Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Remember to warm-up when it's cold!

You may laugh at my structured warm-up routines before we run but with temperatures plummeting a proper warm-up becomes even more important. If we take the Achilles tendon as an example. The Achilles tendon is a structure that is commonly injured in sports involving running and jumping. Paratendenitis is a specific condition affecting the Achilles tendon that results in inflammation of the paratenon which is the tissue that immediately surrounds the tendon. There is an increased risk of Achilles paratendinitis during cold weather outdoor training due to the effect of temperature on the microstructure of the paratenon. If you are interested in why this is I have put the geeky science stuff at the end of the blog.

It may be tempting to skip your warm-up because of the cold conditions and instead just 'get going to stay warm'. You might be putting yourself at risk of developing an injury. You could warm-up indoors by getting on your turbo-trainer or rollers before heading outdoors or dig out your old skipping rope and jump rope to warm-up. Don't forget your running drills to target different areas more specifically in preparation for running. Most can be performed on the spot inside if need be.

You will see to the right of this blog that I have added the events that we plan to compete in as a club. Not everyone will compete in every race obviously but these are the races that a number of you have signed up for already. In addition we may be joining the London League. This would be a great way to support other local clubs and compete as a team. We're not concerned about winning, more about participation, so don't be afraid to join in. Not all the races for next year's London League have been announced. These are the dates and races from this year:

05 Apr - Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlon
18 Apr - Dragon Slayer Duathlon
24 Apr - Ful-On Duathlon
09 May - Morden 6n6 Aquathlon
23 May - Crystal Palace Sprint Triathlon
18 Jul - Hillingdon Sprint Triathlon
14 Aug - Clash of the Tritons Aquathlon
31 Oct Jekyll & Hyde Park Duathlon

2011 dates and races are to be confirmed. The main thing we need to consider as a club is that we can get at least four and preferably five or more club members competing in each event. We must also have at least one female and one veteran (+40 years). A veteran female athlete can cover both requirements. Have a think about it and let us know if you are keen by leaving a comment below or by using Facebook.

Filepe Elias, originally from Itapetininga in Brazil, approached me with a great idea. He would like to run a two week training camp in his home town in 160km southwest of Sao Paulo. To make it worth while the training camp would be about two weeks long. Filepe's home town has great lakes for swimming and rolling hills for cycling and running. There would also be an emphasis on nutrition with locally sourced products and we would participate in local races in the weekend. Planning is in it's very early stages but if you are interested leave a comment at the end of this blog. It sounds like fun to me!

This week's swim session is technique focussed. We will be using both fins and pull buoys so please make sure you bring yours! If you have paddles you can bring those too and we can use them in the session if you wish. The weather is likely to remain cold so feel free to wear your wetsuit or at least consider two swim caps and warm clothing to put on after the session. As long as the Lido is open the swim session will go ahead. The run may be cancelled if conditions are not safe.

See ya, Tim (LFTC Coach).

PS. Geeky science stuff:

The Achilles paratenon membranes are rich in mucopolysaccharides which serve as a lubricant for gliding of the tendon and epitenon. Decreased temperature may increase the viscosity of the lubricant and thereby increases friction and risk for Achilles paratendinitis. This relationship illustrates why 'warming up' before exercising may be important in lowering the incidence of Achilles paratendinitis (Milgrom et al 2003). Want to see what the structure of tendon looks like? Click here.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Well the Saturday ride is looking a little sketchy due to the weather. If there is any chance of ice or snow on the roads I suggest you put it off for another day. I have hit black ice before in this area when out riding with Guy (see previous blog here) and sustained some pretty nasty injuries. The roads in this area are generally not salted or gritted as they are minor roads. Please consider whether it is worth the risk. If in doubt it probably isn't.

Two reasons why you should join the British Triathlon Federation (BTF) if you have not already. Coach Karl and Rob Gratze! Both were recently involved in accidents while cycling. The drivers involved were at fault. Both are getting free legal advice thanks to their BTF memberships. And if you need a third reason you will get cheaper race entry or a refund of £5 when you enter some races as you will have a race licence through your BTF membership and will not have to purchase a day licence. That £5 could buy you your post-race fish and chips at the North Norfolk Triathlon! Oh, reason number four, the BTF were also voted sporting governing body of the year in 2010.

We have had people turning up late to swim sessions recently. You are putting yourself at risk by not completing an appropriate warm up when joining the session late. From a coaching perspective it is also disruptive. Karl has suggested a push up penalty. I think if you are late you should have to buy the coach an almond croissant following the session. Please be at the Lido ready to go through the gate at 8am on the dot and you should be in the water no later that 8:10am.

We are not going to have a centre lane this week again. It does require a little more 'lane etiquette'. Please be aware of your position in the lane while swimming. Swim up the lane close to the lane rope or poolside to avoid overcrowding in the middle of the lane. It is going to be cold on Sunday. You might like to consider wearing two swim caps. Feel free to wear your wetsuit if you have a tendency to get cold or just feel like a bit of a change. This weekend is our threshold session for our higher volume lane. So not much chance of getting cold then! Our lower volume lane will be working on breathing, body position and developing the catch phase of the stroke. Karl has requested you bring watches for the run session. You can use the pace clock in the pool while swimming.

I made a mistake a couple of weeks ago. Matt and Allison did the 10km not the half-marathon event at the Coastal Trail Run Series event on the Gower Peninsula. I was right about Matt only being three minutes ahead of Allison though. You can blame Tim Pratt for dobbing you in!

See you Sunday morning. No late comers please. I really don't want that almond croissant! Not. Tim (LFTC Coach).

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Social, prizes, club ride...a mixed bag!

It was great to see on Friday night that the social side of the club is well and truly alive and kicking (see photos here for proof). I was reminded on Friday by Alex that she too completed the Nice Marathon. Nice work Alex Adames! You did 3:12 didn't you Alex? 'Chicked' Dan by 3mins if I recall correctly. As it was Friday night there is every chance that I have not recalled that correctly. The night ended with a group hug and Amanda 'Minky' Wilmer making a speech that would have made a grown man cry about what a fabulous bunch of people the club has attracted. Are we putting 'Minky' on your trisuit Amanda?

Just in case you missed the social on Friday and didn't make the training session on Sunday Karl and I gave out a few "coach's awards" to a number of club members who have made great progress over the past year. Laura Turner received the Most Improved Swim Award; Sebastian Arroyave received the Most Improved Bike Award; Russell Webley received the Most Improved Run Award and Lindsey Smith received the Coach's Triathlete of the Year Award. There are any number of people who could have received awards. We had people completing their first ever triathlon, people stepping up a distance for the first time and people showing great strength of character when injury prevented them from training and competing as they had hoped to. Big ups to you all!

A few club members are heading out for a ride on Saturday morning. The route they will follow can be seen by clicking here. The plan is to catch the 8:48am train from Hackney Downs to St. Margarets (Herts). The ride starts and finishes at St. Margarets train station. As it is an out and back course you can choose how long you ride for. I suggest you take the route via Stocking Pelham as written in the second comment in the link above. Some of us, who have done the ride a number of times, turn around at Ickleton which is an 85km ride in total. Not everyone will be riding this far obviously. If you choose to take part you must be completely responsible for yourself in terms of food, hydration, route map, spares/puncture repair kit, appropriate clothing etc.

A little feedback from today. The new lane set up worked well but there are a few things we could do to improve it. When swimming up the outside of the lane keep close to the lane rope/poolside to avoid forcing everyone towards the centre. When tumble-turning take care not to push off straight back into someone who may be right on your toes but rather push off on an angle. If someone taps you on the toes let them pass you when you get to the end of the pool. Take care when passing, check the way is safe first and if you are nearly finished your rep/set think about holding back a little to avoid having to pass at all.

I had someone say to me today that they were concerned they were holding people up. Don't worry if you feel this way. Our sessions are self-paced. You swim, bike or run at your speed. If we ask for an 80% effort don't be tempted to work harder to keep up with a faster club mate. Save the competition for the races. This brings me to my final point and that is I am concerned some of you may be pushing yourselves too hard at this time of the year. I realise that a number of you have set some big goals for next season including Ironman distance events over the summer but that does not mean you need to be putting in huge miles or double run sessions at this stage of the year. We may not be able to give you personalised training programs at this point but we can give you advice or point you in the right direction. Don't be afraid to ask.

Phew, that's it from me. See you Tuesday or Sunday or both. Tim (LFTC Coach)

Thursday, 18 November 2010


A reminder that we celebrate the end of our 1st year in Pub On The Park this Friday!

We'll be there from 7ish

There will be prizes!

And, as it's a pub, there's a bar!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Some fine performances

There have been some massive achievements by members of the club in recent weeks. Scott McKenna and Dan King both ran 3hr 15min marathons in New York and Nice respectively. Well done lads! That is a great time for a marathon. Scott also completed his Level 1 Triathlon Coach qualification a couple off weeks ago. Seb Balcombe will be completing the same qualification this weekend.

Matt 'the Fish' Tilbrook, Allison 'the Fishette' McLean and Tim Pratt ran the half-marathon distance Coastal Trail Run Series event on the Gower Peninsula. Matt snuck in 3mins ahead of Allison. You'll get him by the end of the series Allison! Christina ran the 10km event (that actually measured more like 13km). Nice work! Christina even made it to training on Tuesday night. She's pretty tough. If you haven't heard about the series take a look here. They are very well run events in some beautiful locations.

On Tuesday night at our regular run session, on Well Street Common, for the first time ever at any of our training sessions the female athletes outnumbered the male athletes! Triathlon is a very inclusive sport but if you look at the number of males versus females participating in events there is still quite a difference. We would like to think we are doing our bit to close the gender gap by providing the right training environment to attract both sexes to the sport and it looks like it might just be working.

This Sunday's swim session will be more fitness based so bring a good set of lungs. Last week we had a 100% strike rate with people bringing fins and about 80% bringing a pull buoy. The Lido's supply of pull buoys is dwindling so please do your best to bring your own. There are a number of people on the waiting list for the session so if you can't make it please let the club know. Those people on the waiting list might like to come along at 8am, swim in a puplic lane but follow the club's session plan and then join us for the run.

This month if you buy 22oTriathlon you get a free indoor cycle training dvd to keep you entertained while on the turbo trainer or rollers when the weather turns really nasty. Could be worth a look at least.

It's the club's first shindig this Friday night at the Pub on the Park so make sure you get along there. You just might pick up one of the coach's awards! Tim (LFTC Coach)

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sunday's technique session

It was a great swim session this morning. From a coaching perspective I saw some very positive changes in front crawl technique in a number of you that will allow you to swim faster and more efficiently. There was also some very positive feedback from you guys with regard to the lane set-up and structure of the session. Just in case you would like to repeat it in your own time here it is for future reference.

Warm Up:
  • 2x 50m front crawl + 50m breast stroke
Main Set:
  • 2-3x 50m kicking on back with fins arms extended overhead + 50m front crawl
  • 2-3x 50m kicking on side with fins (2x breaths then roll to opposite side) + 50m front crawl
  • 2x 150m swim as 25m scull #1 with pool buoy into 25m front crawl, 25m scull #2 into 25m front crawl, 25m scull #3 into 25m front crawl
  • 2x 100m swim as 25m doggy paddle into 25m front crawl
  • 2-3x 100m single arm front crawl with fins (roll to opposite side every 25m)
  • 2x 300m front crawl (no fins, no pull buoy) with emphasis on technique i.e. staying long and streamlined with a good catch and pull
Cool Down:
  • 50m front crawl, 50m back stroke, 50m front crawl, 50m back stroke keeping it nice and easy
The session above is slightly longer than the one we did today. If you swim in the technique lane choose 2x where you have the option. If you swim in the high volume lane choose 3x where you have the option. The 2x 300m at the end are optional. It is quite nice to see how your stroke feels after completing all the drills. Hopefully you feel like you are flying along! Not sure what a good catch is all about? Swim Smooth have some great videos and information on their website. I mentioned 'putting the brakes on' to a number of you and you can see what I mean in one of the videos. Click here if you would like to check it out.

Don't forget the club social this Friday at the Pub on the Park from 7pm. See you then. Tim (LFTC Coach)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


Anyone who visits the lido will recognise the fantastic prints of cold swimmers, including our coach Tim.

If interested, the pic's are being auctioned for charity, info below...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

A little more about winter training.

How many times during a post-race interview when asked, 'What has been the big difference in your training that has lead to this success?' have you heard an athlete say 'I had a really good winter'. A good winter? What do they mean? A good example would be Alistair Brownlee. In 2009 he had great preparation over winter, building his fitness and remaining injury free. He was unbeaten in every race he entered in the ITU World Championship Series. Contrast that with this year when he developed a stress fracture in his leg over the winter and his winter training suffered as a result and he had a much less consistent year. There were other complications such as illness during the competition period and he did make a remarkable comeback but he was not quite the same unbeatable athlete of the year before.

Winter is all about trying to turn your body into an economical fat burning machine that is resistant to injury. This means performing the majority of your workouts in the 'aerobic zones', building strength and improving technique across all three disciplines. When I say strength I mean not only muscular strength but also the strength of bones, tendons and connective tissues. These tissues will adapt to the stress being placed on them through appropriate training and recovery. Winter training is not just about going long and slow though. At the same time we do not want to lose all the speed we established in the previous race season so some faster paced sessions are still beneficial. These are the sessions we perform as a club on Tuesday and Sunday. Building speed at this stage of the year is not the priority.

The BTF uses five 'training intensity zones' based on a percentage of maximum heart rate (% MHR). The majority of your training over winter training will be in Zone 1 which is up to 65% MHR and Zone 2 which is between 65 and 90% MHR. If you have never performed a test to establish your MHR you can use a Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE). This is generally expressed on a scale of 6-20. If you want to know a little more about RPE click here. Zone 1 is between 10-13 (light to moderately hard) and Zone 2 is between 13-16 (moderately hard to hard). After you have had a break and are ready to return to structured training most of your sessions should be in Zone 1 and then moving into the lower end of Zone 2. Later, as your fitness improves more of your sessions will be performed at the upper end of Zone 2. It can get a lot more technical than this if you are interested!

I am on a course this Tuesday and may not make the run session at Well Street Common. There will be people keen to train so you can still run as a group. Here is the plan: Warm up: 1km easy jog Technique drills: perform over 15-20m with a jog back recovery and repeat each 2x
  1. Mini skips - small hop on one foot then the other
  2. Heel flicks - high cadence picking heels up under the buttocks
  3. High knees - high cadence bringing knees up to hip height
  4. Big skips - just like you did as a kid but going for height and length
Main set: Remember 1km is one loop of the usual course
  1. 1x3km @ 10km pace + 2mins recovery
  2. 1x2km @ 5km pace + 90sec recovery
  3. 1x1km @ 3km pace
Cool down: 1km easy jog and static stretches

Not everyone agrees with the winter base training philosophy I have outlined very briefly above. I would be interested to hear your thoughts so feel free to leave comments.

See you Sunday if not Tuesday. Tim (LFTC Coach)