Saturday, February 27, 2010

Getting a Head Start

And a little motivation:

Getting a head start is always nice. A head start on your taxes, on your training, a road trip, studying for finals, your drive to work, whatever. We all need head starts in life. In an Ironman getting a head start at the start of the bike is something you hear about allot.
"Getting out of the water early was great! no traffic had time to relax and find my rhythm"
"I got out of the water 5 min. faster than I planned! that was great I would need it later!"
And it is great! whatever your goals on race day exceeding your plans or expectations right off the bat is killer but... it doesn't always happen. The higher your goals the harder and sometimes the not so smart this proposition can be.

So whats your plan EK?
over all its pretty simple.

1. Raise me threshold pace as high as I can
2. Do the work. the long work the tech work necessary.
3. Figure out a appropriate perceived exertion to swim at and execute on race day

So 1500 yd. will be used as my threshold pace. I am aiming for at least a 1:20 threshold pace. From there a 1:25 pace on IM race day (1hr IM swim time) should be doable and efficient.
any input here? do you have the same type of pace diffences?

The reason I have decided to work so hard on my swim is many, some of which I have talked about in earlier posts.
1. I can swim hard and bike hard in training without a major loss of quality in training.
2. I feel I have more potential in my swim than my run.
3. It's F'n HARD!! and if it’s hard for me, it’s hard for others. Even if I don't gain time on the competition in the swim maybe I can save energy. It is the first thing we do. don't wana empty the tank in the first hour of a 10 hour race... do I?

So before we get all up in arms and misunderstand what I am saying here, like some did last time. There is allot to be gained in the swim. We hear this all the time. "you can only gain so much time in the swim., its the shortest event. so don't waste your time training to much"
So #1. Read my last writ up "making the most of your swim".
#2. Swimming is a full body, highly technique sensitive sport. If one can save a bit of energy, stored carbs, mental energy for later you think that will come in handy? ahh yeah! Mark V is not only the first out of the water he sets up his bike very well. many times it takes the best pro's in the US half the run to catch him!! The other day I heard the women's 2 person bobsled driver say "yeah turn 11 sets up 12 and 13" No kidding really!" I thought sarcastically. yet many people miss this concept. The swim is not the place to win an IM but it does set up the bike and run... right? A great Rowing coach said to me once. “you can’t win in the start, but can defiantly loose”

Ok back to IM Canada. how hard will i swim. I don't know? 782 out of 1000, 80%, 1:25 pace if my threshold in 1:20 or faster, as hard as I need to stay with the guy in front of me? Something like that. The plan as of now, make the most of my swim time, a few times a week over the winter and spring. if this are going well. I’m fast and where I want to be in the shorter races I will notch it back, work on the bike and run and maintain my speed while increasing my tech and efficiency.
hit us with some thoughts...What’s your perfect swim?

Ohh and that 2 person womens bobsled won a medal. GO USA!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Sweet Spot, group rides.

Many riders and triathletes a like participate in group rides. They have unique place in our training and over all preparation. They can simulate a bike race, add some intensity to your tri training, be great prep for those doing ITU races and lets face it, there just fun!
Matt Reed is seen on the local group rides in Boulder often. Many long distance triathletes add in a fast rodie like group ride to mix things up and get some high intensity. Tony Delonge
winner at IM USA a few years back through down a record bike split on his way to an 8:56! Tony would take part in the Tue. group ride out side of Boston quite often. Regardless of your racing goals these can be great training but all group rides are not the same and, more so, the same group ride can be a very different experience for different people.

So what's your Sweet Spot for a Group Ride?

First off we are talking about the fast rides. Hard, pre-set course, if you get dropped no one is waiting for you rides. Not the "team rides". There is more explanation on this HERE at the 30 days to better cycling site. members only. Join the Karma endurance group Here to get access.
The first thing you should be doing, or not doing really, is trying to make the ride something its not. I have heard before "I'm gona do my threshold (or tempo) work on the group ride tonight", ahh, no your not. With these types of training sessions or any where you are looking for "muscle endurance" and Friel calls it. The type of training where you're on the legs every pedal stroke for your selected interval time a group ride is not the place to do them. Unless you can ride on the front of the group in your zone for that long with out anyone coming around you. I'm guessing you can't.
A group ride gives us a few unique things we simply can't get alone

  • Higher speeds: turning bigger gears, even at a similar wattage it has a different feel.
  • Variable power: the up and down stop, go, stop, go nature of a pack ride
  • A large amount of total anaerobic riding
  • The repeating nature of these above threshold efforts
  • Higher cadences, hopefully
  • The unknown. going hard when you would like to rest, recovery periods when you least expect them.
  • learning to relax in a pack, cross winds, etc. ie. more efficient riding when the situation is stressful. better bike handling on a efficiency level.

If you are going to do a ride of this nature you should be looking for at least some of these things.

Ok so were are going to do some group rides now what. What's a good ride for you, what's not so good. First off know the rout, maybe ride it solo or with a few friends before so you know where your going, where the big hills are, down hills, turns, etc.

Intensity, the key factor:

This is where I see so many people blow there "group ride" type training.
If going on a group ride involves you hanging on for dear life for 20-30 minutes, accumulating 40% or more of your time above threshold (power time), getting dropped and limping home barely able to push Z2 wattage the ride is to hard and your doing more damage than good. You want your ride to be challenging, not over reaching, you want to be able to repeat your training! ie. get out of bed the next morning for your run, or another ride. You should be able to finish the ride. if not with the front group at least a group of other riders. beyond this look to be able to do a few hard efforts with out getting dropped. (go to the front and do some pulls, a few 1' attacks off the front, etc) and be able to recover in the pack when you need.

A few, more tangible factors to aim for:

  • No more the 20% of your time above threshold, power. or 30-35% of HR time. even for a road cyclist, who is trained for lots of anaerobic time is going to have a really hard ride with more than this.
  • Peek avg. power: having only your best 10 min. avg. being at threshold you will find the ride to be over all pretty hard. start doing 20 min. or more. get ready to suffer.
  • wattage spikes: 10 watts per kilogram of body weight. This is a big benchmark for bike races and mas start rides. The more of these the harder your over all effort is gona be. get up to 12 or more per hour your gona know it! In a tough crit style race we can see up to 40 in 1 hour.

Above is a link to a group ride done by coach Eric recently. The ride is less the first 30' and less the last 40.
This ride was tough. One reason is because it was the first one of the year! That first date with significant anaerobic time is always hard. I got a flat with about 30' still to ride. the last 30-40 minutes of the ride was tough. after a quick flat fix I was riding in a smaller group pulling through more frequently and getting less rest time. one of the things to note about any ride is how difficult there are while still having so much time in Z1 and not pedaling!!

Find your sweet spot. make sure you can keep training after the ride. can you finish it? what does your power file and HR file look like? The over all idea here gang. Can you get all of these adaptations in (mentioned above) but minimize the crushing fatigue and muscle damage of a full on race effort?

So before you decide on the group ride workout get some info on what your in for, know your rout and decide what your really looking to get from it. Is this ride going to give you that?

be safe and have fun. tough group rides can be the most fun you can have on 2 wheels.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Making the most of our swim training

Last week colleague Patrick McCrann wrote an article about why triathletes should NOT swim year round and even further, why its only necessary when we get to race specific training 3-5 months out.

Its a very good article and all points are worth considering. This got me thinking however.
What if we are new to the game? have High goals or have decided to work on swimming, maybe a weak area...

How Can We Make the Most of Our Swim Training Time?

Swimming does cost us allot of time. most of us are swimming at a gym so there is getting there and home, changing, saying hi to overly friendly trainer, etc...

Make the most of your time:

we have seen big gains with minimal time in the pool. why? remember in school when you discovered that when ever you had a ton of work to do it some how got done faster? and you maybe even got better grades? I do. when your working on something as complex and dynamic as swimming and you do it a mere 1 hour a week total focus and concentration are required! For many of us masters or your club swim is at way-to-early:30. if your gona get up that early and swim, put your game face on! Work hard, get tech tips from the coach, work drills for your problem areas and keep swimming!! you will be surprised how much extra an easy 50 every time your waiting for the coach to give you the next set will add up to.

~And what about going to the gym. get your core work in, spinn class after swim, what else can you do to "Get Faster" and make the most of your trip?

~Make it part of your commute to work, miss traffic in the am or pm.
~Ask the coach, "what do i need work on?" my goal is XYZ, what are your thoughts? if i come alone what workout should i do? The coaches are there for a reason use them! most will be happy you asked.
The Magic Workout:

When I lived in the Boston area some friends and I signed up for a 1/2 ironman. some of us were seasoned triathletes, some not and out of shape, some (me) had a whopping 4 weeks to prepare after the cycling season ended? I hadn't run in 3 years. it was my main worry but i had to swim some? right?

while training late in the summer we discovered what was referred to as the magic workout. And still is today by many in the area.

~30' ride to Walden pond
~30' swim. (across the pond and back)
~and a ride home. (sometimes the long way if time allowed or an all out TT home)

my training partners quickly noted, "that is a kick a** workout!". It was but i was more impressed by its functionality and great use of time.

We got a ride in. A 30' swim (similar to the distance and time for our 1/2 ironman swim. they also finished a 1' or so before me allowing them to see my stroke and give a few pointers for the return trip). Swim cap and goggles fit nicely into our pocket and we got a the very key swim bike brick (more on that later)
2 sports, great workout, a brick effect, in 90 minutes!! you can't beat that with a kick board!

bottom line here, look for and explore all your resources, and use them!

Quality Training:

One of the reasons I personally have for swim focus periods is the issue of quality training. particularly when high intensity training is on. Its tough to run and bike hard. however swimming hard and biking (or running) hard seems to work for many without a drop in the quality or performance in there training. this makes swimming more "doable" when the running or cycling intensity increases.

Final thoughts:

Swimming is a large time commitment for little real time gains in the race but realize it's a tough, full body, very tech. sensitive sport which is first in the race. Meaning a "Better" swim might not mean time gained in the swim but later in the race...

Talk to your mentors, training partners, coach and swim coaches. Make a well educated decision regarding your swimming needs and sch. accordingly.

Remember everyone is different. every one's situation, resources, goals, fitness lever, goal race.

"Train YOU before you train the race."

Friday, February 05, 2010

Training for IM Canada. The Bike

Training The Bke:
My goal with these entries is to discuss my personal training that I am going through to prepare for IM Canada. The idea here is to learn from my personal training and life experiences. While you read these entries you may find yourself saying "hey that sounds familiar..." and even if the exact scenario or method isn't similar to yours the concepts may be. Please feel free to read between the lines and leave some good constructive comments; good or bad.

So, some further explaination of my goals and training objectives listed in the last post:

~I will still be bike racing. I love it. I love being a domestique for my teammates when they can use my help and its a killer workout, plain and simple.
More specifically bike racing has made me the cyclist I am today, obviously. I post very fast, if not the fastest, bike splits in the triathlons that I have done. Furthermore I run pretty well off the bike with little run training. You might ask, why?
It's because I am very efficient on the bike. If one can handle the up and down of a bike race, the unknown, the lack of any control, the 5 day stage races, the rain, wind, avoiding crashes, etc, then riding your own pace in a triathlon becomes a straightforward affair. Yes, there are plenty of mistakes to be made. So far, I and many other cyclists tend to execute the sub-maximal TT effort of a tri very well. So I will hold on to what roadie skills I have.

~TT Focus: I'm good at TT's, but I need to be great. There is more to it than crushing your threshold watts. I have a lot more TT's on the race schedule this year.

~Threshold intervals at 90-95%: Many people have great success with threshold intervals right at their tested threshold power, but not me. Any progress I've had has been small over the last 4 years. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result", right? Maybe changing things up instead of doing the same old routine is the way to go? The concept here is that I will still be in Z4 durining these intervals but i will be able to accumulate more time. The longer the interval, the worse I am at it compared to others and its always been that way. this should strike at my weakness. In summary, longer intervals, more time in Z4 equals more adaptation, or at least that's what I'm hoping.

~Boulder Peak is an Olympic distance tri. It's a very steep 5-10 minute climb in the early miles. Very few amatuers break 1 hour on this course.

~Pace rides: Yes, your IM pace is somewhere in Zone 2. "so that means its your kinda default endurance ride, long ride, wattage right EK?" Well, yes, but again I have never been great at longer efforts, ie. I am a genetic VO2 machine, not a long haul threshold guy. While my goal IM pace IS in zone 2 (the upper end) its tough work for me. My default endurance ride was mid to low zone 2 in past years. I think it's time to notch it up a bit.