Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who's Advice Does a Triathlete Follow?

There are limitless sources of "good advice" to the triathlete with a question or a problem. Blogs like this one, clinics taught by a respected authority, various publications, the guy in your bike or run group, triathlon forums, etc.

Each of these has a role, a degree of timeliness and accuracy but it's your responsibility to carefully evaluate your "teacher" before applying the new found data to your training.

While sitting at Dulles International last year, I struck up a conversation with the man next to me and eventually the talk turned to the problems of the Social Security system. I asked him if he thought signing up for SS as soon as you were eligible was a good idea and he thought so. Shortly after this, the man across from "Boots" turned out to be his brother who asked, "Were you able to get on the plane by yourself?" My neighbor turned out to be a total fruitcake and here I was seeking his opinion on something of potential importance!

Where I'm going with this is that a questioner on one of the tri forums recently posted a query about how he/she should spend the winter to be his best come Spring and the answers were wildly different. One response was to ride 300 miles/week at an easy pace. Another respondent suggested daily intense spin classes to really push it. What these two answerers had in common was that they were both anonymous. They could be knowledgeable sources like Chris Carmichael or Joe Friel...or it could be BOOTS!

So be careful whom you believe. Verify the source and make sure it just makes sense. you'll be glad you did.

Marianne was a terrific local triathlete who unfortunately succumbed to breast cancer nearly ten years ago. Sort of puts our complaining of plantar faciitis in a different perspective.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wanna Be Famous?

"You want to be famous? Learn how to take blood out of car upholstery? John Travolta as Mrs. Turnblatt in the movie Hairspray

This is the time of year for goal setting, for planning, as was the subject of last weeks blog.

Consider that, according to a piece in the British Journal of Sports Medicine a couple years ago the ten most common overuse injuries that are seen in the running population are:

1. Patellofemoral pain (21%)
2. ITB Friction Syndrome (11%)
3. Plantar Faciitis (10%)
4 Meniscal Injuries (6%)
5. Shin Splints (6%)
6. Patellar Tendinitis (6%)
7. Achilles Tendiniitis (6%)
8. Gluteus Medius Injuries (4%)
9. Tibia Stress Fractures (4%)
10.Spine Injuries (3%)

Note that the key word here is OVERUSE. Since we are only in January, this is a golden opportunity to set up one's schedule for the training and racing season. Adam Zucco, Age Group winner at IM California 70.3 and Training Bible Coach would have his coached athletes list their planned races for the upcoming season and the importance of each. Using the periodization model, he'd set up a 3 weeks on/1 week rest repeating game plan to slowly build, first the mileage, then the intensity (accompanied by a decrease in volume). In other words, he understands the principle of gradually increased load that the body will respond to rather than acute increases in training stress. This will give the racer the highest likelihood of both improving the level of fitness but doing so with the lowest potential for injury.

As you prepare your plan, remember that frequently runners will come in to the clinic and have a single work out that pushed them over the brink. Oftentimes this was something foolish like racing against a friend, pushing thru pain when they knew they should stop and walk, etc., that will cost them a part of the season, and, as they used to say in the U.S. Army commercials, the opportunity to "Be All You Can Be." The time to start thinking was yesterday.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Planning is Everything, Really

This is the IM finish line in Kona the morning after. Sure it's the stuff of dreams and many successes. History notes about a 93% completion rate. But what about those who failed, or failed at some other race, even the local sprint tri back home? Was there a lack of planning at some stage?

"Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine." What did you forget? And don't say nothing. At one point we've all omitted one thing or another. In a previous blog, I somewhat sheepishly admitted leaving my bike shoes home for one of my "A" races, an event in which I'd won the age group the year before. Needless to say I did not repeat!

This is the time of year that the conscientious triathlete not only begins to dream of the potential for the upcoming racing season but starts to develop a series of goals and a road map to get there. This could be something as complete as a computer generated Annual Training Plan where the entire schedule, division of swims, bikes, runs, rest days, the works, are populated. Or, it could be sitting down with the local swimming guru if this is your weakest sport, your limiter so to speak, and getting his/her hands on expertise at incorporating the best combination of workouts, drills, indoor and outdoor swims to put you at the greatest advantage come race day.

Since this blog is about minimizing injury, this time of year would also be ideal to plan ones training stress, training volume - the amount of work you plan. This is the slope of the effort line from now till the first race that not only gets you prepared, it does so in a very gradually increasing fashion, to minimize the potential for Achilles tendinitis, IT band problems, stress fractures, etc.

I firmly believe that much of the misery, lost training time, races missed, etc. could be avoided if each athlete took the time to plot out the whole year with this in mind. It would sure make my life easier, and life happier for many.