits that I wanted for my key “A” race. Any time I wasn’t “in the mood” to train, I’d look at them and remember what I was working toward and how important it was to get out and get the training done!

Create the Roadmap- This is likely your training plan. If you have a coach, one will be created for you. If you don’t, you’re on your own to either create one (if you have the background to do it) or buy one online. But you wouldn’t get in the car for your family vacation without first knowing where you were going, or what roads you were going to take to get there. Don’t try “just doing it” without your map!

Be Consistent- It’s hard, for everyone! Sometimes you’re just not in the mood. Sometimes it’s sickness, soreness, fatigue or just plain “don’t wanna’s”. Consistency in your training will pay in big dividends. Get out and do something. Even if you have to cut back on your planned training day, get yourself started and many times you’ll find that you feel better after your warm up and get the whole thing done!
• Maintain a Flexible Mentality- Don’t let the weather, your job or other variables destroy your plan. Keep options available. If the pool is closed for some reason, switch your training days around and do something else. If you can’t ride outside, ride on your trainer. If your boss schedules an early morning meeting, bring your running gear to work and get your run in during lunch (or immediately after work). Don’t let variables get in the way.

Have a Support Team- Few people (if any) can do “life” on their own. We all need a support team to help us through. When I ran my first marathon, I made a pact with a good friend that we’d call each other at any time we “didn’t wanna”. And we kept that pact. After speaking to each other for a few minutes, we’d get the kick in the butt that we needed. Develop your own support system with Family, training partners, co-workers and friends.

Take Good Care- Your mental stamina will go a long way, but we all have to maintain our physical health as well. Good sleep, quality nutrition, scheduling quiet time are all important factors. Eating junk and only getting a few hours sleep will not support you in your training! The better you eat, and the more you get a good night’s sleep, the more you’ll be up to the task both physically and mentally.

Visualize!- You have a vision that gets you excited and stoked for the season (if it doesn’t, you have the wrong vision). Spend some time visualizing the accomplishment of your vision. Close your eyes and experience being “in the zone” as you ride smoothly and effortlessly through the course. Feel the excitement of crossing the finish line. Re-live a “perfect day” or racing or training where you were totally in the zone and loving life.

As the adage goes, “the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”. Take all of the above as part of the whole and use all of them to get you to the next level!

Chuck Graziano is the owner of Inspired Performance Coaching and provides training and coaching to endurance athletes of all levels. He is a USA Triathlon level II certified coach, is certified by USA Cycling at level III and is a Training Bible Elite Level Coach. Chuck served as the Head Triathlon Coach for Team in Training- NJ for 11 years and now coaches their IronTeam. For further information, contact

Friday, January 6, 2012

Don't miss the opportunity!

We're on the countdown to the end of our early registration discounts for the 2012 Triathlon Training Camp at Lake Placid. This year's camp runs from June 28th through July 1st, perfect for tweaking your performance up a few notches and ideal timing for many ultra distance events (IM Lake Placid, NY/NJ, Louisville, Canada, Mt. Tremblant, etc.). Whether you have an iron distance event on  your schedule, or are targeting a personal best for an Olympic distance event or just want to learn more about training effectively our camp program will be ideal for you. Our limited enrollment allows for attention to every camper and coaching for whatever your goals.

Take advantage of the early registration discount and save $50 now and get one of the limited rooms in our reserved block at a very special price.