Wednesday, December 12, 2012

winter training. Spinning classes? really...


    As winter roars on, day light become more scarce, holidays keep coming and time to train becomes, well, non existent. It is vital to maintain a structured training program that keeps you motivated, improves your weaknesses and gets you ready to achieve next seasons’ goals.
Spinning classes are a great way to beat the winter cold. They’re offered at many gyms and if not at yours look to another club near by. Most clubs have a drop in rate that will allow you to take a class as a non-member. One problem that many triathletes and cyclists have with these classes is that they are unrealistic, an aerobics class on a bike.
The classes at Rallysport where I teach in winter are anything but. True cycling workouts and rides. Accurate power meters on every bike make these classes the best I have seen. 

  There are ways that you can turn a less than ideal spinning class into a great endurance and technical workout for you and your needs.
First off this is your workout not the instructors. If you’re doing the 10 minute “climb” in the saddle then stay in the saddle no one is going yell at you.  Further more, you control the tension, on the fly wheel, right? You control your intensity.  Then keep it at your intensity not Joe spinner’s next to you who doesn't even commute to work. 
Many times these classes are only one hour long. To short for you? Come early or stay late. Try to push past that key 70’ mark. I will be doing a webinar at Training peaks HQ on how to find your weak areas and talk about some tools and methods for maximizing your time in the winter months. This we will talk more about this there. Don’t miss it!  January 8th! 

  Spinning classes offer one of the greatest opportunity to work on technique. For starters you don’t have to balance the bike, steer,  be wary of traffic etc. Take this “stabilized” time to really focus on your pedal stroke. In the beginning of class take a few minutes to pedal with one leg. Do 2x30 seconds on each leg. Then, take some 30” or 1’ intervals to really focus on a perfect pedaling, both legs, smooth and efficient.  Most spinning bikes have semi fixed or totally fix cranks. This will carry your legs through the circle even when they start to wear out and get sloppy at the end of class. This is a great time to do some fast pedals (30 sec. bursts of high cadence, low resistance, in the saddle sprinting).  These are for technique, not power. This will recruit fast twitch muscle fibers when they are most tired, training your legs to be the fresh at the end of a hard ride or race.  This makes you more prepared for that inevitable attack at the end of a road race, the hills coming into T2 or the 3 minutes you have to close down in the run for first place at a local triathlon.  

Look be realistic. If you live in a state with 4 seasons its cold in winter, the roads are icey and it gets dark at 5pm.  trying to train to many hours will have you burnt out before the first training race in spring. Consistency is KING! this big picture and be in for the long haul. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Weight Training, Winter and the Real World.

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.
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 XYZ pro lifts weights?” good for them. If you want to be like XYZ pro, go ahead and lift. Let me know when you get a pro contract and then we will re think your winter training. 
~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.  he trains and thinks about training 24-7
~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.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

making the most of your swim time.

When it comes to Winter and swim training there are as many schools of thought as there are on lifting weights for endurance athletes.  we won't go there... yet. 
I get asked a lot how I and many of my triathlon athletes are so good in the water on such minimal training time.  At the same time I find myself wondering and asking athletes who we only put a few minutes on in the swim that only started swim training in the last 3-4 months if its really worth it?

How Do 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:
EK Endurance Coaching athletes have seen big gains with minimal time in the pool. why? remember in school when you discovered that when you had a ton of work to do yet it somehow got done faster? And you maybe even got better grades? I do. when you’re 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 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 problems areas and keep swimming!! you will be surprised how much extra an easy 50 every time you’re 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 by some old friends there.
~30' ride to Walden pond (local popular swimming area)
~30' swim. (across the pond and back)
~and a ride home. (sometimes the long way if time allowed)
my training partner 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. he also finished a 1 minute or so before me on each end of the swim allowing him 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!
What we like to see from a master swim class:
~Instructor that can give you tech tips all the time.
~You should be focusing on tech always. esp. as you get tired near the end of the session.
~Minimal chatting at the wall.
~Long sets, minimal rest.
~Lots of threshold work and longer steady sets.
~With the above being said MIX IT UP. doing some sessions with some harder, all out work will make you a better overall swimmer!
~A fun group to swim with!! 
If you set up any pace training zones after a test they will likely not be used in many masters classes. However being aware of how hard you’re swimming, pacing yourself well during the class and during long sets is KEY!  This will make you a more aware athlete. you will get more out of each class and be a faster triathlete! 

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 as well!!

Talk to your mentors, training partners, coach and swim coach. Make a well educated decision regarding your swimming needs and sch. accordingly.
Remember everyone is different. everyone's situation, resources, goals, fitness level, goal race.
"Train YOU before you train the race." 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Off season training article #3

Putting it all to work.  the last piece of the puzzle.

By the time we rest get re-focused and on track again it’s winter. Don’t despair! Before we get to specifics lets go over a few points so we don’t get side tracked this winter.

We all have different ideas on winter training. For some it is a vital time of year, laying the foundation for a big race mid summer or tuning speed for the early season duathlons,  Crits and road races.   For some, winter will be a success if we gain less than 10 pounds. What ever your motivations for this winter; balancing a structured plan with a good dose of spontaneity will get you in the best form ever, physically and mentally. 

Out look:
If you live in the northern states or anywhere that snows in the winter, and you’re not a pro, you simply can’t train as much in the winter. With darkness coming around 4:30pm, fridged morning temps and icy roads it just not possible. We won’t even get into jobs, girl friends, kids, wives, the Patriots game schedule, etc…
So now that we are at peace with the fact that we simply can’t put in as much time as we may want, we can focus on what to do with the time we have.

Find a Routine.
   With cold temps, warm beds and stale indoor air it is easy to get “off track”. Try to find some kind of routine. This could be one workout or rendezvous with a friend per week. ie. “every Wednesday morning John and I run together, no matter what.”  “Thursday night I do the spinning class at my gym.”  This one appointment can be the back bone of your winter success.  Find something that works with your schedule so it will be easy to keep this date and not get side tracked.
This can work for you in a great way if this one workout focuses on your weakness. I have seen athletes increase their max power by 10-14% over the course of 6 weeks during winter 2 focused workouts a week. Focus and consistency can get us VERY far, even if our volume is low.

The Bike:
These time constraints really hit hard when trying to work on your bike, especially if you are training for an early season race that’s long.   First thing to do is invest in the proper warm clothes. Water/wind proof booties and gloves. Warm tights, thermal cycling jacket, hat or helmet cover.  Investing in proper cycling winter gear will make your cold rides more enjoyable, more effective, and maybe a bit longer. One trick for cold feet is to use shoes 1 size to big and put in two insoles. And don’t jam your feet in there with to many socks. You’ll restrict circulation and have lumps for wood for feet in less than an hour.
   The trainer can be your worst enemy and your best ally all at once. If you are going to improve your riding regular visits to the trainer will be a must but they don’t have to be torture.
1. Don’t do the same thing day in day out. Mix it up with different workouts and the amount of time you spend on it. Try something new once every 2 weeks or so. Like watching football with your buddies.  3hr’s with big gear climbs every commercial, sprints every field goal, and hard tempo every time your team is on offence would make even the fittest cyclist slump over the handle bars by the final 2 minute drill. 

2. Keep your mind busy. When you’re not with your friends watch TV, listen to the radio, etc.
3.  Stay focused. I have just given you ways to distract your self from your work but the best way I find to make time fly is to have specific workout and stick to it. To the second. Warm up, cool down, some 10 minute strength intervals, rest intervals. You’ll find that riding for less than an hour becomes pretty difficult.   

These workouts I designed for just this reason. These can all be done in 1 hr – 90’ they are all very effective. There are a few endurance- threshold workouts. Strength workouts and 2 tough VO2 works. Enjoy!
* click on exercise library’s

 Take Care:
It is important that you take care of both your body and your equipment with the same care as you would in the summer months. Proper nutrition and stretching is vital to staying healthy and on the upward path. Care for your bike and trainer is also a must. Just because you are not out in the rain and dirt doesn’t mean you can just get off your bike and be done with it. Salt will build up on your bike and trainer and will destroy both if you don’t clean them. They will surely fail you when you need them most.

Getting to you, training your weaknesses:
Now that you know what your weak areas are (from fall training article #2) we can get right to it!  Trying to improve any weakness is not going to come easily or quickly so now is the time to start correcting them.

The key to training your weaknesses is a two part process.

  1. Break down the task at hand. 
a.       There is more to having great endurance than just pounding out the miles on the trainer or the swimming pool. Are you training at the optimal intensity? Make the workout Quality before Quantity.
b.      Endurance (for example) has 2 parts being able to resist fatigue (pounding out the quality miles) and efficiency.  How much of each pedal stroke is pushing the bike forward and how much is just moving your leg?  If you are .001% more efficient per pedal stroke, x 90 RPM’s x 60 minutes in 1 hr. for a 5 hour bike ride or race. That’s 27 % more efficiency!

OK, there is some fussy math in there but you get the point. If endurance is some thing you’re working on you don’t necessarily have to ride the trainer until 11pm and swim until your whole body prunes.  Incorporate drills into your training. Lots of drills.
To address this issue FP drills are key.

Workout #1: 3x5’ F.P. Pedal as fast as you can while still being in control. 110-120 is a great range .take 3’ rest. Build up to doing these at the end of your ride.
 Notes: This will work your Neurological durability as well as your general “endurance” as most people think of it.  Also when on the trainer realize you have no 0 time.  In a bike race you may only avg. 70ish rpms per minute.  And have 1/3 of your time at 0 watts or in a recovery zone! That allot! On the trainer doing the workout above you could avg. 100+ rpms and have 100% of your time in zone 2 and 3.
Recently I compared a team training ride with a ride a friend did the day before. “I only had 90’ to ride” he said in disappointment. After comparing his data with mine I noted that if you tock out the nearly 2 hours of 0 and recovery wattage time in my ride he had done the virtually same training as me!  90’ in zone 2 and 3. You could say mine was better because of the fatigue from the longer duration, or… one could say his was more effective because his effort was a continuous effort while mine had several “rest periods”…   a topic for another time. This is a great example of maximizing your time.

Workout #2. Zone training. Do 45’ or more in zone 3 after a good warm up/at end of your ride. Build up to 90 minutes of zone 3 time.
 Notes: Bump up the intensity! Do your “endurance” work in zone 3. Riding sub threshold has the same physiological adaptations as riding in zones 1-2 but they happen faster. The cost is greater fatigue and decreased repeat-ability  But if you don’t have the time to do 3+ hours every day then do it up! The key to this is doing your Z3 work as one steady interval and staying in your zone(no coasting)! Having detailed and accurate training zones is vital for this. A power meter is king here. This will rack up your kilojoules (total workload) must faster than riding in a group or doing zone 1-2 and will give you maximum return on your training time. By riding in zone 3 (tempo) you could do twice as much “work” in the time given than on along group ride. Two tips for making this work.
1.       Don’t go out to hard
2.       don’t spike your power on hills, when you stand, etc…

In a seminar I do every fall there are 2 slides. #1 is a power file from a group ride. 3:45 long.(riding time, more waiting for people etc.) and I accumulated 2100 kilojoules. (again just a number of total workload).
The 2nd slide is a power file from steady tempo ride . the ride was 2hr’s long and I accumulated 1862 kilojoules. That’s almost 900 kj’s/ hr compared to 540 kj’s / hr.   now this is NOT to say you don’t need to do the long rides. But the numbers speak for themselves.  Don’t’ have time and your looking to build some endurance. Zone 3 is your best friend!

2.      Stay true to the grand plan.
Lower intensity “endurance” training will most likely take up much of your training time in winter. So when training your weakness keep the overall intensity down! If you are working on your hill climbing go easy. Find a hill with a low grade so you can work on your climbing pedal stroke.
If you are working your sprinting power or anaerobic endurance, work the cadence aspect of it. Short, high cadence, spin ups are great for this.  Keep your recoveries on the long side.  Let your HR drop to Z3 or Z2 and keep the gear easy. With will allow you to work the neurological and technical aspect of these skills with out the cost of excess muscle damage and lactate build up. Working strength or sprint power again here. Push out that sprint or big geared stomp hard. But again long recoveries. This is keep the overall cost of the training session low. We’re not looking to mimic a race here! At least not yet… 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Off season Training, Part II

Time to lay out the plans…

Your thinking “its the holidays! What could I possibly do for training??? Turkey Carving is some of the best deltoid training there is! This will make you more stable on the bike and resist fatigue longer! Don’t miss the opportunity.  Actually I am kidding. Thanksgiving marks the beginning on the holidays and the beginning of the long difficult road to start training again. I myself, have fallen victim to the following scenario before. First its time to rest, then turkey day comes along, then Christmas, Hanukkah  etc. which slams full speed into new years. Throw some travel for work in there, a vacation and maybe a wedding (went to a new years wedding a few years back. Best time ever) and the next thing you know its February, your turning 29. Again.  And you are barely going to get in 6 weeks of base training before spring.  

What to do?

Its time to plan.  The answer here is this is not the time to stress about training but to plan ahead.  And before we can plan ahead one must look back at the past. Looking at your past year or more of racing and training can be the best thing you do in planning for the next season.
Here are some steeps to get you on the road to success.
   1. Write down your general goals. Things that you want to focus on in general. Ie. Become a stronger runner, spend more time training on the bike.
   2. Then write down specific training objectives: these can be precisely measured.  Increase threshold wattage to 250.  Run sub 30:30 minute 10k, etc.
   3.  Then write down your goals, “win the state championships”. For races write down there dates and rank them in priority. 
   4. Most importantly identify your weak areas.

Finding these can be harder than it seems. Here are a few methods for analyzing your season and finding your weakness to get you started right in 2012.

Step one: Analyze Your Season
Did you meet your racing goals and training objectives? Did you peak when you wanted to? Did you go as fast as you predicted?  These should be pretty simple yes or no questions.  Look then at your training objectives as stated above. .  They should be measurable goals that are stair steps to you major goals. If you did not meet your major goals of the year the answer, or at least part of the answer, to why may be right there.  As you keep looking into why you did or did not meet your goals look at everything: job, personal life, relationship, etc. Stress out side of the athletic world is the number cause of people under performing. If you’re a lawyer working 60+ hours a week and training 20 hours a week as well as being a mother or father, you may be setting out about things in the wrong manner. There are only so many hours in the day!
Note what worked for you and what did not. The things that worked you will want to keep in your bag of tricks as these things will likely work again. The things that didn’t work, get rid of them! We’ll come up with something better!

Step two: Finding Your Weakness
There are 2 ways to look at this. A good starting point is finding your weakness by the numbers. On the bike, the easiest way to do this is test your power profile. Test your maximum power out put for 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes and your threshold power.
A power profile chart can show you where you are lacking. This is particularly good data for the rodie. Is this written in stone?  Is this the end of the road?  No, but it is a good starting point. A similar method would be to get tested in a lab.  Even if you don’t “need” the areas you are weak in they may still be holding you back.  For example, an ironman triathlete having a weak 5 sec. and 1 minute power. They don’t need that ability but if it is weak enough it is something that will hold your other abilities back. If it is an A race specific weakness (going to the Tour of the Gila and you’re not climbing well) then you have work to do!

Part two of this is comparing your weakness to your competition? “But Eric I don’t race other people I race my self.”  That’s great and I applaud that self motivation but if you want to improve the best place to look is to the people that are better than you.  For example, in your triathlon results if you’re coming in 50th on the swim 50th on the bike and 450th on the run time after time again working on your running would be a good place to start. If you’re getting dropped on short hills in bike races, short hills or 1 to 5 minute power outputs might be your weak point.  Before you make the decision as to what your weakness is make sure you have more than one or two examples that show your weakness.  Your ranked lowest in the run, you % loss is highest in the run,you’re your brick runs always feel “off” compared to fresh runs.
    Look at this deeply. This is very important. Are you not running well because you’re and bad runner OR because your swim and bike are not up to par and you’re paying for it on the run/ at the end of the race?  Are you getting dropped on the hills because you’re a bad climber or because the hills are at the end of the race and you have trouble there because your threshold power and endurance is not as good as your competition? Take some time with this, consult a coach and or trusted training partner or both.

All of this may look straight forward on paper but it’s harder to implement than it looks. Getting some one else to give you a good objective look at your self could be the best thing you do this fall.

Lets Put it to work!
Now you know where you want to go and have an idea on how to get there.  You are now armed with essential tools for planning and training for your season.          
1. You have you goal races down in the calendar.
2. You should know what key skill and abilities you will need to meet your goals at these events.
3. You should know what weakness you have, how severe they are and if they are specific to your main season goals.

Our next training article will address common weak areas and discuss workouts to address them.
Happy holidays!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

"Off" Seaon Training! What the heck does that mean?

Every Fall I talk about the same thing. Over and over. Why? well, people still ask, athletes still don't know, and every year there are new athletes, new dreams new goals and new ambitions.   
last yr. I did 8 live seminars at various locations around CO on these topics.    I wrote this first article 4, maybe more years ago. I have made some additions and updates, it needs more updates i'm sure. This is the first of 3 articles and they address what I feel is the most important time of year and the most important training you will do all year!   every year people ask my clients how they are so strong in spring and how they seem to never burn out, never get injured, and improve every single year.  the next 3 articles will get you in the right track. 
                                                                                      It’s the “Off Season” what do I … not do? 
          article one in our 3 part series.

  I get this question often this time of yr. “how do you NOT train?” Especially for the competitive cyclist or triathlete who has been racing all summer, sometimes every weekend, not training hard and racing all the time can feel very strange.

The Off Season:First off I want to stress the word “OFF” in off season. Off means   Off! The first and most important aspect of your next season is being totally fresh and completely motivated for next season. Now is the time to start that process.
Less is better here. Catch up on work, family, and drop off the bike at the shop for a tune up. Have them check it over for cracks in the frame along with full safety check. Racing is very hard on your equipment. The key with this phase is to make sure you are 110% ready to start training come the start of your program. The under trained, over motivated athlete will beat the perfectly training under motivated athlete every time! Come the beginning of “base training” you should be itching to train. It should be all you think about, so when its 20 degrees and freezing rain, your pumped up and ready to put in a solid training effort! This is also the best time to sit down with your coach and/or teammates   to discus what your goals will be for next year. How did you perform this year? What was good? What was bad? What will have to be different with your preparation for 20, etc

Ok some terms we need to get straight.  "Base" is not a verb. it is not an type of training. it describes a time frame. some coaches use other terms like foundation phase, etc. so just drop it from your vocab.   "Speed" is also NOT a type of training but lets say it is. speed is relative  take two athletes tell them to do "speed work" of their choice and you will see totally different workouts.  I always say "start with the science, then work in the real world, your resources, etc"  what energy zones are you    training? what are you focusing on during the training sessions? are you lactate threshold intervals? VO2 int. tempo (Zone 3) work? what? start there. if you want to call it "speed work", fine. 

Here are three easy steps for an effective off season.
1. Off time: Take an extended time of ZERO training. This will be deferent for every one. 2 weeks for some, 2 months for others. How ever much time you need to be totally rested and motivated to train again.
2. Recovery: Any lagging injury’s? Bike not working quite right for the last 2 months, been wanting to   get that nagging cough looked at. Do it!! Get a message go to the doctor, dentist, what ever you need to do to feel 110 percent physically and mentally for the next season. This is active recovery, taking   aggressive action towards healing. These are the most important aspects of off season training.
 3. Maintenance training: After this you may be ready to train but your program doesn't start for another month. What to do? Many pro’s and age groupers alike will take part in “unstructured training ”Its best to make is something different than your primary sport, try something new. It will most likely improve some skills needed in your primary sports. Just stay active, (cross training) will maintain your base fitness and, depending on your activity, can address your weakness leaving you fit, motivated and with stronger limiters than you had last year. A perfect way to start your next season!!

4. Cross Train! Go Mt. biking , running, play basket ball, tennis whatever you like and have put off  for the past summer. Working on stuff like this will help keep you injury free next year.

5. Most important have fun! Do those old training rides you did when you first started riding. Plan a trip. I have done a few long rides with friends in the fall that have proved to be lots of fun and great endurance training.
I'll be straight up. this is a bit of a teaser. Article 2 and 3 have much more substance, mush more specific "do this" and a bigger call to action. So hang tight it's coming next week! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Triathlon World championships Grand Final Auckland, NZ

Race report from Nadia Sullivan: 

It was a dark and stormy night... when I showed up for bike check-in and body marking. Lightning struck the top of the Sky Tower and the steady rain became a downpour. But that's not where our story begins...

The journey to New Zealand was long and we got very little sleep in almost 36 hours. We stayed up to change our internal clocks to local time, and our hotel wouldn't be ready until the afternoon anyway. Friday, 3 days before the race, I joined a group for a pre-ride of the bike course. The course had 2 short, steep climbs with fast descents and the winds made the course much more technical, especially for anyone with aero wheels. I felt right at home! But after the ride, I felt like I might be getting sick, so I took a nap after lunch. Woke up with a fever and was barely able to sleep that night. Fortunately, Team USA brought a doctor, so we saw him right away the next morning. I got some antibiotics for a raging sinus infection and spent the day in bed. The next morning, I took a hot shower to help clear my head and blacked out. Fortunately Nick was there to rouse me, but it was clear I was really, really sick. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to race at all.

Race-day morning I was still weak and my head felt like it was full of cement. I moved slowly & deliberately through my pre-race rituals, hoping the cold ocean water would help loosen things up in my head. On the plus side, I never got race nerves!

Our start was delayed a bit, but eventually they led the 90 of us down to the water and let us jump in. We were lined up along a pontoon for the start and I happened to have a good position that was on-course. When the start sounded, I shot off like a rocket, just as I'd been doing in training. I soon found myself at the front of the field and realized there was no way I could sustain such a hard effort so I backed off and joined a large pack. The swim was shaped like a "T" and the water was calm when we were between the piers. Outside the piers, the tide was strong and the waves made navigation very difficult. I stayed with my little pack but it kept getting smaller. The lifeguards were standing up in the boats, pointing the way, but even they were hard to find. When I was coming back to shore, I noticed there were very few women in front of me. The field had been shattered! I stumbled up the ramp toward the very long run into transition and struggled to stay upright since my balance was off from being sick. 

Fortunately, my bike was the first one in transition so I didn't get lost! I was very deliberate about getting out of my wetsuit, every time I put my head down I thought I was going to fall over. I managed to change gear & run out to the mount line, but I don't remember getting on my bike! I didn't feel any power in my legs and my only chance for a real race on the bike was to ride smart. I gave what I had on the climbs, then let go to fly down every descent. It was a little windy, but not as much as the pre-ride, so it was a great day for a bike-handler! Anyone who got away from me on a climb was soon caught at the bottom again! And a few of them I dropped in the roundabout on top of a hill. The riders from Australia, Japan, and Mexico were having an especially hard time on the course, maybe because it was cool & windy, maybe because of the hills. I came into T2 with another American, but her dismount wasn't as fast as mine ;)

Again, I was very deliberate about putting my running shoes on, focusing hard on staying upright. I trotted out of T2, my primary goal being to have enough energy to run the entire 10K without walking. It was a flat, twisty run through the city, perfect for me! I focused on my form and worked on holding a steady pace that was comfortable. Oddly, I was feeling better as the run went on! I still couldn't breathe and something resembling a banana slug was coating my upper lip, but I still felt pretty good. A woman from Mexico caught me in the first lap and we ran step for step for a mile or so. She was breathing much harder than me so I took a few turns extra tight with a little more speed and dropped her! I even passed a few other runners! I picked up the pace more in the second lap, amazed at how good I felt in spite of being sick. It was really neat to hear the crowds calling out to the racers and cheering each country. Going into the finish, there was someone handing out US flags so I grabbed one and sprinted in. I may not have been fast, but dang it, I wanted to look good at the end!

I finished 41/88 that day. Not bad for only going at 60-70% capacity. Another American I've raced against was 6th in our category. She has a swim/bike background like me and we've been good competition for each other. I can only guess how I would have done had I been healthy. But I'm not disappointed. I gave it everything I had for the day, I knew you were all cheering for me from home!

Thank you guys for all your support these past 2 years! The Team was a huge factor in making this race possible for me. I couldn't have done it without you!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Ruben Sandwich II, Training and preparation for Ironman world championships

  A year ago I wrote a post about my personal preparation and training for Ironman world championships in Kailua kona, Hawaii. I talked about preparation in general and compared it to a Ruben sandwich.   In short when you look at your preparation in separate pieces it doesn't look right. you think "why the hell am I doing this, again? how does this help in the race?" much like one of my favorite sandwiches.

    Anyway this go around has been different in a few ways. the biggest and most obvious is I qualified at IM St. George. on May 5th on 2012. much different than getting your ticket to the big dance 11 weeks out  and while it was nice having so much time to recover and prepare for Kona, I can say that I will never do a IM that early in the year again. well... I shouldn't say never. Realize this time line for a second.
  July 24th 2011, IM lake placid. the more I think about this race the more I realize this may have been one of, if not the best physical and mental performance I have ever produced. And with that, much was taken out of me. Oct. 8th 2011 Ironman world champs in Kona. mega jet lag, not great performance but a smart one for the day. Another 140.6 miles ripped from my soul.  Work is crazy busy. the more successfully I become as a coach and mentor the better I want to become and the more I was to do.  this combined with a sub par ski year in CO left me with the second winter EVER in my life since I did not ski at least one day. The first year I was alive and this past winter.  Feb. and March saw more strict training and scheduling.  March a training camp that I ran with some EK Endurance Coaching athletes and other athletes in St. George, UT. May 5th Ironman St. George, number three 11 months. And let me tell you I felt every one of them for a month after. a trip to a wedding, family in town staying with us. coaching swimming, leading our coached runs in Boulder and I was just destroyed!  Never have I been so tired and drained in my life. after a week of sleeping until 9am Lindsay, my wife, asked if I was OK. "maybe you should see a doctor?" she knew I was barley training still and not yet back to normal.
   So it's not the date of the race so much but the sequence of events that led to me there. In June, at the starting line of the Boulder Sprint 2013 which I won the year before by about 8 seconds and only 14 sec. from 3rd. so don't ask me if i really need to shave my legs. YES!!  So I'm at the start thinking, the podium is gona be a tough go for me...
  This year's plan for Kona, after finally recovering, I had a nice periodization built into the summer around the races I wanted to do. The boulder tri series. June  boulder Sprint, July, boulder Peak (Oly. distance) then ug. 5th the Boulder 70.3. The goal was to train consistently getting myself back to 100% or as close as I could leading up to the half.  Things went pretty well. The Boulder sprint saw me on the podium, however much to the bad luck of Kirk Framke who flatted. The boulder Peak saw me in 4th. I was disappointed.  However, lets look at the facts. I ran a 6:34 pace.  Last yr. I ran a 6:24. If I had run a 6:24 I would have held 3rd in my AG. same place as last year.  What "should" I have done in the race?  ie. what power and running pace were reasonable for where I was at that point?  Exactly what I did.  This is something so many people miss.   I swam well. good placing. bike power was about 93% of threshold and I ran about 1% slower than threshold pace. Not bad. Actual pretty great, so I got beat. Shane Niemeyer ran a 6:05 pace or something and simply beat me.  be 14 seconds or so. What are you gona do? get faster...
coming into the half IM  I was pretty worried.  My threshold power was still not up to 100%  of pre St. George and my run was... almost there.  I went into the race at 310 threshold power and a 6:30/ mile threshold running pace. Now the math here says I can run 6:50- 7:20 pace in the half, however, my PIT (Proving it In Training) had not come through much.  I have talked about this in my IM execution webinar. same concept applies with all distances.  We start with the science then prove it in training, I went into the race with a good sense of precieved exertion and Chris at my back. I hadn't done a half IM since Silverman in 2008 but I've been a competitive athlete for a while now.
  I rode very smart staying with some guys who were my speed and a bit faster, I rode 4-5 bike lengths off Drew Scott's wheel for 2/3 of a lap (2 lap course) posted a good bike time, backed it up with a 1:33-ish run and got 4th for a podium spot. (They do top 5 at big IM's and 70.3's.)  I was pleased, very pleased. I ran right at 7'/ miles until 2 to go when the body just shut off and ended with 7:09 pace after the last 2 miles at 7:25. not bad. a maximal effort  for sure.
Some rest, a family reunion trip and I was back. training hard, putting in 2 swims a week. 2-3 hr's of running and riding. I felt at this point that I had not gotten in enough "long" training. 3 hr bike rides and longer, 90+ minute runs, etc. after a review of my training I saw that I was right. Every athlete needs these longer training sessions, it doesn't mater what distance your training for. I set some goals for my last training block before  Kona.

1. long run every week.  
2. More long rides. 1 a week or as many as I can do. 3+ hr's long. 
3. Be ready for and ride well in the steamboat stage race. 3 day bike race.  (by well I mean finish and maybe help my teammates) 
4. 3 swims a week. 
5. watch the diet. keep at my 157lbs give or take. 
6. core work

  Well after a few weeks of great training I was at the steamboat stage race ready to work hard and bust down my threshold wattage barrier and I was sick.  Back home, rest and another week gone. Kona now very close.
In my last build up before a big IM I normally do a huge 2 week block. 1100-1200 TSS per week, two weeks in a row, then tapper/ peak for 3 weeks. I often wondered if 2 weeks in a row was worth it or if I was just playing with fire?  This year I wanted to do the last race on the BTC team series the Oktoberfest sprint triathlon . This meant doing a big week, an easier week leading into the race, then another big week with a 2 week tapper/ peaking phase. Its day 1 of this last 2 weeks as I write this. The race went very well. I set the fastest bike split, ran 6:15/ mile on a tough course for a 5k (hill) was first out of the water in my wave and came in 3rd over all. hows that for everything coming together. I was pleased. 6:15 run pace on that course has put my threshold running pace conservatively at 6:20/mile.
The long runs have happened every week. Even that race wee, hard bike Tue.. long run wed. thur-fri- sat. easy, race Sunday. Then right back at it Monday with a long bike and brick run. This last big week was 18+ hours. and about 1150 TSS.   I have swam 3 times a week also for that last 3-4 weeks. up from my normal 2 times a week. I feel pretty fast and durable in the water normally doing about 4000 yards a session.
  Now while all this is great the "long" rides have been cut short by one thing or another. those 5hr rides just haven't happened. At all.  I have gotten many 3-3.5 hr rides in however. lots of IM race pace. (220's norm, some higher) and many of them have been fatigued from the day or day(s) before.
    OK EK the math says what? and do you think you "proved it in training" 
we'll here it is. straight up, numbers and all.
  The math says ride around 220 norm in the race. have I proved it?  yes. As much as i would have liked? no.  Running a 3:30 in kona should be doable. sands gnarly jet lag or what ever I had last yr. maybe faster if the Island gods allow it.
  I feel f*** great right now. I feel very ready and extremely motivated. top 40 AG or better is very attainable.
     Race Plan.   Swim like I own the water, because I do. not that I am the fastest swimmer (far from it)  but... I've been drowned proofed for those who know what that is. i'm at home there.
Bike:  long distance is all about the run right? the bike directly affects your ruining. and regardless of yorr ability or goals we all have to ride 112 miles. so it is really all bout the bike. 
 Go easy on big d*** ally. Other wise known as the first hour of the bike in kona where everyone needs to show how great they are. When Steve Johnson catches me I will try and hang with him, getting that legal draft that is SOOOO key in the last 40 miles. But he may ride to strong for me. when in doubt, ride your pace!  The Run for me all about the energy lab. why? its a nasty little hill and its at mile "You're F'd".   running the whole way out of the energy lab and resuming my avg. pace or  better for the last 6-7 miles is my focus. I will pass someone in the last 6 miles of the race.
Then I will look out to the Pacific as I cross the line and look for my Grand Father, he's over there somewhere.

see you in the energy lab

Monday, August 20, 2012

Training Peaks Webinar

Ironman Race Execution.
you tube link:

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

X-Terra race report

One of our local CO athletes sent me a quick race report on an X-Terra race he did last weekend. while he in not an X-Terra athlete he still did quite well. i thought this was well worth the post.

"The race was held at Eldora, at ~9200'.  Water temperature was 61 or 62 F, wetsuits were required, not optional. I wore a neoprene swim cap i bought in case the water was cold at st George. It felt fine and didn't bother me at all. I guess the work in the pool is paying off. I averaged 1:38 per 100 yd, which is the fastest swim pace I've done (and at 9200' elevation!). I'd say this swim leg was the highlight of the day. 

The bike was fine. I put too much air in my tires, thinking the race would be on nordic trails and fire roads as per the race description. It was, but there were also some loose, rocky and steep sections, just like any front range ride. Maybe I went a little faster on the flats on wide fire roads, but felt less stable on the loose downhills and rocky uphill sections, lesson learned. I couldn't imagine how tought it would be to stay in control on some of those trails while on skinny nordic skis. A few guys bombed by me on the downhills, but really didn't gain much time. I think i passed them all on the run in the first mile or so. Mountain bike riding is very anaerobic. Avg HR on the bike ride 160.

The run was just confusing.  Very winding, tight and rocky, with some very steep hills. Not very many chances to actually get in a good rhythm. 

All in all, it was a good time, a good change of pace from the normal routine. I might be tempted to do more of these races in the future. . . race wheels for the mtb...or maybe a carbon hardtail to drop weight."   

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Race Execution!

Live webinar hosted by Training Peaks!

First let the fish run, before you can real it in for the catch. 

  On race day all the training is done. In the bank.  In long distances races being tough is important, but relying on being a "tough guy" never seems to workout well.
Race day is 100% about race execution. Self tactics. how does one use their strengths to guard there weaknesses and give themselves as much opportunity as possible to meet their goals?

    Sign Up HERE

Saturday, June 30, 2012

30 days to Better Cycling and ride Challenge!

June 30th workout, podcast, .

Day 1 workout above.

Lactate Threshold, Zone 4The anchor point for our training...
First off gang to really get the full spectrum of each topic read the posts AND listen to the audio. There are not the same. A good Threshold work out is in the Audio.

Threshold: your lactate threshold is talked about in many different terms so lets get it straight. Its “Lactate Threshold”. or just threshold. Not anaerobic threshold, aerobic threshold, etc…
Your threshold is defined as the point at which your body can not fitter and process the lactic acid and lactate you are producing and it builds up. When this happens your rate of work can’t be sustained very long. While many people can produce there power at threshold for up to an hour but go 5% harder and your down to holding that power for 30’ -20’ or less! A big drop off!

You tube Chanel podcast on lactate threshold

How we test for our Threshold: 
~The lab. Best way, can be expensive, using a power meter and heart rate during the test is the ONLY way to go!
~Field Test: very good and the most practical. We don’t race in a lab. For this a test of 40 minutes or more should be used. Use a course that you don’t have to stop on and allows you to produce a steady power out put. To find threshold HR take your avg. HR after the first10 minutes or so, when it final settles in.

“Why 40’ I heard it was what you can do for an hour”. “I heard it was what you can do for 30”.
Again your threshold is defined by blood levels of lactic acid. I know many athletes who either can not do this out for a full hour or can but only when the planets align. This is where we come to FTP. “Functional Threshold Power”. To use your Threshold in training it needs to “functional” repeatable, useable. It takes a very sound rider to do a full hour right at threshold. You will see some riders who have no problem with this while other will struggle a bit. We’re all different. In our experience here the newer the athlete, the less time they can hold lab defined threshold for. However, the 1 hour TT is the standard and everyone should be striving for this.

With all tests, races and training there is no one piece of data that defines your abilities. Do several tests, take many data points and match that up to a lab test. As said earlier the more data points you have to define your threshold the better. just because you rode up Appellation Gap in 1 hour, one time, way back when, probably with a tail wind, doesn’t mean that is your threshold. its got to be repeatable!

Your Zones:
This is the starting point for all your zones. If your using the old 220 minus your age for HR its most likely wrong. If your gym has one of these charts up, tell them to get with the post 1990’s!
An excellent description of how your zones should be set up is here

As you can see each zone has a range. So don’t stress out about finding your HR or wattage at threshold the .001%. you want to be as accurate as possible, yes, but don’t loose sleep. With the ranges in each zone, the variability in athletes in every zone and the fact that you will be defining these zones with more than one data point, you will have lots of good reference points and well set up zones for very effective training.
Bottom Line:
~Test every month or so.
~Use more than one data point/test to determine your Threshold
~Use differnt types of tests ie. best 1 hr. normalized power from a race, 1 hr TT, 30' TT less 3-5%)
~Get a threshold from climbing and TT
~realize we are all a bit different. what your pals do is good knoldge but find out what YOU can do and can't do.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The perfect warm up

Earlier this spring myself and some of our athletes did the Haystack time trail in Boulder, CO. our warm was perfect. And it got me thinking. What is the perfect warm up?
After an early morning of helping out with the race I got in 30 minutes or so over very easy riding. At which point of began doing 1 minute and 90 seconds  int. at a building intensity up to my goal race wattage. These did not feel good.  Because I felt less than ideal I did not force the issue. I stayed calm and kept my watts low and rest time between these efforts long. About  10  minutes before my start time it was time for my body to wake up! I did my last warm up set which is 1 minute in zone 3 (tempo) 30 seconds in Z5 (vo2 watts) repeated for 5 minutes or longer.  I really like this easy over under interval as it really ramps up all the bodies’ processes without building up to much lactate.  After the first  minute or so the engines light up! I felt great, had a few minutes to relax before the start and had a great race.
So, there you have it the perfect warm up… right? WORNG!
Ever race is different. Are you warming for a 100 mile road racer or a 5 minute time trial?  A triathlon that will take 2:30? On top of this every race day will be different. Cold, hot, windy, you might wake up feeling great and ready to go right away or you might be tired and have some tight muscles.
The key to finding the best warm up is listening to your body and being aware of your environment.
This will give you the information you need to alter your warm up to best suit you and your task at hand.
    An athlete of mine was getting ready for a uphill TT one day that takes less that 20 minutes. A very violent effort! He was tired after working all night and had tight legs from spending lots of time in a car. We decided for a 90 minute warm up. VERY easy with some fluids and his favorite energy drink  45 minutes prior to the start. 15 minutes before the start he did 4-5, 1 minute efforts at his goal race wattage with the last 30 sec. of the last interval at max.
He felt great, set a PR 20 minute power output and place top 10 in the Pro 1-2 field.  I once warmed up on my trainer before a 145 mile road race. Why? It was 50 degrees, raining and the day before I had very bad, tight legs.  I simply HAD to warm up. I had a great race that day making the final selection and placing in the top 30 of a race that saw over half the 140 person field eliminated. 
   Waiting in the cold water at a triathlon start is the worst warm up one can have. I have developed a very efficient way of treading water that mimics a free style stroke (somewhat) keeps the muscles warm and readies them for a mass start swim.  
Every day will be different, every race different.  Be as aware of yourself and your environment as possible.
a few key points for warm ups:

·         Come up with a warm up out line that you can alter depending on race length, and how you feel
·         The shorter your race, the longer and more intense your warm must be.
·         Always build your effort slowly! Take your time warming up. This is hard being wound up and ready to race! Relax, control your thoughts and your body. You’ll race better under control.
·         Make a time sch. for yourself! Make sure you have plenty of time! 
·         Always build up to your race effort and pace/ watts, etc. and do a few short efforts above (harder) this pace.  When you are ready! Not before.
·         Long rests. Give yourself long rest intervals between your warm up efforts.  Remember you are just getting the muscles ready to go. You are NOT training, yet.
·         Warm up your mind. This is very different for folks. I like to be around people, talk a lot joke around. Some might want their head phones and to be alone. Whatever it is give yourself this opportunity.

 Making a time table for your race morning is probably the most important and the one that athletes are the most likely to not do.  It is very easy to get behind.  I have done this many times. Too much time leads to being lazy and things get missed.
     At the Tour of the Gila one year getting ready for the stage 3 TT I slept in and had a nice, slow breakfast.  Start time was at 2:34pm. Plenty of time.  My body was enjoying the recovery time.  The time passed and I got ready. Drove to the start area get ready to warm up. Opps for get the skin suit. Turn around killing 10 more minutes. Warmed up on the road for a bit,  ohh gotta right sign in.  Then I had to get a disc wheel to borrow, change the cassette, find a tool to borrow, back to the warm up, then to the trainer,  the next thing I knew it was time and I was in the start gate. Notice anything I forgot? TO EAT LUNCH!!!   The least busy day of the 5 day stage race and I was behind on calories. This is the day to fuel up!  Not only put in a solid TT performance but gas up for stages 4 and 5. I bonked 10’ into the TT (yes I had never heard of that either) and all hopes of retaining a top ten over all were gone.   A horrible amateur error simply because I did not plan out my morning.
Warming up has a lot more to do with how hard you go, for how long blah blah blah.  You must PLAN. Know what works for you. Some people always warm up on the trainer, some like the open road better.  Know your environment.  Where is the start?  Warming up on your bike at a big triathlon will NOT happen. it is in transition the day before and you will Not get it out so you need an alternate warm up.  will some stretching and wind mills do the trick or do you need 90 minutes of active warm up time?   You might need to warm up more for an early morning race as opposed to an afternoon start?  At the local triathlons a friend and I ride to the race venue. Yet we also meet 30 minutes prior to leaving and do  20 minutes  around the block to warm up even more.   
Know thy self, know your environment.  adapt to the situation and relax.