Category: Getting Faster

Are You Robust Triathlete?- The Answer is KEY for…

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Here at TriForce we believe your triathlon training plan should be customized factors like:

  • your current fitness
  • your goal races
  • time available to train on weekdays vs. weekends
  • your athlete history / level in each of the 3 sports
  • your injury history
  • and your personal robustness

A canned training plan (or a coach with a one size fits all philosophy) can ignore some of these factors, which can set you up to fail.  Today we'll talk about robustness.

Are You a Robust Triathlete?

Robust:

Bouncing back and recovering quickly from stress, training and races.    It's also about how often you get sick, injured or have extended "bad patches" in your training of fatigue or poor performance.

Your physical robustness (or we might call it resilience)  and your ability to bounce back and recover is a critical factor in setting up your training.   If you or your coach are not customizing around your person level of robustness then you are setting yourself up to fail.     read more

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3 Simple Diet Rules For Triathletes to be Lean…

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Why is it so confusing for a triathlete to know what to eat? Diet is an area so full of fads and pseudoscience that it’s hard to know what’s true and what is nonsense. Will “superfoods” give us a faster Ironman time? What foods should we avoid? Almost all carbs? Gluten (will it give you a leaky gut?)? Sugar? Saturated fats? Tomatoes (oh, no! they are nightshades!) Beans (uh, oh, they have lectins!). Coffee? (at one point it was bad, now it’s good again?) Write down what you believe about nutrition today and have someone mail it to you 5 years from now– there’s a good chance you might believe the opposite. read more

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Low motivation? Don’t lower your standards– RAISE THEM!

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In these uncertain times, watch for the slipping of your standards!     Lower standards seem to make life easier, but they crush motivation. . If you are reading this I probably already know 2 things about you: (1) you are a busy (job, maybe family) and (2) you want to crush it at your triathlon and Ironman races.  It's easy to rationalize letting your training, health and diet slip  because you are busy and because we don't know when we will race triathlon or Ironman will be.  BUT DON'T FALL INTO THAT TRAP! . In fact, as I write this (during covid quarantine) we all have plenty of excuses now to lower our standards.. but don't do it!   Don't get me wrong none of us is perfect and I've had a few nights where I have hit the potato chips with mom's cream cheese dip HARD, but I keep fighting!   Of course we need to make changes to our triathlon training plans based on what's possible under the circumstances. But let me tell you what I've seen over and over as a triathlon coach-- people who kick ass and try their best at their training enjoy it more and have motivation (in all areas of life). Many people who tell me they want a minimal training plan and are trying to do as little training as possible end up losing motivation and end up skipping a bunch of workouts even though it should be much easier for them to hit 100% versus someone who is pushing themselves to do more. . Why not flip this difficult situation around and RAISE some of our standards instead of lowering them? Trust me, motivation and energy will shoot up if you start taking action! If we let our standards drop, motivation and energy will decay. .
  • if you need to lose weight and are at home 100% of the time, then you really have no excuse, do you? You have even more control of what you put into your mouth right now and when you eat (even if some of our favorite foods are out of stock). (no, your partner makes the food and it's unhealthy and there is no option but to eat lots of it? (hmmmm...)
  • if we are healthy and working at home, and you have your trainer set up, you can certainly find a way to bike more frequently. Maybe not tons of hours (or maybe you could)- but some extra 30 min spins should be possible. 20 min spins? No, that's impossible? (hmmm...)
  • How much TV are you watching? how much news are you reading? How much social media are you consuming? Could we cut back and free up time for positive things? (no? you need to monitor social media and news constantly minute by minute in case there is some new update? hmmm....)
  • FINALLY, one key area is raise your standards of what attitude you will accept from yourself. Am I ok with being negative and making excuses? Am i OK with being mediocre? Am I OK with feeling like a victim of circumstances? (but you REALLY are in a difficult situation so it's OK? hmmmm...)

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EXAMINE YOUR EXCUSES. is it really impossible to train and eat well because of... your children? your partner? your job? because then virus situation is depressing? You don't have enough time? you are stuck indoors? Give some thought to your excuses and see if any of them should be thrown away. Everyone's life is different, but i see some people on the team kicking ass at work (and working hard), raising kids, and crushing it in their training (and enjoying the process) and doing it even when life gives them challenges. (but maybe those people are just "special" and don't have the same challenges I do? or maybe they are just "super people" and a "regular" person like myself can't be expected to excel like that, right? hmmm...) read more

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6 Keys To Pacing Your Half Ironman 70.3 Race

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Photo above: 4 TriForcers qualify for 70.3 World Championships at Oceanside.  We followed the process!

Here are 6 keys for pacing your Half Ironman.  If you are a beginner or someone who struggles to run to your ability off the bike FOLLOW THE PLAN STRICTLY!   More experienced athletes who have a strong track record of running well off the bike can sometimes get away with "painting outside the lines."  That's a privilege to be earned!

(1) Put your bike computer where you can see it.

You want your computer somewhere you can see at a very easy glance without taking your eyes off the road.   Barfly makes good mounts that go on your aerobars.   Or, some between the aerobars drink bottles sell mounts such as the xlab torpdo versa that go in front of the bottle (best) or on top of the bottle (OK).    If your computer is on your wrist or even on your bike stem, chances are that you aren't going to look at it much.  And if you aren't looking at it then you aren't using it for pacing.  Which brings us to our next topic... read more

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4 Podiums at Honu 70.3

How to Race a Half Ironman.

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Above: 4 TriForcers (Li Moore, John “Snickers” Nickers, Mimi “Usually” Winsberg, and coach Coady) podium at Honu 70.3. The best athletes not only train hard, they also have their nutrition, hydration and pacing dialed.

For whatever reason, I’ve failed to impress on many of our new team members how important it is to dial in their pacing and nutrition. Some TriForcers love to train, but show almost no interest in developing their race pacing or nutrition strategies. This is a recipe for failure! You can train 30 hours per week, but if you pace poorly and don’t take in enough calories (or you take in a mix of products that upsets your stomach), then you’re doomed to have a poor race. If you are a busy athlete who has been making sacrifices to squeeze in all your workouts, but you won’t take the time and focus to figure out your pacing and nutrition, it’s a sad, sad situation when your race goes off the rails. And one that was probabl preventable. read more

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12 Tips for Triathlon Training on Vacation

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Picture above: me swimming from one of Richard Branson’s private islands to his other one, with a person greeting from Sir Richard himself.   I highly recommend that “vacation workout”  next time you are in the British Virgin Islands 🙂

One of the biggest challenges as a triathlon coach is dealing with unrealistic expectations, such as athletes thinking they can achieve a personal best in a race even if they took a long vacation with a big gap in their training in the middle of their race build.    read more

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Busy Ironman Athletes: Think “Minimum Effective Dose,” Not “Overload”

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This post highlights a way I approach coaching busy triathletes, including Ironman racers.  This “minimum effective dose” approach was the foundation of my 10 hours per week Ironman training experiment.   However, it’s a good way for ANY triathlete to think about their training.

Most triathletes, especially Ironman racers, (as well as some coaches) think of training primarily in terms of overload and adaptation.  In other words, they pile on as much training as they think they can handle or whatever they think it takes to achieve their goals.  They feel the more they can pile on without injury, the more their body will adapt and get stronger.

This is the classic “more is better” idea that is so prevalent among triathletes.  The problem with this idea is that it doesn’t work for many people, especially if they are busy and stressed out to begin with.   Even if we have a strong foundation for adaptation, if we train too much we exceed our body’s capacity to absorb the training and get faster.   Our bodies are so tired that they can’t muster the energy to heal and make the changes necessary to get faster.  We end up tired, grumpy and frustrated at the limited results we are getting for our hard work.

Instead of “Overload and Adaptation” think of our training in  terms of “Dose and Response”.  read more

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The Coach Coady 10 Hours Per Week Complete Saga

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It actually worked!   Back in November, I came up with the idea that I wanted to try to qualify for Kona on a 10 hours per week training plan.  Fast forward to May… and I won my age group at Ironman Santa Rosa with a time of 9:26 and qualified for Kona.

The goal was never to show that lower volume training is the best way to train. It’s not.   And it is DEFINITELY not a “how to qualify for Kona” post– if you have never qualified for Kona, your best bet will be with a higher volume plan.   (TriForcer Tom Glynn just took 3rd in his AG and qualified for Kona at Ironman Texas, and he did 16-20 hours for most of his training weeks, a more “typical” KQ plan)   The goal is to show you how you can be almost as fast as if you did a “full” training plan if you are on a smart lower volume plan.

Here’s the full saga:

Part 1: The 10 Hours Per Week Plan.  This is where I lay out some of the basic concepts, tools and workouts that can be useful for busy athletes in creating a lower volume training plan for Ironman.

 

Part 2: Notes on the first half of my IMSR training.   This is the first half of the build or so where I was strictly under 10 hours every week.    If you are a busy triathlete looking to train for Ironman I hope you’ll get some useful ideas from the article.

Part 3: The Second Half of my IMSR training.   My training had a physical and emotional dip due to injury then I got into “phase 2” of my Ironman training – the final push where I had 5 bigger weeks of over 10 hours, followed by the taper.

Part 4: It Worked!  Ironman Santa Rosa Race Report- 1st AG, Kona Qualification 9:26 finish time on 9 hours 50 minutes / week average over the course of the build!   Mission accomplished- I think I was almost as fast as if I had done a “full” plan, which was the goal.

 

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Coach Coady Wins IMSR (9:26, 40-44) and Qualifies for…

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Holy cow– it worked!   I followed a 10 hours per week training plan to get ready for IMSR.  I did it as an experiment and a learning experience to make me a better coach.  The goal wasn’t to PR, but I was hoping to be almost as fast as if I had done a “full” training plan.   Mission accomplished!

For more about my build, read about about the first half of my training and the second half of my training + taper.

Goal

My goal was simple– qualify for Kona on 10 hours per week so I don’t look like an idiot for writing a bunch of articles about how I’m trying to do that with the conclusion being that I failed!  I figured it would take a top 4 finish, so that was my goal.  I felt a 9:30 should be safe and might even be good for a win, but I thought that even being a good bit slower than that would give me a good chance for 4th (I was wrong about that- our AG was much deeper with talent than I thought with 8 guys sub 9:35).

Pre Race

Race week was restful since I was still carrying a decent amount of fatigue from the final build.   I snapped out of healing mode a couple days out and was feeling good.   The major problem was that my psoas was a mess (I aggravated it at the end of my build) and I couldn’t run more than a few miles without it flaring up.   I was just hoping that race week rest + race day adrenaline would get me through the race.

The night before I had my usual Micky D’s pre race dinner: quarter pounder with cheese, small cheeseburger, McChicken and large fries.   Go ahead, laugh. 🙂 But for whatever reason it works for me– I have done this before 3 Ironman races and have 2 AG wins + a 3rd place.  So now I’m basically stuck doing it for the rest of my life.

I have a similarly relatively heavy breakfast (breakfast potatoes, eggs, bacon).  I’ll be doing all liquids (or blocs) for the rest of the race and I think my body will be happier with some real food to start the day.

Swim 1:00:07 (PR, 6th place in AG, PR)

My swim fitness wasn’t as strong as previous builds so I knew I had be humble and to swim smart.  I wasn’t nearly  fit enough to “brute force” myself to a good swim time so I had to be wiley.  I seeded myself in the middle of the sub 1 hour group, which due to rampant time inflation by everyone is the right spot even though I figured I’d be closer to a 1:02.

I relaxed and got “pulled out” in the rolling start.   The goal was to draft 100% of the time, which I more or less did.   About half way through the first loop I found a great set of feet– exactly the right speed, sighting reasonably well, with a relaxed 2 beat kick that was easy to follow.  He even had a yellow decal on the bottom of his wetsuit leg so I could find him when we hit bad traffic.  I followed him for the rest of loop 1 and we got out of the first loop in 29:37.

In the 2nd loop I kept following the same guy– WHAT A STUD HE WAS!   He was weaving between the slow swimmers on loop 1 like a champ and if anything it felt like he was picking up the pace.   My attitude was to stay on his feet at all costs and I managed it even through some nasty traffic.   If you were that guy, I owe you a beer!

I got out of the swim in just over an hour feeling good.

T1: 5:20 – I moved up to 4th.

A reasonably fast / smooth T1.

Bike 5:02- staying in 4th place.

Similar to the swim, I knew I had to adjust my riding somewhat based on the fact that I wasn’t overly fit.

The one key for me was to coast and back off at higher speeds (27+ mph).  I racked up 50 minutes of time during the race at under 50% of FTP– so basically 50 minutes of recovery mixed into the ride.   Based on the gap to the people around me while I was coasting, I lost little to no time, so it was well worth it.

Bike Part 1: First 25% of the race (until Chalk Hill).  Plan was to “warm up” 209 NP. read more

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Coach Coady 10 hours per week Ironman training experiment:…

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A “hole” in my run training due to a heel injury was a low point in my training.

This is the third post in my series on my experiment in trying to qualify for Kona on 10ish hours per week Ironman training plan.   It’s an example of how a busy athlete might approach Ironman training on a time budget.  I wanted to use this build as a learning experience to improve myself as a coach.  Before reading this post check out the previous posts: (1) The 10 Hours per Week Plan and (2) the halfway update of my 10 hours per week training.  This article picks up where they left off.

(UPDATE: Spoiler alert: IT WORKED!!!!!  I won my age group with a time of 9:26 and qualified for Kona!)

Wrapping up Phase 1 on a Negative Note:

In my last post everything was going almost perfectly… a sure sign that some challenge was  going to pop up!   Well, my heel injury flared up and I ended up having 4 weeks of hampered / limited running.  With the injury causing major issues all the way through to 10 weeks out from Ironman Santa Rosa, I was having doubts I could have the run fitness and health to race strong.    As a result (and nonstop rainy weather didn’t help), motivation hit a low point.

However I turned a negative into a positive and  took time to study my injury issues and I actually unlocked what I think is the root cause and how to fix it.  The injury got under control and I decided to look at the lighter weeks of training as a breather before pushing into 10 hours per week phase 2–  where we do 4-6 bigger weeks before tapering.  A bit of a break before going into Phase 2 can be a benefit– you lose a little fitness but you hopefully recharge the mind and body for a strong final push.

10 Hours Per Week Plan Phase 2 – What Needs to be Done?

The studious reader will recall from the 10 hours per week plan article that phase 2 is where we do more than 10 hours per  week in the final handful of weeks before the Ironman.   Heading into phase 2 we ask the question– “what needs to be done to be ready to race Ironman?”  For most people, the answer will be more volume and longer long bikes / runs to make sure they are ready to “go the distance.”

Here were my key focuses:

  • I needed to rebuild my run fitness.  After 4 weeks of barely running, I had lost a ton of run fitness and durability.  And as I noted in my last post, while my speed was good, my durability wasn’t great even before the heel problems.   On the plus side, having figured out my injury issues, I felt I could start wearing some more “normal” shoes vs. being stuck in barefoot shoes, which should provide and instant durability boost.  (note that I was somewhat wrong– the switch back to maximal shoes or some workouts aggravated an old psoas injury).   Solution: slower miles, more miles.  If you are out of shape (and nursing an injury) you can’t push both speed and distance.  So, I kept speed much slower and just focused on doing slower miles, trusting that the ability to run fast at IM effort will be maintained.   In the final block I did 4 weeks of 30ish miles and 1 big week of 40+ miles (camp week).  This was hardly “big” but it was the best I could do given the nagging injuries and the fact that I was “cramming” the run on a compromised base of training.
  • I needed to extend my bike fitness to 5 hours.  The bike was very strong coming out of the 10 hour program and I almost felt like I could have done a strong Ironman bike without a phase 2.  I made the interval reps longer and added 1 hour relaxed before the 3 hour harder ride.  I did a 4 hour ride most weeks in phase 3, but with 2 x rides of 5 hours or more.  During camp week I did a double longer ride (4 hours hills + 112 miles on the course).
  • Put together some good swim weeks.  my swim training was “meh” heading into phase 3.   I put in a couple respectable 10k + weeks before the taper (including 2 Ironman distance OW swims) which gave me a boost.
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