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The Mentor: ‘Crowie’ guides Olympic Silver Medalist Lisa Norden

  • By Kim McDonald
  • Published Dec 16, 2013
  • Updated Feb 18, 2014 at 11:25 PM UTC
Photo: John Segesta

The Game Plan

Coach Crowie’s prescription for long-course racing success

Crowie’s overall game plan for Norden was to get her riding and swimming to her fastest times by the time she came to Boulder, then divide her eight-week peak training block into two four-week phases — a base period that focused on longer rides and strength sessions to allow her to adapt to altitude, followed by a speed phase that included some brick sessions that incorporated fast runs after a long ride to make sure she was ready for the half-marathon run in Vegas. Not everything went according to plan. After Norden developed plantar fasciitis in April from doing too much volume combined with speed work in Stockholm — a mistake caused by miscommunication with her running coach — Alexander was visibly upset when I talked to him at St. George, Utah, in May at the Ironman 70.3 U.S. Pro Championship, a race Norden had to withdraw from because of the injury. At that point, he had given himself “a grade of five out of 10” as her coach. But he closely monitored the rehab on her foot and her running mileage and, by the time she arrived in Boulder, made sure she was running no more than every other day.

“I don’t want you to get injured,” he told her during their first week together in Boulder. “Your heart and lungs are strong. I think you can get some running form back by just running and getting the neuromuscular leg turnover. Even though you’re doing a half-marathon, you don’t need to do the mileage a pure runner would do. You’re going to get the aerobic carryover from swimming and biking.”

Although there was little time for recovery in the weeks between Norden’s Stockholm WTS race in late August, Hy-Vee, the following weekend and Vegas, the weekend after, Alexander believed it was a prudent schedule because each race built her fitness for the next one. “You’ve shown you travel well, you come down from altitude well,” he told her. “Stockholm will be a hard race and hopefully you’ll be a little bit sore, but then the travel is not going to let you overtrain. By the time you get to [Stockholm], it’s just logistical decisions: How much do I eat? How much do I sleep? The training’s done.”

RELATED: Alexander On The Next Generation Of Ironman Athletes

Lessons Learned

5 tips on 70.3 racing from short-course world champ Lisa Norden

1. Don’t pass an aid station on the run on a hot day without getting water or nutrition.

2. Be patient — find your rhythm and stick to your pacing plan. Don’t get too caught up in other people but let them make their own mistakes.

3. Make an eating plan and stick to it. Don’t let yourself renegotiate during the bike; if you need to, set an alarm to remind yourself to eat on schedule.

4. The speed on the first quarter of the run should feel relaxed and not fast. It will be tough enough sooner than you wish for anyway.

5. If you feel like you are dying, slow down a little bit and make sure to take on some calories. If you haven’t screwed up your pacing you are probably just running low on energy. You can definitely find your legs again.

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