February 10, 2014

Creating Your Own Training Program in 30 Minutes

Triathlon author Matt Fitzgerald wrote a nice article recently about creating your own training plan. (source)

I think he finally put the key components down in an easy to understand way for beginners. >

The article was written for runners but it can easily be transferred to triathlon. >

Here is how I suggest it should be done:>

You can't run 6-7 days a week and expect to get in swim and bike workouts too. Beginner triathletes, especially those with busy lives, should start with two workouts per week in each sport. Time savings can be effected by combining different workouts into one, such as following up a ride with a short run.>

If time allows, extra workouts on the bike generally pay the most dividends. Forty percent of race time (or more) is often on the bike.>

Matt's workout suggestions I believe are a bit aggressive for most people. I do not believe the tempo and speed work should be done every single week. It's too risky in terms of injury. >

Thinking about the workouts Matt references - long runs, tempo runs, and speed work - I like to separate the plan into 3 phases.>

Phase 1 - no tempo, no speed work, do long run/ride/swim weekly.
Phase 2 - tempo or hilly run/ride/swim, no speed work, do long efforts.
Phase 3 - no tempo, do speed work, do long efforts. >

So that's it. Give it a try. I'd love to hear how this works for you.

February 6, 2014

Foot Strike in Running

Which is better: rearfoot (heel) striking or midfoot/forefoot striking?

The research is now pretty clear.  Neither.

There's no real mechanical advantage and neither prevents injury more than the other.  (source)

Each loads different tissues so if you are having a particular type of injury, it may be worth considering a modification.

For example, a midfoot striker with Achilles tendinitis could try rearfoot striking.  Or a rearfoot striker with shin splints could try midfoot striking.

We know that if you are injury free, the best way to get injured is to significantly change one aspect of your training.  As a result, form modification in the absence of injury is a bad idea.

February 2, 2014

Gauging Fitness

How do you know if your fitness is progressing throughout the season?

1) conduct regular fitness testing, such as a monthly 30 minute all out effort on the bike or run and measure power or distance/pace, respectively. 

This is my preferred method but it does require doing the same workout under the same conditions (course, equipment, etc).

2) A quicker and easier way to gauge fitness on the run was detailed in an article by Alex Hutchison on Runner's World the other day - http://m.runnersworld.com/race-training/tracking-fitness-with-the-heart-rate-running-speed-index

Basically, you take your average heart rate and average pace for a given run and plot it on an X and Y axis. Over the course of repeated runs in a short time frame, you will see a pattern. The points will form a line. 

As fitness improves, you should see the points on the chart fall to the right of the line.  

Another possible use of the chart is to track when points fall to the left of your line. They can indicate you need extra recovery. 

I've personally used this method to gauge bike fitness in the past.  I plotted my points using power vs heart rate. The beauty of power is you can ride any terrain and should get similar results.

Running points using this method should be similar terrain because running pace is highly influenced by hills. 

January 28, 2014

How To Tell if Your Shoe is Worn Out

1. You have blown through the rubber outsole into the midsole. 

This is particularly important if this occurs on the outer or inner edge of the shoe as it will just exacerbate the tendency of your foot to go in that direction. 

2. Torn upper. Small tears are no big deal but large ones reduce the security of your foot in the shoe. 

3. Deformation of the midsole foam underneath your metatarsal heads. Pull out the removable sockliner and feel for a dip in the foam underneath the base of your toes. 

This happens with all shoes that contain foam, which is almost all of them.  Rarely does the deformation occur symmetrically, which means you have a less stable platform underfoot - and again, it exacerbates your own particular gait patterns. 

4. Small aches and pains return. Often the *best* indicator if your shoe is worn out. 

January 26, 2014

The Fastest Way to Improve Your Swim

1) Find a master's swim group with a coach who will give you stroke feedback and corrections. 

2) Join it.