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Everyone has a ten hour Ironman in them

1 May 2008 One Comment

A ten hour Ironman is made up of six hundred efficient minutes. Any time you spend being inefficient simple adds to your total. Whether you end up with six hundred minutes or seven hundred or even eight hundred and forty minutes, can and will be detirmined by how efficient you become in your preparation.

So all training, whether it’s off season maintenance training, or the sharpening up just before your next major race, needs to be directed at developing maximum efficiency.

Swimming is the classic example of how efficiency can help you improve. Lowering your number of strokes to complete a length of your training pool is the first step. Your swim coach can offer suggestions on how to improve this and give you feedback on what’s not working for you. Head position, relax your neck and lower your head, instantly your body “lays on top of the water”, instead of dragging through it. Learn to “feel the water”, the fastest swimmers feel the water and hold onto it as they swim by. Develop “several gears” in your swimming. Many poor swimmers have only one speed in arm turnover rate. To be able to react to varying conditions in the swim, you need several different speeds.

Always be “practicing” when in the pool, rather than training. Golfers and tennis players always practice. Our game is as heavily dependant on technique as theirs.

Cycling, great cyclists have done thousands of hours in the saddle. Most of the time spent in the saddle was learning to roll the gears with light pedal pressure. They have to do some hard pushing, but the bulk of their hours are spent building pedalling efficiency and conditioning the muscles to build endurance into them. Endurance at a muscular level is not something which can be rushed. It can only be built a little at a time. A bit like building a huge cathederal out of hand sized bricks.

Some of the fastest female Ironman cyclists are small women. Often they weigh around 52-54kg, yet they have often ridden under five hours for the Ironman bike. They all have one thing in common, they spin along at higher than 90rpm. They don’t have the strength of the bigger stronger guys but they get there with pedalling efficiency. Yet with this result so easily seen, we see big strong male athletes grinding along at 80-85rpm and not riding anywhere near as fast.

Every time you take your bike out, do it for a purpose. Learn to pedal smoothly and with light pedal pressure. Every cyclist I have passed in the final forty km of the Hawaii Ironman bike course has been pedalling inefficiently.

Running. I have heard “experts” say, you shouldn’t change a runners technique, they’ll become injured. This is Bullshit. Running technique is as important as swimming technique in detirmining final times.  Simple changes, printed into the mind with run drills can drastically change the outcome in a long race. But be careful, the new technique has to be allowed to become a habit. Any time the old style is practiced it keeps the “old way” alive. When you learn something new, you cannot ever allow yourself to go back to doing it the old way.

Most poor runners don’t have good posture. Good core strength is the foundation for good posture. Look at the posture of dancers and gymnasts. Little kids learn to stand correctly and run correctly, their parents have unlearned this simple skill. Adults very often need to re-learn how to stand and walk efficiently. I can sit in a cafe and watch the people walk by and pick the poor bastards who would be lousy runners, simply by the way they walk.

A good coach can simply give you different thoughts to hold, which will change the way you run.

Every run is a practice session in efficiency. Especially when you run tired. Holding it together when you’re exhausted is often the key to that great time you’re aiming at.   

If every minute spent training, is a minute spent on improving your efficiency. When you next step up to a start line, you’ll need less minutes to get to the finish line.

One Comment »

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