Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Your Next Big Training Block

Where are you with your training?
For many of you doing a big race this yr. you are getting into some serious training. This can mean simply being structured and more disciplined or, as a pro friend of mine is, hammering 20+ hr’s a week! As you come into a critical phase or block of training there is a lot going through your head. You have probably done a few TRAINING RACES and there for have some results, good or bad, to learn from, make adjustments, etc.
During this time its easy to get distracted and stray from your original game plan. It’s during this time that I see many athletes try to do too much. Its seems wired that someone could not reach their goal by trying to overly prepare… but it happens all the time. Now is the time we are looking for lots of bang for or buck. Ie. We are looking for the most adaptation possible in a given amount time. While one should always be managing their training in this way now we are fit and efficient at are sports. Yesterday was the longest daylight day of the year, race day is drawing close and we are looking to really push the training envelope!

As I rode home form the 5430 sprint tri in boulder Sunday I had several thoughts on how to manage this phase.
· Get back to basics: you should have a list of goals and training objectives that you made at the onset of training. Go back look at them.
~Do some need to be revised? You may have learned that you thought a 1:20/100yd. swimming threshold pace would net you a 1 hr. IM swim (1:25/100yd pace). But are now thinking that its more like 1:17-1:18 threshold pace?

· How many training objectives have you meet?

· How many have you not meet? Do you need to change things up, or do you need to keep plugging away? You may just need more time in a particular area.

· The more you train the more recovery you need. Plan extra time for rest and active recovery.

Realize that while it is important you make progress it will take time. I have an athlete who is not making the progress we hoped for on the bike. While he feels better his threshold watts are somewhat stagnate. However, each race he does he performs better and better in the bike leg. places higher and higher in his age group over all. Some things just can’t be explained. While we are still working as his riding it’s no time to be disappointed or panic!

OK Eric so I am going to train real big this month. What should I do?
· Block Training:
In the triathlon world it is very easy to get caught up in the “routine”. When people ask me “what’s a normal build week look like for you?” I say, “There is no such thing.” It’s so easy to get into that Monday is off. I swim tue. and thur., do the team run wed. long bike sat. long run Sunday, blah blah blah… if you want to improve in something you have to work at it, A LOT!!
We all know that you don’t get faster from one workout yet we get so crazy about doing just this one workout today! “I can’t miss the team run, or I will lose my running legs.”
You really think so? If so, you’re wrong. If you want to maximize your time and get good riding your gona have to cut back the swimming and running. Or quit your job.
I am always doing focus or block training. 1-2 weeks of focusing on one sport or one aspect of that sport. Here are some ideas for a focus week of training and an example of an athlete’s run focus week.

· Think big picture, plan ahead. You want to get as much training in as you can. You will do this by being consistent. Frequency is KEY! While you will want to do some big training days don’t kill yourself! Push your limits, don’t reach miles beyond them.

· Dial back other sports. If you’re doing a focus week on the bike you can still run and swim but dial it WAY back! You’re not going to forget how to run if you stop for 2 weeks. Do just 1-2 runs a week. Make them Z1-2, brick runs, easy. All you’re looking for is the bare minimum here or less. Same with swimming. Dial your other sports back at least 50-75%. and drop any intensity. Use all your physical and mental energy for you focus sport!

A previous run focus week for an athlete of ours looked like this:
Mon: recovery day easy 1 hr. ride.
Tue: masters swim, longer and easier 4k total
Run long, 90 min. 6x 20 sec. pick ups at end of run
Wed: Easy ride, 2hr. (it was nice outside)
Thur: 3 hr. ride at IM race pace,
Run brick, 45’ Zone 3 pace
Fri: Masters swim, longer and easier again.
Run, 45’ tempo run, Zone 3 pace
Sat: Run: long with tempo 30’ Z2, 30’ Z3, 30’ Z2.
Sun: OFF

Interesting to note that while this was the most running this athlete has done in one week, because it was managed well and totally focused on running the last run on Sat. was the best run he has had yet this year. He averaged a low zone 3 pace and having the lowest RPE ever this year for a run!! The following week at a training race, he PR’d, running faster than he has ever in a sprint tri. And yes his swim and bike were fantastic as well!

A bike focus week (for myself coming up soon) will be even more extreme. I will have only 1 swim, 2 short Zone 2-Zone 3 runs. Rides will be every day (sans rest day) hard group ride Tue. Long mountain ride wed. flat IM pace ride thur. recovery Friday and a 2 day stage race (3 stages) on the weekend.

So get back to basics, get the big picture back in focus. While you want your training to be dynamic and flexible don’t “hop scotch”. If you were confident in the grand plan when you made it and progress is being made stick with it! Getting fast doesn’t happen overnight.

As always every one, train hard, train safe and have fun!
See you on the road!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

new triathlon swim start protocol

     Letter to all race directors and Ironman:

I am writing in regards to the new swim start protocols that are being implemented at some Ironman races and short course triathlons.
I understand and respect the actions and thought that goes into putting on a safe and competitive event. However, this new timed swim start is an atrocity to the sport of triathlon.  As a young and fast growing sport changes are going to be needed but we tread lightly.
first off we must realize that is problem of swim starts is a good one to have. 1020 years ago we had 100-200 people show up to race we have an issues that we now face with 1800-3000 athletes racing!  The sport is growing fast and thats a good thing. So take yourself back a notch (my self a few notches) and relax, things change and understand that people are only trying to make them better.

   Every sport has its challenges and dangers, simply eliminated them one at a time is not the answer.  With this new start protocol athletes are no longer “racing” rather simply completing the course and seeing who has the best time. Imagine the winner of Ironman lake Placid, the oldest and most prestigious IM in North America crossing the finish line lifting the finish line tape high in the air to the cheers of the crowd old to find out the next morning that he did not win.  You have stolen that feeling and the moment from that winner forever.  Imagine this happening in every age group at the boulder sprint or boulder peak triathlon.
Two.  while Age Group starts are not the best they at least put all the same “category” together. You cross the line ahead of that person you beat them, plain and simple. This simplistic nature of “racing” is the defining difference between field sports and racing sports.  In cycling there are different categories based on ability and how well one has done and you race those people. The other method of “self seeding” one’s self for the swim is horrible. The swim is one very small part of the race.  imagine going to your son or daughters track meet and the finals of the 100 meter sprint is “start whenever you want and we’ll time you” not sure there would be many happy parents.
  At IM lake placid in 2011 the water temp was too high for wet suits the decision was made to not allow wet suits for folks who wanted to compete for a podium, and spots to kona and allow wetsuits for those who just wanted to complete the race.  Even playing field.  This decision was bad however, some none wet suit athletes got pummeled by wet suit folks. Separate start times would have been good here.  For the short course races, especially the boulder peak and sprint why not conduct a whole different race?  They sell out. Pros and top AG On Saturday. Everyone else on Sunday?

Three.   Every athlete regardless of ability has the right to a safe race and a good finish time. Yes. They absolutely do. But at the cost of everyone else? When I was in grade school in one of my classes I remember talking about our rights as Americans.  Freedom of speech was discussed and, of course, “if I have the freedom of speech why can’t I swear in class?” it’s a good question. There are many areas like this in our world. How do we know what we can do and can't do? “Because your rights end where someone else’s begin”  I never forgot that.  How far will you go to accommodate people worries about the swim start?
If the swim start worries someone that much why not just wait 30 seconds to 1 minute for the ciaos to clear? Yes they would “lose time” but that shouldn't be there concern anyway?  If it is then time should be spent properly preparing for the race at hand. What happened to that? Proper preparation.  Running is the major cause of injury in triathletes. The training for hardest section of the race puts people on the disabled list all the time should we shorten all the runs? 
And what about ones “Time”.  what about that clock? For all those concerned about their time in the race how will the clock be calibrated for every athlete across the line for their classic triathlon finish line picture? I remember my first triathlon and my first ironman. I still have those pictures wouldn't trade them for the world…
Implementing a category system may be good. There is still very large gap between many top AG’s and Pros. Also there may be simply too many participants for this to be logical.
I feel simply adding a rule or separate timing mat (like at IM LP in 2011) those who want to compete for podium make it known. Steep up and all race together.  

And what about having AG waves at the bigger IM’s? this is a great way to minimize numbers at the swim start. Even doing every 10 years (or bigger) would help a lot and keep racing age groupers together.
Finally, there are few things that compare to the exhilaration of being in the water at the starting line counting down to the starting gun with Three Thousand (3000) other people. All starting at the same time.  All facing the 140.6 miles. Doesn’t matter if you are a pro, first timer or a veteran age grouper starting ironman number 15. We are all equal.  I want everyone to be able to have that feeling.

I beg those of you making these decisions to tread carefully. You are changing the course and history of the sport in extreme ways. If this kind of “leveling” continues what will an ironman race look like in 5 years?  20 years?