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Episode 032: Erin Carson: The Fifth Discipline

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Sam Cook hosts this latest episode of #TriathlonResearchRadio. This time around, the show welcomes #triathlon fitness trainer Erin Carson for an in-depth discussion on the methods and philosphies behind Erin’s style of triathlon fitness training.

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Summary

Sam Cook sits down Erin Carson to talk triathlon fitness

Podcast Intro
Sam’s Intro
Sam Introduces Erin
Sam and Erin Talk Training Camp
Overview of Erin’s Work
Core Strength and Endurance
No Planks, No Crunches, No Weights
Strength Training for Men vs. Women
The Fifth Discipline
Keeping Triathletes Excited About Strength
Walkthrough of Erin’s Methods
Erin’s Thoughts on Mirinda Carfre
Natural vs. Learned Ability
The Racehorse and the Bumble Bee
Erin’s Observations of Siri Lindley
From Individual Athletes to Team Members
Camraderie Between Squads
The Squad Concept
Erin’s Bio and RallySport
Taking “Safe” Risks
Mind and Body Balance
Wrap-Up
Info on Boulder Camp
Mark Allen Art of Competition Promo
Podcast outro

Transcript

Welcome to Triathlon Research, the podcast that brings together the world’s best triathlon coaches, athletes, equipment experts and medical professionals, to give you the right information that you need to race past your personal best, and get more enjoyment out of your triathlon journey. Triathlon Research – where we teach you how to train smart. Here is your host, Samuel Cook, Founder of Triathlon Research.

Sam Cook
Hello triathlon research listeners this is Sam Cook the founder of triathlon research and you’re listening to another edition of triathlon radio and today we have a very special and obviously all of our guests are special on the show with world champions like Mark Allen, Mirinda Carfrae, Siri Lindley and Gwen Jorgensen, and all the people that we’ve had on here. But one of the things that we’ve been doing lately is getting into a little bit more specific material for triathletes that are some of the, I call them hidden multipliers in triathlon. We did Charlotte, an interview what Charlotte Saunders does nutrition for, sorry Siri Lindley and some members of her squad who will be at the upcoming Boulder Camp with Mirinda Carfrae.

And today I have another secret weapon, not, soon to be not so secret behind Mirinda Carfrae’s record breaking performances. Specifically last year Kona and just her amazing run as the top triathlete in the world. And Erin Carson is Mirinda Carfrae strength coach. And I was introduced to Erin through Siri Lindley who is helping me put together this In Boulder Colorado with Mirinda. And she said that one of the things she wants the athletes to do is go through a strength training session with Erin because the secret to success in long course triathlon especially is staying healthy and not only staying healthy but to having a strong core and a strong frame or I call it chasse to keep your body together over such a long distance. So Erin Carson is the owner of Raleigh Sports in Boulder Colorado which is a high and exclusive, not just a triathlon training gym but that’s where Mirinda Carfrae, Tim O’Donnell and a lot of other high profile professional triathletes in Boulder train. And if you’re listening to this and don’t know Boulder is the triathlon capital of the world for professionals and triathlon and some of the top triathlon coaches really in the long course specifically. So what we’re gonna cover today with Erin or three things.

First of all we’re gonna talk about Erin’s specialty which is core strength training. The next thing we’re going to talk about is Raleigh Sports has a really special set up. Its, it’s an elite performance environment facility where they really focus on the quality of the athletes experience rather than just volume serving a lot of athletes. They really focus on catering to champion triathletes and people who aspiring to become champions. And then finally what I would like to talk about with Erin is her, she’s an integral part of not just owning the gym but as a strength coach working with Siri and Mirinda and has some great I think behind the scenes insights into how an elite triathlon squad works. How that training environment boosts everyone’s performance and you know obviously you have the well-known people in the squad like Miranda Carfrae. But then you also have everyone else on the squad who might not have the same name recognition as Mirinda but really push her and the other athletes and also get a lot of benefit from training with the world champion. So we’ll cover all these topics today and without further ado, Erin welcome to triathlon research radio. How are you doing?
Erin Carson
I’m doing great Sam and thank you so much for including me in this really exciting journey.

Sam Cook
Well Erin I just have really enjoyed working with you getting, getting the logistics and the this set up for the camp ready in Boulder and I’m excited, really excited because of your facility and the professionalism that you’ve, you know, you’ve… A camp for you is no big deal because you do this every day you make great training and experiences for a world champion triathletes. So I’m looking forward to sharing that with the athletes come to the camp.

Erin Carson
Yeah, I think it’s gonna be a really exceptional week and we’re super focused on creating some really great memories and hopefully people will want to come back year after year.

Sam Cook
(Laughs) Excellent or they moved to Boulder and join your gym right? (Laughs).

Erin Carson
Or that.

Sam Cook
Well… So let’s dig into the first topic I just from a personal perspective I am guilty as charged as I think 98% of triathletes are who, as soon as the starts doing a huge volume of aerobic exercise they forget about their strengths and the core conditioning. And I you know I right now I’m not a I call myself a recovering triathlete I’m not a in training triathlete but looking back at my, my brief career in the sport before I got into running Triathlon Research and my publishing company I had really regret not knowing what you know. So I am looking forward to having you share that today with the listeners today. So give me a two minutes overview of the value that you bring to Miranda specifically and Siri athletes that you work with.

Erin Carson
You know I think it’s important to probably go back to the beginning little bit and first of all I’ve been a fan of Miranda and obviously so many of the other champions of triathlon and when you watch them perform and do what they do at the top of their game. It’s hard not to have just such a respect for the work that you know that they put in day after day and then it’s hard not to, it’s hard to separate what you do professionally and what I do is performance and that when really talk about the challenges of the structure the body. For all the landing especially if they get off the bike and as the bike course gets harder and harder their elevating their game and changing the sports. And everybody is chasing Rinny and they are gonna ride harder and we’ve got to ride harder and she’s got to ride harder keep being able to run so fast. It takes its toll on the joints and when I look at it I’m a very traditional foundation strength coach so what I mean by traditional is I like to lift weights and I really strongly believe in progressive overload of the body.

And I think what a lot of misconceptions about training for endurance sports is that light weights and lots of reps and that kind of thing or doing exercises that look like running will help you run like Rinny. Those things I’ve always looked at them and said that can’t be right and I think what we’ve done with a Rinny is not what usually endurance athletes do and I do that with all of my performance-based athletes and I train a lot of competitive age groupers, a couple of other Kona Champions in their age group. But generally speaking I looked at little bit sideways and a little bit backwards at how we want to train for endurance sports. And so when I ironically when Rinny came to me it was three weeks after Tim because Tim came to me first, Tim O’Donnell. And I started training Tim for about two or three weeks and he goes okay I think Rinny wants to talk to you now too and I was so nervous to meet with her the first time. She has a little bit of an air about her, she is so confidence and she sat down with me and at the end of our meeting and she said, “okay I think I want you to be my strength coach but just so you know I don’t really want to lift weights”. (Laughs) Right from the beginning it was a little bit of a challenge of how I was going to approach it but there’s a lot of ways to overload the body without just hitting a dumbbell or a plate or anything like that. But we do look at things just a little bit different than, than most people looking at their time spent in the gym.

Sam Cook
Yeah and that’s an interesting you know you obviously have been in the sport for, for a long time before you got work in you started work in Mirinda and Tim. And you know, if I could just summarize it, it sounds like what you do is give them the core strength that they need to go the distance. And you know, endurance there is, you know, I think the misconception among endurance athletes is that you want to be really lean but there is a shelf life to your muscle as you’re doing repetitive, you know. Even though you’re not reaching failure on a step or a pedal stroke on the bike there’s a huge amount of toll on that which strength seems to aid.

Erin Carson
Oh absolutely and that’s where we don’t want to duplicate that energy system when we come to the gym Tim and Rinny and all of us I am a triathlete as well. We get enough of that energy system on a day-to-day basis, so when they when a triathlete comes in the gym we want to get their body and their structure able to… We want to be able to load them and we want to be able to load them from all different angles not just this linear straight to the front and straight to the back kind of angle. And that’s probably one of the most important things when I’m looking at the body I’m not just looking at the muscle I’m really looking at the facial system that intertwines the muscles and how they link together so that we know that what happens down when the foot hits the ground is really does affect the very, very tip top of the head and you know we can discuss the definition of core.

But we do very few planks and we do very few if any crunches, I really… and when we look at spinal flexion where spend the whole day flex for the most part from the front side of the body and the effects of gravity and the ground in all three sports has to be taken into consideration. And then there’s just the sheer volume of time that an iron man spends doing each one of those events. So the last thing we want to do when the athletes come into the gym is anything that looks like they’ve been doing for the last three hours or sometimes even seven hours. So that’s really important aspect how I’m looking at, at an athlete.

Sam Cook
So no planks, no crunches and no weights?

Erin Carson
Why do you think I’m so popular? (Laughs) We actually once with the Rinny story and I think specific to Rinny because Tim was kind of all in right at the beginning, he wanted to lift the weights. And there is some really exciting hormonal responses that come from load in the body heavy and there is some really not excited hormonal responses that come from endurance sports. So we can talk about that one at a later date. With Rinny I think is I gained her trust and she started to really feel the effects of some of the movements and some of the ways we were loading her or that I was loading her. She started to really trust me and so when I went I hand her a dumbbell now she just takes it and does what I tell her. But it did take some time and it should have, that’s what anybody that does this for a living then you have to take your time to make a decision and then you go all in. And I think the last two Kona’s have proven that Rinny is durable, she is committed.

There was a time two years ago we had some devastating floods here on Boulder and we… the gym was closed but… it was right before Kona and Tim and Rinny came in I opened the gym for them. We didn’t miss a session and that’s one thing… they’ll come in sometimes after a six hour training day and I’ll meet them on Sunday at four or whenever they need to meet. And that what’s really special about, about our relationship sometimes it’s really the timing of how we put the gym session for them. They are both very, very special athletes and super dedicated.

Sam Cook
Yeah it really seems like for them it’s not just an afterthought but it’s a core priority in their training schedule and that’s what Siri told me this is really this secret weapon for Rinny in terms of staying strong. And I think also for make triathletes, strength training might be a little bit more something that they are use to. Were as some female triathletes might not have, you know either do them misconception about women in strength training in general just other things might be a little bit of verse to it and there’s a skepticism out there on athletes about the value of strength training.

Erin Carson
Yeah and there’s a little bit of art to what we do because the one big no, no and this is where Siri will get very, very angry with me and… no one ever… and as happy and inspiring as that coach is she is one intense woman and you never want to be on the wrong side…

Sam Cook
It’s called passion either way.

Erin Carson
(Laughs) Right and the most important thing with as the strength coach is a lot of times to stay out of the way. My job is really to just prepare the athletes so that Siri can get as much out of them as she possibly can and keep them rate on that edge and not let them tip over the line to where they are susceptible to an injury and they’re more durable. And that’s the real key when we talk about professional or even an age grouper, we all want to do this for a really long time and there’s not a more miserable person than one that hasn’t run in three months for plantar fasciitis or a stress fracture. And I can draw out back usually and sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m not.

But we can usually come back to a tightness or a weakness that was ignored and that wasn’t dealt with right at the beginning when those niggles started to show up and we ignore them a little bit because it was such a beautiful day and we wanted to keep running. And with the pros they just can’t do that, they can’t afford to do that and so with training the athletes that I have the privilege to work with when really talking about extending their careers and being able to have Rinny race into her early 40s or even mid-40s and still be potentially the best in the world. Later in life the athletes that have come before these guys might not have been able to experience because they haven’t had this one other component that fourth discipline or the fifth discipline I might even argue that it might be up in the 1, 2 or 3 that the… to create a really, really robust structure and a very, very durable athlete.

Sam Cook
Yeah the fifth discipline the hidden, fifth discipline, everyone calls nutrition the fourth discipline.

Erin Carson
Right!

Sam Cook
And the fifth one and potentially and that works closely with nutrition would be would be the, strength. Because I think everyone gets fixated on the outward metrics because you can measure your swim, your bike and your run. You can’t measure nutrition in strength readily apparent to be transferable to your race results. And I think when you do that it’s really important to keep perspective and trust that it is helping, you know, and when you can’t measure it because triathletes are so clearly into people.

Erin Carson
Right!

Sam Cook
So love to measure everything excited about strength?

Erin Carson
Well… I think just as any… what’s cool about triathletes is they are really just human beings. And I think one of the fun thing about how we approach our sessions in the gym is that we do have a good time. We… it is a chance to laugh a little bit to chat a little bit and there’s some time between sets when it can be kind of boring and you don’t want a strength coach that is boring and I tend not to be that boring. So we do have a good time with it but it also is really important to me that when, when Miranda or… I actually train Siri too. So Siri gets a little bit of a taste of the feeling. It is that when they leave the work out they actually can tell when they run that they feel better. And we have a really systematic approach to the way that we approach building this durable structure and there’s nothing to… there’s nothing better than the feeling of landing on that one leg when your running and it just feels solid and it doesn’t feel like gushy and it doesn’t feel weak.

And there’s you know, and then we can translate that to the bicycle and when you want to make the pass. And there’s nothing better than being able to just engage and find that glute complex and really be able to power up into the four and 500 watts for the guys and you know for a lot of those ladies they can actually hit that as well. Mary-Beth Ellis, Judy swallow they’re playing in the big leagues as well with the wattage and when you can really feel your body because you’ve trained it and we’ve been able to break it down into little segments I think that that is really powerful thing. I think as a triathlete myself and where starting to work a little bit on upper body strength which is much more specific to triathlon that a cyclist because we have the opportunity to hear to train a lot of the world-class cyclist as well.
But going from a buoy and being able to feel like you’ve can create some space for yourself and then get accelerating again out of that buoy. You know that’s where you can really feel what does it feel like to be strong and dominant and then there is a mindset that goes with that that is really pretty exciting and that comes in line with those hormones that we can help create through strength training. So I think each sport has a really specific little please when it peeks out and goes I’m a strong triathlete not just because I swam a bunch of yards or meters but because I can bench press and I can row, you know, I have muscle. So I think that there are really specific places where they feel it and then they want more of it because when they don’t have it may miss it.

Sam Cook
Yeah and it’s one of those things where on until you’ve experienced it it’s hard to know and you feel it but I think the way you just described it really, you know really captured I think. People would if they haven’t felt that would really love to get that feeling in terms of just having that confidence in every stroke in every pedal stroke and foot strike in each discipline. So that’s that’s great. So Erin could you walk me through… I know that we’re going to do this at the camp and we’re going to video it for the people at the camp and those who want to get the footage from the camp also, have a way for them to do that but could you give an outline of what you do because it sounds like you do things very differently from a lot of strength coaches and help people visualize a bit about…

Erin Carson
Yeah.

Sam Cook
Go ahead.

Erin Carson
No I was just going to say that the people that are going to come to the I want to blow them away and I want them to leave with something that they can take home to their home gym and we can stay connected through some of the programs that I’ve created for online but they’re going to have the advantage that we will do a full assessment on them. And we want to really find out how their body tics and where they feel strong and where they might feel a little bit locked up and we can give them a little bit more freedom perhaps through their hips. We can give them a little more freedom through their thoracic spine and that upper back. There’s some very predictable patterns of tightness and weakness in the sports that we like to do and we have tools and techniques to help these athletes get a little more mobility. And once we get them mobile we can then turned around we can activate some muscles to help stabilize the joints a little bit better so we basically, number one is tissue.

So that’s where we’re going to look at assessment were going to look at what’s tight and what’s weak what might be neurologically inhibited because of tightness and were going to make sure we get them moving we. Which will immediately make everything feel a little bit easier. We call it free speed, free speed is a nice thing to have and then were going to activate some muscles that might have been a little bit quiet I don’t know maybe you’ve heard. I know this is live radio or whatever but the term lazy ass it is true. So we really do focus a lot on the glutes and how we can get the glutes activated. And once you have a butt if you haven’t had one in a while it feels very nice because it’s a very powerful of muscles. We’re going to work on stability so on that single leg landing, especially when we get off the bike that’s really important that that shows up immediately that stability in the single leg exercises. So once those first four things are really starting to click and we can get people clicking relatively quickly then were gonna start to work on specific strength and that’s kind of what global programming that we provide for our athletes. It includes agility and foot mechanics to making sure that when the foot hits the ground it’s free and it’s not fighting you.

We also work a lot through plyometric. The campers probably want get to experience too much plyometric and Rinny will be coming off of St. George so she probably won’t do a lot of plyometric. And I probably don’t have to say too much how special of an athlete’s she is Rinny does everything really, really well and because she does everything really well we were able and we have been able to progress her very quickly and I think it’s because of her background in basketball in the multiplayer sports. She can catch with both hands, she can jump around like, like, like the world-class athlete that she is.

I mean she really is special and to give an example I’ve trade other athletes were it’s taken us a full 12, 13 months before we have started to play with plyometric and any strength coach that’s going to come to most age groupers like myself and say, hey we’ll be doing plyometric in weeks, I would say that you should really look hard at whether or not that person has your best interest at heart because it’s really important to stay in preparation. Plyometric are very violent landings and very violent acceleration and we need to have a really strong body to be able to take those on but Rinny took those on. I started with her in November right after Kona I think it was 2011, 12, 13 maybe it was 13,14. I’ve been with Rinny for 13 and 14 but we started in 12 and we were doing plyometric for her first Kona and it’s become a very big part of her success I think.

Sam Cook
Yeah you know one of the things that I, I’m kind a hearing here and seeing with Rinny and obviously Gwen Jorgensen and the other athletes that we’ve had at our camps and you know, Craig Alexander coming up in Kona in September. And this theme that we are seeing as we research, you know what it elite performance is like there’s only as set amount of days… there’s only as set amount of training hours per day that any athlete can bear although I think with strength and nutrition and other things we’ve been pushing envelope for a while so that you know athletes can bring that up but there is an upper limit there’s only 24 hours a day. And it’s an arms race between how much athletes can train and what kind of miles they’re gonna put in but I think even more than that it’s really about doing everything right with this discipline. And you’ve worked with a lot of professionals and you’ve seen obviously Rinny what sets her apart as an athlete I mean she does, she sits in the work out but all her competitions within the same kinds of miles and hours. What sets her apart?

Erin Carson
Well I think we’ve all heard her say one time or another she was born to do Kona and there truly might be something to that. There are so many wonderful parts of Rinny and I think that the people that come to camp when they get to spend a little bit time with her they will see that. It’s not just because yeah miles from miles, you know your yard for yard in the pool they’re all exceptional world-class athletes but then there’s that little moment in time when, when you have to have that ability to dig deep. And she must be able to dig deep or I don’t know. I wish I could tell you, I know that I take my role in her life very, very seriously that when she… I just want her to be able to go wherever she wants to go or can go and I just want her to have a body that can go with her so I don’t know that I really have an answer for that to be honest.

Sam Cook
Well okay so digging deep you see her everyday practicing in your workouts and what she does you know. Is digging deep, is it something you can develop a train or is it something that you think is just innate from, from a very early age it’s been developed. What do you think in terms of your ability you know, you see her take to your workouts and really focus on them and I’m sure that you put her through paces in your own way. What do you think about natural versus learned in terms of desire willpower?

Erin Carson
Sam you’re gonna get me on that one, I just you know as we can talk about that and your military guy you’ve seen some exceptional human beings do some exceptional things, you know. And I’ve always been a fan of leadership and performance and I’m a strength coach but I also have a ton of employees that I just love to death and why are some better than the other I don’t know you know. Michael Jordan, we could talk about Michael we could talk about Craig Alexander we could, you know there’s just… we could talk about Mark Allen, I don’t know, I don’t know. I wish I think I think if we could develop things within ourselves to be the best in the world I think there’d be more of us there’d be more of them you know I think there is…

Sam Cook
But there could only… There only can be one world champion so…

Erin Carson
Right.

Sam Cook
There’s definitely a lot of people with desire but you know my thought is and this might be this might be off that I think I think it’s about doing all the little things right because you know not all hours are created equal. And I think that one of the things that Rinny and Siri have done to make her so successful is just around with people who, show her how to do it right and she has a disciplined that’s the key.

Erin Carson
Yeah and the other thing that’s really pretty great about this squad and I think we talked about that a little bit earlier they laugh a lot you know. We, we have a good time and perspective is a wonderful gift in this life and I’ve always admired and it is a real thrill and I use the word through not that lightly but to watch Siri work on the deck when everybody is in the pool together, cause they don’t do everything together. But the pool time is quite exciting because they’re all in their little lane and Siri is giving them a set and then all of a sudden someone is just cracking up and I think that’s probably some of the magic that Siri can create with people. And keeping it light a little bit and sometimes you need to not take yourself so seriously even though you’re doing a very serious thing and that’s where some real magic happens. And I think that’s one of the things that I love about Siri is her ability to recognize this is a good time to just kind of have a laugh and now it’s time to get back to work and it’s really fun to watch that.

Sam Cook
Yeah that’s a fascinating I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the analogy between the racehorse and the bumblebee. There’s, someone was talking about this analogy where you know a racehorse has a trainer and a trainer has a very strict ways to make that racehorse eat exactly what they need them to eat and they really have no choice in the matter. And they have a jockey that makes them you know, basically not, I wouldn’t say a robot but it’s certainly not a human endeavor where as you look at something completely free like of bee that just flies wherever it wants and you know human athletes are in the middle. They can say hey I don’t feel like doing this work out or they can eat a bad diet or they can cheat on their strength workouts. And I think one of the magical things just meeting Siri and watching her with the squad is her ability to control and channel human energy towards that discipline that the racehorse has where they’re forced into it.

Erin Carson
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Watching Paula Finley a young Canadian ITU athlete come onto the squad last year was quite fun because, because Paula is gonna have a ton of successes. And that is something that’s been really fun to watch her come into a group of relatively seasoned athletes. And Paula is great because she’ll meet a world-class athlete and just get nervous because she’s around the world-class athlete and I’m well Paula you’re an Olympian, you are a world-class class athlete. So sometimes I think it’s a really special, really special experience.

Sam Cook
Yeah and just seeing the energy of those athletes interact with each other and take each other to the next level is really interesting. You know speaking of that, you’ve done you’ve really observe this squad for a while now you own Raleigh Sports I’d like to get into that story in a little while because I think it’s neat how you’ve gotten to the position you are on the business side of things. But what’s it been like watching Siri build and develop this squad overall?

Erin Carson
Well I think it’s important to know that I’ve notice the reason she graduated from Brown University. So she.

Sam Cook
(Laughs) Deeper the roots.

Erin Carson
Yeah you know she came out to Boulder you know the universe works in cool ways and she could probably tell the story better than me. But she taught spin class here at the club and that’s where I met her and she would it was when spinning had just been invented. And we were all time in stories while we ride the bike and she was one of those popular spin instructors cause she’s just a storyteller. And she started to figure out that she was quite good at triathlon. And the first race that she ever did that that I remember really, really well was she went to Pucon and raced. And we were trying to get her bike and we were trying to get her bathing suit and just things to help her along the way and she went to Pucon and she won.

And I think she then really figured that she could make a go of it and so she pursued her career which is very historic and very excellent. We’re all so proud of her and the world championship and not a traditional journey at all you know just being refreshed with her story on her podcast with you was quite exciting for me. I love listening to it when I’m out running myself on you know and to have this reuniting thing because I started with a Rinny when she wasn’t with Siri. They had that little up eight months break and that was when I met Rinny. She wasn’t, she was being coached I believe by Jo Philio or some other coach but there was the magic that the two of them have it was really… I feel very privileged to have become now part of this family that they have and I would I would beg to differ is that they would argue that they are that close. So it’s Siri is now a very, very important part of my team here at the club from Anna who is our head maintenance woman who just adores Siri, goes on the pool deck at 6 o’clock in the morning on a cold winter morning and brings her coffee and gives her a hug.

Siri Lindley is a human being and so is the squad I think that when I first reached out to Tim and Rinny to come and just be able to train here just so that they could have a little bit more of a relaxed atmosphere. I always wondered what it felt like to swim with some of your prime competition on a daily basis and there is another wonderful club in town. Boulder is known for lots of great places to train we’re just one of them. But I was like cortisol is a big issue, stresses a big issue so wouldn’t you like to just go somewhere you can just relax and work out. And they said yes kind of the rest of the is history and we’ve been together for a while and I think other, a few of the other pros started to understand that when you come to Raleigh Sport you know you walk in the lobby and it feels like you’re walking into your house, it feels a little bit like… If the front desk kids know your name but they know everybody’s name you know. Richie Cunningham walks in, Jo Campbell walks in, Cam Dye walks in, and they’re just Cam and Jo and Richie. And they are so kind we have a nice sit reciprocal relationship of kindness and comfort and you know there is just enough in our lives here we had to go really, really hard. We like it when they come to our club that they can we can work hard here but there’s also a really soft landings when they wanted are they need it.

Sam Cook
Yeah and I think the long course especially is a bit of a lonely pursuit and a lot of age groupers and even pros are not part of a squad and they just go out and do their work and not many people are around them understand what you’re going through or how they do it. You seen both types of athletes what, what have you seen in athletes as they transform coming into the squad?

Erin Carson
Well I think you just described I mean there is that loneliness that comes on a seven hour ride or five-hour ride and we are humans. We really meant to be together even if they’re shy I think we all have to have a pretty strong introvert part of our personality that’s comforted by being alone but at the same time even just being next to somebody that has a nice gentle energy I think being together is good. They do have to come to the gym for the most part to swim and I think it will be exciting during the also Sam for some of the campers or the coaches and the staff that aren’t necessarily from here to maybe ask some of us some of those athletes what they like about it and how the change for them has been in the last few years coming, coming to an environment to train that offers the intensity that they need but also the comfort that they like.

Sam Cook
Yeah it’s, it’s one of the things that I’ve noticed and we’re actually doing a training session for athletes who want to join Jamie Turner’s squad in Spain is, is just the camaraderie between the squads. And I think that you know, talking to Gwen Jorgensen about her decision to join the squad. It was a really big decision because her squad is based in Australia and Spain and travels quite a bit because of the necessities of the ITU circuits. And you know seeing the way Siri does it and you know Jamie Turner there is really only a couple of squads out there that really I think get it right and there’s some very well-known coaches out there who can do it aside from the ones I’ve started to observe but just… I can only speak to what I’ve seen and it takes a special coach and it takes a really cohesive group of athletes to make it work cause a team that’s dysfunctional can be worse in training alone. Where as a team that’s cohesive can be the best thing you could ever be a part of.

Erin Carson
Exactly and I’m sure that as of the pros kind of navigating their careers there is, there’s times where they might feel like they are better alone and I think the them also feel like you know there’s times when the want to get and become a part of a squad. I do think you’re right though I think that the leader is super integral in the success of that concept because sometimes I am kind of in awe of the fact that they can train together so much and on game day as I might say then the you know they gotta put each other down. I mean it’s a crazy sport that way and you want to support each other but at the same time you have a job to do and you gotta go beat somebody that’s the nature of the game.

Sam Cook
It’s, it’s a lot different from cycling the team is there to support the, the you know you’ve got the domestiques under rule is to support people and they might be able to win a stage or race here and there but they know they’re not there to win it. In triathlon the squad concept and in our podcast which, with Siri we spoke about her she was part of one of the original squads with Brett Sutton. And it was really kind of a weird and controversial concept because it’s an individual sport and you’re gonna have people in the squad training against each other or training with each other and then racing with each other. Jamie Turner has the same thing he coaches athletes from Canada, from Australia and Gwen obviously from the United States. And then he says, “Look if you are training together with the best out there your game is gonna be raised.” And I think that’s the same philosophy Siri has let’s put let’s put people together because everyone’s gonna get better as a result of it. And Siri’s is even more unique then Jamie’s because she has people of different distances she has ITU, she has long course, she has half Ironman and everything.

Erin Carson
Exactly!

Sam Cook
Well Erin I would like to really just dive in before we, we end here. I’d like to diving a little bit more into your story, you know I’m a business owner like you and I, I know a lot of triathletes out there are entrepreneurs or executives and they, triathlon is a bit of a release for them from a busy job. You worked your way up from the ground up in Raleigh Sports and now you’re the owner. Talk a little bit more about that story and what it’s been like for you to take that over and start, you know, have an ownership in the sport and ownership in the gym that services world-class triathletes and that probably the best squad out there for you know long course on athletes especially.

Erin Carson
Well I think I’m one of those crazy kids that when I was 14 I kind of knew what I was gonna do and it was in this but it was kind of like this. I was a bit of a basketball fan and player when I was a kid and I grew up in Canada and I played college basketball at the University of Colorado and after that playing a little bit of professional basketball as a member of the Canadian national team. But I always knew I would end up being a coach and I just didn’t think I would be a strength coach I really thought I was gonna be a college basketball coach which I did for two years. But my work ethic sometimes can get a little bit of the worst of me and I got a little bit of illness associated with lack of rest and a little bit of overworking and crappy lifestyle stuff. And so I came back to Boulder to just kind of good healthy and hopefully get back into college basketball coaching because when you’re coaching college basketball you’re not just recruiting, you’re not just coaching kids that’s on your team.

As a matter of fact as an assistant coach you get to do very little of that. You’re driving around your scouting other teams that you’re gonna play in two days and your recruiting kids in Texas and you’re driving back to Louisiana and that’s super hard on you. So when I came back to Boulder there’s a little bit of a window of hiring season for coaches and I missed the window. So I was gonna spend a year just in Boulder healing and just getting myself back together and go back to coaching. And I got a job at a health club in the meantime it was Raleigh Sports and that was a long, long time ago. I basically started out just a folding towels and not wanting build a bunch of relationships because I knew I was gonna leaves. So I coached a few people and did a little bit of personal training and selling with a brilliant guy who is the… one of my favorite people his name is Jimmy Radcliffe and he’s the strength coach for University of Oregon and I so admire, if anybody’s a football fan, what Chip Kelly and Jimmy Radcliffe were able to put together at Oregon was amazing.

The early days of Jimmy Radcliffe was him developing plyometric training, he was one of the first guys that I really came across in the United States. So that peaked my interest a little bit into the performance aspect of, of athlete so we, I just didn’t want to leave Boulder. So I just stayed I just stayed at Raleigh Sports and kind of went through my rehabilitation of coming out of being an athlete and a coach to probably looking towards the realization that business was probably going to be a little bit more of my task and I couldn’t stop coaching because that is truly my passion. So I’m, I’m a lot lifelong students I go out there and try to find the best and the smartest people and I want to be around them and I want to learn from them and… So I became a certified strength and conditioning specialist and one of the first ones with the NSCA and I think it’s the credentialing of distinction I’ve never let that lapse and continued the journey of learning and learning. Surrounded myself with some super-smart mentors that really probably set me up for success that when the opportunity came to, to work with a professional athlete, and a lot of young personal trainers and strength coaches they think they want to work with professional athletes.

And I can be honest and tell you there’s nothing scarier than working with somebody who makes a living as an athlete and you don’t want to screw that up and you don’t want to be the reason why they got hurt and you want you know… I take so much pride in every step that my athletes take now you know I’m… I think I’m in the prime of my life enjoying the coaching aspect that I always knew I wanted to do from a little kid. The purchase of the gym here in Boulder people say it must be a gym, people say it must be dream come true. For me for me I never really dreamed about it. Why would you dream about something that wasn’t going to happen? In my opinion this is one of the coolest gym I’ve ever been in. I’m surrounded by some of the most brilliant coaches and strength coaches and personal trainers and group exercise instructors and yoga instructors just overall hugely the wonderful people. Why would anyone sell that? And you know that didn’t make sense so I kind of gone on a where I was just going to be the best me I could be and the best strength coach I could be. When this opportunity came and the owner of the gym said he would was done and he wasn’t having any fun anymore I put together a small investment group and it was a big purchase. I won’t discuss the details of that obviously but I watch a lot of shark tank, so I was ready.

So it was kind of like you you know you gotta sit down in front of some very successful wealthy people and asked them to be a business partners and we did it. And I’m rated in the 14 months mark and the club’s doing great. You know I think I think the key to our success is we really like people we really love people and love helping them be healthy. We know they’re happier, we know they’re marriages are better, we know they’re better parents, we know they’re better partners. And I think that’s what I mostly love about what I do I think you know I love watching Rinny when Kona and I’m gonna really love watching Tim O’Donnell have an exception Kona this year. But I really like is how much they love each other and how they understand the balance of what’s really important in life. And it’s such a privilege to be around that and the same thing with Siri and Bek with them and so it is real privilege. And I do think that this camp and the campers that have the opportunity to come and be around these people. It will just be a memory for lifetime so I feel really privileged to be a part of it and you know it’s coming up here pretty fast.

Sam Cook
Yeah.

Erin Carson
That’s my story.

Sam Cook
Well I think it’s really important for you to you know share of that because it’s you know if you’re listening to this and you’re not a professional triathlete or you’re not in the industry. There’s a lot of I keep, I keep coming back to the same as I do the podcast, is the way you do triathlon it’s a way of life. And if you are having trouble in a certain your life triathlon is a great safe place to experiment with that and you know people who are listening this probably are thinking about buying a business or starting their own business and going out there and that’s a scary thing to do. And you know to take that risk and do it sometimes it’s good to just maybe take a risk in the sport of triathlon where the stakes are not quite as high but you feel like it’s, it’s a great thing to do. And I think that you know what you’ve done in Raleigh Sports pursuing your dream and going on and is a great inspiration to everyone.

Erin Carson
Yeah thanks makes for long these but it’s a lot of fun.

Sam Cook
Yeah I always tell people one of the biggest mistakes was thinking that starting triathlon research would get me more time to train. I certainly got access to the best coaches and athletes in the world but then I started doing 18 hour days to run the business so it’s been bad for the triathlon career. But you know I think that’s a special part about the sport, I love talking to coaches and I love talking to people who and able triathletes pursue their dreams is you know you’ve put your on athletic accomplishments a little bit behind. I mean they’re obviously behind those of your clients if you have a choice between building your own workout are coming to work with Rinny on a Sunday you’re gonna work with her every time. And that’s what it’s gonna take to grow the sport and get more and more people into triathlon and make them healthier.

Erin Carson
Exactly and I think that’s what it’s about it’s about balance and it’s about just you know and I think for me for triathlon has made my life way better.

Sam Cook
Yeah definitely I think helping others is even more rewarding than you know being helped. Which I think is a paradox that a lot of people realize until you’re in a position to help make athletes better in the sport and make their lives better.

Erin Carson
Exactly!

Sam Cook
Well Erin I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you over the past few months getting the details sorted out for the camp. I know that what you’re gonna share with the athletes demonstrating with Miranda so they can see how she does it and then working with each athletes individually at the Is just really gonna transform their experience. And we’re gonna film what you do and give them video of what you do with them. So that they can see the examples of how to do it and go out and repeat the exercises that you show them because they are gonna have a huge impact on their training and their durability and just their self-confidence in general not just in triathlon but overall.

Erin Carson
That’s the goal.

Sam Cook
So well Erin for Raleigh Sports in Boulder just thanks for doing what you do and I know the community really values your facility and your feedback to the triathletes and the strength coaching. I really look forward to working with you, getting what you do on film and sharing it with not just people at the camp but hopefully some members of triathlon research community after that.

Erin Carson
Yeah it’s going to be a really great experience in Boulder and if people want to they can follow us at EC fit Boulder on twitter. When we do have updates to our website and we start to launch that and with our system we really hope to connect and help as many people as we can. So the twitter for that is gonna be @ECfitBoulder.

Sam Cook
Definitely follow Erin because she has a great, she has a great presence on social media for speaking out on her own opinions and strength training tips but also on Raleigh Sports which is where all the cool triathletes seem to be going these days. I know the first time I went to your facility Erin it was actually Mark Allen had me go there to meet him there for a meeting to talk about a camp that we were doing with him and you know that obviously has been pointed that in that direction many times.

Erin Carson
Yeah Mark is one of my favorite people.

Sam Cook
Yeah hard not to like Mark, he’s as special personality and one of the original in lights in the sport. Right Erin, well thank you and I look forward to seeing you soon and Triathlon Research listener’s thank you for taking the time to invest in your triathlon education. I know you probably just finished a run or a bike ride or whatever you’re doing as you listen to this but if you enjoyed today’s episode make sure that you go to triathlonresearch.org. Click on our, one of our links store podcast channels, go leave a review so that you can let other athletes know about it. We actually have a cool little gift for people who do leave reviews and if you have any suggestion on guest or anything that you’d like to hear. Definitely email us you know my email if you sign up for our email list, you can just hit reply to that and follow Erin Carson on twitter. And finally if you’re interested in the Boulder which is coming up in May 2015 go to triathlonresearch.org and you should find all the details there for that camp. Just enter your name and email and fill out a short application form and one of our coaches will get back to you to see if the camps can help you achieve your goals and whether or not the camp is right for you. Thanks for listening and we look forward to sharing this information with you in the future that Erin’s gonna share the camp. So until next time this is Triathlon Research Radio with Erin Carson signing off.

Hi it’s Mark Allen 6 time triathlon world champion. I hope you enjoyed today’s show, I recently participated in a triathlon research boulder summer camp and I spent time with athletes on the final day of the camp teaching them how to quiet their mind on race day to realize their full potential. To get a free copy of my new book the Art of Competition leave a review on iTunes and we will send you the book. All you have to do is email a copy of your review to [email protected] and triathlon research will send you the book.
Thank you for listening to this episode of Triathlon Research. To get a full transcript of the show and all past shows, please go to triathlonresearch.org/podcasts. To get notified of future Triathlon Research podcast episodes, join our mailing list at triathlonresearch.org/equipment to get our next show delivered straight to your e-mail inbox. In addition, you will get our free Triathlon Equipment video review series from the world’s best triathlon coaches including six-time Olympic coach, Bobby McGee, TriDot systems founder, Jeff Booher, and Total Immersion Swimming founder, Terry Laughlin, so keep listening to Triathlon Research: train smart.

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