August 2008 Triathlon Training Chat with Coach AJ

author : Coach AJ
comments : 0

Questions on training plan sport ratios, staying in HR zones, my HIM run suffers, training for a hot race, tri or road bike for a HIM and the length for a run focused training block.

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[rc63413] My question is, in general, do you make a training plan where the amount of time spent training each event is roughly the same ratio as the time spent competing each event of the race?

[Coach AJ] Not necessarily. If you have a glaring weakness in 1 sport, you may want to focus on that. I also like to do focus blocks where an athlete puts more time in either the bike, or the run and swim. Since there are more hours that can be put in on the bike w/o injury, you can do big miles. Then, big mile run weeks are shorter in time then biking, so you can add more swimming. I also pay attention to the course for an athletes A race. If it's hilly, I do more hill work, etc.

[TriAya] How important is it to remain within certain HR parameters during base? Here's the context: I bike everywhere ... I don't drive. I also teach Spinning classes, and am lucky to have been able to periodize macro/micro the classes since I have a steady group. ANYWAY--I still spend most of my biking time steady/controlled, but if there are hills, I got to bike them. Sometimes I need to do a strength profile in cycling class. How should I manage this?  I'm in the base-training phase for my first Ironman.

[Coach AJ] It's a matter of spending time where you will gain the most on race day pursuant to your goals. Most athletes love training the bike, so those weeks aren't hard. But it can be hard to get in the pool after a long run. One thing to remember is that as you fatigue, your swim is the 1st to go. You can gut out a run or ride, but swimming is all about technique. When you are tired and your core isn't firing as sharp, your form falls apart. So don't expect to drill the swim during big blocks. IM is all about strength. Basic hill work like 1' to 20' climbs alternating a high cadence and low cadence on the bike. For the run it's the same, just hit the hills and keep your form together. Alternate short power bursts with longer steady climbs. It also depends on the elevation profile of the course.

[TriAya] The bike course is comparable to IM Wisconsin - a bunch of rollers with some steady flats and some steady climbs. Frankly--I've never done a bike ride yet where I was so blown I couldn't do at least a nice recovery swim or run the next day ... it's just that a lot of the heart-rate based programs really, really preach not exceeding Z1/2 at all during base phase.

[Coach AJ] During the base phase you do really want to stick in zone 1-2, but it's not like you will turn to dust if you hit zone 3. I would still do some zone 3 work, maybe a total of 30-45' in a week of zone 3 work just to keep you 'in touch' with the higher intensity. Doing this on the hills builds your strength at the same time.

[rc63413] I noticed in my first HIM that while my aerobic system was great it was the leg strength part that was the problem. In the past when running an outright half marathon my HR usually limits my run. I mostly had very tight hams the whole way, is there something I can do to minimize this so that I can run closer to my half marathon pace in the HIM?

[Coach AJ] I would look closely at your bike position. A bad position can lead to all sorts of issues. Also, pacing the bike is key to setting up a strong run. No matter how run fit you are, if you drill the bike, your run suffers. I see it all the time at every level. If you feel it's more muscular endurance, go to the hills, or do big gear work on the bike.

[TriAya] Okay ... the IM I'm doing is going to be HOT, HOT, HOT ... any thoughts on how to manage? I'm actually doing a lot of fast-walking training on the advice of others who did this race ... nearly everyone winds up walking a bunch of the marathon.

[Coach AJ] Heat training is key. Wear extra layers to acclimate, and really have your hydration plan dialed. Know your sweat rate and how you are going to fuel. If you have access to a sauna, use it on light/ez days, but never before a hard day.  See: Member Question: Training for the Heat

[rc63413] How important is a tri bike relative to a road bike with aeros in a HIM?

[Coach AJ] It depends on the course. On a hilly course a road bike is fine. On a flat, straight course the aero benefit can be huge. Bottom line is that you need to be comfortable first, fast second.

[Fechter99] I am prepping for my second ever sprint triathlon at the end of September. I do much better following a training plan and right now I am using the sprint plan (12 weeks) but obviously don't have 12 weeks to train for it. How do I know where in the plan to start working?

[Coach AJ] That's a tough call. You have to decide at what level you are at now and start up. So, if on the weekend you have a 90' ride, and that has been a distance you have covered, start around there. You don't want to start with a 2 hour ride if your longest has been 60. I always suggest starting on the conservative side.


[Fechter99] I have one other question. Since I am comfortable with the distances for the swim and bike but really need to work on the run, should I focus on that for the next 6 weeks more so or just try to maintain where I am for this second triathlon? Do I run the risk of jeopardizing my performance on the bike and swim if I focus on the run right now?

[Coach AJ] You can focus on the run, but not for 6 weeks. I think 2 weeks of focus, then 1 week of recovery is the best way, especially in running. You need to do just enough to stay even on the other 2 events, and you will be surprised at how strong they will remain. Run focus blocks are very effective, but always be careful of injury and don't overdo it. Take it easy when you start up. There's nothing worse than feeling good, pushing it a bit, then getting re-injured. If you have a soft surface trail you can run on that helps. As does making sure you don't run in worn out shoes.


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date: September 3, 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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