In terms of time, the bike leg of almost any triathlon dominates the others. In an Olympic distance event, the bike will likely take almost twice as long as the run and three times as long as the swim. Consequently, many triathletes’ training regimen reflects this with very high biking volume relative to the swim and run. A glance at the user training logs at Slowtwitch confirms this.
However, I do not subscribe to this — not yet anyway. My training this summer had nearly equal parts swim and run, with biking getting whatever was left over. I did this for two reasons.
Swimming is my weakest leg compared to the best triathletes. My future success in draft-legal triathlons hinges on how much I can improve in the swim, not the bike.
I still have a year left of collegiate running and that is still my #1 focus. It is imperative that I kept my mileage high with my last cross country season on the horizon.
Now that I have downplayed my bike training, here is what I did do. With the little bike background I have, I figured anytime on the bike will lead to improvements. With this in mind, I made sure to get in a long bike ride every weekend, working my way up to ~60 miles. After I got my post-work swim in on Mondays, I would get on the trainer for about an hour to do some “tempo” intervals — generally with 8′ hard/4′ rest as the main focus of the session. Thursdays and Fridays I would ride 20-30 miles by feel in the late afternoon after running and swimming earlier in the day.
With this training load I was able to split the 15th fastest bike split at the Breath of Life triathlon on my 2003 Trek 1500 road bike (23.7 mph average) and the 5th fastest bike split at the Strawberry Fields tri on a friend’s Quintana Roo TiPhoon (~25.7 mph average).
Trying to break into professional draft legal triathlons presents a bit of a paradox. In order to earn a USAT elite license to race in ITU draft legal races, you need to qualify at nondrafting events by placing in a certain position overall or within a percentage of the winner’s time. To be competitive with the top athletes in these races, you will likely need a time trial or triathlon specific bike and maybe even an aero helmet. However, once you get into draft legal racing, you won’t be able to use any of this aero equipment.
Because earning an elite license is next up on my triathlon goals, I am now in the market for a tri bike. I have time on my side, as my next tri won’t be until Summer 2011, so right now I am scanning the classifieds for a potential buy. What I am looking for is a quality bike that is a few years old and lightly used so that I can save a few bucks. If you know of a bike for sale that fits the bill, let me know!
If I can ever swim a 1500m under 20 minutes (I know, big ???IF???) than I think I may have a shot at being a semi-Pro.
That is what I wrote in my “About” page when I created this website in the Spring of 2009. Later that summer, while preparing for my first Olympic distance triathlon, I swam a 1650 yard (1509 meters) time trial in the pool in 25:55, setting a beginning benchmark. I really had no idea what I was doing: I had never competed as a swimmer before triathlons and I had no idea how to structure a swim workout. With my running background, I started throwing in some intervals — 100s, 200s and 300s — but with way too much rest. I successfully completed the triathlon with just the 56th best swim.
After the triathlon I quickly transitioned to run-focus and dropped the swimming and biking. A self-proclaimed “breakout” cross country season kept me out of the pool — thanks to 100-mile weeks. Then in December, my battle with Plica in my left knee began, leaving a void in my training. I took to the pool and conveniently, around that time, my coach received an email from Barb Lindquist with the USAT Collegiate Recruitment Program, whose goal is to recruit collegiate swimmers and runners into considering triathlons as their next athletic endeavor after graduation. Knowing that I was interested in triathlons, Coach Heins forwarded me her contact. Since then I have been receiving weekly swim workouts from Barb. I began swimming workouts that were 2500 yards and worked my way up until this summer when I began swimming three 5000 yard workouts three times each week (plus another easy 3000 once a week). With this increased commitment to swimming I have seen my swim times improve nearly week to week.
One way Barb uses to judge swim ability is a 200/800 test. An athlete swims an all-out 200, takes 1 minute recovery, and then swims an 800 all out. Barb told me that the general range she is looking for from runners is 2:15/10:00. In January I swam the test in 2:27/11:15. The road ahead seemed daunting, but I was able to chip away while my knee was recovering. In June I swam the test again, this time in 2:19/10:26. The hard work was paying off. This last Thursday I took to the pool for my last swim test of the summer and was stunned with a 2:13/10:10 performance.
These swim tests, along with a 4+ minute PR in the 1650 yard of?? 21:44, have confirmed that I can swim faster with focus. Still, I have a long road ahead and will need to further increase my commitment to the sport. As I look beyond my final cross country and track seasons, I think there are several very high intensity, high volume weeks of swimming await.
On Sunday I competed in my third and final triathlon of the year at the Strawberry Fields Triathlon in Oxnard. After winning the Breath of Life race three weeks prior, my goal heading into this one was to back that up with another win. Unlike Breath of Life, Strawberry Fields had an elite field and I was lucky enough to start in the same wave with them — giving me a great opportunity to compete against my competitors as opposed to time trialing against the clock (which, to be honest, seems rather silly considering every course is a slightly different length, especially the swim leg).
I started the day at 5:05 AM (because 5:05 sounds a lot better than 5:00) and had the usual breakfast — oatmeal with dried cranberries and some brown sugar, a whole wheat bagel with butter, and a banana — but added a SaltStick in hopes of combating the cramping I battled last time on the run. I was out of the house by 5:30 accompanied by my mom and dad. I made my way to the transition area just before 6:30. Each person had their own space in transition marked for them, which meant no fighting for the perfect spot. I set things up, got a 5 minute jog in, and then took the ~0.75 mile journey to the swim start.
19th 23:35, 4:56 off fastest
I have done two beach starts before this one, but never with much surf. On a normal day at the beach these waves would be unremarkable, but racing in 2-3′ waves is a different story. If you watch the video, you can see that I need to work on getting off the line. This should be a SPRINT to the water, and I am treating it like it is the beginning of a 6 mile tempo run.?? Even with my timid start I still managed to go down in a 2′ deep trench. I was quick to get up, but a gap to the front had already formed. I made it through the rest of the surf without too much trouble and swam the rest of the way more or less alone.
37th 1:11, :30 off fastest
There was a long run to T1. I was thinking, “8th row on the left” as I came into the transition area so I could find my bike and be on my way quickly. Then I tripped. Yep, fall #2 came in transition of all places. The transition area was on grass so the only thing that I hurt was my ego. Of course after I quickly stumbled back to my feet I had lost count of which row I was at. I wasted another 5-10″ looking around. Finally spotted my bike and ran out of an all-too-eventful T1, putting an exclamation mark on it with a terrible mount.
5th 54:15, 1:40 off fastest
A couple weeks ago a family friend, Dave Willard, offered to let me borrow his TT bike for the race. He rode an ironman a few years ago on a 2003 Quintana Roo Ti-Phoon. I took the bike out for a couple rides before the race and it felt much faster. I slowly got my feet into my shoes and charged on. The course was two laps and advertised as 23.2 miles total. With sprinters starting before the Olympic distance races it was difficult to tell if I was passing people that mattered. The bike computer stopped working the day before the race and I screwed up my splits on my Garmin so I wasn’t too sure how fast I was going. In the end it turned out to be a great bike split with the 5th fastest of the day. If the course was accurately measured, that works out to 25.7 mph, 2 mph faster than my last two races!
19th :45, :15 off fastest
T2 was better than T1. I was still 15″ behind the fastest split, but I was right in the mix with most of the top guys. Racked the bike, changed the shoes, clipped on the race belt and out I went.
1st 32:15, 2:44 ahead of 2nd
Out I went ready to chase down the front runners. My parents and friends told me I was about three of minutes behind 1st place — that’s doable. The course was two pancake-flat loops with three 180?? turns which allowed me to measure how much time off the leader I was. At each turnaround I chipped away and finally made the pass at around 4 miles. I felt pretty good, but was slightly worried about the cramps that I battled with last time. “I’m in the lead, so why not just enjoy the last couple miles?” I cruised in to the finish and was greeted with a lively crowd and the cheers of my friends. I’m not sure on the distance, but if it was a true 10k that would work out to 5:09s.
2nd 1:52:06, :06 off fastest
After the race I went to the transition area with my friends to collect my things. As I made my way back to the finish line area, my dad told me the posted the results and I was actually 2nd place! Because I started in the first wave with the elites I had forgotten about the other waves, thinking the fastest would be with the elites. In actuality,?? Andrew Haberkorn started in the 2nd wave and ended up beating me by 6 seconds! Boy did I feel dumb. I took the win for granted and should have gone all out to the line. This race will serve as a lesson that I won’t soon forget.
In my never-ending quest for knowledge and statistics, I looked up Andrew Haberkorn and was happy to find that he is a pretty damn good triathlete. Last year he finished 11th place at the ITU Age Group World Championships in Austrailia. This year he finished 4th at the competitive Wildflower Olympic distance in May.
That’s what I told my friend and NAU teammate, Tim “Rube” Freriks, that my training plan would look like while recovering from knee surgery in March. It’s kind of like one of those clich??s — “An apple a day keep the doctor away.” Since I already love apples and eat my fair share of fruit each day, my mantra to getting healthy and back to what I consider normal was, to be specific, “two hours of aerobic activity each day”. . . or about 14 hours/week.
After reading about my recent successes in triathlons, and sharing that I had been been pushing well beyond that 14-hour level, Tim asked that I elaborate on what my training has looked like this summer. Because I like to get specific, I have decided to make a 4-part series on what my summer triathlon training has consisted of. This post, Part 1, will serve as an overview of my recovery from surgery, beginning full time training and what a typical week looks like. Parts 2-4 will focus on swim/bike/run specifically.
First and foremost, I have no doubts that surgery was the right answer. I suffered with knee pain from December until March, and was often limited to five or ten minutes of running at a time. Rehab began just one day after surgery with quad strengthening exercises. In the coming days rehab included range of motion exercises, massage, and eventually squats and lunges.
As I was promised by the doctor, I was able to resume running within a couple weeks of surgery, but at a much lower volume than I had anticipated. Still today I am running quite a bit less than my normal volume from before the knee pain began.
Full Time Training
Since my surgery, my training volume has slowly increased. It began with 20 minutes on the elliptical and peaked a couple of weeks ago at 19 hours, well above my 14-hour target. Below is a chart of my progression this summer.
When reading about professional athletes, one of my favorite insights into their lives is how they structure their days and weeks. Now that I am getting involved in triathlons, I have learned that balancing all three sports with appropriate recovery is no small feat. I, of course, am no professional and don’t have a coach, so I have done my best to create a schedule that I think meets my needs. This is an ideal week, and consists of about 18,000 yards swimming, 110-130 miles biking, and 60 miles running for a total of 17-19 hours:
Monday – For the second consecutive summer I am working as an Intern at ITT Aerospace Controls in Valencia. I get up around 6:30, eat breakfast and make my lunch, and arrive at work around 7:30. I get off about 4 and head straight to the gym to get in a swim workout — usually 5000 yards. Then it is home, dinner, and on the bike trainer for about an hour.
Tuesday – Go to work until 4. After work I do a 10-11 mile running workout.
Wednesday – TGIF; last day of work for the week. Regular run of about 9-10 miles and an unstructured swim of about 3000 yards after dinner.
Thursday – 8am: 8-10 mile run in the morning followed by a large breakfast. noonish: 5000 yard swim. 4pm: 20-25 mile bike ride.
Friday – similar schedule to Thursday.
Saturday – Long run in the morning, 14-15 miles.
Sunday – Long bike, 50-60+ miles. After the ride I refuel and rest for a little while and then run 6-7 miles.
I am glad Tim gave me the idea to do this as I know I will be delighted to read these posts in the future months, as I finish my collegiate running career, and years, as I continue as an aspiring triathlete. Expect the next three parts in the next week.
Thanks to my Dad’s great photography, my Mom’s steady video camera work and Weezer’s great music, I have put together a little video of my race at the Breath of Life triathlon last week in Ventura. Hope you like it!
Sunday I raced at the Breath of Life Triathlon in Ventura. I raced my first Olympic here last year and placed 8th overall and 2nd in my age group. I was thrilled. This time I did one better: taking the overall victory!
Before I get to the race report, I want to mention how much fun it is to win (see my last post, “It Makes It Really Fun,” on David McNeill’s winning ways). While I have been a fairly successful runner throughout my 17 years of competition, winning has been tough to come by since I entered high school. I have run on state championship high school teams and top-10 collegiate squads. I have been surrounded by very talented, hard working teammates and have chosen to compete against the best around. Because of this, I haven’t found myself in a position to “go for the win” very often. Sunday I had that opportunity and I was able to seize it. Even if it was a relatively small race, it is always fun to win.
Alarm went off at 5am. Didn’t sleep too well… my mind was going too fast thinking about the race (“Sometimes an on/off switch would sure come in handy.”). No worries, eat-well-sleep-well night was Friday. I looked to my window and was surprised how dark it still was, just 6 days into summer (I am always very aware of the Summer and Winter Solstices). Yep, it is early. I followed the same morning meal as last year: a bowl of oatmeal with 1/3 cup of dried cranberries and a tablespoon of brown sugar, a bagel and a banana. My mom and I left the house around 5:30 and I made it to the transition zone by 6:30.
The first wave was scheduled to start at 7:15, so the transition area was actually already getting a bit crowded. Racks were zoned off by which wave you started in, and to my luck, my wave was right near the bike in/out.
Chris Baird and I jogged about a mile after getting everything set up. About 15 minutes before we were supposed to start we got our wetsuits on and made our way to the Pacific.
13th in 20:35, 1:43 behind the fastest
My story of the year continues to be my improvement in the swim. Last year I was only the 56th fastest swimmer in a similar size field. Of course there is still plenty to improve upon — notably my start. I got punched and kicked a couple times in the goggles (luckily they didn’t fill up with too much water) and was nearly “swam over” by some bigger fellows. I think I need to be more aggressive getting into the water and then just sprint pretty hard for a minute or so.
2:25 (according to Garmin)
The transition was a bit of a run from the beach. Once I got into transition, I wasted no time getting on the bike. Since my last triathlon, I purchased new tri-specific cycling shoes with only one strap to allow for quicker transitions. I mounted the bike barefoot and had no problem getting strapped in quickly. I will definitely not be going back to strapping on cycling shoes in transition.
15th in 66:54, 4:39 behind the fastest
The bike felt much better than my last race. About a mile into the race, Jordan Bethke, who recorded the fastest bike split at the Collegiate National Championships in Lubbock Texas a few months ago, passed me. Knowing he was a far superior biker, I didn’t let it get to me and I was able to get up to about 24 mph and hold that for much of the race. My Garmin recorded a 1:04:25 bike split of 25.48 miles at 168bpm (23.7 mph). The course consists of three loops which can get pretty crowded once the slower waves mix in there. I kept looking for people that started in my wave, but never found anyone. In the end, I didn’t pass anyone on the bike and Jordan was the only one to pass me.
I’m happy with where my biking is at considering the amount of volume I have been putting in. In the future I will probably have to get in more time on the saddle, but I am not willing to sacrifice my running volume until I am done with my eligibility next year.
1:01 (according to Garmin)
Like my last race, T2 went well and there were no issues. I rode the last quarter of a mile or so with my feet on top of my shoes and had a quick dismount. Race belt and racing flats on.
1st in 34:00, 6 seconds ahead of 2nd and 3:42 ahead of 3rd
As I left for the run my parents told me I was about 3 minutes back from the leader. I figured Jordan must be leading, and knowing that he is the brother of NCAA track and cross country standout Brandon Bethke, I had no idea if I could pull that in. What the heck… I’ll bite. I felt good the first few miles hitting 5:10, 5:14 and 5:18. I had passed a few other guys, but knew I still wasn’t in first. I pressed on with a couple 5:12s and then about 5.5 miles into the race I found Jordan. Maybe he has some speed? I surged passed him. Just as I went by, my left hamstring started pulsing. Oh shit, I’m going to cramp up half a mile out. I then eased up a bit in hopes of making to the end in one piece.
As I came near the finish line, my parents seemed pretty excited, so I thought I must be in the lead. But then as I crossed the finish line, no one seemed to take notice. Shit, someone kicked my ass. As it turned out, they had some computer problems at that moment and I had indeed won!
The Garmin had 34:02 for 6.5 miles at 170bpm (5:14s).
1st of 414 in 2:01:25
After the race I had a great time mingling with some of the other competitors, talking racing and training. Shout out to my buddy Spencer Marcus. He’s been telling me I gotta go for the win for the last couple of weeks. His motto: “Someone’s gotta win.” Truer words have never been spoken, Spence.
Next up on the race schedule is the Strawberry Fields Triathlon on July 18th. Last year the field was more competitive than Breath of Life’s, so it will be interesting to see where I stack up. Can’t wait!
My mom shot some video with my little HD camera, so I’m going to put together a movie with those videos and some pictures. I should have that up within a week.
Yesterday was my first race of any kind since the Lasse Viren 20k on December 13th, and three months post knee surgery to remove Plica. I finished 2nd out of 91 athletes at the Admirals Cup sprint triathlon at Pt. Mugu behind UPENN runner and former high school competitor from Agoura, Chris Baird. Needless to say I am very happy with the performance and had a great time competing again.
5th in 5:20, :14 behind the fastest (4th male)
The swim was advertised as 400m, but was likely a little bit short. I got into the water near the front of the pack and made my way to the first buoy. I thought that most of the swim I was in a pack, but as I emerged from the water I was surprised to see just a few athletes ahead, and no one near me. As I entered T1, the announcer said I was in 4th place. Awesome! I have been working really hard on my swim and I am very happy that I am going in the right direction. I have always thought that my only limitation in triathlon will be my swim.
13th in 1:25, :38 behind the fastest
Unfortunately all the work I put into the swim was negated by my first transition. I had no trouble finding my bike or removing my wetsuit. As I bent over and put one foot in my shoe I seemed to get kind of dizzy and couldn’t balance very well. I guess if there is a spot to be weak in it is the transitions. With some practice and more race experience I am sure I can improve a lot.
5th in 28:33, 1:20 behind the fastest
The swim was supposedly 12 miles, but my GPS said 11.3 miles at 23.7 mph. Before the race I thought 23 mph average would be pretty good, so I am happy with my performance. I felt like I had a bit of power missing and my lack of time in the saddle showed. I do take some comfort in the fact that I was the only guy in probably the top 10 that wasn’t on a carbon fiber bike with carbon fiber wheels. All the guys ahead of me also had aerodynamic helmets. With some more time on the bike and some equipment upgrades (which probably won’t happen until next year), I think I could be up near the top cyclists.
19th in :53, :23 behind the fastest
The second transition was less notable than the first. Clearly it wasn’t spectacular, but I didn’t fumble around or anything.
2nd in 14:56, :3 behind the fastest
I had originally planned to just tempo the run if I didn’t think I could win the race. After seeing how far ahead Chris was, I decided to go hard anyway and just see how I feel. Like the bike course it was flat and fast. My first mile was 5:05 and I passed two of the 5 guys ahead of me. I passed two more over mile 2 in 5:03. Chris was clearly just too far ahead and as I found out at the end of the race, he was moving at a pretty quick clip anyway. I averaged 5:04 for 2.95 miles which was much faster than I thought I was capable of doing right now. The best part is my knee didn’t hurt at all!