Saturday, 10 December 2011

Is that long run really what you need?

I am a big fan of Matt Dixon, Purple Patch Fitness, who coaches a number of pro triathletes and writes for a number of fitness magazines including Triathlete Europe. While I do not agree with everything he says, for me too much is made of 'core stability', I thought this article about marathon training would be useful for you to read. A number of you are training for marathons and half-marathons so please take the time to read the article and digest it. Perhaps even leave a few comments. Go on be daring!

I think Matt's 'Pillars of Training' are a very good concept. The four pillars in relation to marathon and half-marathon training are: run training; recovery; functional strength and nutrition. In this case core stability sits within functional strength which in my opinion is where it should sit. More on this in coming weeks. I see a lot of people pay too much attention to the first pillar and neglect the rest. The number of times I ask someone 'Do you do much in the way of strength training?' and the reply is 'No, I get that from running don't I?' While running will certainly helps build running specific strength, functional strengthening can help build strength in areas that need it, areas that running may cause injury.

Recovery is also an often overlooked pillar. Have a look at your own training plans. Do you have adequate recovery built into the program or is your training load increasing from week to week every week until the taper? Does your long run come at the end of a normal training week where the effect of cumulative fatigue might increase your risk of injury? How will you assist recovery immediately after your long run? Is there adequate recovery built into your program in the days/week after your long run?

Nutrition must also be carefully considered. The timing, quantity and quality of your meals will either help or hinder your performance while training and racing as well as facilitate recovery. Pre and post training fuelling is vital if you are to get the most benefit out of your training sessions and obviously testing your race day fuelling strategy in training is essential. Here is another one of Matt Dixon's articles about nutrition that is worth a read.

This week we will continue our focus on breath timing in the swim session. Check out last weeks blog for some helpful links that will allow you to get a better idea of what is meant by breath timing and why it is so important. Remember your fins and pull buoys as we will be using both in the session. Our run session will be some longer intervals with a short burst of speed. While speed may not be the focus at this time of year there is not harm in doing a little speed work to remind body and mind of what is required to run fast.

See you tomorrow. Late post sorry! Tim (LFTC Coach).

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Injuries and expectations

While I do not believe injuries are an inevitable part of participating in triathlon they are certainly common. Running is the discipline most often associated with injury but injuries do occur across all three disciplines. One of the biggest risk factors for developing an injury is having had an injury in the past. The reason I bring this up is because as coaches it is important you talk to us about a previous injury or an existing injury if you have any concerns about your participating in a session.

I do not routinely ask the entire group if they have any injury concerns prior to a session. The reason I don't do this is two fold. One, some people may not feel comfortable acknowledging that they have an injury in front of the group. Two, it is not practical to discretely ask every single person as an individual if they have an injury concern before we start.

My expectation is that if you have an injury concern you will approach me or Karl prior to a session starting or during the session should you feel any discomfort develop during it. That way you can be as discrete or open about it as you like and we are kept informed and can advise you accordingly. You can of course approach any of our coaches but Karl and I have specific training in this area. Ultimately whether you participate in a session or not or whether you stop participating part way through a session due to injury or not is up to you. Our role is to help you make that decision not make it for you. You are the one that knows your body best after all!

It is a little bit technical but if you are interested in reading about triathlon related injuries take a look

This week we will be looking at breath timing. The most common observation from the poolside with regard to breath timing is the tendency for people to breathe two late in the stroke cycle. This often results in a quick flick of the head
after the body has started rotating. You might also try to lift your head to create more time for the breath in. Check out the blog from Swim Smooth here for some great pics to help explain what ideal timing should look like.

See you Sunday. Pool buoys and fins are a must for this session. See ya, Tim (LFTC Coach).

AGM 2012

The club announced this week that the next AGM will be Saturday 14th January at 1pm, at Pub On The Park. All members should have received all relevant information by email this week.

For more information, please drop us an email

Friday, 25 November 2011

Sunday session

I'm keeping it short and sweet this week. Our swim sessions on Sunday will continue to focus on stroke timing. If you didn't look at last weeks blog which covered stroke timing take a look before Sunday here. It would very useful to look at the different timing faults that we see and an example of perfect timing to aim for. You will need both fins and a pull buoy so please don't forget yours. The run will see you hitting 1600m and 800m intervals.

The latest round of the ITU Triathlon World Cup hit Auckland (NZ) last weekend. This is the venue for next years ITU World Championships so if you like the look of it make sure you sign up for the GB qualifying races next year. Click here for a list of the events. Don't miss out. Take a look at the Kiwis cleaning up both the men's and the women's races! A little sneak preview of what is going to happen at the Olympics eh? How about that mo on Kris Gemmell!

We narrowly missed out on the Club of the Year award at the Hackney Sports Awards but may be we could go for the 220 Triathlon Awards 2012? Cast your votes here people. Let's crash the site with the shear number of votes!

I'll see you Sunday for a wee dip, Tim (LTFC Coach).

Friday, 18 November 2011

Stroke timing

It was a great way to finish the year last weekend at the POTP. Thank you to everyone that came along and made it such a fantastic night. Thank you especially to Chris Skinner, Seb Balcombe and Amanda Wilmer for getting up and saying a few words. You all did a great job. I was very pleased to hear people discussing plans for next season, taking on bigger challenges, racing longer, going faster, going for team GB, very exciting!

This weekend in our swim session we'll be looking at stroke timing. Timing is so important and hopefully Sunday's session will demonstrate this. What we are aiming for is front 'quadrant or ¾ catch up timing'. Let's look at a couple of examples of timing faults first. Take a look at these Swim Types.

The first is the Bambino. Here you will see rotary timing with the arms 'windmilling'. Developing front quadrant or ¾ catch up timing in this type of swimmer gives better support and time to breathe, plus more time to develop an effective catch.

Now take a look at the Overglider. You will see in the first three videos that the swimmers almost swim with a 'catch up' style meaning both hands almost 'catch up' at the front of the stroke. For a swimmer with full catch up timing, developing a ¾ catch up removes the dead spot giving better rhythm. The increase in stroke rate, without increased effort, can also allow bilateral breathing in an Overglider who breathes unilaterally.

Now take a look at Mr. Smooth himself, Jono Van Hazel, demonstrating front quadrant timing. Catch up and variations of this drill are commonly used drills. You can see that for one swim type it might be very useful and for another it may be reinforcing bad habits.

During the session I want you to think about your breathing, your kick and your perceived effort with each drill. Hopefully the importance of timing will be revealed and you'll finish the session swimming like Jono! You will need pull buoys and fins so please don't forget them.

Coach Seb will be escorting you on a long run down to Victoria Park and back. Best to leave your kit in a locked locker and pick it up when you return. Take care crossing the road kids!

See you next weekend. Tim (LFTC Coach)

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Race report - Jekyll and Hyde Park Duathlon

There were some great results from the Jekyll and Hyde Park Duathlon a couple of weeks ago. Sorry about the delayed race report. This race is stacked every year with top London based athletes so these guys and girls from LFTC did incredibly well.

Joe Dale was our highest placed male with an 11th place overall. Next across the line were James Ralph, Andrew Finn and Stuart Hitchcock in 20th, 29th and 42nd respectively. Sarah Allen was 5th female across the line but more importantly she was the first one wearing fancy dress! Ellen Greaves was 10th female across the line. Well done Wendy Musique and Sebastian Arroyave and anyone else who raced that I have missed. Great photos of Sebastian in action here and here.

Bean counter Rob Boulding finds counting laps more challenging than counting beans obviously and he miscounted his bike laps resulting in a DNF. Earlier in the year he completed an extra lap in a race so it all evens out in the end. NOT! Perhaps we could chip in for a bar mounted abacus to present to Rob at the club awards to help get him through next season without any DNFs. I really hope he doesn't make the same mistake at the Ball Buster Duathlon this weekend. It might be a little more costly....hence the name! Sorry Rob, just taking the Brett Sutton approach to coaching, you'll be mentally tougher as a result I promise. Just look what he did for Chrissie.

Unfortunately Seb Balcombe was out with a toe injury. Doesn't sound like much but you should have seen the pictures. Actually knowing Seb you probably did! I could not make it as I was on a coaching conference which was a shame as this ws supposed to be my last race for the year. We didn't have a veteran racing either which is necessary to get maximum points from the race. That was a real shame given how well everyone did. Next year we must
try to get a full team in every event we enter. We're going for a podium finish for sure!

Our swim session this Sunday is one of the toughest sessions I have ever put together just in case you were thinking of partying Saturday night at our end of year shin dig. Just joking. We will have the same technique focus as last week but with a little less of the drills and little more of the full stroke.
Take a look at this link from Swim Smooth if you have not already. While our swim session is not about breath timing this blog entry from Paul Newsome at Swim Smooth is also well worth a read. You will need fins and pull buoys as usual. I wouldn't say the run is going to be easy but we will take into account the miles you put in on the dance floor on Saturday night.

See you Saturday night at the Pub on the Park. Tim (LFTC Coach).

Saturday, 5 November 2011

It's been quite a year.

The Hackney Sports Awards were on Wednesday night. Sadly we didn't pick up any of the awards we were nominated for. It was a great night though. I've never seen such a big group of happy healthy children and young adults in Hackney in one place. I can't say that I wasn't disappointed though. While I was incredibly happy to be nominated for the Coach of the Year Award winning would have been very special indeed. It was however very humbling to see what other coaches in Hackney have achieved especially with young athletes and athletes with disabilities.

When I think about the past twelve months though I am amazed at what we have achieved as a club in only our second season.
We have run our own very successful race. We have competed in the London League and done very well in our first year competing. We have had people complete their first triathlon across all distances from super sprint to Ironman. We have set course records. We have had age group winners in some of the biggest races in Europe. We have started a junior section in the club. We have run an overseas training camp with great success. We have had our first GB representative. We have had our first top ten placing at a World Championships and we have had great fun doing all of it!

This weeks technique session is all about the catch and pull phases of the stoke. You'll need both your pull buoy and fins so please don't forget them. We'll be looking at trying to improve your propulsion with each stroke while minimising the effort thus maximising efficiency. This requires a good hand entry, good extension (without over-gliding or 'putting the brakes on') followed by a good catch and pull through. Take a look at this link from Swim Smooth. Watch the videos, looks at the pictures and read the text. Soak it all up! The session will make much more sense and you will get more out of it
if you do. In the run we will be slowing it down a little and hitting some longer intervals now that the race season is all over.

Interested in some free stuff? You can get three free digital copies of Triathlete Europe just by following this link! See you Sunday, Tim (LFTC Coach).

Thursday, 27 October 2011

So the 'real' triathlon world champs took place in Hawaii last weekend. A race that not only requires endurance but also great skill to complete a rough water swim, a rocky mountain bike course and a challenging trail run. It was the XTERRA World Championships. No smooth tarmac, pointy helmets or wind cheating bicycles here just blood, sweat and dirt!

Austrian Michael Weiss won the race. Lance Armstrong was going great guns right up until the run started. 5th in the swim, 7th on the bike and 100th on the run. Looks like the wheels well and truly fell off for LA. Lesley Paterson, the Scottish pocket rocket won the women's race. In fact she ran as fast as the male winner. With stats like that she would fit in nicely at LFTC!

This weekend at Lido we will continue our technique block. Remember your fins and pull buoys. We'll keep the focus on hand entry, body alignment and body roll. There will be a little less of the drills and a little more putting your new skills into practise. Remember to have a read of what Swim Smooth have to say about bilateral breathing and body roll before the session.The run session is all about pace management. How to go fast and then go a little faster!

I was only joking about the 'real' triathlon world champs. I thought I should say that before I get lynched by you die hard Hawaii Ironman fans at the next club session. Seriously though, check out the race highlights, does this not look more appealing?

Remember to wind the clocks back Saturday night. Go LFTC at the Jekyll and Hyde Duathlon! Give it heaps. See ya, Tim (LFTC Coach).

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Lance Armstrong racing triathlon again

Just one week to go until the Jekyll and Hyde Duathlon. Very exciting. This means our run session on Sunday will be firmly focused on developing your race pace. So yes, more high intensity intervals to get the heart pumping and the legs burning. Just the way you want to start a lazy Sunday!

We are now three weeks into a technique block in our Sunday swim sessions. We will be using fins again so please bring your own. We will also be using pull buoys. As we now share our sessions with the public you MUST bring your own pull buoy as there will not be enough to go around.

This weeks focus is on alignment, hand entry and body roll. These three aspects of technique are intimately linked. We will insist on a bilateral breathing technique during the session to develop a balanced symmetrical stroke. Correct alignment allows an ideal hand entry and extension of the arm in front of the shoulder. This in turn will reduce the risk of developing swimming related shoulder pain and will often correct a scissor kick too.

Have a read of what Swim Smooth have to say about bilateral breathing and body roll before the session. It is very good advice especially for those reluctant to give up their unilateral (breathing to one side only) technique. This technique block is the perfect opportunity to practise bilateral breathing to encourage a balanced symmetrical stroke as the intensity of the sessions is relatively low.

This weekend Lance Armstrong is competing in the Xterra World Championships in Hawaii. I'm pretty excited about LA getting back into triathlon. He was 5th recently in the Xterra USA Championships. Not bad for someone who has been out of the sport for such a long time. A top ten finish would be very impressive in his first Xterra World Championships. He's up against some of the best triathletes in the world including Olympic Champion Jan Frodeno.

Last week someone accidentally picked up the wrong blue Zoggs swim fins (they were mine!). You probably have a pair that are slightly too small and I have a pair that are slightly too big. We can do a swap this weekend hopefully.

See you Sunday. I hope you will be showing your support for the New Zealand rugby team playing France this weekend in the Rugby World Cup final by wearing 'all black' to the session on Sunday! Kristal you are forgiven for wearing 'bleu'! Tim (LFTC Coach)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Crowie and Chrissie reign supreme

So my prediction was right. I should have been an Ironman Live commentator clearly. Craig Alexander was in a class of his own in Kona setting a new course record, albeit by just 12 seconds, on his way to winning a third Ironman World Championship title. It was looking pretty ominous when one of the sport's fastest runners posted the second fastest bike split of the day. It wasn't all plain sailing though as 'Crowie' started to suffer severe cramps in the last few miles of the race. Fellow Australian Pete Jacobs crossed the line in second with a very impressive 2:24:29 marathon finishing just under two minutes ahead of Andreas Raelert of Germany.

Chrissie Wellington didn't have it her own way for a change. After a slow start in the swim, a result of injuries sustained in a bike crash two weeks earlier, she was 21 minutes behind race leader Julie Dibens after the bike. Mirinda Carfrae was another 4 minutes back. These two are super quick runners although with very different styles and it was not long before both started eating up the time gaps to the girls in front. In the end Chrissie set the second fastest time ever at the Ironman World Championships and finished just 2:49 ahead of the Aussie battler Mirinda Carfrae who got in the way of a GB 1, 2 ,3. This is the closest anyone has got to Chrissie in her entire Ironman career. If Mirinda 'Rinnie' Carfrae can improve her bike without negatively affecting her run she will give Chrissie a real run for her money next year.

So you know you have chosen a drill people hate when they start asking 'Why are we doing this?'. The dolphin kick on your back is a good warm up exercise to stretch out through the shoulders and chest, to engage the muscles of the trunk and lower limbs and it requires a touch of coordination too. The ability to relax the legs allowing the knees to flex (bend) slightly as the hips flex, and extend (straighten) as the hips extend is necessary to generate propulsion. Swimming with very stiff legs does not make for an effective kick. Watch this video of the dolphin kick underwater so that you are clear about the movement patterns you are trying to reproduce. Get it right and maybe one day you'll swim 50m underwater in 25secs like Ryan Lochte... without fins! We will be doing this again this weekend so be sure to give it some practice to impress the coaches!

This weekend we will continue our technique focus in the Lido. I hope you read up about breathing, exhalation and kicking last week. This week have a read of the Swim Smooth webpages looking at body position, posture and stroke rate. You will need to bring your fins again this week as we will be repeating the drills from last week to consolidate what we have learnt so far. Our run session will be geared towards improving your ability to maintain race pace as we head towards the Jekyll and Hyde Park Duathlon. Once the duathlon is out of the way we will introduce an optional long run on Sundays for those that would like to leave the confines of London Fields for a change!

All the best to those of you competing in Barcelona this weekend. Give it heaps. I hope you find the same cava bar we did. It was the perfect place to 'relax' pre-race with very tasty 1 euro glasses of cava. And I mean very tasty!

See you Sunday, Tim (LFTC Coach).

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The dark places

A phrase I heard over and over after the New Forest Middle Distance Triathlon (NFMDT) was 'I went to some dark places on that run'. The great thing however was that everyone completed the race and evidently in fine style too. We received numerous comments about our fab looking club kit (yours is on it's way if you have placed an order!). We were in fact the most well represented club at the race with a total of ten of us competing. While the race is very tough and was a real struggle that brought some people to tears I am convinced overcoming such challenges is good for you both physically and mentally. You learn a lot about yourself when pushing yourself to the limit. If you are thinking about competing in a middle distance race next year I can recommend the NFMDT. It's not the easiest course but the scenery is amazing and the race very well organised and it has a nice grass roots feel about it, the way triathlon used to before it started being used as a money making machine. Controversial!

Congratulations to all those who competed. It was a great effort over a very challenging course and you can be very proud to have finished especially if you overcame cut feet, calf strains, shin splints and other issues to do so. Rob Boulding had a go at extreme bonking by completing the whole event on just two energy gels and few wine gums. Needless to say he found the darkest place on the run of anyone and crossed the line with a very
ghostly white complexion and cheeks more sunken than Lance Armstrong's at the end of the Tour. In contrast I ate and drank so much I had a pee stop in T2 so long I thought I would get a round of applause as I came out of the port-a-loo and then proceeded to throw up at mile two on the run. I felt better for both though!

It's a big weekend for those obsessed with 'going long'. It is the Ironman World Championships this weekend in Kona Hawaii. It is quite possible that GB could have three women on the podium. I am looking forward to seeing the battle between Chrissie Wellington, Julie Dibens and Mirinda Carfrae not to mention the battle between these three and some of the male pro's! In the men's race there should be some great Northern versus Southern hemisphere battles. My money is on Craig Alexander and Chrissie Wellington but I think Chrissie will be pushed harder than she ever has been by Julie Dibens in the swim and bike and Mirinda Carfrae once they hit the run.

The boys from the club are making a late season bid to compete with the girls' success over the summer. Sam Burch, who won our own aquathlon last weekend, finished second in the Sprint Distance Cross Triathlon England Championships. So it seems our bearded bone cracker who swims like a fish and runs like a Kenyan can also throw a mountain bike around the trails pretty well too! Andrew Finn won the USN Dorney Lake Super Sprint Triathlon on September 25th. Not bad off the back of his first Ironman in Wales a few weeks before! I promised Amanda I would mention that I won my age group at the NFMDT but will have to beat some very fast younger and some very fast older triathletes to finish higher up overall next year. I blamed the extended stop in T2. The benefits of a two piece tri-suit were made plainly obvious! Not to be out done however the girls have also impressed recently. Sarah Allen was second in her age group and fifth female overall in her first middle distance triathlon at the NFMDT and of course Ellen Greaves beat her own course record to win our aquathlon on Sunday.

I love these videos from Rapha but I think this one captures the camaraderie you get when competing as a team in endurance events that really test you both physically and mentally. Take a look here. This is the kind of camaraderie I saw at the NFMDT within our club and I can't wait to do it again!

We will be focusing much more on technique over the next few weeks in our swim sessions on Sundays. Make sure you read the following pages from Swim Smooth: breathing; exhalation and kick effectiveness. We are continuing to build towards the Jekyll and Hyde Park Duathlon so we will be hitting the high intensity intervals in the run. See you on Sunday, Tim (LFTC Coach).

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The first rule of tri club

The first rule of tri club is never stress about tri club! This morning at the obligatory post-training chow down and coffee someone mentioned that they had been waking up feeling ill thinking about the New Forest Middle Distance Triathlon next weekend. While losing a little sleep the night before a big race is understandable losing sleep weeks before a race just isn't worth it. If life has thrown you a bit of curve ball recently and your training goals have not been met as a result don't stress. Re-evaluate your race goals, remind yourself that you are doing this because you wanted the challenge and sleep easy knowing that your coach is also under-prepared! Always remember the first rule of tri club: Never stress about tri club.

Congratulations Ailanore ‘Duty Finish’ Harper for getting 6th at the World Triathlon Championships in Beijing last weekend! We are incredibly proud to have our first GB representative from the club and now a top 10 finisher at a World Championships. Congratulations also to Andrew Finn for completing his first Ironman in Wales last weekend and to Guy Holbrow for completing the same race under very trying conditions. Incidentally, Ellen Greaves' Mum qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona next year by winning her age group at Ironman Wales. I think we should make her an honorary member of LFTC!

Thank you to all those athletes who travelled up to Wells-Next-the-Sea for the North Norfolk Triathlon. Thank you especially to those involved in organising transport and accommodation. We had the biggest team there and there were some fantastic performances. It seems we can’t compete in this race without a little drama though. We had few people hit the deck on the bike and the run, a few take a wrong turn on the bike, a flat tire, a strained calf, some nasty shin splints…but it was great! The highlight for me was Sebastian Arroyave completing the race in a very small pair of speedos and a crop top for £50.

Ellen Greaves won her category and was 2nd female overall! What makes this story even better is that Ellen stopped to give Sarah Allen a spare tube and tire levers when Sarah punctured on the course. Amanda Wilmer finished 6th overall even though she strained her calf and practically limped over the line. Sarah finished 9th overall despite losing 15 minutes when she punctured. She went on to post the fastest female run split of the day. Well done also to Katie Hocknell, Kate Guscott, Jane Dennyson, Kath Brasier, Wendy Musique and Lindsey Smith.

The boys did pretty well too. Joe Dale had the fastest run split of the day and finished 6th overall. It was a hard fought battle between Seb Balcombe, Rob Boulding and Tim Smith. There was less that 6 minutes between all three and less than a minute between Seb and Rob. Tim had a wee accident on the bike unfortunately otherwise I’m sure he would have been right up there with Seb and Rob. Russell Webley had a fantastic race knocking a whopping 43 minutes off his previous best time for an Olympic distance triathlon. Congratulations to all the other guys who competed. It was a mighty fine effort by all and we keep the interclub challenge shield for another year!

And if you didn't already know GB has two new world champions in Alistair Brownlee and Helen Jenkins. I am very pleased to report that a Kiwi won the women's elite World Championship Grand Final in Beijing. Andrea Hewitt out-sprinted Helen Jenkins to win by 14secs. You can watch the highlights here. Remember next year the World Championships are in Auckland, NZ. Here is the perfect excuse to fly half way around the world and visit little old NZ!

Get those entries in for the final London League event. The Jekyll and Hyde Duathlon is on October 30th. I would love to see us enter our biggest team yet for a London League event.

See you Tuesday for our final session at the Victoria Park track before heading back to Well Street Common. Enjoy your weekend. Tim (LFTC Coach).

Monday, 15 August 2011

Zone 3 wetsuit trial this weekend.

I can thoroughly recommend 'the Clash' as an event to compete in next year. It is extremely well run with great prizes on offer to winners as well as spot prizes. 500m in a 25m pool followed by a 5km run which is mostly flat and predominantly on grass. Unfortunately we did not have a veteran racing so the club missed out on getting the maximum points available. Those athletes from the club that did race raced really well and there was a healthy dose of in house competition especially once Sarah told me her run time as I put my shoes on in transition! Sam Burch posted the fasted time of the day from LFTC. Nice one Sam!

This Saturday we have Zone 3 coming along to the swim session on Saturday. They are sponsors of the London League. They will be bringing a number of wetsuits for people to try. So if you don't have a wetsuit, or you are not happy with yours, test one of the Zone 3 suits this weekend. You'll get to be a human shoehorn for a friend. We'll get you to swim a time trial in the suit and then without the suit to see if you are any faster. I have heard you can also win a brand new wetsuit if you can get it off in a little over five seconds. It can be done I'm sure! This great little video shows you how the body position of one of the best swimmers in long distance triathlon can change wearing a wetsuit compared to a speedskin, using a pull buoy and wearing just a pair of trunks.

Lausanne in Switzerland is the host of a huge weekend in triathlon again. We have the sprint distance world championships on Saturday and the team triathlon world championships on Sunday. Johnny Brownlee is the defending sprint distance world champion and Switzerland are the defending team triathlon world champions. All of the races should be great to watch and will be on the BBC either be shown live or delayed.

If you are coming along to the North Norfolk Triathlon it looks like we have accommodation now sorted thanks to Colin Steele booking an entire boat called the Albatross that is moored in the quay. The dorm at Deepdale Backpackers is now full too. I understand there are still campsites available if you would like to pitch a tent. Best check the Facebook page for up to date information.

I'm looking forward to checking out these Zone 3 wetsuits. Have fun and ride safe all those heading down to the New Forest for a recce of the bike course. See you Saturday. We will still be using pull buoys and fins so remember to bring them along. Later. Tim (LFTC Coach)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Great Britain dominate Hyde Park!

What a great weekend for triathlon in Great Britain. The Dextro Energy Hyde Park Triathlon was a huge success in more ways than one. If you didn't manage to watch the race live you can watch highlights here. Helen Jenkins did the unthinkable by running away from some of the fastest runners the sport has ever seen. Alistair Brownlee was nothing short of awesome. I'm quite sure Johnny Brownlee could have been second if he wanted to but I think he took one for the team by staying in the chasing pack and letting his older brother go in the break.

Holbrow was 5th in his category on Saturday on the Hyde Park Olympic distance course. Matt Tilbrook led the wave out of the water, followed by Guy and then Allison McLean. Three LFTC athletes 1st, 2nd and 3rd out of the water...fantastic! I have not had a chance to check all the results but congratulations to all those who competed over the weekend.

The North Norfolk Triathlon is a week earlier than last year. Unfortunately this means it falls on the final weekend of the school holidays. As such the caravan park where we stayed last year is fully booked. I have made enquiries about other accommodation. Getting beds for twenty is not easy! I have booked a dorm for eight at the Deepdale Farm Back Packers Hostel. Six people have expressed an interest already. Please email the club with 'accommodation' in the subject line if you are interested. It may be possible for others to book camp sites,
tipis or yurts at the Deepdale Farm if they don't mind sleeping in the great outdoors. Other options include the YHA in Wells Next the Sea which has a few spare beds or individuals/small groups may have to look at booking local B&B's or holiday cottages. Get onto it quickly though.

We don't get to refine our cycling skills as often as we do our swimming and running. However, maximizing pedalling efficiency is very important as the bike is the longest leg of a triathlon no matter what distance you race. Improving your pedalling efficiency could result in both a faster bike time and run time if you finish the bike with less fatigue.

Most of the power produced during the pedal stroke is produced on the down stroke. Power production falls drastically as the pedals approach and pass through the top and bottom of the stroke. Pedaling smoothly through the two “dead spots” located at top and bottom of the pedal stroke will improve pedalling efficiency.

Here are some ways to improve pedalling efficiency:

My favourite: Get a fixie!

Unlike a bike with a free hub there is no ability to freewheel (i.e. spin without pedaling) on a fixed gear bike. Using a fixed gear bike forces you to learn how to pedal correctly because you must unweight the leg during the up stroke to avoid braking. So if you don't have a fixie it could be time to add one to your stable of bicycles. Spinning has the same effect due to the fly wheel. So those of you taking Karl's classes should be flying.

The hard yards: Big gears on hills.

Overgeared, high-power, low-cadence workouts are essential. Climbing hills, seated, in a big gear forces you to keep force flowing to the pedals over the top and through the bottom of the stroke. It is the only way you can maintain enough momentum to keep the bike moving forward. Later on you can add sprints up steep hills, again in a big gear and with slow, rolling starts.

One at a time: Single leg pedalling.

Single leg pedaling drills are another great way to improve pedalling efficiency. This allows total isolation and concentration on each leg. You can really feel if you have a dead spot in your pedalling action. You will feel a surge of power on the down stroke and then a sudden drop at the top or bottom of the stroke if you're not pedalling efficiently. Start with 3-5 reps of 30-45 seconds on each leg. Don't try to push to big a gear, just work on a smooth action.

Rockin and rollin : Get a set of rollers.

I have been using rollers for the past year. They are great over the winter when the icy roads prevent you from getting out and about. They require some getting used to. An inefficient pedalling technique will have the rear wheel swinging from side to side. As your efficiency improves you will find you can ride bigger gears without the feeling of riding on sheet ice.

One day you might be able to ride your carbon road bike like the guy in this video!

I won't see you this weekend as I am racing on Saturday at another London League event and then moving house on Sunday. Remember those fins and pull buoys as you will be using both on Saturday and Sunday. Keep safe and see you again soon. Tim (LFTC Coach)

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Another massive weekend for triathlon!

Congratulations to all those who competed in events over the weekend. Gabriel Sayer completed his second Ironman of the year in Bolton just four weeks after completing Ironman Austria. He finished 12th in his age group which is another fantastic result. Enough of the Ironman racing Gabriel, let’s get you into the London League events! I spoke to a number of our athletes after the London Triathlon. There were some great results with super quick bike splits and a number of athletes setting PB’s for the 10km run. Stuart Hitchcock flew around the bike course in 01:00:05 averaging almost 40km/hr! Ellen Greaves was third in the F25-29 age group and posted a blistering 00:40:51 run. Well done Sam Hart and Wendy Musique for overcoming mechanical problems and Katie Hocknell for overcoming gastric problems to complete the race too!

I don’t have to tell you that this weekend is going to be massive in Hyde Park with the triathlon course for the 2012 Olympics being tested and Olympic qualification up for grabs! It’s a stacked field with none of the big names missing. For those that want to see the elite women’s race which starts at 8:30am on Saturday we could ride over to Hyde Park immediately after our swim session has finished. Depending on how many people want to go and watch we may cancel the run session but we will try to make a decision on this before Saturday. Leave us a comment on the blog saying whether you want to watch the race or run! The elite men are on at 1.00pm on Sunday. We also have a number of our own athletes competing in the age group races on both Saturday and Sunday and it would be great to support them with as much noise as possible!

We had the video on a number of our athletes again on Sunday during the swim session. This included uber swimmer Matt Tilbrook. Even Matt had aspects of his technique to correct. Yes I believe he can go even faster! The pathways that his hands followed during the pull phase of the stroke were different from side to side with one being less effective than the other. We saw this in a number of other athletes too. In some the hand would sweep very wide and in others the hand would sweep under the body. Take a look at this video of legendary marathon open water swimmer Shelley Taylor Smith(scroll down the page a little for the video). Watch the pathway of her hands when viewed from the front. See how they follow a straight path in line with the shoulder. Some of the drills we have used to help develop this aspect of the stroke are: sculling positions; doggy paddle and pull sets. There are many more including some of those mentioned below.

The tendency to press down on the water during the breathing stroke popped up again. If every 2nd or 3rd stroke you are pushing down rather than pushing water back behind you, you are losing a lot of propulsion and wasting a lot of energy. Take a look at this video of Shelley Taylor Smith again. Watch how her elbows bend and her shoulders internally rotate during the catch and pull phases of the stroke. Her forearm is in a vertical position very early pressing back on the water. There are a number of drills that you can use to correct this. Some of those that you are familiar with are: kick on side ‘superman position’; 6/1/6; 6/3/6; single arm FC; Popov and Unco. If you don’t practise the drills we use in our coached sessions during your own lido time you really should.

All the best to those competing in the Dextro Energy Hyde Park Triathlon this weekend. I hope to catch up with most if not all of you either before or after your races. I’ll be there cheering on the Kiwis (and Brits and even the Aussies too!).

See you this weekend for some full on racing! Tim (LFTC Coach)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

LFTC triathlete sets new course record!

OK, so it wasn't quite Kona, nor was it as big as Roth but Ellen Greaves did set a new course record at the Oswestry Sprint Triathlon last weekend! Nice work Ellen. Have I mentioned how proud I am of the LFTC girls. They really are a strong bunch of triathletes. A big congratulations to all those who competed in the Hillingdon Triathlon London League event last weekend too. Nine of us competed in the race, which is a good turnout For a League event and we had our required quota of females and veterans which is great. I think all those who competed would say that it is a really fun race with lake swim followed by an on-road plus off-raod run and an undulating bike course. Well worth the small entry fee!

Last weekend someone asked me about running technique. Just like with swimming there is no right way to run that suits every individual. However there are basic principles that apply to everyone. An individual's technique will then be determined by things like relative limb length, relative flexibility and strength and preferred cadence among other things. Have a look at this video of Alberto Salazar and Galen Rupp. Alberto Salazar is one of the world's best distance running coaches. Galen Rupp is Mo Farah's training partner and one of the best distance runners in the world. It gives an interesting insight not only into coaching methods but also into running technique. Have a look at the following: arm swing; body position; pelvic control; heel lift during the swing phase and the position of the foot landing relative to the body. The soundtrack is also quite cool!

Note the relaxed arm swing where the arms swing backwards as far as they do forwards. This is important for linking the muscles of the upper limbs and trunk to the lower limbs. They also move toward the midline of the body but don't cross it as they swing forwards. The trunk is quite upright, there is not a marked forward lean as proposed by some running methods, allowing efficient use of the hip flexors and abdominals. The pelvis forms a stable base from which the legs can produce power effectively. The pelvis does not drop towards the swing leg upon landing i.e. lateral pelvic tilt. Galen is running quite quickly so you see the heel comes up towards the buttock allowing a quick and efficient swing phase. At slower speeds the heel does not come up so high towards the buttock i.e. the Ironman shuffle. The foot lands under the body so there is no over-striding creating a braking effect and potentially increasing impact loading.

We had the video out at Sunday's swim session. Often we see the most significant technique faults during breathing. We saw this with all three swimmers that were videoed. Take a look at Mr Smooth on the Swim Smooth website and have a read of the breathing technique tips. Note the timing of the breath and in particular the position of the leading arm during breathing. What we saw in our swimmers was a tendency for the leading arm to drop in the water as the swimmer tried to lift themselves up in order to breathe. This can have all sorts of consequences. We saw hips and legs drop in the water, over-rotation of the body, scissor kicks and a loss of timing in different people. Now take a look at the Swim Types micro site. Which Swim Type are you? Have a look at Jono Van Hazel, a real life Mr Smooth, see how there is no interruption to the stroke as he breathes. This what we should all strive for. Easier said than done but a very worthwhile long term goal.

All the best to those competing in the Alpe d'Huez Triathlon this week or this coming weekend at the London Triathlon. Give it heaps but above all enjoy the experience. See you Tuesday night in Victoria Park or next weekend at the Lido. Have a good week. Tim (LFTC Coach)

Friday, 15 July 2011


We're back with our end of season race around London Fields. It's a fantastic race for novices and experienced triathletes. Put it in your diary, and enter via the picture on the right >>>

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The club's first Iron(wo)man!

London Fields Triathlon Club has just added another Ironman to its ranks. Laura Boyd completed her first Ironman in Switzerland last weekend in a very respectable time of 13h 52m 15s. Congratulations Laura you are an Iron(wo)man! So which of you girls in the club will be up for the challenge next year?

Challenge Roth is known for its huge crowds, party atmosphere and super fast course. Last weekend at Challenge Roth Chrissie Wellington beat her own long course world record when she finished 5th overall in a time of 8h 18m 13s. Will she make it onto the podium amongst the men soon? Now that would be great to see! The new men’s world record was only set a week ago. The man with one of the coolest names in sport, Marino Vanhonacker of Belgium, set the record at Ironman Austria. Just one week later Andreas Raelert went 5min faster at Challenge Roth setting a new world record of 7h 41m 33s.

This weekend is another round of the ITU World Championship Series. Hamburg is the host and it is a great race that takes place in the central city. Did you know Hamburg has more bridges than any other city in the world? The swim actually goes under at leat one of them. Ironman World Champion Chris McCormack is racing. His bid to make the Australian Olympic team will be worth watching.

A number of LFTC members will be heading to Hillingdon in Buckinghamshire for the next race in the London Triathlon League. It’s an interesting format with a swim, run and then bike. For those competing in the race remember to have a look at the race pack for directions, timings and the all important course map! Some good performances could see the club move up a place or two in the rankings. So let’s give it some on Sunday morning!

The festivals have taken over the Victoria Park ash track again. We will meet at the grass track and use it if there is no cricket on or we will use a patch of grass adjacent to the ash track for our intervals until the festival set up has been removed next month.

Remember if you want a LFTC tri-suit get your orders in quickly so that there is enough time to get them made before the end of the race season. It would be great to everyone in North Norfolk wearing the club kit. It does look great.

See you Saturday for a threshold swim followed by a run similar to last week's but with a shorter recovery. Karl will take the Sunday technique swim. Be safe. See ya, Tim (LFTC Coach).

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Arousal and Performance Part Deux

I spent Sunday following Gabriel Sayer’s progress at Ironman Austria. He had a fantastic race setting a new PB in the swim and finishing the race in 9h 24m 55s! Going under 10 hours is a real milestone in long distance racing. So he smashed that milestone good and proper! Nice one Gabriel.

Following on from the first blog on 'Arousal and Performance' here are some strategies that might help you regulate your arousal level before and during a performance:

To increase arousal levels

  • Goal setting: Write down some challenging performance goals that you want to focus on. Put your goals in your pocket or bag so that you can review them before the race and think about them during the race if you find your effort levels falling.
  • Visualisation/imagery: Spend some time visualising positive performances from the past or imagine yourself performing exactly the way you want to in the event you are about to compete in.
  • Positive self-talk: Try repeating positive words or statements to yourself or have a positive quote in your pocket for quick reference. For example: ‘I will swim strong and relaxed’. Remember what Chrissie Wellington said – ‘No limits!’
  • Body language: Try to project a positive, energised, confident image. The body can influence the mind just as the mind can influence the body. You don’t have to strut around like a peacock dressed head to toe in compression wear but at least try breaking into a smile!
  • Environment: Surround yourself with positive people (this is pretty easy when you have a club like ours) and place yourself in an environment where there is some activity such as in the transition area. No matter how small the triathlon is there always seems to be a buzz of excitement in transition.
  • Music: Listen to some high-energy music. No personal music devices are allowed in transition or on course however.
  • Physical activity: A structured warm-up routine is a great way to get both body and mind prepared for racing. If you watch elite athletes you will see them take a very methodical approach to warming up for this reason.

To decrease arousal levels

  • Reduce your mental load: Share your thoughts and feelings with someone in your support network such as a coach or club mate. Ask about their experiences with anxiety/high arousal and how they coped. I can share a few nightmare swim experiences with you for sure. It’s ok to be nervous – every athlete experiences anxiety/high arousal at some stage! The trick is to be able to control it and turn in into something positive.
  • Distraction: Talk about things unrelated to triathlon or engage in a distracting task (i.e. listen to calming music, read a book, magazine or a newspaper).
  • Environment: Distance yourself from anxiety-provoking people and situations. Set yourself up in transition next to someone you feel will have a calming influence if you can. If you find the transition area a bit stressful, get set up and then leave the area so that you can find a somewhere to relax pre-race.
  • Focus: Remain focused on the things that are within your control – yourself, your performance, and the present moment.
  • Thought control: Reduce or “switch off” any inappropriate or negative thoughts. Try to decrease the amount of time you spend thinking about your performance and allow your body to perform automatically.
  • Visualisation/imagery: In your mind, rehearse performing well and feeling confident and relaxed.
  • Physical activity: A warm-up can also have a calming influence depending on how you perform it. The key is having an established routine that works for you.
  • Relax: Engage in activities that relax your mind and body (e.g. breathing exercises, listening to relaxing music, meditation, having a laugh, having a pre-race massage). Ask Andrew Finn and Joe Dale about their experience with laughter at Wimbleball. Here is a clue: Would you pee on the bike or hold it in?
  • Preparation: “Tick all the boxes” with regards to your physical and mental preparation, plan your performance and be organised. Get to the event in plenty of time and allow yourself adequate time to set up warm-up and make last minute toilet stops if need be.

It’s a good idea to trial several different strategies over a period of time. After each performance, keep a record of the strategies you used and rate your arousal level on a scale of 1-10 (where 1 = very low, and 10 = very high). The goal is to try to find the strategies that help you reach your optimal arousal level (a number somewhere in the middle) and achieve peak performance and then reproduce them every time you race.

This Saturday is our aerobic swim session. With some big races coming up we will include some open water skills as well. Sunday is a technique session but there will still be a fitness component. On Saturday you will need fins and Sunday you will need fins and a pull buoy. Our Saturday interval session is another tough one. 5km pace and 1km pace efforts over 300m and 100m respectively.

Here are some interesting videos looking at 5 steps to learning flip turns. Have a look and see what you think. If you want us to incorporate flip turns into our sessions let us know. Just click on the links: One, two, three, four, five.

See you on Saturday, Tim (LFTC Coach). PS. Promise not to skive off early for breakfast this week!


Friday, 1 July 2011

Dirty Harry?

For those of you that haven't heard, Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee finished first and second in the European Triathlon Championships last weekend. This week however their performances were overshadowed by accusations of cheating by Harry Wiltshire, a fellow GB team member, by Javier Gomez and other elite athletes such as Laurent Vidal and Stuart Hayes. This raises a number of questions.
  • Were Harry Wiltshire's tactics 'just part of the sport' or was he breaking the rules?
  • If he was cheating and deliberately trying to slow Javier Gomez down was he acting alone or were these team tactics?
  • If these were team tactics then who gave the instructions to use such methods in a race?
Check out the video here and make up your own mind. Unfortunately there is not a video of the whole swim but just a few edited clips showing a few of the incidents that took place. At 00:12 you will see Javier Gomez enter the frame. Harry Wiltshire comes up beside him at at 00:18 and appears to push him under the water by swimming over the top of him. From 00:23 to 00:44 he appears to force Javier Gomez wide by blocking him from taking a racing line and joining the main pack. At 01:15 he appears to block Javier Gomez as he tries to exit the water. From 01:38 to 02:00 is more video of Harry Wiltshire appearing to block Javier Gomez from earlier in the swim.

From the way I have described the video in the paragragh above you can probably see what I think. Actually, it's as clear as day! I would be interested to hear what you think. I am a Javier Gomez fan. I think he is a great athlete and a great sportsman in terms of his attitude and the way he races. You can read his own account of the race on his blog if you are interested.

So leave some comments and let me know was it cheating, was this team tactics and was it worthy of disqualification?

See you in the weekend. Tim (LFTC Coach)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Arousal and Performance

So the title of the blog caught your attention, huh? Someone from the club a couple of weeks ago was explaining to me that they get so worked up before a race that they make mistakes, such as adopting a poor pacing strategy or poor technique, which has a negative effect on performance. Someone else from the club over the weekend told me something similar although this time the athlete explained he got so anxious that he just could not race the way he wanted to. It was impossible for him to breathe effectively while swimming adding to the anxiety and resulting in disappointment with the race overall.

Arousal can be described as the level of energy that an athlete develops and applies to any sporting situation e.g. in anticipating competition. This energy results from both psychological and physiological activity within the body. Many things can affect an athlete’s level of arousal, such as performance expectations, negative thinking, self-doubt, motivation, injury, preparation and readiness, general life stress, as well as external factors such as weather conditions, facilities, and spectators.

Over the years, sports psychologists have applied a number of theories to explain the relationship between arousal and performance. One of the most commonly used models is called the 'Inverted-U Hypothesis' (Yerkes & Dodson, 1908). The Inverted-U Hypothesis suggests that when an athlete’s arousal level is low, performance is also low. The mind and body aren’t energised and prepared to face the demands of competition. As arousal level increases, performance increases up to an optimal point. You may have heard people describe this as being ‘in the zone’. You might even be able to tell when someone is in this state by the way they look. A facial expression, a look in the eyes, a certain posture or way of moving can all indicate when someone is in the zone.

When arousal increases past this optimal point to a very high level, an athlete may begin to feel anxious and performance is likely to decline. Excessive arousal can interfere with the body’s ability to perform both physically - muscles become too tense, coordination and skills break down and early fatigue sets in, or psychologically - difficulty concentrating, thinking clearly, making decisions and thinking positively or losing confidence.

Athletes face the constant challenge of trying to keep their arousal at the ‘optimal’ level in order to achieve peak performance. Each individual’s optimal arousal level is different. For example, Usain Bolt appears very relaxed before a race and plays to the crowd. Tyson Gay looks very serious before a race and points to the sky as if asking for some form of divine intervention. Furthermore, each sport and activity has a different optimal arousal zone. Even each discipline within a triathlon probably has a different optimal arousal zone. A rapid breathing rate at the swim start is likely to cause anxiety but is easier to deal with on the bike and run.

My main motivation to participate in triathlon is not to win or set a new PB every time I race. I do it because it's great fun and helps me lead a healthy lifestyle which is of great importance to me. So if you are feeling too worked up or anxious at the start of a race just have a think about why you are there in the first place. Relax and enjoy the feeling of seeing what your body and mind is capable of. There are other ways to both increase and decrease arousal and get in the zone. But I’ll save these for next week.

It's a tough run session this week with some sprints to get your running pace up and give you the confidence to cross the finish line flying. The swim session on Saturday will be more technique based so you can save your energy for the run to follow. Sunday will be threshold swim session to help build your race pace in the water. You will need fins and pull buoys for both.

I'm not sure I used the word 'arousal' so many times in a single sitting! See you at the track tomorrow or at the Lido Saturday. Tim (LFTC Coach)


Friday, 17 June 2011

Keeping it real...and fun!

Around this time of year, with all the big races upon us, it is very easy to start taking yourself a bit too seriously. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious and working hard to reach the goals you set when you were putting together your annual plan during the off season. But if your mindset is taking the fun out of your training and racing perhaps you need to take a step back and remind yourself that the sport of triathlon can still be good fun.

I had to do this myself last week. After two very average training weeks in a row, with little energy and about as much motivation, I dropped my training plan for a couple of days over the weekend and did exactly what I wanted to do instead. It may sound odd to most but I love hill climbing on my bike. I also wanted to ride out the front gate and back again and not deal with public transport at the beginning and end of my ride. So I jumped on my bike and rode over to Highgate West Hill and Swains Lane for some hill repeats. It's a great little hill for some hard efforts but I recommend you get there early to avoid too much traffic. Swains Lane is the more quiet option but it's nasty. Dark, damp, a little slippery and considerably steeper.

As much as I hate cycling in the rain I love running and swimming in it. So with the rain falling pretty constantly all day last Sunday I made the most of it. I ran in the rain, not concerned about my pace or how far I had to run, but enjoying the peace and quiet of Victoria Park that you only get when it's raining. After a tasty lunch to refuel and a post-lunch kip I headed for the Lido hoping the rain would scare most people off...and it did. I pulled on my wetsuit for something different and just switched off my mind and swam. With the rain falling and a lane almost to myself it was a great swim and I could feel the motivation returning just like that.

Seeing and hearing about your performances is also very motivating. I am still blown away by some of the results from both the Blenheim Triathlon and the Fritton Lake Triathlon.

The boys did a great job in Wimbleball over the weekend at the UK 70.3 event.
Gabriel Sayer had a fantastic race and finished 12th in his category. Coach Scott finished 22nd in his category with one of the fastest swims of the day in the age group field. Andrew Finn put together a great race finishing just outside of 6hrs in his first attempt at the distance. Dan King (aka Richard on the day) completed the swim in a very respectable 31mins 53s. Joe Dale (aka Dan on the day) also had a great race with the exception of breaking his chain on the bike leg. He flew on the run posting the 22nd fastest time of the day and clocking 1hr 27min for the half-marathon! Coach Karl told me he had an average race. Looked like he had a power nap in T1! By his own admission he felt good on the bike but had a nightmare run due to issues with nutrition. Yes even coaches make mistakes!

The performances of British athletes at the elite level is also inspirational. Alistair Brownlee finished first and Helen Jenkins second in Kitzbuhel over the weekend in great races. If you are interested in seeing the race highlights click here. I suspect the European Championships this weekend will be dominated by the British triathletes.

This weekend we are back at Hackney Marshes for the Park Run 5km. Remember to register before Friday. Saturday is our threshold session at the Lido and Sunday will be an aerobic fitness session. You will need fins and pull buoys for both sessions. I can't stress how important effective sighting is to having a great swim in an open water event
. Have a look at this link from Swim Smooth for some great technique tips about sighting. We'll see if you can put them into practise at the weekend and in your next race (bring on Hillingdon!).

See you at the track or Lido. Tim (LFTC Coach).

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Check out those results!

I continue to be amazed at the level of performance that a number of you are reaching this year. We had club members competing in no less than three different triathlons over the weekend!
I have spoken to some of those who competed at Fritton Lake on Sunday and got the lowdown on how people fared. In short, pretty damn good! Amanda 'Minky' Wilmer (club captain) won her age group. Ellen Greaves won her age group. Dave Price took a massive chunk off his PB and all the other lads competing finished under 2hr 30mins with five of them doing 2hr 20mins or better. Paul smoked the swim, Stuart and Felipe smoked the bike and 'G.I' Joe smoked the run with Seb, Tim S and Tim P hot on their heels. You can check out the results online here.

With a number of those competing at Fritton Lake stepping up to Olympic distance for the first time a common complaint was how difficult the first lap of the two lap run felt. It is a technical run course, off-road with plenty of twists and turns in it, this does makes it difficult to find a rhythm initially. Running 10km after biking 40km is also a very different sensation to running 5km after biking 20km. So what can you do to make the transition easier?

It is true that I spend my spare time trawling electronic databases for research articles that link exercise to either injury or performance. Some call it geeky. I prefer to think of it as having a keen interest in the subject. "Cycling has a negative effect on some highly-trained triathletes ability to execute optimal neuromotor strategies specific to running" (Chapman et al 2008 and 2009). What the? To summarise, cycling prior to running means that you do not activate your muscles in the same way that you do when running on fresh legs. Surprised? Neither am I.

Practising the transition from bike to run is one way of improving your ability to cope with running off the bike in a race. The bike to run brick is a key training session in any triathlete's training program. Different coaches and athletes will place more or less of an emphasis on such sessions. One thing I would say is that your key run session should be run on fresh legs and your key bike session should finish on the bike. Why? Running on fatigued legs may increase your injury risk and/or reduce the quality of your key run session. You are also likely to finish your key bike session more fatigued that you would be following the bike leg of a triathlon. So I suggest running off a moderate intensity ride. You do not need to run 10km off the bike either when training for an Olympic distance race. You only need to run for as long as it takes for your body to adapt from bike to run. All things being equal you should notice this time coming down with training.

Some recent research by Bonacci et al (2011) suggests plyometric training may help the transition from bike to run too. Plyometric training is a specific form of strength training that utilises the stretching-shortening cycle of muscles with activities such as jumping, bounding and hopping (See why I make you do those silly drills on Tuesday!). The muscles shorten rapidly after they have been lengthened rapidly just like many muscles do when running. In this study, with plyometric training, the triathletes' muscle activation patterns when running off the bike were more like the activation patterns seen when they ran fresh. The small sample size in the study means we should be cautious when interpreting the results but at least there is some preliminary research to support the theory that plyometric training may help the bike to run transition.

There are of course numerous other factors that contribute to how well you run off the bike. Your strength on the bike, your pacing strategy, your energy status pre-race, your nutrition and hydration strategies, your position on the bike just to name a few. So it is not as simple as adding some bike run bricks and plyometrics into your training. With more training and racing experience I am quite sure running off the bike will get easier.

This weekemd is our long aerobic swim session. Given where we are in the season though we will be practising some race skills too and yes you will need your fins! This weekend's run session is a combination of 200s and 800s. So you get to swim slow(ish) but you have to run fast!

Just for a bit of a laugh check out this video it's pretty funny. The joys of big city cycling huh?

All the best to those guys off to Wimbleball this weekend; Coach Karl, Andrew Finn, 'G.I.' Joe Dale; Gabriel Sayer and Coach Scott; do us proud lads!

See you later in the week. Tim (LFTC Coach)