April Triathlon Training Chat with Coach AJ

author : Coach AJ
comments : 0

Discussions on bricks, bike position, blisters, bike fit, the walk/run method, improving run times, key sessions, training post ITBS, HR and cadence, wetsuits and eating to not bonk

[Coach AJ] Hi everyone! So, who wants to start tonight?

[tbatt] I would like to ask a question on bricks. I can't seem to get my chest opened up to have an easy transition into the run. I've done numerous bricks but can't get it still.

[Coach AJ] How aggressive is your bike position? If you are extreme, then that may cause your chest to constrict.

[tbatt] It's from my sprinting years...haven't really changed it since.

[Coach AJ] I would look at your position on the bike again. Small changes may have big results for you. Off hand, you could just raise your stem up 0.5cm and see how that works for you. Also, try to let your skeletal structure rest on your bars rather than using your shoulders and lats to hold you up.


[chirunner134] What is the best way to treat blisters after you get them?

[Coach AJ] There are many thoughts on this. Personally, I leave them alone as much as possible. The fluid inside helps healing. Unless it is getting worse, leave it alone. Also, keep your feet soft, don't let calluses develop. If you get a blister under that, you are HOSED!

[chirunner134] Anything I can do to protect them for my next race in 2 weeks?

[Coach AJ] Try Second Skin or MoleSkin.

[chirunner134] Which is better, a quality frame that is just a little small but within acceptable range or one that is right on target?

[Coach AJ] No question on that, the one that is right on target. Even if you are comparing carbon to aluminum, it is the fit that is key. You can spend a lot of money on a bike that looks great, but doesn't fit.


[chirunner134] I got fitted so I know the size I need but the headtube is about 1 to 1.5 cm off then the other bike which is right.


[Coach AJ] You can play with fit to some degree. But at a certain point you start to circumvent the geometry of the bike and that effects the handling.

[Lucy] The only reason I didn't get the bike I wanted was it wasn't in my size.


[Coach AJ] That's a smart move. Don't pick out your bike, let it pick you. I work at a shop and at least once a week people come in on bikes that don't fit, but they loved the color or manufacturer or they got a deal on Ebay. Not Good.

[kaqphin] If someone hasn't been running for a long time but is in reasonable fitness what kind of walk/run sessions would you suggest to start with?

[Coach AJ] Start with the base of 8min run/ 2 min walk. As far as distance, that is dependent on the individuals current level of fitness. I would keep to the 8/2 ratio and just add time on.

[Lucy] What's wrong with 4/1?

[Coach AJ] There isn't anything WRONG with 4/1, but at some point you need to challenge yourself. You could move to 6/2 then 8/2. Like anything else, steady progression is the key to improvement. If you stay at 4/1 all the time, you will plateau.

[Lucy] Ummm...4/1 was working really good for my long runs.  So maybe I'll try 6/2 for a while. btw...I have no coach so that's probably why.

[Coach AJ] If it is working for you now, stay with it. In 2 months if you haven't gotten any faster, consider moving to 6/2. Like I said, it's about steady progression. You don't have to change things now, but down the road, you may need to do more running to push yourself to a new level.


[Lucy] I'm just getting frustrated at my run times aren't improving. today's race, the third year I've done it, each year the run declines while everything else improves.


[Coach AJ] Have you tried doing a run focus block? For 10-14 days focus on your running and just maintain the bike and swim. Single sport focus blocks can bump up the fitness in that 1 sport. I like to do either a bike block, or run/swim block. Since you don't spend nearly the time running as you do biking, you can add in the swimming. Plus, I find it helps my recovery from long or frequent running.

[ron] Lucy, there is the 'run focused' plan under winter maintenance in the training plan section...that could work.

[kaqphin] Coach, in addition to the long run/ride/swim, what other sessions do you consider key in a week...I have a lot of trouble working out what my other sessions should be.


[Coach AJ] It depends on what you are racing. For IM, I like the swim/bike brick, which is often forgotten. I am also a big believer in strength. Not necessarily from weights, but get into the hills, use big gears to create hip and glute strength. Mix in the high RPM stuff and your legs find a nice snap. I often do 1 hour on the flats, 3-4 in the mountains, then another hour on the flats going hard, but with my RPM's high. That ingrains a smooth, high cadence muscle pattern into my legs.

[jknapman] Coach, how would you recommend coming back into running after a second layoff of ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome) since New Years?

[Coach AJ] SLOWLY! Mix in some aquajogging, make sure to start on a soft surface if possible and keep the runs short. Work on a fast cadence of 90+ as well.

[jknapman] I've been seeing a PT for the past 4 weeks twice a week, stretching whenever possible. I do not want chronic ITBS.

[Coach AJ] ITBS is a very hard to deal with issue. It can be caused by all sorts of other issues. The complexity of it are frustrating for sure. Make sure you find the most qualified person in your area to deal with it. Remember, it's not the ITB that's the problem, it's usually a knee or foot issue that manifests itself in the ITB. I have found that the look where it isn't philosophy is most effective.

[jknapman] He was saying it was being caused my hamstrings doing the work of the gluteals and to a lesser extent the TFL. My stupidity set it off back in January.

[Coach AJ] Your glutes are the strongest muscles in your legs. Use them more and go faster, it's that simple. I have seen more than 1 IM World Champ in the weight room working on their glutes and hips.

[chirunner134] What is the best way to work the glutes and hips in the weight room?

[Coach AJ] For the hips I use the cable machine and attach it to my ankle. You can do front and side lifts. The glutes I work by doing lunges with my back foot up on a bench. Just go straight down, not out and over your knee. On the bike, big gear work is the best way to transfer the power from the weight room to the bike and run. Hills, hills, hills.

[jknapman] Yesterday I went and got draft certified yesterday, I've got a draft race at the end of June that I just gave A race status (due to ITB layoff). Would I approach training any different for this race?


[Coach AJ] You may want to work a bit more on your high end capacity. Do more intensity and race pace work for sure. If you think you will need to have some explosive power to follow wheels, work on power jumps. Do you have a powermeter?


[jknapman] No powermeter for this self-funded student.


[Coach AJ] OK, then go by HR or RPE. The key will be to go HARD on your hard days, and then easy on the easy days. On my easy days I ride alone so I don't get pushed into riding too hard. I look for the oldest guy on a mountain bike and let him pass me.  Too many athletes go too hard on their recovery days thinking they will gain something extra. The time to gain is when it's time to go hard. You can't go hard enough if you haven't rested enough. I don't try to out train anyone, I try to out rest them.

[chirunner134] I am going to buy a road bike soon. Would I be better to use the road bike on my trainer or would my current hybrid be ok?

[Coach AJ] I would use your road bike for both outdoor and indoor riding.

[gailg] Coach, I have a hard time with cadence and easy days -- high cadence = high HR for me still. Is it better to slow down cadence, or keep a higher HR?

[Coach AJ] How efficient are you? Can you do 1-legged pedaling on the trainer for 1 min. or more? A high cadence shouldn't always correlate to a high HR. You may want to work on technique. This is true for the run as well. I can change my pace by a min/mile and still keep my cadence at 92. It's about being as efficient as possible.

[gailg] I don't own a trainer, but I can do one-legged pedaling on the street for more than one minute with no trouble.

[Coach AJ] It's different on a trainer for sure. You don't want to slow your cadence on the run for also. You will take much more of a pounding if you do. Try sticking to a flat route and being "light" on the pedals.

[gailg] I live in the mountains...not much flat area around here. But I will keep working on it! Thanks!

[Coach AJ] Gail, invest in a trainer. I too have very little flat terrain. You can't really go for an easy ride when you are climbing a lot. Sure the trainer isn't exciting, but for a 1 hour recovery spin it's better than the hills.

[chirunner134] How good are cheap wet suits vs. expensive ones? I tried a real expensive one and it improved my speed but I'm not sure if the cheap suit will do the same.


[Coach AJ] The expensive wetsuits use better materials and better production methods. They do help in the water no doubt. But like bikes and shoes, fit is the key!

[chirunner134] Does it matter I am well pushing the weight. Like 40 lbs over the wetsuit size already.  Not sure if the expensive will actually fit me better because of it.  The largest suit is about 250 and I am 290 so that is a problem.


[Coach AJ] Yes. Each manufacturer is different, but use the sizing chart to get started. I have seen custom wetsuits. Not sure on the price though.

[jknapman] I have an Oly a week before the aforementioned draft race (it held the A race status before). How might I recover for that week? Draft race is a sprint.

[Coach AJ] I would do some light swimming and aqua jogging the next day to keep the muscles moving. The next day could be a light and easy bike. Mid-week do a run with some race pace sections of 30 sec to 1 min. Then repeat with the bike and swim. You're not trying to gain fitness, just keep the body primed. Basically, do 2-3 days easy/rest, the 3-4 days where you add in short burst of race speed.

[Bajapat] What is the best way to balance weight loss with the amount of food needed not to bonk?

[Coach AJ] Weight loss is a simple matter of taking in fewer calories than you expend. Don't skimp in the pre, during and especially post ride grub. Find ways to cut 100 cals. here and there. If you try to lose weight by not eating on the bike, you just impede your ability to have a good bike. Look at other times, like lunch or dinner to nix calories.

[Coach AJ] Alright, thanks to everyone for spending some time on the forum. I hope this was helpful for you. Train hard, rest harder, race hardest.  Just remember, be steady in your training. No one day makes you and no one day breaks you.


Click on star to vote
5580 Total Views  |  47 Views last 30 days  |  13 Views last 7 days
date: May 11, 2007

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."

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."

View all 63 articles