November 2009 Triathlon Training Chat with Coach AJ

author : Coach AJ
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Discussions on lactate threshold testing and when to do LT workouts, threshold and tempo workouts, and time off after a full Ironman.

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[Coach AJ] Hello, any question to start off the night?

[tjtryon] How about lactate threshold (LT)? I'm working on doing LT tests with my runners (I coach too), and running with HR has been the big topic around here...

[Coach AJ] The basic LT test of 20' as fast as you can sustain is probably the easiest test and it's repeatable. From there you can use the LT number to set HR zones. At this time of year I would suggest hitting LT a little bit and not just doing 100% base. Too many athletes do all base for 3-4 weeks, then when they go to the build phase any speed work feels awful. Just 1 or 2 sessions of simple intervals (3 x 2-4' w/ 2-4' recovery) would suffice.

[tjtryon] Is that one to two per week?

[Coach AJ] Yes, one to two sessions per week. Maybe one running and one cycling for triathletes. These sessions are not all out, just touching LT for a bit then backing off. The problem with labeling "phases" is that athletes then neglect other aspects of training. Like I said, LT has it's place in the base phase just as base work has it's place in the build phase. It's more of a matter of what aspect you are focusing on rather than all one type of training.

Some athletes will focus on a single sport while keeping the other two level. This type of training can be very effective if you have one sport that is a major weakness. You would be surprised at how little it takes to keep your basic fitness level in two sports while you bring the 3rd sport up.

[tjtryon] OK, so that covers an "interval" workout, what are your thoughts on threshold or tempo workouts?

[Coach AJ] Well, tempo and threshold work is usually done in intervals, so in a sense they are the same. The difference lies in how hard you go. A tempo workout is not as difficult as a threshold workout, but the 2 types of workout feed on each other. A tempo workout that I like that is very basic is a 10' warmup, then 20' at tempo pace/effort, 10' cooldown. The 20' tempo needs to be hard! With 2' to go you should be wishing for it to end. In threshold workouts you go harder, but only for shorter intervals.

[tjtryon] I was thinking more along the lines of the Jack Daniel definition. Tempo runs - steady, moderately prolonged runs and intervals - series of repeated runs with a brief recovery between runs. Or are we talking about the same thing?

[Coach AJ] These workouts are very dependent on the athlete. You have to consider current fitness level, training history, race distance, goals and motivation. For an Oly athlete tempo/threshold is very key, but for an IM focused athlete tempo is key, but threshold is not as necessary.  The tempo run I described is one that Daniels has used for years. He has a whole set of formulas derived for if you extend the tempo run beyond 20 minutes.

In general Daniels did not recommend extending tempo work beyond 20' because an athlete would have to slow down to under "tempo" pace/effort to sustain the effort longer. For marathoners/IMer's this is OK, but again, Oly focused athletes need to keep even tempo runs relatively short.

[Socks] AJ how much time do you typically have people take off after an IM?

[Coach AJ] If it is their 1st IM, at least one week completely schedule free. If they want to do some light swimming or riding, fine, but no running. The next week is light again and I introduce running back in. For an experienced IM athlete I still keep the week after wide open, but usually they will do a ride and swim. Each IM is different and if the athlete had to dig really deep I don't want to trash them with workouts the next week. I always progress from swim to bike to run.

I don't want them to do structured workouts, but just sitting and being stagnant leaves the body stiff. Light movement helps increase bloodflow and reduce inflammation. Everyone is different, but easy movement, even walking and stretching, is beneficial. I find that up to about 75% effort athletes are ok, once they exceed that they pop very quickly.

[Socks] I'm two weeks post IMFL. I am stretching a lot because my legs are still irritated.  I have been swimming some as it helps my recovery.

[Coach AJ] Just do what feels right. Keep the effort very easy and if running is painful, don't do it. I might suggest aqua jogging first before actually hitting the pavement. Movement without impact, that's the key.


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date: December 20, 2009

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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