Friday, June 24, 2011

Results, Goals and the Real World.

With racing season under way many folks are now starting to look at results and assessing their performance. This can be a tricky process. Whether it's simply a training race or a more important event, there are many things to take into account. And some things that should simply be left out on the course.
With times, rank in each event, your over all placing, wattage, run pace, and more, how does one analyze their results and performance correctly?

The hard data:
One of the best ways is to measure you and just you. Forget about everyone else what did you do? In the end you can only do what you can do. Sounds silly but many forget this simple fact. Measuring your wattage and running pace are very definitive ways of measuring your performance. "last yr. i did 250 watts at the Boulder sprint, this year 275!" that is progress. Your running pace is also something to look at. I would recommend going by your GPS watch however. Running courses can be off more than you think. Even at the most recent WTC, 5430 sprint tri the run course was short. This can skew times quite a bit. Swim times, be careful here as well. I have never heard of an open water swim course that was perfect. wind, choppy water, etc. can all led to very different swim times. This is why we never, NEVER, ever use time to measure our performance on the bike. MPH mean nothing. A breath of wind, new pavement, and 100 other things will affect your average speed. you must use wattage!
Even with all the correct data it is some times used wrong. I have heard athletes be angry with there run time because "it was slow." Yet they have no idea what they should be running (what they can run) coming off the bike. "well in 2001 I ran a 5k with some friends and I did 19 minutes flat! Today i'm better shape and I raced 19:50. i sucked!"
Heard this before? where do we start! First of all its not 2001. You just did a sprint triathlon not a stand alone 5k, if you PR on the run of a triathlon your not swimming or riding hard enough, or, you are much faster than you were before.
The courses could have been short, long. wind, surface, motivation, or maybe you just had a good/bad day.
find out what is a reasonable goal for YOU. not some obligatory time.

Because of issues like the ones above comparing results can be a great way to measure your performance. "but Ek I don't' race the people that win my AG, I race for my own goals, to be as fast as I can be i'm not on that level." That's great! This method is still very usable for someone in that mind set, stay with me for a bit.
This year an athlete I am working with has been working a lot on his run. However, his bike and swim have been improving as well. In the first few races this year his bike wattage has been exactly the same as last year. Effort level also the same yet his bike rank (and his over all placings) are higher. If this happened once I would think nothing of it but so far (4 races) all with the same scenario. he is going faster. A new bike and better position is proving to be gaining him more time than we thought. we'll take it!
Another client of ours just this last weekend said, "my run was awful, a horrible placing for me." really? are you sure? they placed inside the top 8 in their AG and last yr. they were 18th. also their run pace was faster and at the fast end of where I like to see athletes run in a sprint tri... so.... what was bad? it hurt? it's a race it's not supposed to be easy!

Also if your goals are competitive ones than this is realy what your aiming for right? Top 50%, Top 5% etc. At the end of the day a race is just who was best on that day, at that moment. You can work towards having a faster run, better power on the bike but,
"on race day you must race with what you have, not what you want to have"

Again I would urge caution here as well. things don't always match up 100%.
At the last race I did my swim placing was worse than last yr. but when you compare my time with the fastest swim time I lost less time than last year. ie. I was closer to the leader. My "time" (last thing we care about) was faster and the water rougher. Which is strange because a rough, slower swim would suggest bigger time gaps?? hummm...

This is why we prefer to use well executed races and more than one when ever possible. the more reference points you have the better.

In the end you need to ask your self, what are your goals? what are they specifically for this race? And what are your bigger goals for the season or year?
Your goals for this training race should be:
1. a stair steeper to build on towards the bigger goal
2. everyone should have the goal to execute the race to the best of there ability on that day! maybe you have a goal to focus on the bike portion or the run portion, maybe its simply to finish your first triathlon strong. what ever it is race execution is KEY!
~see: your first triathlon. even if it's your 101 race!!
~and the race execution seminar HERE

Most importantly realize that this event you have just done is one thing. One day, one race. you might have just had a bad day, or for that matter a good one. Maybe you got lucky? But when you have your threshold set for all 3 sports, they are better than last year, your data says you executed the race well and within the proper parameters and you're doing better against the competition at more than one event,
you are looking at the products of progress.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Going pro

"How do you go from being ranked number 1, to number 101 over night?
Turn Pro."

One of my favorite television ads. However, Going Pro is not about me. As with most of the blog posts here this is about someone else.

We have recently started working with Gavin Anderson, first year pro. This is very exciting for me. Being asked to work with a professional is something that has been a dream for a while. Am I ready? We'll let Gavin's competition decide as the year goes on.
"I really wanted someone I could work with, as a team. I've been an athlete for a while but at this level you just can 't do it alone." Gavin.

On the June 11, 2011 Gavin cracked the top 14 at IM 70.3 in KS. A very competitive race. He raced while leading the entire pro field out of the water and running a very aggressive first 1/2 of the 13.1 mile run until living on a edge became to much. We are excited about this result and are looking to build!
"I just couldn't hold on to my run pace. I knew it was aggressive but I'd rather go down with a fight!"

The challenges we face are a many.
1. We did not get to work over the winter together. trying to train weak areas in the middle of race season can be tough!
2. being a pro triathlete doesn't mean he gets a pay check! you gotta earn it with BIG wins. Gavin has a full time job, a wife and 2 great kids! All of which are priority number one. and you thought you sch. was busy...
3. Gavin's race schedule is jammed! later in Aug. he will have back to back 70.3 race weekends. recover much!

Whats in our favor? lots really.
1. Gavin and I are both here for the long haul. We know this takes time and are willing to do what it takes!
2. Teamwork. we are both open minded and work as a team. This is not crab fishing boat. This is two smart, experienced people working to make 2 minds far better than one.
3. Gavin has an enormous ability to handle and absorb workload. Gavin's normal training week would have many injured or sleeping through more than one meet at work.
4. Work ethic. when a workout say's ride 4 hrs in Zone 2 that's what happens. not 3:30 or a 3:45 hr ride.

Gavin plans and executes a training block in a smart, planned, thought out way. Now some of you are thinking "I have heard this before." you have, HERE and its not surprising. I did not make Gavin who he is. HE DID. He turned pro all by himself. Can we make him even better? yes, we can.

"All my sponsors I use, I love them all, I don't have any sponsors attached to me because they pay well. I really use their product or service."
Follow Gavin's blog to find out more about his sponsors and the Erin Baker's Elite Triathlon team. As well as stories from the front end of the race are all ways amazing!

Monday, June 06, 2011

First True Test

This past Sat. was the first true test of my training for the 2011 season. seems late I know!
and yes, I have done threshold testing for this and that and yes my "feelings" and pace at a given PE is different than last year and I do feel I am running faster swimming faster and even riding a bit better too. But,
until you lay it on the line, put it all together, in a race, with everyone else doing the same, you don't truly know how or where you have improved.

now, for some this is a bit much. One of our athletes did her first duathlon this weekend. was she concerned about the others racers? no. her placing in here A/G or over all? no. but showing up on race day is different than going hard in training and PR'ing when ever you happen to feel good one day. even for the newbies performing "their" best on race day is still important.

Michelle, did great by the way. running a bit faster than planned in the first run. her bike felt strong and steady, and even on the 2nd run dealing with a hot day and some calf cramping due to her lack of riding (big run focus for the Boulder Boulder) she finished strong not slowing down to much on the sec. 5k run.
For me this "training race" became much more important that originally planned. the summer open sprint had to cancel the swim last min. and we raced a duathlon. while I did better there than I thought I might, I was a bit disappointed with my running pace. The distance was a format I have never done but still I felt I should have run faster.

This past Sat. was an Oly. distance race. having a strong swim/bike combination its a good distance for me. The Boulder Sunrise tri is a smaller race and doesn't draw a huge fast guy field but I wanted to see what my body could do when I put all 3 sports together and realy emptied the tank.

The swim was lack luster. After having to back stroke a bit to get my breathing under control I started sighting off the wrong buoy. In the end not to much time was lost and I was able to get on the feet of the first group coming out on the water. I think I was 4-5th out of the water. so, not bad. makes me wonder what a GOOD swim would have produced.

lessons learned: if everyone else going left, then EVERYONE is likely correct.
I am never wearing a long sleeve wet suit, ever. regardless of how cold the water is.

The bike felt good. I waited a bit long to get up to my wattage range, but, then again maybe that's why I felt so good? Norm power was only 281 but for many of the steady riding sections I was sitting on 300 pretty well.
This felt much beter than last year and the summer open sprint a few weeks ago. Not forced at all. tiring in the last 5-10 miles? yes, for sure, but in control.

Things Learned: same one as always, being patient and not rushing to your goal power always pays off. Always.

Now the run. At this point I was told one guy was still in front of me with about 3 minutes. "OK so racing for second it is." who ever Drew Scott is he only 20 and crushed me by 5 minutes!! national team coaches, someone call this kid! I had a chance to chat with him a bit. very nice humble guy.
I found a rhythm faster than normal and was running sub 6:30's. perfect. what I wanted. The first 3 miles went well. my gap on 3rd looked good. I posted 1 or 2 6:40+ miles but got back to a 6:20 pace or so for the last of the 6.2 mile course and ended up with a 2nd place over all, running a 6:31 avg. pace per mile.

Lessons learned: be nice to your wife/significant other in the few days leading up to race! (see last comment of this post)
no mater how good the first few miles feel be carful. it always gets harder.

I was pretty pleased with this. having botched my last threshold running test I didn't have any hard data as to what I could really run. In my race execution planning I thought "if i can run 6:30/mile that will be great." so task achieved I guess! the run training has worked pretty well so far. with a 6:31 pace off the bike in an Oly dis. race that is going to put my threshold around 6:20 or better. training objectives for the run are all very close to being achieved.
"But Ek what about the longer running distances?"
good Q. can you correlate my run threshold pace to IM pace 100%.
No. but the race does tell us 2 things for certain about my running

1. My Threshold is faster than 6:30/mile.
2. I am running well off the bike. as I am pretty sure running a 6:10 pace would be unattainable. which means I am losing less than 4% or so off the bike. This is great.

Congrats to all the first timers who got out there and the race organizers for doing a great job. The race was much bigger than last year and I feel it has a great place in the CO race calendar.
Also, a big thanks to my wife who after getting up at 5am to come watch turned around half way there per my phone call on me forgetting my garmin running watch. despite getting there after the race started she found my stuff in transition, and got the watch placed in my running shoes. no clue how she did this as transition is closed to non racers.... humm....