Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tri Training Tips

Training Progression Discussion with the Triathlete Training Podcast

Justin Daerr was recently interviewed about his training progression with Eric Schwarz from the Triathlete Training Podcast. During the podcast, they discuss Justin's training leading in to IM Boulder, including his build over his years of racing, as well as his thoughts on racing at altitude and a slightly different approach to nutrition.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Pace Checking Intervals for Swimming

At our last Boulder Camp, I was asked to comment on how I approach swim training with triathletes who lack a swim background. All but one of the athletes I currently work with learned to swim when they took up triathlon, as I did when I was in college over a decade ago.

Running Rehab - Adding Load Wisely

Let’s recap my first article on Real World Rehab:

  1. Start by completing 50 runs of two miles -- took me three months
  2. Shorter of five miles and an hour -- every other day for another three months

The above will progress you to 7x45 minutes per 14 days. This works out to about 2:40 per week and will give you with a base of about 160 minutes per week that you’ll want to repeat for at least six weeks before adding my tips below.

30-Minute Workouts

These are my current “go to” workouts when time is tight (or motivation is low!).

I always feel better after one of these.

Different Perspectives: What Worked / Didn't Work This Year

To wrap up the year, we asked some of the EC writing team to share some of the things that worked for them this season and the things that they'll be passing on in the future.

A Look at Louisville

The EC coaching team had a great day at Ironman Louisville this year, with a second win on the course for Chris McDonald, a third place finish for Justin Daerr and a brilliant return to iron-distance racing by Marilyn McDonald.

Chris, Justin and Marilyn sat down to share their perspectives on the day and their training leading into the event.

Click here to listen to their conversation.

Different Perspectives: Time Wasters and How to Avoid Them

Most people have something that takes up a lot of time but doesn't provide much benefit to their lives.

To wrap up Time Management month on Endurance Corner we asked some of the EC team to share their thoughts on "unproductive" time sucks and what they do to minimize time wasted.

Different Perspectives: Training Camp Locales

"Training Camp" month may be officially over here at Endurance Corner, but that doesn't mean we don't have more to say on the topic. In the spirit of Coach Marilyn's article on training camp venues, we asked our panel of experts to share some of their favorite training locales.

There are different reasons why each contributor picked a particular training camp or location as his or her favorite, but you'll see that each has one thing in common -- the training was fun.

IMTalk "Workout of the Month" Feature

Endurance Corner recently partnered with IMTalk on a "Workout of the Month" feature. Each month, someone from the EC team performs an IMTalk listener workout and then shares his or her feedback with John and Bevan on the show.

Justin Daerr was first up for the new feature. From Justin: "I recently chatted with John and Bevan from IMTalk for their 'workout of the month.' This month's workout consisted of hill repeats during a run focus period. You can hear my thoughts on this workout and hill running in general."

Listen to the show

Visit IMTalk

Gordo's Guide to Ironman Canada

Gordo's Guide to Ironman Canada
By Gordo Byrn

Gordo placed 22nd overall at Ironman Canada in 2000 and 8th overall in 2001, so this is a race course he knows well. Here, he shares his thoughts on the Penticton course.

In 1999, IMC was my first Ironman, so the town of Penticton and the Okanagan Valley hold a special place in my heart. I've made my fair share of mistakes out there so I hope that this article will help you avoid repeating some of my more serious gaffes.

The Swim
The swim start is very wide and, even with a record start in 2000, there was plenty of room for everyone to line up. The most important thing to remember is appropriate seeding. If you are a 1:05 or faster swimmer then you will want to be near the front. If you are a 1:30 or slower swimmer then you'll want to be at the back. If you are in the middle then it is best to ask those around you what their expected times are. In 1999, I lined up right at the front ... it wasn't pretty.

The taper, pre-race nerves and the energy from your fellow athletes will cause you to swim far harder that you think. I've had my best swims when I headed out in a controlled manner, found my stroke and then found a draft. Do your best to control yourself.

If you do run into trouble then roll onto your back and do some backstroke. The two main benefits of this strategy are:
a. you can breathe as much as you want, and
b. by staying horizontal other swimmers are more likely to go around (rather than over) you.

The free to back transition is one that you can easily practice in your last few swims as well as during race week. Having been kicked in the head, chest and shoulders by breaststrokers, I'd recommend against this stroke. Backstroke is better sportsmanship.

Gordo's Guide to the Ultraman Course

Gordo's Guide to the Ultraman Course
By Gordo Byrn

xtri asked me to outline my thoughts on the Ultraman Course to give you a bit of an idea about what we’ll be undertaking over the next few days. Over the three days of Ultraman, we will circumnavigate the Big Island covering 320 miles (about 515 kilometers). The course is far different than the Hawaii that most of us see on the annual Ironman broadcast. We’ll be traveling through nearly all of Hawaii’s climatic zones – desert, lava, rainforest, ranch land, pasture, coffee plantations… (I’ll try to get my crew to take photos).

Last year, we were based completely out of Kona and didn’t circle the Island. At the 2002 Awards Dinner, Jane Bockus (our race director) announced that we would be going around the Island again this year. Having the opportunity to do the original Ultraman course and fully experience the Big Island was very attractive to me. It will be tough for me to do justice to the beauty of the route but I can help you get a feel for the major challenges.

At any time, you can check out course profiles and an overall course map by clicking on the images in the sidebar. OK, here we go…

Day One – Swim 6.2 miles (10K) and Bike 90 miles (145K)
The race kicks off 20 minutes before sunrise at 6:30am at the Pier in Kailua-Kona. It’s the same start line as Ironman Hawaii but, with only 30-35 people in the race, it’s far less stressful! Each swimmer has a paddle escort who brings food and drink along for the ride.

Also different from Ironman is that we are allowed to wear wetsuits. The water is a little cooler this time of year and there’s also the risk of stings from jellyfish. Last year I opted for a full-suit but BAKED for the last hour and a half in the water. When I stood up in Keauhou Bay, it felt like coffee was flowing out of my legs!

Gordo's Plans For the Ultraman

Gordo's Plans For the Ultraman
By Gordo Byrn

I’m sitting in the Auckland airport right now, waiting to get on my flight up to Hawaii. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking about my motivations in returning to the Big Island to race. I came up with a few…

We are conditioned to judge “a win” as superior to anything else. I’ve won a couple of races now and, while it is fun to win, it simply shows that nobody went faster that day (or bothered to front up). There’s not much inherent value in the act of winning, anything. The value lies in the preparation that leads into a superior performance.

Having said that, the idea of winning again makes me smile and I hope to have the mental strength to take myself to the wall. Improving on my results from last year, training to really perform at the event – these are very motivating and part of what makes our sport so much fun for me.

Ironman racing is a simple game of steady-state volume and race execution. If an athlete out-trains us then we are going to need a lot of talent and experience to out-perform them. For ultraendurance events, the athletes that prepare the best tend to be the ones that perform the best. I see very little downside from throwing a huge amount of aerobic volume into my early season.

Another Swim Coach quote for you, “outstanding performance comes from extraordinary preparation”. Sticking Ultraman into my November Schedule gets me out in the rain for long rides when I might be temped to stay at home or sit on the trainer. It gets me running 6x a week when most my competitors are recovering from IM Hawaii. I projected out my volume for November and it will be about 150 hours of training. Some of the results of that may show next weekend. However, I expect that we’ll see the real results in March and October of next year.

Back to Ironman Part II: Why Take a Break?

Back to Ironman Part II: Why Take a Break?
By Gordo Byrn

Here's Part Two of my Ironman Brazil story. For me, this is the real story and, hopefully, you'll be able to understand why fifth place in 2006 is a lot more satisfying than second place in 2005. Often times we need to leave something to regain our passion for it.

Athletic Longevity
If you plan on racing Ironman for a long time then I think it is useful to take a 12-15 month break from ultra endurance racing every three to four years. In 2002 and 2005, I had long breaks from structured training - two and eight months respectively. If I'd rested more in 2004 then I might not have needed that long to regain my desire. Still, I don't think that there will be any long term impairment in my performance.

Whilst it is always painful to "lose" fitness, the truth of the matter was that I found myself unable (or unwilling) to do the training required to maintain my fitness, let alone improve it.

When a successful athlete loses training motivation then the coach should look to lack of recovery, rather than lack of dedication.

Both my breaks occurred after training and racing periods with the following characteristics:

* Life best athletic performance at the end of the previous season;
* An early season change in training protocol towards higher average training intensity;
* Short, or no, end of season break; and
* Training mistakes which resulted in significant amounts of work about functional threshold (hard to very hard intensity).

Taking each point in turn…

Life best performance requires life best recovery. The closer we are able to take ourselves to our athletic potential, the greater the rest required at the end of the year. Cam Brown is a great case study on steady improvement combined with deep annual recovery. Even when he "missed" Ironman NZ due to the shortened format, he stuck to his recovery plan.

Back to Ironman Part I: Gordo in Brazil

Back to Ironman Part I: Gordo in Brazil
By Gordo Byrn

Currently, I'm sitting on my flight out of Florianopolis at the start of a multi-day journey to Bermuda. With all my connections and layover, I figure that this is a good time to jot down a few ideas about the last fifteen months. What I'll do, with my editor's indulgence, is break it into two parts. The first bit will be about my race last weekend and the second bit will be about the lessons that I learned coming back from my fifteen month break from Ironman racing.

Monica and I chose Brazil because its position in the year enabled us to get six months of preparation. Typically I race IM New Zealand but, with nine months off my bike in 2005, I decided that an extra three months of training would be prudent.

What I'm going to do is let you inside my race so you can see how things played out strategically. In terms of results I had very close to a perfect day and finished fifth overall. There was only one other athlete that I could have caught on the run, my buddy Stephen Bayliss. He played his hand well and saved a bit for when it mattered.

Three weeks out from Brazil, Monica and I did an Olympic distance race in Miami. The race was a bit of a fiasco from a performance viewpoint but it was good training. In Miami, I had the opportunity to swim side-by-side with M until the swim turnaround (when I prudently started to draft as she accelerated around the buoy). Coming out of that race, M pointed out to me that my first 150 was waaay too fast. I was keying off the guys around us and they went absolutely crazy!

My first tip: keying off athletes on a suicide mission can lead to poor pace judgment. I spent the next three weeks telling everyone that I met how easy I was going to swim, hoping that spoken affirmations might settle me down.

Real World Bike Speed, Part II

Gordo Byrn: Real World Bike Speed, Part 2
By Gordo Byrn

In 2003/2004/2005, I had three podium finishes at Ironman events and managed one of the fastest times ever at Ironman Canada 2004 (8:29). However, those races were done with a 7 meter draft zone.

Bump the draft zone out to 10 meters and my position becomes more relevant. Why? Try sitting fourth wheel at 40 km.h with 5 meter gaps between bikes. You will very quickly see that 7 meters Ironman (front to front) is quasi-draft legal once you can hold 40 km.h. To race well in the agegroup ranks you must learn how to use your competition both effectively and ethically.

Recognizing this fact, I have been working on getting more slippery. With four months until my 40th birthday, there is limited upside with my horsepower. My current position is photographed below.

Things that I want you to notice:

Wheels -- 1080 front, sub-9 disc rear -- this is an insanely fast wheel combo. If you are going to run the 1080 then you must practice in training. If I had to choose my single greatest source of speed then the wheel set wins. I used to be highly skeptical about the impact of wheels until I put these on my bike.

Vision -- I can see up the road without straining my neck. I can't see far... but I can see far enough.

Helmet -- Giro Advantage Two -- if you are a heavy sweater, racing in hot weather, or suffer from dehydration on the run... then GO VENTS. If you are racing in the cold then an aerohelmet is the most efficient way to keep your core temperature up. Keep the tail down against your back (my IMNZ race photo shows a big gap, that is a no-no).

Seat Height -- at the high end of acceptable, seems to work for me.

Real World Bike Speed, Part I

Gordo Byrn: Real World Bike Speed, Part 1
By Gordo Byrn

This week, I'm going to talk a bit about the evolution of my approach to the bike leg in triathlon. I have gone DEEP into the archives for your reading enjoyment!


But first, two multimedia links for you.

Laura Bennett Olympic Video -- great if you have kids that are wondering what it might take to get themselves into the Olympics! The video is about 24 minutes long -- so let it buffer.

Chris McDonald Podcast ( The Big Unit updates on his year since winning IM Louisville last August. Great info on racing Challenge Roth as well as life at the sharp end. More Chris can be found at his blog(


You can waste a ton of energy thinking about your bike position -- each year, I try a few changes in January/February then tinker through the year based on optimizing COMFORT, not power.

Short course athletes might think that comfort doesn't matter. However, if it takes you a few miles to loosen up then your race is OVER before you get into your run groove.

For Ironman, if your back locks up on the bike then you give away tons of "aero". 112 miles of riding is a heck of a long way to endure a tight position.

So, remember what really matters to triathlon performance:

Consistency -- consistent training over many years
Nutrition -- high quality fuel for optimal recovery, body composition and performance
Aerobic Stamina -- maximizing aerobic economy and endurance at your optimal race effort
Pacing -- back-end loaded race effort to optimize speed across each leg and increase the probability of outstanding run performance

Bike position has NOTHING to do with how your bike looks racked in transition. Your bike position is about how you perform on your bike as well as how you run off your bike.

Your true bike position is what you are holding when tired, not fresh.


Marathon Training In The Real World - Part II

Gordo Byrn: Real World Marathoning - Part Two
By Gordo Byrn

Back in November, we posted Part 1 of Gordo's guide to real world marathon training. For more words of wisdom from Gordo, you can check out his blog.

This week I am going to use the answers to your marathon questions to help explain how the fat guy on the right of the photo became the blazing triathlete on the left (see photo at top). Not many people run 2:46 off the bike in an Ironman -- even fewer starting from a very comfortable 200+ lbs.

The Beginner Triathlete Forum has a thread right now on running yourself thin -- the advice that we read on the internet is typically appropriate for the guy on the left. Most of us (even my current self) would do better following what makes sense for the guy on the right. By the way, that really is me... quite stylish with the rolled down boxer shorts!


Q -- What do you consider to be necessary in a core marathon week for a runner targeting a flat course? ( I mean during a 13 week build up following a prep stage of 13 weeks of base training)

A -- Until you are in the top 5% of your race category, you will likely find that your ratio of base-to-build should be more like 150:6 -- six weeks of build for every 150 weeks of base. Now that advice won't sell many magazines but I spent over five years doing nothing but base training. Base training doesn't mean going slow all the time -- it means a focus on building endurance, sport specific strength and using a little bit of tempo/mod-hard in the week.

I still did races but I never tried to "peak" for events -- I simply freshened up a bit went out, raced and kept on training the next week. I raced distances that were UNDER my training distances and saved the long "events" for fun runs/hikes/climbs/adventures in training.

Marathon Training In The Real World - Part I

Marathon Training In The Real World
By Gordo Byrn

This is going to be a two-part series on marathon training. Part One will share some concepts which I believe impact all endurance sports, but especially, marathon training (stand alone and Ironman). Part Two will pick up the questions from last week, as well as, any from this week.


It has been a hectic week for me in Europe and I am now in Asia for a few days before returning to the US. Sorry that I missed the Friday deadline but I was busy growing grey hairs! No announcements this week, we will roll straight into Part One.


I had a look at average results for all marathons in the US in 2005( -- the results didn't surprise me, but they might surprise you. Average male finish time was about 4.5 hours, with the ladies just over 5.0 hours. That is for stand-alone marathons -- not running after 2.4 miles of swimming and 112 miles of riding.

One of the interesting aspects about watching the US Election was that it reminded me that Americans are aspirational in their politics. What I mean is that some Americans will vote against their likely long-term financial interest to protect themselves for when they make-it-big. In America, people believe that everyone has a shot at making it big. In many other countries, people believe that the system is stacked against them (the only way to make it big in many places is to leave!) -- in those situations, soft socialialism (Cdn Style) can make sense. For all you Republicans out there, you have to see the irony about the Democrats co-opting the hope message.

In many ways, I see similar psychological attitudes towards endurance training. Athletes wanting to learn everything possible about elite and high-end run training -- many years before these techniques are appropriate for them.

The Corner: Understanding Intensity Part II

The Corner: Understanding Intensity Part II
By Gordo Byrn

You can find Part One of this article in my blog. It contains charts, technical thoughts and various assumptions, which you’d need a physiology lab to verify. Even then, you could quite easily draw different conclusions to what I wrote.

This week’s article is my attempt to take the ideas in Part One and “keep it real”. I am going to explain how you can pull those ideas into your training and racing.

At our July Boulder Camp, I had the opportunity to listen to Justin and Alan talk about athletic performance. A couple of things stuck with me:

Consistency is about your capacity to repeat sessions that are relevant to your goals. Justin’s point was that training is about more than simply hitting it every day. We need to be repeating sessions that move us closer to what we want to achieve.

Alan shared some thoughts that he had picked up from an author that took Arthur Lydiard’s work on running and applied it to triathlon. Taking what (I think) I heard…

Lydiard wrote about three levels of training intensity:

1/4 effort – the athlete could repeat the session immediately after completing it.

1/2 effort – the athlete could repeat the session the day following completing it.

3/4 effort – the athlete would need more than a day to recovery from the effort.

Within common endurance vocabulary you could refer to these efforts as: Recovery; Steady; and Tempo, respectively.

Full effort would then be any session (or race, or camp, or training strategy) that spends fitness rather than creates it.

The Corner: Understanding Intensity Part I

Origional posting with pictures and graphs located over here

This week's article will require you to put on your thinking caps. It looks long but that's because of all the charts.

This series is going to touch on an aspect of my performance philosophy that is best summed up by a recent Kona Qualifier... why train fast if you are racing slow.

The best coaches/athletes in our sport have an inherent understanding of these issues - they might not use fancy charts but their programs/approach take into account what follows.

Part Two will be my article for next week -- it is going to be a LOT more straightforward than what follows. If you are able to wrap your head around Part One, I think, you'll get more from Part Two.

Let's go!

Something that I noticed early in my athletic career was a huge difference in my tolerance for different types of workload.

The biggest example that I can remember with my own training was the effect that high intensity and flat steady-state riding had on my fatigue. I would become absolutely whipped.

Athletes have large variability in their tolerance for both workload and relative intensity. Over the years I have had this explained to me as:

Constitution - some athletes have superior constitutions... they can just handle it.

Experience - athletes have been racing fast, or training strong, since they were young kids... they can just handle it.

Mental Strength - the athletes that can't handle it are mentally weak. They could do it if they would harden up. You need to buckle down, toughen up and just handle it.

Different Perspectives: Coach Thoughts on the Year

Earlier this month, we asked EC team members to share some thoughts on what worked and what didn't work for them this past season. We followed that up with a question for some of the coaches in our network, asking them to look over their athletes' past seasons and share what stood out -- what worked in training this year and what didn't.

Different Perspectives: What Worked / Didn't Work This Year - 2010

It's "Analyzing Your Season" month on EC. We asked some of the EC network to share the training tips they tried for the first time this season that worked for them and that they'll be implementing again next year. We also asked them to share some of the things they tried for the first time that they won't be trying again.

Final Countdown By Gordo Byrn

Final Countdown
By Gordo Byrn

A grande Americano is without doubt one of the most effective beverages that I know for race week. The caffeine enhances mood and mellows the inevitable hunger-rumble from cutting our food intake in half. Perhaps I am biased, being half stoned from my first one of the day!

Back home, I spend a lot of time sitting at my desk doing my coaching thing, writing and handling my website. A few years back, my wife at the time, gave me a pair of kick-ass-Bose-speakers for my computer. So I’ve always got some nice tunes pumping while I work. One of my favourite artists right now is TuPac. He’s got this song called, “I Love Liquor”. I can tell that TuPac feels the same way about his liquor as I do about my coffee. So I hang out, answer questions about tri training and hum along with the Pac.

It looks like I managed to get myself down to race weight. One of the advantages of the Molina “No Taper” Taper is that you are able to keep your nutritional gains rolling right up to race day. Despite what an exercise physiologist might say, I’ve found a lot of benefits to using a modified race taper leading into my key races. The main things that I avoid are downhill running and excessive intensity. As I am a high volume guy, it only takes me a few days to bounce back from my aerobic- and strength-related fatigue. At least that’s the theory!

I managed to avoid nutritional cracking on the airplane. That’s always a tough thing for me. Even had them place the food in front of me so I could pick out what I wanted – it’s not the first fifteen minutes that causes trouble – it’s the half hour wait before they clear the table. I have to admit that I did ‘investigate’ the desert but didn’t proceed past poking it.

You might get a kick out of what a high-volume guy considers nutritional restraint – it surprised me when I counted! Here’s what I ate on my travel day:

Game Over By Gordo Byrn

Game Over
By Gordo Byrn

Check out the photo, it’s not quite the finish that I was looking for. Here’s my story.

I was rolling along feeling pretty solid – the water was glassy and we were making great time. I was really enjoying my swim. Then I had a close encounter with a box jellyfish – it was a pretty large one and it wrapped around my entire body. Face, neck and both arms.

I knew what had happened and swam over to Bucky, my paddler escort. I applied some anti-sting right away and got back to work. However, I started to get numbness at the base of my spine. That grew until I knew that something just wasn’t right. All I wanted to do was lie down, but that’s not an option 6K into the Ultraman.

That “not right” feeling grew until my body started to shut down. Once my vision went, I called out to Bucky and climbed aboard his kayak (just about sinking to two of us!). Bucky took control, had me hold onto the back and started CRANKING to the nearest lifeguard station. Eventually, I was floating along being dragged to shore by Bucky, whimpering. I pulled myself together, shut up and took the pain (which wasn’t that bad).

One of the safety boats came over and I climbed in. The guys were really nice and I was chuckling on the inside when they asked, “So are you feeling better, yet?” I replied, “Guys, I am feeling VERY bad. Please get me a doctor as fast as you can.” They dialed 911 on their mobile and we were off. “Game over, man.”

February 2004 By Gordo Byrn

February 2004
By Gordo Byrn

One of the most popular topics on my discussion board is anything linked to nutrition. These discussions are pretty much the same old thing over and over. What I thought that I’d do is outline a little background on the topic. I’ll then cover some of the “why” behind the key aspects of an effective nutritional strategy. Some of what I recommend goes against common-held views within the traditional framework of sports nutrition. However, I’ve found them to be both healthy and effective.

Food is an emotive topic and most of our ‘issues’ with food stem from an emotional basis within ourselves. A rapid change in weight (up or down) is typically a sign of a person that is under extreme stress. While this article (as well as those in my book, Going Long, and my tips page) will give you some guidelines, your ability to effectively implement these guidelines will be strongly related to your emotional stability at any one time.

I like to eat like a Hobbit. Even on my lower volume days, I’ll aim to eat four meals throughout the day. On my highest volume days, I will get up to eight meals a day. Let’s focus on a low volume day, which is more like a standard day, for a long course athlete:

First Breakfast – four to six pieces of chopped fruit, with a cup of non-fat cottage cheese

First Session – typically 1:40 of swimming followed by weights and/or an easy run, during this session I’ll eat a couple of bananas

Second Breakfast – stir fry (red onion, mushrooms, eggs and smoked chicken or fish) served with a cup of cooked oatmeal

Lunch – repeat of First Breakfast, typically substitute some cooked meat or fish for the non-fat cottage cheese

Second Session – typically a two- to three-hour ride, I’ll use water, bananas, juices and sports nutrition products during this session

Dinner – either a monster salad that includes an avocado mixed with meat or fish or a stir fry served with a cup of couscous

Preparations with the 'Swedish Doodes' in the House of Pain

March 2004
By Gordo Byrn

You’ve all read the typical “going to do a race in a week’s time” reports – so I thought that I’d offer up something a little different. I’ve had a couple of house guests down here in Christchurch. Two of the Swedish Doodes moved in for the Southern Summer.

First up is my training wing-man, Clas “The Baron” Bjorling. Baron and I have a rapport where we don’t need to speak much to get our point across. I guess that’s what happens when you spend five to eight months each year training alongside someone.

A new addition to the crew is Bjorn “Mister An-der-son” Andersson. The Scandos reading this article will know that Bjorn means “bear” in Swedish. For the last few years, I’ve wanted to have a pet cat or dog. Well, with my travel schedule, pets don’t really work. So I guess that it’s appropriate that I’ve been sent a pet bear.

He’s a unique bear that emerges from hibernation from time to time to smoke himself on, yet another, 250K ride. Mister A doesn’t keep a training log and that might be a good thing because it would make pretty depressing reading for his competition. Early this week he completed a five day “push” of 850K on the bike, seven runs and a swim.

I get a big kick out of Mister A – I’ve known him for two years and it’s taken him that long to loosen up! Turns out that he’s quite entertaining – when he’s not drilling himself on a seven hour ride; crashed out reading cycling magazines in semi-darkness; or listening to some gnarly heavy metal (a band called Nile is his favourite).

My idea for inviting Mister A into the house was to become a better cyclist. I figured that endless Swedish Motorpacing would strengthen me. Only one catch… Mister A’s aerobic threshold power is equal to my lactate threshold power. In two months of training, I think I’ve logged less than ten hours on his wheel and those were highly painful. So, I’ve had to learn from him in a non-training situation.

March 2004 By Gordo Byrn

March 2004
By Gordo Byrn

Ironman New Zealand was the first time that I’ve been in a major race when my pals were key factors on the day. Here’s one guys view of the front end of the race. In reading about the races, we rarely have the opportunity to find out what _really_ happens at the front of a race. I suppose that many of the guys simply don’t want to deal with the hassles that come when folks twist their words or criticize them. I know that’s the reason that a lot of my pro buddies prefer to simply lurk on forums rather than contribute. Here we go…

Race week was COLD! Baron and I were keen to wear our sleeveless wetsuits. As relatively new swimmers, we find that our stroke mechanics are far superior without sleeves. We did a trial swim on Friday morning without sleeves (and wore Ironman neoprene caps). I was able to swim but, after twenty two minutes, had purple lips and it took me three hours to warm up! Baron, at 4% body fat, took five hours to warm-up. We decided to trade a little swim speed to reduce the risk of hypothermia.

On race morning, I opted for a dryland warm-up and entered the water with only two minutes until the start. I lined up with the largest group of pros that I could find and we were off! I started moderately-hard, I’m still not fully convinced of the merits of a 500 meter max effort to start out a nine-hour day. However, I am starting to see the elite swim in a new light.

June 2004 By Gordo Byrn

June 2004
By Gordo Byrn

In an era when many races are getting flatter, shorter and softer, it’s great to see that certain race directors are stepping up to fill a clear void in the triathlon world. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the Triple T Triathlon Tour that took place last weekend in Southern Ohio. Check this out for a weekend line-up…
-> Fri PM – Swim 250m, Bike 5 Miles, Run 1 Mile
-> Sat AM – Swim 1500m, Bike 25 Miles, Run 6.5 Miles
-> Sat PM – Draft Legal Bike 25 Miles, Then Swim 1500m, Then Run 6.5 Miles
-> Sun AM – Half Ironman Race

Over three miles of swimming, 27 miles of running (none of it flat) as well as close to ten thousand feet of climbing on the bike course. A pretty gnarly line-up but don’t think about complaining because the race director (Shannon Kurek) is going shoulder-to-shoulder with you all weekend long, gotta respect that!

I heard of the Triple T a couple of years ago and it caught my interest. I figured that I’d do well at any event that ends with a Half Marathon that’s done when totally shelled. I certainly got my money’s worth. Given the challenging nature of the course, there was an element of self-selection in the field and I got to meet a number of the best age-group athletes in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The Triple T has two main categories – Team and Solo. The teams division consists of three team members. The first two races count as individual TTs and the last two races count as team TTs. So there is a lot of strategy involved in getting the best overall time – and if a team member melts late in the day then it’s pretty costly.

The solo division scoring was simple – best cumulative time – and that’s where I signed up to race. For the solos, the race is essentially a broken Ironman race. Truly fantastic training for any athlete targeting a mid or late season Ironman (the terrain is especially good if that happens to be Placid or Wisco).

Iron School by Gordo Byrn

August 2004
By Gordo Byrn

Preparing for IM Canada a couple of years ago, my coach (Scott Molina) had me go ‘old school’. Following my Spring 2004 Adventure (swim-bike-run America), Scott thought that it would be a good thing for me to enroll in Iron School. Having written a book on Ironman training, and managed a few solid race finishes – I was starting to feel that I had a solid grasp of what it takes to be a quality coach-athlete-IMer. I was about to be humbled, yet again!

What’s Iron School? It’s my name for Dave Scott’s elite training group based here in Boulder. Dave likes to call it Team World – I suppose that’s because we come from all over the place. I’d heard of Dave’s group last year and had visions of ripped athletes shredding sets like 60x100 on 1:05. I was highly concerned about my ability to survive. However, with over 500 hours of training in my body for the first five months of the year, I figured that now was a good time to give it a go. At 35, I’m not getting any younger.

Scott had warned me, “Dave will challenge you to go pretty hard. But it’s the best coaching education that you’ll ever get and, besides, the chicks are hot.” He was right on all counts.

Day One
As it turned out, I recognized Dave from his calves. He had his back to me when I first saw him and I noticed two tanned ripped calves extending down from his shorts. I wandered up and he welcomed me to the crew.

Coming off nine weeks of living in a trainer with the Baron, it was a shock to my system to be doing core work with five hard body babes (HBBs) wearing not much more than sports bras and tri-shorts. That first day the “men” consisted of Dave and me. We did about 45 minutes of core and balance work in a squash court. I’d been careful to arrive in decent shape, but it sure seemed that I had the highest body fat in the room.

Eve of Ironman Canada 2004, Gordo

August 2004
By Gordo Byrn

It's been six years now that I've been coming to Penticton so the routines and faces of race week are starting to become quite familiar. I've been backing off for the last few days and my body is coming around quite nicely. It's always a pleasure to come back down to sea-level and feel like I am enjoying the benefits of some "free speed" from the extra oxygen.

We've got a first class field in both the men's and women's races. So it should be a great day on Sunday. The current weather forecast is for relatively 'kind' conditions so, given the competition, I expect that we'll see some very fast times out there. Hopefully, my time will be one of the speedy ones!

I've had a great build up over the last ten weeks. Complete and total commitment to my goal of going fast on Sunday -- regardless of how things turn out, I've had a fantastic summer and learned a tremendous amount from Dave and the crew in Boulder. I declined to make predictions for myself last year but I did tip Raynard. This year, I see several guys that could have breakthrough performances and expect an exciting day out there. Look for Tom Evans to race from the front and challenge the rest of us to try to catch him. He's a great competitor and a local favourite.

Last year, Steve King was pretty surprised to see me running down the chute for 3rd place. We'll see if I can manage to be a factor a little earlier in the day this time.

More next week,
- Gordo