Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Reflection on the 2010 Season

Since I wrote yesterday's post, my brain instantly went into "reflection" mode over what went well this past season, and what didn't go so well this past season.

Without reflection and learning from our mistakes, we will never improve.

So here are the biggest things that I learned, grew from, made mistakes etc:

Train like you race
I am a member of beginnerTriathlete.com. I have learned mostly everything about triathlon from that site. Fast forward almost three years and you start to see the trends of the successful and speedy athletes. One trend that I started to see over and over again, especially for long course triathlon, is to train like you will race.

For me, that meant on the bike that I had to up the ante! I was reading more and more about folks literally holding their HIM wattage from start to finish on their training rides. I thought that this would lead to too much recovery time from a hard bike ride. But I gave it a try anyways.

My results? The first long 56 milers hurt, but I felt stronger as the rides progressed. I started to understand what it felt like to sustain a goal wattage for 3 hours straight. It helped not only increase my wattage FTP, but it also made me mentally stronger. Suddenly a ride that took 3:30:00 now took 3:00:00. Training with Power was working, because it kept me honest, but also held me back so that I could finish a strong ride and still have enough juice left over for a run.

Eat like you race
Race day, I learned from Timberman '09, was NOT the day to figure out race nutrition. So this year, I practiced, tested, refined, and repeated my nutrition on the bike until I got it right, and I got it simple. What started out as a complex eating method early in the season became a simple eating regimen of a Gu every 30 mins and drinking plain water with a dissolved Nuun tablet every 5 mins. This worked like dynamite on the bike. On the run, I ate a Gu every 3-4 miles and drank when I took a Gu or was thirsty.

Races are great places to practice
So my goal for this year was to do Mooseman 70.3 and Timberman 70.3 with Timberman as the A++++ race of the season. That schedule turned into adding New Orleans 70.3 and Rhode Island 70.3.

A funny thing happened. I could never what I call "complete the trifecta".....aka have a perfect swim, bike, and run.

@ New Orleans, I had a bad swim, but good bike and good run.
@ Mooseman, I had a good swim, bad bike, excellent run.
@ Rhode Island, I had a bad swim, excellent bike, terrible run.

So I made my mistakes in all three disciplines in various combinations. I got "it" out of my system. I knew what it took to have a good swim, good bike, good run. From these mistakes, I learned pacing and nutrition. Now I just had to put it all together!

And my result? A 47 min PR @ Timberman. I PR'ed EVERY single part of that race, including transition times.

Make time to recover and injury prevention.
I never spent time to recover in years past. I would workout, eat, shower, and move onto my day. Well when my volume increased, so did the risk for injury, and guess what? I got injured. Almost a year ago I set a new 10K PR at a running race down on Long Island. I didn't stretch, foam roll, or take it easy after that race. I ended up getting injured.

After Timberman 8 weeks ago I set a huge PR and figured because it was the last race of the season that I didn't need to stretch or foam roll. Guess what happened? I got injured.

Notice a trend here? Stretching and foam rolling is a necessity for me after hard workouts.

Both injuries were the result of over tightening muscles after a super strenuous race. After the 10K, my right quad became so tight that it was pulling on the attachment point in the inside of the knee. Deep tissue massage, lots of stretching and foam rolling was the remedy to fix that injury.

After Timberman, my left calve muscles were too tight. That resulted in the pulling of the attachment point at the bottom of the foot. Again, deep tissue massage, lots of stretching and foam rolling was the remedy to fix this injury.

So lesson learned! Even if I don't think I need to stretch & foam roll, I SHOULD.

Swimming breakthroughs
Swimming is like the ugly cousin of biking and running. To go faster on the bike, you spin your legs faster. To run faster, you increase your stride rate. To go faster in the pool? Windmilling your arms faster might actually make you go backwards, but will mostly make you sink like a rock.

How about swimming long and slow to build up a massive base? Well, you will became a very proficient long, but SLOW swimmer. That was my mistake my first year of triathlon.

I shattered all of my swim records this year by swimming lots of short, but intense swim intervals. Before Timberman I was doing a 500 yard warmup, then hitting the 100 yard intervals. A set of 5 x 100 on 2:00 quickly followed by 5 x 100 on 1:50 to 5 x 100 on 1:40 would absolutely obliterate me, but boy oh boy did I get faster in the pool! I would mix these sets up with 200 yard and 300 yard sets. I NEVER went above 300 yards, unless it was the 500 yard warmup.

My result? I shaved off over 2 mins off my swim @ Timberman. Intervals is the way to go in the water!

So I hope that you have some revelations during this off season. Its great when you have a "Eureka" moment!


  1. Great reflections on your year. I need to sit down and do some of the same thing. I know that I will learn a lot from this year so I am not calling it a bad year but only a learning year! 2011 will be the year to work on getting it right!

  2. good post.
    2011 should a great year for u! :)

  3. I still can't believe you dropped 47 minutes at Timberman. I like that you sat down and reflected on the season, I definitely need to the same thing. It's so hard to overlook the fact that you're making the same mistakes over and over again. Next year, I'm Jonning it up on the bike and getting mad fast like you!

  4. I like the “train like you race” and “eat like you race” concept. I follow that and also do dress rehearsals often. It certainly works for me. I don’t have an off season but do go back in my logs often to reflect on what I did or didn’t do previously.

  5. Good post Jon - put is all in the bank and apply it to 2011.

  6. Great reflections! I think the key is figuring out what works best for you. You can read other people's reports and ideas, but until you practice them yourself, you won't know if they are right for you or not! Good job figuring it out! You are going to nail your races next year!

  7. Great post Jon. This is a terrific way to learn to get better as we can't muscle our way through everything (especially the swim.)

  8. I love that you are such a thinker and analyze every detail! You got it....bring on the new racing schedule and rock it:)

  9. Great reflections!

    I want to get up to your neck of the woods asap for a ride before we lose the good weather! Let me know when you're around.

  10. aaaaahhhhhhhh
    wattage and FTP talk make me really freaked out about everything I dont know about the bike!!!! Have no idea what FTP is. Obviously wattage a power output measurement of some kind...know nothing on this either.
    I guess thats my tradeoff for great info you have helped me with on training / nutrition, preparation for the Tri thankks for that -
    but....still wigs me out! Am i supposed to know this crap? gotta get some knowledge going...

    great review

  11. This is called brain swarming! I learned the hard way the need to train like you race for my last race. I definitely slacked off a bit and paid the price. I might have come away with a PR on a longer course, but comparatively speaking, I really sucked. I also lost steam big time. Live and learn.

  12. It's interesting to see what works for you and what doesn't. I like that you are reflecting on your season - it'll help you next year for sure!

  13. Really compelling thoughts and reflections on the year. I'm impressed mostly by the swimming gains (as that's an area I'd like to gain speed in as well). Carry all this into next year, and it will be a banner one for you!

  14. Great post!

    I echo your thoughts on swimming. Speed workouts have done wonders for my times. It works so much better than just going up to the pool and racking up the yards.

  15. Good tips, they are very helpful for a newbie like me!


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