Sunday, 20 March 2016 15:14

Make the Early Season Count

Written by

The month of April marks the start of triathlon race season for many people on the east coast and soon summer in all its hot and humid glory will be upon us.  Just as professional baseball players go to “spring training” or football players compete in the “pre-season,” triathletes often use their races at the beginning of the season to work on increasing their fitness level, sharpen transitions skills and get the feel for going from one discipline to another at race pace. 

Spring is often the time that many triathletes train by just logging lots and lots of miles without any real plan. They are “just getting into it” and since their goal “A” race is months away, they will not start toward it until the weather turns more consistent. Although it is important to accumulate miles during the Base Phase of Periodization, an athlete still needs to have a plan that will provide an adequate foundation (Base) to progress into the next two phases (Sustainment and Intensity). Each phase is a building block to the next and taking shortcuts or not having actual accountability for what needs to be accomplished to reach Peak Phase will not allow a person to reach their full potential or at a minimum improve on past race results.

The basics of how an athlete gets ready to race in events from the Olympic distance all the way up to Ironman is about the same. Many athletes that are new to endurance training are not sure of how much (volume) and how hard (intensity) they can push their individual or string of workouts along so they continually exercise in a moderate heart rate zone. For those that are new and exceptionally motivated they often train in the highest HR and power zones which taxes the recovery system and has a real potential for injury. In either case, they are doing only one phase of what is required with Periodization. Maximizing performance for all athletes starts by building their aerobic base and then progressing through the additional phases of a Periodization cycle.

A simple way to look at a training plan is to follow the basic concepts of plan, prepare and perform. Once you have results from a quality training session or race, then you can assess and re-do your plan to make any required changes to prepare better than the past time period. Even if everything went well, you will have to continually tweak or make adjustments to build upon past accomplishments because your base level will plateau and a only a change in volume or intensity will allow for improvement.     

PLAN

Ensure that you use your early season to gradually build your endurance while you listen to your body and discipline yourself to recover effectively. Build intensity only sparingly as well.  It seems common for many triathletes to consider doing an early season half or even full Ironman race when in most cases they have not been able to accumulate the mileage required of the event due to various factors including weather, daylight, etc... You have to seriously consider if you can be ready both physically and mentally to race the event. Even if you consider a long distance race a "training event" it is still important to be training for the distance and have a quality result to build confidence.

PREPARE

Your training cycles should progressively move you toward being comfortable with the distance you will be racing so volume and frequency are important. This will vary based on your available time and the length of event that you will be focusing on.  Be patient with your program and you will eventually see gains. You will not get in shape in a few days or weeks, but over consistent planned training.  By making adjustments to the volume, frequency and intensity of your training while incorporating a period of rest, you will see improvement in your training and racing.  Don't be confused that rest means "no activity" moreover; it means an active period with less volume, frequency and intensity.  This period will allow your body to adapt to heavy load of the Base Phase, and speed of the Intensity Phase and rebuild it for another step up of your Periodization Training.  When I develop a plan for a working athlete, I rarely build in rest days because I know that life activities require days that have less or no training. Those days become your rest day and thus you shouldn’t have another rest day that week built in. Sure, you could swap them but most people are better off with low intensity than total rest. Real rest comes from quality sleep so make that a priority when life stresses built up. 

PERFORM

The sport of triathlon is unique in that it is often difficult to measure improvement on the race course since times vary from course to course due to a variety of factors like properly measured distances, weather conditions and terrain. Rarely is a course measured exactly to meet its labeled distance. They may get the run correct but swim distance and especially the bike are dependent on the whim of the venue.  When you hear that everyone is happy about swimming a PR, most likely it was not measure properly or you were swimming with the current. The best way to  see improvement is in your training sessions.  You will know the time and distance spent in the water, on the bike and on your feet over courses that you have repeatedly done. As the season goes on, you will feel stronger and have more endurance.  The goal should be to add another 500yd in the pool, 10 more miles on the bike or another mile or two on the run. Eventually you then build on that step up and so on. It's all cumulative.  However, realize that a person still only has a certain amount of time and endurance to train. If you shift focus from one sport to another, something usually gives. Running or riding more may make your swim training sessions become slower because you have increased volume in another area and are tired. You only have so much to give and when you are spent it's time to recover and then race. Your performance should be at its best right after a peak in training followed by a short recovery phase. Depending on how it goes is how you adjust to do it all over again.

By planning out your early season training and racing through shorter more intense events you will have laid the groundwork for an epic half or full Ironman later in the year. Most importantly you will feel much stronger and avoid injury so that you are able to actually make it to the start line in September or October.  So plan, prepare, perform and make the early season count!  

 

About the author: Doug Marocco is a nine-time (9X) Hawaii Ironman finisher with a PR of 9:23:04. In addition, he has been a USAT All-American for the past two decades while winning two (2X) National Age-Group titles and four (4X) Military National Championships among his 47 overall wins. An accomplished Marathon runner, Marocco has a PR of 2:33 in his 37 finishes at the 26.2 mile distance.

"Junk miles" have often been given a bad name. If you are an aspiring triathlete, you will need to put in some time to get better and that includes "junk miles". Most age group triathletes, even competitive ones don't do enough miles to compete at their highest possible level. Life and responsibilities take priority and that is completely understandable since it is not ones chosen profession.

Anyone that is new to the sport is able to make quick gains because they are increasing time and distance in one, two or even three sports and the effect on improving endurance is immediately noticeable. However, after the initial months̶—and then years—of training have transpired anathlete will eventually reach a plateau. After that, most athletes need to be doing more. That is when the real work to get better actually begins.

We are each an "an experiment of one." Myy knowledge and experience gained over the past 30 years has proven to me that "racing" a high quality half (70.3) or Ironman distance (140.6) event requires as much 15-20 hours a week to be competitive on a high level. To consider being among those athletes battling for a slot to IM  Kona you may be doing somewhere in the area of 25-30 hours during a big block period of training. Realistically, that probably means 10,000yd in the pool with 15,000yd or so on some occasions. This is 3 to 4 sessions weekly. Since cycling makes up most of the event (if you run the run) you are looking at 200-250 (or more) miles on the bike and if you plan it right (take some Wednesday vacation days) that would be include mid-week and weekend long rides. You can add another 100 "junk miles" in somewhere else during the week for a 300 total if it's possible. This kind of volume will give you conditioning and most importantly the confidence that you will be ready for a long day of racing.

The run is another story. I consider 40 miles as a baseline and more is better except that more usually brings on injury. This can be accomplished with a long Brick (following your Wednesday long ride) and a long weekend run and another one or two shorter runs. The fine line of balancing injury and further conditioning is usually the "junk miles". Hence, more is better…until it isn’t. Yes, one more long run on tired legs may mean the difference in finishing the race strong. Or string a few of these in a row and you may end up hurt and not get to the starting line at all. Because we are an experiment of one, what someone else does may not be what works for you. However if you don’t reach that point on the edge, you just won't ever know.  

This all seems very basic and self-explanatory for a race that will take somewhere between 8 and 12 hours. Do this for 3-5 years and you will be ready to train for racing an IM. Then all you need to do is a quality 12-16 week buildup and you will be ready to do well at IM. There may be a few people with the talent to get away with less, but most can't. If you are able to do the other things right like massage, nutrition, sleep, work or life issues (no spouse/sig other or children) and the disposable income you will be even better. Combine all that just right and you could be up front for an Age Group spot on the podium in Kona!

If you break down your week with another view of 20 hours, that may consist of 10-12 hours riding (say you ride an average of 20mph)that gives the magic 200. If you can add 5 hours of running at 7-8 mph, you’re at 35-40 miles and then another 4-5 hours of swimming (with intervals) gets  you in at 15,000. Those miles are hard to sustain with a normal life that includes work, family, children, housework and so on. The real killer is having those as averages for 8-10 weeks prior to the taper for Ironman. Sure, you can surge and get a 300 mile week on the bike with a Monday holiday, but if the next 2 weeks are at 125 miles then the 3 week average is under 200—and that is short of the goal. For amateurs, it becomes a great big compromise and pressure to get in the miles needed to do well. If you don't get adequate training, or worse, you try to sustain the training without a solid winter base, or some overtime at work then fatigue, slop, and/or injury will inevitably show up.

Everyone's view of the details is slightly different, but no matter what, it is going to take time, dedication, sacrifice and perseverance. All those things most people already know, they just don't realize how much of all of it is really required. You can get by with a 75% effort and finish. The more you do the better you will get…up to reaching the fine line of doing the most you can, to be the best you can be (and then nothing more because everything over that breaks you back down). So be an experiment of one for a decade or so and see where it takes you. 

 

About the author: Doug Marocco is a nine-time (9X) Hawaii Ironman finisher with a PR of 9:23:04. In addition, he has been a USAT All-American for the past two decades while winning two (2X) National Age-Group titles and four (4X) Military National Championships among his 47 overall wins. An accomplished Marathon runner, Marocco has a PR of 2:33 in his 37 finishes at the 26.2 mile distance.

Saturday, 30 January 2016 20:07

Swim Basics: Swimming Actually is Part of Triathlon

Written by

I, and many others, find that most triathletes can’t swim. In fact, for years my license plate while living in California read “NO SWIM”. This was mostly in reference to the sport of Biathlon (later called Duathlon), but either way was absent of water. The fact is that most triathletes don’t have solid knowledge of the basic fundamentals of swimming, but in case you don’t know, swimming is actually part of triathlon.

Regardless of a person’s swimming background or knowledge of proper stroke technique, a person will become faster by swimming more despite their form because they become more proficient and fit doing whatever they are doing. However, once people get tired, their form deteriorates and the repetitive nature of the swimming reinforces poor habits. Most new triathletes’ workouts should be geared toward a quality 1500-2000 meters with the main set performed after a short warm-up so that you are fresh when you start your swimming. After that, everything else is to help the stroke and endurance.

Occasionally it is worth doing longer workouts to build endurance and get used to swim distance closer to Ironman. Regardless it is still 3800 meters at the most for any race and the distance is nothing compared to the biking and running distances.

Below you will find some important reminders to consider while swimming:

Cross Over the Center Line

(correctly by entering about shoulder width or wider). This allows the arm to enter, drop and then start pulling while your body is rotating. It should almost feel like you are pulling on your side.

Hand Entrance

The hand should enter relatively flat with fingers, then palm, wrist, forearm and elbow following. The angle needs to be downward immediately so that your actual pull starts about 18 inches or so below and in front of your shoulder. With a slight tilt of the wrist and a loose hand, you start the pull to a point where your hand and forearm are below the chest area.

Pull

The pull is key to moving through the water. No matter what you do above water, what happens below water is what counts. A swimmer needs to enter the water with a hand continually going down on an angle that ends up at an eventual depth around 2 feet. As your body continues to move forward your arm will be pulling at the same time where the hand comes even with the elbow and is directly at chest level. At this time, the elbow remains in place and the hand continues to move under the body and back toward the feet and then moves out to the thigh.

Breathing

In order to have a smooth swim stroke, it is important to bilaterally breathe. Regardless of whether you race this way or not, you need to work on breathing on both sides of the body. There are several reasons, but of most importance is that most people raise the breathing side arm further out of the water than the non-breathing side because when they turn their head, their arm follows with it and comes out of the water higher. You do not have to breathe every other stroke. I do three on one side then cross over to three on the other. This keeps my body, kick and arm movement better balanced.

No Bicycle Swimming

Instead use Front Quadrant swimming. I say this because many people swim with one arm then the other like a bicycle crank. In reality, it should be one arm up front and the other one coming to the front and just before it gets to the front area after entering (about shoulder width) the other arm starts its pull.

Poor Kick Pattern

(corrected by an easy kick with very little movement that is balanced). Often times people kick too hard with one leg to counteract another problem (e.g., cross-over, bad head position, poor body roll).

Head Position

Keep the head low and looking at an angle out in front of you but not so far as to create excess drag. When you turn your head, it should be in sync with your body roll, not a sudden movement to breathe. If you can roll properly, the head should roll out of the water enough to have one eye out of the water, mouth out to breathe and looking at a 10 and 2 position. Often times I see people breathing way under the arm pit and looking at 5 and 7 positions.

Lack of Body Roll

The body should roll as you breathe and pull. Imagine pulling up a rope or stretching to reach the ceiling. Your hand moves up, shoulder follows and to reach as far as possible, your body rolls with it toward the ceiling. Swimming is the same concept.

Don’t Glide Too Long

Long distance (all triathlons) swimming is done with a long stroke, but that does not mean to glide so long that you lose momentum. As soon as the stroke is complete, the other stroke has already started (front quadrant swimming) and there is no real pause in movement. Unlike a team of rowers (where you can see obvious movement, glide, then movement again) swimming should appear to be a constant flow of the body moving through water.

Tools and Toys

Swimming is a minimalistic sport. Outside of shorts and goggles not much else other than a body of water is required. However, in order to help develop improvement, fins, buoys, drag suits, paddles, tubes, etc all have a part in getting faster or at least in getting a better feel for the water. They are not to be used for your entire workout but can be used in addition.

Wetsuits

This is the single best piece of equipment for any triathlete that does not come from a swim background. It’s first priority is to help keep you warm; next, it helps puts a person in the correct position to swim faster. This correction alone can make up missing out on competitive youth swimming. Speedsuits are the next closest thing when wetsuits are not legal.

Seek Help

Although you may think you are doing things correctly, most often you are not. Find someone to watch you and take video so you can watch yourself. Even people that can’t/don’t swim can see good form and bad form. They can see it in you as well and until you see yourself, you will not know what you look like.

Swim Sets – The Basics

Warm Up (W/U)

Should consist of 1 /4 to 1 /3 of your session and prepare your body for the Main Set

Examples: 300 Free easy, 100 Kick, 100 back, 2x50 Free

Main Set (MS)

Will be the primary purpose of the session and will include distance, intensity or a combination of both

Examples: 5x200 FREE or 3X300 FREE with 15 seconds rest per set

3x400 free or 2X500 FREE with 30 seconds rest per set

Cool Down (C/D)

Recover period from Main Set. Opportunity to perform drills and add total distance to the session

Examples: 200 Kick with fins, Backstroke, 1 - arm drills, Fist drills

End session with easy freestyle of 100-200

 

About the author: Doug Marocco is a nine-time (9X) Hawaii Ironman finisher with a PR of 9:23:04. In addition, he has been a USAT All-American for the past two decades while winning two (2X) National Age-Group titles and four (4X) Military National Championships among his 47 overall wins. An accomplished Marathon runner, Marocco has a PR of 2:33 in his 37 finishes at the 26.2 mile distance.

Sunday, 17 January 2016 02:22

Balance Your Training Program

Written by

The basics of any triathlon training program should consist of a balance between sessions in each discipline/sport (swim/bike/run) over an allotted timeframe. Sounds simple, but it is not always easy to accomplish with life’s normal responsibilities.

3X3 at a minimum!

A likely way to organize a training schedule is to take the three sports that make up triathlon and spread workouts over a seven day period.

Rotate each sport on a daily basis with an occasional two-a-day session and you will meet your minimum goal of three sessions per discipline each week.

If that proves to be too easy, then add an additional session in one or more of the sports and you will increase your total mileage and most likely your race performance.

Watch Out for Overdoing It

When do you draw the line of doing too much? The first signs of overtraining are: being lethargic, lack of motivation and getting injured.

It’s a fine line though because the training volume that can make you better is also very close to what will bring on overtraining and worse, injury.

Periodize!

The theory is to use Periodization training as the key to segment your annual program into periods that place emphasis on the following: Base, Build, Intensity, Taper, Peak (Race).

A quality triathlon training program could consist of Three (3) distinct workouts that would have a short (Intensity), medium (Base) and long workout (Build) in each of the three (3) sports, each and every week. Consider most workouts will be 45-60 minutes in length; your weekly time allotment will be nine to ten hours at the minimum. Eventually you would want to add a workout in a specific sport each week that will provide an emphasis to a single sport. For athletes choosing to race at the longer distances or build a larger Base of endurance, you will want to add a workout to have four or more sessions per sport for your base if you have the opportunity.

Along with being consistent in the 9-10 (or more) workouts per week, you need to ensure that you incorporate Intensity and avoid being in a monotonous middle-level heart rate zone. Consider training at 70-75% for your long and middle distance rides/runs (swimming is different) and then only going higher once every week or two weeks. This would be like doing a track workout for running and the intensity should be near a race pace effort for shorter durations.

Most training programs are general in that triathletes or single sport athletes do their long run and ride on the weekend when they have more time and fillers during the week. Swimming, weights and other supportive activities may fit your schedule best Monday through Friday so that you can ensure you have the weekend focused on longer bike and run sessions. This does not mean that the swim and other activities aren’t important; they simply have less time requirements for what is required to be competitive on race day

Try a Mid-Week Vacation Day

One proven training plan that I used for a decade of Ironman racing was to take a mid-week vacation day for about 8 weeks leading up to the event. This allowed me to get the training in without disrupting family obligations since I would have been at work anyway. With just one day away from my job, I was not missed too much and I could easily pick up from the day prior. With today’s connectivity, you can stay updated on most things during your ride or run if you choose to. The Wednesday workout not only allowed me to build a large base of miles, it took pressure off my weekend training since anything that I was able to do on Saturday or Sunday was a bonus. With a Wednesday long brick and weekend long ride and run, the three days could easily be the majority of your Ironman training. If you can ensure you get your swims during the week and a few other easy workouts, you are set for a successful Ironman. The distance with this type of plan can easily average: 10,000 yards swimming, 250 miles riding and 40 miles running. Those are good goals for a working Ironman competitor.

Just a Taste of the Pro Lifestyle

Of course this time focus is not required for participating in shorter distance events but for the time strapped athlete leading up to an important event, the plan would still allow you to do the majority of your training in a three-day period with fewer requirements placed upon the rest of the week. It may even allow for some extra sleep and post workout relaxation on your vacation Wednesday. Consider scheduling in a few vacation days to see what a Pro Triathlete’s life is like. If you string too many together you may just be happy that you don’t do it for a living!

 

About the author: Doug Marocco is a nine-time (9X) Hawaii Ironman finisher with a PR of 9:23:04. He has excelled at short distance triathlons as well winning two (2X) USA Triathlon National Age-Group titles and four (4X) Military National Championships among his 47 overall wins. An accomplished Marathon runner, Marocco has a PR of 2:33 in his 37 finishes at the 26.2 mile distance.    

Wednesday, 13 January 2016 16:42

Training Plan for Success

Written by

Triathletes know that being fit and healthy is a benefit of living the multi-sport lifestyle. Just like the many people trying to keep their New Year’s resolution, most triathletes have to continually make efforts to keep to their goals whether they are simply trying to stay in shape or trying to be competitive. Although the triathlon season doesn’t usually start until late spring, planning for the upcoming season commences with the search for events well before January comes around. Once a tentative schedule of races is made for the upcoming season, a general training plan is decided upon to best prepare for important events. It is vital to check with the schedules of everyone else involved in your life including friends, family members, co-workers and your employer. Make sure they are aware of your season’s intentions so they don’t schedule something like a wedding, birth, anniversary or class reunion on your priority “A” race day. Just because you may know the dates of hundreds of events around the country does not mean that others are aware of the triathlon calendar in any way.

Developing Your Season Plan

Be realistic in what you can do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Your season goals should be identified, measurable and attainable, but still be a challenge. You will need to clearly IDENTIFY short term or season goals. Limit this to three or four items that could be a high placing at a local race, qualify or compete at Nationals, complete a long distance event or do a marathon. You will also want to identify several long term goals such as improving on your current short distance performances, traveling to a high profile event, training for or competing in a half or fill Ironman.

Determine Training Objectives

A proper training program will use a PERIODIZATION concept where your year is divided up into phases progressing from general to specific by creating a base, gradually build on the developed base and then peak at a predetermined event. Improvements come by adjusting the volume, frequency and intensity of training while incorporating a period of rest. This will allow the body to adapt to the physical stresses placed upon it and then rebuild for the continuation of Periodization Training.

Select Priority Races

It is important that you have the ability to prepare for and attend the events that you have decided to compete in. Plan out your year by placing an emphasis on several important (Priority A) races spread out over the second half of the season and use your first half to train through and gain experience. Try to select races that are well directed and that will highlight your strengths. These two factors will allow you to compete against the competition and the clock with your best possible performance.

The Importance Of Planning

Structuring your training over the year requires you to break your year into cycles. The process of breaking up your year is known as, "periodization". Without “periodization”, you will not be able to peak properly for your major races of the year.

Where to start - setting your goals

For any successful plan, the initial step is to work out the major goals. Once we have the goals set in place, we can work back from our goals and structure our training accordingly. It is important also to state what you want to achieve with these goals. The first two questions to ask yourself should be:

  • Step 1. What are my major goals this year?
  • Step 2. What do I want to achieve within these goals this year?

For this, you should ideally get out a piece of paper and write down all the races you want to p

eak for. So, for example, you may want to peak for the National Championships on 6th June and the regional championship final on Sept 2nd. These are your peak "A" races. Write down the dates. These two major goals should be “set in stone” as much as possible. You won't want to change these goals because all your training and racing relies on knowing these dates.

Next, you will want to consider your "B" secondary events, which are important, but not major season peak races. You may want to look at 1 or 2 per month that will build toward your peak “A” race. You cannot peak for all your races but you may be able to carry a peak for several weekends at the Olympic or shorter distance events. This allows you the opportunity to potentially have a breakthrough race at one or both of the races.

Your secondary “B” races are not as rigid as "A" races because you can experiment with pacing, nutrition and equipment that you may want use for your peak event later.

Breaking Down The Year - Periodization

Periodization categorizes the year into cycles. These cycles can vary in length depending on how close you want to look at your program.

The full yearly cycle of racing and training from beginning to end is your Annual Training Plan and includes a Base Phase through Race Phase, rest and repeat. This may occur several times during your season and can varying in length depending on the distance of your goal race. You can divide up the 12 months and add each training objective within it.

You will always want to start with a Base Phase, but this timeframe can vary depending on your starting fitness and the distance of the race preparing for. The Base Phase and Build Phases, sometimes referred to as the 'preparation/conditioning for training' can last 8 weeks up to 12 weeks. This is often followed by the Intensity or Speed Phase which is a period of 'specific' race training that should be 4-8 weeks. After a short Taper, it is then time to race.

The “Base” Phase

This is where you start your winter training. Normally most triathletes will use this to develop their overall fitness in swimming and running. Cycling is maintained with indoor riding if weather does not allow for year-round outdoor training. For those that do have favorable weather, it is usually a downtime for cycling since the majority of triathletes need to work on their swimming and running skills. This is a great time to consider doing long swims and runs that will create a base to start doing speed work come spring. In the pool really consider doing form drills and longer sets. With the run, build up to two hours or more and think about signing up for a half marathon to keep you on track. Your HR should be in Zone 1 and 2 with only a few short durations of speed work.

The “Build/Maintenance” Phase

The Build and Maintenance Phases allow you to keep adding to your Base Phase once the weather allows and the racing season nears. This is also the time to get outside and start doing the long bike rides. Be sure to stay in zone 1 and zone 2 of your heart rate to optimize your training adaptations. This training is to add to your overall fitness. Once you have reached a volume of high mileage, you will need to maintain it for a 3-4 week period. Sometimes athletes will Build/increase volume, then return to their Base Phase miles then Build again. This allows for a short recovery and then back to getting more fit.

The “Intensity/Speed” Phase

The Base, Build and Maintenance Phases all lead to being ready for the Intensity Phase and then after a quality Taper, to Race. This period starts a decline in the duration of your volume while increasing the speed of your workouts. More specific training means starting to increase the intensity to HR zone 3 and short periods in zone 4. Include at least one if not two hard workouts per week.

Unless you are doing Ironman, your volume will start to decrease in order to bring hard workouts and recovery into your program. Recovery is key to making improvements at this stage and eventually peak to better performance.

Select Priority Races

For competitive people, which make up most of the sport of triathlon, racing can be considered the test for all of your many training hours. Race day can be a nervous time that causes performance anxiety due to the stress of the preparing for, getting to, and actually competing in the event. Be positive and put yourself in a position to succeed. Although it is a day to test you current fitness level, it is a also a reward day to swim in the open water, ride on traffic-free roads (hopefully) and pound the pavement or trail to a potential personal record. There are many ways to prepare for race day and make it the best experience possible.

Events That Highlight Your Strengths

If you swim and ride well but don’t run so well, then you may want to stay away from hot hilly run courses. On the contrary, slower swimmers that are fast on land should gravitate toward events that are held on tough bike and run courses. Half Ironman and Ironman events are much better suited to the athletes with strong bike and run backgrounds because of the relatively short swim distance. This will allow you to compete against the competition and the clock with your best possible performance.

Local and National

There are many races around the country to choose from. However, don’t short change your local events. They provide key opportunities to prepare for your “A” priority events and give you a chance to shine as a good example in your community. Of course National events like USAT Championships, Ironman and IM 70.3 events let you see how you fare against the best of the best.

Climate, Time and Season

If you race well in hot conditions, then look for warm weather summer events. If you enjoy cooler or harsh conditions that have the potential for rain, then seek out those events to take advantage of your strong points. Likewise, if you are not a morning person then look for events that start later in the morning or have lodging opportunities near the start line. Even better is IM 70.3 Boise that actually went to an afternoon race start. Most ITU Elite events start at noon in order to highlight the Pros and capitalize on building community crowds. It is apparent where triathlon and running rank in the US since that they often start at sunrise and end before many people even wake up on the weekend. “Real” sports start at a reasonable hour so that spectators (other than family members) will actually attend the event.

Plan Your Calendar

Plan out your competitive calendar by placing an emphasis on several important (Priority A) races that are spread out over the season. Try to use the first half of the season to gain experience and then concentrate toward your goal events.

Select races that you have the ability to prepare for and can actually attend. This is becoming more difficult to do with races selling out almost a year ahead of time. However, barring unforeseen circumstances, a quarterly race plan will allow you to emphasize training with some higher intensity tempo work as well as a taper to maximize race day performance.

Race more. It is logical that the more you race, the better you will become at putting together the three distinctive sports of triathlon. Racing sharpens your skills with open water swimming, technical bike skills, and transition changes from swim to bike and bike to run. Sprint and Olympic distance events are excellent opportunities to practice what you train at a faster pace and also provide a great way to test yourself at something shorter that Half Ironman distance. Although the race distance is half of what 70.3 presents, the shorter more intense racing of sprint and Olympic make the pace of the longer distances seem slow.

Mental Preparation

Mental preparation has many facets including goal setting, self-confidence and perceived stress. To be successful, it is imperative to maximize and minimize these and other limiters.

Goals must be measurable in order to see progress. It must also be realistic but still challenging. You need to know you are getting closer to your goal. For instance, your goal may be to finish your “A” priority Olympic distance triathlon in a certain time. Break down your goal even further and determine what time you plan to finish your swim, bike and run in. Once you are in race shape, your race time (barring a mechanical on the bike) should be close to your goal time. Analysis will then be done on a breakthrough acceptable or disappointing time.

Communicate With Your Family and Loved Ones

Unless you are completely solo with no ties, you have to consider others in your circle with your training and race plans. Ensure that your employer, spouse, family, girl/boyfriend, friends, and/or children have an idea of what your time commitment and goals for the year are. You may think that you are doing the right thing by doing your training early in the morning so not to interfere with others, however, if you wake your entire house up with your early alarm then you have affected their routine as well. Most important is to compromise and talk things out.

Work On Your Weaknesses

Work on your weaknesses while still maintaining your strengths as much as possible. Training, especially during the winter months, is about trying to improve on what you are not doing well enough in the individual sports. It is never easy to do what you don’t do best. But working on your weaknesses is the only way to be faster to the finish line. If you are able to swim faster, you gain time there, but you also gain time by racing up front with the faster athletes and then getting off the bike more rested for the run.

Be Prepared and Content

Come race day, you have what you have. Participate, compete and analyze your performance. Then reassess your plan and make required changes where needed. Family situations, nutrition, sleep, work, and health all have effects on your performance. Realize this and try to mimic conditions of your good performances and eliminate the negative issues that had an effect on your race.

Triathletes know that being fit and healthy is a benefit of living the multi-sport lifestyle. Just like the person trying to keep their New Year’s resolution, most triathletes have to continually make efforts to keep to their goals, whether they are simply trying to stay in shape or trying to be competitive. Participate because you enjoy doing it. You don't have to do an Ironman or IM 70.3 to be a triathlete. In fact, you don't even need to race. However, racing rules training and training fuels your lifestyle and in turn life. So go forth and swim, bike and run to wherever it takes you.

 

 

About the author: Doug Marocco is a nine-time (9X) Hawaii Ironman finisher with a PR of 9:23:04. He has excelled at short distance triathlons as well winning two (2X) USA Triathlon National Age-Group titles and four (4X) Military National Championships among his 47 overall wins. An accomplished Marathon runner, Marocco has a PR of 2:33 in his 37 finishes at the 26.2 mile distance.    

Sunday, 03 January 2016 01:32

New HPV Prototype Video by Chief Innovator, Tom Piszkin

Written by

Tom has been at it again, innovating 2-wheeled human powered machinery from the ground up rather than just trying to fit the existing mold. I don't expect this to be replacing the TF-20 in triathlons/TTs or the Transition in cross-country ultras any time soon, but it has sure been fun to play with.

Naming Contest

Have any good ideas to name this prototype? Respond in comments or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Saturday, 07 November 2015 20:49

LEAN-R Prototype

Written by

It’s not a TitanFlex, but it is a new creation by the inventor of TitanFlex, Tom Piszkin. It is a pretty unusual looking vehicle, so I couldn’t help but ask Tom a few questions about it to share with everyone.

TomLEAN R

Q1: It looks pretty unusual for a bike, what is it and where did it come from?

It’s a human powered vehicle designed to improve on the 100+ year old “double-diamond” design. Contemplating how other designs have failed to unseat the “safety bike” as the dominant species has been a fun exercise. Its not dissimilar to how I conceived of the original TitanFlex; I love working outside the box and innovating engineering solutions rather than fitting the mold but making incremental improvements. I can’t help but question the status quo: Is there no combination of new technology that could improve the state of the “human-powered” art? This LEAN-R is just another of my answers to that question.

Q2: How long of you been thinking about building this sort of bike?

In the early 1990’s when the TitanFlex was being used in the Race Across America I started thinking about a design that would provide the ultimate comfort and efficiency for this event.

Q3: Why did you make it? What are the potential benefits of this bike?

To pursue a what-if scenario: What if you had a bike that was more comfortable and more aerodynamic than a double-diamond, but not as heavy or cumbersome as a recumbent...a design that allowed you to use your body weight in climbing, offered a cruise position that distributed your body weight over more contact area, and enabled you to produce more power?

Q4: What is the most difficult part about engineering/building this bike?

The availability of a rear hub assembly that doubles as an input shaft. This feature is critical in keeping the wheelbase close to a double-diamond’s--so you can stand over the pedals. Something of this nature just became available. Although it is a single speed 3:1 gear ratio, it is sufficient for proof-of-concept. To be practical, the rear hub assembly needs to be multi-speed.

Q5: How was the process of creating this bike similar/different from designing the original TitanFlex?

This creative process followed the same template as the TitanFlex: What if I could have one bike that was as light as my carbon racing bike (Kestrel KM40), durable as my steel trainer (Schwinn Circuit), could be easily set up for either pack riding or time trialing, and isolated my freshly-repaired back from the abuses rough roads? Image the lack of clutter in my garage!

LEAN-R DesignModel

Q6: What are your plans for this bike this design in the future?

To use this prototype to experiment with the positioning and control parameters while keeping tabs on the development of a multi-speed hub, which would be incorporated in the second generation.

Some More Photos

  • LEAN-R_DesignModelLEAN-R_DesignModel
  • Lean-R1Lean-R1

  • Lean-R2Lean-R2
  • Tom_LEAN-R_ProtoTom on LEAN-R Proto

  • WoodLEAN-R_FrontWoodLEAN-R_Front
  • WoodLEAN-R_SideWoodLEAN-R_Side

 

Feedback

What do you think about the LEAN-R? If you have any other questions for Tom, post them in the comments section. I think we'll have it out at the 6-12-24hr TT World Championships, so maybe Tom will let you take it for a spin if you're out there!

Sunday, 25 October 2015 21:26

Sub-17 Build

Written by

Thought I'd share a couple drool-worthy photos from a recent build. Nice bike, John.

  • DSCN2262Scale Closeup
  • DSCN2263LeBlanc Full Build

  • DSCN2261On The Scale
  • DSCN2264Starry Night Paintjob

 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015 00:39

Meet our new friends: Hermes Sport

Written by

While both Tom and I coincidentally have Michigan-related histories, Tom and TitanFlex are truly San Diegans (and I’m getting there, after 12 years here). Thanks to year ‘round riding, thriving open water swim scene, and tons of running opportunities, it’s no surprise that San Diego (and southern California) is home to many great triathlon and cycling innovations, indeed the innovation of triathlon itself. Although we’ve got TitanFlex owners riding all over the world (a black TitanFlex once passed me while running in Paris), we’re happy to be in the thick of the San Diego scene. And so, I’d like to introduce you to a San Diego cycling friend of ours, Hermes Sport.Maybe some of you know of Hermes, they’ve been making bespoke wheels for a while, but they’ve got some new wheels and we think they’d look great on a TitanFlex. I’ll let Alex Webster introduce more about Hermes and the wheels below. Going forward, it will be an easy option to add a new set of Hermes wheels with new TitanFlex purchases, just ask us about it. With that as plenty of introduction, I’ll pass it over to Alex:

We're very excited to be working with the Titanflex gang, to provide them with the best possible wheelsets for use aboard their unique, innovative bikes.

We make the new VK line of wheelsets, hand built right here in San Diego.  This is our first system-designed wheel, and a big change of course for us.  Since 2009, Hermes Sport had been a custom wheelbuilder, gaining extensive experience in building precision racing wheels.  This project began in 2012, and since them we've worked to perfect our system, and deliver untouchable performance. No effort was spared in making the VK wheelsets the most optimized around in terms of strength-to-weight, and introduce new technologies never seen before in a bike wheel.  They're now beginning to ship, and we feel we've delivered a set of wheels that deliver the goods in terms of speed and handling, but at the same time are built to be easy to maintain and last for years.

We've built wheels for triathletes for a long time, however in spite of their potential we haven't yet established our new VK wheels in this sphere.  In the process of rectifying this, we are doubly gratified to be working with another awesome local San Diego company to help us get a foothold in the triathlon world.  The Titanflex design is a bonafide race-proven concept, and working with them will help us better establish ourselves as much as our wheels will enhance the performance of their bikes.

Thanks, and happy trails!  Please feel free to read more about what we do at www.hermes-sport.com

Tuesday, 21 April 2015 15:15

HydraQuiver Review Pt.2

Written by
I’ve been running with the HydraQuiver for over a year now since my first review {read it here or on SDRI}. My feelings haven't really changed since that review, its a great bottle holder, and my go-to if I need to carry more than 8oz but a camelback is overkill. My use has evolved and I had a few more thoughts recently though, so I thought I’d share an update. 
 
A postural device?
We're going to down a little diversion from what you’d expect out of a review of a hydration device, but follow my line of reasoning here. It wasn’t obvious to me for a while that the unique side of the shoulder–almost falling off–slings was an ideal design. It wasn’t uncomfortable or annoying, but it was noticeable. The contact feels like it is out near the delts, not on the traps snug to the neck like most backpacks. After a few uses, I mostly got over the feeling that they were going to fall off all the time, and now I have a reason to think its the perfect design.
     I’ve been thinking a lot about upper body posture (you know, “running tall”) and shoulder mobility recently, both with respect to my running form and some nagging shoulder/neck pain/tightness. The most obvious flaws I see in a majority of runners anywhere I go is poor arm carriage (lack of sufficient swing and not following the Coach Piszkinism "nips to hips” or crossing over the midline). Related to that is rolled in shoulders, which is a general posture problem we modern-day humans hear about plenty. I’m pretty sure that if you don’t externally rotate your shoulders, you can’t get your arm to carry right (just like hip external rotation is part of normal gait). So, I’ve been working on this, both with mobilizations and conscious cues while running. Now, I find automatically and naturally, my external rotation remains in check while wearing the HydraQuiver, even at later stages of long runs where form tends to break down.
They even make specific braces for this, that look pretty similar to the quiver without storage (check out the comparison below; I'd rather wear a HydraQuiver for style reasons at least).
backbrace   hq square
 
Change of mind: water held on shoulders is better than tight around the waist
My one negative early on using it was the new sensation of having something on my shoulders. Its not the same secure feeling of a running camelbak where that thing is essentially grafted to your body. The HydraQuiver, sits much higher, and almost feels like it is going to fall off (if its on correctly), but IT NEVER WILL. It took me a while to get used to this and have faith that I have it set right, but now its dialed in and I use it almost exclusively for anything longer than about 1:30, when I used to use a waist belt held bottle. Now, I can’t imagine going back to that tight feeling around my gut of a belt-held bottle.
 
Just the right amount of storage for travel runs
I run a lot in random cities while traveling for work. Annoyingly, it means I need to carry a few extras for safety or convenience. You know, in case what I think is the right route ends up taking me on an extra 10 mile loop, or not happening by a 7-11 when I need fuel. This includes money, hotel keycard, food, and increasingly I wish I could carry my phone with me. None of this will fit in the little tailbone shorts pocket, and I don’t want to have to pack and fuss with a camelbak everywhere I go. The pocket in the HydraQuiver turns out to be perfect for all this. For luggage efficiency sake, I habitually also look for any items I travel with to have multiple uses (like the backpacking axiom). So then I also have a regular water bottle (rather than a bladder) that I can use for other water holding purposes with an economy of packing size/weight (gym, spin, bedside, airport). The quiver itself packs pretty well. I usually pack around the bottle-holding loop, but I’m pretty sure it would be fine if I crushed that flat….I’m just a sucker for keeping it pristine.
 
Net-net?
I love this thing, and the wife is jealous (and can use the postural reminder) so we're getting another. Heck, I might even get the double-barrel one. Oh wow, they have a vest version too. Maybe if when I do another ultra-marathon...
Page 1 of 2