Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On Motivation

Motivation isn't something we possess, it's something we create. We create motivation by simply being there, doing the work, and building off of the work we've done. 

Put on your shoes. Tie your laces. Go.

Jon Fecik
USAT Coach
Facebook Page: Jon Fecik's Power On Coaching
Image from: http://www.tomclarkphoto.com/archive/?p=274

Monday, November 4, 2013

Make Your Own Coconut Almond Energy Bars!

I've never made any sort of granola or energy bar before and my friend, health/nutrition Coach Lisa Federico, suggested that I give these Coconut Almond Energy Bars a shot. She sent me the following Coconut Almond Energy Bar recipe--that came from Runners World Magazine--which took about 10 minutes to put together plus 10-15 minutes of baking time. They are really easy to make, relatively healthy, and a good alternative to PowerBar or Cliff Bar products. So here it is:

Pre-heat oven to 350° (bars can be eaten without baking, but they are sticky!)

2 c oats
1 c coconut
1 c almonds
1 c cashews (walnuts are good choice as well)
1 c sunflower seeds
1 c chopped dates or raisins
1 ½ c peanut butter, or tahini, or mix the two
1 c honey            
1 tsp vanilla

Notes: Like anything else that you make, you may choose to use organic ingredients. I did. You may also add your favorite ingredients and/or subtract some from the list. I don't like dates or raisins so I left them out, but I did add some chia seeds. Also, try adding cacao nibs for a punch of antioxidants and good source of magnesium--which supports nerve and muscle function, bone strength, and circulation.   

Directions: Grease baking sheet. Roughly chop nuts. Mix oats and dates in a bowl. Heat PB and honey in a pot on the stove on medium low heat to make mixing easier. Then add the vanilla. Combine all ingredients and spread them onto a baking sheet. Pack about 1” high. One batch may not fill a standard size baking sheet....but I doubled the recipe so mine did. Place them in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes so that they can fuse together. Let them cool and firm up for about 10 minutes. Then, cut them into bite size pieces. 

Enjoy! They are delicious, easy to make, and easy to carry during your next ride or run. Try them!

Want to know more about Lisa? I'd recommend her to anyone interested in improving their health and nutrition strategies. Check out her website at http://www.healthtrekcoaching.biz/.

Interested in a triathlon coach? Don't hesitate to contact me. My roster is quickly filling up, so don't wait!  

Jon Fecik
USAT Certified Coach

Monday, October 14, 2013

Results, Results, Results!

This was a HUGE weekend for Power On Coached athletes Jake Stevens, Lucy Rogers, and Ted Breault! Jake has been working with Jon since June and dropped his half marathon PR from a 2:08 to a 1:43. Lucy has been working with Jon since September and she dropped her half marathon PR from a 2:15 to a 2:03. And finally, Ted has been working with Jon for one year and PR'd in his first time at Kona with a smoking 9 hours and 50 minutes! Great job to these three Power On athletes!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Exploring: Finding faster ways to move

Generally, American culture teaches us that hard work pays off in the end. We love to hear stories of athletes like Michael Jordan who struggled, worked unbelievably hard, pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, and emerged as an extraordinary athlete. These types of stories put us into the “no pain, no gain” mindset and inspire us to work hard ourselves1.  This mindset, I think, is partly what forms many Americans into really successful athletes. But it also forms us into very particular kinds of athletes. There is no doubt that we are compliant with our daily workouts, working very hard, and becoming very fit. As a way of coping with the overloading stress that comes with the hard work, however, we often turn our attention away from our bodies. We take mini vacations on our long workouts. We throw in our earbuds and allow the thumping Kanye2 beat to carry us away from the strain that we pour onto our muscles. This isn’t inherently bad, but it distracts us from listening to the ebb and flow of our own bodies. It distracts us from important information that may very well help us to become faster athletes.

One way to become a faster athlete is by taking a few minutes each week to consciously engage with your workout. Many coaches call this exploring. Exploring involves noticing how your body works and looking for new ways to produce more power, produce more speed, or become more efficient. You can explore any time you’re moving (walking to the water fountain, riding your bike, practicing yoga, etc.) and for any amount of time (a few seconds to a few hours). That said, a particularly good time to explore is during your workouts, specifically endurance workouts, where you are already moving with a purpose and can spend time exploring ways to become a faster athlete.    

The first step of exploring is to remind yourself of your desired outcome. In his book “The Inner Game of Tennis,” Timothy Gallwey breaks tennis players in two groups. One group focuses on how they look. They care about having perfect form. Another group focuses on the outcome. They care about form only to the extent that it supports their ability to control where the ball lands on the other side of the court. Gallway found that the group who focused primarily on technique rarely mimicked the technique they were trying to imitate and won far less matches than those who focused primarily on outcome (48). While tennis is fundamentally different than swimming, biking, or running, I think Gallwey’s outcome concept provides some very valuable insight for multisport athletes. It’s easy to get caught up in technique and to forget what it is that you are actually trying to accomplish. The goal, in my eyes, is not necessarily to look a particular way, but to go faster. Asking yourself a guiding question such as “How am I going to get faster?” will help focus your exploration in a productive way.   

The second step of exploring is to figure out how you’re going to assess whether or not a change improves your performance.  There are a variety of ways to do this. One simple way is to time yourself. Say you are doing 50 meter repeats in the pool and are exploring the tension in your shoulder during the recovery part of your stroke. If you change something and go a little faster with the same effort level of your previous 50’s, you know you’ve made a productive change. Another slightly more complicated way to assess how a change affects your performance is to use biofeedback devices such as a HR monitor or power meter. Say you are exploring your center of gravity on an endurance treadmill workout. You keep your speed and incline consistent and begin to lean more from your ankles. If you see your Heart Rate decrease by a few beats per minute, you know that you’ve made a positive change because your heart doesn’t need to work as hard as you continue at the same speed.

After you figure out how you are going to assess how a change impacts your performance, the third step of exploring is to develop an awareness of how you are moving. Let’s get concrete by focusing on a specific example. Pretend you are doing a routine aerobic endurance ride on a trainer.  As you warm up, what stands out to you? Does anything feel awkward to you? What feels good? Say that you notice an awkward hiccup in your left peddle stoke while your right peddle stroke feels good. When all is said and done, this little hiccup isn’t preventing you from completing your workout and reaping many of the physiological benefits of an endurance ride. You could simply ignore it. But now that you have paid attention to your body and noticed the hiccup, you can choose to explore the area.   

The fourth step is exploring the area. You can do this in variety of ways. One good way to start is by comparing the side that feels good to the side that feels awkward. What is it that you are doing on the right side that allows you to move so fluidly? Is it that you are more flexible on that right side? Is it that you are engaging and relaxing your leg muscles on the right side differently than you are on your left? Another way of exploring is by changing your position on the bike. What happens to your hiccup and your power as you move forward and backward on your seat? What happens if you increase the seat height or lower it by 1cm? A third way is to investigate through drills. A common drill that helps athletes smooth out their peddle stroke is called a one leg drill. This is where you peddle with one leg as the other leg is clipped out and rests on the trainer. One leg drills allow you to focus on a particular leg, noticing how you engage your muscles to do the work. Are you engaging your calf all the way around your peddle stroke? Is this necessary? Is this somehow contributing to the hiccup? What happens when you relax that calf? Does your stoke get more or less fluid? It’s important to remember that drills isolate your leg from the functional movement which occurs when you peddle on both sides. Drills are great ways to find out more about how you are engaging your muscles, but they do not account for the complexity of the full functional movement. In other words, your body is a complex system where everything is connected. Peddling with your right leg, your movement from side to side, your body position, among many other things will affect the way you move your left leg. If you choose to do drills, make sure that you adapt what you’ve learned when you return to the full functional movement.

As creatures of habit, we tend to execute workouts the same way over and over again. A fourth and slightly different way of exploring is by changing up the way you approach a particular effort. Consider another example. Say you are executing a V02 max workout where you are riding 5x 3 minute efforts really hard. Although you may not be thinking much about technique during this workout, the workout affords you the opportunity to find out how you can create the most power over that 3 minute time frame. While endurance workouts are great for exploring technique, V02 max workouts can help you explore how different ways of allocating energy affect your results. Do you create a higher average power if you push really hard in the first half of a 3 minute effort and just try to hold on for the second half of the effort? Do you create more power if you maintain an even power throughout the entire effort?  Or, do you create a higher average power if you try to increase your power as the interval continues? How does average speed factor in to all of this? Each type of workout provides a particular avenue to explore.

Once you notice what change allows you to be a faster athlete, it’s time to replace the old way of moving with the new and turn it into a habit. This requires practicing the new change over and over again, making the movement so natural that you don’t even have to think about it. Though it may be boring, the habituation process is just as important as the exploration process. When we get to a race, we want to be able to turn off our exploration mindset and just allow our bodies to do their jobs.  

When all is said and done, do not forget to measure how your exploration affects your performance. One of the drawbacks of exploring is that you can get lost in your own technique/approach and forget that you are trying to produce a particular outcome—to get faster. You can also get lost in your own head, hyper focusing on one thing when it is more productive to focus on something else (something outside of your conscious radar). Herein lies one of the great values of a coach. A coach who sees the overall picture of your life and training can help you see the bigger picture, help you decide when you should shift focus, and remind you that the point is to get faster. As long as you keep the outcome in mind, however, you will begin to see the benefits of exploring. Maybe you never noticed this small hiccup before and when you smooth it out your power jumps 10 watts. Or maybe you find out that the hiccup is due to a small muscle imbalance that you can strengthen in the off season. By consciously engaging with your workouts and paying attention to your body, you will begin to notice your little inefficiencies. Addressing these inefficiencies through exploration and making the positive changes into a habit will make a big difference in your future race times.

1“No pain, no gain” is no accidental phase, here. It is a fundamentally American motto that was coined by the quintessential American, Benjamin Franklin. Franklin pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, made a career for himself as a printer/publisher, and became THE American role model.

2 Insert with your favorite upbeat recording artist: Ke$ha? Journey? Josh Groban?

As always, I welcome any comments or questions.Shoot me an e-mail! Also, don't forget that it's time to start planning for next season. The decisions you make now will affect your performance next season. Consider signing up for races, buying a new bike, and/or hiring a coach to help you achieve your goals. Have a great day! 

Jon Fecik

Works Cited
Gallwey, Timothy W. The Inner Game of Tennis. New York: Random House, 2008.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On Physical Fitness and its Influence on a Creative Mind

"For physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. The relationship between the soundness of the body and the activities of the mind is subtle and complex. Much is not yet understood. But we do know what the Greeks knew: that intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of their capacity when the body is healthy and strong; that hardy spirits and tough minds usually inhabit sound bodies." JFK's words in "The Soft American," Sports Illustrated (1960).

You DO NOT need a healthy body to have a creative mind. This I know for sure. That said, I agree with JFK when he states that our creative abilities reach their highest capacities only when they are supported by a sound body. What is a sound body? It's not necessarily one that looks razor thin or can dead-lift 500 lbs. In fact, many of these very fit bodies are actually unhealthy. Rather, a healthy body is one that doesn't limit you from your everyday tasks. It's a body that allows you to do those things in life that you want to do.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Exploring the Affordances and Constraints of Individualized Triathlon Coaching

We are limited by the amount of time and money that we have to spend on triathlon and there are many options beyond hiring a triathlon coach that can help you improve your health, fitness and performance. Some of these options include programs put out by Crossfit, the YMCA, triathlon clubs, etc.  These programs tend to be less expensive than individualized coaching and provide some valuable benefits such as a community atmosphere, a designated time and location, and a trainer to push you through the workout. These programs are fun and help you to stay motivated to work out on a regular basis.

That said, these types of programs are generic. Perhaps the most distinct advantage of a personal triathlon coach is that your training program will be individualized. What this means is that there is more one on one, personal interaction with your coach. This provides the coach with time to observe and address your own personal challenges as an athlete. This interaction also allows the coach to see your life as a whole. Unlike a generic program that tends to neglect the other stressors in your life, a coach engages in an ongoing dialogue with you about training, racing, and life in order to design and tailor a program to you; a program that adjusts to your stressors, your goals, and your races. The idea is that when your program fits you personally, it enhances your training and racing experience. It helps you remain consistent and motivated. It helps you to not only achieve your goals but to achieve a level of health, fitness, and performance that you didn’t know existed. Of course, this relationship requires that an athlete is willing to change his or her approach and put in the time to do so. The purpose of the following is to help you understand some of the affordances and constraints of hiring a personal triathlon coach. This will hopefully help you decide whether or not this is a good option for you. 

Coach-athlete relationship

Generally, hiring a coach involves engaging in an ongoing coach-athlete relationship. The two biggest constraints of this relationship are that, like all relationships, it takes commitment and time. Unlike a generic program where you don’t need to develop a relationship with a trainer, individualized coaching requires that you are committed to developing the relationship in order for your coach to help you change and grow as an athlete. Although an opening interview will give your coach a sense of your background, education, experience, and goals, it takes time for a coach to figure out how you operate on a physical and psychological level. And it takes time for an athlete to trust in the coach’s program.     

 Conversely, you will benefit greatly from this relationship when you commit and put in the time to communicate with your coach. The more your coach knows about you and your life, the better he will be able to design a training program and the better he will be able to coach you. For instance, if you have an event coming up and are feeling run down from work, your coach can modify your training program to help you get more rest before your race.  Second, he can inform you about things that you do not know. It’s not often the things that we know, but the things that aren’t even on our conscious radar that limit us from improving. If you tell your coach that the training is too easy so you have been going out for harder rides and runs, your coach can inform you of why he has backed off of the training. Maybe he will explain to you that you are in a taper phase of your training, and although you may feel like you are getting out of shape, your body is recovering quickly and resting up for your race. Your coach can bring these things to your attention as they come up. And third, the more you talk about the process of training and racing with your coach, the more things that you will find to work on and improve. When you notice that your calfs are tight while you run, your coach can suggest ways of relaxing them. This will give you something to work on during your next run instead of continuing to run without changing anything. When you have something to focus on in every workout, you tend to be more engaged in the process and more motivated to become a better athlete.    


As I said in the introduction, we are limited by the amount of money and time that we have to spend on triathlon. A constraint of hiring a coach is that it takes time to communicate and you have to pay for the relationship. An affordance is that your coach can help you make better use of your money and time. Your coach should know triathlon equipment well and will help you understand the value of the equipment that you might purchase. For instance, he can help you understand that buying an aero set of wheels may save you more time on a bike course than buying a new bike frame. And a structured plan with quality focused workouts will help you get the most out of your time. If a coach knows your 5k PR for the season, he will be able to write specific, time based track workouts to help you get faster in a shorter amount of time.   

Goal Setting

Generic programs do not usually address your specific goals beyond, say, staying active or finishing your first triathlon. These programs are certainly helpful and are almost always a great first step to becoming a better athlete. Individualized coaching, however, takes achieving your goals to another level by asking you to be specific. Individualized coaching assumes that clearly defined goals coupled with a time frame make it easier to develop a program, monitor your progress, and actualize those goals.  

A constraint of talking to your coach about your personal goals is that you have to share something intimate about your life. This can be hard because some goals are intensely personal. Sharing a goal can make you feel vulnerable because you are asking to do something or achieve something that you’ve never done or achieved before. You might not be sure if you’ll be able to achieve it. Or maybe it’s something that you’ve tried to do but failed at multiple times before.  

That said, there are many affordances to discussing these personal goals. Namely, putting your goals into words is the first step to accomplishing them. Next, your coach can help you clarify these goals, develop a time frame, and help you understand what is required so that you can achieve them. After a coach knows your goals, he can help you understand how you might get there, design a plan to do so, monitor your progress along the way, and keep you accountable. If your goal is to run a 10k at the end of an Olympic triathlon in 42 minutes and right now you are running it in 44 minutes, he can help you understand that one way you might achieve this goal is to incorporate a weekly track workout at your desired race pace for the next 6 weeks and include a few brick workout so you can learn how to balance your bike and run. If you agree, then he can incorporate these workouts into your training. In essence, your coach can and will refocus your attention from your goal to the process that will help you achieve it.   


Once an athlete has a clear set of goals, a coach can design a program that will help an athlete achieve those goals. The constraint of a training program is that it tends to isolate athletes. Especially if the athlete doesn’t have a lot of time, the training can get very specific and you may feel as though you cannot train with others. That said, if the coach knows that training with others motivates you, he can build group workouts into your schedule and schedule training specific days on other days of the week. The structure can also act as a constraint if the training conflicts with your work or family life. This requires the athlete to spend time with the coach, figuring out a logistical schedule that can work. The structure also becomes a problem if you aren’t willing to do the workouts. You have to commit to the schedule in order to reap the most benefits from the program.  

That said, a well structured program has many affordances. Timing is a very important part of triathlon. Unlike a generalized program that focuses on only one goal and ends when that goal is achieved, a well structured training program takes your races and goals into account and ensures that you are doing the optimal type of training for specific parts of the year. The most common way of doing this is through periodization theory. This theory tends to prevent against burnout, allows time for building and overloading, has built in rest to prevent overtraining, and has benchmarks to make sure you are progressing towards your goals. Structured programs also change up the training to help athletes maintain consistency throughout the year. It takes a few weeks to get use to a program, but once you integrate it into your life, it provides you with a pathway to success.

Physical technique

There are three main limiters that prevent us from getting faster in triathlon. The first two are fitness and health which a coach addresses with a structured program. The third limiter is technique. Overall, I’d say that the general fitness classes do a great job with this. Trainers tend to have a very technique centered approach and this is one of the advantages of going to a group class. A personal coach also should have a general handle on the technical aspects of the sport, has studied how athletes move, and has the pedagogical skills to help you move more efficiently. One constraint of getting help with technique has to do with physical location. It’s best when a coach can be in the same location so that he can give you instant feedback. Of course, there are ways around this such as using video, but the feedback is not usually as fast. A second, and possibly a consequential constraint, is that your coach may require you to pay extra for his time and travel. Further, you have to find a time that works for both of you. That said, meeting with your coach to work on technique can afford him the opportunity to guide you in a productive, more efficient direction.  Although his guidance might not click right away, it will most likely help you in the future. Another affordance is that he can get to know you a little better as an athlete by watching how you move. This will give him a new perspective and will help him design your program to address technique issues in future workouts.     


Life is complicated. You never know when a challenge is going to arise like a scheduling conflict, a family emergency, or an injury. A coach is there to help you make decisions specifically about triathlon, but coaches know well that everything you do outside of triathlon will impact your physical performance. Again, the constraint of a coach helping you make decisions is that it takes time. Further, you have to be willing to tell him what is going on in your life. But if you are willing to communicate, a coach can help you see how this challenge fits into the bigger picture and open up your ability to choose.

Consider this example: I’ve been working with an athlete who’s been trying to qualify for Kona. He scheduled a half ironman three weeks prior to a full ironman.  The athlete injured himself at work a week prior to the half ironman and the injury only affected his running. The day before the half, he felt good enough to run and called me to tell me he was going to do it. It seemed to me that the pressure of racing this half plus the injury had placed blinders over his eyes. He was seeing this race as more important than his overriding goal to qualify for Kona. First, I reminded him of his overriding goal. I reminded him that we had been working towards the ironman all year and that it was his chance to qualify. Next, I explained that he had at least four options. First, he could choose to run during the halfiron and possibly have a great race, but risk an injury that might take him out of his ironman. Second, he could make a decision as he came into T2, but that the decision might not be as clear because of the high emotions that come with racing. He might feel great during the race but injure himself during the last few miles of the half marathon. Third, he could make the decision to step out of the race after the swim and bike. In addition, he could redefine his swim and bike goals to make the race a successful workout. This option would give him more time to allow his run legs to recover prior to the ironman. Last, he could choose not to race the half. I left the choice up to him. He decided to swim and bike and save his run legs for his ironman. Three weeks later, he went on to qualify for Kona.  We all need help making decisions from time to time. A coach can help remind you of your priorities and help you make decisions based on your overriding goals rather than on your emotional response in that isolated situation.   


Sometimes motivation is hard to come by. Again, the most common constraint of having a coach is that you have to reach out to your coach and be willing to come up with solutions to overcome challenges like a lack of motivation. An affordance of having a coach is that he/she can sometimes pick up on a lack of motivation and proactively discuss it before an athlete even knows he/she is unmotivated. A coach can also help you recreate motivation. This may involve just listening to you, helping you see your progress, helping you see the bigger picture, and helping you to redefine your goals.    


The athlete-coach relationship often yields success. The constraint is that you might have to change what you’re doing to become successful. The affordance is that you might just be successful. There is no coincidence that almost every Olympic athlete and most pro triathletes have coaches. The best coaches help athletes to get to a level of health, fitness, and performance that was never on their conscious radar.


Clearly, I’m biased. I am a professional triathlon coach, I am coached, and I find both roles extremely rewarding. That said, I understand that hiring a coach isn’t for everyone for a variety of reasons—namely time, commitment, and trust. This is why I’ve set out to write about the affordances and constrains of hiring a coach. It provides me with a more lucid perspective on why coach-athlete relationships work out and why they might not. It’s just as valuable for a coach to know these things as it is for perspective athletes.

Please note that I’m sure that there are many more affordances and constraints that I haven’t mentioned. Some may depend on the variety of coaching styles and some may depend on individual athlete’s lives, their needs and their wants. I hope this provides you with a sense of the value of a triathlon coach so that you can make a better, more informed decision about whether or not you should hire a personal triathlon coach.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Strengthen Your Core: Video

Looking for a new way to improve your running, swimming, and biking? Try strengthening your core. You can find some great ideas in this video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aNq5v695T0

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cycling Technique Video: Cornering

There's some good reminders in this video on bike technique. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DehM8Ou-mTA  Practicing these types of skills will make you a safer and faster rider. It might even give you the edge you need over your competition.

Jon Fecik
USAT Certified Coach

Monday, August 26, 2013

Vegas AND KONA? Congrats!

Congrats to Power On athlete Ted Breault for a break through year! After working closely with coach Jon over the last year, he has dropped his IM swim time by 10 minutes and his IM bike time by 10-15 minutes. This allowed Ted to qualify for both the 2013 Ironman World 70.3 Championships in Vegas and the 2013 Ironman World Championships in Kona! Boom! 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Join C3!

The Premier Triathlon club in Branford, Guilford, Madison and the Greater New Haven Community

Who We Are:  We are a team comprised of multisport enthusiasts. The club was founded based on our desire to create a totally inclusive environment where members can find a community of like-minded individuals wishing to peruse fitness and health through exercise and sport. Our members are those who enjoy the freedoms of exercise while pool and open water swimming, mountain and road riding, trail and road running, walking, hiking, paddle boarding, cross country skiing, triathloning, racing, and everything else. Some of our members just enjoy going to club lectures and clinics to learn how to improve their nutrition and lifestyle habits. Others enjoy their involvement with behind-the-scenes tasks like maintaining the club website and planning events. In other words, C3 is open to absolutely everyone. We welcome the big and the small, the heavy and the light, the young and the old, the experienced and the novice, the educators and the students, the fast and the not quite so fast (just yet), and everyone else in between. If any of this defines you, you will fit in perfectly!

Our Mission: To serve the Greater New Haven community as the premier multisport club, committed to the development of endurance sports; cultivating a space for athletes to train, compete, and grow together; educating athletes so they can be the athlete they want to be and live the life they want to live; providing athletes with further opportunities to improve through coaching, clinics, and camps; and supporting our local and national communities, sponsors, races, and other events; all the while, promoting an active lifestyle.

Join Now! Take control of your destiny by joining the club and providing yourself with the opportunity to connect, learn, build, commit, and preserve your fitness, health, and performance. Joining information can be found at http://ctcyclecenter.com/team-c3/. It’s the best $50 you’ve ever invested in yourself. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Band Swimming: Building Strength While Learning About Your Stroke and Body Position

Looking for a new way to improve your body position and strength in the water? Try implementing a band strength drill into your weekly workout routine. For those of you who don’t know, a band is simply a rope or race belt that you strap around your ankles, limiting you from kicking. Restraining your kick whilst pulling  builds shoulder and core strength while also teaching you at least three things: optimal body position, optimal balance, and optimal stroke engagement.

First, it teaches you optimal body position. If you do not maintain a streamlined position while engaging your core muscles, the water pushing against your chest, abdomen, and legs will slow you down. This will ultimately prevent you from getting to the other side of the pool.

Second, it teaches you to optimize your balance in the water by forcing your legs to remain streamlined. Many swimmers scissor kick when they breathe. Scissor kicking catches an enormous amount of water resistance, slowing swimmers down. According to Swim Smooth (http://www.swimsmooth.com/kick.html), the scissor kick is often caused by an imbalance in your stoke. Swimming with the band teaches you to keep your legs together and behind you while requiring you to balance by using your upper body.      

Third, band swimming lets you know if you are pushing down during the catch part of your stoke. If you push down towards the bottom of the pool rather than back towards the wall of which you pushed off, your body will act like a see-saw: you will push your head up while your legs sink to the bottom of the pool. Again, you will catch a lot of resistance, making it much harder to swim to the other end of the pool. If you find that you are pushing down, allow your hand to slip through the water more before engaging, or using your muscles to put energy into the water. 

Note that band swimming puts pressure on your shoulders, especially if you are pushing down towards the bottom of the pool. Be cautious when taking your first stokes and build your way up to longer efforts. Those who have had shoulder injuries in the past should use extra caution.

Try this workout:

Warm-up: 4x200 (swim, kick, pull with buoy and band, swim)

Main set:
Band only, no buoy swim: 5x50 (30 seconds rest at the wall)
Freestyle: 5x50 (30 seconds rest at the wall)
Band only, no buoy swim: 5x50 (30 seconds rest at the wall)
Freestyle: 5x50 (30 seconds rest at the wall)

Cool-Down: 200 choice

For more on band swimming in regards to the rhythm and timing of your stroke, see this article: http://www.feelforthewater.com/2013/07/swimming-with-band-isnt-easy-but-great.html

For a video on band swimming, see this youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0prPd6gjQqc

Contact me if you have any questions or comments: 

Jon Fecik
USA Triathlon Coach


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Open Water Swimming Video

Check out Pro Triathlete--and expert open water swimmer--Holden Comeau as he gets critiqued by Gary Hall. It's well worth watching not only because Comeau has such a unique swimming style but also because Hall provides some great tips for open water.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Open Water Swimming Session at Lake Q on May 20th

Open water swimming can be daunting! As many of you know, open water swimming is different than pool swimming. Unlike the pool with its calm, clear water and its black line  on the bottom which helps guide swimmers to the other end, open water tends to be turbulent, murky, and rarely has a cable to direct swimmers through the course. These less than perfect, open water conditions are uncomfortable and lead even the best swimmers to panic. This is why the Connecticut Cycle Center, The World’s Famous Zane’s Cycles, and USAT certified, Power On triathlon coach Jon Fecik are teaming up at Lake Q on May 20th to help you feel more relaxed in open water. 

Who will lead the Session? While USAT coach Ed Vescovi will be close at hand to add his expert perspective on open water swimming, Power On Coach and Elite triathlete Jon Fecik will lead the session. Jon has been a triathlete since 2006 and is working towards his pro card this season. The highlights of his career have been competing at the Ironman World, 70.3, and USAT national championships and completing his Olympic triathlon PR of 1:53 at the Giant Eagle Triathlon. He began coaching in 2008 and has the privilege of coaching a vast spectrum of triathletes, from beginners with no swimming experience to elite athletes qualifying for the world championship. Jon has been swimming since as long as he has been doing triathlons and is always open to new ideas about moving through the water. He enjoys watching the athletes he works with become faster, more efficient swimmers.    

How it will work? We will meet at Lake Q at 6pm and listen to a 10-15 minute talk about open water swimming from Jon. He will review of some basic techniques such as drafting and sighting. There will be a brief Q&A session before we jump in the water and practice these techniques for 30-40 minutes. Following the swim, Zane’s will provide a small snack.

Who should come?  The session is for anyone interested in doing or anyone who does open water swimming. During the technique session, we will break into groups based on ability level. The purpose of this session is not to complete a high intensity workout. Rather, it is to hone our open water skills—sighting, drafting, and buoy turns—so that we feel more comfortable in race situations. Kids are welcome as long as they are accompanied by a parent.

What if it rains? We will still hold the talk and Q&A session at the CT Cycle Center.

If you have any questions, please e-mail Jon at jafecik@gmail.com or Ed at ed@fidelitymortgage.com.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What is Health in Sport and Where Do You Draw the Line?

In the preface of the book Sporting Bodies, Damaged Selves: Sociological Studies of Sports-Related Injury, Editor Kevin Young defines what he argues is one of the most common misconceptions about sport:

"One of the most common assumptions made about sport is that being an athlete is beneficial for both body and mind, and that sport is practiced by healthy bodies experiencing healthy outcomes. While the world of sport is populated by persons on and off the field who wish that this were true, anyone who has played, coached, administered or simply watched from the sidelines will attest that this view is, at least in part, a misconception, often forwarded by those unwilling to acknowledge what Messner and Sabo have called the 'very limiting, often painful downside of sport' (1990:14). The potentially healthful benefits of sport and exercise have been well-documented (Berger & Owen 1998: Biddle & Fox 1989; Curtis & Russel 1997; Sargeant & Siddons 1998), but the less healthy  injurious consequences of sport have been far less widely researched, certainly by sociologists. In many sports and at many levels, sport is also about learning to live with pain and hurt and, for  a disconcertingly large number of athletes, injury and even disablement that can last well beyond the playing years. Of the sundry badly kept secrets from the world of sport, this is surely among the worst. Everyone knows that it is almost impossible to play sport without experiencing pain; every athlete has a story to tell about injury" (Young, xi).

I think the world of sport has changed dramatically, even since Young wrote this preface in 2004. In the very least, national bodies such as NFL, the NHL, USAC, and USAT are more aware of the negative long term benefits of concussions. But the quote is still thought provoking in many ways. I think reflecting on how you define health will bring about an awareness of what you are willing to go through in order to achieve a particular performance goal. This reflection will help you make decisions about how to react in those moments of pain and injury--those moments when the pain or injury directs our attention away from the ramifications of our actions. So, how do you define health? Is health a specific body image? Is health a lack of disease and injury? Or do you have a more holistic view of health that involves body, mind, and spirit? Is health something you attain or maintain? How do you attain or maintain health (does it involve physical activity, nutrition  sleep, social activity)? In what ways do you think your sport is healthy and in what ways do you think it is unhealthy? How do you evaluate whether you are healthy or unhealthy. For instance, do you account for pain or just physical injury in this definition or what is unhealthy? How does time and frequency influence your definitions of being unhealthy? Given your definition of health, how far are you willing to become unhealthy in order to achieve your goals? 

Culturally speaking, we might ask how our own definition of health is different from the definition of health in sports magazines and other media. Are the body images of the models you see in your favorite sports magazine a true representation of a healthy body? Does the information these media provide about workouts and training actually lead to a healthy body (...or just a "healthy" body image)? 

Scientifically speaking, we might ask why there is less information about sports injury than about the positive health benefits of sport?  How does our economic system play into the promotion of scientific studies on the health benefits of sport but not the health limitations of sport? What does this say about the values of those who fund scientific studies? 

Feel free to comment on the blog or my facebook page. As always feel free to e-mail me at jafecik@gmail.com if you want to discuss how knowing the answers to these types of questions can help direct the way you train and race.  


Image from: http://bicyclinghub.blogspot.com/2013/04/top-5-tips-for-staying-injury-free-on.html

Friday, April 19, 2013

Feeling Pressure today? Watch this video...

We all deal with pressure. Get some advice from pro triathletes including Potts, Alexander, and Mecca. Watch this video  from Ali'i Drive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbCsWJRXQKU&list=PLxTcXRgYJnfRrR0wLpQSsMjgnRrYofQ0U

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Movement is a Choice...and Video of Olympian Jono Van Hazel's Stroke because it's Awesome!

We don't often think of the way we move as a choice. Although we know we can change our form, we often idealize the form of our favorite professional athletes and believe that the way they move is the way we should move. We then go out and try to fit ourselves into that form (even though we do not have the same body, or muscle balance that they do...at least not yet). While watching elite athletes move, I think it's easy to miss that they move with a purpose in mind. In training and racing, elite athletes explore new ways of moving with every stride or stroke and determine the way of moving that works best for them to achieve their goals in that particular moment.  I think a major difference between elite athletes and armatures is that the elites embody a more fluid process of moving while armatures take on a more ridged one. Elite athletes tailor the way they move moment by moment while armatures tend to focus on the static form of their idealized elite. Focusing on this static conception of form allows athletes to forget their own bodies in the process. They do not see that the way they were moving a minute ago may not be the most productive way to move now. A predetermined idea of form takes away an athlete's ability to engage in the process of choosing the best way to move at any given moment.

The way you move can be a choice, but you only get the freedom to choose if you know how you move in the first place. Whether you want to get faster, more efficient, or healthier, reflect on how you move in relation to your goal.  I am advocating here for self awareness. What is your goal? How are you choosing to move in a way that helps you achieve that goal? One way to become more self aware is to get a friend to film you while you exercise. Look at the film yourself and observe how you move. Remember that the way you move is neither good nor bad, it is just your default setting at that moment and you always have the freedom to change it. Consider what it looks like and how it feels to move in the way that you do. Then, consider the affordances and constraints of the way you move. How are you moving in a way that's slowing you down, using up energy, or causing you injury? In what ways are you moving that help you through the water, up a hill on your bike, or down a single-track trail on your run?  After you observe how you move and consider the implications, you will have a good idea of how you might focus your form towards your goal.  Then...take a jump and consciously make a change.  Who knows, maybe you might just achieve something amazing!  

I'm not arguing that we should't watch other people move. In fact, I think it helps to observe how others move and reflect on why their way of moving works for them.  Instead of evaluating them in terms of what they are doing "right" or "wrong," simply observe what they are doing and consider why the way move they works for them. Instead of trying to fit yourself into their form, compare and contrast the differences between forms.  This might give you some incite on why the way you move is working (or not working) for you. Check out Olympian Jono Van Hazel's stroke here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3HhNlysFDs. What can you learn from watching this video? What does his stroke look like? How do you think it feels to move like that? Why do you think he chooses to move in that way? Now... What does your stroke look like? How does it feel? Why do you choose to move in that way? 

Have a great week!


Monday, April 8, 2013


PowerOn Coached Andy had a personal record at the DC Cherry Blossom 10 miler. Nice job, Andy!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Treadmill Workout that Lead Towards Personal Records for Three Power On Coached Athletes

This was another great weekend for Power On Coached athletes! Many of our triathletes have been racing half marathons to prepare for the upcoming Tri season and three of these athletes, Bill, Patti, and Aliza achieved personal records in their respective events. Although all three of these athletes had phenomenal performances, the outstanding athlete award goes to Aliza this week. Three weeks ago, she ran at 8 minute mile pace for a 5 mile race. After that race, Aliza and I collaborated and changed around her training schedule. This weekend she had a break through half marathon and ran 7:15 pace for all 13.1 miles. This was enough to win her age group! Great job Aliza and good work to all the Power On Coached athletes who raced this weekend!

One strength run that seems to be benefiting my athletes is a treadmill workout. I have the athletes warm up for 15 minutes and go on to do 4 repeats of 5 minutes at race pace and at an incline of 3%. The athletes take 3 minutes of active recovery—jogging or walking—between each interval. The athletes finish the workout with a 15 minute cool down jog. The aim of this workout is to run at an even race pace while working to decrease perceived effort. There are an infinite number of ways to decrease perceived effort. One is to relax the upper body. A second is to modify form. A third is to modify foot cadence. A fourth is to let go of the mind and let the body do the work. 

Try it! If you choose to do this workout, remember that the aim is to make the workout easier as you go along! I hope the workout helps to increase your performance as much as it has for the Power On Coached athletes.

As always, if you are interested in a triathlon or cycling coach, Power On has got you covered. We do it all, from road racing to triathlons, and mountain biking to Xterra. Give us a call!

Jon Fecik

Image taken from Women'sHealth : http://www.womenshealthsa.co.za/fitness/running/

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Great Video from Swim Smooth

I think Paul Newsome from Swim Smooth gets a lot right when he talks about swimming. Why? 1.) He starts out with the open ended question of "What is an efficient freestyle stroke?" which gets us thinking about what an efficient freestyle stroke could be rather than what it is. 2.) He acknowledges that the "ideal" way of swimming works for some, but not everyone. 3.) He shows us that not all elite swimmers (Olympic swimmers and world class triathletes) swim in the same way 4.) He asks us to consider our RELATIONSHIP with the water rather than focusing on how we can achieve perfect form. 5.) He makes the assumption that our bodies are all different and constantly changing and, therefore, getting faster is an ever evolving process rather than achieving an idealized (objectified and commercialized) product. Needless to say, "What is An Efficient Freestyle Stroke?" part 1 and part 2 are worth watching. 

Check them out:
Part 1

Part 2