Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)
Today’s Workout – BRICK
A quick intro: A BRICK is a bike to run workout. The purpose of these workouts is to work on your transitions from the bike to run. It’s a good idea to fit in a few of these sessions to your triathlon training cycle. Don’t get carried away, and think you have to do these workouts all of the time. It is better to work on biking and running individually, and sprinkle in some bricks.
BRICK workouts are also a great chance to practice your transitions. Set up a mini transition area in your driveway, and treat the workout like a race simulation.
BRICK WORKOUT 1
Bike – 25 mins
Bike- Ride at race pace for the first 20 mins, and try to pick up the pace for the final 5 mins. Work on keeping your legs moving quickly for the last 5 mins. You want this to feel like the end of the bike at a race.
Run – When you start running concentrate on keeping your legs moving quickly. Try to match your cadence from the bike. Focus on breathing deeply and find your rhythm. The transition from the bike will feel funny. You will feel like you are moving slowly, as you are accustomed to the speed from the bike. Also, you will experience less wind to cool you down, be mindful that you are not overheating.
I hope you enjoy this one. The distances in the workout are for a person training for a sprint distance tri. If you are training for a longer distance event, you can adjust the distances. Just don’t get carried away. BRICKS are meant to work on that bike to run transition, not run you into the ground.
The saying goes a picture is worth 1000 words. This is true, but doesn’t tell the entire story. A finish line photo is the snap shot of your achievement, but we want to hear the story as well. How did you feel at that moment? What struggle did you overcome? Did you just complete something you thought was impossible?
This where I need your help. If you have a fantastic finish photo, please consider sharing it. Actually the photo quality might not be great, but it brings back all of the feelings of that moment when you see it. Along with your photo, add a paragraph or two that explains how you felt as to crossed that line. Not a full race report, just what this photo represents to you. The more emotion the better.
My plan to is feature at least one of your photos every Friday. Let’s celebrate that sense of achievement as you crossed the finish line. Your story will inspire and uplift others that are working toward their own finish. Also, we are hard on ourselves most day. We should take a moment to look back and remember our own greatness.
If you would like to share your greatness, leave a comment below, or email me @ email@example.com.
I’ll start things off:
Photo above was taken with my two girls at the Beach 2 Battleship IM, my first IM finish.
Finally, I arrived at the final downhill ( Das upper thigh crusher), and started toward the finish. As I came down the final 500 yards, I could hear the cheering from people in the restaurants, and a live band rocking past the finish. I saw the bright lights illuminating the finish area, and I picked up the pace. I felt the culmination of all that training and sacrifice, as I crossed the line and looked up to see my family. The volunteers handed me a WWF belt buckle (medal), and a hat. I stood there for a moment, exhausted, but elated and completely at peace. What an awesome experience.
Welcome to the first edition of Workout Wednesday. Just as the name implies, I’ll post a triathlon specific workout every Wednesday. These workouts will be geared toward new triathletes. If you are a more advanced athlete you can scale the workout up, with more reps or intensity. I’ll try to keep things interesting with workouts that provide the most benefit for your time.
Let’s get to it:
Bike intervals are the best bang for your buck workouts for gaining cycling fitness. For best results each interval should be performed with intensity. Work hard on the intervals and recover as much as possible on the rests. I recommend doing this workout on a spin bike or trainer with a fan blowing in your face. Also, crank up some music that gets you pumped up.
Here’s the workout:
5 MIN WARM UP
SET 1 – 3 X 1 MIN HARD/ 1 MIN EASY
SET 2 – 3 X 2 MIN HARD/ 1 MIN EASY
SET 3 – 3 X 1 MIN HARD/ 1 MIN EASY
5 – 10 MIN COOL DOWN
Workout time – ~ 31 minutes
Perform each hard interval with intensity. Use the rest to bring down your heart rate, and flush out your legs. If you need an extra minute or two between sets, take it. On the trainer or spin bike set the tension so you are working hard, but keeping your RPMS in the 80-100 range.
I caught up with Jeremy Davis, owner of Set Up Events, to get the perspective of a race promoter on the first time triathlete experience. Set Up Events is the largest triathlon promoter in the United States, with a series of triathlons in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Maryland. Jeremy is a triathlete himself, and has been promoting quality events for the past 17 years.
How did you get started with Triathlon?
I was watching the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and saw the triathlon as a provisional sport that year. In the 2000 triathlon was going to be a medaled Olympic sport. I had a running background from soccer, and just cycled across South Carolina. So I figured I could learn to swim and maybe go to the Olympics. Then I got in the pool and realized this may not happen as I can’t swim a length without being out of breath.
In 1997 I started a triathlon club at Clemson University with 30-40 members. I decided to promote my own triathlon on campus for the club. We rented out the pool and had a make shift race for eight of us. I enjoyed promoting the event and wanted to do a larger event at Clemson, so I hooked up with Bill Scott. He was doing events in the Wilmington area. We started working together, and triathlon took off. He needed more help, and I had help to give, so my event promotion career was born.
What was your 1st Triathlon?
It was the Columbus Day Sprint Tri in Myrtle Beach. I was 68th out of the water, had the 2nd fastest run split, and finished somewhere in the middle of the pack. At the end of the race, i thought, this is the hardest thing I have ever done. I need to do it again.
What percentage of your participants are first time triathletes?
We don’t track this particularly, but if I had to guess somewhere around 10% for a sprint race. If it is a pool swim, that number could be higher. I always ask the people in our novice waves, if this is their first race, and 95% of them raise their hands. Olympic distance events are somewhere around 2-5% of first time racers.
Which events in the Setup Brand are good for first timers?
Any of our events with a pool swim are great for first timers. In our South Carolina series, the Tri the Midlands race is great open water swim for new triathletes. A shorter open water swim is great for beginners as they get the feel of a mass start tri, but may not be intimidated by the distance.
What skills of info should first time triathletes focus on?
I would recommend some kind of clinic of coach before they start training for their first race. Find a training plan so you are optimizing your time, and not just swimming, biking and running with no focus. Also, try not to have anxiety about being super fast on your first race. Do your training, and on race day, have fun. Go and do want you have trained your body to do.
Would you recommend a new triathlete volunteer at a race before their first race?
Of course. As a race promoter we always need volunteers. Volunteering at a race gives a new perspective of all the things that go into successful event. During a race you are self focused, constantly doing a body check, and can’t pay attention to mush else. When you volunteer you can see the other moving parts of the race, and recognize the efforts of all of those involved in the race.
Also, first timers might think everyone that does triathlons has six pack abs, and college swimmer shoulders. When in reality triathletes come in all different sizes, and shapes. There may be a 275 LB. man that flies through an eleven minute swim, and struggles through the bike and run. Seeing the range of the abilities at a race can lower the intimidation level for new racers.
What does the future hold for Set Up Events?
Our goal at Set Up Events is to produce quality events that people can afford to race. We want to capture more of the first time market, and people that want to race against their buddies. We pride ourselves on a family feel, and love to see the same people come and race every event.
In Part I, we discussed Body Position and Breathing. Those two skills are very important, but don’t get you anywhere. You need oars to get the boat moving. Your stroke is your oars, and that is what we will cover in this post.
This post in not meant to be the definitive post on stroke technique. The goal here is to master the fundamentals and set a good base for refinement as your swimming progresses. A perfect freestyle stroke, if there is really such a thing, takes years to develop. With a good fundamental stroke you will be able to cover longer distances with better efficiency.
The freestyle stroke can be broken down into four parts:
Coach Gerry Rodriguez of Tower26 in Southern California without a doubt is one of the foremost experts in the world of open water swimming. Hailing from the island of Trinidad, Gerry began swimming at age seven. He has won numerous Masters national titles, a few world Masters titles while achieving national and world Masters records, a 28.5-mile swim around Manhattan Island. He now focuses on coaching some of the world’s best triathletes and open water swimmers. Below is a piece written by Coach Gerry Rodriguez that we have been given permission to share with our Fit Endurance readers.
1. Breathe every 3rd stroke or higher.
2. Hold your breath before expulsion.
3. Breathe through your nose.
4. Take short, shallow breaths.
5. Linger while taking a breath.
6. Focus on front quadrant or catch-up style swimming.
7. Over rotate with hips. 8…
Do you get winded swimming one length of the pool? Do you legs feel like they are always sinking? Or do you just flail your arms and legs and hope you get somewhere? I call this controlled drowning, and that is how I swam my first race. It was a long and difficult swim, and made me quickly realize, I better work on my form.
Learning to swim correctly is the number one reason I hear from people why they can’t race a triathlon. To be honest, unless you learned to swim as a child, learning to swim as an adult is challenging. The best way to learn as an adult is to break down swimming into fundamental skills that can be combined into an effective stroke.
The first two fundamentals of swimming are Body Position and Breathing. These are the first two skills to develop efficient swimming.
The most effective way to move through the water in freestyle swimming is to keep your body streamlined. Your body should be extended, just below the surface of the water. Try to keep your legs up and together. Think of your body as a see-saw, with your hips as the pivot point. Your legs are usually more dense than your torso and will want to sink. Your job is the press down and forward with your chest to keep your legs up.
Here’s a great demonstration of balance from Total Immersion. Notice in the beginning of the video the difference in body positions. Next the clip show some drills for practicing good body position. The superman glide drill shown is very effective to imprint good balance. I do this drill before every swim session.
In this video from Speedo UK, you can see some nice graphics that explain proper body position.
Good Body Position = Neutral head position + Streamlined body + Legs up
Drills – Superman Glide, One arm Glide
Swim Breathing – Intro
Breathing in freestyle swimming can be challenging to learn. Once you to get the hang of it, like riding a bike, you will not forget how. The issue most new swimmers have with breathing is holding their breath. If you are holding your breath, or breathing shallow, you can’t swim long distances. Try and take a breath every ten seconds while running, and your heart rate will spike quickly. It’s the same when you are swimming. When you start to breath correctly ability to swim more distance will increase dramatically.
Proper breathing in the freestyle stroke involves two things. First, when your face is in the water breath out completely. You can breath out from your either nose or your mouth, your preference. Be sure to breath out the entire time your face is in the water. This keeps water from entering your breathing, makes sure you are breathing deep enough.
Second, rotate your body and take a breath. While the arm of the side you are breathing on is out of the water, rotate your body and take a breath. You want a quick bite of air, and go back to breathing out. Ideally you should only have one goggle out of the water when you breath. If you are looking up when you breath, you are over rotating. A good cue to remember is to act like you are laying on your side with your arm stretched out like a pillow.
Below is a video from Bob Bowmen, Micheal Phelp’s coach on swimming breathing. He gives some great insights into proper freestyle breathing.
In this video from USMS, they do a great job explaining common mistakes in freestyle breathing:
Good Freestyle Breathing = Breath out face in the water + Rotate your body to breath.
In Part II, we will go over the stroke and catch. Now get to the pool and practice that good position.