Monday, February 1, 2016

Marilyn Chychota

Workout of the Month: The Big Loop

Pretty much everybody who decides they want to do an ironman knows there are going to be some long rides. It usually varies on how many or how often for different people and different programs. Each athlete's ability and experience level also dictates the length of the long ride.

I am a cyclist at heart. I love riding my bike. The beauty about cycling is generally the more you can ride, the better you get. There does come a point where the work rate itself within the total hours of riding becomes key, but nobody can argue the importance of the big epic ride within the ironman build. It gives you the chance to practice pacing and nutrition, builds durability and endurance, and helps you embrace the mental challenges of being out there a long time.

Tackling Weaknesses for a Breakthrough

You know those sessions that cause you to just cringe in fear if anyone even mentions them? We all have them. The coach says, "Okay, today we are going to do a solo bike TT for one hour, best possible pace," or "1500m TT in the pool," and you get that shudder.

Our Favorite Workouts: Swim to Bike Transition

This workout is a session geared towards those short course speedsters, people who struggle with that first 30 minutes from swim to ride or races that require you to hop right onto your bike and be geared to race it from the start.

Mental Skills for Racing

If you are already doing everything you can on the physical side to prepare for racing and are looking for the next step to reach your goals, consider looking at your mental game plan. Here is a simple step by step strategy to improving your mental skills that you can practice in training and put in place come race day.

You Will Survive

We just had the pleasure of hosting another great EC training camp with another amazing group of athletes.

One thing I can recall saying more than once throughout the training camp to people is, "You will survive."

Workout of the Month: Quality in Your Long Ride

With a lot of early season half ironmans are already starting to pop up, it won't be long until many of us are going to start to be back at a start line.

If you are starting to think about racing this spring, adding good quality work to your long rides is key. 

A common mistake athletes make is not having enough difference between their fast efforts and their easy efforts. Make your quality work fast and your easy very easy. You want to see a big difference between the two in speed and power.

Make or Break Your Race by Planning Right for Travel

A big part of the success of your race comes from planning and preparation. For months you look after training, life details, nutrition and recovery. After managing all that, a piece of the success puzzle that is often overlooked is your plan for travel to your race.

It's key to map out your plan with your travel and logistics to have things run smooth leading up to race day. Being prepared with this will allow you the time to really recoup and be ready for your event.

Our Favorite Workouts: Getting Ready for Speed Work

Triathlon is an endurance event, no matter what distance you choose. From a one-hour to 17-hour race, you are asking yourself to race for a long time. This kind of racing take strength, it takes endurance, and most of all it takes a lot of conditioning. If you've frequently raced long and for a number of years it's easy to get sidelined into only going slow, long, easy.

If you find yourself getting "slow," remember there needs to be a certain amount of speed and power in your plan all year.

Goals and Your Life - Do They Match?

I have been thinking a lot as I chat with friends and athletes about new year goal setting. There needs to be a direct responsibility for your results. Reaching goals doesn't come by accident. It comes from clear planning and a real connection with what it takes to achieve those goals.

Workout of the Month: Winter Gym

As you face the winter you might be starting to look at areas you can work on that you aren't able to target during your race season.

Through my 20s I spent many hours in the gym learning all kinds of dynamic strength programs for different sports. Most of them were explosive sports, but as I ventured into the endurance world I took the time to learn the value of gym strength in training for the long stuff.

Choosing a Race Calendar to Suit You

Many of us are starting to look at the race calendar for next season. With are so many great choices available year round -- especially if you are willing to travel -- there are a number of ways to approach your season and no way is right or wrong. You just need to know what works for you.

Workout of the Month: Back on the Trainer

A lot of us are starting to see the weather change and are starting to think about climbing back on the trainer for the winter months. A combination of good trainer sessions to keep you motivated while stuck inside is key.

I've never been a believer in just sitting on an indoor trainer and riding easy for three to five hours. I think an athlete would be much better off heading out for a snow shoe, skate ski or hike. I believe every time you get on the trainer in the winter months you should have a purpose -- a session written out with some focus in it.

Day to Day Nutrition - Staying Healthy and Lean

One of the most common questions I get asked is about nutrition: "How do I get as lean as I possibly can, live in my hectic life and have the energy I need to train and recover?"

The answer is slightly different for each athlete, but the key points stand true for nearly everyone.

It's all about finding out how you are not being true to yourself.

Triathlon Heroes

Do you remember being a little kid and sitting glued to the TV or magazines and thinking, “I wanna be just like them when I grow up?”

We all have heroes -- we have people and icons throughout our life that we admire and aspire or dream we could be like. As we grow older these heroes change and help mold who we are. We use those images in our heads to help guide us and motivate us.

So You Wanna Be Fast?

This month’s theme on EC is what it takes to be fast. Because my husband, most of my close friends and I all train full-time to try to win races, I have close exposure every day to what it takes to be fast.

We've all seen them, those infomercials that yell out, “Just do this machine for 20 minutes, three times per week and you'll lose 100lbs,” “Take this magical formula and whammo, you'll be 60lbs lighter without changing anything you eat,” or, “If you rub this lotion on or wear this garment you'll have the tightest butt in the world.”

As humans today we love those options: get to where we want to go with no effort, as quickly as possible. Everything is a touch this, click that, do it for you gadget. We barely even need to think anymore or ever consider being creative; it's all done for us.

But here’s the beauty of sport, and especially a sport as hard as triathlon:


Find Time to Get Fast

Nobody likes to hear that the person winning his or her age group only works 10 hours a week, takes a summer sabbatical to just train and race, and has no family commitments. But the truth is, more than not, this is the case. The people winning their age groups at Worlds have this option. They have situated their lives 100% around this one goal. 

If you don't have this option I can offer some guidelines.

The Long Road to Recovery

I recently completed my second half IM of the year and am looking forward to another one in a few weeks. I never forget the road I've been down the past three years when I'm out there racing.

Our Favorite Workouts: Strength and Quickness

by Marilyn McDonald

Most of us naturally get super focused on the long stuff for our key races. It’s the meat of our training: the long swim, the long ride, the long run, the long brick. After all, we are doing long races. 

After that we usually focus on quality sets over and over again. 

My Thoughts on Gear

When looking at your gear setup you should be really looking at a few different things as you make your decisions on what is best for you and your event.

I've spent time with squads where gear was put very low on the priority list for performance, I've spent time in the bike racing scene where gear is everything and I've spent a bit of time in between where finding the balance for the individual and the needs of the event is leveled out.

Workout of the Month: Group Riding

I get a lot of questions from triathletes about my thoughts on group riding. Every community has their local group hammerfest and many communities even have options to just get together with a small group of fellow peers to share the riding fun.

I have always included group riding into my training. The fun and friendships I've enjoyed over the years from group rides is something I'd never trade in.

Race Strategy - Be a Thinking Athlete

We are now into the thick of the race season. Your "A" races are here or just around the corner. You've spent months planning your training and planning your life towards this part of the year.

Part of having a successful race is coming up with a solid plan for your event well before your race day.

Workout of the Month: The Basic Week

If you are looking for some kind of direction for the season and are not in a position to hire a coach to tailor things to your needs then I suggest setting up a basic repeatable week.

Establishing Your Race Nutrition Plan

One hot topic at this time of year is race nutrition -- there is a lot of information out there and learning what works best for you can be difficult.

Here are my tips for figuring out what works.

Workout of the Month: Key Swims

by Marilyn McDonald

Late last month I was spoke with Bevan and John at IMTalk about my thoughts on swimming, my experience and my personal position on swimming. You can listen to that pod cast at

Here are the three key swims I think you need per week as we head into the race season.

Workout of the Month: Brick Sessions

People often ask if there is a key session throughout the race season that they should include each and every week. One of those key sessions in my mind is the Brick.

Reaching Your Goals

I talked a little in the last few months about the importance of goal setting, mental preparation and looking at more than just your physical training to complete the package for your A races.

I want to share a conversation I had with one of my good friends at the recent EC camp. I use the camps for many different reasons, but one great thing is you get to surround yourself with peers you respect who are growing and learning with you.

Reaching Your Goals

by Marilyn McDonald

I talked a little in the last few months about the importance of goal setting, mental preparation and looking at more than just your physical training to complete the package for your A races.

Most of us are quickly approaching the race season. You may be planning a good training camp or may have already attended one in preparation for your race season. Everybody goes to camps for different reasons. Some want to get out on the road after a long winter. Some want to expose themselves to a more challenging environment with their peers to see where they are at. Some simply want to get away and spend a week with no other worry than training. These are all great reasons to be at a camp.

I just had the great pleasure of spending a three week camp with a group of very good professionals and then backed that up with the weeklong EC camp where I was able to share my experience and be a coach. 

One thing I know is you never really know what a person's goals are when they come to a camp. It's best to focus on yourself (when you are a camper) and get the most out of the camp that you can. 

This is where I want to share with you a conversation I had with one of my good friends at the EC camp. I use the camps for many different reasons, but one great thing is you get to surround yourself with peers you respect who are growing and learning with you.

We started talking about what do you do when you reach your goals and what a good coach's job is when an athlete reaches his or her goals.

The single most important lesson I've learned over 23 years of elite sport is to always focus on the process. As soon as athletes becomes results-driven, they start to make decisions that ultimately send them further away from their actual goals.

I'll give you a personal example.

Get Ready for Race Season with a Training Camp

You've made it through the winter, or at least the worst of it. You can almost see spring and the idea of getting out on the road is a motivating one. Some early season races are approaching -- your race season may even be starting in the next few months.

What's one of the best things you can do to get yourself ready? A training camp!

Our Favorite Workouts: Indoor Maximum Aerobic Work

It's finally towards the back half of winter. Spring is right around the corner but if every time you look outside it's still cold and snowy, you know you've got at least one more solid block of indoor trainer sessions on the books.

If you've been following my winter riding articles you have followed the progression. The final step or block I like to see done on the trainer before we head out and let our hair finally rip through the wind is a solid block of maximum aerobic power work. Everybody uses different term for this -- VO2max, Zone 4, Max -- but it all means the same thing: very, very hard.

Work on Your Mental Plan Now, Not Just on Race Day

Most of us are really good at doing all the physical preparation we need to get to a start line. I've seen more elite athletes over many different sports show up to the big dance with the same physical preparation.

Most of us have our physical plans-- our training plans. What is your mental plan for getting yourself to the next level of racing?