Category Archives: Racing and pacing

Augusta 70.3, Memphis 70.3

Ian Smith – August 70.3

Happy October everyone! First, we’d like to congratulate Ian Smith of Denver, CO. Ian completed his first 1/2 Ironman at the Augusta 70.3 last weekend in a time of 6:10! Nice job, Ian!

Congratulations also go out to Ed Wallis, Kemp Conrad and Craig Conley who raced Memphis 70.3 yesterday. Ed finished the course in 5:52, Kemp in 5:16, and Craig in 6:47. Great job, guys!

Craig Conley, Ed Wallis, Kemp Conrad – Memphis 70.3

New Roads Half IM -New Orleans, LA, Leaping Luchador 50K (virtual)

Kemp Conrad, DJ McCabe, Ed Wallis, Matt Haaga – New Roads Half IM, New Orleans

Congratulations to our first 70.3 finishers since the COVID outbreak! The New Roads ½ Ironman was held in New Orleans, LA, this past weekend. Ed Wallis finished in 6:16. Kemp Conrad finished in 5:36 and took 2nd in his AG! DJ McCabe came home in 5:16. Nice job guys!

Also, Frank Smith also kept his monthly marathon streak alive with a 7:06 finish in the Leaping Luchador 50K (virtual)!

Ironman RACE STRATEGY lecture – Wednesday, Nov 7th, 6pm

Just a reminder that the Ironman Race Strategy Lecture will be held this Wednesday, Nov 7th, at 6pm, at Sole Sports Running Zone in Scottsdale.

This lecture comes just before Ironman Arizona and for good reason. Like nutrition, a proper race strategy is crucial to having the race you envision. Even if you haven’t been able to attend the other lectures, come to this one! It’s that important! We’ll discuss racing and pacing strategies to ensure you have your best possible race. Information is also applicable to the Half Ironman distance.

Drinks will be provided and all attendees will receive 15% off any purchase made at Sole Sports on lecture night. The event is free and is open to everyone. Hope to see you there!

13th Annual Ironman Lecture Series

IMAZ15 run Malorie Charley closeupIt’s that time of year again! On June 15th, we’ll be starting our monthly Ironman lecture series for the 13th consecutive year. These lectures will be held on the first or second Wednesday (usually) of each month and will discuss in detail subjects pertaining to Ironman/Long Course triathlon training and racing. Subjects will include training volumes, equipment selection, nutrition, race day strategy, sports psychology/goal setting, and contingency planning.

These lectures may be some of the most important things you can do in preparing for a successful IM or long course event. Why learn the hard way? At these lectures you can learn from others’ mistakes and share your own lessons learned with your fellow IM athletes. Much of the information can be applied to ½ Ironman racing as well. Everyone is welcome to attend, if you would like to bring a friend.

The lectures will be held in the conference room of the Comfort Inn in Fountain Hills starting at 6:00PM and will usually be done by 7:30PM. The Comfort Inn is located at 17105 E. Shea Blvd, Fountain Hills AZ 85268. The dates of the lectures are listed below (dates and times subject to change). Hope to see you there!

Lecture #1 – Training Road Map – June 15th.
Lecture #2 – Nutrition – July 13th
Lecture #3 – Goal Setting – Aug 10th
Lecture #4 – Equipment Selection – Sep 14th
Lecture #5 – Contingency Plans – Oct 19th
Lecture #6 – Race Strategy – Nov 16th
Lecture #7 – Debrief/Cake – Nov 22rd (Tuesday)

Ironman/Long Course Racing Lecture Series – 2016

IMAZ15 run Malorie Charley closeupIt’s that time of year again! In June, we will be starting our monthly Ironman lecture series for the 13th consecutive year. These lectures will be held on the first or second Wednesday (usually) of each month and will discuss in detail subjects pertaining to Ironman/Long Course Triathlon training and racing. Subjects will include training volumes, equipment selection, nutrition, race day strategy, sports psychology/goal setting, and contingency planning. These lectures may be some of the most important things you can do in preparing for a successful IM or long course event. Why learn the hard way? At these lectures you can learn from others’ mistakes and share your own lessons learned with your fellow IM athletes. Much of the information can be applied to ½ Ironman racing as well. Everyone is welcome to attend, if you would like to bring a friend.

The lectures will be held in the conference room of the Comfort Inn in Fountain Hills starting at 6:00PM and will usually be done by 7:30PM. The Comfort Inn is located at 17105 E. Shea Blvd, Fountain Hills AZ 85268. The dates of the lectures are listed below (dates and times subject to change). Hope to see you there!

Lecture #1 – Training Road Map – June 15th.
Lecture #2 – Nutrition – July 13th
Lecture #3 – Goal Setting – Aug 10th
Lecture #4 – Equipment Selection – Sep 14th
Lecture #5 – Contingency Plans – Oct 19th
Lecture #6 – Race Strategy – Nov 16th
Lecture #7 – Debrief/Cake – Nov 23rd

Triathlete Psychology 101: Managing Inflated Race Expectations

finish lineFirst, a few “technical” definitions:

    • The clunker race – a dramatic under-performance based on capabilities predicted from training
    • The mean racea performance at or near, just above or below, a level that training indicates
    • The breakthrough race a performance at a peak level, above and beyond what training indicates

The math doesn’t lie. Think about your races over the last few years. In fact, go grab your logbooks or open whatever you need to find your race results. Please, go do this now. I’ll wait. . . .

Ok, now that you’re back, let’s look at your data. You will see that a small percentage of your races were clunkers. A small percentage were breakthroughs. But the vast majority were means.

Admit that you’re seeing this. Internalize it.

Now my question is this: Why do we view breakthrough races as the expectation, the norm, yet dismiss the clunkers as exceptions or one-offs?

We all do it, right? We have that stellar race, that breakthrough performance, and yet, we expect the next one to be off the charts, too. And the one after that. And the one after that. Giant leap after giant leap. Phenomenal PR after phenomenal PR.

But is this realistic?

The answer, of course, is no.

Most of our races are mean races, or dare I say, average. Oh! That word! Average. We spit it out like cod liver oil.

“How was your race this weekend?”

“It was average. Thanks for asking.”

“Dude, I’m so sorry. That’s rough. Really.”

The average race, which I’ll heretofore refer as the mean race to protect the sensitive psyches reading this article, is a race where the athlete performs reasonably well based on the results they see in training.

Reasonably well often includes measurable improvements, but unless it’s a drastic improvement, we tend to be disappointed.

To be fair, we’re set up to view the mean race as a disappointment partly because we expect the rapid improvement we enjoyed early in our careers. When we first jump into the sport, every race is a breakthrough. We might have started in a relatively healthy, yet untrained state. Or perhaps we came from a single-sport specialty with little experience in the other two disciplines. With the addition of consistent training, we drop huge chunks of time race to race.

But as we become more fit and we tuck more race experiences under our belts, the improvements become more and more marginal. Ouch. This is another hard word to stomach. Worse than average, even.

A marginal improvement is still an improvement. You ran a 3:15 at the P. F. Chang’s Marathon last year. You ran a 3:14 this year. Outstanding. Congratulations. Based on your consistent, structured training, you enjoyed an improvement that fell right in line with where your metrics said you should have fallen.

“But Coach, my best time the year prior to the 3:15 was a 3:45. So logically, I should have run a 2:45 this year, right?”

“Uh, well, no. The 3:45 was your first attempt ever at the distance and that was completed with spotty training at best.”

The 2:45 would be a ridiculous expectation, right? Unless you possess world class DNA, it’s not going to happen. And yet, we still expect it.

In reality, a high-performing athlete who is well-trained, highly motivated and races in reasonable environmental conditions, is doing quite well to find most results falling in the mean category.

The truth is, we become numb to the fact that we’re super fit. We enjoy improvements of a minute here and a minute there and we’re dejected. I mean, we could do this with our eyes closed, right?

But you’re ignoring the years of training you’ve put in and how fit you actually are.

It’s not until we go through a period of being untrained due to injury, or have to deal with a stress-inducing personal situation, or just get old, fat and lazy that we realize at just how high a level we were performing in these “disappointing” mean races.

So going forward, how do we address the clunkers and the breakthroughs? First, let’s remind ourselves why these races happen.

      • Clunkers are generally a result of severe environmental conditions, a lack of motivation, a poorly executed race or nutrition strategy, or some other external factor—personal stress, etc.
      • Breakthrough races are typically a result of favorable environmental conditions, extreme motivation, and a lack of personal stress.

It is important to understand that the same training routine can result in both of these races. In other words, the training did not change to produce the results, only the factors on race day did.

The common reaction to a clunker is that I need to train harder or differently. The common reaction to a breakthrough race is that I should expect that performance every time. Both of these reactions are misguided.

As you evaluate your races, be realistic. Some races are going to be clunkers. Some are going to be breakthroughs and most are going to be means. Your training is the same for all three.

So instead of reacting to the race result and adjusting training, the successful athlete sticks with the routine and knows that the breakthrough race they so crave will eventually come, even if they are few and far between. The key is to recognize when a breakthrough race is in progress and take advantage of it and enjoy it.

Having a healthy mental outlook when considering your race results will grant you the freedom to take your clunkers and breakthroughs in stride, and ultimately, allow you to more fully appreciate and enjoy your mean races. The next time someone asks how your race went, smile when you tell them that you enjoyed an average race.

Racing in the Rain

Running in the rainIt looks like the “winter” weather will be returning to Phoenix! The forecasts calls for rain on Saturday and Sunday, so we wanted to send a few notes about racing in the rain for those of you with events this weekend. First of all, rain is good. It means cool air and low core temperatures. Heat is the enemy of the endurance athlete. So, embrace the rain. Recognize that it could actually improve your performance.

For those of you racing the Phoenix Half Marathon and Marathon:

  • Dress in warm clothing in the hours leading up to the race. Stay dry and warm until the last possible minute.
  • Choose race clothing that would be comfortable in weather that is 20 degrees warmer than forecasted on race day. The low this weekend is supposed to be 50 degrees, so dress as if the race was going to take place in 70-degree weather.
  • Wear tight clothing. Tri shorts and tri tops are perfect for the rain. Baggy run shorts and t-shirts will become soaked with water and cause serious chaffing on your legs and chest.
  • If you are really worried about being cold, then add some light gloves and a winter ski hat and maybe arm warmers. All of these items can be removed if you start to overheat during the race.
  • If it rains, you will get wet. Do not try and run in something that you think will keep you dry. A rain jacket just does not breathe well enough to keep you from overheating. Wear clothes that still function when wet (i.e. tri clothing – not cotton t-shirts)

For those of you racing the Desert Duathlon:

  • Same as above for pre-race and the first run.
  • The trick comes on the bike. Due to the cooling effect of the air on the bike, you are more prone to getting very cold when riding in 50-degree weather with rain.
  • Tri clothing plus an undershirt (like an Under Armour synthetic t-shirt) arm warmers, maybe a vest, and light gloves will work well on a day like Sunday. Tights are usually a bit too much for the runs when it is 50 degrees. Stick to items that help keep your core warm and let the legs and feet be.
  • Some people like to do the first run in tri clothing, t-shirt, arm warmers and gloves and then keep these on for the bike. They usually are discarded by the second run as you usually heat up pretty well as the event goes on.
  • I have raced the Desert Du many times in pouring rain. The trails stay in reasonably good condition and if you add a simple layer you can be pretty comfortable even if it rains the entire day.
  • Be sure to bring a garbage bag to place over any transition items like bike shoes or run shoes so that they do not get soaked when you are out on your first run.

Keep a sense of adventure and enjoy the weather!!!

Marathon Pacing: Bank energy, not time!

Dana Kennedy running cropped Oct 2013Many of you will be racing the Phoenix Half Marathon and Marathon this weekend, so here are some notes about pacing. If you read nothing else, this article can be summarized thusly: These races are about how fast you can finish, not how fast you can start!

Half Marathon Pacing

The Phoenix Half Marathon course is slightly downhill, but mostly flat, so this course should be approached just like most half marathons.

  • Run the first two miles at level 2 heart rate*.
  • Run at the third mile at level 3 heart rate. Time this mile. Whatever pace you hold over this third mile is the pace you should hold until mile ten.
  • Heart rate and perceived effort will start to drift upward as the race goes on, but hold on to that pace.
  • At mile ten, try and lift the pace to level 4-5a for the last 5K or hold what you have.
  • You should cross the line with nothing left to give, but not fading either. Your fastest miles of the race should come in those last three miles.

Half Marathon Nutrition

Eat 100-150 calories per hour (gel every 45-60 minutes), drink water as desired (17 ounces per hour on average). If you are a heavy sweater or plan on being out there for more than two hours, then take in at least 400mg of sodium per hour as well.

Marathon Pacing

This is a downhill course which can tempt people into running too fast in those early miles. The name of the game on a downhill course is to bank energy not time.

  • Run the first 13 miles at level 2 pace as though you were on flat terrain. Notice, the intensity is written as level 2 pace – not heart rate. Your heart rate may only reach mid to high level 1 when running downhill. Do not force your heart rate up into level 2 and run 30 seconds per mile faster. If you do this, you will over-stride on the downhill and, very casually put, beat your quads up. This will lead to muscular fatigue by miles 15-18. So, keep things ridiculously easy on the downhill and get ready to run well over the last 13 miles of the course.
  • At mile 13, try and hold a solid level 2 to low level 3 heart rate.
  • You can start to work a little bit once you are past half way. Your goal is to get to mile 20-22 feeling strong.
  • At mile 20 (aggressive) or mile 22 (conservative), start your finishing kick. Over these last miles you may push yourself to level 3 and up. Again, some of your fastest miles of the race should occur in this last section.
  • The key to the entire race is to save your legs and your energy on the downhill section. Many people will try and run faster on the downhill in order to get ahead of the goal pace and will have their legs shut down in the last 10K from muscular fatigue.

Marathon Nutrition

Eat 100-150 calories per hour (gel every 45-60 min), drink water as desired (17 ounces per hour on average), take in at least 400mg of sodium per hour.

Good luck and have fun!!!

*Heart rate intensity levels are determined through lactate threshold testing. In lieu of that, here is a key based on subjective words related to rating of perceived exertion:

 

 HR Data Zones
Lev 1 Easy
Lev 2 Moderate
Lev 3 Somewhat hard
Lev 4 Hard
Lev 5a Hard
Lev 5b Very hard
Lev 5c Sprint

Coach Rants: When an athlete says, “I want to go fast!”

Great run formAthletes who have worked with us over several seasons and have done their training as indicated, have usually enjoyed steady improvement and done so without injury. But when we sit down at the end of the year to plan for the coming season, many times the conversation goes something like this:

Athlete: “But this year, I want to go fast!”

Coach: “Oh! You want to go fast? Well, I wish you would have told me sooner because I’ve written all of your training programs thinking you wanted to go slow. In fact, I’ve withheld key workouts from your programs, silver bullets every one of them, that contain the secrets for going fast.”

Of course, we never say this. But does anyone honestly think we’re not trying our darnedest to write the best program for them given their ability level, time constraints, and goals to allow them to achieve the fastest possible times and do so without injury?

“But I want to be fast. And right now, please.”

Ok. Here it is.

The secret.

How you go fast.*

  1. Low intensity workouts to build oxygen carrying capability and teach your body to metabolize fat for fuel more efficiently.
  2. Tempo workouts to build strength and prepare the body for harder workouts to come.
  3. Threshold workouts to increase lactate tolerance.
  4. Rest.
  5. Repeat.

The time required to go fast takes weeks, months, and years of consistent, smart training.

There is no magic 8-week plan.

There is no special track workout.

It’s consistency and patience.

And just in case you’re skimming, let’s make that clear. CONSISTENCY AND PATIENCE are the keys to going fast.

 

*This is a short article, so technique is not mentioned. But obviously, addressing run technique, pedaling mechanics and bike fit, and swim stroke technique all play parts in the “going fast” equation, especially in swimming. So in addition to following your coach’s training plan to the letter, as we know you are doing, improving technique in each discipline will help you become a more efficient athlete. And an efficient athlete who trains properly is going to see the results they are looking for.

Why You Should Wear a Heart Rate Monitor in Triathlon Short Course Racing

triathlete cyclistMost people understand the role a heart rate monitor plays in long course racing. It helps us maintain a steady pace and can let us know when we’re in need of nutrition.  But many people think the heart rate monitor has no role in short course racing such as sprint and Olympic distance races.

In a sprint, you just go all out, right? But what if your perception of “going all out” doesn’t actually match with the effort you are capable of giving?

You just can’t sugarcoat a threshold effort. It hurts. A lot. And many athletes aren’t willing to stay there, let alone go there in the first place. But if you really want to race at threshold, a heart rate monitor can ensure you’re actually getting  there.

For example, a sprint distance race is generally raced at or near lactate threshold, especially on the run. If a person perceives they are working at threshold on the run, and they know their lactate threshold occurs at 165 bpm, but they see 155 bpm on their monitor, they now know they still have 10 beats to give. This little piece of information might help them dig just that little bit deeper to finish a 5K as best they can.

The heart rate monitor can also provide useful data for post-race analysis. We often hear people say, “I didn’t do so well on the run,” or “I felt great on the bike. I don’t think I biked too hard.” But without real data, it’s impossible to know how well a person executed their race. If that same runner who has a threshold heart rate of 165 bpm analyzes their data after a race and notes an average heart rate in the mid 160’s, they can feel confident they gave their best effort on the day. If they see an average heart rate in the mid 150’s, they would know that perhaps what they perceived as “going all out,” wasn’t necessarily the case, or perhaps their run was affected by biking too hard.

“I had a great bike, but I don’t know what happened on the run.” If only we coaches had a for dollar every time we have heard this. I had a great bike, but . . . What does that really mean?

Often, it means the athlete has “overbiked.” If this athlete has had a less-than-stellar run and has worn a heart rate monitor, they can use heart rate data from the bike leg to determine if they spent too much energy on the bike course. For example, if a person has  a lactate threshold heart rate of 165 bpm on the bike and cycles in an Olympic distance race—which is raced at slightly below threshold—and after the event, notes their average heart rate was above 165 bpm, and that the bike leg included several spikes into the 170’s, it’s safe to say they “overbiked” the course and didn’t leave enough for the run.

In summary, the heart rate monitor serves two valuable purposes in short course races. It gives us a piece of information during the race to ensure we are working as hard as we can, and it provides valuable data after the race to confirm how well or poorly we executed our race strategy.