Monday, February 1, 2016


Planning Your Nutrition Focus

by Sue Aquila

After smashing my ribs and clavicle this season, I decided to use my down time to work on learning more about nutrition. Once cleared to restart my Kona prep, I focused on chasing elite level body composition (women less than 18% body fat).

I knew to reach my goal I would need professional help. I contacted Brittney Bearden, Registered Dietician (RD). Brittney is a sports nutritionist for Division I athletes at Indiana University.

The first thing Brittney asked me to do was keep a food log. She suggested using the app MyFitnessPal. I found it super easy to use and started logging my food intake immediately. Yes, I even purchased a food scale for travel.

In our first meeting she did a bod pod to compare with a previous bod pod I received as part of a study at IU. After the bod pod we discussed my goals. My first was to train hard and have a great race at Kona. My second was to to be as lean as possible while retaining as much muscle mass as I could.

The last part of the meeting involved reviewing my food log. Here is what I learned:

  1. I eat healthy.
  2. I often ate too much protein.
  3. I usually ate too few carbs.
  4. I did not eat enough fats. Lower than low fat.
  5. My calorie consumption was low for my level of training.

How did this happen? As my training evolved in quality/quantity, I failed to change my nutrition. I learned I can’t fuel an elite performance with a middle of the pack diet.

Should I Ride with a Power Meter?

As the season winds down and the training days get shorter we have time to think about next season’s goals and to look into the gear we want to get. It’s a good time to ask yourself, “Should I be riding with a power meter?” I have used a power meter for the last five years, so my answer is of course: absolutely!

The End of Your Season

At the end of the triathlon race season the two most common mistakes I see are athletes wanting to run a marathon or athletes taking way too long a break postseason.

Good News for Athletes' Hearts

Here’s some good news for triathletes on the “too much exercise” front. A recent report in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health takes a look at the heart health of recreational triathletes. The study deserves our attention.

How "Off" Should I Be?

People have different definitions of “off” when it comes to defining an offseason. For some, it truly means a break in any and all activity. For others, it can just mean they do whatever they feel like for a while. For myself, it has changed over the years and what I did 10 years ago is not the same as what I do now.

Money Workouts

You have heard the saying, “That was money!” or how about, “That’s money in the bank!” Neither one of these sayings have anything to do with actual money but have everything to do with making a gain in training.

How Long Can I Hold My Peak?

A couple of seasons ago, I had the opportunity to work with a small group of ITU athletes. The experience was fun and frustrating at the same time. It was a constant battle between building fitness and hanging onto this fitness during extended periods of racing. However, I did learn a lot from this different approach to racing.

What to Do When Your Priority Race Gets Cancelled

Most of you have probably heard by now that both Ironman and 70.3 Lake Tahoe were cancelled this year due to an arson fire that has destroyed over 89,000 acres. Devastating is the only word I can think of to describe what this fire has done in so many ways.

If you were one of the athletes planning to toe the line, what do you do now?

Strength Before Speed - Three Run Workouts

by Gordo Byrn

If your workouts are more impressive than your race splits then this series is for you.

Hills Then Flat - building late-race performance
Aim for 75-90 minutes in rolling hills and follow with 30-45 minutes as flat as possible. I use three variations:

  1. Just Do It - Stay relaxed throughout with a Mod-Hard HR cap on the climbs; the downhills relaxed and smooth; and the flat done no more intensely than Steady HR.

Embracing Your World Championship

I find the athletes that I meet before a championship race (70.3, 140.6) often deflect their intentions for the race. I believe that it is one of the few times in their lives they find themselves to be just one among thousands of the best athletes in the world.


Pacing is one of the most talked about subjects when it comes to endurance sport. You get this wrong and no matter how well trained you are, your day can be blown apart.

When you are asking yourself to race for a long time, the concept of pacing means more than just how fast you're going; it means emotional control, fueling, dealing with discomfort and controlling your ability to focus.

Coming Back From a Layoff - Part 1: The Short-Term Break

We all go through ups and downs while training, especially those of us who are amateur athletes. A lot of other things will take priority: work, family, kids and even other hobby’s. Before you know it, it has been a few weeks or even a month or two since any meaningful training. I find it best to first realize one thing: it is no big deal!

Training Zone Calculator

I've put together a calculator that will give you some recommendations on your personal heart rate and pace/power zones in line with EC’s terminology.

If you regularly repeat the test protocols and save the data, you'll be able to benchmark your fitness throughout the year.

My Top Bike Tips

Over the years, I’ve spent about $75,000 on bike gear. Here's what I’ve learned about bike material, components, wheels, and buying used versus new.

Sue Aquila Talks Recovery from a Crash with IMTalk

EC coach and elite age-grouper Sue Aquila crashed during this year's Munice 70.3, breaking some ribs and her collarbone in the process. She's been focused and diligent with her recovery and return to training in order to prep for Kona this year. Sue recently took some time with John and Bevan at IMTalk to discuss her approach and recommendations for what to do after a crash.

You can hear the interview on the latest episode of IMTalk.

The Hidden Cost of an Overly Aggressive Bike Position

With the 2015 bikes hitting the market, many ironfolk will be "looking to upgrade." Usually this means better materials, sleeker lines, hiding more "stuff" and, above all else, more aggressive geometry. After all, nothing looks better rolling through transition than a bike with full aero set up and a huge drop. Big drop = low frontal area = this dude is serious about laying down a fast bike split!

Well, there is one element of that equation that is missing: big drop + holding the position for 5ish hours = fast bike split!

Swimming in the Front

I used to get so fired up for the swim at most of my races. But it wasn’t until I learned how to be a smarter swimmer that I really got confident with my swim ability. When I first started triathlon, I was three years past my collegiate swim career and I was still thinking like a swimmer: my strategy for races was to put my head down and just go like hell from the start.

Race Weight for Eaters

Following a high load training protocol while glycogen depleted will trigger health problems. So please remember to never lose the last kilo and arrive at race day fit, fresh and focused.

The most important tactic is to eat when you train and replace what your burn -- you’ll only have a limited number of long days where you can train your body to process calories. Take your key days seriously.

Eat, drink and pace so you can finish strong.

Stop Training and Start Practicing

A young triathlete recently reached out to me with a question about nutrition. He was gearing up for his first 70.3 in a few weeks. He mentioned that he usually fuels with water during training and was curious about what to do in his upcoming race.

The Short/Long Stack

As athletes get ready to take on long course races (half ironman to ironman distance) they often question whether they might benefit from racing a shorter event in the final few weeks of preparation; specifically two to four weeks before their ‘A’ races. As with many questions, the answer is: “it depends.”

Our Favorite Workouts: Understanding the Tempo Run

The Tempo Run. It has been defined many ways by many great coaches. Daniels calls it a pace between T pace and M pace and it is based on the amount of tempo you do (20-60 minutes). McMillian says it is a “comfortably hard pace and your heart rate will be around 85-90% of your max heart rate.” Hanson says it is simply “marathon pace.”

I knew while I was racing that the tempo run was one of my best workouts to gain speed and strength for ironman.

Going Short

For those who follow the founding member of Endurance Corner, you may notice the title of the article is a play on his book, “Going Long”.

But where does short course racing fit in a long course athlete's season? Perhaps a better question is, does it even belong there in the first place?

My personal opinion is, absolutely!

Are You a Trainer or Racer?

A number of years ago I did race with a training buddy whom at the end of the day I had beaten. After the race he exclaimed, “Man you race faster than you train!” My response was a quirky smile and a, “Yeah, racing is racing, training is training.”

Strength Before Speed - Three Swim Sets

If you’ve ever had the experience of your arms turning to rubber after the first 400 of a swim start then this post is for you.

Open water swimming has more in common with a bike race than a time-trial. There are many rapid changes in pace and you need to be able to recover while continuing to move forward.

The Creak

When there’s a creak on your bike it’s noticeable right away. Your riding partner can hear it over an iPod earbud full of Skrillex. It’s loud, annoying and embarrassing. But where is it coming from and what can you do?

Planning Your Race Year - Short Course to Long Course

There are several ways to plan out your year. There are so many races on the calendar now the opportunities are endless and can be year round. While the wealth of race options is great, it can be more difficult to figure out how you want to plan your season.

Adjusting on Race Day

When the canon fires on race day, there’s a plan in place that is assembled through months of training.

Unfortunately, there can be, and often are, hiccups in the plan.

Getting Chicked: Women Triathletes and Drafting

Two things I dislike in triathlon:
1. The phrase "Getting Chicked"
2. Fast age group men whose goal is to race pro women or fast age group women

To Bag or Not to Bag

We have all been there. The feeling of “off” -- things are not clicking, everything feels like work. We can get this in training on multiple levels. On any given workout you may have a focus and as the workout starts things are not falling into place. What do you do?

Thoughts on Peaking Right

One aspect of the art of building a program is understanding how to have an athlete at his or her best come race day.

As a coach, you need to have a clear understanding of how the year breaks up and the type of athlete you're working with. As an athlete, you need to be aware of your natural strengths and weaknesses.