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)