Running with power

Late last year, I began learning about power meters for runners, I have read countless books and articles, viewed athlete’s data files, listened to podcasts and watched videos on YouTube.  I must have hundreds of hours clocked up in learning about this topic.

I even went as far as creating mock programs for runners at different levels (FTP) for different races (5km, marathons, Ironman, etc) as part of learning more about running, training and racing with a power meter.  I did old fashion spread sheet programs, programs on Final Surge and programs on Today’s Plan

I feel like I have the theory part at a level I am comfortable to talk about, I need to now start learning the practical side so I can have a greater understanding on training, racing and coaching with a power meter.

This week I finally got around to purchasing a Stryd power meter that I hope to receive in the next week or two.  I thought it would be cool if I started blogging about what I have learned already, what I will learn in the coming months and see if we can all learn as much as possible while having fun and see what I believe will be a valuable performance tool.

 

Starting each week with a bang

There is a saying in professional wrestling “I got to get my shit in” meaning they want to hit all their signature moves within a wrestling match. I like to use this saying myself when it comes to my training each week.  I have expectations each week and when I look back through my training log, the weeks that were great versus the poor weeks came down to preparation more times than not.

Yes I make notes on what works and why it worked and I also note what didn’t work and why it didn’t work so when it comes to looking at why some weeks are better than others, I can normally find the reasons why.

Normally Sunday afternoon I will set myself up for success for the coming week.  The main things being

  • Training program set and a basic template of how the week will look like is set out.
  • Swim sessions written out on paper and placed in my swim bag.
  • Bike sessions that are outdoors written on a small paper so all I need to do is stick to the top tube of my bike.
  • The next indoor ride is already written out on my white board ready to go.
  • Training gear, clothing, Garmin, etc all set to go (well as much as possible).
  • My car is filled with petrol.

Just doing these things doesn’t normally take long but as I go through my week and find I am fighting for each minute to “get my shit in” I can just get into it.

A mate who is in the same run group as I am was telling me that his daughter is being assessed for being a genius. One of the things they look at is how organised is the person. In my mate’s daughter’s case, she is extremely organised.  To get the most out of each week, preparation is king. become a genius in triathlon and and aim to get your shit in every week.

 

Starting from Zero

I had a new athlete start with me two weeks ago who for the past few years have done nothing in regards to training.  In fact, he charged his Garmin three weeks ago and the data that came up on his screen was from a DFN Ironman three years prior. From my understanding, this was his last activity he has done.

He wants to celebrate his retirement with a comeback to triathlons and has gone so far to and booked in for an Ironman that is just under a year away.

He was worried about when and how to start and going from doing nothing into a full training schedule.  He mentioned he may start in a month or two. I explained that I was keen to only start him off week one with one swim, one bike and one run and we will slowly build from there. Now this sparked his interest and he was ready to get started training right away.

Over the next three months, all I am doing with this athlete is getting his body ready to train consistently trying to limit the risk of injury and most of all build his confidence through the training.  He has had three full years off so the next six months needs to be handled with care.

To give an insight to his first week:

 

Tuesday – Swim 900m

Warm Up:

  • 2 x 50 freestyle
  • 2 x 50 freestyle with fins
  • 2 x 50 pull buoy and paddles
  • 2 x 50 freestyle

Main Set:

Multiple sink downs in deep end – until you’re really comfortable exhaling (e.g. 3 x 3)

  • 4 x 25
  • 2 x 50 easy freestyle B3s
  • 100 freestyle with pull buoy breathing every 3/5/3/5 strokes
  • 100 freestyle breathing every 3 strokes

Cool down:

  • 100m choice

 

Thursday – Run 30min

Run 3min at a moderate effort, walk 1min

 

Saturday – Bike – 30min

All moderate effort

 

This is it.  A very achievable week of training.  This will be his first step to finishing an Ironman in 49 weeks.

What worked & what didn’t work at your race

One thing I started doing a few years ago was writing down after a race a list of everything that worked, everything that didn’t work and things to consider for next time I am racing.  Over time, getting everything ready for a race, race morning, during the race becomes more streamlined and stress free by the systems you create.

For example, here are my notes from the past three Ironman races I did.

2016 Notes:

  • Need a carry on bag that holds aero helmet, laptop, etc for travel on plane.
  • Transfer my race information and check lists to digital so I can access information from my phone.
  • Need better supplement travel container.

 

2017 Notes:

  • Fix strap on aero helmet so it doesn’t flap
  • Bring bottle cage from aero bars to frame so I can see power easier
  • Have greater control of my time in the days leading into the race
  • Don’t place anything in my pockets of my tri kit while on the bike

 

2018 Notes:

  • Need a check list for each day I am away for the race
  • Create full meal menu for the days leading into the race
  • Create and develop a pre-race routine

 

Over the years, this list has become shorter and shorter as I continuously develop a better system that sees being packed, travel, unpack and ready for race start with as least friction as possible.

I personally use a free program called Trello that is a app so you can access my lists and information from my phone.

 

Strength training in the lead up to an Ironman

In the lead up to my past Ironman, I decided to change my strength training program completely around from the past year to see what would happen.

Going against everything I have been told where and when to place gym sessions within an athlete’s training program, I decided to place my gym session after my weekly long rides.  Some weeks I would jump off my bike from a five – six hour ride and go directly to the gym.  Other weeks I would wait up to four hours to do so.

My weekly strength training program from twelve weeks leading into the Ironman was very much a maintenance phase.  I had done all the hard work in the gym in the nine months prior to this.  My week would look something like:

  • Two core strength sessions done at home
  • One full body gym session

 

Last year when I was within twelve weeks of an Ironman, I remained in the gym twice a week with the focus of maintenance. This year I decided to replace one of my gym sessions with an extra run.

I didn’t know if this was going to work in week one and I was wiling to make changes if and when needed.  For all gym sessions, I had written out the session, how many reps and the weights I wanted to lift for each muscle group.

The weeks looked something like this

  • Week 1: Gym session directly after a 5hr hilly ride. This felt hard but manageable and recovered well.
  • Week 2: Gym was placed in a traditional place
  • Week 3: Gym within 1hr after finishing a 6hr ride
  • Week 4: Gym within 4hrs after finishing a 5hr hilly ride
  • Week 5: Gym was placed in a traditional place
  • Week 6: Gym was placed in a traditional place
  • Week 7: Gym within 4hrs of finishing a 3hr hard ride
  • Week 8: Gym within 1hr of finishing a 5hr hilly ride – Starting to feel easy
  • Week 9: Gym within 1hr of a 6hr ride – I had to increase the weights as it felt too easy
  • Week 10: Gym session within 3hrs of a 3hr hard ride
  • Week 11: Gym was placed in a traditional place
  • Week 12: Race week – No gym

 

Results 

Yes the first week felt hard but I recovered fast from the session and it didn’t have a negative impact to my long run the next day.  From there, it really felt easier and easier each time and I found by week six of doing this, I would feel amazingly fresh after my long rides.

In the past, a six hour ride would feel like I have ridden six hours, now, I am getting off the bike and walking around the house questioning the ride and the effort I rode at. I would feel like I had spent the morning on the beach instead of the bike.

Week nine blew my mind, I got off the bike after a 6hr ride feeling fresh.  I had a shake and a shower and went directly to the gym. When I started doing inclined leg press, I had on my program 3×12 @ 130kg. I started and I thought I hadn’t stacked the weights correctly as it felt way too easy.  I stopped and counted the weights and yes they were right.  I had to put on another 20kg just so it could feel like I am doing something.

 

Ironman Performance 

While I didn’t have the ride I was expecting during my Ironman, the last 65km was a strong headwind.  This also turned out to be my fastest last 65km of any Ironman I had done and I got off the bike feeling I had just ridden 90km instead of 180km.

 

Would I do this again?  For myself, most diffidently.

Would I recommend others to do this or give this to athletes I coach? Depending on the athlete, I would strongly consider testing if it will work for some if I could be sure the athlete would focus on good technique during the gym sessions and recovery after the session.  I would also want a lot of feedback from each session and I would keep a close eye on their training performance in the days after the gym session.

 

 

Tim Egge

If we were to look in your fridge

I have cut up questions I have asked pro triathletes from an old media website I use to have.  Each week I will post a new question.  

 

LUKE MCKENZIE

Lot’s of fruit and veg and a lot of liquid! Plenty of water and all sorts of juices. There isn’t really much “naughty” stuff in there

 

Elly Frank
Vegemite, Berries, cheese, lots of fresh food, and milk. I love milk! Just don’t look in the cupboard because that’s where my lollies stash is kept

 

RONNIE SCHILDKNECHT

Chocolate, Coffee beans, Milk, Yoghurt and Cheese.

 

MELISSA HAUSCHILDT

Bread, milk, baby spinach.

 

IAN MIKELSON

Hahaha… well seeing as I am in between training locations right now, and staying with family, I don’t really have a fridge I can call my own. But I do my best to try and eat halfway intelligently. I like a few certain veggies (sweet potatoes, squash, mushrooms, peppers, spinach) and always try to keep some good fruit around (bananas, apples, berries). Unfortunately I have a serious problem with cereal and thus I try not to buy it and stick to oatmeal. I also try to eat a fair amount of brown rice and quinoa. COFFEE is a big part of my life and most days don’t start without it. I try to keep red meat to a minimum but grew up as quite a carnivore, so that is tough, so I typically eat it once or twice a week and get most of my protein from eggs, salmon and chicken.

 

GINA CRAWFORD

Probably nothing as I tend to eat all the best stuff as soon as it is bought!! Haha! There will always be some organic milk in there though for my protein smoothies.

 

JOHAN BORG

Food and lots of it.

 

CLAYTON FETTELL

Very little, I live across the road from Whole Foods in Boulder Colorado.

 

Matty White

Lots of fruit and veg from my garden and homemade pasta sauce which my wife makes!

 

SIMON COCHRANE

Meat, Veges, Fruit, Eggs, Yoghurt, Orchard Gold Frozen Berries, Red Wine, Dark Chocolate.

 

PHILIP GRAVES

Lots of Yoghurt and Milk, i could live off Muller fruit corners!

 

RICHIE CUNNINGHAM

Food

 

JOSH AMBERGER

Bulk leftovers. My Mums is a compulsive cook & my Dad is a chef. Nothing is ever in short supply and there’s always a myriad of things to snack or feast on. I also eat a lot of fruit, so expect some fructose goodness.

 

RICHARD WHITFIELD

Greek yogurt and bluebirds (do love a good smoothie)

 

GUY CRAWFORD

Pasta from last night, yogurt, chocolate if it’s hot and melting on the bench, Milk (low fat cause I watch my figure.. lol), beet-root, cheese, a meat of some sort for tonight’s dinner…and then there’s all Kate’s vege’s and fruit and stuff.. Oh and you’ll find sauces… I love sauces…we have like 10 half empty containers…(my bad).

 

JOSH RIX

Eggs, lots of eggs. Smoked Salmon. Cheese. Yoghurt. Coke. San Pelligrino mineral water. Milk. Chocolate milk. Butter. Cream. Blueberries.

 

JAMES HODGE

Nothing out of the usual, I need to work on my nutrition. Milk is definitely always in there for making my protein shakes after training.

 

Levi Maxwell

SALAD, WHOLMEAL BREAD, SKIM MILK, MEAT, TUNA, SALMON, VEGGIES, APPLES AND BANANAS, JAM AND MOST IMPORTANTLY NUTELLA!

 

MICHAEL LOVATO

A lot of food! We eat a ton of fresh food, and will often stop by Whole Foods to purchase prepared food items – this is essential in big training blocks, when we may not have the energy to cook a proper meal. We do love to cook, but sometimes we just can’t muster the strength. Currently the fridge has the following: kale “superfood” salad with acai dressing, carne asada, mashed sweet potatoes, turkey meat, Udi’s bagels, coconut milk, yogurt, lots of berries,eggs, hummus, carrots, fresh lettuce/ kale/ romaine. Really, the list goes on and on and on. Groceries are our biggest expense!

Nutrition Plan

There is so much that goes into a nutrition plan.  I’m not just talking about race day nutrition, I am talking about everything, all year round.
I wrote a couple of blogs on race weight hacks recently. More or less these blogs were a fast way to get down to race weight.  In a nutshell, it was eat less and move more. This isn’t the most optimal way to manage your day to day fuel intake but just a quick hack.
I wanted to do a blog with a bigger picture in mind.  When someone mentions “nutrition Plan” they are normally describing race week or race day nutrition.
To me, there are three main aspects to a nutrition plan.
  • Fueling & Recovery
  • Maximise Training & Raceing
  • Power to Weigh
There are many different ways to manage your day to day nutrition. Instead of breaking your diets into week long blocks or taking each day at a time, I really like breaking each day into segments.  A easy way to do this is using the traffic light system.
The traffic light system is
  • Red: calorie deficit
  • Amber: low carbs
  • Green: high carbs
An example on using this system, you might cut the day in three parts.
  • Morning: Green (training)
  • Midday: Amber
  • Evening: Green (Training)
A lot more goes into this than just simply looking at your watch to see if you can eat another banana or not.  Nutrient trimming can have a massive impact on the way you train, the speed of your recovery.  The quality of the food and drinks you consume also plays a massive impact.
Create your own plan
While it can be very hard to plan what you will have for each meal for each day of the week, especially for the people with families and a hectic lifestyle.  Here are some tips on creating your own nutrition plan:
  • At the beginning of each week, take your training program and pencil in where each session will go throughout the week.
  • Include work and other commitments in your week.
  • Over communicate with the people around you so you hopefully have everything for the week covered.
  • Mark each day into thirds or quarters and highlight the sections keeping in mind the quality and volume of each training session, power to weight, etc.
  • Use this plan more as a guide and prepare for things to change as life circumstances can change everything.
The aim is to do this for a few weeks till you turn this system into a natural habit. If you fall and find you are eating something you shouldn’t, don’t simply say “oh well, that’s it for the day or week” and keep eating. Stop, reset and jump right back onto the plan.
Tim Egge