Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

The Balancing act of Triathlon

July 13, 2011

I am now about a month into my training for a triathlon. While training, I am trying extensively to apply my knowledge of coaching and training to how I train.

First I would like to say is wow!! It is way different from bike racing. Involving three sports really starts to play havoc on recovery and workout progression. The balance of training around how the previous days workout becomes much more difficult. One of the hardest difficulties for me has been the running. I have do some research around and looked at how to better balance all three sports.

Running does really seam to be the limiting factor. The reason I say this is because even if you are coming from a running background, injury prevention in running is the biggest challenge. It is crucial you let your body recover from the run before attempting another run workout. Cycling is also part of this balance. I am finding it easier to place an easy bike day after a run day to help with some active recovery. For me, Not being able to go out and do a hard bike day after a seemingly easy run day can be frustrating.

From my experience and some of the research I have done here are some tips for a bringing balance into a triathlon training program.

1)  Invest in a good running shop! Become their friends and take lots of time to find the right  shoe and insole for you. Also take time to read about good running habits.

2) I recommend using a easy bike / swim / or stretch day after a run workout. For the novice to even intermediate triathlete I would caution against back to back run days.

3) Use running intensity sparingly. This does not mean completely ignore it however. I would recommend that more often than not high intensity workouts be on bike. For a novice triathlete and runner, use intensity maybe every other week, and a bit more during a taper period. For more intermediate you could introduce a brief (20-30) of hard running per week. Speed work is very helpful to runners, it can be for triathletes as well. Again use with caution.

4) Run mileage and volume should only be bumped up 3-6% every week. Unlike cycling which is far easier to recover from, only small bumps should be used.

But what about swimming? Luckily it is the only sport of the three that does not involve the lower body. I use these workouts almost independently from cycling and running as far as muscle and joint recovery go. When planning swimming, plan it more as the overall volume in terms of how taxing on the aerobic system it can be.

Ride Hard

Coach Jordan

Getting ready for a big event.

May 21, 2011

By now it is that time of the year where most people are gearing up for some sort of a big event. In this part of the series I am going to talk about what to physiologically to get ready.

At this point in your season, you want to start honing in on race or event specific challenges. For instance, if your race is a criterium, then adding a good dose of very hard back to back efforts are going to be critical. If your event is a longer ride or race over varying terrain, you would want to be sure your ready to take on that challenging terrain. This is not the time to crash train by realizing you have 3 or 4 weeks to go and ride / run / swim like made to get ready.

A sudden bump in volume is the very opposite of what you want to do. Instead this is the time to start cutting training volume and do specific intervals. I can not say how many times I have seen someone start training huge amounts of hours right before an event. A well planned but shorter workout week will make for more bang for the buck then just going out there and doing a bunch.

Here is a slice of how my progression has gone by comparing a week from about 6 weeks ago to a current week.

6 weeks ago                                                     Current

Mon:               off                                                                     off

Tues:      2 hours w/ 2x15min steady state                      1.5 hours, 3 sets of 5 sprints at zone 6 to 7

Wed      1 hour easy                                                               1 hour easy

Thurs:   2 hours with high cadence sprints                   1 hour easy

Fri:  2 hours with 4 x 5min hill repeats   Z5                  1.5 hours with  10 x 5min hill repeats zone 5

Sat  2 -3 hours, with at least 1 hour zone 3                   1 hour easy

Sun:  3-4 hours. 3x 20min at Steady state                     3-4 hours, 2x15min Zone 4, then 5x 2-3min hard hills or flat.

As you can see the over volume decreased but the intensity is way up. This is the pattern your training should start  to follow 3 to 5 weeks before a big event. Tweaks are needed depending on the goal, but the basic concept remains the same.

All endurance sports will follow a similar pattern, the one above relates to cycling but the same paradigm is used for running, swimming, triathlon and adventure racing. The concept is to increase your bodies tolerance to hard efforts and teaching it to recover quickly.

Also when you are starting to decrease volume, be sure your diet reflects the loss of calories burned over all. Another thing to keep in mind this is not the time to add more stuff in other areas of your life. For these few weeks try to remain rested and stress free as you can.

Next part will be addressing the mental side,

Till then, Ride hard

Coach Jordan

The Coach’s Test

March 28, 2011

So I preach about testing and training methods. Time to put my money where my mouth is. Its my turn to test myself! I figured talking about my own test results might be a fun view. I will be able to analyze my own results and discuss them in depth to help others analyze their findings. So with out further ado, these are the previous standards:

aerobic capacity (1st and 2nd 45min avg’s) = 1% change between the first and second 45mins

anaerobic test: (30sec on, 30sec off, how many times) = 4 times

Sprint max = 1375 W @ 18.21 W/kg

1 min power = 619 @ 8.32 W/kg

5min power = 417 @ 5.6 W/kg

20min power = 340 @ 4.5 W/kg

So these are the numbers, stay tuned as I will update how the tests are going.

Training camps and stints

March 26, 2011

*Note, while written in the context of cycling, this article applies to endurance athletes of all walk or swims of life.

Everyone I know usually looks forward to some sort of spring training ritual. I know in the past mine was a training week in the mountains with fellow team mates. We would binge on miles, climbing, and hard efforts. This sudden jump is something that most cyclist use to kick start the season. In a matter of a few short weeks I will be doing a three day stint in the mountains and logging more time in the saddle in three days then I have most weeks so far.

This sudden binge must not just be hacked job at riding lots and lots of miles. Doing a training camp or a training binge has some great benefits, but must be monitored closely. Here are a few things to think about for this training binge (also referred to as crash training)

1) Do try and get away from the home. Even if for part of the week, it is beneficial to just focus on your training for this week or a few days period.

2) have a clear goal to what the purpose of the training camp. Is it for threshold development? power development? or even just team cohesiveness? At this time in the season I would argue a training binge should be about three things. One mainly to develop endurance. Now is the time to tackle some big longer rides back to back. Be sure to not over do the first few days to save up for a longer ride later in the week or period. Two would be to work on threshold development, spending times in the steady state to threshold on big climbs or on longer rides would be ideal to help create some intensity other than just endurance. Last would be for team bonding and development if applicable.

3) Take the extra time away from daily duties to be sure to stretch and properly fuel between each days rides. A sudden volume spike can increase chance of injury. Counter this with stretching beforeand after a ride as well as later in the evening before bed time.

4) While not all training camps have to be a large team affair. Do try and bring along friends of like ability levels to help push one another through longer rides and to give some challenges. The few team camps I have been part of would always culminate in some friendly competition to help elevate everyones fitness level.

5) use the extra time to think about goals of the season. You don’t have to go to work, so use the time to focus on other things that are important to training.

6) You MUST rest properly after the hard effort. Any gains will not be realized until after your body fully rests from the effort. This period can range from just a day or two for 2-3 day training binge. Or up to w full week after a very intense and long week of crash training.

7) Stick to the goals of the training camp. I don’t know how many times I have seen or heard about a training camp that deteriorates into a mileage fest or week long stage race between friends and team mates. Everyone will have a bit of a different pace. This is ok! I know i said bring them along for SOME friendly competition, not every single mile of riding. Also remember at the end of day quality still beats shear quantity. Yes you will ride more, you just don’t need to ride a century every single day.

Planning a training camp or binge can be tricky, just use the general guidelines I have outlined above and chances are you will have a positive outcome from your sudden training boost.

Ride hard,

Coach Jordan

For more information or for comments go to      www.achievecoaching.net or      email me at coachjordan@achievecoaching.net

Plyometrics for spring

March 20, 2011

As the northern hemisphere rotates into the sun, its getting warmer out!! Cyclist, runners, and man more are starting to see the hints of spring and are salivating to get out on the bike and ride! I am an advocate for strength training for any endurance athlete. By now the strength portion of your weight routine, or off bike routine should be coming to a conclusion.

It is not time yet to totally abandon a weight routine. Instead I am a fan of continuing to work the muscles not used very much by your current sport. for instance for cyclist, working the abs, hamstrings, back, and arms are all critical to maintain an injury free season. Also I still advise athletes to work at least one set of the main movers. For cycling as an example, this would be the quadriceps, glutes, calf muscles, and a few more. (both these lists are not exhaustive, email me at coachjordan@achievecoaching.net for a more complete list for different sports) All this I recommend once a week or so.

This time of the season is not just about cutting weights down to once a week. It is also about addition of plyometric sessions. Plyometrics are explosive efforts that help take the strength founded in the weight work and adds a quick explosive movement to recruit better firing patterns. Power is something most endurance athletes need at some point during an event or competition. The mathematical expression for power is Power = force per time. If we think about this, force (moving a weight) and time (pedal stroke, running stride etc) are something done during every session of workout. Plyometrics takes the weight component and teaches your body to do it quicker. Another benefit is to load muscles, connective tissue, and bones to deal with a high amount of force.

A website I will recommend for viewing different work outs is here: I use this as it is a great tool for showing plyometrics as it would be to difficult / long to try and explain them.

Lower body = HERE

Upper body = HERE

Implementation:

I recommend for endurance athletes to do about 20-30 total movements (1 jump = 1 movement) for the lower and upper body (20-30 lower body, and 20-30 upper body) for starters. Over time this can be increased to 40-50 total movements. Do not exceed more than 50. Plyometrics also carry a risk of injury if not done correctly. Also with the addition of several hours of training each week 50 total movements a week should be adequate for a gain in performance.

As always, Ride Hard

Coach jordan

Please contact me at info@achievecoaching.net if you have any further questions

A ride in California, when planning meats success!

February 15, 2011

I am out in california being educated about bikes this week. Specialized is putting on quite a show and treating us guests to a week of nothing but awesome bike talk and rides.

I am out here for the rides though and to test myself a bit. The riding is amazingly scenic and perhaps some of the best I have done to date. Today we did a short ride of about an hour or so. The group was kept very controlled but we were given the opportunity to open it up a few times. One time in particular was a shallow 2.5 mile climb. Needless to say I was chomping at the bit.

The outcome? thats to come! but this posting is about how coaching got me to the end result. I have to be my own coach sometimes and I have to turn the tables on myself on a daily basis to plan my rides and make goals along the way.

This winter I am doing something a bit different. For those whom I coach you probably have seen this to. This winter I am doing a bit more early threshold development work. This development has been in the form of steady state training. This zone is defined by being 83-90% threshold power or 92-95% threshold heart rate. While the science of this zone is a bit complex, it works on threshold development. In addition to this threshold development, I have been using periodic doses of maximal interval training. These efforts are a 30sec to 2min long and are typical interval sessions.

The idea to split form the my usual in the past of long steady distance (LSD) rides is two fold. One, I just don’t have the time or mental stamina like the season I was doing 15 hour weeks on a trainer. With work, coaching and much more, I seem to be setting in at 8 to 12 hour weeks. Another is I wanted to be able to show up for some early season challenges with a bit more high-end ability and just not be the guy who can pull for 3 hours at a moderate pace. This would probably lend itself to more motivation and reward for the work I have been doing.

So how is this bid paying off? Very well! The climb today was fast and I was able to put in a few good turns of speed. I climbed with the top three guys and gave them a challenge all the way to the top. I did get redlined, but it was much less painful then I remember other spring rides like this being. I felt great! It was a real confidence booster. This has given me the drive to get this week done an return home for a serious 6 weeks of training before my next small target.

While I know I still need to get in some longer rides of 3 hour plus; I would say my training thus far is putting me exactly where I want to be.  Do I still have further to go? You bet!! But my new tactic seems to be paying off. I would recommend anyone whom has done the LSD rides in the past to introduce some of what I mentioned above into their training. While I am not a fan of interval work only like some plans. I would say a hybrid of the traditional model of LSD rides and interval work seems to be working.

Ride hard

Coach Jordan

A question posed by one of my athletes

January 28, 2011

I had a question from one of my athletes today.

The question is: What re the benefits of using a power meter and which one is the best? How will it help my training? How will it help you train me?

I would like to answer this question a little differently than some of the other articles out there. Cycleops has a great article’s on their page. I would like to answer it as a coach and an athlete that uses power.

First off I want to dispel a common thought. Power meters are not just for racers. Virtually everyone and anyone can and will make improvements when they use a power meter for their training. If you are just a century cyclist or a beginner triathlete a power meter is by and far one of the best investments you can make.

The reason Why a power meter is so great is for a few different reasons. A power meter directly measures the amount of work you are doing right now and for the whole ride. Also they can accurately and quantitatively measure your ride and give lots of numbers that are important both on and off the bike. These numbers are kilojoules burned (think calories), wattage in average and at the moment, usually heart rate, and many bike metrics as well. The real benefit is when the post ride analysis is done. Post ride I can calculate time in each zone, kilojoules for different sections of the ride, look at average power over intervals and over a period of a week to a year.

In comparison to a heart rate monitor a powertap is an instantaneous and accurate tool. Heart rate lags about 60-120 seconds after an effort is made or stopped. Therefore it is not a true accurate representation of when the work is done. The accuracy really comes into play when analyzing work done on the bike. Because Kilojoules are directly related to calories burned, I can make accurate choices about caloric intake each and everyday when using a powertap. For instance, my friend borrowed my powertap just a few days ago and rode on the trainer. He also wore his standard heart rate monitor as well. When the ride had concluded my power tap showed he had burned 753 kilojoules (about 702 calories) His heart rate monitor on the other hand showed he had burned 1027. This is a very big discrepancy.

Heart rate is also influenced by many factors while off the bike. These factors are hydration, sleep, stress, nutrition, and any medications. One day you can be riding 20mph at 150 bpm or the next you could be at 20mph at 156 bpm. Which one is correct? In some cases it can be a difference in a training zone. Heart rate can artificially inflated or depressed depending on many of the factors listed above. Either way it can be giving false information. However training with heart rate is better than not training with heart rate.

As a coach there are a few basic things I really like to look at. These are the total work load on an athlete. This is good for knowing how far I can push someone before their bodies will start to fight back. Comparison of average heart rate versus average power. This can be a huge indicator of fitness for the day. If the heart rate is abnormally high or low given a power output, I know to investigate further. Last is training stress score and intensity factor. These give me an immediate impression of how hard a ride is. These numbers are much better than just “it was a hard ride today”

Last is testing. Testing with power is a bench mark that can be compared with later. I base most of my testing on a power profile to identify what an athlete needs to work on. Power gives me exact numbers I can compare and contrast against other like athletes, and later down the road after a training load. More on this at a later date .

The power device of choice for me is the cycleops powertap. I personally use this device and have found it to be very easy to use. It is hub that measures torque and can then figure out power based on speed. Its accuracy is +/- about 1.5 %. While this means you won’t have it on race day (if you use different wheels) It is an invaluable tool during day to day training. Often I will race with a powertap to identify my weakness. The model of power tap I use is this one. I like this because it is very affordable and accurate. The upgraded one is nice as it is wireless. But if your on a budget, this is a great tool.

Please email me with any questions regarding power meters or training with power.

Ride Hard

Coach Jordan

A Case study, making time for training

January 5, 2011

I would like to share an interesting email I had from a client. The back ground to this email is that I had not heard from him in a while. Over the course of these last few weeks he had only been training 1-2 times per week. Below is an email he sent me. I have highlighted in red the most important points I would like to talk over.

 

The integration of split intervals to accommodate commuting is OK with the advice you gave me about splitting them. I am comfortable with that.

 

(1) How would duration of workouts differ in a 3-4 workout week vs. a 6 workout week? If the workouts will be 3 hours vs 1.5 – 2 that may not help.

As soon as the weather safely permits I will begin commuting (temp. <25 is the determining factor). This should allow for more workouts per week.

Rest days being on Tuesday and weekends may be most desirable. (2) I would also like to have some advice on being able to move rest days around. What types of workouts are best not/done before/after rest. (3) If multiple rest days happen what would the best way to plan workouts before/after these 2 or 3 day breaks?

I will answer these few questions in order that they appear, with the appropriate number.

1) When an athlete is very crunched for time there still must be adequate training stimulus to encourage compensation by the body for improvement. Working out consists of two general variables to manipulate. One is time, and the other is intensity. A training load can be defined roughly as the time time’s intensity. This value is what gives the athlete the ability to create a stimulus the body must overcome and adapt to. There are two ways to generate big amounts of stimulus. One is by a huge volume of low intensity training. Lets just attach some numbers with this. Lets say the athlete works out for 12 hours a level of 3 on a 1 to 5 scale. This would result in a value of 36. Another approach to get the same amount on intensity would be to train 8 hours at level 4, this results in a total stimulus of 32. A much shorter amount of time, performed at a higher intensity. When dealing with a shortened training week. The substitution for volume must be made up for in intensity. This particular case of only being able to work out 3 times per week will feature a general plan as follows: 1 long ride 2-4 hour, and 2 other short 1 – 1.5 hours at a much higher intensity. (More on this form of training to come)

 

2) When it comes to rest days, there is more of a general rules, rather than an instance for every case. The purpose of rest is to allow the body to heal and recover after a big effort. Also though, training in a depleted state does not allow for the full potential of training to shine through. Therefore rest days must come after a big or hard workout, and in some cases before a particularly hard or big workout. (The later case is more for one day racing preparation; stage racing and back-to-back races take on a different paradigm.)

 

Rest days do not have to be set days of a week. Rest days are best taken after a break through workout or after a lot of fatigue and soreness has been built up after a period of training. Rest days are also for mental affairs as well. I, just the other day, took a rest day because I could just not get my head in the workout. If this is the case it to is also a sign to move the workout and take a rest day. In reference to this athletes question about training 2-4 time per week, nearly every “on day” will be followed by a rest day. This is mainly due to each work out will be very intense.

 

3) Dealing with periods where training is not possible for 2-4 day stretches is easily dealt with. In this case each period of “on training” will be 2-4 days of hard intervals or a big volume day to create an overload for the body. With this overload must also come a period of rest. This is frequently a tactic used by stage racers. Stage races feature 2-10 days of bike racing back to back. To create this sort of demand in training the athlete must train hard for 2-10 days straight. After though, rest will create the fitness gains from hard training. When a rest block must be demanded by work, family life, or other commitments, be sure to have a solid 2-4 days of training before that rest period. Most importantly, do not feel guilty during this rest period, as this the time the body will recover and make you a better athlete.

Great questions! Feel free to send me an email at coachjordan@achievecoaching.net and I would love to answer these.

 

Ride Hard,

Coach Jordan

Please go to www.achievecoaching.net for more information about coaching services.

 

My dirty little secret… Single Speed Mtb’ing

December 26, 2010

I am happy to announce I have re-discovered my love of a single speed mountain bike. I did go 29er this time, and I have to say my opinions of them have changed.

But this is more than just my newly re-found love of single speed mountain biking. In the last 4 years since I have owned a single speed mountain bike, I have learned much more about cycling training. I now realize just how good of a training tool a bike like this can be. I will tell you why for the following list of reasons.

A single speed (SS) is a combined workout for high and low cadence. At some moments on the trail your legs are going at some really high cadence as you rip down some sections of fast fire road or single track. Moments later you may be grinding slowly up a hill or over some tough roots. There are also slow high force starts to a high cadence sprint as you may come out of a corner getting ready to get some momentum going. All these situations are a benefit for neuro-muscular efficiency or for muscular force and endurance. These are the basic building blocks for season long fitness.

In my last few rides on a SS mtb I have really felt some progression in leg power and ability to alter cadences more readily. I more of a fan of a SS then a fixed gear for a few reasons. My biggest gripe I have with a fixed gear is despite what people say, it encourages a lazy pedaling form. The pedals push your feet through the circle instead of the muscles creating the circular motion of pedaling. Some similar benefits of high and low cadence exists on a fixed gear, but over a road course there is far fewer variations.

If you are tired of the trainer already, try getting a single speed mtb. You can make one out of an old mountain bike for fairly cheap. Just a fun idea, that I didn’t realize the full training potential with.

Ride Hard

Coach Jordan

Swimming and running testing.

December 20, 2010

While cyclist enjoy a plethora of tests and information, runners and swimmer are far less privileged when it comes to testing for the sport. Cycling is blessed by the fact that the athlete stays in one constant position even if the machine is moving. Also because of a bikes mechanical bits, power observations can be made. Swimming this is near impossible and running is no small feat to even contemplate this.

There fore the best testing for running and swimming are pretty much direct field testing; often done at a competition. First lets cover the logistics for running.

The most accurate version of testing for runners is a VO2 max metabolic cart, performed in a lab. This machine monitors the composition of O2 and CO2 entering and leaving the athletes body. From these pieces of data VO2 max and lactic acid threshold can be deduced. VO2 max and lactic acid threshold is the most important training reference points for a runner. I know that there are a few places in the Raleigh (triangle) area that will perform the testing. Testing is usually about $175 to $300 to have done. We here at achieve coaching can help you interpret these results further.

Luckily there is a short cut for the runner whom does not have the $300 or so lying around. The appropriate field test fur runners is to run a 5k. Running a 5k will approximate the runners threshold hear rate with in +/- 3%. This data can be taken on as regular basis as the coach and athlete deem necessary. From the 5K pace the runners shorter and longer race heart rate goals can be calculated.

Swimmers are in a whole different boat for testing (well ok not on a boat…) Often times the best testing for swimming is to swim a race or time trial to obtain some basic data such as time elapsed. Other parameters such as hear rate and anything else is very hard to accurately measure especially due to the conditions of being in a pool or lake full of water. The best method I have seen for testing is to find the elapsed time for the athlete to swim their goal distance. From this elapsed time the distance can be broken down to into smaller segments for the athlete to obtain in an accordingly shorter time. This produces a set of intervals to help train the athlete for the event.

Another perhaps more important form if testing for a swimmer is to have their stroke and technique analyzed. This is not so much as test as a analysis of efficiency. Swimming is unique in the fact its one of the only sports where a human body is being pushed through a substance that is several hundred times thicker than air. Efficiency rains supreme in swimming and can be the decider in races. I know I have seen this come true many many times over. Swimming efficiency can be video taped both above and below water for the coach to go over with the athlete. This is a type of thing achieve coaching can help with as well.

For more information feel free to contact us at info@achievecoaching.net or visit www.achievecoaching.net

Coach Jordan


%d bloggers like this: