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    Running - Run fast, run slow, run far, run close, just run

    Running - Run fast, run slow, run far, run close, just run

    Yes I realize it might seem too hot to run outside right now, but the topic of running is our third installment in our series highlighting each segment of triathlon. This is the point of the race when you can give a sigh of relief knowing it's the last thing you have to do before crossing the finish line. Just one foot in front of the other over and over....and over and over...and over and over...Oh wait, maybe you shouldn't relax at this point, you still have a long way to go. Fear not, we're here to help you run your best (or at the very least, most tolerable) triathlon run yet! All you need to do is get out and run-- "Run, Forrest! Run!"-- keeping in mind the following tips.

    1. Slow down your runs! The majority of our runs each week should be at an easy, buzz word "aerobic", pace. This is a conversational pace so feel free to talk politics with your bestie running friend as the time ticks by. Why be so easy on yourself when triathlon is such a brutal sport? You need to improve your aerobic base fitness-- meaning you need to learn how to "just keep running", to be the little engine that could, to be the energizer bunny that just keeps going and going.....You need a big engine to enjoy running and easy running is the way to build your engine.

    2. Run more often! The benefits of this are twofold: 1. you will continue to improve your base fitness and 2.  you'll become a more efficient runner (aka your body knows how to move when running). Believe it or not our body has a short attention span. If you want to run well, you need to run often so your body doesn't forget how to run well. How do you add more running in to your already busy life?? If you are already running 2-3 times a week, add in another 10-30 minute run (you can sneak it in after a bike ride or swim for a good triathlon simulation workout). 

    3. Add in a day of intensity! "What you talking about Willis?? You told us to slow down!" Yes, yes I know. Most people run in this gray area of too fast to be considered a true easy day, but too slow to be considered speed work. To run at your best, you need to add one day where your really push yourself. And I mean really push yourself, not "I think I'm sweating I must be working out". You can either use perceived exertion of effort on a scale from 1-10--you'll want to push yourself in the 7-9 range on your intense day. If you're using heart rate zones train at your anaerobic threshold--fancy buzz word alert! However, the point is to get out there and get your butt moving faster than you normally would move. 

    If you REALLY want to learn how to run your best, join our Triathlon Training Program kicking off at our information session June 14th. The best coaches around will help you swim, bike, and run your best yet.  


    By Coach Siobhan Maize

    April Showers Bring Faster Swim Times

    April Showers Bring Faster Swim Times

    Just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming


    In the next three months we'll be highlighting each discipline in the sport of triathlon, kicking it off with the first of sport, SWIMMING. We all LOVE swimming. It's our favorite part of the triathlon. Am I right? Can I get a "heck yeah"?!  Many of you reading this think I'm crazy, that I've lost my marbles because the swim, well, it sucks. It's such a pain to get to the pool to train, I hate the chlorine smell, I'm sure it causes cancer (like everything else), I can't breath, I feel panicky, I wonder if I'm going to make it out of the water, etc. etc.  For many of us, we look forward to getting the swim portion of a triathlon over so we can enjoy the rest of the day. 

    Let's talk swimming to help make it an enjoyable experience both in training and racing.

    1. PRACTICE: You have to get in the water. Yes, that's the secret to success. Feel better now? Okay, more specifically you need to get in the pool at least twice a week. The more the better if it's one of your weakest sports. The more you get in the water and train, practicing good swim form, the better you'll feel about swimming, I know this isn't really a well kept secret, but if you find yourself dreading the swim portion of a race, you should start working on it..NOW. Hire a coach to look at your swim form. A few helpful tips can go a long way to making your swimming feel easier. Call us a Blue Sky to set up a swim stroke analysis or swim lesson with one of our coaches for as little as $30. Trust me it will be money well spent. The less effort you expend in the swim, the more energy you will have for the rest of the race. 

    2. Integrate race specific swimming in to your training. DO NOT go and swim straight for 30 minutes! Yes you read that right. That has minimal to no value. To be successful in a race you should be able swim for the total amount of time it will take you to do the race. For example, if you will do your triathlon swim in about 45 minutes, you should swim in the pool, doing different swim sets, for 45 minutes. If you can swim 500 yards in 10 minutes, swim 4x500, with a warm up and cool down. Inject faster swimming intervals in your training as well. A handy swim set is 4 x 200, swimming the first 50 fast, then settling in to your normal swim speed. This will mimic the start of a race when we tend to start too fast and then have to slow down to get in to our normal swim pace. You can also join a local Masters swim team to have other people share in your I mean training. It's always more fun to have other people around. And you'll find that you push yourself harder without even realizing it! Our local Masters Team is Palmetto Masters. Check it out, it's a great supportive group of people:)

    3. Open water swimming. I subscribe to the old adage: train like you race, race like you train. If you're going to be racing in the open water, you should incorporate open water swimming in to your training. Swimming next to a bunch of other people all going in the same direction at the same time can be intimidating. If you have the opportunity to practice this before race day I HIGHLY recommend it. If you don't have access to open water on your own, sign up for an open water swim race before your triathlon-- here in Charleston we have the Lowcountry Splash which is a great way to practice all the skills you'll need for open water racing. If THAT'S not possible, practice open water skills in the pool-- incorporate sighting into your swim stroke at least once during every 25 of a 200. Practice drafting with other swimmers, have everyone in a lane start at the same time (that one is kinda funny to watch, hehe), and wear your wetsuit in the pool at least once if you'll wear one in your race. 

    Hopefully you're breathing a little sigh of relief after reading these tips about swim training. If not, well then GET IN THE POOL!

    By Siobhan Maize

    Go Long or Go Fast, What's an Athlete to Do?

    Go Long or Go Fast, What's an Athlete to Do?

    The madness of deciding whether to go long or go fast

    A decision many athletes have to make is whether to train for short, fast races or long, slow races. Often training for both is impossible. You might be saying--no it's not silly, I am a-ok fitting in speed work and long runs, but I'm here to say nay-nay.  You can't have your speed cake and eat it too --without risk of injury. Athletes are faced with the tough decision of whether to go fast or go long.

    Say it aint so! Why is it hard to fit in enough speed work to be fast in a 5k while still reserving enough energy, muscle fitness, and time to fit in long runs for a marathon or beyond?

    1. The type of speed work needed for a fast 5k or 10k is very different from the speed work need for a marathon or longer.  Training for a 5k typically involves 200's, 400's, 800's at 5k or faster pace, check out Hal Higdon's Advance 5k Training program here.  However, training for a marathon involves 800's, mile repeats, hill work, and longer tempo runs at a lessor intensity.  Check out Hal Higdon's Advanced Marathon Training Program here.

    2. You can't get in the mileage needed to train properly for a marathon while training for a 5k. Doing really short and fast speed work requires lowering your overall run volume. A training cycle typically follows a Base, Build, Peak, Race schedule. The Peak phase is when you focus on race specific speed as you reduce volume thereby increasing rest. Yes, napping is really part of proper training! Tell your boss we said so. 

    3. Overall the risk of injury from doing both short and very fast AND long runs is really high. Both speed work and long distance running puts a lot of strain on your body. Combining the two is a recipe for disaster, not the fun cake recipe your were hoping for.

    What should I do??

    Plan your year race calendar so that you can fit in a 5k training cycle AND a marathon training cycle. In fact I recommend training for short and fast stuff first so that you go in to your marathon training with some speed in your legs. You can also do a 10k race as part of your marathon training to sub in for a speed work/tempo day. If you have speed in your legs, then your marathon pace will feel even easier! Win. Win. 

    It's Time to Pick One Thing

    It's Time to Pick One Thing

    Ready, set, go! 

    It's that's time already, time to walk the walk after months of talking the talk. January means many things to people, but for most people it's time to turn over a new leaf -- to start anew -- or be like the 6 million dollar man "Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. ~Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster."  How can we all be the 6 million dollar man? (who admittedly would be about 1 billion dollars today...yes, 6 million dollar man reference is very old and so am I)

    1. Set goals, don't make resolutions.  I resolve to train better. Well that sounds great, but what does it mean? A whole lot of nothing. However, if my goal is to eat healthier foods 5 days a week and race a fast Half-Ironman--now that's a goal. When I have concrete goals and not vague resolutions, I can set real tangible steps to achieve my goals.

    Better yet, set up goals for the year. This will give you a tangible outline for the whole year, weekly goals and monthly goals, and you make sure to allow yourself to get into peak race condition while allowing time to recover in-between races. To learn more about this type of goal setting you can check out this blog at Mileswithmoms

    2. Pick one thing. Although we're all pretty darn near perfect, remarkably there are probably a good 5, 10, or 20 things we might want to change about ourselves when January comes around.  Easy peasy right? Simply set a goal! I just told you that. No so fast speedy. Pick ONE thing to focus on at a time...maybe 2 depending on your situation more than that and you are likely to get overwhelmed and fail at all of your goals. If you want to go to the gym more this year, don't start out saying you will go 5 days a week, start out with 2 days to make it easier to achieve success. Once you experience that success you'll  be more likely to achieve further successes. Personally I want to work on my cycling skills, but I'm also building up my run mileage and trying to strength train and eat healthy. Whoa--way way too much. I need to prioritize.

    3. Cut yourself some slack. January starts out with pie in the sky ideals about how we 'should' be or how great other people are, but reality is very different. Not everyone is perfect, really, it's true. Not even me. Be easy on yourself. If you have an off day or an off week it's okay. Keep your goal in sight and ignore the negative. Like a good, hard workout makes us stronger, how we recover from set backs makes us stronger too.