Alicia Kaye reports from her 5th place finish at the St George 70.3
"It took me a few days to process how i felt about my finish in St. George. I knew there were some big improvements made but the competitor in me in hungry to be good enough to be on the podium against of a field of this quality. Quite simply, I want to win every single time. No one trains for second place; we are all out there, giving it our best trying to win. It's bloody hard to win, that's why it feels so good when you can make it happen and it feels even sweeter when you can do it against a good quality field. Though all the pieces aren't there yet and I still have lots of work to do, I can now recognize the improvements I made in St. George and understand that my best performance is yet to come."
Read the rest at
Over on Slowtwitch.com Helle Frederiksen and I did an "Ask Us Anything" following Helle's win at the Challenge Bahrain race. The following are excerpts from my responses to training related questions, both specific to Helle and general as the thread evolved:
On bike training for non drafting:
Our approach to the bike could be described generally as 'the right load at the right time'.
Most often we do two specific power based sessions on the bike during the build up to events. We use different types of sessions including strong finish rides, race specific power sessions, and sessions with targets over race pace.
On run training specific to Helle:
Helle usually runs between 4-6hrs per week.
Most runs are easy, with two main sessions per week, which will be faster than race pace for the main sets of these sessions. Include strides regularly, for neuromuscular coordination
Resistance training 2x per week, no plyometrics.
On Swim training:
Helle's swim training is fairly standard - usually scm or scy in the US, 5x per week, 4-5km per session - mix of endurance, strength and pace. What works is how that interfaces with the bike and run training. We have a fairly repeatable pattern we use most of the year and progress the quality as she gets fitter.
On bike intensity, threshold and polarized training:
We use threshold training in the 2 months prior to racing, or within the racing season as maintenance. Higher intensity than threshold is often difficult to achieve when under a high overall work load, whereas threshold, tempo, or steady can be done effectively even when very fatigued. I agree that too much threshold could be 'toxic' but really it's just a work load issue. 'Polarized training' has become a bit of a buzzword - I don't worry too much about the label - of course the majority of the volume high level athletes do is an easy intensities - the rest is 'hard'. Nothing new or novel, and it doesn't need to be more complicated than that.
On main sessions bike and run:
The bread and butter sessions are the build finish, lots in the sport do these: bike 2-3 or 4hrs with the last 30-90 mins building pace or at race pace. Similar with the running: building / progressive runs / negative splits.
I don't worry about how to label these sessions, but any training we do ought to allow recovery and frequency to come back at the next session or next day as planned- that's the consistency principle.
The builds are not necessarily to triathlon race pace, but either simply by effort, or to physiological markers such as 1-2hr power/effort, or 1/2 marathon pace/effort. The beauty of these build/neg split sessions is even doing them by effort works very well, and it's hard to do them 'incorrectly', and the feedback if you do it immediate (unable to maintain the 'building' pace). E.g. next long ride, do the last hour 'hard' and see what you get for output.
On swim training for triathletes:
We use a different model with swimming - especially for those without a swim background - we create many opportunities for quality swimming - every day has steady, strength, building, descending opportunities - very little fluff - long main sets, lots of steady and strength swimming. We use the swim tools to pattern good technical swimming, and repeat to get strong. Many are athletes are on here looking for some easier way with swimming, but there isn't one. More frequency, more volume, less traditional stuff, more repetition. This article captures my approach: http://joelfilliol.blogspot.com/2012/01/most-popular-post-on-this-blog-is-is.html
On planning a season with specific preparation:
With the season as long as it is now, you are never far away from race preparation, so I prefer to think of the building into races simply layer on top of layer of conditioning - the layers then aren't substantially different, with the quality of output increasing over time.
I don't like labels like 'reverse periodisation' - it's not new or novel - planning/periodization for sport always goes general to specific. In long distance racing of course the more specific work is going to come closer to the race, vs the early season when you are not as fit.
Our periodization model could be thought of with a concept of layers - each layer builds on the last, with the quality of what is achieve continuing to progress as conditioning deepens. In this model the type of work evolves but is not massively different from one phase to another.
We use building session in both the early season and specific phases, and of course are simply one type of session among others. The off-season is typically very short, and doesn't include any intensity.
On running frequency:
The idea that running every day is detrimental is BS. The majority of people who have some sort of running history and wanted to achieve this as a goal could run the 100/100 if they manage themselves by running easily enough and varied the duration of the days. Frequency is the most effective tool for improving any discipline for most athletes.
Our tapering approach is fairly standard - some tune ups Tuesday and Wednesday of race week, with the remainder easy, normal frequency and about 50% volume.
Pre and post race are the same for all races - big or small ones. It's predictable and consistent.
On training secrets or lack thereof:
Simple, focused on the fundamentals - the 'trick' if anything is knowing when / why / how to deviate from the 'formula', which could be for a variety of reasons, fatigue, illness, travel, recovery, etc.
We don't use recovery markers like HRV or morning hrt, etc. This quote sums it up:
"What is your ideal monitoring system? Coaches that pay attention" - @PfaffSC
Paying attention to mood, body language, words, tone, and simply watching movement, RPE, vs actual paces/power, vs expected. Reading feedback.
None of the 'modern' tracking has proven useful, reliable, easy to consistently implement, or causes other problems such as creating doubt within the athletes mind, which then tends to become reality.
On pacing in training and racing:
It's best to learn how to pace via RPE - tools can help this, but calibrating the brain is the most effective long term strategy.
Pros are subject to the same problems of making the easy sessions to quick, but generally this self corrects pretty quickly under heavy training loads, which results in the easy sessions getting slower. It's being 'too fresh' that causes problems sometimes - but it's a matter of discipline in any case.
If you can pace and manage yourself tired you can probably do the same fresh. Athletes who have the problems you described have not got the loading right into the race. The problems being too fresh have to do with being able to dig too deep in some sessions, therefore affecting following sessions, and consistency over the week (single workout heros). A general workload fatigue tends to 'protect' the athlete from being able to hurt themselves in this way.
I use data, power, GPS, do race analysis on the files, schedule some sessions with power and pace ranges, review it, and feedback on it. I look at the PMC, but don't use it for planning. We have some athletes more interested than others in reviewing power and pace. With Helle we review files and races together. That said I don't consider myself a 'data guy', more of a 'human guy' because that is what effective coaching is about. The vast majority of the 'problems' I have to solve as a coach are psychology related, not physiology related.
Athlete 'dashboards' include all the power stuff, plus volume ranges in each sport.
On ITU training and over-threshold work:
For any ITU athletes, the basic fundamental conditioning underpins the ability to perform the specific demands of the race. Many prioritise the specific demands over building and maintaining the fundamentals. We need much less race specific work than most athletes think. So the answer is not to reduce the overall volume to perform the intensive work, it's more the opposite - intensive work in the context of 'high' overall volume is what underpins success.
On lab tests:
We don't actually do any lab testing or indeed performance testing of any type with our athletes. No performance tests of any type, no time trials, no lab tests, no field tests. The only performance testing that is relevant is racing performance. I don't worry too much about labelling zones - really they don't change that much over time, and when they do it's obvious from general sessions we are doing. Goals are simply the next step forward from where we are now. Can only move one step at a time.
On 'big bikers' and running potential:
The 'big bikers' are sometimes legitimately stronger than others, sometimes not. Those who believe they are stronger on the bike often ride harder relatively than others, so there is a psychology element in play. What limits big riders at the sharp end is a combination of how they train (putting more emphasis on riding in training, less on running), and physiology / economy (due to heavier weight, body type / shape, and biomechanics), and psychology.
2014 was a great year for our squad, good times had, and some fantastic performances. Here are a few highlights:
14 - ITU World Triathlon Series and World Cup Podiums
5 - Fastest overall swim splits at WTS races
850,000 - Total prize money collected by JFT racing athletes in 2014
15 - Non-Draft Podiums @ Life Time Fitness Series, Challenge Series, 70.3 and Ironman races around the world
1 - Series Lifetime Series Winner for the second year running by Alicia Kaye
2x 100,000 BIG wins at Hy-Vee 5150 US Championships, and Challenge Bahrain by Helle Frederiksen
5 - Fastest overall run splits at a WTS race
1 - Great year for the squad - great athletes, great people, proud to be working together towards achieving big things.
Check out this interview I did with Fitter Radio Fitter.co.nz
Good morning everyone and welcome to Fitter Radio Episode #036 This week we are delighted to bring you an interview with one of triathlon’s most experienced and successful professional coaches JOEL FILLIOL! Joel has worked as Head Coach for Triathlon in both Britain and Canada and coached Simon Whitfield to Olympic Silver in Beijing. He works via camps around the world, and online, and his athletes include Kyle Jones, Sarah Groff, Mario Mola, Richard Murray, Jordan Rapp and Helle Frederiksen who last weekend pulled off a stellar performance winning the inaugural Challenge Bahrain! We also talk fasted training, post marathon recovery and we launch our FITTER RADIO LONG DISTANCE IMNZ TRAINING CAMP (#fatadapted)!
Read this interview with Richard Murray on the Nature Gym blog by Jason Bailey. Rich talks about his his winter plans, his reflections on the season, and where to from here:
Here is a good article on Alicia Kate on the WildMantle.com site:
Q: What is the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome?
A: Being told I wasn’t good enough. I used to represent Canada and switched to the United States when I was being denied the opportunity to compete internationally. I desperately wanted to try and qualify for the Olympics, and instead I received a multi page document from Triathlon Canada about why I wasn’t going to make it. Needless to say, I now proudly represent the United States!
Alicia Kaye reports from her first 70.3 finish in Muskoka Canada:
"I was genuinely nervous to race my first 70.3 I attempted one over two years ago; I was unprepared but decided to race is last minute after a race I was planning on doing was delayed by one week. My blood sugar crashed so badly that I was hallucinating and was unable to finish the race. So, here I was again, much more prepared this time and with a very specific nutrition and race plan. "
Jordan Rapp is back with another insightful reflection on his race at the Princeton 70.3:
Ironman 70.3 Princeton
Princeton, NJ ✮ 2014.09.21
Economics is the science of explaining tomorrow why the predictions you made yesterday didn't come true today. - Demotivators
My father is an economist. I'm not sure why exactly I mention this except perhaps to postulate that some of my wondering "what if?" is inherited. My father is somewhat of an exception in that he does not think of economics as a hard science, but more of a way of thinking about certain types of monetary issues. He's a macro-economist (so different than the now super popular Freakonomics guy Steven Levitt), and he tends to be more a big picture guy. But he's a good critical thinker, and I like to think I've followed in his footsteps in that regard. One of the core tools of economics is the "natural experiment." This is when you get a chance to look at a data set that you couldn't - or wouldn't - be able to create for moral, ethical, logistical, or various other reasons. The various Freakonomics books are basically elegantly told stories of creative natural experiments.
Sarah Groff has an article on ESPNw:
Triathlete Sarah Groff finished second in the world rankings during the 2014 season, behind American teammate Gwen Jorgensen. She was also the top American finisher, in fourth, at the London Olympic Games.
My fiancé Ben is a pro runner, and with two athletes in the house, our kitchen is stocked with whole foods and high-quality ingredients. We love food and we love cooking. Here's what we're currently eating:
Tommy Zaferes reports from his recent racing including the Aquathon World Championships in Edmonton, the Super Sprint racing in Las Vegas, and the Pacific Grove triathlon in California:
"After Kelowna I wanted to stay in Canada to be able to watch Katie (and my squad) race the Grand Final in Edmonton. I ended up driving Paula Findlay’s car the 10hrs from Kelowna to Edmonton and had an amazing homestay with her family. I figured since I was going to be in Edmonton, I might as well race Aquathlon Worlds before the “real” races started. Unfortunately I ended up getting a virus the night before the race and spent the majority of my race preparation in the bathroom. Since there were only a few men on the start list, and money went five deep, I decided to start the race anyway. It was pretty terrible. I lead out of the water, but after 200m in the swim I was already destroyed. I got passed by three others on the run (and ran what would be equivalent to about a 17:30 5k) and finished 4th. Good enough to make $750 for 20min of effort. I would have liked to have a world title, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes."
Helle Frederiksen write on her win at Hy-Vee and challenges at Mt Tremblant 70.3 Worlds:
"I contemplated how best to write this post as it covers two very contrasting events and two very different sets of emotions. There has been no easy way around it. I’ve not wanted one event to out way the reality of the other. Yes I won Hy-Vee and claimed the biggest prize purse in the sport this year, $100.000. Yet on the other hand, 7 days following my biggest career achievement I found myself on the roadside of the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, in tears, crippled by emotion and suffering an overwhelming sense of disbelief."
Alicia Kaye reports from her 2nd place finish at the Hy-vee Triathlon, the 5150 Series Championships:
"I desperately wanted to win Hy Vee, and I put together a very good race but Helle’s race was exceptional; she deserved to win with that kind of performance. I got asked a lot if I was disappointed and some people assumed I was, but I just wasn’t. I had raced my hardest and my friend and training partner won! So it was a great day. "
Jordan Rapp reports on his experiences at the 70.3 World Championships in Mt Tremblant Quebec - always insightful with his analysis, and useful process for any athlete to get behind the scenes to how we work:
- Some Highlights below:
"For my part, a hard effort. An honest effort. Couple good takeaways. Some weaknesses exposed. Rebuilding takes time. Another step forward."
"In almost every case, the factors that led to a bad race were the result of conscious, intended decisions. Most of them were just decisions about what - long-term - was most important to work on, especially with a near-term focus on a great performance at Ironman Arizona in November and a longer-term focus on a return to world class Ironman racing and having a long view on building the foundation for that. None of them were really the sort of strategic-type training decisions where you think that some aspect of the race is going to be critical but then it turns out not to be."
"But I don't actually think I'd change anything about how I prepared, except maybe - as I've said before about this season - getting started on it a few months earlier. I needed to do the work I did - the big long rides in the mountains, the work on getting foot speed going again - to rebuild the foundation that it's best to lay those specific skills on top of."
"I think my mistake was in thinking that feeling pretty good was a reason to be more cautious. I wished I'd done more Friday. I had three weeks of great workouts where I'd had a hard Friday and had come back even stronger on Saturday and then strongest on Sunday. "
"The too much rest is most common when you are nervous and afraid and still finding your fitness, as I was in 2011 after my crash and this year after a disastrous year in 2013. I had a good rhythm. I think if I'd just trusted in that and kept it going, I think I would have had a better race in Tremblant."
"Failure is when expectations does not meet reality. I was never going to win this race. But that needn't have been a failure. The failure was in not racing to the level of my preparation. But I feel encouraged that Joel and I have some ideas about why. "
Read the rest of Jordan's report here