Archive for Triathlon

IM Melbourne

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2013 by brianestover

Every once in a while as a coach something happens that really pisses you off. Slam your fist on the counter and want to punch the offender in the face mad. A few days before this race, this is was where I was at. Janine was having dinner with some of her friends. Her old coach, somewhat of an asshole if you were to ask me, pops into the restaurant and says hello to everyone at the table but Janine. That’s not really enough to set me off. But what he did next was inexcusable. He told Janine “you look to fat to race IM”, no hello, just that you look too fat, then he leaves. She found this very upsetting. This is a coach who over the past few years had her doing weekly weigh in’s, losing her hair, breaking out in acne and having other issues associated with over training. What he did is inexcusable, both as a person and a coach. There are better ways to coach than nearly wrecking your athlete(s).

After learning this, I found out she’s 1 kg heavier then when she raced under him. She’s not losing her hair, not run down and not having other issues associated with over training. Training for an Ironman really wouldn’t be considered a healthy pursuit, but one can do it in a healthy or unhealthy manner. Sometimes lighter isn’t better.

Ultimately, besides being pissed off, I really only wanted Janine to have nothing but a great race, a little FU to her previous coach.

We all know by now that IM Melbourne had horrible swim conditions, big winds on the bike and nearly a headwind for the entire run. Janine exited the water 6th in her age group. She then rode away from the rest of the age group women’s field, throwing down the fastest female age group bike ride. She stayed in front of the age group field until the last few km’s only being overtaken by one age group athlete. She won her age group, ended up 17th overall, crossed the line as the 2nd overall age group female while having enough energy to give someone the finger (I can only hope on that last part). Not only a superb race under difficult conditions but a little vindication to go along with the $200 prime she pocketed for having the fastest female age group bike ride.

Janine 1st place IM Melbourne F35-39

Janine 1st place IM Melbourne F35-39

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The Calm Before the Season Storms

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , on March 11, 2013 by brianestover

If last weekend was the opening shots of the start of racing season heard around that world, this weekends races were more of a skirmish. A skirmish there, a big battle here, it matters not. You show up, race fast then sort it out a the end. At the Wildman Triathlon in Florida, Adam and Lora both won their age groups while finishing 5th and 7th overall. Between the time trial the other week and a slightly shorter than Olympic distance triathlon, it’s nice to know that their training is coming along as designed.

Further up north in the south, James earned a full compliment of donuts, 4 exactly. He earned them by winning the Cary Duathlon. The rule is win a race and you can eat them without having to do vo2max intervals for punishment.

Just so all my athletes know, if you win, place second or third overall you can eat 4,3 and 2 donuts respectively. If you win your age group you may have 1 dount. If you have more, or eat donuts when you haven’t won, that’ll cost you 7 extra minutes of vo2 work per donut. I want to clarify one more thing for you guys. Placing top 3 overall in a race or winning you age group gives you 2 and 1 extra whines for the month. But remember, all whining and donuts expire at the end of the month, no rollovers. These are some of the tricks I use to help keep people motivated, keep their eye on the prize and all those other sayings.

I will say good work everyone, and enjoy your donuts.

Performance Management Chart – Explained

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , on February 12, 2013 by brianestover

I explained a bit about chronic training load here. This post is going to try to give you a quick look at the Performance Management Chart (PMC) and some ways to use it. Below is a PMC. You’ll notice three things right off the bat. There is a blue line which represents Chronic Training Load (CTL), a pink line represents Acute Training Load (ATL) and the yellow bars or line represent Training Stress Balance (TSB).

Performance Management Chart

Performance Management Chart

The pink line or ATL represents your current workload, think of this as the what did I do day in day out and how much acute stress did it place on me. If you do some really long and/or hard workouts where you rack up a lot of training stress this line will go up in a steep manner. The yellow is indicative of your fatigue level and it moves more or less in opposition to the pink line. If you don’t workout for a few days the yellow goes up meaning you are fresher or more rested than you were while the pink line goes down representing your lack of daily stress. The blue line will move up and down slower and reflects your cumulative fitness or loss of if it’s moving down. Consider CTL as money in the bank, while the pink line is money you are depositing.

One of the things you can do is use the ATL and TSB then correlate that to how you are feeling. If the ATL line spikes and you are doing a multi-day hard block of training, naturally you will feel more tired as it progresses. If you are at -52 TSB you might not be feeling very chipper, at -89 TSB you might find yourself unpleasant to be around. At -10 TSB you may feel fine and at 12 TSB you might feel like you could take on the world. Taking what you are doing, how you are feeling, thinking about what’s happened in the past and looking at the trend lines can often tell you what might happen if you continue down the path you are on.

You can use the CTL to make sure your training is on track. Do you have some races coming up in 2-4 months? You can track the work you are doing on the blue line. The higher it goes the more you can do and the more likely you are to have a good level of fitness going into your race. If your blue line is dropping to the right and you are not tapering you should re-evaluate your training strategy or lack of. Of course for those Key Races, a drop in your CTL coupled with an increase in your TSB and a decrease in your ATL is a good thing. The key words are key races, not every race you do.

You might think of your ATL and TSB as short term snapshots and your CTL as the big picture. Or you can consider ATL/TSB as the path that you’ve ridden on your journey(CTL). You can do different things in your training and see how they impact those lines.

There are four training inputs you can manipulate: time, duration, intensity and volume. Each of these will impact the ATL, CTL and TSB differently. You can ride 3 hours and achieve a certain amount of training stress. Or you can ride 3 hours at a harder effort and achieve even more or you could go on a casual ride and accumulate a smaller amount of stress. Which is better? It depends. The higher your power output relative to your threshold the more stress you rack up per minute. Riding at 65% of your FTP is much easier and can be done for much longer than riding at 104% of FTP.

Within the PMC there are several variables you can track. If you are cyclist gearing up for TT’s you can track your peak power outputs over the specific duration you are going to be racing. If you are a sprinter you can track you maximal power outputs, or if you are a lead out type of rider you can track your power over 2-10 minutes or the duration you need to deliver your sprinter to the line. You can use this information to see if you are trending in the right or wrong direction. Are you producing a lot of peak 4 min power outputs months and months away from your targeted event(s)? The PMC provides a quick reference guide to tracking things like this so you can see if you are overcooking or undercooking or making a feast.

1 hour mean maximal power and long ride duration tracked

1 hour mean maximal power and long ride duration tracked

If you are a long course triathlete tracking your power outputs over longer duration’s will serve as a guide to help you plan your power strategy. If you have a lot of ironman duration rides between 190 and 205 watts, deciding that 230 watts is your goal power output for your IM is a recipe for disaster. Using the PMC helps take the guesswork out of what to do race day. You can set it up so you know exactly what power outputs you’ve done over the duration’s you are going to be racing. This allows you to be smart and give yourself the best chance for success for your races.

You can use the PMC to help you plan out what to do. If you did race X, Y and Z at certain CTL’s and your performance left you underwhelmed, you can use the PMC to determine what sort of workload might be appropriate to leave you overjoyed at the finish. If your CTL was 65 what happens if you do more training and get it to 101? What happens if you do more intervals or more easy rides to increase your workload? Using the various metrics in your PMC you can track some of these variables.

I’d advise you to play around with your PMC adding different data points until you have the information on it that makes the most sense to you for your racing. Use it to help you plot out what you have done, what you can do, review it to figure out what gave you the most fitness bang your training buck.

Chronic Training Load & Why It Matters

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2012 by brianestover

If you have used WKO+ you’ve seen the Performance Manager Chart (PMC) that shows your Chronic Training Load (CTL). Most people I talk to look at the chart and think “Gee look at the pretty lines and colors.” But when used correctly, the CTL line on that chart gives you an idea of what you’ve done and what you can do. It needs to be looked at along with the other pretty lines in your PMC, but for now I’ll give the down and dirty on CTL.

When you train you stress the body. You adapt and hopefully over repeated weeks, months and years of training you get faster AND you can handle higher workloads. Today’s hard 5×5 minutes of threshold on the bike that makes you hit the couch for a two hour nap, becomes tomorrow’s 8×5 minutes of threshold that leaves you tired but able to grocery shop right after. Today’s training becomes tomorrow’s chronic training load. Different training has different stresses and impacts your CTL differently. Your CTL is measured in Training Stress Score / Day. Think of this as how much stress you give yourself based upon what you do. A hard interval session where you knock out 4k of intervals and run 9k total will give you more TSS then a 10k easy run. A 2.5 hour ride where you flog yourself for 75 minutes of threshold will yield more stress then a 2.5 hour coffee cruise. If easy coffee cruises added a ton of stress, instead of social rides to have a coffee we’d have climbing rides to socialize.

Since TSS makes up part of your CTL the more you do in any one day the higher CTL goes. It also rewards consistency. Remember CTL = Training Stress Score / Day. It’s the cumulative training you’ve averaged per day for how ever long you want to look at it in your PMC. (This is why it’s a good idea to run more than one PMC.) If your PMC is set for 52 weeks, it’s going to take more to increase or more time off to decrease your CTL compared to a PMC that is set at 28 days. The more consistent you are in training daily, the more you can influence up or down your CTL. Big training days typically add to your TSS/D, days off of training subtract from it.

To give you an example of how this works let’s choose 165.5 TSS/D, this means you’ve averaged 165.5 TSS per day every day you’ve trained for however long your PMC is set for. If you only train 50 TSS today it will drop a little. If you train 257.8 TSS it will rise a little. Generally you want this to rise over time and get as high as possible. It’s this long term rise in what you have done that allows you to do more. It;s this long term rise that is the result of training. A U23 rider isn’t going to have the same sort of CTL that a veteran cyclist who has ridden 10 Grand Tours over the last 4 years is going to have. But depending upon how long you set your PMC for and what each of these riders has been doing recently the U23 rider might have a higher ATL (Acute Training Load) then the veteran tour rider.

You have to look at CTL in both the short and long term. If you only look at the long term CTL you might miss the day in day out picture of what you have been doing very recently. Huge ramp ups over short periods of time can leave you tired and performing poorly if not managed proprely. On the other hand, if you only look at your PMC over the short duration, you won’t see what you’ve done long term and might miss clues to what you could be doing or should be doing.

Below I’ve inserted a PMC of one of my athletes from last season. I’ll talk about some of the things that influenced the CTL aka blue line.

Season Long PMC

Season Long PMC

To look at the season as a whole you’ll start from the left and look right. This will give you an idea of where they started and where they ended up. This was a new to me athlete and I had no historical data from them from previous years. The first four and a half months were spent training. You see the steady saw tooth progression of the CTL line. This represents the pattern that the first four and a half months fell into. A few bigger/harder days and few easy days. The intervals were short, hard and often. There wasn’t a lot of threshold riding, there was a lot of supra threshold riding. This continued right into the first weeks of racing where multiple races where raced. You’ll notice the big dip in the blue line. This is where significantly less training per day was being done. Once we got through this period we started a push towards the first major race of the season. You’ll notice the blue line starts trending up. If you were to look at a short time frame PMC you’d see a significant spike in the acute training load of this athlete. The duration’s and intervals changed to reflect the specificity of the events that were being focused on for the season. This athlete had to do more to maintain and increase their fitness as they acquired more fitness. The next major dip in the blue line represents a mid season break from training. This was a 7-10 day break from training to help manage fatigue loads. The build up that followed was much like the previous ramp up. The ATL was very steep, representing lots of work in a short period of time, but not short workouts. The next major dip was work related that required a couple of weeks of almost around the clock work. This curtailed training and you can see that as the blue line drops. This was followed by two more ramp ups with some drops due to work related stuff. Each of these build ups had an ATL that was much steeper then the long term CTL you are seeing here. This TSS was achieve with some very long rides and runs acquiring large amounts of TSS in a very few workouts and little TSS in the rest of their workouts. Frequency also dropped a little compared to early in the season in some sports. The final ramp up saw this athlete achieve some of their highest ATL numbers of the year and near season high CTL numbers. This huge increase in ATL led into tapering which allowed both short and long term CTL to drop.

Hopefully you can now understand that ATL and CTL influence each other and how both have to be managed for a successful season. By looking at the CTL, short and long term, and the athletes race schedule, you can learn to manipulate training loads to be at optimal fitness for the races that matter. This allows you to do the training that matters so you can get results that matter at the races that matter.

2013 Kicking Off

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , on December 17, 2012 by brianestover

2012 hasn’t left the building, but as far as I’m concerned it’s the 2013 racing season. Racing season seems to start earlier and earlier for me as a coach. 11 out of the last 12 months have seen someone race.

While it’s winter here in the northern hemisphere it’s summer in the southern hemisphere. Summer means racing, and if you are an Accelerate 3 athlete it means winning.

One of the newest Accelerate 3 athletes Janine, a Canadian living in Australia, raced the Western Australia Sprint Triathlon Championships. I think she was a little nervous racing the day after a couple of big sessions, but since it’s a sprint, no rest for the weary, just get out there and knock it out. Knock it out she did. Janine set a PB on the course and for all three events. She finished 3rd overall, winning her age group, becoming the state champion…again, and was the second amateur on the day beating out almost all the pro’s. Which is never a shabby thing.

On the bike

On the bike

Although not a pic from this race, after seeing this and a few other pics of her position we were able to make a lot of changes to make her more aerodynamic with no reduction in power output.

Now that the bar is set high, I’ve got my work cut out for me to help the rest clear the initial hurdle.

PBx2=IMAZ

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2012 by brianestover

Ironman Arizona is a math equation. Really. Take two athletes, Jeff and Greg. Take what they’ve done, what they want to do, where they are at, plug it into a quadratic equation, divide that answer by the square root of both of their previous IM PB’s added together then divided by three and presto the solution.

Both of these athletes had some specific goals, Greg wanted an overall PB as well as a new PB in each segment. Jeff had the goal of wanting to beat my IM PB. Now a few years ago, Jeff had that same goal. But back then he was a 12:30+ IM dude. Could I turn Jeff from a 11:35 IM guy into a sub 10:57 IM guy? Greg was a 13:10+ IM guy. How much faster could he go, he set a huge half IM PB early in the season, could he do that for IM?

Goals in, solutions out, training done and the final exam. Now that the papers are graded and both athletes have their grade, how did they do?

Greg, knocked off 69 minutes from his record, setting a new IM PB of 12:02. I’d have to say that’s an A for the race, and I think there is room for him to knock off another chunk like that. His new self was only 8k or so ahead of his old self by the end of the race.

Jeff, reduced his PB by exactly 60 minutes going 10:35 and accomplishing his goal of smashing someone’s fastest IM. As a coach I couldn’t be happier about that.

All in all I couldn’t be happier with the whole weekend. Saw some old friends, made some new one’s, connected some circles, formed some dots. The racing went well and the beer tasted good.

Racing Against Hunger

Posted in Stuff, Triathlon with tags , , on November 6, 2012 by brianestover

An Accelerate 3 athlete recently helped organize an event to fight hunger in children. Daniel belongs to a LA area tri club, Fil-AM Tri Club. This club has an event called Tri for Bantay Bata. This years event helped raise over $1500 to feed hungry children in the Phillipines.

Fil-Am Tri Club Post Race

While I don’t really know much about this club, I do know that getting together with your team mates to organize, set up a race then raise funds for a good cause is a great thing. It’s something that I can get behind and help promote. Next year if you are in the LA area in October, think about getting in a low key race, meeting some new friends but most importantly helping some children have a better life.

Bantay Bata