Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Triathlon Swimming

In business, I have learned when I need a skill I don’t have, like programming, the best course of action for me is to outsource it to someone great. In triathlon, I wish I could outsource my swimming to someone who swims well... or even someone who swims only okay.

Seven years into the sport and I am still working hard on being a better swimmer. Here are my tips I wish I had known when I started long course training.

"Training" Before Real Training

Not more than a few weeks into the new year I heard two athletes talking about how they were on day 1 of their Ironman training. When I asked them what race they were training for they said Ironman Tahoe. I thought to myself, “Isn’t that about 9 months away?”

Hill Strides with Drill

Coach Marilyn Chychota's demo of hill strides with a butt flick drill to increase power and refine proper form

Discussing Benchmarking with IMTalk

When triathletes talk "benchmarking" they usually fall in one of two camps: The "old school" heart rate advocates and the "new school" power junkies. But does it have to be one or the other?

The Impact of Your Swim Fitness on Race Day

The approach to the swim for triathletes usually comes from one of two perspectives:

  1. I come from a swim background and it's my weapon.
  2. It is just something I'm trying to survive so I can get on with my race.

Either way, the impact the swim has on the total race is commonly overlooked.

EC Swim Challenge

Every year Endurance Corner puts together a two-week challenge for our athletes to up their swim training in February. This year we wanted to expand this challenge beyond our team and encourage anyone who visits the EC site to join us. Winter has been harsh this year (I’m pretty sure it’s snowing in Miami right now) and motivation can start to wane as the weather continues to be less than cooperative.

With that in mind, right now is the perfect time to give your swim fitness a bump with a two week overload.

What To Do About Amateur Doping

Dr. Larry Creswell's article on amateur triathletes and doping brings to light what I've known for a while. Lots of athletes are using PEDs.

If this is news to you then you're probably in a mixture of shock, denial and anger. I have spent years moving between these emotions.

Planning Your Season… A Different Perspective

While many of you have already planned out your season there are still a lot of athletes picking their peak races and trying to assess the best way to go about it. When I approach the planning of an athlete’s season I tend to look at in a slightly different than some others.

Top Takeaways from 2013

We may be a little into 2014 already, but as I sit back and reflect on 2013 and think about what worked in my coaching and what I can improve on, I can not help but think about each athlete I coached and what they have taught me.

Triathletes and Doping

Recently, an interesting study caught my eye. In the November 13, 2013 issue of PLOS ONE, a group of investigators from Germany reported on the prevalence of physical and cognitive doping in a group of nearly 3,000 age-group triathletes who took part in the Ironman Frankfurt, Ironman Regensburg, or Ironman 70.3 Wiesbaden events last summer. The study was simple and the results were perhaps surprising.

Season Benchmarking

We recently hosted a small webinar for EC coaches featuring Coach Alan Couzens that covered season benchmarking. A podcast of the presentation with corresponding powerpoint slides is now available for free.

Thoughts on Recovery

Recovery is one of the most important pieces to endurance sports success but it's also frequently misunderstood. What does true recovery really entail?

Planning Your Perfect Storm

For many long course triathletes, the big race of the season rolls into their life like a storm. They know the front is coming, they prepare for it, and then it meets life: family, work, and personal health. Like most storms forecasted by your local weather person, things seldom go to plan.

Strength Training Discussion with IMTalk

Earlier this month, IMTalk posted a question on their Facebook page about strength training:

“What type of strength training do you do (if at all), and do you believe it actually makes you better/fast”?

Let it Go

For the vast majority of us who have moved on to indoor rides, trail running, and sledding with the kids as “active recovery,” this period -- right now and for the next few months -- could very well be the most important period to the success of your 2014 season.

Mercuryman Triathlon

Our course profile for the Mercuryman Triathlon half iron-distance race in the Cayman Islands, provided by Sue Aquila.

The 20-Minute Challenge

In December I proposed a challenge to my squad to add 20 minutes of walking or jogging each day in addition to their normal training through the holiday season. As a coach I wanted to see who would commit to a challenge to give me some insight on where my athletes were motivation-wise.

Planning an Anabolic Cycle

As a coach, I’ve been watching cyclists get busted for bodybuilding drugs and wondering what I was missing.

Why would endurance athletes want to “get big?” Triathletes are always trying to “get small.”

Why are we seeing anabolic agents in ultra-endurance athletics?

Best of 2013

Like we do every year, Endurance Corner is taking a brief hiatus during the holiday season. We'll be back in January with advice to help you have your best season to date.

In the meantime, here's a recap of our some our top articles from the past year, along with some gems that you may have missed.

Sustainability: Part I

The time of year is upon us to take stock of those items that have been accomplished over the past year, those that fell by the wayside, and those on the radar for the coming year. This year I wanted to go beyond simply making a list of goals, intentions and objectives. I wanted to evaluate what it is that inhibits or enables the execution of those items we choose or are able to accomplish: Sustainability.

Lessons for Coaches

Typically, my end of year piece is about lessons that I learned as a coach that are helpful for athletes. This year, I’ll take a different tack and share lessons that I’ve learned as a coach that are helpful to maintain the passion in our work lives.

What to Work on in Early Winter

I often write about pacing your year. At this point in the Northern Hemisphere, your race season is months away. If you start doing high intensity or race specific work now a couple things will likely happen: you'll either come into form too early or you'll fall apart physically because the preparation work to do race specific efforts isn't there yet. Your performance by the time race season rolls around is either going to go backwards or will come to a halt.

Kona 2.0

If and when (think positive people!) you qualify for Kona the first time, you will not be alone if you suffer from a case of imposter syndrome. Some of us do this routine quietly. Others of us will tell fellow triathletes how they don’t really belong because of (insert disqualifier for qualifier here).

After the 2012 season, I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t a fluke.

Fatigue Curve Calculator

Looking for a simple way to understand your fatigue curve to spot areas of weaknesses and opportunities for improvement? Coach Alan Couzens has developed a calculator to do it for you.

A Coach's Experiment

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Experience is everything.” I’ve been hearing it from others as far back as Wildflower Long Course in 1998, my first year racing as a professional. I was 10th that year, Heather Fuhr had won and I was standing up on the stage next to Wendy Ingraham and a lot of other big names in the sport just smiling and being sort of amazed and overwhelmed thinking, “How am I going to get faster?” I said something to Wendy and she leaned over to me and said, “Gina, you're going to do great in the sport, just wait; experience is everything.”

At that time I thought “Wait, I want to be better now... Experience… what is she talking about?” But here I am 25 years later and am amazed at what years of experience can do.

Shift Work and Training

In addition to my role as Endurance Corner’s content editor and site manager, my “regular” job is as a Registered Nurse on a busy transplant unit at a hospital in south Texas.

For anyone out there trying to balance endurance sport with long, stressful days and a potentially inconsistent schedule, I want to assure you that it can be done. Here is what I have learned.

Essential Ingredients

Most athletes are at the end of their seasons and many are thinking about how they can break through in 2014. Now is the time of year where we often hear conversations about:

- Race distance focus
- Coaching changes
- Equipment tweaks
- Training protocol breakthroughs
- Data analysis

While these discussions can be interesting, I find them to be a distraction for most athletes seeking a breakthrough.

What really matters?

22 Questions: A Retrospective Analysis of Your A Race and Season

It’s that time of year again: most of you will have completed your “A” race for the season and will be left with a bunch of resulting powerful thoughts and emotions. Now is the time to use those thoughts and emotions to full effect by refining your training plan for 2014.

Ironman Cozumel

Our course profile for Ironman Cozumel, provided by Justin Daerr.

Season Review with Your Training Log

As the season comes to a close, many of you will be assessing whether or not it was a successful one. Regardless of the amount of success, it is helpful to look back on the season to see where you can make improvements. This is where an athlete and coach really benefit from a well-kept training journal. The more details you give in your journals throughout the year, the easier it is to take an objective look at your season and to give context (for example, how you felt) to the training you did.