Tag: technology

Racing a Half Marathon with Power: What I learned

A little less than two weeks ago I raced my first stand alone half marathon. The first time I had raced 13.1 miles without first swimming and cycling beforehand. There was a lot I learned both during that race, as well as in the lead up to that race. The majority of that came from my first training block based solely on running power. Here’s what I learned:

1. Most people run at a more variable power than you think

This one surprised me. In the transition from basing my tri air on pace to passing it on power I learned a lot about holding consistent power over different terrain. I knew I needed to back off on the uphill and push it on the down hills to keep the same power. What I didn’t realize is how variable most people are when it comes to power.

I train on fairly flat terrain here in Eastern North Carolina. My race was more towards the central part of the state and was described as “rolling.” At one point a man I was running along side simply looked over at me and said “up and down, up and down!” I noticed so much in this race how, when I would hold a steady power over the hills, so many people would pass me going up, and then I would pass them right back going down. And I was towards the front of the race where you would expect the more experienced pacers to be.

2. Consistent Effort is King

The focus on consistent power is all about effort. A variable effort wears you down more. Cyclists and triathletes who train with power on the bike probably have heard of the metric called “Variability Index” or VI. The VI tells you how variable your effort is. So if the workout is multiple 400m repeats, it will be highly variable. If it is 90 minutes at Tempo, it will be less variable.

In a race situation, keeping a consistent effort allows you to have more gas in the tank at the end. This race was probably my best paced race ever. At the 5 mile mark I picked up the pace (power) slightly and then again at the 10 mile mark. That last 5k was focused on a consistent uptick in pace ever mile or half mile. That last half mile was all uphill until the final .1 where I gunned it to the finish. I am not sure how many people I passed in that final 5k, but It felt good to finish with a strong kick and not have anything left in the tank when I crossed that line!

3. Run Downhill!

I mentioned this before, but taking it easy on the downhill makes no sense. It is harder on your quads. You spend energy braking yourself. You miss the advantage gravity give you!

I stated before that I passed so many people on the down hill. If you look at my power file, I also never got up to my goal power on those down hills either. I simply opened my stride and let gravity do it’s thing. Next time you are in a race, Run down the hills!

4. Train top end speed

This was more from the lead up to the event, but I spent a lot of time working on my top end speed. Speed drills, VO2max drills, miles repeats, you name it, I did it. These all are at the opposite end of the effort spectrum from where I was racing, but they improved my economy. The better your efficiency, the faster you run. Which leads me to my last point:

5. You’re faster than you think you are

This was eye-opening to me. I finished with an average pace of right around 7:30/mile. With that as an average for 13.1 miles that just blew my mind. I had paced shorter legs of a triathlon much slower than that before. I’m sure part of it was the top end speed work I did, but I believe part of it was the mental disconnect between power and pace. I had tri and without ever looking at pace. I raced without ever looking at my pace. I just held the watts because I knew I could. In the end, I was faster than I had ever run for such a long distance.

I think some of us, my self included obviously, keep a mental tab on how fast we are going and when it reaches a certain point our brains tell us to slow down for fear of imploding. This is really discussed in detail in Matt Fitzgerald’s book “How Bad Do You Want It?” There is a huge mental side to suffering during a race. When I took my mind off the speed numbers and put them on a power number, suddenly holding that pace felt easier. It allowed me to dig deeper and unleash more of my potential.

Going into this next season I am looking forward to training with power and I’ll keep sharing the lessons I learn along the way. If you don’t want to miss any of them, make sure you sign up to get my posts sent directly to your email! You’ll also get a FREE 5k or sprint triathlon training plan, and you’ll be the first to get my new Half Marathon POWER training plan!

Triathlete’s Gift Guide 2017

Gifts under $25! Gifts under $50! Stocking Stuffers!

This time of year there are so many gift guides out there for anyone and everyone. For any budget and every budget. Last year I did a full on gift guide with my recommendations on gear for your triathlete. This year, I’ve got a bit different take on the gift guide with a few specific recommendations thrown in.

(As a side note, if you are doing your Christmas shopping online, I’d love for you to use my Amazon link to support the site. It doesn’t cost you anything and it helps me keep going with my multisport pursuits!)

What not to get your triathlete

Let’s start here: what not to get. Triathletes are a peculiar bunch. We get finicky with the smallest of things. Whenever something is messed up we obsess over it. When there is new gear released we compare it to what we already have.

We also know what we want. We have our favorites and it takes moving a mountain to get us to try something different (or maybe just a horrible race… then we try EVERYTHING different!) With this in mind, don’t get your triathlete anything without researching what they have already and what they want/need. You don’t have to straight up ask them what they want, but a little peak in the closet, at race photos, etc. and a simple google search can go a long way.

For more on this subject (and a good laugh) check out this article by pro triathlete Jesse Thomas. (And this other one too)

What to get your triathlete

Here is the part you came here for: What to get your triathlete. After reading the above, probably the best thing to get them is a gift card so they can buy something themselves! Start with an online triathlon shop like Trisports. Then maybe their local bike shop. Also, Amazon has everything.

The next best thing is something to help their training. An indoor bike trainer like the Tacx Vortex, Flux, or Neo trainers. These are all smart trainers that can control power output for more structured training. If that’s a little too much for your budget, the Travel Trac is the best non-smart trainer out there! Throw in a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription to TrainerRoad and your triathlete will be a happy camper!

Consumables are also always a great bet. Obviously this would include their sports nutrition and supplements like gels, bars, hydration, recovery drinks etc., but I would also throw running shoes in there (make sure you get the brand and model the use!) and bike tires and tubes. These things are all going to need purchased anyway so it saves them from buying them laterso they have more money to spend on the shiny new aero items they’ve had their eye on.

Lastly, if you want to go big, I suggest you hit up the latest gadgets. Triathletes are almost always data nerds. If they don’t have the latest bike computer or GPS watch (like the Garmin 935) that’s always a great buy. A power meter is always welcomed as well! Just make sure to get one that is compatible with their bike. An easy way around this is a pedal based power meter like the Garmin Vector 3 or PowerTap P1.

Stocking Stuffers for your triathlete

The last thing to think about it stoking stuffers. I’ll do a whole other post on this next week, so for now I’d tell you to look for some great socks, those consumables we talked about, or even some small tools to keep their equipment going!

Happy shopping everyone!

And don’t forget to use my Amazon link to support the site!

If you like what you’re reading, you can sign up to get all my posts in you inbox as soon as they are posted! I only post once or twice a week and I promise not to spam you! Plus, you’ll get access you my free 5k Beginners Training plan AND my Beginner Sprint Triathlon Training plan!

Running Power Meters… First Impression

Being on the bleeding edge is exciting. But you can also get cut deep (hints the “bleeding” part). Power meters were once bleeding edge technology, but today they are common sights. Ask experienced cyclist or triathlete the best upgrade they can make, and they will (should) tell you to get a power meter (If you don’t already have one). But running power meters? That’s bleeding edge!

There really are only a few names in the game right now as it comes to running power meters. The big name is Stryd, now on their second gen unit. The other is RPM2. A few others are out there, but they are more fringe and aren’t specifically power meters like Lumo run and SHFT. The biggest question hanging over running power meters is, are they worth it? Continue reading

What’s a KiloJoule

Following on the heels of the post “What’s a Watt?” I wanted to jump off that and get a little more info out there on one of the things you can do with a power meter. A lot of people, (especially in the off season) focus on losing weight and getting a better body composition. To accurately count calories, you need an accurate count of calories burned. Any GPS will give you a number of calories burned for a given workout, but sometimes that is a bit of an arbitrary number. This is where a power meter comes into play!

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Training with TSS vs. Hours

I just wanted to take a quick moment today to let you know why I’m setting up my yearly planning with Weekly TSS instead of Weekly Hours this year.

First of all, we need to understand what TSS is. It stands for Training Stress Score. It is a metric that has been trademarked by TrainingPeaks and was first developed to track the amount of stress placed on the body in a cycling workout once Power Meters gained popularity. Realizing the need for TSS in other sports for runners and triathletes, they ported the concept to make a comparable score.

When planning a season’s worth of training, especially following the periodization model, an athlete or coach would set weekly hours for athletes to train. In recent years, elite athletes have changed their focus from accumulating hours of training to focusing more on the TSS they were accumulating. This is because TSS takes into account  both duration AND intensity.

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What’s a Watt?

Triathletes like to throw fancy terms around a lot. Watts, Normalized Power, TSS, Bonk, Threshold, HRV, FTP, Aero, Friction, to name a few. I think we all have a general idea of what these terms mean, but… what do they REALLY mean?

Today I thought I’d tackle the magical unit of measure known as a watt and a few of the important terms that surround it.

So, what is a watt?

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3 Reasons Why You Should Run With Music

On Monday I posted about the 3 reasons you SHOULDN’T run with music. To be fair, I’m going to show the opposite side of the table today.

Since I am firmly on the other side of the fence on this issue, I asked my teammates at Trisports.com if they ran with music and why. Most of them are on my side of the issue, but some had crossed over. They gave some great responses, so here are the 3 top reasons you should run with music (assuming it is a safe place to do so!!)

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Review- Road ID App

Cycling has been in the news a bit more than usual lately, and not in a good way. If you follow triathlon news you have probably heard about the athlete that was killed after being hit by a driver while competing in Ironman Boulder. My mom heard about that and she usually only hears triathlon news from me. I wrote a little while ago about how to stay safe on the road. That information is important, so if you haven’t read that post yet, go read it now!

In that post I give a few pointers on staying safe and I mention one specific app I use that gives my wife a little more peace of mind while I am out on the road. That is the Road ID app.

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A Good Race Always Starts with a Good Plan

A good race plan is one of the most important pieces of a successful race. The more detailed the better. I write my plans for race day starting from the time I wake up until I cross the finish line. (side note: that also helps my wife know how the day will go…). I include what I’ll eat, what I’ll drink… everything!

The core of what most people think of as a race plan is the pace you will race at and how hard you will push. To some extent, that is right. If that is all you have, that is better than nothing, but it would be best to be as detailed as possible.

For the bike portion of this last race of the season, I have really started to get the hang of best-bike-split-logo bestbikesplit.com. If you are not familiar with the program, Best Bike Split uses some pretty nifty, advanced math to predict race times based on aerodynamics, weather, and power, among other variables. I have been using the free version of the software since it came out a few years ago and it has been fairly spot on.

Here are some ways BBS has helped me make my race plan:

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4 Ways to Stay Safe Out on the Road

Ask my wife. She’ll tell you. The thing that makes her the most nervous with my training is my outdoor ride. Why? Traffic. Every cyclist has experienced it at some point in their training. Getting buzzed by a car, the dreaded right hook, or the impatient pass in the left lane that almost causes a crash.

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