March 2010 Training CHAT with Coach AJ

author : Coach AJ
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[rbuike]   How do you do swim workouts with no pool? I'll be traveling a lot the next few weeks and won't have access to pools just regular hotel gyms.

[Coach AJ]   You can simulate swimming with some bands. Hook them to the doorknob or in the door and mimic your swim stroke. It's very effective and the bands are easy to pack.

[rbuike]   How does band work equate to swim time? i.e. If I am scheduled for a 30 min swim do I do the bands for 30 minutes?

[Coach AJ]  The bands are very difficult when you start out. Go for 2-5' intervals, maybe 5-6 of them depending on how strong you currently are. From there you can add time.

[Gregkl]  AJ, I have been working on my IM training program and I have it set pretty much. I am able to move my long run which was on Sat to Thur, move my Sun bike to Sat, and have a recovery run on Sun. I have my workouts staggered throughout the plan, except for a short bike on Friday followed my the long bike on Saturday. Do you think this is okay?

[Coach AJ]  I like the staggered long days, so yes, I think your plan is solid.

[Gregkl]  Two back to back rides okay as long as they are not high intensity?

[Coach AJ]  Exactly, Friday's ride should be high RPM, easy spinning. This will help you recover from the run and prep for Saturday. Don't be afraid to take Friday off either. True recovery between the long run and ride is key. Don't get caught up in trying to hit specific hours, or trying to make the training log look good.

If your ride or run is your weakness, you may want to consider focusing on that sport while keeping the other steady. You'd be surprised at how little it takes to keep your fitness level steady in one sport while building the other.

[Gregkl]  Yeah, I see. For my first 12 weeks of the 26 week program, I only have two bikes per week, then on week 13 I add one on Wednesday. The Friday rides are as you say high cadence, low zone, easy spinning.

[Coach AJ]  Sounds good. Just be ready to adapt if needed.

[Gregkl]   I just started IMWI training this past week. Looking forward to it. I am really trying hard to do my workouts within the specified zones. I want to go faster, but I know I need to do the lower zone workouts.

[rkreuser]   Ok, so now you asked the question, I'll expound. If you have a training plan that keeps you in certain zones, and for the first few weeks/months of the plan the zones are 'below your ability', should you adjust downward, or ask your coach to scale upward?

[Coach AJ]  Base fitness at a low HR, no matter what speed, is key. A quote from another coach is train where you are and you'll get where you want to be.

Make sure your zones are right to start. Do an LT test to determine your zones as specifically as you can. Then you should have no questions about zones. Your base/aerobic is zone 1-2, aerobic threshold is 3 and so on.

[Gregkl]  I did my recovery run today. It was tough to run a 11:48 pace, but I stayed true.

[Coach AJ]  Gregkl, that discipline is what will get you faster. Too may athletes can't stick to the zone, run too fast, then wonder why they don't get faster, as they have no base.

[Gregkl] That's the only way I could keep my HR below 132. And please don't say: "why bother?" I had a guy tell me that once and when I crossed the IM finish line, I wanted to tell him, "that's why!"

[Coach AJ]  Speed only comes when you've put in the longer miles. Even the top 5k runners in the world put in long runs.

As your base increases, you will see that you are faster at the same HR, just what you want for IM. It's about how fast can you go in zone 2. Long runs build economy of motion and efficiency.

[Gregkl]  Thanks, AJ. I know my body and how I respond to training and I have to sometimes stand tough when people tell me I am doing it wrong. I may not podium, but I usually achieve my goals. Yes, I do see as the season progresses that I get faster at the same HR. My "A" Race is IMWI. I am doing an OLY and HIM before.

[Coach AJ]   Gregk, that's the point of training, training your body at your HR for your goals.

[rkreuser]  AJ, let's dive deeper. How long does base last? I was a solid triathlete two years ago, then took a couple years off to be unemployed and travel. Now I'm back for the third year from being off, near as I can tell, I am at somewhat the same levels as pre-break. Is that base, or do I need new base?

[Coach AJ]   You should still spend time building base. When is your A race and how long is it?  Note that all the top athletes start with base every year, they don't just race.

[rkreuser]  Heh. I'm casual enough I don't have an A race. I've got several 'survive' races. Including a half mary in 3 weeks, Rev3 Knoxville in 7 weeks, TTT in 9 weeks. Then I'll worry about being fast for sprint/oly season in Michigan, plus CX season.  I didn't, and can't, do the periodization, or the taper/planning. I take time to workout wherever I can get it.  So I dumb down my goals to suit that circumstance.

[Coach AJ]   Without an A race, it's hard to set up your weeks. I would still put in as much base as you can, allowing for two weeks of LT work and a one week taper, this would be for Rev3. After the TTT, go to more of a build/LT cycle to get some speed in the legs.

[rkreuser]  Actually, I'm thinking for Rev3 it's just a training day, with work before and after, and at TTT, it's just work.  After that, I'll get technical.

[Coach AJ]  Use the Rev3 and TTT as base builders, then sharpen up for OLY season.

[Gregkl]  Should I keep my short recovery run on Sunday, or could I run off the long bike on Saturday? I do have bricks scheduled later on in my plan.

[Coach AJ]     Gregk, I would mix it up. The closer to race day, the more I would do the bricks for specificity.

[Gregkl]  AJ, I have a swim on Saturday before my long ride. Do you see any issue with that? If so, I could move my long bike back to Sunday, though I would have to do something with my recovery run that I currently have on Sunday.

[Coach AJ]  No issue at all, in fact I think it's great. Too many athletes forget the swim/bike brick. The long bike is much different after expending calories and energy in the water. I would try to do as many swim/bike bricks as possible. This also helps to really nail down nutrition. Athletes expend a lot of energy in the water.

[Gregkl]  Man, you are making my evening! I started out with Gale Bernhardts 26 week IM plan, saw some flaws in it, plus some business travel issues with me so I made several changes. It's not easy to change a plan and avoid stacking workouts! I now have a plan that has single sport workouts during the week for the most part, at least one day of rest for my legs each week, my long workouts staggered too! If you remember, this is due to your chats with me over the last few months!

[Coach AJ]  Glad to hear that! Happy to help you with your season, now it's just a matter of getting the work done!

[Coach AJ]  Just don't worry if you miss a workout here and there, it will happen. Don't try to "make it up" elsewhere. Just let it go.

[vinuzot]  How do you get motivation???

[Coach AJ]  Do you have an A race or goals set for the season?

[vinuzot]  That is the problem, trying to decide what to do

[Coach AJ]  Well, you need to just pick a goal race and work towards it. Until you decide where you want to go, it's hard to set the plan, and the plan is often a big motivator.

[vinuzot]  In the past that has been the route, pick a race then plan, now I am having a hard time making the time to train.

[Coach AJ] Well, there's nothing wrong with setting the bar a little lower if your work/family time is cutting into training. Set a goal that is appropriate to the amount you can train, not just what you want to do.

[Contradoublebassman]  Got a question about Zoot shoes.  I am nowhere near any place to tri a pair on...do they fit pretty close to regular shoes? Or do they generally fit larger or smaller on the same size ?

[Coach AJ]   I've only tried them on, never worn them on a run. My experience was that they are true to size. Order online and make sure they have a good return policy!

[tjtryon]  I have completely switched to Zoots, they have a fantastic warranty, are well made, and just all around good shoes. I switched from high end Asics, and probably wouldn't move back.

[Coach AJ]  A proper fitting shoe is a must to avoid injury, just take care that it's the right shoe for you. You may save a few bucks in the shoe, but lose it in the cost of PT, or time not training.

[vinuzot]   Shoe question, are Zoots good if you are having knee problems?

[Coach AJ]  Not 100% sure on that, but my guess is that they are more of a lightweight trainer. Go to a run store that has a video camera and treadmill. This is the best way to ensure you get the right shoe for you.

[Gregkl]  Speaking of that, do you have confidence that someone can analyze your gait by just watching you run up and down the sidewalk a couple times?

[Coach AJ]  Gait analysis should be done with a video in my opinion. Using slo-mo helps, and you can also see what the salesguy is telling you.  The video gives peace of mind. There are only a few people I would trust to do a gait analysis by the naked eye.

Alright! Thanks for a great session of questions tonight. I'll be back again next month, so come with questions ready! Train Hard, Train Smart, Train Safe, AJ

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date: April 26, 2010

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Coach AJ

USAT Level 1 Coach
"My coaching philosophy can be summed up in two words: listening and balance. By combining these two elements I feel I can help each athlete achieve their full potential."

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avatarCoach AJ

USAT Level 1 Coach
"My coaching philosophy can be summed up in two words: listening and balance. By combining these two elements I feel I can help each athlete achieve their full potential."

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