Bike Workout:  Doing repeats at an effort level above your “threshold” followed immediately by an effort below your threshold will promote production of the enzyme lactate dehydrogenase making you a better racer.

3 times through the following:

1:30 build to moderate then 3min @70 rpm weights on the bike (keep HR at or below 85% or <90% FTP)

20 minutes, or four times through,  as follows:

:20 hard spin - :40 easy spin

:30 hard - :30 easy

:45 hard - :15 easy

1min hard - 1 minute easy

5 min @70 rpm weights on the bike (keep HR at or below 85% or <90% FTP) w/ 1min

10 min at 85% max HR/95% FTP

Busting Into the New Year

There are times during endurance events when the acceleration needed to climb a hill, break away from a group, or pull off a long sprint to the finish line demands that we deliver energy at a rate resulting in a build-up of lactic acid. We can convert lactic acid back to something we can burn aerobically. There is an enzyme responsible for this. The more of the enzyme we have, the better off we are at staving off that lactic acid burn. We can train in a way that promotes the production of the enzyme (known as lactate dehydrogenase).

Doing repeats at an effort level above your “threshold” followed immediately by an effort below your threshold will promote production of this enzyme making you a better racer. Here’s an example of a swim workout that trains for the production of this enzyme. The gist of the workout can be applied to any discipline with the same kind of result.

An extended warm up of 2500 yards/meters can be reduced. Cut out the middle of the warm up if you are not accustomed to this kind of distance in your training.

Total yards = 3900 without the cool down

100 swim w/:05

200 swim

300 pull-no strain

400 swim-negative split build to moderate

10x50 w/:10 build to strong first 25 then 25 ez

400 pull, no strain

300 swim as 50 build to strong-25 ez four times straight through

200 swim last 100 strong

100 swim all strong

250 pull-250 swim continuous

The meat of the workout is designed to allow for accelerating and then recovering while racing.

Hard-EZ Set: 7 times through the following.

(100yds at 92-95% effort, check time,  swim 100 EASY, then take :20 rest and repeat)


Cool down

New Year...New Goals

I’ve recently heard a few of the top coaches and athletes in the most popular American sports say that they love to win, but hating to lose underpins their competitive drive to a greater extent. That’s one reflection of what spurs each of us on to reach our goals. No matter how you explain what pushes you to new heights, certainly the root of it all is that it feels great to reach a goal, and nearly unbearable to miss the mark when so much has been invested. We are all willing to embrace some pain if, in the future, we feel we have a pretty good chance of avoiding the unbearable feelings of missing the mark.


Everything should and can be done to avoid missing the mark. First develop goals. With goals, a plan should be devised to increase your chances of reaching the goals. Without a plan, the chances of reaching a goal are extremely low. A half-baked plan will yield half-baked results. For the greatest likelihood of attaining your goals, the plan should well-developed and broken into phases, each mini-phase with its own specific mini-goals and ways to measure whether those goals have been achieved. If within a mini-phase, the metrics indicate that the mark has been missed, then adjustments to the plan can specifically address the shortcomings. Wandering through a season without measuring progress while sampling a variety of approaches as you go won’t work well.


We have a tendency to chart a new course at the New Year. This is the perfect time of year to define your goals. Goals for this upcoming season will be based on a number of things that vary from individual to individual. How competitive and motivated an individual is will certainly color how aggressive the goals are.


To establish the specific goals and how each mini-goal will contribute to the overall goal attainment, recollect the way the past season played out. Take a close look. Note the highs and lows, and identify those factors that contributed to the way you performed, the way you felt during your training, and how it felt to race. A close look is invaluable. It can shed a great deal of light on what the goals should be and how step-by-step you plan to get there.


With well-defined goals, write the plan. Take one phase at a time and know that the process is fluid. Start your first phase with establishing an exercise schedule/rhythm. With that should come increased base fitness. Emphasize working on your weaknesses in the early stages of the plan. But remember, a successful season starts first with goals. Dream big.


Pass the Potatoes...Thank You very Much

While losing weight can improve performance, just starving yourself is not the best strategy. To be sure, reducing the calories ingested while maintaining a training program can result in weight loss. But is that all that should be considered? Velonews published an article in their training section of Vol. 45/No. 45, November-December 2016. Author Trevor Connor quickly and clearly states what works as well as what to look out for while charting a course through the Holidays and beyond.

The article, “Tipping the Scales”, quickly drills down to the basics of performance driven weight loss. The topics, covered in a page, include:

  • Body Composition
  • Power and Fatigue
  • Rate of Reasonable Weight Loss
  • When to Lose the Weight
  • Dietary Suggestions
  • Accepted Strategies

I highly recommend that you look this article up to help you plan for the upcoming season.

Eat well– Enjoy your food!


Have you smelled a rose lately?

Kicking back, putting the feet up, and adding some extra relaxation to our day gives us a chance to re-charge. After a season of training, with a healthy serving of focus (obsession for some) folded into the mix before the final event, you need some release. There is a time for everything.  If you don't take the time to re-charge, you'll likely find that your body and mind are not ready for the customary build to goal attainment when the time is right. So kick back a little. You deserve it. 

An active lifestyle, once engrained, begs us to do something even when we are kicking back. It's a good thing. If the focus is scaled back and the routine is fresh, you can get an exercise fix and regenerate at the same time. It is also a great time to work on any weaknesses you may have. Weaknesses may be a whole discipline. Or it may be a certain aspect of your physiology. For instance, maybe your endurance is well developed on the run but you lack the tools to run fast. Once the competitive season is upon us, we won't have the time to develop our weaknesses since our time is more efficiently used working on our event specific strengths.

Now is the time to keep it fresh, and develop our weaknesses without worrying about how we'll perform tomorrow. It’s a special time of year. Set aside some time to smell the roses too!



THE SWIM. Stay in control – an active rest workout


Short active rest will train the body to push above average race pace and then back off to recover while still racing. Perfecting this ability allows the athlete to maintain control while responding to varying race situations. Here's a workout to help get you there.


The workout: 4400 total yards (meters)


If time constrains you, pick a time to spend in the water, follow through with the workout until your time is up, get out and shower. Fini.


Warm up set:

400 swim ez

2x125 w/:05

2x75 w/:05 ez

2x50 ez w/:05


transition from warm up to main set:

400 swim ez

2x125 w/:05 (ez 75 build last 50 to moderate)

2x75 w/:05 ez (25 ez then build 50 to moderate strong)

2x50 ez w/:05 (steady moderate strong)


12x50 w/:05 to :10first 25 build to 90-95%, second 25 ez


Main set: Common’!!

Two times through the following:

Active rest set

200 very strong-75 ez w/:05 rest

200 very strong-75 ez w/:05 rest

100 very strong-50 ez w/:05 rest

100 very strong-50 ez w/:05 rest

50 very strong-25 ez w/:05 rest

50 very strong-25 ez w/:05 rest

now an extra :30 rest and repeat above


Cool down


Polish your training as the big races draw near

Planning out a racing season with broad strokes lays a framework upon which we can fill in the details of how we want our season to look. To make good sense of it all, we can follow basic training principles to create a picture of what we desire.

The principles:
Work on your general fitness early on (your base) and your specific fitness needs (what the race asks of you) as you approach your big races. Work on your weaknesses early on and your strengths as you get close to your goal performance.

General fitness:
Longer less intense efforts to develop the aerobic base that lends itself to endurance and your ability to recover from day to day.

Specific Fitness:
How long is the big race? What does the course ask of you? Is the course hilly or flat, is it hot, is it humid, is it technical? Your training should mimic race conditions if that is possible.

What are your weaknesses? Are they related to the discipline (swim - bike - run) or to something specific within the swim, bike, or run? For instance, do you struggle with hilly courses or are they advantageous for you? However you peg yourself, work on those areas where you are wanting.

Now (getting toward the end of the season in the northern latitudes) is the time to go ahead and have fun developing the strengths that have served you well. Shift the focus to the disciplines that got you where you are and the nuances within each discipline that you depend upon to make your racing statement. Focus on what you do best!

It’s time to party! Have fun playing with your fitness as you nail your goal race.

Swim Workout : Tribute to Jack

Let me share a swim workout that also serves as a tribute to Jack Pettinger. This swim workout was one of a multitude handed down from Jack to help triathletes in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Jack is still coaching, now pushing 80 years old, a former assistant coach of Doc Councilman – Coach of the 20th Century (look this dude up!!), and Head Coach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (when he coached multiple Olympic Gold Champions). Jack knows how to train distance freestylers. Since triathlon selects for distance freestylers, his workouts were the mainstay of a large group of triathletes that performed well on the world stage. Let me drop a name. Gwen Jorgenson swam in his summer program while she made her entre into the sport. To the point, here is a workout that addresses the adaptations that, if acquired, will yield dividends to triathletes and Masters swimmers. 


600 swim
600 pull
16x25 build as you go to moderate w/:05
200 pull
12x50 as follows:2 ez-1 strong four times through w/:10
34 minute swim as follows:
11 minutes at pace you could hold “endlessly”
11 minutes at pace you could hold for 90 minutes
14 minutes at pace you could sustain for 40 minutes and no more. This will get uncomfortable. Stay steady.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Endurance events produce within us a long string of sensations. Some of those sensations can be clues to what we need at the moment and what we’ll need in the miles yet to come. Pay attention to the sensations and protect your race.

Hydration: Make sure you are consuming a good profile of electrolytes along with the water you consume. These electrolytes with water should be at a concentration that is similar to what you lose through sweat. Not all the water you lose results in electrolyte loss. Some of the water you lose through breathing in the form of water vapor does not deplete your electrolyte stores. Once you’ve found the concentration that works long term for you, adjust the amount of water and electrolytes to your sweat rate. If it is hot and humid and your sweat rate is up, drink more of your water/electrolyte combination. You should not increase your calorie consumption commensurate to your increased fluid needs. For this reason, it is easier to control the amount of water/electrolytes you ingest if they aren’t dissolved in a fuel source. When it is hot and humid you can easily overdo the calories you ingest if you are using your fuel source as your sole means of hydration.

 ********If your legs start to feel tired before you think they should, you probably are getting dehydrated and should increase your uptake of water/electrolytes.

Ingesting what you think is the upper limit of calories that can be absorbed while exercising is talking a chance. If the stomach doesn’t empty well because you have ingested too many calories, you’ll start to bloat, you’ll get dehydrated because the fluids you have ingested just sit in your stomach, and you could even bonk even though you’ve swallowed a lot of calories. You won’t absorb much of anything if your stomach isn’t emptying. Unlike becoming dehydrated where the cure isn’t available until the race is over (e.g. an I.V.) bonking can be cured while racing. Eat something containing sugars!

*******If you start to feel the slightest bit bloated (practice trying to notice this in its early stages when you train), you’ve consumed too many calories. Stop ingesting calories and drink the water/electrolyte mix you use. Wait to eat until those feelings of any bloating go away. Feeling slightly hungry while training and racing is OK.

Monitor the signs of dehydration, bloating, and bonking (that’s an easy one), and you’ll protect the race you’ve spent hours and dollars preparing for.




Happy Fast Racing!

During exercise bouts lasting 3+ hours, burning more calories than we can consume and absorb is likely if we’re fit. Burning 500 to 800 calories per hour during a hard 8-10 hour event is not difficult to do for those that have trained well. What is the fuel source for those calories? Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats from foods we ingest and substances that have previously been stored in the body.

The maximum number of calories we can assimilate per hour while we exercise falls short of the calories we actually burn. Let’s say someone can consume AND ABSORB 350 calories per hour while doing an endurance event. (BTW, I think this is overdoing it and taking the chance of ruining your race.) Where do we get the other 150 to 450 calories per hour? Fatty acids cover the caloric gap. Even the leanest athletes have a fatty acid reservoir that won’t run out in any length endurance event. This isn’t to say that we need only fatty acids to fuel our efforts, but they can easily bridge that caloric gap between the carbohydrates we can assimilate and what we burn while exercising. In order to tap into this vast reservoir of calories, we have to train the body to access them.

Pace while training and racing plays a very important role in our ability to utilize these fatty acids. We can quickly and inefficiently breakdown the limited supply of simple sugars/carbohydrates to release the energy the working muscles need to function. This is a short-term solution for providing energy to the working muscles, but endurance events aren’t short term affairs. We can’t store enough sugars in the blood, liver and muscle to fuel long events. And to say it again, we can’t ingest and absorb enough to replace what we burn. Pacing for endurance events allows an athlete to release the energy from fatty acids, proteins and carbohydrates and meet the energy needs. Too fast of a pace burns through the limited supply of carbohydrates. Also, the product of this metabolism is lactic acid. The acid changes the pH inside the muscle. This changing pH inhibits the enzymes needed to deliver energy to the working muscle. Going too fast is self- limiting. Carbohydrates are the predominant fuel source to support the faster paces. Lactic acid is the product of quickly burning the carbs, and the price that is paid is that the athlete becomes less able to continue to deliver the needed energy. They start to shut down.

To get better at delivering energy from metabolizing fatty acid, we can’t do all of our training at too fast a pace. If the long slow distance workout for the week is truly slow, we won’t depend as much on burning sugars to maintain the pace. The enzymes needed to break down the fatty acids won’t be as inhibited. The adaptation will be an increase in the amount of enzymes needed to deliver energy form the breakdown of fatty acids. The result, a faster long slow distance pace – one that can allow for bridging the caloric gap between what you can absorb and what you actually burn.

Happy fast racing!

The Need for Speed

Biking well doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll run well too. We all have a sense of this. We use many of the same muscle groups to bike and run, but we use them in different ways. What parts of the muscle are used and to what degree we depend on them is different for biking and running.  Even the pace we achieve and maintain depends on different firing patterns within the muscles.  If we are endurance runners training hard to maintain a faster race pace, we need to run faster for shorter distances some of the time to train the firing patterns needed to get to the finish line faster.

Here’s a simple and exhilarating workout to help improve your running race pace.

Flys are done on the track (or you can break these into 100meters fast-100 meters recover - which is what happens on a track) and will build speed without beating you up structurally or physiologically. The easiest approach is to build to “sprint” on the track “STRAIGHT-A-WAYS” and jog to recover on the curves. On the “STRAIGHT-A-WAYS”, while developing the speed aspects of your training, run as fast as you can without struggling. Take only what your legs give you. If it feels tight, back off the pace just until it no longer feels tight. Let it flow. Don’t start out with a sprinting effort. Build into each 100 meters. The pace you achieve will be quite a bit faster than race pace. You’ll therefore need to be well warmed up for these workouts. The curves are active rest efforts that will give you a chance to almost catch your breath. Your muscles will learn to more efficiently process the lactic acid produced on the straights. Work with yourself not against yourself.

I recommend starting with 2 miles of FLYS. You can progress weekly by 0.5 miles.
Run faster-have fun!

Go Long: Cycling Sprint Training

Going long!!!!   Don’t forget your sprint training. Here’s a workout that will activate your fast twitch muscle fibers and promote shuttling lactic acid back to something you can burn aerobically (pyruvate). 

Here’s the workout:  Bike Hard!-Easy

This workout consists of 1 minute all out followed by 1 min very easy(active recovery). This sequence is repeated for a certain block of time. 10min would be 1min very hard-1min easy-1min very hard-1min easy-1min very hard-1min easy-1min very hard-1min easy-1min very hard-1min easy. 3x10min hard easy w/5min is the above sequence followed by 5 min very easy repeated 3 times. The very easy rest portion between sets is ½ the time of any set. In this case, 10 minute set with 5 minutes easy between the sets. If the workout calls for 3x8min, then the rest between sets would be 4 minutes, or ½ the length of a set.

You’ll accomplish some supra VO2 max training along with active rest. This will make spending time at your AT (anaerobic threshold frequented while racing) seem at least somewhat easy. It is also a great way to wake up fast twitch muscle fibers that are called upon when accelerating (like climbing) even in ultra-cycling events!

EP SWIM WORKOUT: Feel For the Water

Improving one’s swim split is a function of improving swimming efficiency and fitness. Drills, stroke work, and increasing yards swum/week all contribute to improving swimming efficiency. All three help develop the all important “feel for the water”. If I had to pick just one thing to improve ones feel for the water, I’d pick increasing the yards swum/week. The kids that racked up the swim yardage before coming to the sport of triathlon have an advantage over those that didn’t. Choose the workout below based on the yards you can complete in a 60-75 minute workout. Workouts like the ones you see here should be done three times per week to see significant improvement in your swim split. 

DESCEND refers to decreasing the time spent finishing a repeat.
For instance, #1 1:10, #2 1:08, #3 1:06



Measured emotions

Ain’t moving grand. We crave it. It’s all about how it feels both during and afterwards. There are ways to promote these feelings and appreciate them even more. We have a tendency to meter, monitor, measure, calculate, and record our every move. That promotes the rational side of exercise. We can effectively use measuring tools to improve our performance, but it isn’t why we were drawn to sport in the first place. I’d like to make a case for increasing the emotional aspects of movement. The emotional aspect is the fountain-head of the pleasure we gain from movement. For performance sake, perceived exertion and kinesthetic awareness adds to how far, how fast, and how effortlessly we move. If the feelings are the backdrop for what we do and the rational tools are there to help keep us efficient and productive, we have a finer-grained appreciation of what movement does for us.

For anyone that plans training for themselves or others, it helps to closely identify what is required to achieve an athletic goal - even if that goal isn’t winning a race or setting a PR, but just feeling as good as possible as often as possible. The coach or planner can precisely measure a training load. Closely controlling a workout session is a way to prepare for the next sessions that are coming. Time spent (miles-yards), how intensely one exercises during that time, and the amount of rest, whether within or between workouts, are training variables that can all be measured. Tracking and controlling these measurements can increase the amount of quality training squeezed into a block of time. Progressing the overall training load gradually over time, and making fine adjustments to that load, becomes fairly easy. Not measuring or tracking a training load over time can lead to dissatisfying performances. What if I tell 10 athletes to ride pretty hard for 10 minutes and repeat that effort four times with a good recovery between efforts? Would I get the same level of effort from each? Would that effort level given where that workout falls with a week or a month best serve all 10 athletes? I don’t think so. What if that same workout were 4x10 minutes at 90% of their FTP (functional threshold power or watts held at their anaerobic threshold) w/ 1.5 minute rest in between the four efforts? What would that produce from 10 different athletes. The physiological effects of the workouts governed by a percentage of FTP would be much more similar between the 10 athletes doing this workout. If adjustments to workouts need to be made to promote enough recovery before the next planned workout, it is much more easily done when the workout is governed with a rational tool, a watt meter on the bike in this instance.

You can see how training tools have their place, particularly for those that have trouble pacing or don’t have a good feel for how hard they are going. This sounds like I’m a measuring fanatic. I am to a point, particularly when I am planning workouts for others. I need to know what they are doing so I can put together a plan that will result in success. Measuring should never ignore the feelings however. It’s shameful when one trains completely by the numbers and doesn’t play close attention to how the body feels when it is generating those numbers. But why? Let’s not forget that the fountain head of all that pleasure from moving is about how it feels. The rational side of exercise, the watch, the meter, the monitor etc., have little to do with feeling and can’t tell you very much about how you feel-unless you’ve made the connection between perceived exertion and the numbers you generate. I can’t tell you how many times I’m asked “how many watts should hold during the bike leg of an IRONMAN?”, or “what should my heart rate be at mile 15 of a marathon”? From start to finish of an endurance or ultra-endurance event the athlete is an ever-changing animal. In general terms one can predict what will be going on at various points of a long effort. So many factors are coming into play throughout a long event. Is pinning the bike leg effort to some number of watts reasonable? For certain I know the watt meter neither knows nor cares about feelings.

How do we blend the emotional and the rational to maximize our pleasure when we move. Measure efforts AND go by feel. Learn what it feels like to hold 85% of your max running HR. Learn what 250 watts feels like when you’re climbing, on the flats, or even going down hills. Perceived exertion can be that one tool that takes a whole bunch of information into account and spits out a clear and forceful message….this is how I feel right now. Getting in touch with how it feels when you are putting out to varying degrees can be extremely useful when managing a race. Adjustments need to be made and the information you can count on is how you feel whether it’s your legs, your stomach, your breathing, your skin - whatever. It’s the way to achieve your personal win. Most important of all, fine-tuning how you feel when you move will bring you more joy. We’re all suckers for that.