Thursday, February 21, 2013

The world's greatest triathlon database: reflections and resolutions

I've been spending a fair bit of time updating and analyzing my triathlon database.  This is a database tht tracks 60 different parameters about each of my 126 triathlons to date.  Think of it as a 126 by 60 matrix.

Now when I claim it is the world's greatest triathlon database, let me clarify what I mean.  There may be larger triathlon databases in the world.  There may be more useful databases in the world.  But I'm pretty much certain that there is no other database as extensive as this is about as relatively low profile topic (me) as in this database.  In otherwords, never has so much been recorded about so little!  (In addition to my Xcel database, I have a paper copy of the results of all 126 of my races--going back to 2001).

So with this database it's possible to do all sorts of interesting (in my view) analyses.  I have been doing so as of late (as well as an exciting video project, which I'll unveil shortly) and will be sharing some of the specifics of that research with you in this space over the next month or so.  However, I wanted to share with some of the important conclusions I have reached about how I need to modify my approach to the upcoming 2013 racing season.  Here are the major ones:

1. By most measures my swim hit its peak in 2010/2011.  I had a slight fall off last year but even 2012 was a comparitively good year.  This is the average race look.  However, tuning the analyses by race link shows two key things: 1. I underperform the longer the race is relative to the times I achieve in sprints; and 2. My best IM swims were all in a 10 month period in 2007/2008 (IMFL2007 at 66 minutes being the best).  Whats interesting about this is when you compare my results to my swim training volume.  Back in 2007, I had Peter Reid as my coach and he had me do radically more swimming that year (almost 500,000 yards).  I was frequently above 50,000 per month.  After I stopped working with Pete, I cut my swim volume by 25-30% and focused quite a bit on technique.  I used the extra time to ramp up my bike volume.  What happened i believe is I became a better and faster swimmer at shorter distances but at the IM distance, my lack of sheer swim volume really hurt my IM swim splits--we're talking about 10-15 minutes here.

In 2013, I will up my swim volume to 50,000+ yds/month in June, July and August in preparation for my September IM.  Otherwise, I'll follow my recent years' approach.

2. My bike has remained consistent and competitively outstanding.  I may be just a percent or so off of where I was 8-9 years ago but I continue to get the job done on the bike.  Part of this must surely be a function of my ramp up in aggregate bike volume the last few years (I'm at or above 10,000 miles/year).  However, with the above ramp in swim volume, something will have to give.

In 2013, I'll have my biggest bike volume months in April and May.   From June-August I'll cut back a bit but significantly increase the intensity of my bike rides.  I'll be sure to get a weekly 100+ mile ride in but be sure to progressively raise the percentage of the my long rides that I'm at or above my IM power target (probably around 190-200 watts).  I'll run off of these long rides a bit to make sure, my power target is correct for the IM distance.  I'll be sure to also do 2 high intensity, structured rides each week.  In this manner, I hope to continue my strong bike performance, accomodate my increased investment in the swim, and have a stronger IM bike split in September.

3. My big issue on the run is my knee.  Because of the chronic pain I try to manage through, I can't achieve the basic volume (or the desired intensity) of training.  I begin to have real trouble once I get to about 30 miles a week.  I should be at 50-60 and this is a fundamental limiter for my triathlon performance.  As I age, my run is becomming comparatively worse.  I hope to reverse this by trying to inject more intensity, but to do it on hills were the stress on my legs, especially my knee, should be less.

In 2013, I'm going to try to reverse, or slow down, the deterioration of my run performance by an emphasis, beginning in March, on hill interval work.  I'll do two types of hill runs EACH week.  The first, is a set of short, maximal efforts up very steep hills.  I'm talking 8-10 repeats of 5-15 seconds with plenty of rest.  The second, is longer, more tempo oriented efforts.  Here a set would be 3-5 repeats of 6-10 minutes at a 5k/10k intensity.

In addition to the above training changes, I have a number of equipment changes lined up for 2013:

Swim: With the Water Rover no longer being legal, my swimsuit will be exclusively the TYR FON.

Bike: After seven years, I'm retiring my BMC TT01 at some point this season.  In it's place will be my new BMC TM01.  More on that later.

Run: After a bunch of test runs, I've decided to switch running shoes to the Hoka One One.  In my training runs, I seem to be about 3-5% faster in these shoes.  The great thing about these shoes is that they have a very small ramp--similar to barefoot running but they also have great cushioning, which given my size and my knee I need--especially at the IM distance.  I've noticed that when I run in five fingers and they like I'm faster but there is just not enough cushioning.  I'm betting this will get a bit of the best of both worlds!

Lastly, I'm getting in touch with my softer side and racing in Betty Designs tri clothes this year!

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