Training to be a competitive age-grouper – Part 1

Photo by Jeff Sparling

In The Time-Crunched Triathlete: Race-Winning Fitness in 8 Hours a Week, Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg advance some familiar, but radical training ideas for non-elite athletes...specifically age-groupers like me who have a full-time job, a family and a life.

Rather than pursue the traditional base, build, peak and race phases, they advocate more concentrated, high-effort training sessions than long, low-intensity endurance workouts.   Age-groupers can do more short, intense workouts because they will effectively use the time at work as longer recovery periods, they assert. 

We recently asked Jim Rutberg a few questions to learn more about the approach:

Paul Tyler:  “Is the classic periodization model dead for age-groupers who would like to be competitive, but who really want to stay in shape and control their weight?"

Jim Rutberg:  "'Dead' is probably too strong a word, but the classic periodization model is certainly flawed when it comes to time-crunched athletes. The classic periodization model works best when you can devote consistent and large amounts of time to training over a long period of several months.

"Athletes leading busy lives can’t do that, and for them the classic model takes too long to develop competitive fitness. Somewhere during that long span, something happens (illnesses at home, a big project at work, a string of family obligations or holidays, etc.) that derails their progress.

"The Time-Crunched Triathlete Program leverages the ability for time-crunched athletes to ramp up more quickly in preparation for a relatively short series of regional races, take a break, and then prepare for another series of events.

"This is how races are frequently scheduled, based on weather conditions, and it also matches the manner in which busy athletes are able to prepare for competition.  This program integrates into a busy working parent’s schedule more easily and more effectively than the classic periodization model."

For a review of the book, go to:  http://www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/5-Sports-Books-for-Endurance-Athletes.htm


By the power meter - How to pace IMLP other hilly bike courses

Hunter Allen

Photo by Jeff SparlingI recently recommended five books for winter reading by endurance athletes.  One was Training and Racing with a Power Meter, by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan PhD.  For those of you who have questions about power meters and how to get the most out the devices, this book is a must read. 

In one of the sections, Hunter discusses how to train for the hills of the Lake Placid Ironman.  When I completed the race in 2009, pacing myself properly on the bike proved the biggest challenge.

I vividly remember hitting a wall on the second loop at mile 90 near Wilmington.  Suddenly all those people I had passed on the first loop seemed incredibly fast as they passed me coming back into Lake Placid.

I asked Hunter how to use a power meter to perform better on this type of course.

Paul Tyler:  “On a hilly route like this, should the rider focus on maintaining normalized power only for longer segments and just ignore the extreme ups and downs?”

Hunter Allen:  “For a hilly triathlon, normalized power is definitely the best way to pace oneself, as it is a more accurate measurement of the true metabolic costs (what the body feels) from the effort.   It’s also important to have a clear understanding of what you can maintain for shorter hills and create a pacing guideline for them. 

"For example, if you have a FTP of 200 watts and using the Coggan power levels, this will give you a VO2 Max range from 212 watts to 240 watts(106% to 120%).  So on a hill that is longer than 3 minutes, but shorter than 5 minutes, you can use that as a range to maintain and possibly a ‘governor’ at 225 watts in order to prevent yourself from pushing too hard.  

"Setting pacing guidelines for different hill lengths is definitely important to preserve energy for the run.”


For the full article go to:  http://www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/5-Sports-Books-for-Endurance-Athletes.htm


Chris Lieto's favorite uses for his Trigger Point tools

When I compiled our holiday gift list, Trigger Point therapy emerged as a contender almost on a "viral" basis. One of my well-connected friends told me this had to be on the list. He said everyone was using these.  "Viral" turned out to be a good adjective...I think their tool set will win the most-mentioned category if we had holiday gift list Oscars. The attention is well deserved. A number of top athletes rely heavily on the products to relieve aches and remain uninjured during the season. Chris Lieto is one of those. What are the three top muscle groups he targets when he uses the products?  He told us they were the:

  • Soleus
  • Psoas
  • Chest

It's not too late to add one to your shopping cart today!  See the full story at:



5 Sports Books for Endurance Athletes

 A good book for me either changes my perspective of the world or takes me to a different time and place.  I recently reviewed five books that fit into one of those two categories for someone with an interest in endurance sports.  For me, three of them challenged the way I train, which is more by the seat of my pants than I would care to admit.  One took me around the Pacific Ocean by surf board and scientific expedition.  The last took me back in time to the Berlin Olympics and the trials of WWII. I hope you enjoy:


The Time-Crunched Triathlete:

Race-Winning Fitness in 8 Hours a Week

 by Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg

Your Best Triathlon

Advanced Training for Serious Athletes

 by Joe Friel

Training and Racing with a Power Meter

by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan PhD

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean

by Susan Casey


A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

by Laura Hillenbrand


For the full article go to:  http://www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/5-Sports-Books-for-Endurance-Athletes.htm


Growth of tri clubs and Glen Rock Tri

You may have already heard that from 2000 to 2010, the number of USAT-certified triathlon clubs has jumped from 50 to 831.  Think about this for a minute.  That's a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 32% for tri clubs.  This is a staggering growth for any type of organization to sustain over a ten-year period.  To put it in perspective, the stock price of Google has grown at a similar rate -- a 35% CAGR --  from 2004 until today.  Growth like this doesn't happen by accident.  It's the result of a lot of energy, commitment and organization poured into clubs at the local level.  

I had the opportunity to see this type of effort first hand last night.  Tom Begg, one of the founders of the Glen Rock Tri Club from Glen Rock, New Jersey invited me to their annual holiday party. Tom and team launched this club in 2005.  Today, the club is home for over 225 local triathletes.  It's probably the second or third largest club in New Jersey.

The holiday event drew 100-150 people at 7 p.m. on a cold Thursday night.  I got a front row ticket to watch the tri ecosystem at work.  The major sponsor of the club, Ridgewood Cycle Shop hosted the event in their incredibly spacious location.  At least five incredibly passionate reps from major vendors were on hand to show the latest technology.  I never really appreciated the benefits off a Zipp crankset until yesterday.  I think the Cycleops rep would have taken me out on the road to do an FTP test that night.  Rich Izzo, the race director of Toughman, one of the area's up-and-coming half triathlons was there to personally talk about his course and event with every member.

The event drew a great cross-section of the Glen Rock/Ridgewood community.  Some were long-term triathlete veterans.  I found myself discussing upcoming races with one member who had done more Kona IMs than I have done half tris. I also met a couple of people who had never done a tri in their life and came to see how to get into the sport.

I asked Tom what he and his team did so right.  Tom said they focused on three goals.  We wanted to "make it inclusive for all levels of the tri sport, from beginners to Ironman.  We have engaging month meetings.  We have weekly workouts and monthly clinics on run, swim and bike."

I think he made it sound too simple.  Andrew McKinnon said it best to me.  "The energy is incredible. Tom doesn't miss a single change to put a Glen Rock Tri club shirt on anyone!."  

Tom, when are you doing your IPO?