Well this week seemed to fly by, I’m happily back into full training after my hospital stint. Stoked.
On Tuesday I did a short run off my strneght set on the computrainer and I was in seventh heaven.
It felt good to be running, it felt great to be out there and I was grateful that I can do this. Fitness, health and being able to do what we do is pure freedom. I love it.
I hope you checked out yesterday blog and the 10min video. If not.
Stop reading this and go there now.
It is worth your 10mins and I don’t want to waste your time.
Ok this weeks QnA… I’m going to have to double up at some stage because I’m getting a lot through. Keep them coming.
Q: Hi Kristian,
I recently purchased the Advanced Ironman Plan (yippee!). I’m not doing Ironman until WA in December so have time to get my head around it. I do have a couple of questions for you:
1. Absolutely no racing in the 20 week build up? It’s not a problem for me as I’ve always preferred to train with a big goal in mind but am curious as to reasoning as most programs seem to indicate at least a couple of races.
2. No rest days until week 12 and then not again until race week. Again, not a problem but would like to hear your thoughts on this – most programs I have seen keep emphasising the importance of rest. Yes, I know this is not “most” programs :o) but curious re why.
Answer 1: Hey Jo, thanks for the questions. I speak about races in the FAQ section of the intro doc. So never mentioned ‘absolutely no racing’. In fact I love when we can do a good 70.3, long course or Olympic distance race in the 4-6 weeks out. Because you get a good chance at race and pacing practice, while also being able to refine your race fuelling strategy.
The thing is.. I don’t know when the races will be or your Ironman, so instead of putting a scheduled race in the plan (as not everyone will do one or even have access to one), I just put how to notes in the FAQ. Check them out.
Answer 2: This answer is also contained within the FAQ of the plan. But I’ll give my reasoning for all here, on why I don’t recommend putting in weekly recovery days. What I have learnt through the years of successfully coaching busy age group athletes is that we should not set recovery days let alone weeks in stone. The reasons for this are quite simple.
The modern day busy working age group athlete with family, social commitments and numerous other responsibilities can expect that ‘life’ will throw some guaranteed curve balls and that involuntary days off WILL happen from time to time. This is fact. So this means that these days become your rest days.
And I’ll also throw it out there, that while the majority of us do not have overly physical jobs i.e. sitting at a desk all day and under typical stress levels, your body looks at it as a rest. Your aerobic system is resting as are your muscular and respiratory systems to name a few.
Sure at times mental recovery is also needed (you do need to be careful that it’s just an excuse to put it off and procrastinate in the guise of ‘needing’ the rest) but as above, life will happen and recovery days will come.
As a rule of thumb, most of you will inevitably take unplanned rest and this gives unplanned but nonetheless effective recovery. An added benefit is when this happens ‘occasionally’, you do not need to worry about missed training. Just take comfort in the fact that you have been training consistently and diligently.
See the section about testing your body to see if the fatigue you may feel when waking up is real “i need a break” fatigue or just unmetabolised waste products sitting in the body needing to be flushed.
Q: Hey Kristian,
Why 70-80 cadence on the bike and why 96 (I think?) cadence on the run. I’ve read elsewhere it is more metabolically efficient. but why??
Answers: Hi Gerard,
We can find studies to show that riding at 90rpm or higher is the ‘most efficient’ cadence and some people will argue that it should be higher. There was also the huge Lance effect in regards to a high cadence. The problem for me at those cadences lies in neural and neuromuscular fatigue on the body over 70.3 and Ironman distances.. simply because we still have to run.
I want to say that for the most part that anything is trainable. BUT for most of us working age groupers we just do not have the time to teach our bodies the motor skills required to ride at 90+ rpm and then run with a stride rate in the 90’s. This takes years and years.
So to fast track the process, I teach you to become strong and efficient on the bike by training a moderately lower cadence. This keeps the aerobic cost down as a lower cadence will keep your HR down and being able to run quick off the bike you need to be able to hold a moderately high HR (nothing crazy, but most peoples HR drops over the course of the day). 70-80rpm is not mashing the gears but when trained it saves your run muscles.
See the most efficient runners run around the 96 steps per foot per minute. Look at the turn over of fast track runners, marathoners and triathletes. They all maintain a fast turnover.
Most age group triathletes however run in the 80’s and this becomes a huge muscular effort and ends up in the Ironman plod or shuffle. This is because over 90 or 180km we have fatigued a neuromuscular system turning over at the higher cadence rate. We then try to run at that similar cadence and the majority of us just can’t sustain that turn over as the system is fired.
So when we TRAIN the body to run in the 90’s and giving 96 as a focal point (This takes months and months of diligent focus to lay down the motor pattern if you find yourself in the mid 80’s. But overtime you’ll be able to run in the 90’s at ALL EFFORT LEVELS.) we are able to save our run muscles for the run. It becomes a different neuromuscular effort.
We’re effectively able to break up the “work” required to run as fast as possible over 21 or 42km into smaller manageable chunks. It becomes much less muscular work.
Q: Hi Kristian,
I know you keep saying that you don’t need to change your training and that repetition is the key and i am really enjoying your program, however I keep getting the same feedback from other Athletes that the body gets used to doing the same thing over and over and starts to plateau without change.
So my question is this:
Do we keep doing the same session but as we get stronger (fitter) the watts we output or the distance we cover will become greater as we increase the intensity of the sessions, so therefore the body will adapt to the increase in workload and this is how we will see the improvement? Is that what you mean?
Answer: Hi Sue,
The simple answer to your question is YES. But it is more to that because we can always eek out more from out sessions from different focuses, awareness and “taking the brakes off”. However in terms of repetition, Triathlon is still a relatively young sport and we’re training 3 disciplines concurrently and not separately. We have all be led to believe that our programs need to be consistently changed because the body adapts so quickly. From a coaching perspective and I’ll likely piss some people off, but some coaches feel they need to change sessions consistently to be seen as worth the money and aren’t confident that those sessions or approaches will actually do the intended job. Anyone can write a session or a program, it is how it is placed that effects both the body and the outcomes. And then comes the million dollars question especially IF you want to perform. Are we training for entertainment or for the attainment of goals?
Both are completely different. If you find you need constant changing because you’re bored (not speaking directly to you here but the collective) and you say you want to perform, then your goals aren’t congruent. There is no boredom when you let go and totally focus on what you’re doing in the moment.
Now if we indeed adapted to our training stimulus so quicklime wouldn’t it also mean that we would be able to hold that ‘new’ swim stroke or our stride rate would magically be constantly in the mid 90’s within 4 weeks?
Now lets look at it. Most programs blocks are typically 4 weeks in length. It takes a couple of exposures to understand the session and make it familiar, only then can you start to get into the session and start to gain from it. Many athletes also forget that they may have missed a session which means we don’t get the exposure necessary, so it definitely doesn’t need to be changed. A familiar program removes uncertainty which allows you to focus your attention on what you’re doing. You start to develop a better understanding of your body’s signals and as you improve in the session/s i.e. get stronger and fitter you can then get more from them. Changes only need to be small to make a significant difference. Repetition takes the guess work out of training.
My next few emails cover this more in depth.
Q: Hi Kristian,
I would like to now your thinking on the the best way to improve the bike leg i currently race 70.3.
Answer: Hi Mark,
Here’s four things that will improve your 70.3 bike, three of them need to be rolled out consistently. A big strength focus (low rpm, high resistance – see this blog post), a small bit of tolerance TT work, progressive paced long rides where you push hard in the back in (in a bigger gear early on and more specific race cadence towards the race). A bike that fits well. I recommend a Retul fit.
Q: Hi Kristian,
I am training for the 3 Dams Challenge over here in WA. It is a 154km ride thru the hills on 15th April. Do you have any hints/tips to get me there?
Answer: Hi Georgina,
You have 5 weeks left. My advice would be to focus on a strength session like the one discussed here done early in the week. (same as last question) . Your longer rides should start out easy and if you can pre ride any of those hills (if close by) then do so. If not find hills that are similar if possible and learn to climb both seated and standing while relaxing the upper body. Another good session for you would be to find a 5-8 minutes climb and do repeats on that for an hour. First in a slightly bigger gear to develop strength and then upping your cadence.
Note: If you’re not training for any triathlons at this point and this event is a main focus. You can and should aim to ride at a cadence in the 90’s.
Q: Hi Kristian
I am currently running at about 90 strikes per foot per minute. The three IM NZ races I have completed I’ve run 3.13 / 3.08 / 3.13. I would love to break 3 hrs during ironman? Any ideas? Also I seem to end up close to 6 hrs. Again IM NZ last three years. I am following your program and building confidence. Aiming for 5.15 if possible. Do you think I am being unrealistic?
Answer: Hi Chris, thanks and great questions.
You have your stride up to 90 and that is good. Still keep working on that to improve it. We can’t rest on our laurels there. Now to break 3h during an IM, is not just about run training but also swim and bike. So if swimming is getting neglected then run will suffer in the race as a consequence.
But purely speaking on the run. 1. Believe and visualise yourself being a 2:5X Ironman runner. (important) 2. Your training runs need to spend time a bit slower, at and a bit faster than your goal pace. It’s not going to be easy to run that pace so we’re talking a mod-hard effort (in Ironman) to sit on 4:15 pace for the entire run. So you mod should be 4:25-4:35 and hard around the 4:00-4:10 pace. Only small differences. Your easy needs to be up near 5min/k to allow some good old basic aerobic work and soaking up the load. Start small and expand the time at goal pace. (but no longer than 40′ in one go within a long run).
For the bike. If you have diligently followed the plan you have a shot. I remember my first IM was around the 6h mark and then it was 5:30’s, but as soon as I focused on the strength aspect more, lowered my cadence and work hard consistently I dropped those times significantly. Many sub 5h bike nows. But as above swimming is important. As is correct pacing. So yes it is doable, takes work, focus, belief and the ability to roll with the ups and downs. Watch yesterdays video if you have not already.
Look out for a big blog post on Sunday…
Yes, Sunday as there is a reason and it will be a good post.
It’s go something to do with 35… 😉
Be Bold, Be Great and step outside your comfort zone this weekend. Actually, why wait. Do it today.
Get used to it, as good things happen when you get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Have an awesome weekend,
“The whole world steps aside for the man (woman) that know’s where she (he) is going”