Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Want to Get Faster... Work on limiters, maintain strengths

Often times as a coach, I hear athletes state "I want to get faster but I don't know what to do".  One of the easiest thing you can do is to identify your strengths and weaknesses (limiters) in the sports you do.
A Romanian sports scientist Tudor Bompa, Ph.D.,  did some of the early work on periodization and has shared his findings in a great book called. "The Theory and Methodology of Training".  Joe Friel, has simplified things for the everyday athlete to easily understand and calls it "The Training Triad".  You can read in more detail about this in one of his books, "Total Heart Rate Training", but here are the basics to get you started.

He states that in any sport, there are six physical abilities related to performance:  Endurance, Force, Speed Skill, Muscular Endurance, Anaerobic Endurance and Power.  He further states that endurance, force and speed skill are the "basic abilities" and muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance and power are the "advanced abilities".  Athletes regardless of sport will need to develop their basic abilities to their full potential before the advanced abilities can be developed fully.  The reason for this is to develop your muscular endurance fully you need both endurance and force.  Anaerobic endurance requires endurance and speed skill while power requires force and speed skill.  Beginner athletes will stand to gain the most by just working on the basic skills while a more seasoned athlete can devote time to the advanced abilities to improve performance as long as the basic abilities are maintained.

Identifying your limiters and subsequently learning how to train for them is a key ingredient to getting faster.  This will make setting up your training plan whether self coached or using a coach a bit easier because you will know exactly what you need to work on.  Make time to do your homework and you will be on your way to getting faster.

Train smart, race fast!

Coach Eric

Monday, May 12, 2014

1/2 Ironman Race Pace Swim Set

A month ago, I posted one of my favorite Ironman swim training sets and had a few people ask me what they could do to prepare for a 1/2 Ironman swim distance.  The 1/2 Ironman distance is a little over 2100 yards or 1900 meters.  Specificity of training is key, so it is important to do broken swims at or near race pace with some rest from time to time.  If you can not swim race speed with rest, it is going to be VERY difficult to swim it with no rest.

The set 
2100 Yards/1900 meters

Strong, but in control:
6 x 50 on short rest interval :05-10 sec.  This helps simulate the beginning chaos of the race.  Arms flailing around you, feet kicking, bodies pressed together.  Best to get a little uncomfortable in practice with these 50's so race day will be less challenging.  Think of swimming these 50's as a strong, broken 300 and that will allow you be consistent and not over achieve too soon.

Settling in:
3 x 300 @ :20 sec rest steady pace.  Not a lot of rest, but enough to keep your swim speed honest.  Try not to slow down too much from the initial swim speed of the 6 x 50's.  So, if your 50's above were :40 seconds then you should aim for 300's around 4:05-4:10

Stay settled or pick it up:
3 x 200 (2 x 200 if Meters) @ :20 sec rest.  Here is where you need to decide, do I stay on these feet I am drafting or possibly make and effort to pass and/or find feet moving slightly faster.  By practicing this in training you will have a pretty good idea in a race at this point what you should do.  So keep the pace the same as the 300's or pick it up 1-2 seconds per 100.

Finish strong:
6 x 50 on short rest interval :05-10 sec Graduay build the legs and hold on to your stroke biomechanics This will help minimize your chances of falling down when it is time to stand up and run to T1 and help the legs prepare for the bike.

A set like this could be done once every 2-3 weeks to help measure if you are improving and also dial in your swimming pace.  Perception and reality are often two different things.  For example if you are good on the 50's but fade on the 300's, chances are you went out too fast.  If you get through the 300's knowing you can swim faster, you are in a good place and should be able to hold pace on the 200's or slightly faster.

Train Smart, Race Fast

Coach Eric

Monday, May 5, 2014

Get FASTER!....Get out of your comfort zone!

How many of you are training by doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result?  It is easy to fall into the same routine with exercise and don't get me wrong, routine is a good thing.  But, if you want to improve, I believe from time to time you will need to get out of your comfort zone and change up the routine a bit.  A client of mine gave me the name  "The Evil Genius" and I think it largely came from the fact that I challenge him to reach beyond what he thinks is possible.

Lets take a simple swimming set of 10 x 100 @ 1:30
There are 3 ways to modify this set to make it more challenging.

1. Intensity - Same number of repeats, same interval but increase speed.
2. Duration - Same speed, same interval but add more repeats 12 x 100 or 15 x 100
3. Rest - Same number of repeats, same speed but on shorter rest interval of 1:25
What you choose to modify should focus on what your limiters are.  You can apply this to your cycling and running when planning workouts.  In addition, the type of training route you choose (flat, rolling, hilly) can help get you out of your comfort zone.

How often should you get out of your comfort zone?  Once a week for beginners would be a good place to start.  A more seasoned athlete may choose twice a week.  Keep in mind there is not only a physical toll on these workouts, but a mental one.  Often times the real gains come from the latter as the physical ability was always there, but the mind was lagging a bit in confidence or preconceived self imposed limits.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable and watch your fitness and performance improve.

Train smart, race fast!

Coach Eric