August BT Triathlon Training Chat with Coach Kevin Konczak

author : KevinKonczak
comments : 0

Discussions on proper tapering for a triathlon, aqua-jogging, shin splints, dismounting in T2, ITBS, and training burnout for a marathon.

[KevinKonczak] Today again is open forum, but let's talk briefly about how an ill-prepared race week or two pre-race weeks (despite good preparation) can corrupt your race. Example (we'll use my recent 5430 half iron pre-race preparation for a case study). You must get 1) adequate/normal rest 2) eat regularly, and not miss the healthy foods. Sounds obvious - a no-brainer right? Not as easy as it sounds.

[KevinKonczak] My wife and I had our first child 22 days ago, and it has been about 1 meal a day taking care of them and other things along the way 2 weeks leading up to the race. 2-3 hrs of sleep a night, and not more than a spattering of easy workouts before that. One would think you can't compare the birth of a kid and the surrounding weeks of that time to any other 'normal' time of your life.

[KevinKonczak] It's a major development and experience in life, but if you take away the main reason for the lack of sleep/food/training, etc, you can take a very fit person and end up having a pretty nasty race.

[KevinKonczak] Anyhow, I even 'forgot' my gels/bars/race food for this half because I was 1/2 with it sort to speak. Amateur mistake that lack of focus and sleep can cause. It happens to us all, despite all our experience.

[KevinKonczak] So here I was, leading the Boulder 5430 tri series in points. And I've had a 2nd in the sprint, a 1st at Boulder Peak, and blew it with a 6th in the half (Ironman is my specialty so going longer should be better for me.)

[KevinKonczak] So my 2nd in the sprint, 1st at Boulder Peak, and then a 6th at the half may have endangered the series win--based off of lack of sleep, nutrition, and taper training. Forget the baby part, look at the last 2 weeks, and you lose watts from lack of sleep, and food of course.

[KevinKonczak]  My point is, after 16 Ironman races and likely hundreds of races in my career, you can still forget how to properly lead into a race. You MUST get sleep and food regularly.

[KevinKonczak] So I plead with you all, that no matter what the circumstance, get your family or whatever to help you, lean on friends to get your race prep down correct. If you have to let the lawn grow long another week, to do correct process of taper/prep, do it.  Otherwise you'll find yourself getting smashed out there, by the 90 year old little ladies.

[D.Z.] I had done a number of bricks leading up to the race, but in the first mile of the race, I developed shin splints. KILLED me...Tonight - I got shin splints 1.5 miles into the run. What's the deal? I can run 5miles no pain. Why during bricks? Possibly losing form because of fatigue?

[KevinKonczak] Shin splints aren't usually developed from just one mile. That is cumulative things over time that likely appeared just at that moment for the first time.

[D.Z.] I was able to run through them tonight, but I don't understand. Probably something to do with shoes then?

[KevinKonczak] Okay, legs are toasted a bit after the bike, bricks will show pains easier than just a run when you're fresh.

[D.Z.] How do I beat shin splints?

[KevinKonczak] How old are the shoes? 1) Stay off concrete above all else.

[D.Z.] Fairly new. I can check my logs...

[KevinKonczak] 2) Steer away from Asphalt next.  3) Treadmills are actually really cushy.  Pine needle paths or dirt paths. 


[D.Z.] Okay - I was on concrete most of my run tonight.  And when I wasn't on concrete, I was on asphalt.


[KevinKonczak] Ice, rest, maybe aqua jog.

[D.Z.] Or one of those soft tracks?


[KevinKonczak] Soft tracks like rubberized...yes. Best to take some time off really. 


[D.Z.] I can't - 3 weeks to race.

[KevinKonczak] I'd aqua jog.

[D.Z.] How does one do that?

[KevinKonczak] Top pros have aqua jogged in injury and returned faster. Get a Aqua Jog belt. Your pool may have one for use. Blue belts (foam) you put on, keeps head above water, and you run in the deep end.  You don't feel like you're working, because the water cools you and you don't feel your HR getting high, but it works the muscles because resistance is all around you.

[D.Z.] Without touching the bottom? Just running motion, using the water as resistance?

[KevinKonczak] No touching the bottom. You will be suspended in deep water, and just run normally, no touching the body. The belt will hold you above the water line (your head).

[D.Z.] Okay - shoes have 5.5 hours on them at 10 minutes a mile...

[KevinKonczak] Many things it could be...slapping your feet while you run...

[KevinKonczak] Could be your run form. They are usually caused by running on hard surfaces or too quick of mileage increase.

[D.Z.] Thanks Kevin - that helps.

[rkreuser] Allright...had the pleasure of watching the Windsor tri last weekend...Canadian national team was there, it's a development event for them.  I got to watch them zip in off the bike, and get into T2. They all came in, both feet out of shoes, leg thrown over to one side, both feet balanced on one shoe. Until the dismount, where they sprinted off.  The underlying question is...they were going over a HUGE curb to get to the dismount line at like 20mph. I'd have been scared that the shoe, holding all my weight, would unclip spilling me and the bike. Does that ever happen?

[KevinKonczak] Happened to me once. Yes. But awareness of the shoes/feet is key to that not happening.

[rkreuser] Both feet, one shoe, leg thrown over, I'd just be afraid that the shoe would torque out.

[KevinKonczak] Dave Scott always would mount with shoes on already, and then dismount like you described.  You can tension the pedals likely, so they do not disengage as easy.  Most pedals do anyhow.

[rkreuser] I was literally cringing. A little twist, and one of these guys/girls is in the crowd. Suppose it's just practice, huh?

[KevinKonczak] That yes, but also like I said, mentally in T2 (or T1) you need to be aware of everything at the same time.

[KevinKonczak] If you're not thinking 'Push, push, push....left shoe, right shoe, glasses, helmet, GO!' then you lose vital time. You could forget your race belt # like I did in ITU World Championships back in '99, and have to go back to T1 to get it, and you don't want that in a big race. Any slack in focus will just destroy your race (like we started talking at the start here with race prep).

[rkreuser] I think the marching orders are 1) practice, 2) race more, and 3) know the T2 entry / dismount like the back of your hand.

[KevinKonczak] How's the leg Jen?

[jldicarlo] Heh...leg BAD. Tried to ride a century this weekend...the knee totally gave out on me :(  Chronic ITBS that JUST WON'T GO AWAY.

[KevinKonczak] Man, bummer. Any big races coming up, or races at all?

[jldicarlo] Uh...5430 HIM defacto became my last race of the season...because the knee is just too bad to train on....I was supposed to run MCM though....that's the biggest loss.

Okay, I'd be taking some DOWN TIME. Now. Not next week, now.

[jldicarlo] Uh...I am :) I tried the century...but otherwise...not doing much. Next week is 1 hour a day of alternating swim/bike/swim/bike/swim.....
jldicarlo Mostly easy bikes I think.

[KevinKonczak] Tell your coach you need to heal, they'd understand. Make the body well, so it can treat you well. Find the fix for the ITBS, and work on it. Use alternate training methods (water running!), and swim, work on strengthening the weakness, and become a monster for next season. It starts with the healing though.

[KevinKonczak] I'm a big fan on Aqua Jogging.

[jldicarlo] I want to try aqua jogging....just gotta get to the pool I guess. Been seeing an acupuncturist since the three ortho's,  four PT's, chiropracter, and LMT can't fix it. :(

[KevinKonczak] Jen, have you seen a sports therapist, or just a regular doc?

[jldicarlo] Kevin, I'm limited to what docs the AF will send me to! And none of them have been particularly understanding! I get a lot of 'well, if running hurts, quit running'  Doesn't do me much good :(

[KevinKonczak] My advice to you is when you're in Boulder, see ANDY PRUITT. The main is amazing. He'll nail whatever you have and the fix for it. Pronto.  Dr. Andy Pruitt at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine.

[marmadaddy] Marathon training: I've been doing mid-teen mileage per week

[KevinKonczak] When's the race?


[marmadaddy] Early Dec. It's tentative.  Marathon of the Palm Beaches. I want to take some time in Sept, Oct. I'm getting kind of burned out. Would 10-11 weeks be enough to train for a marathon after doing my kind of volume and then taking a couple weeks off?  I'm looking to complete, not compete.

[KevinKonczak] 10-11 weeks would be tough to increase mileage a whole lot safely...but you'll want to do a long eventually that will be 2.5 hrs-2.75 hrs long. You could run/walk mix your long runs.

[marmadaddy] That's what I thought. I'm leaning towards a Spring race.

[KevinKonczak] Run 3 mile then walk 2 minutes, or run 2 miles, walk 1/4 mile, whatever allows you to complete the time/distance. Marma, every other week I'd add a little more mileage. If you do 8 miles for a long run this week, do maybe the = for your long workout next week, as a jog/hike or even a bike. Then 2 weekends from now, add 2 miles. Eventually, you'll get close to the length of time you'll want to hit before the race.

[marmadaddy] Ok. I like long runs anyway. Anything over 10 miles.

[KevinKonczak] Anything more than 2.75 hrs or 3 hrs of run training at a time will dig a hole for you, and take too long to recover, then you don't want to venture down that road. I'd cross train (using mostly lower body of course), which is why I say maybe 30 min. of aqua jogging, get out and 'transition' quick into running shoes and run an hour, and then maybe transition to bike or mtn. bike a half an hour. That's going to give you 2 hrs towards marathon training, despite sounding more tri training-like. Be creative.

[jldicarlo] Hey, never thought of that...neat idea.

[KevinKonczak] It's all aerobic, and what is a marathon? AEROBIC! It's all legs too. Heck, if it was winter and you were in the snow, I'd tell you to snowshoe too!

[marmadaddy] You recommend it for off-season tri-training?

[KevinKonczak] Lots of biking (trainer or other), Technique work on the swim, and nordic skiing. The running can be minimal and improve if you are snowshoeing or nordic skiing, really.  Must have: strength work.  Leg press, curl, ext. Strong legs will get you on top of that big gear in the spring.  You'll fly up hills on the run too!  If it is slippery out (in cold areas), aqua jog is a good alternative to treadmills if you must mix the two for safety reasons (daylight or falling).  I used to run in the blizzards when the roads would close (and schools) up in the coldest winter days in the U.P. of Michigan in college days. It was the best. Cushy snow, if you fell in all the powder, you'd land on soft fluff. No problems.  Just don't want ice to run on.  But they have the shoe spikes you slip over your run shoes (like track spikes on a rubber slip on strapping, to keep from falling on your bum!  Road Runner Sports has them, as well as the Aqua Jog belts I was talking about. Both are fairly cheap in price.

[KevinKonczak] So back to pre-race stuff, folks, no matter what is going on, use your resources to get it all done right. Whether you need the folks to run your bike to the shop or friend to do something for you...get the sleep, get the right nutrition, and those last few weeks before your A race are the most important.  You can lose all the training effect a few weeks before a race if you are idle, and sitting around--the sharpness and mental sharpness can be weakened.

Jen, serious about BCSM, Dr. Pruitt. If anyone can fix you, he can. He doesn't do the surgery, he diagnoses the issue, and will likely refer you to someone like Dr. Graur (a top sports physician for elite athletes) in Boulder to fix you physically.

[jldicarlo] Especially when I was talking to the flight doc last night and he basically said, why don't we just try pre-medicating you for races...uh...he's missing the point!

[KevinKonczak] Medicating isn't the answer. It is physical, not chemical.  ITBS issue can cause goofy mechanical issues that can lead to altering the run gait, which causes hip issues, or ankle issue on top of ITBS. Deep tissue is a great start to fixing it, and beyond that and rest with anti-inflammatory drugs, and/or serious run form changes (ala Bobby McGee), is unfortunately, surgery. Last resort though. But Bobby will help as long as your ITBS isn't causing other issues--of course. That would be a preventative thing.


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date: September 3, 2006