Expert Opinion with Neil Drouet

Overtraining – could we actually call it “under-recovering”?

For those of you training towards Busselton in December, your training will be approaching the hardest stages over the next few weeks. This means LONG rides, brick runs, open water swims, and usually a lot more intensity. For each athlete, the risk of overuse injuries is often higher at this stage of the season, and we commonly blame “overtraining”. But is this a misleading description?

Assuming you are following the plan your coach gave you, then you have been increasing both your intensity and distance consistently and in small increments to allow your body to gradually prepare for the rigours of race day. So either your coach has stuffed up, or you are actually “just-enough-training”… Certainly compared to an elite athlete putting in 30+ hours a week of training, you aren’t.

The unknown variable in the training equation for every athlete is recovery. I can’t stress how important this is, especially for triathlon, with its high training load. You are forcing your body to adapt to three sports at once, remember!

A lot of athletes give me a funny look when I ask them about this stuff, but it can be the thing that makes of breaks your race, and certainly the thing that may mean we see a lot more of each other if it isn’t done well!

What can we do to enhance recovery?

  • SLEEP – the #1. Get enough (you need more than someone who just sits at a desk and goes for a 30min walk each day), and make sure it is quality. Dark, cool bedroom. Stop reading triathlete.com until 11pm and put the bloody iPad away. And if you are training at 5.30am, you just have to go to bed early…..
  • Lots of fruit, veg and protein. And the big one, get enough calories. This may mean eating some junk food as well, especially after hard or long workouts. Just get the quality stuff too. (Additional – 6 weeks out from race day isn’t a good time to start the latest Instagram diet or keto-plan. Keep it simple and wholesome).
  • Self-care. Massage/roller/trigger ball/stretch/hydrotherapy/etc – basically show your body some love. Never to the point of pain – a mild discomfort (3/10 on the pain scale) is the most you want.
  • Take 5-10mins a day to meditate/deep breathe/read a book/lie down. The more we can stimulate the “Rest and Digest” system, the better your body will repair itself.

What prevents recovery?

  • NOT ENOUGH SLEEP. Worth mentioning twice!
  • Stress – work, family and general life stress can have a huge impact on your recovery, by keeping your body in “Flight or Fight” mode, and therefore dampening the rest and digest bit. Try to limit this as much as you can, and if you can’t (eg work), allow for more of the above points.
  • Not going easy enough in easy sessions. Yes, 130bpm heart rate still counts as training. Learn to back off when you need to.
  • Previous injuries/illness – these may mean that the area (eg an arthritic knee) or your immune system as a whole may need more time.
  • Age – sorry, but this is a big one. A 45year old athlete needs more time between key sessions than a 25year old athlete. Your coach will allow for this, but its one reason why comparing training to your teammates can be a bad idea, especially if you are competitive.

So ultimately, the take home message is simple:
Quality Training + Good recovery – Factors Impeding Recovery = Your Performance

Maximise the first two (notice I said quality training, not MORE training) and limit the last one, and you’ll avoid coming to see me, and have a great race day.

About Neil

Neil is a Physiotherapist and Triathlon Coach, as well as a multiple Ironman finisher. He specialises in blending Physio treatment with coaching advice to deliver optimal outcomes for his clients, and through his competitive background he understands the importance of the “big picture” in managing injuries effectively. He consults from Fieldwork Health in Inglewood and the Perth CBD, and is always happy to answer questions via email.

 

Athlete Profile – Damo

Nickname: Damo, Fang or Gromit.

How long have you been doing tri?: 18 months.

How did you get into tri?: I was after a new challenge and a friend pointed me in this direction. I had no clue what to do next, this is where Coach Peta came in and helped with all my questions on how to kick start the sport.

How many bikes do you have?: Just the humble three bikes (ha ha). My Road/Tri bike, an older 29er mountain bike and lastly my old Repco mountain bike I ride to the airport on fly-out day.

What do you want to achieve this season?: Firstly, an injury free season, touch wood. There are five races I have penciled in to race in and fingers crossed I might make a podium in my age group once this season. But not stressed, fun first as always a priority for me.

Athlete Profile – Carley R

How long been in tri: 3 years with hopefully lots more to come!

How did you get into tri: I had done a few fun runs and was reading an email about the Sunsmart Womens Tri. I thought, ‘what a cool event and look everyone gets a medal – I want one (ha ha) I’ll give it a go. I entered the short distance tri with very limited swimming and biking I had an absolute blast. I got the medal and haven’t looked back.

How many bikes do you have: 2 bikes, a lovely road bike and my favourite bike Shirley the Shiv time trail bike.

What do you want to achieve this season: To have fun and enjoy the events and training with a great club and friends. Oh and to build to hopefully ironman distance next year and to get around 5.45 for a 70.3 ironman.

Athlete Profile – Mark D

Nickname: Doc (because my initials are M.D.)
How long have you been in tri?: 3 years
How did you get into tri?: My cousin was doing them and I decided to have a go at one and have been hooked ever since.
How many bikes do you have?: 4
What do you want to achieve this season?: To complete the half ironman in May next year.

Coach’s Corner with Coach Peta

Heart rate and training zones

Athletes often ask how to use heart rates in training. I would like to write a simple article however I believe that heart rate zones are not always the best option and should be used in conjunction with other zone indicators.

Saying that, heart rates zones are not a bad guide to help you determine your pace for a training session designed to be in a certain “zone” for running and cycling. By maintaining your heart rate within certain parameters, you can target session goals and be reasonably confident you are on the mark.

For example an aerobic long run is normally at zone 2 or below. Maintaining your heart rate below the zone 2 limit indicates that you have met your goal for an aerobic session.

There are different methods for setting zones. Some people prefer the method of using % of maximum heart rate. Jack Daniels, running guru, suggests this as a method in his book The Running Formula.

Alternatively, Joe Friel’s method involves testing to obtain the lactate threshold heart rate then setting your heart rate zones based on percentage of HR lactate threshold.

Lactate threshold is the tipping point, where your body can still produce enough oxygen to use the lactate in your system, lactate being an alternative energy source for your body. At a higher heart rate you can no longer obtain enough oxygen to keep up with lactate production and in order to clear lactate from your body, you need to slow down or stop.

The limitation I find with using the heart rate zone method is that it can affect the quality of some training sessions. I’ll explain.

If you are running 4-5 threshold intervals at HR zone 4, then it is going to take some time to get your heart rate into the zone. You are likely to run extra hard in the first couple of intervals. The issue with this is that your first couple of intervals are going to be extra fast but the last 3 intervals are likely to suffer because you have spent all your energy going too hard, too early. Quality, therefore decreases as the session goes on.

My preferred approach is to use pace zones in conjunction with heart rate in running and rate of perceived effort (RPE) in conjunction with heart rate with cycling. Pace zones can also be calculated using the Joe Friel method, where FTP is the functional threshold pace.

You can read more about the Joe Friel Method on the training peaks site. More importantly, come and talk to one of your friendly club coaches!

 

Tips from Triathletes – Beat the 3pm Snack Attack

wholegrain sourdough toast with ricotta and fig

In the morning I start out with good intentions of eating well. But by 3pm I lose all self control and the fundraising chocolates sing to me like a siren luring a desperate sailor to certain death (by chocolate). Here, some of our club athletes share their best tips for beating the 3pm snack attack.

Yanti – Keep some nuts handy throughout the day and nibble. They’ll help keep your blood sugar stable and are very satisfying because of the healthy fat and protein content and the nice crunch.

Peta – Eat regularly throughout the day. Don’t try and starve yourself, you will just end up binge eating. Try and stay away from high sugar food options, they usually just make your hungrier.  My go to 3pm snack is potato with tomato and zucchini topped with cottage cheese.

Slim – Hickory smoked almonds. Eight to 12 does the trick and they taste like bacon. Winning!

Mike – Low fat yoghurt with a heap of frozen blueberries and a small spoon of maple syrup. Mix until it turns to frozen yoghurt and eat.

Renee – Cottage cheese, grated green apples and cinnamon, with a little honey for sweetness. David Bryant’s banana bread with ricotta and cinnamon. An icy pole hone made with half juice and half water.

Nikky – Vegetable sticks with homemade hummus.

Ian says Hola from Spain

PHTC wolf, Ian, recently spent some time in Spain for a once in a lifetime experience watching the La Vuelta, cycling some crazy Spanish hills and watching the Aragon MotoGP. Here, he shares his experience and some photos for us all to enjoy. 

Hola wolf pack,

I’m writing this from my hotel room and that crazy castle looking thing is the view from my window.  I’m on the last leg of my trip and it’s Friday morning 1:30am in a little town called Zaragoza.

So far the trip has been truly amazing. I have seen some incredible things, and tested my self on some unfathomable climbs.

The cycling culture here has to be experienced to explain it properly. There are climbs for road and mountain bike further than you can imagine. And trails too run as far as your stubbie little legs will take you.

Never once was I yelled or tooted at, only clapped and cheered on.

I’m a little sad the trip is almost over, but really looking forward to getting home to my little family and my business. It’s crazy how only from afar do you realise how lucky you are to have amazing friends and family in your life.

I will leave you with my passing thoughts.

Do you really need that new shinny TT bike that will shave 40 seconds off your time? Or before you click yes to your next Ironman consider this – either of those will easily get you a ticket to Europe.

Take the time to see the world, you are worth it.Take the challenge to scale a mythical climb on a bike, you never know there may be a new you at the top waiting.

You will never know if you don’t take the chance.

See the world one pedal stroke at a time.

Ian

 

Expert Opinion with Mark Tabone

This month we hear from cycling expert Mark Tabone of Midland Cycles about what he thinks will help athletes get ready for race season.
 
1. Be race ready. What I mean by that is clean your bike, lube your chain, check your brakes and check your tyres for wear and holes.
 
2. This could be the most important thing I write today – saddle selection. No, you won’t get used to it. No, numbness is not a good thing. We have tools to measure sit bones which gives a great indicator as to saddle width. Having the correct size saddle will give you flexibility, pelvic rotation and support where it is required. You can even test different saddles to see how they work for you.
 
3. Now this could be the most controversial thing I write today – mental strength. What I’m referring to is knowing that you are able to do the distance. In terms of cycling, I would suggest that if your event has a cycle leg of 40km then train on the bike for 50km. This is something I have personally always done. My body knows that it is capable of 50km so when you’re racing harder and fatigue starts to set in, your mind is capable of pushing through.
 
4. Cleat placement is a major part of a bike fit. Do you get “Hot Spot” when you ride? Do you get numb feet? Both of these things can be cured by cleat placement. Not only can it solve “comfort” issues, but it can increase power and eliminate dead spot (when your cranks are at the top of pedal stroke).
 
5. Nutrition. I’m not a qualified nutritionist but it is important to re-fuel after a racing and training too. As a athlete you have approximately 15 – 20 minutes to get fuel back into your body and this will benefit your physical recovery.
 
6. The last point i would like to share is personal to me – why do we ride bikes or do triathlon? For me its all about fun. Yes, I push myself and I do hurt at the time but all in the name of fun. The second and more serious side for me is mental health. As a sufferer, I find it is the best way to unwind, forget what a bad day I have had and it simply clears the mind.
 
Mark is the proprietor of Midland Cycles and has been racing anything with two wheels since he was a young tacker. An original BMX bandit, he raced BMX into his thirties before turning to road and mountain bike racing at both a state and national level. These days he rides mainly for fun and fitness in between running his business and being a doting dad.