December 2006 Triathlon Training Chat with Coach Kevin Konczak

author : KevinKonczak
comments : 0

Our regular USAT coach chat with lots of tips including discussions on Computrainers, bike fitting and position, triathlon and marathon training, Tim DeBoom lunges and nutrition.

[KevinKonczak] Howdy again!

[chirunner134] Basically I have been wanting a Computrainer (CT) and my local bike shop is having Computrainer classes. Would they be helpful to go to the class or just save my money? The 8 weeks on the trainer might be nice to have but how much can a bike coach really help me out? Granted its only 8 weeks long.

[KevinKonczak] Depends on who is running it. If they have knowledge about training with power, then yes. If you don't have a powermeter on your bike outside of a CT, then knowing your FTP (Functional Threshold Power), etc. won't make much of a big deal.  Yes, they will motivate you more - time flies quicker, in that respect, Yes.  It would be a good idea.  You may pick up on some info like positioning changes or training ideas from others, or meet a run buddy or other neat stuff.

[chirunner134] Not sure if they are certified coaches though.

[KevinKonczak] Certified just means they took classes - tests, it doesn't mean someone isn't a good coach.

[chirunner134] The sales man was claiming they could improve my mph by 2 - 4 and not sure if that would really be true.

[KevinKonczak] You can be certified USAC, USAT - but be a not so good of a coach if they don't listen to the athlete. Or they may not be certified but have race experience - work really well with people, and end of up being a great coach. Your odds are better if they are certified though, because they cared enough to get that extra education. 

[KevinKonczak] Proper bike positioning will get you at least that much (2-4 mph), and allow it to last over longer distances. That sounds like a sales pitch to me.


[chirunner134] Yeah sounds like a F.I.S.T investment would do the same for me then.

[KevinKonczak] Yes, F.I.S.T or Serotta.  Proper tire inflation will help with that speed increase if your tires are flat/have less air too!

[chirunner134] Now once you get the F.I.S.T. fitting, then you never need it again right? Can I get the right fit basically anywhere then?

[KevinKonczak] But a group CT workout would get you through the winter months with others in your boat (fighting the weather - low light days).

[chirunner134] True. I train on my trainer for 1 hour a night. I do more trainer rides now than I have road rides.

[KevinKonczak] You always need to change your position, as you grow older - when the body isn't moving or bending the same in other years. So bike fits periodically (1-2 years) should be done.  Lance Armstrong tweaks his position all season long, every year, using wind tunnels - experts...every time he changes a piece of equipment.

So would weight change then change it the fit a lot also? I'm hoping to drop at least another 50 - 60 lbs next year.

[KevinKonczak] If your legs are hitting other parts that wouldn't be there otherwise, then yes, 50-60 lbs would make a big difference.

[chirunner134] Wow. But then again if you're a pro you need it. I hope to just beat more than 23 people out of 566.

[KevinKonczak] We are the Dream Weavers, what we dream, we CAN make happen.  It all starts with you taking control - saying you are going to do it.

[KevinKonczak] I'm suggesting a Serotta certified or F.I.S.T certified fit.  As far as coaching goes, I already commented on that, but bike fits I'd definitely make sure someone is certified in bike fits.

[chirunner134] do they give you the equipment lengths you need or is that a bike per bike basis - like seat post and frame size and things that like?

[KevinKonczak] Well, for starters, they put you on a stationary bike that has a whole lot of adjustments with graduated measurements on it.  Then you ride, and they tweak it, (some have a power meter) to see what the most powerful - comfortable position is. Then they set your bike up like that. If you need a longer stem, or seatpost, then they offer the size - suggestions usually and you get those put on your bike with those exact lengths - heights/widths adjusted.  They'll often put in spacers for your stem right there, or put in shims in your cleats to adjust for any leg length differences. Boulder Center of Sports Medicine does this, so should any other good bike fit shop.

[chirunner134] So far only F.I.S.T place I been to I would not buy a bike from them as they are way too top of the line for me. Can they fit me and I take those measurements someplace else?


[KevinKonczak] Just ask a bike shop if they have a F.I.S.T or Serotta Certified fit specialist. If not, move to the next shop, because they likely have "hacks" setting up bikes for them.  If you get fit wrong, you will develop health issues, don't risk it. Get it done right the first time.


[autumn] I'm trying to figure out my bike position on my new tri bike.  I have tried making some adjustments on my own, but I keep expecting to be as comfortable as I am on my road bike. Is that a reasonable expectation?


[KevinKonczak] Your road bike is a more relaxed geometry, the tri bike is usually NOT as comfy as a road bike.

[autumn] The tri bike adjustments seem more complicated than the road bike

[KevinKonczak] Tri bikes are much more aggressive positions because of the aero bars. More adjustments to make, and you have to take in consideration you need to run afterwards.

[autumn] I guess I should bring it into the shop?

[KevinKonczak] Good idea.

[autumn] This is a bike I got online, which I've never done, so there's a lot to adjust.

[KevinKonczak] Is the frame the right size? Even 2 cm off a correct frame size - it can mess up your entire fit.

[autumn] What feels great in the hoods, feels awful in aero.

[KevinKonczak] People often buy bike frames that are too big. 

[chirunner134] How can you find out what frame size you need?

[KevinKonczak] You want the smallest possible bike frame you can get that accommodates your size, for a tri bike. Not so for mountain bike. Before buying a bike frame, even if you aren't sure where you are going to get it. I would first go into a shop - have them size you for a proper frame. Tell them you aren't sure what/when the purchase will be, but you want to get a size so you can look over the bikes.

[autumn] I'll be training for my first marathon - probably racing in June (first race choice - but on a lottery system, so I won't know till late Jan).  But I also like to race every 2-3 weeks in the summer...running or triathlons.  I'm wondering what is a safe distance to space races for taper and recovery.  I will be FINISHING the marathon, but would like to RACE some triathlons within 2-3 weeks of finishing the marathon...unrealistic?

[KevinKonczak] You'll want to plan for 5 weeks of recovery after the marathon, before resuming any normal training. Before that, you'll want to not do any long races (longer than OLY) for 2-3 weeks before at best. I'd go 3 weeks to be safe, so you're not pooped out. I'd suggest kicking back after the marathon, it will be tough on your body.

[autumn] How about 2 weeks prior? (option of either sprint and oly distance)

[KevinKonczak] Unless you have miracle recovery abilities like a Petr Vabrousek (pro triathlete), or Tim Hola (he races Hawaii - often races just as fast a few weeks later in IM FLA). Those guys race long - big races - they always do if fast. Amazing athletes. Just have to have the right genes to do that - not destroy yourself. Sprint/Oly 2-3 weeks before is fine.

[chirunner134] All my injuries have come from getting back into training too fast after a marathon.

[KevinKonczak] You are right!

[autumn] I recovered very quickly from the HIM. I was barely sore the next day. But after a 1/2 marathon this fall, I was more sore than after my first 1/2 marathon.

[KevinKonczak] I'd say things to watch out for early on after marathon training is, a lack of motivation. Once you get antsy to get back out there, you mentally have come back. The pace on a marathon is faster than an IM marathon, so it should hurt more overall than the IM.  I've done 16 IM's, and 2 marathons only, but the marathons nearly killed me, the IM's were cake for about 13 of them. That's a pretty different ratio...100% of the marathons alone were decimating.

[KevinKonczak] I'd like to suggest a great mental prep book: In Pursuit of Excellence by Terry Orlick. Great application to racing/training.

[autumn] Okay, another question, strength training in the off season, when should I start tapering that off???

[KevinKonczak] Taper off around 3-4 weeks out from your A race. Keep it up all season as maintenance if you can. Move to more specific strength as the season gets closer (such as paddles in the water, more climbing on the bike.) Top triathletes in Boulder (Tim DeBoom for starters...) trains all year long in the weight room.

[autumn] How do you do lunges w/o killing your knees?

[KevinKonczak] Tim stands a few feet from a bench, with 35 lb dumbbells, one foot behind him on the bench, and lunges down so his other thigh is parallel to the floor. He does about 3 sets on each leg, 15 reps. He uses stairmaster as a warmup.

[jldicarlo] Oh, Mike has me do those...I can't decide if it hurts the leg I'm standing on or the leg on the bench more....owie.


[KevinKonczak] Jen, careful on those knees, you need good knees to do those, as they are quite stressful.


[rkreuser] OK, Kevin, what's the authoritative diet book for triathletes? Or plan...


[KevinKonczak] Common sense.  Diet...we're all different, so it'll be different for everyone, there really isn't a book that is a one-size fits all. Common sense and awareness of what you need (with help of a nutritionist) can nail the diet for you.  I've done the carbo load, and high protein diets...can't concentrate without carbs. Didn't make a difference one way or another, so eating your normal diet until a week from a race MINUS dairy (makes me gassy), or beans/spicy foods works for me. Anything really, really bland, and not heavy like steak.

[rkreuser] You just run into folks like Gordo that claim a 20% improvement due to diet. That's hard to ignore, when we're spending hours debating aero helmets and what not for minor percentages.

[KevinKonczak] I won't go into what others think/trains like. Creator of Epic Camp. Nice guy, but I don't agree with Epic Camp philosophy. Ask Mike Ricci, he got destroyed by Epic in Australia. 20% improvement I guess so, if you're diet was as bad as Gordo's before becoming a triathlete. He was BIG...and needed at least a 20% improvement in diet. But he is a GREAT guy to talk to, very generous with advice. He's done a lot in a short amount of time to rising to the top.


[rkreuser] I've got an easy one. What is "drill" in the D3 workouts?  Example, Drill for swim....300 pull, 100 drill...

[KevinKonczak] Drills can be: catch-up, one-arm only, finger tip drag, to name a few. It refers to the many drills out there.  See the drills.

[chirunner134] If you are doing 4 -5 swim workouts a week should you do 1 as a long swim or should you stick with the drills and intervals?

[KevinKonczak] 1 day drills, 1 day long, 1 day speed will be the cornerstones of your week for swim. All others, as needed (maybe you need extra drills or more endurance--so you'd do another long swim).

[rkreuser] Check the Winter Maintenance programs - Swim Focus. It'll spell out how to work through 5 swims a week.


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date: March 7, 2007