February 2008 Triathlon Training Chat with Coach Mike Ricci

author : mikericci
comments : 0

Discussions on 1/2 Ironman race placement 3 weeks from a first IM, treadmill to outside run transition, 4 days on/5 off workday training schedule, trainer workouts and 30 days of swimming to get fast.

[savery2151]  Hi! I'm training for IM CdA on 6/22...I want to do Boise 70.3, 3 weeks before...easy pace....mistake? Or ok?

[mikericci]  Are you signed up? Is this your first IM?

[savery2151]  Yes on both.  I'm also doing CA 70.3 on 3/29

[mikericci]  I would skip the HIM or do the swim/bike and run one loop maybe - I just don't see the point in doing that long of a race that close to an IM UNLESS you had a few IMs under your belt. HIM Cali will be a good race to see where you are and that gives you plenty of time to adjust the training.

[savery2151]  OK...makes sense...yes, I agree on CA. It should be fun!

[mikericci]  Is the training going well so far?

[savery2151]  Yes, it is....I'm in week 7 of 24, 2nd Base phase, and my volume is gradually ramping up.  My weather is starting to hinder my biking, as I HATE the trainer.

[mikericci]  Don't worry about the outside riding too much. Once you get to April 1st, you still have plenty of time to build endurance for the race.  For now, make sure you are getting in the swimming and the running.

[Fechter99]  I have been training on the treadmill for running, never was a runner in my life before getting interested in triathlons. How do I make the transition from the treadmill to the track or outside? I guess I am asking how to pace myself when I don't have the treadmill doing it for me?

[mikericci] Great question - how long do you run on the treadmill for ? At what effort?

[Fechter99]  I am running at about 3.5mph on the treadmill and use my HRM which I try to keep in Z3. I am not exhausted or out of breath. I am comfortable there and can even run the equivalent of a 5k on there and feel good when I am done.

[mikericci]  Ok - well first thing I would do is when you start to run outside, try to find a soft surface to run on: track, trail, grass (gold course, park etc). Then I would cut the time to about 75% of what you do on the treadmill, and then cut the effort back by about 10 beats per minute. It WILL be tougher outside, but once you get used to it, you'll be able to run the same time/effort within a week or two.  Your legs will probably be a little sore from the impact -it's going to be tougher on the legs than the treadmill.

[Fechter99]  Thanks Mike. I thought our weather was starting to warm up but looks like we are back into winter so hopefully I will be able to get outside and run soon. I also have plantar fasciitis so the impact is a concern for me so I do like the idea of starting on a track or trail. Now to just find one.

[mikericci]  Be careful and make sure you rub the foot over a golf ball or the edge of a coffee table each night. That should help with the plantar.

[Scottt]  Mike, I'm 45 and just starting my 2nd year of training. I did a couple of 1/2 marathons this winter in preparation to step up to 1/2 IM races this year. I am getting pretty sore on the balls of my feet after my long runs (12-15 miles). I think I know the answer, but I am looking for reassurance that this will get better as my body adapts.

[mikericci]  Do you wear the same shoes all the time? What does the sole of your shoe look like? Worn near the front?

[Scottt]  Yes, I wear the same two pairs of the same shoes. I have really even wear and am generally hitting flat unless I make a point to strike differently.

[mikericci] Ok - well - you want to be careful because in the front of your foot are some small and delicate bones - and you don't want to end up with a stress fracture - can you have someone at the running shoe store watch your gait to make sure you are in the right shoe?


[Scottt]  I did that about 3 weeks ago and they felt I was OK. I have gone to a what is supposed to be a pretty good shop in Long Beach, CA, but I could go to another store and see that they give me the same opinion.


[mikericci]  I think you should get a second opinion and it might be something as simple as getting some good insoles for the shoe too...

[Scottt]  I wear SuperFeet (green) now.


[mikericci]  Super feet are good -definitely get a 2nd opinion!


[Crazypop]  What would a nine day micro cycle look like?

[mikericci]  For what event? What's the experience of the racer? How far out from the A race is the racer?

[Crazypop]  4 months 4 days. I work a night-night-day-day...then 5 days off, repeat.

[mikericci]  Ok - so I've coached people on schedules like this before. The day BEFORE you go back on your shift is usually a hard day. First day back is recovery day. Next day, short hard run, 3rd day is easy recovery bike or swim if you can fit it in, 4th day is easy. Depending on how work was for those 4 days, I am inclined to give you something easy, but long like a long swim, and or long bike on the first day off on your cycle. Then an easy day, then a long run - then a hard bike, hard run - back to work.

[ejc999]  In the example above, how would you define a hard bike or run. Is it based on HR, Power, Pace?

[mikericci]  Hard is defined by the athlete. 7:00 pace for me might be hard, but for you it might be Zone 2.  So an example of a hard run: tempo or LT intervals. Same on the bike. OR Long bike or run - those are HARD as well.

[ejc999]  I guess when I think of hard, I think of adding intensity over distance.

[mikericci]  'Hard' is a cumulative affect. If I run for 20 miles, I might get pretty sore. If I run 12x800 at X pace, I may get just as sore. So, which was harder on me? Depends on how fast I recover. So, a long run can be just as hard as a short interval workout.

[mikericci]  Speaking of intensity - is it more important to go faster each week, or to be able to do MORE work at the same pace? Anyone?

  Faster at same heart rate?  I am kind of liking seeing my pace get better while heart rate stays low.

[Scottt]  Depends what phase you are in?

[mikericci]  Does it depend on the phase? Let's say it's week 8 of my intervals and my A Race is 2 weeks away. Last week I swam 10x200 in 2:50. What do I want to do this week?

[drchaya]  Taper?


[mikericci]  What I want to do this week is swim 15x200 in 2:50 - more HARD work, NOT work harder. That's where everyone gets it wrong.


[savery2151]  I have a question....why do my calves (and feet sometimes, but they are tolerable) cramp when swimming long distances?? Is it stretching?? hydration?? Yes to both and all?

[mikericci]  Potassium and you kick too much when you swim.

[drchaya]  Isn't the latest data calcium?


[mikericci]  Calcium is the new thing, yes.

[savery2151]  Ok, I try not to kick, so I'll eat more bananas.

[mikericci]  When you push off the wall try not to use just your toes too.

[drchaya]  So my first tri is 4 weeks away - I assume this should be a pretty heavy week?

[mikericci]  I don't know, who wrote your plan? What's your weakness? Is this an A Race? So many factors to consider.

[drchaya]  No, only first race...not an A race - not really sure I have an A race.  Guess I am a bit torn about how to approach this race - I picked it last summer when I was first thinking about doing triathlons as it is 3 months before the season starts up here. So part of me says just keep training and don't taper....another part of me says treat it like a real race.


[mikericci]  When is your next race after this one? I would use a quick drop taper. That means train normal until Wed before race. Thurs is easy swim/run - Friday off - Sat easy bike/run - Sunday race.


[drchaya]  After this race the next one is in June.


[mikericci]  Yeah, plenty of time to hit this one hard - but don't taper all out.


[Scottt]  As you are going longer, does the emphasis shift to the same work at a lower HR? Assuming you have reached a suitable volume?

[mikericci]  Scott - over time, you are hoping that you are going faster at less effort, so yes. That is how you'll get faster. When you start a set of intervals, you should stick with that pace for at least 4 weeks until you try to increase pace. This gives the body time to adapt.


[Scottt] Does under hydrating or not taking in enough calories in 90-120 minute workouts have any real lasting negative effects other than maybe not giving your body all the calories/hydration it needs to give your best effort?

[mikericci]  Scott - more than hydration, my concern would be about recovery - which dehydration will limit. Being hydrated and fully loaded for a 90-120' workout will decrease your recovery time. You could probably do most workouts under 2:00 on an empty stomach. Think about this way - when you are fueling during a workout, you are fueling for the next workout, not the current one. Try to stay ahead of the nutrition/recovery game.

[savery2151]  What is a good ratio of riding a trainer (good pace) versus riding outside?? Coach Troy says 3 hours outside is like 2 on the trainer...accurate?

[mikericci]  I have to agree with Coach Troy. I ride exclusively on the trainer. Here is a good example: I have NOT ridden more then 90' on the trainer this year. This past weekend I was in CA to do some riding- I rode (2) 4+ hour days back to back without problem. Both days had over 6,000 feet of climbing. Its not how MUCH you train, its HOW you train.


[drchaya]  Is it normal when doing a lot of zone 2 running to have a hard time the next time you try to really sprint - do a zone 4/5a run?

[mikericci]  No - are you doing some pick-ups weekly? 8x30" quick?

[drchaya]  No, I have not been though last night I did.


[mikericci]  That and just running tempo once you get through some good base work. If you are coming from a period of lots of Z3 running, when you need more Z2 running, stick with the Z2 running. You'll be able to run Z4 once it's time (June and July). We have a long time to get there


[drchaya]  In December I thought Z2 running was boring, now I am comfortable there and finding it harder to push....


[mikericci]  You'll be ok. Just continue to be patient. Next time you need to push think about something or someone who ticks you off, you'll be able to throw down and run fast!

[Crazypop]  How hard do you need to go on that trainer? Any good DVD's I should watch to get the power in?

[mikericci]  I usually use my power meter on the trainer - so after say a progressive 20' warm up, I do some fast 100 rpms efforts, then some hard efforts - say 10x2.5' with 30" recovery - Z3 efforts - building up to 20x2.5' - I don't watch any DVDs but I know Coach Troy has some.

[savery2151]  Would you promote running, for even a few minutes at an easy pace, after a bike ride, to get your body and mind ready for the triathlon?

  Yes - even walking for 5' and running for 5' would be great!

[Crazypop]  How do you swim faster?

[mikericci]  Swim a lot. Have you tried my proven method of swimming for 30 days straight? Guaranteed to make you a faster swimmer!

[Crazypop] Huh? 30 days straight...how long each day?

[mikericci]  Swim every day for one month.  What is your longest swim now?

[Crazypop]  2000m.  That's about 1 hour in Masters.

[mikericci] MWF would be 2000 building up to 3000 or more. T, TH, Sat, Sun would be 1000-1500. After 4 weeks of that, you WILL be faster. Swim a 1000 yd time trial before you start and after you finish. I bet you drop 2 minutes on your time!

[Crazypop]  Ok, I will try it. Thanks for you help.

[mikericci]  YOU bet - good night everyone - see you next time on the D3/BT chat!


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date: February 21, 2008


Our coaching philosophy is to help you get the most out of your available training time. We don’t believe in junk mileage or useless workouts. We combine the most current research and triathlon training techniques with proven race strategies to help our athletes reach their goals.


Our coaching philosophy is to help you get the most out of your available training time. We don’t believe in junk mileage or useless workouts. We combine the most current research and triathlon training techniques with proven race strategies to help our athletes reach their goals.

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