Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Why a powermeter

I have been training with a PM for over 3 years now. The first year was rough and it really acted as no more than an expensive bike computer. I just knew that I wanted the watts to be higher on every ride. Not_ smart. The second year I began to understand how to use the PM on my easy days and my hard days. This past year I have finally come to the point where, through the use of and knowledge gained from the PM, I am able to structure an entire season of training and racing based on wattage and training stress scores. Both of these are independent variables and quite reliable unlike HR data which is quite the dependent variable.

I suggest that my athletes ride with power. As a coach it is the completely objective feedback that the PM provides that allows me to correctly evaluate how things are going with a plan. And it's not just about watts. Thru either the use of TSS (training stress score via cycling peaks) or kJ's you can track your previous efforts as well as forecast future ones with the use of a Performance Manager Chart.


What are they?
A tool which measures the wattage (by way of strain gauges or optical sensors) that is being put into the drive train and which makes you go forward on the bike.Who makes them? Saris/Cycleops-Powertap SRM Ergomo Soon to be released: Quarq

How do I use one?
Roughly speaking this replaces your HR monitor on the bike. With swimming and running you have always done workouts based on time within a certain distance... for e.g. 4x400's holding 1:30 on 2 minutes. Now you can do the same on the bike... easy day ex: 2 hours at 200 watts or less trying to get 70-80 TSS points. Hard day... 30 min WU at 200 watts then 2x20 at 270 watts with a 2 minute break.

Start Training with the Truth

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why Master Swimming isn't always the best training for a Triathlete

Hoping to have this up on a few online mags soon. I'll post links once they've been published.


“Whoa!” You might be thinking. “Hang on a second. Where does one get off coming to that conclusion?” Having swum, and coached, in and out of masters groups I can say with certainty that in getting ready for your big event it’s best to do what you need to do.

Let’s first start with why masters swim workouts are good. There’s the group atmosphere, the social commitment of “having to be there”, the presence of a coach on deck who will be able to point out inaccuracies with your stroke, have all the workouts written for you and hopefully a highly motivating and positive enforcer for you. For the beginner triathlete/swimmer these are all huge positives, but let’s take this one step further.

In a typical masters group it’s possible that you might get any of the following: Too much drill work and not enough aerobic stress, too short of swim durations and too long of rest intervals, not to mention swimming IM sets! Think of it this way… when you first started running… did you go to the track for every workout? When you go for bike rides… do you stop every 3 minutes?

You are now into your 2nd, 3rd or more season of swimming and racing. You are not as concerned with your technique as you are with your fitness. Getting faster is your focus and a faster swim split your goal. You’ve spent the latter half of fall and all winter going to the pool 5 days a week with your masters swim squad. You’ve done the drills and you’ve done the hard sets. You’ve put in the work and you’re beginning to see the reward. But now spring is approaching and with it that first race of the season. Your swim squad presses on with more 50’s and 300’s but you begin to wonder about that 1900m half Ironman swim you have coming up. Here’s where getting out and swimming on your own trumps traditional masters swimming.

To become good at a anything, in this case swimming a 1900m open water swim very efficiently, it’s imperative that your training mimic the race. So around 2 months out from your event you begin following a race specific program. Rather than continue with the general, it’s time you got specific. Extend this thinking to the bike and run and you’ll do great!

Once a week you get in for a longer easy straight swim. Think of this like your long bike ride. Insert small spurts of steady efforts into the middle after you have warmed up but just keep swimming. If it’s warm enough you can make this an open water swim.

Twice per week insert a set that totals around 2000m in length using longer distances and shorter intervals. For example 4x500’s on :15-:20 rest. Your effort should be about tempo/L3. This would be the equivalent of your race pace tempo run.

If you are looking to get more swims in per week then head back to your masters group and swim a lane or two down. Use it as a recovery swim, for a little extra quickness, or to get more feedback on your evolving technique.

As the race season progresses continue to follow your race specific workouts. If there is a long time before your next “specific prep” phase go back to your speed work (e.g. 6-10x100’s on very limited rest), return to some more focused drill work or revisit the masters group and seek out that same boost that your focused winter work gave you.

Masters swimming can be a useful tool, but in the interest of preparing yourself specifically for the longer durations that you will face in triathlon racing it’s best to get outside the box and start doing specifically what you need to be doing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

No Rest weeks.... hunh?

Came upon this over on the wattage list. For me the only time I am "resting" or when my athletes "rest" is when they are tapering for a race. Aside from that... just keep on keepin' on.

"Recovery and adaptation happen all the time, i.e., there's no need to rest every X weeks for such responses to occur. Indeed, I am not aware of any data, or even a good theory, as to why this approach should be better than simply keeping one's "nose to the grindstone". There have been some studies of weightlifting claiming to show that a periodized approach is better (different type of periodization, though), but in fact they don't show what they claim to show."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Why a variable training program outside of specific prep is necessary

I think if I rode around in strictly L1 and L2 for 2 months and got up to 120 CTL in the process...

I would:
1) burn out
2) become very skinny (ride more, eat less)
3) be really good at riding around in L2 and not much else (use it or lose it)
4) take more than "a few weeks" of training to be able to do anything useful in L3 through L7 again (use it or lose it, redux)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My Take on Training with Power and Pace as it were blending Old School with New School

As put to word by Phil Skiba.


I believe the greatest application of modeling is in a synthesis of the old and new school. Again, it isn't about replacing all that has come before. It is about looking at what came before, taking the best of it, and then adding some of the new. A good coach needs to do more than analyze data...they need to be able to motivate the athlete, communicate with the athlete, be able to write workouts that both stimulate physiologic adaptation but are "interesting" enough such that the athlete will do them, etc.

1) Use of technological tools is not a replacement for knowledge of physiology and coaching "talent", but can be very useful to help coaches avoid silly mistakes.
2) Use of technological tools requires an understanding of the risks, benefits, and limitations of the system.
3) Used properly, technological tools can be of significant help in gaining insight into the inner workings of the athlete and how they respond to training.