Category Archives: peaking

Zone Adjustments for triathlon

If you’re planning a triathlon this year in the summer, or in a different location than you are used to, please read this excerpt to plan for the adjustment your body will make. It’s an excellent excerpt from John Mora‘s Triathlon Workout Planner. This excerpt is reprinted with permission.

“Once you know your target zones, you must still do a little tweaking of the range numbers in order to further individualize your training for improved accuracy and efficiency. All training has to be individualized, and these adjustments take into account the different characteristics of each sport, outside conditions, and any illness or overtraining symptoms that may be happening within your body.

Some adjustments are sport-specific. It’s become obvious to me through the years that my heart rate while running is at least 10 beats higher than a similar perceived effort while riding my bike. That’s not uncommon, since running puts a pretty good wallop on the legs and causes a greater degree of stress on major muscle groups from the impact. Cycling is less stressful on joints, often resulting in a lower heart rate, and swimming is even less taxing.

To adjust for the unique demands of all three sports, you may want to adjust your training zones for cycling to be 10 fewer beats than what you would use for running. For example, if you’ve field-tested the target zone numbers you derived with the given formulas on a few runs at various intensities, then subtract 10 beats from your lower and upper limits in each zone to determine your cycling zones. For swimming, adjust your target zones down 5 beats from your adjusted cycling target zones.

You would also be wise to make a number of other adjustments to your heart rate training, depending on altitude, weather, and illness.

Altitude adjustments. If you are training or traveling to a race above an altitude of 6,000 feet (1,830 meters) for the first time, or if you do so infrequently, your heart rate will naturally be higher, even at rest. Above 10,000 feet (3,050 meters), you may find your heart rate is a full 50 percent higher. This increase is due to the lower concentration of oxygen in the air at higher altitudes. Of course, the more time you spend at higher altitudes, the greater your body’s ability to adapt, and you’ll probably see a return to your normal heart rate levels after 14 to 21 days. In fact, you can track your acclimatization with your heart rate monitor, noting how your rate decreases and finally gets back to normal within a few weeks. During this time of acclimatization, don’t push beyond your ability, and stay in your target zones. This means that you may have to slow down or lower the intensity of your training in the interim. Be patient—your body will adjust.

Hot-weather adjustments. Exercising in hot weather causes your body to work harder to keep itself cool. Increased blood flow to the skin and sweating cause an elevated heart rate response. The good news is that consistent training in heat brings about acclimatization in much the same way altitude training does. The body becomes much more efficient in dealing with the heat, resulting in a normal blood flow, decreased salt content in sweat, and a return to your normal heart rate. This adjustment usually takes about 10 days of consistent training or about half a dozen workouts in hot conditions. Always remember to hydrate properly (in hot or cold weather, but it’s usually more critical in heat). Dehydration can decrease your total blood volume, making the heart work harder and elevating your heart rate.

Illness. If you find that your resting heart rate has spiked unusually or that it is more difficult than normal to reach your target zones, it may well be that you are courting an illness such as a cold or flu. If you experience either or both of these conditions, back off and take a rest day or a few easy recovery workouts.”

What workouts to do after taking some time off

Trifuel has a really good post about how to start your training if you’ve been off a while.

As an update, my back is feeling better, my calves are feeling better, I am controlling my intake better, and I have done one of each swim bike and walk/run in the last week. As “W” might say with squinting eyes, “better.”

Here are a few good sites on triathlons and training if you are coming back to it or are a newbie:

Enjoy the great weather, where ever you are!

Swim-Golf is a great way to focus on stroke technique

When you are drilling, and you should add some drills to most every swim workout, swim-golf is a great way to track your progress. Essentially what you do is combine your stroke count per 25 or 50 y/m with the time it took to complete. It is a proxy measurement for technique efficiency and you should try to bring that number down over time.

Here’s a great excerpt from excerpt from Swimming Fastest by Ernest Maglischo reprinted with permission.

Swimming Fastest by Ernest Maglischo“One of the most common drills for increasing stroke lengths is to count strokes for one pool length and repeat the drill while attempting to cover the distance with fewer strokes. All of this is done at a slow speed. This is a good drill for young and inexperienced age-group swimmers. The efficiency of their strokes and their performances will improve when they attempt to cover each pool length with fewer strokes, regardless of the speed of their swims.

Although a drill like the one just described is excellent for inexperienced swimmers, it has limited value once athletes can swim with good coordination and reasonable efficiency. At that point, swimming speeds and stroke rates must be included in drills designed to increase stroke length. Because the relationship between the combination of stroke rate and stroke length that will produce the most efficient swimming velocity will be different for each race distance and for each swimmer, all three elements should be included in drills to improve stroke lengths. Following are some drills that include all three elements.

This drill is so named because it involves swimming and is scored like golf. The value of the drill is that it allows each swimmer to discover the best way to improve the relationship between stroke length and stroke rate to achieve a particular swimming velocity, whether through increasing stroke length, increasing stroke rate, or using some combination of the two. The drill is performed in the following manner. The athletes swim a particular repeat distance, 25 or 50 yd or m, while counting their strokes. Their times are noted, and the two measures, number of strokes and their time for the swim, are combined for a score. For example, a time of 30.00 for 50 m with a stroke count of 40 would produce a score of 70.

Once they have established a base score, swimmers can use any one of several variations of the game to improve the relationship between their stroke rates and stroke lengths. The goal is to reduce the score by (1) swimming faster with fewer strokes, (2) swimming faster with little or no increase in the number of strokes taken, or (3) swimming the same time or nearly so with fewer strokes. If the swimmer in the previous example were to swim 29.00 with the same stroke count, the score would be an improved 69. This swimmer’s stroke rate has undoubtedly increased with little or no loss of stroke length, which accounts for the improved time. Similarly, the same time of 30.00 coupled with a reduced stroke count of 38 would produce an improved score of 68. In that case, the swimmer’s stroke length will have improved and the stroke rate will have decreased with no detrimental effect on swimming speed.

The results will be more difficult to evaluate when lower scores result from faster times that are coupled with a greater number of strokes. This is generally a desirable effect because the lower score results from time reductions that are proportionally greater than the amount by which stroke lengths have declined. This effect can certainly be considered beneficial for improving sprint speed. Increases of stroke rates and the reduction of stroke lengths may not be advantageous for longer sprints, middle distance races, and distance events if the perceived effort that produced lower scores is beyond that which swimmers feel they could sustain over their race distance.

The kick-in drill works best for increasing stroke length. To perform it, athletes swim a series of 50 or 100 repeats while counting the number of stroke cycles required to complete each repeat. Before starting, each swimmer should be assigned the maximum number of cycles they are permitted to use for the repeat distance in the allotted time. That number should be one or two cycles fewer than they generally need to complete that distance. The goal, then, is to complete the repeats with fewer strokes. If they do not finish the repeat when they have completed their assigned number of stroke cycles, they must kick the remaining distance to the finish. The send-off time for the repeats should be set so it is challenging but manageable if the swimmers can complete the repeats without kicking in. The time goal will motivate swimmers to try to reduce their strokes without sacrificing swimming speed. This drill puts a premium on increasing stroke length and doing so without increasing the energy cost of the swim.

This drill can help sprinters increase their stroke lengths while swimming at race speed. The drill can be done in a number of ways. With one method, swimmers sprint 25 yd or m at maximum speed while trying to reduce their stroke count. This method puts a premium on swimming fast with a longer stroke length. Another method is to try to swim each repeat faster without increasing the stroke count. This encourages them to increase their stroke rates without shortening their stroke lengths. The distance that swimmers cover with a push-off can become a confounding variable with both drills. Therefore, swimmers should try to keep that distance similar from swim to swim. The influence of the push-off for different distances can be eliminated from this drill by counting only the number of strokes required to get from one set of flags to the next.

Still another method for increasing stroke length at sprint speed is for the athletes to swim only a specified number of stroke cycles while trying to cover more distance with each swim. For example, the coach can measure the distance a swimmer can cover with two or three stroke cycles, and then the swimmer can try to increase that distance. This distance should be measured in the middle of the pool to remove the influence of the push-off.”