Category Archives: Training

Coach Rants: Hear you nothing that I say?

Ironman bikeThe conversation goes something like this:

Athlete:  “I want an individual training plan, specific to me and my fitness level, so I can train smart.”

Coach:  “Excellent. Let’s  talk about your workouts. We’ll set up a periodized plan—”

Athlete:  “Can I still go on group rides?”

Coach:  “Group rides, hmm . . .”

Athlete:  “I heard that’s how you get fast in cycling.”

Coach:  “Well, you do ride at the speed of the group. . . .”

Athlete:  “And my group is fast! We did a three-hour threshold ride on Saturday. Total hammerfest!”

Coach:  “Actually, if you held that pace for three hours, it wasn’t a threshold ride. You did a hard tempo ride.”

Athlete:  “But it was a great workout!”

Coach:  “I’m sure it was a great workout, but you weren’t going hard enough for it to be a threshold workout—a workout where your body makes a physiological adaptation to the workload, increasing lactate tolerance.  A lactate threshold pace is one you could only hold for one hour max.”

Athlete:  “Oh, ok. Makes sense. Got it.”

Coach:  “In fact, not only are group rides normally too slow for a threshold workout, but they’re usually too fast for the low intensity workouts you need, too—the ones designed to build oxygen carrying capability and teach your body to metabolize fat for fuel more efficiently.”

Athlete:  “So depending on the time of year, there’s a good chance the group ride’s pace isn’t the best pace for me.

[Insert clouds parting, a chorus of angels, and a slow smile breaking across the coach’s face.]

Coach:  “Exactly. Unless you specifically need a tempo workout, there’s a good chance you’ll be going either too fast or too slow for your given workout on the day.”

Athlete:  “Got it. Loud and clear. Really, this makes too much sense.”

Coach:  “Great. So let’s talk about that periodized plan—”

Athlete:  “Can I still go on group rides?”

Coach:  Sigh . . .

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.

Ironman Lecture Series 2013 schedule

In June, we will start our monthly Ironman lecture series for the ninth consecutive year. These lectures will be held on the first Monday (usually) of each month and will discuss in detail subjects pertaining to Ironman training and racing. Subjects will include training volumes, equipment selection, nutrition, race day strategy, sports psychology and 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. The lecture series is free to all Camelback Coaching athletes whether you are racing an IM or not. Much of the information can be applied to ½ Ironman racing as well. Others may attend at a cost of $10 per lecture.

The meetings will be held in the Camelback Coaching office starting at 6:00PM and will usually be done by 8:00PM. We will provide food and drinks. The dates of the lectures are listed below (dates and times subject to change). We will send reminder e-mails prior to each one. If you cannot attend please be sure to let us know and we’ll send you the power point presentation.

Lecture #1 – Training Road Map – June 3rd

Lecture #2 – Nutrition – July 1st

Lecture #3 – Goal Setting – Aug 5th

Lecture #4 – Equipment Selection – Sep 9th

Lecture #5 – Contingency Plans – Oct 7th

Lecture #6 – Race Strategy – Nov 11th

Transition Phase of Training

After the big fall races of the triathlon year, many of you will be entering the Transition Phase of your training. The Transition Phase is about the closest thing we get to an off-season in triathlon. Keep in mind that if you take thirty days completely off from any form of exercise you essentially lose all of the fitness that you have worked so hard to obtain. However, if you reduce training volumes to near 50% of normal, you lose essentially no fitness. Using these principals, you can structure the Transition Phase of your annual training plan.

The Transition Phase typically follows your highest intensity work or highest volume work or the year, usually after your big “A” race. These high intensity/high volume workouts are very stressful and if done for too long can lead to burnout, injury, and decreasing performances. The purpose of the Transition Phase is to reduce training loads to bare minimum so the athlete can recover mentally and physically from a hard season, but still do enough training so that a baseline of fitness is maintained and body weight is maintained.

The period can last from two to six weeks depending on the athlete. This is one of the most important periods of the year as it allows your body to heal and your mind to get motivated for the next season. To train hard during this time is to risk being burned out by the time the spring races arrive.

During the Transition Phase, you can expect low key level 1-2 workouts of short duration just enough to keep fit but not enough to be very taxing. This is a great time of year to leave the gadgets behind and just trust perceived exertion. It is also a great time to get on the mountain bike or do your runs on the trails. The idea is to recharge your body and mind and get ready for the steady buildup of training for the next season.

Any workout can be skipped during the Transition Phase. If you feel like sleeping in, then this is the time of year to do it—Base 1 training will be here soon enough. The transition period is also a great time to reflect on the past year and set goals/objectives for the coming season.

It can be very tempting to train hard through the off-season, but if you want to achieve even greater things next season, be wise and take the down time. Your mind and body will thank you!