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Training Specific Cycling Power Zones to Maximize Performance

When I start working with an athlete, one of the first things we accomplish is a series of tests to determine training zones to establish intensity and volume levels to maximize future training benefits. The test protocol that has become an industry standard when using bike power is the functional threshold power (FTP) test. FTP is a critical metric for establishing power-based training zones. When Dr. Andy Coggan developed the FTP performance metrics, he originally defined FTP as “the highest power a rider can maintain in a quasi-steady state without fatiguing for approximately one hour.” Within the past few years, Dr. Coggan has redefined FTP to “the highest power a rider can maintain in a quasi-steady state without fatiguing.” The basic test is 20- minutes to caclulate the highest average wattage over the entire period, minus 5%. I predominantly use the 20-minute test for athletes without past training logs or athletes new to the sport. With conditioned athletes, I use a testing period starting with a 30-minute test and often extend to 60-minutes using the highest average wattage over the entire period to establish FTP. When the test is complete, we can set FTP and divide the result into specific training zones. When athletes train in distinct zones, they apply a measured amount of intensity, improving targeted areas of their physiology. For the endurance athlete, building and maintaining fatigue resistance is the primary goal of most of our training.
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Thermoregulation

Thermoregulation: the maintenance or regulation of temperature – Meriam-Webster
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Swimming Safety 2023

Recently, two athletes died at the Ironman 70.3 Ireland, which was run concurrently with the full Ironman. I participated in the latter. It is premature to be making what might be considered critical comments about participants and race organizers. I don’t want to do that. However, from what I have read about their obituaries I don’t think either of them would want us to not learn from their experience as soon as possible. I don’t know much about either athlete but from all indications they have been putting in the training and I hope that you won’t take from this that I am guessing at what caused their deaths.
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Keith Graham Athlete case study

Progression and marginal gainsI began coaching Keith Graham in May of 2017. At the time, Keith was in the 45-49 age group. He lives in Texas and had received some prior coaching but did not have a long history in triathlon. Our work was across the board improvement in all three disciplines and the importance of setting up a routine for consistent growth and improvement. Keith had good access to an on-deck swim masters coach as well. 
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Assessing Race Performance: The After Action Review

If I had a nickel for everyone who has told me while hanging out after a race that they had a good swim and bike and then blew up on the run, I’d have bags and bags of nickels! But in most cases, what these people think happened is probably not what actually happened. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions associated with the outputs on race day. If you want to improve, it’s critical that you engage in thoughtful reflection on what actually caused what happened.An important part of performance improvement is learning from your training and racing. This article focuses on race review, but you can use this model for assessing more than just races (and more than just triathlon).
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Race Day Nutrition

We have all heard that nutrition is the 4th discipline when it comes to triathlon. The longer the distanced race, the more important it becomes. Since race season is upon us, let’s take a look at some reminders for race day.
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The Pre-Race Brick Workout

Tapering for a big race is a mix of art and science. The rest an athlete needs going into an event is dependent on many factors, some of which are: physiology of the athlete, years of race experience, length of event, volume of training going into the race and how important the race is (A, B or C Race). It may take time working with your coach to figure out what taper works best for you. Rest is the key during taper, but it is best that the athlete do some short workouts with an injection of speed to stay sharp the week prior to the race. I have a favorite brick workout that I like to give my athletes 3-4 days prior to a race. This workout works well for Sprint and Olympic races, and with some modifications, could also be used for 70.3 or a full Ironman.
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One Tip to Improve Your Workouts

Would you consider investing 25 seconds to make your workouts more effective?Executing your workout as specified by your coach is important. Your coach has designed your training plan specifically for your individual needs, current situation and race calendar. Not all workouts are interchangeable and following the plan is your best bet toward a successful and fulfilling and healthy race season.Here is one simple, fast and effective tip for optimizing your workouts.Before starting your workout, answer for yourself this question: “What do I have to do to make this workout go perfectly?”Once you have your answer, go start your workout.That’s it. Really.Invest 25 seconds in your next few workouts and see what happens.
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The Rule of Thirds

Triathlon and other endurance sports demand both physical and mental strength as athletes strive to excel in challenging conditions. All too often, endurance athletes focus solely on the physical and neglect the mental side of the sport. This observation applies to both racing and training. Many times, athletes allow the mental ups and downs of training to negatively affect their physical preparation. Keeping an even mindset to both excellent workouts as well as workouts where you struggle can help to set up a great race season and your training on track.
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Athlete Case Study - Simon Butterworth

I hope I will be forgiven for writing this athlete case study about myself. A feeble excuse perhaps is that I also coach myself. I am going to write about all the athletes who have and are racing Iron Man who are around my age, a small cadre, as you will see. I hope by the end you will understand why we should be considered both lucky and crazy. Lucky that we can still do this stuff and crazy for not finding something better to do in old age.
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The Smoothie: The Highlight of the Day

For many athletes, the highlight of their day is the smoothie. Many of us spend countless hours perfecting our smoothie recipes for pre-workout, post-workout, and nutritional supplementation with numerous combinations of ingredients. The blender is at heart of smoothie perfection, the kitchen device that sits proudly on many a kitchen countertop.Two leading brands of blenders are Vitamix and Blendtec, with other brands available on the marketplace. High-end blenders often come with a hefty price tag exceeding four-hundred dollars. However, with that price tag, you’re getting a machine with a powerful motor that can generate very high RPMs to make short work of frozen fruit, ice cubes, and leafy vegetables. There is comfort in knowing that a blender jar stuffed with spinach, kale, ice cubes, and a frozen banana will quickly be deliquesced in short order with my Vitamix. A less powerful blender will have difficulty churning the ingredients and gaining smoothie perfection.
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Open Water Season Is…OPEN

For those not living in the summer hemisphere, or close to it, we are dusting off our wetsuits and getting ready to jump in the open water. After many months of following the black line, usually indoors, the freedom of getting outside is so exciting. And not only a break in the winter routine, but there are so many different workouts we can do that are more tri-related without the lane lines. Also, we now have the opportunity to refine our open water skills we will need for our races. Below are some ideas for open water skills to practice with a few ideas of workouts/sets you can do. And remember, if you are training for a triathlon, the more people the merrier for your open water workout so you can simulate the bumps and chop of a typical triathlon start.
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The Importance of Tracking Recovery in Endurance Sports

An endurance athlete’s primary goal is to train in a fashion that allows optimal performance gains without harmful effects. The motivated athlete often balances a fine line between maximal training stimulus and overtraining. The importance of a defined recovery practice in the athlete’s overall training plan should be designed and implemented to aid in recovery to gain maximal benefit from their training load. Training volume should increase gradually, and rest periods should be planned. However, for many athletes a beneficial recovery practice is often an afterthought in their training until overuse injuries occur. Many athletes often suffer an injury associated with overuse and a lack of appropriate recovery. Common overuse injuries include patellofemoral pain syndrome, iliotibial band friction syndrome, tibial stress syndrome, stress fractures, Achilles tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis, to name a few. In addition, the lack of adequate recovery can also lead to psychological fatigue resulting in a lack of motivation and a loss of performance.
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Triathletes swim vs run comparison test

Are you a balanced triathlete where your swim is as strong or as fast as your run? I noticed several years ago that what I could swim per 100’s short course yards (SCY), is the same that I could run for 400m on the track. What I could swim for 200 was the same as running an 800m and a 400swim would equal my mile time.
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What is your athlete persona?

You have many walks of life. You are perhaps a parent, certainly child to your parents, a colleague, an athlete. Each of these walks of life offers you the opportunity to think about your persona—how you want to present yourself to the world.Each athlete has a persona, presence, a manifestation of the athlete as a human being in the world. Which leads to you. You are an athlete, and also a human being. So, what kind of athlete persona do you want to have?
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Bike Pacing in Triathlon

There are two events that I have observed that told me my long-held understanding of how to pace the bike in a triathlon, or’ Time Trial’, is correct. The best way to describe this is you want to dish out the power in the most balanced way possible. That power level is determined thru testing and is a topic I won’t cover here but here is another short description. In a triathlon it is the power you should target that will also let you run to th3 finish at your potential.
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D3 Featured Athlete – Mark Lemmons

Over the past six months Mark Lemmons has embarked on a pretty amazing journey with his running. We all have a different “why” as it relates to endurance sports and our training. In this month’s issue of the Extra Mile Mark shares insights to his “why”, what this experience has meant to him and the positive impact it is having on his life. At 53 years young, Mark’s passion and commitment to better health are a great example for all of us. His “A” race for the year is the Kuai Half Marathon in September.
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“Quick and Dirty” Threshold Power Estimate Without Testing

“Quick and Dirty” Threshold Power Estimate Without TestingThere are a number of reasons to do at least somewhat regular threshold testing throughout the year but in order to get reliable data over time, you need to create the same conditions each time you test and you may need to factor in recovery time after testing. Accurate testing requires a cutback and specific preparation that can eat into a training cycle.When you want to get a sense of your threshold without testing, there’s an easy way to get into the ballpark. After a strong ride (can be of any distance but I’ve found that 60 to 90 minute rides tend to show the best data) you can review your Power Distribution Chart to get an idea of your threshold.
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Fine Tune Your Motivation

When you begin thinking about your upcoming race season, how do you find your motivation? As you get into your training regimen and do all the thing you will need to do to accomplish and enjoy a terrific race season, consider motivation.
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D3 Winter Recipe

It’s getting lighter! We are not into spring yet, but it’s coming and those of us who live in colder climates are having a few days in the mix with warmer weather. That being said, salads are back. I love my salads and in the cooler months I find it helpful to add some warm to the salad. It could be squash, cooked grain, baked fruit, or even warm turkey bacon.
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