Hauling water, chopping wood.

“It is not about volume, it is about time commitment.  There are very, very few things you do in life—and we tell our athletes this all the time—there are very few things you do in life that if you put less time into it, you are going to be as successful at.  And you start to think about it.  It deals with relationships.  It deals with your work.  It deals with your hobbies.  If you put in less time, your chances of being as good at it are diminished.  So, you want to learn the skill, and you want to work at the skill, and you put more time in.”

-Gregg Troy, Garbage Yardage and Other Things That Work

It seems that the trend in training for endurance sports seems to swing from one extreme to the other every few years.  First, it’s all about volume and how many yards you can rack up in the pool, how many hours you can ride, how many miles you can run.  Most athletes that I coach know that I love stories about crazy workouts and insane volume, it’s something I’ve been fascinated with for a long time.  An old book that I used to have on swimming defined distance training sets as being “up to 20,000 meters, or when you lose your mind.”  Some people took that pretty literally.  Vladimir Salnikov, the first swimmer to break 15:00 for the mile, swam a set when he was 14 years old that consisted of 20,000m as 400 IM/400 free, non-stop.  That’s 50×400, a pretty darn long workout by any standards.  The swimming world is full of stories of workouts like that one.  Eric Vendt’s 30×1000 on 10:30, Larson Jenson’s 20×1500, those workouts are the stuff of legends.  Most of the triathletes of the early years, like Dave Scott and Mark Allen, grew up in the swimming world of late 1970’s California, where “20K a day” was the standard.  They took that workout ethic into the triathlon and it’s defined the sport ever since, and for good reason.  If you want to race well over the Ironman and 70.3 distances, you’ve got to do a lot of work.

But every so often someone comes up with a new program that promises to make you faster with less work.  These kinds of programs are especially appealing these days in our culture of getting everything you want with the click of a button.  I recently saw a young woman being interviewed on TV about the millennial generation and what they want, and her reply was “I want exactly what I want, exactly when I want it.”  That’s not an attitude that translates well into success in triathlon, or life in general for that matter.

This brings me to an explanation of my title for this post.  It comes from an old saying that John Leonard uses in the webinar for the American Swim Coaches Association Level 3 certification.  I recently took this certification and this saying really stuck with me.  It comes from the idea that for most people, for most of human history, most of life was spent hauling water and chopping wood.  In other words, hard, repetitive work.  If you think about it, it holds true for most of life today as well.  Success isn’t about a few dazzling moments of brilliance, it’s about persistence, consistency, and hard work.  When Michael Phelps won his record breaking eight gold medals in Beijing, it came after seven straight years where he never missed a practice.  Seven years.  And it goes without saying that those were some hard practices.  Swimmers regularly train 20-24 hours per week in the water for events that last from roughly 20 seconds to 15 minutes.  You’re not going to succeed in triathlon in events that last for most athletes from 4 hours to 12 hours, or more, without a lot of work.  That doesn’t mean that you have to embark on a training plan of working out 40 hours a week.  How much training is enough?  My answer to that would be that it depends entirely on the athlete.  Basically, it’s how much training you can recover from.  For elites, that could be a 5 hour ride on the bike or an 8000m workout in the pool.  For most people it’s significantly less than that.  It takes experience to find what you can handle, a good coach and help you with that and speed up the training process by helping you avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

The bottom line is that if you want to be a competitive athlete, and if you want to put together a strong 70.3 or Ironman race (or for that matter, even a sprint or Olympic distance race), you have to be prepared for a lot of work.  A lot of days of hauling water and chopping wood.  Love the training, love the process.

The Pain Pyramid

When I was younger I had a swim coach who used to give our team a talk a couple of times each year.  Before practice, he would bring out the white board and marker and draw a pyramid that looked a bit like the food pyramid that we’re all familiar with.  The base of the pyramid would contain a “C”.  This, my coach would explain, was the comfort zone.  Comfort was sitting on the couch, relaxed and watching TV.  Comfort had no place in his workout.  The next level of the pyramid would be marked with a “D”, for discomfort.  This was where we were supposed to be during warm ups and drill sets, preparing our bodies for what was to follow in the main set.  The next level up the pyramid was marked with a “P”, for pain.  Pain was what we were supposed to experience for the rest of the workout, if we didn’t push out of “discomfort” and into “pain” we weren’t really working out, we were just putting in junk yards.  But even if we were pushing ourselves to the point of pain, we still weren’t training like champions.  The final step, the top of the pyramid, was marked with an “A”, for agony.  This, my coach told us, was what it took to be a champion.  The average swimmers might feel discomfort or pain, but it we wanted to be winners, it was necessary to experience agony.  Every day.  Every workout.  Years later, I told another coach of mine this story and she said it was the stupidest thing she’d ever heard.

Too many of us athletes are conditioned to associate training with pain.  I certainly had to go through a lot of injuries and illnesses before I realized the obvious fact that training isn’t suppose to be agonizing.  I ran through two stress fractures in college, all the while thinking that if it hurt that much, I must really be training hard, working out like a champion…  Think of how tough I would be if I could run on a broken leg!  In the end, I most likely slowed my improvement because of spending so much time dealing with injuries.  Training should be fun, not agonizing.  A healthy mind and body don’t want to constantly be punished, so if that’s your approach to training then eventually you’ll stop wanting to head out the door to work out, or you’ll be so injured that you can’t.

If you want to succeed as an athlete over the long term, and also to reach optimum health, I suggest a change of perspective.  Try working out to feel good.  Try exercising at a comfortable effort where you’re not straining or in pain; there is a comfort zone that you can find even while swimming, biking, and running!  Focus on enjoying the movement of your body through the water or the fresh air, find a place where you feel good and healthy.  This is a mental as well as a physical shift.  When you find this state, not only will you actually be training in a healthier manner, but you’ll also find yourself wanting to train more, and training consistently (and intelligently) is the best way to achieve long term positive results.

Slow down and enjoy the ride, you might actually surprise yourself and find that you’re healthier, and training and racing better than ever before.

The Ironworks Review: Sporti Power Swim Paddles

sporti power paddles 1If there’s an item of training equipment that most swimmers and triathletes love, it’s hand paddles.  Okay, some people may love pull buoys and fins even more, but a good set of hand paddles have always been my weapon of choice.  There’s nothing like that feel of gripping the water and extra speed that you get from a good set of paddles, and there are also some great benefits like improved strength and technique.  This is also the perfect time of year to get the paddles out.  The cold winter months make it tough to get out and put in the long miles on the road, so why not hit the pool and build up some strength and endurance?  This is especially valuable if the swim is your biggest limiter as an athlete.


sporti power paddles 2If you’re looking into getting a new set of paddles, the new Sporti Power Swim Paddles are a great place to start.  First of all, the price is just about unbeatable at $4.95.  You can literally spend more on a cup of coffee these days!  These paddles are well made and sturdy enough to hold up to a lot of pool time.  They also have a nice secure fit; you can put these on and pound out a tough set of 50’s or 100’s and be confident that they’re going to stay in place and not slip around on your hand even at high speeds.  I particularly like the ergonomic design that makes the paddles more comfortable and allows you to maintain a better feel for the water.


sporti power paddles 3Of course, like any other piece of equipment, it’s important not to overdo it with paddles.  You don’t want to turn them into a crutch and reach for them every time you can’t make an interval.  Used correctly though, they’re a great tool to use to help you build strength in the water.  When I use paddles, I like to put them on for the first half of a set, and then track my time and stroke count with paddles.  Then, I challenge myself to swim the second half of the set without paddles and to hold my time and stroke count from the first half of the set.

2008 Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker

2008 Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker

And if you’re looking for more great info on triathlon gear and training, be sure to stop by SwimOutlet.com for new features from Olympic Triathlete and ITU star Jarrod Shoemaker!  Jarrod is joining other Olympians like Mark Gangloff, Tony Azevedo, and Garrett Weber-Gale as an expert contributor and will be sharing some of the insights and experiences that he’s gained over his career as a professional triathlete.

As always, thanks very much for taking the time to visit my blog!  Happy New Year’s and all the best for a safe, healthy, and fast 2014.  Happy Training!

Ironworks Multisport Triathlon Tips: K-Swiss Blade Light Review

As busy as I stay with my coaching business, I’m still out training every single day, not only because I love the sport but because I find that it keeps me in touch with what’s going on in the triathlon world.  In my effort to help bring you the best free triathlon tips, I’m going to start to offer some product reviews of things that I like and use every day.

I’ve been loyal to a certain brand of running shoes for over a decade.  They sponsored my college track and cross country team, and I had a shoe deal with them while I was racing professionally.  I have to pay for their shoes now, but I’ve stuck with them for a long time because they supported me.  But I think I may have to think about switching.

Like practically everyone in triathlon, I’ve seen how many pros have been switching to K-Swiss running shoes over the past few years.  I grew up thinking of K-Swiss as purely a tennis shoe, so I guess I’ve been a bit late to jump on board with them as a running shoe.  Well, I’m glad that I’ve finally caught up with everyone else.  I just started running in the K-Swiss Blade Light and it might just be the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn.  Starting from the ground up, the material for the outsole is pliable, but firm enough for most surfaces.  The insole stays put even during faster tempo paced runs and speed work.  Where the shoe really shines is the uppers, which I love for what they don’t have.  I’ve been plagued by blisters on my arches for years because of all the cosmetic stuff that shoe companies feel that they need to plaster all over their shoes.  K-Swiss hasn’t put anything over the arch so there’s no stitching to rub the inside of your foot, and that means  your feet stay happy and blister free.  The toe box is roomy and comfortable, the laces are a unique design that stays tied and doesn’t slip, and the shoes weigh in at a light and responsive 9.6 ounces.  I find them to be perfect for training and also long distance racing. They do seem to run slightly large, so you may consider ordering a half size smaller than your regular shoe.

Thanks for reading my product reviews and triathlon tips, please be sure to come back soon for more great free triathlon training information!

Swim Training Beginner Triathlon Tips: Equipment For Swim Training

Swim Training Tips With Land HeintzbergerIf you’re like most beginner triathletes, the swim can be your biggest challenge.  Many triathletes approach their swim training with a certain amount of dread, looking at each workout as another battle with the black line of the bottom of the pool.  Fortunately, with a little imagination and creativity, swimming can actually be one of the most fun sports to train for. I’ve been a swim coach for 15 years, and in that time I’ve worked with hundreds of swimmers ranging in ages from six months to seventy years.  I’ve coached for big age group teams and summer league teams where I’ve had to fill 4 hours of practice time every day, and anyone who’s tried to keep 120 kids busy for 4 hours a day knows that you’ve got to get creative!  There are so many variables to work with in swim training that you can come up with endless possibilities for workouts.  The main variables are equipment, intervals, strokes, and drills.  I’m going to discuss the first one today, and I will delve into the others in future posts.

There are several essential pieces of equipment that each swimmer should own: a kickboard, a pull buoy, two sets of hand paddles, a pair of fins, and an ankle band.  There are many, many other items out there, and they all have their uses, but there are the core items that you should take to the pool for every swim.  I suggest getting a mesh equipment bag to keep all your gear together.  Here’s a bit more about each different item:

Swim Training Triathlon Tips

Kickboard:  If you want to become a better swimmer, the first step is to become a better kicker, so grab your kickboard and get to work!  You should spend up to 20% of each practice working on your kick.  The right way to do it is to keep your body straight and tall, hold your kickboard with both arms and keep them extended straight out in front of your body with the board flat on the surface of the water.  The amplitude of your kick should be small, just wider than the width of your body, and your heels should just barely brush the surface of the water.  Kick fast enough that you make the water boil, but don’t make a huge splash, that just means that you’re kicking air.  Start with manageable distances, if you can only maintain your form for a 25, then start with 6-8×25 and build up from there.  You don’t need to kick like you’re swimming the 50m freestyle in the Olympics, but a strong kick can boost your propulsion by 10-15%, and a solid kick is essential to maintaining balance and body position, and generating rotation.

Pull Buoy:  If most triathletes hate their kickboards, it’s also true that most of them love their pull buoys.  However, this also makes the pull buoy the piece of equipment that is most often abused by triathletes.  I’ve worked with athletes during their swim training who would physically resist anyone who tried to take their pull buoy away, claiming that it prepared them for wetsuit swims, while always maintaining that as a triathlete they didn’t really need to kick anyway.  What really happens when you get too dependent on your pull buoy is that you don’t learn proper balance and body position, and you never develop a propulsive kick.  The proper use of a pull buoy is to develop technique.  The buoy puts your body in a more horizontal position in the water by keeping your hips high, and allows you to focus on the technique of your pull without distractions.  Use a pull buoy sparingly, and only as an aid to developing proper technique, never as a crutch for a poor kick or an improper body position.

Hand Paddles:  After pull buoys, hand paddles are probably the piece of equipment that gets abused the most.  I have to come clean here and admit that hand paddles are my crutch of choice, and there’s been many times during swim training where I’ve been struggling to make the interval and reached for my hand paddles.  I’ve caught my share of abuse from training partners over this!  But when used properly, hand paddles are a great training tool.  I recommend having two different sizes during swim training.  Use a larger paddle for fast 25’s and 50’s to develop power and speed, select a smaller paddle for drills and technique work to help refine your pull and feel for the water.

Fins:  Fins are great for both building strength and developing technique.  Getting the right size is important though, you don’t want giant fins meant for deep sea diving.  Something like Finis Zoomers are about right for most athletes.  Putting your fins on for a sprint set will give you the feeling of smooth and effortless speed in the water, something we’d all like to have all the time!  Fins are also great for drill sets, where they allow you get the feeling of a strong, propulsive kick which helps you to generate rotation and maintain a high body position in the water.  Fins help you to achieve the feeling that you’re striving for when you’re not wearing them.  Just make sure that you use them sparingly and don’t let them become a crutch for faulty technique and balance.

Ankle Bands:  The final piece of equipment that you need is also the one that most people avoid.  Swimming with an ankle band is tough!  But triathlon swim training is as much about toughness and strength as it is about technique and efficiency, you’ve got to have the strength to power through whatever the swim throws at you.  Doing some swims with ankle bands will help you build that power.  My old swim training coach used to make ankle bands for us by cutting up old inner tubes, but you can get one that will look a little more presentable at masters practice by picking up a FINIS Pulling Ankle Band.  Start out with some short repeats, you’ll be amazed how hard it is initially just to swim a 25 with an ankle band.  You can also use a band and a buoy at first to help get comfortable.  When you get to the point where you build up to some longer swim and can do 100’s and 200’s with a band, you’ll be amazed at the difference it will make in your open water swimming.

Triathlon Swim Training Closing

I hope that these triathlon swim training tips will help you to improve the quality and variety of your workouts.  It’s easy so see that if you did a short set with each one of these pieces of equipment that you could make a couple of thousand yards go by pretty fast!  And including these items in your workouts will also help you to improve your technique, build strength, and swim faster.  I’ll be posting lots more information about triathlon training and equipment soon, so please watch this space for more beginner triathlon tips.  Thanks for reading!

Triathlon Tips – Top 10 Tips For Beginner Triathletes

Triathlon Tips - The Best Triathlon Advice From Land HeintzbererThinking of trying your first tri in 2012?  There might be more to it than you think! Triathlons are very different from just signing up for a local 5K.  There’s a lot of equipment involved, there are safety issues for those who aren’t strong swimmers, and there are transitions from swimming to cycling and cycling to running to navigate.  Feeling a little overwhelmed?  Here are a few triathlon tips from Land Heintzberger, former pro triathlete and USA Triathlon certified coach, to help you train smart, be healthy, and have fun reaching the finish line in your first race!


Triathlon Tips #1.Do your homework.  Sounds obvious, I know, but I’ve seen a lot of people show up for their first race completely unaware of what they need to do.  They don’t know about checking in, setting up their transition area, warming up, getting to the swim start on time.  Don’t know what I’m talking about here?  It’s not a bad idea to go watch a race or two before you take the plunge, or consider volunteering for a local event!  You can learn a lot about what to expect on your first big day.  Take the time to prepare and educate yourself a little and you’ll avoid potentially awkward pitfalls.  You’ll also help to ensure a fun and anxiety free race.

Triathlon Tips #2. Don’t cut corners.  You’ve signed up and committed yourself to your first race, you’ve put the training in to prepare yourself, now don’t sabotage your day by showing up with cheap equipment that will fail you.  I once bought a bargain bike on an internet close out sale, and I was thrilled with the price I paid.  But the first time I rode it the seat fell off 7 miles from home and I had to ride all the way back to my house standing up, with my seat jammed in my jersey pocket.  I took the same bike to a race a couple of weeks later, and the aerobars broke right in the middle of the race.  Both of these situations were dangerous and could have caused a serious crash.  If you’re going to give this sport a try, invest in safe and functional equipment. That doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands of dollars, but at the very least, get a good tri suit, a safe helmet, some good sunglasses, and a decent pair of running shoes.  And of course, take your bike to the shop and make sure it’s safe to ride.  Taking the time to get the right equipment isn’t just about looking cool, it’s also about protecting your health and safety.

Triathlon Tips #3. Respect your limitations.  Are you a former collegiate swimmer, or a high school football star?  Or do you just enjoy an occasional jog around your neighborhood?  Whatever your athletic background is, you need to take it into account when you select your first race.  If you’ve never swam outside of a pool, it isn’t wise to sign up for a half ironman with an open water swim.  Triathlons should be a fun challenge, not a life or death situation.  If you’re not a confident swimmer, consider a short sprint race with a pool swim.  If you’ve never ridden a bike more than 10 miles, don’t sign up for an Ironman.  Start with realistic, attainable goals, and then gradually challenge yourself to go faster, or go further.  Don’t set yourself up for failure by taking on a race that you won’t be able to finish.

Triathlon Tips #4. Set yourself up for success.  When you go to your first race, take the time to sit down and establish some goals.  Even in a short race, you’re going to hit a point where you’re tired and you’re going to ask yourself why you ever came up with this crazy idea in the first place!  Setting some goals will help you stay focused on what is motivating you to go out there and race.  Be sure to set not only objective goals, like how fast you want to go, or what place you’d like to come in, but also some subjective goals, like having fun, getting fitter, and experiencing something new.  That way you will have some different ways to define what success is, and how you will achieve it.

Triathlon Tips #5. Keep it fun!  One of the most important reasons to participate in any sport is because it’s fun.  I’ve always believed that fun can be defined in many ways, and while some people might think that spending hours and hours swimming, biking, and running would be uncomfortable and boring, I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend a day.  But it all depends on how you go about it.  If your training is all about just checking off another box on a list of things to do, then it’s going to feel more like a relief than a joy to complete your workouts.  But if your training is creative and challenging, and if your goals are affirming and inspiring, than you’re going to be looking forward to getting out the door for every single workout.  One of the best ways to keep training fun is by training with friends or joining a club or group.  Try to find a good local ride, join a masters swim club, or look for a good local running group.  These are available in almost all communities, and there’s nothing like a great group of fellow athletes to keep your motivation high!

Triathlon Tips #6. Learn the value of rest.  Sounds strange at first, isn’t triathlon supposed to be all about super human endurance?  But the best triathletes all know that the best training means nothing unless you recover from it.  Think of it this way, your body is actually weaker immediately after a hard training session than before it.  Then, as you rest, your body recovers, repairs the damage and reacts to the stress that’s been placed upon it, and responds by rebuilding a little stronger than it was before.  Without sufficient rest and recovery time, your body is getting continually broken down, getting weaker and weaker, and eventually injured or sick.  So don’t overdo it.  Start with a manageable training load, and then never increase it by more than 10% per week.  You can help to speed your recovery by stretching, icing, getting massage, and getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night.

Triathlon Tips #7. Control your eating.  I’ve spent many years working as a personal trainer, so I’ve spent a lot of time in gyms.  Something that I’ve seen over and over is people who come in and drink a 32 ounce sports drink to “fuel up” before their workout, then they run 30 minutes, drink a recover shake, and hit the showers.  Their 30 minute run may have burned in the ballpark of 300 calories, but they probably took in 500 calories or more to meet their perceived caloric needs.  My point is this: most people overestimate the number of calories that they burn.  Our bodies are very efficient at using fuel for food, and most of us have enough fat stored up that we could run several marathons back to back.  Unless you’re training session is going to last over 60 minutes, you don’t need to take in any calories at all, and beyond 60 minutes, a good rule of thumb is one calorie per pound of body weight per hour.  A good way to track the calories you burn is using a site like TrainingPeaks in conjunction with a Garmin, that will give you a much better idea of how much your actually burning, which will help you estimate how much you need to take in.

Triathlon Tips #8. Get a decent bike.  I touched on this one earlier, but if you’re at all interested in becoming a triathlete, the best investment you can make is getting a bike you enjoy riding.  You don’t have to spend a fortune here, there are some great bikes out there at affordable prices.  Just get something that is functional, comfortable, and safe.  Riding a cheap, uncomfortable bike is not going to be fun, you won’t enjoy your training, and there’s nothing more frustrating than spending the entire bike leg of your first race watching people flying by on their shiny new machines.  Get something that you’ll be proud to show up to the group rides with, that’s comfortable to ride, fits well, and works for your budget.

Triathlon Tips #9. Find a coach. If you want to find someone who can help you put together a good training plan, guide you through all the confusing information about equipment and nutrition, and make sure you show up to your first race prepared for success, there are many qualified coaches out there to help.  I would highly recommend working with a coach who is certified by USA Triathlon, which is the gold standard of multisport coaching cerfifications.  USA Triathlon coaches have to meet strict standards of knowledge and professional behaviour, and they are prepared to help you deal with all the challenges of getting for your first race.

Triathlon Tips #10. Stay balanced.  The excitement of training for your first triathlon can be a bit overwhelming, and it’s easy to get consumed with your workout to the point where you can neglect other parts of your life.  Most triathletes tend to be type A, goal oriented people, and once they focus on an objective, they don’t like to be distracted.  But don’t let that focus get so intense that you show up to your race feeling burned out, or like you’ve ignored other important parts of your life to achieve triathlon success.  Keep your priorities clear, stay flexible with your training, and do the best that you can with what you’ve got each day.

I hope you enjoyed reading these triathlon tips for your first race, and that they may help you find success!  Good luck, and happy training.

We Guarantee You Will See Improvements when you stick to These Triathlon Tips

Triathlon Tips for Beginners

Beginner Triathlon Tips: Triathlon Swim Workouts and Drills for Winter Training

January is a great time to be a triathlete.  Athletes are beginning to plan their seasons and ramp up their training with triathlon tips and tricks, the whole year stretches out before us with new opportunities to challenge ourselves and to take steps towards reaching our goals and realizing our full potential.  For most athletes, the area in which they have the most room to improve is the swim, and this is the perfect time of year to get in the water and build the endurance that will help you to use the swim to position yourself for a strong performance on the bike and run.  In triathlon, your fitness in the first half of the race directly impacts your fitness in the second half of the race, meaning that no matter how fit you are for the run, you won’t be able to use that fitness effectively until you are strong enough to attack the swim and the bike without accumulating an excessive amount of fatigue.  Here are some swim sets that I’ve used over 15 years of coaching swimmers of all levels, from beginners, to age group champions, to Ironman triathletes.

1. 4×400 with a 1 minute rest interval.  Swim the first 400 with paddles, the second 400 with paddles and a buoy, the third 400 with just a buoy, and the fourth 400 with no equipment.  Depending on your fitness, you can alter the distance of the repeats to as short as 100 or as long as 800.  Switching the equipment up provides varity and also changes up the workload on your muscles.

2. 8×100 with a 15 second rest interval.  On the first 100, swim with a paddle on your right hand only, on the second 100 swim with a paddle on your left hand only, on the third 100 swim with paddles on both hands, on the forth 100 swim with no equipment.  Repeat this sequence twice.  For a longer swim, you can swim 200’s instead of 100’s.  You can also swim this set substituting fins instead of paddles.  This is a great way to improve your bio-mechanical awareness and your feel for the water.

3. 10×150 with a 20 second rest interval.  For each 150, kick with a kick board for the first 50, then swim the last 100.  For the kick, really go for it and kick hard!  Get your legs going and get your heart rate up, then cruise the 100 swims at a comfortable pace, concentrating on long strokes and perfect technique.  These swims help to simulate the feeling of triathlon swim starts, where your heart rate goes sky high and your way out of your comfort zone, and you need to settle into a steady pace while you swim.

4. 5×300 with a 45 second rest interval.  Swim the first 50 as right arm pull, the second 50 is left arm pull, the third 50 is catch up drill, then build over the last 150 (think of it as 50 easy, 50 medium, 50 fast).  This set was a favorite of my club coach, and I’ve been using it for years.  It starts you off with some drills to get you thinking about technique, then you have to go right into a progressive 150, so you’re also building speed and endurance.

5. 8×200 with a 30 second rest interval.  For each 200, swim the first 50 breathing every 2 strokes, the second 50 breathing every 3 strokes, the third 50 breathing every 4 strokes, and the forth 50 breathing every 5 strokes.  This one challenges your breath control and bilateral breathing skills.  Both of these are extremely important for triathletes!  When you’re in the open water being able to breath off both sides is a great asset when you’ve got a swimmer to one side of you who keeps splashing you in your face.  Also, having good breath control can help you to stay calm if you miss a breath when a wave hits you in the face right when you’re trying to breath.  It’s no big deal when you have the confidence to take another couple of strokes and get back into your rhythm.

Give these sets a try and have some fun!  Also, make sure to have the proper swimming gear when you train and race, check out my blog post on essential swim gear right here.  Thanks for reading, please come back soon for more of my beginner triathlon tips!

Triathlete Height to Weight Ratios for 2001-2010 Men’s Ironman Hawaii and ITU Olympic Distance World Champions

For some of you guys who have already been following my blog, you may have seen my highly unscientific survey of height to weight ratios of male and female elite triathletes.  Since those blogs posts took random samples from across the sport, I didn’t think they really said much about specific height to weight ratios for Ironman and Olympic Distance triathlon.  I thought a much more interesting survey would be to take the men’s and women’s champions from Hawaii over the past ten years, and compare them to the men’s and women’s ITU Olympic Distance World Champions.  So here are the men, and I think this does make a fairly interesting comparison.  Surprisingly, Ironman athletes appear to be slightly taller and heavier than their Olympic Distance counterparts.  I would love to have people comment on this and possibly share some viewpoints on why this is the case.  Also, it would appear that if you want to find your ideal Ironman weight (at least according to the height to weight ratio that on average has been most successful over the past decade), you’d need to multiply your height in inches by 2.25.  I’m 6’2″, so in my case I’d multiply that by 2.25 to find that my ideal Ironman weight should be about 166 pounds.  So, four pounds to go before the season begins, then!


Tim Deboom: 5’11”/155 lbs=2.18 pounds per inch of height

Peter Reid: 6’3”163 = 2.17

Normann Stadler: 5’11”/167=2.35

Faris al Sultan: 5’10”/158=2.26

Chris McCormack: 5’11”/171=2.41

Craig Alexander: 5’11”/150=2.11

Average: 2.25


Peter Robertson: 5’8”/132=1.94

Ivan Rana: 5’8”/135=1.99

Bevan Docherty: 6’2”/154=2.08

Tim Don: 5’8”/142=2.09

Daniel Unger:6’1”/165=2.32

Javier Gomez: 5’9”/151=2.19

Alistair Brownlee: 6’0”/154=2.20

Average: 2.12

*Please remember that this is for informational and entertainment use only!  All the information that I’ve listed here was found on the internet, which doesn’t necessarily guarantee its reliability.  I’ve only put this together as a fun project that I thought would be interesting to read about, please don’t go and do anything crazy to lose weight to get to your “ideal” height to weight ratio, as I don’t believe that there really is such a thing.  If you notice, there’s a pretty wide varience even between the pros.  Be smart, be healthy, and train happy.

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Beginner Triathlon Tips: Single Leg Drills for strength, balance, and stabilty.

Here are a few triathlon tips to make each run a little more productive.  By performing these simple drills, you can improve functional strength in your feet and ankles, and improve your stability. These drills also prepare your body and mind for the workout to come, and help make your workout more effective from the very first step! Here’s the routine:

Before your run, do two to three sets of the following drills:

  1. One Leg Hops: Balance on one leg, then hop 12 inches forwards and 12 inches backwards 10-15 times. Then on the same leg hop 12 inches right then 12 inches left another 10-15 times. Repeat the drill with the opposite leg. Take 30 seconds rest interval (RI) between sets.

  2. Square Hops: Balance on one leg, then hop 12 inches forward, 12 inches to the right, 12 inches backwards, and 12 inches to the left. Go around the square three times, then switch legs and perform the drill with the opposite leg. Take a 30 second RI between sets.

  3. Forwards and Backwards One Leg Hops: Balance on one foot, then take 10-15 hops forwards. Then, still facing the same direction, immediately take the same number of hops backwards. Do the same drill with the opposite leg. Take 30 seconds rest between sets.

Take a 2-3 minute RI between exercises. For all drills, strive to stay light on your feet (or foot, as it were). Your foot should strike the ground slightly behind the ball of your foot, and the ball of your foot should land directly beneath your knee. Try to let your foot stay on the ground only for the shortest amount of time possible, like you’re jumping on a scorching hot pool deck in the middle of summer. These drills are great for improving balance, foot and ankle strength, and secondary supportive muscles throughout your lower body. Include these before each run and your form and strength will be sure to improve!

Height and Weight for Elite Female Triathletes

Okay, so as promised here’s part two of the comparisons of height and weight for elite triathletes.  I’ve taken the old rule of thumb for runners that they should have two pounds of weight per inch of height, and in the last blog entry I calculated the height to weight ratio of some of the top male triathletes.  So here are the height to weight ratios of a few of the top female pros:

Chrissie Wellington:  5’8″, 133 lbs: 1.95 lbs. per inch.

Natasha Badmann:  5’6″, 115 lbs: 1.76 lbs. per inch.

Desiree Ficker:  5’7″, 125 lbs: 1.86 lbs. per inch.

Michelle Jones: 5’10”, 133 lbs: 1.90 lbs. per inch.

Mirinda Carfrae: 5’3″, 114 lbs: 1.81 lbs. per inch.

Yvonne Van Vlerken: 5’3″, 125 lbs: 1.98 lbs. per inch.

Emma Snowsill:  5’3″, 105 lbs: 1.66 lbs. per inch.

Vanessa Fernandez:  5’6″, 126 lbs.: 1.90 lbs. per inch.

Laura Bennett:  5’10”, 125 lbs.:  1.78 lbs. per inch.

Erin Densham:  5’6″, 112 lbs.:  1.72 lbs. per inch.

Michelle Dillon: 5’8″, 146 lbs.: 2.14 lbs. per inch.*

(After I posted this, it was brought to my attention [Thanks, Jackie!] that Michelle Dillon’s correct weight is 125 lbs, which puts her ratio at 1.83.  That’s a lot lower, but still very slightly higher than Laura Bennett, so I think that my comment below still has some validity).

Some interesting things that I noticed were that the lightest athletes weren’t necessarily the best runners.  And also, some of the lightest athletes were the best swimmers, for example Laura Bennett, one of the leading swimmers on the World Cup Circuit, has a height to weight ratio of 1.78 lbs. per inch, while Michelle Dillon, one of the leading runners on the World Cup Circuit, has a ratio of 2.14 lbs. per inch.  So I guess the conclusion that I would draw from this information (and please keep in mind that this is only based on information I found on the internet, which is in no way guaranteed to be completely accurate, at best this is a rough impression) is that there are many factors that are more important than weight as determiners of performance.  So rather than starting your new year with goals of weight loss, maybe a better way forward would be to consider improving your strength, perfecting your technique, and improving you mental skills.  I’ll be writing more about all that later!  Until then, be safe, be healthy, keep smiling, and above all, never give up on your dreams!  Train happy!