Training Area

14th March 2017Guest Post from Akhil Viz As a triathlete, running is a major component of my training. I got hooked on to triathlon towards the end of 2011 when I did my first Sprint triathlon and immediately decided I would race in an Ironman ten months later! I was a self-coached athlete at first. I figured my way through the sport by asking other experienced triathletes for their advice and scavenging through the internet to soak in as much information as possible. I had a basic heart rate monitor and stopwatch to record my training – no other gadgets. I had read plenty of articles and journals regarding the benefits of training with power when it came to cycling (back in 2011 there were no power meters for running). Some of the benefits are: Power provides instantaneous feedback on your output and therefore removes any guesswork on how hard you are pedaling. Power is unaffected by your cardiac health (which does affect heart rate). Power enables you to track performance consistently over a period of time. After 3 years into the sport, I invested in a power meter! Yes, it took me that long but let me tell you that it was one of the best investments I’ve made (alongside purchasing a foam roller). I noticed improvements of over 40 seconds in my 40km cycling time trial and it was all down to the fact that I was better able to train at the right intensity every single time I rode my bike. When I heard of Stryd, I knew I had no other choice but to get my hands on one of the Stryd power meters and similar to my cycling performance, I’ve seen substantial improvements in my running. I’m not just saying it for the sake of it but I have data to support my statement. I received my Stryd power meter in December 2016 and it was as if Christmas came early for me! I immediately downloaded the app and registered my profile on the Stryd Power Center. Two months later I ran my first race of the 2017 season – the Surf City Half Marathon in Huntington Beach, California. Not only did I beat my previous half marathon time by 3 minutes, I also set PBs for my 5km, 10km and 10-mile splits! How did I use the Stryd power meter during my training? How did I pace myself during the race? Using The Critical Power Test Method The Stryd Power Center has a feature called the “Critical Power Test Method”. It basically provides the options listed below to enter data from a test run to determine your Critical Power and your power zones: 3-6 lap test 3-9 minute test 5km estimate 10km estimate Before I continue, I would like to clarify that Critical Power is the power you can sustain for a long period of time (anywhere between 30mins to 2 hours). My advice to you is that if you are training for short distances, use either of the first three options of the Critical Power Test Method. If training for longer distances such as half or full marathons, I recommend using the 10km estimate. This is because you are likely to run harder if you know that you are only running for a short period of time. Therefore your Critical Power and subsequent power zones will be higher than needed if training for a half or full marathon. Set Your Power Zones I used my previous 10km PB to determine my Critical Power and power zones. Knowing my power zones, all I had to do was run within those zones! It’s as easy as that! My winter training consisted of 4 runs each week (in addition to my swimming and cycling training). I did a steady run every Tuesday and Thursday evening for 70mins. Every Saturday I would do a short 15-20 mins run at threshold after a 3-4 hour bike ride. Sunday mornings were reserved for my long runs (2 hours). All my steady and long runs were performed at an approximate average power of 240 watts. My short run on Saturdays I tried to keep at 260 watts. Below is a screenshot from a steady run I did on Jan 12th, 2017. You can see that I maintained an average power of 239.9 watts and that my power was consistent throughout most of the run (see the profile of the graph). Consistency Is Key Once you’re dialed in with your power zones, the next important step is to be consistent. Not only should you be consistent with the number of the training session you perform each week but also with remaining in the power zones when you train. Even if you feel that you can run harder, you must control yourself and remain within the power zones. Don’t forget that for long distance running, the essence of the steady run is to improve aerobic capacity and develop your musculoskeletal strength. This can only be achieved at moderate intensities. Preparing For Race Day  I’m sure you’ll get to the big day feeling very energetic, well-rested and determined to record a new PB! With all those miles behind you, all you really need to do is use your Stryd power meter to monitor your power and pace during the race. When I ran the Surf City Half Marathon, my aim was to run within my threshold pace and power. I targeted a 3:50-3:55min/km pace and power of 270 watts based on the calculation from the Critical Power Test Method (see above). The calculations were spot on as I was able to hold that pace and power throughout the race! The screenshot below shows the data and the graph shows how I held a constant power throughout the majority of the race. I ran my fastest half marathon and in the same race, I set PBs for my 5km, 10km and 10-mile splits! I was truly empowered by Stryd!   The Proof Is In The Pudding! The advancement in technology is phenomenal. Using a power meter can substantially improve the way in which you train and race! Please don’t get me wrong; I am not encouraging you to simply follow the numbers on your watch and forget about your running technique or how you feel during your training sessions. The message I want to get across is that the Stryd power meter is an extremely useful tool and should be used to guide you – not dictate you! If I can improve my running performance then so can you! Be consistent, train smart and enjoy the process – the results will follow! [...]
4th January 2017Training camps can often seem like an expensive week of torture, however if you put some thought into what you want to gain from attending a training camp then you could set yourself up for your most successful season to date. Below, the Team from Tri Training Harder have set out a list of the reasons you should attend a training camp this year, accompanied with coaching comments from Head Coach at Tri Training Harder, Alan Ward: The Weather Training through the British winter (and even spring and autumn for that matter!) can be miserable at the best of times. A training camp offers you the perfect opportunity to get outside and complete your sessions with the wind in your hair and the sun on your back. You will return to the UK with a spring in your step and a renewed motivation for training for the upcoming season. The Training Benefit A training camp will allow you to leave your regular life and routine behind for a few days and purely focus on training. No distractions, no last-minute meetings, no excuses! Even a one-week block of focused training can have a huge positive impact on athletic performance for the remainder of the season. The Coaching The opportunity to have access to top-level coaches when it suits you during your training camp is invaluable. Coaches will be watching and analysing your training over the course of the week and will always be on hand to offer feedback when desired. Coaching comment: “As well as the overload benefit of cycling, Tri Training Harder also have a large coaching team to allow us to keep our coach to athlete ratios low. Every athlete that visits our training camp is given a full technical assessment, including video analysis of swimming and running, to give the athlete the information with which to reach their athletic goals.” Company The benefits of training and socialising with like-minded individuals are enormous. The most long lasting friendships are forged through joint experiences and a training camp offers plenty of challenging experiences for everyone in attendance. It’s not uncommon to see guests arrive as complete strangers and leave as friends for life! Recovery Rest and recovery are often neglected. A training camp offers you the opportunity to not only train like a professional athlete but also recover like a professional athlete. With time to stretch, relax and sleep, a training camp will have everything set up so that all you have to concentrate on is getting the most from every session. The Facilities A training camp location should give you access to elite level training facilities that may be difficult to come across when back at home. Open water swimming locations, running tracks and endless smooth roads for cycling are what you should expect to be on the doorstep of a training camp location. Coaching comment: “Golden beaches for open water swimming and a 50m pool for indoor sessions; mountain trails and a 400m track for running; and no end to the smooth roads for cycling on in the area. The Algarve is the perfect location to take a training holiday for athletes of all abilities.” [...]
25th November 2016This week a very interesting article was published in the Guardian, referring to a study that shows lower profile shoes with less cushioning can actually help reduce injury. It’s a very interesting topic and as a big fan of lower profile shoes to help promote mid-foot contact and this it strikes a cord. It’s a small study and every one of us has a different bio-mechanical makeup, so less cushioning might not be right for everyone, but it is interesting nonetheless. We’ve copied the article below for you to read or you can find it here. Guardian Article  Runners who wear trainers with no cushioning and land on the ball rather than the heel of the foot significantly reduce the risk of injury, according to a study. Researchers compared how quickly the force acts when runners’ feet hit the ground – known as the loading rate – which has been shown to influence injury risk. Knees, stretching and heel-striking: three running myths debunked The study of 29 runners, published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal, found significantly lower loading rates for those who wore so-called minimal trainers and landed on the ball of their foot, compared with people in normal running shoes, regardless of whether the latter landed on the heel or ball of the foot. The lead researcher, Dr Hannah Rice of the University of Exeter, said: “So many people use running as a means of reducing the risk of chronic diseases, but about three-quarters of runners typically get injured in a year. “Footwear is easily modifiable, but many runners are misguided when it comes to buying new trainers. This research shows that running in minimal shoes and landing on the balls of your feet reduces loading rates and may therefore reduce the risk of injury.” Running continues to grow in popularity but injury rates have not fallen despite decades of research aimed at reducing them. Runners in cushioned footwear tend to land on the heel – known as a “rearfoot strike” – while those who run barefoot are more likely to land on the ball of the foot – a “forefoot strike”. Rearfoot strike runners experience an abrupt vertical impact force each time the foot hits the ground. The impact force is often missing when running with a forefoot strike, but previous research has shown that forward/backward and sideways forces can be higher with a forefoot strike, meaning the total force is similar. Total force seems to be similar between foot strikes if wearing modern, cushioned trainers. “This seems to suggest that, for runners in traditional, cushioned running shoes, foot strike pattern may not matter for injury risk. “However, we suspected that the same may not be true of runners who regularly use minimal shoes, which don’t have the cushioning provided by traditional running shoes,” Rice said. “Our research tells us that becoming accustomed to running with a forefoot strike in shoes that lack cushioning promotes a landing with the lowest loading rates, and this may be beneficial in reducing the risk of injury.” Any transition to new footwear or to a different foot strike pattern should be undertaken gradually and with guidance, she said. The research was conducted at the Spaulding National Running Center at Harvard Medical School. “We found that when running in trainers with no cushioning and landing on the ball of the foot, the loading rate is lower than when running in cushioned shoes, however you land,” Rice said. “The loading rate is a useful measure, as it tells us how fast the forces are acting, and higher values have been associated with running injury. So in summary, our paper found that running in shoes that have no cushioning and landing on the ball of your foot may reduce the risk of injury in runners.” Minimal shoes, Rice said, have very little or no cushioning, a heel-toe drop of less than or equal to 4mm (0.16 inches), and a stack height of less than or equal to 16mm. “This is information which manufacturers and footwear shops should be able to provide,” she said. Reference: Guardian Online 21/11/16     [...]
29th October 2016Buying a wetsuit  Flexibility and buoyancy All wetsuits are a trade-off between flexibility and buoyancy. The more buoyant the wetsuit, the less flexible it is. The reverse is also true the more flexibility you have the less buoyancy there is. Unfortunately, a triathlete needs both buoyancy and flexibility. At the entry level suit the flexibility is often gained by making the wetsuit thinner around the chest panel; 3mm or 4 mm are often used. This gives you the flexibility you need at the right price point. An entry-level triathlon specific wetsuit is usually between 100-200 GBP The maximum thickness that the rules will permit are 5mm. So it would be illegal to use a 6mm or 7mm diving suit.  The higher the price points the more flexible materials and more flexible backings are used. This maintains flexibility while increasing buoyancy. The best combination is often said to be a 5mm neoprene body panels and 1.5mm on the arms and 3mm for the lower legs. This allows maximum buoyancy and flexibility, to optimize the swimmer’s stroke. Top of the range suits are usually between 350GBP and 500GBP What is the difference in speed? The quality of the suit is also related to its speed. The most supple materials and most buoyant neoprene’s are also the fastest. Top manufactures now coat their high-end suits with a silicon coating, called CSC (Super Composite Skin), which helps the suit to slice through the water. The fastest suit will also have a “Nano” coating, which also traps more air between the silicon and the suit and is claimed to increase buoyancy by about 4%. Custom Made or Made to measure. Custom made suits are generally more expensive, but they should fit correctly. However, with ready-made suits in so many sizes and open water swim lakes and endless pools available for testing, it is often easy, quicker and cheaper to buy an off the peg wetsuit, test it out and be confident of the fit. Never buy a suit without wearing it first and if possible try and swim in it before purchasing. Huub, for example, offer between 10 and 15 different sizes per style, which fit most body types. 4.Semi-custom You can customize many off the peg wetsuits. Check to see if the seems on the arms and legs are taped or not. If they are taped, it will mean that the suit is designed to have arms and legs shortened. Typically by up to 6 inches. This is a useful feature that most triathletes are not aware of. Men’s and Women’s Sizes You should not buy a unisex wetsuit, due to our different body shapes. Always look for male and female specific sizes. Some companies only offer 4 sizes to cover all the range for both men and women. This will mean that you will most likely end up with an ill-fitting wetsuit. 6.Test out the wetsuit in Open water before buying. If possible you should test out the wetsuit at one of the many open water swim venues that are springing up around the country. In a shop when you are sweaty and sticky you will be temped to buy a suit that is too big. Buying wetsuit that is too big is possibly the biggest mistake made by beginners. 7.What should the right size feel like? Ensure that it is a snug fit. The arms below the elbow should be particularly tight, also the neck should be well fitted. If there’s a gap the suit will soon fill up with water, which is very irritating when you are swimming. 8.Breakaway Zips The unique design of HUUB’s breakaway zip allows the quickest exit from the wetsuit on transition of any on the market, due to the innovative zipper design. Find out more here. 9.Warranty. These wetsuits are expensive, so check out the warranty. One year is the minimum you should aim for; the best companies offer 2 years. 10.Finally, lubrication! Some people suffer from chaffing around the neck, which can be quite painful. This is another good reason to try out your suit before buying. Products such Body Glide are very good to prevent this rubbing. It is recommended not you use petroleum jelly based products such as Vaseline as they damage the neoprene         [...]