March BT Chat with Tri Coach Kevin Konczak

author : KevinKonczak
comments : 0

Discussions on muscular endurance training, transitioning between distances, big hill training and bricks.

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[KevinKonczak]  Sample Race: if you will be starting to race in April/May, now is the time to begin some muscular endurance training, as well as some force training. 2 x a week in each discipline. Increase the weight some in the gym if you've been handling the poundage okay up until now, and begin some slightly explosive firing of the muscles. Plyometrics are a good example of explosive workouts.

[ron] Ok, race season is coming up...Lets take Saint Anthony's for example...about 50 BTers will be there...

[KevinKonczak] I think that is in late April?

[ron] Correct, last week in April.

[KevinKonczak] St. Anthony's is something that requires some serious hi-octane output. Flat, lots of drafting, and "turny" from what I hear. I've had many I've talked to  race this before. St. A's is going to require some race specific workouts, you'll need to corner, build up to speed quick, and get aero & hit the big gears.

[ron] You mention muscular endurance and force training a month out from a race, I know most should 'relax' on the strength training, how is this different?

[KevinKonczak] Spin-ups are good to get the leg speed going, but as you asked, you are still some weeks away & force training & ME training is still something you want & need at this point. Only 2 weeks out from a big race will you need to chill out on the weights.

[ron] Ok, so I was thinking too far ahead, one still wants to focus on the explosive training for, say the swim start and accelerations.

[KevinKonczak] I've discussed this several times with Tim DeBoom, former ITU Oly AG champ, & 2 x IM champ, he also says a couple weeks out he backs off & cuts the weights. Then he starts over with maintenance again after he recovers a few days.  Explosive stuff is only good for really 2 things on swimming, 1) getting a good position at the start after gun goes off, and catching a group ahead that you can draft off to get a faster swim time.  IF YOU do force or ME workouts, space them. This is a no-brainer. Example: Force workout Monday for bike, then swim ME/Force on Tuesday, then Wed. a ME run, then hit the other (F or ME) that you hadn't the first 3 days. Definition of Force: The strength evident in a muscle or muscle group while exerting against a resistance (aka heavy weights).

[piggpen35]  Kevin, I am currently doing Ron’s 20 week run focused Oly plan followed by the 20 week HIM plan. Any tips for someone doing their first HIM race?

[KevinKonczak]  Are you talking after the Oly race what tips I have?

[piggpen35] I'm doing the Grand Columbian in WA state.

[KevinKonczak] When are the 2 races?

[piggpen35] I have the oly in June and the HIM in Sept. The HIM is my A race.

[KevinKonczak] Tips as far as how to transition between Oly & HIM training or something else?

[piggpen35] Yes... I know the race is MUCH longer.

[KevinKonczak] Your base work you've done until now should go a long ways (no pun intended) to the HIM training.

[piggpen35]  Most people can gut check a sprint or oly I think you really need to be ready for the HIM I'm a bit nervous.

[KevinKonczak] Take a few days & kick back after the Oly race.

[piggpen35] Is speed work important? I've been thinking about going to the track.

[KevinKonczak] Then slowly add 10% distance per week, take some long SLOW rides (not a need for more than a 55 mile ride), speed isn't as much a factor.  Track work for OLY: 1,000 repeats x 6 or 1 mile x 4 would suffice, at Zone 3-4, with a 200 jog between.

[piggpen35] Cool.

[KevinKonczak] On the HIM training, you don't need to ride over 55 miles, you won't really be racing any longer than 56 anyhow.


[piggpen35] So really just keep putting in LOTS of base miles riding and running and save the speed work for the second HIM then?

[KevinKonczak] Guys/gals, be realistic on training for your distance, you don't need a 150 mile ride for IM, or 100 for HIM training, just make sure you can do the distance & be comfortable at it. You can always work at increasing the speed, or wattage if you have a PM, after the distance is “easy” or not that much of a challenge anymore. Speed in a 1/2 IM isn't critical. Racing at a upper Z3 would be a good place to aim your HR for. On a IM, Z2 to 3.

[piggpen35] Thanks Kevin!

[KevinKonczak] Transitioning between distances isn't that hard if you have done the early season base work. Just add more speed 6-8 weeks out from an Oly, and work on the muscular endurance & longer intervals for 1/2s, not short stuff. On a track, 400s & 800s aren't realistic of track sessions for a 1/2 IM, unless used for pacing at your 1/2 IM goal pace with SHORT rests. Otherwise, keep them longer at the track, and longer efforts on the bike. Once you learn even pacing, you can go from Oly, to HIM, to IM without a problem, and much transition, but both high-end anaerobic & long distance work must be done regularly to keep both types of muscle fibers & cardio systems up to snuff to employ them interchangeably in the season.

[piggpen35] Any suggestions for getting better and running and riding big hills... Not little rollers. I mean 1-2 mile long climbs.


[KevinKonczak] Yes, do them more often. REALLY.

[piggpen35] LOL... I know that is the answer but how often?

[KevinKonczak] In Colorado, that's about all we have here is 1-15 mile long uphills without stopping. 2 rides a week, 3 if you're not going hard. One thing is PACING (mentioned that). Long uphills require you to not charge up the hill at the bottom. Start easy, and get into a constant rhythm.

[kleinrider] Would you still say 2 hill rides a week if on a Computrainer for 1/2 training?

[KevinKonczak] CT rides will work, but put a couple phone books under the front wheel for more realistic training uphill. Pick a course like IM USA where there are 1+ mile uphills. Download it if you don't have it on the CT.

[kleinrider] Ok, great.

[KevinKonczak] In long uphills, you'll need to alternate sitting up & standing to get a break to the legs here & there. I wouldn't suggest aero position on these hills unless it is really gradual. That would fry your quads on the run & kill your back.  More specific training for your upcoming race should be started like this week or better yet, last week if you have a race like St. A's.

[D.Z.] What about short uphills? Sit or stand?

[KevinKonczak] Uphills: both, preferably back your weight to the rear of the saddle where your power is (rear wheel), and find that tempo you can maintain evenly all the way up, then stand when you feel excessive fatigue, just for a short 5-15 seconds. Then return the "power" to the rear of the bike, and get that weight over the rear wheel again.

[D.Z.] Okay - so sitting is preferable until fatigued.

[KevinKonczak] Use the bikers in front of you to see what their tempo is, and if you can match it, mentally they could drag you up the hill. Not total fatigue, but just sit in a steady tempo pace & don't forget to give them a break when they fill up with lactic acid or get really tight.

[D.Z.] What if I'm in first place?

[KevinKonczak] If you are in first place, then pedal harder, because someone may be letting YOU drag them up the hill, and if they end up having more foot speed on the run, they'll have you. Don't look back though. Never look back in the races you do, unless the finish is in sight & you don't want a finish chute embarrassment.

[D.Z.] I have my first tri coming up in early May, and I'm wondering when and how often I should be doing bricks.

[KevinKonczak]  Bricks: why? Because they help your legs get used to running on rubber legs. The newer to tris you are, likely the more often you'll need them. You may want to do them now. One on Monday maybe, and one on Saturday.

[D.Z.] Should I be doing bricks at full length of the legs?

[KevinKonczak] No. You want to 'sample'.

[D.Z.] Okay - I can do that.

[KevinKonczak] Sample running after a bike, not = the distance. Just make the legs familiar with the feeling of "oh my gosh, they feel like rubber." Then eventually the legs & mind will be used to it, and not a surprise.


[D.Z.] Okay - I've done that before. I should be focusing on doing the distances in each discipline and rely on day of race gut check to put it all together? What percentage should I use when doing them? 60%distance, 50% distance? Or is it more of a feel thing?

[KevinKonczak] I like a 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 ratio.

[D.Z.] Okay - so if the bike portion is 10 miles and the run is 3 miles, I should do a brick of 3 bike miles and 1 run mile?

[KevinKonczak] Let me correct myself, bike say, 30 miles, run 3. Ironman: 50 mile bike, + 5 mile brick. Split them up if you like. 15 mile bike, 1.5 mile run, 15 mile bike, then lastly, 1.5 mile run again. Double the transition practice too.  Many run TOO long on the run brick portion. Just be careful out there. Don't get the run in such a long brick portion, that is take a long time to recover. Just enough to get used to running on dead legs. Focus on the distance, and gradually use the longer intervals to make the overall distance go by faster, the bricks are supplements to just get used to the dead legs, and not the primary focus. But you need bricks to maximize your run
efforts out there.

[D.Z.] Transition practice on my front lawn will be fun in the coming weeks.

[KevinKonczak] Above all, if you're feeling wasted for several days at a time, you've gone too hard in the hard sessions, and need to back off with either a rest day or base training again.

[KevinKonczak] I used to do that in my parents’ backyard back in Michigan.

[D.Z.] Eh - my backyard is fenced in to keep the kids contained - front yard it will be.

[KevinKonczak] My neighbors thought I was nuts running around the house in my wetsuit, strip to a Speedo, get on the bike in a Speedo, and then run around the block with a short tank top. It was funny seeing all the older folks’ faces.

[D.Z.] I'm young and I think I'd give you weird looks.

[KevinKonczak] Those were the days when most raced in Speedos.


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date: April 2, 2006