EPC Tips - Swim Session

EPC Tips – Base Build Swim Session

After your mid-season break (see last week’s post) it’s time to begin your second build and peak of the season. The second half of your training and racing season is structured much like the first with a base period that focuses on general aerobic and strength development, followed by a race prep phase that trains the higher intensities and/or volumes, and a peak phase that gets you ready to perform on race day. The difference with this second build is that it can be and usually is much shorter and more condensed than your first build of the season. This is due to the fact that you are coming off a much more recent peak and a short rest break compared to the longer break that comes at the end of the race season, so your fitness is likely much higher to begin with. Also your next peak probably isn’t that far off in the future likely being only 2-4 months away (compared to 6 or more months that is typical over the winter months for a summer event), so there is little time to lose and you must get back to work!

The first block of training for the second build, as mentioned earlier, is to re-visit some aerobic training.

If you’ve been training for a sub-5 hour race than you’ve likely been doing a lot of higher intensity training over the last few months. High intensity training is great for racing fitness, but over time it can erode aerobic endurance. Not to mention that higher intensity training requires a lot of mental focus and hard work. It’s important to re-visit the less-intense aerobic training to rebuild both the body and mind as aerobic training is typically more enjoyable with the mellower paces/effort required and will recharge your body and mind for more hard work down the road as you prepare for your second peak of the season.

The following swim session is designed for this base building phase of the season. The main set consists of short reps, and a combination of aerobic strength, technique and neuromuscular speed to build a platform from which to improve your swim. With this workout you’ll perform multiple rounds of 5x50s, alternating between pulling  and swimming with a focus on arm-turnover speed. With the pulling 50s you can choose which gear to use (buoy, paddles, snorkel, etc.) while you focus on really reaching, catching the water and pulling all the way through to a pushing finish. The pace is relatively slow while you focus on good mechanics and a strong, complete pull. With the swimming 50s you want to focus on improving (increasing) your stroke rate. Using a metronome is helpful here, but not required. You want to focus on a quick yet smooth stroke. The pace will increase compared to the pulling 50s, but should remain controlled and not as a ‘sprint’ effort. You’ll likely repeat this cycle of 5×50 three or more time through, and try to increase the number of rounds you get through once a week for 3-5 weeks as you rebuild your base for your final races of the season.

WARM-UP:

  • 400 easy choice
  • 6x[25 fast kick + 25 swim]

MAIN SET:

Repeat Rounds of:

  • 5×50 strong pull @ 0:15 rests (choice of gear: buoy, paddles, snorkel, etc.)
  • 5×50 fast swim @ 0:15 rests w/ high stroke rate focus (metronome)

WARM DOWN:

  • 200+ easy choice
Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Looking for help with your training for 2015? Check out EPC’s Personal CoachingGroup Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options created to fit your needs and budget. Don’t forget to ‘LIKE’ the EPC Facebook Page and follow Cody on Instagram
EPC Tips - Rest

EPC Tips – The Mid-Season Break

The mid-season break is the key to Fall success…

This week’s workout is NO workout at all! That’s right. It’s time to rest, recover and rejuvenate. Training all year long and racing from spring through fall is a big endeavor for anyone, including the pros. Planning a small break from training within the year is crucial for long-term success. Much like you take some time off at the end of your season to rest and get away from the rigors of regular training before the start of the new season; taking a short break in the middle of your season does the same thing.

It allows you to let go for a short period of time and get rested and recovered so you are ready to take on the second half of your season with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

At the end of the season you may take 2, 3, or even 4 weeks off from training. For your midseason break only 5-10 days is needed to get the benefits of the time off while not losing any fitness. In fact you’ll likely come back stronger than you were before the break even though you’ll mentally feel like you’ve lost fitness. Time your break to follow the biggest race of the first part of your season. Typically this will fall in June or July. After the race  plan to stay away from swim-bike-run for the next week. Sleep in, catch up on the things you’ve been putting off, spend time with your loved ones and enjoy the time off. The first few days you’ll really enjoy the time off. After about 3 to 4 days you’ll likely get antsy about not training and feeling like you’re losing fitness. RELAX. Stay the course and finish out the week of no training. At the end of the week you’ll be super fresh and eager to get back after it.

As a result, your training quality will be improved as you begin the second half of your season.

Lets face it, all the BIG races occur in the second half of the season. After your mini-break, and with your renewed enthusiasm, you can take some time to get some quality training time in as you build to your highest peak of fitness at just the right time. World Championships, anyone?

Speaking of Championships…If you’ve qualified for XTERRA USA and/or XTERRA World Champs, get your training on track with our 2015 XTERRA Championship Group Coaching Program.
Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Looking for help with your training for 2015? Check out EPC’s Personal CoachingGroup Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options created to fit your needs and budget. Don’t forget to ‘LIKE’ the EPC Facebook Page and follow Cody on Instagram!
EPC Tips Run Intervals

EPC Tips – VO2 Max Interval Run

Training the Vo2 Max energy system is hard work. You can do longer intervals that build you into your Vo2 Max energy system over the first 2 minutes and then you hold it there for another 1-3 minutes, take a long rest and repeat (5×5:00 w/ 4:00 recoveries for example). Or you can do shorter intervals with very short recovery intervals that gradually build you into the Vo2 energy system over the first several intervals and then basically keep you the energy system in an “on-off” fashion for the remainder of the main set. The following session addresses the later example.

I find this method to feel a little “easier” and more manageable as the work is broken up into small segments with partial recoveries to break it up, but at the same time keep things moving.

In the main set below you’ll see the work interval durations are very short at only 200m and the recovery intervals are even shorter at 100m. The concept here is that you run very fast for each 200m interval (roughly around 2k pace) and run very easy for the 100m segments and then repeat 10-20 times through. With each interval you will run the same speeds while your exertion level (and HR) will continue to rise. The short partial-recoveries between them allows your HR to come down a little before you launch into the next work interval, but keep it high enough that you get back into the Vo2 energy system quickly upon the start of the next interval. As the workout progresses you reach your Vo2 Max energy system typically around 5-6th interval and then remain training that energy system for the remainder of the main set.

You can do this session as a stand-alone run workout or as a run off the bike to make it even more triathlon specific as you approach your goal events.

If you run off the bike, you’ll lean more towards the shorter end of the number of intervals (as you’ll likely have done some work on the bike prior to the run) or if you’re just running, you’ll lean towards the higher end of the number of intervals. I recommend doing this workout for the final 3-5 weeks leading into your goal events, before you begin your taper/recovery period. As you progress each week, you can choose to add more intervals (from 12 to 16 for example) or lengthen the intervals (to 400m work, 200m recovery) for higher training load. This is fast training, so don’t jump in head first. Rather take time to gradually build the load from moderate to heavy as you go week to week. Words of wisdom: A little bit goes a long way and too much will hurt you more than help you. Good luck!

Stand-alone WARM-UP:

  • 5:00 Dynamic Warm-Up
  • 10-15:00 easy run
  • 4:00 build to tempo pace
  • 2:00 walk
  • 4x[0:15 strides, 0:45 walk]

Off-the-bike WARM-UP: 

  • 4:00 build to race pace
  • 1:00 walk

MAIN SET:

  • 10-20x[200m (or time equivalent) @ ~2k pace, 100m (or time equivalent) jog]

WARM-DOWN:

  • 2:00 walk
  • 5-10:00 easy run
  • 3:00 walk
Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Looking for help with your training for 2015? Check out EPC’s Personal CoachingGroup Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options created to fit your needs and budget.  Don’t forget to ‘LIKE’ the EPC Facebook Page and follow Cody on Instagram
EPC Power Intervals

EPC Tips – Anaerobic Power Intervals

This is a personal favorite session of mine to build the top-end anaerobic power required for off-road racing. The nature of off-road racing requires very hard efforts well above our steady state “race pace.”  These hard efforts in a race where anaerobic power is required are frequently the crucial points in the race that make or break your finishing position. Being able to go into the “red zone” for brief periods of time and recover between them is critical to racing success. This type of training is also beneficial for steady-state on-road racing as well because it pushes you out of your comfort zone in a controlled environment to improve your overall fitness and efficiency.

By training the anaerobic power zone (120-180% of threshold power) you will become accustomed to the efforts making them more manageable on race day and making effort levels under this power much more tolerable.

Heart rate is not useful when training this energy system as the intensity is very high for very relatively short periods of time. Your heart rate will lag behind the effort/intensity you are putting forth. Training with a power meter is the most effective way to perform these types of intervals. Perceived exertion is next best option. The effort is not an “all out” effort, but rather a very hard controlled effort for the interval duration. Notice that the intervals are set at 25% of the duration of the max power/effort for the energy system being trained (accompanied with relatively large recovery intervals). This makes the intervals feel relatively tolerable despite the high output.

WARM-UP:

  • 10:00+ easy
  • 5:00 build to threshold power
  • 3:00 easy

MAIN SET:

1-3 Rounds* of the following set:

  • 4x [0:15 @ 1:00 maximum power (appx. 170-180% of threshold power), 0:45 recoveries]
  • 5:00 easy
  • 4x [0:30 @ 2:00 max power (appx. 140-150% of threshold power), 1:30 recoveries]
  • 5:00 easy
  • 4x [1:00 @ 4:00 max power (appx. 120-130% of threshold power), 2:00 recoveries]

* if doing multiple rounds, take 10:00+ easy between rounds

WARM-DOWN:

  • additional riding to meet volume goals
  • 5-10:00 easy spin
Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Looking for help with your training for 2015? Check out EPC’s Personal CoachingGroup Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options created to fit your needs and budget. Don’t forget to ‘LIKE’ the EPC Facebook Page and follow Cody on Instagram
EPC Tips Swim Set

EPC Tips – Speed Building Swim Set

Crank up the pace with this speed building set.

The main set of this session focuses on some fast paces broken up into smaller chunks to make the fast swimming more manageable. For this workout you will need to know what your maximum 400 yard/meter pace is, what your maximum 200 y/m pace is, and what your maximum 100 y/m pace is. The best way to know these for sure is to perform individual time trials of these distances as a test set within your training program. Then once armed with these paces, you can train specific to them and over time make improvements in the times. Becoming faster at short distances improves your overall swim efficiency and economy and gets you familiar with swimming above your extended distance race paces which helps with starts, turn buoys, bridging gaps, and finishing strong.

You’ll notice that as the paces get faster the rest intervals increase to allow you to be able to swim the faster paces. Be sure to take adequate rest (more as needed) on these so you can really swim fast! Most endurance athletes are not accustomed to training at maximum or near maximum effort so it may take some patience to take the required rest, and will definitely take some strong mental focus to hit the last set of 100s at maximum 100 pace. It’s time to crank it!

WARM-UP:

  • 400 easy
  • 4×100 snorkel, buoy, band @ 70%
  • 4×100 snorkel, band @ 80%
  • 4×100 swim @ 90%

MAIN-SET:

  • 4×100 @ 400 pace, 0:30 rests
  • 100 easy
  • 4×100 @ 200 pace, 1:00 rests
  • 100 easy
  • 4×100 @ 100 pace, 1:30 rests
  • 100 easy

WARM-DOWN:

  • 200-800 easy pull w/ choice of gear
Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Looking for help with your training for 2015? Check out EPC’s Personal CoachingGroup Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options created to fit your needs and budget.  Don’t forget to ‘LIKE’ the EPC Facebook Page and follow Cody on Instagram
EPC Run

EPC Tips – Quality Run: Tempo+

The “tempo run” is a staple in most run (and triathlon) training programs. The term “tempo” in running typically revolves around 10k pace for most runners and maybe up to 21k pace for faster elite level runners. Basically it’s the pace that has you hovering right around (or just under) your lactate threshold; a sustainable hard pace/effort. There are many aerobic and muscular endurance benefits to tempo run sessions, which is why they are so popular in training programs, and important sessions for runners and triathletes of all distances.

As you near your goal races, particularly if your goal races are 5k-21k in length, another quality run session to include as a progression from tempo runs (and/or a bridge to Vo2 max sessions) is what I call the “tempo +” session.

This session targets a slightly faster pace than typical tempo runs, closer to 5k pace.

This helps to train the extra speed that can bring a nice boost of fitness before an key event. The paces are faster with the tempo+ session, but the intervals are shorter than typical tempo sessions. This example starts with 400m repeats as the main set. You can increase this interval distance to 800m, 1200m, 1600m, etc. over several weeks as you adapt to the faster running. As you lengthen the intervals, maintain the same 90 second recovery walk/jog between the reps. Most athletes should aim for 2-4 miles of 5k pace running (ex. 6x800m), while faster runners could consider 4-6 miles of total tempo+ pace running intervals (ex. 5x1600m).  This session can be done just about anywhere with a relatively flat surface: treadmill, track, road, trail.

WARM-UP:

  • 5:00 Dynamic Warm-Up
  • 10-15:00 easy run
  • 4:00 build to tempo pace
  • 2:00 walk
  • 4x[0:15 strides, 0:45 walk]

MAIN SET:

  • 8-12x[400m (or time equivalent) @ ~5k pace, 1:30 walk/jog]
  • 200m (or time equivalent) max effort

WARM-DOWN:

  • 2:00 walk
  • 5-10:00 easy run
  • 3:00 walk

(60-90 minutes total workout time)

Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Looking for help with your training for 2015? Check out EPC’s Personal CoachingGroup Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options created to fit your needs and budget.  Don’t forget to ‘LIKE’ the EPC Facebook Page and follow Cody on Instagram
EPC Tips Threshold

EPC Tips – Super Threshold Bike Session

This ‘pyramid’ interval session on the bike targets the ‘super-threshold’ zone for getting familiar with efforts over your lactate threshold. The bulk of the main set targets efforts at, and just above, your threshold power. Then you finish with a few short blasts  at your Vo2 Max to Anaerobic Power zones to prepare for (or maintain) the higher intensity efforts. Designed to be done on the trainer, this session can also be easily modified for outdoor riding on both the road or the trail.

WARM-UP:

  • 10:00 spin-up to max cadence
  • 2:00 easy
  • 5:00 build to threshold power
  • 3:00 easy

MAIN SET:

  • 2-3x[1:00/2:00/3:00/2:00/1:00 @ strong effort (100-110% threshold power/zone 4-5), 1:30 easy between each interval]
  • 5:00 bonus rest between each set
  • 1x[0:30/0:45/1:00/0:45/0:30 @ hard effort (120-150% threshold power/zone 5), on a 2:00 interval]

WARM-DOWN:

  • 5:00 @ high cadence (110+ rpm)
  • 5:00 spin-down

Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Looking for help with your training for 2015? Check out EPC’s Personal CoachingGroup Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options created to fit your needs and budget.

EPC Swim Tips

EPC Tips – Race Pace Swim Session

With race season upon us it’s time to get race-specific with your training. Dial in your XTERRA race pace swimming with this key swim session. The main set consists of a broken-800 and broken-1600, at 800 and 1600 pace, respectively. Dial in your race tempo and go!

WARM-UP:
– Snorkel, buoy, band… 300/200/100 easy
– Snorkel, band… 150/100/50 moderate

MAIN SET:
– 4×200 @ 800 pace, 0:20 rests
– 100 easy
– 4×400 @ 1600 pace, 0:40 rests

WARM-DOWN:
– 100 easy

The XTERRA Workout of the Week is written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Looking for help with your training for 2015? Check out EPC’s Personal CoachingGroup Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options created to fit your needs and budget.

EPC Tips - Warm ups

EPC Tips – Warming Up and Warm Downs

With race season rapidly approaching and training sessions shifting into high gear, maximizing your efforts and post-effort recovery, as well as staying healthy and injury free are crucial to continuing to build your fitness and maximizing performance. Warm-up and warming-down are two components to incorporate into your daily training sessions as the intensities increase and racing takes off.

Prior to beginning and upon completion of every workout and/or race, a proper warm-up and warm-down must be performed. These two components of your training program allow you to gain the most out of every individual training session. In addition to the physiological benefits there are also psychological benefits of warming-up and warming-down. During these times you can mentally prepare yourself for the workout ahead by thinking through the work you will be doing, the goals you have for the training session and the target measurements you are seeking. Frequently neglected by the busy and rushed athlete, there is much to be gained from incorporating a proper warm-up and warm-down into all of your training sessions.

Warming Up

A properly performed warm-up consists of gradually raising the intensity of movement from a very slow pace to a faster pace over a specific period of time. The highest pace you reach during your warm-up is typically up to and sometimes just over your anticipated training zones for the session. The early part of the warm-up is perfect for practicing some technique or form drills while the intensity is still low and slow. The gradual increase in intensity allows for improved blood-flow to your working muscles and slowly raises your core temperature to optimal levels. This increase in blood-flow and core-temp allows your body to prepare itself for the work ahead while reducing the chance of injury.

The amount of time the warm-up requires relates to the both the duration and anticipated intensity of your workout or race.

In general, the more intense your workout the longer your warm-up. Also shorter workouts often require longer warm-ups, especially if the intensity will also be high. For a low-intensity endurance workout the warm-up can often be a substantial part of the entire workout. For example, if you are heading out for a three hour aerobic ride your intensity may not exceed that of your “warm-up intensity.” Likewise let’s say you are going to do three 20-minute tempo intervals within that three-hour ride, you might ride the first hour of the ride as your warm-up, gradually raising your heart-rate up near your expected interval-pace heart-rate prior to beginning your specific intervals. As a rule-of-thumb often the longer your workout, the longer your warm-up period, as the warm-up itself can be aerobic training.

The length of your warm-up prior to a race is typically more condensed and more specific. The guideline to follow prior to racing is the shorter the race, the longer and more intense your warm-up. So for a 20k time trial or sprint triathlon your warm-up could be as long or longer than the actual duration of your race! During this time you will also get your heart-rate level very high, right up and possibly a little higher than the effort you will be racing at. On the other hand, prior to an eight hour endurance race your warm-up may only consist of lightly riding around the start area or similar light activity to prior to the start.

Air temperature also plays a role in the length of your warm-up. The hotter it is the shorter your warm-up, and the cooler it is the longer your warm-up will need to be. This correlates directly to your core body temperature and getting it high enough to race well, but not too high to fatigue you. Often before a hot race your warm-up might be less than half the duration than normal. Before a cold race you will definitely want to wear several layers of clothing to help raise your core-temp and in some cases you may want to warm-up indoors or on a stationary training device that allows you to get your core-temp up higher more easily than outside in the elements.

Aside from loosening up your muscles, reducing chances of injury and simply feeling better after warming-up, the warm-up also allows your metabolism to warm-up to ensure that you maximize your fat-burning capabilities allowing for an effective workout or race. If you skip your warm-up and jump right into your main training objective or even perform too short of a warm-up, you can easily cause your metabolism to rely on sugar for fuel to quickly and this high sugar burning emphasis can remain for the entire duration of the workout causing you to not effectively burn fat as well as have you fatigue more quickly. By warming-up gradually you stay in your fat-burning zone and build your aerobic base more effectively, even during a high-intensity training session! So to become an efficient fat-burning, aerobic endurance machine, the proper warm-up is critical to success.

Warming Down

Equally important to the training process is an effective warm-down. The warm-down at the end of your workout or race allows your body to return to a resting state gradually. This process allows for the clearing of byproducts associated with high-intensity energy production, allows blood to return to all of the areas of the body that it was diverted from as your intensity increased, and allows your heart rate to return to a lower state, thereby minimizing cardiac stress and pooling of blood in the lower extremities.

The length of the warm-down corresponds to the intensity of the workout you are just completing. The higher the intensity the longer the warm-down needs to be. As with the warm-up, the warm-down can make up a large duration of longer workout, especially if there were higher-intensity work intervals within the ride. However, the warm-down is rarely as long as the warm-up within the same workout. The warm-down should be long enough to bring the heart-rate down close to the pre-workout heart-rates prior to beginning the workout. Rarely will you get your heart-rate all the way down to pre-workout levels as the body will be in recovery mode after a workout and will be left with a higher post-exercise resting heart-rate due to the “recovering” going on by the body. This is especially true with the higher the intensity training or racing that occurred. The most effective warm-down strategy involves simply slowing down over the course of several minutes, allowing the heart-rate and body-temp to decrease.

A proper warm-down will allow the body time to clear waste products produced during high-intensity energy production as well flushing the working muscles with oxygenated blood to begin the recovery process after intense training sessions.

As you slow down, your muscles will require less and less blood to function and allowing blood to return to other areas of your body. A gradual return to normal blood flow prevents the pooling of blood commonly found after abruptly stopping after a hard training session. This pooling of blood is stressful on the cardiac system as well as causes increased inflammation and muscle stiffness requiring increased recovery time following a workout. By incorporating a warm-down at the end of all your training sessions you will not only feel better but you will be helping your body increase it’s own natural recovery process thereby allowing for a more consistent training program and faster progression.