August 2007 Triathlon Training Chat with Coach AJ

author : Coach AJ
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Discussions on racing in the heat, electrolytes, weightloss and long distance training, the best way to improve your run, taper psychology, the best gel and the benefits of a swim stroke analysis.

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[rkreuser] Here's a good question...what's your formula for uber-hot distance? Salt? Liquid? Electrolytes? How are you going to get through it?

[Coach AJ] Acclimation is the key. I have sat in steam rooms, worn several layers on the bike and been out in the heat when possible. I use some salt tablets, but in general I stick with my normal nutrition and hydration for the most part. I do up the hydration on race day of course.

[rkreuser] Hmmm. For most of my halves, I ended up cramping. I tripled my salt intake, and voila!!!

[Coach AJ] Everyone is a bit different, so you have to experiment. But salt, electrolytes, etc. is where you should start.

[chirunner134] What is the is the best way to train for an IM and keep up with the demands while trying to lose weight?

[Coach AJ] Weight loss during training can be tricky. You don't want to compromise your recovery. On hard/heavy days, eat what you want. Then on the lighter days you can cut out a few calories here and there. Watch what you eat and when you eat. You don't need to lose it all at once, so moderation is the smart way to go. Really, much like training, there's no magic secret, just good common sense and dedication.

[rkreuser] Alright AJ, I'll throw you a softball here. Let's just were aiming for a great performance in May of  '08 at an endurance event, 4 triathlon over three days, the longest of which is a half. And the biggest limiter you have is the run. How would you break up the off-season, starting now? I'd be interested in rest, how the run will be improved, and how the base will be kept in order to scale up for the races.

[Coach AJ] Make sure you are fresh physically and mentally when you start, that would be the first key. If you can do some cross training in Oct/Nov do it. XC skiing is unbelievably effective! That will keep you steady and build you up slowly. After Jan. 1, I would basically up the frequency of your running. You don't need to run super long, just more often. If you can run 5-6 times a week, awesome. A simple upping of mileage for 2-3 weeks, then back it off to recover.

[rkreuser] Wow...frequency is that huge? I've heard raves about these "3x a week marathon personal record'". Not a fan? And yes, I've got the XC working. Just need it to snow in Michigan...can you make that happen, too?

[Coach AJ] Frequency is the best way to improve the run. Of course the long run will get a bit longer, but that is not the major element. Even a 30-45 minute run is effective when you have 4-5 runs in already. I have done double run days with one easy run in the AM, then a moderate run of 1 to 1:15 in the PM. The 3x a week stuff works, technically. I think a lot of that stuff is designed do to make it sound so easy, anyone can do it! No one buys a magazine with the main article reading, "This is going to be hard and difficult." Those programs work to a point. It all depends on where you are, what you want to accomplish and how much time you can dedicate.


[Coach AJ] As with any time you up the load, you have to be careful. When you up the frequency, do so moderately. The adage of 10% undertrained is better than 1% overtrained is 100% correct!


[rkreuser] Alright, so I'll figure out how to get 5-6 weekly runs in. Just out of curiosity, when you do 2x/day runs, AJ, is that mileage 'in addition' to the mileage you would have normally covered, or are you just breaking up the daily mileage into two chunks, Galloway style?


[Coach AJ] I do the 2 a days in both methods. I have not run over 2:15 for a year, but I have done a 30 to 60 minute run in the PM after the long run. Other days I have just broken up a 10 miler into a 6 mile AM run, and a 4 mile PM run.  I have talked with several top coaches and athletes about getting the run to the next level, and frequency is the main point they all have in common.

[D.Z.] Sorry - I came in late. So if I have 10 mile run planned, I can do 2x5miles and achieve the same goals?

[Coach AJ] Not necessarily. What are you trying to accomplish? Where are you in your run cycle? What are you training for. Are you prone to injury? There's a lot of variables, so I could not say.


[jldicarlo] If you're coming back from something like surgery.... is it best then to do a whole lot of very short runs at first and then make them longer? So, frequency first then distance? Or some other technique?

[Coach AJ] Coming back from injury, I would prefer an athlete does shorter runs more often. The pounding the body takes on the longer runs can simply cause the injury to flare back up. I tell my athletes that the day the feel 100%, take 1 more day to make absolute sure.

[chirunner134] So would 2-8 mile runs instead a 16 mile run would better to prevent injury?

[Coach AJ]  Yes, it would be easier on the body. But, if you are training for an IM, or marathon, you need to put in the longer runs. For those that have a chronic issue, that may be the only way. There is no point in going too far and staying injured.

[rkreuser] Alright, I'll throw another one out much gain do you get from swim coaching? For me, I'm 40, Swim a 1:30/100m, and don't know if I can ever drop it down to 1:10. Would I be better served by just staying with what I've got, or going and finding someone that can refine my stroke to get lots faster?

[Coach AJ] How much time do you have? Having someone on deck to look at your form is invaluable. One of the big benefits would be not necessarily getting faster, but getting out of the water feeling fresher. The more energy you save on the swim by having good technique, the more you have to give on the bike and run. It is worth every penny to have someone check out your stroke. Just make sure the individual to hire is qualified!

[Lucy] When you're out running and hit the max of the zone you want to be far do you let it drop before starting up running again?

[Coach AJ] I would let it drop down to the point where you can run again for a long time without getting back up and out of your zone.

[rkreuser] Alright, AJ, what' the best Gel out there?


[Coach AJ] The one that you can stomach time after time! I have used pretty much every brand out there. I prefer the PowerGels because I like 95% of the flavors and they have the most electrolytes of any gel out there. But each person has to find what works.

[snikpos] Approx. how many ounces of fluid should be consumed per hour in a long ride or race?


[Coach AJ] For hydration intake you have to experiment and find your sweat rate. Weigh yourself before and after a moderate ride or run. If you are losing over 2% of your body weight you compromise your performance. I personally need around 60 oz. per hour on the bike. That is quite a bit more than what is generally recommended, but it's what I need.

[CubeFarmGopher] I'm entering my first IM taper period. How do I manage the mental games that are predominant during taper periods?

[Coach AJ] The taper is an odd time. I am tapering for Louisville right now. Just remember that you have done the training necessary. Don't try to "test" the fitness in the last week. Trust yourself and your body. I print out 2-3 weeks of workouts and look back over them. It reminds me of all the hard work I have done and I highlight the best workouts. Also, take your mind off of it by reading, relaxation and especially visualization. See yourself having a great day and accomplishing your goal.  I spend an hour a day visualizing during the taper. Less is more right now. You can't do anything to "gain" fitness in the last 2 weeks, but you can really hurt yourself. Keep it short and up the intensity a bit more.

[CubeFarmGopher] I think it's the "short" aspect that makes me think I'm going to lose what I've worked so hard to build...

[Coach AJ] You won't, trust me. I have cut my hours from an average of 30 to 15. The more you rest the better. As was stated earlier, better undertrained than over!


[rkreuser] Alright, AJ, so let's address the fear head-on. You've got athletes trained for distance and are experts in consuming calories. How do they not feel like they're 'blowing up' in the 3 week taper pre-IM?

[Coach AJ] If you mean how to avoid weight gain in the taper, it' simple. Apply the dedication you had to do all those long workouts to your diet. Is that piece of cake worth it when you have put in so many hours? I struggle a bit with this, but I think long term. I want to go as fast as I can on race day. I can have some fun afterwards. After the Quelle Challenge Roth in June I ate all the German delicacies I could find!

[Coach AJ] Alright Gang, thanks for the hour of fun. I hope you all have great workouts and stay healthy!


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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."

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