How I use TSS scores for training and racing

Flatten the course – Yes, even a flat one.

My Nutrition and Hydration Strategy

Nutrition is such an individual consideration.  There are some general principles that you should follow and then it’s about figuring out what works for you.  If you have been having stomach issues during a half ironman, then this will be magnified ten fold when you race an ironman.  Dial in your nutrition and hydration strategy before you race.  There are so many people who have to slow down because their stomach is making them.  Here is what I do if you need some guidance -

Ironman Principles

Train the Athlete First and Triathlete Second

The cornerstone for a successful  triathlete is a strong foundation. Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean long slow distance.  In triathlon racing an athlete must develop endurance, speed, strength and power. Neglecting any one of these areas will limit your potential as a triathlete. The first phase of our training focuses on developing some strength and speed.  Simply going longer will not make you faster. This is so difficult for many to accept because it is such a shift in thinking.  Remember, going long helps you to resist fatigue and breakdown, which is important, but this is not why most athletes slow down.  Think about your heart rate in the latter stages of a race.  Chances are your heart rate has dropped and the factor that is keeping you from going faster is the lack of strength and decreasing contractile force  in your leg muscles.  Focusing on lots of long distance is like building up a car with a nice efficient long lasting engine with tires that are bald and wearing out.  You’ll only go as far as the tires allow you and then you’re sidelined.   Most triathletes come from to the sport with limited training exposure to fast and quick training movements.   Although the chance of injury does increase slightly with faster stuff, a well structured program will allow you to build in some strength and speed without jeopardizing your health.  The key is to do so without trying to maximize your endurance at the same time. As we approach race day, the endurance factor takes more of a priority because now we need to focus on what will prepare us for the demands of the race. You’ll see the number and intensity of the intervals shift to longer sustained efforts at an intensity that more closely matches your race day goal.   The time we spend in each phase is determined by the length of our program.  For athletes who are with me on a year round basis, we have the ability to focus on addressing the strength and speed component in much more depth.  The 5 month program allows us to spend a little time developing each area so that you enjoy the benefits of this sort of build up.  Chances are it’s a new approach and it’s completely natural to think, “will I be ready”.  I just had two athletes complete Ironman Texas and during the training both athletes asked me, “Are you sure I am doing enough volume to be ready for Texas in 3 months from now?”  I chuckled inside because I get this questions from every single athlete I have trained for an Ironman who, prior to being coached by me, has trained using the traditional approach to Ironman training.  Both athletes set new personal bests on a more challenging course (they did Ironman Arizona last year). So remember, your body must know how to efficiently move with power, strength and speed before we can add endurance to the mix.  Focusing exclusively on endurance will definitely get you to to the finish line, but you will sell yourself short of your full potential.

Calculating Bike Zones

Okay, now that you have your 20 minute TT completed it’s time to figure out your zones.  Use the Coggan Training Levels Calculator to figure out your zones. You’ll either use average heart rate for this effort or Normalized Power.  If using HR,  take your average heart rate for the 20 minute effort and plug it into the calculator.  A couple of things to note.  The low end of your  Z3 heart rate is most likely closer to a Z2 effort.  Anything over Z4 will not be the most reliable because so use perceived effort for Z5 and Z6 efforts.  Z5  = an intensity you can only hold for 2-3 minutes max. Z6 = an intensity you can only hold for 60-90 seconds …on a good day. If using a power meter, take your Normalized Power for the 20 minute effort and multiply it  .95.  Plug this number into the chart and you’ll have your zones. These will be spot on.

Calculating Your Run Zones

You either did the 5k or the 4 x 1600.  If you did the 4 x1600, then calculate your average pace for the 1600′s. Then figure out what time this would equal for a 5k.  Use this calculator if you don’t want to do the math. THEN, take a look at this Run Zones Chart and write down your zones based on your 5k time.  All of your run workouts workouts will be referenced with a zone.  Remember to start linking your heart rate with your zones so that when  you are running uphill you can use heart rate and perceived effort instead of pace. Important:  Do not run your hill repeats by pace.  Go by effort first and then heart rate.  

Calculating Your Swim Zones

Use this Team FC – Swim Calculator