3 Little Pigs

Tri Training NZ

The 3 little pigs is a children’s story about how 3 little pigs work together to be better than the big bad wolf. Independently the big bad wolf has it over them.

In the same way that the 3 little pigs work together, your cycle sessions each week need to work together to develop your overall fitness, so that the big bad wolf doesn’t huff and puff.

There are three key sessions that you should look at including into your training in order to develop specific components of your cycling fitness.

Long Ride

The long ride develops your aerobic fitness and makes your heart and lungs more efficient. This fitness development will see an increase in the size of your heart and the amount of blood it can pump with each beat. The body will get more adept at transferring oxygen from the environment to the muscle cells that need it. There will be an increase in capillarisation (growth of the capillary beds within the muscles). There will also be an increase in mitochondrial density (there will be more little power houses within each muscle cell).

In the early part of the season, or if you are a beginner, this session is likely to bring you the greatest benefits, but only if you do it consistently as well as alongside the other sessions.

How long is long enough? This will depend on what distance race you are preparing for. For a sprint or Olympic distance three hours will be ample but for an Ironman you will need to build up your fitness to handle significantly longer. That is the end point of how long your ride should be, so make sure you start off much shorter and progressively build on the duration of the previous week.

This session should be performed at an intensity that you can maintain a conversation at. The intensity in itself shouldn’t be tiring, but the accumulation of duration is what tires you out with this session.

Speed Session

A speed session is done at a higher intensity than the long ride and will develop a range of physiological performance variables depending on how it is structured.

A time trial session will develop sustained speed and your ability to tolerate and clear lactic acid. This can be beneficial for Olympic distance athletes as well as Ironman athletes, although the Ironman athletes will be doing their race pace TTs at a slightly lower intensity than if they were racing Olympic distance. After a warm up, ride as hard as you can for a set distance or duration, then cool down. The shorter the distance you are racing the shorter the TT efforts can be and the higher the intensity they should be.

Threshold intervals will increase your ability to ride at a sustained pace. Due to the minimal rest involved there will be a slow accumulation in lactic acid. After a Warm Up complete between three and six repetitions of between 8 and 15 minutes (or longer depending on the goal of the session).

VO2 Max Intervals are done at the highest intensity you can maintain and are very short duration with plenty of rest. These intervals lift your top end speed and effort. At the high intensity you will get a surge of lactic acid, but plenty of chance to clear it in the recovery period. After a Warm Up complete one or two sets of five to ten reps of between 3 to 5 minutes at high intensity, with an equal amount of recovery between reps. If doing two sets, spin for five to ten minutes between sets.

Strength Session

There are a couple of ways to develop specific leg strength for cycling. The most optimal way to do so is on the bike. But this can be complimented by a weights programme. The two main ways to develop strength on the bike are to do Hill Reps or Low Cadence Big Gear strength intervals. These sessions will increase the strength of the cycling muscles and generate sustained power output.

For Hill Reps ride to the base of a hill for your warm up. Ride up the hill either to the top or for a pre determined duration. Once there descend back to the start point (for recovery) prior to repeating between three and ten times (depending on the duration of the interval).

Low Cadence Big Gear sets are similar to other intervals except you will be shifting to a big gear and/or cranking up the resistance on your wind trainer and ‘grinding’ at a low cadence (between 50 & 70 Rpm) prior to getting a short rest where you spin your legs at a higher cadence in a lower gear against less resistance. Start off with 3x 5min and build to 3x 10min over time, keeping the rest period relatively short (between 1min and 4min}.

Fitting it Together

Just like the three little pigs weren’t always together (think the straw house and the house made of sticks), you don’t want to be doing each session every week. Depending on your experience, level of fitness, how close your events are and what events you are training for will determine how these sessions fit into your programme. The older you are, the less fit you are or the less experienced you are, the more rest and recovery from the intense sessions you will need. It might be best to do a long ride and either a strength session OR a speed session, plus a recovery ride each week. If you are younger, more experienced, or more fitter, you may be able to get away with a long ride and two higher intensity sessions each week.

This article was originally written for and published by Triathlon New Zealand in their TRIbe newsletter.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at  www.qwik.kiwi, ray@qwikkiwi.comand 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

Facts around Alcohol

Facts Around Alcohol and Health

Latest research continues to show that there are long term health consequences from drinking alcohol particularly if it’s excessive. Alcohol (like bacon and cigarettes) is a known carcinogen, i.e. there is a confirmed relationship between alcohol and cancer. The good news is that this is dose-response.

FACT: This means that the one drink is worse than none, two drinks is worse than one and drinking excessively is next level risk.

Heavy drinking can lead to stroke, high blood pressure, pancreatitis and cirrhosis of the liver. By consuming alcohol there is increased risk of developing cancers of the mouth, pharynx, oesophagus, larynx, breast, bowel and liver. The Ministry of Health Guidelines an ALAC advice is based around reducing our risk from alcohol-related disease and/or injury, rather than best health practice.

FACT: The more alcohol we drink the higher risk of developing cancer and other disease. The other side of the coin is that we can reduce our risk by reducing consumption.

But isn’t a little bit of alcohol good for the heart? It has commonly been advised that less than two standard drinks is good for you. This is a very appealing theory and there is a lot of research that appears to back this up. The research that encourages this is disputed as there are other possible explanations for the association between alcohol and cardio vascular disease that can’t be ruled out. There is also a growing body of research that suggests that reducing consumption even for light/moderate drinker is going to be better for your cardiovascular health.

FACT: While this research is being disputed the link between any alcohol and cancer is not being disputed.

Binge drinking is often defined as five standard drinks in a sitting for men and four for women. Binge drinking has a number of immediate risks – falls, accidents, poor life decisions. Alcohol increases our heart rate and blood pressure, so drinking excessively elevates your risk of a stroke.

FACT: Drinking more than two standard drinks increases your risk of stroke three times, but binge drinking increases it more than five times what it normally is.

What is a Standard Drink?

Low-Risk Drinking

  • Women – don’t consume more than 2 standard drinks a day and no more than 10 per week.
  • Men – don’t consume more than 3 standard drinks a day and no more than 15 per week.
  • Have 2 alcohol free days per week.

8 Tips for consuming Alcohol

  1. Know what a standard drink is. See above, but also measure 100mL and pour it into your normal wine glass.
  2. Keep track of how much you drink – daily & weekly.
  3. Stick to a self-imposed limits.
  4. Consume food before and whilst drinking.
  5. Start with non-alcoholic drinks and alternate with alcoholic drinks.
  6. Try different drinks with lower alcohol content – try low alcohol wines and ciders.
  7. Drink slowly.  There is no rush.
  8. Provide food, non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beverages if you are hosting a function.

How Many kiloJoules are in Alcoholic Drinks?
Click here for a info-graphic about kiloJoule content of alcoholic drinks.

This article is based on information from the Healthy Food Guide.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at  www.qwik.kiwi, ray@qwikkiwi.comand 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

Saturday Swim Sessions – 4 Weeks to a Faster 1,500m with only 4km per Week: Week 3

Tri Swim Coach

This is the third post out of a four part series to improve your 1,500m swim time over 4 weeks with only 4km of swimming per week. The first one can be found here, and the second can be found here. In each post you will get two 2,000m swim workouts. The sessions are best suited to doing on a Saturday and Wednesday or 3-4 days apart. Continue reading “Saturday Swim Sessions – 4 Weeks to a Faster 1,500m with only 4km per Week: Week 3”

Friday Fartlek – 8 Weeks to a faster 10k: 20-24x 200m

Run Intervals

Over the next 8 weeks I will post a workout that when done in sequence will help you run a faster 10km. The key to success is to set a realistic 10km time that is challenging. Over the coming 8 weeks we will look at a hypothetic goal time for a typical person trying to run 10km under 50min, 45min, 40min or 35min. These sessions are best done on an athletic track. Continue reading “Friday Fartlek – 8 Weeks to a faster 10k: 20-24x 200m”

Spring Challenge

When Ray asked me to write an article on my Spring Challenge experience I thought heck I could easily write a novel. But he required only 200 words. It was three weeks from Spring Challenge kick off. I get the important text “Ness would you want to be in my team the Stoken Hopefulls for Spring Challenge?” I didn’t need to be asked, I was in. I did feel a slight pang of guilt when I signed up. I felt like I was dropping my uncommitted team mates Marg and Rach for this other team. I had no idea of my “new” team mates strengths and weaknesses. I felt confident I had a good base level of fitness. Continue reading “Spring Challenge”

Saturday Swim Sessions – 4 Weeks to a Faster 1,500m with only 4km per Week: Week 2

Swim Session

Tri Coach NZThis is the second post out of a four part series to improve your 1,500m swim time over 4 weeks with only 4km of swimming per week. The first one can be found here. In each post you will get two 2,000m swim workouts. The sessions are best suited to doing on a Saturday and Wednesday or 3-4 days apart.

Session Three: Threshold

  • 200m Warm Up;
  • 8x 200m Build 1-4, 30sec RI;
  • 200m Cool Down;

Start the workout with a Warm Up covering 200m. During the warm up feel free to stop and stretch as needed.  It doesn’t need to be a continuous swim.

The main set involves swimming eight reps of 200m. After each rep have a 30 second Rest Interval (RI). Either use your wrist watch or the BIG pace clock at the pool to keep this rest interval to 30 seconds preciously. If you rest too long, you won’t get the physiological benefit of this session. With each rep I want you to build your pace to get quicker over four repetitions, then your fifth rep can be a little slower as you start to build your pace over the next four reps. You could say your first rep is steady, your second rep is fast, your third rep is faster and your fourth rep is fastest, then repeat it all for the fifth to eighth reps. Your times may look like this:

Rep Time
1st 4:12 Build 1-4 Steady
2nd 4:02 Fast
3rd 3:58 Faster
4th 3:55 Fastest
5th 4:15 Build the next 1-4 Steady
6th 4:03 Fast
7th 3:59 Faster
8th 3:56 Fastest

Complete your workout with a 200m Cool Down. Feel free to pause and stretch when needed and/or include stretching as part of each break until the distance is covered.

Session Four: Endurance

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 8x 25m Drills;
  • 4x 300m Build 1-4, 45sec RI;
  • 200m Cool Down;

Start the workout with a Warm Up covering 400m. During the warm up feel free to stop and stretch as needed.  It doesn’t need to be a continuous swim.

Swim 25m doing an appropriate drill. Pause prior to conducting the next repetition for a total of eight repetitions. Do the drills in the following order (examples of how to do each drill can be found by clicking on them).

  1. Kick On Side (KOS)
  2. Kick On Side (KOS)
  3. 6/1/6
  4. 6/3/6
  5. Kick On Side (KOS)
  6. Kick On Side (KOS)
  7. Broken Arrow
  8. Popov

The pause referred to above is a stop of about 10 seconds. It’s a chance to grab a drink, review the programme and think about the next drill you will do. If you need 15-20 seconds or longer, you are welcome to take it because the rest duration isn’t physiologically critical to the aim of this set. Having a quick break is neurologically critical though, so make sure you don’t just roll straight from one rep to the next.

The main set is made up of four repetitions of 300m with 45 seconds Rest Interval (RI).  As with the third session build your pace as you do each repetition, getting faster as you get closer to the end of the session. Start off with a steady rep, then a fast rep, faster rep before finishing with your fastest rep.

Complete your workout with a 200m Cool Down. Feel free to pause and stretch when needed and/or include stretching as part of each break until the distance is covered.

Next weeks the workouts will be developing your technique and your threshold swim speed.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact me.

I am the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi Coaching.

I specialise in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. I can be contacted at coachray@coachray.nz and 021 348 729.

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If you enjoyed this workout, here is a similar session I published previously.

Saturday Swim Session: 100’s and 50’s

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