Do You Have a Training Plan For Your Tri?

April 17th, 2013 by Cheryl Sherwood


Here is a great opportunity to step up your game and improve race results. If you are not using a training plan designed for your fitness level, age and ability, attend this half day clinic and leave with a training plan tailored to YOU. You’ll have an online account to log and track your progress. Only 2 spots left in this class ! Click here for more info.

A Swim Workout to Beat the Boredom of the Pool

April 8th, 2013 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

With the lakes finally starting to thaw, we are weeks behind last season in getting out in that open water to prepare for our first triathlon. For most of us, this means more time staring at lines at the bottom of the pool. A good way to spice up your pool time is to mix up your workouts and try some new ones. Here is one of my favorites. Try to incorporate some of the drills you know for stroke correction right after the warm-up and before the main set.

We call this workout the “BELCO 500”


Warm Up: 200 swim, 100 kick, 150 pull

Drills: 200 of drills of your choice

Main Set: Do this set once for a beginner, 2-3 if intermediate and 4-6 for advanced triathletes.

Swim 500 broken down as follows:

1. Swim 100 where the 4th 25 is a sprint
2. Swim 100 where the 3rd 25 is a sprint
3. Swim 100 where the 2nd 25 is a sprint
4. Swim 100 where the 1st 25 is a sprint
5. Swim all out, 100 yards

Rest 30 seconds before starting the next set of 500

10X25 All out kick w/15s rest

Cool Down: 200 swim easy



Build Your Own Training Plan!

February 19th, 2013 by Cheryl Sherwood

We still have room in our “Build Your Own Training Plan” Class this saturday, February 23rd. In this class you’ll complete bike and run field tests and learn how to execute great workouts. Using the data collected from the tests, we’ll help you design your own 90 day training plan for sprint, olympic or half iron distance. Click here for more info.

Make a PLAN and What is Periodization???

January 28th, 2013 by Mark Olson

In my last blog I spoke about 5 things that you need to get done ASAP, that is, very early in the beginning of your new season (i.e. the off season). These 5 things are very important for determining how to best go about training for the coming race season. The answer to those 5 questions will help you decide how many hours to train per week and what to spend those hours focused on. In other words, those answers will help you build an annual training plan. Simple! Or maybe kinda easy? Or ummmmm, what do I do next?

Building a plan can be easy but it takes time and some understanding of periodization, which I will discuss in a minute. First here are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about planning:

1) Best to work backwards from your first “A”(Important) race. Then work back to the next big race, and so on.

2) The longer you have been training and the more advanced of an athlete you are, the more important the plan. If you are a beginner, any plan will work to some degree as long as you do not over train.

3) Recovery is EXTREMELY important! In general you should build in recovery days every week and recovery weeks every 3-5 weeks. If you are a beginner I recommend at least 1-2 recovery days per week and a recovery week every 3-4 weeks. If you are advanced there are better ways to plan your recovery. I will discuss this in depth in another blog.

4) Have a plan and follow it! BUT, all plans need to be flexible to account for LIFE. The plan will change throughout the season.

5) Build your plan with some structure. Any plan is better than no plan, but with some structure your plan can take you a lot further. This “structure” is Periodization!

What the hell is Periodization? The word is used a lot and I’m sure many of you have read something, somewhere about it. It ends up meaning slightly different things to different people. Here are some concepts that I feel Periodization encompasses:

1) A systematic approach to training

2) Training with varied volumes and intensities

3) Training in blocks of time, with each block having specific purpose

4) Training with a purpose to arrive at your “A” race in the best possible condition to reach your race goals

I think number 4 is the best summarization.

Check out Joe Friel’s training bible books for help building the details of your plan or better yet, sign up for the Athletic Mentors Build Your Own Training Plan CLINIC. This is a very cost effective way to get some coaching help while putting your plan together.

In my next blog I’ll talk about some different approaches to developing periodized training plans and give you some ideas on what to put into those training weeks to come.


Heat Acclimation Improves Exercise Performance

January 25th, 2013 by Ultra Endurance Coach Garrett Peltonen

Exposure to various environmental conditions (i.e. altitude, cold, and heat) has been shown to promote physiological adaptations. Specifically, since the 1990’s athletes have been utilizing the “live high, train low” philosophy to improve athletic performance by taking advantage of our body’s natural ability to adapt to altitude (primarily through the increase oxygen carrying capacity of the blood)1. If altitude is able to promote adaptations that improve endurance performance, cannot the same be said about other environmental stimuli such as cold and heat stress?

According to a recent study titled, Heat Acclimation Improves Exercise Performance2, it appears that physiologic heat adaptations can be used to improve performance. In this study, the effects of heat acclimatization on performance in both hot and cool environments were determined. There were two groups: twelve highly trained endurance cyclists receiving a heat acclimation protocol and eight highly trained cyclists not receiving a heat acclimation protocol. Measures of performance Рmaximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), time trial, and lactate threshold Рwere determined in both groups prior to and after heat acclimation protocol during both cool (13°C) and hot conditions (38°C). The heat acclimation protocol involved 90 minutes of daily cycling at low to medium intensity while exposed to a temperature of 40°C, for a total of ten days. Control participants partook in the exercise over the course of the ten days, but were not exposed to the heat stress. If you need the best exercises to get over stress, you can this page and get the best exercise advice.

What did they find? They demonstrated that 10 days of heat acclimatization increased VO2max (5% and 8%), time trial performance (6% and 8%), and power output at lactate threshold (5% and %5) in both cool and hot conditions. Whereas, the non-heat acclimatized group showed no changes in VO2max, time trial performance or lactate threshold in either cool or hot conditions. Mechanistically, the improvements in performance appear to be the result of a heat induced increase in plasma volume. An increase in plasma volume tends to increase cardiac output leading to an increase VO2max, ultimately improving time trial performance and lactate threshold values.

It appears that incorporating bouts of heat stress (sauna, hot tub, trainer by the furnace, etc) into your training routine may improve performance in hot as well as cool conditions. The bottom line, if you are looking for a quick and easy way to improve your performance, it might be wise to consider living in a sauna somewhere high in the mountains and taking a daily jaunt down to sea-level for training. However, it might be best to run this idea by your significant other first!


1 Levine, B. D. & Stray-Gundersen, J. “Living high-training low”: effect of moderate-altitude acclimatization with low-altitude training on performance. Journal of Applied Physiology 83, 102-112 (1997).


2 Lorenzo, S., Halliwill, J. R., Sawka, M. N. & Minson, C. T. Heat acclimation improves exercise performance. Journal of Applied Physiology 109, 1140-1147, doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00495.2010 (2010).


Consistency Builds Confidence

January 16th, 2013 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

By now you have probably set some goals for 2013 and have heard the broadcasts about your high probability of failing to achieve them by the end of the month. Well I am here to provide you with one simple suggestion for the year that is hopefully easy to follow. Train with Consistency.

As I continue to read about the human body and how to improve performance I have been continually reminded that the best way to see fitness gains is to train consistently. Fitness is not stagnant. At any moment in time you are either gaining or losing fitness. Breaks at the end of the season or when you are sick are perfectly fine but frequently missing more than 2 workouts per week can have a negative impact on fitness level and overall self-efficacy. Not only does the body respond well to regular training but the mind also remembers these experiences and benefits from them. As was stated in the Essentials of Strength and Conditioning book “We believe that the most powerful determinant of confidence and a sense of preparation is quality physical practice in which a number of positive experiences are stored in long-term memory.” Personally, the guilt conscience takes over if I miss too many workouts and as a result my race performance suffers because I know I haven’t put the time in that I was planning to.

Of course, I am still encouraging you to utilize periodization fundamentals, to vary the workouts and weekly training hours. Please note that I am not trying to tell you to overdo it and put yourself into a state of overtraining. More is not better if it leads you to having to take time off due to overuse injuries or burnout. Instead, what I am referring to is the daily effort to keep moving. In fact, an athlete who truly understands this concept recognizes that the goal is to do the least amount of properly timed, specific training that brings continual improvement.

Therefore, while deciding whether to bear the cold and get out for that 5 mile run you had scheduled for today don’t listen to the excuses that might be running through your head. Instead choose consistency. The benefits will pay off in 5 months from now when you put that swim cap on for the first tri of the season and are confident that you have put the constant work in to be successful. Remember too that you can’t make up for lost time. In other words, if you skip a few workouts in a week, you can’t add them on next week and expect positive results. With that in mind, if you do choose to stay on the couch on a given day, think about the fact that your competition might not have.

Winter Training- 5 things you need to do NOW!

December 31st, 2012 by Mark Olson

If you are hoping to make big gains this winter and to take your performance to it’s next level, there are some key items you need to address ASAP in order to set yourself up for a successful winter training season. A little bit of thought and planning will go a long way by making your training time more focused, efficient and fruitful.

#1 Define your Annual Training Hours

You need to know what your time commitment is. Don’t just be realistic, be on the conservative side. Talk this over with your support team (ie. your better half)! Base it on your biggest week, ex. I can swing a 14 hour week once or twice this season. Write down vacations and other life commitments that will be a factor.

#2 Define your Racing Focus for the 2013 Race Season

What type of racing are you going to focus on? What is the date of that first race? This is important because it will set up your training focus. If you plan to be a crit racer, you will train differently in the winter then if you are planning to race stage races or long road races. Same if you are a Tri-Geek: if your first Ironman is on the horizon that’s a different winter then if you want to rip sprint distance races this coming summer.

#3 Figure out your Weaknesses and Limiters

This is very tough to do without a coach. Being purely objective about your personal strengths and weakness is not something that comes naturally to us humans. The tendency is to always find a way to convince ourselves that we should spend nearly ALL of our time working on the stuff we are best at. The winter is the time to focus on your weaknesses. This is VITAL to getting to a new level of performance and results.

All weaknesses are not limiters! This is important because most of us have limited time, and thereby need to optimize every second. Limiters are weaknesses that impact your ability to get results WITHIN your race focus. Example, if you are a weak climber but your key race(s) are primarily flat, then your weakness as a climber is NOT a limiter. As stated above, you need to understand your race focus to establish your limiters. Then focus your time in the winter on improving those limiters. If you don’t, you will at best get the same results this coming season as you did last season, and the season before that, and on and on and on‚Ķ

You will need to complete some testing to help figure out your weaknesses and to setup your training zones (see #4). Field tests are great and needed, but if you can fit it into your budget, metabolic testing will provide you data that will prove to be priceless in optimizing your time and priorities in training. Our testing partner, Steph Walbridge with In The Zone , does a fantastic job and has a tremendous amount of experience with endurance athletes. I will write a separate Blog to explain why this is so important later.

#4 Figure out your proper training zones

You have to know your proper training zones. PERIOD! Not having and training with them is like being out in the mountainous wilderness in the middle of nowhere with a really great map but NO COMPASS.

Some key things if you are a triathlete, you need zones for run, bike and swim. They are NOT the same. You can’t just do a field test on the bike and use those numbers for the run and swim‚Ķ They can be extremely different for some people.


#5 Write down your Race Schedule for 2013

We’ll talk more later about how to build an annual training plan. You will need everything above defined in order to do that. You will also need to know your race schedule or at least when your biggest “A” race is going to be and your first race of the year. A good sketch of the whole season is nice to have.


Coaches Corner: Inspiration from Coach Olson

December 21st, 2012 by Mark Olson

I stepped outside this morning and the crisp cold air and light snowfall was a wonderful reminder of what time of year it is. Although I’ve just taken a long break from competition, I’ve been training and racing for nearly 20 years now and for me this is the BEST time of the season. It’s not the “off-season”, it’s not the end of the season either. It’s the BEGINNING of next season!Mark Olson

I love that feeling. The excitement of the racing to come, the planning and preparation for the best season I’ve had. I’m going to do everything better this winter! You know the feeling‚Ķ

Fast forward‚Ķ March 16th 2013‚Ķ Holy crap Barry Roubaix is next weekend! OMG! I have no base‚Ķ I’ve done the same exact thing that I’ve done EVER YEAR since I started this racing thing, except I’m even fattier then last year! I’m screwed!

Yes we have all been here! So I’ve decided to try and help all of us ACTUALLY do everything better this winter.

What we are going to do is launch a series of blogs addressing the rather large issue of how best to prepare and train for next race season when you live in Michigan or the Midwest. I’m going to cover a bunch of topics, some short and simple, some at great length. I’m going to cover everything from new ways to plan and setting your training zones to strength training and getting rid of that new 10 pound weight belt you put on over the holidays.

Our goal is to get you motivated and on track to have the best season ever by showing you some different and new ways to prepare and train this winter or at least get your rethinking about doing everything better this winter!

Remember this…. If you train the same as last year, you will, at best, get the same results…

Stay tuned for the next topic….