Sunday, November 12, 2017

Unrecognizable

The first time I do something I've never done before, it's a fluke. One off.

The second time I do the same thing


The third time I do something


When I repeat the same behavior, under fatigue....



Back in May or June, Liz and I were talking about run cadence. To put this in perspective, I was a plodder. My cadence would average about 160. The goal cadence is 180.

I knew how important it was. I was frustrated beyond belief. I didn't want to talk about it anymore. There were NO drills that could help me.

One day, Liz asked me exactly what the issue was.

I told her, "I'm unable to do it. I don't mean I have a mental block. I mean, I am physically unable to hold a fast cadence for more than a few seconds."

I thought she was going to tell me that I just wasn't working hard enough.

Instead, she said to me, "I think you have weakened muscles. That's why you can't do it. You've done nothing wrong. It's the result of having babies. Once those muscles are stretched out, they don't go back on their own. Other muscles become overactive to make up for the loss. We have to work on those muscles to get them to engage again. Most women don't".

She gave my a list of exercises to do 3-4 times a week.

I knew she was on to something when I couldn't even do several of the exercises.

During this same time, I had been working with my massage therapist. He had been working with me on running posture & working out some ridiculously tight areas. He gave me a list of stretches to do...with instructions to do them every day....just do what you can for 15 minutes a day.

For months, I've done the work.

I went back to my massage therapist. "We're making progress. That's good. Don't get frustrated. This can take a long time to fix".

I religiously did my Liz exercises. I continued stretching.

Then, one day when I was running, I noticed that I no longer had soreness in my butt when I ran.

It seemed like it just happened out of nowhere.

We continued with cadence drills. Nothing was changing.

BUT, exercises that I couldn't do at the start, I was now able to do.

Exercises that I was doing before with a band, I was now doing with a stronger band.

My cadence wasn't changing but I noticed significantly less fatigue when I ran.

Then, this week happened.

Out of nowhere, I ran and held 180+ cadence, without fatigue, without even thinking about it. The previous week, I was at 160-165.

Ok. I don't know where that came from.

It happened a second time.

Then, a third time.

The true test was today. My legs are crazy sore (very fatigued). I didn't set any expectations. I didn't label myself as good or bad. I went out there and ran.

Sore and tired, and I ran with a cadence of 180+.

SIX MONTHS after first starting to really address the issue. SIX MONTHS without seeing a direct change.

Throughout the whole process, I stayed focused. There were times when I thought I'd never make any progress.

Getting good at one sport takes a really long time. It can take years to become a top 10 age group swimmer. It can take years to go from a 1.86  w/kg on the bike to 3.4%.

When you're putting 3 sports together PLUS transitions PLUS nutrition? Well, getting good at triathlon take a really long time, a really long time.

Good things come to those who work for it.

One day, you'll wake up, and you won't even recognize yourself anymore.


Friday, November 3, 2017

Gettin' cut, gettin' butt


I took the month of October off. Lemme splain what that means and what it doesn't mean.

Taking the month off from training means Coach Liz and I said our emotional good-byes (not really). For the month, I did whatever I wanted to without being analyzed; without having to hit any zones; without hitting any paces.

Liz gave me guidelines "take AT LEAST X days off from running".

You don't have to tell me twice.

And, "Don't do any exercise longer than X"

Alrighty.

And, "HAVE FUN".

DONE and DONE.

It doesn't mean sitting on my ass doing nothing. 

The first week of Oct got a little crazy. I was on vacation. Since my race was 9/30, immediately after Mr. Tea and I went into FULL ON CRAZY MODE.

We ate dessert at every meal and sometimes FOR a meal. I knew we sunk to a new low, when I was under the covers, in bed, eating ice cream.

THAT'S how you do time off.

When we returned from vacation, I'd had about as much sugar as I could handle. I couldn't even think about having anymore junk.

I got right back into my normal eating habits.

Then, the end of the month rolled around.

It was my birthday.



And the peoples rejoiced.


My birthday weekend started on Friday. By Sunday night, I was exhausted. I couldn't laugh any more. I couldn't eat any more food. I was done.

I was ready to start training again. I was ready to start eating right again. 

That's how I know I've gotten enough rest (physical and mental).....when I'm excited about training again.

Liz and I started up again on Nov 1st.

WELCOME TO the "GETTIN' CUT, GETTIN' BUTT" portion of my training.

Liz and I walked through the next few months of training.

I believe I'm heading into a breakthrough year in 2018.

I sat down to jot down a few goals. Then, I wrote down my plan to get there.

I decided to lean down a bit. Lose some fat. During Oct, I started hitting the weights hard. I made a couple of other changes as well. I went back to my notes from when I worked with Dina. I decided that I could switch some things up and have a big impact on my body fat.

These changes had an immediate impact on my body composition. So much so that Mr. Tea even commented on it. I noticed my clothes were fitting looser and my ROKA swimsuits (which run ridiculously small) were no longer allowing butt chub to hang out.

I hopped on the bike and did an FTP test. My test blew away all other tests and was even stronger than back in 2015 when I lost over 26lbs.

I'm heading into a really great year, I tell you.

Given that we have a looooong race early in 2018, Liz thought it was best that we don't do a single sport focus. I have goals for this race. I shared them with Liz, and she said, "very doable".

I know that just because a goal is "doable" doesn't mean it will be easy. I told her what I felt my challenges would be with the race and where I would excel. She told me a few things that I'll need to be aware of for this particular race.

We have a plan. I wrote down what paces I need to train to in order to reach my goals. There are going to be times when I know that I'm going to doubt myself, like when fatigue sets in.

Here we go again. I'll be stepping on the emotional roller coaster in about a month. Are you ready for the ride?

Because, you about to see something you ain't NEVER seen before!

My Spirit Animal







Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sometimes, "giving up" IS the right answer



We live in a world where "giving up" is bad. We're supposed to be FIGHTERS and blast through any challenge/issue/problem that comes our way.

Guess what?

That's bullshit.  Sometimes, "giving up" is exactly what we need to do.

About a year ago, I read a blog. The post was supposed to be about how strong the athlete was because he fought through the urge to give up.

He has been doing triathlon for a long time, but he continues to have goals that are unrealistic for himself (today) at the age he is.

He had put so much pressure on himself to compete at the level he was back in the day, that he completely shut down his ability to hit ANY goals.

He was getting ready to give up triathlon, when he decided to do one last sprint.

He won the race.

Why? NOT because he didn't give up, but because that's precisely he did. He emotionally let go of who he used to be. He let go of those unrealistic goals. He raced in the moment for the sheer joy of racing. Without that pressure, he raced to the best of his ability for where he was right now. 

Everyone was congratulating him on his ability to fight through it. I was thinking the exact opposite. I believed that his success happened because he did in fact "give up". He gave up an unrealistic expectation of himself. People don't want to see themselves as quitters. "NEVER GIVING UP" means he's a winner, a champion. "Giving up" means he's a failure in our society.


I'm here to tell you that it's ok to give up. Sometimes, it can be the healthiest choice. It's not easy to do, and it requires a healthy dose of self-awareness.

Of course, we need to know when it is appropriate to give up.

It's ok to give up when:
1.) A goal is no longer personally important
2.) When a goal is unattainable

I'm not a psychologist. So, I went on the hunt to find out if there was any such thing as "giving up"  being a healthy option.


Lo and behold. The psychological term for this is goal disengagement.

We live in a world where we are supposed to continue working for a goal until it is achieved. But this is locking us up emotionally. We are stuck of this mode of having to reach a goal before moving on to the next.

This is creating a cycle of unhappiness-->I'm not acheiving this goal-->I'm a failure-->I'm unhappy because I'm not achieving this goal-->I'm a fighter-->I should be able to fight through this-->what's wrong with me.

There's nothing wrong with you other than the fact that the goal might no longer be important to you. It's time to let it go.

Bearing down on this goal means we are missing out on other goals or interests that we might want more. We are stuck, thinking we can't move on until we finish the initial goal.

Many times over the years, I have written that it is ok to change your goals. Changing a goal doesn't mean you are a failure. It means your life has changed or your desires have changed. A new goal is NOT a lesser goal. It is simply a different goal. In some circumstances, you need to accept that your goal is unattainable. This is probably the hardest one to get over. If you run 5ks at a 10:00 pace, you have to accept that your goal of running a sub 20 5k, is probably not attainable.

Setting goals is a different topic.There have been many articles written about the topic, by people much smarter than me.

For those of you who are new to my blog, last year, my husband Mr. Tea had a major health issue. The day he was rushed to the hospital, he was 321lbs.  Over the course of the year, he's lost 131lbs. He had a goal weight that he wanted to reach. He was never able to get there. His weight would bounce up and down over the same 10lbs.

One day, he said to me, "I'm not going to shoot for that goal anymore. I'm healthier now. I feel good at the weight I'm at. I'm just going to eat right right. Whatever my weight is, it is".

Guess what? Once he did that, he lost more weight, and his weight stabilized at a healthy point. No more up and down the same 10lbs.

Goal disengagement.

Give up to move on.

It wouldn't be right if I write this entire post if I didn't talk about what this means to me.

Sad to say, I fell into this trap. I was writing about "changing your goals is ok". Blah blah blah. I was the epitome of "do as I say not as I do".

I was in the trap but didn't even realize it.

I have been racing short course for a number of years now. I set two goals a few years back.

I wouldn't even consider Ironman until:
1.) My sons had moved out.
2.) I hit X time at the 70.3
3.) I hit X time at the oly distance.

The times that I set were not unrealistic at all. However, I had clamped down on them. I absolutely would not attempt an Ironman until I met those goals.

YET, those goals were completely arbitrary.

I made up those goals.

Time goals are the worst goals to have in triathlon. TRAIN to time goals, but the weather, the course, so many external factors come into play on race day.



There is no law or rule saying that we have to accomplish X before we move on to Y.

If I made them up, that means I can change them. I can change my mind. I can do something different.

And most importantly, I can return to those goals at a later date.

A goal deferred is not a goal defeated.

Once I realized and acknowledged that, I felt free. I was no longer under the weight of attempting and failing to meet a particular, completely arbitrary, random goal.


I wrote this post on purpose. I have decided to move in a new, exciting direction.

It's time for me to work on a new, completely different goal.

Twelve years after doing my first triathlon, I'm going to do an Ironman. 



 

See? It's not just me....

For the past 4 years, I have RAVED about Coach Liz. 

I do this because of what she has done for me as an athlete and person.  I don't get anything in return for it.  

I do it because I want other athletes to see what it's like to have a great coach, and (obviously) I want her business to continue to thrive.

Here are some comments from other athletes. Remember you can join the MSM FB page without being an MSM athlete. Read our stories. Get the latest in research. See our successes. Find out what it is that we all love about MSM.


If you can't be bothered, that's ok, too. Here are some comments. (More were posted after I copied the page).

Here is the post that started it all today.

Here is what followed:





Sunday, October 22, 2017

Recovery for masters athletes

This week, I turn 50.

I'm very fortunate to be one of those people who feel better at 50 than I did in my 20's and 30's. Of course, I was a baby making machine in my 20's. So, there's that.

There are two things that I have lived by:

1.) Be nice to yourself. You're the only person you'll know your entire life. Make the relationship a good one.
2.) Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live.

In one way or another, I've been an athlete and or very active (Richard Simmon's anyone?) since the early 80's.

This means I can look back and see different phases I've gone through.

Post baby body. Work travel body. Strength training body. Endurance athlete body. Speed body. Binge drinking college body.

There are probably a gazillion other things that I've forgotten.

Now, I'm at the masters athlete body stage.

Technically, we're considered masters athletes at 40. Honestly, I didn't really start feeling things until about 2 years ago. Those issues were/are directly related to peri-menopause symptoms. I've written about my symptoms many times over the years.

Even though, I'm still struggling. Those symptoms forced me to pay closer attention to my body and recovery. Because of that, I've been able to push harder.

I have a great Coach who has been wonderful at working with me through the really tough spots. I have an amazing RD to help me with my nutrition.

I, also, spend a lot of time doing my own research. And no, I don't get my "research" from popular magazines. I go digging for information.

I want to go over the things that really help me recover:

1.) SLEEP. On my list of recovery methods, this is the only one that is free. This is my priority. I will prioritize sleep over any workout. It doesn't happen very often. But there are times that I have told Liz, "I can't do this today". Because it doesn't happen often, she knows that I'm being completely honest. If you can't get through workouts because you are tired all the time, you might want to reassess your goals. Your body needs sleep to repair. Without sleep, you risk injury.

Training is hard.



2.) Nutrition/supplements: I have gone over the importance of nutrition ad naseum. I won't do it here. Instead, I will mention supplements that I take that help with recovery. One thing I would highly recommend is that you get a blood panel done to find out if you have any nutrient deficiencies.

Iron: I'm anemic. I have to take a very high does iron tablet every day. The particular supplement I'm on works for me and keeps me in the ranges I need to be.
You are likely anemic or have iron deficiency if:
1.) You are a woman.
2.) You are a peri-menopausal woman
3.) You follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
4.) You train/live at altitude.
5.) You are an endurance athlete.

Please note: You don't have to answer YES to all of those. Simply answering yes to ONE of those can mean you have iron deficiency.

Although, iron isn't part of my recovery process. It can hinder your training. (Do I even need to mention that iron deficiency is really bad for you?) I felt it was very important to mention.

L-glutamine and amino acids: My RD recommended that I take 3-5mg of L-glutamine post workout on long or intense days. I don't take L-glutamine every day unless I'm in the peak of my season because of the distances that I do. However, most people who read my blog are marathon runners, half ironman/ironman triathletes, ultra marathon runners, marathon swimmers, etc. People who do MUCH longer distances. If you are in that group consider adding L-glutamine to your post-workout regime.

Amino acids/Protein: I have a bottle of BiPro protein water first thing upon waking up. (You don't have to use BiPro. I use it because it's easy.) The body is ready to absorb nutrients at this time. Amino acids are necessary to repair and build muscles. 

We all want to be strong, right?

3.) Massage: Getting regular massages is so important. You cannot perform at your best if you have a bunch of tight soft tissue. In my off season or lighter training loads, I go once a month. In heavy training and build periods, I go twice a month.

A massage appointment will go like this. You meet with your therapist. You talk through any issues you are having. Your therapist might ask you to do certain poses or walk, etc. They will then give you an assessment of what they see right off the bat. At that point, they can give you an idea of what you'll need.



I have been going to my massage therapist for a little while. When I visit, I'll tell him where I'm hurting or have tightness or soreness, and he'll do a focused session on certain areas. If I'm not having any problems areas, we'll do a total body session with less focus.

If you have never gone to a massage session, you might not realize this. These people know their shit. After your massage, they will give you exercises and stretches to do at home to continue your work at home.

In the evenings when we are watching tv, I get out my bands and balls and start rolling and stretching. Since I do it when I would otherwise just be sitting, it's not something I feel has to be scheduled in my already busy day.

Range of motion and mobility are absolutely critical as we age. Pain is not a normal part of life. A massage therapist can work through those issues. In some cases, you might be experiencing pain that requires the help of a physical therapist. Mr. Tea is currently going to a PT in order to fix issues that were the result of accumulated neglect of his body.

4.) Equipment Besides balls, bands and rollers, there is a variety of equipment that help muscles recover.

Normatec Boots: These boots will help speed recovery by enhancing blood flow. They are not cheap. You can buy them online. You can buy them at Ironman races (and a variety of big marathons). I've found that when you buy them at a race venue, they tend to be a little cheaper. However, if you follow any pro-triathletes, like Miranda Carfrae, they will give out a coupon for a couple of hundred bucks off the system.

Put them on and chill out.


Muscle stimulation units like Compex.
A muscle stimulator sends electronic pulses to your nerve fibers in order to create involuntary muscle contractions.Muscle stimulators can help with building muscles, recovering, increasing blood flow, etc. There are a number of different programs depending on your goals. There are many different modes covering: strength building, endurance, recovery, and warm up. 

One quick note about muscle stimulation, this can cause you to be quite sore, but it's very effective.

The compex unit starts at $136 (Right now, it's on sale).

5.) For women: As you go through peri-menopause and get closer to menopause, things are going to get much much harder. Be nice to yourself. There will be days where it is hard to just get out of bed. I'm not talking about being tired. It's called adrenal fatigue and is the result of a severe hormonal drop....unlike any you will have when you are younger. There will be days when hot flashes might be absolutely debilitating. There will be nights when your sheets are soaked as if you just got out of the pool.Your period can and will be out of control. Your fueling will change as your hormones change. It's very important to have a fueling plan AND a back up plan. For no reason, out of nowhere, your body will reject something you've been using for months. Then, the next day, it will be ok.

Unfortunately even with all the tracking apps, there's no real way to predict it. I've had adrenal fatigue hit on two races this year. When it happens in training, no big deal.....cut the workout short. When it happens during a race, just go with it. Do the best you can and know that there are always other races. I've had people make critical comments about race times when I gave everything I had.

Ignore them.
We might all have different symptoms, but we are all going through it. I really believe that's why the women in the 45-49 and 50-54 age groups are some of the nicest athletes out there.



All of this sounds expensive, doesn't it? Much of what I said depends on where you are in your athletic pursuits. If you are striving for a podium, or a spot on Team USA or a qualification to a world championship, know that the age groupers that compete at that level are already doing this.

Something else to point out, recovery doesn't mean anything if you don't do the training. You won't magically qualify for Nationals by buying a ton of expensive equipment AND skipping out on those Bike/Run/Bike/Run/Bike/Run/Bike/Run workouts.

Likewise, you will not easily improve on your times without proper recovery.





Thursday, October 19, 2017

Finding your hidden athlete

This week, I had a FB friend message me and ask me how I've gotten so fast. She asked what the things were that I did that had the biggest impact.

When I got her message, I was so amazed that she picked me to ask. The reason for it is that it's not that I am super fast. What I am most excited about is the improvement I have made.  I think anyone else in my shoes would say the same thing. It's not that we see ourselves as fast. We've worked so hard to make the improvements that we have.

I think that's what speaks to people.

It's easy for a Coach to make a fast person faster.

It's very difficult to take a slow athlete and make them fast.

After one of my recent posts, I found out that there are people who still read my blog from WAY back in the day. For those of you, this is an old story. It's short, so hang in there.

I started triathlon 11 years ago. For the first few years, I followed a variety of training plans. We had just started our company. We had two sons living at home. I put into the sport what I could, which wasn't much. I had fun and did a race a year....maybe two. That was it.

When my sons got older, I decided to put more effort in triathlon to see if I could get faster. From 2012-2013, I hired my first coach.  Our business had grown to the point, where we had employees. Our sons were now and freshman in college and a junior in hs.

That means for the first 5 years of triathlon, I didn't put a lot of effort into my training. I didn't know what I was doing, but I had a lot of fun. That's what kept me going.

I say over and over to people (Mr. Tea.....and others), it doesn't matter what you do. Find something that you enjoy even when you are bad at it.

I hired a Coach. (Not Liz).

It didn't work out.

Then, I found Liz through friends.

In Jan of 2013, I started working with Liz. When you think about it, I have 11 years of triathlon experience......7 of which were spent at the back of the pack.   I only have 4 years of really seeing what I am capable of doing.

Back to my friend's question: What are the top things I did to get faster?

Because triathlon is so complex, dealing with 3 sports, this question should be broken down into: What have I done in each segment to get faster?

But, I know where she is coming from. I have that back of the pack perspective. IN GENERAL, what are the things an athlete can do?

First and foremost, find the right Coach. This is the time of year when athletes start thinking about changing coaches or hiring a coach.

A more expensive coach is not a better coach. A level 3 coach is not better than a level 2 coach. A level 2 coach is not better than a level 1 coach. Get recommendations from friends. Find out what the coach does to constantly improve. (Liz is a level 2 coach. My first coach was a level 3 coach. I get 10x more with Liz).  Liz is constantly educating herself. She attends many symposiums every year. She is always up to date on the latest research. This year, she became certified in nutrition counseling....or some such thing. I don't know exactly what it was because I work with an RD.

Something else that was important to me. I wanted a coach that had attained the goals I was reaching for. That makes sense, right? I don't know any GREAT coaches who have not also competed at the highest levels in the world. Whether that is the Ironman WC or ITU world championships.

If your goal is to race Kona, would you seriously hire a coach who has never raced Kona? Think about this.

That's what I mean about finding the right Coach. Find the coach who has accomplished what you want to accomplish and one that you can work with. Trust me. At that level, those coaches have worked with every type of personality out there.....as long as you take an active approach to your training, it will work out just fine.

I saved the best for last. When I started working with Liz, she didn't make me faster. She made me a better athlete and person. 

Second:

Again, this is hard. I want to say, "With swimming, I did this. For running, I did this".


I am not someone who tells athletes to go out and buy the latest and greatest equipment.

To me, it's about the machine (your body) not money. I have a friend who did his first IM on an old beater bike and went sub 12 hours. For years, I rode on a road bike with clip on aero bars.

With that in mind, there is one piece of equipment that I believe you really must purchase, even if you are a beginner (and if you know this sport is something you want to improve in).

That is a power meter.

In 2013, I bought a power meter.  I honestly thought it was a waste of money. I thought it was something for recording rides. I didn't understand how it could be use.

Liz had me do a bike test. AND EVERYTHING CHANGED.  All of a sudden, I had zones to train within....I saw my bike power explode. I saw my speeds get faster.

AND....I saw my running improve.   This is why I feel the power meter is a crucial piece to the puzzle.

It's more important the longer you go. I've said it before. At the sprint and oly, maybe it's not so important. (Although, those are my distances, and I would never train/race without it). At the HIM and IM, it's critical to race in your zones to give you the best run.

 If you are going to buy one piece of equipment, make it a power meter.

Third:
When I look back over my time in triathlon, I can see where I had the biggest jumps in speed. The first was in hiring Liz. The second is when I started using the power meter.

The third was when I started working with a Sports Dietitian.

This is often overlooked by athletes. I see athletes making the same mistakes over and over. Yet, they don't take the time to fix their nutrition issues.

You can't out train a bad diet.  

Dina is my RD. She changed my life. I am not being overly dramatic.

We worked on my daily nutrition and race nutrition. I can push harder than I have ever been able to, and I recover better than I ever have.

This year, I had a very aggressive race schedule. Six races in 8 weeks. Even Liz, mentioned that she was impressed with how well I was able to recover and be ready to go for the next hard session.

Granted, Liz covered the training/taper/recover schedule. I could not have done it without using the things Dina taught me.

I worked with Dina in 2015 for 2 or 3 months. Since that time, I will check in with her when I feel I need some advice or pointers about handling a particular type of race or distance.

I lost body fat. I recover better. I can race harder. I sleep better. All those things that I couldn't  do on my own.

You have no idea what you are capable of until you start working with a Sports Dietitian.

For me, it will always be an ongoing relationship. I feel so fortunate to have met Dina.



Keep in mind that this list is meant for someone who is more or less at the beginning of their triathlon career.

Becoming a better athlete is a process. The athletes that you see on the podium, didn't get there by accident. (Ok. My very first podium WAS an accident. There were only 3 women in my age group. But, I digress).

When you commit to the sport, you will see big jumps in fitness, and you'll see days where you actually go backwards. It is a process. Fitness gains are not linear. They're a bunch of rolling peaks and valleys.

Don't think you need to make all these changes at once. I certainly didn't. One year, I hired a coach. One year, I bought a power meter. One year, I worked with a sports dietitian.

Take your time. Enjoy the gains where you get them. I know it can be frustrating.

If it were easy, everyone would do it.










Monday, October 9, 2017

That bike, tho'

I recently read a post from a triathlete. In it the athlete mentioned that their bike speeds aren't where they should be. This person doesn't have a Coach, and we all know how I feel about that.

BUT that aside....

Since I started working with Liz, my bike speeds have exploded. In the past year, specifically, my watts/kg has improved significantly.  I consistently race at 100-103% of FTP.

THAT is really the thing. Right? It's racing in the appropriate zone for a race distance.

Maybe I have (from the perspective of an athlete who has improved), maybe I have advice that I can pass along to people who are either new to the sport OR have been racing a long time but haven't quite figured out how to race in the zones they need to race.

Along the way, I have run into a number of Myths of Cycling. Just like when you read my blog, take everything with a grain of salt. Just because a supposed "expert" says something, doesn't make it true. That's why having a coach is so important.

Before I go into the training aspects, let's talk about technology. If you are committing to the sport, you can really benefit from training with a power meter. The price has come down significantly over the years. If you simply plan on doing a race here and there, with no goals, don't worry about it. This post isn't aimed at the casual rider. This post is written for those of you who want to get faster. You can use HR, but HR fluctuates with dehydration, conditions, whether you are sick or healthy, depending on where you are in a training cycle. Power is consistent. That's why it is so important. Also, I'm not a fan of perceived effort. I think you have to be extremely experienced to use this. Even then, I suspect most people don't train in the appropriate zones.

And very very important: THE LONGER THE RACE, the more important it is to train with power. In a sprint, going all out is going all out. In an oly, most people don't get near FTP....so they could definitely benefit....but most people use the oly as a stepping stone to longer distances and aren't really interested in learning how to hold 95-100% of FTP.

When you get to the 70.3 and IM...oh dear god......PLEASE ride with power. Learn your zones and follow them.

1.) Ride inside or outside?
Don't listen to "experts" who tell you things in black and white. 

Who needs to ride outside? Typically, newer riders should get outside once a week. My advice is if you are a newer rider, join a riding group OR sign up for a cycling tour. Once you've done that and feel more comfortable on the bike, maybe do a TT. (That's not necessary, but it will teach you to ride in a pack).

You have to learn bike handling skills. The only way to do that is outside.

If you've been riding for any length of time, you don't have to ride outside. There is a HUGE benefit to this.
1.) You can do your workouts as written.
2.) No stopping or slowing down, means more time doing your focused workout.
3.) You can do drills focused on cadence work, single leg drills, sitting and standing, etc. Drills are very very tough to do outside.

If you want to ride outside, ride outside. If you want to ride inside, ride inside. Don't feel like you have to do one or another.

I almost exclusively ride inside. Are you surprised? My time is valuable. I want to get as much bang for the buck as I can. For me, that means setting up workouts and following them.

Remember. There's not a right or wrong way, but if you want to get faster, you need to spend time on the trainer. (I'll address trainer workouts below).

2.) Zone work:  When I first started working with Liz, one of the things she told me was "Work the full zone". When a workout says Z3, I would hang out at the bottom of zone 3. Now, I start at the bottom, and I finish at the top of whatever zone is listed in the workout.

Look. You need to feel the discomfort in training. The only way to learn how to deal with it is in training.

3.) Go above and beyond. How do I hold 100-103%FTP in a race? Liz has me do intervals at 120-150%FTP. Let me tell you, 100% sure does feel easy after I've done 150%.

Another good workout is over/unders. This means you hold a higher FTP like 95% then do a spurt from 100-120% and then back down to 95%.  This is very hard to do and (again) best done on a trainer.

4.) Leg strength: BIG WATTS/SLOW CADENCE. The workout that can actually make triathletes cry.  The reason this workout is so effective is because it keeps your heart rate down but really works your muscles. Your legs get stronger, but recovery time is much shorter.

5.) Using a trainer. Smart trainer or traditional trainer? 
If you are just getting started, you are going to having to decide on costs. Power meters cost money. Smart trainers cost a whole lot of money.

My first 10 years of triathlon, I trained on a traditional trainer. I still improved. I improved significantly. Getting faster is more about quality workouts than anything. If you are newer to triathlon or have budget constraints, a traditional trainer will absolutely help get you faster.

If you've been in the sport awhile OR have unlimited funds, a smart trainer is the way to go. I've had mine for almost a year now. Here's what I learned:

1.) The smart trainer is only as good as your training. If you're expecting magical improvements from just sitting there pedalling, riding around Zwift or BKool routes....it ain't gonna happen. You could have saved your money and gotten the same benefit from riding outside.

2.) The BIG thing with smart trainers is being able to ride in ERG mode. THAT's the kickr (pardon the pun).  TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT. Otherwise, why even bother with a smart trainer?

Here's how it works: There are a number of software programs out there. My personal favorite is Trainer Road. (Quick note: You can use any of these software programs with a traditional trainer. You don't even need a power meter, but your best option is using a PM).

You either create a workout (enter a workout from your coach) OR use the workouts in the software program.  In ERG mode, each interval will be held to a certain range of watts. On a traditional trainer, your watts will fluctuate with cadence. On a smart trainer, you are forced to hold a zone, regardless of cadence.

Even when you are tired....you will hold whatever zone the interval is. THAT's the benefit of a smart trainer.

Let's say you are training for a 70.3, your goal is to hold 81%FTP. When you use a workout in ERG mode, you will be forced to hold 81% or whatever range is set. Can you see how powerful that is? When you ride outside or ride in SIM mode, it is much much harder to actually hold 81% when you are going up and down hills or have to deal with traffic, etc.

When you are on a traditional trainer, it's very very easy to back off.

A smart trainer (in ERG mode using a workout), doesn't let you do that. THIS has had the biggest impact on my training this past year.

There are other ways to use a smart trainer. You can ride around virtual worlds and experience the hills or flats, etc. In my opinion, those don't give you any bigger benefit than riding around outside.

If you want to really improve, get a smart trainer, use ERG mode (not sim mode), enter a workout, and experience some serious discomfort. (Also there are workouts specifically for drills and cadence work. Power drops, so you can do high cadence work and single leg work. You don't get that benefit when riding in sim mode.

6.) Strength training. 
I cannot stress enough, the importance of strength training. Personally, I have found that the compound exercises work best for me. In other words, you won't see me doing bicep curls. I use heavy weights, to failure and do compound exercises. I do squats and lunges and single leg squats and tons of core work. One of my favorite exercises is start standing with dumbbells overhead (like when your arms are extended for a shoulder press), bring the weight down, squat all the way down to the floor then jump your feet out into a plank position. Jump back, stand up and press those dumbbells up overhead again. I love that type of workout.

In triathlon, we use many different muscle groups at once. To me, it makes sense to strengthen those muscles in the same manner.

Strength training is so so important regardless of distance. For a sprint, you want to be as strong as possible to be able to push big watts. In an IM, you want to have the endurance to be able to go seamlessly from from swim to bike to run. 

7.) Nutrition. If you know me, you know how important this is. PLEASE work with an RD. As you move up in distance, fueling becomes harder and harder. Daily nutrition becomes harder. Race day fueling becomes harder. I continue to work with Dina as I move from race distance to race distance. Your body will accept foods at a lower effort than it will accept at a higher effort. If you plan on doing longer races, you need to know what to put in to get the best output. Heat, humidity, lack of humidity, wind, cold, rain.....they all factor into a race day performance.

You can't out train a bad diet. What you put in on daily basis affects your ability to push hard when you need to push hard and recover when you need to recover.



There it is. That's my recipe for success. It doesn't mean it will work for everyone. I hope that someone will gain something from this.

The big thing is....remember that if you don't do something in training, it won't happen in a race. You can't expect to hold 80%of FTP in a 70.3 if you don't train above that threshold. You can't train above that threshold without strength training. (Let me tell you, it is a very different animal to go from swimming 1.2 miles to riding 56 miles than it is from swimming 750m to riding 20k).