September 2006 BT Triathlon Training Chat with Coach Kevin Konczak

author : KevinKonczak
comments : 1

Discussions on keeping heart-rate down on hills, the fat burning zone, lactate threshold (LT) testing, max trainer hours, high HR on the run/walk, the 10% rule and different running workouts.

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[DerekL]  I just moved to a new state, and the area where I live is pretty hilly.  I'm trying to do Z1/Z2 runs, but there's no way to keep my HR down on the hills, and I'd rather not run on the treadmill all the time.  Any suggestions?


[KevinKonczak] Derek: you can always run until you hit the hills & then walk briskly.  I know you don't want to walk, but your HR will be still high on the hills, if you're strictly training HR based programs only.


[Lucy] Aerobic exercise won't burn fat will it?


[KevinKonczak] While I'm not a nutritionist, I would think the body would burn carbs for anaerobic workouts, and fats (usually lower intensity after 90 minutes.)  The time depends on who you ask.  I've read & hear different things depending on who's research you listen to.


[Lucy]  I ran a 5K Saturday with a pacer from my running club.  She said my breathing was very shallow.  So hence my cramping in the legs and lack of speed. All this time I had no idea I was breathing like that since I'm at a disadvantage.  I need to learn to breathe properly, is doing core work going to help?


[chirunner134] Well sounds like your heart rate may be too hard do you run with a heart rate monitor.  I had that issue with my 5k running the whole thing at about 95% max.


[Lucy] I have a HRM but no zones and it's uncomfortable


[KevinKonczak]  Shallow breathing won't be the cause of leg cramping.  Cramping can be from over-exerting at a pace you're not used to, low sodium levels, dehydration, etc.


[Lucy] She said my muscles need oxygen, that's why I get fatigued easily.


[KevinKonczak] Fats burn best when at lower speeds.


[KevinKonczak] Lucy, use this field test:  Go to a track, run a all out 30 minute TT, hit the START button after 10 minutes, and then stop it after the next 20 (for a total of 30 min.).  Then you can calculate your zones based off of that LT number (the average for the last 20 minutes).


[Lucy] The HRM I have only shows current HR I don't think it does an avg.


[KevinKonczak] Oh.  Well, then read up on it, and borrow one if you need to.  You could get the zones from the chart on page 53 of Gordo's "Going Long" book.  Say, if your LT was 155, it basically gives you the HR zones based off of that #, using (from what I believe) is the Friel method of determining HR zones.


[DerekL] There's a BT HR zone calculator available here if you know your LT.


[Lucy] I can do a 9:00 min mile easy, but the second was 10:30 and the third 11:30.  I just crash and burn. So I guess I should get serious about this HR thing.


[KevinKonczak]  You're starting out too fast.  You want an even pace throughout.  Such as, I could go out & run a 5 minute mile on a 2 mile run, and then likely crash & do a 10 minute for the 2nd mile.  I'd rather do a couple of 6 min/miles & end up with 12 min instead of 15 min.  Just a out of the blue example. Pacing is key in triathlon.  More information also at, then click on D3 Tips at the left, and there are many, many ref's on using, determining, and how to articles on HR training.


[KevinKonczak]  There is so much to learn about training/racing & gizmos, etc., associated with triathlons, we all need ref's at some time, even coaches who have been doing this a while!  Each day new findings come out, and trash old theories & methods, one must keep on top of them all the time. Just like the latest is power meters & new versions of "bio-pace" rings.


[danielle860] I have a question about bike trainer riding in the winter.  I am reading that you should keep workout duration to 75 minutes or less.  Can you tell me if that's what you would recommend and if so, why?


[KevinKonczak]  1) resistance is greater on a trainer 2) insanity sets in 3) better quality workouts on trainers.  Just to name a few. No coasting etc.


[danielle860]  I am doing 90 minutes on the trainer, no problem, right now.  Can I keep that up?  I kind of like my trainer.


[KevinKonczak]  Usually the trainer is pretty intense riding.  You can keep it up...yes.


[chirunner134] So it would be ok to do more than 75 minutes?  I figure these winter I may have to do 4 hours or so.  Then again I have yet to buy one.


[KevinKonczak] I think it is preference, but I have friends that go 4 hrs on a trainer in the winter, and are training for IM races...nutso! You'd be better off working on the swim & run, and spending some time in the weight room to increase strength for the spring.


[Vaiza]  Okay.. I know we're almost out of time, but here goes.  I have been run/walking for quite a while but can only seem to get up to around 5 mins run/1 min walk sustained over a half hour period.  My avg HR is quite high (around 170-175), but when I slow down, I lose my good form.  Would I be better off trying to train at a lower HR (but sacrifice form) or keep training at a higher HR and hope I can start running longer/further?


[KevinKonczak] Vaiza: we should ALL train the AEROBIC system near most of the time, so slowing down & run/walking or hiking at a lower HR will be best.  Eventually you will be able to increase your run time, and the more fit you get, the faster your speed will get (from a bigger training base).


[Vaiza]  Ah, I was hoping you wouldn't say that.  *grin*  I've been going at it for a year and a half.. I guess it will just take time, eh?


[KevinKonczak]  Form, is something you need to learn to correct (have a running coach look at your form), and then that should be the primary thought process during your runs.


[Vaiza] I just had a run assessment done, and he said my form is nearly perfect.. but when I go slow, I lose it.


[KevinKonczak] Think of  a pyramid...the base is the aerobic can't build the peak (fast stuff) without a base.  That is what you need aerobic levels for.


[Vaiza]  That's very true.  Thanks, Kevin.  Will try that.


[KevinKonczak] The primary goal is to strengthen connective tissues & prepare the body for the stresses of the faster sessions. Increase your time per week on the long run (which is the key of the running program) by 5 to 10 %.  Remember, you never need to really run over 2.5 hrs, because the extended recovery period you need to recoup.  But on longer sessions, keep low intensity & form/nutrition should be the main goals of the run.  Only then, after a good base, would you want to increase the paces on a select workout (such as speed days).


[chirunner134] Does the 10% rule apply to bike/swimming?


[KevinKonczak]  Yes, for bike/swimming. To a point.  Obviously, when you hit the ceiling of logical distance, or maximal (such as 2.5 hr run) workouts, would you want to then halt the increases.  Ultra Runners (like 100 mile runners) actually need to run over 2.5 hrs & train for that, but much of the time, the races themselves act as their "long runs" which are part of the training.  Picking an A race during the year to prepare for.


[chirunner134] Would it be better to run 8 miles like on a faster pace or 12 - 14 miles at a slower pace if you want to increase



[KevinKonczak] Depends on what you are training for?  If your race is only 8 miles, no need to run 12 to 14 miles for it.


[chirunner134] Like how far would you recommend training for it you want to do the 10k of a tri?  the distance is 6.2 but that is after the swim and bike.  Should you run farther for that or just stick with 6.2 as your max distance?


[KevinKonczak]  You need 1) LONG RUN 2) TEMPO OR SPEED DAYS 3) STRENGTH/HILLS  for a solid all-around training plan.  The long run is key of any running program.  But if you plan on running 8 only in a race, then 14 is overboard. 7 to 8 miles for a long run is all you'd need for the 10km, with 1000's on the track for speed, or 800's.  OVER distance is exactly that, OD workouts often are distance days going over your normal runs, to build endurance for your distance racing.


[danielle860]  Do you do all three of those every week, Kevin?  Or would you mix tempo one week, strength next?


[KevinKonczak]  You can do them all in a week, just space them out like:  Easy Monday/short run, speed on Tues, rest Wed, hills Thurs, and long run on Sat or Sun.  Spacing them out so you have plenty of recovery.  Otherwise you could pull something & over-reach, and over-reaching is bad for an athlete if done too often.  Spacing them out so you have plenty of recovery.


[danielle860]  And when I do my hills or speed, do I go zone 3 only or do I just go fast and not worry about it?


[KevinKonczak]  Hills, you will want to approach LT, same with speed.  Your pace will be pretty slow compared to track days--if doing hills.  But easier to hit a higher HR.  Don't stack speed & hill days next to each other as they will tax you. Give yourself a break in there.


[danielle860] And I should do that all the time or only 4-6 weeks before races?  I am so confused about running...I am trying base only now and just confused about when to add back the speed and hills.


[KevinKonczak] You don't get fast from the training, fast comes from the rest you do AFTER the training.  It is the rebuilding process that the body does, which makes you faster. I would use hills throughout the year for strength, and speed only needs to be done really 3-5 weeks out from a race.  Your 10km race will be mostly aerobic or near LT anyhow, not anaerobic (like a 5k).


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date: October 24, 2006