Festive Training

As we come to the climax of the Festive season you may be wondering how you are going to manage to fit in training as well as all the events and family time involved.

The answer is: Unless you have an A race in early January then DON’T PANIC!

If you have been training consistently  then you will probably benefit from the break.

If you stop training completely then for the first 3 days your body will probably become fitter and stronger, tired muscles will replenish, your body will finish adaptations to the training you have already done and you will appreciate  the rest.

It is only after 5 full days of not training that there will be any reduction in your fitness levels, even then it will be minimal and not worth stressing about

If you haven’t been training consistently then don’t try to use this period to jam in more training than you have been doing even if you have more time off than usual. It is better to restart in the New Year with fresh resolve than risk injury by packing sessions in.

So either way take the opportunity to chill out, refresh mind and body and enjoy the time with the family with a clear conscience!

Happy Christmas!

Review of the year

What a year it has been. The first full year of coaching:

We coached or assisted 11 people in the London Marathon-many of them first timers -Special mention to Rachael and Nigel who raised a huge amount for charity and got David and his fellow Full Monty “dance” troupe to get most of their kit off in front of a large and appreciative audience; Beverley who completed multiple Ultra Marathons and a 50 mile event; Emma who completed several Half Marathons, the Dorchester Marathon and the 33 mile “Race to the Stones” in  9 hours 18 minutes; Sally who has now run for 100 miles in each of the last 3 months; first time and experienced Triathletes to personal bests and conquering open water swims for the first time; Linz went from being in plaster at Christmas 2016 to an age group win at Eton Dorney Olympic distance and 4th in Age group at the very competitive Ironman 70.3 Vichy Half Ironman; and last but far from least Pete who won his age group (70-75) at IM 70.3 Turkey passing his nearest rival on the run leg for the victory!

It’s humbling and inspiring to have helped so many people to achieve their goals, whether that was completing or competing, whether confident or very nervous and doubting themselves. Well done to everyone we helped, we learnt from you too and will go on doing so!

Lindsay and David

#marathon #Triathlon #ironmantraining #ultramarathon

Recovery and adaptation

Just some thoughts in the off season that apply to the whole year…

The best results are NOT gained by smashing yourself into the ground constantly! It is genuinely possible to achieve the same or better results on a reduced but targeted training load with good recovery.

Why? Training (as opposed to exercise) is deliberately applying stress to the body with the aim of causing the body to adapt to that stress in a way that achieves the goal of becoming stronger, faster, enduring longer or simply to become better at absorbing oxygen and nutrients to support training.

The problem is that as with all types of stress there is a level that is productive, but go beyond that and adding further stress simply becomes counter productive. To continue to get stronger, faster etc you will, of course, need to carry on adding stress to force adaptation to continue but balancing training with injury risk, mental burnout, and potential impact on other areas of your life is the key.

Remember all stress is cumulative so if you are suffering stress at work, home or from family situations (worrying about ill relatives etc) then it may be beneficial to your long term goals to back off self imposed stress until things are a bit calmer.

Injury and illness: easily said and we all know it really, but harder to do, is to recognise the signs of illness and potential injury (niggles, sore spots, persistent minor muscle strains etc) and then to stop! Injuries don’t necessarily mean you have to stop training at all, triathletes can often continue the other disciplines, runners can deep water run or cross train.

Recovery: is, in my opinion, as important as the actual training you are doing and the only way that you can get best value out of your training and ensure you are achieving the adaptations you require.

Problems with overtraining or under recovering include: Increased risk of injury, constantly tired/sore, not being able to complete harder sessions as well as required, loss of motivation. At it’s extreme chronic overtraining syndrome, although rare, could mean years out of training or racing.

I entirely recognise that particularly long distance athletes can stress over not doing enough training and are prone to trying to shoehorn more training into already limited time. We need to embrace the need for recovery and adaptation from the start and recognise its importance. That’s why our DLC athletes all have rest days, “easier” weeks every 3 or 4 weeks, and sessions that are scheduled appropriately.

Recovery:

Sleep, plenty of good quality sleep is the best way to recover by a very long way. Human Growth Hormone is released in deep sleep and most of your adaptations will take place in that time. Do not restrict sleep hours as a way of finding more time to train, there are better ways of making the most of training time.

Rest, embrace days off and don’t sneak in more sessions. If you really can’t stand doing nothing..

Active recovery, sessions aimed at keeping the body turning over but without adding undue extra stress. Walk, spend time with the family, gentle runs rides or swimming.

Massage, a good sports masseur will identify where tight spots are developing and work on those to loosen them up. It’s not about how much pressure they can apply but where it is applied to to stop problems developing.

Foam rolling, could be the subject of a whole blog but suffice to say it’s not about rolling over the same place time and again, better to pin the tight spot and then move the muscle underneath.

Stretching/yoga/Pilates:

Nutrition: well timed appropriate nutrition, fuel sufficiently to support the training you are planning. For most sessions of an hour or less there is no need to fuel during but refuel with around 20gm of protein within a couple of hours of a session. It appears that the “30 min window” is something of a myth based on extrapolation of a study of bodybuilders, it does no harm to eat within that 30 mins, just don’t think you’ve missed the opportunity if you can’t.

 

 

“A” race worries and panics?

With many of us now approaching “A” races the concerns “what ifs” and panics start. So what can you do about it?

While there will always be something you can’t control there is plenty that you can foresee or prepare for….and the key words are prepare and practice:

  • Make a checklist (ask nicely and I’ll send you mine) so you don’t forget key bits of kit, check and double check.
  • I also have a “setting up” checklist for transition and write a timetable for race day and the run up to the start.
  • Check your equipment and have your bike checked over before any ‘A’ races. We were at a half Iron distance Tri recently and saw a gentleman get about 10 metres from transition, go to pedal and have his derailleur rip away from the mounting- race over…. was it avoidable? Probably!
  • Practice transitions, replicate the exact plan for the race (whether an Ironman style “3 bag” system or laid out by your bike) Time yourself and try to get quicker at it. You can actually practice bad transitions by setting up at home and having a friend/wife/partner do something random like fasten your helmet straps, knot shoelaces or the like.
  • When you set up carefully learn the way through Transition, learning the routes In and out, finding an immovable landmark to identify where your bike is. Which gear should you be in when you mount?
  • Don’t try anything for the first time in a race (exceptions may apply for specific tactics in “b” or “c” races) or use any equipment or clothing for the first time. Train with it.
  • Have a “plan B”, whether that is carrying a spare inner tube, inflator, and tyre levers on the bike, making sure you have a spare pair of Goggles handy for the swim start in case a strap breaks, or other controllable situations.
  • Visualise problems and your response/solution to them and practise or prepare as required. What will you do if you get a puncture? Practice changing inner tube and replacing tyre and wheel until it’s second nature, if you do get a puncture check the tyre and make sure you have removed the cause, or it’ll just happen again.
  • What will you do if your chain falls off? What if an open water swim unexpectedly becomes a non wetsuit swim on the morning of the race (Vichy!) what if You need to go to the toilet during the race (for ladies particularly) wearing a Tri suit with a jacket is going to take some while to get off if needed.
  • Plan and practice your nutrition and hydration before and during the race, what, if anything, will be available on the course? Practice having what you are going to eat and drink, and when, in training, if you plan to rely on the on course nutrition make sure you know what it is and try it, in long course races always have a fallback as you won’t be the first to either miss a feed station by being crowded out or too “in the zone” or drop the bottle you’ve just grabbed.
  • Make sure you read the athlete guide or attend the athlete briefing no matter how many times you have raced so you are aware of local rules. The winner of the Ironman Vichy race was disqualified for wearing a swimskin because she hadn’t paid attention and understood that under French federation rules double layers were banned on a non wetsuit swim. Swim skins were even sold in the expo.

By preparing you can eliminate or reduce the panic response to problems and either avoid a DNF or reduce the amount of time lost in overcoming the problem.

At D&L Coaching we believe that training and preparing for an event is not just about the physical but the mental elements as well.

Zone 2 training….”I can’t run that slowly”…..

 

It has been given a few names now… “Polarised training”, 80:20, “MAF” but there is a growing consensus that training at low intensity FOR YOU for a significant proportion of your total time is a very effective way of training for an endurance athlete at this stage of the year in particular.

Anyone who has been a member of any of the Triathlon forums on Facebook (“The Ironman Journey” is a major one with 12,000 members) for any length of time will have seen a rash of posts about this time of year that can be summarised as “do I need to train in Zone 2, it feels so slow” “I can’t run that slow” “I have to walk to keep my heart rate down”. Many people seem to understand that is what they should be doing but not generally why. Some people get quite aggressive about it too! “I’ll train the way I always have, it works for me” well, maybe it does so far but are you achieving your full potential and getting the best out of precious training time by minimizing “junk miles”?

But how can running or cycling slower help you do so faster? Hard to fathom but it DOES. The theory seems to have started with the work of Stephen Seiler, an exercise scientist. He studied the training of a range of elite endurance athletes including Cyclists, Nordic Skiers, Rowers, Runners and Swimmers. He found an remarkably consistent factor linking them. They all did approximately 80% of their training at low intensity. This work has since been followed up with specific studies on athletes in the same sport comparing those that trained in this way and those that didn’t showing that those who incorporate a high proportion of low intensity work got better results in testing.

I would have been sceptical if I hadn’t inadvertently proved it to myself. I trained a group of first time half marathon runners about 4 years ago, at their request I did most of their long training sessions with them at a speed considerably slower than I was capable of. My own shorter training sessions continued at a higher intensity. We all ran the “Run To The Beat” Half Marathon together finishing in around 2:40. Around 2 weeks later I ran the Gosport Half in 1:39 – becoming my then PB and considerably faster than I expected to run – without doing any long runs at that pace.

Nobody seems 100% sure of exactly why this works;  I’ll try to keep science to a minimum but a little will help you understand the theories:

The body has two primary energy systems, the Aerobic and Anaerobic systems. In short the Aerobic (“with oxygen”) utilises oxygen Carbohydrates and fat to power activity. It can do so for a very long time as the body even of the leanest athlete has enough fat to fuel several triathlons back to back. The Anaerobic system utilises Glycogen (stored sugar essentially) but it cannot do so for long periods of time as there are relatively limited glycogen stores. Both systems work at the same time but the ratio will vary as intensity of activity changes. Sadly Fat takes longer to process than carbohydrates so the faster the body needs to burn fuel the more it will take from carbohydrates to try to replenish that glycogen.

There are numerous variants on training intensity zones based on key points where physiological changes in the proportion of Aerobic and Anaerobic systems take place – an article on it’s own –  but for our purposes today we need to consider 3 zones:

Zone 2 (“steady”, 73-80% maximum heart rate, 56-75% FTP on the bike, feeling you can go harder, breathing through the nose and able to conduct a conversation) is considered to be the zone in which the body burns 65% carbs and 35% fat.

Zone 3 (“moderately hard”, 80-87% Maximum HR etc) changes the ratio to 80% carbs 20% fat. It is the intensity to race a half ironman or half marathon. The top of zone 3 and into zone 4 is called the “threshold” or “OBLA” (Onset of Body Lactate Accumulation) and signals another physiological change.

Zone 4 (“Hard”, 87-93% Max HR) is the point at which the body predominantly relies on the anaerobic system, burns muscle stores of glycogen and very little to no Fat. It is also the point at which the body generates more lactate than it can use and clear- hence OBLA. It is the intensity for racing 10km and 5km races.

Most trained athletes will, by choice, train  in zone 3 and even if they start at a lower intensity drift into it if not monitoring their heart rate, intensity or pace – it is a mental comfort zone that is not necessarily “comfortable” physically but “feels right” and is where you consider you are putting in a suitable amount of effort (and pride and guilt play a part in this too) but not requiring the pain and effort of training in zone 4.

Desirable results of your training are building the aerobic system and improving the ability of the body to burn fat, adapting to the training load, increasing the mitochondria (little fuel cells) in the muscle cells, increasing the number of blood capillaries, the amount of plasma in the blood and the stroke volume of the heart. The truth is that zone 2 intensity is ideal and zone 3 too hard to achieve those results.

All training causes damage to the system, rest is when adaptation makes the body stronger faster or more able to deal with training loads. If there is less damage the body can concentrate on getting stronger and less tiredness will be carried through to the higher intensity days.

Zone 3 should be avoided as a grey area for training, yes, untrained athletes will see a benefit from training here anyway but this is likely eventually to cause plateauing in training adaptations. Later season race specific sessions will be in zone 3 so your time will come… but it its not the best for building that base.

Higher intensity sessions into zone 4 and beyond form an immensely important part of even long distance race training and should be included in any programme. They will improve your economy, help to develop and use different types of muscle improve general strength and your confidence.

Training in Zone 2 will feel difficult and awkward at first and you will feel a dent in your pride when you see people you know or where you feel you want to show that you are a faster runner, you may even have to accept the indignity of walking up hills, but, do you know what? Nobody really cares and the benefits are well worth it. Call it a zone 2 run on Strava and we will al know! You will get more efficient, you will be able to go faster while still in zone 2 as training progresses and you will maximise your training adaptation.

Since originally posting this blog I have been convinced that amateur cyclists don’t spend enough time training to really reap the benefits and that “sweet spot” “tempo” or top end of zone 3 training allied to hill reps and high intensity work is the most effective.

“If you always do what you have always done you will always get the same results”

DML December 2016

 

First time at Dorchester Triathlon?

If you are taking part in the Dorchester Triathlon as your first event it can be very daunting to wonder what happens and what is expected of you so we hope these thoughts may be useful!

BEFORE THE DAY:

  • DON’T panic about the swim! You will be grouped with swimmers of a similar ability based on the time you gave on your entry. There will be swimmers of all abilities. If you feel that time is now optimistic OR that in training you have gone faster then you can amend the time by emailing 1610 (ewarr@1610.org.uk ) so long as it is earlier than one week to go.
  • PRACTICE on the course where possible, practice wearing what you mean to race in and practice drinking on the bike. There is no need to take gallons of liquid, one bottle will do. You can fill that with an energy drink if you wish BUT try it out before the day of the race.
  • DECIDE what to wear, there is no need to dry yourself, change all your clothing and put socks on in transition. If you don’t have a tri-suit then you will probably want to put cycling shorts on for the bike. David completed the Marathon at the “Outlaw” race in his bike shorts so you should be able to run in them. Chances are it will be warm on race day so you shouldn’t need a jacket, arm warmers etc. If you must then again make it something you can run in to avoid wasting too much time.
  • PRACTICE “Transition” (changing from swim to bike and bike to run), you should already be doing something called a “Brick Session” in training (going for even just a short run immediately after finishing a bike ride) to get used to the change, so that is the perfect opportunity to practice the whole process. Before your ride have your kit laid out by the bike, get changed (if you must!) and go off for the ride. Have your run shoes and any other kit for that leg handy at home (or laid out if possible) and quickly change before going for around a 15 minute run.
  • NUMBERS will need to be worn on the back on the bike and on the front on the run. The easiest way to do this is to attach them to a number belt which you put on after the swim and spin round before the run. They are available cheaply online. We have a couple that can be borrowed if necessary.

 

 

ON THE DAY:

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swim exit and Transition

 

  • ARRIVE in plenty of time before the start. 1610 should email you a start time a few days before the race. You will need to have time to register and collect numbers, attach them to clothing/number belt, put stickers on your helmet and bike, find your place in the transition area (in the car park behind the centre-there will be numbered stickers on racking) and then walk through to make sure you know where you exit the pool to get to your bike, where your bike is, where you exit transition for the bike leg (usually the Poundbury side of the car park) and the run (usually the TH school side) so you know where you are going. Having a brightly coloured tea towel laid out under your front wheel or shoes can help to spot where your bike is.
  • WHILE a box is the easiest way to carry your kit be prepared for boxes not to be allowed in transition. Rules changed this year but not all races apply them.
  • STAND in front of your bike and VISUALISE transition, what are you going to pick up first and what order? this will help ensure you haven’t forgotten something.

 

THE SWIM:

  • DO count your own lengths, there will be counters at the end of the pool who will attempt to tell you when there are 2 lengths to go but ultimately it is your responsibility.
  • IF you are behind a slower swimmer DO tap them on the feet, it is accepted etiquette and they should give way to you on the next turn. If they don’t then keep tapping until they get the message! If you have a faster swimmer behind then DO let them go whether they have tapped you or not.

 

THE BIKE:

 

  • PUT on your helmet and fasten it BEFORE touching your bike. You may not mount your bike until the designated “mount line” where a Marshal should be standing. In previous years this has been at the junction where you join Coburg Road.
  • HOPEFULLY you have ridden the course, if not then at least try to drive it before the day.
  • LISTEN to Marshals on the course, particularly on the junction where the road coming down from Hardy’s monument into Martinstown where you MUST stop and put a foot down no matter how clear the course, there will be signs but it is easy to get carried away – the winner was nearly disqualified for that last year!
  • KEEP drinking up to about the last 10 minutes as then you should not need water on the run.
  • MAKE SURE that you get off your bike before the Mount line (again there should be Marshals there to remind you) and run down into Transition.

 

THE RUN:

 

  • AS mentioned you should be running out on the Thomas Hardye side of the leisure centre car park (BUT check on the day in case they change arrangements)
  • SWING your number round to the front.
  • BE prepared to feel “wooden legged” after the bike ride, you may feel that for a short distance but it will pass soon enough
  • IT is more or less 5km to run, you should not need to carry water for that distance.

Above all, smile, thank Marshals on your way round (they really appreciate it!) and enjoy it!

Tips from the Mount Line

We’ve had the pleasure of watching 2 triathlons in the past 10 days, at the first (BustinSkin’s “Race to the Bill”) we were marshalling the Mount line and at the second in Cardiff we stood at that point for a while. I can recommend it for entertainment value…It’s an eye opener for sure!

Here are some random observations:

  1. Make sure your bike is working properly after its journey, we had a chap at the RTTB who had fitted 25mm tyres and had failed to adjust the rear wheel to give enough clearance from the frame, he did complete the course but not without three false starts and lots of fiddling about. I’ve failed to do so myself. Many years ago I had to complete the (hilly) Fareham Triathlon on the big front ring as it wouldn’t change down after being bashed around on the way!
  2. Take the time to learn which way you will be going, and then even if you didn’t, listen to what the Marshal tells you
  3. Make sure your bike is left in the correct gear for the conditions you will face in the first 20m or so! We have seen people spinning way too fast and going nowhere and those who can barely turn the gear at all. The consequent weaving across the road gets in other people’s way and potentially causes accidents.
  4. Look up and not at your feet as this may save you riding into the curb and going over the handlebars.
  5. If you are going to leave shoes clipped on your bike then there is time to be saved if you can mount and get your feet in or on your shoes seamlessly but a whole new set of issues arises:
    a. PRACTICE! We saw more people waste time than gain it at Cardiff, Including one athlete who stopped and then decided to try to rip his shoes off the pedals by hand to get them on.
    b. Don’t forget to undo your shoes to give you half a chance to get your feet in!
    c. It may be an obvious thing but some cycle shoes are designed as Tri shoes and to be easy to get on in a hurry…some really aren’t.
    d. If using elastic bands make sure they are short or thin enough to actually break and not leave you permanently attached to some other part of your bike for the whole race.
    e. You don’t have to get your feet in and the straps done up in the first 10m. Get going first with your feet on top of your shoes (if you can’t slip them straight in) and wait for a suitable moment, if you watch the Brownlees and co. they will often ride some distance before attempting to put their feet in the shoes or doing the straps up.
    f. If trying a “flying mount” really don’t do it unless you have practised and are competent, I guess the bruises of the guy that tried it and went sprawling at the RTTB might have healed by now but I doubt his ego has….
    g. There probably isn’t much point in doing it if you’re going to insist on putting socks on in transition and then faffing about when you get to the mount line.
    Think about carrying your shoes and putting them on once you reach the start line if you don’t want to run in them.

Have a great race at the weekend wherever you are.

Slow down, take up gardening or bird watching…

Take the weight off your feet. Protect your fragile bones. Stop strenuous exercising. Don’t get your heart rate too high. Slow down. Take up gardening or bird watching. Act your Age.

Advice regularly heard  but it seems that nothing could be further from the truth and for longer life and fitness you must continue to push your physical and mental limits.

The good news for an endurance athlete getting older is that endurance can be maintained for much longer than strength and power. The bad news is that starting in your mid 30’s there is a decline in certain aspects of your fitness.

An important measure of fitness and performance is “VO2 max” (the maximum amount of oxygen that can be used by a person in athletic activity to produce energy) which can be improved through training, however, it declines sometimes by as much as 1% per year. Muscle mass declines taking Power and Strength with it as does elasticity in muscles and flexibility in joints.

Sadly this decline is a fact of life…..however you can do things that will slow it down and even halt it. Most important of these is to keep training! the biggest figures for the decline are in untrained individuals or worse still those who have been fit and then stop exercise.

What can I do about it?

If you don’t already have a strength and conditioning programme add strength training into your routine, in particular resistance (bodyweight or free weight) training at a high intensity using multiple joints can help towards maintaining and even increasing muscle mass.

Continue high impact training (including running) to stave off the potential onset of osteoporosis and to build strength but… as you get older you can be at greater risk of injury so it is very important to allow for more recovery time including sleep as well as rest. Sitting down is bad for you (I will do a later blog on this) generally but sometimes on balance recovery wins!

Add extra protein (around 35gm within an hour after training) to your diet and particularly in the make sure you get adequate calcium and vitamin D amongst other things.

Stretch and add Yoga or Pilates to your routine.

High Intensity. That’s is High intensity for YOU depending on your current fitness and how used you are to that type of training. Several times a week a high intensity workout should be scheduled in. We recommend at least one high intensity workout for each discipline per week for all athletes such as a speed intervals session in the pool, hill reps on the bike, or track or road intervals running. It is important given the risk of injury involved that you don’t do this type of work if you are just starting out.

If you’ve got any queries contact Lindsay or David via the website, Facebook, Twitter or email.

Competition phase training continues

14  1/4 hours for us this week including a 5 hour cycle and 2 1/4 hour run at the weekend. Its the tough end of the year but it’s also the part that pays dividends on race day! The full Outlaw is now less than 7 weeks away although there is the distraction of the BustinSkin “Race to the Bill” standard distance race for David on the 19th June.

Outlaw Half 2016

After travelling up to Nottingham on the Friday we went to Holme Pierrepoint on Saturday to register. Although we had been before when David competed in the full race last year the sheer length of the rowing lake still causes a catch of breath. Once registered we stayed to watch the Sprint races there on a lovely sunny afternoon and then attended the race briefing.

Next morning meant an early start to get some breakfast down and a final sort out of Kit and it was MUCH colder, time for a quick rethink on clothing on the bike, something warm that could be taken off with the promised improvement in the temperature later on.

 

David managed a somewhat disappointing 41 mins for the 1900m Lindsay a very rapid 36minutes. Respective times of 3:09 and 3:18 (with an unplanned diversion) and averages of 18mph were pleasing on the bike and then onto the run. As an early season race that was a stepping stone for the full race in July our times were pretty much where we expected. We eventually finished in 5:52 (David) and 6:25 (Linz) and 11th and 12th in our age groups. Things to work on before the full and now the training gets serious!!