The Brutal Honesty of Ironman

Triathlon is one of those endurance sports that seems to attract those that either love the concept of inflicting pain on themselves, or striving to be the best they can possibly be.  Often both of those things at once.

Whether your love is red-lining in sprint distance, or the geriatric shuffle of an Ironman distance tri – the attraction is that only YOU know whether you have truly given it 100%.

For me – IM is my preferred poison/addiction over the last five years. After having not raced at all for two years, I was as nervous as any first time athlete as the big day got closer.  My confidence was low and I had no recent race results to comfort myself that I was well prepared.

You know, it is funny how no matter how meticulously we humans prepare, we tend to migrate towards the negatives. Those missed training sessions, the sessions where we really just “got through it” rather than focussed on achieving the purpose of the session.   It takes quite a bit of mental mastery to go back through the training diary and remind ourselves of all the sessions we consistently did,  those weeks of ticking off each session and each hour spent preparing.

Strength sessions, tolerance intervals, long slow runs, endurance rides, brick sessions – we seem to forget just how well we did prepare as we only seem to see the sleek, lean and well muscled OTHER athletes that sit drinking coffee in the streets of an IM city at race time.  WE imagine their training has been perfect (it hasn’t) and they are better prepared (they aren’t).

In any case, the idea of Ironman is to test yourself.  Just like that exam at school that is absolutely crucial that you pass well, it demands you prepare well in advance and don’t skip classes and do all the required work.  If you don’t prepare well, you may well finish but it will be a world of pain (ok, it is going to be painful anyway, regardless!).

Ironman doesn’t respect any of your other achievements in life.

You can say anything to your friends over coffee about what sort of time you will post on race-day,  but the honesty of Ironman is that you will very, very  likely get the result you deserve. Like that pebble in your shoe, any mistakes or poor preparation will be magnified on raceday.

Ian Hainsworth is the PHTC secretary and an Ironman veteran. When he isn’t planning his next IM strategy he is mending the pets of Mundaring with the same dedication he brings to his race preparation.

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.

 

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!

 

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.

Coach’s Corner with Coach Slim – Brain Training

We all spend many hours training our bodies each week for triathlon, but how often do we train our brain?

I read a great article by Daniel Ricciardo, Perth’s only Formula One driver. He was saying how he was watching the Eagles v Power game last week and when the game went into extra time all the coaches and support staff went out onto the field to coach and advise the team.

Like Formula One drivers, this does not happen for us as triathletes so we need to be able to deal with any situation that may arise at any time.

My first advice on this subject is “If in doubt, don’t!”

What that means is that if you are not sure whether you should or should not do something, then you probably shouldn’t do it.

All sorts of things can happen to us during both training and racing and we have to roll with it and keep a good attitude.

An example that has happened to me a number of times is getting a flat tyre during a race. In this circumstance you have two choices – you can calmly change the tyre and carry on with your day; or you can curse and swear and ruin the rest of your day. But ultimately, it is your choice and you are in control.

This is where ‘brain training’ comes into effect. Brain training is teaching yourself to think before you act and if you can do that when things aren’t going to plan then you can cope with it mentally and not ruin your day.

Changes for the 2017/18 season

As you all know, PHTC prides itself on being a club run for and by its members.  We always have and, at least for as long as I am leading, always will strive to be as accessible as we possibly can.  Our goal is to remove as many barriers as we can to participating and enjoying triathlon and other multi-sports whether they be cultural, social, emotional or financial.  Looking around at the variety of people we get at our sessions I hope you’ll agree that so far we seem to be doing a good job.

One of the ways that we have achieved this is by trying to operate exclusively using volunteers.  We believe that this works for us in a number of ways:  firstly and most obviously it keeps our costs down which means not only lower fees for our members but also that we don’t need to constantly worry about fundraising; secondly it instils a real community feel in the club, it encourages everyone to help out and be an active participant rather than a passive receiver; lastly but certainly not least it means that the people who choose to be involved do it because they love it and I think we all can agree that one of the keys to success at anything is passion.

So by now I guess you are asking yourself “where is he going with this?”  Well following this ethos all of our coaches work on a volunteer basis.  There is not a single hour of session coaching that this club has paid for since December 2015 and it’s our intention to continue this.  This is great for our members but our coaches have costs involved in volunteering their time which I think you would agree is not ideal.  It’s one thing to give up your time but to be expected to pay for the privilege is perhaps a bit much.

So starting the first of July we will be doing our best to ensure that all coaches who regularly contribute to the club are compensated for these costs that they incur, primarily things like the cost of their ongoing coaching accreditation with Triathlon Australia.  To encourage more people to become coaches we also want to offset the financial cost of their training so that it isn’t a burden that negatively influences their decision.

For coaches that are already accredited with TA the club will reimburse their membership and accreditation after they have volunteered 20 hours of coaching time to the club.  For coaches that have taken the more expensive option of a professional license that allows the club to host non-members the club will pay not only the initial payment after 20 hours but also an additional payment covering their professional license when they have volunteered a further 30 hours of coaching.  Newly trained coaches will get 50% of their course cost reimbursed on gaining their accreditation and the remainder after an extra 15 hours.  There is no “per session” payment to coaches, only these staged reimbursements.

Of course to do this and remain sustainable the club must find a way to pay for these costs and rather than raise the membership price we favour a user pays model.  To this end every session (except weekend rides) will increase in cost by $2 for members.  Social or non-members will pay $5 for run or turbo sessions and $10 for swim sessions in recognition of the fact that we must pay for professional coaches to accommodate them within our insurance.

Our club membership fees will remain as they are (there is a slight increase in the Triathlon Australia portion) and we will still have the lowest cost training in town.  The new fee structure for the 2017/18 season is set out in the tables below, we hope you understand the need for these changes and as always appreciate any feedback (positive or negative) that you have for us.  You can do so directly to the coach at training, by email to contact@perthhillstri.org.au or through the anonymous form on the bottom of our committee page.

We’re looking forward to building on the success of the last twelve months with you all in the new season.

Travis Bentley

President

 

 

Brizy’s Season in Review (including Busso 70.3 Race Report)

How it all started…

My season really started in august when like most people I had a rush of blood to the head and a tax return burning a hole in my pocket 😁  I went and bought a brand new TT bike , the reason was I wanted to do Busso 70.3 solo, I had done it as a team cyclist in may 2016 And had got the bug!!  By September I had entered it as well……another rush of blood.

Once I had the bike I then was committed, I joined our club and started a strength training program.  This season for me was to get into club life and finish all the events I entered, all had their challenges but were met and completed.

The training

So to get a bit of a look at what I needed to do this season I was doing a bit of training….what I thought was good enough.  Hahhahahha how wrong I was, I couldn’t swim 750m with out switching to breast stroke, couldn’t run 1k with out my lower back giving up on me, my cycle was my strongest leg but I was pushing too hard and my legs and back were even worse.  All of this was made very clear at the interclub event at Mandurah.  So I spoke to the club and got some training plans and loads of advice and the improvements came in big waves, kept to the strength program and the results were coming, all the work was starting to come in results in the way of being able to complete the distances.

Kicking goals

Because the goal was Busso 70.3 I needed to do more distance races to get used to them, so I did my first Olympic distance in Busso in January and also did Karri Valley (the hardest day in the office…) and the longer distance in the legs was paying off again.  By now I was well into the club 70.3 program with Peta and loving the structure and club life, I could now do the full sessions in the pool and swim all distances and my lower back issues were gone.  Roll on May and Busso 70.3.

Race day (with added shark!)

All was well with the body, I think I was the only one with out man flu that week hahaha.  With everything set up and ready to race I was very calm and soaking it all in , a few bouts of banter before the race with Trav and other competitors was fun, until some one mentioned a shark in the fun and banter (you know who you are…..)  Well needless to say everyone know Mr Shark did come to say hello to the the competitors in the last wave, yes my wave… I got pulled from the water like a fish and dumped onto the deck of the boat, 300m from the beach.  I didn’t think too much of it once I was on the boat however the heart rate says different when told to get out the water!

The bike leg was good for me I did it in a personal best time and also had another first on the bike (I peed for the first time on the bike) LOL.  Into the run, I knew it was going to be a long hard leg.  I had never ran more than 16 km and it was always my worst leg, I cramped at about the 2km mark and then managed it at every single aid station with all they had to offer.  It stayed away but was always in the front of my mind, then when I pushed it would come back.  I settled into my plan and made it to the finish, but not with out the help of Trav.  He helped me through the last lap and a half and made the hardest leg so much fun, the beer and pizza helped as well but having all the club there supporting everyone and myself was amazing. 🙂

To the coaches Trav and especially Peta, thank you for all your help this season and getting me through my first full season.  Onwards and upwards from here for me.

Brian Stearn

#MPFP 😁

How slow do you go?

photo credit: rainydayrunner.com

I’m sure that athletes get as sick of coaches telling them to slow down in their easy sessions as we coaches are of saying it.  Why is there such an issue with what is fundamentally a pretty simple message?  Here’s my take on the situation.

The message

The first part of the problem is directly attributable to the coach and their ability to communicate.  If the athlete doesn’t understand what the coach is asking they can’t be expected to execute the instruction.  It’s one of the reasons why really good coaches are so few and far between, you not only need to have the technical expertise but you need to be a master communicator.

Where an athlete has quantifiable metrics that they can use while training (e.g. pace, power and heart rate) the message should be exact.  “This is an easy run, hold between 5:50 and 6:30/km” might be the instruction and, hopefully, the groundwork has already been done to give the athlete the skills to execute the session correctly.

Other descriptions may relate to physiological feedback such as breathing rate but in my experience using perceived exertion for these easy efforts is futile, athletes ALWAYS get it wrong.  If your coach isn’t already giving you precise instructions you need to take responsibility to ask, any coach worth their salt will appreciate that you care enough about following their plan to ask.

This isn’t work

The second part of the equation is directly down to the athlete’s mindset, easy is just too damn easy.  A well executed easy session shouldn’t feel like work at all, you can almost finish feeling as fresh as you started.  I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been told “I don’t think I can even run that slow” after setting a pace.

Both novice and experienced athletes struggle to come to grips with the fact that something that feels so easy could do any good.  We’ve all had drilled into us the ethos of “no pain, no gain” and “hard work pays off.”  Now I could go into all of the effects these low effort workouts have (and I have many times before) but most of you would remain unconvinced and head out and do the next session too hard again.  Instead I’d like to illustrate with an example of a top level marathoner Yuki Kawauchi.

Yuki has a marathon PB of 2:08 and a half marathon best of 1:02, making his threshold pace somewhere just under 3:00/km.  So what do you think his “easy” pace would be for his long runs?  3:30/km?  4:00/km?  Not even close.  Yuki Kawauchi runs his five weekly long runs (typically 20km) at 5:00/km pace!  This is the equivalent of someone who runs a 50minute 10km race doing their easy sessions at 8:18/km pace.

Now I’m not advocating that our athletes run quite that slow compared to their threshold, I think Yuki is a bit of an extreme example, but the principle still holds.  Your easy sessions need to be ridiculously easy, trust me you will reap the rewards in better aerobic fitness, reduced injury and better recovery.

What about me?

So if you’re not coached how do you know what your “slow” is?  With cycling it’s tough, unless you have a power meter you really only have heart rate as a reliable indicator and even that is quite variable depending on many factors that are not part of your training.  With running though I strongly advocate the use of pace, either by treadmill (boring and often inaccurate), a known course and stopwatch (again boring) or a GPS based device.

To get your right pace for any session I recommend the use of the calculator at this page with a recent race result (parkrun is perfect.)  Simply enter your time, hit the calculate button and find your training paces.  Be disciplined and execute these on training day and I can guarantee you will be setting new PBs throughout next season.

Train smarter, not harder.

Coach Trav

Lessons from a five year old – find your why

Start on January 1

We’re a day into 2017 and if you’re like many people the new year’s resolutions that you made on the stroke of midnight have already made it obvious that they were perhaps not as well thought out as they should have been.  Whether it was to quit something, take something new up, eat better, lose weight, train harder, hit a tough goal or achieve a new mindset you’ve now had time to think about the reality of the work it will take and perhaps there are second thoughts.

Of course if you need help with the “how” of meeting these resolutions there is no shortage of advice at this time of year.  From businesses targeting people with your aim (notice the step up in ads from weight loss companies, gyms, PTs and coaches?) to magazine and internet articles on goal getting (SMART/SMARTER goal anyone?) you can waste a lot of time and potentially money chasing something that is little more than a dream.  The same resolution you had at this time last year and will probably be using next year too.  Why is it so hard?

The reality is that most people set themselves up for failure long before they even define their goals, let alone formulate a plan to achieve them.  All worthwhile goals, as new year’s resolutions surely are, take perseverance to accomplish and that needs sustained motivation.  But that won’t be a problem will it, because this year we really, really want to do it…don’t we?  Maybe not.

For those that have gone through the fun of raising a child we all know that there’s one word that we dread.  One simple word that can cause endless frustration and throw our thought process into turmoil and a five year old just loves it.  The conversation normally goes something like this:

“Why?”

“Because of…”

“But why?”

“Because…”

“But why?”

“Because I said so.”

“But why?”

“Grrrrrrrrr!!!”

When  it comes to setting goals and resolutions we need be to more like a five year old.  Don’t stop with the thing you think you want.  Ask yourself why and you’ll often come up with the reason behind the goal.  Keep asking until you find the root of what you really want.  Sometimes it leads you in unexpected directions, away from your original thought, but it will always provide you with your true desire and thereby the motivation you need to achieve it.

Happy new year everyone.  Here’s hoping that 2017 brings you everything you desire.

Coach Trav

Show Us Your Kit

show-us-your-kit

Ever wished you could be a model with people throwing cash and gifts your way for doing nothing but looking amazing?  Well now you can!

Triathlon WA has just launched its Show Us Your Kit competition and it’s your opportunity to demonstrate the undeniable fact that Perth Hills Tri Club has the best looking kit in WA, if not the world.  As well as winning a Fly6 rear light and camera if your photo is chosen as the winning image you will also get $200 cash and the club a further $300.  How good is that!!!

To enter all you have to do is:

  • Follow Triathlon WA on Instagram (@triathlonwa)
  • Share a photo to Instagram showing off your club kit
  • Include the hashtag #showusyourkit2016 and tag Triathlon WA using @triathlonwa

Terms and conditions

  1. The Show Us Your Kit competition is being run by Triathlon Western Australia (TWA).
  2. Entries for the Show Us Your Kit competition open on the 20th October and close at 5pm on the 17th The winning individual and winning club will be announced on the 21st November.
  3. The competition is open to all current TWA members and triathlon clubs affiliated with TWA.
  4. To enter the Show Us Your Kit competition individuals need to follow Triathlon WA on Instagram (@triathlonwa), share a photo to Instagram that shows off their club kit, include the hashtag #showusyourkit2016 and tag Triathlon WA using @triathlonwa.
  5. Chance plays no part in determining the winner. An independent panel will assess all competition entries on creativity and originality.
  6. The individual who submitted the winning entry will be awarded a Fly6 rear LED light with built in HD camera, RRP $199, and $200 cash (total value $399). The affiliated club that the winner belongs to will also be awarded a prize of $300 cash.  The total value of the prize pool is $699.
  7. The Show Us Your Kit competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Instagram.