Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Biggest Loser Competition!

Wednesday 15th April Cycle Time Trial Results:
Biggest Loser Competition:

Dear Athletes

Well if you ever questioned whether or not all the blood, sweat and tears you put into your training with The TEAM CORE was worth it, today's cycle time trial results should hopefully prove otherwise!

Good conditions met the cyclists this morning down at our 10.7km Time Trial Circuit in Shelley. Our previous two tests down here were in November 2008 and February 2009, and so for those who had previously tested on this course it was a good gauge of how well they are improving. And improve they did!

Firstly to the results of the actual session. Breaking his own men's course record for the 2nd time was young Joe Kierath who turned just 18 on Monday and has also qualified this week for the World Triathlon Championships later this year in sunny QLD - well done Joe! The ladies record was also smashed by a margin of 28 seconds by Jess Huston, showing fine form to average just over 37 km/h. Nice job Jess!

And then onto the individual improvements...I am very happy to confirm that EVERY single athlete improved on their previous performances on this course! Not bad for a morning's outing! It also helps strengthen the fact that it IS possible AND effective for a diverse range of ability athletes to all train "together" and for ALL to see improvements of equal margin. It is easy to say that for optimal individual results in an individual sport that people should train individually. I beg to differ. As the results of our 6-month "Biggest Loser" competition (above and spreadsheet below) clearly show, athletes at both the "pointy end" of the field and those less experienced are all improving very nicely indeed!

Winning the Biggest Loser competition was Karlee Cannon who has improved her time on this course by an outstanding 16.1%. This equates approximately to an increase in power of a little over 40%*. To put this into perspective, over 6 months if training is going well and you have been consistent, you would hope to typically see power improvements of ~ 10%. As you can see, the majority of the squad have all achieved this, some by a huge margin!

* power can be approximately "guestimated" as the cube of speed, i.e. in order for you to increase your speed by double, you need to increase your power output by 8 times. Obviously factors such as the weather and changes to seating positions and the use of aero-bars etc over one test compared to the next cannot to factored for in such a simplistic view, but you get the idea!

What was also very interesting for those doing the Half Ironman on the 2nd May was the physical and motivational benefit of performing at least the start of this test set in "draft-legal formation", i.e. at least 7m apart. I patrolled the group on my bike to make sure no-one got too close and to help simulate what it will feel like down in Busselton with well over 1,000 triathletes on the course at the same time. By ensuring that no-one got too close to be pinged for drafting, athletes were able to experience exactly what this rule looks and feels like and equally how having someone to chase helped those fairly new to Time Trialling to push themselves a little harder than normal. For some this was quite profound, for others it showed that having someone to chase can be a good thing to start, but equally that this may lead them to push too hard for the run discipline! C'est la vie!

Here are a couple of additional points which I'd like to raise for those doing the HIM in particular. Some of these were questions for me after today's session and I felt them prudent to share with you all:

1) It WILL be crowded out on the bike course. Do NOT get yourself into trouble by getting too close and receiving a drafting penalty as a result (or worse, disqualification!). Your training and effort so far is worth so much more than that!

2) The 7m rule can get very frustrating for those in the middle of the field where it is most busy. Keep a cool head if this is you. Short, sharp bursts to try and "breakaway" are seldom effective and can be very costly for your run leg. Listen to the help and advice of the Draft Busters but do not argue with as they say, it's their final call!

3) Having people to chase can be great, especially when you will be feeling fresh and fruity after a nice taper. As some of you experienced today over only 10.7km though, chasing too hard and above your HIM "perceived pace" will render you useless on the run. This is not a fun place to be. Be careful, pacing is critical as always!

4) If it were me racing, I'd probably do without the heart rate monitor, speedo and the stopwatch come the race day. Why? They can't tell you how you're feeling accurately enough to gauge your intensity correctly. This is why we've done so much work on learning what HIM pace actually FEELS like and what you can comfortably sustain on the swim, bike and run legs. All those hard Brick Sessions were exactly geared around this development of your perception of how hard you can push. Only a power-meter and a cadence meter can really offer you any useful information on race day, and very few of you have a power-meter! Classic example is this: 

Joe Athlete has set himself a target pace of 32km/h on the bike as his goal for hitting 2h50 as a bike split. On the race day its very windy and on an out & back course this means a strong tailwind on the way out and a seemingly stronger headwind on the way back. Does Joe think on the way out that he is pushing himself too hard when his speedo is consistently over 40km/h and therefore ease back to 32km/h, only to find he cannot even hit 24km/h on the way back? This would be a disasterous result, the speedo is therefore useless in this scenario. He would be much better off listening to his body and trusting in the work that he has done so far to know what 6.5 or 7 out of 10 FEELS like.


Jane Athlete thinks that she'll use her stopwatch to keep a track of her lap times on the bike, knowing that this should at least account for variable out & back conditions. However, the wind actually picks up even further over the duration of the ride, such that lap 2 takes 6 minutes longer than lap 1 and lap 3 over 10 minutes longer than lap 2! Is she blowing up? Does she need to pick up the pace and push harder? How does the feeling of falling back on her goals during the race affect her psychologically? Is her race already over? To be frank, who knows! You just cannot effectively pace yourself like this when the environmental conditions are so changeable. 

As highlighted in previous Blogs, whilst we have been very particular about letting you know lap times etc on the Brick Sessions, it is really very difficult (if not impossible) to accurately predict how well you will go or what pace you should try and hold! 

"Use the Force" Young Skywalker!

5) Gear selection can be critical for maintaining a smooth and even cadence. Maintaining this rhythm with your cadence meter is one thing you can accurately control on race day! The cassette / cluster or "cogs on the back wheel" that provide you with gears come in a variety of sizes. Most "off the shelf" clusters are for a variety of riding terrain and will suit an undulating bike course. Busso is not undulating, it's pancake flat! If you find that you have been "searching for gears" whilst riding our Wednesday sessions down at Shelley I'd highly encourage you to speak with Hilton or Matt at Glen Parker Cycle's on Stirling Highway and ask them to show you a "closer-ratio cluster / cassette" for your bike if you feel that on the gears you normally use down at Shelley have a big jump between your two most popular gears. The difference this can make can be quite astounding. Get yours checked first though before you make any changes! Cost will be ~ $150 for the cassette and ~ $40 for a new chain...roughly!

6) It may just be coincidence, but those who actually said they were looking forward to doing the cycle time trial this morning, were those who performed the best. When all is said and done, and you're on that start line on the 2nd May, if you're excited and looking forward positively to having a good race and making the most of your hard work over the last 16 weeks, you will excel. Guaranteed! Do NOT underestimate the value of this! Our job in the last 2 weeks is as much about getting you pumped up and excited about the race as it is about getting you physically rested for the event...however, one can't happen without the other and as such a relaxed taper is what it's all about!


So, in a nutshell groovers, we are all tracking in the right direction and everyone is improving nicely! Well done. Let's look forward to a good final two weeks of training and really helping to keep each other motivated and enthused about it all!



P.S Interested in a device that records your swimming sessions?

Rob Newman and Kath McHenry are in the process of developing a device that will track and record your swimming sessions, including stroke rate, lap times, total distance swum etc.  They are interested in your opinion on the device features that you would value most.  If you have a few minutes to spare, please click on the link below to do an online survey and be in the running to win one of the devices when they are released.

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