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...No idea where I'm headed in 2018/2019, but I can't wait to get there...

So you've landed here on my iWillNotBonk.com Triathlon Training Blog and you're probably wondering who the hell this Tavis guy is and what iWillNotBonk is all about.

I'm just an average age-grouper / weekend warrior blogging about Ironman Triathlon Training and this complex puzzle of juggling life, having fun and reporting on my various feats of strength and endurance adventures!

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Endurance Nation Training PLans

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In today’s world of big data, is technology improving endurance sports coaching or is it just a distraction for coaches and athletes, alike? As the advancement of performance technology outpaces actual use, coaches are faced with staying on top of new developments while also sifting through a lot of noise. Are you prepared to get the most out of your athletes’ data?

WKO Product Lead Tim Cusick explains how he thinks coaches should approach the relationship between data and coaching. In addition to coaching high performance athletes, Tim leads the WKO team to develop and implement advanced data analytic tools for WKO software.

   

Resources:

WKO4
Tim Cusick Twitter
TrainingPeaks University Course: TrainingPeaks Power Certification
TrainingPeaks University Course: WKO4 Basic Introduction
TrainingPeaks University Course: Advanced Training with Power and Data (coming soon)
WKO4 Power Users Facebook Group

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John, the head lifeguard at our local pool, is finally back in action. He’d been on vacation in New Orleans a few months ago when he noticed that his left foot was swollen. “It was funny. I hadn’t twisted it or anything” he told us. Upon seeking medical help, John was found to have a blood clot in this leg, also known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT. Recovery was a long road—but could have saved his life.

What is DVT?

DVT is diagnosed 750,000 to 1,000,000 times per year in the United States alone— Serena Williams and Hilary Clinton are both survivors. The condition, while common, is also quite serious. Symptomatic clots can lead to low oxygen levels in the blood, heart failure or even death—and a small percentage of these clots actually break loose, move up the venous system and lodge in the person’s lung. In this location they’re called pulmonary embolus, or PE, and they can be rapidly fatal.

What are the Symptoms of DVT?

Although some athletes have no symptoms with DVT, many others will experience swelling and/or pain in one leg more persistent than standard sore muscle pain. The symptomatic athlete may also demonstrate sudden shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, increased pain with deep breathing or cough. They might be dizzy or light-headed, have a rapid pulse or even cough up blood.

What are the Risk Factors in Developing DVT?

Unfortunately athletes are a “perfect storm for a DVT,” says Dr. Jim Muntz of the Ironman Sports Medicine Center in The Woodlands, TX. Physical fitness often correlates with a low blood pressure, which can be exacerbated by dehydration around racing or training. This sets athletes up for a “slowing or sludging of the blood, possibly leading to a leg clot” according to Muntz.

Athletes on birth control pills or post-menopausal estrogen; those with a positive family history; or those who spend long periods sitting or laying down post-race are also at particular risk. It also doesn’t help if the athlete has pre-existing bruising or inflammation.

Think about your last race: maybe it was hot, and maybe you were a little behind on fluids. Perhaps you had a long drive or a flight coming up and you’re healing from a crash a few weeks prior. Most of the time you’ll be fine (and even if you do get a clot, most dissolve on their own) but it’s also good to be aware that these are all risk factors in creating a potentially serious condition.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you notice any of these symptoms, and notice that the risk factors apply to your situation, it’s worthwhile to seek a prompt medical evaluation. It can be days, even weeks after a clot forms before symptoms surface, and they can be deceptively subtle. Simply put, if you have pain or inflammation that’s not going away, ask your doctor. We want you at the race start line again next year!

6 Ways to Minimize Your Risk of DVT

 Simply being aware that DVT/PE is a possibility in the endurance population is a start.
Ensure that you restore normal hydration immediately following your race.
If your race plans include travel, increase your fluids and electrolytes significantly.
Simple leg exercises like those seen in the in-flight magazines (including leg pumps, ankle circles, and hip/knee flexes) will help, as well as getting out of your seat in the plane or car and walking around at regular intervals. Most of us goal-oriented triathletes just want to get to the destination, right? But 2 minutes at the rest stop moving, walking around, using those leg muscles can make all the difference.
If your trip is greater than six hours, Runner’s World sports doctor Bill Roberts recommends wearing knee-high compression socks and taking an Aspirin—though you should always talk with your physician before using it to reduce the risk of blood clots
Know your history. Athletes with a positive family history, or ones who’ve suffered previous blood clots should ask their doctor about the pre-flight use of one of the newer oral anticoagulants short term.

Below are a couple resources if you’d like to read a little further on blood clots and athletes:

stoptheclot.org
everydayhealth.com

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The off season is often a time when your athletes may want to take a break from coaching. For many coaches, these breaks can cause anxiety related to loss of income as athletes put their coaching on hold for a few months or indefinitely.

Here are some tips to build your coaching business during the slow, winter months:

Referrals

When you do a good job with your athletes, most of your new clients will come through referrals. There is no need to spend a lot of money on promotion when your athletes are progressing, enjoying success, and speaking your praises.

Don’t be afraid to ask your current customers to refer you to their fellow athletes. Ask them whom they know that could really use a coach. When they come up with a few names, the next step is for your athlete to mention your services to them and ask if they are open to the idea of coaching. If the answer is “yes”, schedule a call with the coaching prospect to discuss your services.

Give More Value

When you give more than your clients expect, your clients will feel greater loyalty, will be more likely to stay with you as a coach, and will be less likely to take a break. Offering additional services, not expected in the client’s coaching level, such as a mentoring session, one-on-one training session, free training plan, etc., are some ideas of providing more value. Consider giving giving gifts they can get excited about such as a team kit, gloves, multi-tool, sports nutrition pack, or even a handwritten “thank you” note expressing your gratitude for being a valued client. Acts of generosity can go a long way to show that you care about your clients.

Create Community

If most of your clients live in other parts of your country or the world, it may be challenging to create a sense of community. Thanks to social media, you can create a virtual community instead and help your athletes feel part of your global client community.

In my coaching business, I started a closed Facebook group for all of my coaching clients. I hold weekly Facebook live videos where clients from around the world can engage and ask questions. I also encourage athletes to post interesting information, ask questions, and share their success stories in the Facebook group. I have had clients from different countries meet up for rides or at races and create new friendships all through the Facebook group. When people feel part of a community and engage and support each other, they are more likely to stick with you as a coach long term.

Get Out There

When you put yourself out there, you will meet more potential clients. One great way to meet new athletes is to attend local cycling, running, or triathlon group training sessions and races where you can network with fellow athletes.

Come with the intention to offer help and be of service to the athletes. Create a good impression with the athletes by being friendly, encouraging, and helpful. People don’t want to hear how great you are as a coach, but rather how much you care and will listen to their goals and desires. When you make an effort to put yourself out there and meet people, you will slowly but surely become known for your services and will attract new clients.

As coaches, we sometimes forget that being a great coach is not just about designing the “best” training plan or deciphering the latest training graphs. So much of a successful business is about strong relationships. The ability to build and nurture relationships with a truly caring heart will lead to a long-term, successful coaching business.

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For many years, endurance athletes stayed away from lifting weights, thinking that time in the gym was going to add bulk to their frame, slowing them down. But as we learn more about strength training, athletes and coaches have found that strength training is not only beneficial; it’s necessary.

Being strong is one thing, but staying injury free is another. The ancillary effects of weight lifting include stronger ligaments and tendons, as well as the creation of new neural pathways, which can help you stay healthy. Building up a bulletproof body will also allow you to withstand more training stress. The culmination of these two things is consistency in training, and that leads to faster race times.

What: Heavy Lifting

We can agree that strength and endurance are on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to exercise duration and energy metabolism. Maximal strength and power training make the gap even bigger. So it may seem counterintuitive that developing maximal force, which is the combination of strength and power, can provide benefits for endurance athletes. However, lifting heavy weights, sometimes explosively, could be the key to unlocking your endurance potential.

Why: Efficiency, Strength, and Resilience

In the results from a meta-analysis from the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, endurance athletes (including runners, cyclists, cross-country skiers, and swimmers) were shown to benefit from adding a strength training component to their training. These athletes saw improvements in energy cost of locomotion, maximal power, and maximal strength. Specifically, high weight, low repetition sets were found to provide endurance athletes the best bang for their buck.

Heavy lifting directly correlates to endurance performance markers such as time-to-exhaustion, and time trial times, by means of increasing muscle economy and threshold. It also gives athletes more longevity in their respective sports.

In order to see performance results over time, athletes need their bodies to be resilient. In order to continue to go faster and longer season after season, your body needs to be able to handle increased loads without breaking down. Lifting heavy weights acts as an insurance policy for your body by strengthening tendons, ligaments, collagen, and bone density.

How: Low Reps, and Adequate Rest Between Sets

The protocol for building strength is 3-6 sets, of 4-8 reps per set, with 2-5 minutes of rest between sets. Advanced lifters should be able to lift 85% or higher of their 1 rep max, but as a general guideline, you should aim to lift the heaviest weight that you can maintain throughout the sets, without compromising form.

If your technique and/or range of motion becomes compromised, drop to a lighter weight in order to get the most benefit out of the exercise, and prevent injuries. The two strength training mistakes that I see most often are compromising form in order to lift heavier weight, and not resting enough between sets.

Simply put, you need adequate rest between sets in order for your muscles to recover enough to be able to continue to lift at maximal strength. When you are lifting heavy weights, your body relies on the ATP-CP (Adenosine Triphosphate- Phosphocreatine) system for the highest intensity muscle contractions, and once you have done a set at max effort, this system does not regenerate for 2-5 minutes. Not only does your strength diminish if you shorten your rest interval, but your body begins to rely on a different energy system to produce force, which has the side effect of increasing muscle size, rather than strength.

When: Off-Season through Pre-Season

In the same way that sport-specific training sessions should be periodized throughout the year, there is an optimal time and place for lifting heavy. It’s important to begin with an adaptation cycle, focusing on mobility and stability, which prepare your body for increased loads. During the “base” phase of your season, your overall training volume should be lower, so this is an ideal time to begin your lifting program.

As you transition to your season, sport-specific training takes precedence, and strength should be used as maintenance to support your swim, bike, and run sessions. The research shows that for endurance athletes, a significant improvement in strength and associated benefits comes from strength programs that last a minimum of 24 sessions. Much like the other sessions in your training plan, consistency is key.

After the adaptation cycle, this chart outlines some general guidelines for the first phase of building maximal strength and power. As additional phases are added, the focus should be on heavier weight, with additional sets, and fewer reps per set. The exercise listed should be the primary focus for adding weight, but strength sessions should also include additional exercises to ensure balance, alignment, and well-rounded athleticism.

Week Number
Exercise
Sets
Reps

1-3
Back Squat
3-4
8-10

4-6
Trap Bar Dead Lift
4-6
4-6

7-9
Front Squat
4-6
4-6

10-12
Hang Clean
3-4
6-8

 

Reference: Nicolas Berryman, Iñigo Mujika, Denis Arvisais, Marie Roubeix, Carl Binet, and Laurent Bosquet. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 2018 13:1, 57-64

 

Laura Marcoux contributed to this article. She is a USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach and NSCA Strength Coach with D3 Multisport. Laura is a Kona qualifier and former Division 1 athlete at the University of Connecticut. Laura believes in developing well-rounded triathletes by incorporating functional strength into their training routines and empowering her athletes to set and reach goals that require the 3 D’s, which are the cornerstone of D3 Multisport: Desire, Determination, and Discipline.

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Fitness Testing for Triathletes—How Do You Measure Up?

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There is an old adage in business that goes: “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” I believe that applies to triathlon too, where people are often guilty of training for months on end without ever really knowing if they’re improving. This is where fitness testing comes in. Unless you measure something, you don’t know if it is getting better or worse. You can’t manage for improvement if you don’t measure to see what is getting better and what isn’t.

Fitness testing identifies your strengths and weaknesses.

By comparing yourself to the test results or to successful athletes in your sport, you can see which areas need improvement and therefore aid in the formulation of the optimal training program for success.

Fitness testing Monitors and assesses your progress over time.

Whether you’ve trained hard or not, there is no hiding from fitness testing. Initial testing will give you some idea of your capabilities at the start of any program. As you progress, any retesting will help determine the effectiveness of the training program.

Fitness testing can provide motivation and direction.

The incentive to improve brings pride and satisfaction. It’s motivating to find out you are improving relative to you own past performance. Conversely, it can provide both motivation and direction if results weren’t as expected.

So what are some tests to evaluate your current performance level? As a multisport athlete it’s important to consider testing each specific discipline – a swimming, cycling and running test.

Swimming
The 1,000-meter/yard Time Trial

After a thorough warm-up, swim as hard as possible for 1,000 meters, doing your best to even pace it. Use the time it takes to complete the test to determine a swim pace per 100 meters. For example, if you swim 1K in 18:30, your pace per 100 meters is 1:51. You can use this data to create workouts.

The 100-Meter Time Trial

After a thorough warm-up, perform 3 x 100 meter intervals as fast as possible, but with an emphasis on consistency from one hard effort to the next. Recover for 20 seconds between intervals. Your 100-meter training pace is the average of the three hard efforts. For example, three efforts of 1:30, 1:32 and 1:34 would yield a training pace of 1:32. This is a great indicator for anaerobic capacity.

Cycling
The 20-Minute Time Trial

Before you perform this test, you should always be well rested. After a thorough warm-up, the goal is to ride at your best possible effort for 20 minutes. You should walk away from this test feeling like there is no way that you could have gone any harder. Your average power for this ride is slightly higher than your Functional Threshold Power (FTP).
0.95 x your average power for the 20-minute test = FTP

For example, if your observed average power is 250 watts, your estimated FTP is 228 watts. This number represents the maximum power an athlete can sustain for a 45minute to one hour time trial effort. Use this number and compare it to future tests. Check out these alternate testing methods if 20 minutes seems like too much or you’re limited on time.

Running
The 20-Minute Time Trial

This is identical to the cycling test except you don’t ride a bike! After a thorough warm-up, run as hard and as far as possible for 20 minutes. This is a brutal, but precise method to establish your threshold pace. Be careful to avoid starting at a pace that’s too fast to sustain and thus slowing down involuntarily near the end. Calculating 95% of your average pace for that 20 minutes is your threshold pace. Your average heart rate for the last 20 minutes of the time trial will be a close estimate of lactate threshold heart rate.

1 Mile

Run 1600m at a hard, controlled effort that you can maintain with good form. Keep each lap consistent and don’t go out too hard! The mile is still a good enough fitness indicator, even for Ironman. Take your 1-mile test pace and add 30 seconds to get your predicted 5K pace per mile. Add 2-3 minutes to determine your long run or easy pace.

When to Test?

How often and when to assess your fitness depend on your training and competition schedule. Ideally, it’s a good idea to do some fitness tests at the start of your winter training to set your training intensities and targets, and then again mid-way through winter training to assess progress and make any changes necessary. Races also are great fitness tests.

An assessment 8 to 12 weeks out from your main race will help you to make any final adjustments to training or simply provide a fitness benchmark for you during racing season. However, a further test when you’re at your racing peak can also be interesting to see what your values are when you’re at your best.

Thank you to Lauren Babineau for her contribution to this article

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