An athlete’s taper is just as individual, personal, and varied as their training plan. How you taper depends on how you have trained in the months preceding your race as well as what you and your coach decide is appropriate for you. Although we all train differently, the rules to tapering remain consistent. All the months and months of proper training and nutrition is at risk of sabotage if your taper is executed improperly. Nothing you do during your taper will make you any faster for race day, but breaking the basic taper rules will prevent you from performing at your best.
1. Proper Volume Reduction The amount that you reduce your volume (amount of time spent weekly in training) depends on your current training volume and the distance you race. The key to effective tapering is to cut back on training volume significantly. The optimal amount of training reduction is still debatable. Some studies suggest reducing training volume as much as 85% in the weeks leading up to your race. Regardless, gradually reducing training volume should be based on distance. The longer your race, the longer your taper. Below is a basic guide, based on race distance, for decreasing training volume.
4 weeks to race
3 weeks to race
2 weeks to race
10% ↓in volume
30% ↓in volume
50%↓ in volume
80%↓ in volume
Four weeks of a reduction in training volume may seem drastic, but keep in mind the amount of damage you have done to your body over the previous months. You have walked a very fine line of increased training and recovery, training hard and recovering less than is really needed. A proper reduction in training volume will allow your body to fully recover, adapt, and heal so that, come race day, you are ready to push your physical limits knowing you are ready to go!
2. Maintain Proper Training Intensity A decrease in training volume has proven invaluable in getting a proper taper and being race ready. But decreasing your training intensity too soon or too drastically will cause you to lose some of the fitness you have worked so hard to gain. Training intensity is the key to preserving your overall fitness as well as helping you to have a good muscle tension on race day. The two important factors of speed interval training during your taper are: decrease the frequency of these sessions in the weeks leading up to your race, and increase the rest between the speed intervals during the workouts.
In the weeks of your taper incorporate at least one sprint session, per sport, per week. The week of your race do your sprint workout 3-4 days before your race to give you enough time to recover, without the benefits waning before your race. Too long between your speed intervals and your race and your muscles will feel sluggish and heavy. Too soon and you won’t be sufficiently recovered to perform at maximal ability on race day.
A good running speed interval workout, I like to have my athletes perform the week of their race, is Decreasing Sprint Sets. This should be done following a complete warm up. On a track (alternating directions ½ way through the set) perform the following:
2 X 400m all out efforts, followed by 2 minutes of active recovery (i.e. easy jogging)
4 X 200m all out efforts, followed by 1:30 of active recovery
6 X 100m all out efforts, followed by 1:00 of active recovery
Follow with a good cool down. This is a shorter workout with high intensity and longer recoveries between intervals. The benefits of this kind of workout, during a taper, extend beyond increasing blood volume and increasing glycolytic enzymes. It is a perfect way to keep the pre-race blues at bay and work off some of that anxious energy without harming your taper.
3. Stick to Your Normal Diet Proper nutrition is a discipline all on its own. As athletes, we over complicate the “carbo-loading” phase of tapering. The truth is that carbo-loading is out-dated and doesn’t need to be over analyzed; much less incorporated into our taper. If we follow our normal, healthy diet and decrease our training volume we will be storing what we need for race day. Our bodies can only store so much glycogen; whatever is left over is stored at fat. How we have eaten during our training and what race distance we are training for, doesn’t determine at which point we should start eating more carbohydrates. If you start to eat too much early in your taper you will gain weight, feel sluggish, and perform below your level of ability.
The most important part of taper nutrition is the 24 hours leading up to your race. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to follow:
1. Drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are flying to your race. Keep hydrated and avoid alcohol as it messes with glycogen storage.
2. Stick to what you know. Now is not the time to try the new restaurant in town. Avoid adding anything unfamiliar to your diet as you don’t yet know how your body will react.
3.Avoid high risk foods. Rare steak and sushi are among the most obvious, duh…
4.Keep it boring. Spicy foods, raw foods, high-fiber foods, gas producing foods, high fat, and high sugar foods should all be avoided the night before your
5.Don’t over eat. Sticking to a dinner of 800-1,000 calories is sufficient.
6.Eat what you always eat before a race. If you wake up early to eat a bowl of oatmeal on long training days, wake up early and eat a bowl of oatmeal before your race. If you wake up and toast a bagel, slather natural peanut butter on it, top it with sliced bananas, lick your lips and dive in, well… then I would highly recommend doing this on race day too! Sticking to 500-800 calories a few hours before a race is ideal for energy and to avoid swimming with food in your belly.
4. Avoid Taper Tantrums If you aren’t feeling grumpy, frustrated, anxious, extra tired, and tempted to go for a long bike ride during your taper, then you are probably not tapering correctly. These emotions are the result of a sudden decrease in training volume, a decrease in the physical and emotional outlets we have structured so carefully into our days. Add this to the race anticipation and anxiety and it’s obvious why triathletes can be so overly edgy during a taper. One minute we feel like we have no energy at all and there is NO WAY we will have the stamina to endure our 70.3, the next minute we have crazy energy and want to go do a brick that very moment! We start to doubt our training, our fitness, our goals, and the benefit of our training. Some ways to battle the tantrums are:
1. Prepare the details. Get your gear laid out and ready to go. Check and double check it. I like to lay it all out days in advance. I always find something, at the last minute, that I have forgotten. Funny, it’s usually the same thing. Do you have your boarding pass? Do you have your fuel? Go through it again and again then walk away for a day and come back to it later. It might sound odd, but I also like to re-arrange it all so that I get a new perspective and not start to “see” things that aren’t really there.
2. Organize a night out with other athletes. Talk about your upcoming races, what you’re feeling and get some advice from people who understand what you’re going through. Maybe some of them have competed in the race you’re training for and have some good advice. Surround yourself with people that are positive, fun, and share your love of triathlon. It might improve your mood.
3. Forecast. This is a little known and underestimated tool to improve your mental focus during your race. I think it’s even more valuable during a taper to keep you focused and stay sane. Get with your coach and/or a very trusted friend and talk through your race like it has already happened. Go through every detail, every possible instance and circumstance as if you are re-telling the race. Not only does this help prepare you mentally for the race, it is a great emotional tool in getting you through your taper “blues”.
4. Put as much effort into your taper as you have into your training. Be diligent in resting and eating properly. Get a massage and focus on preventative care. Do whatever it takes to ensure that you are fully recovered and primed for race day.
A common taper tantrum is the phantom injury. As we get closer and closer to race day we start to feel little aches and pains that weren’t there before we started our taper. Don’t go try to run it out, avoid the need to test the nagging pain. If the pain increases with movement or exertion and doesn’t seem to be getting any better, go get it checked out. Sometimes it’s really there, sometimes it’s a little thing that we over exaggerate because we are in utter fear of getting hurt so close to our race. Be calm, ask your coach or trainer for advice and take it as it comes. More often than not it isn’t as bad as we imagine it is.
5. Program Recovery Workouts. Within the last few weeks of your taper there should be adequate use of recovery workouts. The purpose is to help maintain the aerobic fitness you have worked so hard for! As well as help with focus, mental race preparation, and aid in recovery. The length of these workouts will vary but the effort should be well below lactate threshold. A good swim recovery workout, for an Olympic, 70.3, or IM distance race is the following:
After a comprehensive warm up, add 20-30 seconds to your 100 yd. swim time and complete the following intervals. (I will use a base 100 yd. pace of 1:20 for an example). Whatever time is left in your interval is your recovery. Maintain a pace that doesn’t leave you too out of breath, you should have 15-20 seconds of recovery)
8 X 100 yd. on 1:50
4 X 200 yd. on 3:20
2 X 400 yd. on 6:40
1 X 800 yd. on 13:20
At any given point during a recovery workout, your heart rate should be 35-45 beats below LT or Zone 2-low Zone 3. You should never be out of breath and over exerting yourself. Remember, you are recovering and maintaining your fitness for your race. Nothing you do at this point will get you faster, but if you push these recovery workouts you won’t have time to recover before race day.
Tapering for a race can be the hardest part of an athlete’s training. When training volume drops and stress is elevated, it is tough to resist the urge to train more. Remember the science behind the taper, don’t forget the value of going into a race well rested, fully recovered, and mentally prepared to take it on. Put as much thought, planning, and effort into tapering as you did in your training. Avoid the common taper pitfalls and follow the taper rules so that when you get to your race you feel fresh and ready to do your best.
Lance Armstrong is banned from competitions sanctioned by Olympic governing bodies—part of his punishment for deciding last month not to fight charges that he engaged in doping as a professional cyclist. But Armstrong remains more than America's most famous endurance athlete. He is its only famous endurance athlete.
Lance Armstrong has decided not to contest charges by the United States Anti-Doping Agency and has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. WSJ's Reed Albergotti sits down with Wendy Bounds to discuss whether the most decorated rider in the history of cycling will now lose his legacy as well.
So when he seeks to compete in a triathlon—a sport whose popularity ranks far below that of, say, bass fishing—his magnetism makes an unthinkable question suddenly thinkable: Does the number of extra enrollments he brings to an event outweigh the loss of certification by USA Triathlon?
Faced with that very question this month was the Half Full Triathlon in Maryland. For two years running, it had boasted USAT certification, a distinction that lowers insurance rates while offering professionals a chance to boost their international rankings.
But when presented with a recent race request from Armstrong, Half Full for this year decided to sacrifice its USAT certification. And it paid off. After announcing last Thursday that Armstrong would participate in the Oct. 7 race, enrollment jumped 20%, said race executive Brian Satola.
That extra race revenue advances the Half Full mission of raising funds for cancer, as does Armstrong's cancer-battling track record, said Satola, adding that he would permanently trade USAT certification for Armstrong's participation. "Man, if we could get a multiyear commitment from Lance, I'd love it," he said, calling Armstrong "the world's best-known cancer survivor." MORE
I'm going to talk about something that can help you improve your performance, lose weight, make you smarter, improve your mood, strengthen your immune system, help you run faster, bike stronger, swim better, lift heavier, move better and drastically increase your recovery. It will help you reach all your goals and make you feel incredible. And it is super duper easy! In fact, you don't even have to be trying to do anything while this happens. Wanna know how you can accomplish all this amazing stuff? OK, here goes- this is what is going to make an incredible difference in every tiny little facet of your life. SLEEP! SLEEP! SLEEP!
Did you get that? Yep, sleep. I don't know about you guys, but I really like to sleep. It doesn't mean I always get enough of it, but, I sure can feel a huge difference between when I do get enough sleep and when I don't. I'll bet you feel that difference as well.
Here are a few reasons that just might help motivate you to get a little more sleep: many of these ideas came from an article at: http://superhumancoach.com/category/sleep/...if you would like to read the entire article.
When runners deprive themselves of sleep, getting 6 hours or less, the negative consequences come fast and furious.
• Weakens your immune system: getting sick = less training, poor training
• Leads to Obesity: Recent studies have shown that even one night of poor sleep can result in changes in appetite and food intake. Sleep deprivation also impairs carbohydrate tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and glucose uptake. When glucose uptake is inhibited, you aren't able to refuel before, during, and after your workouts.
• Intellectual Decline: sleep deprivation negatively impacts short-term and working memory, long-term memory and the generation of nerve cells – all of which affects our ability to think clearly and function well.
• Inflammation: Sleep deprivation causes chronic, low-grade inflammation. Inflammation is the root of all modern disease and severely inhibits the bodies’ ability to repair muscles, tissue, and tendon damage.
• Injury: When you don’t get enough sleep your motor responses are dulled, this leads to bad form, inefficient neuromuscular patterns and injury
Basically there is no disease or condition (physical, mental, or even spiritual) that sleep deprivation doesn’t either contribute to directly or make worse. Just so you know this is serious from another author, with similar warnings:
Sleep deprivation can be linked to:
Colds and Flu: The less sleep you get, the weaker your immune system is, leaving it less able to fight off colds, flu, and other infections.
Heart Disease: “When you don’t get enough sleep, you have an inflammatory response in your cardiovascular system -- in the blood vessels and arteries -- and that’s not a good thing!” says Donna Arand, PhD, DABSM, clinical director of the Kettering Sleep Disorders Center in Dayton, Ohio. “We see the same thing in hypertension. If that sleep deprivation continues long term, chronic inflammation has been linked to things like heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.”
Diabetes: “In one study of young, healthy adult males, they decreased their sleep time to about four hours per night for six nights,” says Arand. “At the end of those six nights, every one of those healthy young men was showing impaired glucose tolerance, a precursor to developing diabetes.”
Another study found that people in their late 20's and early 30's who slept less than 6.5 hours per night, had the insulin sensitivity of someone more than 60 years old.
Poor Brain Function and Mental Health: Studies have found that people who aren't getting enough sleep drive just as unsafely as someone who’s drunk. “We also know that people who are sleep deprived have very poor judgment when evaluating their own performance. They think they’re doing well on memory or eye-hand coordination tests, but they’re not,” says Arand. “The memory is also slightly degraded when you’re sleep deprived, and gets worse the more deprivation you have.”
Metabolic Issues and Obesity: In one study, people who slept five hours per night were 73% more likely to become obese than those getting seven to nine nightly hours of sleep. In fact, one study found that lack of sleep was a bigger contributor to childhood obesity than any other factor. Lack of sleep has been linked to lower levels of the hormone leptin, which helps reduce hunger.
You can follow the perfect training plan, eat a pristine diet and take all the right supplements, but if you’re not sleeping well and managing your stress your performance and health will suffer... period.
Dr. Shawn Allen, of “The Gait Guys” and ACO, treats many high level athletes. “[He] finds that two things are commonly abused when it comes to effective training: recovery and sleep. Many athletes over-train and ignore the restorative benefits of ample recovery days but of the two, sleep is the most abused. In this day and age of productivity in the work place and family demands the average athlete has little time to train, work and recover adequately. And since work and family demands are less flexible, sleep for many tends to take a back seat.” Dr. Allen explains that there is no nutritional supplement or drug that can replace the benefits of a sound night sleep. “And yet, we continue to do what we need to do to get our workouts in, a valid yet jaundiced attempt to benefit our bodies, while at the same time sacrificing the beneficial aspects of health and recovery that can come only with sound repeatable sleep”.
Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat -- 56 percent of their weight loss -- than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. (They shed similar amounts of total weight regardless of sleep.)
Dieters in the study also felt more hungry when they got less sleep.
So, how can you start incorporating this hugely important, game changing, quality of life altering habit into your life?
We need to not only get MORE sleep, but we need to IMPROVE the sleep we are getting. Here are some suggestions:
#1: Don't watch TV before going to bed (or work on your computer, phone, etc.) Block all the blue light (phone, computer, TV and even your alarm clock) from your eyes. Serious. This stuff affects your sleep.
#2: Cut the caffeine in the afternoon and evening. Be finished with any of that stuff by early afternoon and preferably don't make it a regular part of your intake (and I am sure none of you are drinking soda)
#3: Don't eat late at night! You have done it before (as have I) and you know that it totally makes you sleep terribly! Aim to be done with food at least 1-2 hours before bed. In my opinion, make it more like 3+ hours! You will sleep so much better without your body having to digest and work on food as you are trying to sleep.
#4: If you work out in the evening, try to be done at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed. That doesn't mean you push back your bedtime, adjust your workout time to keep you going to bed at a decent hour.
#5: Be consistent with your sleep patterns. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day.
#6: If you find your mind is too busy to fall asleep, write down what is on your mind and then focus on just relaxing instead of feeling stressed that you need to be sleeping. Too many thoughts winding us up and making us feel tense and stressed will make it hard to actually sleep, so try to quiet the mind and assure yourself that you can attack those "to do" lists in the morning.
#7: Develop a sleep ritual. That can be taking a hot bath, reading a book, spending quiet time meditating, or whatever else will help prepare you for sleep. Experiment and find what works for you.
#8: If you have a more serious issue, like sleep apnea, get professional help! You need sleep! And if you are not getting the quantity and quality of sleep your body needs to be able to repair itself and prepare you for the stresses and demands of your life, your health and quality of life are going to suffer terribly. You are worth it, get help so you can get sleep.
So, can you improve your performance, reduce your stress, build strength, prevent injury, and generally enhance your life with one “magic pill”? The answer is yes. Sleep.
Coach Keena is a regular contributor at TriEdge and has 16 years experience coaching and training hundreds of individuals. She is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and holds additional certifications from the National association of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council of Exercise (ACE) as a certified personal trainer. If you would like to contact Coach Keena go to: www.coachkeena.com
This is going to be all about numbers. Many times we focus on more intangible aspects of our health and lifestyle based on how we feel or what we can overcome. That is nice and feels good, but sometimes, we really do just need to take a look at the numbers. Here are a few numbers you need to be aware of to ensure you are succeeding in your efforts to look good, feel great and reach your goals.
1) Get 7-8 hours of SLEEP- every night.
2) Drink 96+ ounces of WATER- every day.
3) Eat 7-9 servings of VEGETABLES- every day.
4) Intake 30+ grams of FIBER- every day. (Which won't be hard, by the way, if you eat your vegetables)
5) Eat 1 gram of (clean, lean) PROTEIN per every lean pound of muscle you have... every day. (so, if you have 100 pounds of lean muscle mass, eat 100 grams of lean protein)
6) Based on pure numbers, it takes 3500 calories to burn 1 pound of body fat. So, you need to control your caloric intake to match your metabolic needs by being aware of how MANY CALORIES you are eating every day and then ensure you don't overdo it. (If you don't know your base metabolic rate, you can go to a BMR calculator like: http://www.stevenscreek.com/goodies/calories.shtml and it can give you a basic idea).
7) 1 gram of protein is 4 calories. 1 gram of carbohydrate is 4 calories. 1 gram of fat is 9 calories. Those are some useful numbers to be aware of. Of course, you need the fat (especially the Essential Fatty Acids we have spoken of in past articles) just make sure you get the right fats in the right amounts. Same as your carbohydrate intake and quality proteins. It's not just quantity; the quality is of utmost importance!
8) Your WEIGHT is a number that can give you feedback on how well you are doing.
9) Your BODYFAT is (in my opinion) an even more important number to be watching and ensure it is in a healthy range. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends men maintain a body fat under 25% and women keep their body fat under 31%. Those numbers are being quite generous- aim for mid to low 20's% for most people.
10) Your CIRCUMFERENCE measurements are also a very effective way to track how well you are managing your health. If you are carrying excess girth/fat around your midsection in particular, you are at a higher risk for increased cardiovascular/heart disease. So, watch
11) Finally, keep up your 90% on track nutrition with your 10% off track nutrition to ensure you keep your numbers where you want them!
Now that you've been given a few numbers that can help you regulate and monitor your health and fitness, it's up to you to determine which numbers are going to be the most beneficial in that quest. If you know that your lack of sleep is directly affecting your body's ability to release growth hormone and thus improve your weight loss or recovery, then that is THE number you should be working on improving. If you know that you are most definitely NOT getting in 7-9 servings of vegetables every day, or you are far below the 30 grams of fiber every day then you should spend this next week focusing on getting those numbers up to par.
How about your water intake? Think you are hitting that 96 ounces or more number? If not, you are not giving your body the help it needs to flush out toxins and aid in weight loss, recovery and becoming the best you can be. You need to know your body composition (particularly how much fat and muscle you are made of) because that is also going to help you determine how many grams of protein you are going to aim to consume every day. That is an extremely important number to know to ensure you are feeding your body the supremely important protein that is going to build and repair muscle and increase your body's metabolic rate.
If you really want to succeed at maintaining your goal weight, keeping your body fat and circumference measurements healthy and living a vibrant lifestyle, you need to RECORD what you are doing. Studies show that people that keep a nutrition journal lose more weight than people who don't. In fact, in a study of 1,685 dieters conducted by a health insurance company, the best predictor of weight loss throughout the first year was the number of food records kept per week. Another recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that dieters who tracked their food intake in a "food diary" lost twice as much weight as those who didn't track their food. Those should be some pretty convincing numbers! So, pick your numbers this week. Do your best to improve that number and make it a GREAT week!!
Coach Keena is a regular contributor at TriEdge and has 15 years experience coaching and training hundreds of individuals. She is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and holds additional certifications from the National association of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council of Exercise (ACE) as a certified personal trainer. If you would like to contact Coach Keena go to: www.coachkeena.com.
There are many experts and articles that discuss ways to improve your endurance. In this article I will explore the relationship between strength and endurance; how to develop strength, hence developing greater endurance. Developing strength and endurance simultaneously will result in maximum power, the best combination to compete and do your best in swimming, biking and running.
Resistance is one of the best ways to develop and stimulate strength. The best way to achieve resistance in the water is by either using a kick board, placing all the demand on your legs/feet or to use a pull-buoy in between your legs, relying on your arms & your stroke, and or by using fins. By eliminating a body part, you create a form of resistance and a greater demand on one part of the body.
Once you’ve decided to include these as part of your workout and or training, you can begin to time yourself. By tracking your time and challenging yourself to go faster during each lap or length of the pool, you are developing your endurance and strength at the same time. You can use any of these techniques while using your whole self, just your arms, or just your legs.
See if you can do one length of the pool at 80% maximum effort, then 60% maximum the next lap. See if you can maintain alternating the two for 10-20 laps/lengths of the pool. Then see if you can do some sprints: ½ lap 90% ½ lap 75%. Can you repeat this for 6-10 laps? Next, see if you can challenge yourself to find your 80% maximum, and be able to maintain for an additional 6-10 laps/lengths of the pool. Then you can try being at 90% for 3 laps. Then perhaps 80% for 3 laps? By trying different lengths and levels of effort during your sprints you are developing your strength and endurance. Notice I have used different percentages to increase your strength. It is very important at this point in your training to learn to rely on yourself and knowing what percentage of effort you are putting out instead of relying on a watch. What you feel is a much more accurate way to measure yourself than time. Now is a great time to start practicing becoming aware of the feeling. Ask yourself: What is 80% maximum for me?
You can also add variety to your swim program by adding in different strokes. Take backstroke or butterfly for instance. By adding them into your training routine, your freestyle will become much stronger. Why? You’re stimulating as well as using muscles in a different way, which adds over-all strength to your traditional use of the muscles during freestyle.
I think the greatest way to begin developing a feeling for your strength and endurance on a bike is by spinning. A spin class gives you the opportunity to monitor your pace, and power. See if you can find a gym, or facility that provides spin classes, and has monitors attached to the bike. Certainly the instructor will have a program designed for the class; however, you can work within their program to suit your own needs and desires. Or, you can always do a spin class for yourself on your own. What is so useful about using monitors is that they show you your wattage (which is power) and your RPMS (which is speed and endurance). To begin with, I highly recommend keeping your RPMS up between 80-120. I know this may seem high, and many may disagree, but I will explain why.
Begin by getting onto your bike and setting your monitor. Once you begin to start spinning, get your RPMS up to at least 100 within the first 2-3 minutes. Then within six minutes take your level to 110 RPMS. Once you are feeling comfortable spinning your legs at 110 RPMS, start to add on watts by increasing the tension. You should already be at 110-120 watts. Go very slow adding just a fraction on at a time, and watch your watts come up. Continue to maintain the 110 RPMS while striving to reach 180-200 watts within your first 15 minutes of being on the bike. Now you can begin to settle in to this level of riding and your warm-up has begun. Now it is time to develop strength & power (which is also your watts), while maintaining a continuous level of training (RPMS). There are a few ways to develop strength and power. One is to bring in hill climbs; second is to add in sprints.
Hill climbs can be set for a minimum of five minutes up to a maximum of 8 to 10 minutes long. During a hill climb you add a much greater amount of tension to the bike, however, maintaining no less than 75 watts. I know many instructors who will say it is okay to drop down to 60 watts, but this allows for too much pressure to be placed on your knees. By keeping at 75 RPMS, you must add a little less tension, yet you are allowing for a smoother and more consistent cadence. This will build your strength and your endurance at the same time. Trust me, your knees will be happier, and this is closer to what you do outside on your road bike.
During the hill climb you can always challenge yourself to add small amounts of gear, but never allowing yourself to drop below 75 watts. This will truly develop both strength and power/endurance while climbing a hill. During a hill climb you can also add ½ turn & stand in the bike keeping your RPMS at 75. Again, watch your watts jump up. Try standing for 30 seconds then returning to sitting for 30 seconds (these are called intervals) while spinning. See if you can do 6 sets of interval training of 30 seconds each. Then try one minute intervals for 6 sets. You can either increase the time of the interval training or the number of sets to challenge yourself more.
Sprints are another way to develop strength and endurance. A perfect time to interject sprints is right after a hill climb. I’m not much into allowing for rests, because when do you rest when you are out on your road bike? Almost never. Maybe occasionally coming down a steep downhill hill, but that is about it. So allow for no more than 30-90 second rests before jumping into the next sprint. Prior to the sprint, remove some tension to get your RPMS back up to 100-110, yet maintaining close to 180- 200 watts at this point into your ride. Once you have found that sweet spot where you can maintain 100-110 RPMS and 200-260 watts, (or enough tension on to know your working), you are ready to begin sprints. What is nice about the monitors is the show you your time, and you can start and stop exactly on 30 seconds. Begin your first sprint, and bring up your RPMS to 120-125. Maintain your RPMS for the full 30 seconds and watch the watts go up.
Hopefully your watts will get close to 300. Repeat this for a minimum for 3-6 sets. In between each set give yourself a 20 to 30 second rest and then back off. Back off means returning to 110 RPMS (no lower). After completing about 6 sets of sprints return to the 100- 110 RPMS, and see if you can maintain this pace for 5-10 minutes again keeping your watts close to 200-260. During this period of time if you are feeling strong, you can add a small amount of tension. Again, watch the watts shoot up, keeping the RPMS at 100-110. You can repeat a hill climb, or add in more sprints to continue developing strength and endurance. I like to alternate hill climbs with sprints. Try 3 sets of hill climbs for 10 minutes, alternating with sprints. One set of 8 sprints at 30 seconds, another set of 5 sprints at 1 ½ minutes, another set of 4 sprints at 3 minutes. During each class or training time while on the spin bike you can challenge yourself to maintain your RPMS while adding small amounts of tension. To truly develop your endurance, you need to be able to go faster for a longer period of time. Usually 40 minutes into my ride after some hill climbs and sprints I find my rhythm, and the pace I can maintain. At this point I am usually between 80-90% of my maximum, this I know by my heart rate, my watts and maintaining my RPMS. I call this my “humming spot” - the sweet spot where I can stay for roughly another 30-60 minutes. This is like your long flat road. Being able to maintain at your 90% level for at least 30-45 minutes will tremendously develop your endurance. To even further develop your strength, you can add in surges during this period of your ride. Add a one-minute surge in for every 5 minutes. During the surge you amp up to 120-125 RPMS and maintain for the entire minute. If possible add a small amount of tension, most importantly keeping those RPMS up at 125. As you get stronger you can try 6 one-minute surges with 30 seconds rest in between. This is the type of power you will need to transition outside onto your road bike. Those of you who have been spinning and have your RPMS at 60-80 are not training hard enough.
By beginning your training inside on the spin bike you will develop a sensitivity and awareness for your RPMS and will develop a level of comfort being there. You must be able to feel where you are to maintain what you feel on your bike. To be the best, you must be able to maintain power for a long period of time, which becomes endurance. This is key when on your road bike. If you don’t have a monitor currently on your road bike, you may want to consider getting one. This will make your training much more efficient and useful to you.
RUNNING (my favorite)
How do you increase your power, strength and endurance in running? Similar to riding your bike, we can use hills to develop power. Many of you may not like the hills, but they truly are your best friend to develop greater power and strength. Embrace the hills and have them become your best friend. When first approaching a hill refer to the earlier articles on breathing, pacing and rhythm. Always slow down your pace to regulate your breathing and find a new rhythm. This should feel natural, and almost automatic to do. This is essential when beginning a hill climb. Trust me, you may need to go slower than you think to find a rhythm you can hold onto and maintain. Over time, by repeating hill climbs, you will gradually begin to increase your speed up the hill. This is why I like to repeat hills, because I develop a sense of the hill, my rhythm, my pace, and the ability to increase my speed knowing the hill.
You may need to start with just a 10-minute hill and gradually build up to 20, 30, 40, even 50 minutes of hill climbing. The longer the hill, the more opportunity you have to build your power and endurance. Being able to run 45 minutes to an hour up a hill takes tremendous endurance. Repetition, as I have mentioned before, is key here. While climbing a hill, you can look for moments where your experiencing ease. It is at these moments when you can increase your pace. Maybe start with 15-30 seconds and then back off to where you were before. By doing so, you are developing additional power and strength. Remember, there is no need to look at your watch for time. Develop a sense of awareness for yourself about time. Ask yourself: What does 15 seconds feel like? What does one minute feel like? What does a mile feel like? By developing a sense of time through awareness, you will be able to rely on yourself having a much clearer sense of timing and self-regulation which in itself will become a great strength and asset for you.
Running downhill will obviously feel like a breeze. Here too, it is critical to find a pace, and rhythm that you can hold onto. If you go too fast, you will run out of gas. You will find pacing essential to maintaining a comfortable rhythm, one that you can hold on to.
Lastly, are the flats. They can go on and on, this is why hills add in variety as well as an opportunity to improve your strength, power and endurance. First and foremost find your breath and your rhythm. Once again, it is best to go a little slower to begin with, finding a comfortable pace where you can maintain your breathing. From here, you have loads of time so use it wisely to add in more power and endurance. On the flats is another great place to insert surges. The easiest way to begin a surge on the flats is by moving your arms faster. I think of pulling my elbows backwards at a quicker pace. Automatically your legs will become quicker taking a larger stride to maintain balance. How cool is that? The power of your arms will increase your stride. Next, ask yourself it you can sustain this surge for one minute. In a run, this is a long time. After the surge, back off to your comfortable, rhythmic pace where you were before the surge. Remember you have loads of time on the flats to insert surges. Try to surge for 30 seconds to one minute every 5-7 minutes. See how that goes. You can even try to lengthen a surge up to two minutes every 7-8 minutes while running the flats. Maintaining a surge for two minutes takes a tremendous amount of strength and power. Then see if you can build up to surging for an entire mile and repeating a mile surge every 3-5 miles. Again, the longer the surge, the greater power and endurance you develop for yourself. Alternating and playing with different lengthens of surges while on the hills, downhills, and on the flats will develop your strength, power and especially your endurance. Remember, whenever you begin to loose your breath, back off, slow down, reset your pace, and in time you will be able to build back up to a stronger rhythm, a faster pace, and maintaining for a longer period of time.
Published: May 15, 2012
Chrissie Wellington of Britain so thoroughly dominates Ironman triathlons that fans measure her success by the number of pro men she beats. Wellington, 35, is undefeated at Ironman, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run. After setting a course record of 8 hours 54 minutes 2 seconds at the 2009 Ironman world championships in Hawaii, she waited almost 20 minutes for the second-place woman to finish.
Chrissie Wellington is undefeated at Ironman, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run.
On Monday Wellington told her audience at the Harvard Club of New York City why she was walking away from Ironman for the next year: she needed a break from the round-the-clock training regimen and monastic lifestyle required to be at the sport’s pinnacle.
“I push my body and mind to the limit, and the way I do things is not necessarily sustainable in the long term,” Wellington said. “Ironman is incredibly demanding, and I did feel I needed to step away and smell the flowers.” MORE
As you well know, the Ironman world Championships take place every October. The history of Ironman is a spectacular story. Many of us have heard this story, but let’s tell it again anyway. In 1978, during the awards ceremony for a Hawaii running race, a debate ensues among competitors about who is more fit, runners, swimmers, or cyclists. One of the participants, Navy Commander John Collins and his wife Judy, dream up a race to settle the argument. They propose combining three existing races together, to be completed in succession: the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 miles), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (112 miles, originally a two-day event) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles). Whoever finishes first, they would call Ironman. Fifteen men participate in the initial event held on February 18; 12 complete the race, led by the first Ironman, Gordon Haller. His winning time: 11 hours, 46 minutes and 58 seconds. As a side note, I would argue that the success of Ironman has been the primary source of growth behind the expansion of triathlon in general, at all triathlon distances. But that is another topic.
Over 20 years later, science may have taken some of the suspense out of the bet that changed the athletic world. Who is more fit? Swimmers, bikers, or runners? Before I share with you the data, we have to come to a consensus on what fit and fitness mean.
In reality, measuring fitness is all relative to the sport you are observing. As triathletes, we generally think of ourselves as fit. However, if we were to enter a shotput competition against athletes who regularly shotput, we would likely be significantly outperformed. On the other hand, Shaquile O’neil is an awesome basketball player, and his fitness in that discipline is outstanding, but I’d put money on the fact if we raced tomorrow, I could probably cross the finish line before him in an Ironman.
So, as triathletes, we can only really determine fitness within our own sphere. I would propose to you then, that in the realm of triathlon, fitness is defined by cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance. Or, in simpler terms, how long and how hard you can exercise. This definition of fitness is backed almost unanimously by researchers, who use measures of cardiorespiratory endurance to categorize levels of fitness in their test subject. For example, when I talked about the research on caffeine, I mentioned that the researchers used competitive runners. How did they determine what “competitive” was? They based it on the subject’s high cardiorespiratory endurance. Stay with me here, there is a resolution to all this background I’m giving you. The measurement used to determine cardiorespiratory endurance is a term called maximal oxygen uptake, or more commonly called VO2max. Now, I could spend a whole post on V02 max, and maybe I should, but I don’t have time today. Let me just say that in the world of physiology, a high V02max is considered the best measurement of cardiorespiratory endurance, which we have defined as fitness in the context of triathlon.
So with that background, is it possible to settle the original Ironman bet regarding which type of athlete is the most fit, using measurement techniques that did not exists 28 years ago? If we accept that fitness can be measured best by cardiorespiratory endurance, I suggest that we can.
I have the results of VO2max measurements from athletes in 21 different sports, not only including swimmers, bikers, and runners, but including sports such as wrestling, canoeing, soccer and ice hockey. See, I love this stuff. My left-brained mind loves to categorize things, and order things, this stuff is right up my alley. Anyway, the results are as follows. Between swimmers, bikers, and runners, the athletes with the highest average V02max are runners. Followed closely by cyclists, and then swimmers. Overall, the athletes with the lowest V02max were softball and baseball players, who came behind horse jockeys and ski jumpers. Of the 21 sports researched, cross country skiers had the overall highest V02max. Makes me want to consider x-country skiing as part of my off-season training. One interesting note. Although runners had a higher VO2max, cyclist had bigger hearts.
David Warden is a 3-time USAT All American and Elite Coach with Joe Friel's TrainingBible coaching. His work has been published in Triathlete and USA Triathlon Life magazines. He is the former Vice-Chair of the USAT Rocky Mountain Region, and the host and producer of the #1 triathlon podcast, Tri Talk and part owner of www.powertri.com.
In order to really succeed at creating a healthy lifestyle and not just a temporary fix, you need to create some habits. The following habits, an exerpt from Precision Nutrition, if followed and incorporated into your daily, permanent, consistent, healthy lifestyle will pretty much guarantee that you will always stay healthy, fit, lean and looking and feeling great. Of course habits take some time, focus, energy and serious commitment to create. But once you get them into your system you will be able to really be rocking! The following are the habits that are going to get you where you want to be (and keep you there!)
#1: EAT EVERY 2-4 HOURS
Why? Because research shows that frequent eating stimulates your metabolism, balances your blood sugar and helps maintain lean mass (while burning fat!) How many meals per day should you eat? Just divide the time you're awake by 3. So if you are awake 15 hours a day, you should aim for 5 meals a day. If your goal is weight gain, you may need to eat more meals per day. If your goal is weight loss, then you may need to only eat 4 meals per day. Your meal size will be based on your gender, body size, body fat, physical activity levels, calorie needs, etc.
#2: EAT COMPLETE, LEAN PROTEIN WITH EVERY MEAL
Why? Because protein helps to maintain blood sugars, maximally stimulate your metabolism, improve your muscle mass (higher metabolic rate), improve recovery, and reduce your body fat. Women should aim for about 20-30 grams (80-120 calories) per meal- the equivalent of about 1palm sized portion of protein. Men should aim for about 40-60 grams of protein per meal- the equivalent of about 2 palm sized portions.
#3: EAT VEGETABLES WITH EVERY MEAL
Why? For many reasons! Science has shown that in addition to the micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) packed into veggies, there are also important plant chemicals that are essential to optimal physiological functioning. Vegetables also provide an alkaline load to the blood. Since proteins and grains are more acidic, it is important to balance this load since too much acid means the loss of bone strength and muscle mass. Vegetables are also a great source of fiber. A serving of veggies is about 1/2 cup. Aim to eat 2-3 servings (so 1.5 or so cups) with every meal. Make this a daily habit and you will be providing your body with 10-15 servings of awesome, cancer fighting, fat blasting, free radical destroying, acid neutralizing, power veggies every day.
#4: IF FAT LOSS IS YOUR GOAL, EAT VEGGIES AND FRUITS WITH EVERY MEAL AND "OTHER CARBS" ONLY AFTER EXERCISE
Why? Because, when it comes to changing your body's composition, timing your carbohydrates is one of the most effective strategies for kick-starting fat loss in people with stubborn and hard to remove body fat stores. It also minimizes fat gain in people gaining muscle!
#5: EAT HEALTHY FATS DAILY
Why? Because healthy fats (primarily monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) help you lose weight as well as help with cellular repair, fat loss, improved recovery and a host of other valuable healthy benefits. Aim for approximately 30% of your calories coming from healthy fats. In addition to getting healthy fats from your food (such as: nuts, olive oil, avocado, flax seeds/oil, etc.) you should also include fish oil supplements in your nutrition plan. These supplements can help protect you from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more. It is recommended that about 6 grams a day is about right.
#6: DON'T DRINK BEVERAGES WITH MORE THAN 0 CALORIES (this does not include your green protein smoothie)
Why? Because nothing can take the place of good, clean water. Your body is made of over 60% water! Water is absolutely essential for a variety of functions including weight loss and improved body composition, circulation, better athletic performance, and a host of other crucial bodily functions. You should aim for a minimum of 96 ounces of water every day!
#7: EAT WHOLE FOODS INSTEAD OF SUPPLEMENTS WHENEVER POSSIBLE
Why? Because no pills, bars or other pre-made options can even come close to giving you the quality of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that good
old fruits and veggies contain. Get a complete diet of lean meats (and other quality proteins), fruits and veggies, high fiber and nutrient dense carbs (at the right time) and good, healthy fats. I know it can be challenging to do this all the time, so aim to eat this way as often as you possibly can, and then give yourself a break when life is too crazy and go with the pre-made stuff when nothing else will work. This leads us to the next habit...
#8: PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE FOOD IN ADVANCE
Why? Because life is crazy and busy and the hardest part of eating well and healthy is consistency. Sometimes good nutrition is less about the food and more about making sure the food is available when it's time to eat. Remember, "Failing to plan is planning to fail." So plan ahead and succeed!
#9: EAT AS WIDE A VARIETY OF GOOD FOODS AS POSSIBLE
Why? Well first off, eating the same things over and over can get very boring. In addition, it is nice to give your body a variety of nutrients and fresh seasonal foods that give you a healthy variety. Be brave, try new things! You may just find some new favorites.
#10: PLAN TO BREAK THE RULES 10% OF THE TIME
Why? Because it gives you a break from feeling like you have to be perfect all the time, and really makes a negligible effect on your progress. But, let's be clear on what this 10% break really means. If you are eating 5 times per day for 7 days of the week, that's 35 meals each week. Since 10% of 35 is about 3.5, you can eat 3 or 4 "imperfect" meals per week. A 10% meal is one that doesn't conform to the above 9 habits. Did you miss your protein source with lunch? That's a 10% meal. Did you skip a meal? That's a 10% meal. Did you skip veggies? That's a 10% meal. Did you eat a whole pizza? That's definitely a 10% meal! You get it, right? If you are honest with yourself in regards to your nutritional quality and adherence to your 90% on and 10% off, you will succeed and reach your goals. If you are not seeing results, take a good, honest look at your nutrition and you will most likely find that your 10% break is probably more around 20%, 30% or even more. Aim for 90% of your meals hitting the above 9 habits and then enjoy your 10% break meals! It's a good thing!
So, there you have it, ten fantastic habits that are going to help you get lean and strong. When incorporated into your steady, consistent lifestyle they will keep you lean and strong.
Coach Keena is a regular contributor at TriEdge and has 15 years experience coaching and training hundreds of individuals. She s a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and holds additional certifications from the National association of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council of Exercise (ACE) as a certified personal trainer. If you would like to contact Coach Keena go to: www.coachkeena.com.
Don't worry, this is not an article about New Year's resolutions. This is about knowing that you are enough and it is enough. It refers to anything you do in your life. The amount you exercise each day, how hard you exercised, how fast you ran and the work you got done. Also, the chores you finished and the love you provided your children with. When do you decide? How do you decide it's enough?
Recently, I attended the Woman of the Year celebration in Park City. As I listened to all the accomplishments of the winner, I couldn't help from thinking, I could never do that much. I could never achieve so much. It seems almost impossible to do so much so well, and from there a sense of failure began to enter my mind. I challenged myself to continue to listen, to support her, to think good thoughts about myself. I found myself continuing to think, "Is this what we are about? How would my daughter feel right now in this room? Hopeless? Incapable? Do we focus on expectations so much we end up missing the moment? Are our standards or expectations so high that we are never able to obtain them? If we do obtain them do we really experience happiness and fulfillment?"
I left full of mixed emotions, wondering how I feel "It's enough." I've been pondering this question now for a few months listening, thinking, feeling and sensing. During this time I've come to wonder how many of us are lacking self- love and acceptance for whatever we did that day. Often I hear friends and colleagues say, "Oh, I should have run a faster PR. I should have been first in this race. I should have trained harder. I only ran 16 miles today. If I sleep in that's too lazy. I should add in another marathon because I only did five this year." These are just a few examples I witness daily.
Many of us are living with expectations and demands that cause us to miss out on the moment. How often have we heard or read the message of 'being present'? I'm speaking to the depth of the presence, which is to love, to accept and to embrace whatever you have done as perfect and good enough.
Trust me, I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't have goals or dreams. By all means they are truly important. They provide us with a sense of direction and determination. But even in a goal, when do we feel it is good enough? As I head out the door to run I'm given once again the opportunity to feel, to be present, to witness, to enjoy all that I am in that moment.
Over the past couple months, I have come to realize that one of the most precious gifts I received from The Feldenkrais Method, and in my training is discovering and developing self-image which includes self-regulation, knowing when to stop or back off or when I can go further. It's trusting my ability to know what is right for me at the moment and that what is right for me, is all that matters. It takes presence, awareness and a desire to be connected with one's self.
Perhaps you can begin discovering how you know when it's enough, how you self-regulate and how you honor and love yourself in the moment. It's enough.
Today’s topic is fat loading. Fat loading! Sounds like a dream come true! I envy the athlete who got to be in the research study for that one. When I first heard this my left brain immediately scoffed and dismissed it, but then my right brain said, “Hey David, fat is the primary source of fuel at lower intensities. Would this help for longer distance races?” So, I took a look at the research.
A 2003 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise took 11 athletes and had them take in a high fat diet of 53%, and the other group with a low fat diet of only 17% for 5 weeks. Glycogen content was slightly lower in the high fat athletes, but not considered statistically significant. VO2 max was not statistically different between the two groups. Cycling 20 minutes all out, followed by a half-marathon, showed no statistically significant performance decrease in the high fat diet.
Now, I’d like to point out that I am a firm believer in statistics and margin of error, and something being statistically significant or not statistically significant. But if you were to take the times of the top 5 finishers in a Olympic-distance triathlon, and their times are likely only separated by 1 minute or less, and run a statistical analysis on those 5 times, the result would be that there was no statistically significant difference in their times. But, the fact is 1 person was still faster than the other 4. A race director is not going to buy the argument that the second place guy was within the statistical margin of error, and should therefore share first place. So I’m not trying to dilute the importance of statistical analysis but in this study, VO2, glycogen stores, and performance were all just a bit higher in the low fat vs. high fat, although within the margin of error and so in the scientific world there was no difference between the two groups. Perhaps no benefit from fat loading but there was certainly no disadvantage in this study.
In another study from Australia looked at 7 cyclists that took in either a high carb or high fat diet for 6 days, the high fat diet taking in 4.5 times the amount of fat compared to the high carb diet. The researchers found that although there was no difference in performance, the high fat diet used more fat for fuel, which is exactly what you want to train your body to do, specifically for long-distance events.
Finally a 2003 study from the University of Otago in New Zealand seemed to indicate some possible benefit from fat loading on endurance racing. Again, 7 cyclists took in either high fat or high carb diets over a 14-day period followed by a 15 minute time trial and then a 100k (62 miles) time trial. There was a slight decrease in performance in the high fat group on the 15 minute time trial. But in the 100k time trail, there was a slight increase in power and performance in the high fat group, although the researchers concluded that it was not statistically significant. As in the Australian study, fat was used more for fuel in the high fat group. The researchers concluded that although the main effects were not statistically significant, there was some evidence for enhanced ultra-endurance cycling performance relative to high-carbohydrate.
My opinion on this is that I am not qualified to have an opinion. Seriously, it tends to go against conventional nutrition strategy but convention has been challenged many times in sports physiology to prove what we thought was wrong. What I do know is that no study has shown any performance improvement in fat loading over short distances and only possible improvements over long distance. However, all the studies I looked at failed to tell me the effect on an athlete’s body composition from the fat loading. Did this increase their overall body fat? I can’t imagine that it would not have had some effect on body composition.
Remember that these tests were performed on stationary bikes, so although the performance gains may have been neutral to slight on a stationary bike, any weight gained would not affect the study. Whereas, when cycling outdoors, where you are forced to accelerate your own mass, a 2-pound gain from fat loading would in fact have a negative effect on your performance. I say the jury is still out on this one, there just isn’t enough conclusive proof to do it. If you do choose to try fat loading remember that in the two studies that showed possible benefit for long distance racing, fat loading only took place for the 6-14 days prior to the time trials. Don’t go out and perform a 6 month fat loading plan.
David Warden is a 3-time USAT All American and Elite Coach with Joe Friel's TrainingBible coaching. His work has been published in Triathlete and USA Triathlon Life magazines. He is the former Vice-Chair of the USAT Rocky Mountain Region, and the host and producer of the #1 triathlon podcast, Tri Talk and part owner of www.powertri.com.