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The phrase ‘5 Kilometers’ for most marathoners and ultra marathoners is commonly used to describe how far they have left in a race. Rarely does it describe the entirety of the event they plan to race. But you should consider the big benefits you can reap from racing short distance races, even if your ambitions have you going long this fall.

Aerobic Capacity

Training for short distance races has big benefits for your aerobic capacity. Most endurance athletes are rockstars at low to moderate intensity exercise. However when you tap into high end work you can see big results in a relatively short amount of time. Consider that training for a 5km-10km race will require you to do structured speed work, and in the process, develop your body to utilize more oxygen (aerobic capacity). The more oxygen that can be consumed, the more physical work you’ll be able to do.

Density is everything

Short distance running and the training it requires can improve the flow of oxygenated blood to muscle tissue, and in turn can improve mitochondrial density. Mitochondria are muscle cells that help produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is the actual fuel that supplies muscle contractions. If you improve a muscle’s ability to use oxygen for shorter distances – you can see big benefits for a long race. Think of this as a major physiological benefit of short distance training for long distance runners.

Endurance won’t just disappear

Long distance runners fear that if they exchange some long slow running for a few short days – they’ll lose the ability to be strong over time. You might consider that athletes who train for a mix of events tend to have better running economy, and ultimately have the ability to change gears and tackle technical sections in longer races. Integrating speed work into your training cycle and preparing for a 5K or 10k race increases your efficiency, and can increase your baseline aerobic running pace.

Leg speed and efficiency are boosted

It’s good to change speed and increase turn over. Using high aerobic workouts will increase your leg speed and help you become a more efficient runner. Turn over at your top end brings big benefits to your easy aerobic running pace. The same applies for lactate mitigation. By putting your body in a high lactate state, and allowing it to recover teaches your body to mitigate larger amounts of lactate over time. This ultimately helps your baseline easy running to help your body more efficiently handle the smaller amount of lactate produced at low to moderate aerobic intensities.

Balance in integration

Adding in high aerobic workouts in preparation for a short distance race should be integrated with caution, and with a goal of building your time at a high heart rate over time. Keep to the 10% rule for new runners who are integrating this into their training regimen. If you did 12:00 of high intensity continuous work in week 2, you should complete 13.5 up to 15 minutes of work in the following week.

High aerobic work requires a significant amount of energy to complete so if you’re looking to keep a mileage number you might want to pad your work with warm up and cool down miles or utilize a second run on the day of a focused session at a very low heart rate to help flush out any waste produced from your high aerobic session.

Give it a try

Training for and racing 5km and 10km races and taking time to integrate the training into your build up for a long distance race will absolutely provide a benefit. It will help you not only increase your baseline running pace, but will help direct the rest of your long distance racing for your season. These types of events can fit anywhere in your training if there is a goal and intent to the training or race. You may find a big benefit in doing this work early and using these races as building blocks early on, or even using them to test your fitness acumen in later stages of sharpening for a half, full, or ultra.

The post 5 Reasons Long-Distance Runners Should Race Short Distances Too appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

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As part of the partnership between the Global Triathlon Network (GTN) and TrainingPeaks, we’ll be bringing you twice-monthly episodes of the new “Triathlon Training Explained” show, where hosts and former pro triathletes Mark Threlfall and Heather Fell answer your triathlon training questions with the help of TrainingPeaks software, coaches and industry experts from around the world.

One of the biggest pain points for triathletes is determining an optimal hydration and nutrition strategy both in training and on race day. It can be hard to know just how much (or how little) fluid your body needs in order to function over a long distance, especially in very warm or humid conditions.

In the latest episode of Triathlon Training Explained, Fell and Threlfall worked with Andy Blow of Precision Hydration to determine their own sweat rates and show you why testing not only your sweat level but the consistency of your sweat is an invaluable way to finally nail your race day hydration plan.

Check out the full episode below:

Triathletes in the know like GTN’s Mark Threlfall and Heather Fell use TrainingPeaks to help plan, track and analyze their training. Dial-in your triathlon training with a free 7-day Premium Trial today!

The post GTN Presents: Sweat Testing and Hydration appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

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It’s that time of year in the northern hemisphere when things are heating up, whether it be the temperature or the extra efforts you are putting in to your final preparations before your goal event for the season. To function properly to achieve your best, hydration is an essential factor.

Yes, Electrolyte Replacement is Important

As you sweat, electrolytes need to be replaced. This is something water alone cannot achieve in preventing cramps, among other things, even if you consume the amount of water that you have lost. You may feel like you just cannot drink enough to achieve the hydration you need. This can lead to overconsumption and potentially cause intestinal problems.

What Happens to Your Body in Heat and Humidity

Heat and in particular, humid conditions, can cause your body to lose its ability to cool itself as particles on your skin meet warm particles in the air. This can have an adverse effect on your core body temperature and you could lose function in your muscles from this temperature change.

As well as consuming fluid to cool your body, consider other strategies if the conditions demand it, such as what you may have seen recently at the Tour de France, either by pouring water over your head or tucking a bag of ice in the top of your jersey.

Balance Your Food Consumption With Hydration

When calories are used up during exercise, heat builds inside your body. This directly affects the hydration process. Use supplementary food such as bars and gels in a supplementary way. Remember when using gels to also put back the same amount of fluid in milliliters as your gel contains. Fluid is needed for your body to absorb the gel so it can do its job.

When you are exercising for over 90 minutes, you should consume an energy drink which contains electrolytes as a source of energy. Consume a zero calorie electrolyte only drink when exercising for under this time as your muscles should not need the extra energy.

Plan ahead how much food you will need for your workout or event per hour but take slightly more than you need in case you underestimate.

How Much is Too Much?

As much as it is important to consume electrolytes, it is equally as important to consume the right amount. Over dilution of electrolyte drink prevents your body absorbing the fluids you have taken in. Under dilution will mean that you will not quite meet the demands of replacement.

Follow these principles as a general guideline:

Consume around 500ml of drink per hour, for every hour of activity including the first hour.
Drink one sip at a time to optimize absorption
Do not leave your hydration too late into your workout. Your body cannot play catch up as it absorbs little and often.

Before and After

Even if you have achieved perfect hydration during your workout, this can still be undone if you do not stay on top of your hydration post exercise.

If you train later in the day, aim to consume around 2 liters of water through your day.

It’s best to keep drinking as soon as you stop your workout and keep going through around 500ml of fluid per hour in the first few hours after your session.

Consider milk as post activity hydration. This can be very effective, as this  study has concluded.

As milk is not easily digested during exercise, its consumption is not recommended during your workout. However, the potassium and protein content of milk make it ideal for post-activity recovery.

Find What Works Best for You

In addition to basic guidelines, there are many factors dependent on personal demands and conditions that you may need to consider when you adjust your consumption:

Your metabolic rate. Generally as your fitness improves, the rate that your body processes energy goes up. When you naturally increase your energy expenditure, your organs and muscles need more fluid to function at a higher level.
Your body weight. Your body is around 70 percent water. 70 percent of 100kg is more than 70 percent of 50kg.
The level of heat.
The level of humidity.
How much food you will need to get you through your workout or event and how many milliliters of gels you plan to consume.
The level of intensity of exercise.
Duration of your workout or event.

Once you have taken these factors into account, adjust your dilution of sports drink accordingly. It may take a few goes to get this to the best level for you.

Before you go into your next goal event, make sure that you try out different strategies and products in a range of conditions and different types of workouts before you find something that you know your body agrees with.

The post How to Stay Hydrated When Training and Racing in the Heat appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

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Dr Jon Baker is a coach with Dimension Data for Qhebeka who specializes in training climbers. Dr Carol Austin is head of performance support and medical. The interview below has been edited lightly for length.

Lydia Tanner: What particular training do climbers do?
Dr Jon Baker: Really, a climber’s gotta get through the Tour de France. There are sprint stages and there are mountain stages, but good all-around conditioning is the first thing—if they get dropped on the first sprinting stage and it’s game over, that’s no good. So they’ve gotta be solid bike riders all around. That’s the endurance material we’ve been talking about.

And then if you’re looking for performance in the mountains, there will be more time doing climbs.

LT: So basically… climbers gotta climb?
JB: Yeah exactly, haha. But you’re also looking at how you’re going to maximize the individual rider’s performance, and also against all the teams and their tactics. So for example, Sky will always ride at a steady pace as fast as they can and try to drop people, whereas Astana are always attacking. So climbers don’t all need to have the same type of climbing; there are various aspects of it. So it could be 20 to 40 minute power, and a good power-to-weight ratio, or it could be two accelerations, not dissimilar to sprinters at times; and repeated efforts. There’s quite a lot to it.

LT: What would you say Dimension Data’s style is?
JB: Up until now it’s been very much getting breakaways, getting a head start, and seeing what you can do basically towards the end. Serge Pauwels, for example, is generally in most of the mountain breakaways. Some of the time they’ll make it to the finish and he’ll get to contest—like when he got second on Ventoux.

Whereas a Steve Cummings is much more strategic. He’s gonna pick one or two days that will suit him. He can make it into a breakaway, and although he’s not a necessarily “climber” he’s a very very good climber, and will do something on those kinds of days.

Then maybe some of new guys riders can make it through, like Louis Meintjes or Ben O’Connor— they’re all kinda GC-type riders. They’ll have to stay in the bunch, follow the Froome train, and deal with attacks from other teams. So there are different ways of playing it given the strengths of the riders.

LT: What training metrics do you use most for climbing?
JB: It’s a watts per kilo kinda game really. You know the lightest guys with the most power are generally there or thereabouts. But again it comes down to the types of riders. For Stage 4, the mur de Bretagne, there’s what you’d say is kind of a climb to the finish. It’s a very short, just a kilometer, kilometer and a half climb, so FTP is pretty important on that kind of finish. Whereas an mFTP divided by weight (watts per kg) is important on the long climbs like Alpe d’Huez. So it depends on the type of rider and the type of finish you have as well.

…Of course peak power matters when you’re fighting for the bonus seconds, but it’s less so.

LT: Is recovery more important for climbers?
JB: Generally in the mountains there’s more work done, Definitely the mountains are more kilojoules; more energy expended, so recovery is important for those guys who are going for it in the mountains. The guys who are supporting are still working pretty hard, but maybe they’re not going quite so deep. So I guess recovery and nutrition are important for everyone, but for the climbers on multiple days, the breakaway guys, it’s really important,

LT: So are those guys in the front of the line for massage and snacks?
JB: I guess it’s sort of a semi-polite rotation on those things. The guys who have been in the break all day may get a little extra attention.

LT: How do these smaller guys deal with long windy stages/cobbles?
JB: I’d say that on longer windy days, their best bet is going to be kind of hiding away in the peleton as much as possible from the wind. As far as cobbles, I guess it depends on who we select. Serge Pauwels is Belgian, so he’s ridden cobbles since he was little, so that’s not a big problem. We don’t have many guys on our team who haven’t seen cobbles before, so I think the odds we have actually are not so bad for that.

LT: So they’re not worried?
JB: I wouldn’t say they’re not worried… a Paris-Roubaix in a grand tour is not the norm, and that’s pretty much what we’ve got, but I think it’s ok for our riders, they’ve got some experience.

LT: Do you think that’s a valid concern for riders in general?
JB: I think it needs to be. I mean it’s such a hard stage, and there’s so much risk. One crash on a guy who’s only 55 kilos, and no meat on him, and you’re looking at breaking things. For all those guys, but particularly for the smaller guys. I think there will also be a lot more fighting into the cobbles, and positioning will be really important. It’s going to be a battle of a day, fun to watch on TV for sure. I also don’t know how Froome is on the cobbles, we’re gonna find out—it could be a way to ease up a bit on the mountain and time trial game. (See our summary of stage 9 to see how this day played out)

LT: When you’re trying to walk that really tight margin between strength to weight ratio, what metrics do you watch to make sure these guys don’t go too far over the line?
JB:We watch the power numbers and changes in body mass. It’s always a seesaw, and watching the balance. It’s an inverted U sort of relationship: When you’ve got low power and high weight that’s not so good, but then as your weight goes down and your power goes up, you’ll get faster. But there’s a certain point when your weight goes down too much and your power also suffers and you maybe end up slower again.

Dr Carol Austin: I think what’s important is the more files we have, the more experience we have with the rider. So if we’ve got, say, data for them for the last three or four years, we get a better idea (providing they’ve got weight data, body compositions, and all their power data). You get a very clear idea of what their optimal weight is and work towards that.

We also monitor them closely over the lead in and during the race. Every morning they do essentially a pre-breakfast body weight, and pre- and post-stage weight, and that’s really to look at hydration and see how much fluid they’re losing during the day. We also look at urine specific gravity which also gives us an idea of their hydration status, and we do intermittent body compositions… we are monitoring really closely during the tour.

LT: What do you do if one of those metrics starts go to haywire?
JB: It’s important to be calm when you use data in those situations. We collect lots of information, so making sure what we’re seeing is real is the first thing, and then it’s important to see how things relate together. So it’s slowing down, being calm about it, and making informed decisions. Because sometimes a data point can be wrong—you know a heart rate monitor could be miscalibrated, or maybe they’ve got something in their pocket when they’re on the scale. It can be something so simple that can give the wrong conclusion.

CA: I think on an acute basis, when something goes wrong it’s usually hydration. A lot of it, like with TrainingPeaks, is actually direct feedback for the rider. So if they get on the scale and see they’ve lost like three or four kilograms, they get that immediate feedback and start drinking.

And then if we see bodyweight dropping over the time and we’re concerned that there’s a problem, we have a chef traveling with the team, so we can look into optimizing their meals and their sports nutrition on the bike. We’ve got a good selection of stuff for racing as well as after racing. Lots of food around in various forms.

LT: What’s their favorite thing to eat? (Please say Nutella)
CA: We actually always ask them what’s their ultimate treat, and for a lot of them it’s chocolate, really good chocolate. Yeah, that’s their reward if they do something special.

LT: Like win a stage and you can eat a chocolate bar?
CA: Yeah, or like a piece!

LT: What’s a workout an amateur rider could do at home to try and experience a little of the tour?
JB: If it’s an amateur at home, they’ve got to build their fitness… they can’t just jump in and train like a pro. With Serge, he comes to Italy and he’ll do the same ride, which is like four or five mountain passes, trying to simulate what he would be doing in a race.

LT: Ouch. What does mileage look like on that ride?
JB: Mileage? I’d guess it’s 160, 170 kilometers, maybe 3.5-4,000 meters. Season to date he’s done about 500 hours and 15,000 kilometers. ed. note: For Americans, that’s 4-5 weekly training rides of about 100 miles and 12-13,000 feet of elevation, with a pre-tour season total of about 9300 miles.

LT: So again, if you want to be a climber, go climb mountains?
JB: Yeah, and then do it four or five days in a row!

The post Could You Handle Serge Pauwels’ Mountain Training? appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

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Transitioning an athlete into another sport

So you are about to coach an athlete planning to transition into a new sport—maybe for their first time or their third time. Regardless, your job as their coach is to help them adapt to become fitter, faster and stronger within their new sport.

Coaches typically succeed at the basic steps to develop an athlete within a specific sport. However, it’s easy to unknowingly skip the key starting point to make an athlete’s transition more efficient and successful. You can develop your athlete faster by creating a positive training environment through analyzing their prior sports.

Transferring to another sport is beneficial

When an athlete transitions into a new sport it can be one of the best lifestyle decisions they ever make. Switching to a new sport can be extremely healthy both physically and mentally, and expanding into new disciplines creates a more diverse and often superior athlete. Realistically, one sport can’t fit an athlete for their entire life.

Research across all ages has shown that an athlete who participates in only one sport increases risk for injury, burnout and stress¹. It’s important to encourage and support your athlete’s decision to dive into training for something new. Transitioning to a new sport can help reignite an athlete’s motivation and enjoyment, and it is never too late to for an athlete try something new especially if it keeps them active.

Make it challenging and easy at the same time

The athlete’s prior sport experience will carry fitness, strength and mental skills into their new sport. The amount of experience transferred depends on how much the two sports overlap. Obviously, the greater the difference between each sport results in less of a transfer. It is impossible for a coach to specialize in every sport, so communicating with your athlete and researching should be a priority when developing their training plan.

Another challenge your athlete will face is leaving their previous sport at a higher level to return to a “beginner’s” level in their new sport. A high level of skill crossover can make the transition feel easier, but might still be frustrating as they start over again. This frustration can happen even with sports that are drastically different from each other, too.

Athletes expect training to be just as easy as their last sport and may jump the gun by starting out at a more advanced level than they should. Athletes will often skip the basics and create lofty goals causing frustration and negatively impacting their motivation. Your athlete might perfect high-level skills right away, yet the easiest concepts of the new sport will take them longer than normal to master. Prepare for the unknown by making small, achievable goals for a successful start.

Questions to answer

You will need to assess what skills your athlete will transition with and what they will need to work on the most. Properly understanding which areas will transfer and what gaps need to be filled will save tons of training time and streamline their progress.

Below are some key questions for you and your athlete to answer that help highlight their strengths and weaknesses, current skill and fitness levels, and general past experience applicable to their new sport:

What kind of training has the athlete completed in the past couple months? Years? Lifetime? Ask specifically about endurance, intensity, strength, team sport, etc.
What similarities exist between the two sports? Do the basic skills required for the new sport overlap? If so, what are they and how much?
What are the major differences between the two sports? What components of their athletic experience may be completely opposite of the new sport? Are there any skills or movement patterns that will be hard to override?
What key training components is the athlete lacking experience in or missing altogether?
What kind of intensities did the previous sport use? Ultra-distance, short, explosive, powerful, endurance?

Applying new with old

It’s important to focus on developing the primary sport skills by breaking them into smaller chunks so that the athlete won’t get discouraged. Also, focus on developing general capabilities along with the strength development necessary for the sport. Start with simplicity and lead up to the complicated training sessions even if they believe they are more competent. A pyramid is not built with a smaller base than the succeeding layers—and neither is a sport foundation.

If possible, when incorporating their previous skills into their new sport it is important to balance the two by creating a training plan that still includes both activities. Never fully switch one sport completely off to turn completely new one on.

For instance, you are coaching a cyclist who wants to start road running. You wouldn’t have that athlete run every day when they start training. Transitioning from their old sport helps the athlete develop by delivering smoother adaptations for the body. Also, initiating the link from prior sport experience allows for previous skills to be integrated and significantly reduces the risk of injury². But, always balance the old sport with the new by placing the skills, form and strength necessary for the new sport as the top priority.

Let’s say we have a triathlete who is switching to ultra-distance running. We want to make sure that the training plan includes swimming and biking opportunities, but those opportunities should be easy and shouldn’t take energy away from training new skills. As the athlete can handle more volume, intensity and time in their new sport, gradually remove their older activities. Of course, you can still allow for cross training if they desire as it makes for a more well-rounded, healthy athlete.

It is also important to have your athlete wait to compete until they are truly ready. When they are ready, make sure the athlete is in low-pressure situations at first. It’s easy for an experienced and successful athlete to get discouraged if they do not perform at a high level in their new sport.

Conventional sport transition

There is a giant list of professional athletes who have switched sports at an incredibly high level. A well-known multi-sport athlete, 2016 Olympic Triathlon Gold Medalist Gwen Jorgensen, recently switched from triathlon to the marathon. Gwen had never run more than 40 miles per week while competing in triathlon, and jumping up to 120 miles extremely daunting. In order to transition into that kind of mileage her coach included base cycling and swimming to regain fitness post-pregnancy following her Olympic success.

There are many more professional athletes who have competed in more than one sport, and success can be transferred if done the right way. You need to implement a training plan that properly transfers into their new sport along with creating a foundation of success instead of frustration. Their initial experience in their new sport can make or break their future within it—so scheme and plan accordingly for a successful transition with your athlete.

So, what does a transition look like?
Soccer to Marathon

A soccer player is used to intense sprint-like intervals for 45 minutes, but running consistently at an easier pace for the same time or just a tad bit longer is challenging. This sport uses some similar energy systems, but one is high-energy, powerful and the new is efficiency focused with fat-burning fuel sources vs. carbohydrates. This athlete will need to put in slower, consistent mileage and work on efficiency.

Additionally, this athlete is switching from a group sport to an individual sport and might find it difficult to create their own motivation. Perhaps suggest running workouts or a group they can train with.

Triathlete to Ultra Running

Triathletes in general—even up to IRONMAN—are used to training in the endurance zone and including intervals within their training. Ultra running requires a completely different energy system that is even slower and requires very low effort. This type of athlete will need to adjust to starting out slowly and to pace and use different energy systems to prevent fading throughout their running.

Swimmer to Runner

The most common difficulty is transitioning to proper running form. Swimming requires rotation of the same side of the body (hips and shoulders at the same time) while running uses the opposite arm and leg for forward movement. In turn, the swimmer lacks rotation by not using their upper body.

In general, swimming uses less muscle oxygen than running when compared to the same intensities. That is why we burn fewer calories in the water vs. running. Running will require full system energy and be more taxing for the swimmer.

Cyclist to Runner

Oftentimes, cyclists are extremely fit and have extreme endurance capacities. The biggest challenge for cyclists is not being able to handle the gravity along with their engine being stronger than their body. This may create frustration increasing the likelihood of overtraining, injury, and soreness.

The post How to Coach an Athlete Transitioning to a New Sport appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

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