Is this the truth about your run performance at the Ironman 70.3 Rapperswil?

After a closer look at my split times some thoughts came up I’d like to share with you. Mainly with those who are or were a bit disappointed with their run split. Compared with last year I had exactly the same swim split, I was 6 minutes faster on the bike (with almost constant split times on both rounds) and bombastic 14 minutes faster on the run. And 35 minutes faster than in 2009.

But … there were no long runs in my training plan due to my knee problems. And I didn’t run for more than 1 hour a week. Most of the time my runs where only brick runs of 20, 30 or 60 minutes (not more than 2 in the last 3 months). This brings the question up whether we have to run a lot in training or not? The only thing I’ve done during my trainings was paying in on my endurance account, which means sitting on the bike instead of running around. The last 6 bike rides were approx. 100km long and 75% of the overall length I was racing at a very, very low heartbeat. I believe that running in triathlon primarily means endurance and power because it’s the last thing we have to do in races. And it’s easier to train and control a lower heartbeat when riding than running. That’s one more argument for long indoor sessions on my Lemond.

Second thought goes towards nutrition. The last two years I was switching from Winforce to Cola when I changed from the bike to the run. But my stomach didn’t like that and I felt somehow weak, empty and “crampy”. This year I was following a strict plan and I was eating all my gels (Winforce Energy Complex) I took with me (1 in transition area, 2 more on the run). In addition I had half a litre of salty Winforce Basic Plus (1 salt tablet per 0.5L bottle) in my belt. It all felt like fueling a diesel engine. My machine went on and on. And yes, it’s true that the Energy Complex has 30% of fat in it and only 22% of sugars. That’s long-distance fuel for your body. I also believe in the fact, that you can train your body to burn energy the way you want it. On all my long bike rides I was eating almost nothing before starting (the training was at a very low heartbeat) but adding my Winforce fuel during exercise. One of the insights I got from my performance test with Jürgen Sessner.

As a third element I didn’t enter the run too fast following 155 heartbeats, which is 10 heartbeats below my running threshold. Order from my coach: find your rhythm, don’t overpay your pace. On the second lap I was turning up to 160. Hey, there is some reserve for next time ;-)

Fourth point, related to the third one: Don’t overpay on the bike, you’ll have to run a half-marathon! I had to park my EGO when entering the Whitches Hill, the Best and the ascent up to Golding to avoid the worst ;-) By the way: that’s the truth about my fail at the Powerman in Zofingen last year where I gave up after the bike split.

And the final one was: Be happy. Just be happy and run relaxed in your legs and back. It didn’t cost me anything to have fun on the course. Running smooth and relaxed really payed out. And my new training shoe was the better alternative than the harder and (assumed) faster racing shoes.

My red buoy and me …

My red buoy has changed my life a lot since last Saturday when I saw her at Tempo-Sport in Thalwil ;-) It’s not only that I feel like David, when I hold her in my arms

First of all I feel me safe alone out in the lake with all the sharks (see my post of yesterday) and I don’t need any friend anymore to go for a swim early in the morning or late in the evening.

And then that handy red one is carrying my Suunto Ambit with GPS to track distance and speed

How a red, curvy, handy piece of Chinese plastic with a long cord can change a fool’s life ;-)

Open water swim in the morning sun

Just a great morning. There’s nothing comparable to swimming in the early morning on a long week-end day in a small lake out in the green. And when the sun shines into the water and on your face while your breathing, that’s just great. The guy on the right side (Thomas) is fast, very fast. I’ll call him the shark of lake albis from today on. And I didn’t need my baywatch buoy today as I had Thomas on my side. Or let’s say better in my front ;-) Great fun. Lots of energy for my brick bike ride after the swim and for the whole day. I’ll be there tomorrow too.

All doubts are crawled away in open water …

It‘s a fact that I haven‘t trained enough in the water and that I can‘t turn back the clock as the Ironman Rapperswil is coming closer and closer (3rd of June). And I am a bit pissed about myself that I didn‘t fight my inner weak in the first discipline. But I have to go through that and that‘s why I was joining yesterdays open water swim with mixed feelings …

With a lot of respect I‘ve entered the water with many other athletes. It looked like the low temperatures were very selective and only the ambitious athletes were in present.

A bit overmotivated, our coaches proposed to start with two hard and fast water starts … that was exactly what i wasn‘t looking for. We normally do that in pre-race trainings to bring up all the adrenaline and the lactate. Yesterday it was the right therapy.

It was an absolutely realistic situation and out of a sudden my motivation was back and I decided to swim with the „stronger“ group several times out to the boat on the long track. Loads of cold water but also long and good strokes. I concentrated on the view out on the boat and the buoys and breathing out. And I found a good rhythm to swim with the first half of the group. All with enough power in the backhand. Great! All positive feelings were back and my new swim suit feels perfect.

The learning of yesterdays swim training is the following: Sometimes we can not turn back the time and bring back the things we haven‘t done. That’s a fact. But we can make the best out of the situation by focussing on the things we can influence, our strengths and thinking positive. For me in open water these elements are: finding the rhythm, breathing out, long and strong strokes (high ellbow), orientation after all 12 strokes and trying to find fast legs. Then I‘ll find the easyness I need to step out of water to bring back the 2 or 3 minutes on the bike and on the run where I am faster than ever before. But that‘s a different story I‘ll write about my last long trainings of this weekend.

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Going slow – out for the perfect run

For more than two months I am doing a lot of  trainings at a very low heart rate. We’re trying to build a stronger endurance basement. It sound very easy on the bike but it’s more difficult on the run. And how can I work on both at the same time: endurance and techniques? And there is still the efficiency issue trying to prevent my right knee from damage?

Inspired by the stories of top cyclists winter training I’ve found a very simple solution: I was running 45 minutes constantly uphill at about 3 to 5% in average. Running uphill helped me to focus on a mid-foot run, shifting my body forward and running into the incline. Reaching the top I was turning and had then the opportunity to run downhill at a 40 seconds faster pace but at the same low heart rate. On this second half I’ve put the focus on the lightness of the run with a high cadence in arms and legs. A lightness which was gone when I reached home ;-) It’s a very efficient training which I am going to improve now week by week.

But the overall “Wow” on the second half of the run was my absolutely relaxed neck and my arms giving my legs the right rhythm for this “easy run”. Maybe because I had this extra speed for free.

Swim Clinic with Sheila Taormina – why a good Coach can help making success happen

Last weekend we were swimming in Filzbach – a place somewhere close to nowhere – together with Sheila Taormina. Sheila is a professional Swim Coach and an Olympic Gold Medal Winner, the smallest swimmer to win Olympic gold since 1920 and the only woman in the world to have competed in three distinctly different sports (Swimming, Triathlon and Pentathlon) in four consecutive Olympics and she was World Champion in Triathlon over the Olympic distance and last but not least a great, motivating and very professional person. Which means, she knows what she’s talking about. And I have never seen a person being so deep in her topics as she is.

To make a long story short. It worked. I mean it really worked. I started swimming together with a young coach in 2007 and raced the 1500km open water one year later in 24 minutes. Which is a respectable time for a rookie. Two year later then followed the 1900m in the Ironman 70.3 race with 34 minutes. But not more. One year later exactly the same time. Beside the fact that I did not have enough kilometers and physical power in my arms there were some technical issues which i didn’t overcome. That was my personal motivation to meet Sheila. I want to race the 1900m in 32 minutes and the 3800m in 2013 clearly below 70 minutes.

Sheila told us her story and explained that she had to become 27 when a coach told her how she could improve her swim even more. An impressing story and astonishing insights. And we talked about our physiology, stretching, muscles and yoga positions. Out of the class room she told us exactly what to do in the water and … amazing. I’ve never felt like this in the water. And I’ve never produced under and upper water vortexes out of nothing. All things I’ve felt that went wrong did work and … the best … I’m still knowing exactly why:

  • keeping up the body tension and tone
  • not waiting but stretching in the water (scapula)
  • cobra style underarm and diagonal tension (sorape)
  • catch with whole forearm, water feeling, diagonal
  • high water exit with perfect timing (kick)

So what is this story about? We should learn to listen to people having much more experience than we have. We have to trust in what they say and we have to do what they say. It will work. It did with Sheila Taormina in the water, it did with Gilbert Fisch in Zofingen and it will again next year with Kurt Müller. And it makes much more sense to invest in a weekend with Sheila and friends than buying two or three pairs of the latest state of the art lightweight mid-distance running shoes. At this place: Thank you Ironnonno for organizing this!

The problem I have now is: It’s up to me to make the best out of it. 6 kilometers per week. And there is an exercise for each key point in my strokes and swimming. And last but not least we’ve found this small power machine to generate more power for our strokes – which works excellent between the sets.

A good coach can show you the way you have to go. But going the way is up to you and your inner weak ;-)

Sheila is going to kick Sissy this week

My first 10-hours-training-week is a good reason to have a very short look at my training plans.The main focus of my plans is to build a bigger foundation with units focussed on the basics, mainly at a heart rate between 120 and 130. The few shorter ones a bit higher towards my “area of development” but still strictly low. I’m doing that now for almost 6 weeks and I am feeling a difference. If I can stay with it, I’m sure my machine will work much stronger at clearly lower engine speed.

Todays run at a pace of 5:20 over 16.5km felt excellent. I never got tired or felt like pushing my body. Smooth, upright, easy and relaxed. Even the bike units of up to 4 hours at a cadence between 90 and 120 are working excellent in the meantime. Actually in the cellar, next week outside. So at this stage it all feels excellent even the short and hard runs we are doing once a week. I’m beating other participants that were always faster than me during the last three years.

But there is still one problem … swimming. I feel more comfortable jumping on my bike in the cellar and doing a 3 to 4 hrs ride instead of a 60 minutes swim unit. Susi, that’s the name my former coach gave me this week. It means exactly the same as “being a Sissy” in english. And he’s right. I am a Sissy when I have to train in the water.

This week a lot will change with my swimming habits. First of all I have to do my two units. Looking back I was struggling with the opening hours of the indoor swimming pools and my workload – but, there is always a way and opportunity to do the training. Second, I’m going to join a full weekend swim clinic with Sheila Taormina. And Sheila doesn’t look like making gifts to a Sissy. There are four 90 minute blocks on the plan. More to tell after the weekend. Hope that I still can type on my keyboard after the weekend ;-)