Author Archive

NYC Marathon

Written by Jesse. Posted in Uncategorized

So Sunday was the New York City Marathon. I went down to the race to support/watch my wife Chrissie and her friend Trish race. What a great experience! The race was unbelievable in terms of magnitude with almost 50,000 people racing I believe.

I wanted to post this report because I am SO proud of Chrissie and her friend: A little history….Chrissie couldn’t run more than a half mile continuously when I met her 8 years ago and her fiend was sidelined with a stress fracture when I met her 2 years ago after just starting to run. Neither of them had ever run a marathon and really just began “training” over the past two years. Over the same period, Chrissie has been giving guidance to Trish using the QT2 protocol that she gets from me. Both of them have made tremendous progress.

The day before the race, I went over a pacing plan and nutrition plan for both of them and then they were off on their own down in NYC until they hit the starting line. Bottom line: Chrissie went 3:21 in her first marathon and Trish went 4:10 while accomplishing a life long dream of finishing a marathon. The key was that neither of them slid more than 9 seconds per mile for any mile relative to their first which exhibits patience beyond what their prior race experience may suggest. It also exhibits their ability to stick to a plan and trust the training protocol which at times may be boring and slow in terms of progress.

Its just amazing what people can do when they trust the protocol, be consistent through making sacrifices day in and day out, and execute a plan. Thanks for listening!

-Jesse

Trust

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

This is an important concept for any coach/athlete relationship. When new athletes start with QT2, I always try to go over the following two-way relationship: 1) the athlete has to 100% trust that what the coach is giving them will work, and 2) the coach has to trust the athlete to execute the workouts as planned with correct intensity and volume. If there is any doubt in either end of the relationship, the athlete won’t make nearly as much progress as they could and the coach will become frustrated with the relationship and overall progress. I find that the trust on the athlete side is difficult for many since real long term progress is a slow (but rewarding) process. Many athletes want progress too fast. Typically in this quest, they undermine long-term progress and end up injured and/or burnt out. Here’s a more detailed view of the two way trust concept:

1) Athlete Trust: The athlete has to trust that what the coach is giving them will work. If the athlete doesn’t have this trust, he/she is impatient and doesn’t quite do the workouts as planned and in-tern does not illicit the result of the training protocol that was intended by the coach.

2) Coach Trust: If the athlete is doing the workouts in the wrong zones or switching around workouts without telling the coach, when injury or bad race performances come up, the coach scratches his/her head trying to figure out what went wrong. It becomes very difficult to adapt the training program, as a coach, based on outputs if you don’t know what the inputs are. It’s almost worse when you think you know what the inputs are and they are actually different than what you may think.

Out of all of the concepts involved in world class coaching, I think this one is toward the top of the list…if not the top. Regardless of the training protocol used or the coach chosen, this is a common but powerful concept.

-Jesse

Why 10 Days?

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

This was a question I received in the comments section of one of my previous posts which I thought was worth bringing forward to the front of the blog for everyone’s viewing pleasure. It addresses the final 10 days before “A” races that I like to use which I believe is a critical period where EVERYTHING counts…every hour of sleep, every ounce of fluid you drink, and piece of food that goes in your mouth…..

“Question: what is it about 10 days before the race? Why not 2 weeks for example. I’m heading to Clearwater soon and want to do it Right! Thanks!”

Response: My 10 day threshold is really just something I have concluded on over the past 10+ years of racing/training. Of course you can say well heck, everything counts and it should be 6 months out. However, from a practical standpoint, if you go out and eat like a horse and have a few too many to drink 3 weeks out from race day, it probably won’t impact your race directly. However, your training WILL be affected and therefore may indirectly impact your race (particularly if you make a habit of it over the long term). This is where the long term effect of your sacrifices makes a difference. Based on that we learn two things:

1) Everything counts when you look at the impact on training (indirect impact on racing). Every sacrifice you make hopefully has a positive impact on your racing over the long haul, and

2) The 10 day recommendation try’s to mark the threshold where things directly impact your race day. It’s also the threshold I like to use for the last intense or long workouts that may have a draining result on your body.

Rest up, and good luck in Clearwater!!

-Jesse

Ironman Hawaii Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Kona is one very tough Ironman. I heard an athlete say it best at Lava Java on Sunday: “There is racing Ironman, and then there is racing Kona…it’s a totally different ballpark…almost a different sport”. I tend to agree; if you don’t come into this race 100% prepared physically, mechanically, and nutritionally, its going to be a very long day. This race just wears you down from start to finish with a swim that’s rough, salty, and wetsuit free; a bike that’s VERY hot and windy with some good climbs; and a run that’s HOT, hilly and desolate. Those with higher sweat rates have a particularly tough challenge to overcome even with the best nutrition plans. I routinely heard athletes that I have done fueling plans for say they drank 12 bottles on the bike and didn’t pee once…not good when the goal is to pee at least twice on the bike. Luckily I am a light sweater with good body composition so I tend to do well in the heat. Here’s my report on a hot, windy day in Kona:

Kona pre race morning is nothing short of amazing…very, very well organized and full of hype. The pro area is surrounded by cameras taking film of the best Ironman athletes in the world while the rest of the transition is filled with the world’s best age groupers and some amazing equipment. When I first arrived in transition I prepped my bike, turned on my Garmin, and got suited up with my Blue Seventy speed suit. At that point, I had about 30 minutes to the swim start so I just sat in transition until I heard the pro cannon go off and then got up and headed for the swim start. In Kona, the swim start is about 1-200 yards off the beach so it’s a deep water start. With 15 minutes you really have to time when you head out there.  Too early and you waist energy treading water. Too late and you end up starting at the back of the pack. I waited until about 7 minutes to go and then headed out and got a spot about 3 rows back. I thought this was a good spot given a 1:03-1:04 goal. With no warning the gun went off and the spot I chose proved to be pretty good. After about 5 minutes I was in good swimming water and in line with the buoys. I personally feel that it is worth sighting often at this race in order to stay on course, which is worth more than any time lost due to sighting. I got to the turnaround boat fairly quick and headed back to the Kona Pier with a huge group of athletes. Total Swim ~1:04

After a quick fresh water shower and a slow transition where I had to change into my tri kit (it doesn’t fit under my speed suit), I was off on the bike. I went out at a best sustainable effort for the 112 mile ride. This feels VERY easy when done correctly in an IM. The first 10 miles I probably had about 200 athletes pass me…just unbelievable how hard people go out especially when you consider the fueling challenges on a course like Kona. Through about 40 miles I was averaging about 23 mph which was very fast considering my effort so I knew there must have been a fairly strong tail wind. Then, out of no where, a stiff head wind kicked up and by the time I made the right turn up to Hawi, my average speed was 22.1. Through the wind to that point, I focused on keeping the cadence up and power steady…it’s a long day out there which so many people just don’t seem to realize. As the climb up to Hawi wore on, the winds continued to get worse to the point of 7 mph climbs and 18 mph down hills while working pretty hard. The cross winds were also extremely dangerous. Following the turn around in Hawi, the speed on the descent was very fast and by the time I got to the bottom of the decent, I was averaging 21.6 so I had lost about 0.5 mph on the climb/decent which wasn’t too bad. After having literally hundreds of athletes pass me on the way out to Hawi, I didn’t have a single athlete pass me on the way back and I was passing people every 20-30 seconds after their pacing and nutrition mistakes began to sink in at mile 80. I finished the last 10 miles very strong riding faster than I had all day. Total Bike ~5:20

After a quicker T2 than T1, I was off on the run course munching on a banana. The plan was to head out at 6:45-6:50 pace (30 seconds faster than goal pace). This actually felt easy the first 5 miles and took some serious holding back. I think it’s pretty easy to go out way too fast on this run course (like the bike) with all of the excitement in town. Reality actually sets in a little after mile 10 when you climb Palani and end up lonely in the lava fields with nothing but sun. I was able to hold the goal pace which was to start at 6:45-6:50 and never slide below 7:45-7:50 pace for a 7:15-7:20 pace average. The toughest section was the climb out of the energy lab which is a hot tough climb at mile 19ish. Following that, the finish line is getting closer and the terrain isn’t too bad. I was able to pick it up the last 3 miles for a strong finish…what a feeling! Total Run ~3:11

Great to be cruising down that finish shoot for a 2nd year in a row with a total time of ~9:43 on a tough day of heat and wind.

Next year I’ll be doing the Cozumel IM in November so no IM Hawaii even if I qualify at Placid. The next visit will likely be 2010 with a goal of sub 9:15.  Already looking forward to it!

-Jesse

Done.

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Well, what can I say…the goal was to go 20-30 minutes faster than last year under similar conditions.  I think the conditions were about 2-3 minutes slower this year and I was still 21 minutes faster than last year…goal accomplished!  Tim had an okay day and Cait had another perfectly executed day which met (and slightly exceeded by 1 minute) the best case scenario goals we had set.  This had Cait come in 12th overall woman pro.  The other pro I work with (on nutrition only); Dede Griesbauer came in 10th overall…what a day!  I’ll have a full race report up this week.  Thanks to all of you for you support throughout the season!!!

dsc02289.JPG

dsc02278.JPG

dsc02277.JPG

-Jesse

Race Day.

Written by Jesse. Posted in Uncategorized

kona.jpg

Click on the logo to track the race today if you’d like.  Starts at 1:00 EST…

See you on the other side!

-Jesse

Ready to Go…

Written by Jesse. Posted in Uncategorized

What can I say…less then 24 hours until the gun goes off at the Hawaii Ironman.  If you’re not psyched and a bit nervous, you probably don’t have a pulse. Tim, Cait, and I are all ready to go and feel good.  931 Hours of training for me since last time I was on this starting line.  What’s it all worth?  We’ll find out tomorrow….hopefully about 25 minutes.  Coach Pat said it best this morning: “I would say goodluck, but that would mean I (we) believe in magic and since I (we) know there is no such thing…..just get it done… ”

Thanks ahead of time to everyone who has helped get me to this point again and through a great 2008 season……

img00049.jpg

dsc02270.JPG

-Jesse

10 Days Out

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

Well, 10 days out from the Hawaii Ironman…no matter what the IM, I’ve always thought of the final 10 days as the critical period where EVERYTHING counts…every hour of sleep, every ounce of fluid you drink, and piece of food that goes in your mouth. The last 4 weeks have had some fantastic training. Last Monday was the highest my 6 week trailing volume has been since pre Placid and it has shown in my performance indicators. I’m slightly faster than pre Placid in all three sports and slightly more durable. Overall, I think I’m in a great place going into this race with about 20-30 minutes better speed potential than last year at this time (estimated 9:35-9:45 under similar conditions). However, Hawaii is a tough place to race where anything can happen so I’ll of course execute the race plan to the letter and hope for the best possible race time output whatever that may be. Below is a figure showing my 6 week trailing volume for this season with some of the key races pointed out. The best IM racing tends to take place following (3-4 weeks after) a peak in trailing volume where fitness is maximized (through high trailing volume) and durability and speed potential is available (through 3-4 weeks of recovery).

 Trailing Volume

For those of you who read my blog, I’ve been working on a new version of the triathlon calculator that accounts more explicitly for the triathlon bike course specifics and provides much better accuracy for some groups of people (light folks with good power/weight ratio). An advanced version of this can be found at HERE. Please don’t advertise this yet though since it’s not yet ready for the public launch since I am still working on it. Some sample bike course numbers for it are:

Timberman: 58
IMLP: 77
IMWIS: 63
IMFL: 10
Kona: 44
Mooseman: 48

The final version should be available at the normal URL in about two weeks. Comments welcome!!

Next post will be from the Big Island……!!!!

-Jesse

Pumpkinman Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Yesterday was the Pumpkinman Half Iron triathlon in Maine. This was the first running of the race and actually the first ever half iron in the state of Maine. We decided to do this race early in the summer as a great half in preparation for Kona…about 5 weeks out. The race director (Kat Donatello) was nice enough to let us stay at her house for the race which was absolutely great given its just 15 minutes from the race site. We drove up to the race on Saturday afternoon, got registered and went to the pasta dinner. Let me just say this was probably the nicest pre race dinner I have ever seen with plenty of food alternatives, real silverware, and drinks all under a very large tent adjacent to the finish line area. On Saturday I was already getting pretty fired up at the dinner for a great race after seeing the venue….wide open space, beautiful lake, and a clean paved transition area.

The hurricane came through Saturday night and dumped a pretty significant amount of rain but then cleared out for a beautiful day on Sunday. Sunday began with the typical half iron breakfast and then off to the race site. Things were already a lot easier than a lot of the New England area races upon arrival….plenty of parking for more than what was required. Next step was the dreaded porta-poddy wait which had NO LINE. Before I knew it, transition was set up and we were standing at the water’s edge for the start of the race. I had a good start to the swim staying on Tim and Cait’s feet through half of the first loop. Soon after, I lost there feet due to some wiggly swimming on my part and finished the rest of the swim alone. It was a great swim for me though and I came out (after 2 loops) just a minute down on Tim and Cait. I’ve always liked two loop swims. In this case, you actually had to get out of the water and round a fence at the beach.

I took the bike out pretty hard to try and catch Tim early which workout well since I was able to see him ahead after about 10 miles. I soon thereafter caught him as he had some mechanical trouble on the side of the road. This was a great course with rolling hills and two loops. The roads were smooth and the volunteers were great. Every intersection was clearly called out which always helps for a safe ride. Following my pass of Tim, I spent the remainder ride alone with the lead vehicle.

I came into transition with just a 10 second lead on Chris Casey who I hadn’t realized was riding very well and taking time out of me throughout the ride. We headed out onto the run together with me realizing he had actually started 1 minute behind so was one minute ahead of me in total race time. I hit the first mile in about 5:52 which was right where I wanted to be. Based on my recent performance indicators, I thought I’d run in the 6:10-6:15 pace range. Based on that, I headed out the first miles 15 seconds faster than goal pace. Chris dropped back pretty quick and I stayed in the lead until about mile 6 when inevitably Tim caught me. I figured this would happen as I left transition with only about 2-3 minutes on him and figured I needed about 5-6 to beat him to the finish line. Following that pass, I kept it on cruise control for a second place finish behind Tim with an average pace of 6:15 on the Garmin. The best part about this race was that we (QT2) had the top 5 finishers across the line: Tim Snow, Me, Tim Tapply, Chris Casey, and Cait Snow. Cait won the female race by about 15 minutes and another one of our athletes Michelle Joaquin came in 3rd overall. My wife Chrissie came in 1st in her age group in just her 2nd half iron ever. What a day!

Pumpkinman Podium

Chrissie

chris_me.jpg

After doing a race like this (just 1 hour from Boston), I wonder why so many of the races we do are in population dense areas. It’s just so much nicer to have plenty of room to get around the venue with ample parking. Given this great experience, I plan to go back next year and will encourage our QT2 athletes to do the same. This is just a top notch race overall. The icing on the cake was an unbelievable Turkey dinner for all athletes following the race. And when I say turkey dinner, I mean all the fixings!

-Jesse

The Standard

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

In IM training, there is one set of workouts that I feel is the standard for a solid race day. It proves you have the durability (or close to the durability) required to get through the day while getting close to your speed potential. The workouts I refer to as “the standard” are two back to back days which consist of:

Day #1 – 6 hour aerobic descending pace ride, followed by a 60 minute aerobic transition run.

Day #2 – 2 hour recovery ride followed by a 2 hour aerobic descending pace transition run.

It’s not enough to just complete this once and say “I’m ready for IM”. Instead, this needs to be something that you can churn out week after week without becoming injured or burnt out. Its the “standard”……nothing overly taxing. For some elites, prior to race day, they may go beyond this for a specific overload however, most weeks during the buildup include this key sequence. What’s interesting is that to be able to complete this sequence without burnout or injury, an athlete needs pretty darn good durability. Durability like this really only comes with getting close to critical volume (at least 2/3) on a weekly basis. An athlete who attempts this sequence with no other workouts during the week, would never make it over the long term due to this realization.

If you make this set of workouts your standard, its a good bet that your standard IM races times will improve too.

-Jesse

Bike/Run Order

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

Here’s a topic that’s commonly debated:  Is it better to run on tired legs throughout your week’s workouts, or to run on fresh legs?  That is, is it better to do most of your runs as transition runs, or as separate workouts the same day.  Like many topics in triathlon there is no one answer to this question.  Let’s take a look at the two scenarios:

1) Running on tired legs typically results in a peripheral system limited workout.  That is, if maximum effort is applied, speed would be capped by peripheral system fatigue vs. core limiters (oxygen uptake/delivery, etc). For triathletes that focus on Ironman racing a peripheral type of limiter (in training) is exactly what you are looking for, since for 99 percent of the folks their race is limited by the lack of peripheral system durability.  Based on that, this type of training is very race specific and provides an opportunity to train the most common limiter hit on race day.  Another way of saying this is that most people don’t meet their speed potential curve (run what their 5k times suggest they should) while racing IM due to lack of durability.  Running on tired legs improves durability which is the exact issue most face in IM.

2) Running on fresh legs allows a core system limited workout, which improves speed potential.  For athletes racing Olympic distance where durability typically isn’t an issue (most athletes meet their speed potential curve) the limiter is speed potential, which is improved by pushing core system limiters during workouts. Based on that, for the short course racer, it makes more sense to run on fresh legs most of the time so that the runs have “better quality”.

Given these two explanations, it is easy to see that for Ironman athletes it makes sense to run on tired legs since durability is the major limiter on race day.  Conversely, it makes more sense for Olympic distance athletes to run on fresh legs so that core system limiters can be pushed in training as they are on race day.  Of course in IM training there are days when you run on fresh legs to improve speed potential (core targeted workout) and of course there are transition runs involved with Olympic distance training. However, at the end of the week, the IM program should have more T runs than fresh runs and the Olympic program should have more fresh runs than T runs.  As I have said before, proper training programs are all about race specificity in training.

-Jesse

Timberman Sprint and Pemi Loop Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Wow, what a weekend! First it was the Timberman Sprint on Saturday followed by the Pemi Loop on Monday (ultra day hike).

Timberman:

Timberman sprint was a blast! This was the first time I did the sprint there as I’m usually racing the half on Sunday. Given the fact that I did Placid 4 weeks ago, the half would be a bit too much to perform well. It was really nice to do a low pressure race on Saturday and then get to watch the half on Sunday. Saturday wasn’t really on the radar for me given other commitments I had last week so the race really snuck up and I had limited rest going into it.

Saturday morning I awoke and headed to the race with Tim, Cait, Pat, and Chrissie. The weather was great and the day looked fast. The swim was really fast and comfortable with my typical spot next to Pat in the water. This time, instead of trying to out swim him, I chose to sit on his feet and then out sprint him in the final 100 yards :-).  Thanks Pat!

I planned to ride hard as I knew I needed at least a 30-40 second lead going out on the run if I wanted to beat Tim. I got out and into second place within the fist 6 miles. The guy in front was riding a bit too fast for me to catch him and I came into T2 about 50 seconds down with Tim about 5-10 seconds back (not enough). Tim proceeded to pass me and the guy in front of me on the run for the overall win as I just hung in and took 3rd.

Cait won, Pat had a solid top 10 finish and Chrissie came in 6th overall woman in her 3rd triathlon….not too shabby!

Next Up: Pumpkinman Half Iron where I hear we will have a fast course and some good competition!

Pemi Loop:

Sunday was a nice day to relax, watch the half iron, and carb load for Monday’s hike. The hike is one that I’ve wanted to do for a while: The Pemi Loop in New Hampshire; 31.5 miles and about 10,000 feet of elevation gain through the southern White Mountains. Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love ultra day hikes and is what got me into endurance sports in the first place. I also believe that long day hikes are a great way to build strength and durability for ironman athletes. The ironman run is more like a long day hike than a run in most cases. It’s an exercise in peripheral system toughness (mental and physical). Based on that, I had planned this day into our season plans over 10 months ago.

This day was going to be great! It was a great group of Tim, Cait, Pat, Chrissie and myself. Chrissie and I have pretty solid hiking experience. Tim has one experience last year with me doing the Presidential Traverse (a 24+ mile day with 10,000 feet vertical). This was his first and last hike but nonetheless experience. Pat and Cait had almost no hiking experience going in but obviously have great fitness after doing IMLP a month ago. Given this wide range of experience levels, it was going to be an interesting day!

The weather looked great so I hoped we could beat book time by at least 4 hours and finish in 16 hours (book time of about 20:30). Given a trailhead start time of 5:00am, this would have us out of the woods by 9:00pm.

Right off the bat we set a solid pace up to the Bonds and we were well ahead of book time. As the day wore on it looked like we would finish in the 13-15 hour range which proved to be correct. We hit the final summit at Mt. Flume at about 12:30 with about 2:00 left to the hike. Around this point is when everyone started to get a bit delirious with the fact that we had just hiked about 26 miles. Below is a picture at that point:

pemi.jpg

We ended up finishing in 14:38 which was about 6 hours ahead of book time and with no major injuries. What a great day to get in good aerobic and strength work in the Whites. I’d love to hit this one again with the objective of breaking 10 hours which I think is doable for me. The record for this is about 8:30 which is blazing fast.

-Jesse

What it Takes

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

The following figure represents what it takes to improve your half iron time from 6:05 to 4:10 and what it takes to go from a middle of the pack triathlete to the Kona starting line. This is my “life histogram”. That is, my weekly training volume over the past 8 years. 

jesse_life_histo.jpg

I think too many athletes don’t have the patience, willingness to make sacrifices, or the time to allow this progression to unfold. Too many try to increase volume or intensity too quickly and/or have unrealistic expectations of what it actually takes to reach their goals. The purpose of this figure is to show what it takes for someone who was not born fast to become fast. Some things to take away from it:

1) You’ll notice I never took more than 3-4 weeks each year totally off (with a minimum of 3). This allowed me to build upon each year’s fitness level without becoming too out of shape each year. Many people make this mistake and take all year just to get back to their previous fitness level. A good rule of thumb is that is takes 3 times the duration you took off to get back to where you were in terms of fitness.

2) A fairly linear, gradual build up in volume without any major acute increases. Many people make this mistake and end up injured or sick.

3) Never a missed week following the 3 week break each year. This was made possible by using sensible training techniques & very detailed periodization planning which never had me sidelined with injury or sickness.

All of this allowed extreme consistency over an 8 year period. In addition to this figure was also an unrelenting focus on diet which allowed my weight to decrease from 195+ down to 155 over this period. Of course this weight decrease also helped performance but the majority of 2002-2005 was spent racing at 160-170 where I made good progress with racing speed.

A couple of other interesting things to note:

1) I didn’t race IM until I met about 2/3 of critical volume which is about 20 hours at my speed at that time.  This helped me have a good experience and a 10:09 my first time out….also my IM worst to date.

2) The average improvement in race performance is about 2.5% per year….consistently.

-Jesse

Wild Cat Sprint Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

I think this was the first time I’ve done a race on such short notice. At 24 hours before the start, I literally had no idea I was going to race. I’m the type of guy that tends to plan things months in advance. In the end, it was actually a perfect weekend for me to race and I was disappointed in myself for not thinking and planning for it sooner.

The swim was a heart pumping 400 yards…I think I nearly blew a gasket by the first buoy. What a shock to the system after an IM 14 days earlier. I came out of the water in 4th place.

Onto the bike I was concerned my legs wouldn’t be there given the IM a couple of weeks early but they seemed to respond well and I was able to average a little over 26 mph for the 10 mile course which was flat and super fast obviously. I came into T2 in 1st place about 1 minute ahead of Pat Wheeler and with the fastest bike split of the day.

The run is where I most felt the IM and had no real clue of what pace I was running other than the fact that I was redlined from start to finish. This was good enough for the 2nd fastest run of the day and about 5:45 pace. Overall I ended up in 1st place by about 1.5 minutes on Pat. What a fun unexpected day where I felt good and got in a dry run for the Timberman Sprint in 2 weeks!

 -Jesse

The O2 Theory

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

Many of my thoughts/writings are very quantitative based and hard-wired to numbers with specific inputs and outputs. I believe that this approach to training/racing is a great object, performance based way to look at things and force progress. However, for those who have met with me, for any of my services, know that I like to also approach things from a qualitative direction. In my experience, most people are either very quantitative (math teachers, etc.) or very qualitative (English teachers, writers, etc.). This writing is for those who are qualitative in nature and addresses the fundamental approach of what I believe drives long term athletic progress…no numbers or critical volume (Critical Volume) mumbo-jumbo (believe it or not!).

The concept is very, very simple: just pass as much O2 through your body as possible each year. Now of course there are mechanical efficiencies to address, sport specificity, and a host of other things but this is probably the single most important simple concept not to lose track of. Let’s look at a couple of possible training methodologies that could be used to achieve this objective:

1. Go very easy all year with super high volume. This approach has the athlete sacrifice sleep and recovery time due to huge training time requirements which both have the potential to undermine consistency. Off time due to injury/burnout means no O2 coming through. Remember, in this concept, the athlete with the most O2 through the system at the end of the year makes the most progress.

2. Go hard often with low volume. Many inexperienced athletes think this is the way to go. It is very potent and effective given a short period to prepare for a race. However, because of the obvious risks of injury/burnout involved in this method, again consistency can be broken which puts a huge hole in O2 consumption for the year. Most athletes that follow this approach tend to be inconsistent with very little long term progress.

An athlete’s training methodology, in my opinion, should foster long-term progress and therefore fall in-between these two approaches carefully. That is, carryout the majority of your training at a moderate intensity with a training volume that can be tolerated by the particular individual (defined by sustainable volume from the previous year). This moderate intensity is at approximately the QT2 Z1 (HR Zones). This allows an athlete to pass a good amount of O2 through their system per minute without much risk of injury (balance of #1 and #2). This also helps avoid injury/burnout and allows good consistency with a good rate of O2 passage. Total Volume of O2 (driver of long term progress) = Training Volume x O2 use rate. Volume is optimized to an individuals sustainable volume and rate is optimized to the highest possible without injury/burnout. Increasing rate (exercise intensity) or volume beyond normal is effective but can only be used for short periods or injury/burnout can occur. The QT2 protocol typically limits high intensities to 12 weeks max to avoid this scenario.

Weight training, periodization planning, nutrition, and sleep are really just support systems to allow O2 to be passed through the system on a consistent basis:

1. Weight Training = Helps keep you injury free by increasing soft-tissue toughness and strength.

2. Periodization Planning = Helps avoid burnout when used properly since a reasonable approach to cycling of overload and recovery can be utilized.

3. Good Nutrition = Allows recovery of soft tissue, refueling of the metabolic system, and increased immunity. All of these allow workouts can be completed with good quality and O2 coming through on a consistent basis.

4. Sleep = Allows recovery of both the physical system and emotional system so workouts can be completed and O2 coming through.

5. Massage = Helps identify/fix soft tissue problems before they become an issue that may have you miss a workout and the O2 consumption associated with it.

Obviously there are other uses for these concepts but this illustrates how they apply to this O2 theory. Let’s look at a few of the common questions I get about the QT2 protocol how they can be answered with this theory:

1. Why do I train at a high level even without a major goal race on the horizon? The answer to this one is obvious when approach from the O2 theory….the focus is on long term progress so the more O2 that can be pasted through, the more progress that will be made over the long term.

2. What if I have a time cap in my life where I can’t train beyond X hours per week? Once this cap is reached through a reasonable build up, a greater volume training can be used by training at that cap for more weeks throughout the year. Then, a greater volume of higher intensity workouts can be added each year to allow increases in total O2 uptake. This is a riskier approach, however for some this is the only option. Its best used by folks that have significant experience in the sport and have the associated durability to avoid injury.

3. Why does the protocol work? Our sport is a primarily aerobic activity; even at the sprint level. Passing oxygen through the body through exercise improves aerobic efficiency, soft tissue toughness, and mechanical efficiency. By passing more and more volume of O2 through each year through increased volume or intensity results in continual adaptation. This combined with a diet high in nutrient dense foods and antioxidants (Core Diet) allows optimal recovery as well as reduced oxidive damage to soft tissue. The aerobic system uses fat oxidation for ATP production and therefore results in oxidative free radicals that a lot of athletes miss as a cause of soreness and reduced long-term progress. A diet high in antioxidants can really help mitigate that issue.

Of course this theory doesn’t explain the whole training process. It’s just another way of looking at how to achieve long term progress and how the QT2 protocol addresses that. Now, just stay healthy with consistent O2 coming through your body in order to realize your potential!! It all sounds so easy doesn’t it? The trouble is that too many people don’t have the patience it takes and therefore want to pass O2 through at a faster rate (through high intensity workouts)….again this works over the short term but typically results in injury which undermines long term O2 consumption totals. There’s no O2 coming through when you are sidelined on the coach with an injury. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; consistency is king!

 -Jesse

Ironman Lake Placid Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

The 2008 Ironman Lake Placid will go down as one of the most memorable weeks of my coaching and racing career to date. It all started on Friday with Tim and Cait’s surprise wedding which was totally unexpected. This set the backdrop for the race on Sunday, where 14 QT2 athletes were set to race including Coaches Tim, Cait, Pat, and myself as well as many first timers. Going into the weekend, we had set race goals and pacing strategies for all of the athletes with the hopes that the majority would execute that plan as well as the nutrition plan, and reach the goals we had set. Given those race goals, I knew we had 5-6 athletes with the potential for Kona qualification. In the end, only two athletes missed the race goals we had set, and we walked away with three Kona slots (Pat missed by about 1:30!!). For me personally, the goal was sub 9:40 and a Kona slot…..I went 9:40:33 and got the slot…mission accomplished. Tim, Cait, and Pat all executed their race plans to the letter and literally hit their race goals dead in the middle of the 15 minute ranges we had set. Fortunately, this was good enough for a win for Cait (1 hour PR from last year on the same course), and a tenth place finish Tim (40 min PR from 2 years ago on the same course). It also resulted in a 10:02 day for Pat in his IM debut at 23 years old…he will undoubtedly be an IM figure down the road as his potential is developed through his focus on the training protocol and work ethic. Cait will continue to make progress as well and race at a top level given her age, tremendous capacity to make sacrifices, and execute a race plan. Overall, there was no magic on race day, but rather unrelenting implementation of race plans based on the training they have carried out, race fueling they have practiced, and optimization of body composition in preparation for the race over the past 36 weeks. There were no surprises in performance, just surprises in the peripheral benefit of their performance on race ranking versus others. I’m SO happy to see things come together for them. In addition to these elite athletes, our 10 other athletes who raced, most of whom were first timers, were inspired enough to race the distance again I think…mission accomplished.

I think our performances in such a big race solidify the relevance of a detailed training and nutrition approach on racing consistency and predictability. If it’s good enough for 1st place finishes and Kona slots, than so be it….the goal is always on individual performance and race execution with the other benefits being peripheral in nature.

Sorry to go on such a ramble but I’ve had so many things racing through my head over the past three days…my personal race report is below:

————————

The race day forecast was for scattered showers. This already made me nervous given the fact that I HATE racing in cold, wet conditions. I’ll take 85+ and humidity over 60 and rainy any day. If I had known we were in for a monsoon on race day, I would have been a bit more nervous going in…probably better off I didn’t know given how things turned out weather wise!

Pre Race: Breakfast at 3:30 went down well with the typical large dose of unsweetened apple sauce and other treats. Got to transition, got set up, and was in the water before I knew it. Before the gun went off, I looked around and wondered how the heck I expected to finish at the top of this huge amateur group.

Swim (1:00): My training suggested that a :58 swim was in store so I set up about 1/3 of the way off the dock in the front row and went out hard to avoid being trapped in a slower pack. This workout well and I came around the first loop in about 29:30. The second loop I swam on the line and ended up being a bit slower with a time of about 30:30. A bit slower than I would have liked but the variability in IM swims is something you can’t let affect your day, so I moved on without modifying any of the other race plans. I then zipped through transition as quickly as possible knowing that it could make the difference between a trip to Hawaii in the fall or a late season marathon.

Bike (5:26): The bike started in the typical fashion with literally hundreds of age groupers going out WAY to hard and blowing their day in the first 10 miles. Sometimes I wonder what goes through their heads out there. Do they realize that Ironman ends with a marathon? It’s a 26.2 mile run for god sakes, take it easy! The bike was supper wet and cold all the way through which was tough for me but I just kept hanging in there and praying for hill climbs to warm up. The bike was for sure a bit slow given these conditions but was the same for everyone so I have no complaints. It’s amazing how tough Ironman athletes can be which is proven by a very low DNF rate despite the brutal conditions. The first loop came around a bit slower than I had hoped for but was much better than seeing it way faster given the long day ahead (always better to be conservative). The second loop I picked it up a bit and finished strong passing about 1 person every minute for the last 20 miles. Overall I finished about 5 minutes slower than I had expected but given the conditions this was probably appropriate.

Run (3:07): I felt great starting the run and had to really hold back to stay at 6:50 pace the first 6 miles. My goal was to run 6:50 as long as possible with the expectation to see it drift back to a maximum of 7:50 pace by the last mile for a 7:20 pace average. This had my goal set at 3:12. As it turned out, the slightly conservative bike (5 min slow) set me up for a very strong run where I got back the 5 minutes I had lost with a 3:07 marathon at 7:09 pace. The Garmin was fantastic for helping pace the run. I had no clue where I sat in my age group but did know I passed a whole lot of people on that run course. I ended up with a 9:40:33 and 18th overall including the pros. This put me at 2nd place in my age group…two minutes faster and I’d have won it.  Results HERE.

I was ecstatic about my race, and run in particular which is the absolute key to a solid IM. I’m very strongly considering LP again next year where my goal will be a 2%-2.5% improvement (9:25-9:30) given the space I have for speed potential, durability, and body composition improvements. Next IM stop: Kona in 12 weeks!

Next Up:Timberman Sprint where for the first time I will do the sprint race instead of the Half…should be a blast as Keith’s races are always top notch.

-Jesse

IM LP Initial Thoughts

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

I’m again very, very impressed with QT2 athlete performance this past weekend at IM LP. From 1st time performances from our iron rookies to coach Cait winning the professional race and Coach Tim’s top 10 overall, I am literally flabbergasted at the level of achievement our athletes have achieved and how well they have adapted to executing a plan.

More on coach Cait’s performance and my own to come later….

-Jesse

LP Pre-Race Night

Written by Jesse. Posted in Uncategorized

After a great week here in Lake Placid spent working out some, working a bit more, and then relaxing a bunch, it’s finally time to race!

The week went as planned in terms of training and nutrition, but certainly had some surprises…Coaches Tim and Cait surprise everyone with a MARRIAGE! That’s right folks; invitations go out Friday morning for a JP wedding at the lake at 3:00. I wouldn’t expect anything different from them two and overall it was a blast. I’m so happy for them!!

Tim and Cait

Back to the race…tomorrow’s weather looks good with a dew point below 60 meaning it shouldn’t feel too humid. Temperatures are expected in the mid 70’s.

We had breakfast for the QT2 athletes racing tomorrow which was a great opportunity to see everyone and answer any last minute questions.

I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone out on the course tomorrow!  Go to Ironman Live to track the race.

See you on the other side…..

-Jesse (#312)

LP Race Week

Written by Jesse. Posted in Uncategorized

IM LP 
Well, race week is finally here! I’m so excited to race this weekend along side of all the QT2 athletes doing the race. Everyone has put in the work and made the sacrifices. Now is the time to enjoy all of that hard work with a rewarding and fun race.

For me, things have went very well….35 weeks and 1 day of training without missing a planned workout. My body composition, speed potentials, equipment, and durability are all where I had set goals for back in late October. Now, that one last little detail remains, can I (we) execute the plan and make all of those numbers actually mean something. Until that point, they are just numbers. Here’s what they tell me: 9:30-9:40. I’ll spare all of the split times for race day but in taking an objective look of where I am, I believe this is reasonable and is where my goal sits….sub 9:40. Can’t wait to find out.

I’ll be providing periodic updates from LP this week as we get ready. Chrissie and I leave tomorrow night…..

-Jesse

QT2 Training Camp

Written by Jesse. Posted in Uncategorized

Well, we had our QT2 training camp this past weekend in Ludlow, VT. It was open first to all QT2 team members, then QT2 athletes, and lastly anyone else who expressed interest while there was still space. We had 14 QT2 team members/athletes attend and one non-QT2 athlete. Overall, the weekend was a HUGE success for the first time through. The location, workout routes, and overall agenda were fantastic which we will plan to repeat next year with very minor changes (plus some great improvements). Details will be out in the fall for next year’s weekend for all of those who are interested in attending.

I was absolutely amazed at the level of commitment, focus, great attitude, and toughness that each and every athlete displayed. With a VERY tough agenda planned, I thought for sure there would be more difficulty with some of the workouts and even some bad attitudes. I was dead wrong. These camps are truly a testament to how much an athlete can handle and almost always show people that they can do more than they think. We have an amazing team and athlete group with some of the nicest folks in the sport that I am so grateful and lucky to have affiliated with QT2 and myself. The camp was a way to not only train but also bring the team together which will go a long way to motivate and inspire all of us.

I’m humbled and inspired to do the best job I possibly can in helping these folks when they show the level of commitment they have this weekend.

Lesson: Group training can be very productive and push previous limiters when egos are thrown aside and everyone believes in what they are doing, have trust in their training protocol, and have trust in their coaches.  Its going to be a great racing season!

-Jesse