September 2007 Triathlon Training Chat with Coach AJ

author : Coach AJ
comments : 0

Discussions on blister treatment, off season training, use of trainers instead of the road, pros and cons to spin classes, stair running, race recovery importance and real IM nutrition strategies.

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[cmshelby] How about "off-season" training and training with a HUGE blister -- I've got one last tri of the season Oct. 7th.

[Coach AJ] The off season is the time to work on the small things that go by the wayside during the season. Stretching, yoga, weights, bike setup and swim technique are all thing you can work on. You should still be active, but mix it up and don't worry about time or distance. Just have fun and keep the winter pounds off.


Blisters are hard to deal with. I prefer NOT to lance them unless they really get big. The protective fluid in them is good for healing.  If the blister has already popped, just keep it clean and covered when you run, then let it air out at night. That usually works for me.

[cmshelby] Where I live it will periodically snow -- so biking gets kind of limited. What do you think about bike trainers?

[Coach AJ] Bike trainers are a must! I live in CO so I log plenty of miles on the trainer. You can really be productive on the trainer and I think 2 hours is plenty of time. I use mine all year round, especially for LT work. With the bike over the winter, just try to keep your current level of fitness. Plus, you can work on 1 legged pedaling to make your pedal stroke nice and smooth. In 1 hour you can warm up, do some high cadence work, some pedaling drills and a short cool down.  The BT Silver/Gold plans incorporate Isolated leg drills.

[cmshelby] How do you think spin class compares to bike trainer?

[Coach AJ] It's hard to say since spin classes vary from session to session. I like to be in control of my own workout, but I think most athletes get pushed when in the class. Just don't feel like you have to make huge aerobic gains in the off season. I would mix it up, if you like the spin classes, just watch for the intensity. There is no reason to do a lot of LT work in the winter.

[cmshelby] At what point should I pick up my LT work?


[Coach AJ] It depends on when your first event will be. I don't like to completely get away from LT work in the winter, just not as many sessions. I would add more LT stuff about 4-6 weeks from your A race.

[Lucy] Talk to me about stair climbing! On actual stairs! Good, bad? I started doing them at work...takes me less than 2 minutes and the HR shoots up really quick. Bad?

[Coach AJ] Running stairs is OK, if you keep good form. The issue with stairs is you can injure your back running down. If you are running stairs rather than taking the elevator, awesome. Using it as specific training, I would use it sparingly, maybe just to mix things up now and again.

[Lucy] I don't run down them just up. Walking down is a cooldown.

[Coach AJ] That's good. It will help build strength. Try to use your glutes to power up, rather than just relying on the quads to do the work.

[Lucy]  So that means one step at a time? My quads are usually sore.

[Coach AJ] Yes, 1 at a time. Your quads are sore because they are having to stabilize and provide power. If you use your glute to stabilize the leg, the quads can really power you through.

[Lucy] Okay next time I'll concentrate on the form. I usually run up them before lunch- it's only 8 floors plus the basement.


[Coach AJ] That is plenty to spike the HR a bit in the middle of the day and get that metabolism going.

[Coach AJ] Well, let me tell you about the importance of recovery. On Aug 26 I did IM KY. My race wasn't that good due to some nutrition issues on the bike. I did finish, but not where I wanted. So, to try and workout my nutrition problems I raced IM Wisconsin. The 2 weeks between the 2 IM's I did VERY LITTLE. I ran 3 times for a total of less than an hour, 4 rides and 5-6 swims.  I went into IM Wisconsin feeling strong, but not fast. Thankfully the changes I made in nutrition worked well. I wasn't sure if I would start the run. I ended up having such a fun day that I ran the marathon, and my run was 10 min. faster than at IM Lou. Overall I was a few minutes faster at IM WI than IM KY. The lesson, when going into the A race, err on the side of less work and don't test your fitness a few days out.

[ron] That is a good story AJ...I was just going over another chat where the person thought it was 'so wrong' to not do much leading up to a race. Just so you keep the muscles and joints moving, no fitness will be gained the last 2 weeks leading up to a race.

[Coach AJ] I have seen so many athletes leave their best fitness on the course 1 or 2 days before the race. You have this incredible fitness, you feel good, and you want to let it go. Keep it light and unleash the fitness when it counts!  Ron is right on the money with the taper. Stay loose, but don't dig into the fitness. 2 weeks out you can't do much to help yourself on race day, but you can do a lot to hurt it.

[cmshelby] 2 weeks even for a sprint?

[Coach AJ] If it is your A race, I would say 10 days to 2 weeks. If it's not an A, you can get away with less of a taper. I would at least do a 3 day taper for any triathlon.

[Writebrained] Do you see any down side to Mtn Biking in the winter to maintain fitness? Will the conditioning transfer to the tri-bike pretty well or are the mechanics too different???

[Coach AJ] Mtn biking is great for the off season, and even year round. It will certainly maintain your fitness and it works a slightly different group of leg muscles. It also changes things up a bit and gets you out on some great trails. Mtn. biking is a great power workout since you are doing a lot of uphills, and have to do short bursts over logs, etc.

[rstocks3] I cannot wait for IMKY next year!! Had a great 1st IM at WI other than hurting my back the week before.  Mental note.....Don't load hay the week before an Ironman.

[Coach AJ] I did IM KY and IM WI this year. KY is similar, but it is flat on the way out and back. The run is flat with some shade. The hills at KY are actually smaller. Nothing like 2 climbs at WI. It's more rolling than hilly. Overall it is a faster course. Adaptation is the key to a good IM. You need good fitness and good decisions to have an overall good day. I have seen so many super fit people crumble due to bad decisions. Usually it's going too hard at the start of the bike or a bum nutrition plan.

[rstocks3] How'd you end up? How did you feel after doing KY a couple weeks before?

[Coach AJ] Considering I did IM KY 2 weeks before, I can't complain. I was 35th overall in 9:50 and change. Post IM KY I didn't feel too bad. Again, my race went down the toilet and I never got to really push myself to the limit. The first week afterwords I was worried about IM WI, but I really came around the 2nd week. I was happy to finish, and was faster at WI than KY.

[rstocks3] I felt like I cheated the swim. I found a great pair of feet the second loop and he was driving in a strait line.

[Coach AJ] That's not cheating, that's good luck! The more energy you can save, the better.

[rstocks3] I am looking forward to next year. My pace and nutrition were spot on, my back was killing me coming off the bike.

[Coach AJ] Work on some core stuff in the off season. Small changes can make a big difference!

[rstocks3] That's the plan. Thank you. I have been lax about doing core to get more biking and running in.

[Coach AJ] During the season, that happens to everyone. If in the off season you can up the core stuff, it will find it's way into your daily routine.


[cmshelby] Would you all mind sharing your IM nutrition plan?

[Coach AJ] My IM nutrition goes like this: 2000 cals on the bike, about 400/hr. I use gels and liquids to get that in. On the run it's Coke, water and gels. I also use 2-4 of the bite sized Snickers for a mental break. Everyone is a bit different and you really need to experiment and find what works for you. Nutrition is the biggest factor in IM racing for newbies.

[rstocks3] I stuck with gels (3/hr), Fig Newtons, Snickers Marathon bars cut into 50 cal bites, constantly sipping water and 20 oz Gatorade/hr.  I was shooting for the 400-450 cals per hr as well. I strayed a bit on the second loop but made up with bananas on the course.

[Coach AJ] I would say 400-450 is the upper limit, but it's good to shoot high and come in around 375-400 than be short.

[cmshelby] Would you have HIM in the same caloric range?

[Coach AJ] I cut the calories down for a 1/2. I go around 300/hr. Your HR will be higher, so your ability to digest food is diminished. I also use more fluid calories and less gels as they are easier to digest.


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date: October 5, 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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