Author Archive

Raising The Bar

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

One question I receive pretty often from athletes involved in triathlon and other sports, is: “what’s a good nutrition bar for me to eat during the day?”. Obviously your bar choice depends on when you are having it relative to your workouts. This post aims to provide some guidance for those periods between workouts (not during workouts or immediately before). In my opinion, the function/qualities to look for when choosing a bar during these key periods are:

1) Provide lean protein to facilitate soft tissue recovery between workouts.

2) Have a minimal and smooth response to blood sugar (low glycemic load). This is typically achieved by having some decent quantity of protein and fat with minimal sugar.

3) Avoid artificial sweeteners.

4) Provide some nutrient density through vitamins and minerals.

5) Provide natural, organic ingredients when possible.

Recently, I’ve been using a handy, rule of thumb equation when choosing sports bars while traveling or in need of a convenient source of food on the go. What’s done here is you add sugar to carbohydrates and subtract fiber. Then take that number and divide it by fat plus protein. If the result of that little equation is less than 2, the bar is good to eat between workouts for convenience. What this equation attempts to do is, magnify the blood sugar impact of the carbohydrates in the bar by double counting the sugars. It also try’s to take advantage of the low blood sugar response from fiber by subtracting it from the carbohydrate count. Then, this resulting number is divided by fat plus protein which both have a dulling affect on blood sugar response due to slowed digestion. This equation satisfies numbers 1 and 2 from my list above while #3, 4, and 5 should be satisfied by inspection of the ingredient list.

Of course the best way to provide nutrient density, antioxidants, and macronutrients is through real foods (like lean meats, fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds) however, sometimes it’s difficult and impractical to lug around all of these foods while traveling. Given that, nutrition bars are a convenient replacement during these periods when something like a bar is better than nothing at all. This is particularly important to the athlete where frequent eating, steady blood sugar, and steady intake of sufficient protein/fat are paramount.

(Carbs+Sugar-Fiber)/(Fat+Protein) less than 2……..

-Jesse

St. Croix 70.3 Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Well, I’ve fallen a bit behind with my blog posts over the last month so hope to catch up with a few over the next few weeks….stay tuned. I definitely have a bunch of coaching thoughts to share that have been bouncing around. However, this post is meant to address St Croix 70.3 in which 10 QT2 athletes raced this past weekend!

This is one of those races that when you mention it, everyone knows what you are talking about and everyone knows its a tough race. I’ve confirmed that assumption this weekend for sure!

After arriving on the island on friday afternoon, we (all 10 QT2 athletes) began our carb load with a pasta dinner. Saturday was then the typical large breakfast where QT2 hosted a breakfast at the beautiful Divi Carina Bay Resort (ocean front). The rest of the day was the typical lay around the hotel room and eat grains, go over race pacing and nutrition plans with the athletes, and get rev’d up for a tough race.

I have to say, this race is MUCH different than your normal 70.3. Arriving at transition is more like arriving at your local sprint triathlon with an open transition area, minimal security, and unfair transition entrance/exit. Kind of nice to see the laid back atmosphere at a race that’s STACKED with top pros and age groupers. It seemed to me right away that this year’s race had really attracted some top athletes on both the amateur side and pro side. This is always good news and a good challenge for our athletes.

The race start was pretty calm but quickly became a rough open water swim with no wet suit and some seriously salty water. I felt great in the water and really THOUGHT I had a great swim. However, coming into T1 I found I was 15th in my age group! Well, that was a surprise but nothing to get hung up on. Later on I found that I had likely one of my worst swims in about 3 years……I must have been all over the place out there on the course! With that, I was about 3 minutes slower than typical relative to other folks I was racing with (it happens, again nothing to get hung up on).

Heading out on the bike, I began executing my fueling plan which was critical for a day like that forecasted (85-90 degrees). Like most competitive, hot tough races, dozens of people went out too hard on the bike and I very quickly fell back to 20-30th in my age group before 25 miles into the ride. The “beast” came which is advertised as a terrifying climb but really wasn’t too bad when controlled with a capped power number/perceived exertion which helped “flatten out the course”. Following that climb, the field really seemed to take a hit, and I wasn’t passed again on the bike for the remainder of the ride. The last 10 miles I passed at least 10-15 people that had passed me earlier in the day. And boy, it was getting hot!!

Going into the race, I thought I’d catch Cait Snow right at the end of the bike ride since she started with a 4 minute lead over me, which proved to be true as we rolled into transition together. The run started off very well, finding a rhythm of 6:15 pace through 3 miles. Cait began to pull away from me as I wasn’t able to (or planning to) match her pace. Now, everyone knows the bike course in st croix and the “beast”, but heck, this was likely the toughest half iron run course I’ve seen! The hills and heat really hit home when combined with the hills and heat of the bike course that precede it. Having said that, I was able to keep a steady and strong pace throughout the run. About half way through, I saw all of our other athletes on the course, which was a relief after a dangerous bike course. Everyone looked fantastic, and of course were ripping through the field in the typical QT2 fashion on the run. I finished the second loop with a total run pace of about 6:30 on my garmin and having passed a whole bunch of folks in my age group. Having said that, I really had no clue where I placed. Later I found that I had come in 3rd in my AG about 4 minutes back from the two in front of me. Had I wanted a kona slot, I’d have been pretty pissed about my swim, that’s for sure (there were 2 slots up for grabs)!!!

Everyone else who raced (other than Phil who got 2 flats, and ran his bike into T2!), finished dead on expectations which we had calculated prior to the event. What a day! I couldn’t be happier with our athlete progress at this point in the season. The hard work is paying off. Sometimes I think its tough for new athletes to see their progress on very tough, very competitive races like this one, and I must reiterate that they are doing fantastic and push them to see the light and positives of their performance. This is important for a healthy mental cycle in racing. Of note, Tim Snow had a VERY solid day (which was great to see), as well as Cait (his wife) who was dead on our calculated targeted time as usual. Also, my wife Chrissie continues to impress everyone with a 7th place age group finish at her 4th half iron and 6th triathlon ever! She is looking fantastic for Lake Placid and has a very good shot at going sub 11 there in her first IM…..amazing. Then again, she does have a decent coach :). I’m SO proud.

Next up: Mooseman, where 16 QT2 athletes will descend on the Half Iron there and hopefully produce some powerful results. This one will be a blast.

-Jesse

New Orleans 70.3 Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

New Orleans 70.3 proved to be one tough race! Although that course CAN be very fast, this weekend it was not! We were greeted to a long swim, and Kona like conditions on the bike and run. Luckily I love hot and humid conditions which these were……could have done without the wind though!

Being the first Tri of the season, it’s always exciting to pull a race together and see what the outcome will be. This was no different. Off the starting gun, I was able to go off the front of the pack and then settle into a rhythm. A group of 3 outpaced me immediately and I was then forced to swim alone between that group of 3 and the rest of the pack. It was actually quite nice to swim alone with zero “contact” the whole swim. Having said that, I came out of the water 4th in my wave with a pretty darn good swim time relative to the field. I swam 30:xx which on a day where the fastest times were 24:xx….I’ll take it!

Onto the bike……I began executing my race fueling plan without a hitch. I did notice the heat though and began taking fluid beyond what my plan calls for until I pee’d once on the bike. The bike was very flat, hot and very windy. I knew immediately after the first turn around that the goal outcome of a 2:15 ride wouldn’t be possible so I readjusted and pedaled 90-92 rpm into the wind. I then came off the bike in 2:23:xx which I was happy with given the conditions and early season event.

Onto the run…..again with the heat and wind I knew my goal outcome run time wouldn’t happen so readjusted my pacing plan to go out at 6:18 and hold that as long as possible. I held it very well until about mile 10 where it slid to about 6:35 through the finish. This had me average 6:25 on my Garmin and not a bad run split given the conditions and early season event. Total run was 1:25:xx. What a nice finish line area in the French Quarter! Just a huge field of 2500+ made this race an interesting one. I ended up as the 5th amateur in 4:23 being bested by Chris Casey, one of the athletes I coach who had a stellar day finishing 4th. He has a ton of talent and will have a phenomenal season given where his training is now. Other beatings I took by the athletes I coach were Tim Snow as usual, and for the first time (since the late 90s), Cait Snow! This one I couldn’t be happier about since her progress is a reflection that what we are doing, is doing its job. Again, it’s going to be a great season for her since we still have dials left to turn going into the season.

Our other QT2 athletes had fantastic days as well producing multiple PRs even with the tough conditions. A couple of exceptions including a QT2 guy who almost chopped his fingers off by reaching for his speed sensor on the bike, and one other due to the race organization running out of Gatorade/fluid for the second half of the bike and run.

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I couldn’t be happier with the race results we had at NOLA, California 70.3, and Lone Star, among others this weekend! Off to a great start……

Next up: St Croix 70.3 where my goal outcome will be 4:35 and a top 3 amateur placing.

New Orleans Preview

Written by Jesse. Posted in Uncategorized

Here we go again…race week before a 70.3. Every year it seems like the winter may never end but then before I know it, I’m on the starting line of a half ironman. This year is no different with the inaugural New Orleans 70.3 this coming Sunday. I’m particularly excited for this event since I’ll be joined by 10+ QT2 athletes on the starting line! Everyone doing this event is in great shape and ready to rock this early season 70.3.

The venue looks to be very flat and warm which is a stark contrast to last year where I raced Oceanside and froze in the hills. I really enjoy hot racing, hence my choice to do St Croix in another 4 weeks!

Fitness: things have gone very well in training for me over the past 21 weeks since the start of the 2009 training season. Although I see myself as a coach more than an athlete these days, I still manage to throw down some decent training and then nail my nutrition on a day to day basis. This approach allows me to continue to improve from year to year somehow even as external stressors continue to increase. Here are some facts and figures from where I sit today (because god knows I love facts and figures!):

Swim-
400TT: 4:48
DUR: 12,000 yards

Bike-
20 min power: 343 watts
DUR: 319 miles

Run-
5K: 15:45
DUR: 37 miles

Body comp-
Weight: 159 pounds
Body Fat: 6.3%
BMI: 22.2

**DUR = Average of 2 highest volume training weeks during previous 6 weeks

Where does all of this put me for the race this coming weekend? Well, as most people know, I like to think of race speed potential as the combination of durability and single sport speed potential. As shown by my training volumes above, I have met critical volume for the event. This means I have the durability required to meet my speed potential curve at this race distance. Therefore, my race speed potential will be defined by my single sport speed potentials:

My 400TT is about 3 seconds faster than my best last year; my 20 min power is about 13 watts beyond my best last year; and my 5K is about equal to my best last year. Body composition wise, I’m a bit heavier at the same body fat as last year meaning I’ve put on a bit of muscle which is likely reflected in my increased power on the bike. I’m also not yet down to optimal body fat percentage since this is a depleted position not worth wasting on an early season race. Lastly, my BMI is about 22.2 which is right in the range of most top male triathletes at optimal body composition. Most pros fall between 21 and 23 at optimal body fat percentage. This range can be used as the indicator that a particular athletes has the right amount of muscle on their body to race well (not too much, not too little). It’s also a great tool to look at where limiters may be in triathletes.

So, given all of these performance indicators, and the course that is expected in New Orleans, I get the following estimate on race time using the Triathlon Calculator:

Swim: 27:00-28:00
Bike: 2:13-2:16
Run: 1:19-1:22

TOTAL: 4:05-4:10

This reflects about a 5-7 minute improvement over last year on a similar course which is always the goals from year to year (5-7 at half, and ~15 at full). Now it just comes down to executing my race fueling plan as well as the pacing recommended by the Triathlon Calculator (which is based on my current performance indicators).

For those not familiar with QT2, this is a piece of the same approach we take with all of our athletes in setting targets, tracking progress, and determining reasonable outcomes.

-Jesse

Goals II

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

My previous post addressed goals, what they mean, and the best way to approach these from a macro perspective. This post is an add-on addressing how these same buckets can be used on race day or during tough training sessions at the micro level.

When the gun goes off on race day, many people don’t truly know what they are cable of in terms of performance. Because of that, many folks over pace the day by going out too hard, and then end up physiologically fried later in the day. This over pacing issue also interrelates to having trouble handling the nutrition required to properly fuel the body. These two issues typically combine to provide many walkers out on the course late in the day.

On race day, you may find yourself saying “I should be going faster today, Joey just past me, I’m 5th in my AG when I want to be 3rd”…this is a negative mental pattern and at the bottom of my list from my last post……”Outcomes“. If you find yourself thinking like this on race day, very quickly redirect your thoughts to the top of the list. That is, “I’m being tough, I’m following my pace plan, I’m following my fueling plan”…”Goals“. Once you establish that corrected thought process and feel solid with it, then move to your targets……”How is my wattage compared to where I expect it to be, how is my pace compared to where I expect it to be based on my training”…”Targets“. Race day (during the event) is not the time to consider the outcomes bucket unless you are at a VERY high level (top 10 at Kona) or in the closing miles of an event where you may be mono-e-mono with another racer. 95% of the time, it’s only worth considering the outcomes bucket after you cross the finish line. Even then, it should be approached with caution and really taken with a grain of salt if all of the goals and targets were met that day. As you sit down and review the successfulness of the race in your head, start with the goals (was I tough, did I execute the race fueling plan), then move to your targets (how was my wattage, how was my pace), and lastly the outcomes (where did I place, what was my time). Again, if the goals and targets were met on a particular day, it was a success…take the outcomes very lightly.

Folks who focus on the outcomes right off the starting line set themselves up for over pacing which leads to trouble in race fueling, and typically a disappointing race day where they do not meet their performance potential. It also produces inconsistent race performances.

The race season is upon us and I hope this series of “goals” posts hit home with all those folks on IM race day that have high hopes and over pace the early portion of the event…they end up disappointed even after making tremendous sacrifices in training and after spending time away from their families. Remember, training is just one of 4 tires on the car (training, nutrition, race fueling, race pacing). If any one of those tires is missing, it won’t go forward so well…

-Jesse

Goals

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

“Goals”. What are they? You hear them all the time in training circles and forums throughout the triathlon community. I like to use the following “buckets” to better describe what we are talking about here:

“Goals” – examples under this bucket are: I am going to be tough, I’m not going to give up no matter how hard things get, I’m going to follow my pacing plan, I’m going to follow my fueling plan. These are better described as those items in which you have 100 percent control over.

“Targets” – examples here are: I’m going to average 250 watts, I’m going to run 7:45 pace on the run. These are items you have a bit less control over but are directly related to your training and therefore can be predicted very closely. Running pace and swim pace obviously have the course specifics factored in as well and are therefore a bit less tangible.

“Outcomes” – examples here are: age group or overall placing, race time, kona slot qualification, etc. These items are those items that you have the least control over and are really just an outcome of the previous two buckets.

What you start to see when you look at “goals” like this is that priority should be given at the top and reduce as you work toward the bottom. Another way to look at this thought is in series like this: Goals->Targets->Outcomes. Unfortunately most people tend to think about this topic opposite to that which tends to create improper pacing strategies, missed “goals”, and disappointment. Ultimately, these people have a much tougher time reaching their race objectives and spend half of there season disappointed in themselves because they “didn’t beat Mary Jane on the bike”. This is an unhealthy mental pattern for athletes of all abilities.

Athletes tend to be the most upset about the bottom (outcome) going wrong when they should more displeased when the top goes wrong. When focus is given to the top, what you find is that the outcomes are there as a result. Most athletes need to begin with focus at the top and slowly move toward the bottom as they develop as an athlete and have mastered the top. The top items are those that you have complete control over; if those can’t be mastered, there is really no basis to give the bottom much thought.

Unfortunately, most people start by saying “I want to qualify for Kona this season, what do I have to do” without even knowing if this is a reasonable outcome. That is, do they have the ability to be tough, can they execute their race plan time and time again, and do they have the “targets” required to make that goal outcome (qualify for Kona) a reality.

-Jesse

BTT Indoor TT

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Another indoor TT and another ~20 minute bout of pain. This one was at Landry’s Cycling Shop in Boston….a great venue for such an event with plenty of space for warm-ups and spectating.

The day started with my wife Chrissie in an early heat. Our goal for her going in was to hold 240 watts which she started out having no problem with. Unfortunately they had forgotten to enter her weight into the set up program and she was asked to stop the TT about 10 minutes into it which she refused. When she was finished with her heat, her time was too fast due to no weight being entered (although her power was dead on at 242 watts). Due to that, they discounted her time. Her being who she is was not happy with this and after some minimal convincing decided to DO IT AGAIN. Now, for anyone who has done one of these, the thought of having to go twice is absolutely absurd. After a gel, and a few sips of Power Bar Endurance, she was off in the next heat. Going in, I had instructed her to hold just 2-4 watts less than the last round which she was able to do averaging 241 watts (just 1 less than the 1st go!). Having the weight entered correctly the 2nd time, she placed 2nd overall in the woman’s group just 1 second ahead of Cait Snow who also had a spot-on day. Cait’s power was dead in-line with expectations and shows the bike focus we are running is doing its job….going to be a great season for her.

On to me….my bike strength has really come along in the past 2-4 weeks due to a slight focus in that area. Going in I had hoped to show a 20 minute power of about 330 watts. This course was not setup the best for me total time wise being a climb from start to finish. Due to that, those riders with superior power/weight ratios clearly had the advantage. Never-the-less, I gave it my all. After correcting the results for what appears as errors, I believe I came in 6th overall with 354 watts (equal to about 336 real world 20-minute watts). This power is about 10 watts beyond my best last year which I can hardly believe since a typical increase from year-to-year is about 7 watts at my level (maybe 10-12 with a bike focus). I was bested by two fellow teammates Chris Casey and Tim snow whom also I coach which is always a good feeling. These guys are getting very strong on the bike and setting themselves up for a solid season (really, really, looking forward to seeing what they can do). Our other QT2 athletes had solid days too with 10-15 athletes racing. A couple of other’s with stand-out strong performances that I haven’t already mentioned were Lauren Scafidi, and Michelle Joaquin….keep up the great work guys.

btttt.JPG

Next up: New Orleans 70.3 where a flat fast course could mean PR’s for many QT2 athletes. My goal outcome is sub 4:10 which will be dictated by the course

Hyannis Half Marathon Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Sunday was the Hyannis half marathon. This is typically a great weekend where we run the race and then ride 3-4 hours down in Hyannis where it’s typically a bit warmer. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had different plans this year and a cold rain began following the race ….no ride outside! Of course this didn’t slow us down much, as we rode 3:30 inside on the trainers in a basement.

As for the race itself, this was the first test of the season which proved to be very successful for all of our athletes. Going in my goal was to head out the first mile at 5:43 and then settle into 5:48 and average that through the finish. This pacing was based on output from www.runcalculator.com and my most recent zone 1 paces. It seemed quite fast considering I hadn’t run below 6:50 in over 8 weeks since the 5K I did in December! However, I trusted the calculator and hit the first 2 miles in 5:43 which actually felt VERY comfortable. I ended up holding this pace on the Garmin through mile 10 at which point it began to slide a bit as we hit the hills and head winds. The last 2-3 miles is always a grind and this proved to be no different. I hit the finish line with a 5:48 average on the Garmin which was dead in line with my current performance indicators from training. This was good enough for a PR and 4th place finish and also shows how aerobically driven this sport is (no running even within 1 minute of race pace in training for the last 8 weeks). On a side note, this was my 5th half marathon and 5th PR. I’ve never run a half marathon and not PR’d which is of course always the focus and a good indicator that what you are doing is producing the intended development of the aerobic system. Given the bike and run durability I will have at IMLP, and my current run speed potential, I’m in a good spot this year to run 3:05 off the bike I believe.

On another note, we had many QT2 athletes race who produced multiple PRs and great races overall….it was great to see everyone! The standouts were Tim and Cait with their overall wins, Chrissie and Michelle with 1:30 performances, Pat with a 2 minute PR, and Mark who had a ~20 minute PR. On the elite side, Cait is on track for the season goals we have set with a sub 1:20 performance as well as Pat. Tim had a slower day than last year which was expected and shows he’s finally becoming cyclist given the need he has in that area, and the focus we have devoted to it.

Next Up: BTT Indoor TT next weekend!

Team Psycho Indoor TT

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

I know this writing is a bit late……but better late than never. Two Sunday’s ago was the first decent test of the season on the bike at the annual Team Psycho indoor time trial. This event has become a popular staple in the New England area and is held at the team QT2 sponsoring shop of Fast:Splits multisport in Newton, MA.

The course is a heart pumping 15k which for anyone who has never done one of these is very, very hard. Somehow it’s more painful than a 5k road race if that’s possible. Going into the event I figured I was bit stronger than last year (by about 3-4 watts based on recent training indicators for a 317W 20 min power) which proved to be correct as I rode a few seconds faster. My wife Chrissie was the real story though as she finally rode to her potential and came in 4th overall in the woman’s field just 22 seconds behind Karen Smyers. She is very strong on the bike and has been training hard so it’s nice to see her take care of the mental aspect and perform to her potential given her current fitness level (which has been proved in training).

Another great story was Pat Wheeler who we worked hard with over the winter to gain strength and some muscle through diet and focused weight routines in the gym. The good news is that the hard work paid off and he rode a few seconds faster than I did which last year would have been impossible.

We had many other QT2 athletes’ race who showed they have been working hard over the winter and are busting at the seams to get outdoors. Time for some of the sacrifices made over the winter to pay off!

It’s shaping up to be a great season again……

-Jesse

What is “Durability”?

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

Durability, or peripheral system toughness as QT2 calls it is defined by three main things as it relates to the QT2 protocol. These are the concepts that the volume/experience input of the triathlon calculator tries to capture:

1) Aerobic efficiency…..the ability to maintain primarily aerobic fat oxidation at a high pace relative to vo2 max pace. This is built through fairly high volume at very aerobic paces. High volume is defined by critical volume for your race distance. Essentially this says how robust your aerobic system must be for a particular race distance before its worth doing speed work. Any volume less than this cause’s significant race speed loss (degradation).

2) Soft tissue toughness. This is built through strength work in the gym, volume (repetition of force), and experience racing the distance we are discussing.

3) Mental ability. This defines the ability to meet your speed potentials on race day. This is built through getting the training done and experience racing the distance we are discussing.

This is a simple no magic approach to training. The key is “durability” must be met before anything else since this will be the primary loss of time in any race where critical volume is not met.

-Jesse

Ironman Workshop

Written by Jesse. Posted in Uncategorized

For those of you interested, I will be leading an Ironman training/nutrition workshop at the New England Multisport Expo on March 22. This 90 minute workshop will literally cover (at a summary level) all of the major QT2 training/nutrition protocols. For those of you that have expressed interest in our methods, this workshop will be a fantastic opportunity to get a more in depth look at what we (QT2) do. Be warned though, if you do decide to come, come prepared! I plan to cover A LOT of information within the 90 minute period. I also plan to treat the session informally to provide a great opportunity for participants to ask questions.

I am excited about this work session!

MORE INFORMATION HERE

“Junk Miles”

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

This is another one of those topics which you constantly hear people rumbling about and again it’s another one of those topics in which people look for ONE answer. The purpose of this writing is to clear up some of the confusion surrounding this discussion. The bottom line is that you don’t know if so called “Junk Miles” are actually junk miles unless you learn about an athlete’s race objectives (which help put a frame work around the need for extra miles). Here are the two scenarios:

1) An athlete who is training for the Olympic distance who is doing 15 hours of training per week. This athlete is just above critical volume for his event. With that, he has the durability required to meet his speed potential at that distance. If he now decided to go out and spend another 2-3 hours at a very low intensity just rolling around on his bike, those would be junk miles. See, in this situation the extra volume which is not required for durability really just impedes recovery from his quality workouts and dulls his speed potential development through increased catabolic hormones, soft tissue damage, etc. A better approach to adding stress for adaptation (improved speed potential) would be additional intensity work within the same volume range.

2) Next, we have an athlete who is training for the IM doing 20 hours per week. He is training at about 2/3 critical volume and therefore does not have the required to meet his speed potential at that distance. If he now decided to go out and spend another 2-3 hours at a very low intensity on his bike, that would be extremely valuable durability training. What we find is that the major limiter in IM racing (especially in the AG ranks) is the lack of durability. Here, every mile that gets you closer to critical volume will get you to the finish line faster. That is, these extra miles while training for the IM actually target the area where most athletes are limited…..durability. The addition of intensity in this situation although may improve speed potential, really just increases the risk of injury. Unfortunately, any increase in speed potential is very small relative to the a gain in durability which would come with extra miles……the intensity work is just not worth the risk. Long term progress is all about consistency; particularly in IM racing.

In summary, never train too far beyond critical volume since this will begin to impact speed potential development. A better path to added race speed is intensity work within the same volume (at critical). Conversely, since durability is a major limiter in longer distance racing where critical volume is typically not met, every mile is valuable so another 2-3 hours of low intensity work will help race speed. With these clarifications on a cloudy topic, it’s now easy to see what junk miles are and how they can impede progress if they are miles beyond what’s needed for your race distance.

-Jesse

Why Numbers?

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

These are my top 4 reasons why this is the way to train if you are serious about improvement. The alternative is to continue training with a fluffy, “hope what I’m doing in training is right and I hope there is magic on race day” approach. Sorry to be so forward with this but I feel it’s probably one of the most missed concepts by serious athletes and what typically separates the top of the field from the rest.

1) Never once with any of the athletes I have coached or do coach have I seen an athlete magically beat what their performance indicators (20 min wattage, 5k pace, 400 yard TT pace) tell us they should do. They are typically in-line with expectations unless slower because something went drastically wrong. Almost never faster.

2) Numbers provide focus in training. Focus is one of the keys to long term progress that keeps you pressing on your previous bests. Without numbers, your body wants to stay where it is so your training will do the same. You’re likely to go too hard on recovery days and not hard enough on key days.

3) Unfortunately there is no magic on race day. Typically folks who train and race by feel, believe there is some level of magic that will occur on race day…..this is simply not true. Knowing what you are capable of and executing that on race day accordingly will result in what’s expected based on your training. Unrealistic race goals that are pulled from thin air result in disappointing performances as well as detrimental pacing strategies.

4) Unfortunately, many people connect some emotional/personal basis to their goals (i.e., they just choose a race goal because that is the time they would LIKE to do with no real physical basis for that goal). That’s not what goals should be about and typically results in failure. The emotional/personal part should be executed in training as you make sacrifices to hit the goal performance indicator numbers you’d like to. Once race day comes, it’s about executing your plan and letting those numbers (the one’s you’ve created in training) unfold. Then, it’s back to the emotional/personal as you enjoy the result of your sacrifices.

Sorry this paints such an objective picture of racing, but after 10+ years in the sport, I can tell you that there is no magic. The closest thing is the magic that allows age group athletes to work 40+ hours, take care of their children/family, and still train 25+ hours per week……that’s magic.

Happy New Year!

-Jesse

Navigating Holiday Eating

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

The holidays are always a tough time to stay consistent with a diet and reach the body composition goals you may have set. Of course a quantitative approach through specific macronutrient goals with a food log is the best approach however, not everyone is willing to do that. To help others, the following are my qualitative rules as I go through each holiday season which help me to keep from putting on loose baggage before the following season:

1) Don’t eat Bad Unless You Have to: Since holiday parties are tough enough to navigate in terms of eating, it’s important that you eat as well as possible during periods when you are not at a holiday party. A perfect example is when you are at work and a coworker brings in left-over cake from a party the previous weekend. Now of course it would be nice to have that cake but since it’s an easy temptation to avoid I typically avoid it. Later that week when you are at a holiday party it will be much tougher to avoid eating bad so don’t make the mistake of eating bad when you don’t need to.

2) Prepare For Holiday Eating Both Before and After: If you are having a holiday luncheon on a particular day where you know there will be high fat content foods and you will be eating them, make sure you prepare for it by eating a low fat menu that morning and afternoon. That is, if you typically have nuts in the morning on a normal day for healthy essential fatty acids, consider deleting those nuts on the holiday luncheon morning to balance out the total fat content. Same goes for the afternoon of the holiday luncheon day. Of course you have replaced essential fatty acids with low quality saturated fats but hopefully the replacement helps offset the total amount of fat consumed that day.

3) Plan Within Workout Windows: When possible, try to plan your workouts to fit within periods either prior to larger eating occasions or just after. This will help use the additional calories consumed to either fuel a workout or recover from a workout instead of adding additional body fat while being inactive.

4) Eat Protein When Possible At Parties: Choose high protein foods over high carbohydrate foods whenever possible at party environments. In most cases at holiday parties, both of these will be accompanied by high fat content however, the higher protein items will dilute your body’s blood sugar response relative to the higher carbohydrate items and therefore potentially reduce the amount of body fat gained.

Eating to avoid adding body fat during the holidays really isn’t too difficult if you think logically and show a bit of restraint during periods when it’s easier to do that. I hope these tips help. Happy holidays!

-Jesse

Jolly Jaunt 5K Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Sunday was the first test of the season…the Jolly Jaunt 5K in Boston. This was a really nice event run out of the Boston Common (~1,000 racers). Race day was a crisp 25 degrees with clear skies. Definitely not the 90+ degree humidity I had dealt with the last time I raced 8 weeks prior in Kona. For sure, not the same body I raced with back then either. About 14 pounds to the heavier and just two weeks of real training under my belt guaranteed it wouldn’t be my fastest day but rather a day to use as a benchmark going forward from, a comparison to previous years, and an assessment of aerobic fitness (after correcting for the major weight difference). The goal going in was 17:45-18:00. I went 17:45 so was pleased with results overall.

All of the other QT2 folks (Pat, Molly, Chrissie, Tim, Cait, and Keith) had good days also considering where they are in training which always makes me happier than my own results alone. Lots of work to do looking forward for everyone!

Next Up: The Wicked Frosty 4-miler on New Year’s Day where the goal will be sub 22:45. 3 pounds lighter and a bit more aerobic fitness should do the trick!

-Jesse

Back at It!

Written by Jesse. Posted in Uncategorized

Saturday will be my first official test for the 2009 season…the Jolly Jaunt 5K in Boston. After just 3 weeks back training consisting of 100% aerobic exercise and heavy strength work in the gym, it is guaranteed to be a shock to my system. Never-the-less, it’s a data point on a new season and a great way to start a Saturday. The way my aerobic runs have looked thus far, I’m aiming at a 17:45-18:00 finish which would put me slightly ahead of last year at this time. The goal is always 7 seconds per mile of aerobic improvement from year to year…….we’ll see!

-Jesse

“Off Season”

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

This is a regurgitation of a post I had last year around the same time. I’ve added a few clarifying thoughts below…..

Each season I recommend that athletes take some time period totally off (no swim, bike or run at all) and another 2 weeks very light with no more than 2 or 3, 30 min sessions swimming, running, and biking. I feel this period is essential to year over year progress. As someone once said, “you need to get out of shape in order to get back in better shape.” When athletes start back up, they typically make more progress during the first 12 weeks than they do at any other point during the season.

The length of the off period should be adjusted to match how demanding your season was and if you have any on-going injuries to clear up. To approach this more quantitatively, this off period should be about 2-6 weeks including the light period. The rule of thumb I typically use is that an athlete should take off 1 week for every 200 hours of training. For my elite folks training 1000 hours a year, this works out to 5 weeks off at season end. What I typically do is take the last week and double it to two weeks of light training as mentioned above (2 light weeks = 1 totally off). In the case of the 1000 hour athlete, this works out to 4 weeks totally off and then two weeks very light. In the case of a 600 hour athlete, this works out to 2 weeks totally off and then 2 weeks light. I also have some athletes that may have trained 1000 hours over the past year but took a mid season week off. In this case, I subtract that week from the total at the end of the season such that they end up with 3 weeks totally off and 2 weeks light. Rest up!

-Jesse

Injury and Change

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

Here is my #1 rule when it comes to injuries. Since injury is related to consistency and consistency is the key to progress, I feel that this is an extremely important rule. When you feel some body part start to develop an injury, CHANGE SOMETHING before doing another workout! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard athletes say “I felt a minor ache a couple of weeks ago” just before saying “I can’t run/ride through it now”. I almost always follow this with “well, what did you change after you felt the ache?”. It almost always comes back as “nothing”.

Bottom line: if you don’t change something, you get the same old result. If that result is injury than that’s what you will get. If you feel something starting to ache, make a change (i.e., new shoes, cleats, stretch habits, strengthening, running route, saddle, etc.) the moment you feel it. The key is to make an intelligent choice about what may be causing the issue, and change something related to that before it changes you (by stopping your workouts).

Sounds like a simple concept, but the type “A” triathlete has a tough time accepting this when all they have is laser focus on getting the planned workouts in. Its easy for them to put the change item on the back burner. Once the injury stops the workouts, then they are interested however, at that point its too late.

Long season ahead…….

-Jesse