THE T:ZERO BLOG
Free advice, content and media for all. It's our way of giving back to the tri community who have given so much to us. Enjoy!
With Head Coach Em Quinn
As a coach of any sporting code, the job requires a close relationship to be formed with an individual athlete and the guidance and goal setting process to help the individual achieve what he/she is seeking. Daily my role as a Head Coach within T:Zero Multisport has me continually working closely with my athletes by providing them with periodised, structured and diverse training plans to help them see the desired goal or outcome. I sit in the office for 3 days per week (plus often some nights when big racing weeks roll around) sifting through training plans, programming and making my way through emails all in the pursuit to bring out the very best in those I help.
Recently an athlete of mine ticked off her second “A” race for the 2019 year. It was a cracker, one of those days where things just come together across all three disciplines and the stars align, one of those rare days which we often only stumble across every now and again, but when we do, they are ever so sweet. Following this race and some planned active recovery weeks (those whom I coach will know I am a big fan of some active recovery sessions and unplugging a little post big events) I received an email from this athlete which outlined her next set of 2019/2020 triathlon goals. I opened the email with excitement as I get such a buzz from seeing what athletes set out to achieve within the sport but also within themselves. The first line of the email read “so….I know I will never be a champion in this sport or a podium contender BUT here are my goals and thoughts for the year ahead”. At the time, I continued reading the email, I got motivated and excited by the A, B and C goals that the athlete had in mind and replied with a lose agenda and of course scheduling a meeting where we can sit down and discuss the ins and outs of what it will take to get to where the athlete intended to be. However, that night, as I sat awake for several hours (the nightly grind with a newborn) I thought to myself, what does this world “champion” even mean? On the surface, some may say in the context of triathlon that a “champion” are those elite professionals, those who swim, bike and run for a day job and those who are successful enough to make a living from this all-consuming sport that we all seem to love so much. Others may say to a mate “you champion” for gaining world championship selection, for hitting a new personal best or for simply finishing an endurance event that once may have been a pipeline dream.
As a coach, of many athletes of varying abilities, goals and physical limits, I sat awake that night thinking of a way I could define “champion”. For me, I feel the definition is far more a mental one than a physical one. Of course, the fast 5km, the new PB’s, the World Championship Qualifications or the multiple Ironman finishes are impressive achievements and I am the first to feel immense satisfaction and pride when an athlete and I achieve one of these accolades, but do I feel these assets are individual qualities which define a person, the answer is no. For me the word “champion” means much more than results on paper or medals hanging in the garage. I think that an athlete who has a “champion mindset” is just as much of an achiever as those who swim, bike and run their way to the top level of this sport. By this, I mean, those individuals who strive to better themselves day in and day out, those who give 110% in training and in racing, even when at times it may seem like an impossible task. Those who seek to tackle the impossible and take each training session as an opportunity not only to better their physiological capacities but also to gain an insight and a continued love into the sport of triathlon. I, personally get just as much motivation and enthusiasm to create a plan for an athlete who is driven, process as well as performance orientated and brings with them a growth mindset (by this I mean viewing a setback or a weaker result as an opportunity to learn and grow rather than a failure). If you portray all of these qualities and have a genuine passion for the sport, then I believe that is a much more meaningful definition of a “champion” than simply a pen to paper result, which may appear on the surface like a success.
With the start of a new decade only a matter of weeks away, I ask you to question your mindset as you plan and set you goals for the season ahead. Seek the very best in yourself and strive to develop a love and genuine passion for the sport. Promise to be the best you can be, to learn, grown and develop as the highs and lows of the season occur (and they both will occur – prepare for them), I have no doubt that if you employ these tiny increments of positive mindset applications into your daily training, you’ll have an unbeatable season and without a doubt, enjoy the journey a lot more.
I cannot wait for 2020 and I am so excited by the goals and plans ahead for my team and the T:Zero Multisport crew. If you are striving for that next level in your performance (as an athlete and as a person) or simply feel as though your performance has plateaued, or that your love and passion for the sport has dwindled, then I challenge you take a step back and question your mindset, you never know where it could take you.
Until next time,
Head Coach T:Zero Multisport
Click here to find out more about what makes Em Quinn a champion coach!
For those involved in the world of long course triathlon, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who hadn’t heard of the young gun talent of Ellie Salthouse. The local Brisbane, 25-year-old has been taking the world by storm over the past few years showing she is a force to be reckoned with over the half ironman distance. However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Ellie and how she has found her “calling” within the sport is a story that will no doubt resinate with us all.
In my second year of living in Brisbane I was doing pretty well within the sport of triathlon. I was 21 at the time and I had been racing a lot over the Brisbane summer, most races landing on the podium. My coach at the time suggested I go and have a trial with the National Talent Identification program, which at the time was based in Carina. I remember thinking “wow, if he believes I have shot to make the program then I have to try out”. I remember getting to the pool and being surrounded by incredibly fit, lean and extremely athletic looking young rising stars. My first thoughts were to turn and run, I felt like my stomach was about to jump through my throat. However, I stuck it out and was grateful that my partner for the trial showed me a huge smile and made me feel a little more at ease. Without going into detail of just how not cut out for elite junior racing I was at this stage of my life, I did leave that day having made a new friend, an enormously talented individual who had just returned from National Cross Country and not once made me feel in any way out of my depth. I later learnt that that fit looking, happy and friendly girl was a 15-year-old Ellie Salthouse, her story and racing career I have been following closely since that day. Last week I had the pleasure to catch up with Ellie over coffee, share some of those old stories, learn about her battles as an up and coming athlete and most importantly hear first hand how Ellie is taking her 70.3 racing career to the next level.
As a youngster, Ellie was an incredible swimmer and runner, she recalls having seen a weet-bix triathlon add as a junior and asking her parents to take her along to the event. From there, is was evident that Ellie had a love for triathlon, “I started after that race at the Clem Jones Sports Centre in the Junior program and had some incredible achievements as a young athlete including 2 Silver Medals at the Youth Olympics and a 12th place at the 2012 Auckland ITU Grand Final”. However, despite all of this early success and enormous talent, Ellie found herself at the age of only 20 hating the sport, not having a love for the racing and training and feeling an exhausting amount of pressure to continually make teams and qualification times, she had simply lost her “why” and belief in herself. Ellie took a 6 month break from the sport and upon returning to Australia realised that perhaps her best years within the sport were still to come. After some wise words from local triathlon legend Loretta Harrop, Ellie was put in touch with Siri Lindley, who in my opinion is one of the worlds’ most successful coaches. “I knew as soon as I met Siri and had that conversation that she would be my coach, Siri made me find a love for long course racing and training, made me feel more relaxed and most importantly made me realise that I was only racing for myself”. Ellie made the move to Boulder, where she still to date spends 6 months of her year training and being coached by Siri. When hearing Ellie speak of her coach and the relationship they have it became evident to me that Ellie genuinely has a true love and passion for the sport of triathlon. It is obvious that in one respect, Siri became Ellie’s saving grace and made her believe in herself and gave her the confidence to try her hand in the world of long course racing, a big move to make at the tender age of only 21.
Ellie shared with me some invaluable tips and insights into her training and racing world as I asked her some questions regarding her career to date and her plans for the future. Ellie opens up about her dealings and learnings from 70.3 racing and kindly shares some of her thoughts regarding how all athletes, regardless of ability can get the most out of themselves, as well as provides some insights into her favourite racing locations and her dreams for the future.
What would be your best advice on how age group athletes can achieve their desired goals within the 70.3 distance?
“I think it is really important to have small goals each day, I find these help to keep you on track and accountable for your training. I think it is also really important that athletes tick off all of those little extra sessions, the stretching, strength and core sessions, they certainly help in the long run and to avoid injuries. I think it is also so valuable to have somebody who knows your goals, whether this be a coach or a friend or even a mentor, this individual will be able to help you at times when motivation may be lacking and help you realise your drive and your why, which is ultimately the most important aspect of success”.
What would you suggest as the most beneficial training sessions for athletes entering the 70,3-racing scene?
“Swim – I think it is really good for endurance and for mental toughness to do a hard set of 100’s with a very short rest cycle, only 3-5 seconds. So, the athlete is completing 30 or 40 of these slightly under race pace and having very little rest.
Ride – I love a long bike ride over a 4-hour duration where the final hour is at target race pace. I do all of my riding my perception of effort and have found that power limited my potential and also having that constant feedback of numbers on a screen distracted me from how I was actually feeling at any given moment. I love this style of a training ride as it allows you to hit that final hour having already completed some volume and feeling relatively fatigued. Again, great for not only physical improvements but also a mentally rewarding set.
Run – I find a good building run is again a really challenging yet mentally rewarding session. Knowing I have completed some really hard runs where I am required to run hard over the final 15 minutes of a 60-minute run really helps me dig deep on race day and givens me the confidence in my ability to do this under race conditions”.
What would be your best advice to athletes in terms of maintaining a love for the sport and longevity in terms of their racing?
“I think the most important thing is you need to enjoy it. You need to be able to listen to your body and have the discipline to rest and recover when needed. I have a rest day every week during my off season and every two weeks in my peak training season will take a complete day off and away from triathlon. I think also keeping on top of your strength work, stretching and massage will help keep the body well maintained. You also need to have goals! That is what drives me and motivates me every day, it will keep you accountable and make the process of training enjoyable and rewarding”.
What would be your top 5 tips for an athlete moving from the short course distance (sprint/OD) up to the 70.3?
“Keep some speed sessions in the swim, I found my swim training between these two distances relatively similar. Make sure you include some long rides, I think at least 2-3 four-hour rides before the big day. I think it is important to have regular long runs (90 minutes or so) but also equally as important to keep some speed in the run training too. Nutrition is also such an important aspect of long course racing, and needs to be well practiced in training”.
To date, what have been achievements in the world of triathlon?
1: Challenge Melbourne 2016 winner – this really validated for me that I had made the right choice with my training and racing and had found my love again for the sport.
2: Silver Medal at the 2010 Youth Olympics
3: Boulder 70.3 2018 Winner – for me this is like a home race
4: 8th Professional Female at the 2018 70.3 World Championships in South Africa
5: 70.3 Los Cabos 2018 Winner
What would be your favourite 70.3 races and why?
“My favourite destination to race would be Cozumel, it is so beautiful there and I love racing in the heat and humidity. I also love the course at Boulder. It is a hilly bike and the run is mostly on trails, it is also at altitude which makes it even tougher”.
I am so grateful to Ellie for taking the time out of her busy day right off the heels of a runner up placing at Geelong 70.3 only two days prior to having a coffee with me in the heat and humidity of a Brisbane summers day. Ellie is the type of person who just boasts a true love and enjoyment for the sport and having heard her story, is truly thankful she returned to the sport where she still clearly has so much more to give. Her beaming smile radiates confidence and her attitude to training and racing is the perfect example of how hard work, consistency and self-belief can conquer all. Ellie will soon leave Brisbane and head to the USA in preparation for 70.3 Oceanside in early April. Ellie has a swag of 70.3 races coming up over the course of 2019 all with goal of lining up for the 2019 70.3 World Championships in Nice to be the number one female athlete in the world. Ellie is a star to watch and even more importantly a genuinely lovely, kind hearted and caring individual who is one to keep your eye on in the year ahead. No doubt all of us as athletes can take home something from Ellie’s sharing’s!
Until next time…
Coach Em Quinn
By T:Zero Head Coach Emma Quinn with guest Dr Kellie Pritchard-Peschek
For many of us, we have an overdrive personality that sees us combine family, work, triathlon racing and training all into a finely balanced week. Many of us feel with the time we have available to train in order to prepare for our “A” goal needs to be focused on hard training in the pool, on the bike and pounding the pavement and we have an undeniable trait to neglect rest and recovery and shiver at the sight of a rest day or week in our training plan (sound familiar to anyone)? During my four years of study at the University of Queensland, my focus was on Exercise Science and physiology, the science behind the body and how it responds and adapts to heavy training loads. During these years it became quite clear that there is so much more to rest and recovery in a well-periodised training plan than simply “a day off”, the benefits that occur both physiologically and psychologically are undoubtable steps taken towards making a stronger and more successful athlete. An analogy was once said to me from a former coach, as I too am guilty (not so much anymore) of neglecting the rest days- as an athlete in my mid 20’s who thought I was invincible and the only way to out-perform my competitors was to train hard, every day, every week, every month till I eventually got sick or had a niggling injury. I was told to think about training as a sponge in water, when we integrate periods of rest and recovery (be this active or passive- this we’ll go into more depth a little later) this sponge soaks up all the water and expands. The nitty gritty behind this rather odd analogy was that when we take time off to recover after hard days or week training and effectively integrate effective rest and recovery techniques our body has the time to adapt, make physiological modifications and “soak up” the hard work.
During my final year of study, I had the pleasure (or pain) of conducting an Honours research project working with some of the academic staff within the Exercise Science facility. One member of the teaching team who I always looked up to as an academic and as an athlete was Kellie Pritchard-Peschek (now DoctorJ ). I remember Kellie having a strong passion for her own personal athletic success representing Australia at Long Course Triathlon as well as Duathlon as well as a passion for educating others on the importance and the science behind training philosophies. Whilst we became good friends during my studies life took us on very different paths in the years that followed, after spending time at the QAS Kellie then went on to work with the Swiss national swim team at their headquarters in Switzerland (yep my path drew the short straw haha). However despite these few years achieving different goals I have always stayed in touch and as life would have it Kellie has now returned to Brisbane to focus on her own business and I had the pleasure to catch up with her earlier this week and discuss the science behind recovery. My hope is that this blog will deliver a little insight into why rest, recovery and implementing periods of less intense training (easy weeks or active recovery days) is so vitally important in order to enhance and optimize one’s athletic performance. No matter what your goal, training age or level is, the training principle of recovery should be held with as much importance as base/endurance, speed/power and taper.
Firstly, let’s start by getting to know Kellie a little better and what she has done in her career so far, before we then jump into some key questions that I sat down with Kellie to discuss.
About Me - Dr Kellie Pritchard-Peschek Director/Owner of DrKellieRose Performance Science:
I’ll get it out there early – I’m a self-confessed sports addict, major science nerd, and a lover of triathlons and boxing. When I sadly realized at quite a young age that I wasn’t up to scratch to ever become a pro, I decided the next best thing was to work in elite sport. I’m now running my own performance consultancy business, DrKellieRose Performance Science, in which I’m providing sport science coaching and support to triathletes, endurance athletes, and sports organizations around the world, in the private and third sector. A job I absolutely adore, as I'm really passionate about performance sustainability, and enhancing the health of athletes through a holistic approach that's individualised, and meets the athletes' specific needs from a training, performance and lifestyle perspective. Prior to starting my own business, I worked for over 10 years as a sport scientist in the Australian and Swiss national sports institutes with world, Olympic, Commonwealth and European champions from endurance sports, through the last 3 Olympic cycles.
Why are integrated periods of rest and recovery so important for triathletes (especially age group athletes)?
This is a really great point to bring up Emma, as I think recovery is often an underestimated factor of the overall training program, possibly because it’s not something an athlete can always see the immediate results of. For this reason, the importance of recovery is often brushed off as unimportant, particularly when time is scarce. However, recovery is extremely important for age groupers in particular, as it’s not only the exercise training that they’re recovering from, it’s the mental and physical aspects of working full-time, managing a family, and other life commitments, as well as training 10-12 sessions per week – that takes a toll!
Recovery essentially has a two-pronged effect: first, it allows for the physiological and neurological recovery of your systems, muscles and mind; and second, it acts as a counterbalance to all the training volume that you do, with the rest period helping to prevent mal-adaptations such as overreaching and overtraining states, and preserves immune function. It also manages training load and helps you to avoid injury. By allowing some periods of recovery during your weekly training, you’re allowing your system to adapt to the training stimuli and volume that’s already been completed, and regain a level of homeostasis, so that it is in an optimal state to take on and adapt to the next load of training stimuli. And this is on a weekly basis; factoring in a 1-2 week break after a major race or at the end of the season will have the same beneficial effect, only amplified.
What occurs to the body during periods of rest and recovery (following strenuous training loads)?
The answer is – lots! The process of recovery from exercise is multifaceted, affecting many physiological systems, structures and pathways, from the muscles to the brain. Recovery also depends on the type of sport, and the intensity and duration of the exercise, with the more intense exercise causing more damage.
Physiologically, the purpose of recovery is to manage muscle damage and reduce inflammation, in an attempt to decrease DOMS, which is the feeling of muscle soreness, and fatigue. A couple of the immediate recovery processes that can be aided with recovery strategies include the removal of waste products from the muscle, like lactate and fuel metabolites; and minimizing the influx of inflammatory markers and swelling to the damaged muscle.
If we look at recovery from a broader perspective, the short rest periods between two training sessions usually don’t allow sufficient time for full recovery, meaning that we are generally in an under-recovered state during the course of our training week. This is often referred to as a state of overload, and is actually the purpose of the training program. So at regular intervals, it’s really important that we give our bodies extra time to fully repair damaged muscle, and eliminate soreness and fatigue from the heavy training, so that it is ready to perform the next block of training feeling rested, healthy and free of injuries. Adaptation is a key factor here, which I mentioned before. Adaptation is the rebuilding process that occurs during the rest period following a period of overload. Let me explain. When our bodies are exposed to all these training stimuli during our hill rides, sprint runs, and strength swims, we are eliciting changes to the muscle and the cardio-respiratory (and other) systems. We do this every day, multiple times. But for our bodies to get stronger, faster and fitter, we need to allow it time to make these structural changes in response to the training stimuli, so that it regenerates and rebuilds our bodies into a stronger state. And that’s how we see improvements in our abilities. So, without this downtime, our body essentially remains in the same damaged, fatigued, stressed state, and usually any subsequent training is performed poorly without any positive adaptations. And if this continues for a period of time, you’ll be placing yourself at greater risk of illness, injury and overreaching and overtraining states.
What methods have been shown to be most effective in terms of aiding recovery?
When it comes to recovery methods, its horses for courses to ensure you elicit the best responses. So depending on the type of recovery you need, for example repairing muscle damage or reducing soreness, there will be different methods.
If your goal is to manage muscle damage, then cold water immersion, contrast water therapy and whole-body cryotherapy techniques are the most effective. Practical applications of these include making your own ice bath, by simply filling your home bathtub – or a wheelie bin! - with bags of ice and water, or immersing yourself in a cold river, ocean or lake for the muscles affected. Around 11-15 degrees for 5-10 minutes should do the trick. With contrast water therapy, alternate a hot-cold shower, with 30-60s hot and 30-60s cold, 3-5 times, always finishing on cold. Cryotherapy is a little harder to do, as it will require going to a special facility to use their machine.
If you want to reduce muscle soreness, then the most effective method is massage. Good news, right? Now we feel justified for our weekly treatments! Compression garments are the next best, along with the cold water immersion. Active recovery immediately after exercise is also helpful, as is the contrast water therapy to a lesser degree. And for reducing fatigue, massage combined with stretching works well.
Those strategies are well supported by research. However, new techniques, like the Normatec boots, electro-stimulation devices, and heat therapies are becoming more popular as a way to reduce muscle soreness.
At the end of the day, sleep, nutrition and hydration remain the key ingredients to a solid recovery protocol, which are simple and can be done after each and every training session. Restore muscle glycogen, the muscle’s fuel; rebuild muscle with protein; repair systems with vitamins and minerals; and replace lost fluid to get back to a hydrated state.
Thank you Kellie so much for your time and for making it possible for me to sit down and write an informative piece which can be passed on to our athletes! I hope that everyone can take something positive away after ready this and make the most of those easier days :).
Happy training and racing team and I hope the plans are well under way with yourself and your coaches to nail the 2018/2019 season, it’s going to be epic.
Until next time,
Want to know more about Head Coach Em Quinn? Click here!
For the last two seasons I have watched incredible ironman athletes run down the finish chute in Cairns. Wanting to be a part of the action, I signed up to compete in 2018. After watching my partner Larissa do an amazing job at Ironman Cairns 2017, I decided to ask her coach Em, if she would be willing help me reach my ironman goal. Seven months later it was race time, and thanks to Em’s preparation I was feeling excited and confident of making it down that chute.
This is by far my strongest leg of the race, I followed coach’s orders and got to the front of the swim start. After 200-300m I managed to find some clear water and get into a great rhythm. The plan was to swim strong but hold back given how long the day would be. I swam mostly alone until just after the turnaround, before swimming into a group of five. I stuck with this group until the end which was helpful considering it felt as though we were swimming against the current. Although, it wasn’t exactly a ‘free’ ride to the swim exit with this group, I had to put up with a few blows to the face, including losing my goggles at one point. Happy with my debut ironman swim, time of 56:55 and still feeling fresh.
My first experience of an ironman transition. Turns out it comes with a helpful volunteer and chairs – very luxurious compared to other T1 experiences. My plan was to wipe down my feet and face, before the usual socks, shoes, glasses, helmet routine and then apply sunscreen before jogging off to the bike. Spent a little too long fiddling with my bike shoes, but apart from that happy with my T1.
Having only started using power 6 weeks ago the race plan for the bike was something new to me. The plan was to ride at 70% for the first 90km and if feeling good, up to 75% for the final 90km. Apart from my heart rate monitor disconnecting itself from my watch at the start of the ride, the first 40km went according to plan. This was probably aided by the friendly tail wind all the way into Port Douglas.
At that stage, as I headed back from Port Douglas, my legs started to feel a little heavy - which had me worried given the 140km or so to ride. In hindsight it was probably just the fact that I was now riding into the wind. I had to really focus on my race plan during the next 10-15km, constantly reminding myself to avoid surges. Although with some great views along the course it wasn’t too difficult to forget about any struggles I was having. Eventually my legs got over their little tantrum, and by the time I was turning back to Port Douglas everything was on track once again.
I followed the plan for the rest of the race, as expected there was an unwelcoming headwind for the final 20km. The reward for getting that final 20km done was the ride through the crowds along the esplanade, a great feeling. After the race I realised my average power was lower than I had hoped, in some cases by upwards of 10%. Perhaps my inexperience riding to power, especially over this type of terrain had contributed to the low numbers. In any case I was delighted with my time of 5:26 on the bike. There is no way I would have been able to pull that off six months ago, but there is definitely room for improvement.
I once again enjoyed the novelty of the chairs and volunteers. They even put sunscreen on my neck while I changed socks – incredible! Off to the run.
My plan was to run/walk the marathon at between 4:45 and 5min/km - 14 minutes on, 1 off. The idea was to stick closer to 4:45 for the first half marathon. The first 10km went to plan, everything was feeling good and even the weather was perfect. My stomach then really started to get sick of gels and chews. On my next walk break I couldn’t stomach another chew and skipped it, thinking I was better off not feeling sick.
At the beginning of the second lap, I tried to continue with my plan and get back on the gels. My body didn’t approve, and my stomach problems got worse. Skipping my nutrition then caught up with me and I felt zapped of energy, becoming light headed with very heavy legs. At this point I decided to slow right down and see if I could recover – rather than continue and have to be sick. So, I walked until I felt I could try to run. I couldn’t get back to my planned pace, rarely dropping below 6 min/km when I was running. A few aid stations went by before I decided to try and take on different foods. Over the next few stations I had some banana, watermelon, coke, and even found a cookie. To cool down I also started using ice and pouring it down my trisuit. Eventually something started working, I was able to run for longer periods of time and the pace started increasing. For the last 10km I felt back to normal and was able to maintain between 4:50 and 5:10 min/km, although I continued to walk the aid stations.
In the end I was proud of myself for turning around what looked like a potentially long run leg. I finished with a run of 4:11, much slower than planned but much better than it was looking at one point. It goes without saying but running down the finish chute was a great feeling.
Delighted with my first Ironman race, I can’t wait to pick my next one and have another go. Huge thanks to my Coach, Em, who not only prepared me for the race but was a brilliant supporter on course - as I’m sure all T:Zero athletes would have experienced.
It was an absolute privilege to have been contact by the St George triathlon club a few months ago asking our interest in conducting a training camp in their home town. Having received a grant from Triathlon Queensland, the club was looking at having a weekend that would expose the athletes to some higher knowledge, some quality training and some educational tools that can be ingrained within the future training plans of the club. This was an opportunity simply too good to refuse :)
An amazing collection of training and racing advice from the T:Zero Multisport coaches- with the occasional guest blogger! Read this blog to help you live your potential!