Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gordo Byrn

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.


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.

Lessons from Tracking My Blood

Last week, I received the result of my final blood test for the year. I’ve been tweeting the results and pulled together a table and chart. I’ll leave it to the experts to analyze.

For background on my year of testing, please see My Biological Passport and My First Off Scores.

So, what did I learn?

Nutrition for Performance

When you look at what most athletes "do," you will quickly see that their training is not about goal race performance. Rather, training is driven by other factors in their lives -- most typically habit and peer group. If performance matters then understanding the emotional component of your nutritional choices is an essential starting point.

Run Technique - Part II

The second part of Gordo's run technique tips

Run Technique - Part I

Gordo's tips for running technique

Dealing with Bike Envy

I’ve often felt that life would be better if I had a better bike.

In May, I had a chance to ride a bike that was far better than anything I’d used before. The bike was a De Rosa Protos with Campy Super Record electronic shifting. The bike was everything I’d imagined, not surprising for an MSRP of close to $16,000.

The first two rides on the bike were heaven, with my mind scheming to justify how I could purchase such a fine machine.

Training Nutrition Hierarchy

I had a painful reminder of the need to train race nutrition last month when I was on vacation in Italy. The first two days I was riding long and intense, and was using my typical fueling strategy of four to six PowerGels at a time, chased with sports drink. At dinner on the first day, a headache kicked in that lasted close to two days. I realized that my body wasn’t used to coping with the level of sugar that I was throwing at it.

Running Rehab - Adding Load Wisely

Let’s recap my first article on Real World Rehab:

  1. Start by completing 50 runs of two miles -- took me three months
  2. Shorter of five miles and an hour -- every other day for another three months

The above will progress you to 7x45 minutes per 14 days. This works out to about 2:40 per week and will give you with a base of about 160 minutes per week that you’ll want to repeat for at least six weeks before adding my tips below.