Archive for March, 2018

The Triathlete’s 15-Minute Anywhere Strength Routine

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Swim—bike—run—injury? Many triathletes are happy to hammer out their swim, bike and run sessions, but completely neglecting strength and conditioning work drastically increases their risk of injury.

Therefore, even the time-constrained-triathlete cannot afford to exclude strength training, with a specific focus on core movements.

The following exercises below can be incorporated effectively around your other training sessions and can be done pretty much anywhere. Strength designed with the sport-specific movements of triathlon should focus on is stabilization.

Stabilization is the body’s ability to control movement efficiently and provide a stable foundation the limbs can move and perform from. For triathletes, this means training the stability of the lower limbs, torso and shoulders.

It is also worth contemplating what it means to engage your core. When engaging the core muscles during exercising, perform the talk test. Engage your core, and then talk. If you cannot talk and keep the muscles engaged, you were merely increasing the abdominal cavity pressure. If you can talk and maintain that pressure, your core is engaged.

Beneficial results will be seen when the core is engaged during all activity. Biomechanical transfer of momentum through the joints for most gross motor skills (big, powerful movements) tend to initiate from the core. This is true whether throwing a ball, swinging a golf club or pulling a strong swim stroke. It is important to train these muscles through a variety of movements and range of motion.

Strength is important for all athletes, but increasingly so as athletes move into their mid 40s and 50s and beyond.

Exercise
Description
Reps / Sets
Notes

Single-Leg Squat
Begin in a standing position and stay tall as you shift your weight to your left foot. Engage your core to keep your hips level. Keep your eye gaze forward at shoulder height. Shift your weight to the back of your foot and slowly lower down as far as you can and then push back up to the start position. Perform all reps on one leg before switching to the other leg.
6-10 reps / 2-3 sets
Stand in front of a chair or stool that you can use as a consistent depth measurement.

Push-ups
Get into a plank position with your hands under, but slightly wider than your shoulders. Slowly lower to the ground by tucking your elbows close to your body, pause at the bottom and then push back up to the starting position. Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise.
6-10 reps / 2-3 sets
This can be done on your toes or knees.

Glute Bridge
Lie flat on your back, bend your knees and place feet on the floor shoulder width apart. Feet should be just close enough to your buttocks that your fingertips can graze the back of your heels. Drive your hips up as high as possible, squeezing your glutes hard and keeping your belly button drawn in. Take 3 seconds to rise, hold at the top to feel your glutes activate and 3 seconds to lower.
6-10 reps / 2-3 sets
You can increase the level of difficulty of this exercise by performing single-leg glute bridges or you can place your feet up on a bench or box step.

Dead Bug
Lie flat on your back with arms straight up towards on the ceiling and legs bent at 90-degrees. Maintain a flat back against the ground as you exhale and slowly lower you right arm and left leg toward the floor (as far as you can without compromising your back and core position), inhale to return to center and switch sides.
8-12 alternating reps / 2-3 sets
You can increase the challenge of this exercise by lowering your arm and leg all the way to the floor or adding weight.

Single-leg 4 Corner Hops
Stand on one leg with a soft bend in both knees. Create an imaginary square as you hop to each corner. Stick each landing with a running ‘A’ position: opposite knee up, toe dorsi flexed and heel underneath buttocks.
8-12 hops in each direction on each foot / 2-4 sets total (1-2 sets on each side)
Perform this in front of a mirror so you can monitor your form.

I-Y-T Kneeling Front Plank
Start in a kneeling plank position (modified push up position), with hands on the floor under your shoulders, with knees and feet shoulder width apart. Keep your torso solid and your hips square to the ground as you raise your right arm forward and up into the “I” position – perform 8 small lifts and then move your arm down to approximately a 45-degree angle to the “Y” position – perform 8 small lifts, and then move your arm down to 90-degree angle to the “T” position – perform 8 small lifts. Switch sides.
8 reps in each position / 4 sets total (2 sets on each side)
Take a break between the I’s, Y’s and T’s of this exercise if your core position becomes compromised (belly sags, hips hinge).

Thank you to Lauren Babineau for her contribution to this article.

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Analysis: Sacha Modolo at Milan San Remo

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Milan San Remo

Date: March 17, 2018

Distance: 291km

Placings:

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 7:18:43

2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-SCOTT

3. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ

The 2018 Milan-San Remo (MSR) was a long-anticipated race after what has been an already exciting start to the year with fast and aggressive racing right from the Tour Down Under in January.

The first Classic “Monument” of the year is the perfect opportunity for a team to have their season kicked off in style. With the bad weather that has battered Europe for most of the year and with the start of the race set off in the rain and cold—it was clear from the gun that the 2018 MSR was going to be a epic day.

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Rider Analysis: Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale

14th, in the lead break for 150km

Click HERE to view the file, or click on the image below:

03076-sacho-modolo-milan-san-remo-file-analysis-blog-fig3

Overall Stats for the stage:

Time: 7:18:43
Avg Speed: 40.4kph
324 TSS
Average Power: 185w, 2.59 w/kg
Normalized average power: 254w, 3.55w/kg

Click here to learn more about TrainingPeaks metrics.

Sacha Modolo was EF Education First’s protected rider for this year’s MSR. He has had a solid start to the year, which has already seen him take a win in a stage at the Ruta del Sol and a high placing in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in February.

This meant going into the race the Italian rider had everything in place for a big result. The race did not go well prior to the final for the EF Education First team as team captain Simon Clarke and team sprinter Dan McClay both crashed with 42km to go, this left Modolo without two of his main teammates to help protect him into the crucial final climbs of the Cipressa and Poggio.

In the end Sacha had the perfect positioning entering this final run into the decisive climbs and onto the finish; he made the front split of 18 riders over the Poggio as they chased the flying Vincenzo Nibali.

The EF Education First team had two riders in the lead group; in addition to Modolo the very experienced Matti Breschel was also in the front to help him in the sprint. Telling the press about his sprint Modolo said, “Around the last corner, my sprint was finished. Matti tried to help me, but I missed a good chance to take the top 10.”

The Data

The initial kilometers of MSR was run in a similar fashion compared to previous editions: A flurry of attacks with those riders keen enough to spend the next 200-250km in a breakaway. After just a few kilometers, nine riders broke clear and gained a quick advantage over a peloton who wanted a more sedate start to the cold morning in Milan.

The first three hours of riding can be broken down to view the effort and energy expended during the opening part of the race:

1st Hour

Ave Power
Normalized Power
Power:Weight
Ave spd

123w
169w
2.36w/kg*
37.2kph

2nd Hour

Ave Power
Normalized Power
Power:Weight
Ave spd

163w
196w
2.74w/kg
38.4kph

3rd Hour

Ave Power
Normalized Power
Power:Weight
Ave spd

161w
196w
2.74w/kg
39kph

The pace started to ramp up in the fourth hour as the BMC lead peloton started to increase the pace and bring down the lead of the front group.

Before the start of Passo del Turchino the lead group had a 6:30 minute advantage over the peloton and by the top this was reduced to 4:30 minutes. The effort can be seen in Modolo’s data as this was his real first sustained effort over 5w/kg.  

On the 2.2km climb he averaged a power of 404w, 5.65w/kg for 4:38 minutes. This climb signaled the approach to the coast and a point when the tensions started to rise, and the power began to ramp up along with it.

03076-sacho-modolo-milan-san-remo-file-analysis-blog-fig2

The Climbs Start

The first real test along the coastal route is the Capo Berta, this climb was hit at speed, and the tension and fight for position was already causing some issues, including several crashes, which claimed two of the EF Education First riders.

In the 4.7km before the Capo Berta the bunch averaged 52.4kph, the pace continued onto the climb with Modolo hitting his peak five minute power for the day on the slopes of the Capo Berta. For five minutes he averaged 416w, 5.82 w/kg—his peak five minute power for the day.

The climb up the Capo Berta only lasted 3:49 minutes and he did this period at a power of 453w, 6.34w/kg. The pace on this climb was enough to see several riders get dropped, such as German sprinter Marcel Kittel.

Again, the lead of the breakaway was reduced to 40 sec with the chasing peloton.

The Fight for Position

We can see how this fight for position can affect the speed of the peloton by looking at Modolo’s data as he approached the famous climb, Cipressa.

In the 3.2km leading to the foot of the climb he averaged 51.7kph maxing out 69.6kph for the 3:44 minutes it took him to complete this pan-flat 3.2km. During this time, he averaged 252w, 3.52w/kg, which shows that his team done an excellent job and keeping him in the wheels and keeping him close to the front without expelling a lot of energy.

It is at these key sections, where smart riders are able to reserve enough energy for later in the race when a team leader’s big efforts are needed. Simply put, if a rider like Modolo has to fight for his own position and waste valuable energy during these parts of the race, his ability to make the lead group or being able to contest the sprint will be significantly impaired.

milan-san-remo-file-analysis-sacha-modolo-3

The Cipressa

The pace on the Cipressa was kept at a solid tempo with FDJ and Team Sky doing the bulk of the work to keep the group together. The lead break has been caught at this point and it was all about positioning and hoping to make any splits that might occur on the climb or the descent.

Unfortunately, Modolo had an issue with his powermeter in the last half of the climb and was unable to pick up any data. The first 3km of the of the 5.63km climb were already ridden very hard, Modolo producing an effort of 396w, 5.54w/kg for the 6:09 minutes. Looking at the speed of the climb, it can be assumed that this effort was at least maintained for the rest of the 2.5km, which still had to be climbed.

This climb may not have been decisive for the outcome of the race—no attacks were placed—but it did see several riders burn a lot of matches and force them to use up valuable energy, which they would lack later in the race.

This would have been the aim of FDJ and Sky, riding for Arnaud Démare and Michal Kwiatkowski, respectively, as they pressed to keep the tempo high and the group together before the Poggio.

With the race now heading for the final climb of the Poggio, it was again down to the domestiques to keep active at the front and help their designated leaders maintain a good position, so they could unleash their attacks or respond to moves on the twisting road of the Poggio.

If we look at Modolo’s data for this section, we can see a similar effort to that made before the Cipressa. On the 6.2km-long approach to the bottom of the hill, Sacha achieved an average speed of 47.4kph and maxed out at 64kph. During this period Sacha averaged “just” 253w, 3.54 w/kg, but he hit peak efforts between 600w and 900w for eight times, as he fought to stay close to the front.

The Poggio

The showdown was set for the Poggio with all the main players to the fore. The twisting turns on changing gradients between 2 percent and 8 percent make the perfect stage for a long-range attack to the final victory. This is where Vincenzo Nibali launched his attack in the final 2km of the climb on the steeper sections.

What it takes to be at the front on the Poggio

For Sacha Modolo to complete the climb in the front group he had to produce the following effort:

3.6km, 6:23min
Ave pwr- 404w, 5.65w/kg
Max pwr – 837w, 11.7w/kg

If we break it down further, we can see the effort he needed to hold onto the group as the approached the top of the climb.

Holding onto group (last 900m of climb)

1:38min
Ave pwr- 458w, 6.41w/kg

This would have been a very uncomfortable last 900m as the effort needed to hit nearly 6.5w/kg for a prolonged period after already having done over four minutes at 5.4w/kg (never mind the 285km ridden to this point).

The Finish

The run into San Remo was ferocious as Nibali was taking many risks on the descent to keep his slender lead of 10 to 12 seconds. On the descent Modolo did everything to maintain contact with the lead group. What is very interesting is the high intensive anaerobic efforts done during the 3km downhill off the Poggio.

On the 11 sharp turns which greeted the riders as they negotiated the twisting road, Modolo had to make just as many efforts lasting between four and 12 seconds and ranging from 700w, 9.8w/kg to 1316w, 18.4w/kg.

These sprints out of each bend where required every 10 to 20 seconds, leaving very small windows for rest, which shows how incredibly difficult it was to stay on the wheels and hold position. On one 10 second jump out of a bend he hit an impressive peak power of 1316w and averaged 976w, 13.7w/kg.

As the riders hit the final 2km in the run into the finish, the chase was still on for the lone leader, and  at this time Modolo was doing his best to position himself in the final. In the final 2km Modolo averaged 392w, 5.48w/kg for the 2:19 minutes it took him to cover this distance.

The Final Sprint for the Line

Ave pwr- 756w
Max pwr- 1072w

In the final dash as the main group desperately tried to catch Vincenzo Nibali, Modolo still averaged 756w for the final 150m maxing out at 1072w, 15w/kg and hitting a max speed of 64kph. Another impressive effort after over seven hours in the saddle and a true test of endurance to be able to perform so highly in a very intensive final to the race.

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TrainingPeaks Brings the Endurance Coaching Summit to the U.K.

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We are excited to announce that the TrainingPeaks 2018 Endurance Coaching Summit (ECS) will be held in Manchester, U.K. November 8 – 9, 2018. Located in one of the top sporting cities in the world, ECS Manchester will give attendees access to state-of-the-art conference, training and testing facilities in partnership with Etihad Stadium and the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance.

In addition to having access to some of the world’s best high performance facilities, attendees will also have the opportunity to network with some of the industry’s best coaches, brands and thought leaders. “The Endurance Coaching Summit has continued to evolve to meet the needs of endurance coaching across sport disciplines,” said Dirk Friel, Co-Founder, Chief of Fitness Brands at TrainingPeaks. “For us, taking our conference overseas was the next logical step as we see the continued need for coaching education and networking opportunities around the world.”

This year’s keynote speaker, Chrissie Wellington, is an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and a four-time IRONMAN world champion. Since her retirement from professional racing in 2012, Wellington has authored two best-selling books and focused heavily on philanthropic efforts for charities including the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the Blazeman Foundation for ALS. She is currently the Global Lead for Health & Wellbeing for Parkrun, and lives in London with her husband and daughter.

TrainingPeaks has partnered with British Triathlon and British Cycling to ensure the continued delivery of world class education for coaches, and all of their certified coaches will receive $120 off Summit pricing. Additionally, for all American coaches, USA Cycling and USA Triathlon will continue to be endorsing partners, providing continuing education credits for both the in-person and online Summit.

“We’re delighted to have teamed up with TrainingPeaks to bring the TrainingPeaks Endurance Coaching Summit to Manchester,” said Paul Moss, Head of Coaching and Volunteering at British Triathlon. “I’m really proud of our track record in what we do to support our coaches and being able to offer a discount on the delegate rates to our coach members is really important to us. Everything about this event will be world-class, from the speakers, the diversity in topics to the facilities. We look forward welcoming our coaches to the Summit!”

More than 600 coaches from 15 countries have attended previous ECS events. The 2018 Summit will build off the same successful format, including keynote presentations mixed with valuable, smaller breakout sessions with thought leaders from the endurance sports industry.

ECS will cover the key business challenges faced by today’s coaches to give them the tools needed to grow their brands, increase their clientele and fine-tune their coaching practices. Attendees will also gain practical insights into the latest research and science-based strategies. Previous speakers include Joe Friel, Dave Scott, Dr. Iñigo San Milan, Neal Henderson, Siri Lindley, Dr. Allen Lim and Bobby McGee, among others.

“It’s very exciting that this world-class event will be hosted on our doorstep in Manchester and coaches will be able to access valuable, hands-on workshops at a world-renowned location for what promises to be a truly one-of-a-kind event.” said Vinny Webb, Head of Education at British Cycling. “Coaches will have access to the same facilities and experts used by British Cycling at the Manchester Institute of Health & Performance (MIHP), regarded as one of the top high performance institutes in the world.”

TrainingPeaks, British Cycling and British Triathlon are working together to bring a world-class list of presenters for the 2018 Endurance Coaching Summit. Presenters will bring a background of science-based training methodologies, extensive coaching experience and business expertise.

A full announcement of the Summit agenda and speaker lineup is expected soon.

For more details and to register for Early Bird Registration rates, visit EnduranceCoachingSummit.com.

Join the conversation: #ECSManchester

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Losing and Regaining Fitness

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A week’s visit to a Caribbean island did me in. I didn’t feel like renting a bike to pedal along the oceanfront as I was fearful of traffic patterns I did not know.

I was also unmotivated to run on strange roads, or on the treadmill in the hotel fitness center. As for training in the 100-lap-to-the-mile pool at that hotel—you can’t be serious.

So I did nothing but enjoy my vacation, and I felt pretty good about it. Until I got back home. A week without training: How much fitness did I lose? How long would it take to regain it?

Not everybody agrees on the answers to those questions. Recently, hoping to promote consistency, I tweeted a paragraph from my book, Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide: “Research by Edward F. Coyle, Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin, suggests that runners begin to detrain (lose their fitness) after 48 to 72 hours, and that it takes two days of retraining to regain the fitness lost for every single day of training skipped. That doesn’t mean you should never rest, but if you take long periods off, it will take you a longer time to come back.”

Not everybody wanted to hear that the high level of fitness they had earned during 18 weeks of marathon training could be lost in, what Eddie, only three days?

After all, my marathon training programs prescribe that many days of rest immediately before a marathon. Should runners not taper? Several angry individuals demanded that I defend my claims of lost fitness by citing peer-reviewed scientific proof.

Of course, I had not claimed in my tweet that 18 weeks of training would vanish in three days, only that an inevitable and almost imperceptible decline tied to inactivity had begun. Remember, fitness is not all or nothing.

Certainly, running on the fourth day would halt the decline. But the ultimate question remains: Is there a precise moment when our bodies begin to lose fitness?

I did not know, but I suspected (or hoped) that the scientist quoted in my book (Edward F. Coyle, Ph.D.,) might rise to my defense. I contacted Dr. Coyle at the University of Texas by email, and here is his reply:

“To make sure I’m up to date, I did a brief lit review on “detraining.” My past work still seems accurate. In fact, one of the best additional studies was done by David L. Costill’s group (at Ball State University) on swimmers, who displayed big drops in oxidative ability after 10 to 12 days. I try to explain it as “a person loses approximately 50 percent of the fitness they have developed when they do absolutely no training for 12 days. There are some adaptations that you keep for at least three months, namely the cardiovascular adaptations of heart size and muscle capillary density.”

In a different study (quoted in another of my books, Run Fast), Dr. Coyle convinced a group of highly trained runners (who ran 80 miles a week) and cyclists (who rode 250 miles a week) to quit training.

“Their measured oxygen uptake scores declined rapidly at first,” said Dr. Coyle, “Then less so. Ironically, the best-trained athletes lost the most. Those less-trained athletes had less to lose.” After three months, however, all were detrained.

That loss can be somewhat avoided if you at least include in your schedule one to three days a week of maintenance training, especially if it incorporates high-intensity exercise that approaches VO2max.

Of course, high-intensity training carries with it a certain risk of injury. Going from three months of inactivity to 100-meter sprints on the football field is almost certainly a recipe for muscle damage.

That is one reason why I promote consistency. You don’t need to remain in top shape 12 months of the year, but doing a bit of maintenance work during off periods will help you avoid total fitness loss.

As for my week-long trip to the Caribbean, my week away from my regular running trails probably left little impact on my long-term fitness, the fitness that keeps me in good health without necessarily being race ready.

It’s not your behavior during any two-week period that affects your fitness; it’s more what you do over the other 50 weeks of the year. And during those “other” weeks, I run, I bike, I swim, I walk, I stretch, I strength train. This provides me with a base that allows me to maintain and measure fitness over periods longer than two weeks, longer than 52 weeks, decades rather than years, an entire lifespan if you allow me the widest screen possible.

Consistency rules the day. That, and the fact that fitness is an attitude as well as being a way of life.

For further reading on this subject you can check out: Time course of loss of adaptations after stopping prolonged intense endurance training, by Edward F. Coyle, et. al

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Improve Your Cycling Performance with Block Training

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Competitive cyclists often seek new ways to improve their performance. While a variety of training techniques can boost your cycling power and speed, block training is one of the most effective tools you have at your disposal.

Block training consists of very hard workouts for two or three consecutive days followed by an equal amount of recovery (days off or active recovery rides). Block training works by producing a greater overload on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems than is possible with many other forms of training. This facilitates the physiological adaptation process that leads to improved performance.

There are two keys to making block training successful. First, while it can be very effective at facilitating performance improvement, block training can be equally effective at causing fatigue. Therefore, you must provide your body with adequate rest after the training block.

For example, you can do a four-day training block that consists of lactate threshold intervals (Day 1), VO2 max intervals (Day 2), a day off (Day 3) and an easy recovery ride (Day 4). By day five you should be fully recovered. If not, you would need to take an additional day of rest before you resume normal training.

Second, you should create training blocks that correspond to the current stage of your periodized training regimen. For example, if you are in the endurance phase, your primary training objective is to increase aerobic endurance (the body’s ability to use oxygen to produce energy for the muscles over an extended period) and muscular endurance (the ability to pedal relatively big gears, at a moderate cadence for an extended period).

An endurance block could include two long rides on back-to-back days followed by two to three days of rest and active recovery. It could also consist of two hill-climb rides on consecutive days with two to three days of recovery.

Conversely, an intensity block would place more emphasis on physiological abilities such as:

Functional Threshold Power (FTP), which is the highest average power, measured in watts, a fit cyclist can maintain for 60 minutes
Aerobic capacity, which is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can consume during high intensity exercise.
Neuromuscular power, which is the ability to pedal a very big gear at a very high cadence for a short time.

The four-day training block described at the beginning of this article is a good example of an intensity block that can boost lactate threshold heart rate and improve FTP.

You can improve your neuromuscular power with a training block that includes two days of long (one minute) and short (20 seconds) sprint intervals followed by a recovery ride and a day off.

Likewise, you can improve your aerobic capacity with a four-day training block that includes VO2 max intervals (Day 1), 30-30s (30 seconds hard, 30 seconds recovery repeated 10 to 20 times; Day 2), a day off (Day 3) and an easy recovery ride (Day 4).

Finally, you can incorporate racing into the block training process, which is perhaps the most enjoyable way to perform a training block. For instance, you could compete in a criterium on Saturday and a road race on Sunday followed by a day off and an easy recovery ride.

You could also participate in a time trial event on one day followed by a lactate threshold interval workout the next day to create a block of high-intensity training. Of course, you would follow this up with two to three days of easy riding and recovery.

A stage race is another example of block training. If you participate in a multiday event that has a time trial, criterium and road race over a period of two or three days, you are performing block training at the highest level. Just make sure you provide for adequate recovery after the event.

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