November 2008 Triathlon Training Chat with Coach AJ

author : Coach AJ
comments : 0

Discussion on IMWI preparation, May A-race preparation, lunges, yoga vs pilates, zones to lose weight and endurance loss over the winter.

Sign-up for our chats with the coaches!   


[Coach AJ] Good evening! Any questions to start off?

[chirunner134] Well I was training for a 100 mile running race. I had to cancel that for financial reasons so now I can focus more on my IM. I am not sure what to do right now.  Not sure how to get started.

[Coach AJ] Honestly, take a rest. By that I mean a true REST!! Sure you can walk a bit or do something totally different like rock climbing, but stay away from swim, bike, run. Rest now, rejuvenate, then you can come back fresh on Jan. 1

[rkreuser] Let's just say you had a May A-race...when would you switch over from cross-training winter stuff to sport-specific?

[Coach AJ] I would say late Feb. or earlier if the weather allows. You can use Mar and April to get specific in your training. This is much easier when the race is an Oly or 1/2. I did IM NZ last March and training inside for long periods gets very draining.

[rkreuser] I understand...I just know it's hard to get hill-specific on the bike or really quick on the run without a bit of run-up. I'm sure everyone else faces the same obstacles, so it might not be that big a deal, but curious.  And in my case, I'm trying to KILL the TTT. A unique race, so it's closer to IM than 1/2 or Oly.

[Coach AJ] If you stay in basic aerobic shape then when you start doing hills or speed-work you will come around pretty quickly. Just DON'T forget to do some LT work over the winter as well.

[rkreuser] Snowshoes are here. Now all it needs to do is snow, so I can use them.

[Coach AJ] I know that feeling! I have snowshoes and skate skis that are just waiting to be used. Both are a great way to work the lungs and get a lot of strength at the same time.

[chirunner134] Are lunges good for inner thigh strength? I been having a lot of problems with that and my hip flexors.

[Coach AJ] Lunges are a great exercise, yes. Just make sure your knee doesn't extend past your toes. For hip flexors, use the ankle attachment on the cable set up and just raise your leg up using your hip flexor. Make sure to stretch out your HF right after this exercise.

[rkreuser] Ricci said he saw Tim DeBoom marching around the Boulder Rec center ALL last year doing lunges.

[Coach AJ] You should also do the lunges to the side, keeping your hips over your outside legs. Too many triathletes work all the muscles that drive us forward, but don't work on the lateral muscles. You need to have total stability for your body to work at max efficiency.

[Coach AJ] I wouldn't be surprised. When I lived in Boulder I would see TDB doing lunges, squats and really basic stuff.

[chirunner134] Will lunges help with the, I think its the, adductor muscle?

[Coach AJ] Really you want both the ad and abductors. They work together for complete stability. If one is strong and the other weak, you will have an imbalance.

[chirunner134] Yeah I got that imbalance already.

[Coach AJ] OK, then focus on the weakness. The winter is a great time to turn your weakness into a strength.

[chirunner134] I been hearing Pilates is great for core strength and that its even better than yoga?

[Coach AJ] They are different and I wouldn't say one is "better" than the other. I have experience with yoga, but not much with Pilates. That said, I believe that Pilates is more "core" focused, where yoga is total body. Yoga has more stretching elements, and there are several types of yoga. You can do a core focused or power yoga, or a relaxing AM or PM yoga. Both are great to supplement your training.

[katzchen55] Basically, because of health reasons, I'm going back to my fundamentals and pretty much starting combination of low zone/high zone workouts will help me lose the most weight? I figure I can worry about my speed when I drop some pounds, so weight loss is my first priority for the off season.

[Coach AJ] In terms of weight loss, the more intense work will help more. Running at an aerobic pace will help you shed some early pounds, but when you hit that plateau, it's time to up the intensity. This is why the Boot Camp and high intensity aerobics classes work well. They are short, intense and really work your entire body.

[katzchen55] So should I start with aerobic for a while, or should I go high intensity from the start?

[Coach AJ] Definitely ease into it with aerobic work first. Keep consistent, don't try to do a whole lot in 1 day only to miss 2 days. I suggest 5 to 6 days a week. The key is consistency.

[katzchen55] So AJ, I've been keeping my runs in Zone 3/Zone 4 for now to get some distance in.  Would I be better off doing shorter faster runs?

[Coach AJ] Zone 3 and 4 is more tempo/LT. If you are keeping your HR steady for more than 20' then you are not in zone 3 or 4. An honest tempo effort is one that you can sustain for 20' and no longer. I suggest you do an LT test on your own to reassess your HR zones or at a testing facility near you. Estimations can be very off. By one formula I looked at my LT was 180. This was nuts as I've never seen an HR over 173. It is well worth the time and money to find a reputable facility near you that can run you through a protocol, either running or biking, take blood samples and accurately set your HR zones.

[katzchen55] In the meantime, I'm running 3x, biking 3x week and doing some kickboxing for grins 1-2x week. Usually with weighted resistance bands for strength.

[Coach AJ] Go by feel than. If you can hold a conversation relatively easily you are most likely in zone 1 or 2. Keep it mostly in those zones, but once or twice a week go to zone 3/4 for 10-20' minutes.

[rkreuser] Lemme poke at this...what should you look at as a facility to do that kind of protocol? Reason being...I did similar stuff at Lifetime Fitness 2 years ago, and it was good. But I don't know how good.

[Coach AJ] It's hard to gauge the quality...but I would look at things like do they have the same person administering the test? What is the equipment like? Where did the tester learn to do the testing or what is their educational background? Can you talk to others that have used that facility? Does your real world experience correlate to what the lab is telling you?

[rkreuser] Ok, it's subjective. But without a frame of reference, it's hard to figure that out....I guess it takes homework.

[Coach AJ] You can always do your own testing to back up any lab tests. An easy run test is to warm up well for 20', then run as hard as you can at a steady HR for 20'. You don't want to go at 150 for 12', then 160 for the last 8'. Keep your HR steady, but right on the edge. This gives you a good indication of your LT HR. Does this line up with what the lab told you?

[chirunner134] Weight lost is huge. Trust me I dropped 40lbs this year and changed my life. So which is better: to burn 200 cals in exercise or not each 200 calories?

[Coach AJ] Very broad question. What type of workouts are you doing? What are getting ready for?

[chirunner134] IMWI Mostly running now and hoping a lot more biking soon.

[Coach AJ] You don't need to be doing anything for IMWI right now. That is SO far away that you will burn out if you think about it too much right now. Right now you should be doing general work that's more fun and keeping the weight off. You don't need to be doing any long stuff at all! You do need to fuel your workouts, but I suggest water only for anything under an hour. I like to have my last bite at least 1 hour before a workout, preferably 2. Then afterwards if it was a hard workout, or I have another solid day coming the next day, I have a recovery type shake, then a meal within an hour. If it wasn't that hard I'll have a little snack.

[katzchen55] So...should I not do any real long bike rides or runs right now?  I'm worried about losing endurance and having to rebuild later. I like my long rides.  I'm following the run/bike portions of the Intermediate Oly Plan from BT. On swim days, I do some other exercise that seems good for the weather and my mood.

[Coach AJ] As for loss of endurance, you can maintain your endurance with some basic work. Remember, your endurance is not linear. If you continue to keep pushing the time you will just be able to go further, but not faster. Rest and recovery is as much a key as the long ride.  Plus, mentally you run a huge risk of burnout. If you like riding inside for 3 hours, than maybe, but don't feel obligated to hit a certain number of hours or miles. Save your mental reserves for July/Aug when you really have to push the miles day after day. Switch it up and go hard rather than spin forever. I like to do some power jumps of 30" to 1'. It's hard work after you do 5-8 of them. It's easier to give an explosive athlete endurance than it is to give an endurance athlete explosiveness. Strength is the key to IM, so power is a crucial component often overlooked.

[Coach AJ] Alright, I hope everyone learned a little something tonight. Thanks for the questions! Train Hard, Train Smart, AJ


Click on star to vote
4139 Total Views  |  16 Views last 30 days  |  4 Views last 7 days
date: December 4, 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."

View all 63 articles