If you are focusing on getting faster on the bike and aiming towards a specific distance (for instance 56 miles) it's important to know at what point you will start to get tired and fatigue so you can modify your training to change that. How do you do that? Let's assume you want to do a 2:20 - 2:30 half ironman bike split. That's pretty fast! So you need to be able to push it for about 2.5 hours at race pace. The best way to do this is practice it in training. Doing 2 x 50 minutes race pace intervals with 10 minutes recovery will get you used to this pace. If you can't knock out 2 x 50 minutes without getting tired try 1 x 50 minutes... or 2 x 30 minutes (with 30 minutes recovery). The goal is working up to where you can do the race distance (time) at race pace without "BREAKING". Another good goal is to shoot for long rides that are at least 30 minutes to 1 hour longer than your goal distance.
Hill Climbing Technique
Just as importantly, once you made it over the hill, recovering quickly and getting back after it. I saw a lot of smooth, steady cadences, not really stressed much at all, very efficient. When you are seated, you will find it easier to climb if you slide back a bit on your seat and put your hands on your bullhorns (on your tri bike) or on the tops of your bars (on your road bike). Sitting up wil aloow more air to get into your lungs, and pushing back on your seat will give you more leverage. We also worked on pushing down from 11 o'clock to 4 o'clock (the downward part of the stroke seems to be the easiest), and then really pulling back with the heel from 4 o'clock to 8 o'clock. Keep these thoughts in mind as you do hills on your daily rides.
Increase Your Long Ride
The most important aspect of your century training is going to be your weekly long ride. The weekly long ride should be done at a conversational pace (you are not huffing and puffing and can talk to your friends or yourself if you are alone) and starting at a distance that’s 10 miles more than your longest ride within the last 4 weeks. So if your longest ride was 20 miles three weeks ago you would want to try riding 30 miles in the upcoming weekend. You can then increase this long ride by about 10 miles per week until you get up to about 80 or 90 miles. Basic math tells me that it would take about 5-6 weeks if you started at 30 miles to get to 80 or 90 miles on your long ride.
Over Gearing vs Under Gearing
One drill that I have my clients practice on occasion is doing intervals using either "overgearing" or "undergearing". Overgearing is using harder gears than you would normally ride (53 x 13/15) and spinning at about 80 rpms. This will help you develop more leg strength and help increase your overall speed. On the contrary I also recommend that you try to ride at a high cadence or "undergearing" at 95-105 rpms in an easy gear (42 x 21/23) so that you can work on getting used to spinning at a higher cadence.
I recommend that you constantly monitor your speed, heart rate and cadence so that you can determine when you need to shift to a different gear. If your heart rate is increasing, speed decreasing and cadence decreasing you will need to switch to an easier gear. That should increase your cadence, decrease your heart rate and increase your speed. If you are not monitoring your speed constantly or using a heart rate monitor you are not using or getting all of the information that you need to make the proper gear and cadence changes. If you are riding in the right gears for the terrain and wind conditions the proper cadence should follow.
When going uphill or into a head wind you can shift to an easier gear and spin a little faster (95-100) so that your legs don't tire out by pushing too big of a gear up the hills or fighting the wind. This should decrease your heart rate and help to keep your legs fresh. I can recall several races where the conditions were very windy and after I shifted to my small chain ring I was able to pass other competitors who were fighting the wind using their big chain ring and trying to force their way through the wind. You can't beat mother nature so just deal with the conditions she gives you and choose the right gearing and cadence.
What to Wear?
Biking: 65+ shorts all around, maybe sleeveless jersey. 55-65: (assuming it's not morning and the temps will stay below 65) tights, cycling jersey, arm warmers, light gloves (may ditch gloves & warmers during ride) 45-55: tights, cycling jersey, polypro t-shirt arm warmers, light wind jacket or cycling vest, light gloves, Gore-Tex socks, toe covers. 35-45: tights (maybe two), polypro t-shirt, cycling jersey arm warmers, Gore-Tex cycling jacket, hat, windproof gloves with liners or lobster mitts, booties. 35-25: wind-proof, fleece-lined tights, polypro tshirt, polypro top, Gore-Tex cycling jacket, balaclava, lobster mitts, booties, warm socks Below 25: hit the trainer :)
As a professional coach I have observed that the one thing that successful athletes have in common in thier training regime is consistency. Consistency is the main ingredient required to increase your fitness level and knowing that you have to get up in the morning to meet a group for training creates the accountability needed to establish a consistent training program. Having a group that is formallized and has a coach ensures that someone shows up each day/week and that you have a structured plan that contributes to your fitness goals.
accountability part 2
yes, the benefits of a positive peer group are huge, and are part of an athlete's success. but additionally, regardless of whether they have a coach or not, it is incumbent on them not to lose the ability to think, to be accountable--to themselves. it is far too easy to DO all of your bff's workouts, in the process trashing yourself and failing to ABSORB any of the work because you have failed to adequately recover. just like crash diets, crash training will work in the short-term, but leaves you in poor position with respect to your long-term development. so be true to yourself first and foremost--pick your spots, and be great.
Having someone there for all of your tough workouts to encourage and challenge you is a great way to make break throughs in your training. If you train with a large enough group there should be various levels of ability so that you can progress and don't have to train with the same people all of the time. While it is fun to train with the same friends all of the time it tends to make you the same speed as your friends and slows your progress. In order to get faster and stronger you have to stress your body and give it new stimuli which means pushing the pace and stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Heat and Heart Rate Training
While it's important to focus on heart rate zones and making sure that you are in the correct zones it's also important to realize that when it's 95 degrees and you are in the midst of a mid day run that your heart rate will be 5 - 10 beats higher due the heat / humidity. The key is to then focus on perceived exertion. If the workout is supposed to be nice and easy and a light pace you would want to mentally remember that and keep the pace down even though your HR is elevated out of your goal zone for the day.
moving thru your training phases
each of your training blocks should have specific targets of achievement. you go in at one level of fitness and you come out at another. perhaps you have built strength, or stamina, or increased your speed at anaerobic threshold. knowing what you are trying to achieve during each training block (and if you did) is especially important when your training blocks change their focus and intensity, such as when you go from base building to a more competition-focused block. since training is cumulative, this is a good time to factually assess your current training level and make sure you are on track toward your race goals. any changes to your next few training blocks need to be made NOW. and don't forget your recovery weeks, the time your training gains are captured and your body rejuvenates and becomes eager for the next round or stress.
Dr. Jim Taylor in a recent Triathete Magazine article states that: Whether you belong to a triathlon club, a formal training group, or you just train with friends, the social aspects of triathlon is one of its joys. It is also an important contributor to building self-esteem. Training with triathletes who are positive and motivated is contagious.
Race Schedules and Ironman Training
After doing two Ironman per year for the last 3 years I was not been able to race very often due to all of the training required to do well at the Ironman distance. I firmly believe that if you are showing up at a race you are racing and need to be at your best. So plan out races that support your goal of doing an Ironman and have some great practice races on the way to your main goal - the Ironman.
summer hydration (part one)
You need to help your body deal with the Texas heat. You have heard that it is recommended you drink 64 ounces of water a day to keep yourself hydrated and your blood volume steady. Remember, this is for sedentary people, so they are not pushing themselves athletically creating additional requirements. Since you are attempting to train in these conditions, you should remember several things. First, you need to significantly increase your water consumption throughout the day. A small tilt towards dehydration leads to a huge loss in performance and can lead to medical issues. When you sweat, your body has to pump blood to the skin to cool itself. This is in addition to having to pump blood to the working muscles during exercise. This is creating double stess, so the least you can do is stay hydrated and help your heart out. (cont'd)
summer hydration (part two)
Second, when you sweat you are excreting more than water, so you need to take an electrolyte sport drink to rehydrate and replace the lost minerals both during and after exercise. Rehydrating with only water will create an electrolyte imbalance in your system, and this can/will lead to medical issues. Finally, when it is extremely hot, your very hard efforts will tend to fall off after 20-30 minutes, so keep your maximum efforts short. There is no reason to sacrifice quality, just be sure to pay attention to your performance levels and do not overextend yourself.
there is a natural transition between training periods that, when taken advantage of, is like a super recovery period that your body will use to capture the physiological adaptations you have made through your training. rushing through this period will leave you tired, overtrained, and not ready for the next training phase. this is a great time to expend some mental energy and review your development. did you attain the goals you had set for the previous training block? are you in position to make continual progress toward your future goals? you may need to spend some more time in the previous phase or make other changes depending on how your training has been progressing. training is about adapting, and you must be able to make mid-course corrections to get the most out of your training.
Team Workouts - Are you going to be there?
Team Guidelines for workouts being canceled: Open Water Swimming: Any sign of lightening/thunder in the area Cycling: Any sign of lightening/thunder in the area Cycling: Temp below 40F Cycling: Raining at start time Running: Any sign of lightening/thunder in the area Running: Temp below 32F Running: Moderate to heavy rain (may run in light rain)
the commitment spectrum
there are three phases of activity/commitment, and where you currently reside is often based on factors external to triathlon (family, work, other priorities). healthy activity is an hour a day, a very healthy level, one tht can be sustained long-term, and one that will help you stay healthy and balanced. the hext phase includes some more structure, more hours, and achievable athletic excellence while still having a balanced life outside triathlon. you can continue to improve at this level, which may not be the case in phase three, since there is a point at which additional training load will lead to a decrease in performance. be very careful in this phase, and do not hang out here long-term.
Train Don't Race
When training for an Ironman it is important to get in long training sessions swimming, cycling and running each week and building up your mileage gradually as the Ironman gets closer. I have met several triathletes throughout my coaching career that have so many races scheduled while training for an Ironman that they have not left any room to build up their long mileage. When asked about this I sometimes get the response that they are going to add a long run/ride after the race or a long ride/run the day before.
Training Before/After Races
Training hard before races and/or piling some training on after the race to get your long run or long bike ride in for that weekend does not make sense to me. If you are paying the entry fee to race and wanting to do well you should push yourself hard enough that doing a workout on top of the race would not be possible and greatly increase your chances of injury. Scheduling hard training sessions the day before the race can almost assure a sub par performance and greatly increase your chance of injury.
Without good training partners to encourage you when the workouts get tough or when you don't feel like training you can't perform to your fullest unless you can motivate yourself all of the time. It's really helpfull when you have someone cheering you on and encouraging you during your last lap around the track when you are tired and want to quit. This positive environment also contributes to the bonds that form between athletes and competitors.
You should already know to eat breakfast the morning before your long training sessions and a good guideline is .5 - .8 gram of carbs per lb of body weight. So for me who weighs about 160 (give or take) it's about 80 - 128 grams of carbs. That's 320 - 512 calories which for me is equivalent to a Harvest or Power Bar (240 - 270k cal) and a Gatorade (32 Oz = 200 k cal) for about 440 - 470 calories. As the race distance get longer I would move from .5 - .8. So for Sprint go with .5 since you don't need too many calories for the race... and for Half - IM go for the .8.
eat to train
since you go thru different training phases during the year, it follows that your nutritional needs change as well. during periods of high volume or intensity, your carb/protein intake should be higher than during periods of lower activity. during transition periods, get off the sports nutrition products and get some real food into your body (fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains). think weight prevention (proactive) instead of weight loss (reactive, and the wrong cycle to consider this).
The reason for alternating between water and sports drink is so that you maintain your electrolyte balance. If you only drink water you could possibly “water down” your electrolyte balance and start to suffer from a lack of vital minerals such as potassium, sodium and magnesium. Having a sport drink that includes the basic minerals mentioned above you can help to maintain that balance. If you have a high sweat rate, you can also experiment with supplements such as electrolyte or salt tablets and eat foods that are high in sodium and other minerals. I sometimes will eat Beef Jerky or drink a V8 at gas stations to increase my sodium levels. Before experimenting with changing your sodium levels you want to check with your Dr. due to the link between sodium and hypertension.
How much can your body process?
As very general guidelines in endurance sports use the following for putting together your nutrition plan for events in duration longer than 2hrs. Generally speaking your body can process 30-83 carbohydrates/hr. Generally speaking your body can process 120-330 calories/hr. Generally speaking your body can process .8-1.3 liters/hr. (~40oz) So no matter how much you put in your body keep these numbers in mind when putting your long course nutrition plan together.
Not Just Water!!
So my tip is to focus on consuming additional water & sports drink the next few days leading up to your race... This would mean that you want to drink at least the normal 10 glasses of water or so but also ADD AT LEAST 1 gatorade or sports drink (at least 16 oz drink) PER DAY leading up to the race. What you DON"T WANT TO DO... is just drink water. What happens when you only drink water and taking in to much is that you dilute your system and your electrolyte balance gets way off.... so keep those sports drinks coming in.. Also, this is true for the race as well... make sure you drink at least one water AND one gatorade on the bike and at water stops try to alternate (or take both) water / gatorade. This way you are not going to upset that important electrolyte balance.
Nutrition for Training
This is where the complications comes in... for most people they are going to need to consume between 2 - 400 calories per hour on the bike and about 150 - 300 calories on the run. So that's about 2 bars, or 4 gels, or 2 gatorades or better yet - 1 gel, half bar, 1 gatorade. Water should be at least 1 bottle per hour... so yes.. you are eating and drinking alot. While riding remember this saying "The bike makes my run and my nutrition makes the race".
Time Not Distance To Schedule Nutrition Intake
Definitely don't do your schedule by the mile.... what if for 10 miles you average 20mph on the bike and the next 10 miles you average 10 mph? If you were taking a gel every 10 miles would that change the timing of your gels?? This could be an SAT question... but the answer is to go by time.. that's unaffected by wind, heat or anything else.
Choosing Your First Ironman
If you are going to do your first Ironman race I highly recommend that you stick with a domestic Ironman such as AZ, CDA, Lake Placid, Florida or even Canada. Traveling for your first Ironman to a foreign country illicits additional complications including international travel (which is a challenge with out racing), language, KM vs Miles and possibly different rules (riding on the left instead of the right). So if it's your first Ironman... stay close to home.. or at least North America.
If you live in a cold climate and winter training is not feasible you should probably not even think of considering a race early in the year unless you like to train indoors a lot and like the cold. If you live in some place warm like Texas or Florida you can train throughout the winter and be ready for a race in March.
Late Season Ironman Races
If you are wanting to have the most time to train and to gradually build up your training throughout the year choosing a late season Ironman race might be the best choice for you. However, with such a late season race you have to consider that there is a high "burn out" rate. "Burn out" can occur when you have been training for a Ironman race late in the year and build up too quickly and lose your motivation or become over trained. To prevent burnout I recommend setting some intermediary goals such as competing in a Half Ironman or possibly taking a planned mid season break to recharge yourself for the remainder of the season. If you do the early season races in March and then keep going until your Ironman in November (Ironman Florida) you are putting in a longer season that most major league sports play and are just asking for problems.
Fartlek (Speed Play) – these are fast runs that can be broken up into several different variations. The emphasis is running portions of the run at a faster pace then you normally run. This can include something as simple as running fast from one street corner to the next and then recovering for a block and then repeating or running fast for 3 minutes and then going easier for 2 minutes. Fartlek translated from its Sweedish origin literally means, “speed play”. If you have a group of similar abilities you can do a “surge fartlek” where you establish a set order where each person takes a turn surging (running faster for a period of time 10 seconds – several minutes) and stops surging whenever they feel like it. For example, runner #1 would run fast for 30 seconds while the group tries to keep up and then when they slow down runner #2 can start whenever he/she wants to go fast and slows down whenever they are ready to. It’s a really fun workout.
Inject Some Speed In Your Long Runs
After you have established a base of long runs it's good to alternate LONG RUN with a MARATHON PACE / FAST FINISH RUN. So if you have already run 13 miles once and your longest run is now 20 miles... the next time you back down the mileage to 13 miles don't run it easy... Either do something like: A) run 7 miles easy / 6 miles at Marathon Pace (Fast Finish & Marathon Pace) B) run 4 miles easy / 3 miles at Marathon Pace / 3 miles easy / 3 miles at Marathon Pace C) if running by time... run 10 minutes easy then alternate 10 minutes at Marathon Pace / 10 minutes easy for remainder of run
Key Speed Workouts: Intervals – most commonly done on the track and can consist of various combination or repetitions of fixed intervals. For example you can run mile repeats (one mile fast followed by a recovery interval and then another mile fast followed by a recovery interval), 400 (one lap) repeats or a mixture of intervals (1 x 400, 1 x 800, 1 x 1600, 1 x 800, 1 x 400). The speeds of the intervals can vary as much as the interval distances and combinations. For instance, you can run all out 400’s to work on pure speed or you can run mile repeats at 5K pace to work on even pacing.
There are several different ways to approach track workouts so it is best to go to a coached group workout so you can get some pointers and a structured workout. At the Fit2Train.com workouts, I know what almost everyone is training for and plan the workouts accordingly. That way we are not doing a really long and hard workout a few days before your important race. There are usually two workouts as well – one for those doing Sprint and Olympic distance and the other for those doing long course races (Half and Ironman).
Long Runs vs Long Rides
Unlike cycling where it's necessary to ride 100 miles a few times before your Ironman race, its not a prerequisite that you do a full marathon before competing in an Ironman race. Cycling 100 miles is something that you can do more often due to the lower amount of stress that it places on your skeletal structure. That's how riders in the Tour de France can ride upwards of 100 miles per day for a month... they dont' get beat up by the pounding of the road like you would in a marathon. Can you imagine if someone ran a marathon almost every day for a month?? That would take a severe toll on the body.
A key marathon training tip to always keep in mind. Many runners train for a marathon and often do it to hard and too fast. Review the following for breaking down the marathon and long training runs. Miles 5-7: pace 10-15 seconds over goal pace Miles 7-13: work towards being 5-10 seconds over goal pace Miles 13-20: work towards dipping 5-10 seconds under goal pace Miles 20-26.2: empty the tank working harder each mile at 10-15 under For your long runs simply scale it back for each run practicing proper pacing. This will help suppress the urge to go out too fast and die. This will further enable you to push through the wall that many marathoners hit. With proper pacing during training, this will feel like you are on auto-pilot. Best of all you will finish strong!!
What to Wear?
Running: Above 55: shorts, tshirt 45-55: tights, tshirt, maybe a light skullcap hat, light gloves 35-45: tights, polypro long sleeve shirt, cycling vest, hat/ear muff, light gloves 25-35: 2 tights, polypro tshirt, arm warmers, Gore-Tex cycling jacket (with pit zips), hat/ear muff, wind-proof gloves, maybe glove liners ??-25: wind-proof, fleece-lined tights, long-sleeve polypro shirt and tshirt, Gore-Tex cycling jacket, lobster mitts, balaclava (oh, this is key), maybe another hat, maybe Gore-Tex socks.
If you are training for a marathon would you only run 1 mile repeats at the track to prepare you for running 26.2 miles?? Then why do you do that in your Masters swim workouts??? If you are training for a 1500 meter swim or a 2.4 mile Ironman swim, doing sets of 10 x 100 only get you so far. 100's, 200's and even 300 and 400's are very short interval for someone who needs to swim for 2.4 miles without stopping. My recommendation to all of the athletes that I coach for Triathlons is to work up to the distance/time they expect to swim at their race before the race. This way you already know you can do the distance, have practiced it several times and are comfortable swimming for that long without taking a break.
The Open Water Swim can sometimes be the most intimidating part of a Triathlon for non-swimmers and inexperienced triathletes. That's why it is a good idea to get into the open water a few times before your race. Just getting into the open water and flopping around for a few minutes is better than not getting in before your race. I always try to hit the open water more frequently in the weeks leading up to my races so that I feel "comfortable" in the water. The comfort level that each person feels right with will vary.
Swim Tip - Head Position
From the rookie swim clinic we worked on body position. We demonstrated how head position and improve body position in the water. The desired state is to be streamline and on top of the water. Lifting the head up in the front causes the body to tip leaving the feet dragging beneath the water. Tucking the chin down with a good roll improves the body position greatly and keeps the feet on the surface. So keep your head tucked or looking down while swimming for an improved body position.