Run Injury Protocol

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

Running is a very demanding activity. The force of your body weight plus some momentum can really create a lot of stress for your lower body. Because of this, runners are more prone to injury than cyclists or swimmers. Of course, the best training approach keeps you from being injured, but if the dreaded happens, here’s how best top approach it….

In coming up with an approach to working with triathletes that have running injuries, I’ve developed a protocol that works quite nicely. The basic concept is that a triathlete’s gluts, hamstrings, and quads get adequate stress on a daily basis from bike training. The only major movement (relative to running) that is neglected is hip flexion. Another less significantly neglected area would be the calf (soleus and gastroc), although this does get some stress through cycling. These identifications make it intuitively obvious that if you are not running and would like to stay in “run” shape, you must keep these areas engaged and fit.

The other major piece of information that we have to use to our advantage related to IM racing, is that bike durability plays a significant role in being able to run well off the bike. The simple way to say this is you want to be trained such that you get off the bike as fresh as possible as if you were just toeing the line of a marathon. Wait a minute, you are!! It amazes me how many people forget that very simple fact.

Armed with this information, here is the approach I like to use during the period you are injured (when you are not running at all):

1) Take half of your planned run volume and add that time to your bike mileage. This will improve your bike durability a huge amount and therefore help you run better, or arrive at the marathon start fresher.

2) Take the other half of your planned run mileage and add that to devoted time of engaged hip flexor work. This can come in the form of water running, Power Cranks on the bike, or kicking in the pool. Of those, I’d have at least half be pool running. While pool running, execute the workouts just as you would have if you were real running except note that pool HR zones are typically about 10% lower than on-land run zones. This is due to the venous return you get from the water pressure in the pool (like wearing a giant compression sock). Your body just doesn’t have to beat as much to move around the same amount of blood.

3) Spend three days a week doing Calf raises and hip flexor exercises. Just 3 sets of each on each day is sufficient for these.

This protocol has been so successful that in the extreme case, I’ve had a first time IM athlete, develop a stress fracture 12 weeks out from race day, we executed the above protocol to the letter, and on race day she ran a 3:38 and qualified for Kona. She achieved this run, without running even once in the preceding 12 week period before race day. If that’s not proof, I don’t know what is!

-Jesse

Highest Possible Heart Rate?

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

How does one know if they are durability limited? One of the best ways to get your arms around this concept is to observe HR data from yours or your athletes (if you are a coach) races…the higher the HR relative to threshold HR, the better. One could say, I work with my athletes to try and produce the highest HR possible while racing. If I can do that, I’ve been successful. This may sound silly, ridiculous, and counterintuitive however; it actually captures a lot of information, physiology and is pretty darn close to the truth. Now of course HR is a parallel indicator of other things going on at the muscle, but in most cases it’s a pretty good metric to use in evaluating a very complicated system. Let’s take a look at two scenarios:

1) The significantly durability limited athlete: this guy does his IM and due to peripheral system limiters, is forced to walk the second half of the marathon (assuming nutrition wasn’t the limiter). Now, while he’s walking along the marathon “RUN” course his HR is 85 bpm. Of course this significantly reduces the average HR for the day and he might end up with a 120 avg for the day (just picking numbers from the sky).

2) The non-durability limited athlete: this guy is able to run the whole marathon and continue to produce high HR’s throughout the day. Of course his average HR will be higher (maybe 130 for comparison sake), and his overall time much better.

What you find is that pros are able to continually fire their HR all day long using their peripheral system as the driver. Note, I like to include the head (mental game) in the peripheral bucket. We need to be mentally tough in order to continue telling the muscle to fire, which in turn demands more blood and increases HR. Another interesting limiter that HR is good for tracking is nutrition related limiters. If an athlete “bonks” on the course due to improper fueling or is forced to slow down due to cramping, his HR will be much lower during that episode and end up dragging the HR average down for the day.

Based on this qualitative theory, your job as an athlete/coach is to take the best strategy you can in both preparation and execution to produce the highest HR avg for the day. How do we do that?

1) Meet critical volume through aerobic intensity exercise which insures adequate durability.

2) Avoid nutritionally limited HR on race day by having a solid and practiced fueling plan.

3) Use a pacing strategy that gives you the best shot at a high HR average. This means knowing what average to shoot for and staying there all day (respectively in each sport).

4) Don’t stop on the course! Bathroom breaks for instance would pull down the HR average quite a bit.

As a coach, one approach is to known what ratios of race day HR avg versus TH for each race distance are good. From that, you can than evaluate how a particular athlete is racing and whether or not there are peripheral, nutrition, or pacing limiters on race day. If you turn all the dials properly (fix all of the issues), you should start to see higher and higher HRs on race day.

What’s the difference between pro level and amateur level athletes in IM racing? You’ll find pro level Ironman athletes have the ability to continuously push their core system and stimulate HR to high levels throughout the whole day.

Bottom line: do whatever it takes to achieve the highest HR average throughout your day of racing whether it is from better preparatory activities, or better execution on D day.

Just another way to look at things…

-Jesse

Weakness Identification/Compensation (‘Dials”)

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

A lot about building a successful athlete is about identifying limiters and then compensating for them. For those who know me or have worked with me, I like to call these limiters “dials”. The more dials an athlete has when they come to me (assuming we can identify them), the happier I am because it simply means they have more speed potential. Being a coach is partially about becoming an expert in finding these dials and then knowing how/when to turn them (or at least refer to some expert who does!).

The simple flow of this process is: ID limiters (Dials) — Compensate for them at the right time (turn the dials) — produce faster athletes.

These dials typically fall under one of the pieces within the QT2 4 part race performance system. Below are the most common limiters grouped within the 4 part race performance system, but really just represent a fraction of what you may find in the athletes you work with:

Training
Body mechanics
Equipment
Volume distribution between sports
Improper periodization plan (or none at all!)
Lack of durability
Improper intensities
Strength limiters
Injuries
Flexibility

Nutrition/Recovery (restoration)
Lack of micro nutrient density
Improper macro nutrient profile
Lack of nutrition periodization concurrent with training periodization
Poor body composition
Lack of recovery nutrition specifics
Low sleep averages
Lack of massage

Race Pacing
Pacing not tied to training indicators
Pacing tied to outcomes
Pacing not adjusted for one’s specific durability
Sport psychology
No pacing at all!

Race Fueling
Specific sweat rates not measured
Specific sodium losses not measured
Single sugar types use for long distance racing
No caffeine loading logic
Too much fat or fiber in carb load or race morning breakfast
Repeatability not considered

Again, these are just a few of the dials you may find as a coach…the more you find, the better! Once you’ve done that, its all about knowing how to compensate for them, or how to turn these dials. If you as a coach don’t know how to turn them, you must at least know how to identify them and refer your athletes to an expert (like a dietitian) that does. Some of the dials need to be timed properly as well. An example would be body composition: arriving at optimal body composition 6 weeks before race day would be detrimental to progress. The dial was turned, but way to early!

Another thing to note, most athletes/coaches just identify, and compensate for the training bucket which really only brings out 25% of your athlete’s potential. If that’s not bad enough, many only really identify and compensate for the volume/intensity piece of that bucket which brings the percentage down well below 10%. Full potential is met once greater than 95% of the dials that account for 95% of the performance are found, compensated for, and execute for 5-10 years.

What are your “dials”, and how will you compensate for them?

-Jesse

And Where Are My “Beets” Anyway?

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

I got thinking this past weekend while doing some conversions to relate a hike I did to bike and run volume. Typically for hikes, I have athletes assume 35 percent of it counts toward running, and 35 percent toward biking. Based on that, if you had a 2 hour ride and a 2 hour run planned on a particular day, a 6 hour hike would take care of both those workouts.

People ask me how I come up with these conversion factors……its actually quite a simple process that I use based on approximate cardiac output. Let’s say your training HR zone on the bike is 129 (middle of zone) and your run training HR zone is 139, your average HR for the 4 hour workout day described above would be 134 (2 hours at 129 and 2 hours at 139). Let’s also say your resting HR was 45 bpm. Based on that, your heart will beat 89 times each minute more than that required to stay alive at rest for a four hour workout. This is a total of 89 bpm x 240 minute’s equals 21,360 beats extra just because you went out for a short ride and long run. If we look at the hike now, for the same person, a solid paced hike would result in an average HR of about 105 bpm or 60 bpm more than that required to stay alive at rest. Over a 6 hour hike, this results in 360 x 60 bpm equals 21,600 beats. As you can see, from a total cardiac output standpoint, 2 hours of biking and 2 hours of running at an aerobic “zone 1” pace is approximately equal to a 6 hour hike. Armed with this information, you can quite easily figure out what a particular hike is worth in terms of bike/run volume that may have a lower HR like 92 bpm. Of course is quite subjective to figure out how much of the volume should go to bike versus run, but in my opinion, a 50/50 split is appropriate given the specificity of hiking to both biking and running. It should be noted that this approach only addresses the cardiac piece of the equation. There is a significant peripheral impact on soft tissue during the descents when hiking which is an additional stress (beyond most damage done when running) not accounted for in the total cardiac output method above.

After playing with this method a bit, some interesting numbers fall out. For most top level traithletes, a 25 hour training week is routine. How many times do you force your heart to beat though for that volume? Well, again assuming an aerobic HR of about 134 on average and a resting of 45 bpm we get:

In a week: 133,500 beats

In a year for a top level triathlete training 1,000 year-hours: 5,340,000 beats

What it takes to reach your potential at endurance sports is commonly thought to be about 10,000 hours: an astounding 53,400,000 beats!

It’s just amazing what we ask of the heart and how reliable it is.

All of this thought while looking for a can of beets to put over my salad after a 6 hour hike in NH yesterday……..

-Jesse

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

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

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

“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

“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

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

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

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