yet he’s right in that many triathletes do stay away from the bike in winter.
But what about being a suitable and good client? In my many years coaching I have seen such promise in athletes that simply was never tapped into. why?
So, you have done your diligent searching, interviewed your possible coach and asked them the big 10 questions and now you’re under way. Now what. How do you get the most out of your coach? Guess what it’s your responsibility!
Do the work And do it right.
We’ll of course. Its your fitness, its your big race, your goals, your body. You have to work hard, get up in the morning and follow the plan you and your coach set out to do.
“wait wait, what did you say EK? Me and my coach?” yeah. The grand plan, the here we are now, we want to go there, this is the path I think we should take. You need to have a common understanding of where you’re going. You don’t say to your buddies “hey lets go to the movies! Sweet see you there.” What movie? what time, what day, what theater!!?! For those of you that hired a coach, said, I wana do IM lake placid and off you went… its likely you and your coach are on a different bus there. Have a long talk with your coach about the BIG PICTURE.
This conversation should boil down to training phase’s, month to month, week to week and then, the day to day. “Ok cool we are taking this path. And this month it means this” your training plan.
On to executing the workouts. Before my clients do any workout they need to know 3 things. If you (the athlete) don’t know these, you need to ask!
3 Keys to knowing your workout:
~How to do it. 3x15’ in zone 4 with 4’ rest can be done a few ways. Uphill, flats, rd bike or TT bike. After a warm up or after 2 hr’s riding? What cadence. The workout is 3 hr’s what do I do the rest of the time? Etc. I have prescribed all these variations before, anyone can write down 3x15’. You have to know all the details
~Why you’re doing it. You have to know why. What’s the purpose? What is the physiological adaptation I am looking for here? This will help you focus on that. Doing workouts blind is a waste! And it’s your fault! There is no magic workout! “why is Joe a becoming a better runner than me? We do the same workouts?” He does it better, harder and smarter than you, that’s why.
~How it pertains to you and you’re a race: Ok, you got the above down. But why are you doing run intervals on a hill in Z4 while training for an ironman? When we get down to specific workouts, you should be taking apart certain aspect of the race or discipline and training each separate part. We talk about this in the off season training articles and the fall training seminar. When you do this you can get pretty non-specific. Know where you’re going with everything you do. Your car runs on gas but there’s a reason you have a big battery in there.
You, the athlete, has to take action. Coaches don’t read minds. No coach is going to wake you up in the morning, ask you how you slept, etc. If you’re tired you have to communicate that. If you don’t have time to do 3 hr’s next Sunday, if you don’t know the 3 keys to knowing your work out you have to ask! I once heard at a stage race “my coach sucks! I haven’t talked to him in 2 weeks!” I said “that sucks, does he just not answer his phone?” “ohh I don’t know I haven’t called him.” Are you serious!! I quickly told Mr., I need more attention, that before you go telling people your coach sucks maybe you should make a call first. You have to communicate with your coach. You have to ask questions. If you don’t want to, are going to wait for them to call or don’t care, don’t get a coach and save yourself and them some time.
If you read nothing else I write read this.
Things don’t happen to you, you gotta MAKE IT HAPPEN. We have all heard it’s not the cards you’re dealt its how you play them. Life’s gives you lemons, make lemonade. Then get some vodka, get some more lemons and tequila, get all your friends together make sure the unleaded lemonade is clearly labeled, collected all the car keys and have a party! “The glass is half full or half empty?” I say neither, he glass is too big. Seems like a pretty fixable issue, get a smaller glass and move on!
Things don’t just happen to you. Take control of your life. Take control of your training! Own your training it’s your body.
Its cold, it’s windy, I was at work late, lunch didn’t sit right, I have an early flight, it’s too dark. Yeah these things happen, but when they “happen” all the time there excuses. Fix it.
“adapted, improvise, overcome!” ~Clint Eastword in heartbreak ridge.
Your race won’t be easy. No one is going to hand you your goal on a platter you have to go get it.
Stop saying whoa as me, and start saying whoa, I feel sorry for my competition.
You have to do this and you alone. Your coach can’t teach this, and many will be unlikely to tell you get tough so I’ll say for them. Suck it up and get tough!
I have an infinity symbol tattoo. Its broken however, it doesn’t connect. Every now and then someone takes a close look at it and asks “why is your infinity symbol not complete?”
I say “I am the completion of it. I have to go out and make life happen.” If I sit in the house all day and wait for my business to grow and my legs to stronger and meet new friends guess what, none of that will happen. In fact it won’t be long until the opposite happens.
The best way to do this, Plan ahead.
Chris (left and Peter (right) both won the cat 1 and cat 4 TT respectively in Golden last spring. Peter went to a race the foil lowing day and won yet again! while we adjusted there training quite often over the winter both completed 95-100% of there planned training.
there is no substitute for work!
Ever said this to your coach? “Oh yeah, I didn’t do any of the workouts last weekend, I was away.”
really? REALLY? Did you wake up sat at 3am and decide you needed to fly to Canada that morning? Training properly takes planning. And your coach still can’t read your mind. Your month should go like this: Communicate (getting tired of saying this but so few do it enough)
~Communicate your (athlete) sch. For the next month. I need these days off. Away for work here, group ride I would like to do here, etc.
~Look over your training when it’s all set. Make sure it works with your sch. again. Double check.
~Make sure you know the 3 keys to a good workout for every single workout!
~Plan ahead. You may have to get up early for that workout, pack clothes for that, eat pasta for breakfast that day ask to move that workout as the weather looks bad. All this leads to better quality training and better performance on race day.
~Prepare!! Remember things don’t happen to you. Make them happen! stretch, eat and hydrate well before those tough workouts, get pumped up, whatever it takes to get it done.
Listen to others, don’t react.
Its ok to read training articles, listen to others and what they do. But before taking action ask your coach.
Its only a matter of time before people start telling you what workouts you should do, how many hr’s you need to train, how fast you have to go to reach a goal. Go ahead listen, take it in. Realize that everyone has an opinion. And for many of us our local sporting team is the only place we can express those feelings in a place where people will have a clue what we are talking about.
If something sparks a question in your head, ask your coach! See communication again. You need to have trust and faith in your training. You can’t be second guessing yourself all the time. If you hopscotch around form training method to training method you’ll fall very sort of your goal not to mention waist your money if you’re doing what you think is best instead of what your coach has taken the time to lay out for you.
“hey coach, what do you think about this?” Seems like a pretty easy question to me. I get it from my clients all the time. I encourage it. It makes for smarter, better athletes and it pushes me to be a better coach.
Communication again!! Is it sinking in yet?? Listen to your body. Your coach doesn’t know what “I felt horrible” really means. Horrible to him and you may be two different planets. Horrible how? Tight, empty, weak, tired, good at first then bad. What? If you know you just can’t do it today you have to communicate that. Figure out why and move forward. The answer is probably right there. It’s hard to see the forest through the trees some times. One reason for having a coach is this objective point of view but you have to tell them what’s going on. Every athlete is different. “hey coach I think I can go faster. The Z4 int. are feeling almost easy and I am in the upper end of the zone” that’s a pretty quick e-mail. If you’re too busy to e-mail, too busy to take control and own your training, your too busy to train, organize your life.
Here’s the deal gang. Whether you have a coach or not you have to own your training. Plan ahead. The best results I have seen form athletes all have a common thread. They missed very few if any workouts. Why? Because they don’t have jobs? No because they communicated and planned ahead. Tock steeps to ensure there training was at the highest quality possible. Everyone has set backs. Everyone has tough times and bad workouts. The more you take control, the more take responsibility the better you will be on race day.
Train smart, train safe.
My last post on Strength training, lifting weights, performance and training in the real world fell short of Nobel prize writing and was more of a rant. The topic has come up again in my training seminars, amongst friends and I have been pointed to some recent studies as well.
Here is a recent study of conversation: http://www.rappstar.com/pdf/StrengthTrainingEnduranceAthletes.pdf
Too long and technical for you. Here are the basic conclusions and findings.
strength training with weights increased “endurance” and power at VO2 by 7%. This study was done with trained cyclist which is nice.
This will be short and to the point. First off there is more than one way to skin a cat. And even more ways to train for an endurance event.
~“But ek you said weights would only increase your max power by 2%.” No, I said the people I worked with only had an avg. increase in max power of 2%. I have always been a proponent of “strength training” just not with weights. This study was done as one group doing x amount of “endurance” work which was a specific intensity based on there Vo2. (first of all they should have used threshold here) The strength training group had the strength work ADDED to their endurance work.
So, more work and high intensity work at that made this group “stronger”. No surprise there. The 7% is surprising to me. A very significant gain for sure. I would like to see their workout and progression for sure!
The more athletes I work with the more benefit I see with strength work. With my athletes its done on the bike. With specific intervals, done a specific way. This work has resulted in big gains in max power. And while I have never tested the endurance gains from it the improvement seems to be across the board not just in max power. Is this seemingly increase in endurance from the strength work? Or other training done? I don’t know.
The biggest advantage I see to my “on the bike” strength work is that it saves time. Lots of time.
It can be done without additional hours in the gym. And the gains I have seen have been in 6 weeks or less instead of 3 months. That’s half the time. So now the athlete may do another 6 weeks of some other training depending on their strengths, weaknesses, resources, time to train, etc…
"Time. Time is your worst enemy, your best ally and is the biggest issue EVERY athlete deals with."
Time in the day. Amount of time per week to train, and how much time one has from now (the day they start training) until race day. Further more. What did you do last year? The year before that? How about the last 10 years? This is a bigger discussion on periodization…
The real world.
“So ek what if I do your on the bike strength work and lift weights?” good Q. what will happen to your quality of training? On the bike strength work 3 time week. Plus weights 2 times a week. Not sure you can get a maximal effort every workout on that sch. I could do squats every day but they would suck after 2 if not 1 day.
~from Coach Nick. “On your point of real world practicality, that is exactly WHY I weight train in the winter. For a 9-6 working stiff, there are very few hours available to me to train on the bike. Core and weight training gives me extra training time that frankly probably wouldn't happen at all if I was sticking to just the bike.”
very good point. Nick is a roadie. All riding all the time. One can only sit on a trainer for so long. but if time is THAT short why is one still getting "burned out" or board?
I would rather go to a spin class sit in back and do my strength work (my own workout) on the bike with some pumping tunes, good looking ladies and some other hard working peeps to motivate me. brings up another point on motivation. what motivated you?? This is an important issue.
~Triathletes please don’t tell me you need more to do than the 3 sports you all ready have! If you’re getting burned out or board trying to be an expert at swimming, biking and running you need help.
~“But Lance lifts weights?” good for Lance. If you want to be like Lance, go ahead and lift. Let me know when you win the tour 7 times. Or even get to race in the tour of that matter.
~I was at a team meeting in Boulder , CO and Tim O’donnell was there. (pro triathlete) He was asked “do you lift in the winter?” “yes I do”, he said “but only core and some stability stuff” this is a guy who is a pro. 24-7 he trains and thinks about training…
~doing core work and lifting in the gym are 2 very different things. core, always important do it!
~There are no magic bullets. I hear this every year. “I’m gona xyz this year” its gona make me soooo strong. This is my year!" You’re on the right track. By all means CHANG IT UP!! Take a chance, do something different!! But there are no secrets here. You wana get faster at something. Then get out there and do THAT something!!
Lifting weights is NOT bad for you. In fact it’s quite the opposite. I feel that for reaching your best as a cyclist, triathlete, mtb’er, etc. there are better ways to use your time.
There’s that word again. Time.
This is a very argued topic and I am not saying there is one perfect way to do anything. but this is where the art of training and coaching come into view. there are only 24 hours in a day and so many days from now to race day?
Leave some more Questions and real world situations in the comments! Leave muscle fiber this and hypertrophy that at the door. I want real world. Something we can use in training, out there in the rd. or some results you have had.
Ok enough of that. Race morning I was wide awake when the alarm went off. Rice, eggs, yogurt, infinit, lets rock! We got dropped off, marked up, added stuff to transition bags, double check tire pressure, PT is working, my bike is row 13… awesome…
A bit of stretching and a little zoning out so I don’t start tearing apart the alloy fence in a need to burn off energy and we are off! Feel good. Lined up in front. I mean ON the front, dead center. "If your faster than me crawl over me or shut the f** up!"
Ohh right, that’s Chris. Many people that I have raced or trained with have meet him briefly but probably didn’t realize it. Chris is my alter racing personality. He is incredibly smart, supper savvy racer, cunning, never loses his cool and is very, very aggressive. The price we pay for all this knowledge, wisdom and fierce competitiveness is Chris is not the most fun to be around. Basically he is a totally A. hole. He doesn’t care about you, anyone else or anything else. For my rowing friends (who were few) Chris over took most of my day to day personality. Not pretty.
Alright, approaching half way in the swim and a gap opened up between me and the group I was with. I pushed hard to close the gap but It was too much, I couldn’t do it. “what should I do?” I thought. Chris chimes in “look behind you moron! There are 2850 people racing, there is likely to be a few right behind you, you can draft! And hurry up! I wana start riding!!” see… kind of a jerk.
Sure enough a guy came around me. I got on his feet and we connected with the group at the turn for home.
I swam hard I won’t lie, and when I heard, “well, we only have 57 minutes on the clock for our top age groupers here”, from the announcer as I jumped onto my bike I thought for a second I may have just blown my whole race. Well whatever time to do some serious cycling execution.
The first 10 miles was supper chill, over McLean rd. short climb but with some steep sections. Use a 27 cog for this race people. I had a very strong bike and I was in mine several times. The first 38 miles or so are pretty fast roads and while it didn’t feel like there was a tail wind, there was and Chris noticed it. “hey! Eric, you see the leaves on the trees? Its windy, doesn’t feel like it now but we are gona have a big head wind second half on the bike. Stay loose” I stayed smooth and got lots of cals down.
Up Richter pass. A tough stair steeped climb. It surprised me that even being at the front end of the amateur field people still climbed horribly! Guys weighing 10-20 pounds more than me would blow by me on the steep part (I was doing 260 watts) then on the flat section I would only do 220 and I would blow right by them! “keep it up morons! I am gona make you pay on yellow lake! Nice job EK stick to the plan” Chris said to me. I don’t let him speak out loud anymore.
Down the decent, more food, some evacuation and onto the rollers. These are tough, and here came the head wind. I starting passing more and more people here. Pushing 220 watts now. The out and back was smooth. A bit harder now, fueling was perfect. I had all my food gone by yellow lake, sands 1-200 cals of infinit for the last 17 miles down hill into town. As yellow lake kicked up I passed more people. The roads were wet from a passing thunder shower. I would later find out a shower passed through later and gave several people hypothermia. Ouch! Glad I missed that. The yellow lake climb was great. I felt amazing, I kept asking to go harder but Chris kept me to the plan. The crowds were awesome. Like riding up a big climb in the tour. People shouting, both sides of the road, barley enough room for 1 bike at a time. It was sick!!!
I got rocked by 30+ mph cross winds on the decent, and some rain. No biggie. Roads were dry in town. And I backed off to 200 watts or so for the last 15 minutes or so coming into town.
My bike data is HERE. I could not have executed a better bike. 230 watts, best 2 hr. was from the bottom of Richter pass to the summit of yellow last. Mile 50-95. Best hour was the second hour of that 2 hr’s. I have never felt better after 5 hr’s on the bike. NEVER.
Quick, smooth T 2 where if not for my helper in the change tent I would have run out with my helmet on. Thank you!
Onto the run. I felt good. Mile one, 8:10, “take it easy EK.” Mile 2, 7:50, “Hey Crowie, if your gona blow this thing right here I’ll go home. GET-IT -TOGETHER!!! Ok, so a backed off and found a nice rhythm at 8:20 or so. I had a few quick pee stops but nothing major.
Tummy was good fueling was going well. Pee on the bike. Peeing on the run sucks. The wind and wet roads kept me from doing so on the last decent. The hills as at the half way point of the run are tough, but seemed almost shorter than I imagined. I grabbed my special need bag. Another flask of Infinit and a can of red bull. Now, I already have a flask of my super double secret go go juice, but I put a red bull in there just in case. I felt pretty good here but before I knew it I drank ¾ of it. Ok well, guess I needed that??
Back over the hills and onto the return leg. When I passed mile 16 something very strange happened. I thought. “ohh yeah, I ONLY have 10 miles left” this thought acutely made me laugh. I had come from being soar after a 30’ jog in November to this. “only 10 miles”. Another 30-34 ager passed me. I had lost count, a number of people were wearing compression gear which covers their age. Should be illegal if you ask me. You look LAME! And while I knew I was close to the front coming off the bike I didn’t know exactly. The thought of not making it to kona washed over my body a swarm of locusts my mental focus slipped away and there was nothing I could do. . .
Chris was gone, he couldn’t do anything anymore. Then I felt something that I was sure I would feel but hadn’t yet. “hey kid, you’re lookin good ya know. Shit I think your gona make it.” It was my grandfather. He died the wed. before the race.
I felt horrible for not being there in Fl. with him and my family. The night before he passed he said to my mom, who was by his side, that he wanted me to go to Canada. To race. He said, “I’ll be there with him”.
And sure enough here he was. I could hear him plan as day. And see he face. That tan leathery skin, worn by the life of raising 3 kids, fight in a world war, and few other story’s I can’t tell here.
“Eric, I don’t care if you qualify for Hawaii. You should be happy with just being able to do this, huh.” There are people that can’t walk you know, can see, can’t do lots of the things that you can do. Look around this place is beautiful, and you’re here doing great! Now get to the finish so you can have a beer for me! I’m thirsty!”
That was him, always keeping me grounded, showing me the appreciation I should have when I lost it.
Mile 20 came and so did the wind. 20-30 mph head wind while running up a long, long false flat.
“6 miles EK lets do this!!” I was feeling good again and thought I could run sub 8:30’s but the wind was crushing.
Climbers have a term for the area above 26,000 feet in altitude. It’s called the death zone. Not because climbers are bad asses, or there crazy. It’s acutely a very good name. Above that altitude you are dying. Rather quickly too. Your body can not recover. No matter how much you sleep, even if you could. No matter how much you eat, even if your digestive system acutely did work. You just keep dyeing.
Mile 20 to 26.2 in an Ironman is like the death zone. There is nothing you can do to stop the pain in your quads. You can’t surge to get behind someone and draft, if you bonk there is no coming back, it’s over, you’re walking. It took every ounce of my being to concentrate to each steep. If you lost that concentration your body would instinctively do the only sensible thing, stop. You have to really force it. If you look at the girl in the bikini, or the 2 guys dressed up as Iron man or smell the burgers from the hotel, you’re walking.
Despite all this I was still running and running 8:30-8:40 pace. I guess THIS worked. My feet began to scuffle quite a bit now. “pick your feet up EK, come up up!!” chris was back noticing things I cannot, making adjustments and combating issues before they happen. It felt like I was high steeping. Like I was marching or something. In reality I was barley clearing the ground with my feet.
With 300 meters to go one more 30-34 ager passed me. “ahh come on EK get on that! WTF!, we are not finished yet, we don’t give up” I tried to accelerate, and did, but not enough. I came down the finishing shoot alone, high fived some kids crossed the line, said a quick thank you to gramps and hobbled over to the finishers coral. Drank about 14 cups of soup, and ate plenty of food.
A bit later I found our souginer of the weekend and another roomy finished, Paul.
You have to watch people finish at midnight once in your life. Some guy finish 4 seconds before the cutoff at midnight. Are you kidding me?!! 17 hours out on the course and it came down to 4 seconds!
Some stats from my race:
9:52. (9th ag. 71st over all)
Swim: 54:30 (there was speculation the course was short. I believe it. Maybe by 1-2 minutes)
Bike: see power file. Time 5:07, 3rd in AG. 230 watts norm. felt great
Run: 8:30 first half. 8:40 second half. 3:45 total. Felt much better than I thought. Cloudy and cool on the run. Good temps, wind was brutal in last 6 miles.
Ahhhh… the big Taper. You finally get to relax. Skip the hill workout and the mega mileage brick on Saturday… Some people hate this time of training. I am one of them. It’s a scary time. The time when you can do very little to gain anything and do every thing to screw up months or even years of training. However it is necessary to achieve maximum potential. First off I prefer to use the term “Peaking”. Tapering promotes the idea of doing less and less, and this is not the complete story. Tapering makes me think of something getting smaller and smaller, and that’s not what we are trying to do. Peaking is the process in which we achieve maximum physical and mental performance potential. This can be a lot more complex than just cutting back your mileage.We will discuss this in general terms for a race or your big event. Peaking workouts and how much you do and don’t do, can and will vary a lot depending on your event, duration, and skill level.
First off the peaking phase duration will vary depending on the duration of your event. The longer the event the longer your peaking phase. For Iron distance events, stage races, etc. the longer the lead up of peaking. You might see over a month of decreased volume in some cases. In the weeks leading up to you’re A race the amount of aerobic fitness one can gain is minimal if any at all. So don’t kill your self! Skip the long ride and always, ALWAYS error on the side of doing less. As a general rule I like to decrease total volume by 40-60%. Endurance training can be cut back by the greater amounts. For those doing shorter distances where you may have quite a bit of intensity training here are a few key things to note.
~Make sure you are fully rested before a hard workout. We are looking for maximum speed and performance now, not beating our selves up. This will also build confidence. You’ll be amazed at how fast/far you go on your threshold intervals after only a 30’ warm up and taking the day before off instead of the 3 hour ride or tough run.
~Work your strengths. You will be racing your strengths so focus on them. Use them, race them. This will build further confidence and hone your skills for race day.
~Make your workouts simulate race conditions. Use the aero bars more/ race bike (if you haven’t been) wear the clothes shoes, etc... Do a group swim in open water. Do a race sim day. Practice fueling and mental preparation. Make sure every thing works!
~Use a B race as prep. If your training for a long distance race a shorter race in the weeks leading up to it can really get the kinks out. It will allow you to use some racing strategy you are planning in a consequence free environment. Does the elastic band holding the shoes on the bike trick really work? Or is it not worth it?
As we peak, decrease your overall volume. If you have been doing 3 hr rides and 4x 400 meters running on the track do 90 minutes in the saddle, and 2 or 3x300m intervals. You want to stay fresh and sharp but not worn down. Workouts should be short and sweet. They might burn but you should recover fast. By maintaining or even increasing your intensity your body thinks that training is still on full blast and your body will continue to adapt full blast. But… you have decreased the volume and by the time it realizes that you have actually done less your body has over compensated and your flying. Further hone this adaptation with race specific workouts in a race specific environment and you will be more ready on race day than you ever imagined.
While this decreased training time will be nice you should still treat your self well. Treat your self like your still training hard. Get that recovery drink even if you feel you don’t need it. Get plenty of sleep and keep up on stretching, etc…
The other item you will need to keep busy is your brain. Don’t think too much. Go over the race plan, make sure the tires on the bike are in good shape and just go. You have done this in training so you can do it in the race. Remember there is not much you can do to get faster in the week or three before the big race but you can do everything to blow it. So stay the course. Take care. Eat the extra pasta. Skip the morning swim if your feeling tired. And don’t be afraid to light it up a few times. Show your stuff, whether in a race or a short hard work out with the training partners. You have been looking at your heart Rate and power meter all season staying in “your zone”. Time to see how far you can push your self and start looking back the all the people your beating!
Stay safe and have fun!
Mt Lemmon is simply a must do! Maybe one of the best rides you will ever do!
A great day today. Sunny and 70's in town mid 40's on top. a bit a wind to slow us down on the climb but not bad. I did about 230 watts avg. 240ish normalized for 2:17 of climbing.
pretty great! the climb is much like the mt Evans climb but with more oxygen. the climb never gets very steep but rarely flattens out. pace yourself well kids this climb is here for the duration!
Some pics and our training tip!