Thursday, December 29, 2011

Question-and-Answer: Rev3 Coaching

Exciting news round the CTB offices these days, as Revolution3 is launching training programs, from Olympic distance to full (read: iron-distance) triathlons!

As usual with these types of announcements, we'll be going with the question-and-answer approach. Time to put on the reporter hat...

What is Rev3 Coaching?
This will be a group coaching approach, featuring a month-to-month training program, access to private member forums, webinars, on-course training days, advanced course and race information before the general public, equipment tips, and much more!

Group coaching? So, if I'm not local, I can't train with them, right?
Wrong! This is a satellite approach. There will be local group events where there are Rev3 events, but this is also meant for the athlete who is going to a destination event and can't make it to a group meet-up. This is also why there's the private member forum, so you'll be able to ask questions of your fellow athletes, as well as members and staff of Team Rev3/Rev3Tri.

How does this compare with my local training group (e.g., the Maine Training Academy)?
They're similar, but definitely different, and will have different appeals to different people.

The Rev3 Group Coaching approach would be more for the athlete who, say, can't attend weekly events, but still want to be part of a group and have the knowledge that others are trying the same thing that they are.

The Maine Running Academy, meanwhile, has a decidedly local flair to it: swims on Mondays, bikes on Wednesday, running on Thursday, all out of the Portland Maine Running Company location. It's also a smaller community.

Either program will help get you to the finish line, and has the benefit of having other people there to support you. I guess the best way to look at it would be: can you make it to weekly training nights, or do you need a more flexible schedule? The answer to this question will probably dictate where you need to go.

Also know that the Rev3 Coaching service is a shorter block of training: 16 weeks for the Olympic training plan, 20 weeks for a half-Rev (70.3) program, and 24 weeks to go 140.6. The Maine Running Academy has started now, and will run all the way until the end of September. So if you need more base work with a group, it'd be wise to get into the MRA. Yesterday. But if you have an established base, and you answered "flexible" above or you don't live anywhere near Portland, ME: the Rev3 route is looking pretty smart.

How does this compare with what Doug, Denise, and Mike do with The Sustainable Athlete?
Well, it doesn't.

The Rev3 Coaching and Maine Running Academy are group coaching approaches. Although Carole (the professional athlete behind the Rev3 Coaching service) and The Sustainable Athlete crew can do some modification of a large group program for you, they are at their heart group coaching.

If you require more personalized coaching to work with, then I'd highly recommend The Sustainable Athlete folks. They're good people. And really, really good coaches.

Do you need to be racing a Rev3 race to use the coaching service?
No! Not at all! Although the coaching fees do include a discount for a Rev3 race (more on that in a minute), if your race schedule has a specific distance event close nearby, you can use this as a rough sketch for training for that event.

So, how much is it?
That depends on the length of the program/race. There is a flat $200 initiation fee per program, and then it is $50 a month for the remaining program.

Olympic program: $200 + 4 x $50 (4 months) = $400
HalfRev program: $200 + 5 x $50 (5 months) = $450
FullRev program: $200 + 6 x $50 (6 months) = $500

Note that there is a discount if you pay in full up front of 10% off, making the programs $360, $405, and $450, respectively.

Also note that you can pay your initiation fee, and then pay month-to-month when the program actually begins. As an example, the halfRev race in Old Orchard Beach is in August. The training program for that race begins on April 9th. So you could pay $450 now, up front, or pay $200 now, and then start $50/month in April.

So, what do I get for my money?
Well, you get all of the coaching and group support, plus a Rev3Tri training kit, $25 your entry to a Rev3 race of your choice, and sponsor goodies!

When do these programs start?
Depends on the race!

Knoxville, TN: January 16th for both HalfRev and Olympic (16 weeks)
Quassy, CT: January 16th for HalfRev, February 13 for Olympic
Portland, OR: February 20 for HalfRev, March 19 for Olympic
Wisconsin Dells: March 26 for HalfRev, April 23 for Olympic
Old Orchard Beach, ME: April 9 for HalfRev, May 7 for Olympic
Cedar Point, OH: March 26 for FullRev, April 23 for HalfRev
Anderson, SC: May 28 for HalfRev, June 25 for Olympic
Sarasota, FL: June 11 for HalfRev, July 9 for Olympic

So, what if I want to sign-up?
Shoot an e-mail to or They'll get you a registration form, waiver, etc. to get all set-up. There will be a "how you heard about the program" bit...either throw down my name, or this blog address, if that's how you heard about the program.

Based on your own experience, what would you do?
That depends on where you live, and how much coaching you feel like you need.

If you live in the Portland, ME area, and the Maine Training Academy schedule works for you, then this is a phenomenal group to join. (I mean, I work here. Come on!) But in all honesty, it's a fantastic group of people to train with.

If you don't live in the Portland, ME area, but you want group coaching, then Rev3 Coaching is the way to go. Honestly, coming from a "put together my own schedule and see what happens" approach from my first season...wish I had done something like this instead. Being stubborn is not necessarily a virtue in this endeavor.

If you live anywhere, but feel like you need a personalized schedule, or need some modification of a group schedule, then hire The Sustainable Athlete folks.

If I have questions, what should I do?
Leave a comment here, or shoot me an e-mail at (my name, all put together, one word, no spaces, not my middle name, so just the first and last together, at g mail dot com). I have to do it that way so I don't get spammed up the wazoo...

So get after it!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Training: When is Less More?

The answer, of course, lies within the individual.

Much is written about the training schedules of multisport athletes, with sheer volume of numbers resulting in hours and hours of training. Then you hear of coaches, or programs, promising something along the following:

"Train less! Get faster!"
"Spend just X hours a week training with our program, and you'll be fitter than you've ever been!"

Now, of course, comes the rub: some of us will get faster with less training volume. But there's a key component missing in those descriptors above, that is lost when people talking about training less and getting faster:

You need to have done the work first in order for this to work.

Let's use the example of going to lift weights at the gym. You go and bench press a certain amount of weight. You don't increase it, you just crank out your sets. You go home, recover, and the following week do the same set. After three or four weeks of lifting, you suddenly get the ability to press more. Where did that come from?

Essentially, our body wants to overcompensate. It wants not to have the ability to repeat that same exercise, but instead lift something heavier than that. It is much the same with swimming, cycling, and running: your body wants to overcompensate for the stress load that you put on it so that it can get that activity over.

The thing is, in order to build in less work (or a recovery week, for that matter) you must first have done the work to actually recover from. Otherwise, you're falling out of shape.

This, however, does not apply for injury situations, which are an entirely different element. At that point, less is in fact more. But for the most part, you need to get out there, do the work, and then recover well.

Brief Training Update:

Well, my own "recovery" hasn't been nearly recovery-oriented enough. Been stressed, exhausted, working my tail off. Been training roughly 5 hours a week, which is a decent base to work off of at this point. Pointing towards January, when the 20 week to Quassy countdown begins.

I needed the mental and physical time away from having a race on the calendar; now, it's getting to that, "Shit, race coming" point whereby the work becomes more important, the recovery required, and focus really sharpens.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mind Eraser, No Chaser (aka: New Race Schedule)

Blasting out to some Living Colour, Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, and Pearl Jam this morning...

Bit of an editorial piece around the Crashing the Boards offices here this morning. No product reviews on the horizon, a couple of training pieces that are upcoming in the bin. However, before I get into training philosophies and whatnot, I wanted to follow-up on the race schedule that I had posted a few weeks back, in the announcement thread of my making Team Rev3 Triathlon.

If you've been reading here for a fair bit, you'll know that this past year was my first year in triathlon. Not, "oh, I'd competed in one or two, and this was my first full season." No, this was: I competed in my first two triathlons, period. As in, my first triathlon was the half-rev at Rev3 Quassy.

Nobody has ever accused me of being the sharpest knife in the block.

Now, we all know how Rev3 Quassy ended: me in the med tent, hanging out for a few hours with the wonderful crew there, then spending the night in a Days Inn just outside of Hartford because I couldn't handle the car ride back to Maine.

Fast-forward to the start of this month, as I'm reflecting on the past year's worth of training, trials, races, and overall insanity.

It'd be absolutely, positively bat-shit insane of me to try and race a FullRev at this point. Note that I italicized the word "race" here. It's an important distinction.

I am, at heart, an incredibly competitive person. It's extremely difficult for me, say, when in the pool, to not try and race the person a couple of lanes over if I notice that they are of equal or slightly faster pace than I, even if I'm in the middle of what is supposed to be a drill set. Out on the roads? There's no way I'm letting the guy in front of me make it to the next stoplight or tree before I do. I just want to keep pushing, and going.

My body is not in the place to make a sustainable push forward to a full distance race at this point. This isn't a bad thing; it's just that if I have the expectation of being competitive in my age-group when I decide to go and race a full, I need to take the time here and now to earn that speed, to earn that base, and mentally grow as an athlete.

It is the mental strength to know when to push, when to back off, when to hit every single workout, when to take a day or two off, when "more is more" and when "less is more." (Note: less is more is only more when you've first done the more is more; recovery is only recovery if you've done the work...) It is those areas that, moreso than physically, I need to grow before I can attempt to go race for 140.6 miles.

With that in mind, here's what next race season is shaping up as:
Polar Bear Tri or Du in May
Rev3 Quassy 70.3--June
Rev3 Old Orchard Beach 70.3--August
Rev3 Cedar Point 70.3--September

Mind you, the schedule is written in pencil, but this is what we're working towards. I firmly believe that by working this schedule, I'd be able to race a full well in the next year.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Shoe Review: Aetrex RX Runner

There are some shoes that take you by surprise; those shoes that you wanted to hate but wound up loving. There are some shoes that are consistently great. And then there are some shoes that you always know will fit one way, and it isn't quite for you, but you understand why it works.

This is none of these.

In fact, I've never been quite so stumped by a product before. Everything that I had thought these would be, was incorrect, but at the same time, it was 100% accurate.

And it is with that, we enter the Aetrex RX Runner.

The Backstory
Aetrex is a company that formerly did nothing but custom orthotics, available via a podiatrist. However, they noticed that they were receiving the same four orders for support levels nearly 98% of the time: neutral, neutral with a metatarsal lift, posted, and posted with a metatarsal lift. In time, Aetrex realized that they could instead offer these orthotics at the retail level.

Respectively, this has become the Lynco L400 series orthotics. Going through the above descriptor, that has morphed into the L400, L405, L420, and L425, respectively. This is the similar backstory to Superfeet, and so it is no surprise that these two orthotic makers vie for the top positioning in our store for their orthotics.

However, unlike Superfeet (with the exception of Superfeet flip-flops), Aetrex also desired to enter the footwear market; after all, wouldn't an orthotic maker do a good job of knowing what the foot needs for support during walking and running? And so come along the RX Runners.

The Technobabble
The Aetrex RX Runner is a neutral running shoe, making it best for neutral pronators or supinators.

The main call out on the RX Runner is the "Fat Pad" system. This is their proprietary secondary cushioning system, much akin to New Balance's Abzorb system, or Asics Gel. It is a fully encapsulated, low durometer foam. This means that it is quite soft. There then is their blend of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), which is the primary cushioning system.

The RX Runner them has a relatively stiff midfoot shank, which is mirroring the shape of the plantar fascia: thick in the heel, and then spreads out toward the metatarsals.

The outsole is segmented in a few strange ways. The medial side features more segmentation than the lateral side in the heel. This is interesting, as people tend to land towards the outside of the heel during their gait cycle. The midfoot features two prongs, then three directly under the ball of the foot. This gives the shoe a truly neutral flair through the forefoot. There are only two flex grooves through the forefoot, giving it a relatively stiff positioning.

The insole to the Aetrex runner features a gel-esque substance in the insole. (Asics only holds copyright to the use of Gel as a cushioning material in the midsole of shoes, not for insoles). It does not feature an Aetrex Lynco orthotic, which I personally found surprising. (I would've thought it'd have been a perfect device to couple the two together.)

The shoe weighs in at 16 ounces in my size 13. Considering what I've been wearing around the CtB offices as of's a bit heavy. (No published weight exists for these, so I had to go off my own size here.)

The Run
These, are, well...

OK, there's no sugarcoating this.

These are the worst running shoes I have ever put on my feet.

What makes them terrible? Let me count the ways.

First and foremost, they made my toes fall asleep within about 30 seconds of putting them on. I tried re-lacing them. I tried not tying them. I tried everything. Nope, toes still asleep. Not a good start.

You slip the shoe on (and, if you don't experience the same numbness in your forefoot, well, more power to you), and you start to wonder: am I about to be taken in the back of a black Cadillac and deposited in the East River? That 16 ounces feels more like 61. It is probably due to that very thick "Fat Pad", coupled with the midfoot shank being so far away from the foot. The pendulum effect makes these much heavier than they sound.

OK, so they're heavy. Whatever. No matter. That should mean they have a boatload of cushioning, right?

Within four strides, you're left wondering: did I put cinder blocks on my feet? They're heavy. They're not well cushioned. They're much firmer than the amount of material would have you believe. By comparison, the featherweight K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Light is much softer, and much more supple.

These are stiff. As in, my poor 158 pound (hey, it's the off-season. 153 is the racing weight) self could not get them to flex forward, no matter the strike. I tried heel-striking. I tried forefoot striking. I tried midfoot striking. It all sucked something spectacularly.

In sum, these are terrible. And what makes it worse? It's the gall of $129.95 being charged for these. Seriously? You mean, for the price of, say, a Saucony Triumph, you want people to wear these? These don't even compare against the Saucony Jazz. From the 1980s.

In my reviews, I try to give you imagery. I don't like trying to tell you HOW it is, so much give you the feeling of having put the shoe on yourself. Well, this is one experience that I almost say, every runner should HAVE to experience. You need to put these on. It changes your perspective on your shoes.

It makes you very, very grateful for the other shoes that you own.