Hello TriStar Athletes!
The following tips are sure to help you along your iron journey,
whether its your first M-dot or just the most recent in your Iron
career. Some of the concepts are simple and are maxims on their own,
while other ideas are the start of more complex training patterns and
ideas. Some are familiar and other tips will be new to you. Try one or
adopt them all but make sure to make the best of each tip by applying
it to your own situation and experiece level. Keep Tri-ing! ~Coach
For Base Training.....
1. Train with a heavy bike, with the slowest wheels and as much water and gear as you can carry. It makes you stronger and adds a level of challenge to your workouts. When you lighten the load on race day you will fly.
2. Dont worry about speed and pace. Focus in on how many hours you are collecting at your Z1 and Z2 hear rate.
This allows you to go easy and really teach the body to get the
benefits of base training(burning fat as fuel), fitting more workouts in
and not getting hurt.
3.Lose the weight during the base phase and focus on your nutrition;
When you increase the miles at low intensity it is easier to shed extra
weight from resting periods. Why? You are burning fat as fuel =
9cal/gram vs. 4cal/gram for carbohydrate. Harder workouts use more
carbs/glycogen and must be replaced. This is difficult to do close to
your 'A' race as it is important to be fueling for each hard session.
4. Swim more... lots more.
Easier on the body the extra yards help build the aerobic engine with
less stress on the body. Even consider double swims. You will gain
confidence the more time you invest in the pool. Be not afraid!
5. Run on the soft stuff, ALL T's.
This could be said for all year round and all the time but the more you
run on TRACK, TRAIL, TURF, TOPSOIL, TREADMILL.... the more you save
your joints from injury and can recover faster to get to that next
6. Stick to your guns. Sure its fun to go
hammer with a bunch of friends on a ride during the base phase but you
want to peak for your 'A' race. If you want to improve you have to have
the confidence to ride like grandma when the faster cyclists tempt you
to come play. The same holds true for the run... Z3-4 with your good
run partner does not equal a "quality" base run for you but might be for
7. Eat big on the bike;
For rides that last three hours or more you better fuel up. Training
the body to absorb calories during a long ride takes practice. (pizza,
large subs...) A lunch stop will make you feel better and last longer
through the day. Skimping on the calories will leave your legs wobbly
and you want confidence after a long ride especially given that in the
not so distant future your going to need to run off that bike.
8. Plan a 2-3 day training adventure and challenge yourself.
Try something different and keep the training interesting, dont force
yourself in the base phase to do the same type of workouts each week
without switching it up once in awhile. Go for a long hilly ride,
travel to a local park to hike/run, open water swim at the ocean, train
with a team.
As you get closer to your 'A' race you will then get more specific with
your workouts and regimens. For now keep it open for exploration.
9. The wider your base training the taller your "peak".
As you build your foundation of training during the base phase realize
that time invested here will yeild a higher peak performance on race
10. Include a race in the base... The human body
is adaptive and if you give it only one stimulus it will take on that
stimulus. Its ok to keep the engine tuned by doing a 5k, 10k, or
cycling race in order to keep up your speed. Sure you wont be sharp or
fast as you were last year but it will keep your body ready for action
so that when you do give it harder workouts (ie track, hill
repeats, tempo swims) the body will respond more favorably.
1. One day hard and one day easy.
The closer you get to your ‘A’ race focus on getting in those key speed
sessions but really go easy on the recovery days. A good rule of thumb
is if you are showing up to your workouts not fresh and eager to train
you should bag that session until you are rested.
2. Take two days off.
Its hard to do but it will really give you the physical and mental
boost when timed right. Sometimes less is more and in this case two
days means a lot to a body that for most of us, is used to a constant
level of activity and amount of training fatigue.
3. Take a nap.
Especially after harder workouts. Also, eating a small meal before and
after your harder training sessions will help facilitate good
4. Eat Eat Eat! Fruits and vegetables that
is and lots of them. Reduce the tendency for starches and high calorie
foods. It helps to eat more frequent smaller meals.
5. Three week vs. two week taper.
While this is highly individualistic, generally Ironman folks with more
limited experience need to keep a higher volume of training in weeks 3
and 4 out from an ‘A’ race. Those with more experience may chose to
taper off that volume and trade it up for more intense workouts shorter
6. Training with what’s on the course.
The best way to not have a nutrition collapse on race day is to train
with the products that they serve on the race course. While it is
highly recommended that you experiment with your nutrition early in the
season; in weeks 5 out to 1 we suggest trying to mimic what you will be
eating on race day in all or most workouts.
7. Create a roadmap.
Take the time to sit down and plan out your race strategy starting with
breakfast to the finish line. Using a timeline mark down what you will
be doing at each hour of the race with regards to fueling, pacing,
hydration, and best case/worst case scenarios for swim, bike and run.
8. Swim more often in your final two weeks.
In order to increase your confidence in the water, spend as many
sessions as possible in the water even if they are as short as
15minutes. The increased tactile sensation of swimming with more
"touches” in the water will make your forearm paddles feel larger in
size as you move more water.
9. Don’t get sick! As triathletes our immune systems are already on the edge.
Avoid cute but germy kids, wash your hands and don’t burn the candle at
both ends. Try as much as possible to get work related projects done
early so you can focus the last week on resting.
10. Final Workouts, swim-bike-run; two weeks out.
In order to stimulate fast twitch muscles, very short hard intervals
are used to keep the intensity high and trade off some endurance for
speed. However, espcially in the last week and a half the rest between
these intervals needs to be focused on full recovery. (Heart rate drops
back down to Zone 2 or 1) Weeks 3-4 out from an 'A' race can have harder
efforts seeing less recovery. This gives the body the chance to recover
from harder efforts of the previous weeks while maintaining a high
level of speed for race day.
For you raceday performance
1. Wear a hat or visor.
During hotter races use a hat to keep your head cool by loading it with
ice from aid stations or wetting it to also stay cool. Lighter colors
do help as well and visors or hats will help keep the sun off your face.
2. Dont blow up!
Pace your race as two sections for the swim, bike and run. Meaning, be
conservative on the first half of each segment. On the second segment
of each, if you feel good go for it! If you are feeling not so hot,
pull back and conserve the energy. Most of us have a tendancy to go too
hard on the first part of each discipline (and since we are tapered and
rested) as a result we expend most of our energy for less return.
Making 5-10min on the bike by going hard vs losing 20min on the run is
the differernce between 1st and 20th place!
3.Dont chage your plan on raceday...
unless the plan calls for it. What? When considering your pacing /
heartrate and or power values; stay within your limits and plan. The
art of racing "smart" is knowing when and where to push it. Example;
you start your bike ride and push xxxWatts however your HR for that
wattage is 5-8 beats per minute higher on the day. For a long race you
would need to adjust that power down to bring the HR back within an
acceptable range. This is the art of racing smart. The same
principles might be rounded upwards if your watts were higher for a
lower heart rate.
4. Draft the swim; For more
experienced swimmers and even less, drafting = free speed. (Not a whole
lot of things come free or cheap in this sport!) Take advantage as
its long day out there and socking away some free energy is worth it.
5. Carry less on the bike.
Especially true on more hilly courses. Loading down your bike with
lots of water will make the bike ride more challenging for sure. Carry
one or two less bottles and rather grab from the aid stations your water
needs. (**This strategy works but assumes that you grab a bottle at
each station, if you drop/miss a bottle you have to go back and get it!)
6. Keep hydrating and fueling.
The moment you forget to fuel your body and give it the proper
nutrients during a long race, the quicker the time will come where you
will be soft pedaling or walking the run. It would be like driving a
long road trip in your car and only putting in a small amount of gas at
each gas station.... eventually you are going to run out of gas. (The
same holds true for salt intake, even if its not hot!)
7. Use whats on the course, and train with whats on the course.
Gatorade, powerbars and gels are provided at the aid stations for a
reason and that is because they work. While some may have special food
requirements during races, the more you can stick to using what is
provided, the better off you will be. This way if your super calore
water bottle ejects on your ride, the race is not over! It also means
you have to carry less stuff.
Towards your recovery...
1. Do what feels natural and when in doubt bag it.
Unless you are racing again very soon, recovery periods work best when
training is unstructured and fun. Try different sports and activities
during this time and…. Dare I say take some time off?!
2. Don’t stretch too much right after your race.
Since your muscles have been pushed to capacity and have many small and
possibly large micro tears, it is better to wait several days and the
later part of a week post race to begin some light stretching routines.
During active recovery session you can include light stretches.
3. Take a bath in Epsom Salts.
This is a really great way to sooth aching muscles after your race (2-3
days afterwards). Directions; use 2-3 cups of Epsom salts in a warm
bath and soak for 20-30min. The effect is like advil for the legs and
lessens the aches. Avoid taking a warm bath immediately following a
race as ice and cool water are better for hot/damaged muscles.
4. Continue to eat healthy;
Just because your race is over doesn’t mean that your body doesn’t
still need quality nutrients. In fact the repair process demands
complex amino acids / proteins and carbohydrates to rebuild and repair
damage. (This strategy however does not include post race celebrations
where "recovery” food involves cookies, beer and burgers!)
5. Swim Swim your legs to recovery.
The first week post Half Ironman and post Ironman should be spent
predominantly in the pool. Water acts as a massaging force on your
muscles and provides low impact activity. For those in desperate need
to run.. try aqua jogging for thirty minutes at a time. You will be
shocked what a great workout it can be.
6. Analyze your race and begin to plan your next move.
It’s rare that you have the perfect race, yet if every time you had a
perfect race you would never learn anything for the next Tri! Each race
has important facts about you as an athlete. Racing is hands on
classroom experience. If you don’t figure out what you did right vs
what you did wrong your improvements will be less. Write down what went
right and wrong and adjust for your next race or season.
7. Wear compression socks.
High socks are now not just fashionable in basketball they are in style
for triathlon too. From a racing perspective a sheer compression sock
that doesn’t heat up too much, can hold the muscles in place and
increase blood flow.(as always don’t test them out on race day but use
them in training if you are going to race in them) They also aid in
recovery by reducing swelling and inflammation. Many drug stores carry
them and perhaps you can borrow a pair of grandma’s cankle busters. : )
8. Ironman vs half Iron recovery;
Trying to figure out how long it may take you to recover from your ‘A’
race is tricky. Some general rules say that those new to Iron distance
may take 3weeks to 6 months to recover. If you are an elite and have
years of race experience a month might be enough. For Half Iron,
targeting 2 weeks to two months, again depending upon fitness race
seasonality and experience, will help you determine when you are able to
start "training” again.
9. Reintroduce yourself to the sport in the same event order.
In order to play it safe and be sure not to come back to quick, you can
avoid further race injuries by swimming firstly, cycling second and
lastly running. (Running can be added much later as it has the greatest
chance of producing a post Iron injury)
10. Get a massage.
You deserve it and your legs will thank you. A massage soothes aching
muscles and increases blood flow to injured and troubled areas. Deep
tissue massage is better than lighter pressures and can help the healing
process and remove lactic acid from your muscles.
Other key concepts
1. Get fit! On your bike that is
. Dialing in your bike fit from a certiied F.I.S.T bike fitter
allow you to train longer, have less pain and allow you to recover
faster to get to the next workout. Dont be uncomfortable on your bike,
it doesn't have to hurt
2. Establish a long term plan for Iron racing.
If you want to improve and move up the ranks you will need to be
consistent. No one is going to hand you the keys to the Ferrari right
away! Establish an aerobic base with lots of low HR base miles in your
"formative" years. Once you have this aerobic engine, start to ratchet
up the more challeging race goals and training. As a guesstimate it
takes ~4-5yrs to reach your true Iron potential. Depending on your
background it may take shorter or longer.
3. Learn from the pros and coaches
Go to seminars, camps, and lectures where you can absorb tri speak and
learn best practices from people who have "raced there, and trained
that!" TriStar Athlete will be hosting a week long camp July 7th to the
14th in New York City with Pro Triathlete Brandon Del Campo, Coach
Cliff and Coach Haluk. The camp will be part information session and
part speed training for the upcoming Lake Placid and New York City
Triathlon events. Click here to learn more and sign up!
4. Stretch now. Yes right now!
If you dont already incorporate stretching into your program you'd
better start today. Saying I will stretch later will bring on inury
sooner. While stretching may not be the most enjoyable or exciting part
of your program, neglecting it is a sure fire way to end a season.
When muscles are more pliable greater force can be exherted on the swim,
bike and run. One area to spend the greatest amount of stretch time is
the hips. The hips get tight for triathlets when muscles contract from
lots of cycling and running put together. Keep the hips lose andyu
will run and cycle faster- injury free!
5. Change your shoes and rotate a pair.
two pairs of shoes to alternate for running is important for several
reasons. Firstly, when you start to rack up the mileage a shoe
(depending on its weight and durability) lasts for ~200-600miles and
most closer to the 200mi range. If you decide to skimp on your shoe
budget there is a high chance of developing injury. Secondly, rotating a
second pair of shoes helps lower moisture by giving ample time for the
second pair to dry out before starting your next run. (Foot fungus is
no joke : )
6. Do a cycling time trial or road race
. Weeks 5-4-3 out from your 'A' race to help raise your lactate threshold
7. If wishes were horses, ride a disc;
Yes they are expensive and yes they are fast. As long as you can stay
in the aerobars when the wind is blowing,you should always ride the
disc. Its aerodynamically superior!
may not be an part of a triathlon event (unless the race isnt going
your way) but it does help to build leg strenght and clear lactic acid
while minimizing run pounding. Explore a hilly park near you!
9. Peak once but race short
If you are lucky you can peak for two Iron races per year, most cant. A
good season strategy is to have one go for it race and supporting
events to complement the 'A' race. Perhaps in the early part of the
season you select multiple sprints and olympics that help work on your
10. Give it a rest
. If your goal is to remain
healthy and interested in triathlon for many years to come, make sure to
schedue some time away from your sport. Doing other sports to stay
fit, and simply allowing yourself to mentally recharge will allow you to
come back with a vengance.
**The tips above are general
guidelines and may or may not apply to you and or your training.
Working with a coach and a well thought out season plan will help make
sure you have the best race day possible.
All the best,