Training Tips -- Agree or Disagree

[caption id="attachment_2569" align="alignright" width="299" caption="Chris McCormack Winning 2010 Ironman World Championship"][/caption] I am in the midst of reading Chris McCormack's book I'm Here To Win and I truly can't put it down.  I am limiting myself to 30 minutes at a time because if I don't I will do nothing all day but read it, devour it, take notes in the margins, ask myself questions and prepare questions for my peers (BDD, Jeff, Jon.)  It is enlightening to find out about one of the most hated persons in the sport of triathlon, but more important than that is he provides tip for training, racing, hydrating.  This is what I am consuming and can't get enough. While in the midst of discussing my racing schedule for the rest of 2011 and all of 2012 with Jon I came across this article on titles Peter Reid's Triathlon Training Tips.  I thought to myself that I could take these thoughts and add them to what I read in the book and be able to really configure an idea of what I was doing and why I was doing it, in terms of the plan that coach has for me. For those of you that don't know who Peter Reid is allow me to give you a few fun facts.   He is a 3x Ironman World Champion (1998, 2000, 2003), 2x Ironman Canada Champion, 3x Ironman Australia Champion and 4x Triathlete of the year.  So he knows what he speaks of to say the least, but obviously so does Chris McCormack who is a 2x Ironman World Champion and their ideas are not always the same but that is to be expected.  Your body is not like mine, while mine is not like Jeff's.  My ability to swim is different than Jon's and my ability to ride is different from BDD's.  The point is that we are all different but taking all the information around you and processing it into what works for you is the key.  This is why I love this sport.  It is always changing as you discover a new technique or product.  Get extra rest or change your diet.  It will all affect your performance, and it is up to you to maximize your potential. I will be doing a review of Chris' book in the future but wanted to post the 7 tips for training that Peter Reid laid out for in an article written by Jennifer Purdie. ============ 1. Train alone. [caption id="attachment_2566" align="alignright" width="228" caption="Peter Reid"][/caption] When I first started my career in triathlon, I got to a certain level by training with my buddies, in groups and non-structured environments. I then left for a while and came back with a whole new attitude. I found a coach I liked and really appreciated his ideas. So I committed myself to the training. I rarely trained with people. Eighty-five to 90 percent of the training I did alone, which worked for me. So if I were climbing a hill and my heart rate spiked, I'd walk up the hill. This created self-confidence. I came out and won my first race by training alone, which was Wildflower, a tough course. I think athletes now have this notion to show off their fitness. They always want to be out in front when it should just be a training session. Part of me agrees with this but a larger part of me disagrees with this.  I disagree with this under the notion that if I am training with people who are faster than me then I am going to have to work to keep up and thus I will be better. The perfect example of this is my swimming.  I began swimming with Greg Larsen sometime in February after we ran the Stonebridge Half Marathon together.  At that time I would have been happy with a swim time of 2:00-2:05 per 100 yards.  That to me was fast and I was happy with it and I never felt like I was pushing myself in the pool, but I worried about the bike and swim so I was content. Once in the water with Greg my competitor came out because he is a fish in the water.  I did not want to get dropped by him in the pool so I improved my technique, my stroke and pushed my body farther that I ever did before.  The results have been phenomenal.  I am now regularly swimming a 1:45-1:50 per 100 yards and not out of breathe or exhausted. I am enjoying the improvement in the water so much that I now will say that the swim is my 2nd best sport behind running.  This is why guys like BDD, Jeff and Jon will be  getting emails about cycling.  They are awesome on the bike and I want to pick their brains so that I can move biking back into #2. Do you see what I'm getting at?  I am working with others to get better so I don't believe whole-heartedly in the notion that training alone is the best way to go.  Yes, the majority of my training is done alone but when I have the opportunity to train with others I do it because I know it will make me better. 2. Do drills. People neglect cycling and running drills. I did them. So on race day I would lose as little fitness as possible. I could be more efficient, not really falling apart halfway through the marathon because of the training drills. The reality is you should be doing drills all the time, year in and year out. I was different than a lot of pros by doing that. There is no replacement for drills.  Drills make you stronger and faster.  Why?  Because you focus on what you are doing and you become more efficient.  Every swim session involves drills of some sort.  My favorites are to do 50 yard drills of paddle, pull buoy and then both.  I also do fist drills, catch-up, shark and isolated arm drills.  You read above how I have improved my swim. On the bike I am doing ILT (Isolated Leg Training) to remove any dead spots in my turnover.  I do hill repeats and time trials to improve on the bike.  I'm sure there is more I can do and it is up to find them out. It doesn't end there.  I do drills with my running as well.  I skip, I do cross-overs, I do walking lunges and a number of other items so that I can be loose and limber but to also get me faster. [caption id="attachment_2565" align="alignright" width="200" caption="CapTexTri Finish Line"][/caption] 3. Train for a race. Don't train for general fitness. I think I was one of the first to train on the Big Island. I trained in the heat and learned the currents of the water. When I did Wildflower, I'd incorporate rides and runs similar to that course. I found out the course had lots of trails and hills, so I thought, okay, I need to run hills and train specific to that course. This is so important and it is not just about the course but also the speed.  Train for the heart rate spike.  Train for the length of the race.  Train for the heat with proper nutrition and hydration.  I say that I look at each training session as if I were in the race because I don't want race day to be the first time I am facing something.  The race should be the culmination of everything I have done prior and there should be no surprises. 4. Put yourself in pain. This one is kind of sadistic. I always had this problem of my stomach shutting down during the marathon of an Ironman. So I thought if I could run with my stomach shutting down, I could do it in a race. So once a week I would sit down and eat nachos with really spicy hot sauce. Then I'd get my running gear on, go for a run and of course, my stomach would shut down, but I'd just keep going. They were brutal training runs. But then on race day, when my stomach would shut down I'd think, "I can deal with this." I'd be able to keep going. Doing this paid off so many times over. I'd do this 10 weeks out from Ironman until two weeks before race day. It'd be a horrible run, but it had a huge impact on my overall race performance. I have started to do this more than ever before.  I tend to forget to take in hydration while on the bike so I am typically running somewhat dehydrated.  So how do I prepare for that.  I have begun running without water and without GUs or Gels.  I do this to push my mind to understand that this might happen on race day and I need to be mentally prepared to handle it.  Now, don't get me wrong.  This is not for every run but for runs that are going to be less than a half-marathon I will do it.  It is something that happens about once per week and gives me a mental advantage over my body because I know I can do it. 5. Spend the dough. I see this with a lot of age-groupers. They spend so much time and effort training for an Ironman and they don't bother to get new tires or get a tune-up. Get new tires. Get a new chain if you need it. You've invested so much time, just pay the couple of extra bucks. Don't cheap out. It's worth the extra expense. This is true but you need to pick and choose what you can spend your money on since unless you are independently wealthy this sport is expensive.  Taking care of your bike and making sure it is tuned-up is not super expensive but will prevent you from looking at the bike on the side of the road because the chain broke.  Be wise about where you spend your money and on what.  If you have to choose between a new aero helmet and getting your bike tuned up then go get the bike tuned up because an aero helmet won't help you while you are walking the course back in. 6. Get out of shape. I got this piece of advice from Paula Newby-Fraser and it was one of the best things I have heard. She told me, "Peter, you can have a great short career or you can have a great long career. But you need to take time to leave the sport behind you." Basically, you need to get out of shape to get back into shape. You need to physically and mentally recharge. You need to become a non-athlete. Don't eat healthy. It hurts your fitness, sure, but it makes for a better long-term career. Mark Allen did this and it worked for him. Doing this prepares your body for another season. It was so easy for me to do this because two legends told me they did it. It felt like a part of the puzzle of being pro. I am torn on this one.  I enjoy racing and I look to race once per month so there really is not a lot of time to get out of shape.  My coach designs my plan specifically for me and includes rest days as well as slower days, longer days, speed days.  The plan is working for me and I don't think I will let myself get out of shape. The perfect example is that right now I am back to base building.  I am doing long slow runs at a low HR as well as doing more and more drills.  We are building that base to get me to be faster than 5:42:06 come October and 70.3 Longhorn. 7. Don't work out when sick. I see so many athletes tinker with their workouts when they are sick. Don't. Take the day off. Nothing needs to be said about this.  Stay off your feet and get well.  Once well you will be able to get back to it.  Training while sick may only lead to a prolonged sickness and not something you want to do. 8. Know your body. If you head out the door and your knee hurts, don't push through it because then all of a sudden you're injured and you are out. Stop exercising and take a couple of days off rather than be out a couple of weeks. Just like training while sick.  This speaks for itself and is something I need to focus more on.  I have a gluteal muscle twinge every now and again.  I end up taking that week sitting on a tennis ball, getting ART, stretching and it feels great then I forget about it until it flares up again in three weeks.  Putting this in writing will force me to pay attention to it all the time and not just when it flairs up.  

What are your training tips?

Do you do anything different or special that has helped you reach the goals you set for yourself?

Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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