November 2007 Triathlon Training Chat with Coach AJ

author : Coach AJ
comments : 0

Discussions on sprint swim overdistance training, strength training, recovery after a marathon, core work importance, tight calves with new running gait and importance of a tri bike for an Ironman.

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[Coach AJ] Hey guys! Who has the 1st question?

[drchaya] I'm using the winter training plan as a base, but I met with a swim coach the other day who wants me up to 3000 yards even though I am planning on sprint distance...seems like overtraining to me?

[Coach AJ] It depends. If swimming is your weakness, a swim block can do a lot of good. Mix in technique with base, strength and speed sessions and you will get strong. I race IM, and although the swim is 4k, I swim up to 8k at a session.

[drchaya] Right, and that is double your race distance. Sprint is 3/4 mile max which means 3000 yards is like 4x the distance....I'm equally weak all around as I am a beginner at this.  But am betting my order of how I will do will be bike, swim, run.


[Coach AJ] For the swimming, 3k isn't overdoing it, even if it is 4x's the distance. You can do 3k and not be trashed at the end.

[Lagnar] 5 weeks remain in my strength training period. The goal afterwards is to strength train 30 minutes to an 1 hour a week. Should I stay with basic exercises (squat, military press, bench press) or do more sport specific lifts?

[Coach AJ] I like to start strength work by building general strength, so squat, press, etc. Then as I get closer to the season I move to more 1 leg movements and functional type exercises. There is a lot of info on that stuff these days. Some of it is contradictory to other stuff, so you have to decide for yourself what works for you.

[TriAya] Hi coach, athletes...I'm doing a marathon then my first HIM four months later...should I do a complete rest/recovery workouts only for a couple weeks after the marathon, then re-do a good base period? Or should I include some high-intensity throughout?

[Coach AJ] You need to take some down time after the marathon, absolutely. You do want to keep in touch with LT pace, but after the marathon you absolutely have to let your body recover fully. Then you can do some easy stuff for a week or two, then add in some LT work.

[Lagnar] With the functional strength training movements would one be doing only one set or multiple sets? Or will I be doing some experimenting to find out what works for me because I would agree with your contradictory comment based upon the articles I have read.

[Coach AJ] I still think multiple sets will be necessary. There are phases to go through, again lots of differing info, but I think most agree that more than 1 set is needed. The off season is a great time to focus on strength, stretching, yoga and all the things that get lost during the season.

[TriAya] I have a strength training question as well ... REALLY elementary--but is it worth it to add in some core/strength work even though I'd only be doing it for 3-3 1/2 months before the HIM? Is that enough time to see the benefit?

[Coach AJ] ABSOLUTELY!! Start your core work NOW!! It really does help with your fitness and makes you more efficient in all 3 sports. Just remember, it's more than crunches. Abs are NOT core, if you can see it, it's not a core muscle. Small movements using the muscles under the abs, transverse abdominus for 1, are the keys. Things like Plank, ball twists and leg lifts in the Roman chair come to mind.


[Lagnar] What are your preferred running drills to improve technique?

[Coach AJ] Running drills are under utilized in my opinion. I just did some video work w/ Ron on some drills that help a lot. It's hard to describe in words what to do, but elementary things like skipping and knee lifts come to mind. On skipping, keep them short, tight and don't let your feet scrape. You don't want to make any noise at all.

[Lagnar] I have to give BT props for the yoga video and hope to see some more. Flexibility is a weakness that I have been working on in my off season. I attended a few yoga sessions at my gym and everything was advanced and there was no help from the instructor. So at least for me thanks to BT for showing basic yoga.

[elektra] I tried a new foot strike today...based on Evolution Running where I tried to land on my mid-sole.  I have no idea if I did it correctly but WOW my calves are so sore! Do I need to have my gait videotaped to see if I'm going it correctly?

[Coach AJ] They will be a bit sore in the beginning. When you lean forward more the calf is stretched a bit more than usual.  If you have someone you trust to video you and analyze your gait, go for it.

[elektra] If it's normal, I'm down with that. The only thing that concerned me was at the very end (about 9 miles) my Achilles was super super tight. Should I try the new strike on shorter runs? Or track runs? It was a very hilly course.

[Coach AJ] Do you have tight calves to begin with. Do you wear high heels (contributes to a tight calf/achilles)?  I suggest sticking to flatter terrain in the beginning, yes.

[elektra] Guilty. I'm in stilettos most days of the week.

[Coach AJ] There you go. When you pedal, do your toes point down? I suggest stretching you calves out 3-4 times during the day. I have tight calves ( I don't wear heels... often). Stretching has helped me immensely.

[elektra] I really work on dropping my heel on the bike and I've noticed some soreness there as well.  In fact, my calves may be sore from Wednesday's class. Lots of one legged max cadence drills.

[Coach AJ] Don't try to FORCE your heel down, especially when you do low cadence, big gear work. You can inflame the Achilles tendon quickly.

[elektra] Gotcha. I think I've been pushing too hard.

[chirunner134] How important is a tri bike in an Ironman? And if its quite important how soon should I get one?

[Coach AJ] Very! Given that the bike is well fit to you, it will make you more efficient, more comfortable, and let you run faster due to the positioning on the bike. If you are doing an early season IM, get a bike right away. The sooner you get on it and get it dialed in, the better.

[chirunner134] I am doing IMKY so the race itself is far away but not sure how long I can wait.  I am in the process of getting fitted and finding the right bike for me.

[Coach AJ] Obviously it's a big purchase, but there is a great advantage to having plenty of time on the bike. The more time you have on the bike, the better, It is almost the Holiday season!

[chirunner134] I have a road bike that will serve me now but not sure how much difference it is between carbon and aluminum.

[Coach AJ] That's a good question. First, fit is absolutely the most important part. Having ridden both Carbon and Aluminum, Carbon is more comfortable for sure, again if it fits. I would go with a carbon bike with Ultegra components over an Aluminum bike with Dura Ace. There is a big difference in how a tri bike handles and feels over a road bike.

[chirunner134] For me its carbon with 105 vs aluminum with Ultegra.

[tricoachaj] The carbon frame will be more comfortable, which is very important in an IM bike ride! You can always upgrade components later.

[chirunner134] Does it matter much if I have a tri bike on the trainer vs a road bike?

[Coach AJ] Yes, the position is still different on the trainer. You use a slightly different muscle group on the tri bike, and your back is usually a bit more stretched out as well.

[Coach AJ] Alright, it's time for me to head out! Thanks for the chat everyone.


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date: January 2, 2008

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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