Good luck to Kirsten Sass, Steel City Endurance athelte coached by Suzanne Atkinson in this weekends Duathlon World Championships in Aviles, Spain.
Kirsten earned her spot in Team USA by winning last years sprint and standardized Duathlon National championships on the same day!
Kirsten entered 2015 wanting to improve her running form and dedicated herself to both technique as well as training. Running transformation camp with Bobby McGee early in the season set the stage for her to not only improve her form, but also quickly improve her post bike speed and resiliency in run training.
Her “secret” run training included short post bike race bricks. Not simply doing a hard bike ride followed by a trainig brick, but competing in road bike and time trial races (often winning) and then immediately doing a quick 10-15 minute run.
These sessions forced her to learn leg turnover after digging deep in a race effort not just a hard trainig effort. The difference may seem subtle but it’s significant.
Kirstens training also included progressive training blocks that built strength, leg speed, neuromuscular connections and of course overall fitness.
Her run improvements since her stress fracture in 2013 have been from a long term planning arc, and not from a need or desire to hit a specific pace at a specific time in her season.
This is is the true result of process over outcomes…competing with team USA at the World Championships.
Good luck Kirsten!!
1000 Meter Freestyle Workouts for Triathletes
Whether you are looking to swim a sprint distance or an Iron distance triathlon, having a few “goto” 1000 meter or 1000 yard freestyle workouts will help keep you from getting into a rut when training. For the long course triathletes, do these 1000 meter/yard sets 2 or even 3 times through to cover the distance needed in your training.
Creating a Mini-Project Accelerates Your Progress
You can use these sets to create mini projects or tasks to challenge yourself. It is a great way to stay engaged with your swimming and take control over your own training plan.
For example, a 1000 yd improvement project may look like a sequence of 3 sessions cycled through for 3-6 rounds before retesting. You can use these 1000 meter/ yard sets as the main set, add a 500yd tuneup or warmup to swim exactly 1500m (a swimmers mile). If you are swimming in a yard pool, just add on a 150 yard cool-down for an imperial version of the swimmers mile (1650 yards)
If you are looking for a main set that’s longer, such as 2000 or 3000 yards or meters, you can repeat the main set, or combine two of these into one practice.
Suppose you’re looking for 2000yd main sets, you could take these three suggestions below, each at 1000 meters/yards and to them in any of 3 combinations (1 & 2, 2 & 3, 1 & 3). Rotate through these combos for a unique set of 3 main sets, each having a set that you do twice before taking a break from it. There are a lot of ways to customize this practice idea.
Here are sample 1000 meter practices sets for you to play with
Pre-project test set: favorite warmup, 1000yd TT with splits & stroke counts, cooldown
Swim #1: 5 x 200
Swim #2: 10 x 100
Swim #3: 5 sets of 4×50
For each of these swims you can choose some element to improve like…consistent SPL across all sets, or consistent tempo (use a tempo trainer). When you gain or if you already have good control, manipulate a variable…like 5 x 200 swimming the first 50 at one SPL, the next 100 at SPL + 1 and the last 50 at SPL + 2. This should result in a build within each 200.
Vary the rest intervals to create a bit of variety. Since the 200s are more aerobic, keep the RI short in that practice. Since the 50s *can* be anaerobic, maybe choose to swim descending 50s with 30 sec rest, rest 2 minutes and repeat that 4 more times.
Then you cycle back to the 5 x 200 set and have some comparison…choose 1 metric to try and improve.
After 3 cycles of this…whether you swim every day, every other day or 2 times a week…you go back to your 1000yd TT and by that time you should KNOW before you swim it that you’ve improved based on metrics from the previous sets.
Maintain Focus on Form and Skill During this time as well.
Be sure to toss in at least 1 swim, possibly 2, of un-timed, form only swim sets, other strokes, or a team workout for variety. Or a water aerobics class.
Comment below with how you are using these sets!
For more ideas on creating swimming improvement projects consider downloading this Fresh Freestyle Sampler for 3 practice swims from our book.
Congratulations to our Steel City Endurance athletes & coaches competing in spring running races. Here are a few photos of our superstars who have been outside dealing with winter training elements including snow, ice, rain, fog, morning & evening darkness and are getting results worth sharing.
Spring races are not only our first chance to get out of the winter training doldrums, but also provide great information on where our fitness level is at the current time, which can help you structure upcoming training blocks for the best effectiveness in training.
Nick Hamilton, Just a Short Run
Nick ran the 13.1 mile distance “Just a Short Run” as a training event and took 4 minutes of of his prior half-marathon time, placing 3rd in his age group!
Ahmed “Doc” Fahmey, New York City Half-Marathon
Doc Fahmey took time out of his crazy clinical schedule to sneak in this cold half-marathon in New York City, while building up to his next two races, Syracuse 70.3 and Lake Placid Ironman.
Steven Benardete, 60-64 yo Age Group Winner, Two Rivers Half Marathon, PA
Steve entered this half-marathon race as a taper event for the upcoming Boston Marathon and took first place in his age group.
Many triathletes coming from single sport or team sport backgrounds are used to integrating variety of practices and intensities to improve. Mile repeats (track) , Auburn sprints (swimming), 3-on-3 scrimmage (soccer or basketball), “around-the-horn” (baseball) are all well known practices in their respective sports.
A challenge for the triathlete is how to continue to use interval training while drastically reducing the frequency of workouts in one sport. This triathlete expresses the concern well. I’ve removed his actual 5k speed, because the answer that follows is somewhat irrelevant.
I’m new to triathlon but I have been running for a few years now. It’s recently dawned on me after many years of half marathons and that a workout without a purpose is a wasted workout. It’s often not the time you spend on it that makes the quality.
My running is not what I would like it to be over 5k and 10k. Can anyone recommend a decent set of running intervals to do to start me improving my times? My idea is to do two running sessions a week; 1 long run and 1 on interval / speed work.
A common response to this type of question is to simply run more…4-5 runs a week with most of them being easy miles. That’s definately an option, but reality for many triatheltes is that they can’t fit in more than two sessions a week of one sport, because perhaps they are limited to 6 sessions a week or maybe they are already swimming 5 days a week and cycling 4 days.
From a coach’s perspective I look for ways to help the athlete get the most out of their training time. Sometimes it may require that they find time to train more often. But I’m not the controller of their schedule and in the end, there will be plenty of folks who can only run twice a week. So what’s the best way for them to use their time?
In the case of this triathlete, it sounds like she is an experienced runner. Doing interval training once per week and an easy run once per week will probably result in some speed gains or at least prevent speed losses.
Here is an example of a 9-12 week progression, that can easily be extended to a 4-6 month routine if a runner is limited to only two runs per week. I’d recommend starting with a 5k test or race (keep it fun!) and repeat that at 4-6 week intervals.
12 week plan for 5k/10k interval work
3-4 weeks of 1 weekly fartlek session…google fartlek if you don’t know what it is
3-4 weeks of 1 weekly hill repeat session progressing duration of hills from 5-6 repeats of 30seconds week1, to 45 seconds week2 to 1 minute week 3 and 90 sec week four. Downhill walk/jog recovery. next time through the progression, start at 1 miin, then 1:30, then 2 min, then 3 minute hills.
3-4 weeks of 5k paced 400 repeats. Take your 5k pace, calculate your equivalent pace for a 400 & subtract 2-4 seconds from that. week 1 do 4-6 repeats, week 2 do 6-8 and week 3 do 8-10. Week 4 8-12. The goal is to nail the pace, not beat the pace.
Strong Before Long – Why this works
This progression is moderate, meaning there is a low likelihood of injury. It allows you to build playful speed first, then leg strength, the 5k specific speed. This is a concept that is sometimes referred to as “strong before long” by run coach Bobby McGee. Building leg strength functionally with hill intervals, then take that leg strength into 400 (1/4 mile) repeats at your current 5k pace or slightly faster to work on leg speed. The combination is powerful for building speed at 5 & 10k distances.
If you’re just coming off of marathon training, half marathon training (or half-iron & iron distance) training, the endurance you’ll carry over will also stick around for a little while. This plan would then help you also run a pretty speedy half-marathon even when cutting your run frequency back significantly.
Even if you can running 3-4 times per week, I’d suggest the above as your weekly “speed” work and let me know how it works!
Our athletes occasionally make the news due to their accomplishments, fund-raising efforts or interesting local involvement. Here is an annotated collection of such stories in no particular order.
Sass, Isabella win MIM Triathlon
Kirsten Sass wins the 2015 Memphis in May Olympic Distance Womens race in a timed 2:02:18:54. She also won the Sprint race the day before in 1:00.49, for an overall combined winning time in the Amateur Challenge (best time for both races)
We have athletes of all experience levels training with our coaches, and sometimes we take for granted how much knowledge triathletes have. There’s no such thing as a question too simple, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that a question that seems basic was once a question we didn’t ahve answers to.
It’s only through familiarity, repetition and surrounding ourselves with training resources daily that common sense triathlon answers become common sense! (more…)