Posts Tagged ‘triathlon’

Olympic Distance Triathlon

August 21, 2009

I am about to do my second oly this weekend. The first was one was a little short and the bike was downhill quite a bit. I did well because of that until the run. I had not run at all since the half marathon and my stress fracture.

The good news is that it healed and I have run a bit since, but my overall training has dropped off a bit. I am fearful I won’t finish this real oly in under 3 hours.

wish me luck

Efficiency / Economy – Quickest Way to Improve Your Time

November 12, 2008

part 2/4 of this series

Efficiency is pretty easy to understand, it also happens to be where it is the easiest to make the gains. Some of it comes from working to learn the right form. It just makes sense to work efficiently. If you have a pace you want to go, it will be easier if you do it efficiently. Try running with one arm down the neck of your shirt for a mile if you think the efficieny thing is a bunch of hullaballoo. (This is what I do when my heart rate monitor isn’t cooperating and trust me, it is less efficient… of course I am frantically tugging the strap cause its slipping or licking my hand to get my skin wet so it starts working… and yes, I know I look funny but I want the thing working).

Another thing that improves efficiency is that your body adapts the muscles to what you do. You may have heard about fast twich and slow twich muscles. If you train and improve the wrong ones and then expect to perform well you will be dissapointed. This is why you cannot weight lift to run better, you must run (ok a long weight training regime might have you improve all sorts of things including running time, but the improvement is not from running more efficiently, it is from other areas). The muscles you use as you perform are the ones that are improved. The best way to gain efficiency is to first learn the proper form and then practice more and more. Until you get the sense that you can do it in your sleep and find that you can still perform as you let your mind wander you are not as efficient as you can be. Another way to think of it is you find yourself working out “in the zone” more often, the form you use is just second nature. You should eventually be able to still keep the proper form as you get fatigued, then you know you have been practicing enough. You can of course practice the wrong form and get this same feeling, it is more a sense of having learned your form as you practice it. You will need a coach or some video analysis if you want to begin the probably difficult task of having to unlearn the wrong form and so you can learn the right one. So go get a coach to make the most gains here.

To improve form is easy enough, you just learn it and then practiceas you learned it, that is properly. But can we make our muscles adapt faster or better? Sure thing. You will need to read more than what I have to share if you want all the details. I am not at a level where I need to get anything extra, I am still losing weight, that extra baggage gone is going to be the best thing I can worry about. Here are some articles to read more on the topic though:

Growing more blood vessels in your muscles just happens with exercise, researchers are trying to learn more about it to use it for curing disease:

http://news.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news-2/New-insights-into-muscle-adaptation-to-exercise-1929-1/

We might know about muscle adaptation to exercise, but we don’t always know why:

http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/content/abstract/88/1/327

Doing two workouts in a day with the second being with low muscle glycogen content sounds like a crazy idea to me, but this reaseacher has found it may help your endurance. To achieve this you simply workout in the morning after breakfast, and then don’t eat anything and work out again at lunch time before lunch. As long as you get a little boost of carbs just before the workout (think gatorade) so your liver glycogen doesn’t go too low (bonking) and understand that you will not be performing optimally because your muscles don’t have the normal amount of stored energy (hitting the wall), I can’t imagine it would do any harm, but it will definitely not be as easy to recover from. I actually have been focusing on a smooth recovery so I can work out twice a day three days of the week, this is the last thing I want to do at this point. I would put this in the list of try it to see if you like it cause you probably won’t:

http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/98/1/93

So I have been learning all about form and the following videos either helped me learn or contain the same information that I was taught. I like to go through them once in a while, along with other new ones, to try and get little tidbits of wisdom that just flew over my head since I probably wasn’t ready. I am not going to regurgitate proper form in any events here, there are going to be hundreds of websites and books that will do a better job of it that I ever could. I like linking to the videos cause it is so much more helpful.

swimming efficiency: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYt8x_7uL48

more videos from the same guy who is Ironman Champion Dave Scott on all three disciplines: http://www.youtube.com/user/ACTIVEdotCOM

bike fit and proper form:

This is a 6-part series that shows a cool bike fit system, it gives you an idea about how important it is to get a bike that fits which is a large part of having the proper form:  http://www.youtube.com/user/LindaTris

running form, now I admit this one is a little corny, but it is very helpful:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WibWjSEw-F4

Triathlon: The Science for Improving Your Time

November 11, 2008

Not only can you improve your triathlon  time by working smart, this knowledge will apply to anything having to do with athletic performance of an endurance nature. (Or I hope it will cause I spent some time trying to learn all about it). If you are competitive by nature, as I am, then you might even get a kick out of just improving your own times during workouts that are done alone. Be warned that if you improve too much you have to do more to get the same bang for your buck. But this is good, not bad. For example, I estimate that 7 weeks ago if I swam 1 mile I was burning something like 650 calories and my workout was complete. But because I am improving I now estimate that I burn about 460 calories when I swim that mile and I keep going. The bonus is that I can do it in about 40 minutes which includes breaks, but before it took me nearly 60 minutes.

So the three keys to your time in an endurance event are:

  1. VO2Max
  2. VO2Max is the maximum amount of oxygen you can consume per minute. It is like your peak output for longer periods of exercise. You can go over this level for very short periods of time because you build up oxygen debt. You cannot go more for too long though, we are talking minutes. This idea is often explained with an analogy of “the size of your engine”.  A bigger person has a bigger engine by default, but that person needs more output to move the bigger body, so it is often calculated as volume of oxygen per minute per unit of body weight. This allows for comparison between people easily. The analogy falls apart as you get into the details though because your engine is your muscles, but the engine in the analogy has to do with the lungs and cardiovascular system as well. We are talking about how much oxygen can be fed into the muscles and used. As you grow new capillaries and new muscle tissue and bigger red blood cells and more red blood cells this number can increase. This number is more about genetics and it is not really possible to increase it with specific training it either gets better or doesn’t as you train, but more on this later.

  3. Lactate Threshold
  4. Lactate threshold is where you start to build up lactate in the blood. If it gets too high your body converts it to lactic acid and your muscles burn from having acid in them (state of acidosis) and once there is too much your muscles fatigue and they will fail. The lactate threshold is how high you can go and still keep your blood levels of lactate down. That is you clear it out as it is produced without a buildup. Working out below this level is possible for very long periods of time, this is the level that longer endurance events require you to stay under. You can push at the end to have a strong finish but at the cost of not being able to do it for too long. This is a number where you can make improvements through specific training, but the next item is the low hanging fruit as far as improvements go.

  5. Efficiency or Economy
  6. If you are using the proper form you will use less energy, this is why it is the proper form. The proper form can change based on what you are trying to accomplish. For example, if you are just swimming you will kick more so your legs are just as dead as your arms as you finish, but if you are doing the triathlon, you still kick but will not gain as much from the kick during the swim as you would to save it for biking and running so you are advised to save your legs somewhat (or this is just the excuse that triathletes propagate since they suck at kicking). Or if you are biking you will use a road bike, but in a triathlon you will use a triathlon bike. Part of the difference is the aerodynamic position since you cannot draft in a triathlon, but some is to put your leg in a position that saves the running specific muscles. Efficiency is most easily measured as you exercise at a your lactate threshold and the speed you attain includes your good form or lack thereof. For example, two athletes both excellent runners might run at 12.5 mph at their lactate threshold (think elite marathon runners), but if you stick them on a bike to work at the lactate threshold they might go 22.5 and 26.5 mph because one is a triathlete and the other is not. The pure runner will suck on the bike because he is not efficient. Making improvements here are the easiest. If you burn more calories per lap or mile than the next person, that person will beat you all else being equal. Improvements are made by using the proper form as well as your body adapting to the work. More on the details in my next three posts.

Links to the next three posts will be added as they are posted…

Efficiency / Economy

Lactate Threshold

VO2Max