Sunday, November 30, 2014

Benchmark Swim

A benchmark is a point of reference to be used to monitor gains in fitness. There are several versions in swimming but one tried and true version is the mile. Short rest intervals are used to test this distance while maintaining quality and form.

Warm up easy 200-500

Start your watch at the beginning of the set. Rest :10 seconds after each interval. Stop the watch at the end and subtract the total rest (1:40) to determine your 1-mile time.

Broken Mile, 1650 yards:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Maintain fitness without a lot of time!

Many of us are ready for a break in the off-season but, no one wants to lose the valuable fitness they have achieved throughout the year. Below are workouts for the time-strapped athlete. These are short workouts meant to maintain fitness through short bursts of speed.

Swim, 1900
Warm up-
200 Swim
100 Pull + buoy
100 Kick (3 strokes/3 kicks/3 strokes)

Main Set-
6x50 @1:20 (Odd *Drill/Even Swim)
*Drill: High elbow, Catch up, Shark fin
2x550 as
200 Pull, 3x100 R:15 descending 1-3, 50 easy
100 easy cool down

Bike, :70
Warm up-
Include single leg drills and 3-5 spin ups

Main Set-
Roller Coaster- :40 Continuous in Zone 2 as
:1 80 RPM
:3 95+ RPM
:1 100+ RPM
:2 easy recovery

:15 cool down

Run, :50
Warm up-
:15 building from Zone 1 into Zone 2
Include some dynamic movements of high knees, butt kicks, skips, side shuffles

Main Set- x4 Intervals alternate
:4 Zone 3, low to mid
:2 Zone 2, low

:10 cool down
Include 2-4 strides. Performed as 50 yd acceleration followed by a 50 yd walk to recover.

***If you do not know your Heart Rate zones, use Rate of Perceived Exertion on a scale of 1-10 with 10 as maximum effort. Zone 1 is 1-4. Zone 2 is 5-6. Zone 3 is 7-8.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Overwhelmed by the minutiae!

I've been spending the last couple of days building training plans for others while building my own too. When you look at the big picture, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the minutiae.

In addition to helping athletes identify goals, a coach will provide the tools, perspective, and structure needed to accomplish more through a process of accountability. A coach can create a point of focus for athletes to reflect upon and build up their accomplishments. Coaching is a consistent, on-going relationship where the coach helps to implement new skills and supports the athlete in discovering solutions on their own through preparation. A coach remains objective while maintaining trust and honesty.

I recently reached out to a personal trainer to help me push beyond the limits that I have imposed. She is working to motivate me to challenge my limits with strength and flexibility while working on corrective movements that will improve my posture while running and cycling.

I encourage you to look inward to your goals as an athlete. Have you been stagnate in your training? Do you lack motivation and commitment? Have you created goals that take you out of your comfort zone?

Creating a synergy between coach and athlete will create momentum. The momentum will create a challenge that will become change. The change will result in the achievement of goals.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How do I know if you are the right coach?

There are many coaches available to triathletes and many people that think they have the best coach. Before researching a specific coach, you should determine your wants/needs from the coach by asking the following questions. 
  • Do you want someone that has a track record as a podium finisher? Ironman finisher?
  • Do you want race support? Team tent? Coach present?
  • Do you want to be a part of group workouts? 
  • Do you want to be identified as part of a group? Team kit?
  • What kind of personality do you want from a coach? Motivator? Blunt? Strict? 
For roughly the same price, an athlete can find a coach who will write a personalized training plan for the athlete, one who will provide a generic training plan, and someone in between. 

The key is finding out what you will get beforehand and making sure you are comfortable with the level of coaching you will receive. Here are some questions that I would ask of any coach before beginning to work together: 
  • What certifications do you hold?
  • How many athletes do you coach? Full or part time?
  • How do you approach setting up training for an athlete? Annual training plans? Recovery vs build periods? 
  • Can I see some sample training programs? 
  • What results have you seen for athletes similar to me? 
  • Can I talk to some current athletes? 
  • Can I talk to some former athletes? 
  • How do you monitor training? 
  • Do you limit schedule changes? 
  • How do you communicate with your clients? How often?
  • Do you limit contact? 
  • Are you continuing your coaching education? 
  • How long is our agreement?
  • What happens if you aren't satisfied?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Make every workout count!

I was scheduled for an 8 mile run this week. Rather than "just" run at a conversational pace, I added a few scheduled fartlek intervals.

2 miles at Zone 2
 .5 mile at Zone 3-4 (threshold/VO2)
2 miles at Zone 2
.5 mile at Zone 3-4 (threshold/VO2)
2 miles at Zone 2-3
1 mile at Zone 4-5 (max effort)

A workout like the one above is created to build confidence, increase your threshold, and focus on effort. As athletes, we need to learn to monitor our energy levels to accurately pace for performance. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Strength training...Tabata Style

I have a LOVE of Tabata intervals for strength/cardio training. The theory is that you will have 8-cycles of 20 seconds work : 10 seconds recovery followed by 30 seconds before the next 8-rounds. There are so many variations that will keep your heart rate up, keep the monotony down, and build strength and endurance!

This week, my Tabata intervals were mixed into an indoor cycling class. Equipment needed includes a bike, exercise band, and gliding disc (or paper plate on carpet). Total time, :70 minutes

  • Warm up on the Bike. 
    • 12 minutes including accelerations at an achievable cadence.
  • Off the bike for alternating rounds using the band. 
    • Odd= Squat with alternating shoulder press. Even= Bicep curl with front shoulder raise.
  • Bike. 
    • Hills for 5:30 building climbing endurance at ~66rpm with two identical climbs of :75 seconds. then mixing up the terrain for 5 minutes. Four sets of Tabata intervals using speed accelerations followed by 2 rounds consisting of a :30 second climb and sprint down the back for :30 seconds.
  • Off the bike for alternating rounds.
    • Odd= Bridge position tricep dips. Even= Seated back row using the band.
  • Bike. 
    • Intervals x4 for 6 minutes, 2 at :20 seconds, 2 at :50 seconds. Add resistance and drop cadence to ~80rpm, making sure that recovery is about :45-60seconds between sets. Speed work building endurance with identical sets of 2x:75 second efforts followed by ~2 minutes recovery lasting about 6 minutes.
  • Off the bike for alternating rounds. 
    • Odd= Reverse lunge with the back foot on the disc (alt R/L). Even= Use band to step out/in with constant tension to engage the abductors and adductors. 
  • Bike. 
    • Mountain climb x4 strength efforts  at :75-120 seconds with short :20 second recoveries at ~72rpm.
  • Off the bike for alternating rounds.
    • Odd= Inchworm push ups. Even= Hover
  • Stretch and cool down.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Always be prepared!

I workout in Houston where the weather can be unpredictable. Most times, it's pool time that gets the short end of the stick. Be it a thunderstorm or just some kid that dropped a deuce! For me, it happens when a group workout becomes a individual workout due to low turnout. I like to be able to participate in order to elevate the performance of my athletes.

The goal is to have a back-up plan. Many of us have a traveling locker room in our trunks, make sure to have a spare swimsuit and sneakers in case your workout plans change.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Make a plan for the offseason!

As we enter the off season, make sure you  have a plan in place that will make you a stronger triathlete next season. Start with these three tips, 1)Recover, 2)Try something new, and 3)Build up your weaknesses.

Recover. Give yourself permission to take a mental and physical break. Don't stress over missed workouts, mend relationships that have suffered the wrath of your schedule, and let all those minor aches subside. Take 3-4 weeks but stay active.

Try something new. The objective is to maintain a base level of fitness and endurance while trying something new, ie. tennis, group exercise, pilates, or yoga. As an added bonus, add some strength training to the mix to build a a body that will be stronger and more resistant to injury. Focus on multi-movement/joint/muscle movements that build triathlon specific strength.

Basic Strength Routine. 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions of each exercise. 
Squat or Leg press 
Lat pull down 
Chest press or Push up
Seated row
Back extension

Build you weaknesses. You don't have to spend all your time on one sport. This is the opportunity for a lesson, increased frequency of activity, or practice drills to improve technique. Don't forget, road races are a chance to add some intensity to your program.