Friday, December 16, 2011
"Would still love to hear your thoughts on intentionally overreaching and where in a training plan it might offer the most benefit"
Thanks for the question. The whole of point of training in general is over-reaching, just how much we should over-reach is the art of training/coaching. This is incredibly individual, even in the timing, given career and family responsibilities, as well as climate and race schedule.
One athlete I coach is a school teacher who has his summer off. We use this period to focus on either Ironman Wisconsin, or Kona, as he alternates years usually with these events, qualifying for Kona one year, racing it the next. The fact he has so much free time, allows this to be an excellent time to over-reach more than we would during the school year. It also coincides with the 12-week lead-up into Ironman Wisconsin for him, so this becomes a perfect time-window for specific preparation for the race.
So to answer your question, the specific preparation period is most important, and if you can over-reach there, you'll see a better transfer of that effort into actual performance. But I also want to caution you to be careful in your over-reaching, as this 12 week period is CRITICAL, so a mistake in over-reaching can lead to injury, burnout, over-training, and missed training during this time.
If you've given yourself plenty of time to build slowly into this specific preparation period, you won't require over-reaching beyond a normal amount. Remember, the more time you have, the less risk you need to take in training. The less time you have, the more risk you must take to be prepared.
Consistency of training over the long haul will trump a few big weeks of training, always.
Monday, December 12, 2011
However, most athletes are time crunched, and looking for the minimum needed to get by and compete sufficiently, and I do believe that number is 3. Here are a few key points to this:
- For most time-crunched Ironman athletes, the easiest training session to get completed is the run. Pool sessions require going to a pool and then returning, and a minimum of time in the pool needed to do well is about 45-60 minutes, but most likely 60 minutes will do better than 45. Biking for 60 mins doesn't give you much, unless on a trainer. So adding a run should be the easiest part of training.
- 3 is a good number, but 4 is better. 5 is better than 4, but this is not universal. The key is consistency, as missing just one run means reducing the training load by about 33%, or more. The less runs you do, the more important each run is. You can't afford to miss them.
- 3 is a good number if one of the runs is a long run. How long is a long run? That depends again on the athlete, but a minimum of 90 mins, and as much as 2-3 hours, if the athlete can handle it.
- 3 is a good number if another one of the runs is a medium distance run, perhaps with some tempo effort in it. This means about 80% of the long run.
- 3 is a good number if the third run is high intensity intervals! As an athlete gets closer to race day, these intervals should get longer and longer, generally speaking.
- If you can get a 4th run in, what should it be? I think it should be a zone 1 economy building run, or something which addresses the key weaknesses of the athlete.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
- 8-night stay at Coco Bay Estates (an $1800-$2400 value)
- Option for private room or shared room available
- 2 Meals provided per day, (catered breakfast and lunch buffet)
- All sessions coached and led by a TrainingBible Coach
- Low traffic, paved roads for riding
- Coach on-deck for pool sessions
- Incredibly beautiful open-water swimming in Coco Bay
- Underwater swim video technique assessment for each athlete, ($115 value)
- Run technique video assessment for each athlete, ($100 value)
- Discounted entry fees to REV3 Olympic and/or Half
- Classroom sessions for individual learning
- Complimentary airport shuttle to/from Coco Bay Estates from Liberia Airport only
- Camp Head Coach is Jim Vance -
- View the Camp Itinerary
Register for the camp here:
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
One of my passions is teaching and working with young people, exposing them to the world of endurance sports, and all the great rewards it offers to simply hard work and commitment, especially the sport of triathlon.
I started the TriJuniors program a few years ago, and in just 2 seasons, the team has finished top 5 in the National Team Championship standings, and has produced 1 US Worlds Team member, 2 Top 5 nationally ranked athletes, 7 total nationally ranked athletes, 2 PATCO North American Championship finishers, and as of today, 49 individual champions at major triathlon events throughout Southern California. There wasn't a program like this that even existed in this region when I started it, and now these accomplishments have happened in this short window. I now recognize the biggest challenge facing the sport at the junior level is not a commitment from the athletes, but rather opportunity for them to show their commitment.
The sport lacks an event to bridge the summer seasons together, and keep our young athletes sharp in their skills, and committed to a triathlon-focused training approach. I'm attempting to change this with 2 events this December, which I hope to become annual, a youth and junior triathlon winter camp, and a youth and junior major race event, (draft-legal F1, and a non-drafting fun event for those just learning the sport).
The camp will include training at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA, swim sessions in a long course, 50-meter pool, and more. The camp is open to athletes from 11-19 years of age. All the information on this incredible camp can be found here:
Youth and Junior Triathlon Winter Camp - San Diego, December 28th and 29th
The F1 race will take place at Fiesta Island, on Friday, December 30th. The distances will 600 meter swim, 16K bike, and 4K run. Youth, non-drafting athletes will do a 150m swim, 4K bike, 1K run. All the info for the race can be found here:
San Diego Youth and Junior F1 Triathlon - So Cal Winter Championship
Please help us grow the sport and share this with athletes who might be interested. Thank you!
Friday, October 28, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Athletes tend to be pretty good at setting goals for the season, but few really set goals for the off-season. Off-season goals can really help to motivate and provide the big break-through the next season.
What types of goals should one set? This depends on the athlete, but usually, the off-season is the best time to work on weaknesses.
What weaknesses do you have as an athlete? Chances are you are fit, but lack the top end speed needed to race at a higher level. This should be your focus and where you set your goals. For some, this means training for a new 5K PR, while for others it might a new mile PR, in terms of setting goals.
It could also be a goal time in the pool, for the 400, 100 or 50, or perhaps even doing fly for a full 100 or 400.
On the bike, athletes can set a CP 1 or CP 6 wattage goal, or even a goal time for a shorter local climb in their area. Another opportunity is in cyclo-cross, racing a local series, with a placement goal for the series.
You'll notice these are sport specific goals, and not related directly to triathlon performance, but rather indirectly. The time frame of these is much shorter than what triathletes will do on race day, so it is general preparation, not specific. Periodization is basically the idea of going from general preparation to specific, in phases of time, changing the training stress to more closely resemble the demands of race day.
For most triathletes, race day is aerobic, so aerobic work is more specific, whereas super intensive, neurological training is more general, and what most triathletes need to train. But many get stuck on the same habits and workouts, performing a lot of race-specific work in the off-season. Then when the specific period of training comes, they are not introducing a new stress, so the body is not responding to it, instead plateauing and showing no improvement for the athlete.
Sit down and set some specific, measurable goals for the off-season, which address your weaknesses, and bring a new training stress to your body.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thought I would share this Performance Management Chart for all run files and data, from a 60 year old I coach who is doing Ironman Florida in a few weeks. (Click on the image to enlarge).
This athlete has seen a huge jump in his run training and performances, as I record the top 10 performances for the season, for 6, 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes. Probably the most impressive aspect is the runs have been much more focused on becoming more economical over the longer durations, 90-120 minutes. And yet, even during these runs, his best 6 minute sample from those runs are some of his best of the year for 6 minutes! His confidence is very high seeing this, and he knows he will likely have the best run he's ever had off the bike at Florida, as long as he executes his plan effectively for the swim, bike and nutrition.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Why I believe it is misused is because when an athlete puts an important, and valuable piece of their race success in this bag, they put their race into the hands and responsibility of other people, likely which they do not even know.
We hear horror stories of lost special needs bags, but also sometimes given the wrong special needs bag. Though this is unlikely, as probably better than 90 % of special needs bag are delivered without issue, I had one athlete at Kona who was in the top 10 overall age-groupers when arriving at special needs. The volunteers could not find his bag, and as he stood on the side of the road, he watched many athletes he had worked so hard to be in front of, pass him. He estimates it was about 1 minute of time, which isn't much in the big picture, but this was a blow mentally.
This can be avoided with a different approach to special needs, and that is treating it as insurance only. What do I mean by insurance? Put a bottle in the bag in case you drop or lose one. Put a spare tube and CO2 cartridge, in case you flat and need another. Put some lubricant in a small baggie, or a sample size, in case you have some chaffing from your saddle, the salt water, etc, that you need to address or it will become quite painful.
If you can carry all your calories, or better utilize the aid stations, you'll be able to fly by special needs and pass a number of athletes who need to stop and gather their items. Mentally, you'll feel better, you'll be more in control of your race, and should something go wrong, you know you've got items waiting for you, and you can cash in that insurance policy.
Friday, October 14, 2011
It was clear that those with the least amount of fade/differential between their first mile time as a projected pace, and their actual pace, did better on the whole. It goes to show the value of the run in Ironman, especially the strength to hold a hot pace, if you're coming out of T2 hot. Or one could assume when a smart runner paces himself better out of T2, but within range of the leaders, we could see a surprise winner.
Truth be told, I never believed it was truly possibly to be that pace consistent among the pro's, like Ogden was. I honestly believed you would be too tired from the efforts of the bike in that heat, and you just fall to a sort of default pace. The athletes with the fastest default pace, who are best positioned when the heat really turns up toward the end, would find themselves in contention. Almost like a peloton and positioning for a field sprint. You have to be on the right wheels within the final K of a sprint finish, and in Ironman, that point is around the half-way point of the marathon.
Now Ogden has me rethinking that theory. However, Ogden did not win. He was not even in the top 10. But perhaps if Andi Raelert or Pete Jacobs don't run so fast for the first mile, they give themselves a better chance? We'll never know.
But what about the women? Do we see the same thing? I was able to record the 10 of the top 11 overall females, plus Julie Dibens, (leader off the bike, DNF due to injury).
Obviously, the women run the same course as the men, so no need to review the first mile profile again. Here's how the first mile panned out, according to overall place: (click on image to enlarge)
Here we see a MUCH different result and dynamic than we saw in the men's race. In this race, the lower differentials were found higher up in the top 10, as a general placing, whereas in the men's race, the better differentials were found closer to the podium, as a whole. 4 women actually would have been considered as pacing themselves better than Chrissie, but the only one who was in the top 5 was Mirinda.
So what does this mean? Well, I think there are a few things we can infer from this:
1. The bike plays a very large role, even more so in the women's race than the men's. The top girls are able to go out so fast, suffer some of the highest fall-offs of pace, and still hold/finish in the top 5 positions.
2. There is a big gap between the run ability of the top runners in the women's race, and the rest of the field. They can tolerate such a large differential, that even their slowing/default pace is much better than most of the other girls.
A few questions jump out at me when I see this...
1. Would Mirinda have won if she was smarter at pacing in the early miles? Can she go 2:45 with better pacing? Realize, compared to Chrissie, she did pace better, just not better enough.
2. Leanda Cave the same? Remember, she lead Chrissie and Mirinda by about 5:30 and 9 mins out of T2. Cut her 18 min differential in half, and she's right there with Mirinda trying to chase her down at the end, and making Chrissie sweat it out for awhile. Maybe even running well enough that Chrissie begins to worry, makes an error?
If these girls really want to beat Chrissie in the future, they need to recognize her weaknesses, and this is one that is now exposed. According to the data I collected, (and I missed a few), only 4 men ran the first mile faster than Chrissie.
Exciting information! What are you thoughts?
Thursday, October 13, 2011
In professional Ironman racing, you don't see perfect pacing. Instead, we see a strategy more like, "go until you fall apart, just don't fall apart as badly as everyone else!" The run is raced very similar to the bike, almost as a belief of a "peloton affect", where if the pack is let go, they never come back. On the bike, even if the athletes are riding "legally", there is still some draft benefit from the group as a whole, plus motorcycles of draft marshals possibly shielding the crosswinds at times, and possibly media, photographers, etc. And obviously there is the mental help of having others around to keep the pace and intensity high and consistent.
But is this the best strategy for the run? Would someone being smart in their pacing for the run coming off the bike with the leaders or main pack of contenders, possibly be able to take the victory, simply by pacing better? Or would they at least maximize the potential for highest placing, should they not be an outright contender for the victory.
I tried to gather evidence of this last year, but only with a Garmin 310XT, riding behind the athletes on a bicycle for a brief time, but this data was such a small sample it was not accurate, nor did it take into account the gradient at the different points I measured each of the athletes at.
This year, I set out to stand at the mile marker, and with the help of some viewers at home, and a couple of spotters/recorders at the mile mark, we were able to determine the first mile split for the top men and women, in almost real time during the event. I was actually able to tweet these paces live, (@jimvance).
As a preface, here is the profile of the first mile, from MapMyRun.com: (click on image to enlarge)
The 1st mile has a climb based upon this source, but overall has a net gain/loss of close to zero. This was relatively confirmed by some of the files my athletes had from 4 different run files from the race, via Garmins. (There was some variance, but so small, this doesn't really affect the data, as in a gigantic uphill or downhill mile).
The men's data according to place of finish, from those I was able to get splits for: (click on image to enlarge)
Courtney Ogden had a differential of only 2:07 from his projected pace at mile 1, relative to his actual performance. It appears he came off the bike in 31st place, meaning he moved up nearly 50% of the pro men's field. This was an impressive performance, as the next best of those I recorded was Bockel, who was the only other under 10 minutes differential. Bockel's pacing helped secure a 4th place finish.
I recognize I did not get each and every elite who came by, so there is some missing data, but I did get many of the leaders and those who I felt there would be interest in, as well as those likely to finish in the top 10, including 8 of the final top 10.
So here are the questions I pose to you, would these elites be better off pacing themselves better in the first mile, or is being a part of the race and getting into the lead group the most important thing? Or is it best to train for this surge, and be able to keep the differential in the 9-16 minute range? Is the mental reward of being in the race for the podium from the start better for the athlete's performance?
Friday, October 7, 2011
But there will be many athletes, even at this event where the quality of the athletes is high, who will race beyond their means. Their training has been preparing for a certain output, and they will attempt to race well beyond that output. This will come from a lack of confidence in the plan and preparation, as well as peer pressure in the race to go as hard as possible for as long as possible.
Most athletes, even the competitive age-groupers that are fighting for a podium spot, would benefit from a strategy where they let the competition make the mistakes and take advantage of that. You don't have to be super aggressive to be successful here.
Pro's on the other hand, (at least on the men's side), have to take an opposite approach. They must take risks if they want to win. They must race beyond their training, because the difference in winning and getting 10th is very small. Different race, different strategies, different demands. It's hard to represent a certain race output, when such an effort is so taxing, they wouldn't be recovered and ready to race. They are going on faith that they are prepared for that huge, single-day stress.
It will be fun to watch, as that's what makes it so exciting, seeing who blows up and when. And my picks....Rasmus Henning and Chrissie.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
It's amazing how many athletes lose races with their slow and poor transitions. All that time, money and effort spent training on swimming, biking and running, and it comes down to the thing most easy to control. This is not a very technical skill, it's just ignored and neglected! Quit sabotaging your races with poor transitions, and practice them! Get your flying mounts and dismounts down pat. Quit trying to do a million things in transition, including a bathroom stop. It's a race!
As the sport gets more and more popular, and the competition gets deeper and stiffer, the little things matter more and more. In literally one week's time, you can make transitions a strength in your racing, all that's missing is your commitment.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
What if a 10 day cycle worked better? Or 14 days? Or what if you simply did 2 days in a row of biking, and moved your long run to the middle of the week?
Think about your training and performance. If you've hit a plateau, and aren't seeing the steady gains, maybe it's time to try a new routine. Change it up! Plenty of options, as your mind and creativeness, (or your coach's), are the only things holding you back.
If everyone else is doing the same thing, how do you expect to get ahead?
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
The Sub 2-Hour Marathon is just the Beginning
With an onslaught of fast marathon performances over the past few weeks, (
The sub 2 hour marathon is the modern day 4-minute mile barrier, where we see much of the same doubt that humans aren’t capable of running that fast, (drugs not-withstanding). Recent articles in the New York Times, the Independent, and a host of other publications and forums all discuss the debate.
Haile Gebresalassie, Paula Radcliffe, Emmanuel Mutai, and many other top runners and experts vary in their belief if it’s possible, the possible timing of it happening, what it would take from an athlete, and the course requirements for such a mythical performance.
We’ve already seen the 1 hour half-marathon broken over 150 times. Call me overly optimistic, but the sub 2-hour marathon is coming very soon, by the Olympic year 2024 at the latest, and that’s just the beginning.
The real problem with all this belief that it’s impossible, or the timing is too far away for any of us to see in our lifetime, is that these people look at the result, not at the process. If you know much about me as a coach, you know I’m big on data and training tools. In cycling, we have power meters which have done wonders for training and performance. In swimming, we’ve had incredible leaps in suit technology, but we’ve also had important studies with force plates, swim flumes and video technology for stroke analysis, as well as incredibly bold and knowledgeable coaches creating new periodization models and approaches, across all sports.
Look back to the 1990’s, when a group of young east African men came onto the distance running scene, and re-wrote the record books for 5000 and 10,000 meters, month after month, year after year. We went from wondering if anyone other than Said Aouita could run sub 13 minutes, to today having seen it done over 250 times, and the record standing at nearly 4 minute mile pace, 12:37! Hell, the mile is now down to 3:43! That’s over 4 seconds faster per lap than Roger Bannister was trying to run!
Or we wondered if sub 27 minutes was possible in the 10K, and today the record stands at 26:17! We are now wondering if sub 26 minutes is possible. And believe me, it is. Yes, 2024 sounds a long ways away, but many of use remember the 1990’s performances like they were yesterday. 13 years is not much time at all.
One thing we’ve been missing with running is a way to measure output consistently, throughout an entire race, across different terrains, weather conditions and more. This tool is coming soon, and it’s so simple, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t arrived already, (a few companies are working on it), but when it does, the sub 2-hour marathon mark will be just the beginning. Every world record will fall once again, from the marathon, down to the 100 meters. Every field event, from the horizontal jumps to the high jump and pole vault, and all the throw world records, will all fall.
We are on the cusp of a performance revolution. The blend of the science of training and the art of coaching are entering into a stronger relationship than we’ve ever seen. What we have lacked is the right tool to help measure performance and output directly from the athlete, during the entire performance duration, in order to better understand the events’ specific demands, and the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses.
This tool is the power meter in a shoe. Much like we have power meters on bikes, when we can measure force production, and speed of the force from the foot coming into contact with the ground, we begin to measure output directly, not just in times or marks. Suddenly we will know much more than we have ever known, and this information will open the floodgates of a new level of high performance.
Here are just some of the ways a power meter in a shoe will affect training and performance:
- Better understanding of technique and the value of technique, as well as how to effectively tweak it
- Better assessment of fitness, objectively
- Better tracking of fitness, so performance plateaus can be avoided
- Better planning of tapers and perfecting tapering strategies
- Better understanding of recovery techniques and periods required, specific to each athlete
- Power to weight ratios and the affect of it on performance, proper ratios
- Better and more effective warm-up routines
- Better quantification of training stress, fatigue and fitness
- Better understanding of strengths and weaknesses, and effectiveness of training strategies to address them
- Objective feedback on periodization models, for improvement and tweaking
Those are just some of the ways we will see a new world of performances we can’t yet imagine. This is just in track and field, but it is safe to say these benefits will transfer to triathlon and other endurance sports, or any which involve running in some capacity, (soccer, basketball, and more).
They said 7 Tour de France victories in a row would never happen, but Lance was one of the few who adopted technology like power meters, early on in his career. Expect something similar with power meters for the athlete on foot.
The initial onslaught of data and feedback for coaches and athletes will be overwhelming at first, but those who study it and try to use the data to their competitive advantage, will be the ones who set themselves apart initially. Once the best athletes come into contact with the best coaches, who know and understand how to use this technology and data to design training programs and improve athlete weaknesses, the next revolution will begin, and the sub 2-hour marathon will be just one of many performances which will leave us dropping our jaws. Trust me, or just look at past history, and you can see the writing is on the wall.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
One of the common questions people ask me about is race wheels, and whether they are worth it. I've always thought worth is a relative question, based as much on budget as performance. I remember asking Joe Friel why he always rode such nice wheels on his road bike, (Zipp 808's), for all his rides. He responded with, "Jim, by the time these wheels are worn out, they'll be obsolete anyway." Very true.