Transitioning from Triathlon to Marathon mid-season

It is not uncommon for multi-sport athletes to attempt completion of a marathon at season end. Typically, Triathletes are quite fit at this point of the season, but under trained on the run for a transition to marathon specific training with its more demanding run volume.

As you transition, ensure you keep a healthy mix of swimming, strength, and biking in the mix in the transition weeks. These additional workouts will keep your fitness up while you more gradually change the volume mix to more frequent running and ultimately longer runs. Don’t rush the transition. Trust in your fitness and focus on progressive adaptation to more running.

Copy exactly!

A number years ago I reviewed a case study on Intel Corp. As you can imagine, manufacturing computer processors is an exacting business. Part of Intel’s success in manufacturing was the simple idea of replicating what was done in development into the production fabrication. Fabrication processes and plants were designed and operated to match exactly what worked best in development.

This is the way you should race! Training is not just about building a stronger aerobic engine. That matters. But what is essential is to take the lessons from training to execute a predictable race. Another way to put this is “nothing new on race day”. Do what you know and what you have practiced. If you have been consistent with your training, you will know exactly what works and what does not.

Enjoy your racing!

Consistency is key

Juggling training, work, and life can be difficult. Winter can be cold, and that trip to the pool can seem just too far.  Work blows up, you have a social obligation, or you have to go on a business trip. I get it.

It is at times like this that you need to focus on the single most important thing to your training and that is consistency. Consistency (frequency) is far more important than how much you do (volume). Cutting a workout back and making it shorter is the better option than skipping to double up later in the week.  We all cut workouts but long breaks of several days materially affect your hard earned fitness.

As a coach, I’d rather see a 30 minute effort than days of cutting workouts because you did not have the time to execute the assigned workout. Almost everyone can squeeze in 30. The body loves regularity and to work. It is a mammalian trait. Your body needs to be constantly reminded that it is a working machine and expects to be worked. Be consistent and your body will respond.

That is not to say you cannot vacation or you must say good bye to family when you train,. Just make sure you put in a little me time each day. You will be happier, much less grumpy, and not feeling like you are starting from scratch each time life throws a planned or unplanned curve ball.

Split Interval workouts

no-rest-for-youAthletes are often confused about Split Interval work outs in the pool. Unlike rest interval workouts, you do not have a prescribed rest at the end of the work interval. Instead, the approach is to give you a defined time box to complete each work interval & the time box includes any rest you are allowed.

E.g. Swim 400 @T-pace+10 SI.

Let’s assume your T-pace is 2:00/100 yards. This would mean you have 2:10 * 4 = 8:40 to complete the 400 including your rest. Your goal is to beat the clock to get that rest. Typically SI workouts allow you adequate time to complete the work and get a very short rest. Note: Very short.

Don’t race for your rest, pace for your rest. SI workouts tend to be quite long. The trick is to swim it slower than you can and still get a little rest. As you get better, you will end up swimming faster & getting more rest. This indicates mastery and you are probably ready for a new T-Pace test to reset your T-Pace or alternatively complete more yards.

I often find athletes sneaking in supplemental rests. This is naughty. These workouts are stamina builders. If you managing the workout continue as prescribed. If you find your self falling behind the clock, it simply means you have fatigued out. Take a 30 second rest immediately, regroup, and then pursue the clock as before.

Remember, no rest for you.





Want to swim faster & pace better

It is easy in the world of triathlon to get caught up in chasing the latest piece of fun gear. Gear is fun, but some investments are more cost effective than others. A good swim is built on 1) effective technique; and 2) effective & deadly even pacing.

Just like running and biking, it is easy to be tempted with swimming too fast. You feel like a dolphin for 200 yards and then all of sudden your swim comes apart and you can no longer sustain your pace. Worse yet, swimming provides almost no means to measure it while you are doing it so you have no idea if you have slowed down and by how much. Very few swimmers have a strong sense of pacing and very few can hold even splits over long swim sets. This is exacerbated in an open water race when you are surrounded by competitors and there is no direct means to measure performance at all.

Here is a $40 investment that really helps. A Finis Tempo Trainer is little device you put inside your swim cap that allows you set to a specific swim split time and beeps when you are supposed to hit the wall at each end. In doing so, it allows you to know when you are going too fast and also when you are starting to fall apart or losing focus. I find it highly motivating to know that I am nailing the pacing when the beep comes right on time. It is the real time feedback swimmers need.

As an example, your coach asks you to swim 400 yards @ T-Pace + 6. If your T-Pace is 1:30/100 yards, your coach is really asking you to swim at 1:36/100 yards pace. If you are swimming in a 25 yard pool, set the tempo trainer to beep every 24 seconds and try to hit the wall/push off the wall every time the tempo trainer beeps. Do this consistently and develop a real feel for pacing that you can now bring to your races.

There are other things you do with the tempo trainer. We can talk about those in another blog another day.








Fins – Support your drill work

Effective technique is the principal pillar to a faster swim. One workout per week should be focused on drill work so you continue improve your swimming.

Fins provide the necessary support to allow you to focus on movements you are trying to develop during swim drills. The extra propulsion allows the swimmer to relax and concentrate.  Sometimes swim fins are characterized as “cheating.” This is the wrong way to look at them. Like a pull buoy, fins are a tool that, when used purposefully, support technique development.

The next question is what kind of fin. I recommend Finis Floating Fins. These fins provide considerable propulsion without having to kick very hard. If your pool does not have these fins, I would recommend adding a pair of these fins to your swim kit.

Races – a key to training

Most athletes prefer training to racing. Racing brings stresses and performance anxieties that training does not. Training, in general, is a much more controllable environment.

At races, we face new challenges that workouts do not have, from OMG I still have not been to the bathroom and the race starts soon, the bag check was not where I expected, transit delays, and the demand to make decisions in real time, before, and during the event. In a race, you go in with an expected pace and effort and during that race you find yourself making decisions about that pace/effort throughout.

Athletes tend to see every race event only in terms of the final result, but should view races in a broader way. A healthy race schedule should have a limited number of “A” performance expectation races, and a judicious dose of races that are preparatory in nature. Preparatory “B” & “C” races, allow you to baseline your performance, practice race strategy, and stay mentally sharp and relaxed. In this context, success can be defined in a broader and more productive way.

Executing a race well takes practice. It is important that each athlete develop a toolkit of skills and experiences to optimize their races. Race practice/experience is the best teacher.

Be sure preparation for your “A” race this year has a few races along the way to help tune/refresh your race execution skills. Develop the ability to be intentional in your approach, but flexible with circumstances as they unfold.