Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Front Page - BY ADAM JOHN­STON

You’ve de­cided that 2017 is the year you will be­come a stonger triath­lete. But how are you go­ing to make that hap­pen? Where should you place your train­ing fo­cus for 2017? If you are rel­a­tively new to the sport you will likely con­tinue to im­prove across all three dis­ci­plines this win­ter and spring. On the other hand, if you’ve been in the sport for longer, it is un­likely that you will im­prove across all three dis­ci­plines at the same time. It is more pru­dent to zero in on the dis­ci­pline where the great­est time- sav­ings can be had.

Should that be your cy­cling? Con­sider the fol­low­ing to as­sess your bike per­for­mance:

1. Take your bike splits from last year’s races.

How do they typ­i­cally rank within your age group, and, to a lesser ex­tent, within your gen­der? Now do the same for your run splits. Which dis­ci­pline are you do­ing bet­ter in? If your run is out-per­form­ing your bike, then place your train­ing fo­cus on the bike this year. But, if your bik­ing is out-per­form­ing your run­ning, per­haps you should con­sider pur­su­ing a run-fo­cus for 2017.

2. Re­visit your very best race per­for­mances from last year.

How much time would you have to shave from your fin­ish­ing time to bump up a spot or two in your age group? Where do you think it is most likely that the time sav­ings will come from: the swim, the bike, or the run? Likely, it is from the bike. And, if so, there you go: fo­cus on the bike for 2017.

3. Try this nifty anal­y­sis:

Take your bike split (in min­utes) and di­vide it by your run split (in min­utes). You will get a num­ber (i.e. a 90-minute Olympic bike split di­vided by a 50-minute Olympic run split is 1.8). A quick sur­vey of On­tario pro­fes­sional triath­letes’ re­sults shows that their num­ber is 1.5 to 1.6, re­gard­less of the race dis­tance. As­sum­ing that these pros are about as well balanced as one can be in triathlon, their bike-to-run ra­tio gives us a sense of what a proper bike to run re­la­tion­ship is. If your num­ber is smaller than the pros, it in­di­cates that your bik­ing is bet­ter than your run­ning. That, or your bike pac­ing is too ag­gres­sive and if you were to hold back a bit on the bike your run would im­prove. In ei­ther sce­nario, it is likely best that you fo­cus on your run, as your bike is strong enough where it is. If your num­ber is higher than the pros, it in­di­cates that your bik­ing is weaker than your run­ning. And you should a) work on im­prov­ing your bike fit­ness or b) bike more ag­gres­sively in your race.

If you de­ter­mine that you should be fo­cus­ing on your bike for 2017, delve a bit deeper and re­fine the fo­cus for your bike train­ing this year. If you have power/data files from your races, re­view them and see if they are telling you some­thing: Do you tend to start harder than your av­er­age race power and then fin­ish be­low av­er­age race power? If so, why? Are you start­ing too hard? Is it nu­tri­tion­ally re­lated ( your en­ergy dwin­dles over the bike due to in­suf­fi­cient fuel in­take)? Is it due to men­tal lapses ( los­ing fo­cus/ con­cen­tra­tion as the bike wears on)? If so, get work­ing on proper pac­ing, fu­elling and pa­tience dur­ing your train­ing and rac­ing. Are you an even split­ter (where the first half and the last half of your bike split are or close to be­ing equal)? If so, great. No need to work on your race strat­egy. Sim­ply work on your bike fit­ness to bring an el­e­vated fit­ness level to your races in 2017. Are you a neg­a­tive split­ter (where the last half of your bike is faster than the first half)? This is not nec­es­sar­ily a good thing or a bad thing. While it feels ter­rific to be fly­ing through the sec­ond half of the bike pass­ing lots of peo­ple, you have to ask if it is worth­while pac­ing the bike that way. Could you be a lit­tle faster if you evenly split the bike? Or if you had a less siz­able neg­a­tive split? Some neg­a­tive split­ters leave too much time on the course over the first half of their bike and they can­not make that time up over the lat­ter half.

So now you know whether you should fo­cus on your cy­cling this year. And you might have a quan­ti­fied sense of how you pace your bike. The next log­i­cal ques­tion is “how do I im­prove my bik­ing?”

Ef­fec­tive train­ing can be dis­tilled to four words: con­sis­tency, speci­ficity, pro­gres­sion and pa­tience. It is not any spe­cial or ad­vanced train­ing tech­nique that will get you fit­ter on the bike. It is, quite sim­ply, de­cid­ing to fo­cus on the bike while com­mit­ting to be­ing con­sis­tent and pa­tient with the train­ing. That is what will make you im­prove.

Fol­low a sound, balanced bike train­ing pro­gram this win­ter. There are nu­mer­ous dif­fer­ent pro­grams, books, ar­ti­cles and train­ing pro­grams avail­able. Pri­or­i­tize get­ting your cy­cling work­outs in com­pared to your swim and run work­outs. When you need to re­ally push, save that en­ergy for your bike in­ter­vals and less so for your swim and run in­ter­vals.

Adam John­ston is the owner of Wattsup Cy­cling in Toronto. Wattsup Cy­cling has been help­ing triath­letes and cy­clists im­prove their cy­cling since 2008. Visit wattsup­cy­ to find out how.


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