KMD Ironman 70.3 European Championship Elsinore

KMD Ironman 70.3 European Championship Elsinore


It’s been a busy start of the summer in all aspects – work, training and race wise. Not a lot of time to reflect or write. But here is the bare minimum – a quick race summary from the half Ironman that I did about 10 days ago in our neighboring country down south.

PRE RACE: I signed up for the race a few months back feeling that it clearly was a bit cramped in between Ironman Lanzarote 21st of May and Challenge Roth 9th of July and after the limited running that I could do, due to the hip flexor injury, I thought I rather get a few long runs in than go to Denmark and spend time and money on a race that was not that important.

After talking it through with my coach Teresa at Uperform I decided to do the race after all, it would be a good hard training session on the swim and bike. All the way up to race I trained as normal and didn’t taper for this race – I even managed to miss read the training program for Tuesday the same week as the race and instead of doing a 10x2” MAX AQUAJOG in the pool I did 10x2” MAX at the track…. Good news is that it gave me a clear OK that my hip seems ready for training again.

Many Uperform athletes participated in the race, all with different ambitions – to win, to finish and to improve PB. (Note: Matteo didn’t race this year but said to me that he will race in a few years and challenge his dad Patrik Nilsson) 

I drove down to Denmark a few days before the race and registered and for the first time in a long time I went to the pre-race meeting. As I didn’t have time to ride the bike course I wanted to hear the walkthrough. It turned out to be a waste of time as the announcer Paul Keys basically said – “well, it’s kind of twisty and turny – but there will be volunteers giving you direction. It’s beautiful – enjoy”.

The weather was cold the days before the race and so was the water 15,5°C. As I have real problems with cold racing in all forms I was quite concerned if I was going to survive close to 30minutes in that water temperature – let alone get out and move after it. Even if I undoubtedly have the best wet suite on the market ORCA Predator there is no wetsuit made for such cold temperatures (at least when you are poikilothermic as I am). Not much to do but take the bull by the horns and try it out, said and done – on the evening before the race I jumped in the icebox together with Patrik Nilsson and I think we did one of the shortest swim I have ever done.

RACE: It was a beautiful sunny morning on race day I seeded myself to the middle of the swim-start as it was a rolling start and I had no intention of trying to lead the swim. The navigation was challenging to say the least as there were 15 turns in 1,900m. Whenever I looked up I just saw a sea of blue swim caps everywhere. Did a pretty lousy swim where I stopped and clean out my googles twice to try to get some visibility, swam alone most of the time as usual and got pulled out of the water like a giant seal by the helpful volunteers on the swim finish jetty – a much appreciated service when you are frozen like a popsicle.

”I can’t feel my – ANYTHING !”

Ran to the bikes and got on my way without any drama. Enjoyed an almost completely solo ride. After 30km I passed poor Patrik that was standing on the side struggling with a flat and realized that he had lost too much to continue in the race – technical failures are the worst as there in most cases is nothing you can or could have done to prevent it.  At around 60km a group passed me and I realized that the roads where to narrow for Marshalls and that’s why there were not around. As the group was basically riding at my speed (and working together) I had no chance of passing and dropping them so I just dropped back 20 meters and watched them continue cheating and last guy in the group looking back to spot Marshalls. I am proud of myself that I didn’t get upset and hit someone in the group but rather ignored it and rode alone 20-30meters behind.

Started the run and was surprised to see that I was running the first km at 4:15-4:20 and slowed down but maintain efficiency and cadence. I passed one of the draft jockeys that was now walking – I recognized him as he had a bright yellow, black and white race outfit and asked him if the drafting didn’t help save his legs enough for the run. No response.

MY FIRST WARNING BY A MARSHALL: As the day progressed towards mid-day it finally got warmer and as the run progressed I zipped down my race outfit to cool down. At one point, I meet a Marshall on bike that told me “Zip it up”. This is the first time in any race for any reason that a Marshall have spoken to me and it’s kind of funny to get a warning for showing to much skin in a race. I wonder what she would have said if I raced in Speedos as we did back in the 90’ties 😀

IRONMAN 70.3 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP ELSINORE 2017

”ZIP IT – ZIP IT REAL GOOD!”

First two laps felt easy so at the third I started to push the pace up to half Ironman level. By now the course started to become busy and I had to run sick-sack between people in the quite narrow paths around the beautiful Kronenbourg Castle. At an aid-station some disillusioned walker stepped on my heal as I was running past and tripped me so I crashed on my hand and knee. I got up right away and probably gained more time then I lost as I got a real adrenaline kick from the fall.

”Adrian!” Injured and bleeding heavily from the knee and hand – I battled my way to the finish line where a medical team was standing by… Not really – but it’s still kind of ironic to get knocked down in a non-contact sport 🙂

POST RACE: After the race, I hung out with Teresa, Matteo and Patrik and the other Uperform Athletes that had competed, then packed up my gear, checked out my bike and went to the hotel. Later, I came back to see the ”roll down” of slots for Ironman 70.3 World Championships. I had no interest in a slot for myself but wanted to see if people were eager to go. The room was almost empty and Paul Keyes asked how many actually wanted a slot out of the 50 and there were maybe 15 people who raised their hands. I stayed for a little while but it was such an embarrassing situation that I decided to go and have dinner instead.

Can’t help to ask myself why there was so little interest – is it because there is inflation of “Championships” as everyone and their mother arranges them ITU, Challenge, Ironman all have their own? Is it because they charge 450USD for the entry fee? Or is it that 2017 they have the Ironman 70.3 World Championships it in Chattanooga Tennessee – which at least to me is as exciting as traveling to the recycling station with your old bottles and newspapers – only difference is that you feel good after visiting the recycling station.

MY RACE RESULTS: I am happy to have raced and specifically with a very steady run that felt relaxed and good. To be 6th in my age group is not to bad I guess.

I would highly recommend the race as it was really well organized at a great venue. The swim and bike twists and turns are not that bad given the fact that there are volunteers giving directions and roads / harbor is closed off.

Now it’s time to do the final workouts before Challenge Roth which is just 10days away – the worlds biggest Ironman distance triathlon race with over 200.000 spectators, 4,000 participants and the race where I have set my personal best of 09:12 in 1996. A time that I will try to break next Sunday.

2015 Challenge Roth – Race Day

Safe training and enjoy the races!

Magnus

Ironman Lanzarote – A Mental Battle

Ironman Lanzarote – A Mental Battle


Many people are drawn to Ironman racing for the opportunity to test themselves in what often called “the hardest one day race in the world”. Personally, I find that there are few things in life that are so fulfilling as when you have prepared well, race harder than you think is possible, able to ignore the pain, kick the nuts of the little voice in your head that sais “slow down” on the bike, and “walk” after 30km on the run. To finally reach the finish line completely drained is an amazing feeling.

To get that perfect race you really have to dig deep inside, and in many ways the Ironman is much harder mentally than physically (if you are physically trained for it and can “race” rather than just participate).

My race in Lanzarote was a different kind of battle. Leading up to the event, I had to learn to accept that it was highly unlikely that I would be able to race hard due to the hip injury I have been battling with (last post). It was also a battle during the race; to hold back and ensure that I under no circumstance would take any risk of tearing the injury up again. And a battle afterwards to appreciate the experience – with such a mediocre result compared to what I was preparing for during the winter.

Many of my friends thought that I would not start, but as I had payed everything and was able to do one (…) 2 hours run session in the weeks leading up to the event I thought it will be a good training day. I had also started a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders and collected close to 10,000SEK which I felt I needed to do something for to all whom have contributed.

As always Ironman Lanzarote was extremely well organized in a location that delivers what you would expect going to Hawaii. In my opinion Lanzarote is a much better experience, more beautiful and a harder race than Hawaii and I enjoy this race more than Kona in so many ways.

The week leading up to the race was normal. The airline lost my bike and delivered it one day later, which forced me to sit in the hotel gym on a spin bike instead of riding the course ahead of the event. I decided to try out a new way of tapering – which was train rather hard the whole month leading up to the race (thankfully I have an understanding and open minded coach that approves my bizarre experiments on myself…).

Swim: A lot more crowded than when I last raced Ironman Lanzarote in 1997 when 390 people finished. This year it was close to 1,500. While I was out warming up in the darkness I didn’t notice that everyone was packing themselves in at the start and I had to squeeze myself way back behind a banner behind the AWA athletes and sub 60min. It wasn’t a problem as I was not gunning for any personal best in this race.

First 400m I kept an insane pace around 1:05-1:10/100m and got that feeling of “this is way too fast, I will die today”. After about 500m I could settle in to a 1:20-1:25 pace and stayed way out of everyone’s way as I didn’t want to get pulled in the feet nor swim after people who can’t navigate. It became a long first lap of around 30min and afterwards looking at the data I can see that I swam close to 4,200m due to my wide turn the first lap. Finished the swim in 57:51.

Bike: Out on the bike I took in as much Isostar energy drink that I could before I got to the first climb. Rode conservative keeping 10beats/20watts below my aerobic threshold that Aktivitus has helped me to set. Saved my legs in the climbs and tried to keep a constant load to get ready for “the sprint” home. The sprint is, after the last significant climb Mirador Del Rio, when you usually have the wind in your back and can make up a lot of time if you have strength left on the way back to Playa del Carmen. The wind was however not in the back today – it was from the side and made the ride from Arrieta to Tahiche painfully slow.

Felt the hip injury slightly on the climbs but nothing dramatic. Got of the bike after 5:57:28, the slowest bike time I have ever done in any race.

Run: By riding more conservative than I typically do I was also hoping that I would have fresher legs and be able to run the whole marathon even with the lack of long runs. But that was not the case and I felt as toasted as you typically do after 6 hours with hills, wind and sun. Started the run at an easier 4:45 – 4:50 pace and maintained that rather consistently until 21km where I started to feel the hip injury and reduced the speed to a jog/shuffle. After 26k I started to walk/jog and mentally prepare for the long walk ahead and the fact that I would be passed by many people. Finally made it to the finish line after 4:05:45. My second slowest marathon ever (walked Hawaii 1998 in a whopping 5:40:30 which still is my PW which I hope that I will never break).

Results:

  • Finished in 11:11 and 9th in my age group. Kind of ironic as I was 9th in my age group last time I raced here 1997 – in the age group 30-34.
  • Last year the Kona qualification time in 50 – 54 group was 11:14 but I don’t know if I could have gotten a slot this year as I did not go to the roll down.

My Key Learnings:

  • Taper – experimenting with tapering before this race was good and I think I now know how much training and what intensity I need during race week to have fresh legs without feeling swollen and tired.
  • The myth “Save your legs for the run” has once again been busted – at least for me. Either you have trained well on the run and can handle it or you haven’t. It’s not about saving the legs for the run. It’s about preparing them to run a decent marathon after 180km on the bike.

Expectations: Managing and setting expectations, appreciate participation as well as victory enables us to enjoy even mediocre races and results. There is no real benefit of mentally beating yourself up before, during or after  races and listening to the cliché bullshit like “no balls, no glory”, “go hard or go home”, “harden the fu%€ up” and “no one remembers a looser”. Think big – love the journey, develop an understanding why you want to challenge yourself and you will possibly find a much bigger reward and experiences on a deeper plane.

Venga, venga – apreciar la vida!

// Juan Pelota

 

Ironman Lanzarote – A Mental Battle

Ironman Lanzarote – A Mental Battle


Many people are drawn to Ironman racing for the opportunity to test themselves in what often called “the hardest one day race in the world”. Personally, I find that there are few things in life that are so fulfilling as when you have prepared well, race harder than you think is possible, able to ignore the pain, kick the nuts of the little voice in your head that sais “slow down” on the bike, and “walk” after 30km on the run. To finally reach the finish line completely drained is an amazing feeling.

To get that perfect race you really have to dig deep inside, and in many ways the Ironman is much harder mentally than physically (if you are physically trained for it and can “race” rather than just participate).

My race in Lanzarote was a different kind of battle. Leading up to the event, I had to learn to accept that it was highly unlikely that I would be able to race hard due to the hip injury I have been battling with (last post). It was also a battle during the race; to hold back and ensure that I under no circumstance would take any risk of tearing the injury up again. And a battle afterwards to appreciate the experience – with such a mediocre result compared to what I was preparing for during the winter.

Many of my friends thought that I would not start, but as I had payed everything and was able to do one (…) 2 hours run session in the weeks leading up to the event I thought it will be a good training day. I had also started a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders and collected close to 10,000SEK which I felt I needed to do something for to all whom have contributed.

As always Ironman Lanzarote was extremely well organized in a location that delivers what you would expect going to Hawaii. In my opinion Lanzarote is a much better experience, more beautiful and a harder race than Hawaii and I enjoy this race more than Kona in so many ways.

The week leading up to the race was normal. The airline lost my bike and delivered it one day later, which forced me to sit in the hotel gym on a spin bike instead of riding the course ahead of the event. I decided to try out a new way of tapering – which was train rather hard the whole month leading up to the race (thankfully I have an understanding and open minded coach that approves my bizarre experiments on myself…).

Swim: A lot more crowded than when I last raced Ironman Lanzarote in 1997 when 390 people finished. This year it was close to 1,500. While I was out warming up in the darkness I didn’t notice that everyone was packing themselves in at the start and I had to squeeze myself way back behind a banner behind the AWA athletes and sub 60min. It wasn’t a problem as I was not gunning for any personal best in this race.

First 400m I kept an insane pace around 1:05-1:10/100m and got that feeling of “this is way too fast, I will die today”. After about 500m I could settle in to a 1:20-1:25 pace and stayed way out of everyone’s way as I didn’t want to get pulled in the feet nor swim after people who can’t navigate. It became a long first lap of around 30min and afterwards looking at the data I can see that I swam close to 4,200m due to my wide turn the first lap. Finished the swim in 57:51.

Bike: Out on the bike I took in as much Isostar energy drink that I could before I got to the first climb. Rode conservative keeping 10beats/20watts below my aerobic threshold that Aktivitus has helped me to set. Saved my legs in the climbs and tried to keep a constant load to get ready for “the sprint” home. The sprint is, after the last significant climb Mirador Del Rio, when you usually have the wind in your back and can make up a lot of time if you have strength left on the way back to Playa del Carmen. The wind was however not in the back today – it was from the side and made the ride from Arrieta to Tahiche painfully slow.

Felt the hip injury slightly on the climbs but nothing dramatic. Got of the bike after 5:57:28, the slowest bike time I have ever done in any race.

Run: By riding more conservative than I typically do I was also hoping that I would have fresher legs and be able to run the whole marathon even with the lack of long runs. But that was not the case and I felt as toasted as you typically do after 6 hours with hills, wind and sun. Started the run at an easier 4:45 – 4:50 pace and maintained that rather consistently until 21km where I started to feel the hip injury and reduced the speed to a jog/shuffle. After 26k I started to walk/jog and mentally prepare for the long walk ahead and the fact that I would be passed by many people. Finally made it to the finish line after 4:05:45. My second slowest marathon ever (walked Hawaii 1998 in a whopping 5:40:30 which still is my PW which I hope that I will never break).

Results:

  • Finished in 11:11 and 9th in my age group. Kind of ironic as I was 9th in my age group last time I raced here 1997 – in the age group 30-34.
  • Last year the Kona qualification time in 50 – 54 group was 11:14 but I don’t know if I could have gotten a slot this year as I did not go to the roll down.

My Key Learnings:

  • Taper – experimenting with tapering before this race was good and I think I now know how much training and what intensity I need during race week to have fresh legs without feeling swollen and tired.
  • The myth “Save your legs for the run” has once again been busted – at least for me. Either you have trained well on the run and can handle it or you haven’t. It’s not about saving the legs for the run. It’s about preparing them to run a decent marathon after 180km on the bike.

Expectations: Managing and setting expectations, appreciate participation as well as victory enables us to enjoy even mediocre races and results. There is no real benefit of mentally beating yourself up before, during or after  races and listening to the cliché bullshit like “no balls, no glory”, “go hard or go home”, “harden the fu%€ up” and “no one remembers a looser”. Think big – love the journey, develop an understanding why you want to challenge yourself and you will possibly find a much bigger reward and experiences on a deeper plane.

Venga, venga – apreciar la vida!

// Juan Pelota

 

TSS – Training Stress Score or Total Stress Score?

TSS – Training Stress Score or Total Stress Score?


There is nothing more demotivating than injuries. When you are down and out and can’t train, I find that nothing really works or feels right as the whole system is out of balance. As always injuries come at the worst possible time – not in the off season when you are taking it easier but right at the time when you are supposed to do your hardest training.

When I look back at what happened it is obvious that my TSS was spot on if I would have had my normal load of stress outside of training – but I didn’t – I had a couple of extreme work weeks where Teresa at Uperform.dk had reduced my training load as I was traveling to and in the US – The program was perfect but rather than backing of a little when I got back I jumped right into the program (and added some extra to make up…) instead of listening to my body and taking a little easier.

I share the story here, not for sympathy but rather in hope that some of you can learn from my mistakes and avoid doing them to yourself.

3-4 weeks ago, I came back from the nightmare USA trip where I flew in to Florida on a Sunday night and over the following week covered many of the large cities on the east coast having meetings morning, noon and in the afternoon/evening flying to the next city.

Felt ok when I came back and went straight into training and did a couple of hard sessions basically same day as I landed back in Sweden. No drama at least not directly…. but after a few days my hip flexor and hip area in general started to hurt. Took it a bit easy with running for a few days but continued. After a week, I started to build back running again but as soon as I tried to do quality – it hurt like hell and I limped home from track.

 

Last week I could finally build back up to a 15km easy run but them after some Z3 work it got worse again and this Easter Teresa said, “it’s time to take a break”. I took 3 days of complete rest. Not the best situation with Ironman Lanzarote just 5 weeks out….

After IM Lanzarote I just have a few weeks to 70.3 in Helsingör and straight after than in July Ironman Roth. Potentially this season can go straight down the toilet if I can’t start running as normal in the next few days.

But it is what it is and there is little to do about it. I might heal up fast and have great races all season, not heal up and be unable to run in the races. Not much to do about it other than hope and try to get well.

Key take always:  

  • If you are injured and try to train as normal the results will most likely be that it gets worse rather than better. This is the body’s way to make sure that you ease off and fixed up. 
  • Think of TSS not only as Training Stress Score but Total Stress Score – if you are pushing harder than normal in training you probably should make sure that you have less of other stress and that your Total Stress Score is manageable. If you are pushing much harder than normal at work – then you probably need to relax back a bit on the training as well.
  • Use your downtime wisely – when you are injured make sure to get things done that you normally don’t have time for and don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Don’t get stressed out – it will not make any other difference than that you will be a burden for people around you – it will not make you heal quicker and will not give you better results.
  • Do the rehab – it is the most boring training in the world but if you have a good physio you better do what he/she tells you or you are wasting both their and your time.
  • Most injuries don’t heal better by complete rest – in fact the opposite. But if you have run yourself to the ground it might be good to take a few days off. 

Good luck with your training and racing and I hope that you stay injury free!

//Magnus

Q1

Q1


In business, as well as in training, it’s good to ”set the pace” in Q1. Rather than dicking around and hardly getting started – looking at the budget figures as ”a end of the year event” for business. Or in the case of training – see it as a fair weather experience…

This year I decided to I spent some hard time on the trainer the first 3 months of the year. It totaled up to >3,400 km in a little over 104hours. I would lie if I said it was fun all the time but not as bad as many people think.

Q1 was not much LSD/distance in fact, I think I have done more hours in the red on the trainer those past 3 months than I have done in my whole life. Or perhaps I have just forgotten the horrible pain of riding every Saturday with the beast Jean Moureau in Belgium. Either way the training is really almost the opposite to how we used to train and it will be interesting to see how that translates into race results this year.  

Managed to get some swimming and running in as well (which is not as difficult to get done as biking during the Swedish winter).

This week I decided to try something completely new and see a very interesting bike fitter that is a licensed naprapat and is therefor able not only able to point out what is wrong but also adjust it and advice improvements to your training. 

No big change in position (there rarely are – if you as I have been biking for +450 years) but the small changes made noticeable difference and I feel even more comfortable on my luxurious beast of a ride. Weakness was identified in left hip flexor (that currently is on holiday due to a overuse injury from running to much hills).

 

Delta Naprapat setting me up in the perfect position.

Next week I will reward myself with a week in Spain to finally ride outside. It will not hurt !

7 weeks to Ironman Lanzarote and hopefully I will get the hip flexor back in the game or I will bring my surfboard instead of the bike.

Buenas Noches Amigos!

//Juan Pelota

To test or not test?

To test or not test?


When I restarted training again 2014 (and racing 2015) I was surprised to see how accessible testing has become for all categories of athletes, not only to the top categories as in the past, but also to average age-groupers.

I am not talking about doping testing, which unfortunately seems to have gone the complete opposite direction. Pro’s have blood pass and experience frequent unannounced visits by WADA but there seems to be a complete lack of testing of age groupers. It’s amazing that two age group dopers were caught in the last few years but when you read the details about the cheaters Holly Balogh (2017, USA) and Thomas Lawaetz (2015, Denmark) it’s clear that someone really worked hard to get WADA out and test them – it didn’t happen as part of a structured testing in a race – someone had specifically given information that those two were using illegal substances.

But this post will not be about doping but rather about tests of your individual aerobic, anaerobic threshold and VO2 Max, done by knowledgeable people and documented in a professional way.

Over the years, it feels like I have read every book there is about training and racing and I know my body extremely well after so many years. So, it was with hesitation that I finally booked a test at Aktivitus. I made the decision after discussing it with my coach Teresa at Uperform.dk who really encouraged me to do the tests. I also reminded myself that I have made a commitment to use every possible legal advantage I can through better materials, methods and knowledge – finally I booked the appointment. Facts are friendly – belief is for religious people.

Test Time:

14:00 on a Tuesday I turn up at Aktivitus and Johan Hasselmark meet me and we start the tests with the bike leg. After a short warm up the resistance is increased every 3 minutes, a blood sample from a prick in the finger is collected and the heartrate is recorded. We take it up to 360W, 158 bpm and 7.1mmol lactate – no need to push it further as the purpose of the test is to identify at what resistance and heartrate the body makes the transition between the different energy supply systems.  

  • Aerobic threshold (LT) – the intensity level under which fat is the main source of energy.
  • Anaerobic threshold (AT) – the intensity level at which lactic acid starts to accumulate in the muscles and glycogen is used as the main source of energy.

Test master – Johan Hasselmark (one of Sweden’s top adventure racer team “Swedish Armed Forces”)

Next test is running with the same process but with speed increase every 4 minutes and blood sample taken at the same intervals. The run LT and AT test is followed by a VO2 max run test where I get a mask on my face where they measure the amount of air (volume) I inhale as well as how much oxygen I absorbed from that air (uptake). This test was shorter and rather than increasing speed the treadmill was elevated to simulate a steep hill. A really steep hill. Johan stopped the treadmill when claimed that ”your stride started to look more like a shrimp than a runner”. I was happy with that that and I am sure that I maxed out on both the speed and elevation that was possible…. 

Still looking relaxed and happy – before the VO2 mask….

My results were somewhat in line with my expectations but with some very important learnings (more on that later):

 

Bike:

Effect:

Heartrate:

Aerobic (LT):

240W

132 bpm

Anaerobic (AT):

305W

148 bpm

   

Run:

Tempo:

Heartrate:

Aerobic (LT):

4:35 min/km

145 bpm

Anaerobic (AT):

4:10 min/km

154 bpm

VO2 Max testing is a real treat! 

Apparently, anything over 46 as a VO2 max is considered “elite” at my age (Compared to the average population), so I guess there is still hope to become faster at +50.

VO2 Max:

 

Test value:

59,2 ml O2 /kg/min

Oxygen uptake:

5092 ml O2/min

Key learnings:

  • There are statistical models to derive intensity zones out from maximum heart rate or FTP-tests. Most common I believe is Dr. Andrew Coggans models. These models has been developed in the past due to advanced tests hasn’t been available to ‘ordinary people’ or Age groupers. However, during recent years advanced physiological tests are far more available. Statistical models are statistical, which means an individual can be far off the statistical zones.
  • In my current shape, I should aim to race Ironman distance at 230-235W on the bike, this is higher than I had intended and a good indication that the winter training with 1,000km per month has not been wasted time.
  • Given my VO2 Max I should be able to move threshold 10-15W before the race season start.
  • Based on the FTP tests that we have done – the bike zones (watts and heartrate) that was defined by Uperform.dk was a close but not exact. Now we have the exact values.
  • The running zones were way off compared to the zones that we have worked with based on 20min run test on the track. Both heartrate and speed. It’s highly likely that the current values reflect my current running shape that is far from what it need to be around race time. Uperform.dk works with the principle to “lift” one sport at the time and for the past 2month the focus has been on the bike where I really made progress. Now it’s time to get the running in shape before Ironman Lanzarote in May and more importantly Challenge Roth in July.
  • Talking to people who refers to real research rather than opinions and hearsay is so refreshing (specially in our current communication landscape). The team at Aktivitus are impressively knowledgeable and when discussing “train low, race high” concepts with reduction in carbohydrates to promote increase of mitochondria I got a very good reference to a study/thesis done at GIH by PhD. Niklas Psilander (2014) 

 

Summary:

Would I recommend going to Aktivitus for testing for a beginner/intermediate – absolutely, you will learn a lot about how to train and can even get personalized programs to work on the areas you are weak in based on the tests performed on you – not a general shrink wrapped standard program. 

Would I recommend it to an experienced athlete that has been in the sport for +10 years plus – Yes. I think we all are victims to habit to some degree and even if we try to challenge ourselves with new programs, drills and concepts – we still need to measure to know the truth. Only measuring the actual results a few times per year in races will not really expose the strength and weaknesses that we need to work on.

Have a great spring – train smart!

//Maggi

Faster swimming with less effort

Faster swimming with less effort


That heading sounds like a sales pitch! Well, it’s not.

A seemingly small thing that is obvious to every good swimmer but often neglected or even unknown to triathletes including myself is working on ankle flexibility.

As runners and cyclists, we typically develop extremely poor flexibility in the ankles and while swimming we point our toes towards the bottom rather than the horizon behind us. The additional resistance of two big feet hanging down is obviously not something that will have positive impact on our battel against the resistance of water. A better option is to learn to point them and make this part of the body as hydrodynamic as possible rather than trying to catch fish between the toes.   

I have heard swimmers tell me that I can gain as much as 5 seconds / 100m which seams a lot – perhaps they were referring to my size feet which typically sends shoe sales people into the back of the shop for hours or across the street to the canoe and small boat outlet to find something that fits. Either way; 5 seconds or 0,5 seconds/100/meters my point is that less drag will give faster times without more effort and energy spent. 

Training your ankle flexibility is very easy and can be done anywhere and as you can see on the picture it’s pain free, enjoyable and quite glamorous (at least when you FINALLY get flexible – I have been told..)

Folding a Yoga mat under the top of your fleets and toes increases the effect and can be used once you can comfortably sit on your feet.

Have a good one and happy training!

//Das (U)Boot 

Race plan 2017

Race plan 2017


I am not much for rearview mirror looking but perhaps a quick glance back is good this time of the year. 2016 was a great year with lots of training and trips around the world. No crashes, no big injuries but I think I did too few races in retrospect. This will change in 2017.

2016 Training:

Swim: Around 2-3 sessions per week, 324,000 meters, 107hrs.

Bike: Moderate total distance just over 12,000km, 416hrs. More quality work than 2015 as Coach Teresa likes quality.

Run: Not that great total distance just under 2,000km, 158hrs – but also here with more quality work than 2015.

Total training time: 681hrs a 13% increase in training time vs. 2015 and an average of 13hrs/week.

Injuries and sickness:

Not bad at all. A bad cold kind of disrupted the early season and another one after the last race of the season but otherwise OK.

Race and results:

Did not race as much as I would have liked to due to several reasons but was satisfied with two races out of three.

Trapaniman ½ ironman: 04:12:42, 1st in age-group, 13th overall.

Slovakman226 full Ironman: 09:40:57, 1st in age-group 10th overall.

Ironman Cozumel: DNF due to stomach problems / cramps.

 

Conclusion:

Happy that I could spend so much time training and racing without sacrificing quality time with the family and still make ends meet. Awesome to get to know some great people all over the world. Also, good to do an Ironman distance race under 10 hours again and get one step on the way to the goal of “Faster at 50”.

Still not feeling my old strength on the bike – but considering that I have just restarted my training I am hoping that my bike legs will return. Running is gradually coming back and I am happy to be able to do multiple 25-30km runs at 4:30 – 4:35km pace with backpack on tired legs. 

2017:

Now it’s time to suit up and race more frequently than 2014 and 2015. It will be a busy schedule that will seriously test if the two years of preparation has made me ready to beat my old times. The first 7 months includes two Ironman races that I have sign up for and after those two I will revisit the plan and see if I will do two more this year or just one (Ironman Cozumel).

January – February: No racing.

March: Half Ironman, Half Marathon

April: Half Ironman and/or Olympic

May: Full distance #1 – Ironman Lanzarote (my old time from 1997 to beat – 10:08:16) 

June: Half Ironman and/or Olympic depending on how I feel after Lanzarote and how quick I recover.

July: Full distance #2- Challenge Roth (my old time from 1996 to beat – 09:12:23)

Aug: TBD

September: Possibly full distance #3- Austria Long Distance, Podersdorf

October: No race – Preparation for Ironman Cozumel.

November: Full distance #4 – Ironman Cozumel.

December: No race.

It’s a pretty ambitious plan but given the nature of the event I think it’s better to have multiple races lined up. Apart from the training and preparation all we can really do is to hope that the ”perfect day”, when everything works like it should, will happen on one of them.

//Maggi

Captain America Matt Russell

Captain America Matt Russell


One of the best things with going to races abroad is that you often meet new interesting people. On the trip to Ironman Cozumel I was fortunate to get to know professional triathlete Matt Russell from USA. As we were both traveling without families and staying in the same hotel, we started to chat during a breakfast and over the course of the stay we spent some time talking about training and racing. When his amazing story unraveled I just had to ask if I could write about this and share it here, on my Runners World Triathlon Blog. 

Matt Russel at Ironman World Championships 2016 

For those who don’t know about Matt, he placed second in Ironman Cozumel this year with the impressive time of 08:04:24. With a background on the college team in track and field, specializing in 3 000 meter steeplechase and more recently Duathlon, Matt found triathlon in 2010. Lacking a swimming background (as many of us do) he had to do the hard yards and learn to become an efficient swimmer and is still making improvements in this discipline. Matt raced professional for the first year in 2011 and has since then completed close to 40 full distance Ironman races winning Ironman Canada and finishing top two and three in a substantial number Ironman races (Matt Russlell’s web page, FaceBook)

Matt is the kind of person that proves the hypothesis “The better and disciplined the athlete – the more humble, approachable and non-bragging person they are”. It took several days until he shared some of the extraordinary training values that he is capable of – or what do you think of a resting heartrate of 30bpm, max HR on the bike around 182bpm and an ability to produce 269W average (not normalized) over 2 hours with a heartrate of only 119bpm. 

One thing that I found amazing is that Matt does up to 9 Ironman races as well as several 70.3 per year and quite often they are not very far apart – twice in 2016 he did Ironman races that were no more than two weeks apart. The shortest time in between two Ironman races was one week and Matt feels that he often has a much better second race if they are close together, for example this year he raced Ironman Chattanooga and placed third just two weeks prior to Kona where he finished 12th overall. How is that even possible?

Matt says that he has a very fast recovery and that he found his ideal way of preparing is quite opposite to the traditional several days of complete rest during a tapering period and rather prefers to continue with a rather high trainload all the way up to race day. For example, the week leading up to Ironman Cozumel Matt did over 20 hours training. He found his training formula almost by accident – when he entered a half ironman race in the middle of a hard training and racing period and had a great feeling in the race as well as great results.

Over the years Matt worked with different coaches and have tried many ways of periodization, training and tapering that are common in the sport. He has found that following his intuition and listening to his body was a better alternative and now prefers to take planning into his own hands and to continue to experiment to find what works best for him.

 

Matt Russel at Ironman World Championships 2016 

Another interesting aspect is that Matt does all his bike training on an indoor trainer which seems to becoming more and more common for high performing Pro’s (same with Canadian Pro Triathlete Lionel Sanders). Main reasons are the fact that spending time on the trainer is more safe and provides the optimal environment to better focus on power levels, form and actual training rather than traffic situation and trying to staying out of accidents. Even in Cozumel Matt had his indoor trainer with him and did the bike training in his room. This might be hard to imagine for many age-groupers but is undoubtedly the best way to get the max out of your training time. 

Most of his training has been endurance/distance but before Ironman Cozumel Matt added a 4-week period of more intensity, VO2 max and speed, which obviously worked well and resulted in a personal best improvement with ten minutes.

It’s interesting and inspiring to meet people who chose a different path, who are eager to test new training methods and explore boundaries. Also, it’s fascinating to meet an athlete who’s willing to undertake the challenge to train on the indoor trainer to that extent.

Matt says; “It’s great when you finally get to race day and can unleash the speed and the feeling of going fast again outside – that’s the reward that makes all those hours on the trainer worthwhile”. He also points to the fact that enduring so many hours on the indoor trainer (and treadmill) builds his mental strength and prepares him to dig deeper than most are capable of.

Enjoying a few days off after the race Ironman Cozumel.

Truly a remarkable athlete. I’m not sure what is most impressive, his physical capabilities and talent or his relentless training and racing discipline, one thing is for sure – it’s inspiring! Meeting with Matt and getting this inspiration came at the best of times possible – during the cold and dark Swedish winter. We are still at least another three to four months away from the possibility to ride safe and comfortable outside again – at least for a sunshine cyclists like me.  

Happy Holidays on the trainer !

//Magnus

Race Report – Ironman Cozumel

Race Report – Ironman Cozumel


I expected a paradise when I flew in to Cozumel International Airport and a paradise it was – in every aspect. Cozumel is a small island, just outside the Yucatan peninsula. It has a somewhat overcommercialized 1km waterfront with cruiseship tourists that visit the island every day. As soon as you leave the Starbucks and Hooter’s polluted downtown area and explore other parts of the city and island you find a genuine and welcoming culture and beautiful nature.

Down town waterfront – part of the run course

Pre-race week: A shuttle bus/taxi took me to the hotel that I had booked near the city center and as soon as I had checked in I went out for a run, assembled the bike – rode a quick test loop and had a beatuiful evening ocean swim. I got stung by jelly fish on both arms, chest and legs but I had started taking antihistamine to reduce the effects I get from the stings (as I am allergic) so I didn’t care much about it.

Next coming days I got to know some really great people that stayed in the hotel and had done the race several times before; Matt Russell from USA who placed third overall last year and Toni Ferreira Da Silva Neto who often is the fastest overall amateur in this race. I must say that I was plesantly surprized to find that there still are people in the big races that have the passion and attitude that I know from times of the past.

 

Toni Ferreira Da Silva Neto, Matt Russell and a Oldman (from left to right) at the bike check-in.

Over the next few days we did several more ocean swims and I got stung even more by jelly fish but told myself that “it’s probably good to get the body used to the stings as I will have more during the race. By Friday it was getting bad and I felt sensitive to heat – almost like I had a fever and talked to my coach Teresa at Uperform about it. The last session I decided to swim in the pool instead as I didn’t feel that good anymore.

 

Itchy & Scratchy – Perhaps I should get a ”Burkini” for next years race?

Swim: Raceday morning came and we took off into a crystal-clear water. In Cozumel, you walk out on a pier and at the end of it there is a timing device that pick-up your chip and start your time as you walk over it – this is excellent as you can only walk 4-6 at the time over it and creates a steady stream of people going into the water and spreads out the competitors. The swim course starts 3,850 meters north of T1 so all participants are driven by busses up to the start area. I started in the fastest group (<60min) did my own relaxed swim and was pleasantly surprised with time of 54:54 as the current was a bit all over the place and quite strong at times – it felt like I swam for much longer.

 

The Pro heading in for their swim start (which was a water start)

T1:Quite a long run to the bikes and up to the road – along a fantastic cheering crowd.

Bike: The bike course runs south along the west coast all the way down to the most Sothern point of the island in lush tropical vegetation on decent closed roads. Then it turns north along the east coast along the beautiful beach with some rather noticeable headwinds. After the beautiful ride right by the ocean it shoots straight accross the island again back to the west coast. I was positivly surprised to find that there was no packs or drafting and only saw a few people on the last loop that was a bit close.

 

East coast – riding close to the ocean

Followed my plan and started the first loop (of 3) at sub 5 hour pace. After 30min on the bike I started to have difficulty to keep the energy and water down – it came up in smaller volumes that I still could swallow back down again. Second loop the situation got worse and the volumes that was coming up can better be described as “cascades” that erupted over my bike and body, now I started to have difficulty to keep decent speed. By the third loop even attempting to keep something down was impossible and I showered in water to cool down as I couldn’t drink anything. I was quickly becoming dehydrated had cramps in the stomach and the cycling was transformed from ”race pace” to ”transportation to the transition area pace”. Finished the bike in a dissapointing 5:23.

T2: As I arrived to T2 I could hardly stand up – standing straight was out of the question. I entered the tent in a haze, walking like a folding knife that can’t be folded out anymore. Sat down and the cramp would not stop. Put on my socks, shoes, sun-visor and sun glasses, stuffed my Isostar gels in my back pockets and tried to stand up. That didn’t go to well. I laid down and tried to release the cramp through controlled breathing which didn’t work. After what felt like an eternity I decided  to try to run anyway (against the advice of the concerned looking medical staff).

Exited the tent, ran half folded for 200meters and the cramp brought me down on the ground again. The medical team seamed to expect what happen as they came within seconds and wheeled me off in a wheelchair to the medical tent. Apparently, I had high blood pressure, dehydration, fever (?) and they hooked me up to a couple of pints of IV. After an hour, I was better and released and could shuffle my crooked body out to pick up bike and bags and head back to the hotel in dispair.

Well that kind of sucked…. It is frustrating to DNF but I didn’t have much of a choise. Not sure about the reasons for the cramp – I have had stomach issues and vomited in races before – but never so bad that I had to stop. After the race, I talked with my very supportive and encouraging coach who had followed the race on Ironman She had googled “allergy against jelly fish & effects when stung” after I told her about the situation earlier in the week and apparently, you can get nausea and vomiting if you are sensitive. Being the smart coach that she is – she didn’t tell me about her findings BEFORE the race to get me worried.

Most likely I had accumulated quite a bit of poison in my system and when trying to race, and putting an increased load on my body, the symptoms broke out. Many people had problems with the stomach that day and the medical tent was much more frequented than previous years. There are of course other possible reasons; we got bottled water but was the ice made from tap water or botteled water if so – is the tap water on the island ok, was the bottles new or stored from last year and not cleaned properly? Can it be a combination – who knows.       

Either way – I was really happy to later hear the news that Matt finished second overall just a minute and a half after Fredrik Van Lierde, Toni placed third in his age group and our Swedish Pro K-J Danielsson was eights with a really strong finishing time of 08:23:01 – so good considering his pre-race uncertanty about racing in really hot humid conditions.

 

Getting to know new friends (left to right): Guilerme – Brazil, Ruth – Costa Rica, Tales – Brazil, Christina – Mexico, Rae – USA, Toni – Brazil, Dalibor – Swizerland, Matt – USA and me.

What now: Thankfully; my happiness is not dependent on results and getting a place on the podium. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great reward (and addictive feeling) to win and achieve good results, but I separate my happiness from results and take a setback as fuel for the fire of motivation.

I don’t view my preparations for the race as ”lost” or ”waisted” – I love my training in all intensity and condition, I don’t mind long hours on the indoor trainer and refuse to relate or refere to training as a “sacrifice” or worse – be overbearing and marginalize the types of training that I find more challagning than other. 

For me, training for long distance triathlon, is not only a physical undertaking but an opportunity to build and develop mental strength and cultivating emotions. A possibility to learn to enjoy something that I perhaps initially disliked, dreaded or even feared (like +5 hour rides on the trainer).

Now I am back in training again after my seasonal break (which was Monday, as Coach Teresa sais – there is no ”Off-Season” :-). I feel fully recovered from the race (both physically and mentally) and looking forward to train hard.  Most of all, I look forward to go back to Ironman Cozumel next year as it is my ideal location, course and climate. 

My goal remains – to become faster at +50 than I was at +30 and I must admit that deep down I’m kind of relifed that I didn’t achieve my goal this time – then I would have to ask myself that difficult question – “what’s next?”. 

//Maggi

The road less traveled

The road less traveled


Training for a long-distance triathlon in the Swedish weather this time of year builds character, but it’s probably not something that I will do again for several reasons. For the past month, I have done almost all biking indoors and due to massive snow fall, I even had to do many of my runs on the ”dreadmill”. November is also the month when most people get their first winter cold and stomach flu and that was no different in our family, everyone took turns but I have been fortunate enough to stay rather healthy.

Spending 10-15hrs on the trainer per week have not only given me a crouch of steel and further hardened my mental strength, but also given me opportunity to catch up on some documentaries that I have wanted to watch for a long time. One of those were “Berkley Marathons” (Netflix).

Berkley Marathons is a +100miles running race in so difficult terrain that it took several years before any participant finished it. To apply for Barkley’s, you must somehow find the address and send in your application – by post – the address is not on the web or Facebook and it’s a mystery how you get hold of it. After you have submitted your application along with 1,60USD (non-refundable) you might be selected to participate (only 30-40 people/year) if you are selected – you will get a letter of “condolences” and further instructions.

First time participants must bring an entry fee in the form of a vehicle number plate from their country or state and a clothing item that the organizer has need for that year. It might be a white shirt, socks or a flannel shirt – all depends on what the fonder/organizer needs.

You won’t get a timing-chip, you won’t even get to know ahead of the race at what time of the day the race will start. To make sure that you completed the course you will need to find books that are hidden along the course and rip out the page that correspond to your race number. Pages will be checked at each of the 5 loops and you get a new race number for each loop. The course in unmarked but you get a map and compass. It’s mad.

When I saw the comradery between the participants, the passion of the fonder/organizer it’s hard not to think about how it must have been back in 1978-1980 when John Collins and team put on the first Ironman race on Oahu. It was an adventure – it was unchartered territory it was wild and so remote from what we now know as the Ironman ™ theme park.

The documentary put words on my own experience that I get in smaller races. It seems that the smaller “extreme” races attract people who are passionate, who want to explore and experience something different and not just qualify for Hawaii. I have meet amazing people at the small races and many of them share my experience of racing Ironman ™ and Hawaii – they prefer to remember it as it was.

My view is that Ironman™ nowadays is like a fast food chain – you know what you will get independent where in the world you are, from excellent aid stations and the fantastic volunteers – to the crappy backpack that will break before you reach your hotel after prerace-registration. It’s convenient, predictable and safe.

As I write this, I am seated on the second of three flights to Ironman™ Cozumel, November 27th. Skimming through the “Athletes guide” for the event I must admit that I look forward too many aspects of it – even if it’s a theme park race. I look forward to race in Mexico for the first time, to swim in crystal clear warm waters and to be back in hot humid conditions.

Ironman™ Cozumel will however (probably) be my last Ironman™ race. When I signed up for it, I was thinking that I just might pay for a Kona slot if I have a good race and win my age-group. I thought that “after all – it’s been almost 20 years since I raced Kona and it would be fun to go back”. But, after seeing what has happened with the unavoidable drafting situation in Kona (due to the dramatic increase in number of participants) I changed my mind. I don’t want to pay 950USD to participate in a race where the main interest of the organizers is to squeeze in as many participants as possible rather than make it possible for athletes to obey the race rules. I think It’s a bad joke to call that “World Championships” for age groupers. I will wait until more people start to ”vote with their feet” and the organizers clean it up before I go back. 

 For 2017 I am instead looking at some more adventuress races like:

–       Astroman – Japanese Championships (full distance)

–       ICON Levigno Extreme Triathlon – Italy (full distance + some extra)

–       Podersdorf – Austria (full distance, did it together with some friends from SPIF back in 1995 and it would be fun to go back and do it again – if they are up for it).

–       Lapponia – Gällivare, Sweden (full distance, a bit too cold for me – but perhaps)

–       ITU races – long distance?

Hopefully I will get the possibility to say no to a Kona slot at Ironman™ Cozumel as that would mean that I placed top 3 in my age-group and for that I would be extremely grateful and happy. One week to go and I am looking forward to swim/bike/run outdoors again and hopefully be in peak shape by Sunday morning.

Viva Mexico!

//Juan Pelota

Eating an elephant – Addressing the draft situation

Eating an elephant – Addressing the draft situation


There is a saying that “if you are to eat an elephant – you do it in pieces”. It’s a good saying that I think applies to the situation we have in the sport right now with regards to drafting.

My honest and open reactions to what has happened to long distance triathlon during my 18year break has engaged, disturbed and even made some people wake up and realize that there is a problem. That’s great! I’m afraid that I lack the capacity to just accept that the sport I love is becoming some kind of mixture between a theme park ride and a marathon.

I am really happy with the fact that so many share my concern, people who spend far too much time on the bike training hard to accept that this can go on. 

So to drafting; it has always been a problem but in the past it was a little baby elephant. At Ironman Mallorca I could not believe my eyes how big it had become and naively wrote – “the reason I really love Hawaii is that there is no drafting – at least back in my days”.

Then I saw the pictures from Kona in more recent years and started to understand that it’s out of control – which makes sense with the number of participants starting simultaneously (now close to double compared to back when I raced before year 2000).    

 

So what to do – well obviously just stating “we have an elephant in the room” is a first and important step – to ensure that other people sees it and that there is a desire for change from other athletes as well. That seems to be the case – even if the problem is percived differently depending on your point of reference and experience in the sport. People who was born with a fully grown elephant in the room probably can’t even imagine how little a baby elephant is.  

It’s great to see so many passionate triathletes coming up with ideas of new rules and technologies to be able to (eventually) provide a safe and fair race for everyone. To implement change and eliminate drafting is not rocket science and there is plenty of technology as well as alternative starting processes (for example waves) – that’s not the issue.

But that is probably a later step – once a speaking partner from the organizers is identified.

And here is the crux of the situation – what if there is no real interest from the organizers. After trying to contact one of the two large organizers of long distance events, I’m starting to realize that I am not the first with the request and not the last – to get no response.

I started to contact anti-draft organizations that I could find that have interest to stop drafting – only to find that they have had the exact same experience. There seems to be very little interest from the large organizers to REALLY do something significant about it. 

Perhaps because it has not been presented as a demand from a larger group or organization? Perhaps it’s because they still sell out the races without the necessary changes and make bucket loads of money.

There is no quick fix solution to drive the changes necessary, it will take time and effort. The more people we are who are really passionate about change and are ready to take a stand (rather than a selfi), the bigger possibility to do something about the situation. I encourage you who have a passion for the sport to at least go to saynotodrafting.org on Facebook and “like” and “share”. There are only 3,200 so far which is far too few. A good start is to get a substantial number of people who can represent a demand from the athlete’s side.

Given the fact that 60% of participants in an Ironman distance race will only do one race puts more responsibility on us who intend to stay in the game until we reach the +95 age group.

Personally have nightmares about my upcomming race in Cozumel – not about the distance, heat, course or race as such – but about the high likelihood that there will be drafting. I don’t know if I can witness what I saw in Mallorca again. I just want to be able to race ALONE, I don’t want to ride 180km again sprinting to get past big groups or sit back and see the packs go past.    

To those who took offence – I am really sorry that I’m putting a big spotlight on the elephant. I just can’t live with a elephant in the middle of the room and not say that it’s there. I can’t glorify events and organizers that don’t want to develop and deliver a fair and safe race as the sport gets bigger – that would not only be stupid, it would be ignorant. 

”Mobilizing to be heard” will take big effort and I hope that many will participate – hopefully ITU/ETU will have this as an important topic on their agenda moving forward. I intend to find out. Perhaps it’s even their elephant?

Have a great week-end,

Maggi