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Endurance Nation Training PLans

Your Game Plan for Racing Back-to-Back Triathlons

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Whether you’re looking to race yourself fit for a goal race, or you just have a hectic schedule and need to fit in your entire racing season in a few short weeks, many triathletes find themselves signed up for multiple races that take place within a short time period. It can be done, but your game plan for racing back-to-back triathlons needs to include a detailed periodization plan (with plenty of recovery) so you will peak at the right times.

Many moons ago, in my second year of racing the IRONMAN distance, I decided I wanted to get even fitter, faster etc. I decided to sign up for both IRONMAN Nice and IRONMAN UK in one season. They were only five weeks apart and I felt totally confident that I would PR and do well in my age group at IRONMAN UK.

After a PR at Nice, I was on track … or so I thought. IRONMAN UK was—to date—my worst performance in any race ever. It was almost as slow as my first ever IRONMAN distance race and far slower than the harder, hillier course in Nice (I’m not ashamed to admit that I basically cried my way through the last 10 miles of the run—what a waste of fluids!). Recovering enough between races is a tricky challenge, and not one to be taken lightly.

Now as a coach, I can reflect, laugh and objectively understand both sides of why I did what I did,  and also recognize the learning points that I gained from this experience. My recovery strategy between each race was poor and I was on the back foot before I even started, which begs the question, “How does one race endurance events successfully back to back?”

It can’t be too hard can it? Team events like football or rugby with matches once or twice a week still allow their athletes to compete frequently and they seem to be successful through a whole season. However, even team sports follow a periodization model similar to one triathletes see with their focus being to peak for the culmination of the championship tournament or at the end of the season.

Plan Well Ahead of Time

Before you even start recovering between events, you must plan out your season (or even multiple seasons) identifying which event you want to completely peak at. This may be the finals, a world championship or your qualifier event.

Once that has been decided, you can address how you want to treat all other events throughout the season: Do you need to qualify? Is it a leg-opener? Do you want to practice nutrition for a larger event down the line?

Endurance sport pioneer Joe Friel kindly labeled these races “A,” “B” or “C” events based on how important they were to you. You can have more than one “A” race in a year, but you have to really be sure there is enough time between them to prepare for each one  adequately. More importantly, after one of these “A” races, you’ll need to recover, rebuild and then re-peak.

Don’t just commit to one of them outwardly, commit internally too. Too often people state that an event is only classed as “C,” but because their training partners are also racing, the odds just changed, or maybe they don’t want to look bad in front of others, they don’t stick to their plan, race too hard and then lose focus for their “A” race.

Why Peak and Then Recover?

When you race, you are pushing your body to the limit. Things like fat percentages will be lower than they have ever been. If you don’t let them spring back, you will end up ill, injured, fatigued or fed up. Racing is exhausting for your mind and your body, a refresh will bring you back stronger and fresher. Essentially we can consider this recovery period a macro version of the Hans-Seyer model of adaptation. You have peaked, you will need to recover before you climb up to your next level of fitness.

Manage your Load

Your TrainingPeaks Performance Management Chart (PMC) will allow you to plan out these periods nicely. It will also let you identify what a manageable training load is. For someone racing IRONMAN, it may be that a 70.3 event is a manageable load – you could race them within a week of each other.

For example,  if you are racing a 260 TSS bike and a 220 TSS run during your IRONMAN training, then the half IRONMAN may only create a training stress of 300 TSS in total—this is totally within your limits of fitness. The same is true for most other distances.

If your consistent training load is equivalent to the event you are racing in, then what is deemed as back-to-back could just be considered a long training day. However, notice that we are labeling these races as “just training,” not “loads of small races that I am pretending don’t mean much but actually I want to win and will kill myself trying to do so!”

Many long course athletes like doing a marathon during the early season for their running fitness. As a coach I can argue either way if it is right or wrong, but if it is not your main race, why shy away from doing a long bike ride the day before to simulate racing? Equally, remember that each triathlon distance or endurance event brings with it different physiological stresses that have to be trained for. What you have to be good at for IRONMAN racing is very different to sprint distance or standard distance racing. Where do all your events fit within the larger picture of your overall goals for the year?

Be Specific and Realistic With Your Goals

It’s amusing listening to IRONMAN athletes complain that they felt they could/should have beaten a training buddy in a 70.3 or other distance event. Why? That is like Usain Bolt complaining that he should have beaten Mo Farah over 10K because he is the fastest man on the planet! He may be, but only at the distance he is racing at. If you are racing back-to-back events, don’t have unrealistic expectations of “smashing” each race. Treat the race with the priority it deserves based on your goals. Then the recovery process becomes much easier.

Recover Right

The truth is, no matter how much pre-planning you have made, you can never fully estimate how you will fare after the event, especially if the event in question is long distance.

Therefore, between races, think what your goal of the recovery period should be, and stick to it. That being said, always listen to your body (always listen to your body more than your ego).

If you have decided to recover, don’t just smash through several hard training sessions with your friends because:

Your race went really well and you are on a high.
Your race went below par and you want to demonstrate to friends, training buddies, and/or yourself you don’t suck.
You suddenly decided it is the right thing to do.

Equally, if you have decided to train straight through one race to your next event, do exactly that, put in the big overload sessions as planned. Don’t shy away from them because you are tired. You had planned to be! Stick to your annual plan.

Often doing some stock training sessions or familiar workout loops can help you compare yourself using time, speed, power as well RPE. Your local loop lets you know how well you are feeling and performing so you can gauge your fatigue and overall performance level better.

Pay Attention to Signs of Over-Fatigue or Injury

I’ll say it again—listen to your body. If you feel a niggle, address it, don’t follow the plan blindly. All aches and pains are information, and information is useful. If you keep on struggling to hit target times—take a break—maybe you are more tired than you anticipated being at this point in the year. Talk to your coach. Have you fueled correctly? If you are going to do an overload week post-event, have you been fueling properly to meet this challenge?

When you race, you put yourself out there in some capacity, even if your goal was testing nutrition or handling skills. You push harder than you would have were you not in a race. Whichever way you have raced, or whatever your goal may have been, you have achieved something in finishing a particular race and you’ve likely learned something new about yourself in the process.

Going back to my attempt to do two IRONMANS within five weeks— I recall even now the comment of a training buddy that I obviously heard but for whatever reason chose to ignore,“Are you sure you are not too tired? Normally you would have beaten me up those hills.” Remember, even bad information is good information especially if you don’t want to hear it.


At the end of the day, if you have plenty of time between events, you will want to reset and rebuild into the second event. However, if you only have a few weeks between key events, you will have to favor one—and you’ll  need to make this a part of your early season planning.

The period in between two back-to-back races can literally make (or break) your season(s), so you have to pay very careful attention to both your training (quantitative) data and your own feelings (qualitative data), and make your decision based on both of them. This is where a coach or mentor becomes especially useful as an objective perspective who can keep a track of you and your ultimate “A” race.

The post Your Game Plan for Racing Back-to-Back Triathlons appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

Giro d’Italia TT Analysis: Can Quintana Hold On?

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The 2017 Giro d’Italia will finish into Milan with a time trial pitting one of best time-trialists in the world in Tom Dumoulin against the master climber and current Maglia Rosa-wearer Nairo Quintana. The Giro, with its unrelenting mountains, is traditionally won by a climbing GC specialist, but over the past few seasons Dumoulin has risen to the climbing challenge while still retaining his expert ability against the clock.

This year’s edition suited Dumoulin more than in previous years with the inclusion of two pure time trial courses. In the first (stage 10), he proved his dominance and pulled on the Maglia Rosa by putting two minutes and 53 seconds into Quintana, but that course was almost 40 km and came after a rest day.

The final Stage is 10 km shorter at only 29.37 km — and comes after a brutal string of mountain stages.  With Quintana back in the lead, let’s examine the final stage and see what type of time gap Quintana will likely need to hold off a motivated Dumoulin.

Stage 21: Monza to Milano

The final stage in the Giro d’Italia is a 29.37 km race against the clock starting at the Autodromo Nazionale race track in Monza before traveling southwest into the heart of Milan. The course has a slightly negative gradient and long stretches of straight roads where a specialist can open up the throttle. The real question for Dumoulin will be if there are enough kilometers to make up the time he will need on Quintana.


Because we won’t know how much time Dumoulin will need until tomorrow’s final stage in the mountains, we will instead analyze how much time Quintana will need going into the stage to retain the jersey.

To do that we have done some modeling using Best Bike Split’s Time Analysis feature to give some estimates for the two riders from the Stage 10 TT. Based on the results and some estimated CdA (aero data), we came up with the following estimated power values for the stage:

Stage 10 Power Estimates based on Finish Time

Est. Power
Est. Watts/KG

Tom Dumoulin
425 Watts

Nairo Quintana
350 Watts

What is interesting to note here is that while Quintana’s estimated Watts/Kg is a bit lower than Dumoulin, even if he were to bring it up to 6.1 on this course he would gain 50 seconds if it were due to increased power or only 17 seconds if it were due to decreased weight. In a true time trial without much climbing and with similar aerodynamics between riders, it all comes down to FTP (Functional Threshold Power).

To run some “what if analysis” check out the Time Analysis Tool and try adjusting the drag, power and weight sliders.

Using the numbers above we can model out Stage 21 to see the differences between the two riders. Though the course is 10 km shorter, which at world class speeds would typically result in approximately a one to two percent power increase on fresh legs, we can expect riders will be hard pressed to get much of an increase due to the fatigue of multiple mountain stages. The following two images show the time difference that could be seen between the two riders:

Estimated Finish Time for Nairo Quintana


Adjustments for Dumoulin’s Estimated Drag, Power, and Weight


This course is perfectly setup for Dumoulin despite being 10 km shorter than Stage 10 (which had some uphill sections). Here he can take full advantage of his power disparity. If he can perform similarly power-wise to Stage 10 he could expect to put more than two minutes into Quintana. Because the course is primarily flat with a slight negative overall grade his additional weight has little to no impact and will actually help in some sections.

One major factor on the race that we haven’t discussed are wind conditions. While both riders will experience the same conditions, a prevailing strong tailwind will actually help Quintana as it should speed up both riders and narrow the time gap. The current forecast is for low slight head wind to crosswind.


If the wind shifts to more of a direct head wind and increases in strength, Dumoulin could put even more time into Quintana. A quick wind analysis below shows the impact of a stronger 15 km/h head/tail wind along with the current forecasted weather:

Wind Conditions
Est. Dumoulin  Time
Est. Quintana Time

As Forecasted

Head Wind (15 km/h)

Tail Wind (15 km/h)

I believe Quintana needs to gain at least another two minutes in the penultimate stage tomorrow to feel safe, and even then a hard charging, determined Dumoulin might take back the Maglia Rosa on the final day!

View the BBS model for Stage 21 and try some adjustments in the Time Analysis tab to see how changing drag, power, and weight factors could change the race. We will update the forecasted weather right up to race time.

Interested in doing your own pre-race predictions? Try a free Best Bike Split demo and dial in your race preparation now.

The post Giro d’Italia TT Analysis: Can Quintana Hold On? appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

How to Finally Nail Your Nutrition During an IRONMAN Taper (And Every Day Thereafter)

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You have been preparing for your long-distance triathlon for years, and the big day is fast approaching. You are sharpening that knife in the final weeks leading up to race day with a dutiful recovery period, and you know that your nutrition during an IRONMAN taper is of utmost importance.

They key to successful IRONMAN taper is making sure these final few weeks are as productive as possible, while still giving yourself maximum rest. It is during this time that a very common question will arise, “Rick, what, if anything, should I do different with my nutrition in these final weeks?” And my answer is always the same for those individuals that I’m working with, “There is nothing that we are going to do different. You have been fueling your body properly for months on end and now we simply continue to fuel the body right in these final few weeks.”

What are some of the key nutritional components to focus on as race day approaches? Well, the key elements that we will discuss apply not only to the final few weeks leading into the race, but, this is how we want to be fueling our body every single day in order to achieve meaningful and sustainable performance results for a lifetime. Whether an individual’s goals revolve around body transformation, improved overall health and fitness and/or improved athletic performance, eating right and fueling the body right are going to be the keys to success.

Fueling Frequency and Timing

When it comes to fueling the body right, frequency and timing of our meals and snacks becomes a key component. Let’s keep it simple; no matter what time you wake up, no matter what time you work out, no matter what time you go to bed, let’s be sure to implement the following: Fuel your body right away upon awakening and then fuel your body every two and a half to three and a half hours thereafter—throughout the day.

Yes, I mean right away upon awakening; not 30 minutes after you wake up, not 60 minutes after. All too often, as race day approaches, individuals find themselves still carrying too much body fat and too much body weight, despite the super-high level of workout activity . And as a result, individuals may gravitate toward “cutting calories,” thinking that this will help them lose a few pounds pre-race. Needless to say, this is nothing shy of self-sabotage. We never want to follow any food fad or diet, especially with a big race fast approaching.

Don’t Eat Healthy, Eat Right

There is a huge difference between eating healthy versus eating right, as these are two completely different worlds. When individuals focus on eating healthy, they tend to miss the mark, big time.

For example, individuals may choose a handful of almonds for a snack. Or they may choose an apple or hummus and carrots as a snack. Are these examples healthy? Absolutely, but at the same time they are complete train wrecks when it comes to fueling the body properly. Notice the operative word in that sentence, fueling.

Always remember, feeding the body and fueling the body are completely different. We do not want to feed the body, rather, we always want to focus on fueling the body. Let’s use a car as an example. Gasoline and water are both liquids. So why can’t we just put water in the gas tank of our car? Well, we all know that water, albeit a liquid like gasoline, is not going to fuel our car. The human body works the same way.

Those snack examples above are simply water in the gas tank. They are feeding the body, but they are not fueling the body. Let’s look at the details. A handful of almonds has 340 calories and a whopping 71 percent fat …71 percent!

Often times the knee-jerk reaction is, “But Rick, it’s good fat!” I don’t care if it’s good fat or bad fat, this snack is 71 percent fat. With only 13 percent carbohydrate, this snack is nothing shy of water in the gas tank. Sure, it’s feeding the body, but it’s not fueling the body.

Fueling the Body Versus Just Feeding It

So how do we properly fuel the body? We do so by having the proper balance of carbohydrate-protein-fat at every meal/snack. Our goal, at every meal/snack is to have 50 to 65 percent of your calories from carbohydrate, 15 to 25 percent protein and between 15 and 25 percent fat. When we achieve this, we are fueling the body and brain for success. “The brain is dependent on sugar as its main fuel,” says Vera Novak, MD, PhD, and an HMS associate professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “It cannot be without it.”

And no, vegetables are not carbohydrates. Sure, while vegetables contain a few grams of carbohydrates, this does not make them a fuel/carbohydrate source. Vegetables are just that, vegetables. They are good for us and they provide the body with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are not a fuel source. A slice of dense, whole grain bread has a few grams of protein, but that does not make this slice of bread a protein source; rather, this is a great example of a fuel/carbohydrate source.

Let’s examine a popular meal individuals gravitate toward because they want to eat healthy: 6oz grilled salmon plus one cup steamed vegetables. A healthy meal? Absolutely, but again, a complete train wreck in terms of properly fueling the body. This meal provides the body with 430 calories, 16-percent carbohydrate, 41-percent Protein and 44-percent Fat. Aside from this meal providing virtually no fuel for the body and brain, it’s far too high in protein and fat.

Let’s change the game. Let’s stop focusing on eating healthy and let’s focus on fueling the body right. Here’s how easy it is to change the game and take your nutrition to a completely new level. Watch how to easily reconstruct this meal so that we can properly fuel the body and avoid putting water in the gas tank: one cup cooked whole grain pasta, 3 oz grilled salmon, one half cup steamed vegetables. This meal now provides the body with the following high-octane fuel: 498 calories, 54-percent carbohydrate, 26-percent protein and 20-percent fat. Boom! Now we have a meal worth writing home about. This is how we fuel the body and brain (and not just feed the body).

A Note on the Low Carb Craze

In order to maximize and optimize performance and recovery, athletes need to continually load and reload muscle glycogen stores. This process cannot happen with a low-carbohydrate/high-protein diet. According to Ashley Chambers, M.S. and Len Kravitz, PhD, muscle glycogen is the primary fuel (followed by fat) used by the body during exercise.

Low muscle glycogen stores result in muscle fatigue and the body’s inability to complete high intensity exercise. The depletion of muscle glycogen is also a major contributing factor in acute muscle weakness and reduced force production.

Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise decreased glycogen stores, so the need for carbohydrates is high for all types of exercise during this energy phase. Renowned endurance nutrition expert Asker Jeukendrup, PhD, and Michael Gleeson, PhD mention that there is convincing evidence from numerous studies indicating that carbohydrate feeding during exercise of about 45 minutes or longer can improve endurance capacity and performance.

Workout Smart

If nerves start to set in as the race approaches, it’s not a problem. We just want to be sure to keep them in check. Often times this nervousness translates into, “I have not done enough volume and/or intensity.” And this is when the individual goes off-script and pops a number of workouts that are far too long and intense.

This is the time of the journey when more is not better; rather, smarter is better. It’s time to trust yourself, trust your training and trust your nutrition. You’ve done the work; the money is in the bank. Instead of trying to squeeze in one more workout, let’s focus on keeping the body fueled for success. Your best weapon at this point is to get to the race start well fueled and well rested, as this will set you up for the best success possible.

In summary, if you are ready to take your performance and recovery to new levels as your big race approaches, let’s focus on the three key components: fueling frequency, fueling timing and the balance of carbohydrate-protein-fat at every meal/snack. When we put these three components into motion, we then set the body up for the best success possible.

The post How to Finally Nail Your Nutrition During an IRONMAN Taper (And Every Day Thereafter) appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

Avoiding Mental Sabotage Part 3: How to Fuel Your Confidence

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What is self-confidence? Self-confidence is how strongly you believe in your ability to execute any skill or task on the course. Race-day confidence is crucial to every athlete’s success. Without a high level of confidence, you simply cannot perform at your best —or more importantly, you cannot perform with any level of consistency.

Confidence helps with your overall mental game and race-day strategy, helping you stay calm and composed. Confidence allows you to believe in yourself and perform. Confidence helps you trust in your training, so your overall mental game will be on point when and if the unexpected occurs during your race.

Confidence develops over many years as you practice and compete. It comes from past performances, success, training and careful preparation.

How Do Athletes Gain Confidence?

Athletes get confidence from different areas of their event. Here are a few examples of the common sources of athlete confidence:

Past success in races
A strong work ethic in training
Immediate performance feedback
Positive comments from others
Supportive people in your life
Quality training
Quality coaching
Belief in your own physical talents
Strong technique
Confidence in your conditioning
Your equipment
Your warm-up routine

The SELF in Self-Confidence

The number one way to take control of your own confidence is to be proactive (not reactive) before a race. Proactive confidence means fueling your belief by focusing on your strengths and talents. You want confidence to come from your belief, based on your experience and abilities, not from external sources such as coaches, other competitors or course conditions.

Ask yourself these questions to start building your pre-race confidence:

What are your strengths?
What have you accomplished?
What can you say about your training routine?
What can you say about your commitment or work ethic?
What can you say about your mental toughness?
What can you say about your fitness?

Use the answers to these questions to help you fuel your confidence just like you fuel your body before a race. Remind yourself of your talents, abilities and strengths instead of holding onto reasons to not perform well in the race.

Controlling Doubt and Other Confidence Killers

Besides using the benefit of proactive confidence, you’ll want to understand the top confidence killers and how they can affect you. Your biggest confidence killer is your own self-doubt. Doubt is the exact opposite of confidence. If you question or doubt your ability, you hurt confidence. So you want to be aware when you begin to doubt your ability. You’ll also want to know the other top confidence killers that might suppress your performance, including:

Making comparisons to competitors who you think are better
Being overly critical of your performance
Negative imagery prior to events
Worrying about what others think about your race
Setting unrealistic goals
Not committing a proper race plan
Not preparing properly- physically, mentally, equipment and nutrition
Not being in the moment

Recognize any of these confidence killers that you may be doing in your training or racing. Address each of them, one at a time, so you can keep a high level of confidence leading into any event.


At any time, you are either thinking positively about your performance or focusing on doubts that undermine your confidence. We suggest that you focus on the thoughts and feelings about your upcoming performance by using the idea of becoming more proactive with your confidence. Don’t wait until your performance feels good or you are hitting certain numbers, instead take the time to be proactive about fueling your confidence.

No one can help you feel confident but yourself—don’t rely on others, or compare yourself to others and use them as your barometer for success. Proactive confidence comes from positive self-talk, controlling the images in your mind, moving on from your mistakes, and quickly cutting off doubts, expectations and any other thoughts that may destroy your confidence going into your next event.

Stay on top of your game with our continuing series on the “6 Ways Athletes Sabotage Their Race Day Success.” Learn valuable mental skills, including how to successfully manage your race day expectations. Stay tuned for part four, where we will show you how not to be so results-driven with your training and racing.

The post Avoiding Mental Sabotage Part 3: How to Fuel Your Confidence appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

Announcing the New Home View for Coaches

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You are a busy coach who needs to work as efficiently as possible—each extra click is time lost. By providing you with an easy way to monitor and communicate with your athletes, you can spend less time clicking and more time doing what you love, which is helping your athletes achieve their dreams. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce your new Home view, the place for busy coaches to review their athletes and quickly determine, “Who needs my attention?”

What is Home view?


With all you have on your plate day-to-day, from planning for athletes, analyzing their data, or even just your general communication with them … sometimes things slip through the cracks.

Compliance at a glance


Quickly see which of your athletes have completed their workouts successfully, which athletes have or haven’t uploaded data (or if the data was off target) based on the colored compliance dots. You can also get an idea of who needs workouts planned in the upcoming days by viewing the light grey dots (darker grey means there is a workout planned).


To dive in deeper to an individual athlete’s status, simply click their name to expand details, including their next event, their upcoming goals, and their current fitness, fatigue and form. To access an athlete’s workout calendar, simply click on the calendar icon at the top right.

In this expanded view there is also a place for your own private athlete notes (visible only to you). For example, if you need to make note of an athlete’s travel status, or if a particular workout calls to attention the need for more work in a certain area, you now have a simple way to record this for your own future reference.



In order to help your athletes achieve their goals, you need to know how they are handling their training load, and whether or not they are improving. In the new Home view you can receive alerts when an athlete records a negative metric or sets a new threshold. Clicking on the alert will launch the appropriate action, such as applying the new threshold or viewing when the metric was logged.

Activity feed


View the recent activity for a group of athletes, or a selected athlete, then use the icons at the top right of the activity feed to filter by uploaded and/or changed workouts, logged metrics or recent comments.

Less time clicking, more time coaching

In conclusion, with the new Home view, it is easier than ever to keep track of all of your athletes in the most efficient way possible. You can easily see who needs your attention, how your athletes are progressing—and which athlete just reached a new milestone on the way to their next event. With Home view, you now have more time to do what you love—help athletes reach their goals.

Try the coach home now!

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