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Wed 17th Oct 2018
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Powercoach Zone

As part of a new monthly feature sponsored by PowerBar (www.powerbar.co.uk), Tri247 welcomes you to the Powercoach Zone. This month, coach Joe Beer (www.JBST.com), shows 'The Cost of Speed'!

 
THE COST OF SPEED

Okay so there is a recession on. But that does not mean you cannot get faster by spending wisely and using your time correctly. Lets not have a down turn in performance just because it's happening to businesses and whole countries…

PowerBar Ride ShotsAs I planed this article it appeared to get harder the more you look into justifying or at least identifying how a particular action can improve training and racing. However, there will be three parts to this article: (1) the logic of the pro's and how that can trickle down to the amateur racer (2) some number crunching to try to see what looks a good investment, at least on paper and (3) a reverse argument of - so what slows you down in races? This is the first salvo of the battle to build a hierarchy of needs and gains that triathlete's (and duathletes) can use in the future. This is far from perfect or the final word…

The Pro observation

Follow my logic: professional athletes do everything they can to go fast, win races and pick up pay cheques and future sponsorships. If buying it in a store and training just a few hours were the way to go they would be doing it. So, what they do gives good clues as to what are likely habits and technologies to look into. So my thoughts are (and this ignores draft legal OD races, that's not what amateurs race):

PowerBar Energize
  1. Few pro's train less than 20-30 hours a week, covering all three sports.
  2. No top finisher rides a standard round-tubed bike with no aerobars.
  3. Pro's don't ignore race nutrition in favour of low-cal water-only racing.
  4. No one with excess fat stands on the podium.
  5. Even sponsored athletes buy equipment (sometimes different to what they are given in sponsorship) in order to gain an edge.
No you haven't got the time to train 30 hours but how many people do you know that “miss out” a sport for two-weeks, time and time again only to complain they are not improving. However, that said, you can buy faster times by having the right swim suit/wetsuit and aero bike and shopping wisely to ensure you eat good foods that get you in your best shape. Likewise you should not ignore the gains that sports nutrition can give you in terms of session performance, recovery and race day results. Its not just will power, nutrition counts for a lot. It’s a big equation, the interaction of time and money invested, and the total result is your race day performance.

Look at where money can be spent

This is hard to do but average and best-case scenario outcomes are listed for just some of the factors that go into your training and racing. Advertisements that give you a tempting "minute saved over an Olympic distance race" or "faster recovery from hard sessions" are crude but many hide some gain which may or may not be the obvious thing to do or a wise investment. For example, three grand's worth of carbon frame may save you a purported minute over 40k but if you're carrying some chub that can easily be lost it's your calories-in not your pounds out that is the first priority. Take a 85kg tri/duathlete who runs 46 minutes for 10km at flat out race pace, drop them 4 kg (that’s 200 calories less per day for 5 months) and after some serious anorak calculations I found it would yield 4.45% improvement or a 43:57 10k. Just through eating less or doing a bit more.

See what you like the sound of… many are so hard to quantify but it starts the process. Many have no empirical research to look up so they have to be guessed based on experience of coaching athletes. The sexy and cool can soon look miniscule compared to the logical and small habits.

Daily/Training

Item (lifetime of item in years, or times used per year)
Per Annum investment (£)
Average gains (OD Tri) (mm:ss)
Cost/Benefit ratio (secs/£)
Priority (1-5)
Group training sessions(x150)
200
5:00
1.5
***
Swim stroke analysis (x2)
100
2:00
1.2
*****
Open water swim day (x6)
120
1.30
0.75
****
Bike fitting/aero tweaking (2y)
50
3:00
3.6
*****
Power meter (4y)
150
2:00
0.8
****
Downloadable HRM (3y)
50
5:00
6.0
****
Swanky new shoe design (2y)
50
0:20
0.4
*
Massage/Bodywork (x12)
400
5:00
0.75
*****
Energy drink/gel (x300)
500
10:00
1.2
****
Personal Coaching  (x52)
500
7:00
0.84
***
Quality daily nutrition (x365)
3500
10:00
0.17
*****
Losing 4kg body fat (x1)
0
6:00
>360
***
Wind tunnel dialled set up
450
3:00
0.4
**

Race Day (10 per season)

Item (lifetime of item in years, or times used per year)
Per Annum investment (£)
Average gains (OD Tri) (mm:ss)
Cost/Benefit ratio (secs/£)
Priority (1-5)
Pre-race caffeine + carbs
20
2:00
6
*****
Warming up

0

2:00
>120
*****
Course recce
5
1:00
12
*****
Super tight tri suit (3 year life)
25
0:30
1.2
***
One piece aero bars (8 year life)
40
0:45
1.1
**
Deep section Wheels (5 year life)
300
1:00
0.2
***
Aero bottle (3 year life)
5
0:30
6.0
*****
Aero helmet (5 year life)
20
1:00
3.0
*****
Disc wheel (5 year life)
100
0.30
0.3
**
Energy drink/gel use
30
1.30
3.0
*****
Power Meter/HRM use (cost incurred in training above)
0
0.30
>30
***
TOTAL
545
11:15
 
 

The reverse argument – so what slows you down in races?

To counter all the adverting claims, data on the web and small talk that rattles around at races, and especially afterwards, here's another way to look at this problem: what slows you down or stops you needs to be attended to. It's pointless to have a three-grand bike with a flat tire and you walking at 2.5 mph not riding at well over 20 mph.

Swim direction – if you swim 1800m not 1500m, how are you ever going to PB?
Acclimation – you need to feel good in your wetsuit not like an alien has engulfed you.
Cold water  – if you feel the cold you cannot race well for the first half of the bike.

Bike Drag – your body makes far more drag than the bike so never stop perfecting your position.
Rider mass – you have to climb hills and move air out of the way so your mass is very significant.
Handling – spending time learning to corner fast and ride more in aerobars is cheap speed
Rolling resistance – tires are a great way to gain close to a minute per 40km over your non-savvy competitors
Cycle pacing – get this right and you run better. Get it wrong and you cramp, walk, cry or all three.
DNF – punctures stop racing so having spares, CO2 and a well practiced routine can save your entry fee

Run terrain – if its flat or hilly heavier runners go slower so lose weight and run faster – its simple physics
Injury – this means DNS or DNF, is very likely and it's the biggest cause of drop out – so bodywork is vital

Its been good to try to justify practices that I use with athletes but I hope it gets you thinking where to put your time and pennies to make 2009 fast on a tight budget.

Swim smooth, bike safe and run light. And spend wisely.

Supported by PowerBar

Other articles in the Powercoach Series: