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!
Let’s talk business… and the current state of the world. I am no means a business expert. However living with three intelligent folk who love talking business, I do pick up a few general themes that every now and then make me pause and think huh, sometimes business mimics life!
One such business topic is the INFLECTION POINT. In business, an inflection point is an event that results in a significant change in the progress of a business, a turning point after which a dramatic change, with either positive or negative results, is expected to result.
In 2020, to me, it is obvious that COVID was an inflection point for a large percentage of triathletes and endurance sport folk.
We all had decisions to make when COVID hit. The business of moving forward with exercise or training came down to each individual. For a large percentage, these decisions resulted in a training inflection point - some had renewed vigor around training and exercise as part of their lives. Others let it all fade to dust and stopped training and exercise all together.
For the ones who decided on the upward trajectory, life still had to change. I fondly remember the initial wave of enthusiasm and rush to secure a couple of kettlebells or dumbells for the home gym. Bunnings stocking gym equipment. There was the sellout of indoor trainers, bikes, the Zwift craze, yoga online and the slew of virtual events that still continues to flow through the social media. Some discovered a newfound appreciation for outdoor activities, mountain biking, open water swimming, kyacking and trail running.
Very few parts of society and life have flowed onward without some scarring by the pandemic. Sport has, necessarily or not, faded into the background as the management of the nation’s physical and economic health has become a more critical and immediate issue.
Yet despite the craziness of the world around us, one thing that truly stands out to me is that our RIGHT to exercise and train has remained an untouchable factor, …..no matter the lockdown status imposed. Despite pools and gyms being forced to close, races being cancelled, and community sport having been taken off the table for a period. For all but the few quarantined folk, we all HAVE retained our ability and right to exercise and train during COVID.
Yes it has required some creativity at times to continue. But ultimately - the decision to train or exercise had been ours alone, not COVID’s.
So, for those who may have decided to put their endurance goals to aside and lay off the focus and dedication, I wonder why? We all know the positive impact of structured training has on our physical and mental health and if we truly want to achieve those goals, nothing should stand in our way, not even COVID.
And for those of us still training, still focused, are we progressing in the direction we want?
So as we hit a potential second wave of the virus and uncertainty, it may now be the perfect time to review your trajectory and create a second COVID inflection point. By making a decision about your direction, locking into a goal or creating a positive change to your mindset.
For me, I have made the decision to dig my heels in right now, believe that races will eventually return and be totally optimistic about the future of our sport.
That is my inflection point.
Bring on the upward trajectory.
Explore deeply, live boldy.
Click here to learn more about Coach Heidi and what incredible work she is doing for her athletes
Chat to any group of runners or triathletes and you are sure to uncover some stories about how tendon injuries have interrupted training sessions, derailed race plans or made life generally miserable. We triathletes and multisport athletes are always up for a challenge though so lets plough through this tendon game!
As discussed in my previous post tendons are living tissues. Tendons, are, in fact the attachments of our muscles to our bones. As with any living tissues there is turnover of the cells that make up our tendon tissues and therefore tendons can adapt or maladapt according to the balance of training load and recovery.
Undoubtedly, the most common tendon injuries encountered in the triathlon world are lower limb injuries related to impact loads such as running – full body weight with a large impact factor, repeated hundreds or thousands of times on a run.
The tendons such as the achilles, the high hamstring up in the gluteal region, the patellar tendon at the knee and the peroneals in the outside of the lower leg are the most common sites for tendon related pain.
The jury is still out as to what causes tendon pain, but the most accepted theory right now is that the pain comes from biochemicals that sensitise nerve endings in the tissues in and around the tendons.
But…GREAT news here! The link between actual pathology on imaging and pain is a less likely explanation to pain – even if there is “pathology” on imaging, it doesn’t have to explain your pain or even dictate your outcome.
What to do if you have tendon pain? Well, whilst tendons can be a pain in the butt, or ankle or knee for that matter… you can -
Ah yes, and then lets go back to our exciting triathlon/ multisport world. The juicy stuff – what can I do with my actual swim/ bike/run to potentially help in this tendon game you ask?
Some great ideas to think about are:
As with any progression toward a great race day performance, tackling tendon issues can require a lot of patience and persistence. Luckily these are qualities that are innate to our triathlete and multisport population!!!
So, in the spirit of the determined athlete - climb that mountain, as, in most cases, you are in charge of your own tendon destiny (insert grand theatrical music)!!
Next up, bones and bone health – I’m excited about this one - I think we are going to have an osteoblast, and it will be kinda humerus…ha ha,. Until next time!
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT COACH HEIDI!
FORM goggles – a new technology in the swim market and one that truly hit the ground running at Kona this year. Triathletes are known for their eagerness to embrace new technology and these goggles created such a buzz in Kona that they were sold out before the scheduled expo end!
So many OMG moments as athletes tested them for the first time! Quite a few pros and the FORM staff tested them out open water swimming in the bay.
What are they?
Essentially goggles with an LED display within the goggle to give real time feedback on a whole variety of data that may be important to you such as:
Distance per stroke
Yes - you can see what you want to see on the screen inside the goggle!
I mulled over the decision to buy these. At $150 USD a pair even on a discount, it is an expensive set of goggles that are under warranty for a year and require replacement once they are done.
But if you consider in triathlon, your spend on coaching, bikes, wearable technology, race entries and running gear, it is a very small investment for potential benefits. Cost benefit analysis pre purchase got the big tick and along with having the innate personality of an experimenter/ nerd, I dived in a bought a pair.
The goggles come in a very sturdy case and getting the inside scoop from the FORM staff themselves, these goggles are meant to be treated with the same care as a pair of glasses. The case comes with various nosepiece attachments from XS to XL and I found the best comfort with the small option.
Nosebridge attached, I was ready to test out. But first I needed to charge the goggles first! Charging is super easy with the included charger that is magnetized to attach to the charging ports on the outside of the goggle with a USB attachment at the other end.
Next up, I needed to download the FORM goggles app. So a little bit of technology required before my first swim! After downloading this, I followed the in-app instructions to set up my profile and sync with the goggles. There is also an option for the LED screen to be on the left or right side.
The goggles have two buttons on the screen side that allow navigation of options after you turn them on. There is a split screen so the chosen options of data from the app were displayed . You can decide on your options before you start but the goggles will also continue to collect data that is not displayed like distance, calories and splits.
When I was ready to swim, I needed to confirm some options by pressing the buttons on the goggle:
25 or 50 m pool
Drills, lap or interval swim
I pressed start then I swam my workout just like normal – except that I could actually see how fast I was swimming in real time and without ever looking at the pace clock!
After the workout, I kept the goggles turned on, resynced my goggles to the app and then I was able to pull up the stats from my swim. Great! I ended up with some very useable data and also had the option to upload this to Training Peaks – a brilliant option for both athlete and coach!
I know from chatting in Kona to the FORM staff, that there is also an option now to attach a Polar HR attachment so you can receive HR data whilst you are swimming. I think this would also be useful in helping to track training stress via HR in addition to pace. Possible analysis here could include looking at HR to pace metrics and decoupling in steady state swims.
The display is actually quite clear in the pool. It wasn’t particularly sunny when I tested – but there is a brightness option that can be changed. But even though they were successfully used in OWS in Kona, these goggles have been designed as pool goggles. A specific OWS pair is under development.
As for the potential for “LED depression” from always having that data in front of you, I found it actually quite easy to move back and forward between reading the screen or not. This just requires a slight change of focus. The data is there when you need it and you can “leave it be” until you need it/ want it.
There is a different view from these goggles than from my regular OWS goggles. Less peripheral vision here in the FORM goggles but theoretically unless you were actually allowed to race in these in the pool, you won’t miss it as the lane’s black line is clearly in sight!
As for potential effectiveness of use, these are a pretty handy tool to have in your swimming arsenal. Whilst I would not personally use these in every session, I could use them for any set where I wanted to be consistently on target times – aerobic intervals, speedwork, or key workouts leading into races.
Also these are great for technique work and seeing the impact of technique changes on pace. CSS swim tests would no longer require someone to time you and you could also test to see the impact of SR changes on pace.
On the data analysis side, there is enough meaningful data recorded to analyse how well you executed your swim and where improvements could be made – split times, SWOLF scores, SR and overall distance.
Add to this the potential analysis of HR data and things become even better from a training prescription and analysis standpoint – I could envisage setting up training zones via lactate analysis, doing a block of training and having the pace/ HR data to track progress in fitness.
Overall a big thumbs up for the investment!
Click here to know more about Coach Heidi!
Lining up on the start line this year at the Ironman World Championship in 2019 was a pretty incredible experience. Although I had competed at this event on three occasions prior to this one, this year it was very different for two reasons.
Reflecting back on this, on race morning, I was acutely aware of the incredible density of human emotion packed into a very small area – the age group corrals before the swim start. If the tension and emotion could have been jammed into a bottle of start line champagne and then the cork popped, the spray would have easily covered the Big Island of Hawaii. Highly intense to say the very least.
From my own perspective, I sailed through race week with no hint of nerves or worry. The lead in to Kona is a busy week with expos, events and athlete catch ups – and lots of positive energy. Come race morning, it was a different story – and I had felt it before. That feeling of something being on the line, the slow creep of nausea at body marking, a rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms.
It was a classic sympathetic nervous system response – fight or flight. Was I reacting because I was in danger? Definitely not. It was just a triathlon, after all. When it came down to the nuts and bolts of what was happening, all it meant was that I cared about what was going to unfold. And if I interpreted it as a good sign, a positive sign – I could manage that response without it derailing my race.
There were 2000 athletes in those corrals experiencing some form of pre-race emotions before the start line that day. Emotions that had the potential to contribute positively or negatively to their day on course. I witnessed it. There were athletes in those corrals in tears, athletes sitting on the ground shaking, nervous overflowing chatter, those laughing, smiling, jumping up and down and those with blank stares. It was an interesting sight.
I am no psychologist. But as a coach and an athlete, I reckon those individual prerace emotions were highly likely to be linked to a number of factors.
All those factors feeding all that emotion - tightly crammed into a very small space. Super intense.
With the Aussie season in full swing, athletes in our neck of the woods are about to find themselves in similar situations at their own races. Pre-race emotions running rampant at race start lines. As an athlete, how do you prepare for this part of your race?
A great first step is to chat to your coach and work out the factors that are feeding your start line emotions. Work on those – confidence, preparation, belief, expectations, positivity and support to be in the best possible headspace leading into your event. Predict how you might feel and how you will manage your pre-race emotions. Practice your strategies before race day.
In my opinion, just like the emotions on the start line, the effective strategies to manage prerace emotions and that fight or flight response can be highly individual. Deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness and self -talk can all be used in the heat of the prerace circus. I am certain sports psychologists have more strategies to share.
In essence though, there is tremendous benefit in exploring and find a strategy that works for you. Being prepared for your race both physically and mentally is part of the ticket to a great race experience.
The next step is practice. Placing yourself in similar situations in training can help your practice your strategies – being mindful to create similar emotions around training races, unfamiliar or challenging workouts and training camps. Outside of training, visualisation of your start line with all of its sensory input can help create your pre race emotions and give you some experience at managing them.
So what was my strategy?
Lets go back to that Kona start line corral and the emotional overload of the athletes jammed inside it. How did I manage myself? Deep breathing works for me – big intentional diaphragmatic breaths to switch off that sympathetic response. It’s a common strategy, it is my go-to strategy, I have practiced it, and I know it works for me. So that is what I did.
Once my heart rate settled and the nausea dissipated, things then got rather fun keeping that right combination of anticipation and excitement in check.
Finding friends, laughing and chatting, jumping in front of the ironman paparazzi for photos. Hugging random strangers. All purposeful strategies in the “this is my A race of the year” start line corral. Totally odd behavior for me in real life. But whatever works on race day, hey!
Have fun exploring and finding your pre race strategy. Get after it!
With summer races on the near horizon, its time to think heat training. It is not hard to picture athletes baking in the late morning heat at Noosa tri, melting in Malaysia or sweltering through the Energy Lab in Kona. Yes, it is inevitable that the temperature will rise and there will be an impact on how well you can perform.
How many triathletes throw up their hands in exasperation declaring they are no good in the heat?!
Whilst there will always be challenges performing in hot environments, fortunately with knowledge there is power. Power to take some steps to get better at getting hot. Power to get across Noosa finish line in one piece!
Time to get your nerd on! Thanks to scientists who study thermoregulation (the body’s temperature control), there is good evidence on how prepare and perform in hot environments. Nerdy thermoregulation discussions could include terms such as acclimation, acclimatization, specifics of hormonal responses and explanations of heat transfer via convection, conduction and radiation.
But science aside, the practical basics for us athletes are to understand the why and how of heat training.
Why do heat training? Essentially, heat training, when appropriately added to your training program, will help you perform better in hot environments. Some of the potential physiological benefits of heat training are:
- there is an increase in plasma volume, i.e more circulating blood – yes!
- a reduction in heart rate for a given workload (pace in running, power on the bike) – a good thing!
- sweating onset is earlier and sweat contains a reduced percentage of electrolytes – better cooling efficiency right there!
- Lower skin and core body temperature – hello greater room to heat up!
Like any training strategy, you could also consider the potential psychological benefits of heat training. With training is totally possible to change your mental approach to performing in the heat. With all those benefits who wouldn’t want to transform into someone who loves the heat!
But, before you head out for a run in the midday sun, upsides and downsides! Heat illness is a very real possibility with any heat training so exposure must be controlled and progressed. Know the warning signs of heat illness and seek medical advice should you have any concerns before starting any heat training.
Most athletes will heed to the warnings of heat illness way before they take themselves into the danger zone, but, as with anything, there are always outliers. Potential A type personality looking for maximum gain in the shortest timeframe possible? Don’t be that athlete!
How to heat train? Basically you can acclimatise (train in a hot environment) or acclimate(create conditions that expose you to heat). In essence, the important part is that you want to get hot. The stimulus for adaptation is the rise in core body temperature.
Now you don’t need to have access to a fancy heat chamber or spend weeks in Asia to achieve effective heat training benefits. There are lots of options. Heat is heat (when it comes to raising your core temperature). Options include:
- Wearing extra layers of clothing whilst training
- training indoors without a fan to cool you
- create your own heat chamber in a small room with heaters
- training in the heat of the day rather than the cool hours of early morning or evening
- hot baths, saunas or steam rooms as a workout or post workout.
The research suggests most benefits can be gained in 10 -14 consecutive days of heat training. Options are to introduce it up to 6 weeks out from race day (this will require some maintenance sessions in the intervening weeks) or schedule it in the final weeks before race day.
Keen to start sweating up a storm? Chat with your coach!
Like any new training stimulus, heat training needs to be considered as an extra stress in your training program. It requires planning. Extra attention to recovery is needed. Dosing the right amount of heat exposure is needed. Scheduling of key training sessions alongside heat training requires thought.
Now is the time to think about getting hot! Invest in thermoregulation science before your race and your brain and body with thank you on race day.
Here’s to a sweltering summer of racing ahead!
And to scoring that last age group wave start at Noosa Tri!
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT COACH HEIDI SOWERBY
The T-Zero camp in Bright – as an outsider coming in, it was not just a camp but a awesome week of learning, training and making new friends.
Why did I sign up for a Triathlon camp as a complete outsider to a T-Zero camp?
The motto I have lived by for a while is -“just say yes”. Complimentary to my nature of being a serial experimenter with training, this ethos has launched me into some quite amazing adventures and often had me receiving race and event confirmations seemingly minutes after just saying “yes”.
So, when I became aware of a week long training camp in Bright, a beautiful town in Alpine Victoria, and a central location to amazing bike rides and training opportunities – well, it was a no brainer, and before I knew it I had signed up.
I have spent more than a few years on the triathlon scene and its fair to say I know quite a few people in the triathlon world and in Queensland particularly. I am pretty familiar with the major coaching groups and a lot of the coaches.
But T-Zero? This coaching group was an enigma to me. When I signed up to camp, my sum knowledge of T-Zero was that they were based on the Sunny Coast, did individual, online coaching and had seriously cool kit. That was pretty much it.
Having attended quite a few training camps over the years, I psyched myself up for a challenging week of physical training in beautiful Bright. More importantly, I mentally prepared myself to embrace the usual training camp scene of athletes jostling for attention, variable coaching levels and training turning into athletes racing each other…. all of the unknown plus the fact that I was a T-Zero outsider. I expected it to be challenging.
So what completely surprised me about the T-Zero camp was that it was unlike any camp I had ever been on. On day one, our coaches, Rich and Scotty, set the scene for camp week and a request to leave our egos at the door. And what followed was quite simply one of the most enjoyable weeks of training I have ever experienced -with a group of seriously awesome individuals. I met athletes from all over Australia who had varied goals including endurance bike rides, ocean swims, triathlons, ultraruns and swim runs – athletes training for their own goals and coaches who were just as excited about these goals with as the athletes themselves.
The camp base, T-Zero headquarters, was a brilliant concept. Athletes were welcome at the coaches’ residence at any reasonable hour to chat with coaches, other athletes and relax whilst using the Normatecs. In addition to team dinners, we chilled here during education sessions including nutrition, goal setting, teamwork and an invaluable sports psychology session by legendary Grant Giles. We are all now familiar with the “I am the sky, that is just a cloud” theory thanks Grant. Now to put it into action!
The cycling opportunities were the obvious lure to Bright. Some serious km were covered with plenty of opportunity to enjoy the scenery and chat with other athletes. As far as the individual sessions went, my favourite was Mt Hotham - mainly because it felt kind of epic cycling up there above the tree line for as long as we did and having a few challenging, but achievable gradients, at the end. For a group ride, I loved Falls Creek rolling along with banter all the way. And just to top it off, having the opportunity to have another crack at Mt Buffalo at the end of a long week and long ride was pretty cool too - a bit of freedom to test some limits outside of a normally structured training week.
There were run sessions both in Bright and at altitude, swim sessions in nearby Myrtleford and open water swims in alpine lakes. The strength session and yoga at the Bright Fitness centre were an added bonus too and we connected with our inner zen.
Falls Creek training day was super inspiring with our awesome guest coach Annabel Luxford leading a run and swim at altitude – I don’t think we noticed the lack of oxygen as we chatted with her, listened to her training tips and enjoyed the scenery.
The local coffee haunts, restaurants and ice cream shops took a bashing by the team and the calorie consumption would have astounded any member of the general public. Myself? Well, I left a fairly decent mark on the Lindt chocolate stocks in town!
A lot was achieved overall in one small week – swim, bike, run, education, socialising and great conversation.
But, more than anything on camp, the one thing that absolutely stood out was the T-Zero culture. Everyone was treated equally and that everyone’s goals were considered equally important. That leave your ego at the door comment coming to fruition. That success on a session was more about turning up and giving your best rather than being compared to anyone else on camp. And that everyone was there supporting each other to get the sessions done. Lots of teamwork in such an individual sport.
So did my “just say yes” ethos serve me well? It is completely obvious that it did – not only do I now know a whole new bunch of amazing people but T-Zero is no longer the enigma it once was. Thanks for an amazing week!
"An awesome all inclusive and professionally run training camp - great location and sensational athletes and coaches to train with - you know you have had a great 8 day camp when you want just a little bit more - booked again for next year - cant wait."
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!