Before Matt Dixon became a much sought-after triathlon and running coach with clients including 2009 Hawaii Ironman runner up Chris Lieto among the pros in his stable, he earned his MSc in Exercise Physiology and competed as a pro triathlete himself. Back then, mega-mileage was seen as the key to succeeding in endurance sports like triathlon. Today, Dixon has forged a new approach that heavily emphasizes intensity, recovery and training on the TRX Suspension Trainer over just logging big miles. Dixon founded and runs the San Francisco-based training company Purple Patch Fitness. He defines the Purple Patch as, “A period of excellent performance, when everything seems to go right, works properly and is in perfect balance.”
Purple Patch Fitness strives to help athletes achieve this state using a methodology and philosophy that Dixon has evolved from his background as an elite athlete, coach and exercise physiologist. “My big message is that whether you're training for cycling, running or triathlon, people tend to dramatically over train and get very fit but very tired. We put the TRX up there as equal in importance to swimming, biking and running [for triathlete clients],” says Dixon, who is also an instructor at the VeloSF cycling training center. “That's one of the secrets of our success. We have far fewer injuries and much greater strength and stability as a result of integrating TRX training into training programs.”
Dixon trains results-oriented amateur triathletes and runners along with triathlon superstars including Linsey Corbin, Tyler Stewart and rapidly ascending newcomer Rachel Joyce, who took sixth place at Ironman Hawaii in her first year as a pro. “The pros I work with do two to three TRX sessions per week, focused around specific strengthening and stability exercises that last 30 to 40 minutes each. The programs are customized to the athlete's specific needs.” Additionally, Dixon's pro athletes use the TRX for brief muscle activation, pre-hab warm ups prior to running in order to stimulate muscle recruitment and promote neuromuscular control. “Performing a movement for 10 seconds doesn't create fatigue. It wakes up their bodies then and boom! They're immediately running with good form and blood in their legs.”
Dixon also specifies twice-a-week whole body TRX workouts with a running emphasis for amateur clients. “We have everyone from people starting to train for the first time and wanting to train for more energy to people who want to train for events. They're looking for efficiency, real coaching and information and want to optimize their health and performance. I have a lot of clients who are time-starved and travel quite a bit. With the TRX, you can take it and use it anywhere.” Some of the clients from the Run2Become program recently finished their first 10 week training block, which included TRX training. “Running programs typically expect a 10 to 25% dropout rate due to injury. We had zero injuries and 100% retention going into the next session.”
This new approach that integrates the TRX as a central component of triathlon and running training has yielded big dividends for Dixon's pro clients too, in terms of both performance and injury prevention. “When I started working with Chris (Lieto) 18 months ago, he had dealt with a major injury every single year he had been pro. He has been injury free since we increased his focus on core and stability with TRX training, increased his focus on recovery and dropped his training volume.” His other pros have seen the same benefits from Dixon's protocols and TRX training programs. “Linsey has had an injury every year. I've been working with her since October, and she is doing more running than ever and is injury free—the first time in her career she has been able to run injury free.”
Dixon first tried the TRX at the TRX Training Center in San Francisco when he went to a class with his pro trainee, Stewart. That experience opened Dixon's mind to the possibilities of what he might achieve using the TRX with individual trainees and groups. The TRX's ability to progress or regress resistance on the fly makes it possible for Dixon to easily accommodate users of all levels within a single group training session. “Someone who doesn't have very good core stability could be challenge but not over challenged while one of my pro athletes in the same room could change the angle of his body and be challenged the same amount.”
Still, Dixon thinks the best is yet to come with regards to the role he thinks the TRX will come to play in triathlon and running training programs. “The TRX is already quite central to my philosophy. We can see it coming to play a bigger and bigger role in training for triathletes and runners. I look forward to working with the experts at TRX and gaining from their experience to help maximize its use with my athletes. It's a fantastic tool, but I don't think I've gotten close to maximizing its potential yet, and we've already seen really good results.”
If you want more endurance training workouts, check out our TRX for endurance training page.