I love Louisville in the summer time much more than any other season. Outdoor swimming, longer days, and lots of group rides. This one is dubbed the Fruit Ride. Not really sure why it is called that since we don’t go by any thing that grows fruit. But, this is one of my favorite group rides that happens during the summer. Lots of good climbing, fast descents, and lots of attacking on the ride due to low traffic on the country roads around the Crestwood and Anchorage areas. Check out this video for some of the sights during the ride.
While competing at the pro level, one of the biggest differences between racing at the age group level and the pro level is the importance of the swim. I’m far from the best swimmer out there, but with the help of Lakeside Seahawks and their coach, Nate, I’ve made some big improvements in my swim in the last year and half. One of the things they really worked with me on is developing a good catch. Something I would argue that most triathletes don’t actually have (I am still trying to make mine better too). What is a good catch? Basically, it’s anchoring your forearm and hand in the water and moving your body past it it. Getting a good catch takes time, drills, practice, more time, more practice, and more time! Breaking those bad habits can be rough. (I speak from experience!)
What I find interesting among triathletes and most triathlon coaches is how much they stress a good catch (and body position). This is a great place to start, but I rarely see people get past this. The stroke seems to be stuck at a very rigid, almost robotic, movement. In a sense, they have all the steps correct, but the smoothness and quickness of their arms is lacking. The rate at which your arms move through the water is called arm turnover. This is very important to efficient swimming, especially in open water.
To help make the connection to how important arm turnover is, let’s compare it cycling and the RPM of your legs. Pretty much everyone knows that the ideal cadence for people is somewhere around 90-100. Why is that? At higher RPM’s, you rely less on muscular endurance and glycogen stores and tax your cardiovascular system and fat stores more. A lower cadence, such as one in the low to mid 80’s, starts using more muscular strength and glycogen stores. (Those glycogen stores are crucial to a good run after biking.) The same holds true with with swimming. A faster arm turnover means you are using less muscular strength and relying more on cardiovascular fitness.
The second reason I believe a higher turnover in the swim is important is more crucial to open water swim success than pool swimming. Open water naturally has more chop in it from the waves and other athletes thrashing around you. If you have a larger time between strokes, the water slows you down and you have to accelerate back to your speed with each stroke. Just as it is with driving a car, the more you slow down and accelerate, the less miles per gallon you get due wasted energy. The human body is no different.
The next big question within this question is, “how do I know what my arm turnover should be?” Obviously someone swimming 1:10/100 meters is going to have a different arm turnover than someone swimming 2:00/100 meters. There are also other variables involved, such as the height of the athlete, arm length, and how efficient their stroke is, etc., but here is a graph to give you a range to shoot for:
Your goal should be to be somewhere in the white area based on your 100 meter time. If you only have a 25 yard pool at your disposal, the easiest way to convert to meters is to add about 10% of your time (convert to seconds and multiply by 1.1 to get your 100 meter time).
Faster arm turnover doesn’t mean you are allowed to start thrashing in the water again with no regard to form or technique. It just means that you need to cut out pauses in the stroke and have a faster recovery portion of your stroke (as in when your hand exits the water by your waist and re-enters past your head).
Here is a great example of fast arm turnover from some of the best swimming triathletes out there in the ITU circuit.
There’s been a lot of buzz in the air in the sport of triathlon recently for a couple of reasons:
1. Equality in the sport for women
2. How much do pros matter
Let’s start with the issue that probably isn’t as big of a deal to most people (so I won’t spend a lot of time on it), but hits close to home for me – how much do pros matter. Last year, Ironman announced they would be cutting how many races would have money at them. One of them was Ironman Louisville… which is my hometown. After the race, I started the #keepourpros initiative to try to make a stand and make the voice of people heard that wanted to have pros at the Ironman races that lost their prize money. I specifically remember people telling me that they wouldn’t do a WTC race (such as Ironman Louisville) without pros at it. However, some of those people have signed up for those races.
Quickly moving on to the more pressing issue, EQUALITY. A quick recap of what has been the issue here. The world championship in Kona has very limited space on the peir. The pro men get 50 of those spots, and women only get 35. Last time I checked, 35 is a lot less than 50! This makes it a lot harder for women to get to Kona. I recently read the blog on Ameber Ferreira’s website (a former Maverick Multisport athlete). It is a great case study on how this effects even some of the best women in the sport… especially the up and coming athletes. Ironically, Ironman recently announced 3 additional spots on the pier for women. However, those 3 spots didn’t go the professional women. The three spots have been allocated for the WTC Women for Tri Board. Spots that I would assume are being paid for by those three females.
I know that not everyone will agree that pros are important… but I know that people will agree that equality is important. If you are concerned both or one of these issues, then you need to do two things. First of all, sign up for different events. Whether it is a local race, Challenge Family, HITS triathlon… whatever it is, support the companies that support equality and support pros. If you say you don’t agree with what Ironman is doing, but still sign up for their races you are basically casting a vote of approval. As long as Ironman has money coming in, they won’t change anything. Consider if a politician said he/she was against guns, but decided to do a 5K run that all the proceeds went to the NRA. The press would be all over that and having a hay day with it. It’s basically the same thing that pros and age groupers are doing still doing Ironman races but don’t agree with one or both of these important issues.
Secondly, if you want to sign a petition for 50 Women to Kona click here and let Andrew Messick see your name!
Will pros take a hit for a year or two if we do this? Yes! But if you want to see change a sacrifice is needed. For myself, I won’t be racing Ironman races for the rest of the year and have no plans of racing with them in the future.
Another great group ride with some strong cyclist in Louisville. This time we went to Shawnee Park and did a criterium style group ride. We did 6 laps (about 10 miles total) twice. The effort was super hard. The second session we did, I average 355 watts! There were several surges well over that. Check out the video below:
I just completed my third BSX Insight bike test. Each one has shown marked improvement. Watch the video below to see a few shots of the test and the results.
With this new FTP, I currently am able to push 4.84 watts/kg! Thanks BSX for the valuable data, and thanks to Brian Grasky for using this data in your coaching! Looking forward to the second half of the season!
Last weekend, I completed the Challenge Williamsburg (formally REV3 Williamsburg). It was a scorcher. Temps were in the 90’s and the “real feel” was 100+ degrees. I recovered from a flat tire on the bike and still managed to pull off the 2nd fastest run of the day. I averaged 320 watts on the bike, which is my 70.3 best power. The run was 1/2 on trails and 1/2 in the scorching sun. I love running on trails. The sound of the dirt and small rocks under my feet with each step is like music to me. I concentrated on that and disengage my mind from the heat and humidity. I also made sure to walk the aid stations (no shame in my game). I grabbed as much water as possible (usually about 4 cups worth) and ice (usually 2 cups worth) and stuff it down my jersey and hold some in my hand to get a good cooling effect. Aside from some coke on the run course, I was able to get all my calories from Infinit nutrition. Although I didn’t place in the top 5 like I was hoping to, I think there were a lot of positives from this race. Be sure to watch the video below for a race recap and sign up for a Challenge Family race (CHALLENGEMIKE to save $10)!
You gotta love a hard group ride. And they don’t get much harder than riding with some Cat 1 cyclists and some former professional cyclists that live in Louisville, KY. Once it warms up in the spring, a weekly evening ride on Tuesdays is one of my favorite training sessions. The cyclists here like to call it Tuesday Night Worlds. Hang on to your helmets and see a little bit of it for yourself from my perspective aboard my Argon 18 bike.
This video shows me doing the run test on the BSX Insight and how it works. It is super simple, blood free, and can be done anywhere there is a treadmill. This device is incredibly useful for any biker, runner, or triathlete that wants to get faster. Use coupon code MAVMIKE to save $40 on the BSX Insight Multisport Unit! #StopthePricks
With all that changes happening in the sport of triathlon for the professionals, I was forced into changing my proposed race schedule for the remainder of the 2015 season. I had heard of the Toughman series, so I decided to check them out… and I’m glad I did. It was refreshing to go to a race that wasn’t so commercialized at Ironman, but still very well run. The nice thing about Toughman series is that you have the chance to qualify for a bigger event in September, their Toughman National Championship. I registered for the Toughman Indiana with hopes of qualifying for the national championship, and managed to pull off a win. Here is a quick recap in pictures (all pictures thanks to the Toughman Indiana and America Multisport)
Carefully putting on my Blueseventy Wetsuit – MAVMIKE saves 20%
The water got deeper faster than I realized and I did a very ungraceful entry into the water
Exiting T1 with Argon Bike in hand and Catlike Helmet for safety. Loving the Sugoi tri kit
There were several turns on this 56 mile bike ride… 41 90-degree turns and one 180-degree turn.
No pictures from the run… but it was a beautiful course through parks, running/biking trails, neighborhoods, and some city roads. Lots of hills… over 1000 ft of climbing during the the 13.1 miles!
On the podium in 1st and got a spot at the National Championship. I’ve got a hard course to tackle in September. The bike course in New York has over 3400 feet of climbing!
After the race, I was talking to the CEO of Toughman that came all the way down from NY to observe the race. He was telling me some great news about what they are going to try to do in the future. Adding more races both in and outside of the USA and growing their brand (currently they are the 2nd biggest race company in the USA) and still have a national championship for people to qualify for in the future. I’m excited to see what this could do for the sport! Be sure to check out their races in the future. It was a well run race.
POST RACE INTERVIEW BELOW!
Every race has lessons to learn from it. Some have more than others… those tend to be ones that go horribly wrong that have more obvious lessons to learn. However, even on races that go well I think that if one reflects on the race long enough, areas for improvement can be found… even if you won that race.
I obviously didn’t win 70.3 NOLA last weekend, but I felt like I had a great race. Squeezing in a top 10 finish with some big names on the start line such as Andy Potts, Matt Charbot, Eric Limkemann, Ben Hoffman, and Trevor Wuertel to name a few. I had a short conversation with my coach after the race, thanking him for this help and expressing my satisfaction with the race. He told me to think about the race and get back to him with 3 areas that went well, 3 areas for improvement, and if anything in the race made a light bulb turn on. Here is what I came up with: