I’m completely overwhelmed and thankful to the truckloads of you that sent questions in. I won’t get to them all today, but I will endeavour to answer each and everyone. There is some crossover so hopefully my answers will cover your questions.
By all means keep them coming by simply using the contact link.
Now let’s get right to our first week’s QnA
I have a longterm aim to revisit Ironman and qualify for Kona whilst staying injury free but I fear the niggles and injuires will prevent me from attaining that end result. – Marc
Thanks for the questions Marc – Getting to Kona depends on a few things and I have written articles and blogs about this. For most it’s a long term view backed by consistent effort toward that goal. It’s the consistent effort that will help get you there and recurring niggles/injuries are a major consistency killer.
If you have been away from the sport for a while, you need to ease back in. Injury prevention is a multifaceted approach that covers self massage, strengthening, sleep (yes), nutrition and hydration.
These days you need to sign up for an Ironman a year in advance so you need to factor that in to your qualifying goals. I also believe you cannot put all your eggs in one basket for the Kona bucket list. So I’d recommend looking at a couple of qualifying races.
I myself want to go back to Kona for my third time. So this year I picked two races. IMNZ and IM Germany. With my little accident a couple of weeks back, that put me out of tomorrow’s IMNZ (which just got cancelled unfortunately) but I have a backup in IM Germany.
Q: Hi Kristian,
I want to stay fit and healthy and I want to try to master all three phases of triathlons to a high degree and making me competitive in my age group. The problem is I’m continually changing my program from how I competed in previous races. Getting to know how to train smarter and not longer seems a major problem for me. Also getting a program which suits my time frame and locked in sessions with other training groups. – John 50+ age grouper (first year in the sport)
‘Mastery’ comes from repeated actions of anything. I watch my son Mack in the process of walking. At 11 months he was taking a few steps, falling down and getting back up again.. But at first he kept reverting to what he new best. FAST crawling… because it was easier and less frustrating.
Then a switched was flicked and he’d walk, fall down, but he kept trying and trying and mastering. Is he a master yet? No, he has a long way to go but he is now much quicker and stable but rest assured he gets up every time now to keep refining the craft of walking.
So mastery in triathlon and becoming competitive in your age group takes a high degree of discipline each and every day. Sure, I recommend less volume and a training way that does not conform to the status quo but it does not mean it is an easier path. As you say it’s your first year in the sport so mastery is going to take a little bit. No short cuts here!
There has to be discipline bordering on obsession (which I don’t think is a bad thing and I’ll discuss more later) for you to hit those goals. So that means turning off the ‘noise’ and not changing things up just because a result wasn’t optimal or because your friends have been told this is the latest and greatest session.
Being healthily long term, means consistency too. Consistency in training, eating, sleeping and looking after your body.
I know you have my Ironman blueprint but I cannot guarantee the success of it when it is changed all the time to fit in with ‘locked’ in group sessions. Because it’s now not my program anymore. It’s cherry picked. Big difference. I don’t mean to be mean here, that’s just the truth. I do know when it is being followed correctly – amazing things happen.
In fact one customer is not racing until Ironman NYC and he purchased a longtime ago and is still reaping huge improvements from repeating specific weeks for months!
I do offer a service where your TS Ironman Blueprint can be adjusted to work in with your own life circumstances (work, social etc). Email me to find out more if interested, otherwise there is my coaching.
Q: Hi Kristian,
Im new to triathlon and confused about the correct way to do hill climbs on my bike, some people say move to the back of your saddle and some say don’t change your seat position, and pedalling technique (push down, pull up)? Im nervous now i tried a steep hill and i could not turn the pedals quick enough and i just fell. I have entered a 50km bike race and have been told there are two very steep hills. – Nicole
Hi Nicole, The best thing you can do is get back on the bike and conquer those hills but there is a process. Climbing can be done efficiently both in and out of the saddle. So that is seated or standing and it just takes time in the hills.
The first thing I would do is count the teeth on the biggest cog on your cassette (your gears on the wheel). Since there are many different ratios, you may not have enough teeth (bigger number on the back, makes the gear easier). If you have say 25 teeth on the biggest cog, you might want to change the cassette for a 12-27 or 12-28. If you have a high number already, it may just mean you need time developing your bike strength with specific sessions and starting on climbs that aren’t as long or steep and working your way up.
In terms of pushing and pulling, I believe the focus needs to be on being smooth around the whole pedal stroke, not just on hills but in ALL your riding (we get immense benefits when we don’t just go out for a ride but focus on aspects of our ride). I love rotors Q-rings for this and strength development. On the steep hill make sure you come into it with some descent speed, slowing down before hand because of fear of the climb won’t help. Also like driving a manual car, you need to be in an appropriate gear to start the climb so you’re not over geared. For you that may mean being in your easiest gear right from the word go and being out of your session pushing hard.
If you can recon the bike race route beforehand it may well be worth it, or finding similar grade hills to train on so come race day it won’t freak you out. They may not be easy, but you’ll get over them.
Q: Hi Kristian,
I really want a kona spot and be consistent in my training. I have a a small business and two kids and find training gets the flick when life gets busy. I also fear that I’m am not fast enough to ever get a spot. I’ve been in the sport for 21 years and Kona is the only thing left on my bucket list, but how do I get there? – Jennifer
Hi Jennifer, the best thing that you need to do is sit down and work out realistic time frames that you can train. Realising that at times with the confines of life that some sessions will get missed. (don’t put in specific recovery days as these will automatically happen when ‘life’ happens).
Also know that consistency can still happen when you have to dramatically reduce a session. i.e let’s say you had an hour run with some fartlek efforts in it to do, but all of a sudden you do not have that 60 minutes. But you do have 30. Get out and run. W/U and then do a shortened version of the session. That way you still get some of the sessions stimulus for the day instead of a zero. Even 15 minutes makes a difference.. helps the mind.
Kona. do you have a real plan in place to make that happen? Qualifying races that suit your strengths, signed up for the lottery (i know some people don’t like that idea and want to get their on there own merit but it is an option), WTC no also offer the if you have done 12?! Ironman races in your life you’re guaranteed a spot at ‘some’ time.
But to get there off your own back – plan out the races, the training plan within the confines of your life and believe you can do it. You may need my coaching services to refine and work an approach to help you fast track it. On that note, I’m in the process of putting together a ‘get to kona’ mentorship program but that won’t be launched until Kona this year.
Q: Hi Kristian, Can I make the jump from sprint distance to an ironman without doing a “base” of several years? and can i fit the ironman volume into my lifestyle? – Mark
Answer: Most definitely YES and in fact that is exactly how Charlotte and I got started. With the Kurnell sprint series in Sydney back in October 02. We then did Canberra Half Ironman in December as you needed to qualify for Ironman Oz back then and then did our first Ironman in April.
If you followed my Ironman Blueprint you’d be ready in 20 weeks. If you have longer, even better as you could easily repeat the opening weeks. I look at every session I do as creating base. Early on i’m focused on building form as no need to show form now, form is needed on one day and that is race day. This plan was also developed to work in with peoples lifestyle and can still be adapted with help to work within the confines of all the varying degrees of our life circumstances.
You don’t need to be doing 20h weeks for Ironman.
Q: Hi Kristian, Thanks for the info… I want to do my first Ironman as best I can in 10 hours and I need help with my swimming as I feel that I need coaching advice but cannot really afford it. – Wynand from South Africa
Answer: Hi Wynand, hard for me to answer your first part of the what you want to achieve without knowing any background. But if you’re thinking 10h then it is possible. It takes being smart, being disciplined in training, nutrition, recovery methods etc and turning up on the day in the best shape possible and them implementing to the best of your ability.
Many have the ability but end up going to hard too early and thus struggle at both the back end of the bike and run. So learn pacing in your training via progressives paced sessions and you put yourself in the best chance.
To answer the second part of the equation. I disagree on the need for someone to watch you swim to get better. There are many reasons for this and I’m going to write a post specially on this so stay tuned. It will really help you out if you do three things. 1. Listen 2. Believe and 3. Apply very important.
That wraps up this weeks QnA.. I’ll answer more next week.
Looking forward to helping thousands of athletes achieve there goals in 2012
Seek out positive people, environments, and experiences. Life is too short for negativity and hurt. Cut the cord quickly and move on to a better life. – Craig Ballantyne