16 9 / 2014

Officially the new conference director of the Northeast Collegiate Triathlon Conference! Excited to get some work done and work with such great people!

03 9 / 2014

So i just got back from Worlds in Edmonton this past weekend. It was a different experience than anything I have done before. Sure Age Group Nationals was competitive, but this was another level. I was in better shape and still was pushed back to 33rd in my age group. (Not where I wanted to be)

The swim start looked like it should have been a dive off a big dock, but the water was too shallow, so they allowed us to stand on the 1 foot of sand right below the dock. From here you had a couple options. You could go with a dive in or a run in. Needless to say the dive in was much faster, and I was sure the kids and my age group would be taking full advantage. From here I needed to decide whether to do a one step then dive, or a two step then dive. After a lot of practice I decided to go with one stutter step then dive. (Right choice :)

For the start we were all lined up single file facing out towards the first buoy. I knew the middle was going to be a mess at a race like this, and would require a perfect dive. I even considered diving and doing a few dolphin kicks to get in front, but that was risky. I quickly realized that the left end was open. I ended up being the first person on the left side and could therefore get some separation from the person on my right, and had no one to worry about on my left. I always breath to the right anyways so it was a perfect situation where I could keep my eyes on everyone.

The gun went off and my dive was pretty flawless. I got out and realized I had alot of open room for the first 300 meters to the first buoy. I decided drafting the first 300 was out of the question. (It looked like a mess in the middle anyways). I ended up getting to the first buoy somewhere in the top 10. From there I found some difficulty drafting as I was in between the front group and back group. Throughout the swim I drafted off and on, but all in all I was feeling pretty good. Later I heard that the middle of the swim start hit a huge bottleneck and many athletes got stuck in the carnage. (Good choice to stay outside) Swim time 10:48

Getting out of the swim I was 32nd. Guess this shows just how amazing my start was. I didn’t go out too hard, the good swimmers just got stuck in the bottleneck in the middle. Transition was very long. Most hovered at about 2:30. I got out of T1 in 2:47. The beginning of the bike was tough. Trying to establish a position when you are lacking oxygen is not an easy task. I ended up getting out on the bike fine though and established a position. The bike was extremely windy and a cause for caution. I was passed a couple times, but passed just as many people. The course was a two loop course and had two major uphills and two downhills. The uphills went fine as I was able to carry some momentum, but the downhills were a different story. The wind made it difficult to stay upright and I ended up out of aero position the majority of the time. However, I still got down in a very aero road position and without pedaling was able to surpass many who sat up and pedaled hard. In the end I finished with a 33:26 and 33rd overall on the bike.

Going into T2 I had one of the worst times due to a penalty of sorts. I forgot that ITU races don’t allow you to unbuckle the helmet while you are running with your bike. The official stopped me and made me buckle it back up. I was pretty confused at first and it cost me 10-15 seconds.

The run was a story of its own. I took my time in transition and decided to push it on the run. I felt good. Fresh. I was passing people left and right. I must have moved up 10 spots on the run. I was surprised to realize there were trails on the run which didn’t bode well with my racing flats, as I could feel every rock come right through. But still I was passing people every couple minutes. I finished and I swore I ran low 18s. (Garmin watch is broken) To my shocking surprise I only ran a 19:28! This kind of had me upset for awhile, but oh well. I did feel like I had more in me. I ended up finishing the run 36th in my age group. Talking about having no strengths or weaknesses. 32 swim, 33rd bike, 36th run, and 33rd overall!

So the overall finish was 33rd in my age group with a time of 1:08:55. Oh well. Overall the race was still a great learning experience and great motivation for the future. I am looking into a new coach and I am pretty excited to train for the next 8 months before collegiate nationals. I have races the next 3 weekends for the collegiate season. Not ideal I know, but got to do what you got to do to get the points. I’ll have some updates from those races too, and hopefully I can post some data with those when my watch is fixed.

07 6 / 2014

It’s official. Edmonton 2014 with Team USA!

It’s official. Edmonton 2014 with Team USA!

30 5 / 2014

It’s Official! Level 1 and Youth & Junior

It’s Official! Level 1 and Youth & Junior

17 4 / 2014

13 4 / 2014

Won the Autism Awareness 5k today! Great cause with great people!

07 4 / 2014

27 3 / 2014


            Poor race performances can leave athletes frustrated and with a lot of questions. Athletes who “hit the wall” may be even more frustrated. There are many reasons an athlete may “hit the wall” during a race including but not limited to fueling, poor nutrition, mental weakness, extreme weather, etc. One reason we will focus on here is the lack of proper durability/endurance for the race distance.

            Too many athletes begin doing work at speeds that they will not even be able to average during their race. This can make sense for some races like ITU style triathlons where sudden increases in speed are required, but for most endurance races, this is not the best use of training time. You are adapting your body to run at speeds you will not hit during your race, while it is better to train at your current race pace, and have that steadily increase.

            It is easy to get caught up on how fast you can complete a distance, but too many athletes begin building speed for a race they do not have the proper endurance to complete. This is not to say that the athlete cannot complete the distance, but rather the athlete does not have sufficient aerobic endurance to complete the distance to the best of their abilities. In more simplistic terms, an athlete should be able to complete the race distance with ease which can be measured by heart rate. If the athlete has to elevate effort and intensity throughout just to complete the distance then they are lacking sufficient aerobic endurance. Going anaerobic should not be necessary just to complete the race distance. This is the difference between a coupled workout and a decoupled workout.

            In a coupled workout the ratio of heart rate to either power on the bike or pace in the run will be less than 5% between the first half of the workout and the second half. In other words, if you complete a one hour bike workout at a heart rate of 150 throughout the entire workout, your power should start at say 200 watts and not decrease by more than 5% or 10 watts. If your watts decline by more than 5% then your workout is considered decoupled, which means you do not have the durability to complete that distance at that intensity.

            For these tests the heart rate is going to be the zone which is your aerobic threshold, or where your effort is conversational and no labored breathing is required. In the zones that I use, that is approximately 80-88% of your lactate threshold heart rate.

To compute this data you must break the workout in half and fill in these values.

            1st Half Average Power: 200                  2nd Half Average Power: 195

            1st Half Average HR:  150                      2nd Half Average HR: 150

With these values we can compute the power to heart rate ratio for each by dividing the power by the heart rate.

           1st Half Ratio: 200/150 = 1.33               2nd Half Ratio: 195/150 = 1.3

Now find the difference between the two. If the difference is greater than .05 or 5% then the workout is decoupled. If it is less that .05 or 5% then it is coupled. *For running you can replace power with the average pace in seconds. So if the average pace for one half is 7:30 than it is 450 seconds.

            It is important to remember during these tests to control one variable and see how the other changes. In both running and cycling I suggest keeping the heart rate stable and watching how the pace or power reacts.

            This type of test is ideal for the base phase as the goal of this phase of periodization is to build sufficient endurance for the race distance. The other ingredient to this is to complete the test for the correct duration to approximate your race distance. For example, for a sprint distance triathlete you should be able to have a coupled aerobic paced bike ride for one hour. The chart below gives the correct testing durations for the specified race distance. Test your race distances, and see if you can complete an aerobic paced coupled workout for the corresponding duration to see if your fitness is where is should be. 

If you are interested in coaching services please visit www.noreastertriathlon.com  and contact James Petersen.

06 3 / 2014

            As stated in previous articles, not much focus is put on running technique by runners and triathletes alike. One area this lack of attention is detrimental to performance is downhill running.

            Running downhill requires an eccentric contraction of the quadriceps and lower leg muscles. In simple terms, your muscles are lengthening while running downhill. Uphill may feel more demanding, but downhill segments will tire your legs (specifically quadriceps) for later stages of the race, or the next day. One great example of this experience is the Boston Marathon. Early miles showcase a drop in elevation which results in a quick early pace and quadriceps fatigue. The pace feels easy and quadriceps discomfort is often not realized until the later stages of the race.

            The best resolution to this polemic is improved awareness, technique and therefore running efficiency. Watch the video below which explains the foot strike phase. 

            Now that you know how your foot should strike the ground, there are a few things to complement that.

Body Lean: This is the primary focus area. A normal reaction/habit to downhill running is to lean backwards, as to slow the body down. However, this backwards lean creates an undesirable braking force in the form of an overemphasized heel strike. (As we discussed in the video, this is not an ideal strike) Your center of gravity is moved backwards, and forward momentum is decreased. In short, avoid the backward lean which correlates to the heel strike. With this in mind, it is important to avoid leaning too far forward that you lose form and are out of control. Lean forward from your hips and not your shoulders.

Arm Swing: Downhill running does not require the driving force from your arm swing like flats. Once an optimal speed is reached, you may decrease arm swing to prevent going out of control. (Rotation of the spine and twisting of shoulders, with regards to arm swing may also be decreased)

Cadence: Stride length does not need to be so long. Increase your cadence to make sure you do not over stride and therefore heel strike. You want to make sure that your strike is landing right underneath your center of gravity and not in front of it. This will also decrease pressure on your quadriceps. Contact time with the ground should be short. Put your foot down and get it off quickly. One method to doing this is to focus on simply lifting your leg backwards off the ground as fast as possible. (Like the infamous butt kick drill)

Eye Focus: Like typical running form, remember to look forward and not down at your feet as doing so deactivates the hip extensor muscles which help keep your balance.

            Downhill running is an art. A lack of proper technique takes away free speed gains that don’t require energy and cause increased wear on your quadriceps which can come back to bite you later in the race. On the other hand, perfecting this technique will give you energy reduced speed gains and preserve your quadriceps for later stages of the race. Avoid the backwards lean, keep cadence high, and nail that foot strike!

31 1 / 2014

The NCAA has officially accepted Women’s Triathlon as an NCAA Emerging Sport. What does this mean? It means that starting in August 2014, universities will be allowed to compete at the NCAA level. Right now there are several universities going after NCAA status and recognition. Now this NCAA Triathlon is not your average triathlon. NCAA triathlon will be focused on draft legal racing and the ITU style. Why you might ask? Because the Olympics are draft legal. Plain and simple. Now why are men not included? Title 9. In order to start men’s triathlon there would have been a push against women’s sports. USA Triathlon had to start somewhere, and women were the easiest course. My guess is that men’s NCAA triathlon is a far ways off. But we can keep hoping. In the meantime this is quite a success for the sport of triathlon, and women in the sport! (I’ll break down my feelings about draft legal racing another day)

Interested in being coached? Visit www.noreastertriathlon.com for more info!