Triathlon Coaching

Pre-Hab for Triathletes

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Do you like being injured? Do you look after the little things as well as you could? Massage, nutrition, sleep, relaxation, balanced lifestyle etc?

One of the key areas outside of training & sleeping to enhanced performance for me is something called ‘Pre-Hab’.

What is Pre-Hab?

Pre-Hab (Pre Habilitation or doing things to prevent injury) is often low down the list of priorities for most people trying to balance training with the rest of their lives.

This is normal; we have jobs, families, and lives and are simultaneously trying to get better at three disciplines (and transitions). However, as a coach one of the most difficult scenarios I come across is the athlete struggling mentally due to long-term and sometimes short-term injuries.

Numbers

One of the biggest problem areas for triathletes is the lower limb; calves, shins, Achilles and feet. Why?

Because our lower limbs are the only weight bearing area we have in triathlon (ignoring saddle sores for Ironman athletes!). A 75kg athlete will have 13,500kg (180 steps per min x 75kg) coming down through their legs every minute, so if it takes them 40mins to run 10km that’s 540,000kg going through the lower limbs. The numbers get significantly bigger over the Ironman marathon, of course.

SSC

Some of the body’s natural counters to this force coming down through your limbs are the fascia, muscle, tendons and ligaments throughout the body. These amazing structures provide elasticity to our running and will generate nearly half the energy required to provide your next foot strike. This is called the Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC) and you will see this in action with most elite runners/ triathletes.

Running well

https://www.jamesbeckinsale.co.uk/2011/02/23/the-secret-to-performance-running-2/

Progression and overload

One of the other key training principals for lowering injury rates is the correct progression and overload used throughout the year. For example if you are new to running and you chose to go out and run every day for the first month due to your new found love of running, it’s highly likely you will get injured. At the other end of the spectrum, if you are an elite athlete and you decide to take your running from 100kms per week up to 130kms per week without progressing slowly with around 10% increments per week, again guess what?

Running surface

The type of running surface can also make a massive difference to the lower limb injury rate of athletes. I don’t know how many runners I have spoken to who swear by the cross-country season ‘strengthening’ their running for the summer. I agree with this, however not only does it strengthen them, it also enhances their proprioception (your sense of where you are in the world) and balance as they struggle in the mud, up and down hills and through wood/ forests etc. Importantly keeping them off hard running tracks, roads and paths and on softer fields and grass areas.

If you can get to it sand is also a great surface to run on

https://www.jamesbeckinsale.co.uk/2016/02/29/sand-running-why/

Clodhoppers

The type of training shoe can also increase your risk of injury not only through turning an ankle if you are wearing thick/ cushioned trainers (clodhoppers!), but this type of training shoe also lowers your feeling for the ground and reduces your proprioception. If you run well, some more natural shoes or light racing flats will enhance your feel for the ground and improve your running.

Importantly, they are not overly cushioned so don’t allow you to slam your heel into the ground when you run. Heel striking sends masses of force through your bones, not through the ligament, tendons, fascia and muscles as it naturally should.

Weak signals

Weak signals are things like that tight calf you had the other day after your run, but you didn’t think it was bad enough to stop and it felt ok the next day so you didn’t get it treated… sound familiar?

MET’s

Muscle Energy Techniques describes a broad class of manual therapy techniques directed at improving musculoskeletal function or joint function, and improving pain. These are simple techniques that can be applied by a therapist/ physio or can be done as self treatment or by a coach/ parent.

https://www.jamesbeckinsale.co.uk/2016/05/13/release-tight-calfs-triathletes-coaches-parents/

Rolling

Foam rollers are a great addition to your pre-hab routine, but in my opinion the effect is not as specific as using the MET’s especially on the calf area. Moreover, I feel very uneasy when I see athletes rolling up and down a muscle because we know that veins have valves to stop back flow of blood and this rolling back and forth could cause damage to the valve.

Stop stretching (so much)

It was always my routine years ago; back from a run, spend 20mins stretching and not just regular stretching but ‘developmental’ stretching i.e. taking the muscle group to its fullest range and holding the stretch for 30 seconds+. This form of stretching can take functionality/ elasticity away from the muscles. Therefore if you run again the next day or more importantly if you do static stretching pre-event/ workout this could lead to muscle damage or injury as you start to run.

I am not saying DON’T do stretching but it needs to be strategically placed into your training week and 100% doing more ballistic movements pre event/ workout will help lower your risk of injury.

Flushing

I have been working with flushing since the early 2000’s and there are two key benefits to flushing.

  1. It gently puts the muscle fibers under tension for four to six seconds around three times, to ensure they are elongated and re-aligned (muscle soreness arising from micro tears).
  2. Putting the circulatory system, for that particular muscle group, say hamstrings, through vasoconstriction/ vasodilation. The thinking behind this is to increase the blood flow into that specific muscle group, thus increasing healing properties (new blood).

Importantly flushing is all done while walking back to your car/ home after a hard session and so you are never static/ still getting cold in winter or reducing your time to post-event fuelling.

https://www.jamesbeckinsale.co.uk/run-triathlon-training-videos/

Happy training

Getting to Racing Weight for Triathletes

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Carrying a couple of extra kilograms of bodyweight a few weeks out from your first major race leaves no time to reduce the deficit in a healthy and performance enhancing way. The fat or obese person can probably just increase their exercise level and hey, the fat count will drop off. However, you are probably a different animal, training hard or at the very least above 'normal' and for the most part eating quite well. So how do you go about hitting your optimal weight? Weight (fat) loss from an athletic perspective cannot just be about nil by mouth as this will limit your performance in training, and anyway 95% of 'crash' diets fail in the first few weeks. Instead you must attack fat loss with an holistic approach with optimum nutrition and exercise intensity. We know that fat loss will only occur when energy output exceeds energy intake, regardless of the diet’s macro nutrient mixture (fad diets that will not work long term).

So, why don’t the diets work?

A prudent dietary approach to weight loss unbalances the energy equation just enough to cause change. Therefore, by reducing energy intake by around 500 kcal below daily energy expenditure will produce greater fat loss in relation to the energy deficit (you must be able to train/ recover) than a more severe energy-restricted diet. It has also been show that to crash diet the body restricts the amount of fat being burnt (which is after all our aim).

So, should you just go out and train as hard as you can, eating as little as possible? It’s so much easier than that, especially for your first two phases of training (base I & base II).

These phases teach the body to utilise its own fat stores for energy production. This can only be done (initially), at a moderate to low intensity (aerobic/ LSD). Once you start exercising hard (breathing hard) your body will predominantly use the energy stored in the muscles (glycogen).

Benefits of harder workouts

The benefit of harder sessions with regards to weight loss is that your metabolic rate will stay higher for longer post hard workouts; however this is again using the calories that are readily available at the time.

Fat/carbohydrate: From a calorific perspective as you know, fat yields much more energy than carbohydrate and will only be burnt in the presents of oxygen (aerobic). This is one of the reasons we really start to use it during longer and longer endurance events (effort has to be moderate). Importantly it’s also why, if you work too hard during endurance events without refueling, you will bonk due to running out of readily available energy (glycogen) and not being able to tap into your abundance of fat stores.

A body's daily calorific requirements are determined by three factors:

  1. Resting metabolic rate (RMR),
  2. Thermogenesis (calories required for heat production)
  3. Physical activity

Water then fat

In a generalized trend, during the first week of a calorie controlled diet around 70% of the weight loss is water. In weeks 2-3 it becomes 70% fat loss, 20% water and 10% protein and finally in week 4 it can be 85% fat loss with around 15% from protein (McArdle, Katch and Katch 2001).

Weight in muscle

As triathletes, if we go from a couple of weeks of pre-winter recovery into winter training increasing our exercise levels, we will inevitably increase our muscle tone. If we were to go through a heavy period of strength training or a power phase the effect could be to increase muscle bulk (this should only be minimal) and thus possibly see increase in weight. This could be seen as detrimental to our performance (decreased economy), however don’t react negatively to muscle tone/ bulk if it is going to increase your performance - check the clock!

The opposite side to the above situation is when you restrict your calorie intake so much that you start to loose fat-free mass and this can lead to a drop off in performance/strength, Again, check the clock/ power meter.

The nitty gritty

So how do we go about calculating the number of calories we need per day? This is a tough one, as most normalized tables take into account your BMI (Body Mass Index), which in my view is a load of cods wallop! For example, a 5ft5 body builder with 6% body fat weighing in at 80kgs would come up as obese on a BMI scale, so as you can see this does not work for athletes.

Another method that can be used provides a couple of 'intensity levels' you have to mark yourself against; 1 being low, 2 is moderate and 3 is heavy. However, 'heavy' could be manual labour... So what about the age-group triathlete who goes to work all day on a building site and still trains 12 hours per week? Or the ironman athlete doing 20-30+ hours of endurance training per week? It's far too generic a method and does not give a good indication of the true work load carried out per day.

So we need to be a little bit more specific; the example below is the method I have used for some time now and it works quite well.

Weight goal for performance Please note, this is just an example to show the figures and not a prescription! The optimum percentage figures for fat in male and female elite triathletes were given as 5-12% and 8-15% respectively by Wilmore and Costill in 1999.

Weight 72.6kg
Relative fat 25% (measured with calipers or underwater weighing is the most effective)
Fat weight 18.2kg (weight x 25%)
Fat free weight 54.4kg (weight – fat weight)
Relative fat goal 18% (= 82% fat-free)
Weight goal 66.3kg (fat-free weight ÷ 81%)
Weight loss goal 6.3kg

Healthy deficit

Athletes should aim to lose no more than 0.5 – 1kg per week, losing more weight could lead to losses in fat-free mass. Once you reach your upper limit of your goal weight you should look for supervision form a professional to help reduce weigh further and this should be done at an even slower rate (less that 0.5kg per week, again not to have a detrimental effect on performance). In order to change your weight by 0.5kg per week you must decrease your intake by 200 – 500 kcal per day.

Holistic approach

You do not have to start counting and measuring out each potion of food like a body builder. If you feel you are over fat (weight), get a professional to measure your body fat percentage (use calipers or underwater weighing), then make some basic changes.

  • Simply eat a well balanced diet
  • Snack on fruit/ veg, health snacks (low GI if not training)
  • Cut down on carbs prior to bed (salad/veg/protein is energy enough)
  • Eat little and often (never eat until you are full or stuffed)
  • Keep blood sugar balanced throughout the day (little and often)
  • Eat as naturally as possible (no hydrogenated fat, E numbers, etc)
  • Cut down on booze (one small glass of wine is 90 calories)
  • Get into good sleep patterns (you only release growth hormone during sleep)
  • De-stress
  • Stay hydrated

As soon as you stop over-eating (as per the majority of the western population), which is what you must have been doing if you are carrying too much fat, give it a bit of time and you will see your fat-weight start to come down.

It still takes discipline not to say “Oh that was a hard bike session, I’ll have some chocolate or other high calorific treat now,” which means you fill yourself up on foods with low nutritional benefit instead of healthy/good stuff. The other killer, if you don’t replenish energy during long rides/ runs and bonk, is that you get back home and gorge yourself on sweet stuff!

Insulin spike

Foods with a high glycemic (GI) index (white rice, pasta, cakes, sweets) are often accompanied by a spike of insulin. The excessive insulin pulls too much glucose from the blood causing fatigue, hunger, and usually additional sugar cravings. This cycle continues throughout the day impeding the use of fats as a fuel and ultimately leading to weight gain. This does not mean all high GI carbohydrates are bad and should be avoided. High glycemic index foods are very beneficial when consumed prior to, during, and following exercise (Thomas W. Nesser, PhD, CSCS).

Look after the nutritional part of your day to day life as this is where you will make a massive difference to your performance long term. The bottom line is that you need to be happy to perform and if not having any treats or crash dieting is not going to make you happy, be sensible and seek professional advice if you feel you need it.

Please keep in mind that I am not an expert on nutrition and these are just my thoughts (with some research) as a coach, on how to get to race weight sensibly. If there are experts out there who are doing things differently I would love to hear about it.

The Cardiac Drift Phenomenon

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You may be thinking about your first ultra endurance event*, ironman triathlon, adventure race, Etape du tour or ultra marathon. Amazing, that just off the top of my head I came up with quite a solid list of events, which are designed to test the limits of human endurance! What’s even more amazing is that these events are not just completed by superhuman elites, they are completed by you and your buddy in the office working 40–50 hrs a week and hey, no afternoon snoozing! That’s superhuman. [*Ultra endurance is determined as an event lasting longer than four hours.]

Trial and error

It may not be the smartest way to observe this area of human physiology; however, I first came across the phenomena known as cardiovascular (CV) drift* when I completed my first middle distance tri. Like most, I had worried about completing the whole event first time around, so set myself a target heart rate to work at. During the run section I looked at my HR to find it was higher than I was expecting for the pace I was setting and my perceived exertion. I slowed my running to the HR levels I had set prior to the start of the race, subsequently my mile pace slowed along with my half marathon time. [*A slow but steady increase in heart rate (HR) is witnessed during prolonged endurance exercise at constant work rate for around 3 – 3:30 hours.]

As a coach, I have investigated this CV drift phenomena and although it is not yet fully understood by sports physiologists, their studies have given me a much better understanding as to why my HR monitor lied to me that day.

Don’t listen to the lies

Why will your HR monitor be lying to you? Basically, if you are running at a steady state, say 160bpm at 7:30 min/mile pace for over an hour (up to about three hours), your heart rate will start to ‘drift’ up to, say, 166bpm, while maintaining the same 7:30 run pace. Because you are a disciplined athlete, you look down at your HR monitor and it’s registering the extra number of beats. You then think “I have to stick to my HR pace”, you slow down until you are back to your predicted steady state HR of 160bpm which, in turn, slows your running to 8 min/mile pace (hypothetically) and you never achieve your predicted race finish times.

Tip: Be aware some studies have reported CV drift from 15 – 33 beats per minute but read on to find out how to limit it.

Importantly, if you train with your HR monitor over long distances and stick to your steady state HR parameters, the CV drift will ultimately have a detrimental effect on your long term preparation and you may never reach optimum performance. Understanding why CV drift occurs will help you prepare for racing better, thus achieving your potential.

The big picture

After reading through scientific papers on triathlon performance etc, it is clear that ultra endurance triathlon (ironman) needs further investigation. Therefore, I have also taken into consideration studies conducted with our single disciplined cousins of swimming, cycling and running and will present my findings from across all endurance sports related to triathlon.

CV drift appears to be caused by a progressive decrease in stroke volume (the amount of blood leaving the heart with each contraction), thus an increase in HR is required to maintain cardiac output during endurance events. A number of studies have shown that CV drift is caused by dehydration and reduced fluid/electrolyte replacement. One other factor related to CV drift is blood glucose levels (carbohydrate, once broken down), therefore the evidence is clear that optimal re-fuelling and energy replacement are vital in reducing the effects of the drift.

Reduce your CV drift

To reduce the effects of CV drift you simply have to reduce or, as much as possible, limit the amount of stress you place on your system during competition and training. For example, in an article I'm writing on ironman preparation I talk about gastric emptying* and how the speed of this emptying is determined through a number of different stimuli including; particle size, dietary fibre, meal volume, meal temperature and osmolality. It therefore makes total sense to do as much as we can to speed up this emptying process and we can do this by reducing the stress or energy (blood shifted from working muscles to gut in this case) required in digesting food stuff while competing. Furthermore, this can be limited by taking in/eating smaller amounts (more often) and chewing it for longer. [*This quite simply is the process of getting fuel into our blood stream and to our working muscles.]

Tip: Remember there are enzymes in our saliva which help break down carbohydrate, so chew your bars longer to utilise them.

If you look at the packaging of gels or most energy bars you will see that they require quite a lot of water (around 200ml) to help in digestion. If these levels are not met you are again placing undue stress on your body and could enter into dehydration.

As mentioned above, a further area to be aware of is the hydration and body temperature. As you know when we exercise (especially in heat) we get progressive water loss through sweating. When the body’s core temperature rises it causes a redistribution of blood to the periphery. Again, these actions cause a reaction, as blood is taken from the one place it is needed, the working muscles in cycling and running.

Be aware… if you are completing a half ironman or full ironman race and are spending more than average (slower times) amount of time completing a race, there is a greater possibility of hyponatraemia (an extracellular sodium imbalance) this is where they are basically over drinking or ingesting too much fluid.

Now for a little twist! As standard and middle distance athletes you know that your HR may drift steadily upwards over the first 3 – 4hrs, known as cardiovascular drift. So what happens in Ultraendurance races of 4hrs or more?

It has been shown that over time, intensity declines as a results of substrate shifts (increased fat use relative to carbohydrate) and neuromuscular fatigue by 6 – 7%. This in turn will show a decrease in heart rate leading to a downward cardiovascular drift. Again this process can be limited by correct re-fuelling, hydration and electrolyte homeostasis.

When an athlete is competing for over four hours and in ultra endurance events lasting days, with very limited sleep (adventure racing and Sahara type marathons), neuromuscular fatigue starts to play a much bigger part. This fatigue leaves a lot to be desired with regard to economy of motion and is a far cry from the perfect running patterns of the 100/200m sprinter. Try to hold good form over the latter part of your race.

Tip: Don’t fret if you are not a strong swimmer in ironman triathlon; just remember to be efficient with your energy while swimming (ie don’t panic) as it is only 10% of the overall triathlon time. Moreover, the swimming leg in triathlon has demonstrated a non-significant relationship with overall race performance.

Take drift out of the equation

The only way to know how hard we should be pushing ourselves during the bike section of a triathlon of any distance (but the longer we go, the more important it becomes) is to use a power meter. There are different types available including Powertap, SRM or Ergomo. It really is crazy how many triathletes spend thousands of pounds on bikes/wheels and still do not use power meters. The effect the bike and wheels will have on your performance is minimum, however the return for your pound gained from using and understanding power meters/ power is massive.

Conclusion

I have presented lots of information here, but if I know my audience well, good preparation is part of most multisport/ endurance athletes lives and hopefully you will now have superior preparation. CV drift will occur, but now that you are aware of it and know how to limit it, your actual race times should not be ‘drifting’ away. Just remember to practice your eating/ re-fuelling patterns and try to keep the body temperature down. Basically limit the amount of undue-stress you place on your body. The body is stressed enough just doing the type of distance and races you guys are asking of it, be kind to it when you can.

Further reading

  1. Bompa, T. O., (1994). Theory and Methodology of Training. Iowa: Kendall and Hunt.
  2. Boudet, G., Albuisson, E., Bedu, M., Chamoux, A., (2004). Heart rate running speed relationships during exhaustive bouts in the laboratory. Can J Appl Physiol. 29(6): 731 – 742
  3. Farber, H. W., Schaefer, E. J., Franley, R., Grimaldi, R., Hill, N. S., (1991). The endurance triathlon: metabolic changes after each event and during recovery. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 23(8): 959 – 965.
  4. Farber, H. W., Arbetter, J., Schaefer, E. J., Dallal, G., Grimaldi, R.., Hill, S., Hill, N., (1987). Acute metabolic effects of an endurance triathlon. Annals of Sports Med. 3: 131 – 138.
  5. Gulbin, J. P., Gaffney, T., (1999). Ultraendurance triathlon participation: Typical race preparation of lower level triathletes. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 39(1): 12-15.
  6. Larsen, P. B., Rhodes, E. C., (2001). Factors affecting performance in an Ultraendurance triathlon. Sports Medicine, 31(3): 195 – 209.
  7. Larsen, P. B., Rhodes, E. C., Langill, R. H., (2000). The effects of 3000m-swimming on subsequent 3-h cycling performance; implications for ultrendurance triathletes. Eur J Appl Physiol. 83(1): 28-33.
  8. McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., and Katch, V. L. (2001). Exercise Physiology, Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance. USA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  9. O’Tool, M. L., Douglas, P. S., (1995). Applied physiology of triathlon. Sports Medicine, 19(4): 251-267.
  10. O’Tool, M. L., Douglas, P. S., Hillier, W. D., (1998). Use of heart rate monitors by endurance athletes: Lessons from triathletes. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 38(3): 181 – 187.

Done in an hour: Run

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The third in our series of “Done in an hour” articles is looking to give you three run sessions specifically targeting skills and technique, technique and aerobic capacity and finally lactate tolerance and strength.


Running is by far the predominant area in which triathletes pick up most of their injuries and this can be caused by poor technique, over training (as it is the only weight-bearing discipline) or conducting brick type sessions thus running tired off the bike (again poor technique/ poor economy of motion).

It is also the area where if you are not strong physically or mentally, you will always end your triathlon experience on a low.  How nice would it be to be coming in off the bike thinking “I have worked hard on my running over winter, I can’t wait to get on the run and put it into practice” That said, if you have just hammered the bike to try and get a good time, thus worked above your functional power threshold, no amount of run training is going to save you from the pain!

Before we start, remember we are not runners, we are triathletes.  Therefore, we ride before we run and when we ride we rely heavily on our quads, they (our quads) then become very tired, so we do not want to over use them on the run.  Instead we want to utilise our hamstrings and only use our quads as stabilisers.

Session one

I find the introduction of a treadmill really speeds up the learning process when coaching athletes. You see when you increase the incline, the athlete naturally has to run with soft knees and as you increase the speed the athlete is forced into recruiting the running muscles in the correct pattern (with some coaching!). I have seen some dramatic results using this technique and it negates the need of long sessions on the track trying to teach athletes (especially juniors) optimum economy of motion.

Skill/technique: the aim is to improve the neural firing patterns of your running muscles.

Equipment required: skipping rope, treadmill, mirror, video camera (use your mobile phone), friend/ partner.

Warm up: Skipping for 5mins (you can build this until you can skip for the time it will take you to run 10km), do not increase duration of skip by more than 10% each week and use single leg skipping not just double feet. (Time 5mins)

Main set: Put the treadmill up to about 10-12% and at a speed that is around your 10km race pace.  Straddle the treadmill, test the pace of the treadmill with one foot, keep holding onto the side and the jump on. Keep hold of the sides until you are comfortable running then let go.

Set 1 = 4 x 1min with 3mins recovery between (jump off treadmill once finished first run and just walk around) Set 2 = 4 x 30 secs (increase speed + 1km per hour, ie if on 10kph go to 11kph) with 3mins recovery between each rep. Set 3 = 2 x 15 secs increase incline by 2% and increase speed by 2kph with 3mins recovery between each rep. (Time 43mins)

Cool down: 5mins easy spin on bike. (Time 5mins)

(Total session time 53mins)

Ask a friend to video your running so you can let your coach see it or try to do some self analysis. Here are some points to focus on while watching.

A Stay tall and lift the chest. Limit the twisting of the shoulders and arms crossing the midline. Drive arms forward and back like a sprinter (not such big movements!).
B Centre of gravity constantly moves forward stabilised by glutes, quads and trunk muscles. Body has a very slight forward lean.
C High heel lift uses hamstrings (which are not so tired off the bike!) to accentuate recovery and flow. Watch Tim Don running to see how well he does this!
D Knee does not so much lift as drive through/ forward with a mid/ forefoot strike. Skipping will help to strengthen this stance. This optimises the stretch/shortening cycle. Foot does not go forward of the knee prior to strike which reduces the load on the quads to a stabilisation process - they are tired after the bike.
E Legs cycle in a continuous flow under the hips. Lift the heel and the knee at the same time.

NB: It takes the mind and body (neural pathways) around six weeks to develop/ learn a new skill, so persevere; you’ll soon be injury free and flying!

Session two

Technique/aerobic aim: to develop running skills while developing aerobic capacity

Equipment required: running track, HR monitor, video

Warm up: 10mins easy jogging (Time 10mins)

Drills: about 5mins of different running type drills, ballistic stretch (ask someone if you don’t understand this term) (Time 5mins)

Main set: 6 x 1mile reps at 10k race pace (ie off the bike run pace) – on laps 2 and 4 focus on the above running skill points and on laps 1 and 3 ensure you maintain the correct pace. Take 90 seconds to 3mins (depending on fitness) recovery between each rep but do not just stand around go through running drills. This is not a stressful session and as you complete the reps think “could I maintain this pace in a race”? If you work too hard you will not be able to focus on good form on laps 2 and 4. (Time 30/ 35 mins)

Again try to get a friend to record what your running is looking like; visual feedback can paint a thousand words.

Cool down: 5 – 10mins easy jog and static stretch (Time 5 mins)

(Total session time 55 mins)

Session three – SUPER-SET

Lactate tolerance strength aim: to increase the rate of lactate dissipation from cells and increase run specific strength.

Equipment required: strong heart and mind, track, HR monitor

Warm up: do four laps of the track: first is easy, second medium, third is building from medium to hard and finish with one lap as pick up’s (50 hard 100 easy etc) then do some ballistic stretching (ask someone!) (Time 10 mins)

Main set: this set is done at maximum effort throughout. As you go through 200m into 400m the build up of pyruvate and proton accumulation at cell level ensures you will not be able to keep up the 200m pace and it's the same for the 1km. This is a fantastic session to increase the mental strength of the athlete, as they have to hold onto form as they endure the pain, it makes running off the bike a doddle!

Start with a 200m run, straight into a 400m run then straight into 1km. There is no rest between each distance. Recovery is waiting until HR drops below 120 bpm or for around 90 secs to 3mins depending on fitness. Repeat this 1 to 6 times (Time 30 – 35 mins)

Depending on your fitness you will start to get jelly legs as you head into the second half of the 400m phase (600m) and it is at this point you will need to be mentally strong to hold good form (the first 2 to 600m is where you will develop run specific strength). As you get into the 1km part, you will not be running fast, but just trying to hold good form and a moderate pace. It is during this phase you are training the body to dissipate the lactate from the cells. As you improve your fitness/ strength you will be able to run the last km at closer and closer to race pace.

Don’t worry so much about the times you take to run each segment, just try and keep working at your maximum intensity for the specific distance.

One of the main limiting factors of white (as opposed to African endurance runners is their lack of strength endurance, improve your specific run strength and watch your run times tumble.

Cool down: do at least 10 mins of easy jogging – when you get home do hot and cold contrast on your legs; get in a shower (or bath with ice in) and run cold water over your legs for about 5mins – then put it to hot and repeat the process (try and cover all of the major muscles from the hips down) repeat x 3 to 6. (Time 10 mins)

(Total training time 55 mins)