May Triathlon Training Chat with Coach AJ

author : Coach AJ
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Questions and answers on HIM training with a sprained ankle, metric century plan basics, Olympic speedwork, Ironman commuter rides, bricks, HIM before IM recovery and post race nutrition.

[Coach AJ] Hey DZ, Any questions to start us off?

[D.Z.] You'll have to forgive me. I jumped in here hoping to be a fly on the wall.  Can you help me heal my sprained ankle so I can do my first HIM on July 1st?

[Coach AJ] There is no set topic, it's an open forum. As for your ankle, make sure you are 100% healed before starting again. Too many people jump into the training early and never fully heal. This leads to compromised training for weeks.

[D.Z.] Well, I'm into 10 weeks of pain. I can't run, just started swimming for real about 5 weeks ago, and I've been cycling pretty well since a week after "the incident".

[Coach AJ] Take true time off. You can aqua jog and work on single leg drills on the bike trainer. Also, you can take the extra time to do small things like get the bike prepped, work on stretching and plan your races.

[D.Z.] Well, I've been at PT and they've given me the go-ahead to keep on the cycling and the swimming.

[Coach AJ] That's good, but still keep it easy and don't push it.

[D.Z.] So you're saying I should ditch the HIM? This year? At least July 1st?

[Coach AJ] Not necessarily. You can still race, just adjust your goals and time ideas. If you are the type that doesn't race unless you can go 100%, think of it as a chance to work on nutrition and use the race gear.

[D.Z.] Well, I was hoping to finish in under 5 hours (I'm an MOP age-grouper), but now I'm concerned that I won't be able to finish in the time allotted. I don't have sufficient base (missing 10 weeks will do that) in the run.  I'm not too proud to walk. But I also don't want to be miserable.

[Coach AJ] Understood. As long as you aren't going to do damage to your ankle, walking is OK. It's really a measure of whether you are willing to risk being miserable for the chance to finish, or if you would rather wait and go 100%. Also, consider doing the race as a training type day.

[D.Z.] I guess a DNF is better than a DNS, right?

[Coach AJ] As long as there is no extra damage, yes in my opinion.

[D.Z.] I am concerned about further injuring my ankle, but I guess my therapist is a better judge than me.

[Coach AJ] If you start, you can always yank the plug if you feel like you are doing too much damage.

[sappho96] Could BT do a plan for a metric century?

[Coach AJ] I think that a plan for the metric century can be done. To be honest, it would really be basic. Essentially, add 10% to your weekly long ride, and during the week add a little more intensity each week. Pretty soon 62 miles is no problem.

[sappho96] So how many rides each week and of what length?

[Coach AJ] The more rides per week the better. You don't want to do the bulk of your miles in 1 ride. If you can do 2-3 rides of 1-2 hours during the week that would be plenty. Remember that it's a basic progression and really quite simple.

[sappho96] Would a long ride of say 50/55 miles be enough before the big day?

[Coach AJ] Yes. On the big day the fun and excitement will get you through the final miles.

[mmakbenton] Here is one...may be a bit broad...what is the best way to work in some track running (speed) while training for Oly distance races?


[Coach AJ] After a good base build of 6-8 weeks, add in some track or speed work sessions on the road. For an OLY I like to use 2,4 and 800's up to a mile as well. Go at goal race pace and a 1 to 1 work to rest ratio usually works for most.

[rstocks3] I'm going to be using a commute to work for some long rides. The commute is 75 miles one way. Any suggestions of different ways of breaking up the ride to benefit my training? Training for my first Ironman in Sept.

[Coach AJ] Assuming you are doing IM MOO, do some race pace intervals, some big gear work, some pedaling technique drills can all be beneficial.  You don't need to do a lot of the hard speed stuff. I session a week on the bike and run is enough. Leave time to recover in-between the hard efforts.


[rstocks3] How about bricks after some of the rides? 30 min? 15 Min?

[Coach AJ] Bricks are very important in my opinion. Longer rides can have a short run after, and shorter rides a long run. I usually do 30 minutes on the trainer before my long run as well. The duration of the brick depends on the length of your A race. The longer the race, the longer the brick. I typically keep my run to an hour if I did a long bike, and that's for IM training.

[rstocks3] I have a HIM in July that is an "A" race then IM MOO which is an "A" race.

[Coach AJ] Make sure to give plenty of recovery time after the HIM. Go into your last training block well rested and not fatigued from race day.

[rstocks3] Will do. Suggestions for the week following the HIM? I was planning on some swimming and easy bikes.

[Coach AJ] Right on. Start with swimming, get in some easy bikes and aqua jogging rather than running. I generally don't run for 3-4 days after a HIM. Immediately after the race watch your nutrition, get an ice bath if possible and lots of sleep. The next day you can have some fun with the nutrition and eat what you want, but right afterwords it really matters.

[TexOma] What should someone eat right after a HIM?

[Coach AJ] Great question. Obviously fluid replacement is key. If you have a recovery drink you prefer, bring it with you. Go for the fruit and bagels which typically are at the post race feed. Just don't go to the burger joint and have a 1 pound burger. Get in plenty of carbs, but some protein as well. I love PB and banana sandwiches or cereal after a hard workout. Recovery is key after workouts and races and is one place many people can improve on.

[kaqphin] Further to that... I've just increased my training volume and all I want to do is eat... anything you can do for that? I might not feel hungry and then realize I've inhaled a HUGE amount of food. I'm not sure it's the right sort of food either... actually I know its not!

[Coach AJ] Yes, EAT!! Your body is working harder and needs the fuel, don't deny it. If you do, you may lose weight in the short term, but in the long term you will not be able to train as effectively. The key is WHAT you eat. You know what you should eat. Think about tomorrow's workout and whether you want to do well or struggle through it. Within 30 min. you should have some type of carb and some protein.

[kaqphin] What about over the rest of the day? I'm doing 2 a days a lot of the time. Should I eat even if I don't feel hungry?

[Coach AJ] Yes, balance your intake throughout the day. I try to get some fruit and veggies in at every meal. That way I don't load up on 1 type of calorie at once. It is OK to snack if you're not hungry. That way you don't wait until you are starving and eat way too much. Grab an apple or some trail mix, just enough to satisfy you. Also, if you eat a big meal, it takes a while to digest and can interfere with your next workout.

[SweetK] I snack on soy nuts and dried edamame.

[Coach AJ] Those are good, but don't always snack on the same item. Mix it up so you get different nutrients. Yeah, a bar, yogurt, fruit, fig newtons, trail mix, they are all good. For food and training, you need to try everything you can until you find something that works. Unfortunately trial and error is the only and best way to figure out your nutrition. I have done 7 IM's and am still dialing in my race day nutrition.

[SweetK] I learned that I need iron this week, the hard way ;)

[Coach AJ] Iron is a tricky one. Low iron levels are more common in women.

[TriBabe2006] I have been training in my wetsuit for almost 2 months now...I plan on racing in the long run will this hinder me or help to "find my balance" faster?

[Coach AJ] Well, if you have been training in it exclusively, yes. If you have been in the wetsuit for every swim than you aren't getting a true feel for the water. I would say use the wetsuit for 1 or 2 longer, open water swims. The rest of your swims would be in a pool so you can feel the water. Also, do drills and focus on form, not speed.

[Coach AJ] OK, that wraps up the session. Thanks for the questions, I enjoy helping you reach your goals. Good luck with your training and racing!!


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date: June 27, 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."

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