July 2007 Triathlon Training Chat with Coach AJ

author : Coach AJ
comments : 0

Discussions on acclimating to the heat on race day, race caloric intake, and how lactate threshold (LT) relates to heart rate zones with changes in fitness.

Sign-up for our chats with the coaches! 

[Coach AJ] Hey guys, who raced this weekend?

[chirunner134] Spirit of Racine HIM. It went well. It got hot on us though.  I crossed the line DFL but I beat 3 people. Got to love chip timing.

[Coach AJ] That's a pretty good race I've heard. How hot was it? I watched the Boulder Peak today and it was in the 90's.

[chirunner134] Well like min 80's I think. I am a heat whimp.

[Coach AJ] If you are going to be racing a hotter event, put on an extra layer to acclimate a bit. In training only! I have put on 1 wicking layer, 1 cotton t shirt, then the jersey to prep for Hawaii. It works very well. As does sitting in a sauna.

[rkreuser] Man, that's tricky ground....sauna...steam room....you sweat a lot, but for what?  I'm poking at that intentionally. I don't know whether steam / sauna is good, or not.


[Coach AJ] What I found was that my perceived level of heat increased. The first day I sat in the steam room, it seemed SO hot. Then after a week or two of sitting in the steam room once or twice for 10 minutes or so felt like nothing. For the past 3 years that I have raced Hawaii the heat has never bothered me.


[chirunner134] How long do you do that for?


[Coach AJ] I sit in the steam room for up to 15 min. at a time. You definitely have to hydrate like crazy afterward. Don't do it the day before a hard ride or run.  Done right, meaning you hydrate well after, it should help you with the heat on race day.

[chirunner134] Is there anything you can do during the race to help other than wearing ice chips?

[Coach AJ] Keeping cool on race day can be tricky. You can dump water over your head, but I prefer ice down the shorts. The cold on the legs really kicks you back into reality and it actually keeps the inflammation down a bit. I put a cold water bottle in my back pocket just to keep my back cool.

[chirunner134] I was told I should eat about 1000cals per hour to not bonk. Is it possible to do that?

[Coach AJ] During an IM 400-500 is the upper most limit you can tolerate. I think 300-400 is good for most people. You can do it however you feel with either gels, bars, or liquids.

[chirunner134] Does weight matter on the max you can intake?

[Coach AJ] You need to find out what is best for you. Some people get by on 200, others need 450. It depends on your system and the race itself. Shorter races mean you don't need as many calories, while on IM day your HR is down and you can take in more calories. From what I know, weight is not a factor in calories tolerated. However, a heavier athlete may have to put out more energy to go the same speed as thinner athlete.

[Coach AJ] Nutrition is probably the number 1 limiter for every athlete, pro or age grouper. You have to know what works for you and what doesn't. I experiment on my rides and runs constantly to see if I can find that 1 perfect formula.

[chirunner134] So for a Clydesdale like myself is staying in zone 2 religious very important?

[Coach AJ] Zone 2 is important for EVERYONE. Too many athletes step into zone 3 and 4 far too often. It's the zone 2 stuff that will build the base.

[Lucy] So basically I haven't gotten faster because I'm training too hard?


[Coach AJ] It sounds like a catch 22, but yes. Without a large base, speed work can't really be absorbed.

[marmadaddy] There's a century here in the Rochester NY area called the Highlander. 100+ miles and 11k feet of climbing...The day after this is the Rochester marathon. If I was to attempt both of these, would a standard Iron distance training regimen work or would I need something more tailored?

[Coach AJ] That's very brave of you! I think the training would be pretty simple actually. For the bike, do lot's of hills. Mix up spinning with some big gear work as well. On the run, put in the miles, but do so cautiously. Don't crank it up quickly. You can add swimming here and there and do it as recovery and technique work. The big key will be the recovery after the ride. Food, massage, sleep will all be key for you.


[Lucy] So... Lucy needs a HRM.

[Coach AJ] HRM's are great for the run. It keeps you in the right zone. A powermeter on the bike is the ultimate, but an HRM will work.

[Lucy] So a zone test is an absolute after getting the HRM?  I'm scared to do one. Basically I'm scared to push myself hard.

[Coach AJ] Zone tests are pretty easy to do. Check out Friel's Training Bible for a good method or see Mike Ricci's description of finding your HR zones. Basically you just run as hard as you can, keeping a steady pace, and check your HR for the last 20 min. That number is essentially your LT. You have to push yourself or you will not get faster. If you are in triathlon more for the fun, it may not be necessary. If you do want to get faster, you have to be willing to push the limit? Think about it.. you can't succeed if you are afraid to fail.

[Lucy] I thought VO2 max and HR zones were different things? I do want to get faster. It's just a mental hurdle for me to get through the pain.

[Coach AJ] They are. Your VO2 is basically your maximal oxygen uptake. It's not a number you really need to know though. This test won't tell you your VO2, you can only find that out in a lab.  Many athletes train for hours to go faster, but never train their mind. Visualization is very important and having a positive mindset can change everything. Look at it as an opportunity to get to that next level.

[mike hall] I read that LT may be a better indicator of ones endurance. Is that true?

[Coach AJ] LT is a better measure. LT will change with training, your VO2 is pretty much set by genetics. As you get more fit, your pace at LT should be faster, that is the key. Mark Allen's LT pace was around 7:15 early in the season. Midway through it was near 5:45. Same HR, 1:30 per mile faster. That's what you are after

[mike hall] Is that an above average increase in LT?

[Coach AJ] Yes, Mark's results are not typical as they say in the commercials. But the principle still applies.  As for zones, they don't really change all that much. You aren't trying to get higher HR zones, you are trying to go faster at the same HR.

[chirunner134] My z2 max for running is 154. I spend about 4 hours today at 155 on the bike. Was I biking too fast or it is possible that my hr is better on the bike?

[Coach AJ] Your bike HR zones will be 8-12 beats lower than on the run. It's due to the fact that running takes more energy and is a full body effort.

Then another in mid August. I then plan to do my first Olympic distance on Sept. 23rd . Any suggestions on how I should plan my tapers and still remain fit? My times came down in my first 2 sprints.

[Coach AJ] Racing close together like that can either put you in the next level, or hurt like mad. You don't need to do much between the races. Keep it light and easy with a few pick ups to keep your body sharp. You need to let the body recover, but still keep it firing. Shorter, harder efforts sharpen you without hurting you too much. After the 2nd sprint, take some time off/easy then keep it either very fast or very easy. Stay out of the gray zone (zone 3 mostly).

[mike hall] So like coach Ricci's bricks of short swim followed by 9k/1.5k/9k/1.5k bike /runs

[Coach AJ] That would be great.

[mike hall] Thanks. this is my first year of triathlon and I must say I love what it does for my body and spirit.

[Coach AJ] Thanks everyone. Good luck at the races! It's time for me to get some dinner and rest. AM Masters comes early at 5 30!


Sign-up for our chats with the coaches! 


Click on star to vote
3591 Total Views  |  58 Views last 30 days  |  16 Views last 7 days
date: September 8, 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