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

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

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.

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


Bike Positions For Triathletes

I recently posted on Twitter “When was the last time you had a bike fit from someone who knows TRIATHLON? Don’t leave this too long” and I received a reply from “Hoss31” asking for more information.




The reason I wrote this tweet was there is a big difference between what the UCI time trial position and what you would expect a triathlete position to look like.

Now I won’t go into comfort is key, etc as you can read this copy paste information on everyone else’s site, I will give some examples and see if I can provide you with some information instead of all the generic crap.

First up a lot of bike fitters are well informed with cycling rules and how to best fit a weekend worrier who wants to jump on a group ride or race weekend races with their local cycling club. I am however many don’t really understand triathlon and their needs.

Cycling’s governing body the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) have a long list on rules from what the bike should weight through to the distance between the saddle and the lower bracket. In triathlon we are not so restricted.

To give an example on what I am talking about, in the early days of me being in this sport, I got a bike fit from a very experienced person. Problem was he knew all about cycling and not triathlon. The position felt OK but it was set up for UCI standards.

Eighteen months later I received a fit from another person who came highly recommended and he fitted me by sight. He moved my saddle forward by 5cm, and down 1cm, he moved my head set down 2cm and made a few other adjustments.

This new position felt really different and within a week, I was feeling and riding amazing. It was a massive improvement.

Around two years later, this same fitter had set up a digital bike fit equipment system that has cameras all around and the computer gives feedback on the position. I decided to invest in my positon and see if there was any improvements to be made.

It took the best part of half an hour to set the bike and cameras up and I sat on the bike and started peddling for a while and the computer was happy with my position and offered no further changes necessary. All up this took around an hour.

My point here is if you can find someone who really knows what they are looking for and understand the sport of triathlon and the demands to your body, you are much better off seeing them about a bike fit than someone else who looks really fit that works in a bike shop. Don’t get your mate at work to do it. You are leaving too many watts on the table.

There are also some great software/systems available that some bike shops offer and for the most part is reliable. Do a little homework first, contact your local triathlon club and ask for some recommendations. Expect to pay between $100 to $500. This is a great investment.

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