Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stop It! - 16 Things You Likely Do and Need to Stop

1. Stop ignoring recovery. What you eat, how much you sleep, the beers, it all affects you. The intensity you go on easy workouts is also vital.

2. Stop doing everyone else's workouts, and start focusing on what workouts YOU need. Sometimes, (in fact many times), that means you need to train alone. Peer pressure is no way to train effectively. If you train with a lot of egos, let them go. Limit group workouts to those which are in line with your goals and specific needs. This especially includes recovery workouts. (See #1).

3. Stop sabotaging your training. When life gets stressful, skipping workouts because you're not in the mood only brings about more stress and frustration with training and lack of results. Training is your escape, keep it that way. Skipping that transition run because you think you're too tired, is a missed opportunity to build confidence with a great run, or to learn to better pace your bike.

4. Stop ignoring your weight. If you aren't thin, you aren't as fast as you can be. I'm not saying you should look anorexic, but to think those 10 lbs you could lose aren't affecting your performance, is ignoring the obvious. If you're 20+lbs over an ideal race weight, there is no training plan or lightweight bike that can overcome that handicap. The weight also means higher risk for injuries, which can sabotage your training. (See #3).

5. Stop ignoring your diet. (See #1 and #4).

6. Stop obsessing about volume. If it really mattered, the athlete who did the most volume would win every race. Ultraman competitors would be the best Ironman and sprint racers. It's about the quality of training you can do. You're not training for the Tour de France.

7. Stop ignoring the swim. The higher your goals, the more it matters.

8. Stop ignoring your warm-ups for your workouts and races. The older you are, and the higher your goals, the more it matters. It's like sabotage. (See #3)

9. Stop ignoring your cool-down sets, they are vital to proper recovery. (See #1) Poor recovery sabotages training and racing. (See #3).

10. Stop ignoring technology in your training. You use technology in every aspect of your life, from your iPhone/Android to your laptop and software at your job or at home. Why is it so hard to believe power and pace data can help your training and racing on a daily basis? (See #3).

11. Stop thinking you need a faster/newer/better bike. You need to get training right. (See #1 thru #10).

12. Stop paying a coach if you're not going to do the training as they write it. (See #3)

13. Stop being negative with yourself. There is nothing anyone or any coach can tell you that will supersede what you say to yourself. If you don't believe in yourself when you toe that start line, the result is pretty much already determined.

14. Stop focusing on the competition, and start focusing on yourself, and how to execute your training and racing better. (See #1 thru #13)

15. Stop doing the same thing over and over. The body responds best to variance in training. If you've been doing the same things over and over for years, and aren't happy with the results, or notice a plateau, it's time to address the real issue.

16. Stop thinking salt and electrolyte losses cause cramps, there's no scientific proof of this. The people who promote this are the ones trying to sell it to you. Get fitter, and you'll cramp less. Get training right, you'll get fitter. Stop shoving so much salt into your gut during races, and you'll likely get rid of all that GI distress you've been bothered by in races.

Bonus tip...
17. Stop thinking Ironman is the only important race in triathlon. It's far from it.

Coach Vance

Thursday, February 27, 2014

CTL and Consistency of Training

I was approached by TrainingPeaks after they read some things from me on consistency, that they wanted me to provide for them. I accepted and wrote an article for them using the PMC as a way to show the affects of consistency in training, and how performance looks for an athlete with inconsistent training. This is the result, and I think if like data and training, you'll enjoy it.

The #1 Rule of Endurance Training

Amidst the intervals, data, devices, diets and all the other ways that athletes are trying to “gain an edge” in endurance training, it can be easy to forget the basics. The number one most important rule of training, which is often forgotten, is consistency. There is no training program or workout any coach can devise that can make up for a lack of consistency in training. The higher your goals are as an athlete, the more important consistency is.

As a coach, I repeatedly see the differences in performance and improvement between the athlete who is consistent in their training and the athlete who isn’t. You lose fitness at a rate of almost three times as fast as you gain it, so missing a workout or two may not hurt you, but miss a few on a regular basis and you will have a hard time making performance gains. You have to make training a daily priority.

Chronic Training Load

One of the best ways to see how consistent you are in your training is to follow your Chronic Training Load (CTL) in your Performance Management Chart (PMC). The PMC is a Premium feature within TrainingPeaks® and is also available in TrainingPeaks WKO+.
Read the rest of the article here at TrainingPeaks.com
Coach Vance

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ironman Bike CTL and FTP (Part 2)

In my last post I discussed a CTL range for athletes to achieve based on their bike FTP in watts. One of the flaws with the chart, (or perhaps one of the variables I need to have athletes cross-reference), is the FTP of the athlete.

The higher the FTP of the athlete, the faster they are in general. I had an athlete who got 2nd in their age group at Kona recently email me, and his CTL only reached 18% of his FTP, which was 330 watts.

This athlete was obviously able to get more speed from their aerobic endurance efforts than the typical rider, because riding at zone 2 during a race will obviously be a higher speed for them than an athlete at an FTP of 280 or lower, since their general aerodynamic differences are minimal.

So were my guidelines off? No, I had people on the other side of the spectrum too, at over 40%, who were quite successful.

Bottom line, there are many different approaches, because of the many different skill sets, training time availability, and personal training/performance histories of individual athletes. My hope is you'll look at your past CTL/FTP ratio in your training and racing, and use it as a benchmark to make better training decisions in the future, whether that is to raise or lower your bike CTL.

Coach Vance

Friday, January 31, 2014

How High of CTL for Ironman Bike?

If you're using TrainingPeaks software to train for your Ironman event, you likely are using their Performance Management Chart, (PMC). Chronic Training Load, or CTL, is one of the key metrics in the chart. It's the long term Training Stress Score, (TSS), average. How long is long term? The default setting is 6 weeks, as a 42 day rolling average.

So when you upload your data from your ride, the software reads the samples from the data and compares those with your FTP to calculate how stressful the ride was, and then takes that score and averages it with the previous 41 days. I actually use the software to keep a separate PMC just for cycling.

The question many have when they train for an Ironman event is, "How high should my bike CTL get?" The answer to this question is, (like almost all training questions), related to your goals for the event. For example, if your goal is to simply finish the race, then a lower CTL is fine, but if you're trying to qualify for Kona, or win your age group, then you likely need a much higher CTL. If you're a pro, trying to earn a paycheck, or win the race, you should probably be even higher than what the top age grouper is achieving. If you're trying to win Kona as a pro, then you likely need an even higher CTL.

If you're looking for a bike-only CTL value to achieve in your training, the number is likely going to be related to your FTP value. Why? Because usually, the higher the FTP of the athlete, the higher the performance goal. Here's a chart for you to use based on your goals, and what I have found to be the tendency among the different types of athletes.

With sharing this chart, there are 4 important things to keep in mind...

1. This is just a guideline for PEAK CTL VALUES, mostly for seasonal planning purposes. Because of that, there will be people who don't fall into these guidelines, but I do find a majority of athletes do. I don't find there is much need to list a mid-pack athlete, since they vary the most in terms of background and training styles.

2. Your swim, bike and run skill will also play a role in whether or not you would achieve these goals. Again, this is a guideline for your bike training, knowing how much is enough, or a range of what might be enough.

3. The course an athlete races for their goal event is a big determinant of the value one should achieve as well. For the Kona Qualifier Pro and Pro Podium at Kona, that is course specific to Kona. The Age Group Kona Qualifer is general for all courses, since age groupers qualify at many different individual races. There is a big difference between qualifying at Ironman Lanzarote and Ironman Florida.

4. Your FTP will likely, (and should), improve throughout the season. For some it will improve more than others. This means your initial CTL value goal will likely change a little, so give yourself a range, or be prepared to adjust it as the season goes.

How can you use this information? Look at the end of your season, what your FTP was, the peak CTL value you achieved, and what your goal was for the event, and see how well you lined up with this chart. (Please share in the comments your results as well). You can then use this information to better assess your training, set new or different bike CTL goals for your upcoming events, and use those goals to help motivate you in your training.

Lastly, CTL doesn't win races, performance does. No awards or Kona slots for who had the highest CTL. Don't get hung up on CTL. Make sure you are seeing the performance gains you want in your training first and foremost. It's all about balancing training stress, this is just a guide to use and better understand your training, so you can improve it.

Good luck!

Coach Vance

Thursday, January 23, 2014

3 days off from running?

I coach a runner who really enjoys snowboarding. This athlete will travel to Mammoth Mountain on a monthly basis, trying to catch great powder. This athlete has modest goals for running, and certainly is only motivated by the desire to improve, not a specific race.

One of the issues which we discussed is that during these typical 3-day trips, it is important that they run at least one time during the 3 days. The athlete claims the weekend spent snowboarding is taxing on the legs and not really a rest day, which I understand and agree with. But in the sense of training and specificity, you need to keep running consistently to improve.

To better define consistency, I would say you should not have a 3-day break from running. You can get away with 2 days once a month, maybe twice, but once you go beyond that, you are beginning to lose opportunities to improve, and affect your consistency. If you have very high, competitive goals, I would reduce that number to not missing 2 days in a row of running.

If you're injured, that's a different story. But even then, if you can keep your injury healing time down to 2 days, maybe 3, you're not losing much fitness if you've been consistent. Once you go beyond that, bad news. So when you see an injury coming, give it the attention and therapy it needs right away, and you can better keep your consistency, and not lose fitness.

Remember, you lose fitness about 3 times faster than you gain it. 2 days off can help you recover and stay healthy, but once you get to 3 days off, you're losing fitness.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ironman World Champs Pacing and Downhill Segments Study

If you read this blog regularly, you know I do a lot of study on triathlon race dynamics, especially the Ironman World Championships. There is a fantastic study I was a part of over the course of almost 2 years, with students and staff from the University of Connecticut, and was recently published in The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. We found some very interesting correlations between performance and downhill pacing, at the Ironman World Championships.

Specifically, we saw that athletes who maintained faster relative speeds on downhill segments, and who had smaller changes in HR between consecutive up and downhill segments were more successful relative to their goal times. The study shows where these segments were in the race, according to the bike and run course profiles. You can read the study here.

Many thanks to Evan C. Johnson, J. Luke Pryor, Douglas J. Casa, Luke N. Belval, Julie K. DeMartini, Carl M. Maresh, and Lawrence E. Armstrong on their hard work to make this great study happen.


Coach Vance

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Basically Exceptional

"We tend to want to do the exceptional things, exceptionally well, but the basic things only basically well."
- Bill Sweetenham

Think about the high level of goals you have. If you're reading this blog, chances are you have high, exceptional goals. But are you doing the basic things exceptionally well in order to achieve those goals? What are some of the basic things, you ask?

- Recovery
- Nutrition
- Sleep patterns
- Listening to your body
- Swim, pedaling and running technique
- Bike position
- Recording, logging training
- Training consistently
- Transitions
- Mounts, dismounts

These don't cost a lot of money, and in many ways they are free, just need your attention. It's amazing how doing these basic things can make all the difference, allowing you to accomplish the exceptional. That is, if you do these exceptionally well.

Coach Vance

Monday, December 9, 2013

I always thought everyone wanted to win...

When I was competing, from the time I was in high school as a football player, and eventually cross country and track distance runner, I always thought everyone wanted to win as badly as I did. I could only use myself and my own mentality as the measuring stick, and those I beat I thought I was just more talented than, and those I lost to were just better than me.

Then I got into coaching, and my perspective changed entirely. It became clear when I was coaching high school athletes that they simply didn't think like I had, where I was willing to go to the limit or edge that I had always been willing to go to.

When I stood on the start line, I judged myself and my preparation based on the standard of "I am here to win," but what I found out was there are few on the start line that had that same mentality. This is why I beat guys who were much more talented than me, and competed well against guys who I had no business being so close to. I learned at a young age in elementary school that I was not athletic, nor had the ability of many of my peers, but it only drove me to compete harder. I refused to accept losing, or having less talent be an excuse.

I especially try to bring this home with my juniors, that they can choose to win. They might not actually win the race, but if they really want to win, and choose to make the effort to win, they will go a lot further in the sport, and especially in life, if they take the mentality that they race to win.

When you toe the line, you have a choice. Choose to win. Choose to be at the front. Once you truly make that choice, you change as an athlete. And it really is that simple.

Coach Vance

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kona 2013 Run Data - Pro Women

After looking at the pro men's data, let's look at the women's race in Kona. Of course, we saw the best run female run performance we've ever seen, with Carfrae's 2:50:38, good enough for 3rd best run split overall in the entire race, male or female!

It's interesting how the race broke down, as the leader for the women off the bike, Rachel Joyce, actually ran a faster first mile than the leader for the men, Starykowicz, 6:37 to 7:17, and had a smaller differential from 1st mile split to actual pace than him. Not sure anyone would have predicted that. 

Here's how the run splits broke down: (Click on image to enlarge)

A few highlights of the top 10 women...
Average 1st mile split: 6:37
Average 1st mile to actual pace differential: 29 secs
Range of 1st mile to actual pace differential: 5 secs to 1:08

There are 3 big stand outs in this data to me...

1. Mrinida Carfrae - Just how dominant was she? She ran the second fastest first mile off the bike of all the women, and still only had a 20 sec differential between that 6:11 mile and the 6:31 pace overall that she ran for the race. She was aggressive, but not stupid. Only 4 girls in the top 20 had a smaller differential, but of course Mirinda ran the 3rd fastest split overall, men included. 

As impressive as her first mile was, it was still slower than what she ran in 2011, by 13 seconds! (She ran 2:52:09 that year, so perhaps the slower first mile made a difference). 

2. Caitlin Snow - I'm not sure there's a better pacer in the race than Snow. This is not the first time she has had one of the top female run splits, and I don't believe her lowest differential in the field and 2nd best run split overall are coincidence. I believe her early run pacing was so good, it allowed her to be the only other female under 3 hours for the women. 

She also had 11 women come off the bike in front of her, and moved up to 6th, out-sprinting Meredith Kessler on Alii Drive. Kessler's pacing differential of 1:08 was tied for the highest in the women's race, leaving her no answer for a sprinting Snow down into the chute. 

Snow was one the highest move-ups in place from off the bike, to the finish. Yes, her split helped her, but her early conservative pacing helped her to execute it. 

3. Joyce, Blatchford and Van Vlerken all ran 3:03:XX. Blatchford paced herself quite well, just couldn't close the gap Joyce had off the bike. Van Vlerken ran aggressively off the bike, and paid for it, unable to beat Blatchford, despite leaving T2 less than 1 minute behind her. Her first mile was 16 secs faster than Blatchford's, and by 5K, VV was 23 seconds in front of her. Blatchford ran smart early, beat VV.

Other highlights of places 11-20th...
Average 1st mile split: 6:44
Average 1st mile to actual pace differential: 47 secs
Range of 1st mile to actual pace differential: 14 secs to 1:08

Looking at the places 11-20th, it appears the girls ran relatively the same average pace for the first mile, only 8 secs slower. but their average differential was much higher than the top girls. This tells me these girls were even worse in their pacing than the top 10 girls, with the lone exception of Donovan, who had the 14 second differential. The next lowest differential is Lyles, at 36 secs. 

Overall, I think we're seeing that pacing is getting better among the top women. The margin for error is getting smaller. 

My next post will compare and contrast the men and women, and look at how different they are from 2011. 

Coach Vance

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ironman Arizona Entry and Coaching Package - Coach Vance

If you're looking for an entry to the sold-out 2014 Ironman Arizona, TrainingBible Coaching is a sponsor of the event, and we have limited entries. I am offering a coaching package for those who would like an entry and coaching in one package.

Ironman Arizona Coaching Packing by Jim Vance includes:
- Entry to 2014 Ironman Arizona
- Coaching begins on January 1, 2014 to race day
- 2 time monthly coaching meeting with Jim, (online meeting to discuss progress)
- Video analysis of swim and run technique, (at least 2 of each)
- Training Camp on the course in Phoenix, with Jim in October
- Hands-on coaching at the venue during race week, (Wednesday thru Sunday)
- Professional bike mechanic race-week preparation
- Requires a power meter for bike training, and a GPS for running

Cost: $12,500
- Non-refundable deposit of $1500 required
- Balance due by March 31, 2014
- $500 discount if paid upfront

These spots are VERY LIMITED! Contact Jim at coach jim vance at g mail dot com to secure your spot soon.

Coach Vance