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By Paul Duncan of QT2 Systems

If you’ve completed a few full IM distance triathlons before, you may be familiar with the one-hour Ironman swim benchmark. This benchmark is a milestone that’s hard to obtain for most but is doable if you follow the right program and commit to your swim training in a focused manner.

QT2 Systems pro triathlete and coach, Nick Granet (@ngranet on Instagram) outlines some basic points to help you get ready for your best Ironman swim, and be well on your way to sub-one hour.

Swim enough miles:

At a minimum, you should be swimming three times per week - a total of around 12,000 meters. This puts you in a position to swim according to your speed potential based on shorter tests like a 400 or 800 best effort.

Critical volume of the swim should be equal to 9/3 of 2.4 mile or 12,660 yards (swim = 2.4 miles = 4220 yds x 9/3 = 12,660yds). The goal with critical volume is to build into it and meet or exceed it for multiple weeks prior to or during your last build before you taper. With that said, start your build at low intensity (85% of threshold heart rate) and only add intensity once you reach the critical volume itself.

Transfer your pool swimming ability to open water:

As most of you know, open water swimming is completely different from swimming in a lap pool. The difference is augmented once you crowd the water with multiple athletes all fighting for positions. Why are you a decent swimmer in the pool, but can’t match your potential when it comes to open water? There could be a couple reasons, but below are some of the ones seen most often in athletes.

  • Slow turnover: Pool swimming is all about gliding and being as efficient as possible. In the open water, gliding tends to promote a slow turnover, resulting in a weak stroke follow through. Once you put a wetsuit on, the shoulder restriction affects your turnover even more. There are a couple things that can cure this. One of my favorite drills is band swimming. It promotes a fast and strong turnover as well as proper hip alignment. Practice this drill a few times, starting at a comfortable distance and increasing that as you get better.

  • Weak follow-through and poor catch: If you are constantly feeling like you aren’t grabbing any water this one is for you. In open water, the follow-through is the most important aspect of forward momentum. Why? Because when it gets crowded and you can’t catch clean water in front, you must rely on your follow through strength to keep up. My favorite tools to use when working on that are, swim paddles and a buoy. Paddles help you build strength in the water as well a promote a good clean catch and strong follow-through. You can feel every aspect of your stroke with paddles and thus can see where you lack in strength.

  • Stress/anxiety: This is a big one — time and time again athletes will say that it took them a long time to get into a comfortable pace during their swim. A few things that can fix this are a wetsuit/open water experiment and a good swim warm up.

    Pre-race day, make sure to get a couple swims out in the open water. Test your equipment, get familiar with it, and practice going your race pace. Get a feeling for what to expect on race day. PLEASE don’t buy a new wetsuit the day before a race!

    On race morning, always get at least 15 minutes of warm up time in the water. You will see yourself settled and relaxed before the start, which leads to a better swim time.

Sample workout to gauge Ironman swim fitness:

  • 400 or 800 yard time trials — This will indicate your speed in the water at threshold. This is a good one to repeat multiple times in the year to easily gauge your progression. Entering this value into the QT2 Systems Triathlon Calculator along with your weekly swim volume will give you a good ballpark of what you might be able to swim for your race. The calculator is available at www.qt2systems.com/triathlon-calculator/

  • Monster set- 45 X 100 on a send-off of your 400-time trial pace + 10 seconds. The average time you hit per 100 will equal your Ironman time in a wetsuit.

The purpose of this writing is to help you understand what goes into the preparation for a sub one-hour Ironman swim. I hope that through some of my points, you can gain some knowledge about what it takes to complete this feat. It’s all about consistency and long term progression when in the water. If you work at something consistently enough, you will see the reward. There is no glory without sacrifice.

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By Marc Lauzon, Owner, TriBike Transport

They say you never forget your first, and that is certainly true of IRONMAN® Coeur d’Alene. In 2004, I toed the line at CdA for the first time. While it was not my first Ironman distance course, it was supposed to be my first attempt to qualify for Kona. I say “supposed to be”, because, as fate would have it, it was the first race that TriBike Transport serviced.

While logging training miles in the Bay Area prior to the race, I began to hatch the idea of a company that would transport fully assembled bikes to races, hassle-free. I had raced in other venues in the past. I had been through the pain of tearing down my bike, packing it up in a bike bag, hauling it through the airport, unpacking it (praying nothing was broken) and reassembling it in time to race, only to do it all over again at the end of a long race day. I decided to give my idea a go.

While our bike pick up and distribution now is a well-oiled machine, it was anything but for that first race. I rented a twin six-footer truck from Ryder and started the 14+ hour drive from San Francisco to Coeur d’Alene. Before heading out, I loaded up bikes from friends, training partners, and other contacts in the Bay Area, and then met up with other triathletes as I made my way north. Well before the time of partner shops, those stops were made at people’s homes, offices, nondescript parking lots, and even on the side of the highway.

As most “normal” people would understand, launching a business can cause a large amount of stress. And, as we triathletes know, a high volume of stress, especially leading up to a big race, is not necessarily the best thing. That stress led to many sleepless nights in the days and weeks leading up to my race, all of which resulted in my worst IM performance to date...but TBT was born.

Over the years, despite my first-time performance and the rain (seriously, it has rained almost all of the In Transition 13 years TBT has attended), IRONMAN® CdA has remained one of my favorite races. For a long time, it was also one of our busiest races, growing from 60 bikes in 2004 to almost 750 at its peak. In fact from 2009 - 2013 TBT transported over 700 bikes per year to CdA.

It was also the first time my parents had a chance to see TBT in action. They hopped in an RV and headed south - they live in Alberta, Canada - a few years ago. I had a great time showing them the ins and outs of the operation, walked them through transition and even celebrated with them at the finish line as we watched athletes cross the line and Mike announce them as an “Ironman”. My parents were impressed. They had never seen anything like the race and remained at the finish until the last athlete came in. They even shed a few tears, but haven’t we all after dark at an IM finish line.

This year, TBT will attend IRONMAN® Coeur d’Alene for our 14th and final time. We are sad to see CdA disappear from the race calendar, and doubt we are not the only ones. For a long time, it was the premier domestic IM race, offering scenic views on all elements of the course, that I’m sure most assume do not exist in Idaho.

We would love to read about your CdA experience as well. Please take a few moments and leave some comments below as we bid adieu to this iconic race.

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Sacrifice - QT2 Systems Guest Blog

Jul 15, 2017 3:57:02 AM

By Jesse Kropelnicki of QT2 Systems

One of the most dangerous things I sometimes see in the athletes I coach is a mismatch between their race performance goals and their willingness to make the sacrifices it takes to reach them. By sacrifice I mean doing something in order to reach your race performance goals when you'd rather be doing something else. Here are some examples:

  1. Getting your workouts done when you are tired and unmotivated and would rather go out with your friends or watch TV.
  2. Taking care of your nutrition when everyone around you is eating nachos and ice cream.
  3. Staying in your specified HR zones when on a group ride where everyone else is hammering.
  4. Not racing when everyone else is racing in order to meet a longer term goal.
  5. Going to bed early when you'd rather watch TV at night.
  6. Going out on a long ride when you'd rather be home with your family.

A lot of folks think it's just hard training where sacrifices need to be made however, as you can see above, hard training is only a fraction of the picture. Anyone can go out day after day and beat themselves up...big deal. You constantly hear training groups talk about these monster training day's including centuries, transition runs off huge rides, track workouts, etc.

You seldom (if ever) hear someone say "you should have seen me last night, it was sick, first I nailed back a handful of blueberries, then I immediately hammered back some walnuts for the omega-3's and went to bed. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to match it."

The truth of it is that these acts are actually more impressive since they are less likely to happen and more difficult for the average athlete to achieve. However, these are just as, if not more important than, the training feats an athlete accomplishes. Without proper nutrition and rest, most of the sacrifices made for training can be rendered useless.... most just can't seem to understand this.

So many times, it's the athletes that violate the above examples on a regular basis that have the loftiest goals during the early season. This is a very dangerous combination since it constantly sets the athlete up for failure and disappointment. They are not willing to make the sacrifices it takes to reach their goals.

It’s best for an athlete/coach to review goals early in the season and discuss if they are realistic given where they currently are, and what level of sacrifice they are willing to make. For most well-trained athletes with good body composition, a 2.5-3.0 percent improvement per year is solid progress. Many think it's much more than this.

Just as important as the above, is to make sure that when race day comes, they have realistic expectations of what their performance will be. This is what the Triathlon Calculator is great for; an objective look at current performance indicators and how they translate to race day. If an athlete's expectations are beyond reality, it's a bad combination that has the athlete over pace the early part of the race and really falter later in the day. It also sets the athlete up for disappointment as the time checks constantly come back behind expectation. With over pacing the early part of the race, nutrition is typically harder to get down and the nutrition plan slips. This results in a double detriment to the day as the physiologic impact of the over pacing and the missed nutrition team up for system failure later in the day.

Lessons:

  1. Work with your coach to develop realistic goals for your season including benchmarks along the way. That way, if the benchmarks aren't met (due to lack of sacrifice), the race performance goals can be revised and the athlete knows what to expect.
  2. If you don't have a coach, try to take an objective look at your performance indicators in all 3 sports to estimate your race goals. The Triathlon Calculator can be useful for this.

About the Author: Jesse Kropelnicki is the Founding Director of QT2 Systems, LLC. He has been coaching with QT2 for over 12 years and has been racing for over 20 years. Jesse holds many certifications to include USAT Level 3, NSCA-CSCS, ACSM-cPT. To learn more about Jesse, head over to http://www.qt2systems.com/coach-jesse-kropelnicki/

If you are looking for help be sure to reach check out all of QT2 Systems, LLC services.

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2017 Team TBT Victoria Team Race

Jun 24, 2017 4:33:24 AM

As mentioned in an earlier post, we launched Team TBT back in 2010. The team has grown to be a great success, but one thing seemed to be lacking. While we were able to keep track of each other’s activities on social media, we realized we wanted something more for the team. So in 2015, we launched the concept of a team race. Now each year we select one race on the calendar and all do our best to attend.

The idea of the team race was initially brought forward as a way of meeting and getting to know each other since the team is spread across the U.S., but it has grown into so much more than that. It has turned into a great opportunity to pick up some training and nutrition tips, make some long lasting friends, have some fun at a cool new race venue, and have some amazing cheerleaders coming through the finishing shoot.

For 2017, we selected IRONMAN® 70.3® Victoria for our team race. So, on June 4th, 20+ members of Team TBT, and 4 staff members, toed the line and dove into Elk lake. While water was brisk at best, it still felt warm in comparison to the chilly air at 6:00 am on Vancouver Island. Thankfully, as the sun rose, so too did the mercury, and by the time most were out on the bike, it was a perfect temperature for riding. For those of you that have raced Victoria in the past, you know that the beauty of the picturesque 56 mile ride is only equalled by the 13 mile trail run to finish it all off.

At the end of the day, we all gathered for a great Italian feast to restore some of the calories burned out on the course, and celebrate a successful race day. This year, the team race was filled with great racing, fun stories, and 5 members of TBT qualifying for the 2017 IM 70.3 World Championship! They will be joining 7 team members that have already qualified...looks like we may end up with two team races this year.

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In Transition

By Paul Duncan of QT2 Systems

Fueling for training differs among individual athletes, but in general we all need similar requirements. A fueling plan helps us perform our best in training, but needs to be constructed around each type of workout you’re doing.

Here are some basic things to consider before coming up with a fueling plan.

  • Carbohydrate needs/requirements — based on body weight and gender
  • Sweat rate — Sodium loss and fluid loss (testing needs to be done for this)

Common fueling plan errors

  • No plan — Many athletes just don't have a plan. Self-explanatory.
  • Random plan — As a coach I am blown away by the amount of athletes that just do random stuff when it comes to fueling. This is called the shotgun approach, it is not advised. If you want to perform well, your plan needs to be dialed in.
  • Minimal practice during training — Some people actually have a good plan in place, they just don't practice it in training. If you don't practice your plan during training, it will most likely fail on race day. Especially in longer events.
  • Single carb source — Many products out there have only one source of energy, typically that is maltodextrin. Typically an athlete can get away with a single carbohydrate source in a shorter workout, but this can become an issue in workouts over three hours, and even more as the distance gets longer.
  • Too little fluid — Most people just don't drink enough when training, leading to dehydration and impaired future workouts. Likely an athlete that doesn't drink enough in training, doesn’t drink enough in racing either.
  • Too little sodium or wrong sodium/carb/fluid balance — Simply put, not replacing the right amount of sodium in workouts. Most commonly from just using the wrong sport drink.

If you are fueling properly every day, you are in turn also training your gut to handle what it needs on race day. It is highly recommend that you fuel every single workout as if you are racing. If you are not doing that, you probably won't race to your potential on race day. I cannot stress enough, that if you are training for long distance racing, this is most athletes biggest limiter on race day.

Besides training your gut, fueling as if you are racing will help you perform every workout at the highest quality level possible.

Pre workout:

Small amount of easy-to-digest carbohydrate. Oatmeal and peanut butter are not good options. Look for low-fiber, and low- to zero-fat. Fifteen to 50 grams of carbohydrate is sufficient.

Fluid: 16 ounces of fluid at least 25 minutes pre workout.

During workout:

The amount of fluid you should drink is dependent on your sweat rate. General rule of thumb is that you are drinking enough fluid to ensure you are peeing every two to three hours on the bike and every hour running. These are minimums! If you aren’t doing this, you aren’t training to your potential. I recommend sports drink over water. Using the correct sports drink will ensure sodium/calorie replenishment as well as fluid. Most people require 20 to 60 oz. per hour depending on conditions.

Most of my athletes use BASE Hydro as their primary sport drink source.

Take in a simple carbohydrate in addition to sports drink. The majority of your calories should come from sports drink, the remainder of your carb needs should be satisfied through either gels, chews, or another fast absorbing carb source. The amount of calories an athlete needs is dependent on factors such as body weight and gender, but typically between 200 to 500 calories per hour.

Sodium needs should be based on your sweat test. A typical athlete loses between 400 to 700 mg. of sodium per 16 oz. of sweat. The main thing to think about here is just making sure to keep your sodium intake steady. For athletes with a higher sweat rate, I suggest they also use a gel that has higher sodium content.

Post workout:

Post workout can be just important as pre and during workout fueling. The key aspects to consider in post workout fueling is that the source is a fast-acting, high-glycemic sugar and easily-digested good quality protein. It should be either a 4:1, or 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein. That’s more carbs than protein. Many athletes have this backwards.

The amount of recovery drink needed is dependent of the intensity of the workouts and the duration.

It is very important that you drink your recovery drink before eating your “normal” food again. Try to drink your recovery drink within 20 to 30 minutes of the workout finish.

The above are general guidelines, if you are interested in more specific guidelines, check out

About the author:

Paul Duncan is a US Army Veteran of 11 years and now a full time triathlon coach living in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. He coaches for QT2 Systems and OutRival Racing. Find out more about Paul at www.qt2systems.com/coach-paul-duncan.

If you are looking for help be sure to reach check out all of QT2 Systems, LLC services.

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