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Intelligent Triathlon -,Improve Your Run Speed - Unconventionally!
September 18, 2012

Intelligent Triathlon Talk


18th September 2012, Issue No 9.


Welcome to Intelligent Triathlon Talk.

In this issue:

  • News Update: Olympic report
  • Training Advice: Increase your run speed – the unconventional way
  • Win: A BlueSeventy wetsuit and Endurance Shield sunblock


Mark's Squad News

(Mark is Performance Coach for British Triathlon’s High Performance Centre in Loughborough.)

Those of you who read our last newsletter will know that one of Mark’s athletes, Lucy Hall, was selected for the GB Olympic team.

The GB Women's Olympic Team, Lucy on the left

Mark explains how things went:

Lucy was selected in a team role to help Helen Jenkins and influence the race in the way we wanted it to go. Helen had proven herself as one of the best swim-bikers in triathlon, and amongst the best runners. But to enhance her chances we wanted to keep the pressure on at the front of the race and prevent some of the slower swimmers getting an easy ride.

In the lead up to the Games we knew Helen was carrying an injury – not bad enough to stop her racing, but she wasn’t able to do as much training as she would have liked. In this situation, our team race strategy became even more important.

Obviously as you’ll know if you saw the race, the best laid plans don’t always work out. Lucy’s role was to take the swim out hard and make sure she had a small group with her. As most of you will know, trying to identify people during the swim is not easy! So the assumption was that with Helen being a good swimmer, she would be part of that group with Lucy.

Leading a group of 6 others out of the water with nearly a minute lead on the main pack Lucy quickly realised Helen was not there, at which point plan B came into effect.

Lucy maintained her position without working in the lead group, waiting for the chase group to catch them whilst saving her legs for when that happened.

Once the chase group caught the lead group, Lucy began to dominate at the front, keeping the pace high enough so that chase groups couldn’t catch them and meaning that no one got too much rest if they were hiding in the pack.

Once onto the run, for Lucy it was just a case of getting round as to do her role we had to modify her training dramatically, dropping the amount of running she did. In the end she finished a respectable 33rd, whilst Helen finished 5th.

Lucy was happy with her race, but all 3 girls were disappointed that Helen didn’t get a medal, none more than Helen herself. But the team went with a plan and executed it.

Many people look at the strategy and say that it didn’t work. But did it get Helen a higher finish place than she would have on her own? 5th, and only 31 seconds behind the winner with limited running in the lead up to the race is an excellent result, and it is doubtful any other GB woman would have been capable of finishing higher.

As for Lucy, after the race the team moved from their hotel at Hyde Park into the Olympic Village, which was a fantastic experience for her.

That and experiencing the Olympic race, particularly at a home Games was a once in a lifetime experience for her, even more special for a 20 year old who only 18 months before was not in the frame for Olympic selection.

It will all stand her in good stead in the build up to Rio, and she will have time to focus on improving her running.

Next for the squad is for some a trip to Yokohama for the next round of the World Championship Series, before we all head to the Grand Final in Auckland. Lucy will be racing in the U23 World Championships race in Auckland.

And a bit of news hot off the press is a fantastic 6th place for Aaron Harris in the French Grand Prix race in Nice on Sunday, taking a lot of big scalps in the process – including Alastair Brownlee, the Olympic Champion himself!


Mark's Training Tip Of The Month

Improve Your Run Speed The Unconventional Way

Even though the season is still one month away from ending, we have already started planning for the winter.

One of the things I have been looking at over the summer is periodization of winter training.

The last couple of years with my British Triathlon squad has been about improving the swim to get people in the race. Now that that has been achieved, despite the fact that most of the guys are running sub 30 minutes for 10K, they need to increase their run speed even further to progress their race results.

One of the things I have been looking at is how to periodise training to achieve this. So this winter, we are going to try ‘reverse periodisation’ (although I hate that term!).

We will be aiming to introduce high top end run speed into the programme at the start of winter training. So running at VVO2max pace or faster, but not in high load sessions.

So they will have lots of recovery, and be focussing on good technique. Hill sprints will be part of the programme at this stage, as will drills and strength work in the gym focussing on foot and lower limb strength. These sessions will be combined with a high volume of low intensity running.

By the time we go into the race season we will be doing big long endurance sessions - eg 4 x 3K at race pace.

The idea behind this is to develop power, strength and form at high speeds, combined with a large aerobic volume of low intensity running.

As we gradually bring the duration of reps up and the speeds down, the athletes will be better able to hold that form and get better adaptation to the sessions.

It also means when we are trying to maintain form for long periods during the race season they have a better aerobic base and are not trying to squeeze in too many fast sessions amongst races. Races themselves are those long hard aerobic training sessions. They should just need a short top of up speed periodically during the season.

So this is an approach worth considering if you are looking to increase your run speed, particularly if you feel you have plateaued in this area and aren’t progressing.

We’ll let you know how it goes! And if you try it, do let us know how you get on!


Free Wetsuit?!

Our competition to win a Blueseventy wetsuit or some fantastic Endurance Shield sunblock is entering its final days, so please get your entry in, just follow this link.

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See you next time!

Rhona & Mark

© 2012, Intelligent Triathlon Training, published by Rhona Pearce. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.

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