Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gordo Byrn

Strength Before Speed - Three Swim Sets

If you’ve ever had the experience of your arms turning to rubber after the first 400 of a swim start then this post is for you.

Open water swimming has more in common with a bike race than a time-trial. There are many rapid changes in pace and you need to be able to recover while continuing to move forward.

Persistance Pays

My buddy, Dan, qualified for Kona at Ironman Texas. I wanted to share some highlights from his journey.

Quite often, I’m asked to put together a 9-12 week program for Kona qualification. Dan’s journey with me took 14 years and goes back to when I started coaching.

Strength Before Speed

The best advice I can give a new athlete is work before work rate.

Prove that you can “do” before you worry about what you do.

After you’ve proven then you can “do work” the next tip is strength before speed. Put plainly: get your work rate up by moving uphill, rather than focusing on going fast for a long period.

Until your work-rate training is established, the “fast” part of your training should be focused on quickness, rather than velocity.

Here’s one of my favorite work-rate workouts.

Gordo’s Guide to Altitude Training and Racing

With our Boulder Camp coming up, I thought that I’d share the most common questions I receive about altitude.

Squat Technique

Gordo walks through good squat technique

Dynamic Lunges

Gordo demonstrates dynamic lunges for leg strength and stability and core development

Hip Bridges

Gordo demonstrates the hip bridge for developing glute strength and stability

Creating Your Kona Magic

Sue asked me for an abridged version of Qualifying For Kona. Given that’s she’s qualified more recently than me, I hope she shares her keys to the magic kingdom.

Focus on three things: Schedule, Joy and One-Thousand Days.

Three Common Mistakes with Teaching Kids to Swim

In January my daughter had her first swim meet. It was low-key with three events of 25 yards each (Free, Back and Fly). I’m not sure anybody kept score, and that’s a good thing as young people don’t have the ability to separate themselves from their performances.

Today, I’ll share what I’ve learned about teaching her to swim.

Pace Yourself

Always sad to see middle age athletes fall away from sport. The greatest challenges to health & fitness come in the later yrs. #PaceYourself
-Alan Couzens (@Alan_Couzens)

Alan’s tweet got me thinking about how we lose people from sport, and the health benefits that flow from an active lifestyle.

Tips for Active Parents

One of the better parenting tips I have received is to never compare my inside life with someone’s outer appearance. However, in looking at my family’s outside, I’d say they’re doing well. With three kids under six, we must be doing something right.

Six things that have helped me maintain my athletic sanity follow.

Big Steel Challenge 2014

This is the fifth winter where I’ve had a month dedicated to lifting as many pounds as possible. I want to encourage you to give it a shot because there is a material health and wellness benefit from the simple strategy of lift-often and lift-a-lot.

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 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?

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.

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?

Kona Threshold Bike Fitness

“Go fast when the race is slow”
- Robbie Ventura

Once you’ve demonstrated a deep understanding of my Principles of Pace, the next step in your development is considering how and where to apply additional effort into your event.

I’m going to share a case study that will help illustrate strategic hammering!

Managing Fatigue Towards Kona

During late spring and early summer, I typically share unconventional tips with my most successful athletes:

Consider your season over.
Make sure you don’t lose any more weight.
Go on holiday and drop some fitness.
Remove structure, head out and have fun.
Perhaps, it is time to train without the data for a bit.
Take some time to improve the non-athletic aspects of your life.

Why?

Overloading for Ironman Hawaii

Qualifying for Kona requires a lot of work and, even if you have all day to train, smart overload is an effective way to get better.

Athletes can waste a lot of energy worrying about the structure of their training plan. Prove that you can do the work before you worry about the structure.

How Fast Feels

Over the last few articles, we’ve been hitting you over the head with how little you know about pacing. Our goal was to instill humility, rather than beat you down!

While you might not know Kona-specific race pace, I’m going to share how fast feels. Cultivate these feelings during the Core Block workouts.

Power-Based Race Simulations

I thought that I’d share how I build a power-based race simulation rides for ironman. It’s not particularly complex (at least to me). The “art” comes from interpreting the fatigue that the athlete will carry into the marathon and not screwing up the run with an inappropriate bike-power strategy.

Specific Preparation: Part II (Core Block)

The main difference between training to qualify and training to compete is the workload of the key days and the spacing of the key workouts.

Mid-pack athletes might train themselves to ultimately complete the ironman distance across four to six days.

Aspiring Kona-qualifiers should build their programs so that they can complete the ironman distance across 30 hours and have the bulk of their training time done at or over specific race pace and power.

Specific Preparation: Part I

Before we get into the specific workouts that I use to prepare an athlete for Kona qualification, let’s review the nature of the event:

  • It’s really long
  • You swim, then bike, then run
  • Your best result comes from using your fitness in a way that optimizes your fuel supply across the distance
  • No matter how well you are prepared, it is likely that reality will be somewhat different than what you expected

Let’s look at the above in more depth and consider what is implied for you.

Basic Base for Ironman Hawaii

Following on from my last installment that covered Your Basic Week, I wanted to get into detail with practical examples of the specific work that is required to get you to Kona.

Before we get stuck into the detail, how are you doing with creating a life structure of a Kona Qualifier?

I ask because your best competition have finished their seasons, completed their rejuvenation blocks and are dropping back into a proven routine.

To be successful you need to create the space to follow a path that others find too difficult.

Your Kona Week

Following on from my first piece on about setting up your life structure to qualify for Kona, AC wrote a great piece on the physiological and training load requirements to position yourself to qualify.

In this article, I’m going to step back from the technical detail and dig a little deeper into my statement that you’re looking at four hours per day, most days, of time commitment.

If you haven’t qualified for Kona then you may have run the numbers on that statement and inferred that I’m talking about a 28-hour training week. That is not the case.

Navigating Your Kona Quest

In this article, I’ll discuss the five most common limiters to fast age group ironman performance. I’ll identify the issue and offer you specific tips to improve your race day performance.

How to Qualify - An Introduction


This initial article in our How to Quality series focuses specifically on advice for the athlete who wants to qualify for Kona. Through the series, past pieces are referenced where I addressed similar issues -- so if you really want to get stuck into the topic then we make it easier for you.

The entire series is in it's own library section: How To Qualify For Kona.

Let’s get started.

Health Warning Signs

This year, a friend of mine found out that he had advanced cancer. Another buddy discovered blood clots throughout his body. In both situations, starting treatment earlier would have been better.

Something I learned from our team doc (Jeff Shilt, M.D.) was to rule out the really bad stuff as quickly as possible.

Work Before Work Rate

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.

Real World Weight Loss

As a former “fat guy,” here are four tips that have made my life better and helped me keep the weight off.