February 2010 Training Chat with Coach AJ

author : Coach AJ
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Discussions on using the weekends for a long bike and run, good running cadence, Ironman swimming, importance of kick drills and swim cadence.

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[Gregkl]  Today on the threads a discussion came up regarding whether one should do the long run first, then bike or visa-versa if you have to do them back to back. What are your thoughts? I have to do my long run and bike on the weekend and in the past I have done my run on Sat and bike on Sun.

[Coach AJ]   This is a common question. My answer is this, alternate weekends. Running on tired legs is a key component for IM racing, but you do want to do some hard runs on fresh legs. By alternating you can hit the first workout hard, and the Sunday workout is about strength/endurance. On weekends when the bike is 2nd, shorten it a bit from your previous long ride, but keep some intensity in there and finish with some easy spinning.

[Gregkl]   Perfect! Why didn’t I think of that! That is why you are a coach! I will definitely do that! Plus that way I can ride and run sometimes with our local tri club. They all ride on Saturday and run on Sunday.

[Coach AJ]   I can’t take credit for that idea, I think I learned it from Mike Ricci many years back. When you run first, make sure to do race pace stuff, even if it’s your long run. Too many athletes think that running a 10min/mile for four hours equates to running 9min/miles for three hours. It doesn’t work like that. You need to train your body to handle the pace you are shooting for, even on the long run. When the run is 2nd, just keep it in zone 1-2, but make sure the cadence is at 90+.

[Gregkl]   Okay. Zone 1=2 is so slow for me running. I am going to have a LT test done, but right now I can run for a long, long time knocking on zone 4. Does that seem right?

[Coach AJ]   Nope, by definition, zone 4 is LT and up, which you should only be able to handle for an hour or so. Many athletes think that zone 1-2 is too slow, but it’s not. You need to train at a low heart rate, no matter the pace, to build your body’s ability to handle the speed work. Your scenario sounds to me like you run too hard too often. Slow it down and keep the HR where it needs to be. I know Pro athletes that walk to keep their HR down, especially in the early season.

[Gregkl]   Oh, that is going to be hard, but I will work on it. I do most of my runs in zone 3. Zone 2 is going to be over 10 minute miles for me.

[losta]   What is a good way to monitor running cadence?

[Coach AJ]   I count the # of foot-strikes for one foot for 30 seconds. This means I count my left foot for 30 sec. and I want 45 or more.

[Coach AJ]  If you stick with it, you will get faster and more efficient. Train where you are, not where you want to be. It’s ok to run slow, it’s part of every good plan. You don’t have to race every run.

[Gregkl]   What are your thoughts on changing from a heel striker to more of a forefoot landing? Try to make the change or live with what you were dealt?

[Coach AJ]   I think you can make the change using run drills. I don’t recommend using a shoe to change your gait, too much risk for injury. Bobby McGee’s book, Run Workouts for Runners, is the best book on it. I’ve worked with Bobby and he is amazing. He’s worked with the absolute top runners in the world on form.

[Gregkl]   Is that in one of those binders like swim workouts in a binder?

[Coach AJ]  It is similar, yes. The 1st part is about technique, and the 2nd is about workouts.

[rstocks3]  Do you do any swim clinics? I just started a local tri club and have a swim clinic scheduled.  What would you recommend I cover?

[Coach AJ]   I would go over the idea that swimming is more about technique rather than pure fitness. Athletes need to work on technique that is specific to triathlon, not necessarily pool swimming.  Go through some simple drills, then have them incorporate what they learn to "feel" in some 25’s and 50’s.

[Gregkl]   I am currently using Gale Bernhardt's Swim Workouts in a Binder. They work good, but are not necessarily an IM plan. I just look at my IM plan for that days swim session and pick one out that lines up.

[Coach AJ]   Ironman swimming is about strength and efficiency. You want to swim as fast as you can and STILL have energy for the bike/run. Most athletes underestimate the energy expended in the swim and fail to train accordingly. You don’t have to swim fast, you have to swim efficiently. I am a fan of paddles with a band around the ankles to build power/strength.  I like drills for warm up, but I don’t spend huge amounts of time on them.

For athletes that are good swimmers the continuous swim is an absolute necessity. I also have athletes do swim/bike bricks. It helps them realize how much energy is taken up by the swim, and I use it to really nail down Ironman nutrition. It is amazing how different a bar/gel tastes when you’re 20’ out from a swim rather than just easing into the long ride.

[Gregkl]   Are fins okay when doing kick drills?

[Coach AJ]  If you are new to swimming, they may be necessary, but don’t rely on them. Plus, I don’t do a lot of kicking in swim training, it’s not really tri-swimming specific.

[Gregkl]   Can someone explain 6-beat kick or any beat kick to me? I am not sure how to know how I am kicking. I mostly seem to use the kick to help me rotate.

[rstocks3]   It’s beats per stroke cycle. A 2-beat kick has you kicking each time your hand enters the water. Left hand enters, right foot kicks. Right hand enters, left foot kicks.  6-beat has you kicking 3 times for each arm stroke.

[rkreuser]   I still haven’t figured out the kick. Here’s where I could use advice.    Other schools...kick 2-beat, 4-beat, 6-beat, whatever.

[Coach AJ]   A 2-beat kick is fine, don’t worry too much about the kick as much of it is negated once the wetsuit goes on. Pool swimmers have to use their legs for propulsion, triathletes need to save their legs.

[rkreuser]   But my turnover isn’t fast enough to compensate for the slowdown between pulls. Is that where the kick comes in?

[Coach AJ]   Work on your turnover rate, you don’t really want to glide so long that you slow down. In open water you have forces pushing/pulling you in every direction, gliding too long is not good in open water.

[rkreuser]   What’s a good swim cadence?

[Coach AJ]   It is very individual. Less than 20 strokes per length is a general guide line. Try swim golf, take your strokes per length and add your time for that length. Then try to take off a stroke, but keep the time the same.

[rkreuser]   There’s a very definite correlation between strokes per length and speed. If I’m at 15/25m, I’m slow. If I’m at 18-20/25m, I can rock a 1:20/100. Trying to find the balance.

[Coach AJ]   Yep, it’s that balance between pulling through the water, but not windmilling like crazy and not holding any water.

Alright everyone, thanks for a great chat tonight. Train Hard, Train Smart, Train Safe.

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date: February 22, 2010

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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