Friday, May 27, 2011

T1 Nonsense

If you're interested in getting faster, (who isn't?), then take a look at the things you might do that if you eliminated, (or at least practiced for), in T1, would automatically make you faster.

Here's some examples...

- Washing your feet in T1
This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves, both as a coach and athlete. As an athlete, these water bins and bottles just take up space, get kicked around, and make mess. As a coach, I grit my teeth seeing an athlete washing their feet on the off-chance they MIGHT get a blister. I was at an aquathlon last night, and many athletes ask me if they run should run barefoot on the sand for the run. Some of these same athletes are the ones who choose to run in shoes, and wash their feet. What would they do if they did run barefoot? Sand and debris will rarely give you blisters, especially in a short race.

If you still think this is hogwash, try it and it see. Most athletes have already made up their mind, rather than seeing if an actual blister will happen. If you need a little help in trying this, put a bunch of Vasoline on your feet and in your shoe before hand, in the potentially hot-spot areas.

-Bringing a bunch of crap to the transition area
Watch an ITU or elite draft-legal race, and tell me if you see any unnecessary items, or anything they absolutely don't RACE with. Heck, watch a junior elite race, and it's the same thing, the bare essentials. Some athletes bring way too much junk into transition, and they are so busy sorting thru the items, they are wasting valuable time. Less is faster.

-Getting off your wetsuit
This isn't that hard, especially if you practice it, and you have a suit that fits you properly. I run an open-water swim intervals workout here in San Diego, and we always finish with a contest to see who can get their wetsuit off the fastest. Some of the athletes look at me like I'm silly for even suggesting such a contest. I wonder if they see many of the athletes I see in T1 sitting on the ground, struggling for minutes to get their suits off.

Two tips to help you get off your suit:
1. Cut the suit to the mid-calf on the bottom. The last few inches aren't going to mean the difference between hypothermia and total warmth. But it will mean a much bigger whole for the ankle and foot to slide thru.

2. Stick two fingers in between your lower leg and the suit, and pull down on the suit, while pulling up with the leg.

Why sit and do something in one place, that you can do while rolling forward on your bike? Learn to get on your shoes while riding your bike. Practice on the trainer first, and then start and finish each ride getting in and out of the shoes. Leave the shoes on the bike.

Bike shoes are extremely overrated. In my TriJuniors program, we constantly do bike work only with our feet on top of the shoes. I have actually had 2 athletes do complete triathlons without ever getting into their shoes on the bike, since they need to stay with the pack in the draft-legal races, and worried they would slow and miss the wheels putting on their shoes. They understand, shoes are just a tool, not necessarily vital.

Learn to ride on top of your shoes and see how it feels. I think you'll be surprised.

A good mount means more than you think. Most of the time there is total havoc at the mount line. Your ability to mount and get away from all this can sometimes mean the difference between a good finish and a DNF. Seriously, I've seen bad crashes from poor mounts, not looking, crowds, etc.

I have one adult athlete, (in his 50's), who enthusiastically practices his mounts and dismounts before and after each ride. It's no surprise how good he is at it now, and what it has done for his confidence. It's amazing to me how the philosophy of pushing for speed has transfered to all the other aspects of his racing. Speed is a mindset!

-Course knowledge
Seems obvious that athletes should know where to go, right? Watch a race in T1 or T2 sometime, and you'll be amazed how many athletes don't know the basics of which direction to go or where their stuff is. Learn the environment you're racing in, and that's not just the course map, but the transition area as well!

Eliminate the nonsense. Be faster!

Coach Vance


BillG said...

Absolutely right! Why spend all the hard pool/open water time to drop maybe a minute from your 1500m. swim, to then mess around in T1?!? I don't see how that is not obvious.

Thanks for this one Jim.

John Post said...

Jim - I can't tell you how accurate you are. Last year I won my age group in a local tri by 29 seconds...because I was over a minute faster in T1 and T2 following the Jim Lance plan. Folks, it works.

John Post, MD