Archive for the ‘running’ 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

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 or      email me at

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 or visit

Coach Jordan

The final bit about Goals!

November 13, 2010

To recap the past two weeks I have been talking about setting goals. The first week was about how to identify goals from wanting to do better at a race or event. Following that, I talked about breaking down the event to quantify that which you want to do.

This week I would like to break it down one more level. Not only is it important to know how long you have to put out a certain effort; it is also important to know how to better train your muscles.

There are a few basic areas of concern when it comes to training your muscles. First is out right strength, this category is simply how much weight you can push or pull. Increasing out right strength is only important for a select few situations. An example would be if you were in a high gear and an attack occurred.  You will need  to be able to  respond to the attack. Another example is when gradients on a hill exceed 15% or more. Since these are very few and far between, muscular endurance is of more importance. muscular endurance is defined as being able to repeatedly exert a sub maximal force over and over again. These situations occur most often. During a prolonged effort, doing a 100 mile ride, or a sustained climb up a mild gradient. Another area to work on for muscle development is neuromuscular junction. This is more commonly refered to as muscle memory. developing muscle memory will enable you to spin at a high cadence more comfortably and being able to hold a gear for a longer period of time. These situations are more frequent than some may think. Think of after rolling down a hill, there is an uphill coming up. Instead of having to shift down only to shift back up, spinning effectively at a high cadence could just keep you in the same gear and be more ready for the hill. There are several other situations where high cadence is a useful tool, but to numerous to explain.

Given the above list of muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance and neuromuscular junction; it is important to match your goal with one or more of the training techniques for muscles.

Here is an example.  Last week we were looking at climbing Mt. Mitchel. For this goal I would want to train both muscular endurance and neuromuscular junction. I would want to train muscular endurance because climbing a big mountain requires producing a moderate amount of force on the pedals for two hours straight. To train this would be a mixture of being in the weight room and high force / low cadence on the bike. I would also train the neuromuscular junction to respond to variations in gradients during the climb. For instance Mitchel doesn’t just hold 6% constantly. there are brief changes that might be 5 or 4% Being able to stay in the same gear for 15-30 sec will help to keep a more even pace over the course of the whole climb.

So in summary of the past three postings; I have talked about how to be able to identify a goal from just saying  I want to do better. Breaking this goal down into understandable chunks for training. And finally talked about some underlying mechanics for better progress.

As Always,

Ride Hard!

For more information go to Achieve Coaching

Coach Jordan

Interpreting Goals

November 6, 2010

This is the second installment to setting goals (sorry about the long wait in posting…)

So you have been putting lots of thought into your goal for the next season, year or event. Now comes the hard part, planning on how to execute the goal.

This is where lots of athletes start to have a problem. They say they want to go out and do “x” The problem is you now have a date, but how do you get the right fitness or procedure to arrive at your goal in top form. I have seen one or two athletes that say they want to be able to ride a century in the mountains. The athletes are all about it, they ride hard an hour or two every day. They get to the century and all the sudden they realize the climbs are hard and by hour 3 or 4 they are fatigued. This is a case of not matching the training to the intended goal.

To help solve this issue it is ideal to break down the goal event in a number of ways. These type of ways are as follows:

Length = Time, Distance, Kilojules / Calories needed, Type of event (triathlons = sprint, olympic)

Terrain = Flat, Rolling, Mountainous, Combination

How hard will this be? = Very Hard, Easy pace, Category of race (pro, beginner etc), Lots of small hard efforts, long effort

How will you know if your doing well? = Pacing, Obtaining splits, known pace needed, Unknown pace, Current placing

Type of Event = Solo, Team, Mass start race

special Features = Short hard climb, Windy Section, Narrow Spot in Course, Long Climb

These are all things to help quantify your Goal. By Breaking down your goal into these categories it will help you better understand how to better prepare for the event.

Lets look at an example. I will use the Assualt on Mount Mitchell to illustrate how the break down above can help you to prepare for a goal event.

The Assualt on Mount Mitchel (AMM) is 102 Mile Long and will require about 5,000 Kj’s of energy. The terrain is mostly rolling to flat at first and will of course end on a 2 hour-long climb up to the finish (the end 2 hours will require 1,800 KJ’s) I am expecting this event to be hard because the leaders will ride at a pretty good tempo pace for the first three hours. Once at the bottom the pace will be upped more and more untill there is only a select few that will battle it out to the end. I will know if I am doing well by either making it to the top with the leaders or not. The event type is a mass start Road Race. And the only special feature know to me will be the final climb on Mitchell.

By breaking it down above, Like I have this gives some very specific training goals. So the ideal training will prepare me to do the following. Being able to ride for 5 hours straight. The first three hours will be at a tempo pace. The remaining 2 hours must expend 1800 Kj’s and be done at a pace at or near threshold pace. Also I must be able to launch a few hard efforts to maybe stay with a surging group effort.

This gives a very clear training goal to work up to. But there is one more break down of this goal that must happen to really and fully understand this goal.

Of course that will follow next week. (I promise)

Ride Hard!

Coach Jordan

Goals for the season to come

October 23, 2010

Enjoying this part of the year is critical, you should be having fun doing what ever your favorite endurance activity is. Running, cycling, or even some cross training into that other sport you may not always have time for. Mentally this part of the season is about finishing up any last-minute goals and starting to plan for the future.

Planning for the season ahead is really more complicated than some may think. At this point of the season you have to be thinking about what did you like or not like about the past season, what events suited you well (and those that didn’t) and how this will factor into the season ahead. Is there a new team? How do I want to improve? What event is it that I could do best at next year? Setting these goals are of high priority for the season ahead.

The biggest mistake I have found in working with athletes is the statement of “I want win (or do x place) at this event.” There is one glaring mistake in this logic. You can not control what other people are doing. What if John lost his job and decided to just ride all the time instead? (while ridiculous, you get the idea…) Placing emphasis is in performance goals is a very hard thing to unwire.

Instead look at it from a more logical and easier way to understand why you got “x” place at the event from last year. For example: In one of my bike races this past year, I got dropped on a hill during a short criterium. Looking back at the race it is very easy for me to say why did I get dropped, and why did I not get 15th place or better? Breaking this race down shows a much better way of understanding it. It was an hour-long race and the race crossed this hill roughly 38 times. I made it through 35 mins, So I was able to do roughly 17 laps. This particular hill was about :50 sec long. and the average pace was about  22 mph or 450 watts for :50 sec, 38 times. Looking at this means, that if this was my goal race for next year I need to improve my ability to perform the workload from 17 times, to 38 times. This is a trainable goal that is possible to quantify. Here is more or less numeric proof, that if I can obtain this goal, I will have a much better shot at then placing in some “x” place.

Here is another example dealing with cycling, but is very applicable to any endurance sport.

My goal this year is this:

To go to Green Mountain Stage Race, My unicorn race and lay down 4 very good days of racing. This 4 days will have this goal attached with them based of the previous years field.

day 1 =  14 mins @ 420 watts

day 2 = being able to complete a 3.5 hour race at about 2600 kj’s with minimal fatigue in my legs

day 3 = being able to climb two big mountains at 350+ watts for 20-30 mins

day 4 = being able to perform about 35 laps with 35 hill repeats at 500+ watts.

By doing these four things, I know my chances at GMSR are likely very good.

Quantifying your goals into some tangible amount of data is likely to be more motivating as well. You will have to perform “x” by this certain date. And by another date you will have to perform “x” again. This is setting up miniature goals that break down the big “I want to win” into smaller more obtainable daily goals. And this works with any sport be it running, triathlon, swimming, everything. It can all be broken down into some form of pace or ability to repeat a measured performance.

So, here is the challenge: Instead of having a performance goal this year, think of what amount of performance will likely place you well in the race for next year. Right this goal down and hang it somewhere you can see it. Look at it every day, and always remember every workout is helping in some way to reach that ATTAINABLE goal.

Ride Hard

Coach Jordan

Next week: how to break down a goal to start thinking about how to best train

for more information about coaching and how to achieve these goals go to: Achieve Coaching

Time to pump the iron!

October 15, 2010

lets back up a second and think about a physics lesson (stay with me, there is a point!) What makes you be able to move? wether it be running, swimming, cycling you need power to move. Moving through the air, through the water. It takes power! From a physics stand point power is an amount of force in a certain amount of time. So we can think of this as how fast your muscle can push on the pedals, ground or what ever that gets you moving.

Both aspects of force and the amount of time can be trained.

Today I will talk about the force part. In general the most effective way to increase muscle force is to apply some resistance on them. The muscles will then train themselves to overcome this load. Eventually your arms, legs will get pretty used to your weight and increasing time of the excercise can only do so much.

So short of purposely gaining weight, it is time to use the weight room to help aid you in building your muscle strength.

Weight training is beneficial for endurance athletes for a multitude of reasons. Bearing a weight and having a full body program can help even out muscle imbalances, retrain proper muscle patterns, help build bone density (swimmers and cyclist!) help prevent random injuries from moving to quickly or lifting a heavy object. The list can go far beyond this. Whats most interesting from my stand point is back to the concept of creating more power. Power can be increased in two ways; either generate more force in the same amount of time, or move the same force in a quicker time period.

Weight training will help you ba able to create more force. For the endurance athlete weight training programs will have a different paradigm than a weight lifters program. Endurance athletes will maintain repetitions of weights at 8 or more. Frequently I will recommend 15-20 reps for most of the weight lifting phase. This creates two desirable training effects. The first is that as your program progresses, the idea is to continually putting more weight on for 15-20 reps. (think increasing force in same amount of time). Second is the muscular endurance training effect. In one 2-3 hour bike or running race, your legs will generate a force thousands of time. Lifting weights in the 15 to even 25 or 30 range will help you maintain this muscular endurance.

Creating a weight lifting program is heavily based on your sport and your specific body build. I can help with this, or talk to any GOOD certified personal trainer (GOOD = find someone whom has trained in the same manner you have, and lots of experience)

If you are done with your race season, now is the time to get back in the weight room. This will serve as a good period to help you get adjusted before volume work resumes.

Ride Hard

Coach Jordan

P.S. the other half of the power equation will come at a later date… Also a follow-up for sport specific weight training will be up next week!

The mistake everyone makes…

October 6, 2010

Lets all admit it, we are addicted to training. I know from experience I am. I love the rush of riding, charging uphill, riding back down, feeling my body being alive. Perhaps the hardest part is being able to know when it is ok to look out and observe the nice day instead of participating.

Whether your a cyclist, runner, adventure racer, or what ever the most critical part of your program is when you rest.

Most people I start to work with or talk with inevitably had or is going through the period of “I must train or I will loose every shred of fitness I have” This is not true it takes 2 weeks of being completely sedentary before a noticeable change in fitness happens. This means a day off to stop and smell the roses is more than ok, even a few times a month! This is the most important concept to grasp = You only get faster when you rest! Your body will inly respond to an overload in fatigue or stress. In the case of physical fitness, this load or stress is from performing in your chosen activity. After the load or stress is applied, you must allow time to recover and repair any damage from the stress. Interestingly enough your body will over compensate for this stress and come back stronger than before. By resting you are actually making your self stronger.

I recently have had the chance to work with a runner whom also participates in weight lifting as well. This runner is not a competitive, simply one that uses an intense program to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Recently she has been grappling with recovering from a few hard days, and thinks that she is going to loose fitness if she takes a few days off. This is simply not true, taking the few days and allowing yourself to rest will only help you. Even though she is currently sick, this will even occur after a few days of hard training. I have ben working with her to mentally understand the concept of resting will only help her progress.

Its hard to mentally let go of your routine from each and every day, but it is a jump that must be made. You probably have heard the saying “Train smarter, not harder” This is very true and especially extends to knowing that it is ok to rest!

Ride Hard

Coach Jordan

For more information please go to

The post season…

September 16, 2010

Big local crit… Check, State Championships… check, hammer my buddy in to the ground… (priceless) Check. Whats next?

This is on the minds of road bike racers all over the country. After the racing, the hard training miles and counting every calorie what do you do the fitness you have? After all you must do something to maintain your level of fitness right?

Coming up with what to do is very important, but it must be stated you must do something. A size-able amount of fitness can be lost over the course of 2 to 3 weeks. The season between your last big important race and the base season must be filled with something to carry on all the hard work from the previous 44 to 48 weeks.

First and foremost the off season is the time to have fun again, do that which reminds you why you started pursuing the sport in the first place. I tell people to go out and enjoy riding again. Go do your favorite loop, ride with that slower friend, ride with family, ride to your favorite lunch spot. Just have fun and remind yourself why you enjoy riding.

Luckily there is a little invention of cyclocross to help ease some of the off season blues. Cross is fun, a good hard effort and usually has beer afterwards!! This is also the time to focus on a few other things

There are a few basic concepts to an off season.

-Have fun:

As stated above its important to enjoy yourself once again. It is critical for your metal sanity to let your mind rest form a rigorous training method

-Improve that which you are week in

You can take the time to focus on weakness’s. During the season it is important to focus on this as well. But during the off season you can work on it much more with out worry that it might not be a good idea before “x” race. I know this might not be the most fun, but it can be treated as a goal and use this as motivation.

-Start strength training

Start hitting the gym once or twice a week with minimal weight. The idea is to get the soreness out of the legs (from lifting) before the base miles start again. Weight lifting can be fun, and really get some mental stamina back as well. This is also the appropriate time to rebuild any weakness from miles and miles on the bike.

-Cross train

Do you enjoy skiing? skating? or something else. This can be a great way to keep aerobic activity up but still do something fun and exciting. Go out there and enjoy!

-Set a Goal

Maybe there is a big late season race coming up. This is an excellent way to keep motivated. Just like the start of the season, set a goal and stick to it. There are several bodies of research that show how well the human psyche responds to goal setting and achieving.

What about a break?

Taking a break is very important, especially in a sport that is repetitious as cycling. If you consider the average training season is 4-500 hours long; that is 2 to 2.4 million pedal strokes. You need a break. For high endurance athletes (cyclist, some runners, long distance triathletes, adventure racers) your body can not maintain this for ever. You therefore need a break at some point. After a full season it is desirable to take 2 weeks or so off. I know I mentioned above you can and will loose some fitness, it is good to have cycles to everything during the training life.

Enjoy the off season.

Ride Hard


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