Is it a good use of time to pursue deep swim fitness prior to your ironman? The answer may depend on how much time you have available to train outside of work and family obligations. But be honest, it is a safe bet that most Kona types are swimming quite a bit.
If you have the opportunity, I think it is worthwhile to develop deep swim fitness so that steady efforts keep you competitive out of the water at ironman. It is common to see athletes with lesser swim fitness over-swimming for 60-75 minutes and that can be the start of a cascade of problems later in the day.
In one of my previous articles I wrote about dealing with winter and a couple things to think about: prehab, endurance training and recovery.
Now that you have recovered from last year’s racing season and worked on preparing your body for the trauma 2011 holds, you will likely notice that you are still dealing with the winter. Every year I notice that a little extra discipline is essential to maintain focus until the warm sun shines again. Here are a few things that may be useful to help you get through these last few months of winter.
During the act of vacating (vacation), I had an opportunity to capture the picture of the man to the left trimming a palm tree. Who knew you had to trim palm trees? This man scurried up the tree with a rope and a machete. He proceeded to chop off the coconuts and the dead branches. I thought, wow, that is a tough dangerous job and it is a metaphor for so much of what we do professionally and as triathletes.
Ultraman Hawaii is, as many triathletes know, one of the longest and hardest triathlons on the planet. Even just completing the course is daunting not to mention, actually racing it!
The race offers the unique opportunity of three separate days that will take you around the Big Island and offer a taste of pretty much everything the island has in store of terms of terrain, weather, scenery and challenges.
Recently, I touched on the key elements of ironman success. In that article, I shared a favorite benchmarking session, the progressive bike test.
If I could pinpoint the main difference between my approach to endurance, and more classical approaches, it comes from a desire to optimize sub-maximal stamina. With the exception of my female and veteran athletes, I rarely focus on maximal performance.
by Alan Couzens, MS (Sports Science)
In the last article on season planning, I outlined some of the math involved in making accurate performance predictions/goals for the coming season.
What we need now is BENCHMARKS! A benchmark is a semi-specific fitness test that lets the athlete know:
Once we know the athlete's starting point and end destination (as described in the previous article), we can begin to identify some checkpoints along the way that let the coach and the athlete know they are on the right course.
I had a little debate with myself (in my head, not out loud) on what I wanted to cover that might help EC readers have their best racing season. I never really came to any one conclusion, so the following is a synopsis of the top three topics that seemed to win out amongst all the random ideas floating around in my head.
Most of the Northern Hemisphere population right now is stuck indoors for at least two more months. That means riding the trainer if you are committed to your 2011 season. Some will say winter is time to build your base... while most are stuck inside. Those two statements don't really go together.
In my opinion, if you've successfully completed a cycle or two of strength endurance work and high rpm neuromuscular work on the trainer or rollers the next step through these winter months is some extended tempo work once per week.
It’s that time of year when resolutions are on people’s minds. As we all know, one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to exercise -- often for the stated purpose of losing weight. But exercise is good for so much more. For those who want to keep score, here’s a quick tabulation of the documented health benefits of exercise.
I always start the year by drawing up plans for the season ahead, setting goals and identifying races. My first draft is at best impractical and at worst impossible. The following few weeks are spent altering the plan so it's testing, but achievable. I might hope to live up to those early intentions, but over-committing myself will lead to disappointment.
I may not be the best at planning, but by understanding the errors I make it might help you avoid them yourself.
2011 is here and we are looking for your best season ever. That won’t happen by mistake. I'll offer a few things I consider important to putting you in the right direction for a great year.
My athletic vocabulary is riddled with terms like "blew up," "bonked," or my favorite, "detonated." These phrases are a way for me to be overly dramatic and hide the fact that I made mistakes.
Anyone that spends a lot of time in the kitchen knows that there are three types of cooking: using a recipe, using a formula or winging it. A recipe is perfect for repeating a dish in terms of flavor and consistency. A formula is necessary for anything involving a chemical reaction such as baking. Formula’s are much less forgiving than recipes and frequent tinkering often results in a baking disaster. Winging it is fun and leads to often terrific dishes that the chef is never able to replicate.
I know triathletes and business owners that generally fall into the three cooking categories. Many successful ones tend to fall into the recipe method. The truly outstanding ones seem to subscribe to the formula method.
Having worked with hundreds of good athletes, I’ve been thinking about the characteristics that appear unique to the handful of great athletes that have come into my life.
What separates the great from the good?
In this month of New Year’s resolutions, conversations turn towards the question: “So, what’s in store for this season?” A new year is a clean slate, full of promise, ready to be inscribed with training blocks, events, and we hope, new personal records.
In considering how to mark up that slate so that it will deliver your most satisfying season, I’d like to explore some principles behind the psychology of satisfaction. I hope that reflecting on these ideas will help with the approach to your season plan.
In 2010, Curt Chesney won his age group at IM Hawaii and 70.3 Worlds in Clearwater. Here, he explains how he prepared himself to manage the heat of Kona to come out on top.
The topic for this month's column is deep venous thrombosis (DVT), an extremely dangerous condition where a clot forms in the largest of the venous vessels of the upper and/or lower extremities. This condition results in sudden swelling of the affected limb, often with associated warmth, redness of the skin and a deep aching pain. DVTs can masquerade as muscular or myofascial trauma and skin infection, also known as cellulitis when extreme.
While no definitive studies on incidence or prevalence of DVT or pulmonary embolus exist specifically for long-course triathletes, many scholarly works report the relatively high risk endurance athletes may face with respect to the general population.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
The theme for January at EC is “Having your best season ever” so I figured it apt to begin at the beginning and look at how to go about undertaking that crucial first step of setting performance goals for the 2011 season.
In part one I shared some thoughts about the importance of mentoring and being mentored. I would like to share some additional personal experience and add specific examples of ways we can add value to others at home, work and play. I include all three because mentoring is a lifestyle that focuses on others. While I have opinions, it’s important for me to point out that I have struggled with the lifestyle off and on in my time. Writing my thoughts out is a useful way to speaking to myself as well as others.
As we look forward to the new multisport season we often find ourselves examining ways to optimize performance. Over time I’ve discovered that looking forward requires that you look back… at successes, losses and lessons learned.
In examining my 2010 season I was initially conflicted. I didn’t go to any World Championships; I didn’t PR at an Ironman. On paper it doesn’t look like a very successful year. But digging a bit deeper, I realized that it was my best season ever. Here are a few things that made it that way for me. Maybe they can help you as you consider 2011.
The last two months I have focused on technical improvements in my swimming. One thing that helped was hypoxic breathing (aka the "every breath I don't take" drills). The first time I attempted hypoxic breathing was a disaster. Breathing every five strokes was difficult, breathing every seven was a nightmare and breathing every nine would require a therapist and medivac.
I realized the problem was in my brain and my intentions. Time for a change.
We've all had a bit too much to eat, a few too many treats and are ready to transition from holiday mode to work mode with our triathlon goals. Hopefully you've kept some frequency ticking over with your running amongst the holiday cheer and kept the weight gain within reason.
Volume, low heart rate and base should all be part of your thoughts and training this time of year, especially with running. Aiming for new volume targets is going to help you achieve some new run performances in 2011. Backing up good consistent volume for many weeks in a row is key.
Retraining our minds is the single greatest thing that we can do for self-improvement. However, it can be challenging to rewire decades of neural pathways and habits.
Mark Allen shared with me the observation that, before we can get our race together, we must get our lives together. Here how I go about it.
When I first started triathlon, I was living in College Station, Texas. We typically experienced a handful of days each winter that really embodied that season; and even then, those days rarely occurred in succession. In reality, the winter months were the best months of the year to train in that part of the country. Our challenges came in the summer months (which is about eight months of the year in that part of Texas), but even that was a little more manageable than long periods of cold, dark, snowy days.
This is the time of year where most of us are tied to our trainers. It's much too far from most races to be hitting high intensity, yet aimless riding indoors is both mind numbing and butt numbing.
From December through wintery February, I recommend hitting these four sessions each week to come out of winter flying and strong.
As endurance athletes, most of us have been injured at some point in time. I’m no stranger to injuries and over the years have learned a lot about my body and what it takes to get to the start line healthy. Here, I discuss my experience with shoulder surgery from diagnosis to recovery and share four lessons that I learned.