Thursday, July 14, 2011

Twitter Answers #5

Each week I ask over Twitter if people have training topics they are interested in learning about. I get a number of responses and questions, and 140 characters doesn't provide good opportunity to answer them all. So I hope every few weeks to post some of the questions and my responses here.

From: @tamcknight
"@jimvance living in chicago i am looking for some indoor cycling advise for the offseason.Ways to mix it up on trainer or trainer alternative"

From: @skottmckenna
"@jimvance some great indoor trainer workouts."

I actually coach 2 athletes in the Chicago area, (2 very successful Ironman/70.3 athletes, Scott Iott and Adam Zucco), and the trainer is a key item to our success in the cold winter, but also during the year. One of the best things you can do to help with your trainer sets is to use a power meter, as now the sessions are objective and you can track improvement, set goals, etc. Power meters make trainer sets much more rewarding and fun, I tend to find.

Another great tool is a book by Dirk Friel, son of Joe Friel, called Trainer Workouts in a Binder. This really helps to give some fun and different workouts, based on your needs. I use a number of them, and even my wife uses the book. I'm looking forward to a 2nd edition!

From: @fedrozo
"@jimvance How about recovery benefits of yoga on endurance athletes?"

This is an interesting topic. People often say, "Yoga is great for cross-training" and also say, "Yoga is great for recovery". I'm often puzzled how something can have a great cross-training effect and be great for recovery at the same time.

I have done yoga/pilates combined classes, and have found them to be challenging, and helpful at increasing my range of motion. I was doing this at the end of long training days, twice a week. I think a lot of it depends on the type of yoga an athlete is doing, and how much of it is stretching based, how much of it is "hot yoga", and how much of it includes strengthening movements. If done on a recovery day, and done lightly, with a range of motion centralized focus, then it could be beneficial for recovery. BUT, there is still the question of whether or not it is better than passive recovery. In a time when active recovery is so popular, sometimes good old passive recovery is better.

From: @DanDan1982
"@jimvance how to taper for half ironman?? No idea what I'm doing!"

I understand the feeling, as there is so much information out there, and even then tapering can be very individual. Some athletes hardly ever taper, or barely do, others seem to live in a state of taper! There are considerations such as how long you've been training coming into the race, how important the race is, and what you have after it.

You can see and follow some of the writings I've done on the subject here. I also have done a webinar on how to use WKO+ software to help with tapering. My best advice beyond that is to keep a record of what you do during the taper, so you can tweak it if you need to for the future, or replicate it perfectly if it works very well for you. Also, during race week, keep the workouts short and to the point, replicating race intensity, a little bit about every day or every other day.

"@jimvance How to tell when u should train through fatigue vs. take a day off. Specifically interested re: Ironman training."

"@jimvance How to overcome overtraining!"

This is a tough one, as the line between training and overtraining is not clear cut, and varies greatly with each person. I have 3 athletes training in a group together right now in Chicago, and they have 3 different recovery styles/timings/abilities, which I have to consider with each.

Some tips I can tell you...
- As you get fitter, you ability to recover increases. You will bounce back faster, so recovery is not a standard number of hours or days.
- Keep a log, so you can get a better idea of how you're doing with interpreting what your body can take and how much is enough/too-much.
- If you pack 3 days together of good quality work, (and you work full-time), chances are you need one very light day after that. If you do 4-5, you need 2-3.
- If you can't get back to normal after 2-3 days off or extremely light, you've dug way too deep.
- Sleep is your best recovery tool/method. Nothing beats it.
- If you use a power meter, you can tell when you need a day off, as the data is objective. Same with a Garmin or speed-distance device for running.
- If your attitude is poor, motivation is low, you need more recovery.

"@jimvance I want a more thorough handling of long course training/racing via Performance management chart on @TrainingPeaks"

I have written a number of blog posts on WKO+, and how to use the PMC to effectively monitor and guide training decisions. You can also find a number of webinars I've done on using WKO+, from the PMC to other charts I use. Don't fall into the trap of looking at only one chart, as there's always many variables to consider. I think you'll find the webinars especially helpful.

"@jimvance What are ur takes on coconut water?"

I think if you like it, drink it. Is it magical? No. Is better than soda, or sugary drinks? Depends on the timing of when you're planning to drink it. Drink according to your needs, and drink what tastes good to you. Do I drink it personally? No, but I retired from being a pro athlete a few years ago, so what I drink now is not what I used to drink.

"@jimvance Humidity training advantages/ conversion rates to normal temps"

Hate to be the barer of bad news, but there is no conversion you can do. The variables are just too great, including:
- Pre-event/session hydration levels
- Fitness level
- Distance/length of session/race to be completed
- Course differences
- Intensities and paces
- Prior heat adaptation training
This is all art and takes getting to know your own body and its needs. This is part of the art of racing and training.

Thanks for the great questions!

Coach Vance

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CrossFit Endurance & Ironman

Sorry for the lag time in posts, but it's been hectic since getting back from Switzerland. Will post photos from the camp here soon. Anyway, will try to get back to regular postings, at least 2 times per week.

In the meantime, here's an email I received, partly because I do CrossFit as a means of exercise and training, asking me my thoughts on using CrossFit Endurance as a means of preparing for Ironman:

"Saw a video article about 10 Crossfit Endurance (CFE) trained athletes who completed Lake Placid 2010 using nothing but the CFE program. The first timers included a 13hr 20 min athlete who did Lake Placid as his second ever triathlon. He had lost 85 lbs during the previous year, again using CFE as his plan. Most of the vets experienced PR’s, one guy shaving 25 minutes to come in @ 10 something hrs. The other link is the CFE website which shows the daily training plan.

I have my crossfit coach working with me to understand it, but here is the basic breakdown.

3-4 days a week of strength workouts (15min or so) combined with a typical Crossfit workout of the day (20 min or so). Then 6 workouts over the week of mainly intervals, 2 days for each sport. It works out to around 8-10 hours a week of very high intensity, mostly anerobic work.

For example, a typical day would be what I did yesterday… First thing in the morning… Front Squats, work up to 1 rep max. Rest 10 minutes. Workout for time, 25 155lb deadlifts, 50 pullups, 100 kettlebell swings @ 53lbs. Including warm-ups and stretching, about 1:15 of work. Then later in the evening (at least 3 hrs after your first workout) do long bike interval training. Ride a half mile, rest for the time it took you to do it, then ride 1 mile, rest for time it took, then do 2 miles, rest for time it took. Repeat this 3-5 times. Should be close to a max effort for each interval.

Eventually you’d work up to a 3 days on 1 day off approach with each sport getting 2 days of work. Their whole concept is to almost entirely eliminate the ‘long, slow’ distance training that sucks up so many hours during a season and can really start to beat up your body. If I do end up using this approach, I’m absolutely going to include one long workout each week, just for the sake of the mental training and nutrition, not to mention the fun of training with the rest of our team. I’ll be interested to hear what you think. Also, if you wouldn’t mind, what does your typical training routine entail? Thanks for the help!"

These are great questions, and here was my response...

I'm a crossfit guy as well, really enjoy it. I think crossfit endurance is a good tool, but mainly best for the off-season months, or base periods, not in the build period, or 12 weeks prior to an Ironman. There's no doubt that doing any exercise regularly, including/especially high intensity training, can get you to the finish line of an Ironman, but to really do well requires more specific training than a single long ride per week.

I think CFE is also a great tool for those who seemed to have plateaued from longer training. Part of the problem is, many athletes go out on long rides and run and simply do the same pace all the time, never changing the intensity or challenging themselves. This would be like going to the weight room and doing 100 squats, 100 pull-ups and 100 push-ups every day. Of course this would plateau, and not give much benefit to a crossfit athlete after awhile.

So use this in the general preparation periods, but turn your focus to more specific prep when the race nears, and I think you'll do a lot better than you would have if you simply did CFE.

Hope this helps!

Coach Vance