Monday, November 14, 2016

Week #1 in Review

The first week back to training has officially come and gone. I'm quite happy to be back into structured training!

Unfortunately, I lost my heart rate monitor. After Miami, I recall putting it away somewhere for "safe-keeping." Of course, that special spot was long forgotten over 2 weeks. Other than that, training started off well.

The Swim = 12.2km

I did two 3.1km swims focused on strength using paddles (one day speed, one day endurance)
I did one recovery swim (IM and dolphin kick on back) **dolphin kick on your back is an excellent core workout to do if you don't want to skip your swim in favour of strength!
I did one quality 4km swim with Kim Lumsdon Swim Club

The Bike = 4hr15min

I have been focusing on improving my technique on the bike. I definitely have trained myself to rely too much on my hamstrings and quads while cycling, so I am following the October WattsUp program to improve glute recruitment on the bike. I've been biking with running shoes, focusing on squeezing the glutes with each downstroke, and, most important, ensuring my back is flat and not rounded. Flat back = glute recruitment = more Watts!

I have also been following current November WattsUp workouts for on the bike strengthening and neuromuscular development. Strength using slow cadence/high power and neuromuscular development (maximizing number of muscle fibers firing together) with max power/max cadence STOMPS!

I have almost all the athletes I coach follow similar types of workouts as described above in the early parts of the off season. When out on the road in the summer, or working hard all the time, it's easy to pick up bad habits. It's easy to ride with a rounded back. It's easy to start using compensatory muscles when the primary drivers are fatigued. Doing technique work early in the season ensures that subsequent FTP training is done utilizing the proper muscles. FTP work all the time will not get you stronger.

The Run = 40km

This is where I am trying to make the most gains in the off-season. The run is my main focus for November and December. My workouts during this time are primary designed to slowly progress my weekly run volume up to 60km/week. So that I can be running 60-70km/week in the spring. This past week I started at 40km with two hill repeat runs, 1 long run (12km - haha!) and a short brick run.

Strength = 80mins

Six days a week I include a 10 minute activation/injury prevention routine prior to a bike, run or swim workout. When you run, your feet are either on the ground or off the ground. Your glutes and balancing muscles are being used when your feet are on the ground and your core is being used when they are off the ground. Weakness in these muscles leads to compensation by other muscles and subsequent injury. So, my injury prevention routine is strength training for the core and glutes, as well as including a few balance exercises.

Two days a week I do straight leg deadlifts, lunges and squats. When WattsUp gets its new leg press I will use that, also, because it can be used to strengthen one leg at a time. These exercises strengthen the cycling and running driver muscles: glutes, quads and hamstrings. Repetitive activity often leads to improved strength/endurance in the muscles themselves, but does not strengthen tendons. Overuse injury often occurs in the tendon or musculotendonous junction, usually because the tendons aren't strong enough. Resistance training strengthens both the muscle AND the tendon.

I will look to post an update on my training as often as I can. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Planning for Triathlons in 2017!

It's been two weeks since Miami Ironman 70.3 and two weeks since I did any sort of formal triathlon training. Yes, I've hopped in the pool a few times for some easy swims and done some short runs. I've tried to be a bit more lazy than usual...turning on Netflix when I would have normally tried to fit work or training in. I've cleaned the entire house, learned how to cook some new things and got caught up on life. It's been a nice change of pace. However, I know it's time to start things back up again as I'm starting to feel anxious and overly rested!!!

So, what are my plans for the upcoming season? I get to compete as a Pro again, so that's exciting. The trick is to be able to continue to train like one, while working full time! I do like to plan, but I also know that even the best laid plans can get derailed more often than not. So, I'm going to progress through the off season one step at a time. Adam and I are trying a more collaborative approach to my training this year. As a result of my atypical work schedule (I don't work 9-5pm), my schedule is different each day and each week. This is near impossible for a coach to work with! Thus, to avoid potential arguments, we decided that I would plan my training and Adam would oversee it to ensure I'm not over or under-doing it. One of the most important roles of a coach, anyway. This was our approach to Miami, and, although I didn't hold the numbers that I wanted (tough to say whether this was due to being improperly trained or the bronchitis) we are implementing it for next season.

November and December training involves a component of injury prevention (glute, core and balance exercises) daily provided by Bill Wells at Urban Athlete, cycling specific weight training, proper cycling mechanics using the WattsUp program, strength based swimming (paddles and VASA trainer) and strength (hills) and consistency on the run.

Total time for:

Work = 40-45 hours
Training = 12-14 hours
Sleep = 7 to 8 hours per night

My *tentative* race schedule is as follows:

June 11, 2017 - Eagleman Ironman 70.3
June 25, 2017 - Mont Tremblant Ironman 70.3
July & early Aug - Multisport Canada Races
Aug 20, 2017 - Ironman Mont Tremblant
Sept 17, 2017 - Barrelman Half Triathlon
***Rest of season TBD***

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Race Report: Miami Ironman 70.3

What a season! Let's start this post with a bit of a recap...After finishing school in June I didn't have much time to ramp up the training to be fit enough to compete in Calgary Ironman 70.3 on July 24th. Thanks to Nigel and his athletes from NRG I was able to do some really hard workouts to get my bike fitness up quickly. Unfortunately, at this time I also did too much running too soon and ended up with a run injury (sprained superior tib-fib). As a result, it was a tough battle to the finish line in Calgary, my first half-ironman post knee surgery. But really, I was happy that I was even able to race again! After Calgary I did some local Multisport races, still battling some nagging injuries that weren't enough (luckily) to keep me sidelined but enough that I didn't want to push the volume/intensity on the run. In September I competed in the Barrelman Half Ironman, in which I saw some the fitness and speed I had in 2013 come back. I didn't want to let this reclaimed fitness go to waste and I needed to validate my Elite/Pro status for 2017, so that prompted me to enter Ironman 70.3 Miami. I needed to finish within 12% of the female winner in order to compete as a Elite/Pro in 2017.

The training leading up to the Miami race was going very well. I nailed my key workouts, the highlight being a 115km ride with a normalized power of 172W (and two 35K intervals at a normalized power of 188W) and then a 17km aerobic run at a sub 4:40/km pace. I thought I should be able to at least hold around 185W on the bike and a <4:30/km pace in Miami. I was pumped for a solid day. But it was not to be. What started as a little bit of a sore throat turned into a gross cough about 1 week before race day. And I was diagnosed with an acute bronchitis (viral) on the Monday prior to the race. The doctor's orders were to take a week off training. Hah! Couldn't do that. I did decide I would take the rest of my taper SUPER easy. An off day the next day and then some shorter swims, bikes and runs in the days after, with the hope that I would be ok. I was much better on race day than the days leading up to it, but I still had a sore throat, chest congestion and a cough I couldn't shake. So, I decided I would just do the best I could. Power and run pace targets were thrown out the window and I would be going more by feel. I ended up finishing the race in 4:38, which was within 12% of the winner (with about 4 minutes to spare). So, by that standard, the race was a success! My goal had been accomplished.


The highlight of the swim might actually have been that salt water was very soothing on my throat! Well, that and it felt like a nice and steady swim. I didn't even notice the waves. I just followed the girl in front of me. It was only when I exited the water in 31+ minutes that I though that I may have either swum off course or the swim was long. I hoped it was the latter, because a tough swim means more time for me to get ahead of the strong bike/runners. I did come to a realization after that swim, that having swum for most of my life, I have a really good feel for the water, the currents, how to swim over and not through the waves. If I could give only one piece of advice to triathletes about swimming it's to stay relaxed and not to fight the water.


After having a very good bike in Barrelman, I was hoping for a similar experience in Miami. However, I knew it wasn't to be when I was struggling to get my power above 180W. My heart rate was in the 170s (it should be in the high 150s) and I knew that was a result of the chest congestion. So, I tried to make the ride about staying as aero as possible. I think I did a good job of that as I averaged 37kph at 175W normalized power. I had the 11 fastest bike of the 23 female pro women. In years past I had been among the slowest on the cycling leg so this was a nice improvement to see.


I felt pretty good for the first 10km of the run, but my heart rate was very high and I was having a hard time breathing. I would also have small coughing fits every so often. I knew the second half of the run would be a struggle. I was counting the time separating myself from the girls chasing me down. The gap was getting smaller and smaller. I was passed by 2 girls in the last 5km and struggled to maintain my pace. I hung on to a fairly decent run of 1:35:53 at a pace of 4:33/km.

In the end, I'm very happy with my result. The illness definitely took it's toll, but I achieved my goal and saw some of my former fitness shine through the congestion :)


- My parents for their continued love and support throughout this crazy adventure of mine. They were there in Miami and are always there, always making me a priority when I need them. I am so lucky to have them.
- My health care team of David Lamy (RMT), Michael Hong (Acupuncture) and Bill Wells from The Urban Athlete (Chiro).
- Adam, my coach and partner, and just a great guy in general.
- Saige, Rhys and Mack for inspiring me with their own athletic achievements in the week leading up to my race (Saige - Slow-pitch division champs, Rhys - 9th at xcountry while sick!, Mack - 25th at xcountry)
- All my readers for their support and for following me in my triathlon endeavours
- WTC & Miami Tri Events race organizers, staff and all the volunteers!
- Fellow athletes at the race and training partners, especially those at WattsUp and TTC!
- My other coaches: Kim and Nigel from NRG
- My sponsors: High Rock Capital Management, WattsUp Cycling, MultiSport Canada, The Urban Athlete, Fitt1st Bike Fitting

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Where things are at!

Although I thought I was done racing after Barrelman, there was still part of me that wanted to use some of my re-gained fitness to tackle another race. Early in the year I had my sights set on Arizona Ironman, but there just hasn't been the time. Finishing school in May, studying for and writing my board writing exams in June, battling injuries in July, dealing with some ongoing legal issues, starting to work full time in August and helping to grow WattsUp has kept me much to stressed and busy to consider training for an Ironman! Each person only has a limit to how much stress they can handle, and that includes both life stress and training less. Basically, if life stress goes up, the training stress has to go down or you risk getting injured or overtrained. I have been walking a fine line here already. So, with Ironman off the table until next year (hopefully!) I decided to race Miami Ironman 70.3!

At this time of year it is incredibly hard to keep motivated. Many fellow competitors are finished for the season and enjoying some much needed rest. The same training feels monotonous and boring. I knew this would be the case and decided to mix up my training a little bit. Coupled with the need to avoid injury, I've done a lot of broken long runs and bikes. Sets like 3 to 4 times through a 10' bike - 15' run. That's a 1hr ride and 12km run, but way more fun! Also, I am running every other day, but include a couple of double run days...heard that is how Brett Sutton trained Nicola Spirig. For the swimming, I am doing a 4km swim once a week with KLSC and then 3-4 short swims. 2 of them with a 2km race pace or faster set (usually done after being motivated by my TTC swimmers). I have one race simulation day tomorrow that includes a 55km ride then 5.5km run, then 55km ride and an 11km run. Then I will take a really easy taper until race day. These new workouts have kept the training enjoyable.

What are my race predictions? My goal for this race is to hold the same power as Barrelman and to have a bit of a better run so that I can finish within 12% of the winner. Those are the requirements to race as a Pro next year. I have learned the hard way that having too lofty a goal only leads to injury. You can't put a timeline on your long term goals. The athletes that take baby steps toward success are the ones who have longevity in their sport. Despite what the movies and the media tell us, success takes time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Race Report: Barrelman Half-Ironman

What a great event! The swim was well laid out and straightforward, and what's better than racing in what feels like a big swimming pool? The bike was flat and fast, but not boring like most flat courses. The varying roads and scenery kept it interesting and the time went by quickly. The run was deceivingly tough, but you never spent too long on the same road so that made it go by fast too. This is probably my most favourite course I've ever competed on. And I've been doing this for a long time!

Unfortunately, I think this will be the last of the year as I re-sprained my superior tib-fib joint near the end of the run. I want to rehab that properly and get my run fitness back before competing again.

1. The highlights of the day included:

- The course, as I mention above.
- Seeing the TTC athletes I swim coach swim and race fast, having the 5 athletes I personally coach get personal best times and achieve their goals! Congrats to Andrew, Renee, Sara, Rachel and Kevin!
- Feeling AMAZING on the bike. I worked hard to catch the two lead females and overtake them, then I let up my power a bit to save my legs for the run. Being so in control of my race is a first for me. And I set a new PB of 2:20 over that distance and clocked the fastest female bike split
- Getting to lead the race on the run up until the 14km mark was exciting!

2. Learning points:

- My run fitness is still behind. My knee injury, a sprained superior tib-fib joint and some hamstring/piriformis issues prevented me from running long. I only have about 4 runs longer than 20km all summer. So, I need to do a better job of injury prevention next season.

3. Pictures:

Swim: Right off the start a lead pack of swimmers took off on me, leaving me to swim the first 1km all alone. Just past 1km the speedy Mat Reid and Angela (who started 1min back) caught me and passed me and I stayed in their draft for a bit, before getting dropped. Then another swimmer passed me and I worked hard to stay on his feet until the swim exit. (Photo credit: ZoomPhoto)

Bike: The bike started off really well and continued to go well throughout the race. I could see the first and second place riders about 500m up the road and I decided to go above my power target goal, but below threshold, until I could catch them and then hope that I could let my power drop a bit once I took the lead to save my legs for the run. When I caught and passed the first place competitor at around 50km, I was at around 190W and then finished the ride at 183W. Exactly to plan! That rarely happens.(Photo credit: ZoomPhoto)

Run: I knew that my run fitness was lacking. I figured I could get in about 10km at a good pace and then start to fade. While I'm disappointed that this did happen, I'm not surprised. Here's hoping 2017 brings more consistent run training.(Photo credit: Brenda Santos)

Sara on the bike! (Photo credit: ZoomPhoto)

Adam was 3rd in the swim-bike (Photo credit: ZoomPhoto)

4. Interview with another participant:

BERNARDO: His first half-distance triathlon

Q. Name, Age, One word to describe yourself?
A. Bernardo Majano, 34, disciplined.

Q. How long have you been doing triathlons?
A. I started when I was 11 (was a mediocre swimmer at the time) and raced Juniors/U23 until I was 19 in both triathlon and cycling. I had the opportunity to race internationally for El Salvador (my hometown), which was fun but also made me realize I had to go school as I just wasn't good enough to try to make a living out of sports =o) I got back into the sport last December, I couldn't be any happier with my decision. The sport has grown so much over the last 15 years.

Q. What was one highlight of today's event?
A. Too many: making it to the finish line despite having my legs cramping pretty badly on the run, hanging out with friends and family afterward, post race food!

Q. What did you eat for breakfast?
A. My usual breakfast: oatmeal with flax, fruits, vegetable juice and coffee.

Q. What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you in a triathlon?
A. My first triathlon, which I completed on a bmx bike.

Q. How many hours/week do you train?
A. 8 -9 hours per week is my target, although sometimes work gets in the way and have to cut back a bit.

Q. What is one thing you are proud of about yourself, either in triathlon or in the rest of life?
A. Learning how to overcome limited talent and other barriers through hard work, discipline, passion and perseverance.

Q. What/when is your next event?
A. Barrelman was my last triathlon of the season. I will be doing some Fall and Spring running races though: Scotiabank Half and the Boston Marathon.

5. Course Information

6. TrainingPeaks/Quantitative Race information for those interested

WARMUP: 10 minute bike, practicing getting my feet in and out of shoes while they were in the pedals, 5 minute run, 500m swim warmup with 3x40 strokes fast

SWIM: 2000m, 28:51 (~1:26/100m)

BIKE: Speed - 37.9kph, NP - 183W (3.45W/kg, 90% of FTP), Avg Power - 180W, Avg Cadence - 80rpm

RUN: 21.1km, 1:36:41 (4:36/km), Avg HR - 169bpm

7. Thank-you:

- My parents for their continued love and support throughout this crazy adventure of mine.
- My health care team of David Lamy (RMT) and Bill Wells (Chiro).
- Adam, my coach and partner, and just a great guy in general.
- All my readers for their support and for following me in my triathlon endeavours
- MultiSport Canada and all the volunteers!
- Fellow athletes at the race and training partners, especially those at WattsUp and TTC!
- My other coaches: Kim and Nigel from NRG
- My sponsors: High Rock Capital Management, WattsUp Cycling, MultiSport Canada, The Urban Athlete, Fitt1st Bike Fitting

Friday, September 9, 2016

Off Season Training

It's happening. September is upon as and that means that the end of triathlon season (at least in Ontario) is only weeks away. Hopefully you have had a successful season and are looking forward to some time off the race course.

One big question that people have after their last big race is, "how long should I take off?" Some athletes will feel guilty taking any time off training, while others want to take the entire winter off. When making this decision, keep in mind both ends of the spectrum. If you take no time off, you are more likely to become overtrained and suffer an injury in the upcoming season. If you want to take a lot of time off, you should know that it only takes about 4 weeks of inactivity for you to revert to a pre-trained state.

My recommendation is to take about 1-2 weeks off triathlon specific training. Yup, you heard me. Now, I didn't say not to do any activity during this time. Walk as much as you want (within reason), take yoga classes, dance or play soccer or basketball with the kids, get on your commuter bike for a family bike ride. Do not turn on your Garmin, do not log in to your TrainingPeaks or Strava account, do not track every detail of your sleep, nutrition and weight! Have a glass or two extra of wine, catch up with your friends and sleep in (if you can).

What do you do when you do get back into training mode? Well, what you shouldn't do is get back into the same training routine as you had in race season. Take some time to plan your season, write down your SMART goals, write down some habits you want to change. Then come up with a plan of action [or hire a coach like me :)] Break-up your 2016 to 2017 training plan into 4 or 5 phases so that you change up your training every once in awhile. Have a different focus for each phase that is more and more specific towards your race as it gets nearer. Keep in mind that you should include a swim, bike or run once every 3-4 days to maintain fitness in that sport. Focus first on what you need to improve the most, and spend a majority of your time in the fall training that sport. As your get nearer to race day, spend a proportionate amount of time each week on each sport relative to the time you will spend on that sport during the race. For example, don't swim 3 times a week if it means you can only bike 2 times a week.

Here is an example of a triathlon season plan for someone training for a half-ironman:

Phase 1: October, Goal: (1) Improve muscle engagement of weaker muscles like core & glutes (2) Improve swim technique

- Strength training (3 times per week)
- Swim - Technique focus (2 times per week)
- Bike - Aerobic, one legged drills (2 times per week)
- Run - Short, base (2-3 times per week)

Phase 2: November & December, Goal: (1) Strengthen muscles like core & legs for cycling & running (2) Improve swim endurance with new technique

- Strength training (2-3 times per week)
- Swim - Increase mileage without compromising technique by doing a lot of swimming with lots of rest (2-3 times per week)
- Bike - Aerobic and slow cadence, high power intervals
- Run - Aerobic running, one short brick run, your longest run at about 1/2 your goal race distance (2-3 times per week)

Phase 3: January & February, Goal: (1) Improve FTP on the bike (2) PB in 400m in the swim (3) Improve run efficiency

- Strength training (2 times per week)
- Swim - Speed, pull paddles and race pace efforts
- Bike - VO2max and FTP+10% work, one longer ride/week
- Run - Hill repeats, one short brick run, your longest run at about 2/3 to 3/4 your goal race distance (2-3 times per week)

Phase 4: March & April, Goal: (1) Improve 2-3 hour power on the bike (2) PB in 1500m in the swim (3) Improved endurance for running off the bike

- Strength training (maintenance mode)
- Swim - Longer race pace efforts
- Bike - FTP & Tempo efforts, one longer ride/week
- Run - Hill repeats & speed work, one longer brick run, your longest run at about +/- 10% above your goal race distance (3-4 times per week)

Phase 5: Triathlon Season, Goals: PB or finish goal race

I encourage you to use the above as a template when planning your own season. Keep in mind that this will vary depending on the individual, your own abilities and the distance you hope to complete.

By: Miranda Tomenson, Triathlon Coach, RMT, MSc

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Race Report: Toronto Island Triathlon

I competed in the Multisport Canada Toronto Island Triathlon on Sunday. I have always loved this race. I get to sleep in my own bed on race night, the ferry ride to the island boasts spectacular views of the city, the looped course means you are surrounded by spectators and you get chocolate milk at the end! This year added a special twist to the day...the race crew was unable to set the swim course due to high winds and wavy conditions. This meant that the Tri was turned into a Du (5km run - 20km bike - 2.5km run). Without my strongest leg (the swim) to give me a head start on the competition, I knew I would have to work hard to continue my streak of never losing a race on Toronto Island. Thankfully, I was able to find that competitive drive that seemed to be lacking in previous races this year and I fought my very hardest to take the win on Sunday.


- Running with Nina and Leah side by side for the first 5km of the race. It kind of felt like we were ITU athletes racing hard to win a championship. I may have even fantasized that I was Gwen Jorgenson running with Nicola Spirig at times!

- Actually having the fastest bike split among the women. Knowing that my bike fitness isn't what it used to be, I have worked incredibly hard at being as aerodynamic as possible. My time this year was just a few seconds slower than my time in 2013 and the normalized power was 25W lower. (Or maybe my power meter is broken?)

- Seeing so many of my fellow TTC athletes racing, seeing old friends and meeting some new people.

Learning points:

- So much of racing is mental. I realized that today. In training, I haven't done ANY speed work..nothing faster than 4:30/km. But I told myself today that I could run with the other girls, and we averaged 3:53/km for our opening run (actually 5.3km). Then I ran a 4:06/km pace in the closing 2.5km (actually closer to 3km). So, sometimes a little competition can drive you to reach that next level in a race.


Interview with another participant: PIETER

Pieter is new to the sport of triathlon and was 2nd in his age group (35-39) in Sunday's sprint Triathlon turned Duathlon. He is also an active member of the Toronto Triathlon Club.

Q. Name, Age, One word to describe yourself?
A. Pieter Wijnhoven, 34, happy

Q. How long have you been doing triathlons?
A. Since beginning this year

Q. What was one highlight of today's event?
A. The sprint for the finish with three other athletes

Q. What did you eat for breakfast?
A. Oatmeal mixed with strawberries and blue berries with soy milk

Q. What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you in a triathlon?
A. To me personally not much, I saw this weekend somebody on an electrical bike and people wearing their bike helmet on the run :)

Q. What did you think about on the bike today?
A. Push harder! But be careful with the wet roads.

Q. What is one thing you are proud of about yourself, either in triathlon or in the rest of life?
A. I am proud of my positive attitude in life and enjoy every day!

Q. What/when is your next event?
A. Next weekend Wasaga beach triathlon

Q. What do you like best about the MultiSport Canada race series?
A. It’s great to have some many races close to Toronto with such a good organization!

Thank yous

- My parents for their continued love and support throughout this crazy adventure of mine.
- Adam, my coach and partner, and just a great guy in general. He keeps me calm when I get anxious and so it helps so much to have him there on race day.
- Saige, Rhys and Mack. They surprised me on the Island for awards after the race and ran towards me with open arms and huge smiles. That they can accept me as their step-mum and give me so much support is amazing.
- My health care team of David Lamy (RMT), Bill Wells (Chiro) and Michael Hong (Acupuncture). I wouldn't have been able to race this one without you.
- All my readers for their support and for following me in my triathlon endeavours
- MultiSport Canada and all the volunteers!
- Fellow athletes at the race and training partners, especially those at WattsUp!
- My other coaches: Kim and Nigel from NRG
- My sponsors: High Rock Capital Management, WattsUp Cycling, MultiSport Canada, The Urban Athlete, Fitt1st Bike Fitting