Most triathletes have a long season of training and racing and after the last big race, you hopefully took a nice break. I like my athletes to take 2-3 weeks of unstructured movement. No scheduled swim bike run in Training Peaks, no need to turn workouts green. Some of my athletes go crazy, they simply want to wake up and see Training Peaks workouts and others are so relieved to see nothing pop up. I find after a few weeks most are itching to get back to routine and this is where it can be a lot of fun.
I shy away from traditional triathlon training during these months to keep the athlete engaged and fresh. I like to address the three following areas:
a. This is the time to work on imbalances, test your single-legged squat, deadlift and bosu ball work and see which leg needs work, I guarantee one leg is better than the other. Work both legs but add 20% to the “weaker” leg.
b. Get strong. Track your squats, deadlifts and big muscle group exercise and push the max. You will be sore (yes, sore) but this is the time of year to do that, without a long run on the schedule or hard bike sessions you can and should be sore.
c. Let the strength dictate biking and running efforts.
d. Do a Functional Movement Screening and find your weakness, imbalances. Pay the money to get the correctional exercises and add those to your daily routine.
2. Address your weakness
Most of us want to do more in the sports where we are strong. While that is fun, is it what you need? This is the time to do a swim, bike or run block. Here are a few blocks I have given athletes:
a. Swim Block: 3 weeks with a minimum of 25K per week. I give them workouts that range from 4-7,000 and let them choose how to get to 25k. Some will do 10k one day and take a day off, others prefer 3,500 each day, some do 2 workouts a day. By week 2, the fatigue sets in and generally by week 3 they start to see some real gains. We keep Strength as #2 priority and biking and running take a back seat.
b. Bike Block: 3 weeks with a goal of 200-300 miles per week depending on the athlete, their available time and weather. I mix in a few harder efforts, which are optional based on how they are feeling, the bigger mileage is attainable when they can knock out 1-2 long rides outside. Again, strength is #2 priority and swim and run take a back seat.
c. Run Block: 3 weeks for this block which will vary depending on the athlete, their goals, durability, and base. The focus is 3 weeks of running 6 days a week building mileage each week. For some, the goal may be the 30/40/50-miles week, others it may be hitting key runs 2-3 times a week and then the rest is base running. The running carries the biggest risk of injury so be careful.
3. 15 hours in 3 days. This is a fun one!
1-hour swim, 3-hour bike, 1-hour run – 3 days consecutively. Determining if this is aerobic or has specific pace, HR, power efforts will depend on the athlete and current fitness.
There are many, many ways to gain fitness, have fun and be ready for race season. These are just a few I like. My #1 goal for the off-season is DON’T GET INJURED and #2 DON’T gain more than 5% of your bodyweight. A few pounds are okay and likely a good idea if you race lean, but not any more. than that.
Another value is for older triathletes wanting to buffer age-related loss of lean muscle mass, in particular fast-twitch fibers that key to explosive power and speed. BFR has been described by its founder as a form of anti-aging medicine, and the research is backing the claim.
Just 40 days before the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, Todd Lodwick, an Olympic silver medalist in 2010 and one of the USA’s top Nordic skiers, suffered a crash, breaking several ribs and trashing a rotator cuff. First impressions were that his season was over. Yet when the U.S. team marched in the opening ceremonies, Lodwick was the flag bearer, even using his injured side to carry the flag. He raced in Sochi and finished his 6th Olympic Games.
The miraculous recovery was credited to the use of two-times-day blood flow restriction training overseen by Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen, MD, a pioneer in BFR as well as high-low altitude training. The crash happened on a Friday and to prevent the wave of atrophy that injury immobilization traditional produces, Stray-Gundersen had Lodwick performing two BFR workouts a day. They monitored Lodwick’s progress through x-rays and watched the shoulder heal.
The origins of BFR suggest that Lodwick’s recovery shouldn’t have been a surprise. Developed in Japan about 50 years ago by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato, a Japanese sports scientist, BFR came about after Sato paid attention to the muscle fatigue he felt after sitting during a long funeral. He later reverse-engineered his observation and after he broke an ankle and injured a knee skiing, he experimented with bike tubes and judo belts to restrict blood flow to the muscles while he wore a cast. When he went in to have the cast changed—a ritual procedure because casts shrink the encased muscle via atrophy—Sato’s doctors were shocked to see a ready-to-go set of leg muscles at full size. . .
If you’ve never been much of a sports’ aficionado, then just the word triathlon can make you sweat. To people who haven’t spent much time in these waters, cycling 40km, followed by 1500m of swimming and finally running 10 km sounds almost impossible, not to mention painful. However, for those who have taken this discipline into their lives, triathlon is a lifestyle, they live and breathe by it and constantly strive to be better. The mentality that is needed for completing a triathlon is the one of discipline, perseverance, and strength, all working in perfect sync. If you skimp on one, your body, as well as your results will suffer. If you’re training for your first triathlon experience, and you’re constantly on the lookout for useful tips, here are some general rules on how to increase your triathlon endurance.
Know Your Body
If you want to be a successful triathlon athlete, one of the very first things to do is to know what you can expect from your body. You can listen to advice, opinions and little cheats that your senior colleagues will share with you, but knowing how you react to exhaustion, injury and how well you manage under pressure is something that no one can tell you so you have to find out on your own. How do your joints react to longer runs? Is there an old injury that could present a problem as preparations move forward? Do you know enough to get you started on your preparations in the first place? There are all very general questions, but it is important to ask them because triathlon is a serious exertion for both the body and the mind, and you have to know what you’re getting yourself into. If you’ve never run a half-marathon and you want to dive headfirst into triathlon workouts, you might be in over your head. This doesn’t mean that you should give up, just slow down and let your body get accustomed to a rigorous regime you’ve got in store by going into it gradually.
You Need the Right Equipment
Getting ready for a triathlon won’t be the cheapest endeavor equipment-wise, but you can bet that it will be worth it in on the track and in the water. It all trickles down to one and the same – if you want to achieve maximum endurance, be explosive or steady whenever you need it and not think about whether your equipment will survive the day, you will need to spend a bit more. Let’s start with the running shoes. Here’s the deal – most running shoes worth their salt will be comfortable, but if you’re training for a triathlon, you’ll need far more than that – you will need a shoe that fits just right. To find a perfect shoe fit might be a bit of a hassle, depending on your body type and your running style but the difference you’ll see in your endurance and cadence will not be negligible. When it comes to swimming, same rules apply – you will need a good-quality wetsuit that will give you lightness of movement, buoyancy and won’t restrict you in any way. You’ll want the wetsuit to fit you tightly so that there isn’t any loose material that could slow you down. The material should also be elastic, flexible and soft and it will help you feel like a fish in the water, allowing you to swim to your best ability without any hindrance.
Recovery Is Vital
Triathlon workouts are tough, that is no secret, and once you get hooked up on chasing your goal time, it’s difficult to give yourself a break. Maybe you’ve never been too enthused about exercising but once you feel the adrenaline of the need to be better every day, the struggle to let your body recover is real. If you’re training hard for five days a week, then you better have enough sleep throughout the week, so that your body has the time to restore and replenish. It’s important to do your best to get good shuteye, and that means getting rid of any nuisances that could disrupt your sleep, which in most cases is snoring, as well as not being able to sleep due to surrounding sounds. Invest in solid earplugs, and if you have a problem with snoring or sleep apnea, then get a good snoring aid that will help you eradicate all the breathing problems you might be facing. Even if you’re not familiar with what could help you, read trustworthy reviews like Theravent review to find your best fit. Allowing your body to replenish through good sleep is absolutely vital in your triathlon preparations, so take your sleeping routine seriously and constantly work on improving it.
Have a day or two of active recovery, during which you can do yoga or stretching to keep your muscles flexible and in optimal shape. Of course you’re trying to do your best, but it will not be achieved by overworking yourself and you can be sure that the endurance on the track and in the water will suffer, as well as your entire body. It’s true that our minds sometimes stop us from getting to our full physical potential and you should certainly push your limits, but it’s also true that you should know when to stop.
Facing the Shortcomings
Among the three disciplines you’ll be competing in, there is always one that will give you more grief than others, one that will require more work that you don’t really want to do. Though it might not be a joy to commit your entire workout to swimming when you’d much rather cycle, it is essential to face the shortcomings you’re facing in your performance and find ways to overcome them. You’ll never be able to compensate the poor swimming time with your running skills, so hone and work on your weaknesses, the payout will be manifold.
Being a triathlete will be one of the most demanding physical challenges you will face and once you pull it off, you will feel like Atlas. Constantly expanding your boundaries and pushing yourself to be better will prove beneficial in every aspect of your life and if you have any doubt, just give triathlon a chance.
Vanessa Davis is a 32-year-old fitness enthusiast, mother of two and content writer at www.diet.st. She’s originally from Long Island, New York, and when she isn’t cooking up some new health and fitness article, she enjoys doing yoga and figuring out new, delicious organic recipes for herself and her kids.
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Commit to achieving your very best at your next big race, and come make Boulder your pre-season training destination. Treat yourself to an incredible selection of indoor/outdoor training and educational opportunities over the surprisingly sunny winter and spring months. Planning to race this season in Boulder? Whether your goal is IRONMAN Boulder, Boulder Peak or BolderBOULDER, come to town a few months early to dial in your training and altitude acclimatization, while scoring a sweet dress-rehearsal opportunity on course. Either way, you’ll head home full of fitness and confidence…ready for a bunch of PR’s and the break-through season you deserve.
Kona was his excuse, now it’s part of is story telling passion
With my hand clasped around the door handle to the gym, I pulled it off and walked away. Inside the other players were warming up for tryouts for a high school basketball team that would eventually be nationally ranked. A team I would’ve made, not played much necessarily, but still it would’ve been a helluva journey. By our senior year, every player was offered some type of scholarship. Instead, I walked the opposite way down the long shiny tiled hall decorated with pictures of all the all-star athletes that had played sports at Wheat Ridge high school. I felt a bit defeated, maybe embarrassed and definitely unsure if I made the right decision. I kept convincing myself I would focus on soccer, a sport I loved too, but not as much as basketball. But at 5’10 I weighed the potential, maybe of playing in college, and chose “my sport.” I never formally competed in basketball again. I was 16. I had given up my driveway dream of playing for a living, and living my dream – and I had barely learned to drive.
I followed logic, not my heart or my passion, and at some point I discovered this life-changing decision. To this day I believe I would’ve probably ended up at some small junior college trying to “make it” on the court. The butterfly effect of that decision is enormous. What major I chose, what woman I would marry, what child I would have, and on and on. And relative to you, the audience of 303triathlon, you probably would never be reading my thoughts as I travel to cover my third IRONMAN World Championships. The consequences of THAT decision also determined what friends I made, what jobs I chose, and ultimately what sport I would choose to try. It was friends who introduced me to triathlons, and ultimately one friend in particular (who is competing in Kona this year by the way), who in 2010 made me curious enough to try my first IRONMAN, and to understand its madness.
The “decision,” as I refer to my teenage forked path away from basketball, for a while weighed on me as a regret; but as experiences often transform into wisdom, I began to dissect “the decision.” I have concluded that the real regret was being afraid to try. I did make the sophomore team, so there was no reason to think I wouldn’t make the junior team. It wasn’t the failure of not making the team, but maybe it was the failure of not making my dream of the NBA. I probably knew that was almost impossible but was afraid to try. Wisdom also tells me I simply let myself down, and I defied my passion, and my heart. I think from that day forward any time I have ever made a decision that makes me feel like I did that day, it has not worked out for me. I have come to learn that feeling, and it is my compass and has been for over 35 years.
It was that moment in the school hallway, pondering my basketball future, that I have come to appreciate as a moment that has driven my overachieving nature. My never can’t-do attitude. My “chip on my shoulder,” so speak. As years passed and I continued to play hours and hours of pickup basketball and organized soccer until my early 40’s, I began to focus more on cycling as I liked the adventure of it and chance to challenge my strength in new ways. I was always a decent runner, and I learned to swim, and eventually I did my first triathlon in 2008 in Steamboat Springs—an Olympic distance race. In 2010 I did IRONMAN Arizona followed by Cozumel, Canada, Arizona and Boulder three times.
I wrestle with IRONMAN all the time, and that feeling of logic-versus-passion constantly eats at me. Of the seven IRONMANs I have finished, in five of them I had results that left me feeling like I had done well—at least in comparison to others. Two years ago I stepped onto the podium in 5th place in my age group, missing Kona by one spot. I almost made it to Kona as an athlete and I relished the thought of Kona in 2016, but that never happened. I have mixed feelings as to wanting to compete again to try and qualify. I raced an Olympic distance this year for fun, and as I get further from the fitness needed to be at the top in IRONMAN distance, it gets easier and easier to let go of the dream of Kona.
If I’m really honest with myself, I suppose, I don’t dream of competing in Kona enough right now to endure the effort to get there. I’m fortunate to have the athletic ability to make a few mistakes and still do well with triathlon, but let’s face it, to qualify for Kona takes an almost perfect race and a perfect season of training to go with it. It is tough to qualify— we all know that. But the mental edge needed to push through the pressures of discipline and enduring the time and often the pain that goes with it, separates the contenders from the pretenders, as they say.
Honestly, I think Kona was an excuse more than a goal, at least at first. The journey of my why, my why for even signing up for IRONMAN Arizona in 2009 and ultimately pushing my limits to where I actually had a shot at Kona span a spectrum of motives and reasons.
It began as a curiosity wondering if indeed I could do what my friend had been doing to finish a full distance race. Training then morphed into a lifestyle that allowed me use training as a partial excuse to hide from other life challenges. But, because I was showing promise, to myself I suppose, I let it rule my life. I think I over-hyped my need to train to avoid some responsibilities and obligations, and I often both ends of the candle. In the wake of my transition from wanna-be-triathlete to age group contender, my marriage blew up and my life took a different course. One of major discovery. But, I gained perspective and a true appreciation of the sport and once I began to resolve some personal issues, I realized the constant of IRONMAN training, when properly balanced and executed, opened up other doors. I made many friends, and rather than dedicating my existence to “using triathlon” to run away, I embraced it. I reached a new plateau of speed and enjoyment. I loved it so much that I wanted to make my career line up with my passion for training and competition and help inspire others to reach for their dreams and potential.
I had my two best seasons in 2014 and 2015 and came to Kona with a semi-sweet attitude in 2015, feeling like I could so easily be competing and not taking pictures and writing stories. I wasn’t upset, just pulled emotionally in many directions. But I landed at home ready to tear up 2016 and come back to toe the start line. It wasn’t meant to be and my race in Boulder didn’t go as planned. But, I came back to Kona to be a journalist in 2016, and it was in that trip I came to grips to with my dream to race here.
While this race collects the best athletes in the world, it still is just a race. It still hurts; it’s still a lot to prepare for, it’s not cheap and I’m not convinced competing in it, for me anyways, is that much more exciting than celebrating it as a part of the triathlon community. I love part of the fabric that matters, and my heart is in telling the stories and applying my “why” to the lens I report through.
My hand is firmly gripped on the camera and keyboard and I am opening the door to the gym of possibilities that is my life. I have conquered IRONMAN, I have proved to myself I can compete. Competing here doesn’t make me a better person or even a better athlete. Being here lets me share my wisdom with you. I get the race. I get what the athletes endure. Not racing here doesn’t take away from my ability to see beyond surface of this race.
Someday I may return to racing full distance IRONMANs but only if I want to qualify to be here. For me there is no other reason to try. But right now Kona calls my mind, my eye for photos, and my use of the English language. I’m cool with that. My dream is to be a story teller. That’s what my heart wants to do. Remember, I learned to listen to my heart when I was 16, I’m not gonna stop now.
I offer you this window into my perspective, my journey so that as you read my accounts of this race experience over the next few days you will know where I am coming from!
By Holly Bennett
I’m not a coach. I’m not a personal trainer or a professional athlete. What I am is a relatively average age group athlete, here to tell you why your next run should be in the pool.
Without a doubt, water running is no substitute for the satisfaction of pounding out the miles on the road or trail. But for an injured runner who can’t withstand impact, logging laps in the pool is a lifeline to maintaining run-specific fitness. And for any runner—injured or not—water running has a number of lesser-known benefits that ramp up its appeal. I’ll tell you about these, but first, let me tell you a story.
Years ago, six weeks out from racing IRONMAN Canada, I injured my foot. It was a “high-heel injury”—totally unrelated to training, a direct result of walking on a cobbled street in too-tall shoes after tipping back a few margaritas. These things happen.
The penance for my playful night out was relegation of all my run workouts to the pool; I wasn’t allowed to foot strike on land until a few days before the race. So I sucked it up, strapped on an aqua-jogging belt, and ran. And ran. And ran. I completed every single session on my training schedule—even double runs and a three-hour long run—in the pool.
After six weeks of marathon training in the pool, my IRONMAN run flew by.
The night before the race, I talked to my coach Michellie Jones, who just so happens to be an IRONMAN world champion and Olympic medalist. (Jones is also now an IRONMAN Certified Coach.) My coach is an athlete whose lengthy career has weathered numerous injuries and countless hours of pool running. “I feel ready, I just wish I had been able to run,” I said. “But you have,” she replied. “Trust me.”
The next day, I clocked what was, at the time, my fastest of five IRONMAN marathons and an overall PR…
Read the full story including how water running is zero impact – yet mimics the real thing, how it helps your run form, how it helps your upper body strength, and many other benefits.