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What should my off season look like?

Question from Stacey:

I have now started the off-season and was wondering what should my off-season look like?

 

Being a loaded question in the fact that that every athlete is different, so I’ll do my best to give you some ideas and some suggestions.

If you were going into the off-season aerobically fit, it would make more sense to work on increasing your VO2 max ceiling so in short this means cutting the volume and increasing the intensity.

On the flip side if you’re going into the off-season lacking some aerobic fitness then it would make more sense to drop a lot of the intensity and add volume and build that aerobic base.

The off-season is also good to work on weaknesses however depending on your weakness and the goals you have will depend greatly on if that time is worth the investment. Sometimes it’s best to forget your weakness and triple down on your strengths. For example if you’re swim is your weakness and you really need to take 10 minutes off your swim time, than that’s going to be an incredible investment of time and effort working on technique, speed and power in the water. That time could be best spent working on your bike and run as the gains could be far greater.

I would also recommend that the off-season is a good time to focus on strength as well, whether that’s being in the gym two or three times a week or doing your strength work at home.

No matter what direction you take with your off-season training, the main focus still needs to be consistency and staying healthy so when you start to build towards your first race of the season, you are in a good position to crush the season.

 

Tim Egge

If you have any questions please email me tim@trainsmooth.com

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Increase Run Volume

Question from From Stuart

I’m currently six months out from an Ironman, currently I am running three times a week with an average of 40 minutes of running per session. I would like to increase my run volume as I build towards the Ironman and was wondering your advice on how to increase the volume safely.

 

We’ve all heard about the 10% rule ware you increase volume by 10% each week. I’m not sure where this came from but there are better ways of increasing weekly volume.

First up there is no real magic number. Your body will tell you that number each time you run. But if I was to give it a number, I would say approximately ten minutes per week on your long run and around five minutes per week on your weekday runs.

So let’s take the long run for example. You go out with the aim to run one hour but if you only get forty minutes into the session and you are feeling not right, then you need to shut it down and go home. On the other hand if you get to an hour and you’re feeling really good you can keep going just as long as it does not have a negative impact on the next five days of training.

If your average runs have been approximately forty minutes per session then it’s safe to say you will need to work on your aerobic Fitness before increasing intensity.  I would make all your runs for the next three months at a moderate effort (you should be able to hold a conversation whilst running) and also include some Rolling Hills. In around three months you will be able to assess if you can start adding intensity or keep runs out of moderate effort.

In regards to how far your long run should be, this would depend greatly on what pace you run at. However I can’t see any real value in running longer than 32 km in one hit all longer than 3 hours.

If you feel like you need to put a marathon in the legs in the lead up to your Ironman for  extra confidence, I would recommend making it a double run day for example running 32 km in the morning, resting for six to eight hours, and run a easy 10 km in the afternoon.

I would also consider adding walking within your long runs. Something like nine minutes of running, one minute walking or thirty seconds of walking per ten minutes of running or twenty seconds of walking per five minutes of running. There are a number ways you can do this but this will help you increase volume safely.

  • First: Get the volume in
  • Second: Get your recovery in through the volume
  • Third: after you get the first two right, add intensity

 

Tim Egge

If you have any questions, please email tim@trainsmooth.com

Knee Pains for Cyclists

Question from Henry,

I’m a cyclist that rides 5 times a week and averages between 60 and 90 minutes per ride. In the past six months, I’ve experienced pain coming from my right knee. What are your thoughts and tips I can do to fix this?

Without physically looking at you and analysing your technique, I can really only give an educated guess. One of the main causes of knee pains for cyclists generally comes from shoe cleat positions or poor position.

Often cyclists will change their cleats on their cycling shoes and not quite get the position right. This has the potential of turning into an overuse injury.

The first thing you need to do is check that your cleat position is correct and why you are doing this, it is worth getting a bike fit and checking your technique on the bike is correct. It also may pay to ice the knee after every ride for the next couple of weeks.

If this doesn’t fix the problem, you may need to see a personal trainer or a physiotherapist and have a full body check for any imbalances.

 

Tim Egge

If you have any questions regarding training, racing or nutrition please email tim@trainsmooth.com

How to improve my swim?

Question from Christen: I’ve taught myself to swim by watching videos on YouTube but I’m struggling to see much improvements with my swim time any suggestions?

 

The short answer is once you get your technique good enough you need to start focusing on speed and power.

There are so many videos on YouTube that will break down the swim stroke bit by bit that can be very helpful. Also watching yourself on video is also highly valuable. You don’t need a very expensive GoPro camera to do this as you can get cheaper versions from eBay for around $40 with free shipping.

Problem with this however is there are a lot of public swimming pools that will not allow video cameras. Therefore you must be sneaky by the way you video yourself. Hide your camera in the foot hole of your fins and when there is no one in the lane you’re swimming in, you can pull the camera out stack your paddles, pull buoy and fins over top to camouflage the camera and start filming. I have done this hundreds of times and I have never been caught or got into any trouble.  Only film yourself.

Another option is to speak to one of the lifeguards who knows swim technique that works at the pool you visit and ask them to keep an eye on your swim technique and offer advice if and when needed. Most of these lifeguards a boards to hell and often are more than willing to help. It helps them pass time and helps you improve in the water…… win, win.

When you have your technique good enough that it’s a foundation that you can build upon, you need to start working on speed and power within each session. A lot of short sharp sessions and a lot of paddle sessions.

Swimming in groups and with faster swimmers is worth its weight in goals but not everyone can fit this in with their available training hours.

 

Tim Egge

If you have a question for me, please email tim@trainsmooth.com

Diet Log – Getting down to race weight

I’m a big fan of mixed martial arts, I just love watching UFC, Bellator and other promotions. It’s not so much the fighting that I love the most but I’m fascinated with the athletes. What most people think of are just a bunch of rough nuts jumping into an octagon and punching each other are in fact wrong. These are highly skilled and trained athletes who have full control of all aspects of their life and when it comes to weight loss and weight cut they are ninjas.

The way these athletes diet and then cut weight, they have this down to a fine art or to be more correct, it’s a science. I was recently listening to an interview with UFC fighter Kevin Lee who just main evented a UFC Pay-Per-View.

He described in this interview the way he dieted and the way he cuts weight. He mentioned that he writes down in great detail everything so when it’s time to redo his diet and cut in coming fights, he can look back and see what worked and what didn’t.

In the lead up to his past fight against Tony Ferguson, Kevin decided to follow a weight loss program he had done in a past that had gone very smoothly. At one stage during this weight loss he found himself ahead of schedule. Because of this he slackened off slightly and lost momentum. Now comes time when he needs to start cutting the weight and taking all the fluids out of his body and he really struggled.

My point here is when getting down to race weight, it will pay dividends if you logged in great detail everything you consumed as with all your training. Making note what worked and what didn’t. The more details you can log the better it will be in coming races when it’s time to start losing weight again.

History can tell us so much and help shape our future. It’s so easy to forget all the little things so don’t leave it to your head to remember, log everything down and create a blue print for your next race.

Tim Egge

Email: tim@trainsmooth.com

 

Mistakes Noticed at Kona Check-in

Recently I was looking at photos on social media of athletes checking their bikes into transition at the Ironman World Championship. I noticed five athletes make the same mistake. They all have their nutrition already setup on their bike ready to go for the next day.

As you can imagine kona is hot as crap and you really do not want the nutrition you’re relying on the next day to be out in the sun for too long. Things like gels, bottles, saltsticks, bars, etc.

It’s taken months of training and months of preparation to get to this point, last thing you need is something like the hot sun ruining your nutrition. You’ve worked far too hard to get to this point.

I also noticed one athlete with their race number wristband on their left hand. Most athletes have a Garmin/watch on their left hand. With this wristband and the Garmin rubbing against each other will only cause friction and discomfort.

I have seen it a few times where the athlete was forced to put their watch on their right hand only to cause problems with their swim as they are not used to swimming with their watch on their right hand. You wouldn’t think such a lightweight object could cause problems like this but unfortunately they do.

Also it made me wonder looking at all these photos how many of these athletes have got the tire pressure ready for the next day. Again, Kona is hot as crap. Your bike out all day in the blaring sun can cause your tube/tyre to bust. Best practice to do is to deflate your tires slightly so if you’re racing at 110 psi then decrease the air pressure to approximately 80 psi. This will simply reduce the risk of any problems.

The only thing that should be on your bike the day before your race is simply your race number. Everything else gets done the next day once transition opens. There is plenty of time to do your tyre pressure, your nutrition, clip on your cycling shoes and anything else that may need doing.

If you have any questions regarding racing training or nutrition please email me tim@trainsmooth.com

Tim Egge

Improve your FTP

I did a post of FTP for the Train Smooth private Facebook group (for current and past Train Smooth athletes) and I had a current Train Smooth athlete ask a follow up question so I thought I would share everything.

FTP
I thought I would do a quick post of Functional Threshold Power (FTP)
FTP is simply the maximum power your body can maintain under aerobic condition for typically one hour. Most of us do not do the one hour FTP test as it can be done doing a 20 minute time trial and your FTP will be 95% of the average of that 20 minute time trial.

VO2 Max
FTP is actually a percentage of your overall VO2 max capacity. So next time someone says triathletes don’t need to worry about VO2 max, you can tell them to rack off.

You will need to raise your VO2 max ceiling to allow room to build your FTP. So for the past Train Smooth athletes who are interested in what to do next?
Start off 5-8 minute efforts @110% FTP, move towards 3 minute efforts @ 120% of FTP. Start off doing 3-4 reps and slowly build towards 9 reps.

FTP intervals:
Building functional threshold power is more a case of building endurance at high percentages of VO2 max. The standard interval is 2x 20 minutes at sweet spot (84-95% of FTP), as you progress, you can slowly increase this to 100% FTP then do 3x 20min @ sweet spot.
Don’t have a power meter?
Moderate: keeping it all aerobic:
Medium: this will be your FTP intervals
MAD: this will be your VO2 max intervals
Easy: when doing these intervals, easy is EASY

Question from Anibal:
When is the best time to raise the FTP, off season?

There are a couple of ways to go around this.
• Do more aerobic and strength endurance sessions in the off season and as you head closer to tri season you ramp things up. This is normally a traditional way.
• In the off season you cut the hell out of the volume and increase the intensity. Many athletes and coaches are moving more towards this way in the past few years. Brett Sutton has been doing it this way for years.

Personally it depends greatly on the athletes. I have some athletes training at MAF in the off season, some more aerobic and strength endurance work and others we are really focused on strength and speed.

If an athlete is going into the off season really aerobically fit, it would make sense to go into VO2 block. If the athlete isn’t aerobically fit, it makes sense to focus on this aspect first.

Tim Egge
If you have a question, please email tim@trainsmooth.com